interviews, other people's shit

Vivian Velveteen

He learned to love his cancer.  He trusted his dark side. It became him. A ruthless bastard. He would do anything for success. He done the deal. He would discard his good nature for fame and women. This was the birth of Vivian Velveteen.

He disowned his past and here he was, loved by his masses. Hiding from his thoughts with the power of self-belief. The flawed hedonist. Could he run forever?

We met in a tiny cafe, under a railway bridge. The windows were dirty and barred up. ,A dark stocky figure in a trench coat stretched back over a chair. He cupped a mug of steaming black coffee with his left hand. the clock moved a tick to 3:23. I order myself a green tea and scraped a chair out to join Vivian. He hardly moves. It’s all been arranged with his management. I find the empty, dirty cafe disconcerting. I click record.

Hi, can i just begin?

Hello, begin.

Can you pin point the moment when you first thought, This Is It, it’s working, I’ve made it?

It’s difficult to pinpoint the moment, but i suppose i knew i was on the right path around 2013. I had given up trying and thought i had failed. I was feeling very lonely having just left The Sputums, totally lost. I decided in that moment that it was time. I had to commit. All had fallen apart, our son had died, and my life was in tatters. I left my wife shortly after as the pain seemed to drive us apart, rather than together. I sat in a darkened room and spoke with some being. I can’t really say what the being was, it may have been me. But all i know is that we agreed that no more would we look out for others. From now on it was a single minded push for glory. I stepped into the studio with Fillimore and a Xylophone. I let out my anger at the unfairness of the world. I denounced god. i took on nature head to head. It felt so right.

Can you see that you have caused controversy amongst the general public with the content of your lyrics?

I’m not out to be controversial. This whole year has been nothing but an exorcism of sorts for me. It’s very personal. It’s my journey to the darkside. Fuck God. I took on the Bad Shit that was being dealt to me, and said Fuck You. This expression is my own cathartic way of denouncing my previous life. If people are offended by my exorcism then fuck them. It’s not for them, it’s for me. If they happen to relate and can get inspired by my journey then come along. If not, then fuck off. You don’t know me.

Can you see how this can turn people off?

My job is to turn people off. Turn people off life. It’s bullshit, you don;t have to stand for it. Just say no.

It seems like you are playing God, have drugs played a significant part in this journey?

Drugs were a part of my life. When everything went wrong with The Sputums and my personal life, I decided to kick the habit. I am tee-total now. I have to be. To fight nature you need a straight head, one slip up and she will fuck you. I need to be on the ball.

You say fight nature, exactly how are you doing this?

I refuse to accept the hand that has been dealt to me. I am in control. 100%. In showing people how i do this, i inspire, people see it and they wanna piece. This turns into album sales and more importantly builds hope into people who denounce God. Nature is unfair, nothing makes sense, in taking control of your destiny you become the equalizer, You take what you want.

What was it like growing up as Vivian Langford?

That person died when my son died. I don’t remember much about him. Maybe that he was a pushover, always being nice, and being offended. Nothing worked in his life and he just bent over and took whatever came his way. His family were cold, hard working, frightened. The family suffered from a drunken father and a bitter Mother. They were not happy times.

Where did you get the name from?

I needed to change my name to signify the change in me. My personality was dead. I was anew. I left behind everything I knew. Including myself.

You are seen as a bit of a joke by some of the heavy metal scene, how do you respond to this?

Heavy Metal Scene? What scene? I don’t deal in genres. I deal in real emotions. I denounce all earthly associations and categories to hide behind. Present Tense is raw and real, and about change. If you don’t want to change then don’t comment, just carry on with your life with the rest of the dead fish. Everything is stagnant, including Metal or whatever. As soon as you categorise something, give it a name, label it, it’s dead. Metal died shortly after Black Sabbath accidentally invented it. Some smart alec named it and in doing so killed it. Why are they still writing about it in 2016? Like it’s something. We are against that. Present Tense, is just that. No wonder Metal Hammer don;t like it.

Is it true that you refuse to speak to anyone from your past?

I will give people the time of day if they fit into my vision of how things should be. I refuse to be vulnerable. Most people from my past used me. They used him up and wore him out. Out of bitter disappointment was born the new me. I raised from the ashes of the shit of my past. In order to become me I had to leave it all behind. Change is good. Not change for changes sake, but escaping the  hand you have been dealt. It’s not easy, but when you;’ve been kicked down onto your ass enough times you say fuck this.

