Archive for the ‘Heaven’ Category

Strokes Heaven


This is a story about a girl I met outside the Garage on Highbury Corner some time in the late summer of the year 2000, when I was 27.

I’d been out with friends, and in the cab rank at kicking-out time she approached me and basically picked me up.

Her line was that I looked like John Squire of the Stone Roses.

I didn’t.

Maybe the hair was a bit rock and roll, but I didn’t look like John Squire at all.

We went back to hers in Stamford Hill.

We sat up in her garden getting stoned and drinking wine.

We both knew we’d go to bed, we just wanted to feel that we knew each other first.

But, when we did, I had some problems –  despite her best attempts, (and despite her amyl nitrate, which never came out again).

The next morning we went for a pub lunch, and kept drinking and talking.

She was an accountant but she played guitar.

She was cool but she was still responsible.

She was warm and soft, and she smelled nice.

We liked each other.

Maybe two weeks after that first night I got an email from her.

The subject line was “All I Need is a Little Discourage.”

She asked me for a drink in Islington.

After that we’d see each other in pubs, then go back to hers – or far less frequently to mine.

I don’t think we ever actually had dinner together, and I never went back to trying to sleep with her properly – it was always just giving her head and cuddling.

I loved the long lunches afterwards.

I remember a pizza place with outside tables on Stoke Newington Church Street. I remember a Sunday Roast in a pub called the Birdcage.

I remember walking her to the bus stop in the morning on a work day and her telling me that Autumn was her favourite season.

I wished I saw her more often, but I’ve never been good with the phone, so I’d just wait for her to email me.

And if she hadn’t emailed me for a while, then I’d buy tickets for bands and suggest that she came with me, as much for an excuse to write as to actually see the band.

But this was a band we both wanted to see. After all, who didn’t love the Strokes in the summer of 2001?

I remember the two of us listening to the Modern Age and New York City Cops on the top deck of a bus up to her place.

We were drunk and happy, and we played those songs on repeat.

In a world where the Strokes had just put out Is This It?  this was how to live.

To be in London in your twenties, with your own home and a good job.

To have a beer buzz, a shared pair of headphones and your arm round someone’s shoulder on the top deck of the 73 bus.

I’d already seen the Strokes on this short tour.

I’d gone up to see them play in Oxford the week before and I’d bought a t-shirt.The red one, with their logo in white.

I still have it.

Still wear it too.

About a week later we’d taken bus down from hers to Camden for a Saturday lunch.

So there I am, I’m wearing this t-shirt, and we’re walking down past the Stables, and on the other side of the road we see Julian and Nick from the band.

They see us too.

They see my t-shirt and they come over.

And I’m so embarrassed I still can’t believe it.

They start to talk to us, and I just walk away.

She stays and chats.

The Heaven show is about a week later.

It’s amazing.

But then it’s ruined for us.

We wait around as the venue empties, and when there are only about 10 or 20 people left, the band are out in the crowd talking to people.

And she goes up to Nick (who’s got some model looking girls around him), says hi and asks if he remember her.

She’s doesn’t look anything like those other girls and he blanks her.

We go for a drink round the corner.

I’m supposed to be flying for a holiday with my flatmate in the early hours of that morning (package holiday to Corfu) and I’m really nervous about it.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this stressed about something”, she says.

I wished I was going on holiday with her instead.

I’m trying to put a finger on when it all ran its course.

I think it was after an Idlewild show.

Ever since that first email subject line, they were a band that made me think of her.

They still do.

They were doing an acoustic show somewhere – a friend who worked in radio had got me the tickets – and of course I’d emailed her about it.

And afterwards she wasn’t going to take me home, even though I asked. I may have cried.

After that, we saw each other in passing at the Engineer in Primrose Hill in maybe 2005-6.

She was with a guy who looked older than me.

Then, at a show by the View at Brixton in 2007, I saw her coming out of a bathroom and called her name.

She came over.

She was with the same guy, and he seemed really nice.

I think he’s the same guy who posts all the family photos of the two of them and their son on the Facebook page she invited me to at the end of last year.

“She’s told me all about you”, he said when he heard my name.

I still wonder what it was she’d said.

High: always, always Hard to Explain

Drinking: the perfect amount

Thinking: why did you have to be such a dick, Nick Valensi?

Setlist on