There are some moments and sensations that never go away. A distinct smell, sound or moment will live always in the memory. No matter what you do, you can never erase it, it is always there ready to surprise you. It was there today, ready to remind me when I hear the first few notes of Phil Collins’ ‘Something in the Air’, and I was back on the M1 going north.
If you have ever driven an old sports car, you will know that it is something you do with your whole body. It is not a passive ‘point and go’ machine, but a living skin of metal fused to you. Every bump in the road could do something delicious to the overstimulated parts of me. Cruising at top speed, giving a simple flip of the overdrive switch and the ‘B’ would give little skip and leap forward into the overtaking lane. My heart surged forward as the delicious acceleration reached my sensitive parts.
Somewhere just outside London, maybe Scratchwood, I had stopped to pee and made an impulse buy of Phil Collins’ cassettes – must have been cassettes – nasty things that finally got stuck in the deck and ended their days wound round a tree on the way to Scotland. British motorways are littered with the thin slivers of tape thrown away in frustration, as they spewed onto the floor and around high heels. Hundreds of cassettes of ‘Brothers in Arms’ have ended their days just north of Berwick-on-Tweed.
Listening to that song again eleven thousand miles and thousands of days away, I recalled the triangle of relationships; a lighting designer, who didn’t love me, a beautiful boy PhD student, who wanted to be a rock star, and a drama student and bass player, from Leicester, all sharing my affections and my body, and none of them really caring enough to make me do anymore than just play with each in turn. They never wanted my heart and they never got it.
The blue MGB on the other hand did have my heart, if it is possible to love a car. It inspired me, stimulated me and made me glorious and glamorous. It also made me dangerous, and not just from the way I drove it because I like to think that driving is one of my top skills. It gave me an air of wealth, craziness and wild sensuality. It was a cloak and I wore it well. It was a beautiful shiny blue cloak of joy and laughter, with a scream of tyres racing away from everyday things. It introduced me to many men I should not have met and some I am glad that I did meet. I loved my Blue Baby until I finally watched her disappear on a tow truck while I clutched the soiled notes in my hand and knew nothing would every replace that car in my heart. The notes bought an air ticket and I was gone.
Back on the road to the north, it was a warm summer night and the roof was open. I remember a white linen shirt and jeans, long, long hair uncontrolled and a bag of crisps on the passenger seat. Off to play in that disgusting midland city, with a man I hardly knew, walking into situations and walking out as if I was not to blame, which of course, I was. It would all end badly, but caught in the thrill of the sex to come, I didn’t care.
Funny now that all that remains of those few days is the moment of flicking that switch, the little jump and roaring away as Phil Collins picked up the tempo with a drum roll. I was always amazed when he sang that song how the audience supplied the echo: “I remember”
“Don’t worry……….. worry worry worry’
“Met……… met met met”
Listening again, my hand still flicks that switch and I sing the echo.