James Holden: Shiny Happy Person

I hear the song all the time. It’s there when I turn on the radio in the morning, Simon Mayo cheerfully introducing it on Radio One. I turn over to Capital to avoid it, but they’re playing it as well. It’s part of the background noise of the day, on the radio in the café where I go to get lunch, on the pub jukebox after work. It’s on Top Of The Pops, The Chart Show. It’s everywhere.

I don’t think that I’ve ever been subjected to a song so often that is a complete mismatch for my mood. Maybe that’s why I’ve noticed it so much in the five weeks since she left. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent so much time alone in the flat, which now feels too big for just me. She packed her bags and walked out leaving gaps on the walls and in my heart. We’d only signed the lease a year earlier.

I watched from the second floor window as she walked out onto Muswell Hill Broadway to the bus stop, waiting for the bus that would take her to Wood Green. Maybe the song was playing on the radio, maybe it was something else similarly upbeat –James or Chesney Hawkes or The Pet Shop Boys. But this is the song I’m stuck with in my head all the time. Her plan was to get to Turnpike Lane, and then take the tube three stops to Arsenal, so she could move back in with her sister. I assume she made it – I haven’t heard from her.

I’ve heard the song so much that I’ve learnt both of the parts . If anything happened to Michael Stipe I could quite happily stand in at a concert. Or I could don a bee hive wig and take the place of the woman from the B52’s if I had to. Hell, the guitarist could fall off the stage and I could stand there doing the riff for him, “durdle-er der-duh, der duh der duh de-der duh”.

It feels inappropriate. I should be wallowing in My Bloody Valentine, or Nirvana, or Shinyborrowing my Dad’s Leonard Cohen albums. But instead I’m plagued by this frickin’ song . Despite being so unbelievably upbeat and cheerful, it doesn’t make me feel any better. If I’m shiny, it’s from the tear tracks on my face. I’m definitely not happy.

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About James Holden

Brought up in Yorkshire, James has washed up on the shores of London. He spends his days working as a political geek. His short stories have previously been read by the Liars League.
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