Fear and Loving in Heaton Park: Part Five - Stoned Love

It’s been quite some time coming, not as long as certain albums I could mention, but at last The Stone Roses take to the stage. Well nearly. They’ll definitely play a bigger part in the next instalment.

(illustration - the author)

A writer who is also a Stone Roses fan knows how to wait. I’ve lost count of the hours wasted praying for inspiration, the days mislaid expecting an editor to ring, and the years that evaporated while four Mancunians considered completing their second album.

But, despite all the practice, I’d rather take a dry dive off the Eiffel Tower than hang around. Which is a shame as I was doing exactly that. Time passed slowly. Excruciatingly so. Interminable minute, followed interminable minute. Around me a foaming mass of strangers ebbed and flowed, but my companion JC remained adrift.

A distraction was required. Unable to find friends in reality, like social inadequates the world over, I sought refuge in technology. Distant acquaintances were sent the knowingly oblique text ‘Stone Roses’. Hopefully they would realise where I was and send suitably jealous replies.

Unfortunately, after fifteen minutes only one text, destined for Naked Ruby drummer T Tom Thomas, had winged its way off into the aether and he didn’t feel it warranted a response.

This inability to communicate meant correspondence with JC was sporadic. Whether he received my messages or not is uncertain, but based on the increasingly garbled replies rather than making his way towards me, he was bobbing around the front pit like a discarded champagne cork in a Lothario’s jacuzzi.

Munching my iron rations I considered sending a grid reference. However, as he had flatly refused to bring an Ordnance Survey Map or handheld GPS, there would have been little point. He didn’t even have a compass.

When this city was known as Madchester, my flares were denim: thirty-inch bell-bottoms that made walking in even a gentle breeze impossible. This time, governed by fear not fashion, I had opted for emergency ones. Ideal for an eventuality such as this, no matter how drunk JC was, he would instinctively make his way to the blinding red light. Moths have mastered this, surely he could?

They remained unused, however, due to my fear of being identified as a terrorist and neutralised. My own safety meant nothing, but the arrival of a squad of navy seals, complete with helicopter gunship, would have taken the edge off the event for the rest of the audience.

The cavalry would not be arriving, Action had to be taken. Thankfully, the months of studying Applied Friendship at my local college ensured I knew exactly what to do. In theory. ‘Good afternoon, I’m extremely interested in all facets of human life, including you. Tell me are you a mariner?’ may have produced positive results in Hartlepool, but Manchester isn’t a port. The relevancy was lost.

The laughter that once inspired greater bon mots and outlandish behaviour now sounded cruel and mocking. The former class joker, alone on this hillside, had lost his cocksure demeanour. But as my tutor, Neville ‘what’s the worst that can happen’ Fell, stated: ‘if you wait for the right moment, you’ll die alone in bedsit in Hastings.’

There are many reasons I’m angry at Adam Ant, the music, the preposterous clothing and the 15-years I served for armed robbery after aping his dandy highwayman. In mitigation, he did pen the mantra I steadfastly rely on in these situations: ‘ridicule is nothing to be scared of’. All is not forgiven, but a reprieve is pending. Steeling myself, it was time to make a move.

The first person was too boring. Which explained why he’d come alone. Empathy should have been my response, but at least I had a friend to lose. An acceptable passenger on a business flight; too mainstream for a concert. Before retiring at a reasonable hour, a modicum of madness was required. I made my excuses and left.

The second person was too unsavoury. After exchanging pleasantries I explained my concerns about the journey home. He concurred, that’s why he’d booked his prostitute for 2am. Who would have thought that misogyny involved such logistics? I departed before overcome by lust he made me his own.

The third bowl, sorry, person, was just right. Cool, witty, urbane. Unfortunately, he popped off for a drink, and got lost on his way back. These things happen, and I’m sure he’ll send the money he borrowed as soon as a suitable opportunity arises.

Disheartened, the plan, along with my long blonde tresses and blue pinafore dress, was abandoned. The gilt-framed certificate hanging above my bed was worthless. If the course was that good, why hadn’t my classmates contacted me since graduation? A refund would be demanded. In the future I would stick with Rent-a-Friend.

Destined to be alone I opted for comfort, which meant standing at the entrance to the urinals. My desire for convenience had ended at the conveniences.

Desperate to turn the situation to my advantage, I considered leaving a message and my number on the toilet wall: ‘Single white male would like to meet similar for average time at gig’. But as our phones weren’t working it seemed futile. Anyway I didn’t have an indelible marker. My preparations weren’t as thorough as I supposed. The debriefing would be tense.

Then, just as I was considering leaving, Jean Terrell’s captivating, mellifluous voice rose magnificently above the cacophony of the crowd. The Supremes were playing. The Roses were about to take the stage. The park erupted including me. It was 1988 again and time to indulge in some stoned love without recourse to THC.

My fear faded and I allowed myself to be carried away on the wave of excitement. Finally, I let down my guard, which is a pity because it meant I didn’t see the hands that grabbed me. Unable to react, I was spun round by a monstrous Neanderthal with a shaved pate, wild staring eyes and a twisted grin.

Great, I was going to be attacked…

NEXT ISSUE: My new best friends…