Issue #27 - April 18th - May 1st 2003
(Special Easter Edition)

A story and the reason why
This site is meant to be a weekly reminder that the world can be magical and generous sometimes; and that someday, it may behave like that to you.
By Dimitra Daisy

Sister Janice and The Boundlessness of Eternity
I might be away from the Space Shed for a week, but that doesn't mean you can take advantage. Keep the police out. Keep your nose out of my herb garden. Stay away from my problem page.
By Roger Of Cheshire

Love Pop Faith Fun Punk & An Interview With Nixon
I think there are too few songs for the times you feel really happy. When I'm sad I can think of thousands suitable songs, but when I'm really happy it's much harder to find good music.
By Dimitra Daisy

The Long Lost Diary of S L Gleaden (Part Four)
Without a second thought Ralph swapped the tickets then marched straight out of the building, stopping only to tie his right shoe and place the diary into his knapsack.
By Rachel Queen

Then something within himself changed. He didn't find God or anything remotely close to that, but he did find a way of living through the hell he felt day in, day out.
By Paul Williamson

A Summer As Imaginary Local Heroes (part three)
The day was passed slowly broken by escape pauses, the length of a cigarette, in the courtyard. The walk beneath the pines marked the border between where we were living and an outer world.
By Stefano Santabarbara

The Pat on the Shallow Back
A cat screamed. I hoped for my little one. Knowing that he, my friend, Andy Williams and that last book I read didn't have a chance in hell of winning.
By Bob Young

It's true that we love one another, I love Jack White like a little brother:
The White Stripes Live at the Brixton Academy

The band apparently never use setlists. They just play whatever they feel like playing and this worked wonderfully well at the gig.
By David Strange

Ghosts, Love and Gentleman rock: An interview with the German Exchange
Inspiration, so fleeting yet all consuming. I live for it. It strips you of your inhibitions in a natural (sober) fashion and makes you value the things in life that are worth caring about.
By Rachel Queen

Remeber Earth Clearly: Generation X Ink Polaroids & Being Alive
We thought it would be a good idea to ask a lot of people to tell us about the moment that best describes being alive on this planet for them. Here are some answers.
By Mandee Wright, Rachel Queen, Paul Williamson, Grainne Lynch and Dimitra Daisy


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A story and the reason why

Time goes by and we're still here, and it would be a lie to tell you I sometimes wonder why. Because I wonder why all the time. The answers crowd themselves in my head and they stay there for too long: until words start losing their meaning and sentences start losing their meaning too. I end up wondering why I wonder so much.

Being a crazy dreamer with your head in the clouds is hard work. Sometimes the world gets me down.

Ask me to tell you a story and you'll most likely here about the time I loved a boy so much I thought the world had turned upside down and even though he loved me back everything went wrong all the time and we lost each other. It is a beautiful story whose bottomline is sometimes you the best things will slip away despite your best intentions and there will be nothing you can do.

And yet sometimes I remember that it was when the world had let me down the most -when I was feeling I couldn't breath and all nice things seemed to only exist in pop songs- that I met Rachel. I would go so far as to say that the world turned upside down again so that we could meet (on the internet) and arrange to go Spain some weeks later. We did that on that same night we met and despite the outrageous silliness of that, it all went fine.

Actually, it went a lot better than fine. It went so great that about a year later we decided we had to make something of it: we had to make something out of our love of writing, the internet and each other. This is what we came up with.

This site is meant to be a weekly reminder that the world can be magical and generous sometimes; and that someday, it may behave like that to you. In the meantime, I hope it helps you keep the faith: there are a lot of things worth caring about out there, and doing so can sometimes make a difference. Maybe it makes a difference all the time, too. I don't know.

Dimitra Daisy

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Sister Janice and
The Boundlessness of Eternity

Sister Janice is the Friends Of The Heroes agony aunt. She used to be a nun, but after becoming involved in an accident at her convent involving a papal emissary; the mother superior; the convent dog and a bottle of 'citrus fresh' bleach, she decided it was time to find herself a new career.

These days she travels through the galaxies in a converted garden shed. Or she would, if it wasn't currently crash landed outside the drive-through window of a restaurant belonging to a well-known burger chain. Write to Sister Janice Slejj care of Friends of the Heroes. She will answer your problems and questions with the insight unique to a disco-loving alternative-gardening defrocked clergy member and cosmic adventurer...

Eventually. Just as soon as she's out of hospital.

This week's column is written by Roger. Roger would like us to tell you that he's a Sensitive, Serious, Sagacious Soul and Poet. We don't know if this is true, or if he's just one of those dodgy types Sister Janice picks up from time to time. We do know that he used to work in a burger bar. Very recently. Until sacked, for consorting with un-desirable influences.

Fellow Souls And Sages,

It has been fourteen revolutions of the rock to which we cling since we last spoke. Hard, thankless days, leavened only by the certainty that I am helping another being escape from the pit of despair into which it has fallen.

I refer, of course, to the Reality-Challenged Nun, currently residing in Saint Mary's Hospital with a fractured ambulatory appendage. I wasn't going to write this page. I had some plans this week, I had many new plans, many new projects, but she appealed to my font of Inner Virtue, and begged me to enlighten you once more with my thoughts.

So, once again, my fellow Cast-offs of Creation, Roger the Sensitive Serious Sagacious Poet throws his mind before you, for the illumination you require.

Here is this week's Child of Despair, crying out for the kindness of another..

