Southend in our sphere. An alleged fresh start. Supposed to be. Dougie, Neil and I. My two flatmates; a dolorous yin and yang. Dougie Deane; daydream. Blue eyes full of wondrous hope, safe and bounded by the belief that Daft Punk were real robots. Possibly the sweetest soul I've ever known and perhaps my best friend in the whole wide world. And Neil. Poor, neurotic, narcissistic Neil; life's biggest pessimist. Our luckless life in London has been left behind. Neil said we were to die a desolate death in Northolt, but now, by the salty sea and the biting breeze, we may meet our calling in the choppy waters that stretch as far as the crazed eye can capture. Full of sunshine, that one.
Night we moved here we scrawled a letter each and stuffed it into a glazed green beer bottle, throwing it out to the dazzling sea. The sun shimmered, crashing tidal waves of broken glass. Everyone and anyone who had ever hurt us was bled to black ink. Doug didn't write very much. Neil and I could hardly stuff our letters into the bottle, so fuelled by bitterness and resentment were we. Our Coldplay tickets slashed, the final throttle to the bottle. Chris Martin had let us down, it was lethal; Gwyneth Paltrow. Lethal, Neil said. Love was lethal and now our only ally would be a mere memory. Worse than the hose pipe ban, Neil said. A terminally single trio and Coldplay's rush of blood wouldn't gush, nor would it reason to rhyme. Their dispirit was drowned and doused in doubt, in lie and sin.
Johnny, there he was. Ray Bans and grey marl and Converse and God, he'd grown up. He was? 31.
'Don't hit on me. I'm having an off day,' his trademark twinkle terminated the grey haze of hell that hung over his face. She wanted to tell him it was all going to be okay, that Shea was going to wake and BOOM happy ever fucking after. But they both had been there that night. Fairytale was fanatical.
Remember the day you drove us here Johnny Rotten? Chancing a wink at me as the lights flashed from amber to emerald. Smirking at the palm trees aligning Southend's stonewall; England's paradisal wish to California. The soured summer air was raw against my face, freshly fortuitous. We walked the pier, catching glimpse gaps of the sea beneath the floor; a grey marbled mass of froth. We simmered down to drink in the sea, the boats bobbing out in the harbour, the coast being spun from grey gold to burnt orange. And for a moment, for just a moment, we were okay. If only for a moment.