I hired a stripper for the whole weekend. Surprisingly inexpensive, but very tiring.
Right now, I’m taking a bit of a break from the stripper, and instead I’m enjoying a nice glass of wine, sitting back, listening to my new album – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand. I have only one thing to tell you: buy it! This album is a cast-iron classic, with Plant and Krauss at the absolute height of their powers, which is an amazing thing to say about a guy like him, who’s been around for so long. I was a young child when he started out and now, by that curious conflation of years that happens as time slithers towards the void, I’m the same age as him.
But a thousand times less cool. And not a billionaire. And without his talent.
Nevertheless, I’ve travelled a bit of a journey with Robert, as have most of us here, I’m guessing, and the journey continues. About two years ago, I was driving to school with Bullet and you know how it goes, we were both a little groggy. I had a savage hangover due to a night of Wild Turkey and brown mescalin. Bullet had a headache because naturally I’d drugged his cocoa to keep him quiet — it was before he became a rock star, obviously: these days he drugs his own cocoa. It’s how our children become independent of us.
I thought I might do a little bit of encouraging musically, because I was worried about his tendency to listen to Rammstein and Linkin Park, so I slipped a little memory stick into the player, on which I had recorded a couple of Led Zep albums. Bron Y Aur Stomp was the track, a loose, drunken bottleneck acoustic bluesy kind of thing.
Have a listen to that, I said. What do you reckon?
Bullet listened. It’s good, he said. Who is it?
Who does it sound like? I asked him.
The White Stripes.
Exactly! I said. But it’s actually Led Zeppelin. Now what I can’t figure out is this: how the hell did Led Zeppelin know what the White Stripes were going to sound like?
As we pulled up at the school, Bullet gave me one of those gentle, reproachful looks that said, you fuckin idiot, and slid out of the Bockmobile.
Ah. Such memories. It’s how we move away from our parents, though becoming an adult is never easy.
Well actually, in my case, it turned out to be completely impossible, but we’ll gloss rapidly over that.
I’m not saying I didn’t try. For example, I went through that awful phase of decorating-the-house-even-worse than-our-parents. Remember that?
I know! Let’s get that heavy dark horrible dining table and chairs that will never be used in case they get stained or burned!
Yeah. They’ll be handy if there’s ever a dead-serious family conference involving distant relatives and money.
And of course there’s always the wallpaper.
No, not the dreaded wood-chip that everybody who ever lived in some damp, smelly rented shit-hole slapped on the walls and painted Magnolia, and covered with cheesy Burne-Jones posters. Not that stuff, bad though it was.
Personally, I preferred this kind of pre-Raphaelite painting.
We’re talking about growing up now, and what I’m contemplating is that appalling abomination, the satanic obscenity that is vinyl wallpaper. I ask you honestly, what the hell is going on there? Were we all mad? What terrible alien larva took over for an instant and festered inside our brains?
I think I know: I think it was the awful more-money-than-our-parents-had syndrome, which had to mean we were all ultra-grown-up. Yes indeed. And ultra stupid.
Vinyl wallpaper is indestructible and unremovable. They should wrap Chernobyl in old vinyl wallpaper.
Even with the help of a stripper, it’s extremely difficult to remove vinyl wallpaper, and that’s why I’m here, with a nice glass of wine, taking a break, listening to Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. And wishing I could somehow grow up before I grow old.