One night, a very long time ago, I was a security guard at a Billy Bragg concert. It was the only time I have ever been a security guard at any concert or any other thing for that matter. It must have been sometime in 1991 or 1992. There was a war on. I was living in Totnes at the time. I was a student. Totnes is full of hippies. Hippies hate war so they had a anti-war concert and invited Billy Bragg who surprising said yes. For some reason I ended up on the door doing something called “security”. Now because I was even thiner back then it was decided that somebody needed to help me secure the door so they asked a gentleman named Robert (name has been changed) to stand next to me and secure everything.
Robert was a massive man. Huge. Robert was big, hairy and very scary indeed. I knew him because he would sing songs about ghosts, loves lost and wolves at the local folk music evening and he’d bang a bloody big drum whilst doing so. Huge man. Massive. He was also one of the sweetest men I’ve ever met; gentle, caring and wonderfully intelligent. And Massive. Jesus, Robert was big.
So it was me and Robert on the door, hippies in the town hall and Billy Bragg on stage. If you’ve never seen Billy live then you should. I asked Robert if he’d be alright on his own as I wanted to go and have a quick listen. When I came back ten minutes later, the police were there and Robert was sweating and someone had a bloodied nose. Something had happened. The audience were telling Billy Bragg off for being too “anti-Sadam” and Robert had lost it with a hippy.
We’ve all moved on since then. Totnes doesn’t have a college anymore but they have a new supermarket. I don’t do security and that war ended, leading the way to new and improved wars. Billy has a beard. And Robert? Well, Robert became a woman.
I’m standing in room with about 150 other people. I know most of them. I don’t really need to to read the names on the name tags, as I’ve met most of them before. At the same event but on a different first Tuesday of the month. The name tags have little coloured dots on them: red dots mean that the person is an investor, green dots means that the person works for something called a start-up and yellow dots means that the person works for an agency or is some kind of consultant. Both yellow and green dots are on the look out for money. I’m wearing both.
The room we’re standing in is something called a “lab”. Or an incubator or something. It’s situated in the grimmer part of Frankfurt but the city seems to be pumping cash into this particular street, a street which a slightly over zealous PR “expert” has called “Silicon Alley”. This particular “lab” is home to three or four start-ups and their mentor, a gentleman named “Frank”, is skipping around from person to person, doing something which has come to be known as “doing what Frank does”. Nobody seems to know what that actually is, least of all the people employing Frank.
The version of me standing in this room has hair, is much younger and is insanely arrogant. This version of me has no idea that the bubble is about to burst, that within the next 12 months all this will be gone, that Frank will be selling tickets to pink slip parties and that most of the people in this room will end up with a well paid job in some business consultancy somewhere. This version of me doesn’t know that he is about to become very ill and has already created irreparable cracks in the foundation of his marriage.
I finish my beer, leave the building and cycle home.
That was all 14 years ago. I’d forgotten about most of it. A couple of weeks ago someone asked me to put together a list of 5 books that were really important to me, which I did, and then Sascha had a diva moment because I’d not included any of his books (he’s written some). So I bought one. On Amazon. The novel. His first one. It was odd reading something written by someone you kind of know. I was worried that it might be a tiny bit shit. It wasn’t. It is actually brilliant. It includes marbles, putting shiny conkers in your mouth and a piglet. It is also about the Internet and the start-up bubble. The first one. I find it truly startling how accurate the book is and how close it was to my experience of this time in Germany. It also made me look at the old version of myself (the one with hair) and who I am today and I’m pleased with how the middle aged version how turned out – regardless (or maybe because) of the hiccups along the way. I’m still arrogant, I’ve just lost the insanity (and the hair).
Sascha, thanks for writing the book, it’s smashing. Everybody else should buy it.
There’s this really creepy advert for Milka Easter bunnies running here in Germany. Everyone who appears in it is turns into some kind of strange Milka Easter bunny monster thing. It’s really quite frightening.
I changed my profile image on Facebook yesterday, adding some Milka bunny teeth and an old friend pointed out that it looked like Frank from Donnie Darko. Milka Bunnies meets Donnie Darko? All right then.
Happy Easter. Etc.
This is Magic Max. I hate Magic Max. I hate Max with all of my body and all of my soul. I see him every night behaving like a massive anus; just look at him pretending to have super powers. I should hate his wife too but I bet she’s just given up on him. I bet she simply doesn’t have the strength anymore, the poor love. I mean, imagine going to a dinner party or to the cinema with this idiot. It must be hell. And that neatly trimmed beard. Seriously. And the shirt tucked into his trousers. Jesus.
I’m not a violent man but I’d hit him if I ever met him. I swear to the non existant man in the sky that I’d beat him about the head with a big stick and his wife and son would cheer me on and the people of Germany would want a live stream and probably do some kind of public viewing.
That’s right, there would be a massive public viewing in Berlin with millions of people watching me beat the living bloody daylight out of Magic Bloody Max. I’d beat him and his wife would scream “you’re not so bloody magic now are you?” and the millions watching in Berlin would go crazy and then Katniss Everdeen would turn up and start shooting Max with arrows and Jigsaw would do something nasty to Max with, well, a Jigsaw. And just when Max thinks it can’t get any worse Patrick Bateman turns up and starts singing “It’s hip to be square”. The crowd are going crazy in Berlin, RTL are covering this now too (they’re using the Inception sound track, obviously) and ProSieben have started a phone in quiz: Who is Marcus beating about the head with a big stick? a) Magic Max or b) a bag of socks (calls cost 49 cents a minute). There’s a shitstorm on Facebook, there’s a hashtag on Twitter and days later the Süddeutsche Zeitung cover it. I’ll be in the Gala by Easter.
I hate Magic Max.
This is an advert for insurance. Good evening.
So, yesterday evening I decided to work on a hangover for today. I was aiming for all of the benefits but sadly have managed none. I was so hoping to give you all a behind the scenes look at hangover management (the soups, the energy drinks and much, much more) but, alas, I have a clear head and a stable stomach.
Sorry about that.