Any minute now there will be an avalanche of nostalgia about acid house. Maybe there is already, but I am watching the wrong telly and reading the wrong magazines. 20 years is long enough for people to have jettisoned their revolutionary zeal and/or hedonism and Made A Career Out Of It.
“Yes of course we were crazy in those days, we were just doing it for the fun, nobody had a clue what was going on. Oh I remember the sunrise in Ibiza when Tongy faded in that tune”.
Fade to that one shot they always use of people raving it up in a field, blokes with long lank hair and white longsleeve t-shirts. The same as the footage of that punk getting nicked on the Kings Road for having a chain as a belt. The same as that footage of people gently whirling their arms in the air at Hyde Park, faces painted, flowers in their hair.
Fade to a boardroom. Platinum discs. A designer suit. It doesn’t matter how many wrinkles, it doesn’t matter what era the records are from. Shut up and listen!
“We had fun in those days! Now we’re rich, ok? Which is also a kind of fun. Fun fun fun. The drugs/sex/music were better in those days as well. Everything seems so conservative now.”
“Of course it wasn’t all plain sailing, by any means”
Fade out to solemn music: use footage of Grosvenor Square / Brixton Riots / Battle of the Beanfield / Criminal Justice Bill demo.
“Nobody really understood what we were doing, you know? I suppose they felt threatened by all us young people together. But I think we changed things, for the better.”
The Madonna clones, the goths, the skinheads, the ravers, the punks, the casuals, the Smiths fans, all having a good time together. But only at the fancy dress birthday party in 2008. There will be no tribal violence tonight. We have moved on from that, at least those of us who perpetrated or suffered it at the time. Maybe if you didn’t then “This Is England” looks glamorous. Authentic. Sexy.
People forget the fear. Finding yourself alone in the wrong part of town, your tribal allegiance broadcast to everyone else. Footsteps, shouting.
And then home, out of breath, for more mundane angst.
what I am doing with my life / am I ever going to get out of here / will it be worse next time / those exams / those girls / those boys / will I ever get a job / is there a god / is the world going to end / am I going mental / why am I such a spacker / am I ever going to have sex with anyone /
Round and round.
People forget the boredom. Waiting. Always waiting for something to happen, for someone to turn up, for life to begin. Years and years and years of school, paper rounds, homework. Looking out of the same window. Having the same arguments with parents, siblings.
People forget. The nostalgia industry helps wash away those painful memories and replaces them with zingy glamour.
Fade to cosmetic advert with a computer-generated consciousness twinkling away as the little black pock marks of trauma dwindle. Confident eyelashes blink.
“Yes! They were exciting, and dare I say it, important times.”
The credits roll. A teenager looks out of the window. Wondering why life is so shit.
Somewhere, somebody else is making a name for themselves. History is being manufactured.