26 February 2009

MENTAL CONTINUUM

To celebrate the coming of age of Tangentopoli -21 this issue - Zombie Face, Joy Swirl, or Mental Continuum (or whatever he wants to call his selves) is sponsoring a COMPETITION. Yet another first for Tangentopoli - its meaning finally revealed by "The Observer" as "the corrupt entanglement of politics and business" (but what politics and which business you might ask).

Before the beginning, Robert Hunter, Grateful Dead Lyricist, wrote down the "Ten Commandments of Rock and Roll" on stoned tablets:

1. Suck up to the Top Cats.
2. Do not work to express independent opinions.
3. Do not work for the common interest - only factional interest.
4. If there's nothing to complain about dig up some old gripe.
5. Do not respect property and persons other than your own.
6. Make devastating judgements on persons and situations without adequate information.
7. Discourage and confound personal, technical or creative projects.
8. Single out absent persons for intense criticism.
9. Believe that anything or anyone you don't understand is trying to fuck with you.
10.Destroy yourself physically and morally and insist that all true brothers and sisters do likewise as an expression of unity.


ALL YOU HAVE TO DO to win the star prize is to write down 10 examples (one for each of the 'commandments') of how the Party Posse is different from the Rock 'n' Roll Posse.You can use examples of parties you have been to or indeed write down anything else that comes into your head. The person submitting the most appropriate examples will receive a copy of Rushkofs "Cyberia" that handy guide book to cyberspace and guaranteed to blow your mind - anytime. Entries to Oz or Nero in (or on) a plain brown envelope.


THE WINNING ENTRY


THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF THE PARTY POSSE


1. Suck up to the people with the best drugs. (myself usually). No problem.
2. Leave all monies at home/in car. "It's my girfriends".
3. Dissappear before the rig is due to be moved.
4. Get pissed on fizzy, shit drinks on Sunday.
5. Respect no one's property, especially your own. (See 2. Wow man, go on, it's only money!)
6. Take devastating drugs.
7. Take the piss out of people gushing on E.
8. Shout at everyone on Tuesday and Wednesday.
9. Ignore people in the week who were your best mates at the party.
10. Go on, lend me a tenner till Monday.

Austin contributed the winning (and only) entry.

25 February 2009

OVER THE (HOUSING BENEFIT) HILL


We are sitting in the pub behind our beers and it's getting a little intense as he reaches the climax of his argument. "...and that is the whole point, see?" he says, his eyes flaming. I nod, even though I don't really see any point. I don't particularly want to interrupt his flow because if I do we'll both be back to where we started. It's just good to see his passion boil.


Later he says, "I'm just a sad old alcoholic, you know?" That I do know. The words sad and old are normally prefixed, in his mind anyway, onto whatever emotive description he happens to be using at the time. Now, at this moment, it's "alcoholic".


Now Norman is in somewhat of a quandary. He is the victim of his own failure. He is the victim of his own success. At the tender age of 40, he finds his life on a cusp. Currently he is living on his own, in a cramped, damp council flat on "Housing Benefit Hill". With his dog. And with his son. His whole life, he says, so far, has been motivated by two powerful drives. One, sex, has done him ok. But now as he gets older, he begins to question this most basic of motivating forces. He doesn't have relationships with women. He "has" them. He "falls in love" with them. He "falls in lust" with them. Then he's on to the next one. We used to joke that there were 3 types of men; those that think with their head; those that
think with their heart; and those that think with (points to groin area). "I'm defiantly a balls man", he'd say with a glint in his eye. "I'm a horny
old scrote."


Mary, one of the highly respected local matriarchs, who works all the hours Jah sends at the local sandwich bar, was recently the focus of Norman's lustful attention. He wrote her a love-letter, proclaiming his undying allegiance, his wish to live with her, and father her a son. Popping it through the cafes letter-box, on the spur of the moment, he sat and waited.


Now, Norman and I used to rendezvous at this particular sandwich bar, The Coffee and Guardian, every Friday morning for a coffee and a chat, so come Friday, and no Norman, I began to get a little worried. If anything he's a man of habitual behaviour and for him to break our appointment, caused me not a little concern.


After I'd waited for a respectable period, I began to make my way home, puzzled. I rang him and arranged another meeting. It was at this subsequent meeting it all came out. His embarrassment was overwhelming. Ten seconds after putting the letter through the door, he'd regretted it. Perhaps realizing the consequences of the waves of gossip it would create in our small sea-side town, he immediately plunged into a guilt-ridden depression.


"I'll never go in there again." And you know what? He hasn't. Mary put the letter on the cafes notice board so everyone could have a good giggle at Norman. Dirty old scrote. And every time he walks past, with his large German Shepherd always in permanent tow, he blushes and looks away.


His other, (more important?) drive, is to write. And this gets him into a lot more bother. Really important writing provides some sense of the relation between individual psychology and social change, of the scale of things in general. Norman communicates this. A talent. He has written all his life, but only had his first piece accepted at the tender age of 39. His persistence eventually paying off. Graduating on Housing Benefit Hill. His poverty his key to...what?


Eventually, a well known national/broadsheet, dressing to the left, accepted an article and offered him a regular column on their Saturday supplement. As you can imagine, he was over the moon. We all were. His life changed for ever. We did have a few beers that night. At the Labour Club.


Because his views were not conventionally structured, his idiosyncratic style (a mix of [a]cute observation, broad statement, concise conversational snatches, and witty political and personal subtexts) won him many admirers. Yet the trouble writing about people, from such a small town, especially writing about prominent characters' , is that everybody reads the articles. Even when he changes the name of the protagonist everyone knows who it is. Sometimes he misinterprets or misrepresents their personality, not out of malice but because that is how he genuinely sees them. Even though this is not depreciative, it still upsets people. And when people are upset about his writing, Norman gets upset. And when Norman gets upset, he gets embarrassed. It's the relationships he
really wants, that are out of his control, that bewilder him. Like Mary. Like his readers. How can they treat him like this when he opens his heart?

