There was one look that was agreed on back in March. That when Griffin came to Boro Town Hall for the follow up gig for Brian Clough the dress code was to be Rock Chick, circa Britpop Era. So when I found a t-shirt with Debbie Harry on it I almost did a mini celebratory wave around the shop. Because whilst Blondie may have been a couple of decades before Louise Werner there is no doubting that Debbie is possibly my favourite rock chick. Even if she was, well, blonde. It didn't hurt Marilyn did it?
The only problem with the dress code was that I need very little to convince me I'm actually in a band. In my head I think I kind of am. I have a guitar, plectrums and a drum stick after all. I have the right clothes. After a riccardi and coke I have the right attitude. And it was decided long ago that in our girl band, Monroe ,(with its rotating third member) I would be lead singer. Not because I can sing. I can't as anyone who has had the misfortune to stand near me at a gig will know. But because I believe I am the lead singer in some impossibly cool group. And all my boys with guitars are just fueling the fantasy. So not only was I wearing the right clothing I was inhabiting the role. I was that lead singer. Forget the Griffin bloke.
Needless to say as my fantasy flowed (and the doors had to get wider to accomodate my head) so did the riccardi and coke. Don't ask me to provide a tally. I tried the next day and I couldn't so you're just going to have to imagine. But it was a lot. Enough that I by the time we arrived at the venue (post pub and Kebab Shop) I'd lost all of my remaining inhibitions (not that there are many of them anyway) and found everything in the world hilarious. Everything that is, bar the arrangements in the Crypt at the Town Hall, which more closely resembled a tea dance. And you try being a rock chick when you're waiting for the vicar to come out. And so began, tablegate.
As we'd (the we would be: Drummer Cat, rotating third member and sometime Press Officer Gayle, Manager Val, Groupie Monitor, Shona and me and my head) popped into the hall when the second of the acts was on (the lead singer seemed to be torturing a small puppet when I looked over) we decided there was no way we were staying put and hot footed it over to the Hairy Melon*. Which was cramned with more inches of Boro thigh than anywhere else in the city. But the drinks were cheap and the DJ played a medley which traversed Chesney Hawkes to the Kaiser Chiefs through the Artic Monkeys and back to Gina G. Needless to say we WERE EXCITED. And when I got soaked with some guy's pint during 'I Predict A Riot' it felt like I was at a proper gig. I was just sad it was in the wrong place.
After I'd demonstrated that I still knew some of the moves to 'Oh, Ah, Just a Little Bit More' we made our way in the drizzle back to the Crypt in time to catch the last of Bob Fischer's set and the immortal line "I've heard it all before and it was shite the first time". Regardless of any other impression we might have had Bob elevated himself to cult status within the Northern Division in one great leap with that line. It was also around this point that (Val having insulted me and then dragged me through a puddle) I found myself holding my leg under the hand dryer in the ladies. Which, let me tell you, is harder than it sounds when you're short and powered by the contents of the generic white rum factory.
Thankfully I'd dried off by the time Griffin came on stage (wearing his rowing top**) but I'd managed another drink so I wasn't about to keep anything to myself, disquiet with seating arrangements, bad singing, bouncing and all. And as Griffin powered through the set - sounding as heart wrenchingly brilliant as he always does - I wanted to lose myself in everything. I couldn't - the indignant anger was too near the surface - but I felt proud and hopeful and moved. Because, fucking hell, I believe in him. And he's good. When he just stands on stage and does his thing - it makes your heart swell. And I wanted more. I wanted more than that room, that audience. I wanted the reality to coincide with everything in my head and everything I think he deserves. I wasn't angry with anyone in particular but with the scene in general. Because if this is it can I bear it? And I know that, at this moment, as he takes these baby steps forward I've got to believe that there will be something else. Because what else is there to believe? Sometimes we all need a happy ending.
