Friday, 17 December 2010

2009: A Club Odyssey: CODA

It was now the early afternoon; the sun glowed golden on everything, lending a grandeur to even the shabbiest of their possessions. He had already mentioned leaving upon their first discussion, but now it was clear that he would, for now at least, stay. What once was had come back again; it was like any drought or lack being relieved, a pleasure that was quiet, fulfilling, without being necessarily obvious to any outsiders. Of course there were no outsiders now, beyond a few loyal friends. They gathered to celebrate his return, to celebrate their once again being together, her safe from...them, and him safe after many longueurs and escapes and the ultimate fight, one where he sped through what he had to do as if it was nearly - nearly - just another chore, so close he felt to her, to what they perhaps once could be again...

...but of course after a while he was restless; he longed for the sea, a crew, new things to see; but she wanted to go with him too. It was their own conflict and not one that could be easily solved. He had to go on, he said; why, she would say, quite reasonably. But she knew he loved tests, and that this one, the next one, might be even greater. And that no matter what she was with him anyway; his chaste time on the island, after the wedding, here and there, proved that. Ultimately there was no difference between them, save for the physical, the geographical. He moved on, but not before promising that he would change things forever, without violence, that those radicals he met at the club would not always be defeated...

She smiled and took up weaving again, this time letting it stand every night, and they waited for spring and the next adventure to begin.

2009: A Club Odyssey Pt. 17

"The scene was a mess; the girl gang that attacked, not caring who noticed or who cared, started it all, those delirious women threw spiked orange juice and went for the big man, though they were all targets. The insurgents had it easier after that, mocking those that ran away, helping the girls find weapons, lending their own...your guy and his helper were there but I think they were too shocked at first to know what on earth to do. But the helper - who must have some special powers I'm sure - opened the way to the big man, and your guy just wailed on him like a blacksmith with an anvil. There was no escape." He looked at her with a kind of calm sternness and said, "He did what he had to do. That man tried to hurt you and that is what any man would have done in return. I'm going now." And so he left, and her own familiar found her soon enough, walking the wending paths and wondering about how Orion was a hunter in the sky, her guy wasn't a hunter but forced into killing. She felt sad for him but felt nothing, numbness, for those who had hung around. They were dead to her, whether they were or were not.


"The DJ kept playing songs all through it, barricaded as he was in his booth. The first one sounded kind of desperate, to tell the truth, but it wasn't like he was going to play anything hardcore. Then he got a bit ironic and I knew everything was going to work out. Once that was over it was all calls for ambulances and people who survived limping off. Your guy had seen enough and went off with his pal, I heard his pal saying "Well that settles that, windypants" and then she gave a look of total contempt to those who had lost, saying that if only they had listened to her and not just themselves, they would have survived. But they didn't."


They had reached the house, at last, after walking a long way; she had gotten home already and was resting, talking with her companion amiably and expecting...him, not quite knowing if he would bother to show up. It would be a long time before he would get home, shouldn't it...

He paused and looked up at the house that for so long had been just the idea, not the thing; the dream and not the vision. Despite the warnings of his friend he paused a bit more, no longer afraid of anyone or anything. There was the bed, the windows, the door, the roof, the garden which was wild and yet still beautiful, all of it a bit run down but lovely still...he walked and remembered their awkward courtship, him winning her as a prize but this not making them what they were to become, their inner and outer lives having to adjust this way and that...they said yes and yes, but then he had to go, despite his feigning madness...she thought of the same things, saw a few hangers-on leaving quickly and her heart brightened, even though she still wasn't exactly sure what to think or expect.


A knock on the door; his knock. She got up, straightened her dress and calmly walked to the door. A pause; no, I'm not looking out the window again. Enough. Really, enough. Not the tiny window eyehole in the door either. It's him or it's not and if it is...her stomach rumbled. She opened the latch and the door swung open...

...and there he was, a little abashed. They didn't really look at each other at first; suddenly officially knowing was almost too much. Their eyes met at last, however, and the truth, complex and yet boiling down to something simple, was there. Now for him to act this way and her that, the old rituals, ancient even at this stage, for her to be skeptical and him mostly quiet...

