A spectacular personality clash with a new boss (and by that I mean that I am great and she was an atrocious cuntgoblin) leads to me being laid off from a TEFL job in a horrible school in Dublin. Dumb luck means that I get a new job very quickly that pays double what I was getting before. This also means teaching in a secondary school. Dealing with teenagers every day. Being accountable for my actions. Not being hung over in class any more (or at least not openly talking about it). Moving out of my theoretical 'lad-flat' in Ranelagh and moving home. Driving to work.
These days I cruise around the place like Lewis Hamilton after popping his cherry, but back then I was only learning, and had to drive to work in 'Little Red', my mother's Nissan Micra. I'd drive the ten miles of nasty, meandering, narrow roads every morning, then park up the road from the school and try to find the balance between nervous nausea and too-much-fucking-nicotine-nausea. About two and a half cigarettes at that time of day, I found. I won't name the part of the world I was in, but they were strange, resentful little inbred mountain children I was teaching, for the most part. Sometimes it was fine, but for the most part I returned home with my white knuckles gripping the steering long after I'd parked at home, unable to get out of the car for another five minutes, inhaling and exhaling loudly to myself. Then, ashen-faced, I'd sneak around the back of the house for my last smoke of the day.
I've now spent too long setting the scene.
Point is, the music that soundtracked this time in my life. Little Red, being from the nineties, had a tape deck rather than a CD player. I can rarely stand the crap tunes and witterings of daytime radio, and the place I taught was so remote that you even lost reception from the mainstream stations once you'd reached the point of no return in your journey. So cassettes were really my only option. Unfortunately, most of my tapes had perished when my sixteen year-old misadventures with Bacardi and Coke on a school night had taught me that yes, that feeling in my stomach was the impending return of that evening's spaghetti bolognaise and yes, next time a toilet would be a better receptacle for it than a my tape collection, which included a prized copy of Now 29. My mother's collection in her car consisted largely of Sting and, shudder, Phil Collin, so that was about as useful as a cock-flavoured lollipop.
Fortunately a couple of decent tapes of mine had survived the eruption, including REM's Out of Time. So, I cruelly overplayed this album morning and afternoon, and it became the soundtrack to nervousness, fear of the roads, and fear of the kids. Music often takes me back to a certain periods of my life, and this provides a particularly strong example. I hadn't been able to listen to it since.
I'm a sophisticated fellow who now has such gems on CD, too. I've no stereo of any kind in my car at the moment, but it dawned on me the other day when I was about to undertake a longish drive that I could now play music off my new laptop. Out of Time needed to be reclaimed, to have new associations with better things. So I played it for a stint of my journey and now, just like that, instead of nerves and nicotine it sings to me of the Naas road and new beginnings.