On Saturday mornings we coveted satin flares and smock tops in Chelsea Girl; twirling feather boas until neon-bright plumes spiralled to the floor; testing plum-pout lipsticks on puckered lips. We’d claim a window seat at the Wimpy Bar and order milky coffees served in smoked glass beakers; then bitch about the girl with the Linda McCartney hair, and wave at the glam-rock boys in their platform boots from Daisy Roots.
But in the afternoons we were the band: we became Voodoo Velvet. Words encircled our world, chewing biro ends as we wrote our songs, scattering loose-leaf lyrics across your bed. We doodled stars in the margins, hearts and arrows, flowers strewing petals – he loves me, he loves me not.
We made drums from dented Quality Street tins; the drumsticks fashioned from pencils tipped with plasticine. I play-play-played those battered drums until I was giddy, and you strummed an old guitar rescued from the skip; that wreck-necked guitar with only five strings.
You taped it all on your dad’s reel-to-reel; my unsure voice, the dum-dum-thrum of the plasticine, our hesitant laughter and the slip-slide-scratch of the steel strings. We borrowed your brother’s singles and played obscure B-sides turned down low, writing new words to the old tunes; singing our cosmic lyrics over sixties beats. And then we’d dance to the radio, snake-hipped and slender-wristed, until we were as dizzy as spun candy floss.
We’d stretch out on the rug with bottles of Coke and your mum's ham sandwiches; your Bolan hair a crazy tangle and my pale-sky jeans embroidered with palm trees and flowers.
Then one Sunday morning your brother found the Lou Reed LP we’d scratched, and he took the guitar and smashed it in half. I could hear tears in your voice when you told me, and I bit my lip until I drew blood. But your tears weren’t for the guitar. He’d taken the reels too, twisting and stretching the tapes until they were all destroyed. You were breathless with the pain of it; I could hear it in your throat.
We still wrote our songs after that, but we never sang or played again, and our doodled hearts were wrapped in barbed wire. The Linda McCartney girl started coming into town with us, but you didn’t tell her about the band, and we stopped going back to your house. We spent Saturday afternoons wandering along the seafront and following the Bowie-boys around the arcades. When my dad got transferred to York we wrote for a while, but I never saw you again.
Years later I’d tell people I used to be in a rock group; that we wore velvet flares and glitter on our cheekbones.
‘Yeah, of course we wrote our own songs,’ I’d say. ‘Band members? Just the two of us: me and Chrissie. We could have really gone places, you know. We were giddy with it.’