I Went To Watch Vanilla Ice In A Homemade T-Shirt

It's 1990 and one song has ripped up the charts and reverberated around the UK's classrooms. Give me a pen, a T-shirt and a false sense of grandeur and you've got a recipe for extreme idiocy...
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It's 1990 and one song has ripped up the charts and reverberated around the UK's classrooms. Give me a pen, a T-shirt and a false sense of grandeur and you've got a recipe for extreme idiocy...

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I clearly remember the moment we decided to go to the concert. It was me and Al, my American-English mate whose Dad was nearly an LA Dodger and who had moved back to England so his Mum could die near her family. Anyway, we were walking down to the school playing fields to play rugby. Amongst the corn beef legs, the sneaky Marlboros, the fart jokes and the casual bullying, we were all singing one song in unison. We were 11. It was Ice Ice Baby. We all stopped, collaborated and listened.

In the years that ensued Al and I went to loads of concerts. The Pogues, Ash, The Almighty, Manics, Oasis, whatever. But the first one was Vanilla Ice. And I made my own T-Shirt.

I can still feel the excitement if I close my eyes for long enough. Even my Dad, bless him, got involved. He’d seen some Saturday morning kids show and told me who the support band were. Looking back he was just glad he was driving me to a gig when I was 11, he didn’t care who it was because from experience he realised I’d soon be swapping manufactured pop for a deal with the devil and rock n’ roll.

Al and I were heroes to the rest of the year. We were going to a concert. A combination of his Dad fucking off on holiday and leaving him in charge of a house, and me having a Dad who was prepared to buy us the tickets and drive was all it needed. We walked tall that day, giants in the corridor, kings in the classroom.

Running home after school I decided that if I was going I was doing it properly, so after bundling through the door and chucking my Head bag at the cat, I took a white Fruit of the Loom T-shirt from the laundry up to my room and got to work.

I started by ripping the sleeves off. Vanilla didn’t wear sleeves, so why should I? After discarding said sleeves out of bedroom window so my Mum didn’t find them, I flattened the T-shirt out with random things on each corner, a chair, my bin, an alarm clock and my tape deck if my memory serves me correctly.

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I started by drawing a massive iceberg on the front with the tips raising into a V and an I. Proud of my work, I turned over for the piece de resistance.

Even now, when I make one of my rare trips back home I only have to be in the company of one of a handful of my oldest friends for 10 minutes before the T-Shirt gets a mention. 23 years later and people still cackle, but at the time it only helped to secure my status as the first kid in our year to go to a concert without a parent stood next to them all night.

I remember holding the nib of the pen to the cloth for at least a minute. As the ink began to form a large black blob, it came to me and I began to write.

Using the same jagged style as the front of the T-Shirt, I wrote ‘THE ICE-AGE COMETH’ in the biggest letters I could. Fuck me I thought I was clever. In fact, if I’d had a minute to think I’d have probably left the T-Shirt behind, but my Dad rocked up and, after applying a liberal amount of 39p gel to my hair, I bounced down the stairs into his car and off to Birmingham.

The gig itself was, of course, shite. Ice only had one song and he played it seven times. It took me until the fifth time to take off my jacket to reveal the T-Shirt. I don’t remember it, but I’m sure people laughed. But what did I care. I was 11 years old, at a concert, in a homemade T-Shirt. I was king of the world.