Is there a point in life when you are too old for rock n roll?
I’m 45 now and, when I go away, I’ve started taking my own food with me. It started with bags of nuts but has now extended to porridge. This worrying sign of ageing has pushed me into trying new things that help me feel young again. My purple boots are back, my hair is once again short and choppy and I’ve started listening to Dubstep.
It also means I’ve developed a form of Tourette’s where I say yes to anything that has the whiff of youth. Which is why, last week, I found myself in the basement of a well-known Northern Quarter pub with my mate John and his mate Pete, who I’d met for the first time.
Some hip Canadian band were playing. The bearded youngsters smoking out front told me they were, apparently, part of a new genre. But so many obscure band’s names were being bandied about, I wondered if everyone was working for MI5 and had to talk in code.
After we’d bought our soft drinks (work next day, can’t be doing with hangovers) we went downstairs to watch the support band. The entrance to the space was blocked by a boy who, with his thick glasses and anxious expression, seemed to have styled himself on the geek chic of early Woody Allen films, in which he constantly fails to get the girl. I felt like leaning towards him and going “Boo!”Â as I handed over my ÃÂ£2.
We found a bench at the back of the darkened room and settled down. A few minutes later I noticed we’d all got our legs crossed in exactly the same way and looked like Last of The Summer Wine on tour. The band came on and the guitarist brutally thrashed out a series of chords. The hirsute singer, wearing a leather skullcap in the style of a 1920s American footballer, began to make a wailing noise like a vacuum cleaner sucking up a rug. The barman, who was drinking tea from a chipped cup, checked his watch and put his head in his hands.
About 40 people gathered round this pseudo-Punk foursome. Drinks were held at regulation height, just in front of the chest. Boys, all with laces undone on their scruffy Converse boots, started doing the leg twitch and nodding head thing, and girlfriends clung to their partner’s waists, clearly hoping it wasn’t just them who didn’t get it.
The first song came to a merciful halt and a bleached blond woman in her 60s, who must have been the singer’s gran, called out “We love you!”Â in an Essex accent. The Mancs stayed quiet and for the next nine numbers the group didn’t dare leave any space in between songs, possibly in case it offered the chance for heckling. It was obvious why we’d been charged to come in. The simple Northern psychology of not wanting to waste our money was the only thing keeping us there, which Woody must have worked out in advance.
Finally the combo either ran out of songs or realised that if they didn’t leave soon they’d been lynched. As the last note withered someone shouted “Congratulations”Â. I couldn’t tell if it was an ironic dig at the band or a compliment to the audience for having endured the past half hour. A guy, slightly out of place with black shiny shoes, turned to his mate and said, “You never know what you’re going to get, do you?”Â. That’s true for so much of life.