Issue #10 - December 6th - 12th 2002
They don't give medals, part 5
Breakfast with Jet Johnson (the interview)
Sunday Newspapers/It's A Big World
Realisation of what was wrong - chapter 1
They Don't Give Medals
A sound... to the left of me, to the right of me, behind me...
I've been trained. I should recognise these noises. I can feel someone tearing at my face. A woman mutters something about permanence and my head floats several inches from where it should be.
I remember sitting on a sledge, the snow falling, my father letting go..
Cold metal on
Cold metal on my face
On my face..
The microphone slips from my hands which are still numb with anaesthetic. I was told to leave several days before continuing with my work. This is not an option.
Without my vision, I am forced to use this method of documentation. The doctors tell me this will be a temporary problem. I choose to believe they are correct. It would be incovenient to be blind at this point. It would mean I was particularly easy to dispose of.
Paranoia.. I know I sound like Him. But if a hero can be killed, if hundreds of heroes can be killed, why not a psychotherapist? I am aware that I should be making case notes, but feel more as if I am leaving evidence. A fingerprint, perhaps...something that will prove I was here. My name is Leila Ward. I am a doctor. A doctor of psychology. My current project is the care of Patient #S, real name withheld.
Day Unknown, Patient #S - former Super Hero.
Patient #S has revealed little of himself today. He has visited me in the Facility Hospital - this time using the more conventional method of asking the nurses to let him in - but we talked little of him. He seemed more concerned for my welfare. I suppose that, having been a superhero once, he finds the protective role a hard one to overcome.
He told me that earlier he had entered the room and observed one of the facility guards going through my belongings. I asked the nurse on duty, who suggested that nobody had been seen to enter the room. There should be at least three pairs of eyes on that door at all times. I don't know who is lying to me. I loathe finding myself so vulnerable.
At one point, I woke up with the distinct impression that somebody was stroking my hair. When I called out, there was no reply.
Day Unknown + 1
I assume it is the morning. Someone has brought me a bowl of something thick, tasteless and porridge-like in texture. I try and force myself to swallow it, telling myself I will need to regain some strength.
I must have fallen alseep last night, and let the microphone slip from my posession. I have no idea where it is. My right leg falls away from me when I try to rise from the bed. The nurses tell me not to worry about work right now.
'The snow stopped'
I am startled, and am angry with myself for not realising that he was here
'Oh, its okay... I'm used to sneaking up on people. I didn't mean to frighten you. Force of habit, I suppose'
I try and manage a smile and feel porridge dribbling down my chin
'Its friday. You had a relapse. Internal injuries, they said. They think you're over the worst. How are you feeling?'
'Uh... oh... Could you help me with these bandages?'
Course flesh against my eyelid. An eyelid that seems larger than it should be.
'Your eyes are still very swollen. Can you see anything?'
I can see colours. They make no sense. I ask him to replace the dressings. I tell him I want to re-commence the interviews tomorrow. He says this will be fine.
As he leaves, he hands me a cardboard rectangle. When I shake it, I can hear paper cylinders rattling inside. I light one, draw in the smoke, and vomit.
I have spent the morning resting. I have removed the bandages twice, but cannot see any more clearly.
Today was to have been spent collecting myself, preparing for tomorrow's interview, but the Facility has been thrown into acitivity. It seems Ruth Birman has been back in touch.
I am ignored for most of the day, and try to make little of the news. Patient #S is my concern now. I am aware of the light quality changing, as the daylight fails. I spend some time trying to focus on where I imagine the window to be. I can now move all of my toes.
Day 7, Patient #S
He has showered, and is wearing clean clothes. I can't see them, but I can smell the soap. Dark clothes. I can perceive darkness. Things are falling back into focus.
'Ruth said she'd like to see you again, and that she's planning to drop by as soon as possible.'
I have no idea how Patient #S came to possess this information. He should have been told nothing. I attempt to smile, as if this is something I didn't already know. I ask him if he can leave me alone with the nurse for a moment.
