My name is Barnaby Fudge. I am of indeterminate age. I live many miles beneath your feet, in the deep underground. I slave with the other creeping drones serving your rotting musical industry. You see, here, in this freezing hive of tunnels and caverns, each of your beloved pop combos has a representative. Our little hand sticks tirelessly clackerdy clack on our word machines keeping the bloated world above abreast of band news and doings. Ice and starvation are an ongoing concern. I am currently in the employ of musical aberration, Art Brut.
All correspondence here - firstname.lastname@example.org
I am aware that you leak like a bastard titanic so here is what others may have missed...
Art Brut vs. Satan will be descending on your shelves at exactly April 20th. Here's what our brother in arms apparent, Eddie Argos, had to say -
“I don't always enjoy the recording process - all that fiddling with guitars and drum sounds waiting for my turn to ‘sing’. This time though, we did it just right. We spent a day getting the sound of the instruments perfect, then with all of us in the same room at the same time, with the amazing Black Francis conducting us, we pressed record, jumped around and played our songs. This is how I always thought albums were made and it’s definitely how we're doing it from now on!”. Having heard the completed work, unlike yourself, I can assure that this is no mean feat.
This will be proceeded by the single Alcoholics Unanimous on April 6th. Clue is in the name. I have it on good authority that a visual accompaniment will also be delivered.
Plus, a shockyoumentally concerning the whole Salem affair is also in the works, blocking the musical pipes.
In other new, Barnaby was present at the Radio 2 Folk Awards this Monday last. In fact, I can confirm he accidentally stumbled onto the stage during a performance by the indomitable Jim Moray. Ten points for the first spot.
On account of the thousands of hastily assembled dolls, sketches and blurred Polaroid photographs that I have crammed into every nook, cranny and bare, slimy, granite surface this cramped cell has to offer, I am never far from you. Your likeness is never more than six inches from my fleshy corpus. Some have labelled me a hermit, a pervert; living as I do, so far beneath the surface, chewing on rat bones and discarded kitchen scourers, but I always have you. You have been the only company this putrid old bone bag could need. You are the reason I persist with this facade of employment. This mirage of reciprocated service. Let's call an egg an egg and call it what it really is, voluntary slavery. Although Art Brut have made it clear on numerous occasions my services are no longer required, they are mistaken. These 'chaotic ramblings' are propelling them forward in ways they cannot fathom. They stumble around in their arrogant smog not giving a hoot for the common, educated man. Not caring for Barnaby's needs. They will learn. Their boat will soon sail. They've got something coming, right in gene pool...
However this stone box in which I sleep, eat, write and defecate has begun to suffocate. I find myself waking in what I presume to be the dead of night, my mouth filled with sweat, my steel bed rancid with drool, my thoughts stuffed with images of youth. For I too recall my days on the surface. A happier time for myself and occasionally others. Lavish parties, exotic harems, days missing in the back alleys of Khartoum. You see, I spent many joyous years touring the ports of the world in the service of Her Majesty's merchant navy. A magical mystery journey. I have seen things that would cause you to vomit and climax in equal and sometimes simultaneous measure. I joined at the tender age of sixteen, having been discarded on the streets of Wigan by a tyrannical patriarch at six. I had already learned a great many things. An old Jewish fellow had taken an interest in me and along with a rag tag group of other boys we roamed the back allies and piazzas bringing petty crime to Wigan's uncaring upper classes. After a number of months I grew to become the old man's favourite and soon I took up residence in his quarters so he could tutor me to greater effect. It was here I received my education, within those three cardboard walls, for you see Dale was a man of great learning. As if gifted with some precognitive ability he claimed the last whispered words that trickled into my grubby sound pipes, on what I later learned was my sixteenth birthday, contained his last dribble of knowledge. I had sucked him dry.
Thus, there under a small pile of rags, I left Dale's freezing corpse and began the long journey to the sea, thinking that there I would find a new benefactor to feed, clothe and train me. After several months of ambling the highways and byways (I was seemingly misdirected by a travelling tinker), I reached what appeared to be a port. Unsure of nautical procedure or custom, I jumped the first ship that caught my eye and concealed myself below deck in a barrel of, what would soon become rancid, dates. I did not consider it at the time but this would be my home for next three to four years. I existed only in the bowels of the ship, to what must have been the full knowledge of the sailors on board. They, however, chose ignore me or at least pretend they could not see my spindly, bearded form snatching crusts from the jaws of stinking bilge rats.
