Singles of the year: #76 (NMC)

76. I Believe In The Good Of Life – Hidden Cameras

“I’ll testify on the word of a radio that I dream of the fate of democracy, as I flee on my bike from the crimes we made, and that I did not do those drugs or steal those army pants.”

One of the most unfair criticisms levelled at “personal” bloggers/online diarists is that we’re all unhealthily self-obsessed – whereas in actual fact, most of us, whether by good judgement or by painfully learnt experience, are carefully adhering to one of the most basic tenets of the genre: that you don’t blog revealing stuff about other people. (Which just leaves blogging about yourself, and that time-honoured old safety valve: being gratuitously rude about celebrities.)

(Aside – and yes, I will get round to talking about the Hidden Cameras eventually, but in my own good time, thank you very much: for those of us who feel this restriction the most keenly, the most sensible option would be do what countless others have done before us, and switch to writing fiction instead. That way, we can take all the people we know, change a few names and trivial identifying characteristics, then dissect their personalities in mercilessly one-sided and unforgiving detail, covering our backsides all the while with that greatest of all whoppers: “Any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.” Just how do authors get away with that one, anyway?)

In which case, I hope the person concerned will forgive me if I bend the rules ever so slightly, in order to mention something which happened when we went to see the Hidden Cameras at The Social a couple of months ago. Seven or eight years ago, this person moved in the same circles as Joel Gibb (lead singer and songwriter), as they were both active in the Toronto indie fanzine scene of that time. Not close friends, but they hung out together, went to the same gigs, swapped opinions on Shed 7 and The Bluetones, that sort of thing. So naturally, my friend has taken more than a passing interest in Joel’s career; she went to see them on last year’s tour with the Sleepy Jackson, and travelled over to Nottingham to see them on this year’s headlining tour.

– Oh well, so you’ll be able to say Hi to Joel after the show then. There’s no proper backstage area at The Social, so the bands nearly always hang out in the bar afterwards. Bet he’ll be pleased to see a familiar face; and after so long!

– Hmmm, we’ll see… but I really don’t like hassling people who’ve made it… it never feels right…

– But you’re old friends!

I might be a hopeless networker when it comes to maximising opportunities for my own benefit, but I’m an enthusiastic networker when it comes to putting people together for what I regard as their own benefit. Besides, this would give me the chance to Schmooze With The Stars; something which I am, very very slowly, getting slightly better at. (This year, I’ve managed to sustain brief conversations with Ana Matronic & Del Marquis from the Scissor Sisters, Wreckless Eric, and Eleanor Friedberger from the Fiery Furnaces. Believe me: this is progress.)

After the show – one of those serendipitously perfect alignments of band, audience and venue which comes along so rarely, but which can compensate for a whole clutch of disappointing evenings at a single stroke – the band are packing up their equipment. Mark from Loughborough, never backward about coming forward, who has already seen them in Leicester, has been renewing his acquaintance with Joel. As the conversation ends and Joel begins to turn away, I seize my opportunity, grabbing my reluctant friend and physically dragging her over.

– Excuse me! Joel! Joel! I’ve got an old friend of yours here!

– Oh… er… it’s Xxxxx, right?

Ha, you see? He remembered you straight away. I knew I was doing the right thing.

Except that both of you still seem equally shy of each other. Polite, diffident smiles. Easy pleasantries. An exchange swiftly concluded, to the evident relief of both parties.

But you had both come a long way, hadn’t you? Neither of you any longer the teenage Britpop-import indie-fanzine kids. One of you sleek and glamorous as ever, the other one a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter. Maybe neither of you particularly want to be reminded of the kids you once were; at least not right here, right now, in a public place on a Friday night.

Or maybe I’m just projecting like mad, and you really did barely know each other after all. It has been known.

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