The fortieth anniversary of the release of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon—one of the most successful albums of all time—has provoked a swirl of activity from record companies and Pink Floyd HQ around the recording.
It also provides us with a reason to make our own Black Friday special offer on copies of ‘Barrett, the Definitive Visual Companion‘ which is now available at 25% discount until December 8th. This makes the Classic Edition: £48.75 & the Limited Edition: £225.
While the statistics that now accompany Dark Side of the Moon are impressive and include 741 successive weeks on the Billboard Top 200 album chart, and more than 50 million copies sold world wide, it’s somehow reassuring to find that the content continues to sound original, intriguing and surprisingly fresh. What’s also surprising is an apparently recently formed opinion on the album that, as with the subsequent Floyd album release Wish You Were Here, Dark Side is part hymn to the lost genius of founder member Syd Barrett and part exorcism of his musical ghost. Songs such as Money and Brain Damage are now part credited to inspiration from Syd, but the lack of experimental, progressive instrumental pieces on the album (which is far poppier than one might recall) suggest a definite move away from days gone by.
It has to be said that other theories about Floyd’s eighth album Dark Side of the Moon, including the one in which Roger Waters’ intended it to be heard while simultaneously watching The Wizard of Oz with the sound down because it’s actually a rewrite of the musical, have been constructed, debunked and dismissed. As everyone knows Shine On You Crazy Diamond is all about Syd, and the band’s ninth album title a sincere plea to the ever-vanishing man and was made clear by the Floyd when promoting Wish You Were Here in 1975. But there was little said about Syd—from whom they were still trying to distance themselves 5 years after his departure—in Dark Side‘s original promo material and music press interviews.
In fact Dark Side was originally presented as Waters’ facing up to the pressures of being globe-trotting international rock stars forced to live an artificial existence, moving from one bland hotel room to another with the live performance being the only energising and enlivening aspect of life spent on the road. He wanted to confront ‘things that make people go mad’, he said, and meant in the first instance, himself. The great irony is that, as famous as Floyd were when writing and recording Dark Side of the Moon, they were to become doubly so on its release. Which can only have added to the things that were making them ‘mad’.
By 1973 Syd had ceased to be musically active in any meaningful way and despite rumours, made no appearance at all on Dark Side. As much as fevered fans might want the spoken word sections of the album’s final track Drain Damage to be Syd saying he’d meet them on the dark side of the moon, it’s not him. He famously made an unscheduled and unannounced appearance in the studio when the Floyd were recording Wish You Were Here, but then, as Waters was discovering, many aspects of madness are unfathomable and unaccountable.
We’ve been made very happy by the sighting of the photos below, of the first finished, printed and bound copies of the Dinosaur Jr book. We think it looks great, and hope you all agree. Below is the cover of the classic edition and here is where to buy it (still a pre-order!)
On opening the book you’ll see these endpapers:
Turn the page and you’ll find the imprint and contents:
The Signature edition will come packed into this purple box:
When you ease the lid open, it’ll look like this:
Inside the black envelope pasted to the inside of the box top are these two posters, all numbered
When you lift the first volume out of the box you’ll see the extra added Diary:
The Classic Edition comes shrink-wrapped, of course:
We’ll post more pics when we get the finished copy and take some of our own…
November 13th: Marlborough College, Bath Rd, Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8 1PA, 7.30 pm.
November 15th: The Trust Room, Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge, Storey’s Way, Cambridge CB3 0DG, 7.30 pm.
All events are open to the public free of charge.
Originally published in Danish in 1980, Pink Moon was the first biography of Nick Drake, and remains the only one to include exclusive interviews with the singer’s parents, Rodney and Molly Drake. This legendary lament for Nick is published in English by Rocket 88 in a significantly updated form. It contains previously unseen letters and information gathered by Gorm from his meetings with the Drakes in their home Far Leys, and draws on his long, written correspondence with them.
Gorm’s UK visit allows him to revisit Nick Drake’s old school and college, both of which feature strongly in the book in stories told by forner schoolfriends Simon Crocker and Jeremy Mason, and university pals Robert Kirby, Paul Wheeler and Brian Wells. For the students of both institutions Gorm’s reading and talks will provide an invaluable insight into one of their most enigmatic and talented
We’re delighted to hear that Gorm Henrik Rasmussen, the author of Pink Moon is travelling from his native Denmark to England next month, and while here will be giving talks and readings from the book. Gorm is visiting Nick Drake’s old school Marlborough (Nov 13) and his Cambridge college (Fitzwilliam, Nov 15) , but he begins his mini tour with an appearance in Norwich, on November 12. See here for details. As a taster for Gorm’s trip, we present an intriguing extract from Pink Moon, in which the author visits Nick’s parents at their home, and is played some tapes of Nick performing songs that have never been released—and rarely heard:
THE MUSIC ROOM: Rodney and Molly both play the piano. They come from families with musical traditions. After only a short time with them I have the distinct impression that Nick grew up in a household where music was much more than a diversion at tea-time; it was quite simply an important part of family life. Molly wrote songs for her children from the time they were in their cradles. She taught Nick the piano when he was five. Later, when he went to Marlborough, he learnt to play the clarinet and the saxophone.“It didn’t matter what instrument you put in his hand,” Molly explains. “The violin, the flute or the trumpet – I think he could coax a melody out of any instrument he got hold of, without any practice at all.”
A natural. That is how his parents describe their son. Although it has been five years since his death, I can feel how much he is still present at Far Leys. Nick is here, there and everywhere. Molly goes to the piano and strikes a series of chords. She looks at me inquisitively.
“Way to Blue”, I say, feeling slightly disoriented.
“That’s right! Nick wrote his songs on the guitar, but ‘Way to Blue’ is actually a piano piece. When Robert Kirby did the arrangements for the piece, he had the idea of replacing the piano with a string quartet. Nick was overjoyed. We were all very pleased.”
There is something puzzling me. When Rodney and Molly discuss when and where Nick wrote something, a number of the songs they keep referring to are quite unknown to me. His parents are throwing about quotes from what appears to be a hidden treasure of songs.
Nick Drake recorded three albums. They are displayed on the table in front of us in their new packaging, next to a little pile of clippings from English and American music magazines. The shiny, deep-blue LP box is gleaming in the sun. Fruit Tree: The Complete Recorded Works says the writing on the cover. Molly opens the box and shows me the pencil sketches that depict her son at three stages of his life: Nick, young and hopeful, sitting on the grass; Nick as a grown-up with dark rings around his eyes and black clouds gathering above his head; and finally Nick, the depressive, thin, with hollow cheeks, staring straight through you with his vacant eyes. Portraits of the artist at nineteen, twenty, and twenty-four.
