#937: 1991, The Wedding Present, Dalliance

by Ray_North on September 23, 2014

It’s 1991 – I have got my first job working for an MP in Southwark (sort of gives away the MP) – I confidently boast to my mates that I am now a ‘political researcher’ – and I hope that that conjures up romantic images of Parliament and green benches, and big important meetings and me walking thrustingly up and down the corridors of power.

The reality is very different.

Each day, I go to an office above a taxi rank in the heart of deep dark South London. And there, I learn about politics. Proper politics, not the bullshit I’d learned at the LSE and the Labour Club, or the stuff I thought I knew when I was growing up by the seaside in North Wales. This is the politics of people.

I am the constituency office manager – I have no real idea what I’m supposed to do, over and above a vague notion that I’m supposed to help.

On the first morning – I am confronted by a young woman called Bridget Starr – Bridget lives alone in her two bedroom flat, with her two children, she is my age – 21. She is pretty with a yellowing black eye. She is with her mother and her two little kids.

‘I need a new flat,’ she tells me, ‘ok,’ I say. I have no idea that this is going to be the most frequently made request that I will hear. ‘Why?’ I ask and she tells me how the father of her children was a squaddie who came round to beat her up. I have no idea of domestic violence, I have no idea of bruises and fear and the housing list and the council and the cuts and the growing resentment and the fact that not everyone can live together happily. In that moment, I realise that I will probably never change the world in the way I thought I could. It all came home.

I made an appointment for her to speak to my boss, and I promised her that we would write a letter.

A letter. Bloody hell.

That lunchtime I went off to Woolworths to buy some CDS and bought Seamonsters by The Wedding Present and a compilation of Chopin piano pieces. I still listen to both.

Dalliance is the opening song on Seamonsters, if there is a song that encapsulates the pain of lost love, there I want to hear it – Dave Gedge’s understated agony building up to a crescendo that can only come from the depths of the soul.

Play it loud.

You don’t care, now that you’re gone
But do you know how much I miss you?
It’s not fair after all you’ve done
That I’m so, I still want to kiss you

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