Round glasses, pink with colourful splotches. Mustard tie, grey cardigan buttoned up and restricting. Green and pink satchel with yellow clasps that click closed in that satisfying way. First day of school picture on the patio in the garden. Faded hopscotch. Curls tied up in a ponytail. Pleated skirt. Shiny black shoes. Fluttering stomach. Feeling of dread. Long walk to school.
If I get to bed late tonight it’s because I’m sat watching the one Linkin Park gig I went to on YouTube in its entirety.
It was Projekt Revolution in 2008 at Milton Keynes Bowl, and for some reason we were sat right up on the hill, not in the crowd where I have been for all my other gigs. It was the Jay Z era and he made an appearance, but I wasn’t interested in him. Another friend of mine was there with some other friends – he was closer, but he got hit on the head by a flying bottle near the beginning of their set and spent the rest of the night in the medical tent with a concussion.
I am ten years old and it’s late afternoon one day in 1998. My mum is pottering around the kitchen part of our small kitchen-diner. My dad is taking a photo of me and I’m grinning. I’m wearing a baggy green camouflage-pattern t-shirt that used to belong to my older cousin, and black Adidas tracksuit bottoms (with three stripes going down the sides of the legs, which is always better than two, because it means I can run two of my fingers down my leg in between those three raised white stripes instead of just one finger between two stripes, which feels much better somehow). To top off my ensemble I’m wearing a hot pink hat which is soft with a furry rim, which is a slightly lighter pink to the rest of the hat but no less garish. I am surely the most stylish ten-year-old in Northamptonshire. Who needs matching clothes anyway?
Oh, and I’m singing into a banana. Obviously, because I’m playing my favourite new compilation album on the hi-fi, which is Now Forty-something-or-other. I’m probably listening to Perfect Ten by Beautiful South, or Horny, by whoever that was by, because that was on the album, and as a ten year old I have no idea what the word horny means, so I sing along as loudly as possible. I don’t know why this woman has horns on her head. Is she a devil or a unicorn? Who knows.
There are pictures on the fridge that I drew in felt tip or paints. This room is my art gallery as well as my concert hall. I stand on a dining chair because that’s all part of the routine – I have to stand on a chair. I’m an exhibitionist. My forefinger and index finger on my left hand sit between those Adidas stripes on my leg while I clutch my makeshift microphone with the other hand. I watch myself singing and dancing in the mirror hanging above the table. I’ve got moves. I am awesome.
I remember lying on my belly
in the playground at six years old,
grazed elbows and broken fingernails,
trying to pick glistening stones
out of their asphalt prison
because I thought they were diamonds.
There are a billion stars under our
feet, twinkling in their icy garb,
and so many people don’t notice them.
These days they are all I want to see.
IHadCancer.com Best Cancer Blog Award Winner 2016, Runner-up 2017