But there was a time before these records, a very creative period where Nick lived in the south of France and spewed out songs like he was Robert Zimmerman number two. As far as I can gather, these songs are simpler and more youthful than the ten that Nick selected for his debut album. The titles sound intriguing. “Bird Flew By”, “Mayfair”, “Blossom Friend” and “My Love Left with the Rain”.
“He met a girl in Aix-en-Provence and wrote a song for her,” Molly explains. “The girl’s name was Joey. He must have been quite in love with her. It is a song about unrequited love.”
“Just like ‘Princess of the Sand’,” Rodney interjects.
“A lovely one,” Molly nods.
“One of his best,” Rodney agrees.
“And he never recorded it?” I ask.
“No, not on any album. But we have it on a tape together with the other songs. You can hear them if you like.”
“Rodney managed to smuggle the tape out of the music room and hide it in a drawer,” Molly says.
“We had to be very careful, or the songs would have been lost,” Rodney continues. “Nick was so hard on himself. He would record a number twenty times and then erase it all. Later he would mock his early songs and call them childish and silly. We, however thought they were wonderful. And we still do – even though the sound quality is very bad.”
The door to the music room is open. From where I sit in the living room I can see a music stand, a stool and a small shelf where some tape reels are lying about. On the wall there is a frame containing the original cover of Pink Moon. The room has been left more or less as it was on the night Nick left it five years ago, after he had been listening to Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. The turntable is still there, and Nick’s record collection. While Rodney is kneeling in front of the shelf, looking for the tape of Nick’s early songs, I quickly glance through Nick’s records. The covers are well-worn. Nick Drake must have been an inveterate coffee drinker, for they all have dark stains and cup marks on them. He has been listening to The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and Rubber Soul. Here are albums by Bert Jansch, Tim Buckley, Randy Newman, Miles Davis and Tim Hardin. Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks has also seen some heavy use. A select, very refined, collection of records, although it gives no clues as to how Nick Drake, aged nineteen, could present a song like “River Man” to his friends in Cambridge. Or how, later, he was able to brew chords together into melodies that practically kept him free of imitators.
“Are you ready?” Without waiting for my reply Rodney starts the tape. First comes the guitar. The basic riff is immediately catchy. It is simple. The fretwork is virtuoso. Then the words. Nick’s voice, muted, darker than one is used to:
Deep down in the depth of forgotten dreams
So far away, so long ago it seems…
“One day he showed up with a guitar; he must have been fifteen or sixteen,” Rodney tells me as the tape plays on. “Nick’s instruments were the clarinet and the saxophone, so naturally we were curious. He shut himself in this room and started to play. We knew some of the tunes. It seemed as if he found it easy to absorb other songwriters’ stuff and he quickly finished with them. But his own songs he played over and over. Often he would practise till late at night, sometimes without switching on the lights when it got dark. He would just sit and strum for hours on end. If Molly and I tried to get through to him, he would just stare absentmindedly at us and mumble a monosyllabic reply.”
Rodney must have sensed my fascination with these songs that Nick obviously considered unfinished, because when we have finished our tea and I have met the Burmese housekeeper Naw, he returns to the music room. He comes back from there waving the cassette tape in his hand and gives it to me.
“You can keep this.”
I thank him, moved and amazed by this gesture, and ask him if he knows when the songs were recorded.
“1967 and ’68,” he says without hesitation. “Some are from Nick’s time in Aix-en-Provence, but most of them are recorded here at Far Leys – under rather primitive conditions as you can probably hear.”
On the way to the station we go by the cemetery at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Tanworth-in-Arden, and the couple show me Nick’s grave. His plain, grey, arched granite stone carries the inscription “Now we rise and we are everywhere”. It stands under an oak tree in the middle of the secluded, rural graveyard; in front of the stone is a bouquet of fresh flowers in a small stand. Rodney bends down and with quick movements of his hand brushes away some wet and golden brown leaves that surround the little plot.
“We were looking for a line from one of Nick’s songs that wasn’t too sad a memory of his much too early death,” Rodney says while rubbing some soil off his hands. “We chose ‘From the Morning’ because that song has hope in it. It says ‘nothing disappears.’”
It is pitch black when we get to Wolverhampton and the two of them accompany me into the train station. We say goodbye. As I wave farewell from the compartment window, I have no way of knowing that in less than a year I would once again be sitting at the living room table drinking tea with them, in an atmosphere so warm and hearty that I almost feel a part of the family…
Here’s an extract from our latest fiction title, the too long neglected classic cult novel by Sol Yurick, Fertig. We’re very proud to be reissuing some of Sol’s great work over the next few months. This was originally published in 1966 and was his second novel after The Warriors (1965). The following extract is taken from the opening of chapter 3.
It took the police six weeks to catch Fertig. Not that he ran away: he waited.
Ultimately, the hysterical screaming of the newspapers, the enormous shock of the crime, indignant demands in the name of the public that something be done, the wild speculations – who? why? – began to die. But the police, carefully checking an enormous list of people who could possibly have held grudges against Mercy – patients, personnel, relatives – eliminating wherever they could and hoping they hadn’t eliminated the murderer, moved through the steps of their system at an inexorable pedestrian pace and came, even though he was nowhere near the beginning of the end of their list, to Fertig.
After That Day, Fertig was drained. He could only wait and rest. Some days he slept almost twenty hours. He told Sara he was sick … a low-level virus was debilitating him. He read the newspapers, watched the news on television, and slept a lot – slept more sweetly, more at peace than he had for the past year. It was as if he was making up for all the lost sleep of that year … of his life. Tranquil, he waited for the momentary knock … the police. He was impatient. What was taking so long. Lying around in his stupor, Fertig began to have a daydream. He would be in a room, a chamber, a hall, really… misty, fuzzy, one with many people in it.
