Sunday, 12 November 2017


As I grow older my finger drifts further and further from the cultural pulse. As a teenager in London I needed to know what was hot and happening, and thanks to my much-missed mate Jon Lewin, I usually did.

Jon had a way of anticipating each big musical trend. In May 1976 he took me and my mate Martin to the Hope and Anchor, to see a band called The Jam. 

This was six months before the Sex Pistols released Anarchy in the UK, and we were hesitant as we’d heard mention of swastikas and goose steps connected to the nascent punk phenomenon.

Inside the pub there were only a few people milling around and we watched the three piece outfit deliver a tight set, but left unconvinced, wary of the Union Jack displayed behind the drum kit: it smacked of nationalism at a time and an age when we didn’t want to belong to anything, except each other.

A seminal moment in a young life, to be there, at punk’s beginning, and over the next few years I used to cut out the adverts in the NME for the Marquee Club on Wardour Street, because with them, from Monday to Thursday, you could get in for free. I saw The Clash; The Damned; The everybody starting with The.

Inbetween acts, two young lads called John Cooper Clarke and Lynton Kwesi Johnson walked on stage, armed with their biting poetry, recited to a backing track playing on a little Philips tape recorder.

We knew we had our fingers on the pulse, because those gigs were part of the pulse, and this we did, after school, as often as we could.

Tremendous gigs involving The Specials, Madness and The Selecter cemented my burgeoning love affair with reggae, so Jon Lewin took me to Dub Vendor Record Shack on Ladbroke Grove. 

On the way there he explained to me the new concept of dub, and how it was going to change music forever.

I had my doubts but should have known better.

During my late 20s I danced my ageing arse off to Madchester music, still went to Ramones gigs (unequivocally the best live act ever) but by the time I arrived in Galway in the early 1990s I was happily out of touch, which was just as well.

No disrespect to the local clubs and DJs. They played great tunes and we all danced like pure eedjits and had a right larf, but having been raised on the cutting edge of modern culture, the Atlantic edge of the Continental plate offered something … different.

Here at last I accepted that my finger had drifted far from the source, and ever since I have listened to what can only be described as ‘old’ music.

By way of replacement, I lived by the use of and attuned my ears to the language, taking a rather sad and pathetic joy in sharing with my colyoomistas what I anticipated would be the next trendy word in the local vernacular.

Way back in 2009 this colyoom sent out a warning flare, alerting you to the overuse of  ‘iconic.’ Sure enough, what was once a word that carried weight and power has been endlessly devoured and regurgitated by the 21st Century’s endless hunger for hyperbole. 

Now a spent force, ‘iconic’ is used to describe crisp flavours.

Three years ago Double Vision raised an alarm about certain experts’ overuse of the word ‘so’ at the opening of a sentence. 

Everybody does it now, as if it was as natural as taking a breath.

It is a rare sentence that needs to start with ‘so', so (!) I stand back, pretending to be all cool and down with the kids, accepting that like wow man, language is like an evolving life-force, like water flowing downstream man, ever-changing, all the while privately and silently, nerdily and slightly guiltily, removing the word ‘so’ from the sentence just spoken, telling myself that it works very well without it.

Then I smile and continue my day, aware with each passing week that I am less and less in touch with everything.

Even though I’d consider myself fairly well politically informed, I couldn’t tell you the difference between a Neocon and a Neoliberal. 

What’s more, middle aged and treading water midstream, I feel no inclination to find out.

I will recoil from anything that is not a stone which describes itself as ‘Bijou’. Same goes for ‘Boutique' as in

“Oh it’s an amazing hotel with an organic herb garden and a rooftop infinity pool. It’s boooteeeek!”

To me that means it’ll be a minuscule lavishly furnished massively overpriced room above a very noisy street in a city centre.

No thanks, and while you’re at it, you can keep your Artisan and your Gourmet, your Craft and your Legend.

Ah, legend. What a tragic shame. If it’s now acceptable to describe Olly Murs as a legend, what space have we left for real heroes to emerge?

These days the only finger on my pulse is checking for a heartbeat. 

Less cutting edge, more Grandpa Simpson, I sit in my armchair and cry out:

“What did he say?”

“Oh! Is she the one from you know, you know, that thing with the cake?”


“Sorry, I just drifted off. Can we rewind it a few minutes!”

Beside me the Snapper answers patiently, doubtless wondering what her future holds.

Thankfully she has never told me to chillax, because she understands that chill and relax are words that individually do their job admirably, while their combination adds zilch to their impact.

Utterly removed from the latest teenage trends in music and modern idiom, which these days evolve on Snapchat, Spotify and Instagram, I’ve no idea what’s going on.

Have to say, I really don’t mind.

©Charlie Adley

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