Or just 20,000 people standing in a field?

They collected me from the Sluice House early on the Friday morning, me and the Angry Young Teddy Bears going down to Feile, they drinking and chatting, me driving. Jesus. Feile was an outdoor music festival that ran over three days in August. Ace Face sat up front with me and we chatted music. If he thought it odd, that here I was, Hunkypapa once of The Dioscuri now driving his pretty arse around, he didn’t let on. None of them did. The others sat in the back seats seemingly oblivious to how ridiculous a scenario it was. Still, I was glad to be there, really I was. Jesus that is how far I had fallen. I had lost my band, my girl, my father. Jesus. Yes, I was happy to be driving the fuckers down to their future.

– You doing any of your own stuff this weather? Ace Face asked.

Jesus. Kick a guy in the snot when he’s down, why don’t you?

– Not really.

– Man, you should, you have such a voice.

– Yeah, I’m just trying different things at the moment.

– Cool man, that’s cool. But get back at it right?

– Yessir.

I was regretting coming down now, Jesus, what was I thinking? Stuck with these chaps for the week-end, rubbing my nose in it. I stuck on The Stone Roses, Second Coming, which was good as it stopped me having to listen to Ace Face. The weather was good, we were driving south to some of the greatest bands on the planet. I decided to make the best of it. They shut up for a while but then they were all back at it, nattering away about Reni, the drummer from Stone Roses, leaving the band. He had walked out two weeks before the tour, and they were all giving their opinion as to why, with me sat there. Jesus. I felt like tearing the tape out and tossing it out the window, but I didn’t. I suppose that I didn’t want to go and get myself fired. I knew more about Reni leaving that band than any of them. Jesus. That was my life.

We arrived in Thurles and checked into the hostel, we were all sharing the one room. We then drove over to Semple Stadium. They were all very excited. I suppose I was too. We were backstage with the fellas from The Verve and Ash noodling about the place. Superchunk got chatting to Tim Wheeler from Ash, they were nodding and laughing away at one another, I suppose they had a lot in common. We watched their set from the side of the stage. I have to admit it, they were shit hot. They kicked off with their new single, Girl from Mars, Jesus, it reminded me of Matilda and filled me with sadness, I had had that girl and lost her and I knew that I could never write a song that summed up all this teenage stuff that was going wrong for me. Jesus. And I so wanted to. Really, just one song like that and I’d be happy, really I would. I could be that guy who works in Bad Buzz’s Bordello but wrote that song, I would clamber up sometimes mid shift and sing it to the baying masses. That would be enough for me, I would be happy, really I would.

When Ash went on, Semple Stadium was already rammed, they were all jumping up and down in the sun. For their song, Uncle Pat, which everyone knew from the Heineken ad, the crowd were like waves in the ocean. Jesus. It was all so amazing and depressing. Superchunk didn’t even watch their set, he was busy chatting with the bloke from The Verve. During the unreal set of Pop Will Eat Itself, he fucked off entirely, arm in arm with that bloke. Jesus. He had no appreciation.

Pop Will Eat Itself’s song Ich Bin Ein Auslander, brought me in mind of Nellie’s Stoned City Wrestling Champs, what with its drum loops and heavy sampling of Zeppelin’s Kashmir. Black Grape arrived, in a white Jaguar, they had being drinking. I stuck around to be close to Kylie during her set, she looked like a hot accountant at a Christmas party, sounded like one to, but oh man, that ass! It was a strange set, her backing band looked like random dudes pulled out of the audience, she was rapping and stuff and all the boys in the crowd were chanting Charlene! Charlene! Charlene! Her bloke Nick Cave, wandered on and they warbled through Where the Wild Roses Grow, gripping one another like shopfront dummies, it was like they were embarrassed to sing it in front of everyone or something.

Man, I was about to fuck off, and Tricky came on, he was really into it, he moved like a panther, I mean he was really into it, he looked lost out there, he needed to be in a dark tent in the Amazon or something, it would have being better not being able to see him. That reminded me of Nellie too, if Tricky and the woman singing with him were the one person, the one unseen person, with all their sampling and programming, they could be the one robot. Jesus. Little Nellie may be on to something. Why see us? What’s the point? Nobody’s going to be like The Beatles. Even Bowie was flesh. Tricky was sampling Tom Waits. I think, it meant, you the robot could have Tom Waits in your band. Jesus. He looped Portishead, man, he shouldn’t be out front, he should be the master at the back. You could hear the whirring of the machine, the hiss of tape, the crack of vinyl, it was the past, the past now, just like The Gingerman. Jesus.

I was drunk. I looked out at the sea of heads, way back to little bodies lying down on the far terrace, little dots, who were they? I was filled with a strange sadness that I would never meet them. And that Matilda could be one of them. Then Moby came on. The sun had eventually gone down. He was in a little blue t-shirt and shorts outfit and he had a live band and stuff, but yeah, I reckoned it too would work better as a robot, part of the machine. Why perform it? He was leaping around and then rushing back to tinker with his machine. Why not stay behind the curtain? The crowd was going wild, but bar the first few rows, could anyone see him anyway? I was fed up backstage, I tried speaking with people, but they didn’t seem at all interested in me. They just looked at me blankly and tried to get away from me. I was thinking of getting out of there and looking for the boys but I hung about to see The Prodigy. They came on with the line, ‘So, I’ve decided to take my work back underground, to stop it falling into the wrong hands.’

They were a frenzy, soon to become the biggest band on the planet. They were epic, a mish mash of jungle, techno, trance, house and hip hop, Liam is machine, and thief, for Voodoo people, the crowd went mental, it’s completely stolen from Nirvana’s Very Ape, but nobody seemed to notice or give a damn. Just like Stoned City Wrestling Champs, you don’t have to be who you are, pure punk. I wandered onto the stage, your man Leeroy looked at me weirdly but danced away, so I danced with him, security rushed me, but I dodged them and stage-dived into the audience, they were cheering me as I body surfed away, before being dumped onto the ground. I milled about on my own for a while and then I only went and found Barabbas and Horny up the front, stripped to their waists, pilling off their heads. They gave me a yolk, but just as I was coming up on it, MC Maxim and Keith Flint were saying goodnight Dublin. We wandered around the stadium for a bit and then back to the campsite which was an inferno. Meatheads wearing Carlow GAA jerseys were carrying oil drums over their heads that were being used for collecting litter, roaring and then flinging them into giant fires, sending flaming ash high into the night sky. All the telephone boxes were smashed up, you could see entangled couples behind the splintered glass eating into one another, people were stood on top of them, dancing and taking off their clothes. People were sat or lying everywhere, comatose, people were lighting fires and dancing and yahooing around them. Jesus. It was mighty. The signs to Horse and Jockey and Cashel looked bizarre among them, I don’t know why, it was like those places no longer existed. Careening shopping trollies sped past us, people inside them screaming with delight and terror, buckling themselves in woeful tumbles, crowds cheering. The campsites were in chaos. Wildfires were raging, people half naked and covered in mud danced around them. Tents were collapsed with unconscious people underneath them. Barefoot people wrapped in sleeping bags staggered by.

-All the Sodium Glare boys are camped up beside the Hari Krishnas, said Barabbas, follow me.

We did. I don’t know what they had given me, but Jesus I was higher than I’d ever been. I felt like just lying down and letting it all pass over me. The Prodigy’s line ‘my mind is glowing’ was flowing through my mind. Everything made sense. Even all the abandonment. For the first time I was happy for all the people that had abandoned me and glad that they were wherever they were and I did not wonder where that was, or how would I get there or wondering do they think of me? It was fine. It was all fine. Rumbeak and Mrs. Mahon were standing on top of the big Hari Krishna tent bouncing up and down. People were cheering, the Hari Krishnas looking dismayed, one of them was on a loud-hailer beseeching them to get down.

– We gave you food. We gave you shelter. And this is how you repay us?