He followed the developments with a growing detachment … as if it were all about someone else. In the second week, when they still hadn’t come, he began to get restless; he had slept enough; he shook off the lethargy and paid more attention to what they were saying about The Murderer. How could anyone want to kill Dr. Curtius, a venerable man who had spent his life serving mankind and who was almost dead anyway? Or brutally kill Miss Malabar, a harmless old maid, a wonderful character, really? Or want to assassinate Rabbi Gordon, whose good deeds were beyond counting? Everyone speculated – news commentators, psychiatrists, police officials. What wild hypotheses they had, how far from the mark, how perversely wrong! He was annoyed, petulant. How silly could they get? And when they got close to understanding it, he would get oddly excited – yes! that was almost it – yet… exposed. Questions added and permutated into mad guesses.
He had a better relationship with Sara again, a permanent truce, really. He accepted it. It could never be what it was again: would it be when she found out? He would sit beside her every night as she watched the television set, abandoned to it. Or they talked about The Crime. It annoyed him that she didn’t even know who the victims were. Hadn’t they published the pictures? Didn’t she remember the name of the place where they had killed Stevie? “What kind of monster could have done it?” she asked. “Only a madman.” And she was understanding and compassionate about the poor killer: it angered him. She had gone back to her Dr. Anslinger; Fertig might have expected a psychoanalytic point of view from her. What if – he asked her – what if, just suppose, for the sake of argument, the victims had committed some sort of crime?
“What kind of horrible crime could they have committed,” she would ask, “to merit killing?” And if there had been “a crime” – where did he get such an idea? – then wasn’t it up to the police to … And he would begin to discuss it carefully with her, but never prevailing against her dogged and exasperating pity. If she knew what they had done, would she be so pitying? And, smiling, superior, he would invent a new, possible crime that the seven might have done. Sara, rejecting the hypothetical, was interested only in actualities. And, the excitement growing in him, he would break off, turn away to keep her from sensing, watching her to see if his hints reached her, burying himself in his book, feeling for the slightest apprehension. But she, tired, bored, relieved that the discussion had ended, watched the television set gladly when they weren’t talking; she was insensitive to it.
When they didn’t come for him at the end of the second week he wondered if he should go and give himself up. He read all the newspapers carefully: they were on the trail, they were no closer, they had new clues, they were closing in, they hadn’t an inkling.
The Fertigs began to go out again with old friends, resuming old relationships. Everyone said what a wonderful recovery Fertig made after coming so close to … “I was worried for you,” his friend Sam told him. “You don’t brood for ever.”
“No,” Fertig said. “You don’t.”
“It’s time you and Sara did something about it. After all, it’s not too late.” And wherever they went they heard talk about The Crime; they talked about it themselves. At first he kept himself from joining in. He kept thinking: if they only knew! It made the simple, friendly, comfortable contacts exciting, and, late one night, sitting in a coffee-house, sipping at a sweet mint-chocolate drink, he daydreamed, incorporating his friends into his dreams, planting them in the audience. But on rousing himself, he began to say that they’d better hurry home because the babysitter … when suddenly, he stopped himself in time, and then leaned back to daydream again.
Sometimes he even bought out-of-town papers. He was exasperated; no one seemed to really understand the nature of his act, exactly what it was about. No one had found out why it happened. He smiled at the contradictions, sometimes within the same articles: “madman”, they say; “cunning, malevolent killer”, “master planner”, “berserker”, “skulking monster”, they reported. They sullied his deed: he would correct them. Yet, perversely, when they talked about The Crime, not only of the century, but of all time, he could view it with pride. It was a horrible thought, but it was a job well done.
The daydream grew. He would be standing in an auditorium. He could see himself talking: at his side, a judge, a man stern, yet benevolent, sat. He was telling them why he had to do it, talking about the evil in the world, the evil that had killed his son. He would talk about his feelings, the need, that ache to balance things,… the pain, that awful pain he suffered as he came – grew – to The Decision. Friends would be in the audience, strangers he overheard discussing The Crime, people he had never seen… the world… even the murdered, somehow resurrected, would be there. They filled an arena, and sat in balcony tiers that rose and receded till they disappeared into darkness. Each time he daydreamed it, it became clearer; his thoughts were more wonderfully organized. Of course he was no orator so he would have to speak softly, calmly, letting truth generate power, as it had invested him before with the strength to act. He made his account to the world.
In the third week he became restless: weren’t they ever coming? He considered going out and getting a job. After all, he thought, he might as well gather as much money as possible for Sara; he felt guilty that he had depleted their joint bank account. He knew that if he wanted to, he could go back to work for Mr. Grenoble. Grenoble, after making sure that Fertig would sweat a little for their argument (“You’ll be back, Fertig, on your hands and knees, begging me.”) about Fertig’s quitting on him like that (“But Fertig, can I trust you?”), would take him back. Perhaps Grenoble would even take away Fertig’s title of comptroller; certainly he would reduce Fertig’s salary. No, he decided, he wouldn’t go back there; evidently, Grenoble hadn’t discovered what he’d done to the books before he left. He wondered what his desire to work again meant. Why not just give himself up? Was he weakening? No: his plan was only to wait and do nothing.
As the third week ended with a crescendo of newspaper blasts and complaints of outraged citizens’ committees, the police seemed to have achieved nothing. The police body bent forward and plodded on. They released communiqués that they were on the verge of catching the killer, or killers. Ballistics reports confirmed that one silenced gun had killed six of the victims; the brutality of Miss Malabar’s death remained an anomaly. Perhaps the same person had not killed her after all. Every day there were crank callers threatening the deaths of more doctors, admitting to having killed the seven, tipping off the cops that bombs were planted in all municipal, voluntary, and private hospitals. And these reports had to be checked too.
As the fourth week began, Fertig began to hope. He knew it was wrong to hope; it was not what he wanted, but something inside of him had rebelled. It was a perfect crime and one of the most enormous crimes in history at that. He lay awake at night and hoped and damned himself for hoping; he wondered how his stock of courage had depreciated since that day … that glorious day. He tried to anger himself with memories of Stevie, but Stevie was long gone, long faded, hardly evocable, not even real. When had he begun to forget? If he wasn’t caught or if he didn’t surrender, then his son’s death would be written off. But he was depleted of anger now. One day he went upstairs into Stevie’s room and opened the drawers with his clothes: and he could almost feel old feelings: the smell of his son, that almost-shape of Stevie’s body, and his own body, stiffening itself to receive the impact of his son’s charge. What had he done with his son, how had he played with him, how had he yelled at him, how did he twine his fingers into his son’s long, golden hair? It was vague and far away … but he could get angry that he could no longer even feel his son. He dreamed again of the Speech, the hall, the audience: he talked of his lost son. And he almost wept. And he began to have a second daydream – a fantasy, really – that the listening people were understanding, moved to tears, to love! But he suppressed it; it was an unrealistic vision, a wild indulgence. But it gave him the strength to wait again.
One day he made himself go as far as the local precinct steps, but he defaulted; they would catch him, Fertig promised himself, and he prepared for his moment.
In the fifth week the newspapers had almost dropped it entirely. A gossip columnist surmised that, according to a secret Cosa Nostra source, the murders were the first round in a terroristic extortion-war against the hospitals. He insisted on discussing this new, ridiculous theory with Sara and with Sam and Bea when they dropped over for coffee and cake one night. They were bored with the case; they had been talking about the murders for weeks now.
He listened to them talking – Sam, Bea, Sara. How their droning voices, their complacent, accepting, smug attitudes irritated him! He watched a crumb cling, stuck, to Bea’s lipstick. How they clouded over That Day with their talk. And he began to argue with them, argue with their versions of the madman killer, taunting them with visions of a heroic killer. They, not catching his special agitation, responded only to the excitement of the argument and, their faces contorted, they shouted back at him good-naturedly, fighting him. “It could be anyone,” he yelled. “You, me.”
“Oh, how you go on, Harry,” Bea laughed at him. “I’d just like to see Sam …”
“I admit I couldn’t do it. Even for you, my love,” Sam said. “Kill me, but I couldn’t do it.”
“… because such a power is in any one of us – given the proper causes …”
“What cause can justify such a horrible act?” Sara asked.
“Hate … love,” Fertig told them.
“How you talk, Harry. Have you lost your sense of proportion? Only a madman…” Sara’s challenge was shrill.
“Well, it may interest you to know –” The crumb, loosened from Bea’s moving lips, dropped. And he stopped himself. He had almost told them. They would know. They would see. He felt … powerful. He stood up and pulled up his pants and squared his shoulders. They didn’t notice him; they kept on discussing it. They would be in the audience; they would see; just a little while longer … and he would see their faces as he talked.
At the end of the fifth week someone came forth and confessed and now Fertig hoped openly. But the police released the admitted killer; they said that they had ways of knowing the killer. What ways? he wondered; it frightened him. And why should it frighten him? He was supposed to be caught. Why didn’t they hurry? He stopped reading police reports for a few days because he might find out they were getting too close and he’d feel like absconding. He couldn’t prevent himself from fearing fully now, and he tried to allay the fears by forcing himself to daydream about his Great Confession. The newspapers dropped the case almost entirely and it began to look like it might be an unsolved crime; he began to become complacent.
But they came for him in the sixth week.
When we started researching the Dinosaur Jr book, we came across a blog that features a lot of scans of pages from old British music papers published in the late 1980s and 1990s. The scans are great quality and the Dinosaur Jr features are a great reminder of how the Brits took the band. Or didn’t. See for yourself, click on any cutting and it should come up as a big file. First up a Melody Maker interview by Simon Reynolds from December 1987;
Less than a year later NME asked the hugely influential DJ John Peel for his favourite discs of the day, among them is Freak Scene;
In December 1988 Melody Maker made Freak Scene their #3 best single of the year, behind Kevin Shields’ My Bloody Valentine — who J befriended—and well ahead of The Pixies’ Gigantic;
In May of 1989 Melody Maker put J on their cover, alongside The Cure’s Robert Smith;
In the book (which is only available here, you know) J, Lou and Murph tell their versions of the day they spent getting the photos and interview done for this feature;
While putting together the limited edition Dino book, J, Lou and Murph gave some thought to the records (and they were all vinyl back then) that influenced them when they were getting into music in a major way. Everyone knows about J and Lou’s fascination with hardcore when they were in their mid-teens, and that they all listened to a lot of Sabbath (J’s got some interesting things to say about them), but there are some surprising inclusions among the bands, albums and tracks listed by Dino as they recall their original aural thrills. Some of their musical memories are in the book, but here are some that didn’t make the final cut because we ran out of space.
J: Black Sabbath are so bizarre, it’s not like regular rock in any way. Their early records were just so cool. They paved the way for a lot of other bands. Americans think they’re really heavy and cool, but English people are so snobby about them … Never Say Die was released the same year as Never Mind The Bollocks (1977) and it’s a lot faster and sounds more like punk rock than the Sex Pistols.
LOU: J got Odessey And Oracle (1968) by the Zombies first and then I did, and it was a huge influence. The complexity of the chords they were using, how musically fearless the Zombies were, just the way they worked together as a band, were nuanced and played together, they were really influential on us.
MURPH: Essential albums for me are Jimi Hendrix, Axis: Bold as Love (1968); Deep Purple, Machine Head (1972), Who Do We Think We Are (1973) and Burn (1974)…
J: I was really into all of the English Punk. Even the third generation, when it got really bad; I still liked Discharge, GBH, Blitz, and The Exploited
LOU: Rudimentary Peni were our favorite avant-garde hardcore band from England, we were pretty obsessed with their first two 7-inches, which had incredible artwork
MURPH: Black Sabbath, Paranoid (1970); Led Zeppelin, Houses of the Holy (1973), Rush’s 2112 (1976) and Return to Forever’s Romantic Warrior (1976).
J: I was still into Mick Taylor and Keith Richards when we started Dinosaur
LOU: Vs. (1982) by Mission of Burma, who were brutally loud, was an influence. Decade (1977) by Neil Young is a formative record, from my senior High School year. Let It Be (1984) by the Replacements. There was an album by The Neats ( Neats, 1983) that I really loved.
MURPH: The Germs, (GI) (1979); Black Flag, Damaged (1981)…
LOU: Colossal Youth (1980) by the Young Marble Giants was a huge influence on my music, maybe not so much Dinosaur Jr, though I know J loved them too. There are so many Cocteau Twins records that I loved, close to 20 of their 12” records that were so good.
MURPH: J liked Echo and the Bunnymen, The Cure, The Bad Seeds. He has that sensitive side and I think part of him is a romantic on a certain level.
J: Roland S. Howard, and Bernard from Joy Division were big guitar influences, too.
LOU: One of the most influential records to me was Wanna Buy A Bridge? (1981) a Rough Trade compilation which was only a domestic release, I think. It had The Raincoats, Young Marble Giants, the first Scritti Politti single, Robert Wyatt’s, Delta Five.
MURPH: The Gang of Four’s Anthrax was one of the first songs I learned to play.
