This afternoon I rediscovered my 'bag of memories' - literally a plastic bag filled with old stuff from my youth. That pic up there is a collage of some of it, but it also includes postcards, band adverts and a surprising amount of phone numbers; one for a friend who passed away a few years ago, some for people I still see regularly/not-too-irregularly, some for people I've fairly recently reconnected with via Facebook, and one for an older girl I saw for a short while called ******. This one's written in dark red lipstick on the back of a torn-off corner from a gig poster (all that remains on the front is a guitar-playing guy with mod hair dressed in an Indian-style gown, with 'PROBABLY THE 2nd GREATEST' underneath him. Underneath this is 'plus Special SPICE GIRLS' and a date: SATURDAY 2nd AUGUST). The number is labelled (by me) as her 'home' number; there's something weird about the fact that, not that long ago, no one had mobile phones, and when you were a teenager, you had to brave a call to your girlfriend's parents and ask to speak to her, rather than having the luxury of a direct line. Unless you set up some kind of "I'll call you at 6pm on the dot so make sure you're near the phone" situation so as to avoid talking to the oldies.
Here're the postcards:
When I was at college, and for a little while afterwards, we seemed to have house parties all the time. "The best years of your life" vary from person to person, and generation to generation, but in many respects my mid-to-late-teens were them for me (although I wouldn't necessarily want to relive them). That lass who wrote the first postcard - Katherine - I haven't seen for many years, but she was part of our cosy little group at college. A Christian who had a sense of humour, and didn't take my "Satanism" (don't ask) at all seriously, which is just the way I liked it. One of the house parties I remember the most was at Katherine's. I tried my first joint (rolled with cherry tobacco so I would like the taste), made an archaeopteryx out of beer bottles, and went to sleep in the (empty) bath, only to be woken up when my friend Paul (the same one mentioned in her missive) poured a sack of potatoes on me. The 'Kirsten' she mentions is one of the people I've reconnected with (sort of) via FB, but this raises a point I'll come back to in a minute.*
The 'Steve' and 'Andy' from the second postcard are guys I still see now and again. We all used to be in bands together, with such names as 'Exploding Toasters' and 'Baybehedd'. Here're some press clippings for bands I was in, from when we played the Scunthorpe Rock Open (a battle of the bands) many moons ago - Toxin were Steve's own band, and as you can see they weren't very popular with the judges - ouch!
That's the glorious inlay to the Unholy Cheese Fiends' debut tape (yes, tape!). We were a novelty (I mean, post-apocalyptic jazz) band that kept the joke going for two delirious years. You can even hear our music HERE, if you're some kind of maniac. I was the frontman ;)
*A minute later...Nowadays it's even easier to reconnect with old friends/colleagues/whathaveyou thanks to the internet and social networking sites, but for the majority of people the question remains: why? Most of the time what've you got to talk about, unless you were especially close to that person many moons ago? "What do you do for a living? Do you have any kids? Whatever happened to your plan to walk along the Great Wall of China?" The other truth is, people move on, their lives move on, and whilst many of us would like to think we don't really change that much as we get older, some people do, quite considerably. There's nothing inherently wrong with this fact, as certain people inevitably NEED to move on, and stop being a stoner/benefit sponge/dreamer/etc that may have suited their long-haired younger days but once the real world comes knocking you have to answer the door sooner of later. Wow, that was a naff sentence. Does anyone still say 'naff'? Apart from me, just then?
Anyways. As much as I like the idea of 'connecting' with people, there's usually very little reason to. For instance, if I can finally mention writing in a blog post on a blog run by a writer ;) I have met lots of really nice and supportive authors online, and they're all pretty interesting. But not interesting enough that I should want to read their blog on a regular basis. Why? Quite simply, because our paths cross elsewhere online, by and large I know what they've got cooking, so I don't feel the need to actively peruse their blog. I don't feel particularly 'guilty' or 'ignorant' about this because I'm sure this blog is overlooked or ignored more often than not for the same reasons, which is fine - plus I usually talk rubbish so there really isn't that much of intellectual interest to read hahaha unlike one of my absolute favourite blogs that I do take the time to read on a regular basis: BIG AMERICAN NIGHT. Almost every post has something interesting to say, plus there are nice pictures and cool music. You don't need this things to make a successful blog, of course, but they're what float my particular boat.
To go back to my previous point: why bother reconnecting with old friends? Because it's a nice thing to do. That is the real truth. Even if, like me, you don't feel cause to regularly ask them what they're doing, it's nice to know they're only a mouse-click away. Is this some sort of Freudian ego crutch? I don't know.
Why is all this playing on my mind so much? It's just a bag of stuff, surely...? Friends I don't see very often/any more, a girlfriend I lost through emotional ineptness, goth artwork and flyers for club nights that no longer exist. Is any of it worth keeping? Yes, because they're all memories. And you can't be selective about the good ones. You need the bad or bittersweet ones to balance you out, otherwise someone would have invented a time machine by now so we could all stop looking through rose-tinted specs and actually relive those halcyon days, over and over again. And the fights, the arguments, the hangovers, the parental bollockings, the stolen girlfriends and forbidden kisses. Oh yeah, those would be really nice to relive. Well, maybe the 'kiss-I-shouldn't-be-having'... ;)
Melancholy isn't really my thing, baby, but the Bag of Memories(tm) has jacked into my current passive maudlin state - I lost a cousin recently (she was younger than me - only thirty years old) and one of my other cousins, who's maybe 15 years older than me, said "if this is an excuse for anything, it's to make sure those of us remaining make a point about meeting up" or "reconnecting". True enough, a lot of my cousins etc live very close to me, but we simply don't talk. I have no doubt this is partly down to the age gap (they're all older, married, in 'normal' jobs) and partly because, once you've not spoken to someone in a while, it becomes far easier to continue that silence than to make the effort to clumsily break it and risk finding out that being distant may not have been such a bad thing after all. I don't necessarily believe that, but it is a legitimate fear. I suppose only time will tell. And that's something none of us have a lot of.
Whoops. This has been an exceptionally heavy, and long, post. Better inject some levity via two pics of me on theme park rides doing a militant hand gesture and flicking a V:
And something pertinent I got out a fortune cookie years ago: