How To Build A Skeleton Heart : love letters
11 September 2009
Yesterday I went on a music hotspot tour of Manchester. I was really excited as a guy from Factory records was supposed to be the guide. The real rock expert, being really rock n roll, was not reliable. Instead of a guy from the now defunct Factory Records, we had an enthusiastic elderly local Manchurian take the tour.
Four other people were waiting outside the tourist information centre. Two girls, Lauren and Catherine, and two guys, Chris and Mark. We realized we were all from Melbourne and it was like finding Family for the day. We bonded and laughed over the fact that it was quite typical of Melbourne music lovers to take a music tour of Manchester. The tour itself was very disappointing as many points of interest were no longer standing or had been changed. Also the information was not eye opening, heck what I heard I already knew and anyone who saw 24 Hour Party People would know as well. We walked around Manchester city centre as the tour guide got things wrong.
‘And here we are standing in front of the venue where Oasis played for the first time in 1986.’
‘Um Oasis did not form till 1991.’ Mark muttered to me. ”august 1991 is when they played for the first time.”
The Hacienda was no longer a huge club, it had been transformed into very expensive apartments. Chris and Mark had to catch a train back to London so after we had lunch at Witherspoons we said our good byes. The three girls stood outside the pub chain as we all sized up what the options are.
‘’Want to get drunk with us?’ Lauren asked.
I smiled widely. ‘Yes please.’
Lauren had been living and working in Manchester for 6 months so she had a good idea of places to go. It was how she knew to take us to The Temple. A renovated former underground public toilet. They have an amazing jukebox that plays excellent indie music. You step down a seriously steep set of stairs, enter the door and find yourself in a cramped cozy bar with tables and chairs and a booth along the right side wall. We were lucky to get a table and I looked around wide eyed and impressed. We had drinks and chatted excitedly.
At about three am they walked me back to the hostel. The night was damp and a soft rain fell as we walked down oxford rd. We came across a group of four very drunk young men. They emanated volatile energy and barely pent up rage. One of the men made fun of Lauren’s shoes.
‘Stupid Australian shoes!’ One guy shouted at Lauren.
‘I got them here, Looser!,’ she yelled back.
‘Fuck you, bitches!’ another one yelled.
I started to get a little nervous, standing there staying silent for the first time in my life. Lauren and Catherine were doing really well fighting with wit against total nonsense. The largest of the four and the protagonist of this whole ordeal suddenly screamed at us. ‘’I AM GOING TO BUTT YOU!’
Is he threatening to anal rape us? I think starting to panic.
The three of us exchanged concerned glances. He would need to catch us first.
‘What does that mean?’ Catherine asked. Her eyes wide with interest.
‘I am going to head butt you!’ He explained angrily. I breath a sigh of relief, thats more funny than what I had thought the threat meant. One of the guys came up to Catherine and put his face inches from hers.
‘I’m going to fuck you up.’ He said. Catherine reacts out of bravery or sheer thoughtlessness. She reaches up to this brutes face and holds it in her hands.
‘Calm down, just calm down,’ she whispers softly. She is looking right into his eyes. Some sort of intangible divinity stepped in at that moment and this angry drunk with hard features, did calm down. He did not retaliate by punching Catherine in the face. He stared at this brave young women and reached out to touch her face.
‘Don’t touch me.’ Catherine said sternly.
She stepped away from him and joined us on the pavement in front of the Sainsbury’s Express. We had enough time to look at each other and start running towards the intersection as it began to pour down with rain. The guys did not want to get their white trainers and Adidas track suit pants wet so they stood there on the side of the road screaming obscenities at us.
I find myself wondering why I chose to do this. People always ask as soon as they find out I am Australian. When they ask what made you want to travel? I am speechless, dumb, I have nothing. I am waiting for the metamorphosis to occur. When will I become a butterfly? I am sick of being a hungry hungry caterpillar. I should give it more time. It is such a strange thing to be doing, my brother is so sure I will get hit by a double decker bus due to my dreamy head in the clouds mixed with my terrible bad eye sight. Perhaps it is taking place at a slow and steady rate: my metamorphosis.
The following afternoon as I make myself free toast and tea, I befriend a girl from Israel called Tammy, a guy called Brendan and two girls from Sydney. They were impressed by how I schooled the private school 21 yr old white boy from Adelaide on how his off hand comments about the original owners of Australian land, were racist and disrespectful. I was not surprised that someone who had had such an expensive education was so ignorant and casually racist. The young man’s name was Callum and he after I said my piece he followed me around for a bit drunkenly asking repeatedly if I hated him. That was his main concern?! I told him that I did actually hate him a bit and he will need to deal with that and move on.
Finally Callum went away with a group of people who I was happy to avoid. Tammy, Brendan and the two girls from Sydney and I, all got drunk together in the common room of the hostel and decided to go out to a punk/metal club that cost ten quid to get in. At the entrance to the club you had to pay a girl sitting behind a window. As the people before me paid a tall punk guy caught sight of me as he was leaving.
‘Oi! Check out the midget!’ he yelled at me.
I stood totally shell shocked as the words hit me. How far from home and friends I was. Im still the same, cannot escape from this skin. I burst into tears. Brendan and Tammy saw it happen. The girls from Sydney had already paid and disappeared into the darkness.
I sniffed as Tammy hugged me.
‘Lets go somewhere else.’ Brendan suggested.
So we went to The Temple, and met some lovely Canadian boys. The punk who shouted at me shows up and starts talking to me about how hot he thinks I am and he is sorry for acting like a twat. I accept his apology.
Look after yourself. I never got you a tiny thermostat to carry around with you. So you would no when it was cold enough to wear your jacket and when it was warm enough to take it off.
Its now that time in the letter. The time when I know I have prattled on too much. It is time to let you get back to doing what ever it is you were meaning to do before reading this. Before your fingers co coordinated enough to open the envelope, unfold the pages. Before your eyes scanned the first page and the tiny molecules in your brain that sits in your skull between your perfect ears, started working to make sense of the senseless. It is time for my own right hand molecules to slow down, take a breath or two and stop writing word after useless word.
From my tiny pockets to you I send this with kisses