There was a boom box playing Poison. Goonie, The Chief and Marteen were dancing around a huge fire with bottles of wine, singing.

– I got the poison, I got the remedy, I got the perfect arhythmical remedy.

Jesus. I thought Jesus. We danced and Nellie and Matilda arrived and they danced with me, even Matilda did. Jesus.

– I got the poison. I got the poison. I got the poison.

The dawn was breaking, it was going to be another beautiful day. I was kissing Nellie. She tasted of Pernod and smelled of white musk, for the rest of my life, they would be triggers that would bring me back to that warm dawn across the chaotic fields of Thurles.

– You see Tricky?

– I did.

– That could be us.

– I know.

She playfully pucked my shoulder.

– You coming around Hunky?

– Reckon I might be.

– At last. I told you.

– Yeah, you did.

– Oh Hunky, I’ve so many great ideas for us.

I slept wrapped around a bin that had being used as a fire. I woke when someone kissed me on the cheek. It was Matilda.

– Morning cowboy.

Jesus. Her looking down on me with the sun beaming behind her, I’ll never forget that. Jesus, it was pure heaven. Someone was softly singing Led Zeppelin’s Going to California.

– You look beautiful Matilda, really beautiful.

– Wake up sleepy head, you’ve got to go to work.

– Jesus, what time is it?

– Near noon.

– Jesus, they are on at half past.

– I’ll come with you.

– We’ll have to hurry.

She grabbed my hand and we ran like that to the stadium. Jesus. The security guy wouldn’t let her in. I told her to wait.

– Hunkypapa, you look wretched, said Superchunk.

– You’re late, said Ace Face.

– Plenty of time, I said, there’s loads out there for you, you guys must be excited.

– Sure, we’re excited, Ace Face yawned.

Jesus.

– Hunky, you should have been here, to help out, said Superchunk.

– Yeah, sorry about that, rock and roll got the better of me.

– It’s not good enough Hunky, you’ve let us down.

– I know, I know, I’m a prick, I’m sorry, really, I am.

– You can say that again, said Ace Face.

– Look, I know this is asking a lot but Matilda is here with me.

– Matilda? Here? said Superchunk.

– Yeah, at the gate, security won’t let her in.

– I’ll get her in.

– I’ll come with you,

– No, you stay here and do something for your keep.

I watched him walk over, but he got denied. He strolled back in, went over to some woman with headphones and badges, she went back with him and the three of them came back in, Matilda holding hands with Superchunk. Jesus.

Feile was giving it up for the Angry Young Teddy Bears, Superchunk frantically beckoned me onto the stage, I thought he wanted me to play guitar but he just told me to get his Les Paul. Their song, Stoic got all the crowd singing,

And the salamander sparkling in your fiery eyes

And the salamander sparkling in your fiery eyes

And the salamander sparkling in your fiery eyes

And the salamander sparkling in your fiery eyes

And the salamander sparkling in your fiery eyes

And the salamander sparkling in your fiery eyes

And the salamander sparkling in your fiery eyes

And the salamander sparkling in your fiery eyes

And the salamander sparkling in your fiery eyes

Jesus, when the whole stadium got to singing that, those lyrics and they being about The Pooka and all, it got me to feeling something almost approaching tenderness for him. Jesus. There’s a lot I have to tell you about The Pooka and Rudy and all that stuff, but not yet, not now, but I will, I mean I suppose I have to, else you’re going to think me fucked up for no good reason. But man, what I can tell you is that I looked over at Superchunk and I felt the old love for him come surging back. I knew what he meant by Stoic and what he was doing for The Pooka and so what he was doing for me and I loved him for it, seriously, I really loved him for it. I was taking pictures of the crowd, squinting through the lens, I saw a sea of Asses heads, baying, when I took my eye away from the camera and looked out at them they were human but again and again through the lens, they were a sea of Asses heads. I walked out towards them and stood there, gaping out at them, the band yelling at me to get off the stage. Ace Face came over and said

– Hunky, get the fuck out of here!

