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I am 17 going on 50 

By Andrew Vaughan 

 

I was on the way home the other Friday when two pretty indie girls bowled on the bus at The Conny in Skem. Vintage dresses, smelling beautifully, bottles of wine jangling in their bags and great big gorgeous smiles.

 

Sat behind me - I soon deduced they were going to the indie night in Wigan. And they brightened my journey. Talking and laughing about how Alex Turner was fit and Alexa Chung was horrible (I think they got that the wrong way around but…), the latest Kings of Leon album, visiting London in the spring and discussing what university they were going to. Along with snogging boys, dancing to Northern Soul, what party they were going to next week and a myriad of other subjects.

 

I enjoyed listening to their chat. So bright, so naïve, so lacking in cynicism and so in love with the world. And when I got off the bus I felt sort of strange as I got thinking about the girls. Then as I buttoned by coat up and hastened my step I was suddenly hit with sadness. A lump formed in my throat and tears came to my eyes and I so wished I were 17 going on 18 again. And I've never felt that before. I've always loved the fact that I was 18 when punk rock hit the nation. Loved the fact that I went to Wigan Casino. Stayed up long after tonight was all over. Loved the fact that I had worn original Ben Shermans as a 12-year-old and loved the fact that I'd seen Bowie and Rod and Roxy and Bruce and Marley and Luther and everybody else.

 

But at that moment walking through the cold dismal streets of Wigan WN5 I just wished I could be going to Café Nirvana that night. Dancing with pretty indie girls, planning on going to uni and getting so drunk that the room would spin later that night.

 

Between the ages of 16 and 19 the world is truly yours. I remember those days so vividly. Going to the pub with your mates. And nightclubbing and getting in and out of scrapes. Forging proper relationships with girls and getting to know your dad as a man. Learning to drive. Learning to drive with my dad and the two of us singing along to Al Green and Simon & Garfunkel on the 8-track cartridge player. Turning out on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Then playing football on a Sunday. And going to the cinema with the girl you met on the Saturday and buying clothes and records. And loving - absolutely loving - music just as the two girls on the bus obviously did. And like them dancing to Northern Soul and not giving two hoots about work or money and just being in love with the world.

 

When I got home I put the stereo on. Put Rod on. Rod singing Mandolin Wind. The saddest, most beautiful of songs. And I'm back in Pete Carroll's parents front room in Orrell with all my mates. All of us - 16/17 years of age talking about The Faces and Springsteen and Mott the Hoople and Johnny Cash. And Wigan and Everton and Liverpool. And Christine Macey and Anne Holmes and all the other beautiful girls we know before going to the Delph Tavern and a long time before going our separate ways in life.

 

And I am 17 again. And I don't need to be Café Nirvana tonight. And I've still got that lump in my throat and those tears in my eyes…                 

 


 

 

 


 

 

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