I was hoping for this to be a stab at Kerouac’s spontaneous prose, which maybe it will be, but frankly it’s not looking hopeful. I’ve left those books somewhere else and at this foetal stage of a writer’s life it’s important to copy, hard and fast, whatever novelist you can. not so spontaneous at all really. I’m already sat pondering the next line, which again defeats the point really. This isn’t even the narrative, just the rambling precursor to it. Maybe I should stick to ripping off Hunter S Thompson pieces, although at least in this style it’s easy to just make things up….
The snapping of the guitar string was the bell tolling, we went to bed plagued by the worldly responsibly that drew us back to reality. There was no fire, there should have been, it would have made this so much easier to write. “The twisting and contortion of the flames as they rose into the sky was poetic. Crackling and popping as only dry pine can, showers of sparks captured the moment”. The driving rain and sunken cloud was a nuisance also, Kerouac only had to deal with the Californian temprate when recalling his drunken follies. Nothing ruins the painting of a picture more than wet canvas.
The stars were out, one of those rare nights. Crisp and alluring, no rain in sight. Black clouds could be seen overhead but they swarmed majestically, weaving around the moon in a fast dance yet staying high. They set a backdrop to the wild scene of… Ambleside. Not in any way a bad town but not right for the moment here, this tale of folly in the fells could do without the grey slate and empty streets. A ghost town, deathly monument to the snarling trappings of tourism, enterprise and greed. Buy low and sell high. the whole town sits in the wallets of the few, turned to holiday lets, cafes and vanity projects. All lie hauntingly empty when the peak swell disperses; the waning moon at the end of summer drags all the tourist out with its tide. So here we are All crammed into this little box flat on the edge of town. Second floor hell hole, devoid of light and soul, stuffed into its small rooms. It shouldn’t have to be this way. We weren’t shacked up in some cute forest hut, the middle of nowhere, back of beyond. that would have been too poetic.
A few fields on the side of the hillside, it was the ideal setting. The old slaters hut rose out of the landscape below the treeline, a few box rooms, simple. The first room you came too was just a shared space really. The cooking equipment sat precariously on wooden trestles, wobbling when you touched them. No goggle-box, no flash furniture, just a few battered charity shop sofas thrown around the room, mandala hung on the wall and blankets scattered around the floor. Cold hard floor. The bare feet on the stone work created a connection to the place. You communicated with it through silent padded movement, it replied, sending warming cold tremors through your body, tempering the soul.
The room was lit by warm bulbs hanging from their flex. Just one, with its wires running down the wall, out the door and to the genny outside, a noisy diesel devil hidden in a wooded depression so as not to ruin the atmosphere. Keep the peace. To this genny also ran a cable to the only appliance, the only mechanical trapping in the house. The record player, with its pop crackle symphony, blared loud and true in the corner. People scattered around the room. Piled on the sofas or on the blankets on the floor. Outside the fire roared, there was a wood burner in the house, keeping things above freezing but the real heart of the gathering was that majestic flickering beast out there in the night. It held more humanity than anyone in that place, a true symbol of the human race. A roaring beacon of the futility of life. It burned with passion and gusto, it burned bright and with heat, a visual crescendo of oranges, magnetically drawing you in as it fought away the dark and the cold. And for that little space in time it did but the darkness was vast and the cold all-encompassing and so it started to flicker and wain, slowly at first but with increasing speed as it failed to leave it’s mark and so the darkness took him. He who stood the tallest, laughed and roared the loudest. He who burned the brightest and shone as a middle finger up to the gods, he who provided the greatest comfort… was gone.
What of the party, of the people? It was a gathering all right, the musicians came and played and the beers flowed freely… from the Tesco’s of which they’d come. We gathered round and watched the pipers play. A free festival in the centre of town, that was the catalyst alright but we made it our own. It would be a joy to say that the crowd was electric as if touched by a common cause… it wasn’t. Aye there was spirit in the midst of things but for the most part people stood back and watched. So we stood and we talked and we drank and then talked, drank and stood some more.
There was no tangible moment when the mood changed, just a slow building desire for a slice more revelry than was being displayed. It became overwhelming until we fine few threw back our inhibition and danced, gyrating and twisting like madmen. The music picked up and we were in the centre of it, dancing away, happy as any man there. The fringe still held the same gaggle but something had changed, the power in their placidity was gone, the atmosphere free from their uptight lips and serious faces. we danced and grooved until the music had gone, thrown by the whirlwind back into reality. Legs jelly, breath short with cramps from all the exertion, a dagger in my side.
The end of the music may have come but from finished we stomped off into the night in search of shelter. And there we stayed as the night slowly grew long in the tooth, the setting has already been set and you know the score. Music played. Some understood the mood, some didn’t. They went in search of a bar, somewhere cheap and full of hacks, leaving the enlightened few. whilst we could have stayed the flow of people away from that place drew us too.
Strolling back through town, through darkened streets and gloomy alleys, weaving a tale back to the vans, the place we choose as home. The moonlight and stars guided our path home, or was it dark wet and gloomy? Surface. Where was the fire? Was there a fire? Unimportant. It’s a narrative for the narratives sake. What was important was that short hour spent around the van. Guitars were picked up and played, lyrics generated in free fall, one line cascading into the next. Satirized in verse, mocked in the chord changes. Drunken grins abound, there’s no malice in wonderland. How much dedication, time and effort has been poured into their craft? compared to that of my own a lifetime. True to art and form they are what I am not. Just a Kerouac to these true Bodhisattva. Privileged but ultimately a spectator to this beautiful life.
And it was gone.