Trance state

by Jenny

She didn’t get it. Ashley knew who Morcambe and Wise were, of course. Her Nana had loved them and she had found them amusing too in a gentle sort of way. They had watched the reruns together, when televisions and VCRs were still a thing.

Why she had seen this episode more than four times was beyond her. The sixteen year old carers pulled up random programmes - anything tagged with ‘golden era’ would do - and left the residents to it, while they went back to whatever it was they did off duty.

That afternoon Ashely was helped from her chair and ushered into the dining room for coffee and biscuits with the other residents. She stared down at her hands, clutching her aluminium frame, clawed with age, riddled with liver spots.

She remembered those same hands dancing, weaving, flashing, lithe in the darkness, like delicate white birds loosed in the sweaty, crowded tent. The strobe lights flashed hypnotically to the beat, the rubber stamp of an angry bird smeared across her wrist.

The Ecstacy from the boy in the white Adidas zip-up jacket coursed through her blood, as, nearby, a stranger danced and sweated and chewed his face, right along with her. They shared a smile that seemed to carry worlds within it.

She remembered the sun coming up and the way the music still simmered in her veins, long after the DJ had packed up and gone home; hot tea on cold mornings, the sunrise over dew covered mountains.

The smell of grass and canvas and sweat. Fag smoke and chewing gum. That feeling that everything was exactly as it should be, because they all had each other, here, in this perfect moment that would stretch all the way to tomorrow’s come-down.

Then she remembered Brit Pop and Girl Power; Brexit, terrorism, running parallel with Instagram and smartphones. All gone, decades ago. All a thing of the past. Like her.

These days she wasn’t sure what it was young people were crazy about. These days Glen Miller drifted gently out from the PA and all the pictures on the walls were of Vera Lynn and long-dead comedians she had never heard of..

She had asked one of them once. One of the carers, Shanaya, who told her it was to remind them of when they were young.

“But when I was young I went to raves and listened to trance music. I liked festivals and films and backpacking. I never knew who Glen Miller was until I came here. I liked Judge Jules and Absolutely Fabulous.”

But Shanaya’s eyes had glazed over.

“Aw that’s nice. Did you ever learn how to do the jitterbug to the trance music? Was your husband in the army?”

“What? No! I didn’t have a husband!”

“Oh that was brave for them days. We learned about it at school. Was you one of them ‘unmarried mothers’?”

When Ashley didn’t answer, Shayana led her gently over to the biscuits. The music changed Male Voice Choir hits from the Welsh Valleys and Ashley tried to understand why she was supposed to like it.