"The dimension of time has been shattered, we cannot love or think except in fragments of time each of which goes off along its own trajectory and immediately disappears."
- Italo Calvino, If on a winter's night a traveler
I could be described, on reflection, as the product of Bruce Springsteen and Joe Strummer.
Six years to the day before my birth Ian Curtis returned home for the last time. In sympathy, hours later, Mount St. Helens erupted.
It is likely that someone, somewhere, was dancing to 'The Chicken Song' as I came into the world.
Cypress Hill, Inspiral Carpets, King Missile, The Lemonheads, Manic Street Preachers, N.W.A., No Doubt, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Pixies, Radiohead, Salt-n-Pepa, T'Pau, The Vaselines, The 126.96.36.199's ____________________________________________ those that survived are as old as me.
To my knowledge I was not named after minor celebrity Matthew Kelly.
It is no accident that World Information Society Day would later coincide with my birthday.
He wanted to be a yuppie. The affair was a part of that.
Privatisation ruined my youth, and would splinter the politics of my young manhood by creating a conflict between familiarity and idealism.
Three vivid memories remain from the second house I grew up in, none from the first.
I have three vivid memories from the second house I grew up in: watching Sesame Street on a black and white television; getting into a bath wearing Thomas the Tank Engine slippers; being given a toy plane by Dad after he returned from a business trip.
I haven't always had a fear of flying.
The first albums I learned by heart were Psyche by PJ and Duncan A.K.A and Spiders by Space. I owned them on cassette.
I had been dancing to Coolio's 'Gangsta's Paradise' and sipping relative's drinks under the radar as the wedding disco carried on. Shortly afterwards I began to vomit.
I was nine years old when I got my first hangover.
The chubbiness turned to scrawniness almost overnight. From that point on I was pretty lucky: I would never be the fat one.
Britpop summed up in an instant: Sitting in the back of Mum's car on holiday on the Isle of Wight listening to 'Parklife'.
Mark 'E' Everett and Damon Albarn could, in many ways, be seen as paternal figures to a young boy in the mid-90's. Their observational perspective was a dangerous lesson to learn so early though.
"Matthew is a serious pupil"
- Mrs Lockley, 1997
Veselka's came to me as if in a dream, looming out of the intermittent snow and demanding I slip inside for a coffee. Johnson didn't like it: "A greenhouse for the self-celebrating liminal classes".
I won't begin with Warhammer.
I will comfortably skip past the scars on my knees to pick over scabs left by heart on my sleeve.
My first girlfriend, Lottie, moved away to America when I was five. It could be argued that this left me with unresolved issues.
Superheroes have been lauded as the mythology of the twentieth century, a bank of stories in which the feats of the fictional mighty form a collection of core morality tales, characters reverting to type for the commencement of a new saga. In reality they divert the minds of impressionable boys the world over.
I have always been impressionable.
From a certain vantage point - long ago beside my shoulder as I draw and listen to the radio - you can see in the distance a fork in the road. There is a girl stood at it. _________________________ There is always a girl stood at it.
As a young boy, hunched over my desk beside a CD/Radio, the late evening airwaves provided quite some comfort. I revelled in an inside world, soundtrack selected by people who knew better than me.
It all happened at once.
For the longest time music wasn't the issue.
Auteur: a filmmaker whose individual style and complete control over all elements of production give a film its personal and unique stamp.
I started listening to John Peel by accident. He was right after Steve Lamacq, and if I hadn't finished drawing then I would work on through Melt Banana, field recordings and a soothing, scratchy husk that seemed to make the jumble of sounds reassuring.
I started listening to Steve Lamacq by accident. I had begun to draw, copying freehand panels from comics and crudely inking this sketchy mimicry. His voice, rarely excited, started to open my ears.
I started to listen, really listen, to music by accident. Steve Lamacq slipped on "Junkies and Whores" and it moved me to put down my pen. On reflection it could have been anything.
Why did I stop drawing? Why did I start writing?
At the fork in the road, where the girl stands, there are notices pertaining to dress codes. One refers to jumpers, the other to hoodies. I have to choose one.
"Life has surface noise" - Too fucking right.
The boy looked at Thomas and said "If she doesn't love me I'll jump off of that crane."
The boy looked at Johnny and said "My word, that was fun!"
Two beautiful junkies wanted to tell stories. They met, that much is certain, and they wound each other up something rotten.
"Liminal? You mean this gang of junkies and drunks?" Thompson cut to the quick and sipped on his first beer of the day. It was a little after 9am and Morley was yet to arrive for breakfast at Veselka's.
Later, 'Don't Look Back Into The Sun' would try to bring together half a generation. It's Bernard Butler's delicate attention to jangle and spit that allows it to leap from the splintering older brothers who drank to Britpop and filter through into those then too young for New Wave. But not yet.
In the suburbs of Hampshire excitement can and will bubble up from any direction. It has to. Something has to beat cycling the same frustrated routes between uniform redbrick.
Music shouldn't have mattered. Film mattered. Cinema was the ultimate escape, an opportunity to wallow in a dark room and be swept somewhere else.
Setting: the back rows of an Odeon, protagonist flitting between broken social groups, hamfistedly trying to glue them back together.
There are two copies of the NME on the newsagent's shelf: One cover of Carl, the other of Pete.
One day I'm holding Natalie's hand, the next I'm kissing Beth.
Time for heroes? Almost.
In the suburbs the need for a swell of excitement triggered fantastical leaps of the imagination, dreamscapes within which one could step up and ascend. Eventually the step itself became became more significant, the act and need for motion dominating every waking thought.
Up The Bracket was a landscape written in song.
Contrary to popular opinion, Up The Bracket wasn't the first formative musical attachment for me. I wallowed in the suburbs before finding a blueprint to escape it.
She made mix CDs with sparse covers and told everyone "You have to love Green Day". She wore wolly gloves up her arms and would grow into a rainbow of hair dye. She would sleep with my best friend, years later.
The girl at the crossroads smeared her make-up with tears and sang by my earlobe "bring me to life".
"I hate female singers"
Set: The black space of a cinema, surrounded by allies, the protagonist watches Daredevil. The soundtrack moves him more than the images.
"Out of here, out of fear." Almost.
