Fear and Loving in Heaton Park: Part Seven - Parting is such sweet sorrow…

<--break- />Revelation takes many forms, thankfully in the case of our author it provided only enlightenment rather than being commanded by a great voice to write a subsequently misinterpreted religious tome, it’s just a shame it does not always happen in the most salubrious locations.


Comfort and inspiration can be found in popular ballads. When cruelly dumped by Joanne Samson at the tender age of fifteen I sought solace in Dire Strait’s Romeo and Juliet. Do not judge me too harshly I was a heartbroken adolescent, and anxious about whether she’d return my Lev Yashin poster. If you can’t listen to terrible songs when you’re an emotionally troubled teenager when can you? Thankfully we got back together providing me with the perfect opportunity to return the favour and finished her. An event used by the Oxford English Dictionary to illustrate the expression ‘to bite one's nose to spite one's face’.

Concern about whether I should remain with my newfound companions or abandon them brought to mind the Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go. In Mick Jones’s case it was a simple choice. If he waited there would be problems and if he went the difficulty would increase twofold, ergo he should leave. My situation was more complex and a solution would have to be sought elsewhere.

Everything had been fine while the music lasted. These strangers had been my saviours. We had shared a special moment, a religious experience for the atheist generation. Heaton Park was Golgotha and we watched The Stone Roses return from the dead (thankfully without disfiguring stigmata as that would have hampered their ability to play.) Over one hundred thousand people stood transfixed until the last note of  I am the Resurrection reverberated around the arena and then went wild.

A flatulent father grading his emissions I savoured the atmosphere, grateful that the Roses had finished their set without resorting to vulgar name-calling and one of them taking his ball home. We had been spellbound, but the magic was over. Time to leave I thought.

“You’re with us now and we’ve got some serious partying to do”, proclaimed my new best friend with such intensity I wasn’t sure if it was a threat or act of charity. The manic glint in his eye, normally sported by religious extremists with bulky underwear or conspiracy theorists cognizant of JR’s assailant, didn’t ease my turmoil. While the information that his wife would be disappointed as she was expecting him home mid-afternoon tomorrow and he couldn’t guarantee he’d be finished celebrating by then filled me with dread.

Living for the moment, I used to be up for anything. Desperately searching for the next buzz, no matter what the consequences. Regardless of expectations, and much to the chagrin of local bookmakers, I didn’t die young and am aware that such behaviour in a forty-year old is unseemly, but I never thought I’d be fleeing a night out because I needed to be up early.

If my younger self could currently see me, it would contradict all we know about the universe and prove problematic philosophically, but assuming the laws of physics could be altered to illustrate a point, he would rightly be appalled and probably concerned about his mental health. What is apparent though is that my middle-aged self needs to accept what he’s become, stop going to rock concerts, trendy bars and youth clubs, and spend the money he saves on purchasing a pipe, chunky knit cardigan and some tartan slippers. I might even trade in the Citroen SM for a people carrier (the ultimate vehicle for the man who’s given up).

I needed time to think and sought refuge in the convenient conveniences. Unfortunately this malodorous, alfresco, congregation of freestanding urinals had very little in common with my en suite palace of solitude where I do most of my thinking, but it would do.  

Explaining my dilemma could have worked. Then again I hadn’t particularly wanted to mosh or be involved in numerous group hugs, yet despite protesting like the heroine in a Jane Austen bodice ripper I still ended up engulfed. There was potential for things to get ugly. Maybe they’d kidnap me, which might not have been a bad thing as it would alleviate the need to make a decision and provide me with an exceptional excuse for prolonged absence. No there was nothing for it but to slip away, the only obstacle was that my mates were massed outside the toilet entrance and I was unsure if I could do so unobserved.

In my hour of need they had been there for me. Admittedly, I wasn’t lying beaten, robbed, and left half dead by the road side (which for a visitor to Manchester is an achievement in itself) but I was loitering, ignored by passing priests and Levites, alone outside the urinals in need of a Good Samaritan. Yet now they were no longer of any use I was jettisoning them quicker than a baby drops an ice cream.

Discarding them would be reprehensible, but I’d already ditched the guy I came with and refused a damsel in distress (well in need of a better view) and things had worked out tickety-boo. Morally there was room for improvement, but at least I wasn’t struggling to carry a brutally bibulous JC home or urgently requiring an osteopath.

I was debating how to execute my plan when I experienced an epiphany. There were two exits. All I had to do was leave by the unguarded one and disappear unnoticed into the surging crowd. There was a risk I’d bump into them again, but bluffing my way out would be easy: just claim I lost them in the hurly-burly and ask where we going to party?

I was wasting too much time worrying. Action was required. This was it, my chance to escape. So, unlike an eighties tabloid reporter I didn’t make my excuses, I just left.

NEXT ISSUE: Homeward bound…

I have explained many times that my interest in miners relates solely to the 1984-85 strike and the wilful destruction of lives and communities by the Wicked Witch of Grantham who has thankfully returned to Hell from whence she came. I just hope that he who walks backwards does not send her back.