All posts by steharris

It's kind of like anecdotal journalism. I watch things, I hear things and I observe things and then I write about it.

Small tale of Sun, Booze and Rock: Part 2

We make our way slowly through the village looking for a camp to pitch up our tent and we open up a can of beer to celebrate our arrival and we notice our favourite food stall, Ostrich Burgers, just a simple name lit up in neon lights and we both look over at it and I say “I know what I’m having later”.
We look around at the camp sites and everyone is full so we ask a young man in a yellow shirt and ask him if there’s any spaces anywhere and he points us towards the pink camp so we make our way over a what can only be described as a mini Everest that even seasoned mountain climber would struggle with so when you see men with long hair and heavy metal shirts make their way of the rocky hill while carrying tents and crates of beer it can be an experience to witness it unfold.
We try find a spot within the camp and I take a look around and I realise it’s the same camp we were in last year.
We pick a place to put up the tent as the site around us starts to fill up, a lady in a green vest yells at any campers trying to pitch a tent within the middle of the site, she tells them it needs to be clear for any possible emergency.
We get the tent up, lay down are sleeping bags and we take a look around the site, it’s filling up nicely, all colours of tiny little dome homes for three days, flags with band names on, jolly rogers and football teams, the smell of barbaque and burning burgers fills the air and heavy rock and roll that is providing the soundtrack for the weekend. “Fuck it” says Sam “lets open up a beer, walk to the village, grab some food and head to the arena” so we take a slow walk and make our way over mini Everest and into the village and slowly look around for a place to eat as we slowly drink our booze.

We look around the crowed village for a place to eat and I turn to Sam “Mate we’ll have to pick up another crate tomorrow, might be a little pricy but lets make the most of it”
“Yeah alright, lets go for cider, the weather looking good so lets get something fizzy”
“Any things better than lager” I say.
We spot a hot dog stall and we walk towards it and both get a jumbo dog with cheese sauce, i’m not much of a fan of the sauce and with a growing beard and no tissues to wipe with this is going to be tricky. The sauce covers my beard like a paint brush being dipped into yellow paint, this is not going to go well, in the weather we are having now a full cheese beard will turn a well fed dog away.
I manage to find some napkins sitting on a random table and I wipe my mouth, take a swig of beer and we make our way towards the arena and we both hope that the weather really does stay like this and not turn into the wash out for the third year in a row.
Walking towards the entrance to the arena a mass of people surround us, much larger and much louder than the year before and the dust of the road is blowing into every ones faces which is something far newer than last year, the only that the wind was blowing last year was rain.
So we stand in line and looking at large signs saying “YOU WILL BE SEARCHED, PEOPLE WITH BAGS TO THE RIGHT” so we slowly move forward. People all around us chatter and talk about the bands they want to see and some of them continue to put sun cream on with the hope that it won’t be washed off by 6’oclock.
We make it to the front and everyone is shouted at by a bald man in a black coat (the guy must be melting right now) “SHOW US YOUR WRISTBANDS” he says as he waves everyone through and me and Sam hold our arms in the air as we walk by him and he never even takes a look at us. And now the search begins, a small man who’s even smaller than I am starts to pat me down and he reassures me that he will not and he promises he will not slip me the finger. He finishes the pat down and lets me through and we can the sound of Motionless in White playing on the main stage as walk through the crowd to find the dog bar and that same feeling that I got last year when I made it to the arena and when I walked into the village, i’m finally back where I belong.