For an impressionable mind the impetus of Evanescence's 'Bring Me To Life' was one of flight while doves 'There Goes The Fear' conjured visions of escape. I hadn't quite put the pieces together, but I would.
Her Mum got us drunk because she saw how nervous we were, so I lost my virginity while my head swam in absinthe. Most of the days and nights in her bedroom have blended into one now, there were a lot of them.
She wasn't the girl at the crossroads.
There were two covers on the newsagent's stand, one of Pete and the other of Carl. The selection of one or the other felt like a declaration, like picking a team, but that was just an illusion: The point of the covers wasn't about being for Pete or for Carl. It was about being a Libertine regardless of your disparate allegiances and ideals, regardless of poetry or prose and which leap towards self-mythology was the least disappointing. In that seven day instant there was a cultural assumption that everyone was a Libertine. And, yes, that was just another illusion, but it was a really good one.
"The dual problem and pleasure we have here, and by 'we' I mean both the societal collective and the specific 'we' I'm about to sit with, is the inability to outgrow a subconscious tendency towards the iconographic coupled with personal refusals, though not by ourselves in this this instance, to embrace that in acts of self-mythology." At this Morley hung his jacket over the back of his chair and joined myself, Thompson and Johnson for breakfast at Veselka's. He soon ordered waffles.
Summer 2004, too much sunshine. I singularly fail to seduce my then-girlfriend at The Reading Festival, and Mark and I are left once again in the lurch by our dirty idols when The Libertines play as a three piece. Later we mock The Distillers, shouting to them 'Play the Thunderbirds theme!' _____________________________ Why?
Music festivals aren't remembered for the hours of boredom and tedious mediocrity. History will not record the name of the band I saw that Friday afternoon, nor that I lay unmoved.
She was stood at the crossroads. She wore _______________________________________I don't remember what she wore actually, I just remember her smeared make-up, which was all that seemed to matter.
By the time he remembered the crossroads the girl was long gone. He turned left.
"We are made up of the choices of our cultural inputs, but beside that we are fundamentally all the same."
I was six when my first girlfriend got out of Hedge End. She left for America. Her name was Lottie. I associate her with Teenage Mutant Turtles and Micro Machines.
When I got to London the move from tatty pop-punk to braying young scenester didn't take too long. I didn't cut my hair for a long time and it hung like a mop over my eyes.
She entered a small, pokey little room, and realised he would do his best in drunk isolation.
She took to studying me with malignant indifference. We broke up to Bloc Party.
Silent Alarm can suck my balls.
It could be said that I am the product of Pete Doherty and the act of thinking too much, but it probably shouldn't.
Once upon a time, a fan and an idol crossed paths at the foot of the stage. The idol kissed the fan, and others, while pausing for breath mid-verse. Something happened. They hugged later.
I lose track of where I ought to start my story, and find notes for a forgotten project. They read: "Did he love you?" "Only when he was on ecstasy."
I couldn't listen to The Saturdays. I tried, but it just wasn't happening. What tore up nine years that the resurgence of The... could be bookended with The Strokes and The Saturdays? What happened to me in that time?
"Only when he was on ecstasy." An odd story that it starts with those words. A character who relied on external chemical imbalances for emotional connection rather than internal ones. Mine were always internal.
A casual conversation with a friend: "Fancy coming to FROG?"
There was this bearded man and a former scenester who took me under their collective wing, one demonstrating bedroom collectivism and the other midnight revelry.
The first drink I felt comfortable in was Vodka. Cool, crisp, malleable: it was the shape of vacancy and the texture of apathy. What I started to like about it, when I started to like it, was the speed with which I could forget myself. It was tremendous and easy.
Hunched over my stomach in the tube, a terrible hangover biting hard and my brain twisting around the concepts I'm trying to read, I start to dry-heave and wretch, choking for air. It took three attempts to read Atrocity Exhibition, worth every disorientating shock.
The idea of Morley presented me with a non sequitur over breakfast at Veselka's: "I would consider, one day, writing only in repetition-repetition-reh-puh-tih-shuun."
The idea of Morley presented me with a non sequitur over breakfast at Veselka's: "I would consider, one day, writing a book of false starts."
Between 1999 and 2008 I collected somewhere in the region of two thousand individual comic books. They provide around 9 meters of pain and discomfort whenever I move house.
Silent running. The house thrums, but I make only the tiniest of noises: I'm not really here you see.
She shared my mother's name. A mistake I should not have made, flushed with youth and wine and other things. She told me she loved me around hour twenty, so it was never really going to last longer than twenty four.
Long coat, ill-fitting, too-tight shirt and black trousers. Sneakers didn't fit the look but they or Army surplus boots were all he had. He could have come from four eras.
Further all the time, at a distance, the crossroads. Little idea where I'm heading.
If three people spoke in seminars then I was one of them. I was not the bookish quoter of wrote text, nor was I the measured balance of reading and screening. I was lively, rooted in emotional reactions. I left the set texts behind and busked it from there.
When I moved to London I worked out that Uni mattered little, so I ignored most of the reading material and coasted.
Academically I peaked before making a decision at a cultural crossroads.
So, with one exception, I could never really keep friends around for long.
A large hall, many ages, split into two sections:
1: AH! O-Ooo! AH! O-Ooo!
2: OhAhOh! OhAhOh!
Harmony, metaphorical or not, is a powerful discovery.
"Maybe you could write about your failures with women?" "Don't I already do that?"
Few things match seeing your idols crumble. Pete(r) Doherty became a tabloid monkey-boy manchild shortly after we embraced at Camden's Barfly. It broke my heart to see his words and music soaked up by polo-shirts and branded tracksuits, but I let the icon rot. I stopped caring.
They won't write the book about FROG because most people won't remember being there.
Cultural explosions have mapped my life.
Imagine creativity as a grandfather clock: On the tick you're soaking up sources, on the tock you're broadcasting output. It takes a while to regularise that tick and tock, and only at the best and worst of times will it beat in time with seconds.
"I always preferred The Smiths" she said.
