Don’t Panic :: Jimmy’s Stag


“There was a bottle of scotch (a wedding present for Jim) and if I was any less of a man I would have got into it…”

I was inches (or possibly seconds, depending on how you measure it) from a full blown anxiety attack. The kind that makes you feel like you’re going to go over the edge into a state of erratic insanity. Right now I’m on a train to Leeds for Jimmy Islip’s stag gig.

It had started to rain heavily, after a morning of sunshine, I was a cautious (paranoid) little bastard so I’d brought my waterproof coat anyway. Huge explosions of precipitation into the tarmacadam at the side of the tracks. This must be Cambodia for the ants, I thought.

I’d been drinking heavily the past two days this had not granted me the glory of a deep comatose sleep. Insomnia and inebriation were a deadly combination; one that made me sincerely doubt I’d make it through the night. My jaw was as tight as a clamp, my stomach twisted in knots, my heart had elevated to my throat, along with a plethora of other bad vibes that can only be described with the tritest of cliche’s. But I was on my way, so I guess that was something.

I closed my eyes for twenty minutes in an attempt to refuel, even just a little, and find some form of zen to relax this racing mind. When I came back around the sun was back, in full force, it was as if the rain had never existed and this did wonders for my mood.

The whole damn city had become a construction site. This became hard to navigate (especially in the heat of the panic) but, with some perseverance, I managed it. Now I’m sat here (again) with the chess players and emo kids, wondering what the hell I was going to do for the next three and a half hours. There was a bottle of scotch (a wedding present for Jim) and if I was any less of a man I would have got into it (and the thought crossed my mind a lot,) just to pass the mind-numbing tedium of Leeds. I didn’t have enough money to drink as much as I’d need to make it the whole day, so I had to bide my time, what else was there to do in this stink-hole?

I decided to get clear of the immediate center, this turned out to be as shit an idea as arriving four hours early. Five minutes out of Leeds’ main hub and the place becomes a wasteland. The apocalypse had reached Yorkshire before the rest of the U.K., it seemed. Perhaps here was where the fall of society would begin?

It was too much, I debated on entering one of the few derelict looking pubs but in the end vouched for four cans of warm lager, priced at £2.99 (a great deal.)
I sat on the large park near the Brudenell (tonight’s venue) and checked my inventory:

1 x UNDRINKABLE scotch

4 x Starberg (warm) lager

2 x Co-Op premium lager (for the train home)

1 x tin of beans

1 x tin opener

Along with some books, and an abundance of pills, vitamins and relaxants. I had a good enough stock to survive the night and if I could finagle my way into the show on some sort of press trip, I’d have enough for a couple of whiskeys in there.

So here we are, and this is what it has come to.

(I’d like to clarify that this is being written as it happens, without any form of retrospect or hindsight. Like right now, for example, I am taking a shit in a pub called the Eldon (I think) and scrawling in this notebook.) There’s about an hour to kill, sleep deprivation is getting to me. The temperature has dropped significantly but there is still beers to be drunk so I’ll have to keep mobile.

I found salvation on a skate park, it gave me a place to sit while I drank a beer, scrawl some notes, and watch these kids try to break their goddamn necks. Out of what would have been a total sausage fest, a real high school helmet party, one young blonde girl was pushing her mobile piece of wood. She wasn’t too great, and seemed to be using it more as a lazy way to travel the park than an actual hobby, but she was the best damn one to look at so I drank my beer and watched her roll in between the greasy-haired zit freaks.
Keeping at the beer until it was time for the show, I walked around with sun glasses on, I looked an arsehole but the light had become too harsh for me in this state of mind, even though it had begun to set.

MarlJim Brando

I met Jim in the gig and he gave me a pint and I gave him the scotch. There was still an hour until the first band, but at least I was inside now. The soundcheck for Milloy sounded great, the vocalist was no where to be seen but musically, they were spot on and the guy behind the desk was working magic.

Waiting for the gig got tedious, so I went out of the venue, bought a bottle of scotch and snuck back in. I sat there nipping at my drink and was sure that, as long as I didn’t leave again, they wouldn’t charge me.

The music started soon after and even though I was on deaths door I stood at the front and danced with the rest of them, behind the stage a projector had been set up and was beaming pictures of Jim whilst the bands played. This depressed me, I didn’t ever want to be in a situation where my life was being summed up by a selection of images, it began to feel more like a wake than a celebration.

The music was good though, and the negativity soon dissipated allowing me to really let loose and enjoy myself. The clock was counting down though, if I didn’t leave soon I’d miss the train home and be stuck in this godforsaken hell hole for another three hours with no money and no way of getting home when I arrived back in Manchester, and Milloy hadn’t even started their set yet.

I caught a few of their songs, and as hard as the other bands played, they were instantly put to shame after thirty seconds of the headliners opening song. I caught what I think was around five songs (the whiskey was almost gone by this point and so was my memory,) which wasn’t too bad, and the songs played were all favourites of mine. I held out to the last second then grabbed up all my supplies and apparel. Running out of the venue and keeping a steady pace all the way to the station.

I arrived at 23:37 the exact time the train was meant to be departing, but I still had the platforms to navigate so it looked like all hope was lost. I continued regardless and soon saw a large crowd at the final platform, perhaps all hope hadn’t been lost. The train had been delayed five minutes and arrived at the platform soon after I did. A feeling of relief engulfed me and for the first time in this entire day I felt some normality, the anxiety was retreating in the final moments. As I entered the carriage a woman pulled at me. “Your bag is dripping.” She was right, I had felt a moistness around my lower back and I quickly found the source of the leak, expelling the now drained can to the platform.

I was a beer down but it didn’t matter, I was on my way home and making good time. I opened the beer and the tin of beans, ate them straight from the can and relaxed for the remainder of the journey.

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