26 December 2005

Music to grow old to

A certain cocaine jesus invited me to contribute to his handsome music review site "music to grow old to." Never one to miss a musical opportunity I gladly accepted and began by remembering the classic Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.

24 December 2005

Buick City Complex is one year old

It seems to have become customary to announce your birthday, well B-C-C is one year old. This ought to be a time to assess progress, take stock and discuss the fundamental wisdom I have drawn from the year but the truth is I just feel very tired. The year has sapped my energy. Twelve months ago clouds were again gathering in an azure sky.

This year, as with most, a roller coaster was being winched high ready for release to the mercy of gravity. One difference was that I chose to record the ride in words and pictures, verse and prose but hopefully with sincerity.

All that kinetic energy blown in four seasons of screaming ups and hellish downs. A large proportion of the "sound and fury" generated may ultimately have "signified nothing" but I chose to give it inches here. Throughout those ups and downs I have been blessed with a band of contributors from all four corners of the globe who have written profound comments that have helped me accept that I can't change everything. I had no idea people would climb aboard and grip the rails tightly beside me.

At times the winds of change subsided enough to allow periods of calm, consolidation and reflection. Inexorably though, the wheel turned and the future began to arrive bringing with it more uncertainties and paralyzing decisions. Months passed with alarming speed and whole episodes have mercifully faded to a blur. I found inspiration by reading the blogs of others and getting involved with their own trials and tribulations. A community was born.

There are steep steps yet for me to climb, heavy matters to ponder and who knows maybe even some enjoyment to be had in the fullness of time. Until recently I had even suspected this may be a final post and that I would barely have the stamina to fall across the finishing line. But I realise this was only the first lap and the race goes on.

Some early readers have disappeared from the radar, others continue to appear regularly and a few I set my watch by! The newest of all can stagger me with a perception and insight beyond years and experience.

We talk about booze here a lot because some of us need to. A few write about it exclusively, others write to escape from it, while I try to follow the middle ground and give it the respect it demands. You don't have to drink but it helps if you once did or you plan to stop or you are simply curious about why people start and stop. Thank you all for reading, for commenting and for your friendship. I wish you happiness and peace in 2006.

PS: Thanks to the "Old 97s" for the unofficial loan of their song title.

"They're tearing the Buick City Complex down
I think we're the only people left in town.
Where you gonna move, where you gonna move,
Do you wanna mess around?"

16 December 2005

The Office Martyr

My office has steadily reduced in numbers over the last year yet the martyr remains stubbornly tied to her stake. Once she played to a full house of seventy plus and although that sympathetic audience has dwindled to a small matinee attendance, the quality of her performance has not diminished. Once a mere lieutenant, she has risen by default to dizzy heights and now seeks condolence in the full glare of the spotlight.

Each day brings cause for a new pained expression. Etched on her face is the statement “I really shouldn’t be here, I think I have double pneumonia. But someone needs to make the effort or this office will simply fall apart.” There is a danger that colleagues will forget how gravely ill she is, so regular reinforcement is crucial. Accordingly frenzied bouts of sneezing are interspersed with lung-shredding coughs and laboured breathing.

Sceptical observers of this phenomenon know it will be hard to maintain the illness at “touch and go” status. Sooner or later patience will be rewarded and the mask will slip. The phone rings, trill, trill… our martyr’s plaintive voice greets the caller, cracking and stuttering through strings of phlegm. Sentences are punctuated with exaggerated sniffs, yet as the call proceeds, a curious and remarkable recovery begins. Thirty seconds in, the conversation is running smoothly. Vowels and consonants are pronounced with ease and eloquence and the slow, sorrowful tones replaced with enthusiasm and giggles…

Similar speedy recovery from dental treatment is equally astonishing. Much clattering and banging draws attention to a late arrival. “How did it go?” we inquire politely. The response is barely intelligible, delivered through a mouth evidently still numb from invasive treatment. Speech is managed with almost no discernible jaw movement. There is considerable mumbling and lines of dribble keep mysteriously appearing thereby prompting frequent dabbing of the lips. Clearly there have been multiple extractions and probably root canal fillings. However, within the hour she is heard explaining to a colleague with startling clarity, “yes I was little late, I had a dental check-up...”

On occasions this heroic devotion to work reaches an astounding level of commitment. Movement from desk to photocopier is achieved only with strenuous effort and a good deal of grunting. The left leg proceeds normally but the right is dragged behind limp and lifeless. Incredibly there has been no steady onset of this condition, surely she must have suffered a massive road traffic accident over the weekend. The useless limb is hauled along like a suitcase on wheels as she attempts the return journey to her desk. A subsequent trip to the fax requires the same effort, yet smart onlookers note the tragic injury has now afflicted the left leg while the right is good as new. Later the signs are of only a slight limp and even more perplexing is the mid-morning sight of our martyr positively sprinting to the coffee machine...

The stench of burning martyr hangs heavy in the air…

07 December 2005

Folded faces

Superficially existence is pretty but scratch the surface and there is almighty horror. The fleeting face in the morning mirror appears charming and familiar but the analyst has always chosen not to look him in the eye, for if his attention once fixed on the reflection he could no longer ignore it.

A possible future hovers between their gaze and to believe in that future he must understand his past. Turning from the mirror he goes about his daily business yet from that moment onward sees, feels and hears nothing. Seasons heat and chill him but he fails to notice for he is inside his own head…

He runs blindly along dark inner passages, screaming as unspeakable hordes grab and tear, their every touch like ice. He cracks his head on a heavy projection and collapses face first in the blackness. No one is here to help him, he is alone. Despite horrific injury he hauls himself to his feet and his questing fingers find a door handle. The door yields under his pressure and he stumbles into a small candle lit room.

“Anaesthetic would ease the pain in my head,” he thinks and as luck would have it, a bottle and glass swim into view on a low table. In the gloom he breaks the seal and ignoring the glass, lifts the bottle to his lips. He pours whisky into his throat and swallows. Pours and swallows, pours and swallows repeatedly until the bottle is two thirds empty for this is the only way he knows.

Sweet relief calms his aching skull and the fiery grain courses through every vein. “I can do this, I know I can, I really can be normal,” he pleads with himself. Yet a glance at shelves behind him reveals the twinkling contours of twenty more bottles which he must consume in order to be normal. He will have to pace himself, maybe formulate an action plan. Unsteadily he stands and thinks thoughts thickly. A bottle in each pocket, two inside his shirt and of course he could carry one in each hand.

Desperate sadness overwhelms him and he begins to cry. “But I need to take it all with me,” he screams. “I need to take the fucking lot…” But his grip is weak and bottles tumble to the floor. One bounces amazingly before shattering and leaking its lifeblood.

He shoulders the door open violently and dashes into the corridor. Sprinting away from the scene he spews whisky in frightening spurts. He keeps his gaze ahead, ignoring the voices calling from rooms either side. “Fuck them, I thought I cancelled all acquaintances.” Rotting remnants lie in every corner, decaying corpses with wild ugly grins. All life is as foul as death.

"… if I see you tomorrow, don’t make me do that again. Please don’t make me look inside my head.”

His reflection stares impassively back and speaks softly, “tomorrow there will be a different horror.”

“The paper holds their folded faces to the floor
And every day the paperboy brings more.”
Pink Floyd – Brain Damage

04 December 2005

Cars and bikes

Ford Sierra Sapphire 1.8 GLS - probably my favourite.
And here on Through the Lens are the other vehicles I have driven, raced and polished over the years.