You might think (and you'd definitely be right) that the Labour Party conference is one of the most noxious occasions in the political calendar, but no-one quite attacks the poor and ill quite the same every year as the Tories.
As the evil no-chinned shitehawks gather in Manchester and plot to wreak economic havoc over everyone not lucky enough to be able to dip into a trust fund every time they're down to their last Bupa payment, it got me thinking about the last time I felt this depressed about the future of UK politics.
Whilst listening to Tender Trap this afternoon, it occured to me that it was probably late 2002. My private life was in a mess, I'd resigned from the Communist Party over something really daft and paranoid, and the Socialist Alliance, the organisation I'd thrown myself into for the preceding three years was disintegrating under the weight of its two biggest competing sects. To put a top on it,those in charge of the Stop the War Coalition had failed to muster any widespread support for socialist politics. Not that it had any intention to...
But listening to Tender Trap all afternoon has also made feel soft. Seasoned Fletcherites might well remember the 'Trap’s excellent ‘Film Molecules’ album that was released around the turn of the century on ye olde dependable, Fortuna Pop! It’s an album woefully out of its time; stuck in a no-man’s land between the horror of Britpop at one end, and the renaissance of indiepop at the much more sunshine-filled end of the spectrum.
'Film Molecules' saved my life for about two months back in 2002. Long journeys on buses to provincial towns with ‘The Son of Dorian Gray’ pouring into my head through tinny, tiny speakers. The desperate last years of youth frugged out on beer-filled dancefloors to ‘Face of 73’. Wanton belligerance brought on by the metallic ‘Dyspraxic’, and my word – my word – real tears cried in lonely flats to ‘You and Me’. Long after I thought I’d ever need something as pretentious as a “soundtrack”, 'Film Molecules' came and wrenched me back from the brink.
One stupid December night in Nottingham in 2002 I put Tender Trap on with The Liberty Ship and a band from Leeds called Farming Incident (who were great, but didn’t fit in at all), and I called it a Christmas party. I felt about as far from a party as I could do at that point, and yet when Tender Trap came on and played ‘Ampersand’ it all seemed to make sense. That’s why we were there, stood in a desolate metal pub with a couple of dozen other people in search of some kind of pop thrill before the relentless grind of forced fun that Christmas always brought, and always will bring with it.
Drifting out of the venue that night, after handing over most of the £600 a month I was earning back then to the owner of the place, it was difficult not to want to have that half an hour with Tender Trap back forever. As it was, all that was left was to get a taxi halfway across the city, taking in every traffic calming measure on the way, to a damp, cold flat full of cat shit. But still, we had the memories of the night.
You know those friends you have from school or wherever – the ones you probably don’t see very often, but that doesn’t matter because whenever you catch up with them again it’s like you haven’t been away? You must do. Well, that’s what Tender Trap are like for me. I might not be living in a cold flat in Carlton any more; I might not behaving like an intolerable prick (well, not all the time), but Tender Trap are right there waiting to make me laugh and smile again, just like those friends I can count on one hand do every four or five months.
Terribly self-indulgent? Moi? I stand accused, but if Tender Trap don’t make me feel like that night in 2002 when they play our all-dayer in a few week’s time, they’ll have some BIG explaining to do. I'm off to listen to the Redskins.