Tag Archives: 1999

SHORT STORIES // A New Page Turns (2006)

New Year’s Eve 1999 was a moment in time that had assumed mythic status during the latter part of the 20th Century. Being now on the other side of it and living in a post-911 and post-Iraq War world, it almost seems like an innocent blip on history’s brief timesheet. After all, people still hadn’t even really started taking global warming that seriously then either! I guess that, like with myself, it was another New Year, another party, another moment in a lifetime of many, without many of the massive significances that it was previously endowed with.

This story was pulled and edited down from a section of a novel-in-progress. Novels can be written in a matter of months (to the experienced) or can be strung out over years and years – particularly for first time novelists. Mine falls more into the ‘years and years’ category. Sometimes, a story comes out in its own time and will not be rushed. Hopefully, this results in a better tale, but it can also be a little frustrating to have such a hefty piece of work just languishing around in one’s consciousness for so long.

The protagonist of the novel, and thus this story, is a young man named Will Evans. Perhaps an easy way out for a first time novelist, but it falls pretty squarely into the ‘semi-autobiographical’ camp, although the good thing about the ‘semi’ part is that you can play a little fast and loose with your own history. Still, this tale does follow my own New Year 1999 pretty closely.

I put the story together as a submission to caféDiverso, a multi-media travel publisher based in Barcelona, who were running a book competition called ‘Everyone Has A Good Story: Voices of the UK’. As it happened, after submitting the story I never heard back from them and have no idea whether my yarn made it into their book. Having written it however, I was determined to get it published somewhere, and got it up at a website called ‘The Deckchair‘, a site for Brighton writers. It can be seen here.

How was your 1999 > 2000 moment?

A New Page

The day that people the world over had been waiting for so long for finally came to pass. The new millennium. New Year’s Eve, 1999. The closing of an old chapter and the opening of another new one.

Was it a seismic shift in mankind’s history? Not really. It was mostly just another day.

It had been a moment in time that for many had assumed mythic status. By the year 2000, everybody would be wearing silver suits, eating food pills and living in moon colonies. Despite the promises though, by the time it came around the personal jetpacks promised for the kids of the future were still some way off. Essentially, most of the world used the passing of the new millennium as an excuse to party for a couple of days. Fireworks manufacturers the planet over rubbed their hands with glee.

When younger, Will Evans’d had grand plans and schemes for the moment. He wanted to be somewhere very cool, to be able to pass a memory and a half on to the grandchildren.

‘Where were you at the turn of the millennium, Grandpa?’

‘I was drinking tea at the Great Pyramids, my child’

He was due to turn 29 in the summer of 2000 and there were a number of personal milestones that he’d hoped to pass by then. Of course, life and fortunes are rarely as easy as that. In the end, the attainable had to be settled on and he decided to simply have a good time on the night that everyone had been waiting for. Like on so many other nights, Will was to find himself going out to a pub in Brighton with friends and getting royally pissed.

So, for him and his pals, the evening of the last day of the 20th Century began at someone’s flat. The girls were all largely decked out in something sparkly or glittering. The boys were mostly all smartly dressed too, with even some ties on show. Once everybody was inside, coats off, music on, cigarettes lit, a couple of bottles of champagne were pulled out, the corks popped and the merriment began.

Snacks, drinks, joints, jokes, laughs, a little dancing, the group of friends bonded quickly on a night such as it was and generally got themselves in the mood for what could be the party of parties in a town that was generally reputed to party hard as it was.

Once the evening had worn on a little, they decided to commence the trek into the town centre, where much of the rest of Brighton was likely to be moving and shaking their things. The streets were thronged with eager revellers, which made a brisk pace tough. Everywhere, people were drinking at bus stops, cramming into pubs, singing at the top of their voices or shouting salutations at strangers.

The journey to the centre took them past the pubs, estate agents, convenience stores and kebab houses that lined the way. Charity shops had people slumped in doorways, too wasted already to make it as far as midnight. Drivers who were still sober enough to drive were parping their horns in harmony with each other. Gaggles of young girls dressed for considerably warmer weather roamed in packs past Woolies and Argos, their glittered heels clacking in group rhythms. At Churchill Square, sullen teenagers hung around in gangs in front of the shopping centre, some mucking about with skateboards, others furtively smoking cigarettes.

They approached the Clock Tower to find a large volume of human traffic moving across their path, heading towards West Street. This townie mecca of cheap drinks, cheap pulls, dodgy music in large clubs, kebabs, student nights and fights that led straight down to the sea was the last place in town Will could see himself wanting to be that night.

