Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Christmas Gig 1986


Everyone had a mate with New Model Army painted on the back of their bike jacket; monumental capital letters you could either hide behind or jump off hoping there'd be some of the tribe there to catch you.

On the 23rd of December 1986 Kev's motorbike skidded on black ice. He didn't get broken and called for me that night for our second date, New Model Army at the Town and Country Club, Kentish Town. At that time I had long black and green hair and would have been wearing black and purple, though mainly black. Velvet was my mink.

Thinking back velvet describes that night of deep winter colours. The stage lights like search lights over our thrift store glamour as we eyed each other up and wished that getting a tattoo didn't have to mean grotty little rooms with a queue of people, usually men, watching.

The dancing will get rough, Kev had more than a gig's worth of grazes from the bike fall and I was no size to be down there with the clogs, so we stood to the left of the crush. It was that night he told me the worst injuries he'd ever had were broken ribs at a Spear of Destiny gig. The older, and by older I mean 25, biker woman with plum crimped hair next to me shifted so I had more space and smiled. I felt alright!

At 17 my high heel days, which started at 14, were on the decline. I was at the difficult age between pixie boots and DMs and a night's enjoyment would be gauged by the sort of dance bruises on us the next day.

Every night out had a different shape and colour. Nitzer Ebb, I went to see them on my own, were all clean edges, hard black and white slogans and symbols; Cardiacs, my first date with Kev, was a bit torn, skewed angles ending in fluorescent stripes and dots. But as I unfocused my eyes on the dance floor that night the T and C looked like a massive box of chocolate liqueurs, coloured wrappers from the Quality Street taped over the lights.

Joolz looked like an apocalyptic warrior in dress uniform, she was well armoured and spent more of her set firing words at hecklers than doing poems. People were laughing, it really felt like a tribal celebration and we were all on the same side.

I was becoming an adult in Thatcher's Britain, been vegetarian for two years, dyed my hair so I could have control over something even if it was just my appearance and went to gigs to scream like it was my religion. All of us liked New Model Army, we couldn't help it and believed in getting the bastards even if we only shouted it out at nights like this.

On the train home we sat with Dave, a friend I knew from school. Dave was in the sixth form but he'd been suspended because his hair was apparently a health hazard and he'd only be allowed back if he washed it. Even though me and Dave lived on the same estate we lost him after we left the station. Dave was stabbed in the same road me and Kev must have walked along to my house. We went past garages that had two old black cars outside, frost had made them all sparkly. 'Look Kev,' I remember saying, 'the cars look just like sugar mice.'
 
 
Written for the Bleeding Hearts Club Christmas special on 14th December 2015 at the Rialto Theatre, Brighton.
 
 



 

          

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