The Spider

I remember as if it were yesterday, the thick legs creeping slowly around the side of the cobwebbed decorated bag with all the inevitability of death itself.  I howled, even as I jerked the bag onto the surface of the bed and I could see for the first time that this large spider was aged, weary of life.

It had none of the vitality of its younger form; it didn’t embody the free spirit of jazz scuttling here and there, enticed by the possibility of finding a mate.  It was stately, as if to query who would dare to wake it from its slumber in the bag I had so little used and within which it had made its final home.

I crushed it quickly and fully, the circular body being beaten flat with the legs retracting close to its lifeless form.  I covered the body with a cup, afraid to see the results of my own actions.

In my dreams it haunts me still.

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Surrounded by the Seas

‘They had plenty of talent and some success, but this was England after all, where no one – least of all a good painter – was really rewarded or punished; in England, whatever your profession, you made your own life.’

 Paul Theroux in The Kingdom by the Sea (1983).

~

I’m currently reading one of Theroux’s travel books that I have not read before, a now rare occurrence.  I’m a big fan of travel literature, especially of Theroux’s (why yes, I have read his latest on the American South).  Partly I think because it means I can travel in my mind when my body cannot.  Reading does this to a person though, regardless of circumstance.  It lifts you above what you know and what you think you know, it forces you to don someone else’s view point to discover the world, and the people in it, anew.

I haven’t swam in the sea this year and I haven’t swam in fresh water either.  This saddens me as long term readers of this site may remember that I love swimming; I love the feel of the body gliding through the blue, the grey, the swirling torrents of frothing waves.  I miss the sun above my head, the all too often grey clouds amassing in the distance as my arms brush against seaweed, a mini chloroform power station floating in the middle of the brine.  I miss the shouts and the giggles as the bracing waves slap against puckered skin in early autumn, of two brave and lost souls powering through content in a cold embrace.

The sea, the sea, my soul cries for its limitless horizons and its unknowable depths.

The Mirror Is Gonna Steal Your Soul

It was late at night and I was driving home from work, driving smoothly over the flyover that was lit up like a tarmaced roller coaster in the dark.  The road was clear and empty, the air was cold, and the stars shone brightly above.  In short, it was beautiful.  For the first time since I had started driving I understood what the freedom of the road meant.  It was just me and the machine, cocooned in a nest of startling music.  I was listening to Sonic Youth’s 1995 album Washing Machine and I had the last song on the album playing on the CD player, a 19 minute magnum opus titled The Diamond Sea.  It was getting deeper and deeper into the trance like guitar work of Lee, Kim and Thurston, where I could hear the undercurrents of the bass notes, the swirling effects of the chorus shimmer, and the delay of the treble notes slowly build and build.  The feedback mounted and at times almost over-powered the car itself.  I was lost in a revere of beauty that these musicians has sucked me into.

Then suddenly, and without warning, those few lead guitar notes hit, penetrating the noise jam and instantly heralding a new direction in the song.  It almost knocked me sideways in my seat.  The guitar scratching started in earnest, and the incessant dissonant roar of the feedback curled in and over itself.  It was beautiful.  A wake up call.

Recently I’ve been re-reading chapters of Michael Azerrad‘s Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991, a delightful and eye-opening book documenting and discussing the impact of the underground scene in America, which has lead me to re-discover some of my favourite bands and helped uncover new ones mentioned only briefly in passing in the body of the text itself (such as Glenn Branca).  I also recently ordered a copy of Azerrad’s 1993 book ‘Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana‘, and I am currently holding a copy of Kim Gordon’s recently released autobiography, ‘Girl In A Band‘.  Suffice to say I am looking forward to rediscovering both of those bands, their influences and their backgrounds.  In short I am looking forward to learning something deeper about both the music and the musicians behind the music.

If you need me I’ll be found curled up on the bed listening to, and reading about, some of the most important bands to me.

Spring Hill

I could see Jackie crying at the edge of the road as I was carted into the back of the ambulance.  I was annoyed as I was going to fuck her tonight at Tom’s party.  She had the cutest smile and a small peachy bum, but her scrunched up tear ridden face disgusted me now.

The day at school had been long and boring, English followed Math followed French.  I filled my notebooks with drawings in each class and managed to avoid any real work, focused as I was on going to Tom’s house on the night to get high and drink beer.  In each class I thought of Jackie.  She was the sort of girl you could see in a suit and high heels working in a boring business job in the future, her co-workers slavering after her as she pounded the corridors of power.  Fuck, I wanted her so bad that day.

At dinner I’d gone to meet Jake and Mike round the back of the main block where the rusting gates and bins stood guard.  Jake had managed to grow his first crop of weed and this was his inaugural toke, one fat joint between three.  We each took three off and joked around.

“You gonna get into Jackie tonight?”

“If that douchebag Paul keeps his fucking distance”, I snarled in reply to Mike.

I’d noticed that Jackie and Paul had been getting closer over the past few days, teaming up together in woodwork to make some stupid box or some shit.  It annoyed me the way she’d seek his protection when they used the tools.  I’d see him leering over her, his eyes meeting mine as his hips would get closer to hers, cajoling me to punch him right in the face the smug bastard.

“Ah fuck that prick man, this shit is pretty good eh?” bragged Jake, though it was damn fine.

“Yeah yeah, you are quite the farmer! Why don’t you quit and go and grow some vegetables amigo!” joked Mike.

After dinner I was high but not too high.  Physical exercise could go fuck itself I though and I got some food from the nearby cafe and nodded off briefly.  The owners knew us and didn’t mind us, as long as we didn’t make a scene in the cafe we were welcome to frequent it whenever.  I think it was because they knew we would get high and come and eat and drink almost non-stop for a period or so that they put up with us.  Mike was starting to get a fat little pork belly due to his munchies habit but me and Jake were still stick thin, even after stuffing our faces.

I got to home economics on time.  It was the class I’d elected to take because Jackie was there, it was full of girls and there were barely any boys in it.  Mrs Finkle, who led the class, was something of a bore who smelled bad.  Like a jumper that had been soaked in the rain and put away into a draw before it had dried properly.  At any moment I expected to see Mrs Finkle’s top to be crawling in moths.

The weed had taken away the screech of her voice and I was relaxed enough to droop my eyelids.  No one noticed or cared.  I could see the shimmer of Jackie’s beautiful face on the edge of my vision and I sunk into a revere of kissing those plump lips.

Out in the car park after school I saw Paul by himself next to his kick bike.  The weed made me feel a bit invincible but I really needed the whiskey to make me really feel it.  Regardless Paul was smaller than me so I went over.

“Hey Paul, stay away from Jackie right” I barked into his face.

“What the hell you on about?” Paul replied, his voice bruised by shame.

“I’ve seen you both, seen you creeping up to her in woodwork, trying to touch her.  Keep the fuck away from her you creep”.

To re-enforce the message I jabbed him in his kidneys and he instantly curled up like sad sack of meaningless flesh.

I walked home, taking in the sun and the last wave of lightness that the weed brought.  I could see Jackie walking up ahead on her own, her hips sashaying as she went, hypnotizing me.  So much so I didn’t hear the car pull up next to me nor the click of the car door opening.

It took one punch from Martin, Paul’s older brother, to get me on the floor and a few more before I felt a rib or two break.  Through the tears and the dribbles of blood into my eye I could see Jackie walk on in the distance, oblivious at first to my pain.

Only when Martin finished pounding my body and I started to come to did I see her turn around, drop her books and come running.  I heard Martin get back into his car, I looked up and saw Paul looking down at me from the passenger seat, a rictus grin plastered across his face as the car sped off.