...but it was there; it flooded the room; when she said "How do you know I can't move the bed for a guest?" it was pretty much obvious what was going on and how he knew. She began to cry and he moved to her and held her, and his pal, who was there but invisible now, just the voice in his head, was happy. They got up and danced with joy, once she had stopped crying, dancing from room to room, eventually collapsing and then all was well, or as well as it would ever be.

Could they ever really be parted again? Her view was that he was still free to roam, because that is what he did; that if they were meant to be together then they would be. It is written, as he said, it has always and will always be written. Our story will last, long after us. It is one of the story of stories and we can do what we like.

Friday, 22 October 2010

2009 A Club Odyssey: Part 16

It was the end - that could be in no doubt. Him just sitting there made her feel as if she was still running down, down, the wind shaking in her, her tongue and voice gone, because if he was not a god then he was certainly more than a man; she was just able to hear him talk. Fire, or at least some heat, caught in her blood, as if her heart expanded to her lungs, her arms and legs. It was a good thing she was already sitting down, or else she would have to sit down.

"Are you all right? Say something, please. Who were those women? I mean, bacchantes at this time of day?" He was genuinely puzzled, kind, which of course made the whole thing worse. She shook her head, glad for some neutral territory. "Bacchantes don't really care about the time of day, normally." A bird hooed and hooed, hooted once definitively, as if in agreement. "Long night?" he said, and then stopped. She looked at him as if to say that this night was the last, there wasn't going to be another one. Not away from home, at this rate. Looking at him, which she could barely do that last time, was something she could do now. His eyes drank her in - small, frightened, very much alone. It was why he ran after her in the first place; not to confront her, but to let her know that, while he didn't want her any more, he was still very much concerned about her. "I think I know what's going on, in case you don't."

"It's on, it's on, you know they're fighting. I mean, it was going to happen. You were right to get out. The fight is a good one but I didn't want to get involved; I am a prize coward." "And he would have thought of you as the enemy, which you aren't." "Well, no, I needed your help, they didn't." She began to cool off, a little. She was getting used to his voice, like hot water. "They thought they could pull it off, and I led them to the club and..." He shook his head at the simplicity of it all. "God, they really are sheep, aren't they? Did they really think that you were going to do something for them? To say, take it all, who cares?" I got to know them and what they were like and just how far I could go." She watched a squirrel hop past, then paused. "I saw the hunter in the early morning. Did you see him, in the sky? A good sign." "Yes." "I think that hunter was a woman, you know." She looked at him with some puzzlement now. "There was a girl there who just wanted to kill one man. That's how it started, then all hell proverbially broke loose. He started in then, aided by his friend, and the bodies piled up..." How do you know all this? "Gut instinct. Let's just say I know, but really it was all foretold anyway. And yes, he knew full well it was you, you know." She felt the heat blanket her again; he seemed closer than he was, she found it hard to breathe and turned away. His brown eyes were too big; he wasn't Pan, exactly, but she began to see why the bacchantes would run towards him, similarly big-eyed and breathless. It's on, it's on, she thought, I have to get going home, to get there before he does. She got up abruptly and began to walk. "Can I come with you? Part of the way? I know I can't, aah..." "Yes, but we must hurry. He's in pain and I have to think of a way to trick him, to give him pause. I have to forget. Tell me about the hunter."

Sunday, 6 June 2010

2009: A Club Odyssey, part 15

It was early, quite early, as she caught the little local bus - one of several she'd had to take over hill and through dale, dipping and sloping here and there. The sun was over the horizon by now, slanting and glittering through the trees, the sky a clear blue. She was tired; she didn't want anything more than to go home.

But she didn't have to go home in this way. She had a growing fear that she would come across someone and that he - the last suitor, the one she could not shake off - would appear. There was no way to know but to confront (possibly, possibly not) him; and so she was on this bus, going up, uphill, then veering along a residential street. She felt like the eagle that could look at the sun; the sun on the horizon that dazzled and stunned in equal turns...