The honeymoon is over. The town is genuinely pleased it has its own "voice in the media" once a month. Norman, after the initial euphoria, is gradually developing his journalistic 'thick skin' (he has to) and consequently as his embarrassment diminishes weekly, his self-confidence grows.


The mental health of the people in his articles always remains positive. Despite having no money, being on HBH, living in crap, damp council flats, having loads of kids, no decent men around, depression and drugs rife, no-one to care, especially the authorities, people still found some hope; some reasons to be cheerful. Some motivation to be happy. Their life has some meaning and purpose. Is liveable. The articles tone is always of an insider looking out. Like Norman himself.


The fact that his success will be his ultimate failure has not overlooked him. In fact he's very uncomfortable with it. He can 'handle' getting 'loads of shit'. For now. He 'just wants to write' (he always insisted he was a writer, not a journalist).


Now, a Faber and Faber advance under his belt, people are uneasy. They are afraid of something. If I try to tell him that he's losing the towns trust, the people's trust, that they begin to see him as an intruder, spying on that most private of indignant suffering - poverty - and turning it into bread and butter, he turns round, shrugs, and before avoiding eye contact says "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah". He knows.Norman can probably call himself a fully fledged professional now rather than a writer.


And he's looking for a new flat. Away from Housing Benefit Hill.


**********
Norman writes;"I developed my crush on Mary while I was tripping. I'd taken 200 mushrooms, and spent the night talking to her. I don't know why, she just came into my head. I called her 'M'. The following morning I did the Tarot and got the Emperor and the Empress in conjunction. I thought it was a sign. Then later I met Rachel - that was the day I wrote that William Blake piece for Tangentopoli - and I told her about it. I was in a real state. Rachel suggested I write her a
letter. Later I had to write her another letter to apologise, and went round to her house. I felt I couldn't show my face in the sandwich bar, but she
told me not to be silly".


**********

24 February 2009

SOMETHING TO ASK YOURSELF

Ask yourself - Why you are here?
Ask yourself - Why you dance.
Ask yourself - How wealthy you are
Ask yourself - What true wealth means to you.
Ask yourself - What makes you happy and how can you obtain it.
Ask yourself - How you can share that wealth with the world.
Ask yourself - Whether you are being honest with yourself and your friends.
Ask yourself - Whether you will be comfortable with the choices you make today later in your life.
Ask yourself - Why you go to these gatherings.
Ask yourself - What do these gatherings do for you.
Ask yourself - What message is the DJ sending with his music.
Ask yourself - Whether you trust yourself.
Ask yourself - Whether that trust should be given away blindly to every person, promoter, or event that comes along.
Ask yourself - Whether you know a promoter, why she/he is doing a party, and what their track record is.
Ask yourself - Whether you are receiving value and where your money goes. Is a promoter taking more than he is giving?
Ask yourself - Whether promoters help those who cannot afford the full ticket price - and why they wouldn't.
Ask yourself - Whether you are asking more of others than you are prepared to do yourself.
Ask yourself - How YOU can help your scene to grow and flourish - as well as contribute to the success of events you attend.
Ask yourself - Whether you need rest, nourishment or water.
Ask yourself - Whether healthy stuff is available should you need it.
Ask yourself - Whether water is readily available. Demand it if it isn't. Ask yourself - If you would like to share it.
Ask yourself - What your reasons are for (not)doing the drugs you do.
Ask yourself - Whether you know exactly what you are ingesting and what it does to your body.
Ask yourself - What the motives are behind information that comes your way.
Ask yourself - If you need time alone to find your truth.
Ask yourself - If you want to share that truth with others who are willing to listen.
Ask yourself - How your lifestyle impacts our planet - live accordingly.
Ask yourself - Why positive energy attracts positive energy.
Ask yourself - Because ultimately the answers come from within.
LIVE THE LIGHT. LOVE TO ALL.

19 February 2009

"We'd have been bang at it"

Now Nero or Nicola to give her her real name - which she hated - always liked, nay demanded, to be called Nero. Anyone who didn't had to suffer her little speech about how she hated her Italian boys name and preferred Nero, plain Nero. Once you heard that speech a few times you never called her Nicola again. If she was in a good mood she'd let you get away with Nicky. But only occasionally.


Now Nero for the past ten years and more had been my best friend, my mentor, my inspiration, my partner, my lover, my travel companion. Everything. She's literally been everything to me. That is a lot to project onto one person. Maybe that's why all these events seem to have a such magnifying effect on my psyche. I'm not using the word psyche as a joke. I feel a slight connection with that word as psyche was a young woman who loved and was loved by Eros and was united with him after Aphrodite's jealousy was overcome. She subsequently became the personification of the soul.

From that first day I started University to now she's been so integral a part of my life that I cannot contemplate life without her. I know I should but this is the first time it’s ever come onto my radar. It would have been so much easier to see what was going on and cut myself off from it. I would have spared myself so much heartache and pain. But I can't. Just can't. She's done for me what she is now doing for “Him”. Listened. She listened to me going on about my decidedly uncool, working class upbringing in a drugged up and alcoholically violent household in the North east. My step mother was a long term lorazepam addict who had violent rages and then couldn't remember anything. She suffered from Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, a particularly nasty withdrawal similar to alcohol that unless tapered off slowly can lead to all sorts of symptoms that she took out on me and my brother. She listened to me going on about my crazed brother, the recipient of our step mothers violence, and my fucked up and drugged up life; my anger, my depression, my madness, my fear. God, when I look back I think of the shit I've laid on her and I can't help crying out loud because at the time you just aren't aware of what you're doing are you?

