Here’s the story of youth, individuality, and public singing.
On the one hand, I feel like I shouldn’t really moan about a teenage girl singing on the bus, because that’s someone that really doesn’t care what others think. And that’s a wonderful trait to have. On the other hand, she sounded like a washing machine full of nuts and bolts. It was a full bus and she wasn’t half belting out some modern piece of crap. Imagine someone on their fifth bottle of Vodka in a bar on karaoke night. That’s what it was like. But she wasn’t drunk. How would she feel if I suddenly stood up and started singing ‘The Show Must Go On’? You may say that she may join in, but she’s young and probably doesn’t know the song. Which is a shame, because that’s the greatest song ever written. And if I discovered that she didn’t know it, I may very well have thrown her off the bus…
I’m getting a vibe that you may be on her side. But it’s a slippery slope, readers. First we let her have a jolly good old fashioned sing song and the next thing you know the whole bus is enraptured in this rappy hippity hop synth rave nonsense the youth of today listen to. That music won’t be remembered in 30 years time, will it? You can hear the music they listen to, rendering the headphones useless. One beat, going a million miles per hour. What does that say about the kid? The music you listen to defines you. When you’re a teenager, the music you discover is what gives you your character. Your soul. A set of ideas and beliefs that will be with you until the day you die.
I remember when we didn’t have these music devices. When I started school, nobody had them. Eventually, a few got CD players and then the MP3 players came. I just about escaped the smart phone revolution. But it wasn’t much quieter back then. The bus company crammed as many as possible onto the buses so I often had to endure the journey with my face pressed up against the glass in a bus with noisy children. Children that regularly spat, punched, kicked, urinated and even set small fires. Ah, 2001. What a year…
They have signs up on the buses but nobody pays attention to them. No swearing. No shouting. No eating hot food. No hot drinks. No feet up on the seats. Actually, that one made things worse. The sign clearly says that your shoes damage the seat covers. So people have started taking their shoes off. It’s alright at the beginning of the day, but after a day at work, dear God, the bus smells like a sauna full of twenty burly men.
At least the buses have cameras on them, now. Not that it’s had much of an effect. I was on a bus once when the driver told a youth to turn down their music. It didn’t end well. For the driver. Poor thing. Oh, you know, he got the whole human rights act and a mouthful of swearing. It’s a £50 fine. But the driver didn’t bother with that and gave up. But that’s the slippery slope I talked about. You let one thing slide and the next the whole bus is singing ‘I Will Survive.’
I remember my first MP3 player. Got it about halfway through school. Our school was flanked on one side by an avenue of trees and had a large field with trees on the perimeter. Behind them were the gardens of tens of houses. Pretty hemmed in. I used to sit under one of the trees by myself, right at the back of the field, every break and lunch, listening to me tunes. I didn’t really listen to music until that point. My brother got me the player and put lots of rock songs on it. And so began a love affair with the genre that defined my school years. I may have spent the best part of three years in school sitting under a tree by myself, but I had friends in my ears. And during French. The teacher was a witch. I sure as hell wasn’t listening to her crap. I told her I didn’t like France and had no intention of going, ergo, I didn’t need to know the language. She didn’t agree with my logic. Surprisingly.
Rock music taught me a lot. To stand up for myself. That I’m not weird. That one’s character is one’s individuality and is to be embraced, not suppressed by those who subjugated me. That nobody is ever alone. To stand up against screwed up authority. To not languish in misery and hurt but to utilise it to create good. That the human race is a collective in an ocean of individuality. And that we should not only live life, but breathe it in and let it flow through our veins. Those rock musicians are artists, their words confirmation that you are not the first to go through things and that there is hope. You have no idea what that meant to me in those early days of hell. I mean, secondary school.
I used the lessons rock had taught me as a vessel of opportunity. I was welcomed into a large group, so no more sitting by myself. And a few of us regularly got into trouble. We regularly snuck onto the local golf course to shout at the golfers. Right next to the school. There was a small beck behind the course where members of the group met during breaks. Drank, erm, perfectly legal beverages. Cigarettes, too. And magazines of a, erm, colourful nature. I found myself getting into detention and then getting into more detention because I refused to go to detention. I was also on the front line during the most epic snowball fight in history, between our school and the one opposite. They got into our school, this was before we had a perimeter fence, and caused minor damage. It was a riot. So we got into their school and did the same. Me included. Although all I did was knock over a chair. I nearly got the crap kicked out of me. Thank God I was a quick runner back then…
And I refused to do PE. I didn’t like it. So during the lessons, I listened to my music, did my homework and sat in the library or out on the field. The teacher and I reached an agreement whereby I would help to set things up and stay back to tidy them away at the end. I’d help to clean up the changing rooms. And if one of the first year PE classes was going on and a student was struggling, I would help them. Which I did a few times. And you know what? I got a D grade in PE. I actually managed to pass a class I didn’t even do!
I even found myself in front of the deputy head and head teacher a few times. One time was after the head caught me holding a girl’s hand. That was not allowed. He believed school was for learning and romance had no place. Kissing was banned, too. So when he caught me holding that girl’s hand, I found myself in his office threatened with suspension. For holding girl’s hand! I’m so glad that school has been demolished…
And despite all that, I left with reasonable grades. And I don’t regret a single day of it or any of what I did. I know it’s a terrible message to give kids because I was a total jackass in school. I’m not like that at all, now. I’m very shy and reserved. I can’t quite believe what I became in secondary school. And it all started with rock. But that’s not the point. The point is, when you’re a teenager, you should be yourself, not frightened to be yourself. And if that person is a tool, who cares? You’re young, you’ll grow out of it or learn to manage it. And when you look back you’ll be proud, like I am looking back. Proud because at least you lived.
So maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on that teenage girl. She doesn’t give a damn what anyone else thinks. So yes, let her sing. She’s like me at that age. Except I’m not a woman.
Despite what some say…
American financier, stock investor, philanthropist, statesman and political consultant, Bernard Baruch (1870-1965), once said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
Peace Out :|:
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