Thursday, 25 November 2010

The Boy with the Marling Tattoo: Regrets? I've Had A Few...

This week I saw Local Natives play their last show of the year at the Forum. I'll be posting my review of that shortly, but first I'm gonna mention a slightly odd encounter we had on the way home.

I was just saying goodbye to my friend, and as usual we were dawdling near some Tube escalators and getting into a rant, this time about the X-Factor charity single. You'd be surprised how often I get into rants deep in the Underground. Anyway, we were commenting on the Help For Heroes charity when a youngish dude started to interrupt. Usually in this situation it means I have riled or offended a passer-by with my ker-azy pinko politics and am about to get told off for expressing my opinion in the airspace of someone who holds a different one.

But this time it's just a guy, about my age, on his way back from a gig. He asks us if we know who Laura Marling is, and we say we do, and he says we look like we would (I don't know what that means). He'd been to see her that night, on his own, and had been standing right in front of the stage and had lifted his leg up there to reveal to Laura Marling a tattoo, from his ankle to halfway up his calf.

It said Laura Marling. In child-like handwriting, large, with two child-like flowers at each end.

It was not the best tattoo I'd ever seen.

The woman herself saw it and proclaimed him to be "the most chronically weird" fan ever, to which he replied that he was drunk when he got it done. So she told him he was "the coolest" fan ever. Respect to her for acknowledging him. It must be really, really odd when people you've never met ink your name on their body permanently.

So he tells us all this and explains that when he got the tattoo it had been a toss-up between Laura Marling or The Courteneers. "You probably did alright there," I tell him.

"Do you like Laura Marling?" he asks.

"Not especially. She's alright. Not really my kind of music."

"Do you like The Courteneers?"

"Um, no."

"Oh, why not? They're brilliant. Which album do you prefer? [Words to this effect. He natters on about the progression between the first and second albums, to which we can only offer two baffled but amiable expressions] I reckon Liam Fray is one of the best lyric writers there is."

"Really?"

"Don't you think so? Oh come on, he's amazing [more words to this effect]. Well, who do you rate for lyrics then?"

Obviously we go a bit blank at this. Sam chooses wisely, someone who this guy will obviously know.

"Morrissey?"

The dude is in general agreement but still rates Liam Fray up there with Moz. At this point I feel like there is not a lot I can add to the debate. He's incredibly friendly and obviously a very nice lad, if disconcertingly impulsive. He goes for the inevitable high-five and wishes us all the best, disappearing towards the Victoria line.

I can't imagine Laura Marling's fans are usually the type who'd get band tattoos done, so in a way the whole story pleases me. The sixth-form scarf-wearers were probably contorting their eyebrows at each other in that way that becomes really irritating on the other side of 18.

And it reminds me of a time that now seems almost like some other person's life, when I was barely even a teenager and plotting, with my next-door neighbour, our first tattoo - an occupation that has remained a staple, though I've never yet committed.

Which is a relief.



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