The Ten Years Later Affair

The Victoria Line is a marvel of 1960s engineering. The trains – get this! – drive themselves automatically! All the driver does is close the doors. It’s due for some big changes in 2008, not least the introduction of the first of the new trains that will replace the original 1960s units that still currently run on it.

The Victoria Line also provided me with the best laugh – so far – of 2008. I was en route back from a thoroughly enjoyable short-notice New Year’s Eve gathering in Brixton, and there was a band of people holding the doors open, waiting for their friends to make it on to the train. The door mechanism on the Victoria Line trains has always struck me as a bit vicious, and as one of these twats stepped into the doorway to check on the progress of others still on the platform, he and his mate momentarily neglected to ensure there was anyone else holding the doors open: they crashed shut on to either side of his head with impeccable comic timing. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving fella.

This 2008 business is, more generally, a big deal as far as I’m concerned. It is of course too early to say whether 2008 will be in any meaningful sense a big year for me or not – 2007 promised more than it delivered in several respects – but the very fact that it is 2008 is freaking me out.

The main reason for this is that it’s ten years since 1998. Now, this isn’t much of a revelation, I’m aware, but 1998 was a pretty significant year for me and the idea that it was all ten years ago takes some getting used to. I was 16 in 1998, so it’s no surprise it was one of those years that seems to assume importance in hindsight, but nevertheless it did: I moved into the sixth form, and made choices, and developed interests, that have shaped my life and career ever since – in particular, without having developed my interests in history and politics I would have ended up in a totally different place.

It was also in 1998 that I developed my taste in music properly beyond the mainstream and started attending gigs – a bit late to have been doing this, perhaps! But much of my present record collection owes its presence on my shelves directly or indirectly to the paths I stumbled down ten years ago, as I began listening to John Peel and buying music fanzines for the first time. As an aside, I was dead impressed to learn last night that my friend Luke had attended Kenickie’s last ever gig, on October 15th 1998 – as my first ever proper gig had been their Manchester show on the previous Friday, there will likely be more posts on this subject later in the year! But a Kenickie reunion for 2008…? Come on ladies, you know it makes sense!

There have been significant things happen since, of course, but the significance of 1998 is such that, if anyone who knows me now (I’m in touch with almost nobody I knew prior to ’98) could travel back in time to the start of that year, they might struggle to recognise me. Does it all seem like ten years ago? Frighteningly – but also for the good, in many ways – in some respects it does.

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