I'm back in 1978. In my head. Trying to write something about the Boy with the Hole in his Heart and Crapper and me and inventing a female lodger who moans strange messages back from the future that my fictional self and friends record on our boxy black cassette recorders and who can bind it all together (fictionally). Trying to get the background, the context clear in my head before I read anyone else's account - avoiding the spin that time and change puts on things, the accepted history of events, those phoney truths. 'The Winter of Discontent' was looming (was it?) but it meant nothing at all back then - when it came, just a few black bin liners littering up the Green and nothing else on the news but how they couldn't even bury the dead. Nothing now, is it? (Huff. Post cites 200 odd dead and 700 plus wounded already in Lebanon/Israel) '73 was worse in the memory - at least, more impactful. No power. Or too much power? In the wrong/right hands.
This is my spine. I just need to shape it, contour the vertebrae of memory to fit. But it was only later that those big but half-remembered events would become important. Important for what wasn't (couldn't be) known then, not by us kids, at any rate. Important for the twists and turns in which this defeat (because it was most definitely the point at which whatever battle it was that we'd been fighting in this country since the Peasants' Revolt was about to be lost) would play out, would variously shock us, assuage us, pamper us and scalp us. In short, how Working for the Clampdown would impact on our lives. You may have, but we didn't see it coming. For instance Crapper would tell me on the bus that his mother (a highly intelligent woman with no vested interest in going Tory) was thinking of voting for Thatcher. Because she was a woman. No other reason. So that's the juncture of history we were at and that needs to peep through the prose, beef it up without larding it out. You have to tell two stories (at least two) when you write - your own and everyone else's.
So this will be mine. Dim remembrances of slightly fetid bedrooms and lying awake in a mews in Soho as the disco downstairs pounded away. Walking around desolate Berwick Street market on a Sunday morning, rotting veg leaves and posters for 'Sex & Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll' gently flapping. Most things boarded up, those that weren't would have looked better if they were. Townshend's Magic Bus bookshop off Richmond Green with it's huge board of button badges as you walked in, spending hours there reading the magnificent collection of Rock books in amongst all his new age Meher Baba stuff and not knowing that Ena was working there and that we'd be working together now in this unimagined and far off time. (Maybe she could be my messenger?) Flourescent socks and weird gold lame waistcoats my Mother made for us, barely worn. (Our Teddy person phase). The Jive Dive.
Before barcodes (when did they come in, btw?) Before Monetarism. Before a lot of things. Before we all got a hole in the heart. Do you think it has legs?
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