'Dear Roger,

I might be away from the Space Shed for a week, but that doesn't mean you can take advantage. Keep the police out. Keep your nose out of my herb garden. Stay away from my problem page. I've told Belle to do it again. She's good. Crapping in a hole, and sniffing other dog's arses has given her broader scope of life experience than you'll ever have.

PS. Please water my plants and explain to my 'Enlightenment Through Retrospective Dance' Class that I'm temporarily indisposed. And bring me some more bloody grapes. That Dog ate the last lot.


Well, not yours, clearly. Only in my worst nightmares..

Sister Janice'

Oh bugger.

Err... that is, my condolences, fellow children of creation, that you had to witness that outpouring of vitriol. I appear to have shared the incorrect communication.

Here is the real letter:

'Oh Roger, Sensitive, Serious, Sagacious Soul and Northern Poet,

I struggle, day to day, with the meaninglesness of existence. I haul myself from slumber every morning and cry, scream aloud to the pitiless wind that chills my bones and sucks strength from my being. Pulled into the mundanity of the day-to-day, I hear my soul raging within... oh why, foul creator, could you have dragged me into this turmoil?

I write because I know the infamous Roger Of Cheshire will have the sustenance-of-spirit required by my weakening, wearing, worrying, wavering woeful errr... w...w... required by me.

Thanks, and Stuff,

D. Smith, A Town Called Despair'

Fear not, fair D, for I have the nourishment you need. I shall quote you a self-penned composition, and I'm sure no further explanation will be required:

This poem was Nominated for the North-East Cheshire Poetry Prize.

It did not win. In fact, it was returned. Apparently it was 'not what they were looking for'. Such are the tribulations faced by the Truly Sensitive

The Boundlessness of Eternity

by Roger Cunlip Roger Of Cheshire

Awake Awake
Awake Awake Awake
Do Not Despair
Have a nice day

I think that tells you all you need to know.



(More By This Author)


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Love Pop Faith Fun Punk
& An Interview With Nixon

Dimitra sort of stole the title from Matt (who in his turn had stolen it from Snowbound International Pop Club). That was about a year after she had first heard Nick talk about Nixon... but only a few months after she had started paying attention to what Nick was saying! It's never too late to change your mind.

She liked the things Nick said. She liked the music too, so she stole Roger's nickname on Soulseek off Jef and used it to try to ask him if she could interview him for her webzine. When this didn't work, she decided it was time to steal his email address off Nick. Here's what she got for all the stealing...


1. What is the first thing someone who hasn't already heard of you should know?

My name is Roger Gunnarsson, I'm 29 years old and I've been recording music as Nixon since the mid-80's. I live in Stockholm, Sweden and have been doing so for a few years. First of all Nixon was a duo from Halmstad, which is the small town where I come from, then we grew to a trio and finally I ended up doing the music by myself, and it's been that way since year 2000. Nixon has made a few albums and singles and the most recent is an album called "November 1985", released in spring 2002. I hope to release another EP as soon as someone is interested in putting it out.

2. What happened in November 1985? Have you really been recording music as Nixon since you were ten years old or so?

The picture on the sleeve of that CD is taken 30 November 1985, and I named the record after that. It was actually called something else first, but when I put the month and year by the picture I realised it looked good and decided to rename the album. But 1985 is really one of the years I'm most nostalgic about. It was then I first was interested in music for real, and some of my dearest memories from the 80s are from then. Actually I did make music back then. Me and my cousin Anders used to do songs on my keyboard and record them on tape, but it hasn't very much to do with the music I make today.

3. Why are you in a band? What does it mean to you, and what's the best thing about it?

Well, Nixon isn't really a band nowadays, but I'm in another band as well, Free Loan Investments, so I might be able to answer your question anyway. I like being in a band, but that depends a lot on that I like the other three members so much. We don't rehearse very often, but when we do it's always good to see each other again, and we have a lot of fun playing. In 2001 we did a tour in England, and that was fantastic.

4. What's the best love song ever? And which song do you wish you had written?

I guess I have to be pretty obvious here, but "There's a light that never goes out" by The Smiths is probably the love song that has meant the most to me. When I was younger I used to listen to it all the time, and when I listen to it nowadays it still touches me the same way. I think I connect most love songs with certain times of my life, and the songs connected with things I want to remember are probably my favourite ones. Not necessarily the best songs though.

5. Do you think your music has the power to change the world in any way? At least make people happier?

I would be really surprised if my music changed the world in any way, but I'm satisfied as long as can make anyone's day better or perhaps even make someone's favourite song for a moment. I think there are too few songs for the times you feel really happy. When I'm sad I can think of thousands suitable songs, but when I'm really happy it's much harder to find good music.

6. Is the world magical? What do you have faith in?

I'm not a religious person, but perhaps I have faith in the feeling of being in love. I used to very scared of that feeling, because it used to mean problems, but now I've learned that it can make you happy too.

7. What do you want to become when you grow up (more)?

Well, I'm 29 so maybe I can call myself grown up now. Still I don't want to get in the position where I know exactly what to do with the rest of my life. I want to do lots of things, and I really think I've done that so far as well. Two years ago I moved to Stockholm, and it's definitely among the best things I've ever done. I've never liked a place as much before, and the only plan I've got at the moment is too stay here for a long time. Maybe I will still do records in 10 years, and maybe I will not. I don't know really.

