deep-six ninety-six

Gareth Southgate 2021 copy2

Well, there’s no question now is there. It is definitely coming home. It may have to quarantine for ten days and take two tests but come on. England did it, they beat Germany in a knockout game, and it didn’t even have to go to penalties. Sure, not an entertaining game, but if you want entertainment go and watch Hamilton. Or Spain v Croatia, or France v Switzerland. Amazing and ridiculous games, no defending whatsoever. England haven’t let in a goal yet. Haven’t scored many either, but maybe this is how it comes home. Anyway I am not going to analyze the game or offer opinions on whether Kane wasn’t getting service or tired or whether this Germany isn’t as good (it’s better than circa 2000 Jens Jeremies era Germany) or home advantage or any of that. I don’t even really think it’s “coming home” (if “coming home” means England winning it, since “it” is the European Championship, which England has never ever been in the final of before, or “it” is the Henri Delaunay trophy, which is French). The semis and the final are at Wembley though, but first England have to play a quarter-final against Ukraine in Italy, specifically so people can sing “it’s coming Rome”. Whatever happens, England did beat Germany, at Wembley. Gareth Southgate beat Germany, at Wembley, in the Euros. So, just as I did an illustration of him in 1996 recently, here he is in 2021, a quarter of a century later, this time in celebration. nice tie, Gareth. No waistcoat this time. Here he is, burying 1996. And so I ask myself, can we all bury 1996 now? 96 is the new 66. England didn’t even win it in 96 but it’s become such a big thing, part of the folklore, and that song, that bloody song, yeah you know I’ll be getting the CD out if England make it through to the final. CD?! How old are you, grandad? Can we all bury 1996 now? Not just the Euros, but everything? 1996 was one of the Last Great Years, maybe even The last one. Nobody used a mobile phone. What a time that was, eh! People had to wait until you got home before you ignored their call. To call people when you were out you had to use a phone box, with ‘coins’, maybe with a ‘Phonecard’. Nobody used a mobile phone. A few people sure, the things existed, but you go to a football match or a gig or watch a building burn down, nobody had their phones out filming it, tweeting it, recording it in case they forgot. People had to just ‘remember’ their experiences. Nobody used the internet. The odd ‘tech geek’ perhaps, in England anyway. There was a guy we knew at college called Ruman who could get us ‘on the internet’ in the computer labs, he was the only person we knew who could get onto this magic place, but there was nothing on there back then anyway, and our college wouldn’t let us stay online for long before kicking us off. Social media? What the hell’s that? 1996, the Star Wars Special Editions hadn’t even come out. The old Tories were still going, pre-New Labour, John Major and co. Princess Diana was still alive and being hounded by the press, before they decided in the middle of the night a year later that she was actually the Princess of Hearts or something. 1996 Wembley isn’t even the same Wembley as 2021 Wembley, it’s just in the same bloody place. 1996, I was twenty and could stay up all night long, bouncing about to Pulp or Oasis or Rage Against The Machine, and often did; I ain’t twenty no more. London was amazing in 1996. I got my guitar that year, on Charing Cross Road, I still have it. I bought it while on my break from the chocolate shop I worked at. A piece of 1996 I have held on to. Soho was brilliant in 1996, not yet shite, but no longer quite as seedy as in the 70s and 80s. Still seedy enough though. The Hellfire Club on Oxford Street was the best place on Saturday nights, a place long gone now. Can we all bury 1996 now? I mean, the world of 1996 has been buried a very long time, and it ain’t ever coming back. Gareth just buried another bit. His penalty miss is now in the ground with all the CDs, VHS tapes, Phonecards, cash, music magazine with cassette tapes on the cover, Soho being cool, and all the other stuff we left behind. Is this about me missing London? Might be, most things are, I’ve been burying that for years. 

4 thoughts on “deep-six ninety-six

  1. Alan French says:

    As someone who spent his youth in Soho, went to concerts at the old Wembley Stadium and lived through wild nights at The Hellfire Club on Saturday nights too, this piece struck quite a chord with me.

    I’ve often found myself mourning a lost London whilst facing a culturally bleak future. My problem is that I can’t quite bury it and the worst part is that I took it all for granted at the time!

    Perhaps most of all I miss the musical tribes that existed in the 80s to early 90s. Long gone are the Mods, Punks, Metallers, Goths, Indie Kids and everything in between. Nailing your colours to the mast was a right of passage back then, and let’s face it, Soho or Camden did become your playground because getting a kicking in Montrose Park lost its charm after a while! :)

    Phonecards?!?! You almost made me spit my tea out.

    • pete scully says:

      Yes totally! The Hellfire Club was great huh. I mostly remember that small, sticky dancefloor, lots of hair, and cans of cheap red stripe. And the Marquee (I used to go there when it was on Charing Cross Road), the Wag, Plastic People, Borderline, several others I can’t remember, St Moritz. I made a group of friends who would hand out the fliers for the Hellfire and we’d go to the various rock and indie clubs. Preferred that to the Glen… Soho is so different now though. I drew a panorama of Denmark Street back in 2014, and half the places in that drawing are gone now I think. I still go to Camden when I’m back home, mostly because the tube from Burnt Oak seems so much faster now than it used to. But damn, the mid-90s were great. Except waiting bloody hours for the N5, that is much better now.

      Yeah I used to get phonecards to use the phone outside the library, when I wanted some privacy, different world now. I remember when phonecards first came in and kids at school would use tipp-ex to fix the white strip on them so you could use them again for free, I never managed to get that to work.

      • Alan French says:

        I used to play in a band with the two guys who ran The Hellfire Club (Pat and Martin) and we played the Marquee a couple of times too. Oddly enough the guitarist of that band, Seb Hunter, published his memoir “Hellbent For Leather: Confessions of a Teenage Heavy Metal Addict” chronicling the dramas / sagas of The Hellfire Club amongst other things. It’s a very entertaining read.

        The Denmark Street thing with the Astoria being demolished for Crossrail definitely sounded the death knell for music in London but I’m glad we did experience it. prior to the bulldozers. I think you’ve nailed it with 1996 as being the last great year of Soho. I’ll go 2000 at a push… and that’s being generous!

      • pete scully says:

        No way, that’s wicked!
        Yeah I have some good Soho memories from 97-2001 when I was at uni, a mate of mine lived in a flat on Berwick Street, it was an interesting neighbourhood. Long time ago.

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