Things what I writ

I sometimes write nonsense about things to try and sound clever

i say editors, you say netbeans

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line 1 by Tim Caynes

I’ll just do a quick story although that will probably be a whole chapter as they’re quite short and we need to see whether there’s anything useful in justice strauss’ extensive library which might tell us something about inheritance law and then I really have to go as there’s probably at least 1 other bunch of geordies or something to squeeze in before we get to what seems to be the unofficial official time of around 9:50 when they’ll flash that torch from the front so that the serious looking pair on the mixing desk know when to dim the lights and crank it up to 11 by which time there’s already a few pairs of feet in the air which will get hauled out by the efficient security staff behind the barrier and get chucked out into to night where the ice cream van that’s been modded to flog burgers and ecoli will gather them up and they’ll never be seen again at least not by me

everyone’s feeling a bit sunday night as its sunday night but we’re kind of kind to the guys on stage from newcastle who I have no idea about although they shout nicely and we all cheer when the bass player jumps down from the stage to confront an annoying troglodite from swaffham who’s been heckling throughout but we don’t get a fight although we do get a pointy finger in the face and a look of thunder and then he gets back on stage and starts playing again and the whole band crack up and he grins for the rest of the set which is funny but no sooner have they gone than the snake trail to the dance pit begins as we’re making early territorial claims on bits of floor that will be covered in plastic and beer in an hour anyway but if you don’t make a move now the only way to do it later is to get ubersweaty and take your shirt off so you slime past people and they clear a path to the front which is particularly effective if you smell real bad and look like you’re stoned past the point of coherence and probably uncontrollably violent but I haven’t done that for years and before you know it there’s a band called brakes on who look like they met in a youth hostel in the brecons via quebec and do 30 seconds songs about picking up the phone blair blair blair and cheney stop being such a dick and a few slightly longer ones about having a life and love and after a good 40 minutes we all think they’re marvellous and when the lights come on we take a quick look at the posters on the pillars about their album which we ignored before

and then said flashlight occurs and suddenly its the 1980s and I’m watching echo and the bunnymen at the ipswich gaumont and u2 at the uea and a whole bunch of 4ad artists who like to play guitars using only 1 string but really loud except that actually its editors and fancy that, someone’s come to the uea and put on a proper show like what they used to with projectors and backlit hanging sheets and those white lights that look like stars and shine in your face and a healthy collection of strobe lights that nearly go for a full unbroken 10 seconds at one point while we’re all catatonic down the front shouting “as the FIN-GERS-BLEED in the FAC-TO-RIES” and “youdon’tneedthisdiseaseyoudon’tyoudon’tyouDON’T” and “I still love the LIGHT on BABY” in a really horrible high-pitched squeal but we’re loving it and even though tom’s guitar is mixed so far down you can bearly hear it and a significant amount of the stage lights point toward the crowd meaning we’re lit up for a lot of the time which means we can actually see each other which is quite off-putting and really kills the atmosphere we have a rather nice time. aah, there’s nothing like a healthy nostalgia trip and if you’re old enough to have been there the first time but can still do it 25 years later without looking like you just there to do some kind of sociology study or something then its bonus time. did someone say big country? ooh, that’s a bit harsh…

blimey, its the small faces

just had time to wolf down the roast dinner before I bolted out the door leaving family chaos behind me like a fleeing teenager going to meet his girlfriend outside the doors of the lower common room at the university which is coincidentally where I was going but not to meet my girlfriend because she’s now my wife and I’ve just left her with some rather unpleasant washing up and 3 school packed lunches to make but that’s ok because I’ll get a list of things I won’t remember that I have to do tomorrow unless I get left a list

tonight I’m banking on the fact that 4 bands can’t all cancel at the same time seeing as tonight they’re all on at the same time and so unlike that class A fatboy shambles who got himself arrested and our finnish friends who declined to turn up at all, oh, and the wierdos who were sick or summat, I’m expecting mystery jets, we are scientists, arctic monkeys and maximo park to give us a performance that people who weren’t there will be remembering for at least, ooh, a year or so or as young alex said in 20 years when its all over will say they were there when they actually might have been down the front asking for girls aloud like what he said innit. as it happens, I’m not early enough to see the young boy with his dad in the band do their thing and they’re just sticking with agnes by the time I get to the bar for a customary stella in a ‘plastic glass’ that will be recycled before our eyes under 100s of tiny feet later on. oh well.