We spend the next five hours walking around the arena drinking beer and getting closer and closer to the front of the main stage and then Prophets In Rage hits the stage and we hold our fists into the air and Sam leans over to me and says “I’m watching Tom Morello on stage”.
The crowd is going mental and the band are smashing it up and near to the end of the set they even do a cover of Jump by House Of Pain which is a odd song to here at a rock and roll festival but right now I don’t think anybody gives a shit everyone is just jumping up and down.
They close the set with the popular Rage song Killing in the Name and the crowd of drunken Rage fans lose their shit and jump and mosh pit all around us, it’s the perfect ending to a perfect set and they leave the stage and I think to myself they have only been together for a year, not a lot of super groups usually pull of a show like that, what ever happened to that Mick Jagger protect?
We grab ourselves a beer and make our way close to the stage ready for System “what’s that smell” says Sam
“I don’t know mate, I’ve been smelling it all day, it might be the new drainage system, don’t worry about it Sam wise we’ll be smelling like this come Monday morning anyway”.
The crowd has pilled up nicely and everyone is ready for System to hit the stage, you can feel the tension and the excitement in the air, everyone is bracing themselves and so am I.
They walk on to the stage and the crowd goes wild, they start off slow and the tension builds and a small serge moves forward and back and me and Sam know what’s about to happen and then they kick into the first song a large mosh pit forms around me and Sam and we caught in the middle, I cant even recognise the song that’s playing because the awesome chaos that’s happening around me. Sam has disappeared from sight all I can hear along with the loud music is a loud screeching noise moving around me saying “Ste! Ste!”. Then Sam appeared in front of me ready to drag us out of there but a large man three times the size of him pushes him of the way and on to the floor and the same man picks him back up as I manage to get to him and we manage to pull ourselves our there. But everything around us is mayhem, the crowd is moving back and forward, mosh pits keep forming around us and me and Sam are jumping up and down and neither of us can still name the songs that a playing.
Half way through the set I notice that Serj is struggling to sing and he’s passed off the main vocals to Daron but with the excitement going on I don’t think anybody really gives a shit.
They finish the set with Sugar and the leave the stage with no encore but I don’t think anybody has really notice, everyone is exhausted and ready to make their way back to their camps and carry on drinking.

We make our way to the village after taking the long walk back and this time for the first time we are dry.
“Food time mate” I say to Sam and walk towards to the famous Ostrich Burgers stall, the neon lights are the only thing that are standing out to me. I get myself a meal, burger and chips and it costs me £10 which at any other time would be a live robbery but I don’t care right now after that gig I need to refuel and get some energy back before I make it back to the camp, I’ve got a mountain to make it over after all.
I wolf down my burger and continue walking towards are camp, people rush by us looking for more booze and a tent to party in.
We barely make it over the mountain as we make it back to out camp, half way over our legs could have gave way and it’s only the first day.
Standing outside the tent drinking a beer outside the tent I look around at the camp and I listen to music being played around the camp, I even hear a tent near to us playing Barbie Girl.
The first day is done, we’ve made it through System, the weather has been better it than it has been the previous two years and the food is as good as it ever has been. The only downside to this year is and I noticed it on the walk back from the arena and now in the camp nobody has shouted Alan or Steve or Dan or Hodor or Backscratcher yet but there is another two days to get out of the way yet and if we don’t hear it by Sunday I’m sure me and Sam can get the chant going.

Death in the village

I was walking through the village centre on the weekend
looking for a pub and it was one of those hot days
the ones where all you want to do is lie down and
look up at a ceiling until you pass out for 12 hours.

I look over the other side of the road to see a small
crowd gathered around what looks like a man laying
flat on the pavement, everyone is around him holding
there phones in their hands and in the middle of a
chat.

A man with a dog stands on stares
a man and his daughter stand and stare.

I go into the pub and put down three beers
and I leave after about an hour
I look over the other side of the road to see
if the man is still there and he is but the
crowd has gone, there’s an ambulance near
by and men and women in green uniforms
stand around him and now there’s a sheet
covering him.

A police car and black car pull up right next
to the man and people walk on by turning
their heads to take a look as they walk into
the stores and carry on their day.

The man is put on a stretcher and put into the back
of the black car and taken away and everyone
keeps walking and shopping like nothing
has happened.

Small Tale of Sun, Booze and Rock: Part 1.