"Who is Ian Curtis?" asked B. S. Johnson, over breakfast at Veselka's.
one hundred one
The first recorded reference I made to Joy Division can be found as an abstract mention of a playlist on a napkin. I have no memory of the song or the instant. About two years later I found myself in the shitty surrounds of my flat in Angel, hunched over my stereo, soaking up the sound of Unknown Pleasures.
one hundred two
I heard Unknown Pleasures for the first time as it leaked out of my Dad's car stereo. We were returning from URBIS to his rented house on the outskirts of Manchester.
one hundred three
Bassett played me Unknown Pleasures for the first time in his room in Angel, educating me about post-punk over vodka and squeezed lemon.
one hundred four
The first big weekend of the summer and I leave the house to the sound of 'Disorder', playing that seminal album for the first time through tinny headphones while my being is altered.
one hundred five
I was inspired to buy Unknown Pleasures after a thousand Tuesday nights spent religiously wasted at Panic! The CD sat unopened in my satchel until I lurched home one week. 3am and I play it through Media Player, my album dominating my conscious thought thereafter.
one hundred six
I was born on the seventeenth day of May, and I learned quickly that lost boys with blue eyes ought to stick together.
one hundred seven
I got lost in Peter Saville.
one hundred eight
Tony Wilson ate my hamster.
one hundred nine
Martin Hannett scored my coming-of-age.
one hundred ten
I needed an Alan Erasmus.
one hundred eleven
It is a dangerous thing to have a little knowledge about the gang of junkies and chancers that formed Factory Communications.
one hundred twelve
Microcosmic: Factory. A universal broken mirror. Art as concept and product. Existence as catalogue number. Enemy to the completist, friend to the tinpot surrealist. Blueprint of inspirational failure.
one hundred thirteen
Imagine having the power to change the life of a city. No, really, sit back and imagine yourself part of an engine that unpacks material desolation and provokes pride.
one hundred fourteen
Wallowing in the echoes of someone else's sadness, she never embraced the Fake Irish moniker; she never got the joke.
one hundred fifteen
So you press play and the echo slaps you.
one hundred sixteen
A delay, a stutter, a space in which sound is engorged.
one hundred seventeen
Morris was too terse to be an icon.
one hundred eighteen
Sumner's identity fluctuated too much to be iconographic.
one hundred nineteen
Hooky was an icon, and ought to have been mine.
one hundred twenty
"Who is Ian Curtis?" asked Hunter S. Thompson over breakfast at Veselka's.
one hundred twenty one
Unknown Pleasures builds you up and knocks you down and nobody else can hope to understand it, especially the ill-advised one-night-stand who shivers beside you under the sheets before leaving for the nightbus.
one hundred twenty two
He was tall, wore his hair practically but scruffy and had it cropped shorter as he got older. The suburbs dissatisfied him. Pages of notebooks and blank sheets began to be filled with his handwriting, taking the vistas of his idols and writing himself into the cracks.
one hundred twenty three
There's that photo of Curtis looking back at the camera, escaping the confines of greyscale for an instant, searching for the man muttering "This is the way, step inside"
one hundred twenty four
Isolated, full of cold, freezing, sad, sleeping in skinny jeans, duvet augmented by a winter coat, no heating, occasionally leaky ceiling, mice, five months drunk.
one hundred twenty five
I could talk around E- forever
one hundred twenty six
Biographically, you'll see, I found Joy Division at exactly the right time, which is to say at a bad time.
one hundred twenty seven
The girl at the crossroads sent me by way of Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, Bloc. Party, The Futureheads, jerky guitar pop of the noughties. They were beautiful days, with notions of authenticity and fidelity dismissed hastily. But that fell apart when I started working backwards.
one hundred twenty eight
"Look, I made you a mix-CD" and of course I fell in love.
one hundred twenty nine
"Stop taking things so seriously!" she said, but - by god - I'd only just started.
one hundred thirty
I'd count the stops to myself.
one hundred thirty one
"Matt, I think you need to get counselling."
one hundred thirty two
There was a period of about five months where I was seldom sober and utterly heartbroken. I listened to a lot of Joy Division and found myself in a self-destructive non-relationship with someone I met through a music-industry contact. I try to let elements of that leak into my writing, pretty much as an exorcism.
one hundred thirty three
Bitterly drunk, he tells the family that he can't remember the name of last night's girl. His sister, though amused, tells him to get his shit together.
one hundred thirty four
Ian and Pete were tall, the dream versions of both even taller. They ____________ grappled. The fight awkward. ____________ It was all elbows and limbs and style. In one you found terse tones and history, in the other gin and fables.
one hundred thirty five
It's in the cry of "No Love Lost" when it crackles through speakers.
one hundred thirty six
Yeah, but it cut me up when polo shirts and football fans knew the words to "Albion", because that foggy sound was mine. Loose lipped whispers, muddy drunk in gin and mine, fucking mine.
one hundred thirty seven
E: I thought you didn't like him?
M: No, I loved him. You can't not like someone after that.
one hundred thirty eight
Formative years: the kaleidoscope settles on a prim vision of grey, epaulettes and skinny ties topping Converse and skittish movement.
one hundred thirty nine
"And we can daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaance!"
one hundred forty
Morley pauses for breath, supping from a strong coffee over breakfast at Veselka's. He says "Ian Curtis was the ageless voice of reason, despairing in the night as the towers man built up threatened to block out the sun. He was the question, static, hanging unasked. The answer could only be found in a place far distant from material concerns, which is why his music became a topography of dark pop, embracing machines to tell a vast and base story about lonliness and longing and love and liminality and literature and light."
one hundred forty one
There is a always a girl at the crossroads. She forces you to commit to directions, nudging you along paths you might not otherwise take.
one hundred forty two
Pete lost big. An echo of a conversation with Kieron, who I had not yet met: How would you feel if The Libertines reformed? They would not be The Libertines, I tell him.
one hundred forty three
Seriously, once and never again: That level of bullshit isn't worth repeat visits.
one hundred forty four
Forty feet above St Johns Street I slept on a rooftop, vegan sausages plump on a barbeque of tinfoil. People died in that heat while I sipped rum and swapped stories, not much younger but a lifetime ago.
one hundred forty five
Where is the sunshine sound in the centre of the city? Joy Division came close, but "Sorry For Laughing" comes closer.