What’s next for Present Tense?

Just repeat that question to yourself.

What is next for the band?

Learning to be more present. Knowing what we want. And refusing anything that does not fit in with our vision. A total disregard for trends and opinions. Total self belief and total control. We don’t want admiration, we want your soul.

Why do you want people’s soul, what can this do for you or your followers?

Well it’s simple really, fans can buy a ticket and go to watch Noel Gallagher and then go back to their job and wife they hate. If you are not happy we want you to kill your wife, your boss, your parents. Kill your life. Kill the past. Let it all go. Total destruction of life as we know it. Fuck fans. We want disciples. This shit is for real.

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camino, creation, life

Switzerland Day 3: Abort Mission

I woke up late and had completely missed the concert, the whole reason why I had flew to Switzerland. I drew a large JP on my map. The bottom end of the curl of the J started at a very large church and it curled up across a river and up along it’s bank, where the arc of the P curled seemed to be the easterly suburbs of the town. It was cold and raining. I entered the church. It was very dark with long strips of stained glass allowing strips of dust to dance diagonally over me. I walked down the centre aisle, some woman happily filmed me coming down on her ipad. I walked past her cursing under my breath. I walked to the back of the church to behind the alter. Up some steps and into a small raised section that seemed to trap the sound of the organ magnificently.
The organ was a huge collection of pipes raised on a platform in the roof at the opposite end of the church. The guy playing it was obviously practicing and was stopping and starting. It sounded very solemn and he barley changed notes. The reverberating bass of the organ shook my cold body. I wondered why I was here. Was I running away from my problems again?

I found a door for the tower. I seen people hanging out of it before I entered and there must be an amazing view of the city up there.
“Groups only,” said a chap on a near by desk.
“But it’s only me,” I replied.
“We cant allow it sorry.”
“But I am traveling alone, can’t I go up?”
“I am sorry Sir, I can’t allow you to go alone, you will have to find someone to climb it with,” said the man, looking back down to his papers.
“Why is that?” I asked.
There was a silence. He slowly rolled his eyes up, without moving his head, until they met mine
“Suicide.”
The word seemed to echo into nothing as he held my stare. I smiled and walked back out into the freezing cold rain.

Around the back of the church a distressed dog barked like a demented bear from the tease of it’s young owner. I looked over a wall. Why am I here? Basel. Oh yeh, I came to see a concert, get some space from my life and try to make a decision on a job offer in France this summer. To keep following the JP that I had penned over my map I would have to cross the wild gushing brown river far below. I climb down a few hundred steps and met a small tugboat at the riverbank. I threw the grimacing man a couple of Francs as the boat rocked wildly, I think he would have been happy with a Fisherman’s Friend, or a cwtch. He invited me into the cabin where a lovely fire burner crackled and a single solitary candle flickered. A couple joined us and the guy, the older of the two, constantly took photos of her and him, with the captain, and together, and on the deck and holding the steering stick. People just love photos of themselves, what’s the point I grumbled to myself pushing my hobbit feet further under the burner.

The boat spat us out on the other side of the river, where I zipped up my puffa jacket (90s chic) and walked into the spray and mist of the relentless Swiss winter smudge. I followed the stem of my J up the river bank for about 20 minutes. I was getting pretty wet now. I got to the second bridge and crossed over it to complete the left hand side of the hat of my J. Symbolism. What’s the point? I got this from Bill Drummond. One of my heroes. Right now I was thinking the guy must be fucking nuts. I was in a very nasty part of town, called St Johann. My stage name. Serendipity. It was empty. Who in their right mind would be out in this weather. Blocks of flats. Graffiti. ‘Fuck the police.’ Piles of bin bags. I walked to the far left corner of where the J ended on my map and there was an Anatomy Museum. I needed to get dry.
A young lump hunched inside a kiosk, frantically whacking his smart phone with his fat hands, covered in a large black cloak. He sensed a wet figure up ahead and paused his Candyflaps. He looked up towards me, his triple chin wobbled to a stand still, an emo hairdo gripped onto his acned round face. Five crooked tiny yellow teeth poked through his lips as he began his customer service routine.