I looked at him, bewildered. And he kicked me in the hole! The crowd cheered and so I attacked him. Well tried to, I tripped up and fell on my face, I tried to get to my feet but slipped on my ass, the crowd were bellowing at me in delight. I crawled to my feet, gave a bow and ran off the stage.

– What the fuck are you doing? asked the woman with the headphones and badges.

I shrugged. They were all looking at me, all the side-stage people, they weren’t happy. Jesus. Did they ever see the stage at Woodstock? Matilda was standing beside her looking grim.

– Are you enjoying it? I asked Matilda

– Can I pinch a cigarette Mickey? she asked the woman withe the headphones and badges, who I guess was called Miki

– Wild man, said the lead singer of Reef and we high-fived.

Matilda and Mickey walked off holding hands. Jesus. The crowd were into the Angry Young Teddy Bears, they really were. At the end of their set, they ran off waving like The Beatles and straight past me. Matilda and Mickey came running over and they were all hugging one another. And then, you aren’t going to believe this, Matilda and Superchunk walked off arm in arm. Jesus. I watched them go over to the bar and get drinks and then sit down almost on top of one another. I walked over to them. Matilda stuck her head into Superchunk’s shoulder, he looked up at me.

– Hunky.

– Super.

Matilda turned and snarled.

– His name is King Teddy.

– Jesus.

She placed her face back on his shoulder.

– You have to go, said Superchunk.

– Go where?

– You’re out cock, said Ace Face.

– Super?

– Nothing I can do for you Hunky, you’re a car crash.

-Matilda, you coming?

They all laughed, Superchunk didn’t, but Matilda did. Jesus. I mooched around the place, going from the free bar to the side of stage. Again, I tried chatting with people about music but nobody wanted to talk about music. Everyone was talking about the fine weather and weren’t we blessed. Jesus. I took in Reef’s set, they were great, your man had some voice. There was some weird stuff on after that like Shawn Colvin and Sleeper and I was getting bored what with no-one talking to me and stuff, so I decided I’d go find the boys and come back in when Blur were coming on.

I found them in the dance tent, bopping away to Fluke, man what a band, so groovy. The strobes were mental, Rumbeak and Mrs. Mahon were stripped to their underpants, lathered in sweat, little whistles around their necks, Horny was making out with some chick in silver shorts, Goonie was trying to talk to me, I couldn’t hear a word he was saying. Man, it was great in there, we couldn’t see the band, just hear them, you could sense the throbbing audience but not really see them either. Barabbas gave me a pill. I liked it in there, there was no image, just the music and you became part of the music, rather than singing along with it and wanting to be part of it and envying it. If you wanted a soul girl in your band, you brought her forward, if you needed an African drummer you manifested him, no worrying about people. Just you and the music. Nothing else. I was watching this cool chick dancing in a little white vest and urban combat pants, Adidas black runners, her hair shaved, her lithe body wriggling, she turned, opened her eyes and smiled. It was Nellie. Jesus. I watched her like that for some time, man she was really something, so into the music, it was like watching her was the only thing that mattered in the entire universe. I went to her. Touched her shoulder. She turned but kept dancing and I danced with her. For ages. We danced and danced and danced. Jesus, it’s about the best I felt in a long, long time, I tried to think of when, but it didn’t matter, none of it did, not even The Pooka. What was the Sodium Glare? This was the universe. Jesus. I could always just leave. Me and Nellie. Go to London, New York, Berlin, anywhere. She turned. I thought that she was going to say something. Instead we kissed, Jesus, we kissed for an eternity, she tasted of her Pernod, man, oh man, it was, I don’t know what it was, kissing a girl like that, in a place like that, to music like that, on a pill like that, Jesus, I’m just so glad that something like that happened to me in my life. Really I am, it may be about the best thing that ever happened to me.

– You’re inducted, she said into my ear.

– What?

– You’re inducted. Stoned City Wrestling Champs.

– Okay, I’m inducted.

