Saturday, January 31, 2004

My oh my! Has it really been so long? How terribly remiss of me. Maybe I should configure my keyboard to call up excuses on, let me see.

F1. Retro rockets failed on re-entry.

F2. Software infected by Bkdr.Laphroaig.exe virus.

F3. Anyone got 50 forints for the meter?

F4. Wastelladagain.

F5. Abducted by aliens.

F6. Got blog on.

F7. Downloading pornography. Normal service will be resumed when feeling returns to at least one hand.

F8. Can't be arsed. Bog off!

F9. Farted too close to pilot light. Am currently at an altitude of 30,000 feet somewhere over Pasadena.

F10. Overdosed on csereznye paprika. Am busy disengaging 30 feet of lower intestine from out the U-bend.

All highly plausible of course but more than a few astronomical units distant from the truth of the matter which, as ever, turns out to be much more prosaic.

Would that but I could put my finger on it, nail it down, define it, discern its nub, core or kernel and lay it before you in its purest, undiluted form. I can feel that gland kicking in the deep, dark stillness of the night when all those unanswerable questions are posed like, "Why do men have nipples?" and "Why is there always more shaving foam than I actually require left on my hand prior to shaving?" and not forgetting the classic "Why have the Blades fucked it up again?", there comes the irrefutable answer, "Bugadifino!"

I suppose it's a combination of factors really.

1. The availability to myself over the last 2 weeks of anything which might even remotely be described as leisure time has been of a quantity akin to that of brain cells at a Bush fundraiser. Negligible at best. Nugatory in the worst possible light.

2. The fact that Jess has, extremely selfishly in my opinion, buggered off to Niue and thus failed to provide me with even a word of the day for inspiration. (Just checked e-mail...welcome back, my pedocentric little playmate, you!).

3. The fear that my writing might just have caught up with my present. That I may have exhausted my store of worthwhile material.

4. Marking examination papers and consequently being exposed to so much Hunglish has resulted in several short circuits in those parts of my cerebellum responsible for the production of intelligible English.

So, whither do I proceed? Well, I could start by providing my muse with the sustenance of a sausage sandwich (English mustard, seeing as you ask) and reflecting upon such input as I have received during my brief forays into the world of cyberspace over the past couple of weeks.

Firstly, I would like to put the six dwarfs' minds at rest regarding Fred Frith. "Burning guitar solos mean nothing." was a quote from the man himself, reproduced as a headline in the NME and cut out and pasted on his bedroom wall by our friend Stephen Feather.

It's difficult for me to talk about Steve. I knew him. Since we were about 12. If you were to push me, and I can feel your pressure, I would have to admit that there was no more formative influence on my teenage years. It was he who introduced me to Radio Luxembourg, it was with him that I would compile my own charts and compare them to those of Lux on the day of release. It was with him that my awareness was politicised, walking down High Storrs Road with him chanting "Heath out!!" when we were about 14. It was he who changed my life forever by playing me The Mahavishnu Orchestra's 'Inner Mounting Flame' at about the same time. Bye bye Prog Rock! Hello world! It was he whose hesitancy in matters sexual led to my stealing his girlfriend and losing my virginity. He who introduced me to the delights of marijuana, he who enlightened me as to the psychotropic qualities of Potter's asthma cigarettes when consumed in tea form, he who stopped me from committing arson when, under the influence of said tea, I was cooking 'mushrimps' in an empty pan on a lit stove in a cottage in Tetford, he who sat on the steps of my parents' house bemoaning his luck with the ladies and being overheard by my neighbours eavesdropping from their bedroom window (the swine!). It was with him that I spent summer solstice at Arbor Low, a stone circle in Derbyshire, and I remember sitting absolutely transfixed by the fire as he played guitar at absolute minimum of notes and yet capturing the mood to such a nicety of perfection it was almost painful. It was Steve who accompanied me on an illegal expedition to Amsterdam involving 48 grammes and a tube of toothpaste, he who went cold turkey in my living room, entrusting me with his well being for as long as it took.

Steve had a boldness that I lacked. A boldness that spilled over into recklessness. I don't really know what happened, what trigger led him to go ever further into exploring those areas that something inside me held me back from but there was a strong compulsion in Steve...a willful running away from his music, his relationships and in his choice of drugs and their recommended maximum dosage he would always push at the very limits. And yet a more normal, self effacing, gentle guy I have yet to meet. Rest in peace, Steve. I hope you found what it was you were looking for.

Suddenly, anything else I might have had to say seems rather pointless. I'm sure you will forgive an old man his tears.

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