I was wandering through the streets of town on a grey and drizzling Thursday. My type of weather. I had looked in the window of the estate agents, wondered how people can ever afford those prices, watched people huddled in doorways, and running for cabs.

I went into the pawn shop. As usual, there were lots of guitars there. The guy behind the counter was engrossed in the computer, so I took the chance. I’ve always wanted to play the bass, so I picked one up, slung the strap around my neck, placed one foot on an amp, and plucked the strings.

I could play bass. I stopped. I looked down to see if there was some demo mode, or CD playing. I ran my fingers across the strings again, and a resonant, luxurious groove rang out. I bought the bass and amp hurriedly, bundling the guy some notes, and ran from the shop, got it home.

After auditioning for quite a popular group, I had been on tour for about two months. Life had suddenly become a round of coach travel, interviews, soundchecks, performances, parties, more travel, and so on. It was different to signing on. Although fans often asked me to sign things.

Whilst effortlessly pounding out my now-trademark post-punk basslines one night, I had time to wonder. What was the meaning of this? Why are people writhing in the mass I see before me? Why are these girls looking up to me with adoration, pouring sweat? Why is it that with every pluck of these strings I can move every person in the crowd, twisting them left and right?

Their faces changed. Some people were pointing over at me. The dancing grew less enthusiastic. I listened to the monitors properly for the first time that night. Discordant twanging and off-key pings echoed back. A few people were still digging it. But most were not. The song seemed to have stopped. I took the bass off, placed it on the floor with a clunk and a howl of feedback. I didn’t look at anyone as I slunk off the stage and out the fire door.

Some days I regret questioning it all, as I sign my name on another DSS form.


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