“Ein a Klein a Kleng a Eeeben Skwelch en Stein”
“Sorry, English?”
“We Close in 20 minutes, I am sorry.”
“I see. Could I just have a quick look around? I have come a long way and didn’t realise you closed so soon.”
He looked me up and down. He must have felt for the rain-soaked marmoset that dripped on his tiled floor.
“Ok, I won’t charge you but at 4pm you will have to leave,” and he unpaused his game and the 8 bit music beeped out once more as he began slapping the machine again.
“Thank you sir.”
I squeaked my way across the shiny floor into a sterile room filled with large glass tanks. Each tank was filled with jars, bottles and smaller tanks. Mainly these smaller glass containers seemed to be housing some pretty freaky looking things. Anatomy, yes. But real body parts, preserved in formaldahyde? Isn’t that what they call it. Many young kids no older than 6 or 7 were quizzically studying, like old professors, dismembered organs, penises, eyes, throats and brains. I felt a  little feint.

I turned around after casually gazing at an arsehole in a wedding ring box and was confronted with the top half of a bloke, floating in an old rectangular tank. He appeared to be of a similar build and age to me, but it was hard to gage this as his head was missing. I was only judging it by counting the wrinkles on his bent old penis that was pushed against the glass. His skin was yellowing and creased, like an out of date pickled artichoke. His entire front section from collarbone to belly button had been cut open and the skin discarded, so we could see all of his organs. I could follow his entire digestive tract and wondered what his last meal was, and then how he died and where his head, legs and front skin had gone. I walked on. Next was a lady’s vagina. Just there in a jar. It looked wrong and rotting. Next up was a large cabinet of fetuses. They were in ascending order of age by weeks. I worked along the cabinet looking at the development of the human in the womb. Two girls, smartly dressed, were taking selfies with some of the dead fetuses. I worked my way up to 10 weeks. The age of my baby when we decided to terminate him.

A hard lump formed in my chest. I couldn’t breathe. He had fingers. And tiny closed eyes.
I flashed back to the year 2000. We were in a dirty gloomy room with the rustle of leaves and a smattering of broken light outside. My partner had to take some medication and wait. I’m not sure if something was put up inside her too. I don’t remember, the whole thing now seems like a dream in my mind, a nightmare. The events of that afternoon have haunted me ever since. She was in pain. Lying in the bed, holding her stomach. The entire pregnancy and termination was a secret. No one knew, I was 23 and didn’t want a kid and didn’t want my parents to know. I felt like if I had a baby my life would have been over. I begged her not to have it. She said if I showed one incline to wanting it she would keep it. I was a selfish cunt. I couldn’t imagine fatherhood. I was young and stupid and scared out of my mind. I didn’t think of her or my baby that was nestled up inside her warm womb, awaiting to meet us. All I thought of was myself. And I wanted freedom. No responsibility. I didn’t want this. This wasn’t the plan. We were fuck ups! In debt. Always off our faces on wine or ecstasy. Arguing and fighting. I cried. And she decided not to have it. I don’t know why I reacted like this. And I have been trying to forgive myself ever since.
So I was pacing around the room as my beloved laid doubled up in pain. The nurse came in and checked her a few times. After a few hours we headed into the little bathroom on the side of the bedroom, I placed a cardboard pan over the toilet and held her hand. A tear streamed down her cheek. A small amount of watery yellow blood exerted from her into the pan followed by a click. Something small. We looked and there it was. Our son. Our son we had just killed. He was as tiny as a thumbnail. Helpless and unloved. Murdered though selfishness. The worst dad in the world. The shock of seeing the fetus made us gasp and hold our mouths in silent despair. This image will never leave me, and neither will the ever building guilt that stemmed from my actions. I am Pro Choice, but if we give young people the choice, they need to be fully aware of the emotional and psychological long term effects it may have on them. Saying that, I know some people who have had an abortion and never let it bother them ever again. Maybe I am just a hypersensitive freak.
I honestly don’t remember what happened next. I think we called someone. And she went back into the bed. I do remember what I said next though. And this is probably the worst thing anyone could have ever said. The most heartless thing. I sat next to her and held her hand, and genuinely believed I was being helpful.
“Okay, now that’s sorted all we have to do know is pay off our debt and we can be happy again.”
Now, re-read that. The words of a sociopath. A Heartless cunt? But in my mind all that I wanted was the happiness of my love, and us to be the most sorted couple in the world, I genuinely thought I was doing the right thing in trying to sort everything out this way. I was playing God. What the fuck was I thinking. I had always said I would never abort up to that point. But when the time had come. Crunch time. Your chance to stick to your principles and show the world your integrity, I crumbled. I was the weakest and the most hypocritical. I felt I hadn’t started living and so took a life and caused untold pain to a poor innocent beautiful 21 year old girl. I turned her into a murderer. For my benefit.
I said no. Fuck you nature. We doing things my way.

