I went to a very bizarre secondary school. Actually, it was the second secondary school I went to; the first asked me to leave for some reason. Turns out you can be a feckless layabout in college, but not in second level. I was ahead of the curve y'see.
Anway, like most schools it had its little cliques. Nothing too 'Heathers' thankfully but we had our moments (the students burnt down the PE hall on my first week there, which possibly explains my healthy physique today). I fell into a strange set of people; mainly lads and mainly dossers. Academically we were very poor. We all had brains but didn't really see the point of it all. Our group was the one group that seemed to get on with all the other school factions. The UB40 skangers all liked us because we amused them; the 'swots' could have conversations with us without neccessarily understanding why were all such underachievers, and the hard men (of which there were a few) didn't regard us a threat.
What our little scene shared was a sense of humour (something that can often be missing in teenagers) and a love of music. New Order mainly. We didn't like their previous life as Joy Division because the deep poetry writers of the school took them too seriously. We'd often make jokes about how Ian Curtis could've made a great pendulum clock if he had put his mind to it.
Some time in 1988/89? one of the cooler lads in the group wanted to go on a mysterious shopping trip into town. We were still of an age where a trip to the city was a voyage with much planning in advance. We went up O Connell Bridge, past the bootleg tape sellers with the florescent tapes (the Cure in Finland on C90? Naaah) until we got into Freebird records where my mate picked up two 12 inch records from bands called the Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses. That was serious expenditure as a kid - but this kid always seemed to know his music. Was it days, or weeks later that those two bands became the coolest bands in the world? My memory fails me, but each time they released a new single it was like a transmission from outer space. We figured that the Stone Roses were probably the more serious band, but still. You just had to admire the Happy Mondays 'cos they didn't give a fuck about things.
Around the same time as that trip into town the bootleg tape sellers also started flogging smiley faced badges and that weird 'Pump Up the Volume' music became known as 'dance'. By the time I was leaving school the students that didn't like 'Madchester' were listening to repetitive beats and pretending to take pills at the weekend. I know at least one them that actually did...
Tony Wilson, boss of Factory Records - the man who signed Joy Division/New Order, and the Happy Mondays, the man who put the Pistols on TV, the man that unwittingly helped dance culture break all over the world via his Hacienda club died last Friday. Thanks for making my teenage years bearable Mr Wilson.
p.s.. I know you were too skint to get your hands on Oasis, but why the fuck didn't you sign the Smiths?