Parklife, My Life

25th April 1994.

I’m in the attic bedroom of an elderly couple called Edna and Danny Stables. There is a bed, a TV and my stereo.

I can hear Edna and Danny downstairs in the kitchen.

Then things go quiet.

A minute later Edna calls my name and I bound down the stairs. She leads me into the back garden where a dog I’ve never seen before is tied to the fence with a piece of rope.

“Have you bought a dog?” I ask.

“No. It’s a stray. You need to take it to the police station.” she replies.

“I need to do what?” I say, sure I must have misheard her.

“It’s a stray. You need to take it to the police station.” she repeats.

I’ve been at the University of Paisley for just under a year and because I hadn’t secured a place in halls my parents had found me digs with this madder than a KFC bucket full of frogs old woman and her put upon husband.

Most of the time I’ve sat in my bedroom listening to records and reading books. I haven’t really made any friends and I’m not really sure I’m what you would call happy…I’m barely living and I’m nowhere close to having a life.

My girlfriend lives on the other side of the country and I see her once a week. I’m lonely and miserable.

Now I’m being asked to drag a stray dog through the streets of a town that hates me (I’ve been called a freak because of my unique style…a Harrington jacket, jeans and Docs by several gangs of youths…the ones who aren’t stuffing Temazepan into their faces like they are Tic-Tacs that is) and that, at this moment in time I hate just as much.

Because I have no backbone I walk the dog to the police station where my act of kindness is greeted with as much gratitude as one would shower on someone who bought you a season ticket to watch Bristol City (up the Gas!).

On the way home I pop into Stereo One to look at what’s new in the wonderful world of sound.

And there it is.

It forgotten all about it.

But there it is.

A few weeks earlier I’d listened to the new single from blur being played on the Evening Session. It was called “Girls and Boys” and it was a wonky, weird, wired and wonderful anti-hymn to the Club 18-30, Shag-aluf, Ibiza madness of the early 90’s. I’d recorded it onto a blank tape and listened to it non-stop until it’s release on my Walkman as I trudged slowly to my lectures every day under the slate grey Victorian skies of Paisley. When it came out I bought it on cassette single because it was packaged like a box of condoms…which as a celibate (by faith…not by choice) I found thrilling.

Now the album had arrived.

“Parklife”.

I wouldn’t have bought it on the day of release were it not for that stray dog…that’s what Jung would call a meaningful coincidence. Also, dog is God backwards…coincidence?

Well, yes it is but I’m trying to paint a picture here.

Fine.

Forget it.

“Parklife” was, of course, era defining. It changed everything in British music. Where “Modern Life is Rubbish” had kicked over the grunge statues and set the visual and sonic template for what was to come, “Parklife” solidified all of that and created Britpop…whether the band meant to or not.

It was an album that sounded just like…everyone that mattered in British pop and youth subculture history from 1964 on and yet it sounded nothing like any of them. It was a blur record…a record that only they could have made.

With magpie eyes and the presence of two genuine pop masters in Albarn and Coxon they hinted at Bowie, The Kinks, The Jam, The Specials, Madness and The Smiths and created an album that sold roughly a bazillion copies, spawned 17 hit singles and made them all regular faces on the walls of teenage boys and girls across the country.

It’s a perfect pop album.

Perfect.

Not a fault.

Flawless.

Um.

Right.

All I’m going to suggest is that the presence of “Magpie” instead of the title track would have been…better?

But that’s just me.

I just don’t like that song.

Never have.

Never will.

Regular readers can relax…I’m not going to go on about it. Again.

Thank you Damon.

Thank you Graham.

Thank you Alex.

Thank you Dave.

Thank you especially to that dog who ensured that I would forever be able to hold my head high in the company of any member of the Britpop community and say “Yes. I was there on that day.”

To the end.

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