Its early on a Friday morning as me and Sam make our way to the train station for Download 2017 and both of us are still feeling the effects of the night before.
It was only meant to be a quick meet up and home before 9 but our annual pre Download drinks turned into something else as we met up with an old friend and three of us ended up making our way through 7 pints of cider, 6 porn star martinis, 5 sex on the beaches, 4 shots of prosecco and a large burger and chips before spilling our guts out in a shop doorway and dragging ourselves home at around 1.
This is not something the average body can take before a rock and roll festival, your body needs rest and a good strong meal because you’re going to be spending the weekend sleeping in a bag in a field surrounded by drunk/stoned rockers and you have no idea how the weather’s going to turn out so getting home at 1 in the morning drinking cocktails and throwing up could make it a very long weekend.
We manage to drag ourselves out of bed at 6, eyes glazed over and a head that feels like a metal bar is wrapped around it, we grab ourselves a quick drink and run for the bus at 7 and start making our way for the train station.
Standing on the platform we look around for other Downloaders and we can’t see any, last year the platform was full of long haired tired rockers and this year it’s just business men in suits carry briefcases looking at us and wondering whether or not we are homeless. We both wait for the moment one of these people throws change at our feet.

After a 30 minute journey we arrive at East Midlands Parkway at around 8:10am, the sun is shining down on us and we both hope that it stays this way for the full weekend.
We look around the station and we both notice that there’s not a Downloader insight, not even a hint of a rocker or a metal head, just taxi drivers and employees.
After 10 minutes of waiting for our bus Sam checks the time “We’re early” he says “It don’t get here till about half 9”
“So we gotta wait for over an hour?” I said
“Yeah, we will be fine, we can just chill”.
After 30 minutes of waiting a van pulls up at the bus stop, the side doors open and a group of rockers fall out, about 8 of them, all holding cans of beer.
They run into the station for what looks like a toilet break and they spend 10 minutes In there.
After coming back to their van one of them who’s wearing all denim and a Motorhead t-shirt turns around to us and says “are you lads going to Download?”
“Yeah” we said
“Well do you lads want to catch a ride with us? We got some space in the back for ya, you ain’t bought much stuff either so you won’t take up any space. It will save you money on the bus and having to wait for the fucking thing”.
Me and Sam just turn to each other and both of us say “Fuck it, why the fuck not”.
We jump in the back and the man who offered us the ride introduces himself as Chris and he offers us a can of beer.
We crack it open, toast all the lads in the van and we start making our journey to the festival.
“Any bands you looking forward to lads” Says Chris
“No one in particular” we say “maybe System and Aerosmith”
“Five finger I’m looking forward to, they deserve a better slot” Says Chris
“Yeah they do, I thought Skindred should have been on the main stage last year” Sam says
“Well we all saw them last year and everyone was saying the same thing”.
Half way into the journey we drive by a group of what look like stoned teenagers on the road holding a tent, booze and sleeping bags and they’re holding a sign saying “Drownload”. Chris turns to the driver and “says can we pick them up”
“No we can’t, there’s no more fucking room lad” he says”
“I’m sure we can squeeze them in somewhere”
“Well if you want to put them on the roof it’s up to you”
“Leave it then, we’ll just leave it”. And we just leave them standing at the side of the road as we get closer to the festival.
As we turn to pull into the festival the driver turns up the stereo and everyone In the van starts singing “burn mother fucker” by Five Finger and Chris puts the window down and everyone in the van starts singing the song, Chris puts his head out the window and yells the song at festival goers as they make there long walk to the entrance.
We pull into a parking space and depart the van and say goodbye to everyone “maybe we will bumped into each other during the weekend and we can grab a drink” says Chris, and we shake his hand and walk off and start making our way towards the entrance.
Maybe we will manage to find them during the weekend or maybe we wont, but if we don’t, we can go on and think about what just happened, it’s rare that moments like that happen and when they do they can change your whole life experience so you have to take it in and except that it may never happen again.