Once I eventually got to university and was half educated (what a freedom this bestows on the psyche) and had learnt about psychology and psychoanalysis (thank you Freud and your followers for the talking cure) and had lived on that emotional rollercoaster that is university life - a crash course in living - and once I had all that and read books with great ideas in them and had talked to and hung out with smart people and had lived some and loved a lot and interacted and everything then I knew how very special she was. Not just to me but to everyone who has ever come into contact with her, unique, beautiful personality. I think now; what am I doing to her? My jealousy is really hurting her. Why can't I stop? She is obviously unhappy in her relationship with me and this is manifesting in her behaviour now. But she won't talk. She just lives.

Then she said it. I was scared, angry, all that extremes of emotion stuff but the worst was how my blood froze cold and you know like in the movies when Freddy or some monster jumps out and they do that camera effect where the background suddenly moves quickly forward but the person doesn't move and it's really disturbing and scary? That's what happened to me when she told me she'd had a snog with “Him”. All the clich├ęs can't describe it, from devastation to the whole pack of cards falling in. It does affect you terribly when you live it in the moment. Knowing that your relationship is so damaged it may never recover.
"I knew something had happened", was all I could say.
"It happened four weeks ago", she said.
"You changed when it happened. I noticed".
"I know you noticed, but couldn't tell you because I knew how you would react".
Silence.
"Why?" I eventually asked.
"I had to do it. It was only a snog. I had to see if there was a spark there..."
"...And if there was?"
I was hoping she would go easy on me here and lie but she didn't.
"We'd have been bang at it". That cold feeling overwhelms me and that one phrase now comes into my head every time I see the two of them sitting together now. Every time.

That was when the jealousy took hold of me for the first time. Rather than accept the straight facts there as they were given to me. Rather than realise the inevitable and see that she was telling me something good for her but terrible for me. This great fear of abandonment I have (or so said the therapist me and Nero go to later down the line) rears up and manifests itself in the form of the green eyed uncontrollable shit. The deep, cold fear of abandonment I felt that day when I was 5 years old and my mother left me. Where did she go? my 5 year old brain asked. Why? Doesn’t she love me anymore? What have I done to deserve this?

The jealousy asks questions then answers them for you. All you can do is agree because it might be a way out. There might be a way that she will not do this and reverse it somehow and then she will be like she used to be when it was you she loved. Yeah. That's it; a desperate attempt at some sort of retention; some way that the inevitable will not be accepted, but reversed. A desperate, desperate clinging onto something that is actually no longer there.

If they've done it once then it's only a matter of time before they do it again isn't it? Yes, says the jealousy, keep an eye on them says the jealousy. Find out. Watch her. Don't trust him. Why did they do this? And on and on. I felt a bitter, defeated blow. A relationship reaching it's change point, tilting, through one kiss?

This made her subsequent behaviour even worse. Nothing changed. We still lived with each other and worked and partied. Except now at parties she'd ignore me and sit and talk with “Him” all the time. The change was perceptible. The chill outs were the worst. He'd give her E, bottles of wine, lines of 'paste' (base amphetamine). I wouldn't see her for 48 hours and then she'd come home exhausted, sleep, go to work, come home, sleep, go to work. I'd go to a friend’s midweek because he's got a little studio setup and we'd fuck about on Cubase for hours on end adjusting and readjusting a snare pattern or whatever. That's take me to Wednesday night and I'd come home and, because I was tired, sleep.

By the time I got back from work down the record shop on Thursday it'd be 7th Heaven, our club night, and we'd be too busy loading equipment for the club and by the time we were out it was too late and we wouldn't get the chance to talk as she'd be with “Him” again and my jealousy (fear? loathing? disappointment? aching sadness? The end of my life as I’d known it?) would take over and I'd kick off again and she wouldn't speak to me or go off on another bender again and I would go home and cry and beat the pillow out of sheer frustration in the darkness of our bedroom crying out to some God I didn't believe in for some sort of help to get me through this feeling I didn't understand and realising, for the first time, in the tears and the dark and the hurt, it is a change I must go through on my own. No one is there. I have to experience this alone.

**********

18 February 2009

enter the singularity

The flashbulbs were popping, the dancefloor was dancing.


TV Cabbaged at The Smack, Whitstable - Sat 14th Feb 2009

DJ's: Warren, Oz, Simon "full fat" Bounds.


Having just spent time in hospital having my retinal detachment operated on I'm not in much of a mood for partying what with a blurred, bloodshot eye with a chryo gas bubble in it, drained fluid, and a buckle on to keep it all together. But, you know, you got to make an effort somewhat and by the time I'd had a few beers it was business as usual. Ish. But, it's really good that Rosie has decided to return to the DJing front; except she hasn't. Yet. I just texted her and we got her booked for the 14th of March not February. A typical example of the louche nature of the tVC world domination strategy. Yeah, that's going to be next month. She's been 'semi-retired' for a while so it'll be really good to have her back up there behind the decks. So, I'm there supporting her all the way. Next month. Doh! Gonna bring Warren forward. I text him and he says he'd love to; if he's in town. It's a nice surprise to see him humping his massive bag into the pub later on. Phew; we got DJ's!


Only one more whinge and I'll get on with the review. I also had to cancel a planned trip next week to Venice with Clare as I can't fly with a bubble in my eye. Still got to pay for it; but can't fly or my eye will explode. Which is a killer for me. She's still going. It's a trip with her fellow trainee teachers anyway so wasn't really going to be the romantic contretemps I would have liked. I got a text from her (this is later in the week as I'm writing this) saying she'd just eaten a really NICE pizza. Ah, Venice, the place where lovers should be...