LOU: The New York bands who were part of the No Wave scene, like the Contortions, Bush Tetras, Teenage Jesus And The Jerks, DNA. Peter Hook playing the bass like a guitar was so influential on us, we had bass lines so similar to Joy Division songs. And The Cure … I sold a lot of records when I got into hardcore but not the Cure discs. I still end up going through Cure phases.
J: I think Derek & The Dominoes was my first used record, and I still have that.
The second taste of Pink Flag, a novel inspired by (and not about) Wire’s seminal first album, here’s the final part of the ‘Lowdown’ chapter from Ben Wardle’s novel, available now as an ebook—scroll down for part I. Author Ben Wardle will be talking to Steve Lamacq on his 6Music show on September 16, at around 5:30pm.
Have you seen that film One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest? Well, it isn’t a bit like that. For starters, there are no mates to be had in there. Everyone’s really mad. At least the ones in the movie were kind of chatty mad, you know, laughing, gurning, talking ten to the dozen. Hardly anyone says a word while I’m there. Not even the nurses. Most of them probably don’t know much English anyway, they’re all from foreign countries.
I must be near 30 now. The lengths aren’t going as effortlessly today. Come to think of it, it was a bit like this yesterday too. Not so much slow as … well, slower. Not like the years that took me to 30, they whizzed by. I don’t remember anything. I was on the antipsychotic of the day, Stelazine, and pretty strung out. Read up on the symptoms yourself, it turns you into everything you’d expect people with a mental illness to be: dead-eyed, stiff-backed, dry-mouthed and jittery. I was back at home, meals cooked for me, dad off work with stress, mum coping barely. I had no interest in anything really and joined the ranks of the TV zombies watching anything and everything. I don’t think the ’90s were that great for TV but then again, it just could’ve been me. I didn’t wake up until the 21st century.
I keep it quiet at first but one day I stop taking the drugs. Almost immediately I feel fucking great. What was I doing living under this weight of a zombified existence? I am free, I am alive! Mum even says how well I am looking. I do look well – and I feel fantastic. Even have a chat with dad, who opens up and tells me how worried he’s been about me and how good it is to talk. Talk? I’m chatting away like a bastard.
One afternoon I go out with mum to the Arndale Centre to help her with the shopping. She goes off to post a letter or something and I’m alone and surrounded by shoppers. Bit like that film Night of The Living Dead – you know, the one where they’re in the mall surrounded by zombies. I am the only one alive in there, wake up you losers! I find myself in a record shop. Remember them? I’m sure it wasn’t long ago there used to be one on every street. I look for them these days and they’re not there anymore. They’ve all gone. It’s not that I want to buy anything – I couldn’t be less interested in new music. It’s just that they made me feel safe, connected me with the past, back to the time before … you know.
That’s the thing about pop music that everyone misses: it’s always been about nostalgia. I mean, what other business fills its shops with ancient history? I had tried to go to bookshops and look at the covers of books I had read, to take me back to when I was normal. But they always change the covers. But go into any Virgin or HMV and look in L and you’ll find Led Zeppelin’s albums all looking like they did on the day of release, look in B and you’ll see the beautiful Klaus Voormann artwork for Revolver, Peter Blake’s Sgt Pepper art and that photo of four blokes on a zebra crossing. There’s a permanent, reassuring landscape there, mountains and fields with the Rolling Stones in the background, Doors, Dylan and Hendrix to the left, Simon & Garfunkel, Sex Pistols and Steely Dan to the right.
I go straight for the Blues section. To see if I can see some of the covers that will send me back to my days of sanity. I go to J and look for Burt Goldblatt’s classic 1961 artwork for RJ’s King of the Delta Blues Singers – you know, the painting of the lone black guitar player sitting on a straight-backed chair set against a terracotta background. As I clack through the plastic, past Blues Ballads and Jumpin Jazz by Lonnie Johnson, Shoot That Thang by James ‘Super Chikan’ Johnson and The Soul of a Man by Bind ‘Willie’ Johnson, my heart sinks. It’s not there. Instead there is something called Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings. I know the photograph on the cover – a smiling, squint-eyed RJ wearing a hat. But I don’t know this album. I look at the back: shit, it came out in 1990! I had completely spaced it. What have I been doing? I look at the songs, nothing new but still … this new album, is it something to do with me? Of course it is! My head roars. I race out of the shop, clutching the CD, setting off the alarm.
I find mum, get home and put disc one into my ghetto blaster. The moment I hear the songs again, it all comes back. The feeling of playing the guitar, the sensation of a bottleneck slide on the fretboard, thumbing the bass notes, shimmying up the top E string … I wallow in Kindhearted Woman Blues and Dust My Broom … I sit listening to the badly recorded strumming, the high-pitched, plaintive whine of Robert Johnson’s voice.
Then I hear another voice. It’s Johnson’s too but it’s talking to me. He is pledging vengeance on me, like some Southern Baptist preacher at a revival, all those Mississippi slurred vowels, changing to high-pitched aggression. I can smell him – I recognise the smell, it is definitely him: stale sweat, sweet and smoky, Southern cooking, grits and Po-boy sandwiches and bourbon. Johnson is on about his reputation, how his bad eye had got worse since I popped up … I try to convince him that he is dead, ask him what he was doing in my head … but one by one the other voices creep back into my head: the two Gods, the joker, an American-accented woman, maybe Johnson’s mother, and the sixth voice, a terrible voice, a voice which I recognise but can’t understand. I try not to think bad thoughts but the Gods know that I’m thinking about them and now they’re on Johnson’s side …
“Stop!” I shout, “Fuck off!” I keep on shouting. Mum comes up and asks what is going on. I just swear at her, tell her to get out, that it’s nothing to do with her; what help could she be anyway? These are mighty powers, there’s nothing she could do to stop them. Then the joker makes me laugh, says something about RJ’s bad eye and I can’t stop myself laughing. All the time I know I’m going to have to pay for it. The Gods have taken sides, they’ve changed allegiance, they can hear everything and they’re probably taking notes. “OK OK OK.” I plead. They’ve told me what I have to do.
It becomes clear who the sixth voice is; it’s the Devil and he gives me the lowdown: I must destroy everything in my room, everything from the past. Only then will they leave. I don’t ask questions, these guys know what they’re taking about. I light a cigarette, inhale deeply and begin my task.
