Long before I was fat and vegan (gay always), I spent a lot of time in a seaside town that Australia forgot to close down. My friends and I constantly lived on the verge of adventure and despair as we dodged the equally-dangerous obstacles of local thugs and mediocrity. The main attractions were an almost-dilapidated pier, a skate park and many drive through liquor stores that asked very few questions of disengaged teenagers with a few dollars to spend. We would walk through the idling cars filled with older-than-us locals buying cartons of ice cold beer before boldly placing our orders for the cheapest drinks in the store.
My friends and I were considered outcasts in the town and didn’t really go out of our way to discourage that notion. Countless nights were spent on the run from angry young men in pumped up cars. Startled by a homophobic slur or a verbal threat of violence, our group of queer misfits would hold tight to our cheap drinks as we took flight through the nearest park or known-only-to-us shortcut.
These tumultuous years were both terrifying and liberating. Our fashions were inspired by the likes of Grace Jones, Bananarama, Madonna, Prince, Morrissey, Dead or Alive and The Cure. I would cobble together an original outfit with pieces lifted from local charity stores before heading to my local drink shop to pick up supplies for a house party I was probably not invited to (and more than likely chased out of).
Years passing and advancing age will never take away those memories. As if it was yesterday, I can picture the garish label of our favourite tipple called Passion Pop. The price was ridiculously low and I recall it remained below one dollar for most of my formative years. The green bottle housed a sparkling wine drink that managed the rare task of being silultaneously delightful and disgusting. If we found ourselves with an unexpected cash windfall, the misfit who looked the most-progressed in age was sent to buy a carton.
So much time has passed and Passion Pop is now located on the other side of the world as I reside in the UK. I have often longed for its repugnant and tantalising flavours and sickly-sweet aftertaste. I don’t enter an off-license without scanning the inexpensive sparklings for a vegan symbol. This was always in vain. Until now.
UK retail behemoth Marks & Spencer have pulled out all the stops in order to send me spiraling back in time to those crazy days. A new range of inexpensive, wine-based sparkling bottles caught my eye during a recent shopping trip. These glass-encased cocktails are eerily reminiscent of my halcyon Passion Pop days and nights. I snapped up the Cosmo Fizz and the Strawberry Bellini. The two vegan bottles set me back a measly £7 thanks to a current promotion.
Sickly-sweet, refreshing and familiar. They make me wanna throw on the Some Kind of Wonderful soundtrack, grab my liquid eyeliner and head for the nearest skate park. Thank you M&S. Who says you can never go home again?