I met Douglas Coupland once

I met Douglas Coupland once. Well, not really met. I queued up to get a book signed (for a friend’s birthday) in a chain book shop in Leeds around the turn of the millennium. It must’ve been for Miss Wyoming. I was working at a posh shoe shop at the time, just a couple of streets along from the book shop. It was a job I did in-between lectures at university and clubbing (my real occupation). I went along to the book signing one lunchtime and there he was, signing books. When it was my turn he glanced at the name badge I was wearing (why did I have a name badge? That’s not posh) and said, “You won’t always be wearing one of those.” I think he got a kick out of saying things like that to fans. Stuff he knew that would be taken to heart, that might even be motivational. It was too, I felt like I’d seen a psychic or something. I’ve just remembered this because I am three quarters of the way through re-reading Hey Nostradamus! and I am savouring every word. I’d remembered the outline of the story but all the colour, all the sadness and all the beauty, I’d lost. Books, man! Not everything’s on the internet and halle-damn-lujah for that.

Update: I just met up with Alice, the signed book giftee, and it turns out it wasn’t Miss Wyoming but All Families Are Psychotic, which makes it around 2001/02, and I wasn’t working at a shoe shop but in a bank, of all places, doing some temp work on the summer holiday. I had completely buried that experience, no doubt out of shame. Memory is weird.

Cicada invasion

The cicadas are like a car alarm, or an orgy. An orgy of car alarms. They scream-sing in chorus, out of tune but in tune with one another. Literally buzzing off one another. Rubbing their thighs together lustily. All desire and friction. Their call is hot and wet and wild. They don’t stop until they die. Til death do us part. Their parts lie in my path, their bodies broken; strewn. They are beautiful in death, alone. Their colours sharp until, like husks, they grind down to dust.

Sofia window

Keep the faith

I just realised that the concert I can hear from my studio flat in Sofia right now is Bon Jovi. For the last couple of hours I’d thought it was some old country rock band. It wasn’t until “Keep The Faith” that it clicked. The guitar lines are pretty epic. It’s weird, not only because it feels like I’ve slipped back to the 90s, but because today people were protesting over the Bulgarian election results. I could hear them through my window too. Faith is a stretch when it feels like nothing ever changes.

Batak lake

благодаря

This ridiculously Getty-ish image is the real-life view that greeted me at 6.30am yesterday morning. That’s Batak Lake in the Rhodope Mountains, to the south of Bulgaria. It’s just as pretty in person.

By this lake I finished Carl Wilson’s Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste, a wonderfully witty, insightful and moving dissection of Celine Dion’s divisive superstardom and how privilege, prejudice and our own personal stories lurk beneath ideas of taste. Many of Wilson’s lines thrilled me but this one near finished me off: “Just as churches say God saves every miserable sinner, the secular lesson is that time doesn’t leave anybody out either: no matter how stuck you feel, you still get to go to the future.” [Thanks, Caspar.]

I ran from Wilson’s arms right into Janet Frame’s. The third volume of her autobiography, in fact; a going away gift from Zillakiller. Frame strips bare to the bones in the telling of her story, inviting us into a world strung together with taut red ligaments. So much stung but especially this serendipitous line: “a life supervised, blessed and made lonely by the sky”.

Brixton

Come on in, the water’s lovely

Boiler Room tonight was the epitome of why I love London’s music scene: a bunch of people huddled in a little room, leaning into the music, thrilled by the closeness and ready to be surprised. It’s those little conversations, those little smiles, those little nods: they are the layers on layers that bind and remind me why I hold it dear. Damn – and who was that girl singing over Micachu’s scruffy funk beats? She was something else.

Then I sit in a cab on the drive back to Brixton and I know I’m done. I see the place I told my old boss in another life that I wasn’t long for that job, I pass the record shop that is no longer a record shop, and I trace my old bike ride home when I was first learning this new life route. All these memories in all these streets, concrete drenched in days gone by. And Pure X are in my ears, singing ” all of the future, all of the past” and I feel what they mean more than ever.

Sounds Of...Solitude

Sounds Of…Solitude

This is my last Sounds Of… show on NTS for a couple of months. Ele will be talking the reins for May and June so stay tuned. We’ll be back together in July. The theme of this month was Sounds Of…Solitude. The recording is a little crappy for some reason but hopefully it’s still sort-of listenable. Tracklist below.

Tracklist

Ryuichi Sakamoto – Solitude
Lukid – Lonely At The Top
Wiley – Us Against The World
Majical Cloudz – Childhood’s End
Joy Division – Atmosphere
Samoyed – Minnow
Actress – Raven
Yellow Swans – Isolation Tank
The Knife – Ready To Lose
Bullion – The Age Of Self
Mount Kimbie – Made To Stray
Lone – Petrcane Beach
Bjork – Hyperballad
Sunless 97 – Aurora I
Phoenix – Entertainment (Blood Orange remix)
New Order – Dream Never End
Suzanne Vega – Luka
James Blake – I Am Sold
Tweet – Smoking Cigarettes
Janet Jackson – I Get Lonely
King Krule – Portrait In Black & Blue
Lonely Galaxy – Heavy
Laurel Halo – Speed Of Rain
Physical Therapy – Do It Alone
SSION – My Love Grows In The Dark (Physical Therapy remix)
Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy