We had met in 1999, in an auspicious autumn that saw a great deal of change in my life. I am glad to say that we are still close.
We were not soldiers then. We never were. Perhaps that was the problem.
But we crusaded, or tried to, for four difficult years as we exited our awkward and yet joyous adolescence and became men. We wrote, we played, we worked. We drove to Sheffield on a Monday night to play to nobody, came home and got two hours’ sleep before work again. We skipped meals and shared cigarettes in order to pay for merchandise and rehearsals. We covered miles. We sweated gallons. It seemed like the only cause for which it was worth living.
In the future, I will write more about what came before and what came after. But for now I want to focus on the ending of the crusade, because that was perhaps the hardest moment at that time. There have been more painful moments since.
We did not play our final show unplanned – we knew that it was doomed to be the last. But so apathetic, so tired had we become by the end that we did not choose our hometown or the capital for a final hurrah, we chose a half-derelict bar in a spa town.
And that final whimper, that show where, for the last time, and perhaps not even knowing if we would see each other again, we twisted and whirled and yelled onstage, almost broke my heart. Because there were no throngs, there were no tears. There were maybe a dozen people sitting, staring, looking at mobile phones, and as I landed on the floor with my last breath, with my face wreathed in sweat, there was a hesitant applause.
My second endeavour ended even more cruelly, in some ways, but that shall be the subject of a later study. But on that April evening in 2009, I experienced not my first unhappy realisation, but certainly my most complete loss of hope at that point. Because there was no happy ending. There was no Seventh Cavalry, no wonder-weapon to win the war at the last gasp. And when we smoked a cigarette together afterwards and said we would see each other, I knew that passion and effort is never enough to earn a reward.
i know that now. I am stronger and better. We all are. Fight on.
And that final whi