I used to hate a lot of bands when I was young, often for the most spurious of reasons. Nirvana and Pearl Jam had a bit of a feud going on? Well, I loved Nirvana, so of course I must hate Pearl Jam. Some of my friends hated Teenage Fanclub because they’d had to sit through them at a festival whilst waiting for other bands to come on? I must hate them too, even though this experience involved me in no way whatsoever. I even made a compilation tape titled ‘Babybird Must Die’, the only crime of this particular band being to have one big hit that became irritating through over exposure.
Of course, I didn’t really hate any of these bands, some of them I even secretly quite liked. I was just, like most teenagers, a little angry, a lot insecure, yet overconfident in my often stupid opinions. I am only glad the internet wasn’t around then to record them, although any stupid opinions I retain today may well outlive me. I’m not sure it’s even possible to truly hate a band, despite the legions of internet commenters doing their best to suggest otherwise.
A sixth form computer room in 1998, and it’s hard to imagine how excited I was to hear a low-quality 30 second clip of a song by Brazilian-American metal band Soulfly. It was the first time I had used this new-fangled internet thingy people were so excited about, and of course the first thing I wanted to use it for was to listen to music. I sat, headphones on, in awe and wonder at the idea that I could hear a bit of a song without buying the CD or waiting for it to come on the radio. Little did I know where it would lead.
Stepping back a bit, to 1993, when music began to truly matter to me, options for hearing the kind of music I loved were very limited. Evenings on Radio 1 were pretty much the only place you could hear indie or alternative music and I listened religiously to the Evening Session, John Peel and Mark & Lard. MTV existed (and was still primarily a channel that played music videos), but not in my house. You might get the occasional band or video I liked on Top of the Pops or The Chart Show (the first place I heard Nirvana incidentally), but you could hardly rely on it.
Some time in the past, ten years ago or probably more, someone told me they thought I was quite a moral person. I can’t even remember what it was in relation to, but it has always stuck with me. Mainly because, at the time, I don’t think it was particularly true. Sure, I thought of myself as broadly a good person, but what good did I actually do? How often did I do what I thought was right above what I actually wanted to do? What did I do help others? Did I have a moral code, and if so, did I try to live by it?
“That’s my daughter, in the water” – Loudon Wainwright – Daughter
It seems they start swimming the moment they leave the womb nowadays (this is almost literally in the cases of water births). A good thing it is too. Get them used to the water when they’re young and it will never seem a strange and scary place. Swimming itself will come more naturally when they’re not worrying about the water.
We fully intended for our daughter to go to one of the many water based baby groups, but due to one thing and another she was past two by the time I took her to her first swimming class. Still very young of course, and I’m sure I was much older than that when I learnt to swim, but my daughter was alone amongst her group in being entirely new to the water, as other parents regaled with the time their kids had spent in the pool on various holidays that I’m still not sure how people with young children afford.
I’ve written little in the last two months. It seems that preparing for a new baby whilst also looking after a 3 year old and also doing my actual job is not conducive to finding time to write. My nesting instinct also truly kicked in during the last couple of months of my wife’s pregnancy, as I tried to get every possible job around the house complete before our boy arrived. I finally ticked the last item off my list the evening before the due date, and was a surprised as anyone when he hurried into this world at 3.50 am the next day, as if he sensed we were finally ready.
The birth couldn’t have been much more different than our daughter’s. She came into this world in an operating theatre, after seemingly endless trips to and from the hospital, as contractions stopped and started over the course of more than a week. Our boy, in contrast, was born less than twenty minutes after we walked through the hospital doors, barely more than an hour after I’d been asleep at home. A few minutes later leaving the house and it’s doubtful we would even have made it as far as the delivery ward.