The End Of An Era

April. And it’s very crazy here. There were several moments on Tuesday when I was forced to go into that little hermit shell that I built for myself when I was about 3, where I stand apart and alone for an everlasting moment while the cogs of the world click round in slow motion. First off I got a call from the courier company to say that the new desk furniture was on the way. He was half way to me from Cork. I hadn’t expected him; in fact I’d told the supplier to hold off until I could be sure of getting some help… and because I still wanted to use the old desk until the moment that the new one got here.

So; I was put in a position. This was the day after another guy had actually arrived with it in a big truck but said he couldn’t get down our lane, blah ..blah, being overprotective of his truck, when I’ve seen bigger trucks get round the corner. He wouldn’t leave any of the smaller pieces because he said that the whole delivery must remain as one. And just the two of us had no chance of unloading an item that heavy. Blah.

So I watched the desk drive away.

Back to the future. So I’m being held to ransom by the next guy, who’s in a van, and half way to me.. asking me whether I can get some locals to help me with the unloading. I tell him I’ll ring him back if I can get anyone. I have a quick think… and I ring my friend Johnny Fitzgerald, who is 24 and a brilliant pianist and general all round good guy. He tells me he’ll come; I ring the courier back and tell him to proceed.

Johnny arrives with FOUR mates, all well known Klonites, but that’s another story. Shortly after, the van arrives. He backs up to the studio door and we begin to unload. With six of us it’s easy. Then Johnny suggests that we should set it up there and then. In position. . . . I look at the old desk. In it’s place. Sat there, where it’s been for 10 years now. My old friend of half a dozen records and many moments of meditation and solitude and fun. I stop. I think for a moment. I am conscious of everyone stopping.

I tell Johnny that I’ve got something on the D-160 that I’m learning and that I’ll have to just take off there. We all realise that I’ve made the decision. To tear my dear old studio apart. There and then. I turn the masterlink on. And half a dozen effects. My hands move slowly as I turn the old mixer on for the last time in my space/life. Slow motion. I clear the bar at 7 feet. The crowd is silent. As usual…

I record the piece. It’s called ‘The Apology’! As soon as it’s done Johnny starts to disconnect the plumbing and I look at the patch bay, that butt of a thousand jokes and bringer of a million hassles, and I slowly tear the leads out. I can almost hear it singing “Daisy, Daisy, all for the love of yo u… I’m ha..lf.. cra zy… gi..v.. And I almost have a tear. Tracy says, “Why are you doing this now”? “Because the revolution must happen”, I reply.

We start to strip the bubble wrap off the new furniture. We’re horrified. It’s been seriously damaged en route. Loads of bangs in the wood etc, and the glass cover is smashed. The van driver is still stood there. I sign his document and list the damage on it. Tracy wants me to send it back. She’s adamant. Johnny agrees with her, but I’m Captain on this trip and I realise that we’re more than half way across the atlantic and to get enough fuel to turn the ship around will mean jumping 65,000 tons through a six inch hoop. Someone is culpable, and a price will have to be paid. I decide that for the common good, another space on the ever expanding twenty first century shelf has to be found for ‘things to retrieve later’……

The van driver leaves blamelessly, as if he is in a seperate universe and this one has nothing to do with him at all. The four guys lift the old desk away from it’s mooring. There will be a brief funeral ceremony at some point in the next few days.

After they’ve all left… in a slightly subdued state, I am left standing there holding the bathwater. I look around at my studio, and wonder when it will come back together, and if I’ll BE there. even. I wander around half aimlessly without the usual 315 milliseconds of delay on the SPX 90. I try to plan for the elusive future. I’m very tired in my body.

I don’t rehearse properly that night. I’m playing acoustically, just me, no welcoming nuances of past times echoing pleasantly in the electronic breeze. I’m a foreigner in my own space.