And now I was stood there looking at a similar fetus in a glass box. Fingers. I could see it was a human. I fought back the tears. The guilt enveloped me. I felt like a cunt. A murderer of my own blood, and not the protector I should have been. My throat now jammed with that sharp dry lump. Had I killed my baby all those years ago so I could have freedom to come to a city and draw my initials in a map and walk around in the cold rain? For what? Surely life is about connection with other humans. I felt so alone. I thought of my ex with her husband and three kids in her home now. I wondered what they were doing. All sat around hugging on the sofa. And I was here. On my own. Cold and surrounded by cold dead body parts. I had got what I wanted. Freedom. And it was ugly. I followed the jars of fetuses up to the new born baby. And then I left. I aborted my JP map mission and escaped the rain. A small cafe offered warmth and hot tea. I got my pad out and wrote. And wrote. And wrote. Escaping my thoughts. Or at least processing them was vital now. I felt on the edge. The more I wrote the better I felt. The pain of my younger self’s decisions slowly evaporated as the pages filled. I flew home that night. Fuck traveling. I’m too skint and too many things to sort. Need to stop running and face some things. My flat was a disaster. Shit everywhere. No self respect. I threw my wet bag into the corner and dived into my unmade bed.

Then the dream came back.

I had a repetitive dream between 2002 and 2005/6. It would be most nights back then. It was terrifying. It would not go away. It would involve a dead body. And me as potential murderer / accomplice or at least me hiding the details of the incident. The body was usually buried. And I knew where. And I knew what happened. My state of mind was in turmoil as I was trying to keep it a secret, and praying no one would find out. This dream must have happened well over a hundred times. I would wake up and for ten minutes I would try and work out what I was going to do about this situation, and I would be petrified, and slowly it would dawn on me that it wasn’t real and I would feel a huge relief that I wasn’t about to get imprisoned and then get on with my day.

Mother’s day one year I decided to cycle over to my Mam’s house about 15 or so miles away and had ended up on the grounds of the hospital while on my way, I had phoned my Ex, and I don’t remember why, we occasionally chatted over the years after we had split. We were chatting away, it may have been Mother’s Day in 2005 or 6 or something. I suddenly realised I was outside the window, directly where we had committed the offense. I dropped the phone. I cried. A man passing by asked if I was ok. This was in real life. I was in tears, I cycled to my Mam and fell onto the sofa and slipped into the dream, and this was the final time I dreamed that dream, it resolved itself…. The body had been found. I had been caught. The police had found a ring on a finger poking out of the muddy grass where we had buried the young woman (this time). The body had been exhumed and I had admitted my part in it and I was being arrested. I woke up and felt a huge sense of relief that I no longer needed to keep this secret. I never dreamed the dream again. Ten years passed.

It had been a weird weekend in Basel, Switzerland and I was tired and glad of my own bed. The heating clicked on, the noise of the traffic melted and the smelly quilt disappeared from beneath my nose. I was on the mountain behind the house I grew up in, in the Welsh valleys, rusty cold shovel in hand. The pylon wires buzzed above us and a single crow crossed the moody sky. Me and my big brother were patting down a mound of earth in the rain. And he was saying to me that no one can ever find out about this. This is our secret. Never ever say a word. Forever. That was it. The old dream, it was back after a decade. It didn’t resolve either. Same details, different scenario, as it always was. I woke up. I laid there. And stared at the ceiling. And I wondered how we were going to get away with it.

 

 

 

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camino, life

Switzerland Day 2: Penile Dementia

A gentle knock, I opened my eyes and slowly remembered who I am and where I was. 7.30am. Basel. Jason. Oh, yeah. Shit.