one hundred forty six
We can dance, and we like to, and our arms pump from the elbows while feet slip-shuffle over fragments of dropped glasses and still-sticky ice-cubes. It's an alternative canon, some lexicon of 'men with guitars' that prides intellect over testosterone - just. The Velvet Underground as valid as The Beta Band as valid as Baader Meinhof as valid as Titus Andronicus as valid as Josef K as valid as A Certain Ratio as valid as Deerhunter as valid as Gang of Four as valid as the next new noise same as the old new noise.
one hundred forty seven
I've got to get out of this place.
one hundred forty eight
Pinwheeling through Panic! the skinny tie reaches terminal velocity.
one hundred forty nine
Seli implores me: Come to New York! I shouldn't, but do, and I'm glad I did.
one hundred fifty
Ian Curtis killed himself on the eve of a U.S. tour.
one hundred fifty one
I am to think of New York now, but I find this difficult. Under shade of trees in mid-day sun I write at the top of a hill. I had hoped clouds might cool this walk above Menton, but they have blown quickly over the Alpes Maritimes and instead I gently melt. The mountains dwarf me, and are bisected by the concrete highways that roar along the French Riviera and into Italy. I am on holiday, and for the first time in a long time I mean that. There is no chase, my mind does not race with considerations, my heartbeat is slower and I am not in much pain. There is, of course, a distance here between the conception and the realisation: I am to think of New York while in France; I am to type this while in New York; This will be published while in Montreal; You will read this whenever. I am to think of New York. The first time.
one hundred fifty two
"You really put a lot of yourself into this don't you?"
one hundred fifty three
Plane lands, I get The Fear. Somewhere in Brooklyn I disembark, confused. Kids lob bottles onto the tracks and an attendant rushes me onto the next train to Manhattan.
one hundred fifty four
I am not scared of Manhattan.
one hundred fifty five
Maybe she was stranded, looking for something to do, the girl at the crossroads of Bleeker and Broadway.
one hundred fifty six
Schulze & Webb's map transforms the idea of a city, changes the shape and trajectory of motion.
one hundred fifty seven
Of course, New York catalysed Boston. Liz let me run around a radio station and a mini-mall and I left with two defining documents: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 and In The Aeroplane Over The Sea.
one hundred fifty eight
On Wednesdays the local take out drops off free cheese pizzas at the Chelsea International Hostel.
one hundred fifty nine
E- asked me not to leave. I forget that, from time to time, and when I do remember I feel something close to hate.
one hundred sixty
Johnson sits in silence for a moment, his borscht gently cooling as we breakfast at Veselka's.
one hundred sixty one
For the longest part of my life my eyes misread a reproduced painting at the home of my Grandparents. Instead of an avenue in the French countryside lined with autumnal trees I would see the upright spines of a skeletal Stegosaurus.
one hundred sixty two
Don't you find some art just arrives at the wrong time? Like, maybe a year or three late? Being able to scream "I've got a fist on fire!" in late 2005 would have shifted gears on a lot of stuff. But, hey, I got lost in a well of Factory classics and echoes, shaped as much by the tall, sad man as his manic enabler, who actually recorded silence.
one hundred sixty three
I am, now, a bit allergic to Vodka and to Paracetamol, but I wasn't always.
one hundred sixty four
Would you believe she said that? Would you?
one hundred sixty five
Winter broke, and Angel was the very pitch of desperation.
one hundred sixty six
He says "I'm leaving London".
one hundred sixty seven
Hangdog face, slumped, wretched, waiting for the arrival of The Auteur to stoke a fire.
one hundred sixty eight
Hangdog face, slumped, wretched, waiting for The Idea of Kate Jackson to freeze my heart and strike a pose.
one hundred sixty nine
Fucking Lou Reed. Why wait for anyone?
one hundred seventy
"Gotta slow it down, baby, gotta have some fun!"
one hundred seventy one
Life alone in Angel is far from fun.
one hundred seventy two
Ever tried, and failed, to trap mice in your bedroom?
one hundred seventy three
Cables stretch from under the futon, snaking around piles of books and music, tracking under the tiny table the computer sits on and slipping between the chest of drawers and wardrobe. They seemingly swamp what dead space the boxy trap offers, powering sound and fury.
one hundred seventy four
The wallowing howl of Tunde Adebimpe stalks me.
one hundred seventy five
Alone in Angel, haunted by the ghostlike sound of TV on the Radio, my stomach is ruined.
one hundred seventy six
Auteur theory is so easy to grasp. Never less than compelling, it offers the suggestion - the image - of career development and hope, of futures and of being taken, in part, as a whole, or as a whole taken apart.
one hundred seventy seven
Dwell for a moment on the ghost of TV on the Radio: A vision in the shape of nu-soul nerds, relaying the hope and doomed futures of the Jackson 5. A ghost with pace and jet-black cool, a ghost with emptiness, reaching into your stomach and pulling from it energy and rhythm and every ounce of guarded experience.
one hundred seventy eight
When I threw up the last of it there was blood and yellow bile. The chorus to "White Collar Boy" by Belle and Sebastian had been repeating in my head for a torturous five hours.
one hundred seventy nine
"Matt, do you want to find somewhere to live?" My Dad's own rescue mission.
one hundred eighty
It's breakfast, and four of us sit quietly in Veselka's, appreciating a moment in thought of those who brought us into this world. Morley looks sad, but through fond memory, while Johnson looks physically pained. Thompson is drunk.
one hundred eighty one
Crouch End, sunny or snow-locked: an excellent location.
one hundred eighty two
Streets borrowed from Shaun of the Dead: No girls at the crossroads, only zombies.
one hundred eighty three
'Nothing worse than being a BBC wife' so the saying goes. It demonstrates a profound lack of foresight and imagination.
one hundred eighty four
She confused De Stijl for Still and loved The Cure. It could never have worked.
one hundred eighty five
The song starts "People think I'm being perverse on purpose" but I wanted to tell The Idea of Kate Jackson to just wait and see.
one hundred eighty six
Man, K- never knew what hit her.
one hundred eighty seven
The Boy with the Casio watch nails it: "I love that you're both spiteful and lazy."
one hundred eighty eight
Spite and lethargy are a killer combination: rip the target apart and refuse to deal with the fallout.
one hundred eighty nine
All others forgotten when K- locked eyes on mine to the sounds of 'Temptation'.
