White Light White Heat – The Velvet Underground

This one is a tribute to Mrs ForTheDeaf. She has been my one and only love since the day we met and yet, there are moments during a relationship when that love deepens. When something so glorious happens that you stand back and think ‘I’m the luckiest son of a bitch alive, I can’t believe shes all mine’.

One of these moments happened for me in the Cardiff Barfly in 2005. We’d been married a couple of years and were well and truly settled when we took a trip up to Cardiff to see R.E.M play the Millennium Stadium and to party with my old College Buddy Smiler.

Smiler and I had both come from the same high school but met each other properly on the first day of college over a decade previously. We’d been through thick and thin together as students and while I was now a married man with a wife, dogs and a mortgage… Smiler was a single and ready to mingle high school art teacher with a sideline in ceramics and a house share of bohemian artists comprising of everything from Bafta Winning Documentary Makers to Expressive Dance Performers who seemed to hear conversations with a satellite delay.

We’d had a great first day driving over to Wales and hanging out cooking barbecue with refried beans in the back of this huge house. Things took a step up when plans for the evening had turned to us crashing the Indie Disco.

Smiler told us ‘It skews a little younger than us, this being a university town and it being the summer holidays’ but we agreed the thing to do was get drunk in the pub around the corner and then find somewhere we could dance to the anthems of our youth. ‘Oh they play all our 90’s shit there still, it hasn’t moved on at all’ was his assurance as he gathered up his crowd of friends and hangers on to go and take the moshpit back from these kids who make his working week so bloody challenging.

Mrs ForTheDeaf was making friends fast with all of Smiler’s crowd, the girls he had crushes on and the ex who was now his mates current beau (they all said it was fine, it clearly wasn’t) and in the taverns between the old town house and the Barfly we all got rather well oiled to the point details get a bit fuzzy.

I seem to recall The Tears (Bernard and Brett from Suede’s side project) coming into the conversation a lot because we’d run into them in a bar on the way (not Bernard and Brett, the rest of the band apparently) and I remember there being a generous group donation to a girl selling Make Poverty History wrist bands because she was pretty and Smiler went all gushy at one point.

We got to the Barfly (a chain of small UK Music venues that specialised in Landfill Indie and watered down beer) a little too sloppy to be making great choices. The size of the group seemed to ebb and flow with every stop along the way. We’d had a day of catching up and telling old war stories and now it was time to dance. All the indie hits of yesteryear were blared out. Rage Against The Machine, Nirvana, Suede, Radiohead, Oasis. And we danced and we sang and we drank and we got messier and messier.

I had hit my 30’s the previous year and this was no longer my natural environment. Feeling the strain of an adolescent weekend on a 30 year old carcass I decided it was time to switch up my tactics. I went for a tactical pint of water and a breather with my old mate and we talked about the passing of time. We probably did plenty of ‘I fuggin’ love ya mate’ stuff too.

When I realised how long I’d been gone and that my good lady Wife must be feeling abandoned in a club with a group of strangers I headed back inside to rescue her.

As I made my way through the crowd the swirling piano and guitar riff of VU’s White Light /White Heat was booming out loud and heady. I could see a long conga line swirling around the dancefloor and Mrs ForTheDeaf leading a chain of at least 15 new friends in a hilariously complex ‘Macarena-like’ dance routine involving slut drops and windmilling arms. It was a golden moment.

I’d left my youth behind to hang out with her. Here she was in one of my venues (I’d never been to the Cardiff Barfly before but many a haunt looks identical in the strobe) doing genius dumb shit with a group of kids who seemed to be having the time of their lives to some obscure old 60’s ‘head music’.

Afterwards she admitted she had no idea who the song was by or how the whole thing got started but she was too drunk for details and locked on to getting something to eat and some water to stop the world spinning quite so fast.

We walked back as a mob through the Castle grounds. One of Mrs ForTheDeaf’s heels gave way and I carried her the rest of the distance while she wrestled with a kebab and dropped hot fries down the back of my sweaty shirt.

Smiler and I lost touch a year or so after that. I still think of him and his band of Bo Ho Housemates, out there in the Welsh capital living the arty life. For all I know they’ve all gone mainstream and settled down. If I don’t ask no one can tell me otherwise.

Lloniannau Smiler.

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