After Griffin had finished with the new, strikingly beautiful 'Silent Suicide' (and, on a less poetic note, I'd heckled about what the Band name was) we settled about deciding where we were going next. Until that is Gayle and I spotted Griffin and, with a haste I can't remember for many a gig, made our way towards him. When we were practically next to him we were stopped by the Town Hall's answer to the Mitchell Brothers who informed us in no uncertain terms that we weren't to go near Griffin. Had this been the inevitable restraing order I'd have been fine but as security had clearly already ballsed up by allowing some people through and I could feel the emotions (and the white rum) I wasn't letting this be the last word. And without exchanging even a glance it was clear Gayle had come to the same conclusion. Given you should never underestimate a Northern Division Girl (especially when it comes to one of our boys) we both managed to speak to Griffin, albeit somewhat unelegantly over the arms of the security men before we were unceremoniously removed from the spot. Which also gave me the opportunity to vent my spleen about mishandling and unfair treatment as the same rule was not being applied universally. As with the Rock Chick thing I need no excuse to rant. Just ask Mickey in Liverpool.
Having left the hall - still to the sound of muttering - we were going to hot foot it to a local bar before we were invited back to the Thistle Bar. And the Thistle Bar - whilst having not to cheap prices - has some fantastic memories. It has one painful, horrible one that made me ashamed to be a Griffin fan post Boro Music Live 2004 when I hated what I was witnessing Griffin being subjected to (and no doubt felt my own small piece of responsibility in the debacle). But the good memories, of that night back in 2003 when we ended up in the bar, meeting Griffin properly for the first time as he sat with us, seeming slightly bewildered, poking fun at us and sending - me at least - off on the journey by thinking that we were disappointed in his reality. And saying something that has never really left my head, even when I thought it might not be true: "If I come to a gig and I don't see you it's not because I don't want to, it's because I didn't see you". And the Thistle Bar is all that and more. It's Griffin's story. But it's mine and my friends too. It will forever have a special place in my heart, for a time I can't quite grasp, for emotions I will never have again, for a place that was painfully, joyfully innocent where there were no limitations but endless, infinite possibility. Even given the chance I wouldn't erase all that has come between this point and that but, as Cat and I ran down the corridor to discover the scene of our previous triumphs (when I was not from Leeds or Oxford but from Southampton), if I closed my eyes I could almost imagine. And I know that as long as that moment remains, as long as I can stand in the Thistle and be back there, it'll be alright.
As it was even the bar prices were alright as we were soon being shouted by Waggo. But more generic white rum wasn't really aiding sensible conversation and from favourite lines and mutual congratulations we'd moved to playground demands and who we heart. Given I was still flying on the alcohol - along with it must be said three quarters of the bar, including Griffin who had just attempted to fit the goldfish bowl which housed the free boxes of matches on his head - when it became apparent that nothing but the Emergency Tim Button was going to save Val I played my 'Allowed to stay out in bar' Card I'd gotten after the whole breaking my leg incident and certain friends staying to schmooze with actors in a York bar. Gayle and I remained in the Thistle, starting another drink (going to the toilet a lot) and being informed by the lovely, lovely barman that we were staying in room 201. If he'd said 101 I'd have been worried.
By 3:45am I'd rediscovered just how beautiful Griffin really is (I'd like to say it was the rum goggles but I'm just shallow) and that the time when he dealt with us with hushed reverence and gentle mockery is long, long gone (though the competitive streak clearly isn't). The git. But I'm taking it as a little bit of a compliment, it's probably only fair given the crap about deck shoes he's had from us.
At 4:30am there was only Gayle and I in the bar and in unison we rose from the sofas where we'd spread ourselves and pulled our best 'Griffin and Fox Celebrating Lawn Darts' poses (goal scoring poses for anyone not familiar with the mighty Oak that is Lawn Darts). No doubt the night had been mindblowing, for so many reasons, big and small but I suspect - despite the brain cells I lost through the rum - I'm not going to forget quickly.
*Actually named the Hairy Lemon.
** So called because some time ago I christened it thus as it reminded me of the tops that Oxford boys wear on the river. Admittedly now it seems to have stretched in the wash slightly.