It’s rare to get a phone message from Grange Girl, especially one this excitable. ‘They just announced a massive music festival on 6 Music! In Lewes! We’ve got to go! Runrig! July!’
By the time I reached her house, she’d gone all deflated. ‘Turned out to be Lewis with an ‘i’, did it?’ I said sympathetically.
She sniffed. ‘Who’d have thunk the Outer Hebrides would have a more rocking scene than us?’
‘Nonsense’, I said. ‘There’s tons of gigs every week here. Meadowlands Festival this weekend. Starfish thing in the summer. Rock in the Bog in July. Arthur Brown lives here. The guitar festival, er, used to be on every year.’
Her head slumped into her hands. ‘Runrig have never played here though.’ She was clearly in a slough of despond. ‘And 6 Music’s going to be axed.’
‘Is it? Damn those Tory-Dems and their swingeing cuts.’
‘It was decided months ago, when Labour were in charge.’
I often arrive a bit late to the news.
‘Well, we must protest’, I protested. ‘I listened to it once and it was good. That nice George Lamb was on.’
‘You’re too late. The consultation closed on 25th May.’
I often arrive a bit late to the direct action.
‘Oh. Shall I make some tea then?’
We mused in silence for a while, sipping our drinks.
‘There’s a Save 6 Music Facebook group’, Grangey said, suddenly.
I started, spilling tea on my Hush Puppies. ‘How would you know that, Grangey?’
Grange Girl’s techno-peasantry is the stuff of legend. She listens to music on reel-to-reel tape, and absolutely will not countenance a mobile phone. In fact, she’s still a bit suspicious of her land-line. ‘Letters were good enough for Napoleon and John Peel.’
She looked defensive. ‘They mentioned it on the wireless. Obviously I can’t join, not having the interweb, but you could.’
I nodded vigorously, filing the idea away in the large drawer at the back of my brain labelled ‘Things I probably won’t get round to.’
‘Shall we go to a gig tonight?’ I suggested, perusing the handy Viva gig guide taped to Grangey’s fridge. ‘There’s bands at the Snowdrop, Royal Oak and the Pelham. We should go to all three, demonstrate our support for music in all its myriad forms.’
‘Goes without saying.’
‘Nah, let’s just listen to the early Peel sessions with The Fall and have another cup of tea.’
This seemed rather a reckless imbibe of caffeine after six o’clock but she read my mind and said, ‘Camomile, obviously.’
She popped the kettle on the gas hob, fired up the reel-to-reel, and we were transported, by the power of music, to 1981. To a time before mobiles, CDs and Facebook, and before 6 Music was going to be axed (or indeed, existed). Mark E Smith sang, ‘You don’t have to be weird to be wired’, and Grange Girl and I clinked our mugs together and toasted to happier times.
Beth Miller, 26th May 2010. Published in VivaLewes.com. Many thanks to Annabel for introducing me to the term 'techno-peasant'.