As mentioned last time, this appears pretty much as it spills out. Writing, the proper stuff that is, I take seriously. God knows how many hours, heart and soul etc. Myself, hopefully less so. I shall endeavour to avoid being puffed up, stuffy, smug, condescending or anything else which requires even temporary residence within the dark malodourous recesses of my own colon…though the use of the work endeavour is probably a near miss.
So…My life in miniature part 2 (Pt 1 is below if you missed it.) First thing to say…my memory of the eighties is a bit hazy but this isn’t about details. So…The end of band 2…was a sore one. It brought with it the realisation that I may actually have to ‘work’ for a living, get a proper job, do the things I’d always viewed as a waste of life…as the opposite of life…something that had seemed unthinkable just moments earlier. Trying to think back to exactly how I felt…too long ago (I use the three dots of drama even more than the word apparently…). Anyway, I’m sure I felt tired, bewildered and maybe a little bit defeated. So reality it was to be. I got a job as an engineer, designing a new truck from scratch which sort of approached interesting in its own problem solving sort of way, got married, bought a house, grew up. Well, all but the last one. I still loved music and wanted that to be what I spent my time doing, I was only a little bit defeated remember (pay attention). So, bands were out. Fuck that! I’d do it all myself. Easy! Jump back…Prior to band implosion I bought a guitar, mainly to write songs, never to be Hendrix (Even I was never that deluded!). Anyway, jumping forward again, at this point a miracle appeared in the form of a Tascam Porta 1. A four track recording studio the size of a shoe box. A…recording…studio…in a box. Think about that! Game changer, Xmas’s at once etc…Suddenly it was all do able. Sgt Pepper was recorded on 4 track FFS…but there the similarity ended. (Rambling pish alarm on amber). Condensed version. I wrote like a demon, made tapes, sent them to record company A&R types and as I type this in my Malibu beach mansion with my personal assistant Candy picking out my new Lear jet…mmm. Most were standard letter, polite fuck offs, some were hand written but still polite fuck offs (I felt a bit cheated I never got a ‘your shite give up, fuck off’ one) and a couple were ‘sounds interesting, put a band together and I’ll come see you’. Interspersed with all this was fun with the boys, summed up by being strip searched on return from Amsterdam one weekend (I hope never to hear another man ask me to lift my scrotum), a visit to the heart of darkness, and an ongoing sort of Buddhist stumble to the light with some martial arts mayhem thrown in. This is called another mazy run for a reason. Anyway back to music. As I was all too aware, fronting a band was not something I had in the locker, unless gibbering wrecks became the must see performance. No, for me it was all about the studio…Brian Wilson had done that after all…WTF Robert! Anyway, such ambitions faded. If only I had more confidence, more talent, definitely more hair, blah, blah…been someone else essentially. But that’s not how it works and that’s fine.
Why is that fine? Well amidst the daftness and by the graciousness of the lovely Carol, I was gifted a son, Keith (named after mr Richards), and a daughter, Fern, and what could be finer than that. Family life is good, and it’s something the great and the good usually miss out on. But does having a family mean you have to park your creative impulses and stick them in a box, padlocked, left to gather dust in the attic? Na…you can write a book.
NEXT TIME…probably something about books.
BEN TURNER IS A DEAD MAN – RYAN BRACHA
The first thing to point out is that this is the second part of a trilogy, so to avoid any WTFness, read the most excellent Paul Carter is a dead man first. My review for that can be found by clicking on the Goodreads thing on the right and having a rummage. But in brief, the books are set in a New Britain dictatorship, set in the near future, where all the mind numbing, soul sapping shit that destroys us at the moment via the internet and TV…still does, but on steroids. You break the “guidelines” for, say, swearing, a big no no, viewers click away at home to sentence you to death. In episode one Paul Carter gets a few hard kicks in to the government’s nuts before escaping beyond the wall to the paradise that is Scotland.
Part 2 centres on the Ben Turner of the title. The sidekick in part 1, he emerges from Carters shadow, hell bent on upping the ante to bring this new order to its knees. Aided by reluctant accomplice Nat, who’s won over by a shared appetite for carnage and scores to settle, they set about generating an impressive body count, drunk on their cocktail of loathing and lechery. The reader has to hold on tight as the narrative shifts in time and place, keeping you off balance like all good rollercoasters. And it never lets up. Brutal, funny, but with the originality, warmth and empathy to avoid pastiche. Typical Bracha? I have no idea what that is…
THE MAGICAL TRAGICAL LIFE OF EDWARD JARVIS HUGGINS – STUART AYRIS
This is definitely a marmite book. If you’re a fan of supermarket genre fiction it’s probably not for you…But it might be…variety, spice and all that. Me. I love marmite.
What drew me to it initially was an acknowledgement, thanking the Rolling Stones for Exile on Main Street, which the author listened to throughout. Well, referencing the greatest achievement in the history of music was always going to grab my attention. But having read the book, for me a far closer musical reference point is the Kinks master work, ‘The village green preservation society’, as this is a book steeped in an England of old, rich in tradition, comfortable in itself i.e. not ‘Ingerlund’.
It’s not a book that zips along at pace, jumping from one thrill or caper to the next. It takes its time, exploring and enjoying its own journey, hoping you do to. Briefly, it’s a story about Edward and his sister’s journey in search of his messianic destiny, climaxing in a game of cricket. It’s a book rich in metaphor. Along the path, there are an abundance of intriguing characters all drawn to a time and place. The author’s presence is all over this with lightly scattered phrases throughout, adding energy and fun but never getting in the way. It’s a book about wonder, miracles, friendship and hope. Also, I now sort of understand the appeal of cricket, which for a Scot is a miracle in itself.
I really enjoyed it. Some may find it too whimsical, but to quote Sheldon from big bang “What’s life without whimsy.”