Our walk towards the entrance is a lot different this year, extra security, extra bag checks, extra cameras because of the events that have occurred over the past couple of months and it makes the walk a lot slower this year because of it.
We join the end of the line and begin waiting to be searched, all I have is a back pack and a sleeping bag so my search shouldn’t take long.
We slowly move forward, security continue to remind us about the check over the loud speakers that surround us.
We make it to the front of the line where Sam is searched first, they pat him down and take a quick look through his bag and move him along and then it’s my turn, they pat me down and ask me if I have any sharp objects “I have a hammer for the tent”
“No hammers” says the security man
“Well you can take it from me”. The man opens up my bag and removes the hammer putting it behind him with a collection of other hammers larger than mine and he offers me the chance to come pick it back up after the event is over but I refuse, so he closes my bag and we make our way forward.
They scan our tickets and walk towards a man with this years wrist bands, the man who looks like he’s just got out of school double checks my ticket and puts my wrist band on and says you can go through and I walk and wait for Sam to receive his band.
Sam shows the lad his ticket and puts out his arm to get his band and the lad smiles at first and then starts to laugh “Butlins 90’s reloaded, what the fuck mate” he says, Sam still has his wristband on from a lads holiday the year before. Sam says to the lad “Oh yeah mate, went last year and dressed up as power rangers and saw B’witched” and the lad just laughs and smiles at him. “And you’ve come to Download, you must be the only person to walk through these gates and say that, I hope you enjoy your weekend mate” that lad says and he tells him to walk on through and Sam walks over to me with a large smile on his face. “You just hear what he said” Sam says
“Every word”
“You should have kept you wristband on and then he wouldn’t have just said it to me”
“It’s all good fun mate, don’t worry about”

We’ve finally made it, the sun is blazing and it looks like there’s not going to be a drop of rain inside all weekend, the hangover from the night before has slowly gone away and now our weekend can begin.
We both look around and we both say “We’re home” and that’s what it feels like for a lot of people who come to this festival, it’s a home for them and for us, they play the music you want to hear, the sights and the smells are just as familiar as the year before and it feels like you’ve never left, it never feels like it’s been a year since the last one.
Not a lot of people can understand what you mean by “Home” unless you’ve have the chance to experience the festival for yourself, this is your chance to be who you think you are and who you feel like you are and for 3 days its the chance to forget about getting up for work at 5 in the morning and drag it out and feel like life is going nowhere, you can forget about the shitty news and all the fucked up things that are going on in the world right now and if you want to you can walk around dressed as a fish finger or a power ranger or a Pokémon if you want. Even though it’s just for the weekend, it’s your home and you feel like you’ve never left.

What a way to live

It’s not a gold plated sort of place
it’s never to going be a monochrome jewel
of a experience.
Just a solid 8 hour day.
Surrounded by old metal and rusty
machines
and that’s when you can find yourself
staring at a poster with a bored little
pug who’s been put on trial.

What a way to live
what a way to laugh.

This little dog is a not a god
But a pet going down for 10 years
a life time for the poor little dog.

What a way to live and laugh.

Potato fight

Walking through the town centre
on a busy Saturday afternoon looking
for a place to eat and calm down and
to get out of the craziness of the
high street I notice this new place
next to the shopping centre, Awesome
Chips it’s called, selling chips and
chips only.

The thought runs through my head
that this is just going to be a fancy new
hipster like establishment selling fancy
chips made from fancy spuds with
fancy sauce in a fancy package.

I get close and that’s when I hear screaming
coming from inside the store, yelling and
chanting.
That’s when a man around fifty wearing
grey jacket and dark blue jeans comes crashing
out of the store and falling into a cage containing
large bags of potatoes and spilling the
bags all over the street.

