Moshpit and Musings

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A BoilerRoom gig where nearly everyone I know in Guildford (and beyond – hello Paul!) is there. I had free ‘tickets’ too. Competition winner. Finally! Despite me telling the girl on the door to let him in, I had to go vouch for my co-winner Dan at the door – the bouncers hadn’t even let him get that far! The place is a great venue, with a soundproof ‘airlock’ out to the beer garden to spare the (fussy) neighbours. I have played there a few times and it’s got a much better layout now, cracking little venue, but expensive drinks… got their very own microbrewery bottled brew though… I usually stick to one coke. They don’t really do covers/tribute bands except as private hire, but that’s all to the general good.

In order – and in a very realistically rendered order of increasing blurriness as the evening went on – White Pigeon (80’s style fun-rock goodness), Frantic Alice (“will be great when they hit puberty”), Fighting Wolves (hairy, noisy and Scottish) and Sons Of Icarus (local heroes). Whole place turns into an inescapable all-ages moshpit in the end. Including girls in summer flowery dresses and cardigans. So Very Wrong. Even I get dragged in – not happened for a very long time, I’m too small and lack the anaesthetic protection of alcohol… We all look out for each other in a funny way, helping to minimise actual damage from what looks like total carnage. Fascinating. And good to see some of my friends in freak-out mode. Sometimes it’s just me going mental. Like to see that everyone can and does.

There were downsides though. Managed to still feel alone in a crowd, even in such a well-known-to-me crowd. Guess that’s got to be down to me, but how, I can’t work out. I was also put on the physically-jumpy-defensive by (again) personal contact issues. I have gone into some of this on FB but I’ll get it down here too, and maybe expand/expound.

When the fuck did it apparently become acceptable to touch a woman you don’t know AT ALL on her (bare) shoulder? It’s not fucking acceptable to me, and WILL get you screamed at to leave me alone, or shrugged off violently, to the point of punching you.

I am not talking moshpit stuff (that’s different). Just guys that I have never met, and in one case not even spoken to, in my life touching me within the first minute of conversation – when there is no evidence I am inviting it. Oh I’ll hug people I know and like – unless they are not comfortable with that themselves. I watch first, and try to work out beforehand if they are or aren’t happy with physical contact from friends, and wait until we do know each other in any case (on whatever timescale is appropriate to the particular person). Bare skin (other than a handshake) will always give me pause, in fact I pretty much just won’t unless it’s safety-related – or there’s an unmistakable invitation combined with mutual interest. In which latter specific case, I am very much *for* it! So much so that I think that this is why I am so carefully polite, and why I expect the same respect. I think my aim is both consideration of others and utter clarity of intent. No ambiguity. It seems to have served me well.

My defensive reactions are too quick, I really don’t get a choice. So one guy who’d made a point of talking to me after I’d already pointedly walked out of a conversation got away with getting screamed at in full metal vocalist voice to leave me the fuck alone. The previously-oddly-stary one who I’d made an elaborate point of letting past/going past without so much contact as brushing clothes got an instinctive just-about-pulled backfist the 3rd time he came past. I favour my personal comfort over “politeness” every time. I can, and will, be very loud, aggressive and obvious in my defence and very very early in a sequence of actions. I’ll not quite pre-empt but I will pre-emptively avoid getting within range. Funny, it has never happened in Berlin. Maybe Germans are more polite!

Guys get it too, seen it. That shit is no good either way! They get harassed/pressured by women much further than they should because they don’t want to be “nasty” or “rude”. Stuff that. If someone is making you uncomfortable, tell them. In whatever terms it take to make them stop (or leave). Or just leave the conversation.

I guess the news puts this sort of thing in my mind. The US nutter gun spree over a girl who said no, and the whole subsequent discussions. My shock at how ‘normal’ that attitude is over there – my building dislike of how certain related things are over here. What do you do? Once, my answer was “have another vodka”. Not proud of that, now. But I am still here myself. Undamaged. Sometimes survival matters more. But sometimes we need to make people do what’s right, not do what’s wrong. It’s hard, it’s hard on the soul.

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All over the road

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All over the place today. Way too much sugar yesterday. I was tired, drained, had expended a ton of emotional and physical energy the previous day and it was just put in my path. Turned up at my desk to a choccy bar (celebrating product launch), later there was cake (ditto), even later there was the overly strong Soda-n-Lime and winner’s victory ginger beer at the pub quiz.

We can all only take so much, and the system tried to fill the lack however it can.

Today it’s hard. Today I miss having a feeling for a future. The ghosts of too many dead dreams haunt my path. Life’s a journey, and even a rock and roll road trip needs an accomplice. On my own, it’s not the same. I’m not what I was, and having to face that I maybe never will be again. Guess we’d all better get used to that – doesn’t age do that to us all in the end? But I am less than I was. My desire and ability to affect the world, to make things happen, to create and to shape the future – it’s all got to come from me, be done by me. We all have to deal with loss, of all kinds, but knowing that and coping well with the realities are different things. Some of it is growth, some of it is change, some of it is good. I live and feel and don’t hide any of what I am, but still, still, it gets to me.

So here I am debating if I should go into debt to make things happen faster – or is that just falling back into a subtle trap, laid right to get me when I’ve stayed free, pulling me back into being at the mercy of the system? I want too much from life. I don’t do ordinary (not every well). I don’t want the comfort of normality. I have too much, I am too much, I’m asking too much. It’s not an out of control ego, it’s just how it is. I ain’t no genius, no superstar, no supermodel – but I’m not normal, not average, can’t be – won’t be, can’t settle, can’t deal with the average. Most people’s lives are tied to jobs and debts and kids (present or future) and/or ageing/sick parents… Mine isn’t. It won’t be. So how does that work, how do I fit in? Who is on a similar road? Damn few. Damn few.

