I’ve always just known that me and Neil are on the same page. He’s my brother but he’s more like a twin. We talk about when we were younger, we talk about big issues, about our ideas, we drink and do centurion, we watch sitcoms. We coexist. When we were teenagers we both had a paper round on parallel streets. Neil had recently taken it upon himself to spray paint encouraging phrases, ideas and mantras onto prominent walls in our town. Our town needs a little waking up you see. They need to burst the bubble they’re so fondly stuck in. He sought to it. ‘Carpe diem’ and ‘be your own hero’ started appearing in our neighbourhood. He showed me one on our way to the paper shop one day. Carpe diem. We’d learnt that from Robin Williams. If you don’t know the movie you should. I try to live my life by that. Who wouldn’t? Well, these well wishing phrases were soon painted over. I told you about the people in our hometown, right? They just don’t get it. So stuck in their privilege yet blind to it. What was so offensive about these phrases? There wasn’t even any swear words. Well that wasn’t going to stop Neil. He soon replaced them with things like ‘make love not war’, ‘free your mind’’. A fucking lyrical Banksy. But how does all this link to the origin story? Relax, I’m getting there. Simple. He spray painted these words on a fence near our house. The fence was on my paper round route. I wanted a tattoo. I asked him what that meant to him and he said ‘if you ever stop pursuing extreme emotion you may as well fester and die’. And then I knew. For an English student and book lover, I am a horrendously unreliable quoter but I’ve never forgotten that one. I like to think he put it there for me. I had to cycle that way every morning. Everyday it reminded me to better my life. To never settle and to stay authentic, to keep my integrity. Years later it’s one of my favourite tattoos because I got it for him, because I respect what he says and because no one ever understands the tattoo just like no one fully understands us.
Barney Rubble – The Twang