I couldn’t have had more than two hours sleep. I had been worrying about a decision on a job offer in France for the summer. Sixteen weeks work for a basic wage, in the sun. I had tried to stave off the insomnia by reading Alan Mcgee’s book, and this had got me even more wound up. Here was a mouthy council estate bastard with an attitude, running amok in the music industry. He didn’t appear to have anything I didn’t, the only one difference being an unwavering self-belief (possibly fueled by cocaine). He surrounded himself with people he believed in and people who believed in him and he chased the dream. His balls were commendable. He would talk to any fucker and tell them what he wanted. I suppose it’s easy to ask for shit for your friends. He had failed with his own band, but was the master at managing his mates’ bands. This was the key difference – it’s very easy to let yourself down and be gentle on yourself – but would you fuck up your best mate’s career?
In becoming responsible for others the focus had shifted from himself and he was forced to fight in order to not look a cunt. And fight he did. Eventually ending up with the biggest band in the world on his label, all the major labels in a bidding war for his company and walking off with a cool 14 million.
And I’m contemplating going to France for a gardening job. For fuck sake, I had no bands or people to be responsible to, I was just coasting along. Was I running away from my dreams, my true vision. Going for the easy option? This shit had had my head spinning all night.
“Breakfast?” said Bram from behind the door.

I threw some clothes on and joined Bram at the dining table. He had served three perfectly poached eggs on toast and some chilled OJ. He opened the curtains of the living room to reveal a huge balcony poking out into a misty mountain. Rain fell upon the black fir tree tops that poked up through the mist, a feint outline of a large rocky mountain fell back into the grey sky. We quickly got dressed and headed out into the relentless rain. A short train and bus journey and we entered the Spa.

We headed into a bubbling hot outdoor pool that spread out into the misty day, surrounded by castle-type buildings and fir trees. We lazed around with lots of old people enjoy the lovely warm bubbles, somehow, despite the cold rain, our heads didn’t freeze over. After chatting for ages I was left wondering if Bram was looking for love, he seemed fairly desperate, a little lonely, I thought.

We walked down some wide steps into a huge cavernous paddling pool that nestled underground. It was lit beautifully, dim, red. People lazed like crocodiles in the water. Knees, noses and the occasional pot belly breaking the surface. We lay on our backs. The pool was full of a salt that enabled our bodies to float. It was impossible to sink. It was like being in space. No friction at all. We just floated there. As our ears entered the water our minds were met with beautiful violins. They were sending music under the water and it sounded gorgeous, water was an amazing conductor of sound, why had I never encountered this before. For half an hour or more we floated on a chorus of violins. Heaven must be like this.

On returning upstairs, we slipped through some plastic butcher flaps.
“Ok there’s no shorts allowed here,” said Bram. He  stood there completely naked pointing his Malaysian pepper shaker at me. He pushed his shorts into a small pigeon hole, and waddled off, his naked arse gyrating up the corridor.
“Um…………”
“Come on!”
I stumbled for a moment then whipped my shorts off and into the pigeon hole next to Bram’s and ran after him. We walked through a corridor. It was full of naked old men everywhere. I didn’t want to look but it was difficult, we were in the middle of a Swiss Cock Theme Park.
We entered a sauna. It was rammed. Two shelves of peni all around the walls. There was a little bit of room on the top shelf to our right. An old guy with a walrus moustache had his legs wide open on the shelf below. I made eye contact and politely pointed above him with my eyes. Then I looked down. It was shaped like a comedy cartoon bomb, thin at one end, long and tapering out to a really wide end, rounded off with a huge dense bell. He looked at my penis, lifted an eyebrow, and closed his legs as much as his huge dong would allow.
We squeezed past him with our button mushrooms and I’m sure he smirked as mine sailed past his temple. We sat down and took a look around, Cockfest. Jesus, I didn’t feel too comfortable, how the fuck did I end up here.
My Welsh hobbit penis was attracting a fair few glances and I couldn’t help looking at the  plethora of peckers around the room. Opposite torpedo cock was a shriveled member, an Alf’s nose; the Malaysian maggot was out of my sight line; there was one that looked like a butternut squash and a curly one up over in the far corner. I’m sure I had read in some girly magazine some time, that all penises were basically the same. No way oh say! Not here. This was Fraggle Cock. There was one with no shaft, just a bright pink round bellend, nothing else, like someone was blowing a tiny bubble with a hubba-bubba. There was one like a PG Tips pyramid tea bag. Next to him was an old long worn sock that looked like it had been filled with sprouts. Down on the shelf below to my right I spotted a woman. Phew. She was leaning back with her eyes closed. I noticed she had quite a mane of pubic hair, which also appeared in her armpits and shins. I looked around the room again, and it hit me. Every willy in the house had been shaved clean and splashed with Brut before being put on display here today. That is every willy except mine. I looked down at my hobbit muff. Holy shit. It was only me and that lady with any pubes. My penis was trying to climb back inside, shy just like it’s owner, it couldn’t handle all the attention. I closed my legs a bit, painfully aware of the glances my muff was getting. They didn’t think I was a German lady did they? A chubby hobbit like lady with a big hairy muff and some bumfluff between my adolescent tits? I tapped Bram and we rapidly bounced down the shelf and out of the sauna. I breathed a sigh of relief. Bram, with his gyrating spotty cheeks, led the way through another door and outside into the rain. I followed sheepishly.

