Swimming Against The Tide

Things were at crisis point. People’s houses and bungalows were teetering on the brink of falling into the sea. Some already had, due to constant coastal erosion. There was a need for tourism and cash to pour into shoring things up, with enormous granite boulders from Norway shipped across to bulwark the clay cliffs, for example.

The volunteer committee was trying to plan a programme of summer attractions to play in the pier end theatre, a once prestigious venue. Glen had just persuaded them into booking a Glam Rock tribute band, fronted by the son of the original lead singer, who had faded early from his once beautiful glory but still died young. There was only one of the real group members left alive, but he played on solo quite separately, retaining his abundant long hair, which was now wizard white. Glen still looked them up from time to time and watched old interviews or documentaries on YouTube.

The band had been gloriously androgynous in make up, lamé jump suits and platforms but were not gay at all, being fully sex, drugs (or more drink) and rock and roll, as it turned out. Glen, who was gay, had enjoyed the liberty of dressing up like this to be on trend but ambivalent, not having the confidence to be ‘out’ in his teens. He had adored the lead singer and still remembered the utter heartbreak of finding that the only concert he had managed to get tickets for when they played near enough was cancelled on the night. He had been morosely bereft for days. Still, that was then and this was now.

“Will they upset all these ‘woke’ people?” asked Rosemary Barticroft vaguely. She was a large lady who Glen irreverently thought probably wore the kind of big pants his father always referred to as ‘harvest festivals’, all being safely gathered in.

“Why? I hardly think a few tongue in cheek renditions of seventies pop hits are going to provoke outrage?” said Glen, trying to take his mind off awful bloomers.

He blamed it on the old trick of being told to imagine somebody naked who intimidated you. This would have been far too hideous a prospect to envisage with most of the people who had intimidated Glen throughout his life and so he settled for picturing them in embarrassingly dreadful underwear instead, a habit which had stuck. Not that he was intimidated by Rosemary Barticroft, or only a little, anyway.

“Well, we do want positive reactions, not one of those awful Twitter storms,” she answered, as if describing an extreme weather event being warned of in the shipping forecast.

“All publicity is good publicity,” countered someone else tritely, and so the motion was carried and ‘Space Dust’ were booked to play.

When the time rolled round, Glen found himself oddly excited to be in the audience for the first show. The original singer’s son had enough of a passing resemblance to him, although without the famous blond locks, to give Glen a little frisson of recollected teenage thrill. Not so much sex appeal as nostalgic appeal to his own past self. Glen found the experience oddly touching and the performance was enjoyable enough. Mrs Barticroft, at the next meeting, was still concerned about hostile public reaction.

“Perhaps if they wore dresses as well as the make up?” she suggested tentatively, well-meaning about trying to get things right and anxious about misperceived mockery. “Isn’t that more what’s expected for – you know…”

“Not without beards too,” Glen said mischievously. “Then they’d need to.”

“Are you sure?”

“Oh, yes,” he assured her. “Besides, they’re pulling people in. The old theatre’s never had such good audiences in the season. It will be great for revenue.”

This was enough to convince everyone, including Mrs Barticroft, that all would be well. Really, Glen thought – the Glam Rock era was far more fun for everyone than all this angry po-faced carry on nowadays, wasn’t it? Not right on, though, no, definitely not, not where the girl fans had been concerned it seemed, by all accounts, although, if he’d been one at the time…but he wasn’t and he’d been a boy, so that was that, really, wasn’t it - then and now.