FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT..WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX (31)

The Shoebox of Delights – #3
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Sometime Always

The-Jesus-And-Mary-Chain-Sometimes-Always
It is nearly Easter 1994 and it is the day of my driving test. I am shitting it – I have no idea why I am doing my test – I can’t parallel park, my three point turn is more like a seventeen point turn and whilst practising bay parking in my Grandad’s Ford Escort I have hit a wall and a shopping trolley. The shopping trolley wasn’t even in the bay that I was reversing into. I am so going to fail. To make this worse it’s raining, in fact it’s absolutely effing it down.

I sit in my Grandads car waiting to go in – he looks at me and says “you’ll be fine, its easy” – he was a man of few words my grandad – he told me once that when he passed his driving test in 1963 that all he had to do was drive between two cones and the reverse back through and stick an arm out of the window. Because of this he was a lousy driver, I mean him no disrespect when I say that there an undiscovered tribes in the Amazon with no comprehension of cars, roads, traffic cones or clutch control that could drive better than him. In the thirty years he’d been driving, I think he’d changed gear correctly about twice, you could hear him coming down the road because of the load crunch of gears when he slowed down from third to second. He also refused to drive on motorways so it took literally for ever to get to some places, but he’d never had an accident, I mean he’d caused several thousand, but that’s not the point – right?

He switched the radio on – I think he wanted to get the result of the 1230 race at Doncaster – but instead he got rock music. I’d changed the channel whilst reverse parking in the car park at Tesco earlier in the day. The song that came on was ‘Happy when it Rains’ by Jesus and Mary Chain. I look out the window as the rain lashes down on the car. For the first and only time, I hear my Grandad say the F word followed by the words ‘load’ ‘of’ ‘noisy’ and ‘rubbish’. Then I hear the familiar sound of static and then the radio station he wanted. His sudden outburst had strangely relaxed me and I burst out laughing. I’d better get inside I said. “I’ll wait here, you’ll only be five minutes” he said utterly convinced that I was doing the same test as him. Although I still think I would fail that. As I get the door I see him rip up a small betting slip that he taken out of his blazer pockets (incidentally what is it with old chaps and blazers…?), I always wanted to hear his explanation to my Nan as to where her housekeeping money had gone.

Remarkably I passed. For the only time in my life – I managed to do a parallel park without driving backwards and forwards twenty times to get the angle right. My three point was exactly that. My emergency stop was so good it sent the instructors clipboard flying into his lap. I even did an additional emergency stop when the tractor appeared out of nowhere – this was a built up area in the middle of the Medway Towns, I have no idea what the tractor was doing there.

As I drove back into the test centre – “just park anywhere” the instructor says. I deliberately park next to Grandad’s car and give him a wave as I do so. He is asleep. Of course he is. I once found a hip flask full of whiskey in his glove box whilst looking for a pen. He always said it was for medicinal purposes.

The instructor looks at me – and he says “ I know you from somewhere”. Shit. I think. He looks at my name on his pad. Shit, I think again, I have just remembered where I know this bloke from. In all the worry about having the test, I realised that I have barely given the guy a look. He lives next door to Our Price Girl. I curse my luck – I mean what are the chances of that? I have met him twice. The first time was at a barbecue at her house for her Dad’s 45th birthday about eighteen months ago. The second time was when he caught me nipping out the backdoor at 6.30am as I was late for my morning job at a newsagents. That was three days ago. I know. I know.

I had no idea he was a driving test examiner. I thought he was a copper.

It took me about a week to phone her after the Green Day incident, I had tickets to see Pavement in London at the Town and Country Club – the girl I was intended to take – let’s call her Levellers Girl – couldn’t come – and I was going to give the ticket to mate, but changed my mind – or rather my loins changed it for me. So I asked Our Price Girl. She said yes straight away.

The gig was on the last day of February and it snowed. We spent most of the train ride up talking and then we danced (me badly, her gracefully, wonderfully) to our/my favourite band and spent the train ride home doing things on trains that were if it rush hour would have got us arrested (leaning out window, smoking that sort of thing). So we were back together. Sort of. It wasn’t official . Hence me sneaking out the back door, pants in hand at 6.30am. For now.

