Look at these kids here. I was 13 years old. I first got their album on a pirate CD with ‘Arctic Monkeys pre album’ scrawled on it in black marker, and half the songs on it were recorded live in noisy bars. I always get caught up and sad watching videos of bands and shows and old sunny concerts, and I suppose this is what getting older feels like, and I suppose it’ll only accelerate.
I remember when I first saw Arctic Monkeys live – it was 2007, with my dad, at Old Trafford in Manchester. They were supported by The Coral, Supergrass, and Amy Winehouse – she was alive then. Before the gig we stood in the stands of the cricket ground-turned-stadium and there I spotted, clear as day, the full band backstage, sitting on deckchairs with beers, idling and chatting away before their show. The sun was bright and the sky was the deepest blue.
I wasn’t grown yet. Had to stand on an empty vodka bottle and even then go on my tiptoes to see the stage. My dad had a bad back, so asked this other bloke in the crowd to put me on his shoulders. He danced with me, and over the heads of forty thousand people I saw my heroes on stage. Man.
I suppose nostalgia is a novelty to me right now, because it’s the first time in my life when I can talk about ten years ago and I wasn’t a kid. I suppose I’ll get used to that longing feeling. It’s just that right now everything is changing – fast – and I find myself thinking back on life one or three or ten years ago and how easy it all was. It’s all rose tinted, I know, and it never seemed so easy at the time… but bah, whatever. The unbearable entropy of growing up.
2007, I was 14. Had more hair on my head and less on my face, thin as a rake. Got a guitar for Christmas. Acoustic, black, gorgeous. I put stickers on it and the first song I learned was Smoke on the Water, just like everyone else. Got drunk for the first time that summer – threw up after 4 bottles of Stella, world spinning. Christ 14 is young.
2009 and Leeds Fest for the first time with my best mates, face painted blue, manic for the whole festival with the kind of whip-crack delirium that the 30 year olds can’t capture no matter how much gear they snort. You can’t ever recreate that, though we all spend our lives trying.
I feel sad, I miss the old days – not sure exactly which old days – but I just miss when everybody was whole. None of us had got dumped, none of us had hurt one another, we were all happy and whole and the gang was all spotty and badly dressed and everything was new and every Friday night made me so giddy I felt sick.
I miss when fuckin phones and facebook didn’t exist. There was a time when I wasn’t political and I wasn’t angry and I miss that, too. Feel old. I’m only 24, but so much has happened. I hate working. Fuck it, you’re not meant to say it, everybody is meant to smile and pretend that labour is a joy but I’ll say it – I hate working. Wasting time.
You know what it feels like? It feels like that scene at the end of the Godfather II, after Fredo has died, when it flashes back to the start of everything. Fredo, Michael, Sonny, Vito, they’re all there, they’re all still alive and well and they love each other. Fuck I miss that, man. I miss when everybody liked each other, and all our pets were alive, and every Christmas was a whole Christmas, and the house was the same and the cars were the same and everybody wasn’t all torn up and scarred – healed now, sure, but scarred. I really miss that.
I miss the lot of it. Bit homesick, I guess. But more and more it feels that home is – was – a time, not a place.
Ah, I dunno. India in 3 weeks.