I once had a job at a record company. It was a small independent label, well, two labels actually for two different styles of music. But the same owner. His name was Kevin Kinsella Senior. He had a son named Kevin Kinsella Junior.
We went to the Manchester Museum the other day, which is on Oxford Road in Manchester. I realized I was not far from where the record company was. I walked down Grosvenor Street to see if there was any possibility it was still there – it is over twenty years since I worked there. There was a building that might possibly have housed the offices were the Kevin Kinsellas were based.
I am not sure if it was this building. It is so long ago. I noticed a white door with an intercom panel, which did resemble the entrance to the offices on the top floor of a building, which presumably the Kinsellas rented. Wel,l if it was not this building, then it must have been another one nearby which presumably has been demolished long ago to make way for Sugden Sports Center.
The main task I recall was dealing with sacks of fan mail that was arriving for Robbie Williams, who had just left Take That. Other than that, I just dusted the office, made tea and completed any other task they could find for me.
I went to see a lot of live music, back in the day. Mostly at the Manchester Academy and The Students Union, which were very close to the record company. I also went up to the Roadhouse which was up near Piccadilly. I have some stories, but I am think I will have to save them for other posts because this post is already too long.
Have you heard of “Britpop”? If you are around my age and grew up in the UK…then you know exactly the genre I am referring to.
Do you remember the band Blur? Their song “Country House”? One of my first concerts was a Blur concert. I was 13. They played at a venue called the G-Mex in Manchester. Now, I was a good kid on the whole, but I had a bit of a rebellious stint which was around the time I started listening to Britpop bands. The day Blur performed at the G-Mex, I bunked off school for the day, because I had a detention that day and thought I would be late for the concert (I did the detention the following week – forging my mum’s signature). We were queuing up all day outside of the G-Mex. Opposite was a construction site. The builders put up a massive sign which said, “What’s The Story Morning Glory?” which was the title of the music album that the band Oasis had just released. I remember that “Country House” had beaten “Roll With It” to the number one spot in the charts. There seemed to be a lot of rivalry between the two bands – but who knows how much was just the media fanning the flames to create stories? It was no wonder that the more popular band in Manchester were Oasis. My memory may be a bit foggy, but I thought they had a connection with Burnage. It is over twenty years ago though, so I may have that wrong.
Well…although we were all queuing to see Blur, we were obviously all even more keen on Oasis at the time because we all started singing Oasis songs outside the G-Mex. When the audience was inside the arena waiting for the concert to begin, the crowd carried on singing Oasis songs. But I do remember once Blur came onto the stage they were fantastic and the audience responded with great enthusiasm. Some bloke lifted me up onto his shoulders, and before I knew it, I was being passed along a sea of hands and one of the security guys at the front grabbed my feet as I reached the front of the crowds. I seemed to be dangling there for a few seconds before he put me upright and made sure I was alright.
Did you like all the Britpop bands? Did you have any partiality when it came to Blur and Oasis? Not that it matters now, but at the time it was quite a devisive issue which band you were a fan of. I saw pretty much all of the Britpop bands live – mostly in Manchester.
For a while, I was pretty obsessed with the music I was listening to. I used to study music journals like The NME and Melody Maker and Kerrang. I listened to music at every opportunity. At night would put headphones on and fall asleep with music playing my ears. I became a fountain of knowledge on Britpop bands. I don’t remember much at all now. Redundant information. Occasionally, I frighten a teenager who I find listening to Liam Gallagher by telling them some trivia that has popped into my mind from the olden days.
I liked all the music so much. I was wrapped up in the culture of Manchester lads and I guess I was trying to fit in with the Adidas Sambas and three striped jackets. I thought it was all so cool. I would make my parents grimace by grumbling “WHATEVER!” and being miserable, even though it did not suit me remotely. My parents had raised me full of sunshine and joy. I must have looked completely daft imitating a bunch of musicians who had an air of arrogant and wreckless carelessness.
