Sunday, January 08, 2006
Fantastic photo shamelessly teefed from Pixeldiva
Funny how a single song evokes a precise memory. Triggering something deep in my subconcious, and thrusting it forward and filling my mind with sounds, visions, smells, emotions from a single moment.
The track is The Streets - 'Has It Come To This?'
It was on a compilation tape I made for travelling to and from work. Tapes. Remember them? Anyway, I'm sure I have it, buried in a drawer somewhere, but from what I can remember, here's some of the rest of the tracklisting:
Jean Jacques Smoothie - '2 People'
So Solid Crew - '21 Seconds'
The Strokes - 'Hard To Explain'
PJ Harvey - 'A Place Called Home'
Kylie - 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head'
LTJ Bukem - 'Atlantis'
That's as much as I can remember. All but the latter were contemporary, so that puts us at the tail end of 2001. I'm 21, coming up the escalator at Oxford Circus, having taken my journey in on the tube. Driven from home to Stanmore tube, the grey Jubilee line, changing at Wembley Park onto the claret Metropolitan Line, before a change at Baker Street for the final brown leg on the Bakerloo line. All of this is still immensely exciting. I'm only a few weeks into my new dream job, and I almost leap up the steps and jump onto a busy Oxford Street, before skipping through the back streets to my workplace. The London streets are always busy, and always exciting. The cool air feels electric. This is what I've always dreamed of. Growing up on the outskirts of London, it becomes like a forbidden paradise. I'm a 21st Century Dick Whittington as I dodge the commuters and weave through the traffic as I head towards the rabbit warren of an office in Noho I call home for 8 or more hours a day.
But the emotions are very mixed looking back. The dream job turned into a bit of a nightmare just a couple of months later. The company went belly up, and I lost my job in rather unceremonious circumstances. Heading to the dole office less than 6 months after starting your perfect first job is a rather sobering experience. It's a feeling I know I'll never forget. So there's a certain sadness attached to these songs, alongside the innocent euphoria that accompanied them first time round.
It's a testament to just how much losing my job rocked me that it's only now, several minutes after initially recalling this anecdote, does it register that, around about the same time, the girl i was seeing dumped me. Thanks for that! Haha. I can laugh about it now. Not her fault. It wasn't working. Just poor timing. But even back then it didn't hit me nearly as hard as watching my dream slip from my fingers. Feeling like you've been chucked in the dumpster at 22 isn't at all that fun. I have my parents, family and friends to thank for maintaining my sanity during the weeks where I almost lost myself. Of course, there was a happy ending, but I didn't know that at the time.
In the end, I was lucky. After 6 weeks or so, I fell on my feet, and everything worked out better than I could've hoped. Seems like just a storm in a tea cup now, looking back. Plenty of people have experienced things so much worse. I know that. But it was a harsh experience at the time, and a lesson I learnt the hard way. I'm certainly a better person for it.
Anyway, back to the music. In the time between the tape and sack, The Streets released an album, which I had on promo. The final track, 'Stay Positive' didn't mean a lot to me first time round, but it came to represent the whole period in my mind when things went wrong. Stay Positive.
I hope you understand me
Just trying to stay positive
I aint no preaching fucker and I aint no do-goody-goody either
This is about when shit goes pear-shaped
And if you aren't or never have been at rock bottom then good luck to you in the big wide world
But remember that one day shit might just start crumbling
Your bird might fuck off or you might lose your job
It's when that happens that what I'm talking about will feel much more important to you
So if you aint feeling it, just be thankful that things are cool in your world
Respect to BC
Cheers Mike. There's a new Streets album coming out in April. I'll be first in line.
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