Tuesday, 7 April 2009

If You Are Me

If you are me, then you simply must rush out and buy Flying Saucer Rock n' Roll by Richard Blandford.


George Bernard Shaw once wrote that only the person who writes about himself and his time writes about all people and all times. Well, Richard Blandford presumably had no interest in writing about his life and times, because he has written about me and mine instead.

How has he done this? Has he been spying on me? Is he trying to freak me out? I do not know the man, and if it wasn't such a good book I fear I would find the whole thing a bit creepy. As it is, though, I am delighted by the whole thing.

The book tells the story of teenagers in a nowhere town from the mid 80s to the early 90s, listening to heavy metal and thinking about forming bands. Richard Blandford has changed the plot a little from my life - presumably to avoid being sued (but fear not Mr Blandford, I am not litigious). But Hell's Teeth, he sure hasn't changed the details.

He has captured everything. The brief time when a trip to Our Price (Our Price!) was a wonder, followed by the world-changing discovery of the cooler independent record shops. The way some friends lived in houses that smelt funny. The unspoken class system where kids whose parents could afford an Commodore 64 where understood to be class above the rest of us (even before they upgraded to Amigas). The importance of the price/strength ratio in underage drinking. And bonfires! None of this 'firework display' rubbish, we had proper bonfires back then, huge infernos of doom that cooked hedgehogs by the dozen.

And of course, THAT moment, time when metallers heard Smells Like Teen Spirit and thought, 'you know, that's not bad' - and how with that thought nothing was ever the same again.

I could go on, but you get the drift. There is even a Rubik's Snake on the cover.

Now, the artistic community at large rarely make art about my late teenage years, on the understanding that they were not that interesting. Indeed, should I talk at length about those years to my better half - a woman who has elected to spend her life with me, and so I can only assume must find me fascinating - I fear it does not take long before her eyes glaze over. Richard Blandford, however, has somehow taken this unpromising material and written a book so good that even people who are not me would love it. His skill at sketching the relationships between these teenagers is such that people such as Scott Pack are also praising it. This is clearly overkill on his part, but you have to respect him for it.

Other writers whom I would be delighted if they decided to write about me, should they be reading, include Douglas Coupland, Sebastian Beaumont and David Mitchell.

Richard Blandford, meanwhile, blogs here and is a very funny twitterer.