The frollowing day starts as hectically as the last aeon has. We’re both being ground down by the relentless tide of roy, who will quite soon wash himself up on his own beach. Forward. Forward…march.. april and so on into the sky .. blah. Floating ar vbvm,lkc, Tracy is braving the depths of my imagination for addresses I never had anyway in her addictive quest to get all the party invites out on time. I’ve never held a party for 250 people before. why the hell am I doing it now? I’ve slipped into another universe and it’s Teresa O’Gorman’s wake. ‘This is not my best position’ I think to myself.. on my back underneath the mixer, trying to remove someones idea of taste and style. All I need now is greasy overalls and a tony blair electron ditty. The one he pulled from huntingdon life straw Ja….WHWWHAEEE, WOH…..! I want to join saiss amy, asd dhe hshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh xx sorry grey cells binning to
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Whoops… it’s now two days later….. ho hum.. What fun kids , , oooo O OH wh…where the hell d’you think you’re going then mi’ lad?….. Actually, that’s rather some misguided effort on my own very good behalf of asking myself where the hell I’ve been. It kind of attempts to avoid total head on confrontation with myself.

Meanwhile, back in the frontal lobe, all kinds of progressively irrelevant queries have been launched in the direction of the poor man who has to come round to the big stone tent to try to show royworld how to try to come to terms with outer silicon valley…. and also into the direction of the man in the north who would unwittinly sell clanking mini-circuitry to passing gulls.

At one point on friday, Tracy and I tried our best to have a blazing row, but in the end we just didn’t have either the energy or the true conviction to throw the divorce at any cost usual switch. besides… we have more than a sneaking regard for eachother.

it’s now the following Wednesday and Martin from Mackie has been and gone. The revolution has happened. There are a surprising number of dead and dying. Folks I’ll never see again like the old Quad GT and a couple of SPX 90s, a jam box, an antique Harmoniser, the big Yamaha Rev1, jesus… and it seems the old Quad erat nil demondstrandum being ridden out of the picture by Tom Cobley.

It’s more serious than ever I would have thought. On 2 counts. 1. Some of these guys might come back to life…. and 2. A desk in 3 X at least 70 odd layers of gobbledegook is just what we need to keep the next project on the boil. I’m either just getting up, or just going to bed.. and I havn’t got much idea about what’s happening in between. Except that it’s blurred.

I’ve been on the blower for at least a couple of weeks now with Harry, getting the sleeve for the love songs compilation together. Chris Thorpe cut it for me and we’ve been to-ing and fro-ing with Laura at Clear Sound And Vision preparing for Bullinamingvase to be re-pressed with the latest labelling. And clearing the way for this new one. Getting the tax thing together was particularly hard on Tracy this time. She’s becoming a web site designing accountant before our very eyes. And here I am, creating more… and more. And more smoke rises from the stone tipi… in big signals… that can be seen for miles.. and they say things like “Can we have some more vanilla candles please?” “And what about a salad bap”? Bustle bustle bustle. bpbpbpbpbpbh. I can’t seem to get away from the phone in the morning, and sometimes not until the swarm is on the motorway in some other distant madness. And sometimes it’s too late because there’s just a hint of the sound of leather on willow… on the radio… and I’m caught… but….

This morning, Thursday, I went into the studio and turned on for my second day of captain’s log; only to find that I could see everything working .. but I couldn’t hear it. Brilliant. It took me almost half an hour of seering deduction to finally make the effort to look under the desk to see that the amplifier was in the wall…. but the light on it wasn’t lit. When I was working at Abbey Rd we used to have a name for that kind of thing. It was known as ‘Finger Trouble’. Then I spent another five minutes taking the 5 amp fuse out with a nail file because the electric screwdriver didn’t have the right size of attachment. Only to find that the fuse was good and that it must be the one in the wall. I just got myself a different power cable. Sod that.

Tracy was engaged in re-inventing the web site after a recent server demise. I tried to run through the gig.. and record bits of it. I’ve got a long way to go. Eventually, at about 7pm, and when cooking seemed to be yet another stress, we decided to go to the local (5 miles) chippy for some chips and curry sauce. We were too exausted to do anything else. There are now robins nesting in our porch… and the swallows came back today. April 26th. Same as usual.

Copyright 2001 Roy Harper