8. Who are your heroes? Who inspires you, who do you admire, who do you want to be like?

If you'd asked me that question ten years ago I would no doubt answer Morrissey, but it's been a while since I listened to his music now, so I can't really say that at the moment. I guess my main inspiration (get ready for a cliche!) at the moment is the people I've met the last few years. All the new friends I've made here in Stockholm and via the Internet. That's what inspires me the most, and that's what I write songs about.

9. What's living in Sweden like? What's your favourite weather?

I love living in Sweden. I've always lived here so I haven't got very much to compare it with, but when I'm abroad for a long while I always end up longing back to Sweden again. The last few years the indiepop scene here has grown to become quite big, too, so at the moment living here is good in any way. You're welcome.

10. What's your favourite place in the world?

I haven't really been all over the world, but when I was younger I used to like Scotland very much. I get tired of England very easily when I'm there, but I love to go to Edinburgh for a week or so. My favourite place otherwise is probably Stockholm.

11. And where would you most like to travel to, and how?

I'd love to go to the USA sometime. We've been meaning to go a few times -with Free Loan Investments- but it's never really happened. I don't think I would want to live there for a long time, but for a few months or so it would be wonderful.

12. Is happiness possible? Can people get truly happy?

I'm very happy at the moment. Maybe because I don't search for happiness as much as I used to.

13. Do you like football? Festivals? Poetry?

I'm not interested in sports at all.

I used to go to a lot of festivals in the summer, but nowadays it's usually just one or two, depending a lot on whether we're playing or not. I can't stand sleeping in tents anymore, so I always rent a hotel room, which makes everything too expensive. I have myself to blame there, but I think it's worth it.

I haven't read very much poetry in my life, but in my most devoted Morrissey years I used to pick up books by his favourite writers and some of them were poetry, like Oscar Wilde, Dylan Thomas etc.

14. And what's the best festival you've been to?

Probably the Benno Festival (Love, Music, Wine & Revolution) in the summer of 2001. Closely followed by last year's Mitt Bästa Liv in Kalmar, Sweden. Both of them were indiepop-festivals. Most big festivals in Sweden (Emmaboda, Hultsfred etc) annoy me more than they excite me, so I have stopped attending them.

15. Do you ever worry about what the people you write songs about will think about these songs?

Well, there have been some examples of that, but most songs are quite old when they come out so I have usually stopped thinking about it by then. The reason is mainly that most indiepop releases are postponed for financial reasons and there's almost always a year between the recording and release, so the lyrics aren't very up-to-date when people hear them. But as long as I still like them it's OK for me. I mean, sometimes I stand on stage and sing ten years old songs, but I don't care about that.

16. What would you do on the perfect night out?

I usually only go out when there is a band I'd like to see, so I guess the night out being perfect has to do a lot with how good the band is. Generally I like short gigs in small venues.

17. What would your ideal birthday present be?

Something that you really want, that's not worth the money.

Dimitra Daisy

(More By This Author Here)


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The Long Lost Diary Of Miss S L Gleaden


The Diary of Miss S L Gleaden lay in the dark gloomy postal sorting office, apparently unnoticed, and surrounded by many other incorrectly addressed letters and parcels. The brown envelope prevented it from gathering dust but caused the diary to sweat rather unpleasantly in the stifling heat.

Careful readers will have noticed the word “apparently” in the previous paragraph. That was written quite intentionally because the diary was not unnoticed by all. Ralph, a junior postal clerk, noticed the envelope which contained the diary on a daily basis.

Each day he would mull over the mystery of why somebody had cared enough to pay the correct amount for amount for postage for worldwide distribution of the package from the island of Lania but had completely neglected the use the correct postcode. Not to mention that they had neglected to use the correct street name, town or even the country.

In his spare time Ralph dreamed of a better life away from the world of the postal service and, like all good dreamers, bought a lottery ticket every week. On the night of Saturday 13th June, while in the middle of his late night shift, he watched with expectation as numbers were selected one by one from the lottery randomiser. He couldn't believe it! Not one of the numbers matched a single number on his ticket. But they did match the numbers of his cynical, grumpy, bully of a co-worker who hadn't even bothered to watch the draw.

Without a second through Ralph swapped the tickets then marched straight out of the building, stopping only to tie his right shoe and place the diary into his knapsack.
“To leave that intriguing parcel entirely unnoticed gathering dust is a greater crime than the theft of post” he thought to himself as he left the gloom of the postal sorting office forever.

So, unlike the envelope addressed to Mr G J Jones of Carnarfon, which would never arrive at the correct destination due to a small mistake in the postcode, the diary did eventually make it out of the sorting office. And to cut a long story short it washed up on the shores of a small town in the long forgotten county of Cumbria some months later. Locals were impressed by the story contained within, not to mention the book's ability to wash up on a landlocked town, and after many hours were able to track down the explorer herself and made sure that the book returned to her. But not before they had read it from cover to cover of course…

Night 3

The Cumbrian Locals notice a break in the bad weather and decide to hang their washing out and sit out in the sun to read the next page of the book...

I have been on this train for hours and so far haven't slept a wink. The bed is comfortable enough but my stomach is jumping around with excitement. I can't help but feel curious as to what exactly is passing me by as I head off into the unknown. Hurtling at speed through towns and villages whose names aren't unfamiliar, but are simply unknown. I've had a look out of my window once or twice but could only see darkness punctuated by the occasional star or the glow from a lone window. Small clues which only add to the mystery. I can't help but wonder what awaits us in the morning dear diary...

