I watch them enter full of excitement and expectation;
Twinkles amongst the wrinkles.
Greeting old friends from way back when,
Approving each other’s clothing and footwear:
Fred Perry and Ben Sherman are
Getting a good outing tonight.
A foot is stylishly presented for inspection
And I notice bowling shoes
And burgundy moccasins.
(I was always a winkle-picker man, myself,
sharp, and to the point. Ha ha.)
Roundels and targets and band logos
Complete the evening’s look.
(I undo my shirt to make my own more visible,
to show that I am here to participate
in a homage to the cult, to our shared past.)
I was just a few years too young
To have seen them live, in their heyday.
But I know every song, have drummed
and played guitar
‘Til my throat was sore.
But most of the crowd here tonight
Have been here before.
Before mortgages and marriage.
Before the loss of youth.
Looking around the room I’m acutely aware
That we are presenting more pounds around the middle,
Less hair on top, more glasses on our faces
(but still outnumbered by pint glasses in hands).
Some have an undying air of rock and roll,
Salt and pepper hair and angular features.
… less so.
“No corporations for the new age sons” we chanted.
But somehow ended up looking like accountants.
Saturday’s Girls used to work in Tescos and Woolworths
Until they became wives, and mothers, and grandmothers.
Some of them are cheerily at ease, others excited,
Taking selfies and snaps of original ticket stubs
From de Montfort Hall in 1981.
A few others look slightly out of place,
Tightly clutching handbags and wearing the familiar
“uncomfortable office party” face.
The background music changes
(It has been agreeably antique, with notable Clashing)
And Bruce’s band takes to the stage.
I finish my pint and push away from the wall
To stand in the centre, alone,
But as part of all.
This is a social event for many tonight
But I prefer to get lost in the crowd
And lost in the music.
(It’s far easier with strangers;
No distractions, conversations, irritations,
Just Shut Up and Dance).
Three songs in and the full-on fans
Are bouncing along in the first few rows.
Not quite moshing because we’re all
A Bit More Grown Up.
I’m on the edge of the action
With space to move and groove
But conscious of not getting overwhelmed
And over-balanced by a sudden surge
Because I’ve got a Bad Knee these days.
(And my large smartphone is jabbing me
Through the pocket of my tight denim jeans.)
Behind me the movement diminishes,
Rippling outwards to the gentle swayers
And the nodding headers
Back to the bar and the watching drinkers,
Too British to thoroughly revel in music that sings
About what it is to be British.
And the songs keep coming.
We’re singing and dancing
And chanting and jumping
Pointing, fist pumping.
Mainlining moments from our youth.
For a short while we are teenagers again.