“Are you Dave’s son?” the voice said next to me, shaking me out of my (pleasant) memory. Now, my Dad is called Dave – so I said yes. “ I think I played football with him. Was he a goalkeeper?”. My dad played in goal for Gillingham – briefly – I’ll add – he gave it up because he preferred smoking to training – true story. Yes, I said again. That’s his dad sitting asleep in that car over there. “Frank” he said. Yes, I said, struggling to comprehend what the fuck was happening. Our Price Girl’s next door neighbour knows my entire family – how, what,why?

He embraced my Grandad like a long lost uncle. It was weird. I never asked him if he was Our Price Girl’s neighbour – I mean he definitely was – and as it happens I only went to her house once more and I didn’t leave through the back door.

Our Price Girl bought me this CD – as a late birthday present, it came out on July 1994, just before their new album ‘Stoned and Dethroned’. We’d spent a week on the Norfolk Broads and she bought it from a branch of Our Price in Norwich.

mp3 : The Jesus & Mary Chain – Sometimes Always
mp3 : The Jesus & Mary Chain – The Perfect Crime
mp3 : The Jesus & Mary Chain – Little Stars
mp3 : The Jesus & Mary Chain – Drop Re-Recorded

I played it constantly – she told me that the song reminded her of me and her particularly the ‘You ran away’ bit. I can sort of see what she meant. Exactly two weeks later, we were over. Again.

S-WC

JC adds…

a belated image to round off this piece.  It’s based on Dirk thinking out loud in the comments section and Badgerman later confirming something……
img-hope-sandoval_174552601096

As close as you’ll get to a photo of Our Price Girl.

13 thoughts on “FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT..WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX (31)

  1. I know I sound awfully sycophantic when I say these things, but seriously – s-wc, you are one hell of a storyteller my friend. The music in your stories is almost secondary. If you and Our Price girl fell in love over a Dire Straits record I’d still read you.

    Interesting how there’s a car on the sleeve of this. Co-incidence?

  2. I can only second that, Robster! Again this made my day, it brought a smile on me face for the first time today! No, it brought several, in fact! Thanks, S-WC! PS: do have a look at the video for “Sometimes Always”, I live under the imagination that Our Price Girl looked as cute as Hope Sandoval looks in it!

  3. I’m the lucky one who gets to read them first of all when the e-mail arrives. Just a word of warning, it will be two weeks before the next tale of wonder…..so apologies in advance for the disappointment the delay may cause.

  4. Dirk he showed me ‘the only photo’ he had of OPG a few weeks back they were outside a Ride concert in 1993. Hope Sandoval is close enough. Lighter hair but otherwise pretty close in likeness. Shame she ended up in prison. I”m joking.

  5. i never knew this was a jesus and mary chain song – i know it from the cover version on brakes excellent album ‘give blood’ which i presumed was the original

    and a google image search for our price girl doesn’t help much – either she resembles a bottle of perfume or a renaissance painting – and that’s how i choose to imagine her as a heady combination of the two…

    great story AGAIN s-wc

    thanks

  6. sorry didn’t realise it would actually post the video – feel free to remove JC – i know how you feel about this youtube business…!

  7. I love this song so much. I used to play it constantly too. Every time I listen to it now I’ll be thinking of Our Price Girl, which is rather annoying actually given I’ve never met any of the protagonists in this story!

  8. Fab tales… and having spent 6 years of my life working for Our Price, i always wonder whether OPG & I may have crossed paths at some stage…

  9. I used to work in Our Price in Stirling back in 1990/1 while I was a student. At that time I was their only part-time member of staff and the new manager (Lisa) gave me the sack because I said I wasn’t really happy to work on Sundays for single time when everyone else in the shop would be getting double time. She didn’t negotiate or say anything at the time, but when I went in for my next shift she said “You don’t work here any more”. I’d like to say thankfully people these days have more rights, but with zero hours contracts being so widely used that’s probably not the case. Anyway, sorry for the politics!

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