As a city of hills, forged by volcanoes then gouged by glaciers, Edinburgh has a lot of pubs that are in part basements. It was in one of these tavern caverns, 6 years ago, that I met somebody who is very important in my life. In fact, if I were to piece together my life of the past 6 years, her role would be central. It all kind of revolves around her.
Her name is Roisin. She writes a blog about her life, about who she is and what she does. She’s very inspiring. Warm, kind, and very funny, with an anxious edge. She also has an ability of seeing the best in people and staying in touch. One of my favourite people.
Like many of the best parts of my life, she came into it by accident. I had been working at a call centre in Edinburgh. The work was a bit gruelling, full of constant rejection as people hate unsolicited calls. At this call centre, I met a guy called Dash. Dash had this brilliant talent of always going on his break at the same time as other people. This, in an industry where you never really got to decide when you are busy for 20 minutes, is a skill worth cultivating.
One day, he took his break at the same time as me. We talked about general things, creativity, punk, and life in the city. He told me that he went to punk gigs and we became friends on Facebook, and in life. Dash always let me know when there was something on and if it would be good to go. In total, though, I only ended up going to about 2 shows with him. He told me that this band he liked, World/Inferno Friendship Society, was playing in Edinburgh.
After watching a video on YouTube for the song “Only Anarchists Are Pretty”, I thought they seemed like something else. The music was very different, a mix of jazz, blues, punk, ska, and klezmer. The show had a 9-piece band. The song was okay, not the best thing I’d ever heard but very good, it was the energy of the video that got me. It was a live performance. The lead singer, Jack Terricloth, and the band seemed to be having a lot of fun. The crowd was wild. I thought I’d give it a shot.
I never got around to buying a ticket. Instead, Dash gave me his as he was offered a cheap flight to India. I resolved to go to the show by myself and make friends. The band all dressed quite formally, like they were from the 1920s, so I dressed in suit. In a suit.
I arrived early, as one does at a punk show, and actually met Jack himself. He was eating a burger. He said it was among the best he’d had in Europe. After our conversation he asked me if I had any recommendations and, knowing only one song, I blurted out “Only Anarchists Are Pretty”. He thought for a minute as I don’t think it was on their set list and he said he’d see what he could do.
Fast forward to the show about to start, everyone filed into the underground concert room. About half of them were well-dressed in suits and the rest came as they were. I got talking to this girl with lovely wide eyes and what I remembered strangely as large teeth. I have since realised they aren’t that big. Probably good for her vegan diet. Her name was Roisin.
The music started and we jumped and danced about like crazy. Not knowing the words to any other song, I couldn’t join in with the shout singing all around me, but appreciated the energy. It got to the end of the show, my son not played, and I figured Jack had forgotten. I was very wrong; it was the encore! I sang, shouted, jumped about. Got sweaty in my suit, probably ruined a shirt. And it was glorious.
I bought a vinyl record of their album Red-Eyed Soul. Had to run to a cash line but made it back just as the merch guys were closing up and before Roisin left. We exchanged details for Facebook.
We stayed in touch, even after she discovered we had “Like, nothing in common”, and lived in different cities. At one point I started writing a musical, never got very far but it was fun to think about, which she offered to produce.
Later, she introduced me to Cat. Cat swaggered into my life in leather and smoking Marlboro, the height of confidence and cool. Cat and I ended up living together before she moved back home. I visited her at her family’s home in the West Highlands several times, which introduced me to the wigwam campsite in which I’d eventually work.
After the wigwams I did my TEFL and eventually accidentallly moved to Prague .
– Met Dash
– Went to punk gig with Dash’s ticket
– Met Roisin
– Became Pals
– Met Cat
– Learnt about the wigwams
– Worked at the wigwams for fat stacks of cash
– Used said fat stacks to move to Prague
All these people, then, are extremely important to me and I’m so glad to have met them. I hope they are all aware of the transformative impact they had on me, and I’m extremely thankful for their friendship.
In addition, “Only Anarchists Are Pretty” is now a very important song to me, and you should give the live version a listen/watch! You never know how different your life may end up after it.