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Archive for the ‘Journal’ Category

Pure evenings

Back in August 2003 I attended The Leeds Festival, the equivalent of The Reading Festival but held in northern England and easier to get tickets to. Unfortunately, the evening we were supposed to drive to York to stay with our friends before the festival began, I suffered an eye injury.

Although the eye doctor had reluctantly agreed that I could attend the event, her conditions were that I shouldn’t drink or be physically active. Drinking and bouncing around are two of the numerous things that make music festivals fun, so although I put a brave face on things it wasn’t the experience I hoped for.

On Friday we saw a few good bands and paid fleeting attention to the one album wonders making up the numbers. All the while I felt like I was there in a somewhat observational role, even for bands I was a fan of, like Sum 41 and Good Charlotte. (Don’t judge, this was the early naughties!)

The next day followed a similar pattern with a long wait for the headliners, Linkin Park. Then, as dusk approached, Placebo took to the stage and just absolutely blew me away. I didn’t have to be drunk or jump around to enjoy their performance. It was more than enough to lean back, fill my ears with the music and let it all soak in.

As the sun set it was suggested we pretend it was daybreak instead, while the band played their anthem; Pure Morning. It was a feast for the senses and an absolutely magical moment that made me a fan for evermore.

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Adding injury to injury

On the evening of February the 21st this year I suffered the misfortune of splitting my left elbow open whilst attempting a skateboarding trick. It stung at the time and, once my pads were off, I was horrified to see a gaping cut at my elbow joint.

Whenever I get hurt, I don’t really get fixated on the pain in the moment unless it’s excruciating. Usually my mind projects ahead, thinking about the near term impact the injury will have and I immediately begin working out when I can expect to recover. A couple of years back I had to make a calculated bail whilst skating in the same pool at the skatepark, landing awkwardly on my right heel (in a pair of Vans I never skated in again) and right from the moment of impact I thought; “Damn it! That’ll be two weeks at least.” I was wrong, it was closer to a month before I could walk properly on it again, but the instant self assessment is something of a gut reaction regardless of the accuracy.

When I saw my split elbow in the mirror and then the reaction of the guys at the reception in the skatepark as I was patched up, I tentatively figured I’d be out for two or three weeks at best whilst my body repaired itself. Unfortunately, a week later my arm had become painfully swollen and I was put on an emergency course of antibiotics, double the normal dose, to help fight off the aggressive infection that had taken hold.

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Goodnight, Tommy

Around 25 years ago, when I was an apprentice electrician for the MoD, I would wait each summer morning for the bus to work at the submarine Base. An older guy, Tommy, whose name I had gleaned from the other bus stop folk who spoke to him, would usually be waiting there at that time in the morning, too.

I quietly observed that Tommy was pretty eccentric. Even then he had a bit of a stoop to him and a face full of character. He would wait seemingly indefinitely on the bin lorry picking him up on the way past and he’d chat away about this and that to everyone who shared the bus shelter. I didn’t know what he was on about half the time, but I would still humour him on his chosen subject of the day because I liked Tommy.

Even though I was a naive young man, somehow I was astute enough to appreciate that the world needed more people like him. He was a bin man, which, let’s be honest, is regarded as the lowest of working class jobs, but that didn’t stop Tommy talking to anyone and everyone as an equal. Apprentice electrician or bank manager – it didn’t matter to him and it’s a trait that I thought was admirable.

He was a kind man with it. One time he saw me running in the distance and asked the driver of the bus I was clearly going to miss to wait for me. That was a big deal to me – I didn’t have the best timekeeping record as an apprentice and Tommy probably saved my bacon that day.

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