2001 - An Alton Towers Odyssey.

As I sit here looking at the ten or so albums on this mp3 player at my disposal, the size of a small book of postage stamps - and just as light, it has me thinking back to a day trip to Alton Towers I undertook with a small group of work friends, all the way back in the year 2001.

I was barely out of my teens at this time, and someone had somehow concocted a plan to take the train to Staffordshire and visit the much loved theme park. With all its rides, gift shops, expensive food courts, more gift shops, and more rides, how could a young-man possibly say no? So off we went to Euston one Saturday morning, Myself, Alan - who was one of the physically naturally strongest people I ever met, combined with perhaps the most extensive knowledge of underground music and sub-pop Nirvana singles I have ever encountered. He should have been a fireman, like his father, who seemed like a really cool fella too. But unfortunately was turned down at a time in which they were only accepting minorities. (Blame politically correct government bullshit - not the minorities). Sebastian - who really by now should be a professional golfer, kicking Tiger Woods backside on a regular basis. Probably the only person I know who never seemed to struggle with anything, and now seems pretty darn happy doing the married life and Daddy thing - but then again, what normal person wouldn't? Especially when you have a little baby Lemon for a boy. And Denis - Denis was am engaging self-proclaimed plastic paddy, in his own way. And even though some people said that besides smelling sightly off, having yellow teeth, and somewhat resembling the barstad offspring of Phil Mitchell and the Banjo kid in Deliverance, seemed to have an aura in which women of a certain low-self-esteem would openly gravitate too. I don't know where he is and what he is doing all these years later, but I hope he is alive and well and still kicking back the Guinness as he watches Arsenal flatter to deceive for another year.

I had the knowledge that the journey was about two hours there and back, so I decided to create a mix-tape of my favorite Oasis songs, and yes, I did listen to a lot of crap back then. The tape was of course of the cassette variety, and lasted an hour - thirty minutes each side. I would need to rewind each song to a set point to choose a specific track, therefore proving, as Nick Hornby wrote about in High Fidelity; the stellar importance of the mix-tape. The Walkman was too big for even a big pocket, bulky, clunky, and at the time, one of the best alternatives out there for portable music listening.

Songs chosen, then illegally recorded onto cassette (Was there ever any better way)?, I was on the train off to an April day riding rollercoaters, eating crap, and searching for the now decade old arcade machine of Final Fight, which, to my amazement, much like the local fair of Colindale, which still carries the Kung-Fu-Master coin op after 25 years, still existed.
The day was fun and friendly. Denis bottled the inertia ride with the big dip, whose name I cannot remember. Alan punched the shit out of a Sonic Blast Machine, Seb must have had an off day, as I can't fore-tale a moment in his day, and a flying Pigeon pin-pointed a huge turd on the arm of my brand new beige denim jacket, whilst queuing for nemesis - a stain I never managed to wash off... good fortune my foreskin.
My greatest memory traveling home, besides my Walkman battery dying, was that of Denis sticking his head out of the train window, Ala Vivien in the young ones - minus the loss of head. I still to this day cannot decide if he was simply a man with real balls, or no brain cells. We all went home,  ventured to our separate beds, and I probably had a wank over some of the soft-porn on Channel 5... this is what most males my age, who lived saddo teenage lives think of, when they hear the smooth and melodic jazz of a saxophone.

So here we are today. And I am left wondering just how much the kids of the new generation are missing out on the basic inequities of the stupid shit we had to do as little as ten years ago. I can whack every Oasis album and song ever recorded onto a mobile phone, play Final Fight on my laptop, buy a cheap jacket in case of bird shit attacks while queuing for Nemesis - which I can ride virtually aswell. Any item I need to collect is no longer limited to pot-luck chances of Car-boot sales and random high-street chains of Cash-Converters, as it is all somewhere on fee-bay. Pirate films are now only acceptable as total screeners, and the choice is endless, as opposed to the days of take any dodgy-cinema movie video you could - I still regret watching the worst copy of the Matrix ever created, in which Neo spent the whole movie with a green face. Or maybe this was just Keanu Reeves robotic acting. Or the copy of Independence Day, which looked to have been filmed by an alcoholic, holding a steady-cam while going through a severe case of the DT's.
No wonder people are getting so lazy and fatter these days. I enjoyed making mix tapes, I enjoy being creative. Kids today will be just as creative I guess, it is just how that I do not know... will be cool to find out.

I guess the only question I am left wondering after all this pondering, as technology moves faster and the world grows quicker, is pretty simple really...

I wonder if Denis still fiddles with his Banjo?


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