But just before I was 16 I started to see things in a more sober light. I was developing a growing distaste of the behaviour I was seeing with my own eyes while I worked for the record company. In addition the public image of a lot of the musicians I had been a fan of was becoming more contemptible to me. The media alleged that Noel Gallagher said something which triggered the dislike switch inside me. Allegedly he said, “taking drugs is like having my morning cup of tea”. I don’t know if he really did say that or if the press were exaggerating. But it was all to easy to believe it because it was not out of harmony with other behaviour we had seen.
I realized from what I had seen, that this culture was producing jabbering idiots, the young men and “ladettes” I had befriended were coming across as rather stupid. I had been excited to make new friends with young people a little older than me, in a big city that seemed so exciting. But these Manchester lads that I had been so impressed by suddenly seemed like utter fruitcakes to me. For the first time, I saw how much they were under the influence of alcohol, drugs or this hype…this egotistical arrogant showy culture of not caring what anyone thinks and doing “WHATEVER”. I suddenly saw how unhealthy it was.
I did not like who I was becoming. During those months, I was listening to all these lyrics and pretending to be a “ladette”, I had done things I am ashamed of and regret, I had seen people who disgusted me. The excitement evapourated and I just saw filth. My site is child-friendly (I hope) so I won’t recount any detailed description of the revolting things I had seen – but you know the phrase “Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll” (and throw in alcohol) by the age of fifteen I had seen enough to convince me of something: MUM AND DAD WERE RIGHT ALL ALONG AND RULES ARE GOOD. THERE IS NO NEED TO REBEL AND BREAK ALL THE RULES. UNLESS YOU WANT TO END UP IN HOSPITAL AND MAKING DAILY VISITS TO YOUR LOCAL PHARMACY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!
So, drastically, I threw out all my CDs….eventually – it took me a while to part with some of them. But for the previous three years I had been walking round singing these songs and I realized I was on my way to becoming a miserable, unappreciative, arrogant twit. I did not like that. Therefore, I decided to make decisive changes. I wanted to breath in pure air and be a little ray of sunshine again. Goodness, it suited me better.
That is when I started listening to Mum and Dad and all of the lessons they had been trying to teach me started to seep down into my heart. Slowly, slowly, something transformed inside me. I was unshackled from the doldrums of teenage angst and so I switched off and looked for other things to get involved in…and looking back I am glad I did….I ended up working on construction projects and learning things I never imagined and making friends all over North Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside, Manchester and Lancashire. I learnt British Sign Language and interpreted for several deaf in the Liverpool area. I learnt some Chinese and had chance to teach several students. I was able to travel to various countries to visit friends I had made.
And that led onto me moving to the south and then led to me being invited to become a full-time volunteer. And then life became better than I had ever imagined and I was able to meet people and work with people I had read of for decades and work on incredible projects and meet many thousands of people of scores of nationalities.
I learnt something about myself at the age of fifteen:
HAPPINESS REALLY SUITS ME!
I HAVE AN AMAZING SMILE!
I LOVE BEING KIND AND HELPFUL!
I can enjoy some of the anthems of the Britpop era now. I don’t want to appear as if I don’t recognize that there were some brilliant tunes churned out by those Britpop bands during the 1990s. But if I detect an arrogant unfeeling, uncaring attitude towards others, well, I just don’t approve. To thrive as a human you need to love and be loved. Walking around with a miserable look on your face and muttering “WHATEVER!” is not going to help you taste what life is all about.
I don’t listen to any songs that are obviously about taking drugs or songs that are disdainful towards others. But I love guitar music and I like the bounce and fun of a lot of the songs as well as some of the classic melodies from some of the very big tracks these Britpop bands released. There is no way I am going to pretend to be like them or put on a hard front like I used to as a teenager. Thank goodness it lasted for less than a year. My parents would have been dismayed if I had carried on like that much longer.
I may listen to tunes on the radio or on YouTube, but I am not interested in the artists – I dread to think what some of them get involved in. Not all of them, but it takes strong characters to not get swept along by the crowd you are working and mixing with.
Well…as we are reminiscing…and it is summer, a real proper summer. Here is a tiny bit of Britpop nostalgia for those who would appreciate it.
This is my Saturday post by the way…I don’t think I will have chance to use the internet tomorrow, because of travelling.