This came up via the i-player while I was away in world of my own last Sunday, out stretching my legs in an effort to avoid boredom. I made a mental note to check on my return and, true enough, I hadn’t previously included it in this series, albeit a couple of other Arab Strap songs have been earlier chapters
So that was the first big weekend of the summer… Starts Thursday as usual with a canteen quiz and again no-one wins the big cash prize. Later I do my sound bloke routine by approaching Gina’s new boyfriend to say that he shouldn’t feel that there’s any animosity between us and then I even go and make peace with her. I shouldn’t have bothered. Then on Friday night we went through to the Arches…
There was only one car going, so some of us had to get the train. We got through quite late. Then we went to a pub to take the gear. There was no problems getting in – we saw some others waiting down the front of the queue so we skipped in. It was a good night, everyone was nutted and I ended up dancing with some blonde girl. I thought she had been quite pretty until last night when Matthew informed me that she had, in fact, been a pig. When the club finished we wandered the streets for a while until we got to this 24-hour cafe but I didn’t like the look of it so we left and got a taxi back to Morag’s flat. I couldn’t sleep, so I sat about drinking someone else’s strawberry tonic wine and tried to keep everyone else up.
Then at ten o’clock in the morning we went downstairs to buy some drink. We had intended to watch the football in the afternoon but we’d passed out by then and slept right through it, awaking to find that England had won two-nil. Then we went to get the train home and had a few in the Station Bar. We had some stuff left from the previous night’s supplies so when we got home we decided to go down to John’s indie disco. Same story as Friday – lots of hugging, lots of dancing etc. etc. I couldn’t sleep again so went up the park to look at the tomb, taking a detour through the playpark. To get in we had to climb over a ten foot steel fence, which resulted in severe bruising of our hands, legs and groins, but we had a good laugh on the stuff, especially the tube-slide, which probably doubles up as a urinal for drunk teens. Then we walked through the woods to have a look at the tomb. It was a big disappointment, but the mist on the lake was cool.
Sunday afternoon we go up to John’s with a lot of beer in time to watch the Simpsons. It was a really good episode about love always ending in tragedy except, of course, for Marge and Homer. It was quite moving at the end and to tell you the truth my eyes were a bit damp. Then we watched these young girls in swimsuits have a water fight in the street.
(“Taping this, aye?”)
We went up to the pub about ten. It was busy for a Sunday night, lots of people we know, including my first ever girlfriend who I still find very attractive, quite frankly, but I didn’t really speak to her. She’s probably still a bitch, anyway. Her friend Gillian was there, I had a chat with her, she was still quite pleasant. At the same time I watched Malcolm make some terrible attempt to try and chat up a girl we know called Jo. He made some remark about her skirt that was barely there the previous night or something. I couldn’t sleep again that night, thanks to some seriously disturbing nightmares…Matthew says I should cut down on the cheese.
“Went out for the weekend, it lasted for ever, high with our friends it’s officially summer.”
I got some sleep eventually on Monday afternoon. It was a beautiful day, and later that evening Malcolm introduced me to the power of Merrydown – £1.79 a litre, 8.2% – mmmm….. Judith and Laura came round later and we sat in my back garden and drank. Then Matthew came round and we went up the town. It’s officially summer.
mp3: Arab Strap – The First Big Weekend
The First Big Weekend took place on Friday 14 – Sunday 16 June 1996. Aidan Moffat would have been 23 years old at the time, while Malcolm Middleton would have been 22. I’m guessing the crowd of friends who travelled the 23.5 miles from their home town of Falkirk to Glasgow, scene of the Friday night/Saturday morning frivolities, would have been around the same age.
Your humble scribe was just a few days short of his 33rd birthday, and my big weekend was spent in St Andrews, with a crowd of 16 mates all staying two nights in a bed and breakfast and playing games of golf on each of the Friday, Saturday and Sunday under blazing hot skies – it was in the mid 80s the entire time. We did, somehow, manage to stay out till about 1am on the Friday, get up to play golf at 7am on the Saturday, have some food and then watch the important football match in which England beat Scotland 2-0 in the European Championships. Saturday night was a bit quieter and the golf on the Sunday was survival of the fittest…..
Here’s another couple of versions of the song.
The first is from Arab Strap’s first ever live gig at King Tut’s in Glasgow in October 1996…..you’ll spot that the lyrics are a tad different, but you’ll also perhaps spot that the friends referred to in the song are in the audience……it was the band’s ninth and final song of the set. I’d love to say I was there, but I’d be lying…
mp3: Arab Strap – The First Big Weekend (live, October 1996)
The second version was released as a digital single to mark the 20th Anniversary of the song. It was remixed by Miaoux Miaoux, one of the other wonderful acts who have been part of the Chemikal Underground story.
mp3: Arab Strap – The First Big Weekend of 2016
The remix is, how do you say it, a banging tune………