Day 4

The Cumbrian locals can't help but wonder what awaits miss S L Gleaden either and without further ado flick to the next page of the diary…

What a morning! I arrived in Mandalay at around 6.57am. The sun was low and the sky heavy with clouds. Even then though, there a was a dense heavy feeling to the air. Like breathing in soup. I still have to keep pinching myself to believe that I'm really here. I'm developing an impressive bruise on my left forearm.

I wandered aimlessly for a while staring at the now rising golden sun. I wondered aimlessly for a while about my predicament because, of all the accidents I have had the misfortune to suffer, getting on the wrong plane has to be one of the most serious.

After a stilted conversation in broken Burmese I established that it would be unlikely that I was going to discover an internet café to contact the world I left behind due to the strict restrictions on the use of the internet within Burma. I would have to resort to the use of that old fashioned form of communication. With slight trepidation I dialled home. After a few unsuccessful attempts I got through…

“hi… Hi? ….HI?!… MUM?! Are you there?”
“hi love, how is Greece?”
“I'm in Burma!”
“What was that? the line is very bad, hang on let me put the aerial up…. Is that any better?”
“oh. well you be careful”

The line clicked dead and no matter how I tried could not be resuscitated.

I returned to the muddle of the early morning. Whilst wondering aimlessly once more I was confronted by an old man who looked suspiciously like the old man who had spoken so wisely on the subject of snakes and grasshopper wings.

“see I told you, your journey would be lengthened” he said.

“you are the same man!”

I was slightly disturbed by this turn of events and thought about starting to panic.

“I can see you are slightly he disturbed by this turn of events but I assure you there is no need to panic” he said.

“My name is… well actually I better not reveal my name just yet but I can tell you it has an e in it and an I” he continued

Relieved to be on almost first name terms I shook his hand.

“We must be off” he said.

We sped through Mandalay as quickly as any two people can speed when they are riding in a horse drawn cart. Each time I started to talk he cut me off with a patient nod of the head.

When we reached his house on the edge of the city we were met by a small woman with a rather large smile.

“you are here at last! we were worried you wouldn't make it”

I still have no idea what she could mean by that because shortly after I arrived they both disappeared telling myself to make myself at home.

Are you puzzled my dear diary? Because I can tell you that I certainly am!

Rachel Queen

(More By This Author)


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Dean was no bouncer. "If you get a chance, take it"- his old man had drilled into him as a kid all those years ago. Later on, surrounded by smackheads, crackheads, criminals, and whores, the message, albeit underpinned by mania and desperation, was the same- "If you get a chance, take it." Dean took a chance, hauled his drug-addled frame to the supermarket car park, hot-wired the first car he fell into, immediately lost control of it, and drove it straight into Dixon's window, maiming several stereos and killing one shop assistant.

If you get a chance, take it.

That was nine years ago. He should've hung, according to the tabloids. The country, swept along by tabloid coverage of the teenager who died after taking ecstasy, was in the middle of a great crusade against drugs. If you took drugs, you were the scum of the earth. If you looked like you had ever taken drugs, you were the scum of the earth. Of course, the main men- those that shipped the stuff in tons as opposed to those that dealt in ounces, that dressed in double-breasted armani suits, lived in respectable parts of the big city, and shared saunas and caviars with judges and politicians- they were the root of the problem, but they were also the ones that never got targetted, were never subject to raids at 3am and body blows in the name of justice.

That's not to excuse what Dean did. Christ, he knew it. For his first year inside, he wanted to die too. There wasn't a month went by when he didn't try. Razors were a particular favourite. Every month, he'd get Adam to smuggle a packet of blades in on the pretence that he needed them to cut up the cocaine that he lied about dealing in. Every month, blade in hand, overwhelmed by the serenity of penance, he'd slice away at his left wrist, and feel the pain begin to ooze and wash away with the blood.

If you get a chance, take it.

Every month he survived. Even when he drew the blade across his jugular, he survived. His living, his being alive, was like hell on earth.

Then Adam died and the suicide attempts stopped. At first they stopped because, as Adam was the only one who ever visited him inside, he no longer had access to a ready supply of disposable blades. Then something within himself changed. He didn't find God or anything remotely close to that, but he did find a way of living through the hell he felt day in, day out. Whenever the guilt of existing became too much, instead of trying to hang himself from the top bunk with his bedsheets, he'd go to the gym and pummel away at a punch bag until his fists were sore, all the time muttering and cursing his very existence. When he wasn't in the gym, he read. Magazines at first, then newspapers, then books. Fiction, biographies, histories, poetry, philosophy, psychology, biology, he read and let words drip, drip, drip like ripe honey for the soul. In nine years he read every single written word in the prison library. In the last two of those nine years, he even got a job in the library. Nothing much, just stacking the shelves, but it sure beat cleaning shit off walls and digging pointless holes. Nothing much, but it kept him alive.

His first day of freedom felt like nothing of the sort. No one was there to greet him, no job awaited him, no ticker-tape parade, no flat to go to. Nothing. So, after contacting his probation officer, who arranged some temporary accomodation for him, Dean did the only thing an ex-addict, ex-con, could do.

He went to the library.

Every day, from nine in the morning until six at night, he went there. He'd read whatever he could get his hands on. There was a lot he could get his hands on in the city library. He'd listen to the students from the local college, full of life, but they all seemed to talk the same about the same things, share the same ideas and ideologies. He waited for someone to go out on a limb, but was always disappointed when they didn't.