...the bus crossed the bridge, yes that one, the view giving her a glimpse of so much she had just experienced, the dome, the tall buildings, the river; then it was gone and the bus went between the pavements and cars and all the greenness and freshness and vividness of the day began to oppress; this was too much like something else to bear up being itself, just itself, for too long. She saw a figure that looked like him - almost, but not quite - ahead, and knew as she looked that he in turn would look back.

She buzzed to be let out and the bus stopped at the corner. She had no idea where to turn, whether to confront him or no; the pull towards him was as strong as the push. She could not look at him; she knew he was most definitely looking at her. In her guts she knew one thing, that she had to go home, and so she began to run down hill, and sure enough he followed, yelling "Hey! Stop! Please stop! Don't go away!" But she could not stop.

And the hell of it was that the beauty of the day was in her face non-stop. The flowers, the light on the grass, the birds singing, but she was again breathless and finding her way down through the path to the field below, hoping she would not somehow be stopped, that she would not stop herself. "Please please stop, I didn't mean to hurt you!" he cried out. She could hear him closer now, calling her name as well and clearly, clearly not giving up. She had no allies, no friends here, in the dense intensity, the twigs and flying seeds in her hair, but all of a sudden some girls, some rather excited girls, loomed ahead. Their eyes were wide in ecstasy, honey and cream were their clothes and their hands were sweet. "HELLLLP!!" she cried out, and they saw him grimacing trying to keep up and in their madness they thought he was someone else, and set upon him like a pack of wolves. They shrieked, they chased, they did not let up--

--she could not pause as the path turned sharply to a side, the ground flattened at last, pavement reappeared, and the girls had caught him, she heard his shrieks and covered her ears. This is what it was like, and half of her wanted to go back, to help him, but she was simply too damn tired, from the night.

Somehow - perhaps because he looked like a woodland creature himself? Because he was stronger than he thought? - he did escape them, just barely, to run down to her, improbably; the pull for him was too much, and the girls, when they did reach him, could not agree, quite, on what to do to or with him. He was bruised and roughened up, but no more...

...he reached her, as she was still gasping for breath and sitting, more like lying on her side, looking at a flower. Those girls were not her. He sat down and looked at her, the only one who survived and who would survive. He had no special gift, and this is what saved him in the end. The sun shone on the grass, turning into gold, the birds trilled in the silence. They soberly looked at each other again.

Friday, 9 April 2010


I feel his lontano everywhere I go around here, my patch, my home.

Some Londoners go East, others go firmly West. He was everywhere and nowhere in London but it’s the West, always the West, that calls both him and me back.

I don’t know when he was last here. I saw him, standing outside the shop, doing a photocall in 1996 for twenty years of the thing he started. He seemed happy to be out of it.

He was always in everything and absent when he was most needed.

But he was always London, via Scotland and the dapper Golders/Stamford run of things.

The respectful tributes were to be expected, just as though he had been called to the Bar after all like the good Jewish son so many wished him to be.

You were expecting soured rosettes, the helpful stench of retrospective hypocrisy?

They hated him then and they love him as of yesterday. Just like Oscar Wilde.

Oh, so like Oscar, if only he’d had a better grasp of London (and I think he probably had a better hold on Paris towards the end).

Well, of course. Who would have expected anything different?

He formed things, like Cyril Connolly. He never really invented things and maybe Seymour Stein or Kool Herc were there first – there’s no maybe about it, you know and he knew that – but like the Beatles he knew how to draw things to our attention in both ways, the second being (as an artist – why, of course!) to draw things in pictures he’d just made up and looked outrageously attractive.

There at Selfridge's with King Mob, Xmas ’68, handing out the goodies to startled but joyful kids and how many of those grew up to be part of a different, successive story?

No one quite got Oxford Street like he did.

Hovis loaves outside the baker’s in Clapham Common. Walk-on roles at Grosvenor Square.

He easily got rid of his previous unwanted, spent lives. Get shot of the names, enrol in a different art school as somebody else, spend all his grant money on records off the stalls on Goldhawk, go and run a shop, go to New York, come back, think of marketing wheezes for Sexfests, why not?

