13 March, 2015
Knopfler's glowing headband stares down at me, beckoning me somewhere I don't recognise, somewhere a little scary.
I'm eleven, and the posters fascinate me. Next to Knopfler is a Def Leppard poster. I find the misspelling intriguing: it's clearly deliberate, but why? It hits me: the misspelling distracts from the surreal name, making it make sense. My mind is blown.
Flicking through the tape collection, feeling like an interloper despite the invitation, Del Amitri's Waking Hours catches my eye. I see Nothing Ever Happens on the track listing, but recognise none of the other tracks, being at that age where individual singles on the chart show are the sum of my musical experience.
Owning albums is still a year or so off.
I resolve not to try and skip to Nothing Ever Happens (a tricky prospect in the days of tape anyway) and instead just rewind the second side and let it fly. Nothing Ever Happens is the last track, and I figure I owe it to them to hear what else is on offer.
This Side of the Morning starts, and I feel like an explorer in a new land. New music from a familiar band, music not yet heard on the radio. I lie on the bed and look up at the ceiling, imagining myself eight years from now. Will I be at university, like the owner of the room? Will I too have band posters on my walls? Will I too leave cash casually thrown on the dresser, by now so used to my disposable income that I've ceased counting every penny? Will I have a job? Will I drive?
Not for the first time, not for the last, I wonder what I will be like when I grow up.
The conversation from downstairs increases in volume a little and I realise I've been dozing. The room itself is silent: I've napped through Justin Currie's finest lyrics, and I can hear someone coming up the stairs.
The door opens, mum stands there, smiling. She's a little drunk, but happy.
“You okay?” she asks.
I smile, nod “yes”. She smiles back.
“We're probably leaving in another hour or so. That okay?”
I ponder the unplayed tapes on the shelf and nod again, still a bit drowsy. It's way past my bedtime, and we both know it, but we're both tacitly asking permission of the other to keep having some fun.
“I'll be back up when we're ready to go, or you can come down if you get bored…” she trails off, looks around the room, looks at the posters and speakers and Sega Mega Drive and comic books. I can see her internally rolling her eyes at even suggesting I'd be bored up here.
She smiles again and backs out of the room, closing the door quietly in a way that my grown up self would recognise as the "don't wake him up" exit.
I sit up, and decide not to replay Del Amitri. The lyrics are already etched in my brain, as they remain to this day.
I spot an album I've never seen before. I retrieve it from the shelf, pull it from its case, drop it in the deck and rewind to the start.
I seat myself on the beanbag in front of the little TV, plug in Sonic the Hedgehog, and listen to the choir announce the start of They Might Be Giants' “brand new album”, Flood.
And in that stolen hour, with the stolen music and the stolen dreams, I enjoy some happiness that is truly, wonderfully, all mine.