I looked up ahead, there were several wooden huts. No doubt full of more bald Swiss genitals proudly on display, even Bram’s had been plucked, I noticed!
Bram sharply turned back, the cold and rain was too much for him and he headed back in doors. My feet were stinging on the cold concrete floor. The rain icy and painful hit every part of my body. What a strange sensation. I stood there naked in the rain. I don’t think I had ever done this, I started singing that Blue Pearl track from the nineties. Not realising while bopping along that I looked nothing like the Amazonian beauties who were gyrating in the video for it. More like a Moomin who’d lost his pants.

It was as if all the comedy cocks I had drawn in my French book in school had come to life and came to live in this park in Basel. Gaggles of peni stood in semi circles facing each other, arms folded, genitals almost kissing as they chatted away, nonchalantly. I guess it’s normal here, this is everyday life! Like popping down the shop for us. Some stray peni strolled past and others rested on benches or danced in the outdoor showers up ahead.
I stood there on my own, chubby and white, hair all over the place with a perplexed look in my eye, naked as the day I was born. This was the REAL ME. Bow down baldy cocked mother fuckers! She-Male Hobbit Muff has arrived!
Hiya!
I pulled open a large wooden door and stepped into the hottest room in the universe. I think it may have been build around the mouth of a volcano. I sat down next to a guy who was dripping pints of sweat into a large towel, while more pints dripped at his feet. A lady with massive round breasts lay on her back to the other side of me, with her knees up. Every once in a while she would open her glistening legs and let out a puff of Aroma D’Herbs Des Alpes. Sweat began to gather all over me. I was trying to work out what temperature my penis needed to be for it to look it’s normal flaccid self. Too cold it disappears and too hot it looks like a bacon frazzle made of putty. As I looked down it seemed to be coming back to life. Not only the temperature was helping, but also there was no one looking at him here. This was a small darkened room. And the fire in the middle obscured any peeping freaks.
The sweaty guy next to me started to rub himself all over. He started caressing his droopy wet thighs, then his long tits and then his droopy face. It was squelching and dripping all over the place. I couldn’t cope. I ran for the door. On contact with the freezing rain my nob disappeared instantly and I somehow was now sporting an erect foreskin. Work that one out. A nipple. If only i had some viagra i may have been able to make it 3d again. I stepped into an outdoor shower and was knocked back by a torrent of ice water. FUCK THIS!

I headed back for the door where Bram had disappeared.

I paused. There it was. In the flesh. Stretched over a bench, leaning back, chatting to an older lady, was the biggest cock I have ever seen in my entire life time. Now, let’s get one thing straight, I ain’t seen that many in my life, in the flesh, and I have no interest in them, it’s just in this place, I was surrounded!

Rhino Cock. His legs were wide open and his arms spread wide across the back of the bench. The woman stood next to him with her muff, hypnotised. They chatted away.
Imagine you got a hefty set of bolt cutters and cut about a metre off of an adult elephant’s trunk. This was something like it. Maybe God had made a mistake: somewhere out there in the African desert is a fully grown elephant with a tiny human penis for a trunk and all his mates are laughing at him and pointing.
But the dude on the bench didn’t give a fuck. He was looking pretty damn satisfied with his heffalump. He looked up at me. I was frozen. A cherub in the rain. I thought about peeing, you know, and pretending to be one of those fountains. Our eyes locked. On each other’s manhood. His lady friend brought her eye line up from his pecker and slowly locked on to mine. I waved! Then ran.
Through the door I came panting. Bram lay on a lounger reading a magazine, his bald shroom instantly calming me.

