Thursday, 23 January 2014

Inbetween years - Chapter 6

It's amazing how quickly everything becomes routine again once you're home. One day you're ascending one of the seven wonders of the world and the next you back in your parent's house watching Coronation Street on a wet Wednesday evening. Fortunately for me 1989 turned out one of the best summers on British record. Week after week of blisteringly hot sun. This would have been even more fantastic if I would have had any money. But I returned from my trip practically penniless. I even went on government benefits for the first time in my life whilst I searched for a job. Any job would have done, I just wanted to earn some money to enable me to go on my travels again.

Once again, I didn't seem to be able to find anything that I could actually do. Things hit an all time low when I got an interview as a wheelchair repair man, and was rejected for not possessing the right skill set. The guy sat and watched me as I tried in vain to re-assemble an old wheel chair, which stank of human excrement. Interviews with a practical element seemed to have a habit of following me around.

On a more positive note, something big was happening in Manchester. Whilst I'd been away the city had become the centre of the universe for great music. Bands like the Stone Roses and the Happy Monday's had arrived to ensure that Manchester ruled the music scene once more. But it wasn't only Manchester bands that were leading the way. Dj's had arrived on the scene in a big way too, and acid house music was in full swing. The Mecca for this music was a nightclub called the Hacienda, located in Manchester city centre. There was a vibe around the city that seemed to run through it's very core.

Within a few months I'd got myself a job at another electronics company based on the outskirts of Manchester, and I was back in the system. On a positive note, I loved the people that I worked with, quite liked the job, and was able to keep a close eye on the local music scene which became known as Madchester, after a Happy Mondays EP of the same name. The money was good and with the first Gulf war looming, there was plenty of overtime, because we were making circuit boards for missiles. On a negative note however, I was spending all the money I earned and making no headway to get my journey back on the road. My saving plan was to become even more lacklustre when I got into a relationship.

The idea of working on a children's summer camp still lay somewhere in the outer recesses of my mind, but as 1989 turned into 1990, my love life and music had become the dominant forces. By the end of 1990, I'd been dumped by my girlfriend, and my wanderlust had returned. This time I wanted to do it properly. I would save as much money as I could in a year and then apply for a job on an American summer camp.

To go and watch a live band was cheap back in those days, generally around £6. This became my main pastime. Often I'd leave the house at five am, finish my job at 6 pm, after clocking up some overtime, then drive into Manchester to see a band. I considered this to be saving money because the tickets were so cheap and I didn't drink at the concerts. Often we'd see the same faces at every concert and it became a party. A great replacement for travelling. I was averaging at least two bands a week, seeing groups such as Verve (who later became The Verve), The Manic Street Preachers, The Charlatans, James and the Inspiral Carpets.

However, the saving became quite addictive and it wasn't until the end of May 1992 that I managed to say enough is enough, and quit my job. My friend Ian had also decided to join me in my travels to America, and I got him a job at my company. Ironically enough, not only had he worked at the first company that I'd worked at before going on the kibbutz (we'd  even started on the same day), but he was also on the kibbutz at the same time as me, and had been placed on the neighbouring kibbutz to mine.

By June of 92, I had saved £6500 and I was ready for the off again. I had been offered a ten week contact on an American summer camp, ironically enough, working for the maintenance team. It was my job to keep the camp from falling apart. This was a source of much amusement to everybody that knew me, and my non-existent practical skills. It was the equivalent of sending a dyslexic person to work as a filing clerk. Ian had also been offered a job on the maintenance team of a camp, although the nature of their placement system meant that we could not determine where we were sent. The chances of us even being in the same state were slim, never mind being on the same camp.

I quit my job at the end of May 92 and after a week of goodbyes it was time for the next stage of my adventure.

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