Once upon a time, I wrote about music a lot. This was partly because I liked music and I liked writing. It was also partly because, at the tender age of fifteen or so, I had figured out that the best way to avoid getting ID’d and thereby actually get into the gigs I wanted to go to was to get myself on the guest list.
I wrote for a local newspaper, and then I wrote for a national magazine, and I set up my own zine and started dealing with record and PR companies directly. This was all pretty cool given that I still spent my days at school grumbling about authority, arguing with conservative kids, and generally being sullen and cynical.
The thing was, though, I was totally bluffing my way through it. In particular, I had never been a musician myself and couldn’t even identify the correct musical instrument half the time. But I was a teenager, and therefore I knew everything, and bluffing was just fine, and it seemed that people liked my writing enough to let me away with it. And so I blagged more and more, because I could. A few years previously, I had turned down my parents’ offer of a CD player because I couldn’t envision ever being able to afford CDs. Now I got them all for free.
I still had this blagging mentality by the time I showed up in Edinburgh. I’d barely been in town a week when I saw #207’s band. They were playing on a rooftop on the Royal Mile one afternoon, and nine people got arrested. Here’s me, eighteen: OMG, THIS CITY IS AMAZING!
So I talked to him and blagged my way in to his gigs and got some demo tapes and whatnot. And I never ever got around to writing a word about his band. My plans to relocate my music zine to Edinburgh faded; I got sidetracked by university and by writing about queer stuff.
“Sorry about that,” I said to him a few years back when we ran into each other again. “I was such a bullshitter.”
“Not at all!” he exclaimed. “I just thought you were really creative and dynamic.” I was kind of stunned to think I’d been that good at bluffing, but okay.
#207 is one of those people who drift in and out of my life. They vanish for ages and then we pick up where we left off.
Monday morning. I am on the number 7 bus. I feel haggard. I’ve barely slept, I haven’t had breakfast yet, and I’m on my way to work, slightly late as usual. I have no regrets, because these are the choices I make. Someone gets on the bus and looks at me; I don’t recognise him, I barely look at him, but he stops in front of me and it’s #207. Forgetting how to turn the music off, I remove my hat before I think of removing my earphones.
#207 is more haggard than me. He passed out in the toilets of the Bongo Club last night and was locked in. He doesn’t know when or how he got out. He’s carrying a couple of plastic bags full of stuff which he left outside his house all night, and he’s looking for his bike. He thinks it might be on Broughton Street. #207 is twelve years older than me, although he doesn’t look it. For all the pummelling his liver gets, he’s fresh-faced. I was thinking of him just the other day, wondering what he was up to. It’s two months and two days since I last saw him; my memory for dates is still pointlessly accurate. I tell him I’ve got a new zine, he says you’ve got a museum? I give him a copy. He asks if he’s in it, I say no, he says what does someone have to do to get in it, I laugh and say you’ll see. He’ll probably drop it in the street, forget I’ve given it to him. He leaps off the bus saying he’s had a sudden flash, his bike was last seen at the Bongo Club.
I went to a dinner party at #207’s place. I hadn’t met any of the other guests before. #207 talked about the time he tried magic mushrooms and thought he was an Inca temple. He got out some instruments and there was a jam session, and I played the cheese-grater, which was disproportionately exciting for me because I am not musical. Oh, and then I did a line of coke for the first time. I didn’t really see the appeal, but thought what the hell, I was thirty and everything. And I was also introduced to sloe gin, which I loved very much. And then eventually I went to crash on some cushions on the floor in a little room, and then I have a very dim recollection of #207 coming into the room and lying down and making out with me for a little while.
I woke up at 9:30am, feeling like death, and trudged home, probably still drunk. I got into bed and woke up again in the afternoon, at which point #207 promptly texted me to suggest Black Russians at my place, but I opted out. “Enjoyed kissing you, by the way!” he informed me, which confirmed that I hadn’t just dreamt that bit.
We kissed another time, a bit over a year later, after going through a load of champagne and some coke, and showing up at a party. #207 got kind of tactile with me and we kissed for a moment, but then I got sidetracked and wound up getting off with his bandmate instead. So that was kind of weird.