Following on from the heart-breaking story of love, loss and betrayal for teenage Kirsty Velk which resulted in a (possibly misguided) massive grudge against Abbey Girls, I thought I would tell you all about another grudge I bear from my teenage years (i.e. About 4 years ago right?). This one is far more serious, justified and as I have said before, many a time, it RUINED MY LIFE.
So there’s this band right, called the Levellers (I can literally hear my mum’s eyes rolling as she's reading this). They released one of my favourite albums, ‘Levelling The Land’ in 1991 which featured brilliant tracks such as ‘One Way’, ‘Fifteen Years’ and ‘Far From Home’. In the early 90s my music taste was really varied (it hasn’t changed much to be honest). I was a big Take That fan but also loved Guns n’ Roses, Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, Hole and other rock/grungey stuff. Levellers are kind of different, they’re a bit more left wing folky rock rather than metal, rock or cheesy pop. They go well with a DM (Dr Marten, not whatever it is the kids think a DM is nowadays), an army bag with tippex or marker pen slogans written all over it and any accessories you may have purchased from Saffron Moon (in the Butts Centre) or Strawberry Fields (down Smelly Alley). Classic Kendrick Girl outfit goals. They were very popular among the Kendrick community because we were all so cool and alternative (we weren’t but we thought we were) and a lot of people liked them.
Imagine our collective delight when it was announced that they would be playing at Rivermead Leisure Centre on 13th October 1993?? 4 days before my 15th birthday. This was the most exciting event ever to have graced my social calendar and I had obviously decided I would be going. That was that. I mean, everyone was going so it wasn’t even an option to not go. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be going. My attendance at this event was never in question.
Until I asked my parents.
Flat out no. No discussion, nothing, just no. I wasn’t going. Apparently 14 was too young to be going to a “pop concert” alone. At this point I didn’t feel it wise to correct them and say it wasn’t a gig not a “pop concert” because gig sounds way cooler/scarier and therefore more dangerous. According to them, the fact it was 4 days before I was going to be 15 AND I wouldn’t be going alone because EVERYONE was going didn’t matter.
Clearly my parents weren't aware of the incredibly safe mechanism that was the "Kendrick 3" either. When Kendrick Girls went school trips and were allowed to go off exploring on our own we always had to go in groups of at least three. The theory behind this was, and I quote "one to stay with the body and one to go for help" in the event of some kind of catastrophe befalling a girl. Much like a triangle being the strongest shape in nature, a Kendrick 3 is also pretty sturdy. As EVERYONE in my year was going there was going to be at least 2 other Kendrick girls knocking about at all times so I literally couldn't be safer.
I begged, I pleaded, I bargained, I cried, therefore demonstrating how mature I was and should definitely be allowed to go, but no. Nothing. Not a single flicker of possibility that they might change their minds.
My parents had ruined my life with that one flippant, poorly thought out decision. It wasn't like I was trying to go to some kind of hard core death metal gig. It was the Levellers, I mean they have a fiddler and everything. What harm could come from seeing a band with a violinist? It's practically classical music.
My dad is much softer than my mum and is more into the rock music so I felt fairly confident that he would agree with me eventually and persuade her she was being completely unreasonable. Ridiculously he agreed with my her. How dare he? I had been totally let down.
There was only one thing left to do.
It must have been the Summer holidays because just after this crushing blow we were on our way to Holland to stay with my Aunt, Uncle and cousins. I decided, in a very mature fashion, that in order to get my parents to change their mind I would not speak to them. At all. That was sure to resolve the situation and prove to them what a total grown up I was. I happily interacted with my brother, cousins, Aunt and Uncle but refused to speak to those two life ruiners.
Needless to say, it didn’t get me anywhere at all. I seem to remember I didn’t speak to them for 2 weeks although the passage of time might have exaggerated the length of the trip to Coventry my parents were sent on. I do know that it was a considerable amount of time though; I can be incredibly stubborn when I want to be.
So 13th October arrived and EVERYONE at school was really excited (did I mention EVERYONE went?) because they, unlike me, were going to Rivermead Leisure Centre to see the Levellers that night. I spent the whole day sobbing while everyone laughed at me for being the ONLY one not going. I may have exaggerated this somewhat. I didn’t sob at school about it and I don’t think anyone laughed at me about it either (don’t tell my mum, we want her to think I suffered).
I do remember getting another massive sulk on afterwards when everyone was talking about the gig and how amazing it was. It was a pivotal moment in our teenage lives and I hadn’t been allowed to go. By this point I was speaking to my parents again but I was still pretty livid and vowed never to let them forget. My mum can certainly testify that I have kept to that vow although she still maintains she made the right decision… she didn’t.
Just to emphasise the injustice of it all, 4 years later when my younger brother was 14, guess who let him go to Reading Festival with his mates? Yeah that’s right. My parents. 14 year old, silly Reading Boys at Reading Festival vs almost 15 year old, sensible, verging on boring, girl in a Kendrick 3 at a gig at Rivermead, I know which one is riskier. Fools.
I didn’t see the Levellers live until 2013 at Sub 89 but it was so worth waiting for. It was like being 14 all over again and I loved it. Even better they came back to Reading and played Rivermead in 2015 which meant I got to experience the full on “Levellers at Rivermead” experience. It didn’t make up for my LIFE BEING RUINED but it was brilliant all the same and I felt very much like I was 14 again just a bit more tired and fatter.
I wonder how I will feel when one of my boys wants to do something like this when they’re 14. I might want to go with them. That would be worse for them than not being allowed to go!
I need to make a little disclaimer here. By now I’m sure you think my parents are literally the most evil creatures to walk the planet, depriving their firstborn of such an important moment. It’s absolutely understandable that you would feel that way. They are pretty terrible and I will never forgive them for this but otherwise they’ve been pretty good parents really so please don’t judge them too harshly.
Leave that to me.