As the potatoes roll down the road a
large man abit younger than him and
much larger comes walking out after
the old man, his fists raised and yelling
“COME ON YOU FUCKING PUSSY, DONT
FUCKING PUSH ME OUT OF THE WAY”.
The old man gets up and just walks
away and walks down the street
and sits down at bus shelter.

This doesn’t seem like the typical
hipster place that I thought it would be.

Small Tales: It’s personal.

I’m sitting here with my girlfriend at five on a monday morning watching the end of Wrestlemania 33 and after getting through a five hour show plus a two hour pre show it finally comes to this, the icon known as the Undertaker is finally hanging up the gloves after losing to the most hated man in the WWE right now, Roman Reigns and bring the Undertaker Wrestlemania streak to 23 and 2.
He pulls off his gloves, takes of his jacket, folds it up and leaves it on the mat and then takes of his iconic hat and places it on the jacket before he exits the ring and kissed his wife Michelle before walking up the ramp and taking one last undertaker pose before descending bellow the stage.
The all to familiar gongs echo through a dark citrus bowl as Wrestlemania 33 comes to a close.
It’ seems official for now, the Undertaker has finally retired after 27 years within the WWE and going out at the show he made famous, Wrestlemania.
I don’t know what to think, both me and my girlfriend are in tears and it’s not just because of the lack of sleep and 7 cans of beer but because of the thought of how iconic the Undertaker is and how important he is.
We both go to bed and before we go to sleep my girlfriend starts asking me question about him, when did you first watch him? Why’s he your favourite? And that got me thinking about why The Dead Man is the performer I connected to.

I remember I was given a VHS tape when I was 9 years old and it was a pro wrestling tape, Monday night raw 1999.
The only real memory I have of that tape was a giant 7 foot figure called the Big show walking to the ring but it wasn’t him that stood it, it wasn’t his giant “Larger than life” persona that caught my attention it was the man walking beside him and his name was The Undertaker.
It was the mystery of this person, his weird clothes and his weird tattoos and the fact that the commentator kept referring to him as The Dead Man and in my head I kept questioning whether he was really dead. How can someone be dead and be walking into a wrestling ring for a fight? Is this man a zombie?
A month later I get another VHS tape and it was Unforgiven and the main event,  a six pack challenge featuring The Rock, Triple H, Mankind, Big Show, Kane and replacing the Undertaker is the British Bulldog, “replacing?” I thought “why they replacing that guy for?” I just kept asking myself where’s that guy gone.
The commentators kept referencing to the fact that “The dead man” had walked out on Monday night raw the previous  week.
For the next couple of months I keep receiving these VHS tapes of new wwf shows and on each one there is no Undertaker, he just doesn’t seem to be popping up anywhere and I want to no why, where the hell has this man disappeared to?

It was around June the following year and i’m sitting around a friends house watching Judgement day 2000 with The Rock and Triple H headlining the show for the wwf championship in a 60 minute iron man match.
Towards the end of the match Triple H, The New age Outlaws and the McMahons start attacking The Rock and then this weird music starts playing and then a gong and “The Dead Mans” and everything different now the Undertaker comes speeding to the ring on a bike to rock and roll music and for the next three years he was the American Badass and I became obsessed, I didn’t watch any WWF show unless the American Badass was on the show.
And over those three years he changed, he become a bad guy and then a good guy again, he teamed with his brother kane and feuded and he became “Big Evil” but he was still the “American Badass” he was still “The Dead Man”.
I spend months and months running home from school from gangs of kids just so I can get home and feel safe and watch an Undertaker match.