Later on I was so tired from my Spa experience and the insane bout of insomnia last night, that I managed to sleep though most of the concert that I had come to Switzerland to see. The first part was hours of a Punjabi chanting, I drifted off into genital-free dreams. Phew. I headed off to the Jean Tinguely museum with some friends I had met, finding that his Dance of Death installation was no longer on display. I felt it was part of the reason why I had come to Switzerland. A fire had broken out on the farm next door to Jean’s house many years ago, and all of the family – his neighbours – had died. Many months later Jean had collected the debris and left over farm machinery and made an animatronic sculpture of deathly figures, that danced. I was OK with it thought, too tired to worry. I looked at the final piece in the museum, in large writing ‘DO NOT TOUCH’, and below it a huge thick bent penis hung from the wall. Arrrrgh!
I dreamily snoozed through part two of the concert, which also entailed an hour lecture, in fucking German.
On climbing into my bed that night I collapsed into a deep empty sleep. Nothing. No worry, no thinking, just blackness. Tomorrow was another day of live music from Scelsi. I was looking forward to it. But for now I was happy to escape the peni.

 

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camino, life

Switzerland Day 1: A Bitter Distance

I had been ill since Boxing Day. I thought I had recovered three separate times, only for it to hit me again, like a rabbit punch from Muhammed Ali, and get me hanging off the ropes reaching for my dressing gown. I was depressed and needed a break.
Every flight to Europe seemed to be twenty quid on Easyjet so I decided to head out to a Festival celebrating the work of my favourite composer, Scelsi. The alarm had failed to wake me. It was 8.59am, the train to Bristol airport was 9.30 and I hadn’t packed and had hardly slept a blink.
Luckily, I had scored a bed for the weekend from the popular traveler’s website, Couchsurfers. I was going to stay with a chap who, he had said in his message, was lonely. A Malaysian geezer called Bram. As is customary in the Couchsurfing community, it would be considered good manners to cook a typical Welsh dish for Bram tonight. Crumpets? Cheese on toast? Lava-bread and Cockles? I’ll decide later, I thought.

I scraped half the bum-fluff off my face with an old blunt razor; forced the least smelly clothes off my bedroom floor into my little rucksack along with books, pads and pencils; drank a bowl of cold watery porridge and off to Switzerland I went. I had a fartful of money and a loose plan. I knew Sunday night I was not going to want to board that flight home, back to my boring life in Cardiff, in the dead of winter, and I might well not. My life had become like a sink of cold dirty dish water, blocked up with soggy lumps of old toast. I cleaned my teeth in the train bathroom, sat back and got stuck into some reading.

After all the rushing, I arrived at Bristol airport with lots of time to spare. I bought the Telegraph which included a free bottle of water.. The Telegraph is SHIT, and the comedy size pages make it impossible for my arms to hold it out far enough to read. Like a frustrated T-Rex I gave up, gathered up all the scattered and crumpled pages and binned the fucking lot in a big ball of paparazzi bollocks.

I threw all my money to a grumpy woman behind a counter. He hair was so tightly scraped back that the her fringe was on the back of her neck and her nose directly on the top of her head. She refused to crack a smile on her grumpy forehead, as she counted my measly amount of Swiss Francs back to me. Ripped off.
I was stripped to my pants by a five foot smiley security guard, good job I put some on this morning. I looked at the shelves of WH Smith. ‘Chav Punk Hobbit‘, my first and only book, needs to be here, I thought. People could read it on their flight, it’s the perfect book for that! Instead, I was confronted with every word Jon Ronson has ever written. Shelf upon shelf of his shit. Last night I had read a Guardian article he had written about his all-expenses-paid trip to Lapland for his son to meet Father Christmas. It made me want to rip my eyes out and it was launched against the far corner of my bedroom wall, joining the ever growing shit pile, along with Harry Potter and Dalai Lama. Jon’s ‘Psychopath Test’ was a little better but I was yet to read his big hit, ‘The Men Who Stare At Goats’, and after that overly cute, pompous Santa shit I was unlikely to bother. I feel a lot of his real life stories are so lamely hyped up to try and make his middle-class audience titter while sipping their champers reclined in their roomy first class seats. He seemed to have one strategy: fly around the world, on expenses, and interview people who are more interesting than he, and then make himself out to be the hilarious outside observer. It don’t cut it for me. What does he actually do? FUCK ALL. Shit, am I a little bitter? Yeah, probably. I don’t know how to get my book – that attempts to illicit the same effect but upon the chavs and benefit cheats in Ryanair cattle class – onto the shelves of WH Smith at Bristol Airport. That wild jealous beast was momentarily awoken, but in my progressing years, I had the skills in my armoury to tame the bastard. I simply walked off frothing at the mouth whispering expletives into mid air, looking like a slightly lost rabies victim.

