Monday, 4 May 2009

Songs that saved your life, part 4

The end of school couldn't come quick enough for me. I'd somehow managed to pass my 11+ and had ended up at Caistor Grammar School - a place that, save for a few exceptions, parents bought their kids into by giving them extra-curricular private lessons from the age of 3 months.

I very soon found myself at the bottom of the academic pile, and on my way out of school at the age of 16 with just three other people from my year. But the last year at school was bearable because of a teacher there called Chris Pulford, who was about a million times youger than anyone of the other decrepit specimens. Pulford liked good music. He introduced me and some friends to bands like Throwing Muses and James and Bradford and The Wedding Present, and he took to us Rock City in faraway Nottingham to see Jesus and Mary Chain and James, and it all seemed thrilling for a very short time.

Of course, it was a load of shite.

Anyway, Pulford made me a tape that had James' hard-to-find-even-then live album, One Man Clapping, and then on the few minutes that were left on the b-side, he put some Wedding Present tracks on. One of them was 'You Should Always Keep in Touch with Your Friends'.

I'm not all the biggest Wedding Present fan - far from it, in fact. But this song was so perfect for a time when I truly thought that I'd never see my far cleverer, more dedicated friends ever again. I still shake the bastards off 20 years later.

When I left school in the early summer of 1990 I spent an awful lot of time in Grimsby getting drunk on Thunderbird (blue label only - I wasn't hard enough for the red label stuff) and dyeing my hair black. And I didn't keep in touch with my friends for a good eight months, because I thought they'd be doing all that cool stuff that sixth formers do, and I'd just got a job as an apprentice plumber, and why would they want to speak to me, eh? But they did, and that was nice. And that's why this song will always be quite important to me. So there.

No comments: