Saturday, 22 September 2007

Oh for a Sweet Escape...

It is Saturday morning and it is 5.40am. I have been awake for ten minutes. One of our readers might be thinking, What the hell is Agnes doing up at that time on the weekend and the other reader is thinking, Get on with it, Agnes and don't give us any philisophical claptrap. Well, I'm up at 5.30am every day, whether I like it or not, as that's the way my body works. And I don't like it, and all I end up doing is smoking, drinking coffee and writing blogs. And I shan't bore you any further on the subject.

Well, it's a very big day in the Mildew household. #1 and #2 daughters are going to experience something today which they have never experienced before - yes, they are going to learn how to use an iron. Ahahahaha!

No, they are going to their first live gig tonight!
Utterly B-A-N-A-N-A-S
As a mum who attempts to be 'cool' ('frigid' is how I have been described by dates), in a moment of madness three months ago, I purchased three tickets to see Gwen Stefani at the Manchester Evening News arena (MEN). All I know about Ms Stefani is that she has also released a celebrity perfume called Lamb. Which, to me, is a bloody stupid name. I could do that and call it Cow.

The girls are attempting to educate me in Ms Stefani's songs (I remember some of the No Doubt stuff, I must admit) and I don't like them. I have heard 'Ain't No Holler Back, Girl' countless times and it is diabolical. Why does she start spelling out B-A-N-A-N-A-S? Is this White American Rap Girl code for something rude? Am I unwittingly singing along with something I know nothing about? Why bananas? Why not papayas or lychees? If it's just because it is her favourite fruit, OK, I take it back, Gwen, but I just Don't Get It!

I have No Doubt (I get that - ahaha! Do you?) that I will sit there tonight, bewildered by the array of tweenies in the audience who are all dressed far more provocatively than ought to be legal and I shall feel very, very old.

My Boys
My girls are 13 and 11 - almost: I was 17 before I went to my first gig with a gaggle of friends from Sixth Form College. I organised the outing and it was to see my favourite band of the time, The Stranglers. In 1987, I was ten years too late for the punk movement, but it had affected me quite profoundly in that I really wanted to wear tartan, bondage outfits, dye my hair red/green/blue and show lots of disrespect to authority. So, in my attempt to emulate the style a decade later, I got it horribly wrong: I was more Goth, was only allowed to buy wash-in/wash-out hairdyes in shades of Autumn Chestnut to Raven Beauty and always remembered my manners.

This does NOT look punk...
My outfit was very carefully chosen for the evening and I painted all my nails black, wore head-to-foot black (boots, leggings, a black lacey underskirt (!) and my mother's good jumper), dyed my hair Raven Beauty (purpley-black), wore black lipstick and (oh, the shame), wore my friend Linda's nasty-smelling Kiss Me Quick hat from Blackpool beach from which I had blacked out the catchy slogan. I looked like a Goth/Emo with a sense of humour and a cardiac complaint, but nothing like a Punk, unfortunately.

We caught the H5 Crosville bus to Liverpool and wandered around trying to find the Mountford Hall, which was part of the University. We actually only had to listen out for gangs of punks snarling 'Nice & Sleazy' to find it and as there were no queues, we got in without any problems.

Well, to this small-village girl, it was a real eye-opener. There were piercings I didn't think were possible; evil-looking spikes, studs, belts and buckles; hair which could have acted as building scaffold with its gravity-defying rigidity; and both sexes poured into eye-wateringly tight PVC, ripped denim, tartan and leather outfits. And I wanted to look like THIS?
The place stank of B.O. and beer. Suddenly, I felt very incongruous in a Kiss Me Quick hat, and I got rather concerned that I might be found out as an imposter, so I hurriedly purchased a Stranglers T-shirt, put it on in the toilets and binned my mother's best black lambswool jumper (for which I received the grounding of my life - but that's rebellion, man!).

In my innocence, I thought the support act was The Stranglers and stared at them in bewilderment. Where was my one true love, JJ Burnell? Why weren't they singing all the songs I had painstakingly learned such as No More Heroes, Hangin' Around and Ugly? I also couldn't understand the apathy from the rest of the audience. While I was pogo-ing manically, the others were quaffing beer (to quaff means to throw as much beer down your front without actually drinking any) and seemingly, feigning indifference.

An hour later, the lighting changed, as did the atmosphere, and suddenly, hundreds of aggressive testosterone-charged punks surged to the front of the hall, yelling, snarling, gobbing and punching each other. We all got carried towards the front with the tidal wave and it was not a pleasant experience. Most of these people are now in Strangeways
Within seconds I had received elbows to my neck, face, back and ribs and I rapidly tried to get to the back. All my, 'Excuse me, would you mind, please?'-es were completely ignored and I ended up elbowing my way out myself. At the back, it was much safer and more pleasant. As the band got into their stride, you could actually see missiles of spit, beer and urine bags being hurled at the band, and I did wonder that, now they were in their late 30s/early 40s, didn't they just yearn for a bit of decorum? I certainly knew from having read their fanzine, Strangled Magazine, that Hugh Cornwell was an opera buff and JJ Burnell (*swoon*) could deconstruct Percy Bysshe Shelley's Ozymandias.

It was, in all, an amazing experience for me and I left the hall quite elated and jabbering excitedly about it all. When we got outside to catch the last bus home, it was pouring down with rain. My mother had told me to take an anorak, but have you ever seen a Punk wearing a pack-a-mac? Muth-eeerrrrrr! Consequently, the driving rain melted all the glue in the cheap Kiss Me Quick hat which started to form a cocoon around my head. I removed it and the rain thus made my wash-in/wash-out Raven Beauty hair dye run down my face in purple rivulets. From being a pseudo Goth, I now looked like a Hammer Horror reject.

I didn't care. I was happy and I had seen JJ in real life. There was one point when I was quite certain he was staring at me and sending me telepathic messages to meet him backstage, but it might have been the lights blinding him.

So, I do hope daughters #1 and #2 remember tonight as vividly as I remember my first gig. And I hope that it is fun for them, if not for me. I shall not make any fashion faux pas tonight and dress safely in jeans, a nice warm jumper as the MEN is bitterly cold and I might sneak in my own can of diet Coke rather than pay the MEN's exorbitant prices. And if I wake up tomorrow morning with temporary deafness, just shout when you leave a comment. I shall get back to you when normal hearing is resumed.

13 comments:

ericat said...

your daughters must be lucky with a mom like you. I doubt if they appreciate you now, but they will. To think you are younger than my daughter - time fly. this is my life now enjoy it when you get there

deathsweep said...

Sounds like fun - then...and...now!

DS

fishwithoutbicycle said...

The Stranglers is very cool for a first gig, I forget who mine was - yes they were THAT good. I've heard Gwen puts on a great show!! Have fun. Fish x

karen said...

What a nice post. It sounds like a delightful evening to me. I look forward to a time when I might have two daughters to taxi around! I hope you had a wonderful time - or at least that your daughters did.

Agnes Mildew said...

Erica: Thank you for dropping in on us - you are most welcome here! And I shall certainly read about your plants with interest as I am a frustrated gardener, herbologist person.

Deathsweep, Fish & Karen: The show was utterly awesome. I was completely taken aback at her show. She has a fantastic voice - I expected it to be weedy and synthesised but she has one hell of a pair of lungs on her! And she really knew how to talk to her audience - and get stuck in with them. She went all over the arena, diving into seating rows, singing with everybody. She was utterly brilliant and I am so glad we had fun...until I lost my car keys in city centre Manchester and didn't get home until 3.30am...but that's another blog, when I have finally stopped shaking with fright!

BTW, Karen, I do hope you have had a wonderful holiday and it is good to see you back!

Amel's Realm said...

Glad you actually had fun and enjoyed the show. I like Gwen Stefani though I'm not a big fan of hers he he he...

The story about your experience years back made me grimace a bit...bags of urine? YIKES!!!!

alcoment said...

Glad it was good, I'd also heard that she puts on a great show.

Your first gig sounds much better than mine - I was 14 and went to see PJ and Duncan. Yes, Ant and Dec off Saturday night TV, when they were boys and in Byker Grove! My mates loved it, I didn't and now I rarely admit I was ever there, it's quite shameful!

Agnes Mildew said...

Amel: Eau de urine was par for the course at any punk gig then and now. I saw sights which are seared onto my retina - particularly the sight of Captain Sensible of The Damned performing 'The Dying Fly', butt naked on top of an amp...

Alcoment: I am very proud of you for coming to terms with having been a PJ & Duncan fan. It wasn't your fault. You were very young and knew no better!!!

Keli said...

Ah, first gigs! I'm going to date myself by telling you my first was Elvis in Las Vegas. Of course, I was only five. But it was spectacular... and the audience was very civilized (only those sitting in the front rows were trampled in the end). I have to agree with you that many of Gwen's songs get on my nerves, especially when she spells banana. So to sacrifice your sanity to take your daughters was the ultimate in unselfish motherhood. I'm very gladthat you ended up enjoying the concert with your girls!

Agnes Mildew said...

Keli: Despite not being an Elvis fan, I bet that was an amazing concert to behold, particularly at the age of five. And I keep telling the girls that they have a fantastic Mum, but they beg to differ...such is life!

thewishfulwriter said...

after reading this post, i feel totally screwed over.

my first concert (at the age of 9) was Air Supply.

My mother swore to me they were cooler than Michael Jackson (who I really wanted to go see).

and to tell you how special the experience was - I remember none of it.

Linda and her Surroundings said...

Just curious how your girls felt about you being with them at the concert? There is no way I would have wanted my old mum near me at the Fleetwood Mac concert! Also I have tagged you for an "8 Random Things Meme". I am sure you could come up with something VERY interesting.

Agnes Mildew said...

Heather: Errr...Air Supply...They are one of those instantly forgettable bands, aren't they? I had to just look them up to remember any of their songs and they did that cheesey 'Lost in Love'. I think you could report your mother for child abuse for taking you to see them...

Linda: Thankfully, it didn't cross the girls' minds that it was uncool to have their mother with them. While Mum has her purse with her, nothing is uncool if you know what I mean!