Trundling along, the airport was dead, I got to my gate, no one there, no wonder those flights are so cheap this weekend, I thought, no one is flying! The lady at the desk hurried me along as, in fact, the plane was full and they were waiting for one more passenger. Me. The flight attendant asked me if I minded moving to a a full three seats to myself, I agree and stretch out. She then informs me that I am in control of the emergency exit. When this plane erupts into a ball of flames and we are sent screaming through the air in a vertical nose dive into the ocean, it’s my job to open the door, inflate the slide and save everybody. I politely agreed.

A few moments later a kid, in the arms of it’s mother, decided to kick the living shit out of the back of my seat, sending me into an epileptic sit down river dance. It then sang up and down it’s octaves until it tuned its shrieking scream of all screams into the exact frequency that my brain is programmed to launch my system into a state of frenzy. I clenched my teeth. I could taste blood.

I frantically tried to skim a copy of The Independent from my bag and ignore the fat toddler screaming beast thing that was now grabbing at the back of my head. I managed to get through an article that made the point that the ultimate key to happiness lies in the act of selfless, altruistic giving. It was a guarantee for instant happiness, everyone a winner.
The sun beat upon my face through the tiny dusty oblong window. The big wing poked out into the cloud-tiled heaven, written on the back it in large print, DO NOT WALK HERE. I sat back and opened my Alan McGee book. He told me how his dad beat the shit out of him at a young age and how he had nowhere to run. He told of this feeling of no escape had led to him being argumentative, hedonistic, self-destructive, provocative and occasionally down right nasty. I could relate with these feelings. I had been all of these, but surely it couldn’t have derived from the occasional wallop my dad would dish out when I was a kid? Or the slipper across the arse / head from Mam?

The kid screams now pierced my cranium and fingered my brain, and I somehow managed to quash my desire to drop kick it up the plane. The kid, that is, not my brain, although right now, either would do. Altruism, I thought, agreeing with the Independent article: selflessly relieving this poor Mum from her agony, would indeed make me instantly happier. Everyone’s a winner!

Sheet rain welcomed me to Basel. Colder than Wales. Great. I boarded a bus behind a bunch of giggly fat old Brits in panamas who looked like they were on their first ever holiday. I located a supermarket near central and panic bought a pile of ingredients.

Bram tapped me on the shoulder at the train station. He was short. had soft sad eyes and spoke very gently. We boarded a busy fast train and within minutes were entering his apartment. The place was huge. This was a far cry from the cat piss puddle on a pull out smelly sofa I had woken up on in France, with a stinking hangover, during my last Couchsurfing experience. This was pure luxury. He showed me around. Open plan, huge 3 bed apartment. HUGE. The floor was black slate and completely heated throughout. The central heating came through the floor, woah. The sofa was about the size of my bedroom back home. He showed me to my room. My own room! Spotless. Nothing was out of place. Except me.
We hung out in the living room and got to know each other. He had split with his wife just a few months previously and she had moved back to Malaysia, now he was alone in this massive place. He was a scientist, a researcher of the kidney. This seemed significant to our meeting somehow, but I couldn’t place my finger on why.
Then it was time. I am a little mental in the kitchen. And need to be left alone. And then the crazy mess I leave behind I expect to be cleaned by the person I have so expertly fed. I chopped and diced and tossed and stirred. Heat was sizzling and there was shit everywhere. 20 minutes later Bram took his seat, as I presented our meal. One omelette each, but this omelette was different. It was fucking huge, with rings of leak, and covered in grated goat’s cheese and then fluffed up like a souffle under the grill. In between us, a bowl of stir fried peppers, mushroom and green beans with soy sauce and some bread. I hadn’t brought the wine, not only was I currently tee total but also the food alone had smashed in half of my weekend budget! This city was more expensive than London.

Bram loved the food and we retired to the comedy size sofa. I could see him in the distance. He offered to take me to his spa in the morning, after I mentioned my love of swimming. I was falling asleep. I got off to bed after a lovely hot shower and crisp clean towels. I slotted my clean body between the beautiful blankets and then drifted off into a paranoic state of worry and  stayed awake all night.

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creation, other people's shit

struggling

“Take risks. Don’t rest on your laurels. Don’t ask permission. But be prepared to suffer the consequences of your actions. Don’t blame others. Don’t expect success – not even after you’re dead. Remember, to get one good artist you need to have at least a thousand others struggling in their garrets. If you or I are one of those struggling ones, we’re still doing our jobs.”

-Bill Drummond, KLF

 

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from Bill Drummond’s 10 commandments of art.

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