I start by emptying all the drawers on my desk – pens, dusty bits of stationery, A4 stacks, notes from when I was a student, a pile of pornography – when was the last time I looked at that? I throw it all in the middle of the room. Next I tear down the posters that are blu-tacked to the walls – pictures of serene mountains and wildlife, my favourite record covers – Beatles, Hendrix, Clapton – some women. They all come down. Next up, my clothes. I open all the drawers in the chest; “they have to go” says one of the Gods. So onto the pile they go. Every time I find more things – books, records, cassettes, bedding, guitar strap, washing things, desk, chair – every time I find something, the Gods decree, “that has to go.”
I am covered in sweat by the time I finish my pyre. The word pyre is in my head from the beginning, maybe it is something that RJ said “Build me a pyre, sinner!” or maybe because it reminds me of the other word, the one that rhymes with it.
I don’t get to my lighter in time. My parents hear me smashing up my desk and chair and call the Police and the Social Worker and the GP. They all arrive again – the Holy fucking Trinity. Caught red-handed, I am sectioned again. This time in a modern hospital. I am put on newer, shinier drugs, which make me less like a zombie but more aware of what a shithole I am trapped in. Still, the voices gradually all saunter off and after a lot of time I get out, breathing fresh free air again.
It’s the breathing that makes all the difference. At first I tried and tried but every time I put my head face down in the water, I felt like I was going to drown. And then to have to remember to lift it up every three strokes, just sort of swerve it to the side … it was impossible! It was Noah who taught me, my CPN. He suggested I learn to do the front crawl so I could swim properly and focus my energy. Haven’t seen him in years although I do still think about him a lot.
Eventually I got it and I’ve never looked back. Although, of course, you do look back when you go for air every third stroke. Your head sort of tucks under your arm and you find that you’re looking back.
I’ve lost track of the lengths now. I think I was 36 when I got out of hospital, so doing 40 lengths is about where I am now in age. Yes, 40, still young really, my life ahead of me. Although, if I’m honest, I’m a little in the dark about that – I could be a year or two older. I mean, things change so quickly. Anyway, like they say, you’re as young as you feel! I’ve lost count of the CPNs I’ve had. They’ve got a new word for it now, not Community Psychiatric Nurse, something else, which I can’t remember. Everything’s new. I wouldn’t be surprised if I woke up and discovered people were flying to the moon for their holidays. I don’t really follow the news but I saw someone’s newspaper on the bus the other day and there was something about China being the richest country in the world – richer than America! And water rationing in Spain and Italy. At least there’s no shortage of water at the pool.
I like to swim my final length underwater. It’s a tradition of mine that I like to do to exercise my lungs. So I dive down right to the bottom of the Shallow End and scoot like a fish along the pool floor before continuing with underwater breast strokes. After about half a length, I remember that I tried to do this yesterday … and the day before, I think. But I never made it – I had to come up early. Perhaps I can do it today, come on … come on. I carry on, urgently stretching my legs out to kick away the water. No. I can’t do it. Before panic sets in, I swim vertically for the surface. Quick! I hadn’t realised how low down I was … how far down … how deep. I reach the surface, gasping for air and spluttering, then swim feebly to the wall bars at the Deep End. The same Life Guard from earlier waves a patronising finger at me and says, smiling, “I told you about that yesterday, Rob, you shouldn’t still be doing that at your age …”
Piss off, you spotty teenager, I think, but I smile meekly instead. Got to let these guys think they’re in charge, haven’t you?
On my way back to the changing rooms, I pass Brian, “Facking ell, just you and me left, eh Rob? All the other old cunts are in the Medium Lane!” he says, the old bastard, slapping me on the arm with a blue-veined hand.
This month is the 25th anniversary of the release of Dinosaur Jr.’s Freak Scene single. It was the first release on the UK Blast! First label (SST in the US) and was issued to coincide with the first UK tour undertaken by J, Lou and Murph. The single proved to be the making of the band’s reputation in Britain. It became something of a surprise Indie ‘hit’, with weekly music mag reviewers raving about it (one writer later suggested that it ‘invented’ the slacker generation) and Indie DJs playing it constantly. Being the age of MTV domination, naturally Blast! First wated a video to accompany the single.
In October 1988, the band filmed the video at a house in Manchester shared by various members of The Membranes, which boasted a totem pole (of sorts) in the garden and naively graffitied walls inside. While putting together Dinosaur Jr. By Dinosaur Jr. we were sent photographs of the day at the house — the above right hand page from the book is one of them.
The first track on their third album release, Bug, Freak Scene became something of a Dinosaur anthem—unfortunately, as far as J was concerned. Perhaps the tension in the band, which was stretched to breaking point over the ensuing months, contributed to a long-standing disregard shown the album by J, who has commented in the past that it was his least favourite of the band’s releases. He talks about the period and what went down in the book, adding some wry captions to the photographs alongside those by Lou and Murph.
Just to reiterate, Dinosaur Jr. By Dinosaur Jr. will only be sold via the website: it will not be in stores, nor available at a discount via other online book stores. Pre-order now and there’s still time to get your name included in the roll of honour to be printed in the book.
We’re very happy to be able to announce the ebook publication of Ben Wardle’s debut novel Pink Flag. The smart and witty David Quantick called it, ”Most excellently creepy,’ and suggested that ‘if you only read one book inspired by the songs of Wire this year for God’s sake read this one. Brilliant.” The renowned rock biographer Tony Fletcher (Keith Moon, The Smiths etc) was happy to say about Pink Flag—for no fee whatsoever—’from rock prima donnas to middle-aged mamas and wayward party girls, Wardle brings his intricate characters to life and then some, through 21 short stories inspired by a legendary LP of even shorter songs. The climax hits with the surprise—and force—of a runaway express train. Sterling stuff.’ Here’s a taster of the novel, taken from chapter five, ‘Lowdown’:
I’m swimming in the fast lane. I’m pretty good, got all that crawl stuff off pat. They told me to do something physical every day, but I never thought I’d get to this level. Quite an achievement really, although looking at it another way, it’s just swimming pointlessly up and down, backwards and forwards.
