Saturday, June 23, 2007

Giant Steps.

I lost my way, following the tales only because they were magical. It’s like listening to Coldplay from a feeling for melancholy: there are dead-ends and dangerous paths that are all too easy to take.

Which brings me to the return of Samuel. His wayward path has brought him back full circle, to Sheffield again. He turned up at our door as though he’d be expected, and delivered an apologetic travelogue. After going after Enright’s clone that night, he discovered the truth for himself, and took a half hour to find another pursuit, another fight to follow. It took him to Ireland, France, and then London, before he heard about a group of candlelighters living just over the hill from here.

Samuel isn’t staying with us in the house this time, which is fine because it means he can be closer to the once-magicians. He’s bought a dog – an Alsatian of a kind – that allows him to walk around at all hours without looking too dodgy. It sits in the back garden and barks when he visits. He brings updates, rumours of his own investigation. He doesn’t know who they are or what they’re after, having found their address top right on a letter intended for someone else.

No more false promises. We will contact you again when it is found.


The address was Stephen Hill, Crosspool.

“That’s the guy from Law And Order.” Said Norman.
“Who is?” Samuel clutched the letter. His blood red eyes were altered to recognise demons, but he can’t watch more than five minutes of TV before they hurt. He's never heard of Channel Five.
“Stephen Hill. He’s the old guy. The DA.”
“It’s also a road.” I explained. “On the hill.”
“It wouldn’t be named after someone one from Law And Order though, would it?” Norman looked genuinely confused. This is how easy it is to get sidetracked by the wrong answers, until you forget how much you needed the questions. I went to see my mates one night, before Samuel got back. It was just after my return from Whitby and I wanted ordinariness. At Topper’s house it was a relief when he cranked up the stereo – I’d phased out of all the talk about exams and Uni applications long since.
“This is righteous.” Boasted Topper, waving a CD. “Wait.”

Saxophones started, like a game show theme, then a drum a drum break to introduce the host, but no words came, just more saxophones, and pop-along bass. Then one saxophone went off on its own riff, and I realised – this was no sample: Topper had put on jazz.

The album was Giant Steps by Jonnie Coltrane. He hadn’t bought it for a bet. He kept slapping his knee and jolting his head about while he told us what results he needed to get into Edinburgh. The others didn’t say anything, and I wondered when this must have started. Did they have jazz in their collections too?

When asked what I thought of it, I still wanted an uncontroversial night – there’s whole can of Meat Loaf and soft rock that can get thrown back at me if start anything – so I was charitable. I said Jazz is a musician’s duel with a song over their love of the instrument, pulling it one way and then the other. I appreciated the skill. But when that album finished and he put on Bitches Brew, I went over all Scrooge-like for charity: I said listening to jazz is listening to someone who’s learnt how to play an instrument, but they’ve forgotten why. They’ve stuck a knife into the guts of a song and pulled out a bloody mess. It’s like listening to an amnesiac trying to hum the top ten. It’s the sound of music drowning. Jazz is an act of contempt and ego. It’s like Samuel and his need for a quest, hopping from one country to another: giant steps might sound like a good idea, but where’s it lead you?

Topper still has his poster of The Beatles on his wall, but I doubt it’ll make the move to his halls of residence. He’s started to spout the argument that they’re overhyped and an average pop band. The poster is the quartet of head-shots, hippy-era and facial hair, rendered in psychedelics. They look like gods, surveying a universe that they control and ignoring the weaknesses that were already splitting them up. I can see why people like Topper might need to attack that, if they can’t see past the reputation, but there’s no need to resort to jazz. Next time I go round there he’ll be listening to country.


Blogger tomasz. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:36 am  
Blogger tomasz. said...

"I can see why people like Topper might need to attack that, if they can’t see past the reputation..."

or could it be that, after becoming accustomed t'something of the calibre of Bitches Brew or Giant Steps, the Beatles start to look a little bit... well, mundane after all?

3:36 am  

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