She squealed and hugged me tightly. I could feel her little body rushing. I felt her little heart racing. Jesus. We stayed in there. I never seen blokes like The Chief, Barabbas and Rumbeak look so happy. Jesus. This was good. And thousands of us danced while someone on the stage came out and sang,

Still water all I see
No waves serenity
Reflecting peacefully
Looking like the speed for me
Held out I feel no need
No gravity it seems
Suspended here to see
A moment for eternity
Slow motion

I’m getting nowhere fast
Slow motion
Let it last
Let the moment take it’s time
That I may see and realise
So slow the water falls
See how the water falls
See how the ripple waves
To rise and gently fade away
Frame by frame by frame
Unraveled and unexplained
The mystery unveiled
As I uncover each detail
Freeze like the speed for me
Freeze so that I may see
Freeze time and realise
The sights that lie before your eyes

Man, I didn’t care about Matilda, I didn’t care about Superchunk, I didn’t care about The Dioscuri, I didn’t care about Goldie Moonduster, I didn’t care about The Gingerman, I didn’t care about The Minotaur, I didn’t care about The Pooka, sod them all, I didn’t care about any of them. In here, this communal being, it’s all that mattered. We stayed in there, dancing to Darren Emerson and Andrew Weatherall.

– Come on, Nellie said, let’s go and catch some of Blur and then come back here for Underworld.

She grabbed my hand and I followed her through the crowd. We stood on a hill, they were like dots on the far side of a sea of blue heads.

– Nellie, I have backstage passes.

-Never mind that nonsense, she said.

– He doesn’t like flying and he gets seasick, Damon Albarn said, so you got to build a tunnel or we’ve got to build a tunnel. You could walk all the way from Cork to Hong Kong, be good wouldn’t it? Parklife!

And so Damon sang parklike alone without Phil Daniels, the bloke from Quadrophenia, Superchunk was back there somewhere creaming himself. I was out here in the masses, but I wanted to be beside Nellie, watching Damon Albarn, far, far away and for once I was happy to be and not be there.

– Do you know that Queen drinks a bottle of gin a day, forty silk cut and is obsessed with gambling? It sort of makes sense. This is our last song, you’ve being absolutely marvelous and I love ya.

And he sang,

And into the sea
Goes pretty England and me
Around the bay of Biscay
And back for tea
Hit traffic on the dogger bank
Up the Thames to find a taxi rank
Sail on by with the tide
And go to sleep
And the radio says

This is a low
But it won’t hurt you
When you’re alone
It will be there with you
Finding ways to stay solo

Up the Tyne, Forth and Cramity
There’s a low in the high forties
Saturday’s locked away on the pier
Not fast enough, dear
And on the Malin head
Blackpool looks blue and red
And the queen, she’s gone round the bend
Jumped off Land’s End
And the radio says

This is a low
But it won’t hurt you
When you’re alone
It will be there with you
Finding ways to stay solo

This is a low
But it won’t hurt you
When you’re alone
It will be there with you
This is a low
But it won’t hurt you
When you’re alone
It will be there with you
Finding ways to stay solo

I was crying. Jesus. Man, that song really got to me. Jesus, what was happening to me? Man, they were cool as fuck. Alex James, cross legged on the monitor. Coxon noodling away and the drummer really going for it. Damon singing into the night sky. Nellie led me away, her little hand guiding me through the crazy crowds into Underworld, I was out of the body, the words hummed through me, I was part of the it, I was the music,

Thunder thunder lightning ahead. long. kiss you kiss you dark and long.
thunder thunder lightning ahead. bright lights shine. bright lights shine.
thunder thunder lightning. bright lights shine. bright lights shine.
thunder thunder lightning ahead. bright lights shine. bright lights shine.
now i kiss you dark and long. bright lights shine. bright lights shine…
thunder thunder lightning ahead. long. kiss you kiss you dark and long. long.

me I’m just a waitress she said.
i went and bought a new head she said.
i look at you. i believe in you she said.
screaming into the eye of the lens.