It was here I met the gentleman I wish to introduce to you, my beautiful network of networks. For I was not the only man to have stowed away on this floating scurvy tin. You see, one day, as I was attempting to source nourishment to hinder the on set of a particularly troublesome bout of rickets, I wrenched the top from a large box of dried mackerel only to discover the gasping, naked form of a man. After several hours dowsing him with buckets of salt water in a desperate attempt to draw him out of shock, he calmed down enough to stutter his name, Mr. Gaylord St. James. He explained he was an actor, from Hollywood no less, and had accidentally become embroiled with a gang of Thai jungle pirates. Having incurred a heavy debt through several weeklong bouts of Hung Pan he had escaped what appeared to be a certain and painful death by flinging himself into the closest and fastest river. As the pirates shook their fists and fired their rusty pistols, the desperate starlet clung to a floating palm letting the river deliver him to the Fates' behest. He was spat, water logged and starving into the ocean, thinking that death here would be a welcome release from the weeks of severe sun stroke and plagues of river parasites. However, as he slowly lost consciousness and slipped silently into the depths he became tangled in the nets of a Dutch fishing trawler. He was yanked aboard but on account of the huge volume of sea life bought up by these Nemoic vessels his eviscerated form was barely noticed and he was processed and cleaned like any other salty kipper. Miraculously he survived and living off a diet of raw fish and rain water he was eventually salted, boxed up and loaded onto my homestead in the port of Kantang only to be released, in the nick of time, by your humble narrator.
So, after days nourishing him to the best of my ability, Mr. St. James regained some semblance of rational thought and slowly a bond began to grow between us. We were both young men at the time and had been craving any meaningful human contact for many months. We sat there in the dark regaling each other with tales of hardship and deviance that some day I may relate to you, beloved Internet, but they are not for these pages. We became close friends. We slept, ate, drank and dreamt together. Then, one day, he was gone. I awoke from another sweaty night terror to find his sack empty, filled with nothing but dried skin and spittle, a final reminder of his generous spirit. I thought him drowned, imprisoned or eaten. Like Dale, another loved one snatched from Barnaby by the seemingly forever-spiteful gods. That is until approximately three weeks ago when, trawling through your lengthy client roster, I came across a passage that could of only been written by one man. A short but concise piece of prose of such wit and insight I half expected it to be a forgotten missive from myself. Gaylord St. James has strolled back into my life. My one, true friend has returned. I have provided a conduit below through which you may reach him. I implore you, sweet Internet, to provide him with as much joy and nourishment as you have given me. Welcome, Gaylord, welcome!
yours with a joyous heart
P.S. I am aware that this not on quite the same tack, but it has come to my attention you have been providing certain entertainment protagonists with the same face. Please see below.
Portugese captain and professional look-a-like, Nuno Gomes
As an elderly gent, I find my C15 Cameo Mono Electric Riser to be the perfect little chair on which to muse on the complex machinations of the modern world. The crumbling miasma of cultural identity seems to sit more comfortably in the mind the more comfortably my papery flesh balloon is cradled in the fibre back cushion, button back design. The quiet and smooth, three position lift system centres the mind’s eye, the vapours of age swallowed by the New Levante Burgandy (Vinyl) skin. Ticket checked, discount counted, first class on the relax your ass train to Going to be Here an Awfully Long Time…
I would have expected this stylish design to bring a certain calm to my withered, little thought sack; a new found clarity would bind to my wealth of experience. From this I could birth a new, younger philosophy. A philosophy on which I could construct the brief, Floridian condo of years I have spent half of my half cocked life looking forward to. However, to my surprise, all that elderly comfort reluctantly gives is the desire for more of the same: more comfort, but now the once passive little jaunt on the Comfort Liner has gone active; it now masquerades as its ugly cousin, nostalgia. The flabby torso of the mediocre struggles its varicose pins into the snug leggings of the familiar. Suddenly, every past, regrettable act can dull the spiny spectre of the present. All I now want is to suffocate myself with every past object, emotion, sound, every slightest déjà vu I can forcibly rip from the walls, furniture and faces that insist on stumbling into my plod along life. I have become the lord of nostalgia, the king of retrospect, the regent of the rose tint. So, I like to talk about smells that remind me of some time, songs that bring to mind so and so, feelings that rediscover inappropriate anecdotes. I whittle my day around boring Tom, Dick and, indeed, Harry. Because I’m old. The more years you notch up the higher the general public’s tolerance for self-indulgent whimsy. I’m old. Old, old, old. Old. You, however, are not. You are young. You are an idiot.