Whoever named the lanes at this pool must be in charge at Starbucks too: there’s no slow lane just like there’s no ‘small’ cup size. The fast lane is where you have to swim if you’ve got limbs. The medium lane is full of pensioners– 100 metres of sagging flesh, female paunch and pated crawler. Brian celebrated his 80th the other day. He’s been coming here for so long they hung blue balloons for him over the shallow end. Despite his age, he still insists on swimming in the fast lane. He’s a miserable old bastard but I can’t help liking him – not a sentence passes his lips without its own swearword : “Facking Ada, these showers are freezin’!” he bellows as he re-enters the changing area, a paper-thin beige towel just covering his gut and genitalia, “My bollocks are disappearing inside me!” It’s all about the plumbing with him, his and the building’s. The pool’s so old that the skylights are still blacked out from the War.
But I like coming here. It gives a structure to my day. I need a structure, a regime. I get here every day around 7.30, get changed and take the plunge. The last bit never gets easier, the steeling yourself for the icy rush of immersion. Sometimes it’s a pleasant surprise, a bit warmer than usual but I always scream silently underwater as I kick off against the tiles.
I count the lengths as I do them. I do 40 now. When I started, I was just managing 20, then pretty quickly I got up to 30 and I’ve been on 40 now for … do you know, I can’t remember. But 40 is a nice round number. I know a couple of guys here that do more – one does 60 – but that just seems like showing off. So what? I could probably do 60 if I wanted to. Some of us have got other things to be getting on with.
The first 15 or so are easy to count – harder to do, mind, but easier to count. I’m concentrating on warming up and I’m full of energy. Once I get into the teens I usually start thinking and that’s where I lose track of the numbers. Sometimes I’ll get to the end of a length, adjust my goggles, turn around and, boom, I won’t have any clue where I am – 17? 19? Maybe I’m over halfway there.
So I have to concentrate on numbers as well as all the other things like breathing regularly, making sure I’m going in a straight line, avoiding bumping into strangers coming the other way. You could say it was like life. Like life, only with more chlorine. And less clozapine.
But here’s my secret. It’s what’s got me to this level – not much of a secret really but it worked for me. I count off the lengths in years. On my tenth length, I picture myself at that age, playing with my Action Man, cycling over the muddy fields near where my grandparents lived; 14, thinking about Francis kissing me at her party, the feel of another person’s tongue in my mouth. You know, memories … OK, it’s simple, not much of a secret – and to be honest, it used to work better than it does now. It used to be a way of focusing on keeping going. But now I just can’t stop. And, as I said, I start losing track of the numbers because I’m thinking back too much. The first seven or eight lengths are a blur – as they are in years. I’m just adjusting to the pool, seeing who else is in my lane, trying to wake up. But once I hit 11 and then get into the teens, I start picturing things that happened to me.
At length 13, I see school; the greasy-haired Mr Houseman, pigeons flying through the open window in his geography room; him attacking them with one of those old hooked poles they had to open high windows with. He went at it with such venom that it was obvious he thought they were out to get him, Alfred Hitchcock-style. And there I am in the chemistry lab, waking up when Dr Patel shouts my name; “copper sulphate!” I shout back – which turns out to be the correct answer to the question I never heard. And there I am just sitting about with my friends, listening to records and playing guitar – I play and play… The blues mainly. I loved the blues. I can’t stand it now – it’s boring isn’t it? Twelve bars, blah blah blah. But at the time I could play it all day – and people, girls too, they would listen and clap and say how good I was. That was the last time I remember being happy.
I smoked quite a bit in those days – dope, I mean. I only smoke cigarettes now. Loads more than I ever did back then. I feel like I’m the last man on earth with 20 Marlboro on him; no one else I know has kept it up. You know the old joke about giving up smoking being easy? I give up every week! Boom boom! That’s me, though. They say that people on this medication tend to smoke more but I was a chimney before I went on it so I’m not convinced.
Once I hit the 20s I’m really in my stride – or my stroke, whatever you call it. I’m covering ground like I’m a well-oiled lap-machine. This is ironic because once I hit my 20s I was totally fucked up. Most of it I don’t remember but some of it is crystal clear – like it happened a few moments ago. Everything changed really quickly.
I was in the second year of university, doing English. I’d managed to get through to the Sixth Semester, mainly by just smoking dope and talking bollocks. I went on holiday with some friends from Uni – backpacking round Europe – and somehow I managed to lose them. And that’s when it started.
It was all true. I was certain of this because the voices were very believable. I trusted them. They told me all kinds of stuff. But the main thing they let me know was that it was me, who had given those songs to Robert Johnson. I came up with them, I wrote them, they came from me.
Everyone knows the legend about how blues guitarist Robert Johnson met the Devil at a crossroads in the Mississippi Delta and exchanged his soul in return for his talent. I don’t believe it, personally – I mean, just because he has a song about hitch-hiking across the Delta in the ’30s doesn’t mean he really met the Devil and sold his soul. Besides, the whole Clapton thing about him being the most influential blues guitarist of all time is a load of old cock. Anyone who knows the blues knows that Son House and Lonnie Johnson were there before him. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. The point is that after all these years, all that influence, it was revealed to me that I had somehow been responsible for giving those songs to Johnson. It wasn’t the Devil at all. I know, I know… it doesn’t make sense now. But it did then, and some days, I still believe it. It’s not so hard to believe is it? Not because I’m called Robert – that would be silly – although that’s always the first thing people think. The explanation is most likely that I’m reincarnated. That must be it. The voices make it – sorry made it (John, my CPN, or whatever he’s called now, would have a word or two to say about that!) the voices made it seem so plausible.
So now I’m on lap 22 and I’m thinking of what happened next—ending up in Paris, busking on my own and living rough on the streets. All I ate for a month were those spicy red sausages they sell there, Merguez, they call them – and chips, loads of chips. They say that fried, fatty foods are not good for us, sufferers or clients as they like to call us. So maybe my diet did make the delusions worse but personally I put it down to the nutters at the St Michel Metro that I was hanging out with. One woman used to drink her own urine – said it was good for her fucking Tempérament. What a total client.
By this time I was getting scared. There were people out there who didn’t like the fact that I was responsible for Johnson’s songs. After all, a lot of people want to believe that Cross Road Blues, Hellhound On My Trial and Me And The Devil Blues were written about his deal with the Devil. Maybe they thought I was the Devil. The urine-drinker was one of them. And now I had six voices and one of them was Johnson himself. Talk about ungrateful – even he didn’t like it. He’d say things like,
“Boy, you claimin’ you gave me ma song? Shit! Thassa Goddamn lie! I got ma song from ole sain Nick hisself and don’ you forgeddit. You bedda watch yoselve, y’hear? …” There were other voices too, a couple of them were Gods, or said they were Gods. These were really scary because if I said anything bad about them, or even if I thought anything bad about them, they’d know. I’d catch myself doing it and bite my lip.
