I was driving to work this morning, listening to Capital FM. I often listen to it. I like it. They were playing something happy and poppy and dancey and druggy, with the kind of synth-layered climaxes that make you think of being in a giant club with high ceilings and thousands of drug-soaked bodies, sweating and gurning.
I was thinking about how possible it would be for me to make a track like that. If I could be bothered. If I could find the time. Whether I could cobble something together by cheating and sewing some samples together. And then I imagined myself expressing these vague desires to somebody else, and instantly I crumpled. Just writing it down brings back the feelings I had. It is a laughable idea. There is of course the small problem of a lack of equipment, experience or expertise (although I have slightly more of those things than you might think - I still own a PA and once upon a distant past I was in a band, and we produced our own backing tracks, and we called it techno blues...)... but that wasn't what made it seem laughable, not really. The biggest problem was that those things are not for me. I'm not allowed.
I'm not really allowed to listen to Capital FM in the first place, let's face it. I'm certainly not allowed to lower both windows of my car and blast it out at high volume, and especially not in traffic jams.
And that feeling of not being allowed... it makes me feel like a little girl. A lost little shy girl, dressed in faded pink, with wrinkled knee socks that won't stay up. Tentatively asking the grownups if she can stay up late and watch Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, but knowing they'll say no.
Hold that thought. The thing about being a little girl.
So why do I feel banned from listening (loudly) to Capital FM? It's not because they play the same ten tracks over and over, day in day out. It's not because they won't play anything unless it's got a million pound marketing budget and already been earmarked as a hit (for fuck's sake, even X Factor winners don't get on Capital FM unless they're actually really genuinely going to sell millions of records). It's not because they are sponsored by the Sun, and they report celebrities' broken fingernails with the same gravitas as thousands dying in earthquakes.
Actually I love Capital FM. I love it because they only ever play upbeat music. They never play ballads or dirges, and the only love songs aired have a square four-four beat behind them. They play stuff you could dance to. They play stuff you can turn up loud. And a lot of that popular stuff? It's popular because it's good. And there are few things more guaranteed to get me angry than the sneering bullshit attitude which says that if something is popular, if something is liked by millions, then it is by definition shit. Because obviously if you have something in common with millions of other people then you are yourself, ipso facto, common. And common is bad. Because... well, why is common bad? BECAUSE YOU ARE AN ARROGANT ELITIST SNOB.
Ahem. Sorry. Anyway. That's not why I'm not allowed to like Capital FM. The real reason is small, and boring. It's because I'm old. And a mum. And therefore I am not allowed to like modern music, or listen to modern music, or listen to modern music loudly in a car with the windows down.
And even though some small surviving other part of me knows that is nonsense, it is a very small very quiet part, and its voice struggles to be heard. I am an old frumpy mum, and there is a whole raft of things that I'm just not allowed to do any more.
But simultaneously that too-oldness turns me into a child, a shy nervous child, asking for permission and failing to get it.
And worried. Worried about getting it right. The rest of my journey to work was occupied with thoughts about all the stuff in my life this week, and all the different ways I can worry about it. Money, my kids, our holidays, our new lodger, the laundry, all my loved ones and my relationships with them, what I need to do, who I need to talk to, how, when... and in the midst of all this I was fretting about the fact that I was fretting, and wondering whether I need to do more, or do less, or do it differently, or be more chilled, or be more mindful... and every one of those fidgeting restless thoughts could be summed up as one simple question: Am I doing it right?
And there we are again, back at the small child. Anxious for approval, for permission.
I need to get old enough that I can be properly old, which means not caring that I'm old, and therefore not being a child.
There's some sense buried in there somewhere. I think. Did I do it right?