Nine years of hammering away at his existence had given Dean a good physique. So, when he applied for a job as a doorman at Slinky's nightclub, it was no suprise when he got it. The job was ideal for him because it meant that he could still go to the library everyday, still suck in the good and put up with the bad, except now he could even begin to buy the words he cherished.

Dean was no bouncer.

Which is why, on his third night of working at Slinky's, he didn't see the knife as it drilled and twisted into the pit of his chest, puncturing his heart and killing him instantly.

If you get a chance, take it.

Paul Williamson

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A Summer As Imaginary Local Heroes


The Elementary Shelter.

We had to find a place to stay. Or rehearse. Or whatever. It was more or less the same thing after all. We found one.

The advantage of living somewhere in the countryside is not the green and the trees. It is not the lack of pollution, or the friendliness of local people. The advantage of living in the countryside is that people run away from there. Small towns become populated by ghosts and memories. Leaving empty buildings. Yes, empty buildings. Like schools that no one needs anymore. No one but us. We had to speak with a couple of people. That was not my business. I'm not built for too much politics and I would have only caused trouble. We had enough trouble already, and more to carry over.

I don't know how they could manage to do it, but they got back with a deal. We had the shelter we needed. Away from the neighbours. And people who bring the law and order. Away and unreal. Even a subbasement; as long as there was a power supply unit, would have done the job for us. And it did.

The room was bigger than I thought. The ceiling high, and the light came through only a few windows. A pale ray from a nearby lamppost. Nothing more in the late evenings. Outside there was no way to escape the summer dump but being buried down there we could barely notice that the sun, apparently, didn't need a rest, that season. The day was passed slowly broken by escape pauses, the length of a cigarette, in the courtyard. The walk beneath the pines marked the border between where we were living and an outer world. A cage, filled by the childhood memories of kids running around, shouting and screaming. Ready to be surprised by the expected. Perfectly adequate in inadequacy. Where would they have been at that time?

Would they have tried to listen to us?

They might have done. If we had had anthing to play.

We had to find the tunes. We had to find the lyrics. We had to find an awful lot more. Hidden in that place, where you could smell the flowing of time. We were getting into the magnetic spiral of boredom, playing and listening, and listening and playing, and playing and listening again, almost all day long to the same two songs. And we were running out of time as much as the blackboard, and it's cracks. We knew. Where was the chalk? Apparently nobody cared. It was good enough to produce a noxious sound. Toxic in laziness. To listen to a record, to go out late at night. All nights. It is difficult to say if anyone was aware. But time doesn't come back. And if it could it wouldn't have changed anything. Anyway. We were in a dimension outside time. It wasn't going forward.

Or at least we believed it wasn't. Innocent creatures. Or at least we acted as though we believed it wasn't.

Reckless, reckless ones.

You can fight time, but not beat it, as we would soon discover. Sooner than we might have thought.

to be continued...

Stefano Santabarbara


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I had nothing to drink. Not a damn thing to smoke or eat. Yet some how everything seemed ok. The TV was broke .I didn't have to endure the bimbos or hardmen, or cockney dots and blueprint pop stars. I had nothing, jack shit. The local council owned even the air that I breathed. Nothing had changed. I still had one friend. A girl of my dreams who had long gone, in the physical sense, but she was still the only one I wanked off to.

And with it all, I knew as I opened the door. How far away I am from everything great and passionate that had pitted me. I hadn't read a book written since 1967. My last record purchase was the best of Andy Williams. I still had no education, but with the door open my cat didn't waste anytime. He was off in to the dark night, with the dirty fucked-up moon frowning over him. Anywhere else and the moon is a wonderful free sight. In this town it is a spotlight of evil. My cat would be teased over by some drunk impressing his knee-high booted girlfriend, and, without passion, easily kicked and fucked with.

The same would happen to me. In the morning when I took the cold walk to the doctors. Wondering if my results would be the same as my dying dad and sister.

A cat screamed. I hoped for my little one. Knowing that he, my friend, Andy Williams and that last book I read didn't have a chance in hell of winning.
If by some desire, the man upstairs, would allow us to pull it off. We would still never be able to face the night. Not even with a smile. Or shimmering eyes.

Bob Young


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The White Stripes Live at the Brixton Academy:
It's true that we love one another,
I love Jack White like a little brother


The White Stripes are one of those bands that manageto split public opinon right down the middle.

Personally, I love them. To me, they areone of the most important bands we have around rightnow.

The Stripes play stripped down blues, garage rock - using twoinstruments and a few colours (well, red & white).Their minimalist sound is heavily influenced bythe De Stijl art movement in Amsterdam.which used minimalist designs and colours and managed to create somethingtimeless. The band are so influenced by the De Stijl artmovement that they named their second album after it!

I went along to theAcademy in Brixton, excited but a little scared of thesurroundings. Every time I go to Brixton I find it themost hostile place, but I managed to get through italive and made it to The Academy just in time to jointhe queue outside.

The arena was fairly empty and sparse. I brought three white stripesbadges and settled down in front of a giant screen to watch THUNDERBIRDS!

Yes readers, you heard me correctly: THUNDERBIRDS.

The antics of the Tracy family went downvery well in The Academy. Many of the crowd cheeredas Thunderbird 2 (easily the greatest thunderbirdever!) lifted off its launch site. I knew already thattonight wasn't going to be as expected.

The lights dimmed.

Thunderbirds were turned off. The first band came on.

They were called The Go and weren't at all bad. They sounded like theDatsuns meet the Rolling Stones....with the bassistswearing sun glasses indoors (many rock n roll pointsscored for that). The lead singer resembled a young MickJagger strutting around the stage often hopping on onefoot and clapping and generally enjoying himself. Ifelt bad for them, as most of the crowd were still inthe bar.

