One of the reasons I love The Stone Roses is because they were instrumental in helping me properly fall in love for the first time, aged 17.
A school friend had bought their debut album when it was released, and when the band were still a pretty obscure little indie band – just a few weeks before, they’d played a gig in Cardiff to around 14 people. But they were popular in Manchester, and in their interviews they spoke about their plans for world domination. Their rise over the next few months would be meteoric, and I enjoyed reading about every minute of it in the NME.
In school though, I was not having a good time of things, and life outside of music and the music press was not a happy one for me. In the Christmas of 1989, we were taking a family holiday to Centre Parcs, which I anticipated would be another typical boring holiday. We almost didn’t make it in fact – my older brother, who would have only recently passed his driving test, hit the side of the road on the motorway, and turned the car over, but luckily neither me nor either of my two brothers were injured. My mum and dad following in a car behind got a bit of a shock though, as they saw the wrecked car and tomato ketchup spilled from a broken bottle! Somehow, we still made it up to Centre Parcs.
The family were keen to play sports, and take advantage of all the facilities – I was more keen on going to the disco. The first night I went, I saw a girl who was dancing with her dad. I couldn’t take my eyes off her – she had beautiful long, jet black hair, a great figure, and was also a really good dancer. I think she was even wearing a Wonderstuff t-shirt – not the sort of place you’d expect to find a Wonderstuff fan, and for me, this was like a jeweller spotting a rare diamond, as they, along with The Stone Roses, were one of my favourite bands. Well, I didn’t speak to her that night, but a couple of nights later, I went back to the disco on my own, and there she was again, this time also on her own. We got chatting, and despite us both being under-age, I got us each an alcoholic drink – vodka and orange for her I think.
The girl turned out to be called Claire, which was a nice name I thought – there were hardly any girls in my school called Claire, curiously. Her birthday, she told me, was 11th of January, and mine was 11th of October – small things like this may have encouraged a listening cupid that here was a meeting of 2 star-crossed lovers.
I told her about my brothers, she told me about her older sister, Jackie, who had stayed at home. We talked about music, of course, and probably about our favourite TV shows and films. I remember at the time thinking that this was the perfect conversation – if we were each interviewing the other to find our perfect match, we would both have got the job!
We left the disco together, and just carried on talking. It was a cold night, with a slight fog. We walked on for quite some time. Finally, Claire asked where were we actually going, and I think we laughed and I just said I didn’t know, or something, and I finally plucked up the courage to kiss her. It was slightly awkward as Claire was a bit shorter, so we moved over to a speed bump so that Claire had an extra inch or two of leverage! Claire referred to the speed bump as a sleeping policeman, an expression I hadn’t heard before, so it threw me a bit. It was a great kiss though, I didn’t really want it to stop. After what seemed like an age, eventually we did stop, and Claire said something like, “Well that definitely warmed me up!” I walked Claire back to her chalet, gave her another kiss goodnight, we made some kind of plan to meet up again, and I walked back on Cloud 9.