Brummy Jon has been round my house fixing the driver in the new bass bin. I won't go into what happened to the old one but suffice to say it was stolen by someone I trusted and now I don't trust them anymore. A sad but inevitable consequence of the dance scene is that it's full of dodgy characters who seem superficially charming and trustworthy but who turn out not to be so. Jon said he'd called this guy up and he'd been told he was 'holding the speaker hostage'. Whatever that means. The dance music scene is also, to balance that grossly stereotypical statement out, full of some of the most gorgeous, lovely people who I've ever met in my life and I am still firm and close friends with dozens of them even after 20 years of abusing them. So, you never know do you?


The weekend begins with a night out watching some comedy gold in the form of David O'Doherty and his ‘very low-energy musical whimsy’. This talented bastard rocked our world – in quite a gentle way. I sat in the front row with a eye patch on as I'd just got back from hospital and I could see him glancing at me but not once did he say anything or use me in any of his material. The 2 people either side of me; yes, but me; no. Thanks for that David.



Anyway, down the pub and the new speaker is up and running and it's sounding great. Well done Jon for sticking at it even as I was turning the lights out! People start arriving and it's great. The beer is flowing and it's great. Me and Simon crack out a few each; records that is. And it's great. I just wanted to give my new tunes an airing and they seem to go down well. Simon continues to develop his skills and even slopes off around 10ish to play the warm up at Delicious just down the road. The Delicious guys give us passes so the tVC lot can get into their gig for £3; although I just walked in the door without paying; hiding in between the words and confusion of smokers and drunks and bouncer banter. I don't think they noticed. I'm a pro you see.

Warren is of course a superstar and behaves and plays accordingly, cracking out the bullets to an eager crown filled with the Whitstable glitterati. Well, a couple of women have glitter on their face, the rest glow in their own loveliness. Nice to see Nick 'Swishy' Stroud down there, popping in for a quick one. Louis and Josephine out together is always a pleasure. Plus some regulars like Katie D and her new boyf, Tracy, Lin; super. Sisters Shelly and Toni. The lovely Terry. Mica and Tony. Nicky Naughty. Zoe and Tanya. Great friends all.


Later after packing up we head off to the Brewery Bar to catch the Delicious Boys and to have a drink with EyeSaw Nick. Very aptly named I thought! The flashbulbs were popping, the dancefloor was dancing. Clare and I hang around for a bit socialising but we need to scarper sharpish and roll out the door around 2am and slip off into the blackness. She's going on holiday to Venice, don't you know, in 24 hours time, and we need to say goodbye...

12 February 2009

The DJ vinyl junkie bastard fix.

Here in the Cauldron - a jockey slut lisps.....


(Loud voice with wide open mouth) Aaart ann abaart on the last night of the year was a bit of a larf. "Earning" on the DJ circuit, whilst getting into overpriced, overpacked, over the top, overhot clubs for naada is not the joyous celebration of guilt free ligging it appears. Walking past crowds of shivery, laughing clubbers as they queue patiently in the crispy air and swanning straight in the door requires a certain arrogant je ne sais quois, distant air to ignore the 'oi's hurled like snowballs through the strata (eh?). Getting paid for something you fucking love doing always provokes feelings of guilt. It just doesn't seem right does it? Getting paid to rent fast (who you kidding?) cars? (Which break down and leave you stranded, shivering by the side of the road). Getting paid to take shit loads of expensive accoutrements (you wish!!). Getting paid to play your favourite tunes to a captive, eager, appreciative, fun crowd of people, all dying for a piece of you (well, your music anyway). How many jobs do you know where a state of mind boarding on the frazzled junkie overkill levels Burroughs would be proud of is a pre-requisite for membership of this particular wax laden elite. We're not talking professional here, we're talking underground DJ-land (underground in that no-one knows who the fuck you are?) A land as transient and as fantasy ridden......as.......the male psyche. Kool quotients approaching obscene levels. The only job where trainspotters are tolerated. Drunkenness tolerated. Sleeplessness and the state of mind it induces, worshipped. A land of shorn hair cuts, staring eyes, big boots, records, tunes, 12", vinyl, wax, house, more and more house. And more records. It's loud, hot, sweaty overkill so shout, please shout. Deafness for DJ's, a must. Plus paper, lots of pieces of paper. Lots of contacts. No contacts. Now what the fuck was that tune called? Oi. Mate. Giz a look at that! Fuckin' blindin' . What? It's on what? It's a promo? Who is it? Why won't you tell me? Won't tell because you want to know. (What a twat). DJ on a power trip? Naw! It's all part of the FUN, maan. Why? Why do you want to know what the tune is? Who gives a fuck? Now where was I supposed to be playing next month? Shit, lost the bit of paper. High vitriol. Off yer heed. Sharp as a fuckin' brick. It's all fast blur. Literally hundreds of half caught conversations and statements. A month of experience compressed into a few hours. Here in the cauldron. Fuck it. Agree with everyone. Everyone's right anyway. It's all POV aint it? Blur. Zoom in. Fade to black. But not before picking up the f(r)ee money from the promoter. What a blinding night! And it's only 2am. Jump in the car. Arf. Am I driving? I can't. OK you then. But I drive home. Stereo on. Louder. Louder. Louder. Skin up. Drive fast. Faster. Faster. Don't drive so fast. Slow down. You're scaring me. Nearly there. Where's a fucking parking place? There. There. There!! You passed it. Reverse. Can't there's a car behind. Oh dear. Park up anyway. Out now on the street. Where's the club? Carry my records. Carry them yourself you lazy twat! God I hate carrying records. They're sooo heavy. On the door our people, in turn, do a thumb over the shoulder, as they file in, indicating to the bouncer that they are with the person behind. We're with him they say and they're in. Into the dark. Into the depths. Into the heat. The music. Sweet music. Our life. The rush. The heat. The club. We're in. Dump the fuckin' record box. Get a drink. Have a smoke. Find the promoter. He's shit-faced and splattered on a chair. Where and when? Upstairs at 4. One hour to chill. Stop my heart beating soo fast. Have another smoke. God it's hot. Suddenly, behind the decks. Sweat dripping onto records, into my eyes. Blinding, literally. I can't see at all. It's so fucking hot!The place is packed. Everyone is seriously mentally going for it. It's 200? See what you think of this, wham, they love it. I love it. The intense, joyous urgency. We dance and groove frantically together. Now this is fun, is it not? Concentrate you bastard. Get the next one lined up, and then you can talk and skin up or whatever. People talk, I don't hear. Sweaty. Sorted. It's set. Ready to go. Where's my skins? I need some water! 16 bars to end. Only ever get one chance to drop it in spot on. It goes in. Crowd whoop. I hear a clap in the dark. It's fucking hot in. Joy. God, I'm hot. Blink. Blink again. Wipe eyes with shirt but it's soaking wet. I hear my name being shouted. I look up. It's my DJ chum, who throws a bar towel and smiles. It's soaking but I use it anyway. Two and a half hours later I'm finished. Literally. It lasted 10 seconds DJ brain time.The next DJ, fresh, eager, edging into the cramped space behind the decks, hands me a smoke. I know he's there but don't want to acknowledge his presence but have to if I want toke. Clever. Not yet. One or two more. Then it's "Thanks". All yours mate. Handshakes. He's off. And he's fucking good. The crowd carry on dancing with a new urgency in that pumping, seamless, shit-faced way. The buzz of a new DJ. I'm out from behind the decks. A few handshakes. A few 'cheers mate'. Some more water. I'm as high as I'll ever be. Elation. A kiss. The peak. The feeling is perfect. The best. It's the place I always long to be. It is pure. It is selfish. It is pleasure. It is what it is to be a player of 12"s. It's a DJ thang. It lasts 2 minutes max. Then I'm down. Fast. Like a sack of shite. I'm shaky and tired. I need to sit down. Smoke. Drink. Deep breathing. Dazed almost, I can talk a little more now, out in the cool passage. The feeling wears off fast, but I want it again. I want it bad. I want it big. And I want it better than I've just experienced. It is all I'll live for and look forward to. I'm a sad vinyl junkie bastard, and my next fix can't come soon enough. Still, I do the next best thing. Talk to my old and new chums. Have a smoke, another drink. And dance. At the end of the night (morning) £60 is shoved in my hand. You're paying me? I should pay you! But listen DJ's, never, never, never tell a promoter that. It's our secret. The DJ vinyl junkie bastard fix. OK?