Why would Ruth Birman want to get back in touch??
Footsteps.... male footsteps... this isn't the regular nurse. This is somebody I don't know. I ask him when my usual nurse will be back on duty and I actually hear him laugh. He tells me she is sick.
Something is very wrong.
I tell Patient#S that I am not feeling well, and ask to postpone the interview until the afternoon. As he leaves, I hear his footsteps echoing down the corridor. This makes me uneasy, but it takes me a moment to work out why:
He must be at least thirty metres away. Between us, there should be three pairs of double doors, all bolted and guarded. I haven't heard a single door open. All I can hear is his humming, growing quieter as his footsteps recede.
I resist the urge to call out. I don't want to know who is out there.
to be continued...
It's Football David, But Not as We Know It....
Football is interwoven into the fabric of everyday life. We participate, we observe. It's scandals and successes sell newspapers and dominate television. People live for it, people have died for it. It has even stopped wars. No other sporting event- not even the Olympics- attracts such a colossal worldwide audience as the World Cup. Nowhere in the history of man has any other sport seeped into the human psyche in the same way as football has. But from whence did the beautiful game come? That, readers, is the question....
Even before we have evidence for early games in Medievil Britain, games of football had been recorded in a host of other civilisations. Li Yu, a Chinese writer, in 50AD, wrote eulogies to the local game, and hammered them to the goalposts. I kid you not. Here's one:
A round ball and a square goal
Wise words, mate. I have it on good authority, incidentally, that they are often the last words that Alex Ferguson issues, mantra-like, in his teamtalks.
In 1183, a man called William Fitz Stephen, offered up an early account of a game in London where "all the youth of the City go out into the fields for the popular game of ball, and the elders, the fathers, and the men of wealth come on horseback to view the contests of their juniors." As any manager worth their salt will tell you, the development of a strong youth policy is the foundation of success. Even in 1183.
Many of the earliest references refer to violence, loss of limbs, damage to property, endless court cases, and social unrest. In 1280, for instance, it's recorded that "Henry, son of William de Ellington, while playing at ball at Ulkham on Trinity Sunday with David le Ken and many others, ran against david and received a wound from David's knife from which he died the following Friday." In a similar incident in 1321, the Pope had to intervene, granting a dispensation to a certain priest who went by the name of William de Spalding, for his role in an accident where "During the game of ball, as he kicked the ball, a lay friend of his, also called William, ran against him and wounded himself on a sheath knife carried by the Priest, so severly that he died withing six days."Some things, it seems, never change.
The famous magic sponge to tend to injuries was little in evidence in those days. Instead they relied on that little known remedy of, erm, the posthumous miracle. Take, for example, the case of William Bartram who, in the 15th Century, was "kicked during a game, and suffered long and scarce endurable pain, but suddenly recovered the blessing of health when he had seen the glorious King Henry in a dream." Some call it divine intervention. I call it play acting...
Local 'derby' games began around this time too and, not surprisingly, were rather violent affairs. In 1796, in a match between the neighbouring parishes of St Peter and All Saints in Derby, a man called John Snape was killed, and the court records refer to him as "an unfortunate victim to this custom of playing football, a custom which is disgraceful to humanity and civilisation, subversive of good order and Government, and destructive of the Moral, Properties, and very Lives of our inhabitants."
Needless to say, there were several attempts to ban the game, and in next weeks issue, we'll take a look at the these attempts and,more often than not, the absolute conviction with which they failed...
Breakfast with Jet Johnson
Having listened to Tula by jet johnson, my brain was still swirling... I needed to find more about the band. Luckily Caroline Nesbo, singer and guitarist in the band agreed to answer some of my questions:
How did your band come about?
