“…with no meaning or control…”

Pulp – Common People

At first, I didn’t even understand the prompt. Fight song? Then I misunderstood it. I thought back to the twelve-hour Saturday playlists of my late teens which would direct me through a well-rehearsed dance of rituals from my fifth late-afternoon coffee to the middle of the next morning. I can almost taste that back-of-the-throat sulphate bitterness which no cut of saccharine, reassuringly enough, could disguise, rinsed down clean with the piercing, quickening bubbles of cheap alcoholic lemonade. Opening up my senses and taking down walls. The smoky exhalation of s(t)imulated calm.

But those songs are filed under a not-so-closely related category, labelled “Fight or Flight”. Loud and heavy to displace the tight knots of anxiety in my stomach and my tongue. Faking the confidence to speak to people and shave my head.

There is a song “anthemic” to me – but it has a tenuous link (at best) to anything ‘alma mater’. It’s a song I danced drunkenly to, upstairs, after hours, in an Irish bar in Scotland – where I was studying something biology based. It originates out of my neck of the woods – a four hundred mile, eight hour train journey back down the East coast. Back home. A place I’ve left and returned to many times, geographically speaking.

I used to wonder if that period of my life might have ended better, happier, if I had just chosen to follow the three year degree programme in Wales that I was enthusiastically offered instead. That would have been the easier option. But the end result would still have been the same because of the common denominator. Me. I would still have wound up holed up in that fourteenth floor shit hole in Sheffield; next door to the adulterer’s mistress and all her Jack Vettriano prints, across the hall from the Big Issue sellers, squatting in the derelict flat and down the stairs from the smack addict; worrying about my cat and the guy on a bi-polar high in the next room. “High” not being quite the right adjective. Wondering what he might set fire to next but being too exhausted to really care.

And anyway, I had valium to block it all out.