They crossed the river and moved on. Halfway down North Street and Will’s crew cut a right into the bird’s nest of streets and bohemian hangouts that made up The Laines, heading for the pub where advance tickets had been bought. Almost everywhere was tickets only that night, with many venues getting away with charging astronomical entry fees.

The atmosphere and the events of the night were not that different from that of an average Saturday night. The pub was heaving and the music was very loud. Getting served at the bar required a lot of patience, often taking up to half an hour to get served. Seats and tables were largely all taken. The air was thick with smoke. But at least they’d managed to get in somewhere. The casualties of the night were piled up on the streets on their way in to town. Everybody else who couldn’t get in anywhere and were destined to wander the streets waiting for the clock to strike could be watched through windows steamed with condensation.

Eventually, the conditions in the pub wore our plucky partygoers down to the point where they decided that it was time to leave. 11.30pm had already passed, later than most British pubs were usually open. They’d had a good night and were in high spirits but it was time to take some air and join the crowds wending their way down to the beach.

It was only fitting, having been born in the town in the first place, then lived there again for the preceding eight years and mostly within spitting distance from the sea, that Will should be seeing in the new millennium on Brighton Beach. It was a stretch of land, sea and sky rich with memories and laden with symbolism for him. He’d played there as a child, getting his first taste of swimming in the ocean and taken long walks along it with his family. With friends he’d got pissed, stoned or partied there. With girlfriends he’d frolicked and kissed on the stony shoreline. It was a place too for silent contemplation and escape, a soothing environment of expansive emptiness, summer crowds aside, where a young man could sit and think to calm the raging torrents of his mind at times of trouble. And it was also where seemingly half of Brighton had chosen to spend their time waiting for midnight.

The whole seafront was shrouded in mist, a seasonal fug that could have only rolled in from the sea. The lights from the pier diffused in the haze of the night sky, offering a kaleidoscope of beautiful colours for the delectation of the inebriated crowds but making viewing of Brighton’s pending firework display a little veiled.

The moment drew closer. People shuffled around, clutching their bottles or cans, smoking cigarettes or joints, chatting with friends or neighbouring strangers, all looking at their wrists and waiting, wondering, hoping…

…10, 9, 8, 7… 10, 9, 8… 5, 4, 3… 6, 5, 4… 2, 1… 2, 1… 3, 2, 1. Pockets of cheers went up as midnight struck for some. With no Big Ben to unify the reactions it was more like a Mexican Wave than an explosion. Others joined in as more watches struck twelve. Eventually, the whole seafront gathering was united in breathing in the first gasps of fresh air of the twenty first century. The fireworks were launched from the pier with bangs and awed cries. Thousands of mobile phones went off simultaneously, each signal jostling for space amidst the crowded airwaves. Friends hugged and kissed each other, wishing a happy New Year and good luck with the next one. Strangers did too. Shouts and cheers rang out along the beach.

After about half an hour of kissing, congratulating, cheering and greeting the new dawn, and with little left to keep them on the beach, people began to drift away to the TVs they’d left behind, the beds that were waiting for them or the parties they had to join that would carry on until daylight or when the last person dropped. The trickle of departees soon became a stream, which in turn mutated into a river. Soon, a sea of people filled the streets, all trudging away from the beach and off to somewhere else.

He awoke the next day to find out that it again gone dark outside and he had slept through the first day of the new millennium. ‘Oh well’, he thought, ‘a night of such binging and frivolities needs to be followed by some serious recuperation’. He’d made it. They’d all made it. Broken on through to the other side.

He went into the kitchen and put the kettle on for his first cup of tea of the day, month, year, decade, century, millennium. Will had the flat to himself. He took his tea into the lounge. Some soft lighting and a little music were in order – it had to be The Beatles. He began to skin up.

…I read the news today, oh boy…

‘What does the future hold?’ he wondered. ‘What happens next? What happens next?’

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Filed under 2006, Fiction, Short Stories

LYRICS // New Horizon (1999)

This is another one of my favourite Zamora songs, and is quite a rock ‘n’ roll blast from start to finish. It was probably the closest we got to a ‘driving song’, as tracks like ‘Born To Be Wild‘ and ‘Crosstown Traffic‘ are often described.