one hundred ninety
What is 'Temptation'? The sound of the space on the dancefloor when someone grasps you by the lungs, locking you in the exhale, and you want to capture how great the lights look reflected in their eyes long before all those unspeakable things start coming to mind. It's about the surface of that sensation, slick and hot, about never having to accept the empty, vapid, hollow mind that comes with it until the final 7" is packed away in the early hours of the morning after. It's about how nothing is everything for eight minutes at a time.
one hundred ninety one
The fractured, distended corpse of Saddam Hussein - reaper usher of the 21st Century - waits for no man.
one hundred ninety two
Every netizen witnessed the death throes of Saddam Hussein, even if they never saw the video, a grim harbinger of communication culture. Discourse swept at maybe half the rate of Jackson's death, a symbolic end to an era that butchered my generation's faith.
one hundred ninety three
K- : "I didn't know they got Saddam Hussein."
one hundred ninety four
I came to, an ugly sight, warped with booze sickness and crouched over a pan in my room, apologising for using the wrong name, something to this day which I don't remember doing.
one hundred ninety five
Years after K- I would kiss a girl who tasted of blood, an act that felt like chasing whispers with my lips, and it took me back. Poor thing. She only ever wanted to be wanted.
one hundred ninety six
"You've got to believe me when I say, I never wanted to be liked"
one hundred ninety seven
The Idea of Kate Jackson wakes me with the crackle of assorted 12" records and the hangover I practically demanded. Here, in the perception of a feminine idol, my life feels like a noir and I only wake in time for the matinée.
one hundred ninety eight
It could be said I was The Idea of Kate Jackson's fractured self-esteem, but that would be a lie.
one hundred ninety nine
"'Wolf Like Me', it's perfect isn't it?" Oh, yes.
During breakfast at Veselka's HST is full of wisom: "It's just plain reckless to start this now you know. Do more. Hit the road. Fucking live a little man."
two hundred one
Few things are less comfortable than crossing paths with someone in a cemetery.
two hundred two
Shelf blur is a real problem: no white space, just aggressive competing explosions of colour.
two hundred three
Stark white space appeals to me, as does revisionism. It's my visual default, as my aural is lo-fi and emotive.
two hundred four
"Man, this cover, you'd love it: loads of white space and a pastiche of Line Up. You know, the Elastica album."
two hundred five
two hundred six
The girl at the crossroads looks fresh, a vision in classical tones and sepia sounds. Her eyes, the very pupils, are the deepest black.
two hundred seven
I would later write: No names, please, just ideas.
two hundred eight
Authenticity becomes a silly idea, a shapeless space in which the individual has to force a fit between concepts. Embracing a character, if only for a time, reframes the question of who you are.
two hundred nine
The Lady would surprise everyone.
two hundred ten
I'm in Montreal in Dusty's, thinking back. This diner is the psychological brother to Veselka's, and when Billy Bragg bursts onto the speakers it feels like a home.
two hundred eleven
Roiling storms on a balcony that feels like a boat, an arc, the only lovers left alive. 2004 on the stereo, which could be '06, which could be '08, Echoes of movement and Rapture.
two hundred twelve
Child to cowbells and handclaps. More noise!
two hundred thirteen
A suspended chord acts in tension, the listener demanding resolution. In Wagner's Ring Cycle that hanging chord draws to a close with the end of a world and in 'All My Friends' it comes when James declares his need for the love of those closest to him as hard as he can. In both there's a moral grasp towards completion and closure.
two hundred fourteen
"You're the B-side!"
two hundred fifteen
The sickest I've been involved gastric flu and what I assumed at the time was a one night stand.
two hundred sixteen
24 hours sweating and vomiting and hallucinating the visage of an illustrated Damon Albarn for the sake of, unknown to me then, love.
two hundred seventeen
At 20 I didn't quite know what I wanted, so The Lady never knew the Sloaney blip of a night and a morning. I never had to explain that and I won't start now.
two hundred eighteen
Zombie. I called the cat Zombie.
two hundred nineteen
The Idea of Kate Jackson gave up waiting at the crossroads. She'd be back later, only the faintest of knowing smiles on her lips.
two hundred twenty
I have in my head a snapshot of Paul Morley, sipping coffee at Veselka's over breakfast, humming 'Make Out, Fall out, Make Up'.
two hundred twenty one
Back seat of the W7, late, work-tired, trundling into Crouch End, her head resting on my shoulder.
two hundred twenty two
Ah, Stuart, wonderful Stuart, just kept getting it right. A little on the side of the divine, blessed with the Devil's attention to melody, full of poems and harmony. Stumbling upon Belle & Sebastian a little late she loved those mornings with Tigermilk lazily spinning at thirty three and a third.
two hundred twenty three
I am thinking too much about my answers. I should think less.
two hundred twenty four
It's an aria. Leaking up the stairs, down too, it's an aria accompanied by the splash of shower water.
two hundred twenty five
Pop Music as prayer. 'He', 'She', 'You'... abstractions that bask in the transcendent, sound as a grand, rolling call to the divine in all things and a dedication to the spiritual. Britney's slave - for You - an angel, not a sinner.
two hundred twenty six
Outlines fingertip-traced on shoulders.
two hundred twenty seven
While smiling in the language of "I hate you" The Auteur arrives late to the party.
two hundred twenty eight
Luke Haines, forever delayed, a beacon amid gestures of kindness.
two hundred twenty nine
This is all about beginnings.
two hundred thirty
Lacking vitriol, I needed Haines to become a hero. With bile and fire his lyrics lurch towards inspirational diatribes against the weather-beaten shitness of being English.
two hundred thirty one
Coach to meet the former flatmate.
