T H E  A M P  D I A R Y

Saturday 8 April 2000

I went out last night. Out out. Big out. With makeup and dancing and cleavage and everything.

I wasn't sure I could still do it. I'm not in practice. I've got a white screen tan and ridged pads on my fingers from being such a geek for so long. Andrea came over. We were going to a club on Old Street with a swimming pool in it. It promised various alternative shenanigans. We drank vodkas before we left and had a smoke as we walked there, which meant, by the time we strolled past the prostitutes by the bridge, we felt ultra-freaked and paranoid. JacktheRipper JacktheRipper JacktheRipper my head said. It's dodgy round here my head said. Burly bouncers. Kray twins throwing bodies in the canal. Prostitutes lifting their skirts at passing cars. And us, two dodgy redheads, out on a spree.

We walked along Old Street and I put my hand in my pocket and pulled out a pair of scissors. In the afternoon I'd been helping Jake's mum tidy up her garden and I wanted to cut all the dead leaves off her palm tree. I knew she wouldn't let me. I hid her scissors in my pocket but didn't need them because the dead leaves were easy to pull off. I held up the scissors and we stared at them, laughing. Then I panicked because I didn't want to take a pair of sharp silver scissors into a nightclub in case people thought they were a weapon. Andrea, pragmatic as ever, took them off me and hid them under a bush. 'What if a bad man gets them and stabs a prostitute with them?' 'It's OK, I'm hiding them!' she said, putting them under some leaves. 'We'll come back and get them on the way home.' I glanced around for potential scissor-stealers, but the midnight street was empty.

We got into the club and we were stoned and confused and I couldn't tell if the people were square or if they'd taken irony to a whole new level. Were they sooooo incredibly cooool that they didn't need any signifiers - thick black eyeliner, a splash of glitter - to betray their knowing indieness? I was worried. I knew I could never, ever, be so calculatedly ironically unfashionable as they. Then I realised we were just in the wrong room. We were in the Club Mink Early Nineties Ravey Dance Crap Room. The people were genuinely unfashionable. Everything was alright.

We stood at the bar, trying to feel less stoned. 'Let's drink!' Andrea suggested. 'It's the only way!' She ordered some juice and we poured in our secret vodka. We had smuggled in some miniature bottles of vodka down Andrea's trousers, because we're classy like that. We had been storing the tiny vodka bottles in the freezer since 7pm, so when we went to the loo to put them back in my bag I was giggling so hard at the thought of And's frozen parts that I could hardly pee.

We went into the Club Kitten room. It was full of punka-studded- glamour-grubby types who made us feel nervous. Near us a girl was dancing, swinging her black bobbed hair around, wearing a chainmail dress. She kept looking at me and Andrea like she wanted to be bitchy, if we'd just look at her long enough to notice her being bitchy to us. A smart boy in a Jarvis-y grey suit ground his groin into Chainmail Dress's bum in a Notting Hill Carnival stylee. Andrea tucked my hair behind my ear so that she could shout at me. 'She's not as fab as she thinks she is, is she!' (We, too, can be bitchy. Ohhh yes.) 'Yeah' I yelled back. 'And that's not sleazy - just scuzzy!' I added, indicating the Jarvis wannabe's groin activity. Jarvis wouldn't do that. (Being typical indiechickies, Jarvis is, of course, our Ideal Man.) Jarvis would deny the showoff girl her exhibitionist pleasure, just to spite her. He'd take her into the loos and grind into her there, and then walk off. Her chainmail dress would press into her bottom, and she'd be honeycombed all night with a painful memory. I said all this to Andrea, but she told me to stop talking dirty to her, because I could go back home and shag my boyfriend, and she didn't have anyone to shag, so it wasn't fair to get her all excited.

Then, all of a sudden, it seemed, the dancefloor was full of Japanese people standing still. It was wierd. They were looking at a man fiddling around with a mixing desk. He started making an INCREDIBLY LOUD NOISE with it. I liked it. I love incredibly loud noises. I like the way they travel through and round your insides and they bypass the precision of words. Loud noise is like a puddle of black paint. You can't pick it up and shape it into 12 point Gil Sans Condensed. But you wouldn't want to. It's like someone hitting you instead of trying to explain why they don't like you. It's clearer and simpler and takes far less time to do the same job.

The man with the mixer had his hair in black spikes and wore a long skirt. He tore his top off halfway through. He had a very precise, neat back. All the muscles looked like bits of liver lined up at the butchers, then slid in under his skin like an implant. They moved around under there like fish in a pond. He took a microphone and wrapped the cord around his arm and his torso, rocking forwards and backwards, yelling and screaming into the mike which was then distorted on the sampler. The Japanese people watched him as though they were on a bus tour of London. They looked unhappy. All except one Japanese boy in a red icehockey sweater. He smiled like he liked it. When a beat floated in he'd nod his head, snatching at the beat, grinning even harder, turning to his friends with a look of joy that morphed to disappointment as the rhythm disappeared under layers of distortion and feedback.

The highlight of my night, and oh this is sad, was a compliment from a stranger. He had half his hair dyed black and half dyed blonde. His face shone with sweat and glitter. He came towards me and I saw him looking at my cleavage and I didn't mind. How could I mind? If I minded, I wouldn't be displaying it on its little Ultrabra shelf. He leaned towards me and said 'This might be a really stupid thing to say, but you are really beautiful.' I didn't know what to say. It was so simple and lovely. He said it again. 'Is that a really stupid thing to say?' he asked. I looked at my legs and thought. Was it? Yes, I decided, it was, because he was talking to me, ME, Amp, and I'm not beautiful. Therefore it was inaccurate and wrong and therefore, stupid.

I looked at him and nodded. He looked hurt. I hadn't conveyed, with my yes, that it was only stupid because I wasn't beautiful; that he wasn't wrong, I was. He just thought I was saying it was a stupid thing to say. 'It was a lovely thing to say' I said. 'Thank you for saying it.' But I got it all wrong. He said the right thing, but to the wrong girl. I gave the wrong answer, but to the right question. The boy walked away, past the mirror. I could see the dark side of his head, yet reflected in the mirror was the light side. Then, vice versa as he walked back. He was like 2 boys sliced down the middle and matched up with the wrong partner.

So now it's today and we forgot to get the scissors on the way back. I think I'm going to have to get on my bike and try and find them. When I find weird things in the street I like to wonder how they got there. This time, I know how they got there, but I don't know what's happened to them. I need to know what happens to those scissors. I need to know a bad man doesn't get them. I feel like one of those party games where you have to find the person who's got the other half of your playing card. I want to know the end of the story, the answer to the question, the punchline to the joke. I need one thing to match up this weekend.

 

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