I LOOKED AROUND AND HE WAS GONE

We played at the Last Tuesday Society's Walpurgis Night on Friday. To my slight embarrassment, and possibly because of the German connection, until I saw Punchdrunk's extraordinary 'Faust' a couple of years back, I always thought Walpurgis Night was something to do with sausages.

Now we don't normally do club shows but we like Wynd and Suzette who run the society because they do interesting things. I suppose Walpurgis Night (which is actually at the end of April) is a kind of Norse Day of the Dead or Halloween and before the show I had the pleasure to meet and run the slides for Catherine Arnold who gave a talk on her: 'Necropolis: London and its Dead' (one of my favourite books about the city of recent times). Michael Nyman DJ-ed (yes, really) and Giles Abbott delivered a characteristically witty and potent story about Walpurgis. After the show a rather flamboyant Bacchanalia kicked in. My six months of sobriety have sometimes made such things a trifle difficult but these days they seem to lend an interesting, almost anthropological, perspective to the proceedings.

I liked the death-themed activities - particularly in a vault under London Bridge which always reminds me of the T S Eliot piece from 'the Wasteland":

"Unreal City
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many"


I find it at least, if not more, appropriate to try to write about death as to write about love these days. I always thought it was a rather strangely neglected subject in modern music - apart from the Goth and Metal stuff - which is often just a bit silly. My favourite example is probably 'Abraham, Martin & John' by Marvin Gaye. That's absolutely glorious and generally gets eyes moist in these parts. Do let me know your own favourites.

In the meantime here is a little thing from a private little show I did in the vault of St Pancras church last summer. We've done a few things in vaults of late and a friend secretly recorded it and sent it to me. I generally don't approve of men over twenty five with acoustic guitars - but I'll make an exception in my own case.

ANYTHING BUT LOVE

I used to share an apartment with my friend the writer Glen Duncan in Notting Hill before we moved to Clerkenwell. At that time he had written three novels almost entirely concerned with the ins and outs of Love, Life and Relationships and he became regarded as rather an expert on the subject. We used to be visited by various friends or members of our circle (and sometimes by relative strangers) who were suffering from the punctures left by Cupid's arrows or from scars inflicted by other gods and who were seeking what psychotherapists would call 'the talking cure'. Now I claim no particular expertise in these areas (as, to be fair, neither did Glen) because in fact, we ourselves been rather bruised and both had a quite shoddy record in the field.

Anyway, come they did to our sky-high flat far above the city and Glen, or the 'Doctor of Love' as I referred to him, would listen carefully to the details of the various predicaments presented. My role primarily involved being sympathetic in the background and providing tea - and occasionally tissues - as required. After any particular situation had been described, discussed and deliberated, he would pause to consider then lean forward from his armchair with steepled fingers and confidently give his prognosis:

"I think you need to get laid"

His interlocutor would always leave with a definite slight spring in their step - albeit also with a slightly puzzled air at having had the complexities of their dilemma reduced to such a simple solution. On being subsequently questioned regarding the universal application of his panacea, The Doctor would assert, not unreasonably, that there were few human condiitons such medicine couldn't improve. I suppose he was right.

Anyway, here is the original version of a song from that period.

Hope it works for you.