This album came out at the time that I was sitting my finals. Rather brilliantly, it came with the injunction printed on the sleeve that it was recorded ‘…to be played loudly. So turn it up.’ and, of course, I was only too pleased to do so.
It is an album which covers many emotions for me. Obviously, there was the stress and worry of taking your finals. Fittingly – because it is quite a dark album – it also reminds me of the rather depressing day that was the day that I finished my finals. It began on a high. I had one exam, on a nice sunny morning. I managed to finish my last ever exam (or so I thought) with the words ‘…all a complete waste of time’, which I thought appropriate. But then I went back to the flat.
There was a tradition that, upon finishing your finals, you were doused with whatever vile substances your friends could find. I’ve never been a fan of stupidity such as this and yet I knew that my flatmates would have left me no option but to go through it – especially as two of them, Paula and Adrian, had taken an active dislike to me by then.
They concocted a bucket full of what I can remember contained cat litter, baked beans, flour and goodness knows what else. I didn’t exactly increase their love of me,either, by trying to kick the bucket out of Paula’s hands before she could throw it and kicking her hard on the hand instead. That done, though, I looked forward to a few celebratory drinks with my friends.
Everyone I knew was either still in the middle of their exams, or still in lectures. There was, simply, no-one to drink with. I had forgotten to factor in that there were only two people studying my course and the other one, a mature student named Ian Atkin, had gone back to his home in Rochdale.
Whereas other students might have been celebrating that day, I went into town to McDonald’s. And then I went on a walk around the area, accompanied by two cans of Hofmeister beer.
Others might remember that evening, though. It was the night that Arsenal beat Liverpool to the league championship when Michael Thomas scored with almost the last kick of the season. In fairness to them, Paula and Adrian had suggested staying in and playing a drinking game, but I was tired of them by then and couldn’t wait to get away from them. I went over to the pub just outside the Keele campus, The Golfers Arms (which the University now owns) and drank there, alone.
Despite all of this Billy-no-mates-ism, this song reminds me mostly of one thing. Seeing it played live at the NEC that same summer, with a stage set which seemed to be lit by a thousand tiny twinking lights. It is a sad song, but one which I always find strangely uplifting.