Sunday, August 08, 2004

"Hai, Xotli! Chahuatypak ya-xingoth!" he screamed. And the Red Shadows struck...

Up with the lark this morning to go car-booting. But it was worth it: got this nice 1951 copy of Argosy for 10p. Also some Moorcocks and a sixties US Ace Books edition of "Conan of the Isles" (sadly not with a Frazetta cover) . And, uh, a couple of Sailor 7" singles ("Glass of Champagne"..."Girls, Girls, Girls") and a Hazel Dean 7". Listening to that slice of, erm, lyrically ambiguous Early-Eighties Hi-NRG (prefer the instrumental, meself, mate) made me realise what a totally genius, High-Concept concept The Pet Shop Boys actually were...

Neil Tennant: "Hey, Chris, let's make a record that sounds exactly like Hazel Dean but, like, with my lyrics on it."

Chris Lowe (no, not that Chris Lowe): "Okay."

But Car-boots, like the PSB, are well past their sell-by date these days. The Golden Age of 'Booting curiously coincided with the first flush of Rave Culture. It was a great era for stoking up on cheap vinyl Disco & Easy LPs; Kung-Fu and late '70s/early '80s Italian Horror videos; Star Wars, Thundercats and Transformers toys; Evil Jigsaws, etc. We were hitting the first of a series of pre-millenial paradigm shifts and some sort of cultural clear-out was clearly in progress. A great time for Vertical (and Horizontal!) Cultural Straddlers, like myself.

The collapse of Boot Culture eerily mirrored the Fall of Rave: The people and the tunes weren't as good; the gear was getting snidey. They stopped doing bouncy-castles and roundabouts. The initial buzz was gone and was replaced by a sense of futility and Deja Vu. As Hardcore morphed into Jungle, so the Old-School Booters were replaced by Professional Traders...Del Boy chancers who flooded the scene with household-cleaning products and 16-packs of bog-roll bought at the Cash 'n' Carry. The charm and energy...the individuality had gone, so Chris and I stopped going. It was time to grow up and move on.

Haven't been Booting for years. But this morning, curiosity got the better of me...I'd forgotten about some of the bad boots I'd been to and, suddenly, I found myself transported back on a wave of nostalgia, but: would it be as good as it used to be? Well, I was pleasantly surprised...sure, the Glory Days have long gone, but most of the traders were thankfully absent and there were some new faces on the scene, giving it some. Well, maybe I'll stop by once in while, y'know, for old time's sake, but to be truthful, Time has moved on and we can't spend our lives wallowing in the past.

'Course I can't hack it like I used to. Once I could keep going all day, weaving my way from Boot to Boot, starting in Ilchester at 6am and ending up at the biggie in Barwick (with fairground rides and a 1.5k rig pumping out Rick Astley and Orchard FM), fuelled only by youthful exuberance and an energy-drink. These days: two hours and I'm flagging...wandering around in a monged-out daze past the boxes of Mantovani and the MacDonalds Happy-Meal toys like one of the middle-aged saddos I once mocked myself.