Here we are, on the cusp of a new venture for me and only three weeks on from the last post. This will be the first post that goes up on the new Facebook page I’ve created. As much as I’m happy to be pressing on, being proactive in the manner that authors must be, I can’t say that I’m thrilled at the prospect of social media. It’s the hermit in me, and I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard about the introvert writer, but as hackneyed as it sounds, there is a shred of truth in it for me.
It’s a question that I’ll return to in good time.
Three weeks ago I might have made (somewhat) light of cutting my finger. In typical fashion I hadn’t gone to A&E, being blasé about just taping it up. “It’ll be fine.” It wasn’t. I’d severed the tendon and wouldn’t be able to straighten it. The lovely NHS lady that saw me at Caterham Dene was shocked that my GP hadn’t referred me. I sat waiting for news, reading HP Lovecraft in the hope that other-worldy horrors would take my mind off the prospect of having my finger cut open and the tendon sewn back together.
It didn’t happen and I was referred to the finger specialists at Queen Victoria in East Grinstead. But no operation. I was splinted up and waited for Physiotherapy to contact me. Another week. By now I was deep into No One Here Gets Out Alive (the Jim Morrison biography) in the waiting room. Not long and I’m sat down for the good news. The tendon is apparently only partially severed and give it about eight weeks of being in a splint and it should be okay.
I went home, frustrated, but with a discrete, molded splint. At the end of the week I was in Brighton at the Concorde for Jonathan Wilson, drinking Blue Moon on tap and trying not to break down in tears……
The Inquisition Begins
As this situation developed I became increasingly unbalanced, and it triggered a difficult, depressive state that left me much awry. Attempts to communicate this were met with frustrating disinterest.
And as I began to question, those questions seemed to go deeper and deeper…..
Firstly, I considered whether or not I would play music again. In something like self pity I considered that it might just be a signal to give up. After all, I hadn’t really done much with it in the 15 years I’d been playing guitar.
It was, very clearly, all or nothing. Moreover, what began to surface were the historical moments connected with it, going back to when I was at school. I remember being made to do a talk in front of the school that damaged my confidence, and then how a friend turned on me just as I was gonna play bass in his band. Years would go by and perhaps my musical highlight as a performer was a karaoke rendition of I’m The Urban Spaceman (which was included in my current repertoire, of course).
It wasn’t until I returned from New Mexico that I picked up a guitar proper, and over time my aspirations developed; I picked up bass again and I eventually started trying to learn and write songs. I could be in a band…..
But now I was faced with the reality that my aspirations might not only be unobtainable, but might have just been wishful thinking all along. Why hadn’t I done more? I didn’t get out there and play, I was barely trying to do anything about finding a band. I was afraid. I fully realised the nature of my hermitting, that fear was part of the hermit in me. I was cut off, had done so with some intention, and now I was wondering where all my friends had gone, why I avoided people and whether it was just the nature of home life.
So it was with great relief at the end of that time that I actually went out, kicked back and cut loose. I remember checking into the B&B, sitting in the bay window and feeling the faintest hint of lingering unease. Then Sam and I walked up the road, checked out part of Brighton I’ve not really visited before. We ate in a great restaurant then hit a local bar called the Sidewinder for a pre-gig beer.
I was beginning to get into it.
We strolled down to the Concorde, down at the sea front, a place where I’d seen many bands in the past (most notably Love). It was damnably cold, but there was no queue and we strolled in to find the place quiet. Two pints of Blue Moon and no support band, just straight into two hours of Jonathan Wilson.
And goddamn it went fast.
I bathed in that sonic goodness, and it was a catharsis for me because I always feel a real connection with JW’s songs, as if he’s one of those artists who’s caught a glimpse of life’s deeper aspects, of what’s just beyond the door of everyday life and although he can’t quite explain it, he hints at the greater wonders that he found there, like a great vivid dream or strange trip……
I had more beer.
And I loosened up, all the pent up angst and memory that was bottled found vent, and as it was washed away I felt elated and emotional. It was a healing experience.
And when the encore was over we were wandering back to the bar for another round where a DJ with a Misfits t-shirt on played a variety of music at great volume (but no Misfits – bummer). Sam and I spent some time talking (or rather, shouting), getting things off our chests. This time I was listened to which was a relief, but also, I got to hear about my partner’s fears and anxieties. We purged it all in a drunken shambles that helped reaffirmed the strength of our bond, as partners who work together to get through the weeks and months.
We are, after all, a team.
Through The Door (The Guide)
And as this new wave of energy rolled on I fell into reading No One Here Gets Out Alive. I’d had it for years, bought in a charity shop for 80p, but I’d never got around to reading it. At this point I was past the childhood story and into the formation of the doors.
So entered the Lizard King……
Reading about him, about the rise of the Doors, it was like the next step in the mental process. Jim reminded me that I too had set out looking for something and yet I’d become somewhat negligent.
Jim Morrison was so social, always out drinking with others, and he seemed to understood people. I wondered then that perhaps the cliché of the introvert writer might be a bit of a problem. I had hermitted away, and that can’t be good for those of us who are writers. We lose something of the reality of people, and perhaps the need for just a little more thought and tolerance that rounds us out as individuals. Perhaps I had just forgotten how strange and multifaceted people were. It was, after all, one of the reasons I studied anthropology, so that I might meet and better understand people, and by extension know myself a little better.
So for the past week I’ve been listening to the Doors a whole lot, and I fell in love all over again with their music. I don’t think I’ll grow out of it as I recall one journalist saying she had, “that it was cool when she was young but then you grow up and see it for the pretentious twaddle it is.” (I might have misquoted, but that was the gist)
Nah! I’ll always remember that People Are Strange was once something of a theme song for me among certain friends. Who knows, now I’m on Facebook I might even see one or two of them again. Whether that’s good or bad I don’t know just yet.
And as to the question of whether I’ll play music again, I know that I have to follow Jim’s advice and break on through to the other side. I’ll find a way, keep playing and once this finger is healed up I’m gonna learn People Are Strange, resist the hermitting instinct and go down the open mic.
Who knows, I might even share a video of it in a post some time this year.