It was my first visit there.
i’ve finished my A’ level exams, i fucked them up i fucked them up. i sit there and write answers which are not nearly long and detailed enough because my head is full of unlived adventures and i haven’t lived enough. i haven’t shed my emotional virginity or experienced the rough with the smooth. though my mind is lined with wrinkles my skin is untouched. i am a question mark without explanation a comma with no pause. my day is night my happy is sad. I hide my personality behind a locked door. intelligence is the key if you want to unlock me. nevertheless i fucked them up because i couldn’t find me and now i’m heading to the glastonbury festival and pretending to be young and free not young and dried up. excitement tickles me with playful fingers. finally at the age of 21 i am adulting. digbeth is where we catch the coach anna lucy and me. 2 sisters and me make 2 and a half not 3 when one’s only relative is misery. though today excitement tickles me we wait impatiently for the coach and they tell me that helen is to meet us there. i wonder how we will find her but serendipity has reserved a spot for us in the grassy air. we board the coach we board the coach. it smells of hash and is lined with coke and rust. I sit behind a neck so delicate and long that it could only belong to a pen swan or an implement with which to write a love song. a love song to she who sits before me whose face i wouldn’t recognise if it smiled at me and whose neck yields an imaginary kiss. (recently i wrote a short story about a woman who falls in love with a neck, like my protagonist it was rejected). the coach is near Glastonbury. tickle inside me but within a blink of an eye it skids and falls on its side on the road to Glastonbury. i am thrown across the aisle everyone climbs out of the emergency exit at the back of the coach. we are lined up in the road festival goers in search of a festival who don’t know where to go or if another coach will appear. we follow the crowd. i want to piss and fear that the festival ground may be miles from here but we follow behind and i cross the legs of my mind. fortunately the festival ground is near. inside i relieve my bladder and my fear no longer grinds me down. we head for the spot to meet helen sister 3. sister 3 arrives at 7.30 in the morning. she has visited the spot many times in the night hoping to find her sisters of kind, kindred folk. i hug her as tightly as a teddy bear then we make our way to our camping location. the noisiest most vibrant space to the left of the main stage. i spend 3 days and nights awake. this is glastonbury what else would one expect. 3 days sodden in alcohol and mud. 3 days with only a slice of pizza in my belly. 3 days searching for sinead o’connor who is due to perform at some stage. men and women of all shapes and sizes hair long and short and probably even a few reprises i approach them all and say “are you sinead?” sincerity leaking through my face like night is day and day is night. most laugh and turn away. one of the many benefits of drinking a bottle of mixed cider and gin is that it makes everybody look bald slim attractive and feminine. i don’t find sinead but i watch her perform open mouthed awe stricken. a baby dyke before i find my baby dyke’s uniform. i am a hippy in these innocent days and pretty or so i choose to believe all the girls say and like sinead i smell of the earth and am worn/warmed by the weather. like morrissey in his autobiography cultural allusions protect my subjectivity. morrissey does not perform at glastonbury 1990 but i step on the happy Mondays and let them twist my melons for free. or for the £45 i paid for my ticket.
the next time i visit digbeth coach station i am with my mother and the rescue dog she has just bought for me from birmingham dog’s home. I call him billy and love him unconditionally. subsequently my man and i see bands nearby Pop will Eat Itself at the 02 academy and local heroes the courtesy group in digbeth pubs but it is that first adventure there that resonates most shrilly with me.
Living in London in the early 1990’s was comparable to visiting a sweet shop, offering myriads of florid and tasty temptations, whilst slowly poisoning me with its sugary and acidic delights. I dipped my fingers into jars until my skin yellowed. Somehow, though, I failed to see the yellow and imagined that I retained my virginal pink-white fleshy shell.
Compared to the symbolic journey I had taken to reach that point in my existence; the 100 miles I had travelled from Coventry, where I grew up, to London seemed miniscule. I was a classic underachiever who had left school after a year in the sixth form, underqualified and depressed. Like an archetypal Smiths fan, I spent my days in the haven of my bedroom, listening to my hero, Morrissey on shiny chunks of vinyl and venturing alone to the cinema to make imaginary love to the beautiful actors of the day.
Friendless and lonely, I had almost given up on life before it began. But, when I left school and attended a much more grown up F.E. college, I began to engage with reality. For the first time my vulgar shyness shook and on rare occasions a criminal intent to speak almost overcame my dissociated mouth.
I studied 5 O’ levels, mostly in subjects not available at my school and proved to be a proficient, though somewhat withdrawn, student. The stand-out class was psychology. To this day I can recall with perfect clarity the figure of the lecturer who tutored us. I shall call him, Richard Hawkins.
Richard was a tiny framed, delicate flower of a man and, someone whose shoulders were no broader than his waist. His heavenly backside was so skinny that he could sit with both it, his legs and his minute feet perched on the seat of the classroom chairs and would invariably pose in true Schiele model style, like a contorted somatic lettuce.
He possessed a huge fair moustache, wore round Lennon type glasses and clothes that looked like your geeky cousin’s student rag week outfit circa 1978. He talked with a slight lisp, and I was drawn to his flawed aesthetics in the same way as a painting by the master who might have depicted him.
He attracted one of the other students in my class in a totally different way. Her teenage crush was evident to all. She was an embryonic lesbian who loved him from the bottom of her Beautiful South pencil case. She could have squashed him with one plump finger of her lustful hand. I secretly delighted in observing her bat her unmade-up eyelashes at him. I do not think I ever spoke to him on a one-to-one basis, but always wanted to.