All in all, Ienjoyed them alot, which I must say was far from thetruth for the 2nd support band...

The Whirlwind heat are the worst band I've EVER seenlive!

Maybe they were having a bad day. Maybe theirinstruments were meant to sound off key and the singerwas suppose to howl like a banshee....butwhatever it was it was awful. The highlight oftheir performance was the guy who announced them .....'KIDS MOVE YOUR FEETITS THE WHIRLWIND HEAT'.......

I was certainly ready to move my feet. Towards the door.

Their songs frequently stopped half way through, then the band - whowere all dressed in white T-shirts and jeans - would fall over. The sigh ofrelief that came over when they ended was remarkable.

Everyone knew The White Stripes were closeand the atmosphere in the hall was outstanding. While the impeccably dressedroadiesset up The Stripes' equipment (drums and guitars take along time kids!) we were treated to felix the catcartoons, which my brother (bless him) was enjoying fartoo much.

The roadiesfinished setting up the gear, the cartoons were stillrolling, the crowd starting cheering and before long adeafing roar was rolling around the place.

Jack walked to the front of the stage to check out his crowd and Meg satbehindher drum kit ready to kick out the jams. The openingsong was one from Elephant. The crowd went wild and TheStripes turned up the volume a few notches.

There washardly any communication inbetween the songs with themcoming in quick succession. They must have played 5-6songs in the first 15 minutes, all at a blisteringspeed. The crowd were cheering everything that theband were doing on the stage, and The Academy seemed toshake as the crowd danced and generally went crazy.

All with good reason. The Stripes were rocking, just aseveryone knew they would. They played so manyfantastic songs that I only remember a few of them.Their cover version of Jolene was great, I neverthought a Dolly Parton song would be made credible.Hotel Yorba managed to get the crowd singing anddancing along.

The band apparently never use setlists.They just play whatever they feel like playing and thisworked wonderfully well at the gig. Jack would start asong with just a nod to his sister and then they wouldplay off each other pefectly, trying to outdo eachother with their instruments. They would play 3 or 4really fast songs to get the crowd moving and thenslow it down with a slow one or a bluesy typemonologue from Jack.

The gig lasted an hour and a halfwith the crowd urging them on for an encore afterthe main set. Unfortunately the encore was only 2songs as The Academy has strict curfews and all toosoon the gig was over, after a rousing rendition of BoWeevil - a 1930's blues song.

This was the best gig I've ever been to. Theatmosphere inside the venue was electric, everyoneseemed so happy and glad to be seeing the band play,and when Jack was doing his guitar solos the wholeplace just erupted. I really do think he is one of thegreat guitarists around right now. After the show Iwas exhausted I felt emotionally and physicallydrained, but it was worth it. I think people will betalking about that show for a very long time to come.

David Strange


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Ghosts, Love and Gentleman rock.
An interview with: the german exchange

Those of you who are regular readers of the friends of the heroes, having read last week's review, will be expecting this interview. Those of you who are not regular readers why on earth aren't you?

The german exchange is made up of Benjamin Reynolds, Ramon, Alex Norman, Ben Beare and Dan Barrett. They have been Compared to the libertines/smiths by some people whilst other people have called them "Quirky guitar pop from some real cockney miscreants".

Now you can make your own mind up and decide for yourself what they sound like because they have kindly agreed to give a copy of their brilliant CD “onward" to 5 lucky readers! Email us telling us what the german exchange have been listening to recently and what Dan considers to be the most important thing in his life. We will randomly pick 5 winners of this CD on who reply before the closing date of the competition 30/4/03.

Before you try to answer these questions however, I advise you to read the following interview with Benjamin and Dan …

Please tell our readers a little bit about "the german exchange". Who are you?  How did you meet? When did you decide to form a  band? what adjective best describes you?

Benjamin - The german exchange are best described as gentleman rock.  We come from north, south and west and met in London. We formed over a short period at the start of 2001, blossoming from a first love of Yo La Tengo maturing into a passion for Zeppelin and Beefheart.

What are your plans for the future?

Benjamin - To reintroduce the values of the gentleman back into English society, reclaiming national pride back from the yobs. Dan - To make an album that makes people drop to their knees and weep.

What albums make you drop to your knees and weep?

Benjamin - Grace - Jeff Buckley The curtain hits the cast - Low F# and A# - Godpeed you Black Emporer

What would you say was the most important thing in your life?

Benjamin - Love, faith and hope, and the most important of these is ... Inspiration, so fleeting yet all consuming.  I live for it.  It strips you of your inhibitions in a natural (sober) fashion and makes you value the things in life that are worth caring about.  Yet motivation is one of the most rewarding things too. 

I've tried to devalue objects in my life - but there are still things like my friend Rory's paintings that he gave me, that I love.  I suppose they'll never touch me in quite the same way as experiences and people, and I rarely see objects as an extension of memories (but then again...).  A sunny morning always does something for me.  I'm not meant to be writing an essay on this am I?

Dan - Love (on all levels) & the tools to express yourself.

What do you get inspiration from?

Benjamin - There's nothing more inspiring than an act of kindness.  Simple throw away things - general etiquette, passers by who are smiling, etc.  Life rests on these small and inconsequential things.

Dan - Culture from the fringes of the beaten track, people with integrity and my notebook.

What lifts your spirits after a hard day?

