Leaning rakishly against the station wall waiting for my train home this evening I found myself seized by an odd compunction.  No, not one of those urges, the cold shower treatment is working just dandy there.

A woman walked past me, a little close for comfort, setting off my over-developed Spidey senses; I’m touchy about my personal space and I idly wondered if she was an alien, slightly hazy on our social protocols, impersonating us humble humanoids all the better to move amongst us and study our society.

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When I was little I had a notion that if I was taken by aliens in the night everything I was touching at the time would be taken too.  So, probably quite puzzlingly to my folks, I was often to be found surrounded by my favourite things in bed – my favourite piece of quartz, a pocket torch, my trainers, my penknife and watch, just in case.  I wasn’t frightened by the prospect of my inevitable alien visit, after all who else could they possibly want to bother with? I just wanted to be properly prepared.

I have a remarkably strong sensual memory of lying in that bed, touching all the things I would need in the next phase of my adventure.  The pattern of light around my door, the smell of the kitchen downstairs, the hardness of the torch handle against my hand under the soft pillow.  It’s all still in me, part of who I am to this day.

Today I found myself thinking that if our alien xeno-ethnographer was to freeze time, utilising some tricky alien chrono-ray and hear what I was listening to on my iPod at that moment, what it would teach them about our species.  In an extreme case would it be enough to save us all?

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Should we therefore only listen to the very finest, critically acclaimed, universally admired music at all times? mindful of our crucially important possible status as planetary representatives.  Would you want to be the jerk/jerkette responsible for exposing our extra-terrestrial overlords to {Insert name of really pants band of your choice here}, leading to all of our species being condemned as knuckle-dragging cretins and just far too infra dig to tolerate? it is a point worth considering.

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Me? I happened to be listening to Red House Painters ‘Have You Forgotten?’ when I was thinking these thoughts.  A beautiful lament for the simplicity of childhood and a delicately balanced kiss-off to a lover’s toxic friends.  To a wonderfully spare guitar soundtrack Mark Kozelek paints his vividly restrained pictures;

I can’t let you be, cause your beauty won’t allow me
Wrapped in white sheets,
Like an angel from a bedtime story

Mixing in Christmas memories, October leaves and childhood impressions along with sage advice (’cause your friends are fucked up anyway’), along with a sublime touch of steel guitar.

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I think any alien interlocutors would have to admit that humanity is capable of some depth of feeling and at the least can aspire to a tenuous, pithy reaching for beauty after hearing this gem.  Planet = saved.  You’re welcome.

Now I’m off to gather my treasures around me in bed.  Just in case, you understand.  I haven’t forgotten.

810 Down (Still).

PS:  I really need to invest in some Red House Painters on vinyl.

PPS: Now what they would have made of the Dickies ‘Banana Splits (Tra La La Song)’ that came next is another can of worms entirely.


20 thoughts on “Have You Forgotten?

  1. It’s sweet that your impression of what the aliens would do/want when they abducted you didn’t involve rude experiments on your person/mind… all the tinfoil hat-wearers in Roswell can’t be wrong!

    I don’t know Red House Painters, but I do know classic sf and I highly approve of the artwork chosen here. Well done! Except that lady’s chest on the cover of Search The Sky… the picture makes it look like her breasts are actually hotel desk bellhop bells fastened to her chest. Weird. Ring my bells, baby…

  2. Excellent. Just excellent. All very excellent. This made a bleary man smile. Thank you.

    Mark Kozelek used to be pretty special. I don’t have any Red House Painters on vinyl either, but I shall rectify that one day. The first self-titled album, Songs For A Blue Guitar and Old Ramon are high on the list.

    1. Thank you J – frankly I’m just impressed by your ability to type at 4am.

      The vinyl used to be frighteningly pricey but it was all reissued a while ago. I think they’re such a great underrated group, his voice is a thing of real beauty.

      1. Ha! Yeah – I’m fairly impressed that I made sense.

        They were a great band; completely agree. Do you like much of his solo stuff or Sun Kil Moon?

      2. Very nice. Online? I know of it, but can’t say Ive ever heard it. The Modest Mouse covers album he did (Sun Kil Moon) is very good. Do you like Modest Mouse?

      3. It was released as a RSD thing a couple years ago – it was only a CD in 2001.

        I’ve only heard a handful of MM tunes, but liked them all.

      4. That completely passed me by. One of the few good things about RSD right there.

        Modest Mouse are pretty smashing, though I haven’t really kept up with them since 2007 (I saw them during that tour with Johnny Marr and they were incredible).

  3. So much to enjoy here, Joe.
    The combination of humour and wistfulness, the deployment of the underused work interlocutor, the Pohl and Kornbluth book cover your and Ms 1537 obviously modelled for… And that 8mm film footage in the clip.

    1. Thanks Bruce, this was a little bit of inspiration after a tough week at work.

      It’s very kind of you and it is nice to know all my little touches are appreciated.

      Incidentally I watched Wales get beaten by your homeland on Saturday. I’m getting very used to that!

      1. It was something of an upset, wasn’t it? And I think they come up against the Mother Country next? To be honest, been paying more attention to the World Cup quals (which we scraped into by the skin of our Ecuadorian teeth).

        But don’t let sport divert us from the main game: I enjoy it very much when you write to a different tune. A similar (?) urge inspired the other blog I started (and even visit occasionally).

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