It is 1989 and I am at school. Our French teacher – a real French Mademoiselle, with all that entails (worshipped resentfully by the boys, loathed by the girls) – requires us to say, en français, the name of our favourite act from the world of le musique pop.
So far every single member of the class has repeated the same phrase : “J’aime INXS.” I have watched them all say it, one by one, with growing disbelief. They cannot all ‘aime’ INXS, surely? What I am witnessing, I begin to realise, is the true ovine cowardice of modishness. I will come swiftly to despise it. Later, I will also come to despise kneejerk anti-modishness – i.e. the rejection of cultural items simply because they happen to be a la mode - which is itself a pose and a form of modishness.
When Mlle points to me, I declare that J’aime Bruce Springsteen. This is the simple truth, yet it is greeted with cruel sniggers from the INXS ‘fans’. I am not humiliated. From that moment, I swore loyalty to The Boss, by which I mean, I swore loyalty to myself. Ayn Rand would have been proud. Now I am a Daddy and I don’t need to be cool and my daughter sings “Woah woah woah woah Badlands!” from her car seat. I turn approvingly. “Let’s go,” I say, as I join the main road. “It’s a town full of losers and we’re pulling out of here to win….”