Benjamin - Having worked hard is enough - anything less and the satisfaction is brief.  If only I remembered this everytime I get up in the morning.

Dan - playing guitar

If you could be anywhere at this moment where would it be and why?

Benjamin - I like to live in the present, I have few regrets and I know that now is the time to act on those I may have in the future.  I believe that  if you ask yourself what you will regret not having done when you're on your death bed you have a much better idea of what's important in your life.  I have since realised just how important seeing a ghost is to me, amongst other things.

Have you ever seen a ghost?

Benjamin - I've never seen a ghost.  Its one of those things that I really want to do. Death is the only thing we have no control over, and the very existence and nature of ghosts just fascinates me. I think seeing a ghost is something I would regret not doing by the end of my life, like making an album, having a child, getting 'lost in a maze of my own making' (Stone Roses).  I've completed the last one  - it was made out of straw bales - brilliant.

Dan - I believe I've seen a ghost. Walking towards Lordship Lane in North London, down Westbury Avenue from Turnpike Lane tube station, I often see a white figure about 6ft tall out of the corner of my eye when I pass a particular house on a long terrace. I've seen it at all times of day but only when I'm alone. It's become a reassuring presence.

Is there any value in daydreaming?

Dan - Yes. If you don't exercise your imagination then you might as well be a machine. Everybody should dream: it informs our ideals.

What books have you read recently?

Benjamin - From Death into Life - Rev Haslam Narziss & Goldmund - Herman Hesse, Vineland - Thomas Pynchon Stupid White Men - Michael Moore

What music have you been listening to?

Benjamin - Lou Reed - Berlin, Captain Beefheart - A and M sessions, LCD SOund system, Led Zeppelin, The Band, Karate and Built to Spill

Who are your influences? who do you admire?

Benjamin - Musically I think I steal a lot from Morrissey, but he tried to justify plagiarism himself, so I think that makes me less guilty. I came across the Associates fairly recently and I think what they tried to do is something I would aspire to.  I think they were truly experimental in a way that a lot of music now isn't.  I don't think three people playing the same note and putting lots of strange effects on it is pushing the boundaries of sound.  I admire people that make some effort at creating accessible music that tests the conventions of what constitutes a song.  For that reason I think a lot of recent R'n'B is fantastic, but I really put more value on music that comes from the soul rather than the libido.
There's every possiblity that you may not get any of this out of the music we make but I think it's emerging.  We're making much more of a collective sound now.  I loved the way James Brown's band worked - they were so tight.  I think Ben and Alex (rhythm section) draw a lot from funk and Beefheart, so some of the rhythms that we get are quite different.  With the guitars there's a lot of Television in there, with fairly intricate sections that don't get repeated.
As for the non-musical inspiration, well that's another story, and a much larger one too.  It's in the lyrics, isn't that what they say?

Dan - we influence each other - especially if you compare now with then. 

Who would you chose to interview if you got the chance? and what questions would you ask?

Benjamin -I might interview my ex-lovers, but I don't know if they'd answer the questions I put to them.

Dan - I'd interview the Band in the early 70s or Douglas Coupland.  We'd discuss vocal harmonies and the state we find ourselves in.

How can people find out more about you and what the band is currently up to? or

And  finally I have to ask. Do you have another question you would like to answer?

Thankyou, but no.

Rachel queen

(More By This Author)


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Remember Earth Clearly:
Generation X Ink Polaroids & Being Alive

In case you don't know, Ink Polaroids were invented by Stuart David back in the time he was in Belle and Sebastian and allegedly, it's all because wee Karn had borrowed his camera. Unable to take photos, he described those he would have taken had he been able to... So an Ink Polaroid is a description of a hypothetical -though not imaginery- polaroid. It is also a great way to capture a moment. Or talk about it.

In case you don't know, Generation X is a book (by Douglas Copeland) about some ever-so-slightly-cynical-yet-hopeful people that decided to leave their lives behind and moved to a desert in Palm Springs to try and find their true selves. At least, that's what I think it is. In the meantime, they tell each other stories. My favourite part is where they tell each other about the moment they have most felt alive - the moment that, when they leave earth for what could possibly be forever, they would like to take with them - the moment that best describes being alive for them.

I thought that is a very inspiring thing to do so I asked some people the same question. A few of them replied, some in Ink Polaroids. Here's what they said.

(If you want to do one too, it's never too late! Just send it to me here.)



An Ink Polaroid, April 1, 2003, 12:35 p.m. Golden, Colorado, USA

She likes her meals complicated and time-consuming--thin broths and pastries in wrappings; pomegranates and oranges (none of those white stringy bits--she removes every painstaking scrap). Sandwiches are too easy; all those vegetables and meats that, on their own accord, could take hours to prepare--to boil, chop, or slice--but not alone, rather, they are bunched together and quickly chewed in one lazy handful.

In the photograph, she eats slowly. We know this because the shot distinctly shows a spoonful of soup caught in the distance between her bowl and her mouth. Behind her, the passing crowd is in a blur of movement: hurried-ness, trying to catch up with running children; their trays of food are red hazes that appear in our picture as a solid carmine-colored line floating directly above her head.

We wonder if she's happy, if she's taking her time to avoid a life of dread (a job that secures no future or even two-weeks vacation time--being stuck in a cubicle between two co-workers who fall asleep on their keyboards and snooze loudly in the afternoon hours); or maybe she's eating slowly to avoid coming to the end of the book which is tented open in front of her. She might wince at every passing page, that every minute spent reading is only coming closer to the minute when the reading might be done.

It may be the last spoonful of soup she's serving to herself. But then, as we look closer--we can see what looks like a smile edging itself onto her face. The beginning of a smile, rather like she's come not to the departure of something, but an arrival (an inkling, nostalgic of something unsaid). She must be thinking, What a relief that it's over--how is it that the passing of one moment only secures the splendour of the next?



It was summer, late July in fact. Sat outside my parent’s house surrounded by a big group of their friends. My mum had the biggest smile on her face that you’ve ever seen she had tears in her eyes I think... or maybe that was just me. I was kneeling. My palms were pressed down onto the cool damp grass. The air was heavy with the smell of burning charcoal and burnt sausages. I looked from my mum to my dad to the person who was playing a song especially for my mum. A friend that they both work with. My dad had secretly given him the CD a few months back and he had learnt how to play the song.

Other friends had arranged plates of food, and built a ring of stones in the garden, a story which is far to long to explain. Banners reading “Happy 25th Anniversary” decorated the walls of the house.

Even the weather seemed to have been prearranged and rain banished to the edges of the small town.

It was a big landmark for my mum and dad. I was so proud to be sat there.

The stars were just starting to show through the pale blue sky... And a thought passed through my head: "This is life. Life is being lucky enough to have friends and family to share such landmarks with."



Gary. Twenty five. Drifter from Glasgow's east end. Neil. Mercurial gad about town, always dressed in tweed. Alan. Mid-forties, gentle giant of a highlander. Me. Eighteen. Lost. Michelle. Antipodean waif, crossing continents on her way to somewhere. Simon. Drug-addled refugee from the sad Welsh valleys. Janice. Untouchable. Susan. The one that got away. Davo. The one that held me together. Someone is howling 'Sweet Jane' and that someone is us. Alan has fallen to his knees, thumping the ground. It's Gary that's playing the guitar, as the seconds turn into minutes turn into hours, letting the night seep in. I have my arms around Neil on one side, Janice on the other. It's just right. Around the fire lay blankets and beer, whiskey and wine in the warm twilight. Susan is going glug, glug, glug at a half bottle of vodka. I swear she looked this way, I swear. Simon and Michelle are up on their feet, arms aloft, hollering 'Sweet Jane' as the beads of sweat go drip, drip, drip, and our souls make shadows in the sky. Davo is swigging on a beer that we kept cold by digging holes in the sand. He makes the circle. I catch his eye and he smiles. Somewhere near here is heaven on earth and I can never go home again.



I didn't have to work hard to find this memory, or to decide that it was the one that best described really feeling alive. It stands out clear and sharp in my head.

I was 15 and on a school trip to Paris. It was my first time outside the country without my parents. We were a load of teenagers thinking we were so grown-up and mature. I think there must have been about a hundred of us, and five or six teachers. We travelled to Paris from Dublin on a double-decker bus. We spent more time on that bus than in our hotel.

It was a five-day trip and this was the end of the second day. In the last 48, we had spent at least 20 of them travelling by bus or ferry. We had spent the morning travelling round Paris. I had seen Notre Dame and the Sacre Coeur. I had been to a flea market. I had climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tour. And now we were coming back from an indoor swimming pool - a mini water world. Thinking back, it seems like a strange thing to do on a trip to Paris, but I like swimming so I enjoyed it. Most things are great fun when you are sharing the experience with a large group of people whose company you enjoy.

I was sitting on the bus on our way back from the pool, staring out the window into the darkness, and I just felt incredibly content. Maybe it was just physical exhaustion, maybe it was the smell of chlorine on my hair which triggered happy memories, but there was nowhere else that I wanted to be at that moment than travelling through Paris with a bus load of school friends. I felt warm and safe and happy.



There seems to be light everywhere. That's because the street I am standing on is on the highest point of a hill. The road goes downhill in both directions so you can see the sky not only above and straight ahead but below you too, in a way.

Not only have I travelled across a continent to be here but I have done so to meet a girl I didn't even know of a few weeks ago. Right now said girl is standing on the side of the street, watching a japanese little girl and her mother talk to and about her dog while she's half-pretending she doesn't know everyone else. Given what everyone else is doing, I don't blame her.

Andy is almost falling over while showing us a building and telling us he worked there... for the tenth time. Gordon is sitting next to a tramp, trying to steal a sip of his drink of cider. I should add the tramp doesn't look too excited about this. Will is half-holding, half-carrying a drunk Gayle who keeps saying she wants to sleep, when she's not saying she wants to eat. And Richard - Richard is standing in the middle of this in a green coat, looking at everything in a half-serious, half-amused look. I'm standing near him, staring at everyone with a smile on my face and a bottle of Cranberry Bacardi Breezer in my hand. This probably just adds to our drunk impression but I am particularly fond of it because it's something you can't get in Greece. I am probably looking irrelevant and inexplicably happy or at least that's how I'm feeling.

I'm not drunk but I'm wonderfully tipsy. I've just met those people, but I already love them all a little bit, each in a different way. They seem slightly odd but great nonetheless. I am in the magic land the best band in the world comes from and this land is living up to my expectations. I am here just because I was crazy enough to suggest to these people I hardly knew I should visit them, and being crazy is paying off. I am having fun for the first time in my life and I can't help but feel it's a prize I've won by being who I am.

The sky is bright, the sky is everywhere and for a while -no, not for a while, for the whole evening- this light is inside me as well as everywhere around me and everything is bright.


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