10 February 2009

The subject: Cabbage

The subject: Cabbage

Negative view: the loser of the vegetable kingdom, air-polluting scourge of school dinners and domestic kitchens.

Positive view: a star of the vegetable kingdom, mainstay of larders from Beijing to Bournemouth, and an essential ingredient in dozens of great dishes. Scientific view: various descendants of Brass/ca oleracea, native to the Mediterranean (and possibly Britain); forebears of Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli and cauliflower.

Field marshall’s view: distantly related to mustard gas. The basics Cabbage is a universal vegetable that’s available, in various forms, year round. Its sad reputation arises (literally and figuratively) from sulphur compounds that turn powerfully malodorous when the flesh is cut Wiser cooks know that it’s wonderful, whether in Korean kimchee, Portuguese caldo verde, or Auvergnat garbure.

The details: Brass/ca capitata — that is, basic white cabbage — has tightly packed, water-retaining leaves that help it stay fresh for weeks and stand up well to pickling. Needs fine shredding and careful cooking; pickles (including coleslaw) are the only good use for raw white cabbage. The cabbage-cook’s true comrade is, first of all, the Savoy, with green, tender leaves, which can be stir-fried, or boiled quickly in salted water, then tossed with butter or olive oil. Savoy is also the cabbage of choice for soups, andgreat for braising in stock with seasonings of your choice. Better still in a braise is red cabbage. This needs a lot of acid (vinegar or red wine) to fix the colour.

Favourite flavourings: any sweet-sour combination, any cured pork product, any spice (eg, cloves, coriander and cumin) that masks the sulphurous stench. The easy way out Not necessary if your batterie de cuisine runs to such luxuries as a knife — pre-chopped packs from supermarkets cost so much that it’s not worth the convenience. (If you really are that lazy, check carefully for any sign of browning).

9 February 2009

It takes five weeks, well four and a half, before she tells me...

Time now to go back. Four months earlier.
When I get back from my walk they're sitting on the sofa. Something is definitely going on, and it ain't cultural. They're too far apart for comfort.



Beadily I shove my aerial into the air and take the temperature. Yeah, can't I just smell humming dodginess in the atmosphere? I give him one of my looks.
It takes five weeks, well four and a half before she tells me. Before this I know something has happened. I know somethings gone down. I can smell it. It's those small things that you notice first or rather don't. They just leave a trail in the air that shouldn't be there, a discernible vapor with it's own smell. A vibe that when you walk through it it tingles the senses and says "Oi! Somethings up!"

Like I say it's the smells thing first but you know ten small things together can make it seem like one sort of half sized thing and that's easier to spot. I keep asking her, "Nero, are you all right?" and she'll go "Yeah", and I'll go "Are you sure?" and she'll go "Yeah". But I know she's not. I know somethings up. She's just, well, different in indiscernible ways.


It really comes home from the stratosphere at the end of one of the long weekends we really loved having. Out working from Thursday through till Sunday. Thursday down the Works, our local club night. Top people, lovely vibe, great music. Friday, say, me off DJing somewhere but with the gang in tow. Two days into the session or sesh as we call it. Saturday back to Kent and a big party with us doing the backroom, all the DJ's together, all the gang. Back to ours afterwards for the chill out with maybe a few of the guest DJ's in tow chatting and chilling till the night time then down the East Kent Pub, decks set up, for a few last beers and a few last tunes to see the weekend out with an alcoholic smile. The real hard core come back to ours Sunday night for coffee and whatever. Swell.

