Saturday, December 5, 2009

kick it over weh

Disconcertingly, I remember well when those representatives of the Gideon Society turned up at my high school to distribute copies of their Holiday Inn paperback to my entire year. Now. I have never been much of a practising Christian, let it be known, but for some reason I recall being somewhat enthralled at the occasion.

Aged 12, it was something of a preemptive David Lynch moment. Pitched betwixt the holy and the unholy, I followed the train of 'students' as we marched leadenly down onto the stage to shake hands with that liver-spotted brigade. I might have even been grateful. My family did not possess a bible, seemingl
y, and I was curious to take it home and skip straight to the Book of Revelation.
I had already swallowed my fill of that Old Testament shit at Sunday School as a wide-eyed sceptic in elasticated mittens, but I admit was curious.

The elderly man who passed me my copy seemed vaguely haunted. His eyes appeared clouded and crystalline at one and the same time. Of course, I was expecting the faint waft of malt whisky but all I caught was breath mints.

At twelve years of age I could smell a rat.

I wondered if that Naugahyde bound volume had sufficient power to ward off vampyres. Or if a flotilla of vodka might strangle the stench of garlic.

In hindsight, he probably ran straight as a dye. My memories are no doubt fallible.

In any case, I kept that Gideon's bible for years. I delved into it lat
e at night, an unlit cigarette clamped between my teeth, and I often wondered what might prompt one to engage with that society. To my uneducated mind they seemed every bit as esoteric or stained as the Rosicrucians.

Freemasons and geometric trinities. Straight lines from 'a' to 'b'.

There are no f@ckin' straight edges in nature.
Here is the Westway version of the Willi Williams classic 
alluded to previously. The ghost of Far I hovers.

THE CLASH: JUSTICE TONIGHT / KICK IT OVER from "London Calling" Maxi 12" (CBS) 1979 (UK)


Your driver said...

Nice post but, dammit, you reminded me of something. I thought "I'll have to post that song for Ib." By the time I got to the end, I couldn't remember what I was thinking. As an occasional member of the Anglican Communion, I don't go to church looking for straight edges or easy answers. It's mostly a way of acknowledging the fact that I just don't fucking know.

ib said...

The last time I stepped foot in a church was at a friend of my son's communion. There is so much theatre in the Catholic Church, but I remain unconvinced.

I have never been baptized. My soul - it would seem - is doomed to wander in purgatory.

Well. As Groucho Marx said:

"A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five."

I have some respect for baptists and snake handlers and speakers in tongues. The closest I have ever come to a religious experience was through my parttaking of acid and - more so - psilocybins. A Eucharist it would be shameful to belittle.

It's been a while. I have not quite lost my faith, but like you I just don't fucking know.

Carlos Castaneda sold a better line in that kind of shit so far as I am concerned, "Journey to Ixtlan", in particular. If I wanted religion I'd devise my own rules, and you can't make that kind of shit up.

I looked into Ouspensky and Gurdjieff as a youth, I looked under tables. I spent even more time sitting at the bar and studying the optics. I would not be the first to confess that the bottom of a glass held no discernible answers.

Tasted good though. For a time.

Your driver said...

Hah! I remembered the song! Check with me later this weekend.

WV is sphomit, which sounds like vomit, but so much more descriptive.

@eloh said...

I'm down here still fighting my own demons, real and imagined, to just write a promised blog entry. If I'm going to tell my story, then I need to fucking tell it...warts and all.

My journey as a Christian, is really a very important part. I can see where that wide eyed five year old you speak of remains a part of us.

I have to come back later for the music, as I always "save it" for last. I'm like Jon, if I don't say it now, I'll forget.

anto said...

the funny/tragic part of christianness for me, as a chap raised an irish catholic, is the lack of delivery. devote, as i was, until the age of 16, i was late to spot the lie. but man when i seen it, it hit home. politics, commerce, media, they all have a huge amount of that same lie present, yet religon is the one with the biggest gaping hole. faulty as the others mentioned are, there's something in them which keeps you interested if not involved, religon (and i know its not an option for the believers) delivers nought but blind hope and presumably, as i haven't felt it for yrs, a sense that maybe we'll be alright.

thats something we control, not our gods.

acid only made me laugh and enjoy music loads. but, like religon, i had to call it a day. unlike religon, i remember that time with fondness and joy.

keep it coming ib. I missed that previous mail about mascis so thanks for prompting me. i could prattle on for yonks about him and watt and other stuff. who needs religon.