Stumble upon a break-up.
two hundred thirty two
You might say it all worked out fine in Bristol.
two hundred thirty three
I'm in a strange land of fanboys and mayhem when I'm rescued by the poet.
two hundred thirty four
Ambitions extended no further than a friend's couch and quiet drinks. And being remembered.
two hundred thirty five
Old Street: Intimately shabby station in an area locked in entropic stasis. Around it the slow wheel of progress is halted in motion by the process of perpetual decay.
two hundred thirty six
I'm not saying life in the Tea Building was a mistake, but it was well on the way.
two hundred thirty seven
No good comes of writing about music.
two hundred thirty eight
She took me to the Sunday Upmarket to escape the week and it helped for a time, but I preferred it on my own. Why? Just go.
two hundred thirty nine
You can't see it, but these pages are stained with use now.
two hundred forty
"There are points when it all almost works, when you wish everything would just click into place and move." B.S. Johnson looks whistful at Veselka's, eating a breakfast waffle.
two hundred forty one
Marky Mark and I holed up in Bristol at winter, night rolling in, curry on our laps, totally devoted to the celluloid masterpiece as soon as Samuel Curtis starts walking on Ceres. EVERY DAY IN EVERY WAY IIIIIIIIIITTTTT'SS! THE AMERICAN ASTRONAUT!
two hundred forty two
two hundred forty three
Stressed, teeth ground: The Lady wore earplugs at night.
two hundred forty four
And I started to focus, body wrecked by some torturous poison, dripping with sweat on a cold November night, legs buckling and stopping me shifting even a yard while I clutch at bags and vomit. And this focus brings with it gasps for air, whole leaves of spinach plucked from my nasal passage, bile and couscous pouring forth, frothing, and I wished the focus would pass because in this clarity, in this precision, in this ecstasy of pain the only thing I can hear beyond my heartbeat is The Lady waking up and saying "Can't you do that somewhere else?"
two hundred forty five
Winter dragged, that year.
two hundred forty six
Winter dragged, that year.
two hundred forty seven
Would I still well up to think of 'To Build A Home' had it not been for 2008?
two hundred forty eight
"Hey, Gareth, I'm a mate of Kieron's!"
two hundred forty nine
The last time we could have crossed paths E- wasn't there, appropriately.
two hundred fifty
Am I the son of Xtie?
two hundred fifty one
What he doesn't notice is the heart-outline of his latte foam, swiftly covered as it is by a plastic lid. She loves him, if only for a second.
two hundred fifty two
When I'm home in her house it all makes sense.
two hundred fifty three
Mirrors, clammy hair, scattered towels, pumps out the door, hand to the wall, the cold, snatching privacy.
two hundred fifty four
The Lady threw away stress with a baseball. Occasional snow and tombstones formed an unseasonal backdrop.
two hundred fifty five
Much of it passed uneventfully, and that seemed good.
two hundred fifty six
I met Marc later. I like to think if we'd met years earlier then we'd have thought about our futures on the stony shore of Southend, and laughed about it later.
two hundred fifty seven
She wasn't playacting.
two hundred fifty eight
Did you wonder where I went?
two hundred fifty nine
The artist, all angles, reached for the sky.
two hundred sixty
Morley and the legends around the table over breakfast at Veselka's: A "Nighthawks" for those arch-spined, close-sighted, Peel Sessions listeners.
two hundred sixty one
Julia's image, hidden by a gas-mask, clawing at the sky. I liked the angles of her pen, rough-hewn and feathered.
two hundred sixty two
The boy winds up on the W3 again, watching the weather. It is colder now, and wet.
two hundred sixty three
The Lady's Mum made a coffee I couldn't refuse. I became quickly hooked.
two hundred sixty four
The beginning of the end involved table-tennis.
two hundred sixty five
Of course, Temptation' was playing.
two hundred sixty six
There's a Polaroid Press entry written after a date in Canary Wharf where I remark that buildings don't reflect the trauma of the financial sector, they seem oblivious. It is telling that I wrote this just days before being dumped.
two hundred sixty seven
Empty, fill furniture, move furniture,
The shape of the watch hanging, reflecting sunlight, losing battery
two hundred sixty eight
"Heart Swells/Pacific Daylight Time" is a song of two faces.
two hundred sixty nine
"You are thinking about a too-recent history," she said "But you don't have to worry that much about the future."
two hundred seventy
An overnight reappraisal of "Heart Swells/Pacific Daylight Time": Instant transmission of intelligent heartbreak.
two hundred seventy one
"Look, just don't go listening to Joy Division."
two hundred seventy two
The shadow of the ghost of the idea of Ian Curtis looms large over a pocket of North London. He remains unaware that perga paper and print will disrupt his intentions.
two hundred seventy three
This is about distribution of fiction.
two hundred seventy four
This is about the idea of fiction.
two hundred seventy five
This goes somewhere now. I have been a lot of places, in a short time, and it is important to get it down. There is a distinction I want to make between the meditative process of getting to this year and the year itself. The year starts, like so much else, in New York: I have almost found Veselka's.
two hundred seventy six
Dark eyes, she cornered me in a sentence: "Come to New York with me. Really, come to New York with me."
two hundred seventy seven
I spent much of Christmas day alone, feverishly jabbing refresh to punch through the lag and be entertained. I was too cold to laugh, but knew a-change was a-coming.
two hundred seventy eight
As lights explode in the sky every measure against pressure changes fail. A pop, a bubble, a nightmare headache; still and all the plane does not crash.
I consider this a victory.
two hundred seventy nine
Chelsea to Slope, he enjoys what he knows of this town. Greatcoat kicking at his heels he stumbles at Bleeker and Broadway, nabs a Morley in L.E.S., dances with go-go's at Trash and drinks away a slower year. He then walks through the doors of Veselka's.
two hundred eighty
The delayed Auteur, morley, Doctor Gonzo and Mister Johnson have been waiting a long time for the boy with the skinny tie to arrive. They had almost finished breakfast at Veselka's, and empty dishes and bottles clutter a table, showing hints of discussion in the residue. It looks like ideas, mostly, with borscht and waffles.
two hundred eighty one
In reference to 'Dig Your Own Hole': I'm unlikely to write as much as I ought to.
two hundred eighty two
The boy kicks around London. There is, really, a sense he should not be here.
two hundred eighty three
"Friendly, but dull."
two hundred eighty four
Dancing to 'Canonball' ought to come a little later, but I will forget that and instead write about 'Brother Sport'.
two hundred eighty five
We arrive during shift change at the crossroads. The idea of Kate Jackson is retreating, just a beret speck in the sunset. Her replacement has no name.
two hundred eighty six
The idea of Kate Jackson features a little in this narrative, but she perhaps demands her own story. In that would be a chapter relating to the thunder and lightning she launched at the Astoria, and another about the cut of her cardigan on the cover of Plan B. There may be a passage on the restraint she feels in the vision of Erin O'Connor, and another about the power of "Nostalgia". She will make it clear, by the final chapter, that the things worth dwelling on in life are the lived experiences, but at the very end she'll imagine another world and dwell on that anyway.
two hundred eighty seven
Sat in Covent Garden, thinking about Veselka's, he begins a work-year.
two hundred eighty eight
What's that Orwell line about re-writing history?