-I was between bands at the time - and happy to be so, but continued making music so after a while Gavin (my HUSBAND- we got married 4th October this year so its still fresh and weird to refer to him as Husband) urged me to record some of them and offered his services as guitarist, and I guess we were kind of curious about how music we made together would sound like - so the first Jet Johnson release was "Something about the ocean"on an album compilation (Rolling Pram) . Still not intending to be a proper band, we got together with Hywell Dinsdale and Kev Penney (so Jet was at that time me and 75% of Billy Mahonie. the remaining 25% - Howard Monk - played drums on Something about the ocean) and recorded a 7" For Becalmed records - Mr Bones/Canada Song. And then we figured we had to play some gigs.. and since then we have sort of gotten used to the idea of being a band and not just people playing my songs ... Kevin Smith is now our permanent drummer and he has become a very important part of the band songwriting-wise.. we are actually short of a bass-player now, so if anyone reading this lives in London, plays bass, is nice, etc email me on [email protected]!
Describe the place that one or more than one of the songs was written.
-ooh that's easy.. me and Gavin just went to this amazing place called Milos in Greece; weird volcanic landscapes and dramatic beaches.. and also loads and loads of stray cats everywhere...we actually rescued a kitten from a wheely-bin .. some bastard had chucked a KITTEN in with the garbage.. we heard some pathetic miaows from the bin and we ended up climbing in and finding this little ginger kitten - soaking wet and terrified. It died 2 days afterwards. We had brought a Ukulele, and one evening when we were sitting on the balcony looking at the sea I thought of this song about how I hope there are cats in heaven when I die.. (not that I believe in heaven.. but you know..)but you cant beat being woken by the sound of a cat purring .. so if there is a heaven I wouldn't want it any other way..
What are your plans for the future?
-I find it difficult to plan for the future as i think that by the time I get there I will have changed so I do not know now what will be best for me then if you see what I mean.. so that answers the question below..not that I think there are any real answers to questions like that..
Do you think a person should look to the future or live for the present?
What do you hopes for the future? yes - hoping for the future is something everyone should do i think.. hope makes you positive and being positive improves the present ... I hope: that everything's going to be fine...
What single thing inspires you the most in your music?
-People around me and my own experience of them...
Who do you most admire?
-My mum and dad.. silly as it sounds.. if they are anything like me (and I expect they are since I am made up of their DNA)it's a miracle they ever got their act together to bring up 2 kids and do it so well!
What was the first piece of music to affect you?
-I should probably say some really cool band.. but I am afraid it would have been at a very early age .. so I have to say it was this song in Norwegian about someone who's best friend left with her husband.. it was very gripping..I must have been 4 and she was very forgiving about it, it went something like" dear Kathrine, my best friend, don't cry -no one's putting the blame on you.. tonight when I'm leaving tell him I am going away and give him this ring from me..." Another one was a song about an old woman sitting alone on her birthday , all her children having forgotten her because they were too busy with their own lives.. she also came across really forgiving.. " oh so you cant make it (to her party) - oh well never mind,, call me if there is anything, because I am just sitting around here anyway.. " she dies at the end of the song. I am starting to understand why us Scandinavians have a reputation of being gloomy...
What is your most recent discovery musically?
-Alex(don't know his surname) - previously the singer in the band Rebus.. even though we just caught him on his soundcheck last Sunday in Tunbridge Wells it was enough to hear that he has some beautiful music and loads and loads of talent...
And Finally, is there another question you would like to answer?
-Can't think of any right now!
Sunday Newspapers/It's A Big World
What I want to talk to you about started approximately two weeks ago, and it started with a Sunday newspaper.
Sunday newspapers are one of my favourite things. I'm not sure why, but I think it's that they feel like a window to the world a little bit. The view from this window is rather varied and colourful (even though sometimes the colours are terrible) and I like the idea of taking some time on a lazy morning to look at it. A lazy morning, a bit of time and something to read can be the start of something great... or at least a good enough time to dream away or think. I'd say that an article is a Sunday newspaper has the potential to change someone's world a little bit more than one published during the week. Which is why this site is published near the weekend... it's also why its editors dream of a printed version whenever they get the chance... I'm not sure why I'm telling you all this as what I wanted to talk about was something entirely different... okay maybe not entirely but quite...