The lyrics appear to be fairly negative when just read on a page, but in delivery they are full of positivity. They don’t necessarily make much sense as a simple message, like with many of my songs, but again is an example of wordplay and the juxtaposition of different images. Sometimes, words that rhyme with each other don’t sit together as natural bedfellows, but the sound they make when they are put together brings its own flow.


The title might have come first, and is a positive start. ‘…boxes that you keep your eyes in’ are contact lens cases, often hanging around the flat I lived in when the song was written and courtesy of the flatmate of the time. The ‘water rising’ is another reference to the flood I witnessed as a child that forms the backbone of the lyrics to ‘Harry J (Gunslinger)‘.


The next verse, about rocket launches, came to me in parts at the bookshop I worked in after college, and was scribbled on the back of till receipts in between serving customers, then shoved into a back pocket for safe-keeping, only to find a new life in this song (as with a number of others songs to, some of these lines previously surfaced in songs by Headland, the outfit I fronted before The Zamora).


It’s also a song for outsiders. The chorus, ‘Je suis l’etranger’, aligns itself with Camus and the existentialist anti-hero Meursault in the novel ‘The Outsider’ (aka ‘The Stranger‘, or ‘L’Etranger’ in the original French). Whilst certainly not condoning the actions of the protagonist in any way, it still empathises with the disconnection he feels from that which is going on around him. Perhaps the case with all outsiders.


The song was only recorded as a rough demo, and can be downloaded here.

Photo of Steve of The Zamora by Dan Paton.


New Horizon

If I could look over the new horizon,
And find the boxes that you keep your eyes in,
And a cheaper way of advertising,
I’d sit down here and watch the water rising.

I got invited to the launch of a rocket.
I found a flyer in my back pocket.
When I asked where the launch would be,
Got told the end of the armoury.

Ooooh, yeah!
Ooooh, yeah!

Life’s a dream that I can’t wake up from,
My sickness grows till I cannot hide it.
Life’s a dream that I can’t wake up from,
My sickness grows till I cannot hide it.

Sometimes I feel as young as a baby,
Sometimes I feel as old as the hills,
I pick myself up off the street,
And sit and peel the skin from my feet.

Why are we so cold about desire,
When we’re at the heart of the fire?
I stick around on the underside,
If I’m right or wrong I can’t decide.

Ooooh, yeah!
Ooooh, yeah!

Je suis l’etranger.
Je suis l’etranger.
Je suis l’etranger.
Je suis l’etranger.

If I could look over the new horizon,
And find the boxes that you keep your eyes in,
And a cheaper way of advertising,
I’d sit down here and watch the water rising.

Ooooh, yeah!

Ooooh, Ooooh, Ooooh, 1,2,3,4.

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Filed under 1999, Lyrics, The Zamora

LYRICS // World Under My Feet (1999)

Let’s face it, probably about 90% of songs written around the world are probably love songs of some sort or another. I’d say that those songs could then be broken down further into themes of (a) ‘I want to love you’, (b) ‘I love you’ and (c) ‘I loved you’.

For example, Eddie Cochran’s ‘Something Else‘ would be (a) , The Beatles’ ‘Don’t Let Me Down‘ would be (b) and Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive‘ would be (c) .

‘World Under My Feet’ would fall into the (a) category. It was written during one of those partnerless times, and is about the search for ‘the one’, that special somebody that we all want to find and how difficult it can be to find them. It was also an attempt to write in both the third person (for the verses) and the first person (for the chorus), unable to choose whether the song should be ‘about someone else’ or autobiographical.

Maybe it was a bit of both…

The song was recorded with The Zamora and can be downloaded here.

Photo of Pete, Dom and Justin of The Zamora by Dan Paton.


World Under My Feet

He’s been away for such a long time,
Delivering shivers down her spine.
He’s felt the world under his feet,
But without her by his side he still feels incomplete.

La la la la la la la
La la la la la la la
La la la la la la la
La

I’ll be all you want if you want me to be.
You can take your pick if you want to be me.
I’ll be all you want if you want me to be.
You can take your pick if you want to be me.

He doesn’t know where to find her,
Although he’s searched both near and far.
But he’ll have won the game and claimed his prize,
The first time that they look into each other’s eyes, now.

La la la la la la la
La la la la la la la
La la la la la la la
La

I’ll be all you want if you want me to be.
You can take your pick if you want to be me.
I’ll be all you want if you want me to be.
You can take your pick if you want to be me.

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Filed under 1999, Lyrics, The Zamora