I want to tell you a story…


Tom was one of nature’s gentlemen; he wore an old school tie around the neck of his many faces and always opened doors for ladies of the night. Peeping from behind his curtains, he watched Mrs Castle bustle past his house. “She’s put on a few pounds…glad she hires out her mind and not her body.” Like a polar bear, Tom awakened in the winter, gestating in the heat of the summer sun. As incongruous as an icicle, he melted his load, beneath the blankets of a creaky single bed.
With autumn about to dawn, Tom’s scowls had evolved into a smile. And anticipating the glory of the impending chill and the pleasure of the shiver, he had nearly said, “Hello,” that morning, to his next door neighbour. He was, however, determined not to succumb to the commonality of spontaneity and human speech. Tom turned on his TV and unwrapped a takeaway fish supper. The smell of grease caressing his nasal hair, like Lancombe’s finest, to a fastidious perfumer.

LET THE SHOW BEGIN

Bursting through the TV screen, the theme music announced the change in season. As perennially as trees shed their leaves, the X Factor filled his Saturday evenings with delight, so deep, that he, sometimes, hummed a tune sung by one of the contestants. When Tom watched the X Factor, he felt real. Sharon Osborne had returned to the judging panel; she was an unusual animal, part feral, but formed from plastic. Loose as knicker elastic and tight as Simon Cowell’s arse. Did Louis swing the other way? No, he was merely paternal.
The screen swallowed Tom whole, he merged with whitened teeth and seductive pixels. In the presence of cameras, he came alive, engaging in banter with the pretty American one and batting his eyelashes at the fat bloke from Take That, who was, really, rather dull. Then, arrived his opportunity to sing.
Tom was magnificent. He owned the stage, like a born professional. Thrusting his hips, he reinvented Elvis Presley’s song. Rock n roll for the hip hop generation, his rapped version of Suspicious Minds ignited Louis’ fire and Sharon was overcome with tears.

WHEN THE MUSIC DIES WHAT BECOMES OF THE SINGER?

Tom rubbed his eyes and realised that he had missed most of the show. “Oh, well, it’s repeated tomorrow afternoon. I think I shall try singing something more contemporary, then…maybe a dub version of Piccadilly Palare.” He entered his kitchen, opened a tin of cat food and walked upstairs into his attic. Bound to a chair, a young woman lifted her head. Tom took off her gag and spooning out the cat food smiled, “Dinner, dear.”

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“I hate myself and I want to die”- Kurt Cobain


When Kurt Cobain died in 1994, musical history became re-defined; another distorted angel had been claimed, another voice estranged. When Kurt passed, the world wondered who was to blame. The propaganda train blew smokescreens over his remains and we crowded beneath, picking-up bones of (mis)information and reassembling it into forms which suited our own particular world views. That he took his own life is all that we knew; the rest was speculation.
I was touched by Cobain’s death. However, unlike the Take That fans, who wept and wailed when their boys disbanded, I did not mourn his passing. Rather, I celebrated by buying a tee shirt on which were duplicated the words of his suicide note. I delighted in observing the bewildered expressions of older people, as they read the text on my tee shirt. I had joined an alien race, a sub-culture defined by a dead person’s face.
Kurt Cobain was the guy who put rock ‘n’ roll back into my indie sensibility. The grunge scene rendering music more accessible to the common folk than any other since the punk explosion in the 1970’s. I remember watching Matt Dillon in the film, “Singles,” and wanting not to have him, but to become him, my oversized checked shirt blowing behind me in the wind of my flatulent youthfulness. I had discovered a scene I was wanted to embrace. However, knowing no other who wanted to join me, I played, “In Utero,” and hugged myself.
In 1994, I did not realise that I shared more with Kurt than a love of music; we were both affected by a mental health issue which was to affect the way in which society perceived both of us. He had become an icon of a lost generation, I was a lost statistic of an illness, whose name I dared not speak, for fear of retribution.
Although many have questioned whether Kurt Cobain really was affected by a bipolar disorder, in my opinion the evidence is overwhelming affirmative. His much hyped struggles with alcohol and drug addiction indicate a psychopathology driven by a need for self-medication. Many studies reveal comorbidity between bipolar disorder and addictions. It is believed that Cobain’s disorder was untreated, rendering him particularly susceptible to using heroin, an opiate with anti-dysphoric qualities and, I believe, his displays of hyperthymic behaviour, provide the substance behind his attraction to alcohol.
Many addicts are affected by undiagnosed bipolar. Amy Whinehouse, another member of club 27, possibly someone whose underlying issues where, also, undermined, due to the more overt nature of her issues with addiction.
Although bipolar can kill-if untreated, it is one of the more treatable mental health issues. Once, one when surrenders to the imposition of taking tablets, for many people, life can be lived with relative ease. If you are affected by mental health issues, despair not. Salvation comes to those who truly want it and are prepared to let themselves heal.

Morrissey’s ill: Why I Care


I learned a few days ago via The NewYorkerTimes on twitter that pop laureate of the welfare generation, Morrissey had cancelled his U.S. tour. Subject to bouts of ill health, he had been denied insurance to continue his onstage performances. It is not without irony that a music icon famed for his vegetarianism and anti-drug stance is confronting a physical demise, when other musicians, like the Rolling Stones, who have embraced a more traditional rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, are blossoming, even, into old age!
Before becoming immersed in the works of Woolf and Joyce, I discovered the lyrics of Morrissey and a human truth; that the pen is a sharper tool than the knife. In the Thatcherite 1980’s, when British popular culture was ruled by the escapism of the new romantics and the ideology of greed, Morrissey represented an attractive “other.” He was an anti-hero, whose counter-cultural credentials reached beyond his sartorial inelegance to the cultural references presented in his lyrics and “The Smiths” record covers. Like his shirt, his image did not quite fit. I was a teenage outsider with only my imagination and a record player for friends and, when I heard Morrissey sing I felt less alone.
I saw Morrissey perform in 1991 and although it was not a classic performance, the image of him trying to sing whilst drenched in the bodies of boy fans eager to touch genius, will always remain for me a definitive statement about the life I lived at that point; a symbol of willowy beauty destined to fade. Get well soon, Morrissey and I shall watch you perform again, zimmer-frames ready!