He taught us, like Welles but happier, that you could stop being somebody inconvenient at any time, come back as somebody else, though still recognisably the same. But different. Free of dead weights.

He said you can send the system to fuck so easily.

The T-shirt. Two sides of the bed. Dewey Redman and Archie Shepp there alongside Kutie Jones. I never forgot that. That was my way in.

The first big bend in the road. Next to the Conservative Club.

He said I can change whatever and whenever I want to and if you’re not ready then it’s hardly my fault.

The missing link between Jonathan King and Guy Debord.

He said, keep up.

He asked, why are there so many of you yet so few of me?

He made everything I sensed possible.

Most things, anyway.

The Pistols spluttered to a Tesco’s end and he went to the laundrette but his old Croydon College/Grosvenor Square comrade Robin Scott came through with a different way and would any of that have happened without his precedent, without what he suggested?

He, who knew the absolute importance of Max Bygraves and Lionel Bart in the scheme of things.

Where did you think the Small Faces came from?

Wormholt no-goodniks who wanted to be the Faces and that sulky Aquarian from Finsbury who fancied himself as some kind of punctum.

The other guy from north London, and he subcontracted his entire band and Adam came back at him better and stronger.

Not that he was bothered.

Was he that bothered about the boy he never quite got himself together to look after properly? The Royal Courts in 1986 – bustling, surrendering, that’s what you get for not being a dad.

Nick Kent didn’t see him as a father figure.

As far as you can trust Nick Kent.

As far as you can trust any One.

“Oh, Gawd, is that his latest scam?”

The end of 1982. New Pop on the ropes. He whisked it back to life.

And Trevor, who had to choose between a quiet Spandau life and a Noisy, Arty one and never liked punk in the first place, went with him. Effortlessly.

Yes, Wheels of Freaking Steel.

But this was telling everybody else about it.

Tony Wilson. A parallel general in the North. It is what both would have wanted.

The strategies, the scones, the fire, the failures, the concepts, the cons.

He was a meretricious conman and a captivating magician.

Smartarse and visionary.

The two overlap so much it’s surprising they don’t form a new river. With its own bends.

Poet and prat.

He wanted something like the Bay City Rollers and in the end the Bay City Rollers wanted to be something like him.

Number one. Of course it was number one. Would anyone still be lauding it, talking about it, arguing about it, if it actually HAD been listed as number one?

“Does the presence of Number Two require the existence of Number One?”

Pound, Parker, Kane, Prisoner, Pistols.

In 1977 Larkin, in part-parody of Hughes, wrote a Silver Jubilee quatrain which ended: “Crow shat on Buckingham Palace/God pissed Himself.”

The A&M signing, outside Buckingham Palace, and Christ they had to do it quick.

Herb Alpert dropped the Pistols and signed Ornette. Now THAT’S punk.

Some say Ornette dropped by the studio while PiL were recording Metal Box.

On “Double Dutch” doesn’t he sound like Harry Corbett?

You listen to the right “wrong” radio and everything changes forever.

His radio travelogues; endlessly circuitous, always re-running the same round of memories.

Pete Waterman of course so close to this but then what’s wrong with just printing the legend?

His totality, swirling like reproachful swallows, as I walk through the World’s End.

His contraptions, his beginnings, and they do not end.

Invent the future and then talk about sin.

And remember to lick those lips pure pink.

Friday, 19 March 2010

2009: A Club Odyssey pt. 14

She I know him? Is this ecstasy real? Knowledge seemed to come not from her mind, as such, nor even her heart, but her entire body. It was enough to make her sit down, hard, as if she had fallen, rather than sat. And it was, to a certain extent, the same for him.

Unity: it was hard to believe this was what was about to be achieved, though it wasn't really the end point. She felt him and someone else pick her up, even though she was not moving. The two sides were going to clash, that much was more than evident, and she wasn't going to be part of it. She knew and she didn't know; she was separated from them before she could really see what was happening, though she had dreamt of it enough times.