i want to smash it up. i want to break it down.
i want a wall of tear…to wash away.

thunder thunder lightning ahead. thunder thunder lightning.
thunder thunder lightning ahead. now i kiss you dark and long.
filled with tainted girls and motel frills.
what a laugh. you was done up there mate.
thunder thunder lightning ahead. i could kiss you dark and long.
thunder thunder lightning ahead. now i kiss you dark and long.
shout your love. the stars are black. the church is sweet. my skin is hot.
thunder thunder lightning ahead. now i kiss you dark and long.
shout your love…

– I’m falling in love with Nellie, I said

– You’re on E dude, said Barabbas

mmm skyscraper i love you. mmm skyscraper i love you.
mmm skyscraper i love you. mmm skyscraper i love you.

thirty thousand feet above the earth. its a beautiful thing.
and you’re a beautiful thing.

thirty thousand feet above the earth. its a beautiful thing.
everybody’s a beautiful thing.

mmm skyscraper i love you. mmm skyscraper i love you.

and i see elvis! elvis!

i see porn dogs sniffing the wind. sniffing the wind for something new.
porn dogs sniffing the wind for something violent they can do.
porn dogs sniffing the wind. sniffing the wind for something new.
porn dogs sniffing the wind for something violent for me and you.

will you be my big plaything. my total big disorientator.
will you be my big plaything. my ninja power. my number cruncher.
yes. yes. yes. no. yes. yes.
yes. yes. yes. yes. no. no.

and i see elvis! and i hear god on the phone.
mmm skyscraper i love you.

i see porn dogs sniffing the wind. sniffing the wind for something new.
porn dogs sniffing the wind for something violent that they could do.
porn dogs sniffing the wind. sniffing the wind for something new.
porn dogs sniffing the wind for something violent for me and you.

the city is a whore tonight.

and i see god talking! elvis! god talking!

pornfest pork fat jesus christ night light.
elvis fresh meat and a little whipped cream.
pornfast cornfat jesus christ night ride.
elvis fresh meat and a little whipped cream.
thirty thousand feet above the earth. thirty thousand feet above the earth.
beautiful thing. you’re a beautiful thing.
thirty thousand feet above the beautiful earth.
mmm skyscraper i love you. mmm skyscraper i love you.
mmm skyscraper i love you. mmm skyscraper i love you.

like i feel you. like i feel you. like i feel you. like i feel you…

I stuck The Stone Roses into my Walkman and went walking into the town. There were a couple no older than me, stood drenched, holding all their stuff in plastic bags,

– We tried get in to see Blur, they said, but they wouldn’t let us, were they any good?

– Yes, they were mighty, I said, but you’ll see them again, they’ll be around a long time, you’ll be around a long time.

There were clusters of people in the woods, lighting fires, playing guitars and staring at the stars. A skinny guy with a huge fro in denim shorts, hugging a blonde girl in an Indian dress, asked me

– Isn’t it beautiful?

– Yes, and so are you, I said.

Around one of the fires, there were several girls with long black hair in long flowing white dresses playing guitars and singing folk songs. Jesus. I sat down with the people watching and listening to them, they passed me wine, which I drank and passed me blunts which I smoked. Man, those girls were really something.

They sang a song called A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall. Jesus. The words took me away to everywhere. I saw a life away from the Sodium Glare and the Sluice House and the Dark Ink. I decided that I would never be going back, I was going out into the world with Nellie.

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded in hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well-hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

– Jesus, that’s the best song I ever heard, seriously, it was unreal, is it yours? I asked.

They all laughed but not in a bad way.

– Have you never heard it before?

– No, is it a religious hymn?

– You could say that, it’s Bob Dylan.

– You have heard of Bob Dylan?

– Yes, but not much.

– You’re lucky, there’s so much there for you.