I had noticed that they were getting on better and better ever since “Him” joined the group a few months before. But, you know, that was good. Nero had said to me our relationship was "routine" but I took no notice. Why I took no notice of that casual throwaway comment I'll never know. Looking back in retrospect perhaps I should have. What does routine mean anyway? I thought it was a good thing to have a routine.

"He" had just got out of prison. He'd been caught with a few E's and got "banged up" for six months or so. Inside he'd got hold of the prison computers and taught himself graphic manipulation. On the out he was well keen to use his new skills as a means of escaping his criminal lifestyle. So he comes out, goes to one of our free parties and there and then knows what he wants to do. I don't mind taking him on because that is what our culture does. It takes the misfits, the rejects the fucked up and the slightly fucked up and sorts them out, one way or the other, giving them a code to live by and a reason for living. I don't underestimate the power of dance culture to really, genuinely, help people at the very least cope and at the most grow and expand into real good people who are happier with their shitty little lot in lower working class poverty trapdom where mental illness and violence and drugs and all sorts of fuck ups conspire to defeat, tread on and break everything they ever had. That is why dance culture is so important in our times. Or at least it was. That is why one more fuck up in the group was no big deal. He may have been uneducated and of dubious "pikey" origins who's only moral code seemed to be "if the bastards don't pay for their drugs then fuck them up". Him and his brother may have been tortured (I kid ye not) and mentally and physically and sexually abused as children by various people in their life like parents and babysitters and the like but, hey, he is a sharp guy and needs a chance like I can give him, know what I mean, and I know I can't afford not to give him that chance. Although looking back at the end of that last sentence I don't know why I thought that I needed to give him any thing. Perhaps I was so caught up in the loved up sensibility of the dance scene that it seemed like the right thing to do at the time? And on - So what if his brother is really, truly
psychopathic because he was tortured and hung by a rope and blinded in one eye when he was small boy. These sort of abuses are real and happening in our world right now. Did I want to add to them?

So anyway, he's now in the sound system doing stuff for me like getting pirate software for our computer off his mate Kappa who's got a job doing those stupid graphics on news programs for Sky TV (and he hates it because he's so fucking talented on those computers and despite getting paid loads of moolah he still hates his shitty job). After a while "He" goes "you ain't got many lights. I'll buy some". And he does. And now we've got lights and well designed flyers and good drugs and it looks like he can really help himslf get out and away from his sordid fucked up past and, you know, move on. Or is he just a opportunist, sexual and business and sees this bunch of, well, hippies really ripe for the plucking.

Looking back on things it's OK to see things you never saw at the time and see trivial things that were actually important turning points that future events hinged on. He's telling Nero all this and week in and week out she talks to him like she's helping him. She's this big blank screen and he's projcting all this stuff on to her and week in and week out they sit huddled in the corner and all this stuff just pours out not like a tap but like one of them tubes in a dam that opens real quick and all these thousands of gallons of water just shoot out fast and there's no stopping it and once it's out that's it; it's out. Not in.
So from Thursday to Sunday for months all this talking keeps Nero away from me. Like, I need her too, but she's just giving and giving and listening.

Till the day I notice she's changed...

**********

8 February 2009

“Don’t worry,” she says...


So, loads of spliff and cups of tea and ‘Michael Collins’ for the movie matinee on the sofa and all the chat I’ve briefly outlined above sees me opening my heart to Laura and telling her how I see what’s been going on with Nero and I (I’ll tell you later). 



It’s really done me a lot of good and it’s done me no good at all because I’ve opened the lid again and became all emotionally upset and I’m heaving heavy sighs of despondency.

Laura leaves and before I have time to think Bill arrives and he’s more spaced out than I am and he’s more confused than I am but for different reasons. His mental health is poor and after his poor mum Section 28’ed him she dumped him like a sack of shit and moved away and when he got out everyone was really funny towards him because no one understands what it is like to lose the balance of your mind, but I do, and I took him on ‘care in the community’ style and now he’s got out of that shitty bed-sit he used to live in and is now in Whitstable and just “hangs out” occasionally with us lot because we don’t mind him being spaced and sitting in the corner staring and laughing at his fingernails.

I’ve encouraged him to buy a few records and now he wants to be a DJ, and he is telling me, real excited like, that he’s going to buy some decks for £700 and, you know, be a DJ. I should be encouraging him and I do in a way, by nodding and giving him some tea and letting him watch me play a game on my PC and rolling a spliff and before I know it it is six o’clock and Nero has come home from her shitty job that she’s been doing for six years down at Canterbury Wholefoods.

I don’t really have time to say hello properly but I do know I have big plans for tonight. A mean South East Asian stir fry is on the agenda and a top positive re-bonding session is on the cards. I’ve got a bottle of wine and we’re, you know, going to see what happens. Hopefully rekindle our social intimacy. A nice quiet night in, just me and my…





There’s another knock at the door. I leave Bill staring at the computer screen and Nero in the kitchen unpacking her daily goody bag of great unaffordable items of foody deliciousness from around the vegetarian world and go and answer it.


It’s Tribble. “Got any hash?” he asks unshyly. Before I can answer the outside door of our block opens and in walks Pilly laden down with Tesco’s bags full of food and a big smile on her tanned thin face. Behind her is Mike who earlier said he was having trouble with his mice cage as they kept escaping and running around the house. He also had a few bags of stuff and it looks like they’re going to have a feed and a laugh and a mix. Behind him comes “the catalyst” – “Him”. “You can try asking him”, I say to Tribble pointing at “Him” as he disappears up the stairs to Pilly and Mike’s top floor flat.