hang on. its busy in here. I saw the rakes a couple of weeks ago and you could stroll onto the floor and put out a deckchair pretty much, but this time its absolutely mashed full of youngsters with their hair and tshirts. not since 1981 has this place been so full of 14 year olds and I was one of them so I know and by the way I do remember 20+ years later when it’s all over because it isn’t because the band I saw then just picked up 5 grammys which is nice and so it was me down the front then except I wasn’t shouting for girls aloud, but maybe for girls, aloud but by a strange coincidence I now also have girls aloud. I’m not entirely sure that all these people are here to see we are scientists, good as they are but that dance floor bit is already moving around like a strange mass with it’s own brain and there must be about 800 people in a space where 600 is probably enough to be rather too personal. I mean, they’re good and they do american jokes and things like they’re out of a spike jonze video and everyone gives them a courteous amount of mobile phone picture taking time and then they’re gone and everybody’s looking at their watch because actually they know from previous reports that arctic monkeys will take the stage at 9 pm and so we’re all eyeing up the preferred route to the mosh pit and where we might end up when we take our feet from the floor and just let our bodies get hoofed around in a sweaty crush.

I give up caring about anything by about 8:55 and so take it upon myself to just barge through about 20 poor young girls in black mohair and squeeze past assorted 18 year old soft southerners, spilling their plastic pints on the way because they don’t deserve to have drinks on the dance floor and after about 10 minutes I’m right in the middle of the floor getting my head in everyone’s way but they should care because in approximately 30 seconds the whole place is going to go mental ape sh*t as the reason at least 50% of the people are here are about to strop onto the stage and give us 40 minutes of south yorkshire monkeyness. as they come on about 20 girls faint on the spot and about 20 boys do as well and when they launch into whatever song it was they launched into I get a flashback to the clash at the brixton academy although not because the arctic monkeys remind me of the clash at all its just that I had a strange feeling I was going to lose my shoes in the brixton academy violent mosh madness and for some reason felt it again here in the uea common room about 25 years later which maybe is what the arctic monkeys are all about except it occurs to me now that they are actually the reincarnation of the small faces which isn’t a bad thing at all and so I keep that thought in my head and jump up and down and get crushed and mashed up and frankly have more fun than a fat balding 38 year old should have when he’s surrounded by students and fake tales of san francisco is a great tune anyway and worth the entrance fee which was doubled by the time I paid it to some bloke on ebay who’s girlfriend couldn’t go.

so then they’re off and so are a sizeable section of the audience who must have to catch a really early bus or summat and so things thin out about and I’m just wringing out my ‘I swam the Pacifico’ tshirt when those lovely northern neo-punks maximo park dart on and pull a few art school poses before giving us all a 50 minute reminder why they are top of the bill after all. because they’re loads better than all the others really. and they’re really nice. so there. I sing out loud. embarassing, but worth it. lose some pressure, apply some pressure, lose some pressure, apply some pressure…

oh go on then, natalie imbruglia

with mr doherty and his shambles of babies and our friends from the forests of finland deciding they couldn’t be quite arsed enough to bother to visit this place (twice in mr doherty’s feeble case) I had reached that point where I would have agreed to go and see the chuckle brothers performing we will rock you at a disused tractor factory in aylsham if they agreed to actually turn up. it would just be nice to get hold of a ticket to go to the excruciatingly awful lower common room and see anyone, even if it was kirk brandon and mike peters or someone. well, maybe it wasn’t that bad. so leafing through the free advertiser on a friday morning, reading the crime reports and special deals on honda civics at a garage in wymondham, there, between the patios and 60s birthday messages for a woman called travis from clacton, an over saturated, colour bled small ad for natalie imbruglia who will be singing stuff at said lower common room on halloween as part of a UK tour that takes in london and, er, norwich. that’s it. well, she won’t cancel everything at the last minute. I mean, she’s like a real professional pop person and everything. she’ll probably bring her own travelling venue on the back of a lorry that they can construct inside the lower common room so that it actually ends up being the kind of place you might voluntarily fork out 20 quid to see someone because they’re the only people who’ll turn up. and besides, its natalie imbruglia, right? it’s probably a good idea to go and see her in real life just to check whether she really does look like she does in marie claire or whether they actually airbrush her entire head and actually in person she looks like supergran on speed or that mad woman from rentaghost.

as the students are not yet back there’s a slim chance that the 1500 tickets for an event that’s likely to be more bearable than an environmental science roadshow featuring a beard from cambridge and maybe bill oddie will not have sold out 3 hours before they’re even announced, I plunge onto the uea ticket bookings site and register for about the 5th time, letting them know my preferences don’t really include spoken word folk ambient evenings with organic muppets, and check down the list of student clubs nights featuring half dressed disaster areas, half man half biscuit tribute bands (arctic monkeys hahaha) , and revival nights, and there she is, too recent to have her own picture, for 20 quid. oh go on then, natalie imbruglia. if you even turn up I’ll be pleased to see you, so you probably don’t have to do too much to impress me once you get going and we’ll all be feeling like we made a good, albeit bizarre, decision to meet in east anglia, where in general, the audiences are, well, rubbish.