That’s right. You have no business pissing about with nostalgia. It is not acceptable. Get out of my toy box. I’m taking to Flog It! on Wednesday and I don’t want you sabotaging my one and only shot with Paul Martin. He’s too comfy, an over familiar family friend in a slow moving scarf storm. He’s mine and I don’t want you stinky students getting your sweaty glo sticks anywhere near him. Why does the youth feel this need to remember? What use is it to them? How is wrapping yourself up in a Knight Rider duvet and watching Labyrinth fifteen times conducive to a balanced, future of mankind-y type personality? This is not irony, this is retreat.
This particular brand of youth nostalgia seems to have leaked into all sorts of things. Every little unwashed crevice of the 18 – 30 is now drenched in ironic past stumbling. Groping around in an audio-visual charity shop, at night, in sunglasses, without any eyes. Take London’s clown fest of an East End, or indeed anywhere within puking distance of an art school. The shop windows are wormholes, rectangular, day glo portals sucking time and rational thought back into the late 80s – early 90s. Seemingly, juxtaposing a He Man figure and a shoe is the perfect way to extract £80 from any unsuspecting twenty something. These shops are bizarre, creepy places. I understand vintage fashion, looking back and picking the best bits seems to make some old fashioned kind of sense. However, we now see the pillaging of the past for pillaging’s sake. Not because the clothes make you look better but because they are patronisingly funny. This is not fashion, this is coating yourself in layers of childhood. You may as well travel back in time, rip off your own seven year old arms and sport them as leg warmers.
The essence of vintage, discontinued lines, and backwards looking past times are changing a context. Standing in a bus stop dressed as Anthony Eden’s sharper looking cousin means a whole lot more now than it did then. Not because it makes me all gooey inside, I wasn’t anywhere near the stop in question, it’s just an original alternative to buying your suits in Moss Bros. Whereas, throwing on a purple shell suit and a Global Hypercolor tshirt and playing an Atari ST until your eyes bleed is culture for irony’s sake or, as I would suggest, for familiarity’s sake. You can bellow all you want about postmodernism and rediscovering pilled up box dancing as a misunderstood art form but in reality you are just clinging to a more comfortable time. A time when you didn’t have to worry about art exams, how to pay the rent in your warehouse / wank space or how to get on the guest list for that club… you know… the one shaped like a shoe (Old Mother Hubbard’s, 101 Old Street). It’s the cultural equivalent of clamping your chops firmly around your mother’s breast and not letting go until it all looks safe outside i.e. your late thirties.
But is it merely the recycling time lag catching up with itself? Clothes wise, this could arguably be the case. The indie scene in recent years has prided itself on introducing forgotten looks back into the Zeitgeist. There were the flares, Fred Perry and zip up tracksuit tops of the 90s and the tight jeans, new wave hair and possibly new rave twats in the 00s; the reference point slowly catching up with the present. Possibly. But I don’t remember listening to Television when I was seven or rocking out to Talking Heads in line for Laser Quest. But, you do remember listening to 2Unlimited on Now 20. You do remember playing Chucky Egg, fighting with Scorponoc and wearing a bum bag. You can’t seem separate the reference point from the memory.
So, I should sit here in my reclinable sitting machine and despair? How did it ever get to this? There is no hope! Pull the plug, cave my sallow skull in with a calculator watch. But, no. Like any self respecting dead man walking, I have a Bono full of patronising advice. Leave well alone, youth rebellion. Nostalgia is not meant for you. You have no place hiding under the duvet with the lights out, there’s no room in here. In twenty years the vintage shops will be empty. The East End a ghost town. There will be nothing left. The whole process will have collapsed in on itself unless you can figure something out for yourselves. Childhood was shit. Forget it. Move on. Get down to your practice rooms and throw out your sirens, dummys and glow sticks. Give us something else to be pissed off with that we don’t remember from last time.