I climbed into the back of a VW camper van with them, they gave me acid which I swallowed, we tripped through the night. In the beautiful dawn, there was a chap and a girl in the front seats, wearing cowboy hats, playing The Stone Roses on the stereo. I shot the breeze with them, smoking weed and drinking beer, man, they were good people, really good people. They were all breakfasting around the fire, they offered me food, but I said I was good and that I had better be getting back and they wished me well as I departed.

– Happy Stone Roses Day, they yelled.

-Happy Stone Roses Day, I laughed.

I drank beer, listening to The Stone Roses first album in my Walkman, rambling my way around the vast campsites on my way back to the Hari Krishna tent. I rambled casually for hours, pausing now and again at friendly camps, shooting the breeze with them, drinking with them, smoking with them, people from all over the country, good people, all escaping their own Sodium Glares and Dark Inks. I felt normal among them and they treated me well. When I eventually got to where I thought the Hari Krishnas were, they weren’t there, I tried a few other places, but there was no sign of them, some people then told me that they had moved on altogether as some animals had tried to burn down their tent.

– They took our Pascal with them.

– He looked so happy with them.

– They shaved his head and painted his face.

– He was wearing their robes and they left with him.

I made my way back to the stadium, but when I went to the backstage gate, they refused me entry, they said that my pass had being revoked and they took it off me. I protested but they said that I had being fired and therefore the pass was no longer valid. Superchunk had gone and shipped me. Jesus. I pasted about looking for a ticket to get in the normal entrance, but what with The Stone Roses playing, it was like standing outside heaven asking people if they wanted to give up their place. Fuckers were mocking me. I realized that I was going to have to try and sneak in but security were being cocks and there was nothing doing. I scoped out the entire stadium, it was like a fortress, I tried clambering in several times, but they pulled me down and gave me a few digs, I could hear Dodgy in there and the crowd singing I’m Staying Out For The Summer. Jesus.

I made my way back out to the campsite. I found the Puck Doyles wandering about but they were on Pluto and I could get no sense from them, still, I stuck with them for a while, they were a magnet for madness. Jesus, the people they met, they came about them like conger eels. There were heaps of people who didn’t give a fuck about The Stone Roses, they were some who didn’t even know who they were but nobody would give up their wristband. Jesus. I was getting desperate. I was thinking about mugging someone. Not really, but I was thinking about it. I decided to see could I find someone who was passed out and slip it off them, but I got caught a few times by their pals and was chased off. And then, I went and saved a dude’s life, seriously. He was lying on his back vomiting, choking on it. I went and turned him over and helped him out. He then went and tried to attack me, I didn’t even get a chance to ask for his wristband. I made my way back up to the stadium, more and more poor fuckers with no tickets were gathering and making security more antsy and viscous. People coming out were getting mobbed for their wristbands, they were telling us to get fucked. It was falling dark, we could hear Orbital in there and see their blue lights.

Man, I was starting to really panic. But, there was nothing doing, I tried everything to get into that fucking stadium, but Jesus there was no chance, it was unreal. I could draw that stadium from memory, I walked around and around it so much. I knew I was fucked when I heard Paul Weller singing Not Fade Away. I couldn’t take it standing outside listening to them, so I walked away from the stadium and out of Thurles, along the N62 I stuck my thumb out, but no-one was stopping, I must have looked like a complete wreck and so I continued walking along the road towards Roscrea, or so I thought, I soon found myself walking along a boreen, aimless and lost. I thought about The Stone Roses and the chanting Semple crowd, the summer of our lives, and Matilda and Superchunk kissing backstage listening to them. I considered hanging myself but I had nothing to do it with. Jesus. I felt like the only man in Tipperary in hell. There was nothing to do but drag my leaden self on and think about ways of killing myself. I had been out there for hours when at last something came along the road behind me, it was a coach, I tried flagging them down but they kept coming and so I had to step into the ditch, I continued waving them down, but they weren’t stopping. I looked in a massive window and there were The Stone Roses, sat around a table drinking beer, they all looked out at me, I looked in open-mouthed, Ian Brown waved warily and then they were gone, I watched the red lights disappear down the boreen. Jesus.

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