Those dreams: of them in a tree, her in the treetop already, imitating a bird, calling out in the night. The one where she was with him at home but he could not see her; and yet he knew she was there. The one with them safe behind the broken glass, the melee begun elsewhere, not touching them, because they would be safe. "A waif and a great man are prisoners. Safe in peril - " said the oracle. Well, yes. Luck was turning their way, at long last. The others were wrong because they had been in the wrong, really, all along, but no one could confront them. They were the despoilers, the exploiters of her grief, her patience, her hospitality, even. That was what was the worst: that she had to be nice to them.

Now she turned her back on them and when they called, did not look back. She washed them off herself, dusted herself, shook them off. It felt radical, revolutionary, even. Yes, she could do it. How liberating it was, just to leave and go home. The morning air was sweet; birds circled and flew together in formation, the sun's rays bleached everything clean. The beauty of the world hit her, and even if he wasn't...him (she was yet to really believe), then at least something, at long last, was happening.


Friday, 5 March 2010

2009: A Club Odyssey pt. 13

They remained there for a moment, motionless; she was too tired to move, really, and he was, as well.

"Love is not superficial." She started to mumble. "Yeah, I could have eaten that gun. But I want to know what happens next, what happens underneath..." She paused a moment. The smell; she smelt something she had not smelt in some time. Pangs began, modest at once, then growing; she continued to talk, more to herself than anything. She felt as if luck was finally, finally turning in her direction; an axis had shifted, that inner earthquake had happened and she had survived, amazingly enough.

"The madness of it all. Just..." She turned to him. "You know? I think you know what love is. It's resistance, in my case. I mean, I could listen to the music here all night long, I am living on it, I am living in it. Oh shit, this is all nonsense, what the hell. know. I know you know."

"Love is able to see right into the heart of things and not flinch," he said, even as she turned her head from him. And yes, I know. I know full well. An eagle could spot my love a hundred miles away. A lost cat would find it, a bear could catch it on the leaping wave."

They were testing each other, and looked at each other.


They huddled together now, each saying the others' words, regarding each other anew. It could well be that they overwhelmed each other, him first, then her; she was suddenly shy with him, as if they were meeting for the first time, which they were, in their own way.

The sun rose, the famous rosy fingers here and there, a full moon resting in the top of a tree, birds sang and improvised their calls. She told him the dream she had about the eagle, about the wolf, the one that looked at her with pleading eyes. "It talked, it really did. That was the good one. In another dream there was a beast and it came after me, and I woke up crying..." "Ssshhh," he said, his hand, his fingers very gently on her back. "That is enough knowledge for me right now. I am too full up with it. I feel as if I am at the end of everything, almost."

The song played and it seemed to describe them from a lifetime ago, as they once cautiously danced around each other, then had the courage to actually meet.

"Are we just as courageous now?" she asked him. He nodded and drank. She drank as well. His friend quietly slipped away, looking happier than he had in some time.


While they cooed and hooted, each to the other, they did not notice the ferment in the crowd. The protesters were gathering strength; the green-eyed radical was happier than he had been in some time; the man with the gun, the players, were putting up a front that they didn't really have. People were starting to take sides.

"We all have choices to make, and this is one. We are told we can't change things, but that is false; we can and do change every day, after all. But some stand in the way of change, and by that I mean nothing superficial, but real, lasting, bone-deep soul-satisfying change. The kind you can be proud of, that legends are made out of, after all. A woman here tonight could have let someone tell her what to do. But she didn't." So concluded the green-eyed radical to his friends. "She is with him now, and they won't be separated. I am inspired by them, we all are." They assented, looking dubiously at those who would have separated them. The suitors, they were nicknamed, the suckers, as some already had been calling them.


"Do you want to dance?" "I would love to, good sir." And so they danced, a dance of defiance and celebration, the vivid lights and colors around them, the energy, negating anything but themselves; a dance that was for one side, clearly, and not the other. They had nothing to lose, really, nothing beyond the moment mattered much to them anyway; and they were fighting by dancing, dancing by fighting. They didn't stop, they saluted the DJ, they blessed the floor and music itself.

"I love dancing here, I love you!" she said with her eyes. He repeated this with emphasis. They danced outside and inside themselves, their limbs together and apart, jumps and spins and whirls causing the protesters to whoop and cheer.