have you checked to see whether it’s still on? nah. its natalie imbruglia, right? I mean, she’s not going to cancel is she? I didn’t even check the ticket booking site, which had flashing messages in big capital letters and everything when the shambles and the leaves decided norwich was a backwater too far. I finished off a project plan for global search, updated the calendar for meetings about ecommerce globalization, unified product information architecture worldwide routing and globalized web platforms, cut out an evil toothy face from a haphazard pumpkin, put 170 mini mars bars and 34 chupa chups into the treat collection jar, got in the megane scenic and headed out to the university. in the rain. backwards. its only about 10 minutes to get there, but the campus has one of those one-way systems and menacing car parks that make late 30 somethings want to stay in and watch videos of waking the dead instead, but I ploughed on, through the already skyward car park barrier, which obviously made me paranoid about not having a ticket to put in the other barrier on the way out and how I’d probably get stuck in the barrier with 500 cars behind me and I’d have to reverse out and call a man with a torch called dave to put a special key in or something to let everyone through, who want to kill me by now and I should have just stayed in an watched spooks instead. anyway, having found a space under a street lamp (under strict instruction from home) I started walking over the car park and down the hill past what used to be the sports hall to the lower common room, which used to be the lower common room, which I used to walk to about 3 times a week about 20 years ago, to go and see people I’ve never heard of shout at microphones about red wedge and urban decay and class war and and suchlike, but now I’m tripping over cables from luxury tour buses for aor queens and everyone around me looks like they’ve got a day off from anglian windows or norwich union, but then, even though I try and look like I might just be a journalist or something, who has to be here, I probably look like a 30-something dad, who’s got a night off from the washing up and actually thinks natalie has a brilliant voice and her songs are so, well, you know, like, good, all of which is probably true, but I’ve brought a pen, just to see if I can’t keep the journalist thing alive as long as possible. I had a haircut this morning, which always gives me a headache in the evening, but I’ve shot myself in the head with 2 nurofen arrows and I’m holding up. as I walk through the security and fumble around for my ticket, I’m still trying to pull of that ‘I don’t really want to be here’ look, but I getting past the point of caring even if neil sees me and it ruins 20 years of carefully cultivated cultural snobbery.

once I’m in, I’m reminded just how godawful a place the lower common room is to see any kind of event. the ceiling around 3 sides of a square must be around 7 foot high and the 4th side is the stage. in front of the stage is a smaller square of old parquet flooring which can probably accommodate around 300 people standing looking at the stage – this is the only place people under 6 foot can actually see anything – or 200 students fumbling drunkenly at each other while madame disco poopoo or something spins 70 glam classics and everything smells a bit off. and it’s hot. it’s always been hot. for about 40 years its been hot and so by the time I’ve had pint of stella in a glass that can only be described as a plastic challenge, and stood contemplating the rise of the woolly hat as sported by robert post tonight and daniel powter at all times, and shuffled a few places to the left and filled a couple of gaps left by some people who had passed out, I’m about ready to take the replay top off and assume my watching position. miraculously, for the lower common room, a gap opens up in front of me, which is just right for a 6 foot plus person like me to see the whole stage, although the saturday staff from john lewis who are all around and below me have no chance (can you see her? can you see her now? will be the soundtrack to the evening).

then the moment where the lights go down and some ill-advised intro music pipes in comes along and this is everyone’s cue to cheer and clap until the act bounds on stage at which point the crowd erupts into an ecstatic frenzy like they’ve been brainwashed by colonel kurtz and the night kicks off. except, in norwich, this is more like 30 seconds of low-key ‘yeah’s and a couple of whoops, followed by a protracted murmur and then total silence at which point the intro music turns into some more intro music and some people actually get bored and leave in an embarrassing shuffle through the crowd. oh, but then the lights come on, the band bounce across the stage and we all go understatedly apoplectic again and then there’s natalie, bouncing across the stage in a probably ridiculously expensive grey tshirt and what looks like diesel jeans, which is funny to me, for some reason. she says hi, and sings lots of songs and then a couple more and then gets on her bus to go to amsterdam.

she’s not got snake hair or a beard or anything. she’s beautiful, she sings like an angel and I love her. I’m still a bit worried about the car park though.



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