24 January 2005

Steve Ovett & The Mekons


Years ago, in a moment of pure, white-light clarity, I realised that the chief distinction between me as a child and me as an adult was my shift in allegiance from Sebastian Coe to Steve Ovett. As a child, I wanted Coe to win, thinking Steve Ovett looked like the kiddie fiddler baddy in a Public Information Film and then...

I realised that somehow I'd got it all wrong. Coe seemed to morph before my eyes into a V lizard, a seething Cthulhu tentacular with an hypnotic programme that kept small children in a trance, though had the side effect that his hair would never move.

Ovett, meanwhile, seemed to have a grown a luminous grey halo and I realised for the first time that his face is spectacular; a wizard's face, a face that has seen Death and laughed at it. It was suddenly difficult to understand how I could have been so wrong, the differences between the two men seemed like the differences between the World:

Coe: accountancy, smooth, slick, Phil Collins, smarm, corporate capitalism, dead-eyed money thirst, sound-biting, faked eye twinkles, structure, concrete thought.

Ovett: astro-physics, angular, unkempt, The Stooges, spiky anarchism, falling graces, dissolution, the quest for knowledge, black elf chatter, toothless grinning, chaos theory.

It was then that I realised how my life would begin to unravel; I'd always seen glimpses of the other side, thought perhaps there was life beyond the charts in music, for example but the Ovett moment seemed to crystallise these thoughts absolutely, sending me spiralling towards the counter-culture (vaguely) and independent music (definitively).

That day, I bought my first NME - I think The Triffids or The Mekons were on the front - and began my descent towards Camden Underworld...

The Mekons - Hole In The Ground

The Mekons - Empire Of The Senseless


Anonymous said...

First, I like the way you write.

Second, I've been into the Mekons since the early 80's and was writing a book at that time and their song Amnesia was played on a college radio station I was hooked on. I NEEDED that song, the energy and the DJ's knew me by name and what I wanted to hear. Amnesia got a lot of airplay.

Thanks for these.

Psychbloke said...

Funnily enough it was Lyn Davies who did it for me - he proved that you could long jump as far as you like and survive life with a girl's name, but you'd still lose 'Superstars' to perma-tanned, squashed nose mop-top Brian Jacks with his Nietzschen approach to the push-ups and squat thrusts. Best thing to do is give up and try to pull your honour back a bit in the archery event.

I hold these men directly responsible for the failure of my A-levels.....

20jazzfunkgreats said...

We got a lovely statue of Ovett down here in brighton, and he still goes running past his own statue in the park, which must give him an enormous sense of pride. Coe is a twisted little man.

the cap'n said...

Ah,the memories you're bringing back....I've never had much time for sport,but I remember when I was a nipper that my mum would always want Ovett to win - even then she could see that Coe was destined to become the Tory MP that he is - and ever since,I've been an Ovett Man.

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