Now, today is Wednesday, and as much as I (used to) like “Him”, he rings me at least three times a day and visits at least once a day. Last week I asked him, er, you know, politely, NOT to ring me so many times through the week or to visit so much. I like to spend some time alone with Nero and it is really hard to do that with him sitting on the sofa opposite. It’s not that I don’t want him to call or visit it’s just that he gets so manic and so excited he can’t really control his impulsive behavior. And, really, since his new role as ‘the catalyst’ my feelings towards him are changing.


Last Friday at Sandy’s ‘Organic Earth Crew’ night in Canterbury at the Cross Keys we had a ‘bit’ of a confrontation. Well, we shouted at each other for a while in front of the whole pub and I said to him that he’s fucked my relationship up. He replied that our relationship was fucked anyway, which I didn’t, really didn’t, want to hear, so I went and sat at the bar and Sandy’s partner Philli had a lovely chat with me and explained in her lovely new-age, humanist way how destructive jealously can be. “Tell me about it”, I said. So she did. Out of nothing comes something. I met a new friend that night and she’s great.


Anyway, Tribble disappears round the corner and after a mumble or two “Him” says to me “Can I borrow your scales?” innocuous enough you might think but it’s like he switched some trigger in my head and I, well, see my self flip out big time showing myself up and self control goes out on a windowless limb. Anger consumes and envelopes, but it’s not just anger its frustration and fear and loathing and the big red mist descends and I’m no longer myself any more. I’ve been taken over by ‘the beast that emerges when I don’t understand or control things’.


“FFARRKING HELL”, I shout (I think I did shout that because it’s really difficult to articulate anger in retrospect) and storm down the passageway into the kitchen. Bill stares blankly from the studio understanding even less than normal.


“Who is it?” says Nero.


“WHO IS IT?” I shout back, “Who is it? Who is it? I’ll give you one fucking guess.” I’m now bellowing like an out of control madman because I am an out of control madman right up close in Nero’s face. “I’LL GIVE YOU ONE FUCKING GUESS WHO IT IS?”


Nero is understandably shocked and upset but the Red Mist doesn’t care it just consumes. “GO ON, GO ON, GO ON,” I go. “GUESS, GUESS, GUESS.” Total and utter lost it case. “Please stop,” my real self says somewhere inside my head but the anger doesn’t want to stop.


The jealousy won’t stop.


It bellows on. On. On and on.


“Remorselessly and relentlessly,” Nero says later. I grab the scales and head back up the passage. “Him”, Tribble, everyone’s gone but I still sling the scales out into the passage anyway and they clink on the cool, tiled floor and suddenly and as quickly as it had flared up it died down.


The first emotions back into my brain and body redden my face deeply and I immediately slink into post-jealousy embarrassment. What a fool. What an idiot. Why, why can’t I control this emotion? Bill, realizing that I’m actually ‘madder’ than he is shoots off quickly. The door is shut and silence reigns as I walk back down the passage to see Nero. She says nothing as usual but just looks with drooped eyes and welling tears. “Nero…” I begin to say. “Don’t worry,” she says and takes me to her breast and hugs in silence right there in the kitchen in front of the uncooked meal we’re not going to have and the wine we’re not going to drink. We hug and hug and hug.


**********

7 February 2009

It can really be bad sometimes...


It can really be bad sometimes; just sitting and walking and not living and not knowing how or why it's happening or how and why to stop it. If indeed you can? 

Perhaps the sheer inevitability of it all is what's scary. Being scared and being hurt. That’s being alive isn't it? You got to live through it?

I inevitably kicked off again last night. I didn't want to, really, really didn't want to, because, you know, there should be some emotional control? Isn’t that we we’re brought up to do? Well, at least enough so that you don't go embarrassing yourself (again) in public; or the people around you.

I really try just to not let it bother me but it's because I try that the forces build and build like someone shaking a bottle of fizzy water and despite the fact the tops on it all just either explodes or the top flies off hitting someone in the eye. That's what happened last night. Or I think it did. Can you analogise jealousy with an exploding bottle?


I'd had a great day talking to the Lovely Laura who'd been through a similar experience. If you really want something the whole world will conspire with you to make it happen. Or so 'they' say. That's fine if it's something positive but if it's negative; deep trouble emanates.

Anyway, this is what I've found out; jealousy is a taboo emotion. If you're experiencing it no one wants to know. Indeed that is the passive response. The active response can be downright hostility and if the hostility comes from the people close to you it serves to isolate and breed fear and paranoia. It is jealousy and it’s an emotion. 


I'm projecting the full force of this jealousy onto one person. But really it's not him. Not him at all. He's the catalyst; the catalyst that brought the full force of mine and Nero's oh so failing love right to the itchy surface of my freckled skin. And it's flaking. Bad.

So anyway, Laura was at this free party and she saw her boyfriend Jack kissing a girl called Heda. Not your normal sort of mwwwaa; hiya; how's tricks; I'm pleased to see you; we're chums kind of kiss. No it was a full blown plumber’s seal of a plunger.

Now welling up with strange emotions:
"I thought it was bloody well out of order" she said. She confronted him saying "what you doing snogging Heda in front of me?"


He replies that "it's only a kiss and that kisses mean no more than that. What's wrong with that? Can't a guy kiss his female friends?"

What made things worse was that Laura really didn't know anyone. All her friends he knew but he had lots of friends she didn't know. It made her feel isolated. Anyway, later, he disappeared into the woods and didn't come back for a few hours which left Laura thinking "where is he?" When he did come back he made excuses and proceeded to ignore her for the rest of the party. Near the end they were all sitting around and Laura just happened to be sitting next to Heda and Jack shouted over that there was Laura, the girlfriend who wouldn't let him kiss other women. This isolated Laura over the next few weeks as people avoided her and would occasionally say to her "oh, you're Jack girlfriend and won't let him kiss other women". Which, of course, wasn't true but became true because Jack told everyone that it was.


