When I was young I used to like nothing more than getting into the moshpit, bouncing up and down and getting generally knocked about by a usually genial group of fellow fans who were up for the same experience. As time passed the amount of time spent in there grew less and less. My musical tastes broadened to encompass styles of music that did not lend itself to such antics, while my waist also broadened and made such physical exertion something that was difficult and challenging.
I put both of these things down to the passage of time, that I was maturing like a fine wine, whisky or cheese. Being unfit and overweight had become a way of life: the love of beer, wine, whisky and cheese being, amongst others, contributing factors to that increasingly sedentary state.
Around three years ago I decided to do something about it realising that if I wanted to maximise the likelihood of seeing my young family grow up I needed to become someone who did not accept that being nearly 23 stone (320 lbs/ 143 kg) was normal, and needed to do something about it.
I managed to lose 7 stones (43 kg) in the intervening time but something happened this week, however, that made me realise just how far I had come in that time and why I must never go back to how I was.
This week I have been to see one of my favourite bands, Killing Joke, on two separate occasions in Manchester and Leeds and at both gigs I found myself, once again, in the moshpit. The previous time I had seen them was in March 2013 at a festival where they played a relatively short set, and I also found myself in the melee at the front.
The difference was stark. In 2013, still very overweight and unfit, I remember feeling horribly out of breath and massively sweaty after only one song. Fast forward to 2015 and I made it through a 90 minute set of constant dancing and buffeting twice in a week. Yes I was tired and sweaty at the end, but at no point did I feel out of breath. I felt hugely vindicated for the changes that I have made to my lifestyle over the last couple of years, and seeing Killing Joke again provided me with the benchmark that I needed to cement my sense of achievement at a time when I was just starting to backslide on those changes.
There are, of course, questions about whether a 51 year old man should still be getting himself in the moshpit? But you know I had so much fun and connected so much with my younger self in a way that was genuinely surprising. This was not out of a nostalgic longing for the person I used to be, but a celebration of the person I am now.
Thank you Killing Joke!