The paper in question was brought in by my aunt and casually thrown upon the couch. One of the bits that go in the middle -you know, the arty ones- was sticking out, and its cover looked a bit like this:
And this, in its turn, looked vaguely familiar. Vaguely and annoyingly familiar. And that's how it all started. I found that puzzling as it's the sort of thing I would normally like. I picked but the arty bit of the other paper... and there it was, the same picture, only this time it was a bit bigger and on the back cover. In the corner you could see this annoying little figure:
And it read: it's a big world. You could try painting.
The reason it had seemed familiar was that there were posters of it all over Athens. There was one just round the corner... And another one next to it... There was a photograph of footsteps on the sand, and you could just see the legs of a camel and a human... it was a great photograph but as my friend was late I realised it was making me feel uneasy. The ad. Not my friend being late.
I didn't give it much thought but last Sunday things got worse. There was one of them on the cover of my favourite magazine, three inside it, and four of them covered half of the front cover. 'A BIG WORLD' it read on top. You had to fold it away to look at the actual cover which read 'Greek television - apocalypse now'.
If there was anyone around to hear, I could have well started shouting. Do we really need a brand of whisky to tell us it's a big world? There was no one else in the house, so here I am now, writing to you.
I tried to not be too critical. I tried to not jump to conclusions. I took some time to read a lot of the actual magazine carefully. I read the text that accompanies the ads as well. The magazine articles were rather clever, perceptive and witty. They described a world that can be annoying, or unkind, or insane, but also amusing, funny, interesting - a lot of things, but inspiring wasn't one of them. The advertisement text on the other hand... It was full of big words about challenges, goals, journeys, and adventures. I can't say it was inspiring, it was too contrived to do this... but it talked of the world as a place full of possibilities that can transform your life.
Something in this all felt wrong, very wrong.
What we usually get told about the world is either that it is an awful place where terrible things happen (from don't walk alone in the dark or you might get robbed to war pictures on the news). Or, that, on the contrary, that it is a rather okay place where you have to be content with working forty hours a week on something about which don't care about too much. Even though it leaves you with hardly enough money and too little time to take care of the rest of the things in your life.
And I'm only talking about the media here as much as I'm talking about all your lovely relatives who will come round your house at Christmas and ask you what you're doing with your life and when you're going to get married. How many of them will smile about the things that really made you happy?
And then an advertiser comes to tell us the world is a big place in order to sell a stupid drink. He tells you, the world is a big place if you fly to the Sahara desert to walk with the Nomads. If you travel around the world to chase tornadoes, or watch volcanoes erupt, or dive with the sharks.
What's the fucking point of it? Isn't adventure for the shake of adventure like art for the shake of art?
And for whom exactly is the world a big place? Because what it made me this is that the world is a big place for those who can afford to do these things. And drink Johnnie Walker afterwards.
And it all made me feel a bit sick.
This is a site about how the world is big, even if you're not rich. (Maybe, especially when you're not rich.) It's a site about all the things that make our everyday life worth living. (So, forgive us if we get too emotional for your taste; or if we talk about ourselves too much). It is, also, a site about all the magical possibilities that can transform your life, if only you give them the chance. Because our lives are more or less like yours, and yet we have some wonderful stories to tell.
Realisation of what was wrong (chapter 1)
Looking again at the train ticket, Fabrice was sure he was in Plymouth.
"From Plymouth" it said in faint letters, as if the printing machine was low on ink. He was sitting in the central booking hall of the station on the 15th of July, the year was 1984. It was as he thought this through that it came clear how he'd not planned his trip to the west-country very thoroughly at all.