Journeys, literal ones are the hardest. Walking, driving, riding, flying – I often cry. Too much time to think, not enough distraction. Out there on my own. No sense of home.

Champions of the Metal Zone (Rok and Role)

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Theoretically busy work week, Berlin flat stress, beyond 1st world problems into middle-class ones. Sigh. Still, the week saw many victories. I’m not getting stressed by work *at all*. Friday will be payday, so the bank account ticks happily up without me really having to suffer all that much for it. After so long in the wilderness of purely outgoings, and the previous misery-steeped incarnations of work, this is all to the very very good. Plus free chocolate, cake, girls dressed as Hawaiian dancers and my dev manager doing wonderful wind ups of the car-accident-claim-junk-callers who plauge him… Can’t really complain.

Jam Wednesday – we entered the Metal Zone with a rendition of “Crazy Train”, then the boys [Danny, Andy, Jason] left me behind on a “Jazz Odyssey”, though I did ad-lib a few scat vocals later in the masterpiece. These hands don’t know no jazz chords, nor does brain to watch the fretboard and follow the leader. A lovely little girl drew a great picture – and gave it to me afterwards. It will now forever be referred to as “Rok and Role”. Though I might draw the line at a pink guitar…

Our marvellous team won the Queen Vic quiz this time. By a clear 8 points! That’s what happens when you take manly men who know about TV and sport (thanks Si and Harry). We nab £10 each and a bit left over to charity (MIND). Even better, Daddy Cashback has promised us fish on Sunday – it’s some kind of Super Magic Sea Fishing Weekend (HHWS?*), this weekend coming – everyone is going. Also “Jarl Borg” has visited his native lands, obtained a mandolin and learned to play it. I think I got irradiated as well as sugar-poisoned though. Still, a green glow is healthy, right?

*High High Water Springs

It’s a nice day to start again

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[band pictures by Woody Eade]

Mission report: Horsley Towers 

17:30 Entered secret base with agreed code signal “Palfreyman”.

17:35 Rendevouzed with Agent B. Found unguarded door.

17:50 Sneaked large amounts of gear in whilst victims ate dinner, unsuspecting.

18:00 Setup. “Stickman” still absent. Our inside man briefly escapes the dinner and makes contact – he’s en route.

19:00 “Stickman” and his glamorous assistant finish assembling equipment.

20:00 Various equipment failures, first with Agent B’s gear, then my own.

20:30 Equipment successfully jury-rigged.

21:00 I find the room full of jelly sweets. Obtain supplies for me and the crew.

21:15 Bar doors flung open and Mission: “Rock the Wedding” commences.

**************** THERE IS ROCK!!!  **************

(with some frantic on-the-fly equipment strip-down by me )

00:00 Mission accomplished. Bed.

Double booked

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Jamming at the Social club for Trev’s birthday, with tons of food – including marmite whirls – look like danish pastries, taste like marmite. Mmmm. Feel free to hate, though – that’s how marmite rolls… (kaaa-boom-ting!)

Later, Sent Her Mental at The Swan Inn in Crawley. The pan-wierdo town hangout, from old rockers, to old ale drinkers, with the odd fur-coat-clad shaven-headed ex-raver and scantily clad young girl thrown in for variety. Plenty of evidence of what a lifetime of living it large does by the time you are in your 40s and 50s – that should be me, but chance, stubbornness and fantastic genetics have given me a reprieve. I should have died young,  didn’t – gave it all up instead. Now I am a rebel amongst outlaws, but straight edge can still carve out your soul, still got a few ways left to lose control…

Managed a reunion ‘pitch invasion’ to sing NIB with Steve and a Mr. Ryommi cunningly disguised as kebab-shop-man (good beard!). Had a slight Ozzy moment on the words – but not bad for one year on… Then at the end, a duet with the marvellous Thain on “Screamager”. Immense fun. Not heard that for 20 years but Planet Rock did a Therapy special a couple of week back, so it was actually in my head again.

Band were great, the audience appreciative. It was good to talk to old friends, have at least the fleeting illusion of maybe making new, drop a few choice phrases. But I was disturbed by how touchy-feel some of the peeps were with people they did not know (or attemptedly, at least). Not Right. Don’t even think about it with me. I don’t like it and I won’t take it quietly. Driving there and back – a road I’ve often driven in agony and ecstasy – when the band was going well, and when life was going shit, or vice versa. Sometimes both at once. Many tears, much loud music on the stereo to take it away.

Screw that forget about that, I don’t wanna think about anything like that…

Quiztastic

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Group outing to a different quiz tonight. ‘Jimmy Cashback’ our rock and roll Dad, ferrying us to the Queen Vic in Shalford for the night’s frolics. He gets free drinks wherever he goes – just that kind of man. Okay so they are Soda and Blackcurrant, the evil perverted purple version of my fluro-green habitual tipple, but still, respect, respect. Life on the road is hard and a man deserves what comfort he can find…

“RESERVED” … Kirsty’s Special Reserve, or reserved for [insert name of divine being/celebrity/Harry Styles here] or sorry, we’re full – please come tomorrow. Or as in “shy and retiring”? Dunno, but I am definitely a special vintage – only for connoisseurs. Love or leave (loathe? not usually…. but who knows – Do I care? Not really). Long quiz, more teams, more fun? Maybe, maybe. The Quiminologists – that loyal crew who don’t just say but do – drink, laugh, sketch each other [is Sonic meant to be me?]  and attempt to defeat all comers … but fail on a technicality (quizmaster sticking stubbornly to a wrong answer)  and one point to win *easily* enough money for kebabs all round, even at Surrey prices.
Oh well, my parting shot was – “I’ll treat you to a nice plate of oysters come July”.