Thursday, 5 August 2010

Writing Workshop: Changes

As you know I dip in and out of Josie's Writing Workshop, as I usually can be sitting with half a mind on the TV and half a mind on my next post. But I have been shattered after the weekend, and I guess that's why the topic of "How have you changed?" appeals- one because it helps with the block I have brain wise since the weekend and two because that in itself is a big change.

Once upon a time, a Friday to Sunday afternoon of watching bands and sleeping out would have been tame. It would have meant that my friends, my fiancee and my main girl Lou were inherently skint, so on an inforced downtime.

I had the kind of "friends"- picked for me by the fiancee from his own circle, bar Lou who wouldn't go away however hard he tried- who thought a good afternoon was to sit and muse how this year we drank and smoked, next year we would be on hard drink, the next year would be drugs and after that either full on legendary death or burnout, and for those with rich parents only, glamorous Rehab stints with celebrities. Real life was comical in its ability for us to think we were adults and mature and "hip"- really we were teens playing at adults being hip.

Everyone wore stupid clothes, strummed guitars and found it ironic to play Puff the Magic Dragon, badly. We were too sophisticated to shout and be loud, but not sophisticated enough to drink alcohol dearer than Lambrini or the french beer in stubby bottles from Tesco. There would seldom be stolen from parents vodka, but by the time it was mixed with a large bottle of Coca Cola it would do little but make you merry.

We thought we were amazing. We probably looked like a bunch of tossers!

We would sit for hours, come rain or shine, in the Castle Gardens, in a big circle- sometimes up to 30 of us (these days we'd be given ASBOs). We deplored the hoodie wearing, swearing trendy counterparts further down the road in Chatham for their graffitti and crack use. The worst bit of antisocial behaviour any of us joined in was skateboarding or public snogging.

Come Wednesday and through to Thursday, it would be all back to mine, or one of the other groups squats, for loud music and even more drinking. 

Friday was club night, when we would jump the trains to the top of the hill and go to stand around the edge of the mosh pit, looking cool (or so we imagined), believing the club was lucky we graced it with our presence as we drank watered down Fosters from Pepsi cups, at £1.50 per pint. I recall being carried over my fiancees shoulder, or one of his stronger mates, at the end of the night (we stayed til the bitter end when the house lights came on), then the run through the darkened shopping areas back to the stomping ground in Rochester, where us girls would feign weakness and get helped over the fence as the gate was always locked at 3am.

Saturday would be Oasthouse to go and see M's band- my sister went out with not one but two of the three members of the band (he's now quite well known so I wont name him, but if you lived in Medway and went to the Oasthouse between 97-2000, I'm betting that you know who I mean and snogged him at some point in a corner, drunk). It was cheap to get in, and cheap to drink at, and the music was great. You'd always bump into the other side of town lot and drinking games would start and go on until Sunday morning- like the lets run back to Rochester, whereby we'd get in the last part of the train and through the 3 stops would run through the train, getting out at the other end, hence proving how sober you were as you had effectively run home. We thought it was funny!

Sunday, a day of rest for some, meant wearing sunglasses all day, and pretending not to fall asleep, or trying to look healthy sitting at the in-laws-to-be eating (or pretending to eat whilst trying not to full scale vom everywhere), discussing what flowers we wanted at the wedding and whether the bridesmaids really had to wear Doc Marten boots and heavy eyeliner. Or it would be spent rowing with the fiancee over a slight (in his view), like chatting to a boy (even if it was one of my gay mates, or even Adam who would chat to me about where I got my dress from so he could buy one on Monday morning). It would then be spent crying with Lou, who would put make up over my eye or cheek, and force feed me drink and chocolate. She'd rant at the fiancee when he'd phone, and then I'd go home and say sorry like the whole thing was my fault.

Monday was the weekend break down with The Group Collective (yes, that's what we called ourselves), and the Hair of the dog which would turn into a full afghan coat by Tuesday at 4am.

And of course, Tuesday proper we'd all be lying, usually on my living room floor, unable to move, or talk, with heads that cracked and splintered, mouths like ashtrays, begging each other to go to the shop.


I would have been ashamed to be so tired after a tame weekend then.

But even writing this makes me think that we were poster children for why binge drinking is not a great idea and murders brain cells, considering we thought being called "The Group Collective" was a great idea.

I know that only one of them ended up in rehab.

The rest work very respectable jobs now.

I'm glad I have changed. It was so for the better.


  1. I think this is my favourite post so far, it's so ace and the way you write is fantastic! I can relate to so much of it....and as for the Bowie track, well it's a superb one. The man is a God!!
    Thanks for sharing it, and cheering me up xx

  2. This is beautifully written Claire!

    Friendships like that are so strange. At the time you feel like nothing will ever change, and that life will stay like this forever. And then all of sudden life spins you all off in different directions.

    You capture those memories so well though. Well done!


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