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Laurence Inman’s Blog

ON GROWING UP

28-12-2007

In which Laurence is reminded that there’s nothing cooler than being in a really loud rock band.

Two things make you properly grown up.

One is the realisation that you aren’t nearly as clever as you thought you were thirty years (or even two days) ago.

This is a very good thing. It means you don’t keep making a complete prat of yourself every time you open your mouth. Looking back, the years 1966 to 1979 seem to consist of nothing but such moments. Gob-foot spatial relationships have improved lately, but not much.

The other prize at the mid-point of one’s sixth decade is the knowledge that there are only so many people and things you can stand.

There’ll be no more hitching down to London, wasting six hours at a crap party in some slum in Hammersmith, getting nowhere with a girl two social classes above me, sucking warm beer from a tin, smoking vegetation that just makes me paranoid, tossing and turning on a floor thick with dust and centipede-skins, waking up aching everywhere and coughing my lungs up and smelling of cat-piss and getting the coach home and convincing myself I had a great time….

No. It’s my own attic-nest for me, writing what I want, reading Flann O’Brien, having a nice cup of Earl Grey every now and then. That’s been this week.

Last week was more frantic. More like the days I’ve put away.

I had to spend hours on motorways, up to Hull, picking up my middle son and all his gear, coming back, finding somewhere to stash the extra houseful of stuff he’s brought home, grabbing a sarnie, piling off to see my Aged Mom in the QE, then….then….THEN….I find I’ve been signed up to go to Tamworth (back down the M42) to watch somebody’s brother playing sax in a UB40 tribute band!

This, despite the fact that I wouldn’t dream of going down to the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath to watch the real UB40. I’ve got a vinyl LP of theirs I’ve never played.

So there I was: the Snowdome, off the Tamworth ring road, full of young blokes drinking from bottles, older blokes eying up the younger women, darkness, a disco so loud it made my bones wobble.

If someone had handed me a loaded revolver at that moment, I’m not sure what I would have done with it.

The only answer was to withdraw into myself. Try to get an idea for a poem. Treat it all as if I was researching a sociological treatise. Calculate the exact number of days I’ve been alive. Then the hours. Then….

The moment came for the band. They’re called Rats In The Kitchen. They were superb: tight, hard, crafted. The show was well-planned, climaxed, built.

They made me realise, once again, that there is nothing more cool than playing in a loud rock band. It’s one of the three ambitions I have left. And it might happen. My daughter is a brilliant singer. So is her mate. I may write them a song and go with them down to the Kitchen Garden Café and accompany them on my guitar! All this could come to pass, because of Rats In The Kitchen.

They’ve got a website. Look up their next gig, and go.

Next week I’m to Stratford for an all-day trip with my old mate Bill. Henry IV Part One in the afternoon and Part Two in the evening. David Warner is Falstaff. I saw my first Shakespeare there more than forty years ago, when Warner did Hamlet. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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