Friendships used to be made or broke on which band you liked.
While everyone was busy getting into grunge (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden but NOT Guns N Roses- I was ridiculed for showing an interest in Spaghetti Junction), I had somehow wandered up the wrong musical cul-de-sac and was listening to Top 10 Hits of the 60s and ABBA.
Weirdly enough, i managed to find someone else as prematurely aged as me, and me and Rufus used to lock ourselves away in his parent’s living room and watch ABBA Gold Video Hits on repeat. Surprisingly, we never touched each other while tapping our feet to Chiquitita. ABBA ought to be the soundtrack to everyone’s bi-curious phase.
Later. Rufus got into Queen and forced me to listen to tape after tape of them while we had a sleepover. Their proggy histrionics made me feel sick. I hated them, and knew at that point that our friendship was doomed. A few months later, he moved to Gloucestershire to live with the other exiled Queen fans.
An equally divisive moment was the epoch-making, y-front moistening thrill of BRITPOP NOW, BBC’s showcase of all the best New Wave of New Wave bands. Something was finally happening! I went to school the next day and felt like I had found my style tribe.
“Did you see Britpop Now??” I asked sweatily
“It was shit” said Robert, my sometime friend.
“But what about Elastica? And PJ Harvey? They were amazing!”
“They looked like MEN” he said, with disgust. Something about them had made him recoil in horror. That same something was coursing through my veins like the sexiest kind of death.
He was outta my life after that. A few years ater, I saw him working in the local leisure centre. He was a frickin’ steroid muscle mary, and I knew I had made the right choice.
I knew I was headed somewhere dark, and angsty and uncomfortable but I’d rather go there than sport-science land where insensitive dullards are trained to make successes of their lives by renouncing the extremes of anxiety and euphoria. As Polly says, “hell ain’t half full, take me with you…”
What a positive parable, you may be thinking. So, if you stick to your guns, you can always find freaks like yourself without having to compromise. Well, actually, now I hang round with a load of people who know nothing of my dark camp past and my love of the worst of pop- they only get to see the so-bad-it’s-good stuff that I am allowed to like. If they knew the full horrors on those Hits of the 60s tapes, I would be instantly cast out of hipsterland into the gutter of un-ironic bad taste. But I shall sing this song quietly to myself and shuffle off into the night…
Bye bye fans! It was lovely knowing you.