The Diary of a Commuter

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Dictionary of a Commuter

The sideways shuffle towards the door of a tube train as it arrives at the platform, blocking off the person behind you, thus ensuring a greater chance of boarding the already full train. Not to be confused with the edgware (v)

A last minute gambit. An attempt to leap into onto a packed tube train just as the doors are closing, forcing your way in and usually causing a hampstead (n)

A virtually inaudible grunt of disapproval, which serves as a completely useless protest with little or no effect. A ripple of hampsteads will typically spread through a line of people waiting to top up their Oyster cards when a bunch of German tourists push in.

The split second “shall I, shan’t I” decision, which precedes the edgware (v)

Dictionary of a Commuter

(With respect to The Meaning Of Liff, the late great Douglas Adams, and the slightly less late but equally superb John Lloyd)

The utterly incessant and completely unexplainable attack of yawning experienced by a parent as soon as you begin reading a bedtime story to the kids .

TOOTING (participial vb.)
Change given back to a customer in the form of coins balanced precariously on top of notes, in turn balanced on top of the receipt, forcing you to stuff the whole bloody lot into your pocket with your only free hand.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Never Mind The Smokey Bacon Crisps.

There have only been two cultural revolutions in music in my lifetime – Punk Rock and Acid House. This is not open for debate.

I was too young for punk. It was 1977, I was 6 years old and the world was all about Dr Who, smokey bacon crisps and falling in love with my 16 year old babysitter. As far as I remember Punk Rock was something to do with the queen, a lot of swearing and my Grandfather complaining about safety pins.

I do however remember the fashion of punk exploding into my universe, which was Melrose Avenue in Darlington. I remember having to wear ridiculous bell bottom jeans and tight t-shirts whilst the “older boys” were beginning to step out in the boots, the braces and the huge amounts of tartan, and I remember thinking it was pretty cool.

I have no regrets about being too young for Punk because I was exactly the right age for Acid House. I won’t discuss the fashions of Acid House, because it involved a lot of silly hats. Needless to say each generation, even in the midst of their cultural revolution, has a heavy fashion cross to bear.

Whilst there have only been two major explosions into the collective youth consciousness, they are both intrinsically linked. At a time when major record labels controlled the world and the charts were full of super rich, long haired prog rockers, spawning uncontrollable amounts of masturbatory guitar solo’s and freeform jazz exploration - Punk Rock came along and tore down the barriers of the music industry. It said “fuck off” very loudly to everything and everyone, and placed music making back into the hands of the snotty nosed youth. Quite simply, nothing was ever quite the same again.

10 years later, in the midst of Stock, Aiken and Waterman hell, a club in the North West and a DJ called Mike Pickering began to play mind blowing records that nobody had heard before. Records played to a generation of music lovers who were desperately crying out for their own new musical epiphany. Acid House was born.

I was definitely not at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester in 1976, when the Sex Pistols played their first gig in Manchester. But that one gig linked Punk to Acid House in one fell swoop. Present at that gig were a band called Warsaw, who would go on to become Joy Division and finally New Order, Tony Wilson who would create The Durutti Column, discover A Certain Ratio, introduce the world to the Happy Mondays and build the Hacienda nightclub which would give birth to the Acid House scene itself.

Fast forward to November 2007, over 30 years since that eponymous gig, and I complete the cycle. Leaping around the mosh pit in front of the Sex Pistols at the Brixton Academy, alongside middle aged and middle heavy postmen, bankers, city boys and builders alike, smiling and scrapping in joyous oblivion as the boys hammered it out to the end.

I left the gig sweaty, smiling and satisfied at having finally completed a cultural round trip which was more than overdue.