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Reel Around the Fountain


One of my pivotal reference points of the 1980s is The Smiths' song Reel Around the Fountain. That's what was playing in the car when we crashed on the M62 near Burtonwood services. We were on our way home from the 1984 League Cup Final replay at Maine Road, Manchester. Even now, I can't have a car crash without thinking about that song.

We'd beaten Everton 1:0. Graeme Souness scored. We were stranded on the motorway and got a lift home from Eddie, my mate Ken's mother's boyfriend. He was a Bluenose and gutted about the match yet Ken phoned him up and told him what had happened. Eddie drove back out just to pick us up. Us, a bunch of gobby Red Shite, the last thing he probably wanted to see in the entire whole world. Served him right. Even now I can't see Graeme Souness without thinking of Eddie.

I'd damaged my glasses in the crash. They'd flown off my head in the impact, just at the point where Morrisey witters on about falling out of bed twice. Ironic? No, not really, just the random machinations of planet earth. Shit happens, but thankfully there's usually someone worse off. I needed new specs anyway and that's me all over. Some of us are glass half full people. And some of you aren't. I saw it as an opportunity. Still, even now I can't fall out of bed without thinking about those specs.

I tried to pull a guy out of the wreckage. He was one of those worse off people I was on about. He was caked in blood. He may have been dying. He asked me to leave him because the pulling hurt too much. I think he had to be cut out of his wreckage. Give him his due, he was laughing about writing off the missus's car. You see he was a Red and she was a Blue. A mixed marriage then. She was going to be livid. She'd say he'd wrecked her car and died on purpose. Even now I can't think about dying without thinking about not being able to not die.

I don't know for certain but I suspect Morrisey was oblivious. And sure as Hell he'd bank a royalty cheque one day that would include the tiny fee he'd get from Radio City for that particular play. And not just Morrisey in fairness. The rest of the Smiths were all in this too. I don't imagine they gave even a single thought for poor Eddie's plight that night. But in fairness, are Morrisey, Johnny Marr and the other ones, actually footy fans? Even now I can't bank royalty cheques without remaining callously oblivious too.

They built a whole Ikea superstore at the very spot where we crashed. I went back once and there was no plaque, no acknowledgement. It's as if Reel Around the Fountain had never been written. Perhaps if we'd crashed to William It Was Really Nothing things'd have been different? In an attempt to forget I took to wearing contact lenses.It didn't work. Every time I put them in I thought of my old glasses.

But I left the M62 behind. Life does move on eventually. I moved to Scotland and began crashing on the M8, just by those big gas towers. 'Glasgow's Miles Better' a sign there said. No it wasn't. I crashed twice in two days in the exact same place. In the same bleeding lane. In fairness to him Graeme Souness had no hand in either incident and I was thankfully able to console my new glasses (I'd taken to not wearing the contact lenses on Tuesdays and Wednesdays – the days of the crash) with the information that I'd had glasses that had suffered far more in terms of severe car crash injuries. Even now I can't turn the gas on without thinking about Graeme Souness.

I still wear glasses but I've given up listening to The Smiths. I haven't seen Eddie or Graeme Souness for years. I gave up on Glasgow too. It was miles better as it happened but I wasn't to know that at the time was I? It's water under the bridge now though. I can't see water under a bridge without thinking about other places being miles better.

And do you know what the odd thing is? If I Google Graeme Souness I get 628,000 hits but if I Google Eddie I get 248,000,000. I may of course be spelling Eddie's name wrong and maybe it's Eddy. I haven't tried Googling Eddy. Googling The Smiths would be complicated because of all the people in the world called Morrisey. Even now I can't spell things wrong without thinking about Google.

Reel Around the Fountain: It's a funny title to crash your car to. And I should know. Or rather my brother should, it was his car. And he crashed it. If ever we play Everton in a League Cup final replay again it'll throw up old memories, rip open the scars. I don't know if either my brother or my current glasses are up to it to be honest. These days me and my glasses listen to Extremaduro and watch Youtube to see fourteen year old girls auditioning for X-Factor. They never sing about fountains, none of them. You'd think Ikea had never been invented. Even now I can't invent things without thinking about Simon Cowell.


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