Not Like Any Other

2008

The kids in my class have been talking about Glastonbury all week. The ones that are going for the first time, the ones that aren’t allowed, the ones with the really cool parents who have been going since before they could even tell you about it. Apparenly they is some big uproar because Jay-Z is headlining this year. Whoever he is. They should’ve seen the fuss people made the first year I went.

I look out of window at the trees swaying in the cool summer breeze. It’s such a nice day, I am tempted to take the class outside. But I know I’ll get another warning if I do that. The head reckons it disrupts the class to be moved from their normal environment, disorientates them. She doesn’t half talk some rubbish, that woman. Still, I’d better behave. It’s a shame though – it looks so nice and peaceful outside.

I tear my gaze from the window and look back at the class. They are still whispering about bands and one of them calls across to me.

‘Miss? Havr you ever been to Glasto, Miss?’

Glasto? I try to hide a smirk. ‘Of course. I used to go every year, until a few years ago.’ Until I started working here, I think.

‘Why don’t you go anymore?’

‘Oh, I’m not really sure. Maybe it’s not as good as it used to be, or as good as I remember it being. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, I don’t know. One thing I’m sure of though, the first time is always the best.’

‘Tell us about your first time, Miss,’ calls one of the girls at the back, causing the rest of the class to giggle.

‘You’re supposed to be getting on with your work.’

‘Please, Miss…’ Then they all join in. ‘Yeah, please Miss, please tell us, please…’

I smile as they all look up at me expectantly. Well, what harm can it do?

‘I’m not sure I can remember,’ I say, smiling. They roll their eyes at me. Of course I can remember. As if I’d forget.

 

*

 

1984

We meet at my house in the morning. I can see my own excitement mirrored in their faces. We are dressed in our old wellies, jeans and various band T-shirts. I am clutching a bunch of gladioli as though my life depends on them.

I live closeby – every year my parents moan about the noise – so we get there early. We are hassled on our way in by some longhaired bearded guys who seem to take offense at me ‘Meat is Murder’ T-shirt, but we don’t care. We are going to see The Smiths and that’s all that matters. The aticipation has been building up for weeks, months even. This is the single biggest event of our lives.

We spend our first night there singing our favourite songs and arguing with a group of Hawkwind fans, who are outraged by The Smiths inclusion in the line-up. We try to explain why the band should be here, and how theirs will be the best performance ever, but they just laugh and tell us to sod off back to our Oscar Wilde books.

We manage to get to the front and when the band comes onto the stage (I notice some idiot has managed to spell their name wrong) I feel as though my heart might burst out of my chest. I can hardly take my eyes off Morrissey and even though I know so many others must be feeling the same, it’s as though he is singing to me and me alone. I am clinging to my friends, tears in my eyes. I wish this moment could last forever.

I’ve always been one of the sensible ones: polite to the teachers; do my homework on time; in bed at a reasonable hour, even at weekends; get a part time job to save up for uni. I’ve never been in trouble, not at school or at home, never done anything stupid or reckless. But now, with all this emotion pulsing through my veins, I feel a rush of adreniline and I push myself forward as hard as I can, not minding that I am getting crushed. I’ve seen how others have done it and when I am close enough I throw myself up, arms outstretched, desperately scrambling, trying to get myself up onto the stage. Just when I think I might not make it, I feel a hand grasp mine – someone is helping me, pulling me up. I climb to my feet, unable to believe what is happening to me. Johnny Marr is holding my hand. I must be dreaming! Nothing this good ever happens to me. I’ll never wash this hand again, I think, laughing and crying at the same time.

In one final, wonderful moment of madness, I run across the stage and throw my arms around Morrissey. I feel his hand on my back and  it’s as though somehow, in that one brief moment, I’ve somehow had all the reassurance I’ve ever needed in life. Then I am back with my friends and they’re cheering and hugging me and I’m so happy.

We talk about that day all the way home, and for weeks and weeks after. For the rest of the summer I am a hero in the eyes of my friends. One of them took a photograph of my with my arms around Morrissey and I have had it framed and it hung it on my bedroom wall. My parents quickly get bored of my incessant chatter but I don’t care. It was the best day, and I’ll never forget it.

 

*

 

2009

I pack my bag quickly, while a car horn beeps outside. I run out, shouting at them to shut up before the neighbours complain. I throw my bag in the car boot and climb in the back. We’re on our way now. I can’t believe how excited I am. It’s like we’re teenagers again. We roll the windows down and sing at the tops of our voices. ‘Only you can cool my desire, woah-oh-oh, I’m on fire.’ I can hardly wait. It’s going to be the best year ever.

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