Profit on day £190
Going Underground came on the radio. Took me back. 1980. I was 17. Maybe 18. I was an angry foot-staring boxroom rebel, who hardly turned up at Sixth Form, choosing instead to ransack Reigate second-hand bookshops for the gamut of European Modern Classics from Camus to Sartre, from all of which I caught a very bad dose of existential ennui.
The Jam were my band. Surrey boys, but angry dispossessed Surrey boys, suburban boys, with a way with a lyric that seemed to speak directly and only to me. I saw them live five nights in a row – at the Rainbow in London and at Brighton. The audience was – well, it was a bunch of me – all shouting along to the lyrics like we were their disciples. Jesus, no wonder Weller wanted out.
The Jam were getting popular. A number one band. That was kinda good and kinda bad. Eton Rifles had already been to the top spot. And, as history has shown, with David Cameron, without a hint of irony, citing it as one of his favourite songs, the very people the songs were deriding were becoming fans. Going Underground caught sight of this.
My friend and I decided to go underground. Literally. Well, overground. We took a Vango Force 10 tent to the top of Priory Park in Reigate and camped there for a week, without telling anyone. We lit a fire, and cooked sausages and talked about shit and stuff, and I doubt it was actually a week, and Chris kinda blew his cover by going to see his girlfriend who worked Saturdays in the newsagents on the high street but, still, he brought us back some sweets, so I forgave him. He’s a kinda famous DJ now, and she was his wife for a long time.
I wasn’t missed. My nan and gramps had given up expecting me home ages since. The world turned. I loved the song, then I tired of it, then it seemed to belong to a different time, a different world. I had grown and changed, Paul Weller had grown and changed (several times, effortlessly regenerating himself). The world had grown and changed.
Now, when I catch it, I realise that Paul and I may have changed a bit, but our core values remain intertwined, and the world, the world we were tilting at, that world is still the same. And so, here I am, all these years on, Going Underground.