A couple of small flies were dancing around each other and consistently managed to buzz into the line of sight between his eyes and the huge, chattering Arrivals/Departures board that he was scouring for clues as to which of the twelve platforms to expect his train to Lizard. Sitting there watching the ever-changing plastic flaps on the board brought little success and prompted him towards the a sign on the far side of the hall.
"Tickets and Information" it said.
The bench he'd been sitting on was set too low for anyone much over the age of seven and as such he was glad of a reason to ease himself away from the wood slatted horror.
"Could've done with some new socks" he thought to himself, and traipsed across the cool slabbed hall floor to the ticket office, feet rubbing on the straps of his trendy neon-yellow sandals. It was a little strange that the floor could be so cool when the sun was doing such a good job of quietly beating through the faded glass-roofing, overhead.
When, or practically five steps before, he reached the information desk a very tall girl of around twenty called at him...
"Welcome to Plymouth station, how can I be of help?", in a tone that lead Fabrice to believe she'd said it many thousands of times beforehand had worn out all cheer from the sentence. As if to prove this to him she then continued with "soz, my name's Dorothy, can I help you?".
In fear that Dorothy may just forget her monotonous script for the third time and start right over again like someone in a daze, Fabrice cut in.
"Hello Miss could you tell me which platform the next train to Lizard is leaving from, please?" Fabrice noted how his question had awakened in the dozing Dorothy the need to supply him with information, it required her to take leave of her "Take a Break" magazine fuelled dreamland for a few minutes which she justly did along with the gain of an Air-Hostess' nasal tone over her strong Cornish accent.
"Certainly Sir, will you be travelling Standard Class?"
"Yes whatever, I just need the next train please", unsure he added "I'm not after a ticket, I'm just not sure which platform to put myself"
She nodded to one side, looked at him from under her eyelashes and tapped at her computer for a few seconds before her face fell into deep concentration upon the black screen, it's green figures reflecting upon the glass between her and him.
"Umm, there's the 12:27 on Platform 7, it's due about now, that'll get you there mister, if you run along now". And run he did.
The pillars of the station zoomed past him in a fashion similar to that of white lines passing a car on the motorway, yet somewhere in his mind Fabrice was taking in his surroundings with a great amount of accuracy, as if he was watching himself running from a mind quite absorbed in other things. The feeling of absolute timelessness the station had.
Probably accentuated by being in the perfect quiet of a long-disused library and an intricate balancing act of hundred-year-old glass above his head, among the few reminders that there was a world outside this building were aeroplane's jet-streams that were visible only by looking straight up where they had laid short-lived signatures across the deep empty blue.
Having now stopped running like it was important, or even walking in a navigated style, Fabrice just wandered in a corridor, as his eyes told him best and to get a better view of the sky. Still looking up, put out his hand behind himself to find the wooden bench that ran down the corridor's sides. He felt fakes of old paint loosen under his grip and sat down. He was quite used to being alone, but had never before felt lonely.
In attempts to explain it to himself he came up with various short stories....... Perhaps the beauty of what he'd been exposed to had sucked out all his belief in the future, or perhaps just highlighted his immaterial past.
The station was hard to personify, was it always like this?
Was it a place where, like his home village, sadness and beauty were hard to differentiate as they both worked well together at the risk of destroying disbelief in a world without yourself. Either way, he stayed there for an hour, maybe three hours. He wasn't really counting, but at some point started to hear noises from outside, between Fabrice and the jet streams there were seagulls squawking. A few voices echoed around from back in the booking hall and he thought of the different conversations people could have been trapped in with Dorothy should they not rapidly find their way to the trains.
That was enough now, when Fabrice got on a train to Lizard the sun was less straining and mildly set through a filter of brown and red. He took out one of his keys and into the train's plastic window he carved "Saver Returns are less than useful, they only save you £2 and you have to go back home on a set date"
With a warm feeling of realisation, and with a clear head to make use of it all, his station was announced as the next stop.
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