Well it’s been an experience these last few weeks.
There’s a war, pandemic and well global chaos. I watched Tucker Carlson for like five minutes and lost all hope in humanity.
Seeking solace I entered into the dark world of Boards of Canada. I couldn’t face lyrics so something instrumental was called for. Swaying along to the rhythms and swirls of synths and random psychedelic murmurings.
Apparently influenced by the soundtracks of the 70s and 80s it’s definitely a foreboding atmospheric dark ride. Kind of like life these days.
It’s all okay though because the bluebells are blooming.
I’ve been thinking of all the albums I’ve listened to in my life staring at this ceiling.
I think that most of us have that patch or equivalent of ceiling in our lives. The thing we stared at and imagined ourselves somewhere else, doing something more exciting. If that patch of ceiling could talk.
This last couple of weeks I put my flying shoes on now I’ve found them to go see my mum. My second time traveling in the Covid times. This time was easier no restrictions entering the UK. I’m not convinced that’s the most sensible but it’s what it is I suppose. Leaving now that was another thing, Covid test plus electronic approval from the Homeland security people.
As an only child it has been tough with my mum 6000 plus miles away all alone after my dads death. The isolation Covid brought to the elderly had made things worse especially for the high risk. She has however managed and has recently begun venturing our with her friend, two old ladies linking arms for the ceremonial Latte at Costa, surely it is only the retired who can afford a beverage there.
So I found myself in my childhood bedroom staring many an evening at that same patch of ceiling. Remembering all those important records that made the soundtrack of my life. Especially those weird teen years. I was also remembering the arguments, the fights, the secrets that room carried, the laughter and the joy, most of all the music that fed through headphones into my brain and occasionally when everyone was out into the room.
I got my first record player at the grand age of 14, prior to that all music was played on the radiogram in the dining room, I am not sure what made my parents put it in the dining room apart from with the doors open music could be heard around the house. It was not a great record player, I got, probably a Curry’s brand starter player. I wonder in this audiophile age how we ever managed with such crappy equipment, especially as I watch in some places people discussing the sound of the record, the highs, the lows etc. I am surprised we ever enjoyed a record at all.
So the past two weeks or so, once Coronation St. was over and my mum tucked in I lay on my bed, stared at that ceiling and through headphones listened to the soundtrack of my life.
I began with Pink Floyd, in the order I heard them, Saucerful of Secrets, Animals, Atomheart Mother and then Dark Side of the Moon followed by Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Wish You Were Here and Meddle, later on I delved into The Wall but it never really clicked after the others.
One famed weekend for my parents I lay in my room and listened to Hawkwind’s Space Ritual on repeat, I was so obsessed with it they thought I was sick, I really though was just trying to memorize the whole thing before I had to give it back to the school friend I had borrowed it from, Later it was Hall of the Mountain Grill and In Search of Space that sucked the time.
There was the Christmas I got Seconds out by Genesis, Quark Strangeness and Charm by Hawkwind and Yes’ Close to the Edge, I was late for dinner and made to sit with the adults after as they drank sherry and nodded off, my dads chair was in front of the door so I couldn’t escape to my room as he snored through the Sound of Music. That night the ceiling got stared at relentlessly.
There was the weekend I borrowed The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway from the library. I played nothing else that weekend knowing I would not be able to buy the album as it was a double. the following weekend I took all my cash and bought Selling England by the Pound on a stall at Kirkby Market. It was water damaged so reduced in price. I stared at that ceiling most nights after that for a month.
It was something of a nostalgia fest laying there headphones on streaming those classic albums into the night. My older brain seeing the patterns and whorls in that ceiling as I lost my mind to Hawkwinds latest archive release Dreamworkers of Time the radio sessions 1985 to 1995 proving they may be the best band in the world.
So we stopped at Safeway on the drive back from the beach, my grandson had to go and so did we, well, age at all levels causes this. So we pulled with the idea of peeing and getting a treat, these are equally important at all ages.
As we stood between the bathrooms deciding which one Cody would go in, the disembodied voice from the stall rang out, “this is the men’s bathroom you know…”
I ensured the gentleman sat in the stall we knew this. He harrumphed and eventually said. “well unless your gender neutral…” I chose to ignore this and he started mumbling about America and the past and the good old days ending with, “probably Biden’s fault…” Now there are many things you can criticize Joe Biden for but I am pretty sure he has not had a lot to do with how people identify themselves, again I ignored the disembodied voice eventually sang out “maybe it’s Trumps fault…”
He continued to mumble and fart and complain and I asked him, “do you think it may be your ?” To which he replied, “why don’t you fuck off…” So I did.