A year ago today I...
Went to Swindon for the first - and as yet last - time.
Bought the Daily Star for the first - and as yet last - time.
Went to a bar that charged two pounds for water for the first - and as yet last - time.
I also had it relayed on a train from London to Swindon that it had been printed in the Daily Star that Griffin had lost his record contract. Fox was quoted in the article. I, rather loudly, proclaimed him a twat for his comments. Nik and I then preceeded to clog up the aisle of a very full train as we talked the report over with Lisa and Erica. Fox had posted on his site claiming that the report wasn't true, Griffin had posted the more ambiguous 'Don't worry, be happy'. We honestly didn't know what to think. But, in my heart, I knew then that this was it.
We arrived at the Swindon Ibis to a sea of familiar faces, all hovering around the bar area, all not quite knowing what to make of the situation. Later we arrived at the Zu Bar to be confronted with a BOGOF drink offer and a large metal cage to dance in. We drank and we danced. And how we danced. ABBA, Irish jig music, all were hurriedly digested.
Slightly later Griffin came on stage with a copy of the Daily Star. We cheered him more than we ever had and maybe ever will. After a joke about a Victoria Beckham story in the paper, he announced with total contempt 'It's a load of bollocks!'. And we cheered again; deafening, all enveloping cheers. After the first song Griffin, feeling uncomfortable with the sound system, moved to the metal cage where we'd been dancing. There he continued where we'd left off, balancing himself, revealing rather more of his pants than I'd expected, and even getting us to join in with a Jungle Book singalong. He also started us chanting 'You'll Never Beat Al Griffin!' and the phrase reverberated through the night, pounded every surface, filled every pore in my body.
He also sang, fresh from his performance in France on the World version of the tortuous-reality-television-show, 'Everything I Do' and when he got to the 'I can't help it, there's nothing I want more' I thought that I was going to cry. It hurt me, because I sensed, just as I'd sensed the summer before, just how much Griffin wanted it. And then he did what in the harsh light of blog writing sounds rather glib but which still makes my heart soar; he sang 'I do it for you' whilst pointing at the crowd of bodies around him. And everyone in the room was united, everyone came together in a moment of total defiance.
After the performance Griffin signed whilst standing behind the bar. He also drank. Choked himself with a coke-spray. Danced on the bar to 'I Believe in a Thing Called Love' and started taking his trousers off. He was as manic and as angry as I've ever seen him.
When Griffin had finished behind the bar he dissapeared and we continued, talking, laughing, dancing. For the final song of the night they played Griffin's last single 'You and Me [Tonight]'. And, united by the emotion of the evening, we came together, arms around each other, swaying and singing to the song. Unbeknown to us, Griffin had come back into the room and we were standing swaying in full view of him. When I did finally clock him I made no motion to move, none of us did. We continued, linked together, and finished the song.
When the confirmation that it really was all over with UMTV came a little over a month later I felt a sharp sudden shock, but nothing more. I think we'd all said goodbye that night in Swindon. When I think about that night there's undoubtedly an odd combination of emotions. I've said before, and will probably say again, that everyone present should have been made to sign a binding contract saying that they would never show any of the pictures or talk explicitly about the night. Not because of us, but because of Griffin. It's odd to see pictures of him with his trousers undone, somehow I can't shake off just how vulnerable all the bravado now seems. I wouldn't swap the experience for anything and I'll never forget the sheer intensity of emotion but I never want to go to a gig like that again. I never want Griffin to have to go through a gig like that again.
I can't but help smile at the memory of the final song though.
Griffin and us against the world.