And then it all changed, again.
2003 at the Survivor series, 13 years in the making and he’s facing Vince McMahon in a buried alive match and it all look all but over for the boss, taker has at the grave site and is ready to put the owner to rest until his brother, Kane comes out and knocking Taker into the grave so the boss can pour a ton of dirt on to the dead man.
And then Wrestlemania 20 at Madison Square Garden and he’s facing his brother Kane.
I ran home from school with a copy of the show, I put it on and skip forward just looking for this match and I find it and sit back and watch.
Kane comes out first and he stands in the ring and it all goes black and this voice then echos through out the arena and it’s Paul Bearer, Urn and all and he’s walking to the ring followed but hooded figures carrying flamed torches and then the gong hits and out he comes wearing the long coat and the black hat and he makes his way to the ring with his music blearing out through out the arena and he gets in the ring takes of the coat and the hat and rolls his eyes into the back of his head, this is the Undertaker I was waiting to see after all these years, the Dead man, the Phenom.

For the next 13 years he remains sporting the Black coat and the black hat and notching up Wrestlemania win and win, facing Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 25 in one of the best matches I’ve ever sat through and then facing HBK again the following year ending Michaels career.
And then wrestlemania 30, Brock Lesnar is the man he’s set to face.
The match wasn’t the best, the Undertaker looked disgruntled and unprepared, it wasn’t the Undertaker from before and I was sad watching it and then it happened, Brock hits him with an F5 and then gets the pin handing Taker his first lost at Wrestlemania after notching up 21 straight wins.
I was shocked after the match, I don’t think anybody ever expected it to happen and the faces inside the stadium shows you what him losing at mania means to everyone and to Wrestlemania.
Hearing the news after his loss that he collapsed after getting backstage brings shock to everyone and that’s when the question start to come up, how long can this man go on for and when will it end, and I can’t help ask the questions myself.

But our questions were answered and he was back the following year to face up and comer Bray Wyatt and Taker looks great, better than the year before and picking up another mania win.
Over the course of 2015 he came and went, getting into a feud with Brock and even facing him inside Hell In A Cell and even facing and beating Shane McMahon at Wrestlemania 26 inside the Cell.
and then it all came down to Wrestlemania 33 and we all heard the rumors going in, is this the match that will finally end the Undertaker career and it was, Roman delivers a spear and it’s over and the Undertaker is done.
There’s so much I could over with his Career from before his WWF/E career, his entire Wrestlemania streak, his feuds with Kane, Mankind, Triple H and Shawn Michaels even his entrance alone which would send shivers down my spine during the right moment but there is 27 years of career to cover so it’s best saving it for another blog on another day.

I hate over used terms in the wrestling business like the best ever, the greatest ever, greatest ever superstar and future hall of famer but the Undertaker truly was the best, atleast to me anyway and it’s personal, it truly is, if you were a young kid whos never watched wrestling before and you see this unique performer appearing on your t.v screen wearing black and claiming to be a dead guy how can you not find yourself becoming a fan.
Taker was the reason I became a wrestling fan and he’s the reason why I remain a fan today.
My opinions of the business change everyday and my feelings towards the performers change every hour but my opinion towards the dead man doesn’t change and yeah I know the man had some shit performances and had to wrestle against of the worst performances the business had to off and some storylines the man had to go through that we could speak less off, but we all we know that it doesn’t matter because it’s the Undertaker.
I don’t know who the greatest of all time is and I don’t really care because the Undertaker will always be the greatest.

Cycling helmet, dickhead.

“OI, dickhead”
that’s what I hear while riding
home in the rain from work one
Friday afternoon.
“Where’s your fucking
cycling helmet, twat”.

I turn my head to see where
the voice is coming from and
see a lady jogging over the road
shaking her head at me.
“Twat” she says under her breath
as I carry on riding further
away from her.

I don’t know what to think.
Why have I effect her day so much
that she has to point out to me
that i’m not wearing a cycling
helmet.

Where is she going?
Where will her run take her?
Why isn’t she wearing a high
vis vest?

She’s going keep on running
and I’m going to keep on riding
and she’s never going to
see me again
so it’s ok you don’t have to
worry about it because if I
fall off and crack open my
skull I’ll be thinking about
wearing a helmet next time.

I make it home and I’m still
thinking about the health
and safety jogger and I look
at my tyre and fuck I’ve
got a puncture.