Thursday, December 21, 2006

Even though it all went wrong

Even though it all went wrong

[To bikini clad girl] "I used to be a popstar..."

Because I do forget. I forget how you can make me hold my breath when you sing. I forget how much effort you put into your increasingly strange entrances and how endearing this is. I forget how funny you can be, usually when you're not trying. I don't forget everything that has happened, those heady days when I could say 'I once went two weeks without seeing Al', but I do forget their immediacy. I don't even call you Al any more. If people do ask - and ask they do, though with much less frequency these days - you're invariably Griffin. Griffin, that half fictional, half concocted character within the pages of this blog. Even when you were Al I never really knew you; just a facet, some half glimpsed moments, maybe like Margaret Atwood's Orpheus I could never see you as more than my own echo.

But Sunday night made me remember. I remembered because you remembered. And all that time when we'd pleaded to hear new songs, exploded in delight each time they appeared it's a time I can no longer quite touch. Maybe it will come again. Maybe it won't. On Sunday as you sang Oblivion - the first time in a year that I've heard you sing the song I defined you by for so long - it made my heart soar a little. And not just because it was the album track that Heat labelled 'the soaring Oblivion'. But because I don't want to wipe the past; those incredible first 12 months are very special to me. I'll remember them for the rest of my life. And 'Oblivion' was one of our songs, as we stood outside Wave FM in Blackpool and you choose it to be played for us and sang that final 'Here I Go Again!' it cemented its place.

I'm not sure when the last time I heard you talk about - or even refer to - the tortuous reality tv show. It feels so long ago. Another country. But do you know how cathartic it was to hear you sing of Daniel Beddingfield 'what rhymes with dickhead'? I could barely contain my excitement. Because it still makes me mad, even now. And I'm glad it does for you too.

Of course you weren't to know when you chose to sing 'Fix You' because of the fact it allowed you to lead into a Jimmy Saville joke that it's the song that reminds me of those days in September after C made his way across the atlantic back to his real life. You didn't know this anymore than you knew that 'Fields of Gold' was the song playing in the taxi on that long ago trip from the John Radcliffe hospital when you sat and sung it in Clapham so many months ago. I didn't cry this time - Waggo as Jimmy Saville would have put paid to that alone - but my delight at realising that you were to sing 'Fix You' proved what respect I still hold you in. For lots and lots of reasons, hearing you sing something which means a lot to me is very special. I hope it always will be.

Take That's 'Patience' didn't quite have the backstory but, heck, was it beautiful. 'Silent Suicide' - I could listen to it on repeat. And 'Feeling Alive' - as one of our group said, sometimes the old ones are the best.

Which brings me to 'Bring It On'. Is it really the last time you're going to sing it? If it is then it was an incredibly special performance to end on. One of the best. And for possibly the first time ever an acoustic version which had our 'come on' in it. I imagine you don't even remember where you originated it, how it stuck after that Top of the Pops appearance. That 'come on' has been everywhere with us. Screamed over backing tracks, bands and voices. Sometimes you even got it in the right place. And it marks something more. It marks that we were there. Something I suspect that you know as much as we do.

As we raised our arms in the air, that ever so traditional of dances that at one point everyone used to do, instictively re-creating the video, but which now seems to have slipped, a remnant of that other country, I felt that song as much as I ever have. It's shaded so many things. Giddy mind spinning excitement. Nerve shredding almost-terror. Brilliant rainbow coloured triumph. And quieter, more subtle but equally vivid emotions that I'll never be able to quite shake off. And I knew exactly what this time is about. What it may always be about.

Because, fuck, they got it wrong.

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