The words blasted out over the PA in the Opera House. The Levellers were on stage. Good Folk/Punk music. Honest singing among the middle-aged crustys of yesteryear. The audience looked like a Geography Teachers away day. The New Age Traveller scene is dead. Still, in memories and in the eyes of the people around me, the words and attitude resonated.
Songs of opting out, fucking off the establishment, freedom, the devastating facts of heroin use, alcohol addiction in wasted council estates. All delivered with conviction to us dancing in our opera seats. I wished I was younger. I wished all the people there were younger, too. A movement could’ve started on the back of the attitude their songs had if it all had taken place today. All we needed was a focus and a cause, and the balls to see it through. But The Levellers, and standing up for freedom and social RIGHTs, are irrelevant now except to the old people like me who were there before the Criminal Justice Act riots. The gig gave me inspiration, I wanted to buy an old coach and go drive it somewhere [deja vu…why?] and make a difference, opt out of the grim human race. Hang about with like-minded people who gave a damn if the planet was being destroyed and the poor stomped on. Pipe dreams.
After the gig ended we walked past a hotel. A wedding reception was winding to a climax. Sweet Child O Mine coming from ‘Billy Klub’s Mobile Disco’. I stood and watched the scenes through the windows of drunken suits doing earnest air guitar and trying not to fall over in pointed tractionless cheap shoes on the carpet dance floor.
Outside the entrance a pool of Wedding vomit slicked the pavement by a row of parked cars in slanted slots to make good use of precious space. Someone in a hired waistcoat was pissing against one of them.
More power to The Levellers and everything they thought they could do to change the World. I enjoyed hearing the words that I thought few people ever considered. For a couple of hours I didn’t feel alone in the imaginary – and real – struggle out there; that I wasn’t the only one who knew the score. I was carried along by sadness, hope, togetherness. Just for a moment, we could change the world. Fleeting, maybe, but better than handing back a sick-stained suit this morning.