I start this project around this point. I can't remember why, now, but I can point at the things that led to that moment. I had been asked by someone slightly crazier than I deserved if they might find themselves as a character in The Polaroid Press, and that horrified me. I wanted to put autobiography to bed, to think about it on such a demanding basis that I was left with fiction, and stories, where I hadn't got any before. The problem is that it worked, and I am left unfinished with a too-recent history to consider.
two hundred eighty nine
L.A.T.E.R. that week.
two hundred ninety
Sitting by the water's edge I'm listening to Marc talk about things he's seen. It's not pleasant. I can't imagine how hard it would be for him to tell me this in his own home. We start to think about the future.
two hundred ninety one
"Paper is for wimps"
two hundred ninety two
Like a beacon on the internet: 'Get Excited and Make Things'. Time to plot.
two hundred ninety three
"Oh, I always pronounced it knee-ill-ism. Or Neilism."
two hundred ninety four
Someone, somewhere, thought The Charles Lamb Pub would be a good idea. And they were right.
two hundred ninety five
Mirroring Veselka's, but boozy; Webb, Jones, Bridle, Sheret.
two hundred ninety six
Echoing, forever and always, back and forwards though time and space and stuff; a room full of people yelling to 'Song 2'.
two hundred ninety seven
In a basement club hiding undercover Kohl and Shambles sit amid the Coven. A ways away The Girl enters, stands with the next generation, waits for an introduction.
two hundred ninety eight
There are stops, if not a route: New York, Montréal, L.A., San Diego.
two hundred ninety nine
Quinns and Sheret, wandering Hackney. There's something pleasantly gormless about the pair of them, enough so that a young mother is moved to nickname them The Lost Boys. There is probably mileage in that.
"I wonder if sometimes we all seem trapped in versions of Let's Get Lost," says Morley to the lot of us, breakfast at Veselka's long since over. He pushes the salt around the table "It would be beautiful, wouldn't it? Some detemporalised, black and white collection of ideas, loose connection, the shape of a man's life through a medium." "Maybe," Johnson responds, "but haven't we all already written that?"
three hundred one
"Can I have a hug?"
three hundred two
And it all comes together because the noise is too much and the distance is quite short and the view is pretty and the booze is cheap and the company feels good and he should have kissed her anyway.
three hundred three
Several names, some familiar, The Girl at The Crossroads is forever and after best known as The Girl. The Idea of Kate Jackson approves.
three hundred four
Cut, again, way too close.
three hundred five
So, the faded ghost of Ian Curtis reminds The Boy that he never quite made it to North America.
three hundred six
Letter from me to Lottie:
You wouldn't even know me anymore. I mean, I wouldn't you, but sometimes it's a few seconds before you realise the changes time's made.
So, I last saw you something close to eighteen years ago. We were children. I think it was San Francisco you were heading towards, I'm not really sure. I stayed in Hedge End. Not sun tan my end, that much is true, and school changed a lot too. I haven't got that Turtles poster anymore. I haven't got those Thunderbirds bedsheets (I wish) and I haven't got that micro-machines goodbye present you left me. I don't live in that house anymore. I don't wear shorts, or baseball caps, and I don't have a uniform. And I'm older now too, which counts for something, right?
three hundred seven
I probably aim at North America wondering if, each time, I might bump into Lottie.
three hundred eight
Harried: The Girl books flights not long after The Boy.
three hundred nine
Of course, every trip will always be shorter than expected.
three hundred ten
Somewhere in the sky she's curled up, head in his lap, her mind somewhere else altogether, her foot throbbing in pain. Metal sky bucket fling them toward America.
three hundred eleven
And, yes, the water's running into his shoes, but Coney Island looks great in the rain.
three hundred twelve
Bouncing between Sutphin Boulevard and a hotbox. Sweat and tears. Mostly sweat, for all the right reasons.
three hundred thirteen
Persistent references to The Auteur's 'Fear of Flying' do me good. There's spit and spite and special restraint there, all of which I would like, some of which I would argue I need.
three hundred fourteen
three hundred fifteen
Somewhere over the Atlantic there are two hundred 'zines making their way to the house of illustrator Ben. Somewhere in Montréal Aanand and Quintin are making new lives. Somewhere in New York Matthew is falling in love. Somewhere else in New York there is an awful lot of booze gathering.
three hundred sixteen
A little less B. S. Johnson, a little more 'notebooks targeting the collapse of artistic writing, pointing knife-like at the throat of my to-do-list'.
three hundred seventeen
Marc throwing stones in the water, "What are we doing? I mean it, what are we doing?" and I'm thinking 'What do we want to do?' And I'm not sure either of us know, but the sea is a good place to think about the future, talk about the past and throw stones.
three hundred eighteen
In a moment's notice images change context; Adam Cadwell's pencil creates upheaval, repositioning The Idea of Kate Jackson into a position of power she wholly deserves.
three hundred nineteen
Field agents; assets; resources; friends; co-conspirators; the right team for the right job.
three hundred twenty
To our eternal disappointment The Idea of Kate Jackson does not appear at a table in Veselka's, clear of our breakfast dishes, set to stand atop it and belt out "Nostalgia". H.S.T., crown King Gonzo, passes me the flask and I'm away after one huff.
A lot of ideas as we make for the door. He tells me I should do the things I have to until they hurt.
three hundred twenty one
An idea in the shape of a decade where forgetting what you were and pretending this is the fully formed article that existed forever is, essentially, as common as breakfast.
three hundred twenty two
Somewhere around Parc I begin to relax.
three hundred twenty three
A little shot of energy from the Far East, that a Lost Boy thinks of as sacred; 'I know I'm not at rock bottom if that stays sealed.'
three hundred twenty four
Storm roiling through St. Laurent, they appear to be on a houseboat. It is good. Stevie Wonder leers in the distance, gurning slobber attracting vicious interference.
three hundred twenty five
"I've been thinking a lot about The Idea of Kate Jackson"
three hundred twenty six
There really is enough Whiskey. Quite the embarrassment.
three hundred twenty seven
Somewhere I stumbled over the headstone of an ex-, or someone like her, and got distracted by Animal Collective.