Löst Jimmy said...

I have similar memories of the Gideon handouts, in fact like you I was somewhat enthralled by the occasion perhaps because it was most rare to receive a freebie from School.

ib said...

Yes. I refrained from my usual cynical reasoning that they were simply there as part of a recruitment drive.

Any time I've been in a hotel room, one of the first things I do is sneak a look in the bedside drawer. I'm always vaguely disappointed if there isn't one there.

The Hare Krsnas might be tempted to leave a copy of the "Bhagavad Gita", but you can depend on them to ignore the 'do not disturb' sign and come knocking on your door at three in the morning to harass for some change for a bottle of milk.


I have rolled a joint with a page from every Gideon's Bible in every mo/ho-tel room I've ever stayed in that had one. Not in a sacrilegious way, but in a celebratory, memorial way. That's my take on religion. I'm a bleeding Buddhist after all.

ib said...

Well. It beats wiping one's ass on it.

And it is way more pure in the spirit of recycling.

Your mentioning this brings to mind a story. There is a theatre company near here which for many years was Glasgow's Transport Museum before they moved it to the West End. Willem Dafoe did some New York Studio workshops at it in the early 90s, I think.

Anyway. Volunteers at the Tramway have worked over the years to build a kind of Zen Garden at the back. It is a nice space and the kids have always enjoyed it. Long before the indoor smoking ban was put in place, it was our habit to sit out with a glass of wine or two and let them run about.

It would be remiss of me to point out that since it is a theatre company there have always been plenty of twee characters about. It has never bothered me any.

The garden has a nice feel to it and has the spirit of a public park.
Once in a while you might see a gardener out there running a rake over the gravel or picking up the odd piece of debris.

It has always been my habit to carefully retrieve my dog-ends and dispose of them in a big metal dustin before I leave. This I do in any park, but the act of observing the man with the rake is a subconscious reinforcement.

So. A couple of months back I stopped in there on my own after visiting the dentist. It was late afternoon and bar was wholly empty except for a young asian girl in her twenties. She ordered a glass of wine and stepped out to a table with a book.

"Can you smoke out here ?" she asked me.

"Of course, " I said, and wandered off to sit on the long wooden bench running alongside the gravel trench. It was a pleasant afternoon. I nursed my own glass. Presently, I took out a cigarette and lit it.

I was about an inch in when a young woman in dungarees appeared and hopped onto the concrete ledge just behind me. Se was about eighteen or so. She sat there cross-legged with her face turned a little theatrically toward the sun. She had a little skipless hat perched on her head.

She frowned.

"You can't smoke in the garden," she said.

I looked at her. "Of course you can," I said. "We are outdoors."

"Yes," she allowed. "But this is a zen garden. Many people come out here to contemplate. Besides, it's not just disrespectful to Buddhists. There are people who come here of diverse ethnicity and religion."

She spoke with a pronounced English accent. As she said it, she glanced pointedly at the young Asian woman scrabbling to extinguish her own cigarette out of sight beneath the table.

"What do you mean ?" I said. "I am a Buddhist. A Glasgow Buddhist. Virtually every Buddhist I know smokes."

"No they don't," she corrected me. "Buddhists don't smoke."

"Of course they fucking do," I retorted. "Muslims; Hindus; Sikhs and Christians. We are not in fucking church."

I was getting riled in spite of myself.

"Listen," I said. "I just spent two pounds fucking fifty on this glass of house white. It tastes like piss. I am going to finish my damn cigarette. I've been coming here for years and you are the first person who has ever had any issue with my smoking or not."

The asian girl seemed aghast. The girl in the dungarees appeared delighted.

"You're upsetting the other patrons," she told me. "If you continue like this you will have to leave."
raised gravel where
I did, but not before finishing my cigarette. I did not enjoy it any. I was so incensed I left the butt curled up on the raised gravel where my foot scrunched it out.

"You're not a Buddhist," she said to my back.

I don't know. Maybe I shouldn't have ended it by turning the other cheek. Maybe the whole situation went tits up as a result of my engaging with her in the first instance.

That's the thing with religion. When it catches on it starts a fire. More often by accident than grand design.

By the way, I enjoyed some of that Dubskam. Not all of it, but enough to propmt me to keep on digging out some of the older shit. Thanks, NØ. It is still on my hard drive. The Tar from NSS was even better. Ta, NØ.