I don’t like to think of the voices anymore. I don’t get them now and it’s uncomfortable even just remembering what they were like. But you see – it was all real, I mean, it was serious – the voices inside my head and the people in St Michel - they wanted to cover up the truth. I had to go incognito, I had to pretend it was nothing to do with me. I tossed my acoustic – a six hundred-quid Martin, a present from my parents for getting into Uni – I tossed it into the Seine and got out of Paris. I think I was followed but I lost them and managed to get to the coast and get on the ferry without too much hassle. To be honest if I couldn’t have got on the ferry I would have swum the Channel.
“Sorry… you ok?”
“Stick to your own blasted lane, will you?”
“I’m sorry… I really am, I…”
“Yes, don’t worry about it… just the shock. No harm done.”
“Sorry about that, was miles away …”
“It’s fine. ”
See what I mean – I think about this stuff and before I know it I’m going diagonally into the medium lane. I hit one of the geriatrics. Where was I? 23? 24?
By 23 I’m back at my parents’ house. I don’t go back for the final year to finish my degree but no one seems to mind. I’ve only told a few close friends and family my secret and they seem to be cool with it. My friends at home are pleased to see me back. But when I reveal the truth to them they aren’t as impressed as I think they’re going to be – and none of them tries to argue with me. They just act all weird. Fuck, if someone had told me what I knew, I would have said, “Are you out of your mind? What are you talking about, you nutter? Robert Johnson died in 1938 – what the fuck are you on about?!”
But none of them says that. Almost all of my friends nod as if they know what I am talking about and say things like, “nice one, dude, that’s cool” or “Are you sure?” to which of course I say, “Yes, it sounds mad but it’s true – incredible isn’t it!!” OK, so I may have lost it a bit, it’s true, but they – they were the real fucking losers, what were they thinking?
So gradually, I end up seeing less and less of them. I can’t be arsed – it isn’t like they’ve ever done anything great so why would I want to hang out with them anyway? Some of them I do carry on seeing. Like Saul.
By this time I am spending most of my day at home on the sofa. One afternoon my mum comes in and says that my friend Saul Connell has popped over and would I like to see him? I think at this point I may not have been talking to her because she had said a few things about the Johnson thing and I think she may have been passing on information to the Gods about my whereabouts. Whatever the truth was, I decide that it’s best simply not to talk to her.
So when she says Saul is here I just nod and make a gesture for her to show him into the front room. Saul is an old friend from school. We were never that close but now he is coming round quite regularly. Fuck knows why, I’m finding him a bit boring to be honest.
So he comes into the room and does his usual handshake and “How’s it going?” routine and he sits down and starts asking me about my day. The fuck? I think. I’ve been sitting here not watching the television screen and working my way through 20 Marlboro: what about you, Saul, what have you been up to? I don’t actually say this, I try to be polite. He asks me what I’ve been up to, I tell him I’ve been thinking, you know, done a bit of reading…
“Oh really? What are you reading right now, Rob?”
“Just looking at some books…”
Actually I have been doing some reading, I’ve been reading dad’s paperback of Nostradamus and not understanding a word of it. I have been hoping it might tell me about what is going on.
“Dickens, Austen… some of the greats you know, ” I say. Then one of the voices pops up and says something really funny to me, like – Saul is one of the great arseholes. I start laughing to myself. Can’t help it. Saul doesn’t seem to notice.
“Good. Good for you, Rob.”
“What about you? What are you reading?”
“Well, I don’t have a lot of time for recreational reading as I have a huge pile of stuff to get through for my finals this year. So right now I’m reading a lot of RD Laing, he was a Scottish psychiatrist, quite important…”
“Right,” I say, bored already.
Then it dawns on me what he just said, so I say, “Are you a doctor, Saul?” I’ve never really asked my friend about what he does. And it suddenly occurs that he isn’t just here for my scintillating company…
“Well, I’m studying psychology at Goldsmiths.”
“So you are a doctor… ”
“Well, not really a doctor… I’d like to get into… The thing is I want to help you. I know you’re suffering at the moment and …”
I don’t let him go on. I’m afraid to say I hit him. I’m no tough guy, but suddenly all my energy is there and I really let him have it. Thwack! Like they say in the comics. I only hit him once but he is on the floor and has a bloody nose and is clutching his face.
After that I walk out. Just leave the house. Can’t remember where I go. Just walk and walk. Listening to one of the Gods telling me I’m the Devil – that it was me all along. This explains it all, I think, that’s how I managed to give RJ all the tunes, ’cos it was me all along that met him at the crossroads.
When I get home they are all there – Police, Ambulance, Social Worker. The sectioning triumvirate. It’s like bloody Trumpton. I try to do a runner but they use force and I get sectioned up right and good. Mum in tears, dad upstairs pretending it has nothing to do with him. I’m angry and upset. Then the joker voice cracks another one and I’m laughing again and probably looking like a right nutjob.
What am I on now, 25? Probably more like 27 or 28. I’m quite tired doing it today. Usually I’m wide awake at this point and heading for 30. Today seems to be taking longer. I am thinking more today, it’s true. Maybe I’ve swum more than I thought… End of the last length, I had to take a short breather and the Life Guard was pointing at me, making a gesture, as if he wanted me to go the medium lane. Fuck off, that’s for the geriatrics, I’m still in the prime of life! So let’s call it 25 and take it from there. Whatever happens it’ll be plain sailing for the last ten lengths.
Aged 25 I’m sectioned in some Victorian place. Chock full of mad people but I don’t care, I’m full-on schizo at that point – voices coming out of my ears, as it were. I wish I could remember more of it because there’s probably loads of funny stuff—what you might call anecdotes. All I remember is boredom. Sitting around with nothing to do all day except wait for the next indifferent meal and stare at the TV. Except that I don’t join the telly zombies – all those rockers and moaners in the common room fidgeting on the orange plastic chairs, gaping at the screen. There’s never anything on anyway. I spend a lot of the time on my bed – we’re in a ward—staring at the walls, literally watching paint dry. They always seem to be painting the place, because it’s falling apart. They’re painting over the cracks, a cover-up job. One night, it’s raining hard and I am woken up by water dripping onto my face. I immediately think they’ve found me, panic, and try to escape…