(open up your, open up your, open up you throat)
three hundred twenty eight
We're walking up the mountain, hours before more flights, and surrounding us is the snap-sparkle of a thousand tiny fireflies. It's breathtaking.
three hundred twenty nine
Jeck is too fragmented and beautiful to make it onto a coffee table.
three hundred thirty
friends are nice but this city makes me dislocated and sick and I don't feel the need to stay here any more I want to be taken to ink and paper and booze and the bit where I make new friends and speak to people whose words have sat in books in boxes for something less than a lifetime but a little more than a shopping trip
three hundred thirty one
Echoes of Greenfield on meeting Katie (whose breasts are famous on the internet); starting to know the people I think I'll know forever. Of course, all this way above the docks at San Diego, a vista of parking lots and heat.
three hundred thirty two
Somewhere Marc is thinking about the future. I'm beside the sea.
three hundred thirty three
The Girl has abandoned the crossroads, and wants to build a home.
three hundred thirty four
"I came away to kind of think about myself, think about what I wanted to do next, maybe make something on the way."
"Yeah... it sort of happened, not as expected though..."
And we don't have to say much more to get that it's been a strange few months for both of us. When we both go home it's going to be to something temporary, a stop gap, and it might be a couple of months before we get ourselves together.
three hundred thirty five
By this point the shadowplay ghost of Ian Curtis is something less than present, something further from the inside of the front of the head than perhaps he had been.
three hundred thirty six
Denver International airport is now my most hated location in the world. Surrounded by empty nothing, perched between endless space and void. Made of boredom and strip lights. Just shit.
three hundred thirty seven
We are now far too close to now to have any perspective.
three hundred thirty eight
All the hayfever in the world.
three hundred thirty nine
I'm usually somewhere in England, dreaming.
three hundred forty
Morley picks up my tab at Veselka's, and I hope to repay the kindness in future. "Don't worry about it. There are far more important things to worry about, I'm sure you're aware. For example; think about where Simon Cowell was when Kylie regenerated. Ask yourself what shape a new Damon Albarn might take. Stare at the sky and throw stones in the water while drumming up rhymes about why none of it would work if Eno hadn't written 'An Ending (Ascent)' or if Bowie hadn't sung 'Heroes'."
three hundred forty one
First The Girl and I find a cave, then a houseboat on stilts.
three hundred forty two
First The Girl and I get too drunk and fight fences
three hundred forty three
First The Girl and I run away to Oslo.
three hundred forty four
First The Girl and I consider the merchandising opportunities.
three hundred forty five
First The Girl and I build a home.
three hundred forty six
Unknown Pleasures revolving: "You're at home aren't you?"
three hundred forty seven
For the first time in a long time he felt like he hadn't broken The Rule. Aimee would be proud.
three hundred forty eight
Second, Humberstone changes the game.
three hundred forty nine
His arrival is unassuming and soft, and he brings with it such overwhelming concentration and chaos that you imagine he has been around since you first stepped up to the counter clutching Young Justice. He comes to define comics as much as Joy Division define music. For a long time he was a missing element, alluded to and mentioned but unseen for the most part. He is brilliant. Everybody needs a Humberstone.
three hundred fifty
You could say I am the son of Tom Humberstone, Paul Gravett, Kieron Gillen, Warren Ellis, and most of their ideas. Bridle would call the conception something like 'bookake impregnation' before adding his own spit to the mix.
You shouldn't say that sort of thing though, because it leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
three hundred fifty one
Marc and I should throw more stones.
three hundred fifty two
Powered by robots, slowed down by ink, stalled by budget. Poor girl.
three hundred fifty three
For a time I accidentally find myself earning money by doing what I want to do.
three hundred fifty four
Pete Doherty died in the early months of 2005, I'm sure of it.
three hundred fifty five
Somewhere I hear The Idea of Kate Jackson whisper the words of VV; "I want you to be crazy 'cause you're stupid baby when you're sane."
three hundred fifty six
Confession: in one of the most painful moments of my life I used a Doctor Who quote, letting the words "You were brilliant" slip from my lips. It's a strange moment, over a year later, when I realise that the death of the Tenth Doctor rocked in exactly the same way. I wanted to go for a huge walk and cry in the rain.
three hundred fifty seven
Mark's fingers, bitterly cold, grasping the digital strands left by a decade departed. I've written the 00's away in a spate of Doctor Who and poptimism, and he's done what's been asked of him; lone flagbearer for the Festive Ten.
three hundred fifty eight
That's the moment Warren turns and says "Matt, if you had funding you'd be in control of half of London by now!"
three hundred fifty nine
And in the first few moments of the new year there is snow.
three hundred sixty
Thompson's heading Downtown. The Auteur's fucked off long since to tear up the meatpacking district. Morley's sidetracked by a beam of light coming from a street corner in Williamsburg a river distant. I'm left outside of Veselka's with Johnson, after Nick & Norah melt inside.
"Telling stories is telling lies."
"Lies aren't always bad things."
"I never said they were."
And while he pitches uptown I'm left on the corner of four points wondering where to head. Little lines I should have said come back to me about cultures we dip in and out of, about channels we create. I've populated a landscape with the shape of some people I never knew, some of whom I can't know. I've wound up being more honest with them than I expected. How did I start a story here?
three hundred sixty one
You know, I fucking hate Italo Calvino.
three hundred sixty two
That line, that line I keep hearing, that phrase I write in my bones and bleed: "What next?"
three hundred sixty three
"Have you seen my tie?"
three hundred sixty four
Gillen has this line, inspired by a scientist, wherein motivation is found with the question: "What's the most significant problem facing your field?"
And, you know, if you aren't doing something about it then you're part of the problem.
three hundred sixty five
And I'm thinking about breakfast at Veselka's and fractured biography and The Idea of Kate Jackson and why narrative shouldn't be restricted and all my fictions. And I've got a pint to my lips. And Bridle's got more ideas than time. And Webb kicks me into gear with the phrase "beginnings matter". And I think they really do. And so, what next?