At another party, outdoors again, Laura's ‘off it’ walk in the woods saw her sitting in a clearing deep breathing till the effects passed. When she got back Jack came up and demanded to know where she had been. The trail of mutual suspicion had begun and soon occupied their every waking moment, especially at parties. What with mutual recriminations, accusations and counter accusations, tears, storming off in huffs, big shouty public arguments and counterproductive and obvious snogs with other people the writing was well and truly on the wall for them.


It was Jack’s last night in the UK before he flew off traveling and he was out with Laura. The previous month’s aggression had died down a little but he was still ignoring her at this party. He had her weed but wouldn't let her have any of it. Later he disappeared and returned hours later only to be met by Laura asking where he had been.


"I've been to score some weed for someone", he says. "Fine", she replied, "can I have my weed now?"

"I've smoked it. And I've got none left. But you're still taking me to the airport tomorrow?"

You have got to understand that I’m recounting Laura’s version of events and she might not paint Jack in too good a light. Laura just kept real quiet and vowed to herself that she wasn't going to take him to any airport or anything. Next morning she awakes to find Jack asleep in a drunken stupor in another room.

"I will not wake him so that he misses his plane", she says to her self. "But, hey, hang on. If he misses his plane he'll still be here. He'll be pissed off and shouty and still be around to give me more of the same". She decides to wake him.

All the way to the airport is one big slanging, emotional pie fight. He refuses to get out of the car and go till she promises to still be his "best friend". She does not want to but says it anyway. He goes. It is the end of the relationship.



The whole point of this, to me your ever so flawed narrator, was the beginning of the end of Laura and Jack started with jealously. The killer emotion. The consuming emotion. The destroying emotion. The slow burning inevitability that your once precious relationship is no more. I am not going to let this happen to me and my relationship with Nero. At least I think it won't. This strange emotion that lets you think it's been beaten then, wham, it jumps back up and out and says "flame on" and you burn bright orange heat of destruction and it consumes all before it. "I'm here and I'm in control" it says. "And there's nothing you can do about it".

6 February 2009

horoscopes


Capricorn - Crap at cards you may be, but this is your month for luurrve! Due to a once in a millenium conjunction between Pluto and Venus expect your dream date to show up on your doorstep lunch time on the 14th, with a bag full of grade A's and a burning in their loins. Unfortunately you'll be down the housing benefit office all day as you've had no cheques for a month. C'est la vie!
Aquarius - You've been waiting long enough for this new age to start and there's only really one way to do it. For the next month you must give all your money and drugs to an exceptionally tall man, with long hair and a gold tooth. Remember you don't want to be held responsible for standing in the way of enlightenment of all mankind, do you?

Pisces - A good month for travel. Sadly this will involve either being arrested by the Met and being taken to an East London nick for questioning about a gangland murder, or being mistaken for a lottery winner and kidnapped. Destiny sees you dropping a hot pot noodle on your bare feet.

Aries - A great month for being creative, so spend your time thinking up new false names and address' for the next time you get stopped by the rozzers or practising signatures for your next kiting expedition. Destiny sees you being rudely interupted whilst masterbating.

Leo - You are largely considered by many astrologers to be head of the fire signs. With this in mind you will be upset to hear of irretrievable hot rock damage to your most expensive shirt/jacket or both. Be frugle whilst carrying cash (let's face it, when aren't you?) as many Leos will find themselves being mugged by deranged Big Issue vendors.

Virgo - Well, lucky, lucky, lucky you, sex, money and travel all before the 6th. Oh, hold on that's Scorpio. Actually it's best I don't tell you this month. After all even Nostrodamus held some back in the name of mental stability. Destiny sees you hiding in a cupboard with rampant paranoia.

Libra - Notorious swingers that you are you're probably still staggering around wondering what year it is. Lady luck will smile on you around the next new moon, when you should remember where you live. But avoid supermarkets around the 18th as you will be gripped by an overwhelming urge to steal Shiphams Paste wrappers.

Sagittarius - This is your year! You can expect to be the talk of the town and gain celebrity status beyond your widest dreams when you become the centre of one of the decades most outrageous sex scandals involving several 'liberal' MPs, a sack of road tar and a tall geordie.
Destiny sees you laughing like Sid james at an inappropriate moment.

Scorpio - Without doubt one of the most handsome, debonaire, intelligent and sexually dynamic signs in the Zodiac, this, as ever, should be an exceptionally good month for travel, money, sex and meeting interesting and influential new friends. But in reality you'll probably be spending most of it alone, in bed, as no one really likes you, you treacherous bastard. Don't bother buying a lottery ticket!

Cancer - With Mars in your 3rd full moon and the sun in Uranus you can expect to find yourself getting arrested for ABH every weekend until well into June. You will have no luck in hitch hiking for the next two years and destiny sees you becoming flustered in a sex shop while trying to buy amyl nitrate. Expect worse news next month.

Gemini - While Capricorns may appear to be this months love warriors, it's female Geminis who are the real winners in the romance game. You will find true love amongst a group of eager Aquarians with a gold toothed man who will be unable to stand, whilst laughing like a kid and juggling Margaritas. Destiny sees you wishing you'd never talked to him.

Taurus - You sense that it's time for a change and quite frankly, so does everyone else. So get yourself down to marks and Sparks and buy yourself some new keks! Could be a good time to give up smoking, due mainly to the fact that your left lung's gonna collapse on the 9th.
Destiny sees you buying a very tall man several pints. Cheer...

5 February 2009

All I really need to know

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but here in the sandpile these are the things I learned:


Share everything.
Play fair.
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Flush.


Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why,but we are all like that..


Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.


And then remember the Dick - and - Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of them all - LOOK.


-Robert Fulghum.

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