After last week’s hard stroke entry, a diversionary divertissement apoplectique….
As friends and followers on social media will know, on Saturday I headed off to Glasgow for the Vinyl Factory‘s Independent Label Market. A few days before I set off, a map of the market was pasted on facebook. It was resplendent with booths for the inspirational Edwyn Collins’ and Grace Maxwell’s (and James Endicott’s) AED Records, Slam’s bangin’, four-to-the-floor Soma, the Delgados’ Chemikal Underground (home at various times to such Scottish legends as Mogwai, Arab Strap and Bis), and Mogwai’s own Rock Action.
That’s some heavyweight talent, so the map conjured an image of a golden Parthenon, to where a pantheon of gods in Kappa togas had descended from an indie Olympus.
Imagine my surprise when I negotiated the Glaswegian East End street market (Fancy some DVDs, pal?) to find that the room in the Barras Art & Design Centre where the event was held resembled nothing more than a medium-sized church hall. But it was a fun morning, nevertheless. The folks running the stalls couldn’t have been nicer, the deals couldn’t have been better, and I emerged with 9hrs and 35mins of indie goodness (and some postcards and a beermat) stuffed into a natty paper bag. This, of course, included Edwyn’s last long player.
This coming Sunday, I’m going to Dundee to see Lloyd Cole. It’s lovely to be consuming new Edwyn and Lloyd. I’ve been lucky to find the music of the artists of my youth addressing my changing concerns as I advance into my stroke-risk years. (Eh? Oh.) It’s odd to sneer at the Rolling Stones when they were instrumental in popularizing Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and the blues in 1960s Britain, and I get that, just because you’re older, you’re not averse to a little sugar or satisfaction, but there are different considerations and complications in that regard as age advances. And it’s interesting to hear how Lloyd, say, addresses that those issues. It’s not all spastic hand claps and dancing like a incontinent chicken, Sir Mick. (Come to Ye Olde Inn on a Saturday night to see my impression.)
Pop music isn’t the only art form primarily for the young and vital in which (fairly) mainstream artists are resetting their sights as the years pass. Mrs. Stroke Bloke and I recently saw Before Midnight, the last part of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise trilogy. Although the movies are separated by nine-year gaps in shooting and setting, it strikes me that they are as much one movie as The Godfather, Parts I and II. In this last visit to Céline and Jesse, “we are invited to measure our lives against theirs,” (Mark Kermode) and that’s a thought-provoking exercise.
Similarly, Hanif Kureishi popped up again in the Grauniad the other day. It turns out in reading the interview (it’s a thoughtful piece, notwithstanding the click-bait title), that the writer of My Beautiful Laundrette has developed another film “mostly concerned with a subject… neglected in the cinema, the lives and passions of older people, whose anxieties and desires, we found, were as intense, if not more significant, than those of the young.”
In doing so, the bête noire of suburbia has also developed some interesting thoughts. Particularly when he notes that the protagonists of Le Week-End have “no narrative they can agree on.” If there are two things apoplectic.me is interested in, they’re personal narrative and love. And strokes.
He meditates on Wilhelm Reich’s theory that “[a] full blast of pleasure, of orgiastic potency, would enable you to see you’d been living badly, or not, according to your nature,” noting that “numerous people have been awoken from relative slumber by the unexpectedness of love or sex, and by the sense of opening out to more life and possibility.” The danger being that sleepwalking through life can create unhappy people, and “[t]he unhappy are no good to anyone. The unhappy are dangerous.” Conversely, “[t]here are some people you can “realise” yourself in relation to, and they are worth searching out.”
I’m reminded of Dan Savage’s reflection, in the face of a bereaved young woman’s anguish, that our best lovers bring out the best in us, things in us that were already there. If you can find someone who can bring out these things in yourself, isn’t it worth both attempting to return the gift and remembering the ongoing potential for realisation and reinvention they may offer? Because while companionable love is a possibility, it may be a choice between maintaining the excitement, which sounds lovely (and, well, exciting), and becoming vinegary with resentment if we realise we have let that wonder slip away.
[“Nick and Meg go to Paris because love is the most considerable business of all, and they need to know what sort of relationships make life worth living, and, if they have a future together, what it might be like.”]
How do we achieve this in every day life? Isn’t it a matter of being aware of the importance of the issue each day, and not only when we (have to?) go to Paris like Nick and Meg in Le Week-End? Maybe that’s… not the secret, but a reasonable suggestion? Why not aspire to find a person who can help you realise the best of yourself? And perhaps more importantly, if you’ve already found the person who does that (at least for now), examine and appreciate — cherish, relish, and revel in — your shared love regularly. Even daily. If we talk to our lovers, as lovers, every day, it’s easier to build and agree on shared narratives that can make each person happy. Maybe it’ll save the effort of having to find someone else later.
You’ll enjoy pop music more, too. After all, would you trust Spandau Ballet?