We leave Manchester without Val and it takes an hour to get out of the city. Then we have a slightly hairy drive across the moors in the Metro. Another one-way system slows our entrance into Sheffield, but eventually we see the tour buses parked up by the Octagon (aka the University Refectory). We end up parking by the railway station and eat some nutrition-free food while I wait for my brother, his friend Andy and my friend K to turn up. We all get back in the car to find the venue. I still have a spare ticket and it doesn’t cross my mind to sell it.
My brother and his mate go off to find the toilets and pass Thom, who stares at them and gives them a double take. The doors are quite late opening due to an electrical fault. I have time to buy a red My Iron Lung T-Shirt. Rebecca and I get close to the front, but not quite to the barrier, on Jonny’s side near the bass bins. K’s got her earplugs in. The intro tape is a mix of jazz, Strangelove and The Fall.
The Julie Dolphin play, Rebecca is a bit agitated, but I feel different from last night as my old friends are here and I get to show them the band that I’ve been raving about.
The crush sets in as Radiohead come on and play Bones, You, Prove Yourself, Just. “Reading Schmeading” says Thom. He has his orange trousers on again, with a printed black polo shirt this time. There’s too much smoke from the dry ice machines for Permanent Daylight, Ripcord, Vegetable, and a karaoke Creep dedicated in slightly saucy fashion to the Freshers, “wait ’til the bank loan comes through and you won’t be voting Tory again next year.”
Stop Whispering sinks into Anyone Can Play Guitar and they go off stage. The crowd bring them back on for Street Spirit, Lurgee and Benz. Thom performs alone for Thinking About You. “We’ll do one more on the condition that everyone in the room buys the single at the end of the week so we can get on Top Of The Pops.”
It’s very hot again and there is a lot of movement in the crowd that means I have to concentrate on staying upright and I’m not able to get a good view. Rebecca is stressing about finding Tim to get passes. Once you’ve had them once you want them every night. Val isn’t here and she wouldn’t let us have her laminate pass. It was too precious to be parted from.
I ask Tim what’s happening and although he’s very busy, he shows me the tour dates on the back of his laminate, they have a day off tomorrow, they’re going home to Oxford. He asks me if I’m going to any more shows and I tell him I have to go back to Glasgow, but maybe I could make it to London. “Just ask Caffy,” he says.
I would rather leave now with my friends than stay and lig, especially if the band are leaving. We all go outside to wait for our various lifts home. I realise that it’s actually earlier than I thought, only about 11pm. I try to get back into the venue to get a drink but can’t. A Japanese girl is waiting near the tour buses. I ask her if she is one of the Japanese fanzine writers Miki or Tomoko? It turns out she is Izzy and she’s here following the whole tour. She seems nice and we laugh our way past the language barrier.
Rebecca comes back having checked out the after show disco, a lot of fuss over nothing. I go and fetch the others but they’ve spotted the tour van. We see Jonny surrounded by eager kids. We pull ourselves together and Andy rushes over to Jonny, “You’re beautiful man, can I shake your hand?”
Phil and Ed come by and compliment my brother on the brand new red My Iron Lung shirt that he’s put on because his original shirt is soaked with sweat. People are getting their vinyl signed (I wonder where they keep it during the show?). Thom comes around the corner. “Good Morning!” he says to me.
“How did it go?” I ask, and open the floodgates.
“Y’know, it was very hot, after about three songs it was like, fucking hell I can’t take any more of this… We seem to keep injuring Jonny’s hand, he’s got blood everywhere… I did my back in last night and now his hand…”
“You’re having a competition to see who can get most injuries.” I say, “What did your dad think to it last night?”
“Well, he’d been for a curry and got a pissed first and he missed the start of the set. When he got there, because I’d said he was there, someone asked him ‘Are you Thom’s dad?’” Thom pulls his ‘what the fuck?’ face, “I don’t think he knew what to make of it!”
A mob of kids move in with a camera and I say, “Have a nice day off.” Thom turns to go but comes back to put his bottle of beer down. He’s holding too many things in not enough hands, a little black bag, a record sleeve that someone has thrust into his hand to sign. Like it’s the most natural thing in the world, I stick my hand out and take the beer. I just stand there with it while he gets a photo taken and then signs big ‘O’s on Jim and Andy’s tickets. I give the beer back but more boys have turned up wanting him to write jocular messages on things. Another girl takes the beer and doesn’t give it back. Tim rescues Thom and ushers him up the street. I mumble, “Run for it”.
Thom wonders aloud where his beer has gone. I don’t have it; He passes Izzy and gives her a pat on the arm goodbye. We all move back to Rebecca’s car. We’re pouring over the map as the tour bus, a coach this time, slowly backs out of the car park into the road. The back window of the large white vehicle is empty except for a blond figure in the middle with his elbows propped on top of the back seats. I wave and he waves back. The bus gathers speed and is gone.
My mother turns up to drive us home and after giving Rebecca some hints on her route, we load up. I am contented to sit in the boot of the estate car so the others can have the seats. K is very quiet. I found out later that someone had felt her up during the gig. The perils of being a female in a crowded and sweaty venue full of rude boys with no respect for personal space. I had avoided unwanted attention at shows so far by dressing like a boy –battered leather jacket, black jeans, Doc Martens – but it makes me angry that you get made into a target just for being a girl wearing a skirt.
Back at home I try to go to sleep but give up and get up for tea and toast. I turn in at 2am and dream vivid dreams.