Sunday, October 31, 2010

another council tenancy < slight return >

So. Here we are, then. Surrounded by a jumble of unopened boxes still, the lingering itch from a hastily amputated limb.

We packed the parachute before we leapt and slammed into the ground running.

The pregnant one rode out ahead of the marital bed, while I scuttled back and forth between floors and jettisoned all that seemed feasible. We reunited amidst a coil of soldering wire and commenced our tenancy before the school bells sprang a chime.

It took three weeks for an engineer to arrive and connect our phone. Another seven days before a replacement in overalls could be dispatched to correct the overlooked fault.

The line had shredded in its yellowed plastic jacket some time in the previous forty years. Between telegraph pole and bedroom window. And while the signal was intermittent, my ire at placing calls cloaked in crackle and drag was anything but. In these days of fibre optic cable - telecoms cabinets on every street corner - I had assumed those slowly rotting timbers were surely decorative. The second engineer resembled a hungover Glen Campbell in hard hat karaoke as I watched him emerge from the foliage by way of a steel ladder.

One clear October day before the ritual carving of the pumpkin.

Well. The DSL lamp is awake and constant now. Touch wood. The connection is made. It is altogether quieter out west here on the river. Too quiet, perhaps. Though the soundproofing is dreadful, it is as if our neighbours have adapted to this intrusion on their privacy by bedding down shortly after 10PM. If one strains one's ear - even marginally - one can follow a whispered conversation almost word for word. The floorboards squeak above our heads; below our feet.

I find myself pining at times for the dysfunctional pattern of muddling by on the 22nd floor. Insulated by concrete. The asbestos which erupted in a mushroom cloud when they brought our sibling crashing to its knees.

We snuck back on the subway to watch it coming down. They evacuated our old building, of course, but I spoke to a neighbour who barricaded himself in bed and rolled one fat one after another. Just to brace himself against the bang.

The klaxon sounded as we rode the escalator up to ground zero.

We were a street away when the detonators blew, three in quick succession. Shakin' Street. The MC5. The dust was all enveloping. It followed us as we crossed back over the river and clung to ligaments along the bridge and burrowed down into our throats.

Our noses were furred. The children's hair prematurely grey.

Overnight, I developed a hacking bronchial cough; aggravated by my digging into the floorboards at our new address with a ridiculous detail sander fit for windowsills and skirting boards at best. And the cigarettes. Always the cigarettes. Taxed to the butt from recession through depression.

The staple diet of the institutionalized and soon to be interred.

I will get used to the sudden quiet, I expect. Already I am lulled by it on early mornings when the rain falls like rustling paper where once it stuck like an angry slap. A wet towel or a razor strop.

The rest is likely errant nostalgia. A character defect.

Vic Godard: vocals;
MarkBraby (previously Sidi Bou Said): bass, acoustic guitar;
KevinYounger (Armitage Shanks): guitar, piano; organ;
GaryAinge (Felt/Gokart Mozart): drums, percussion.

Special Guest: Paul Cook on drums and percussion;
Guest Backing Vocalist: Simon Rivers.

Recordedby Jon Clayton at One Cat Studios South London,
Mastered by Dallas Masters.
Mixed and Produced by Jon Clayton and Vic Godard.

The ‘We Come as Aliens’ Tour kicks off with a couple of dates in Catalonia on 8th October,
The John Peel Festival Koln on 23rd, then Munster, Berlin, Hamburg,and Hanover 4-7 November.
Candy Apple red glass globe shade available from SeaGullLighting for $51.99,
Subway Sect
's "We Come As Aliens" for considerably less.

SUBWAY SECT: OUT OF OUR ZONE from "We Come As Aliens" CD / Ltd Edition Vinyl (Overground Records / GNU) 2010 (UK)


Your driver said...

Ib, the internet has not been the same without you. Welcome to your new home.

ib said...

Thank you, Jon. I am still vaguely disorientated, but at least we have made some headway here and there.

The change was a long time comin', but when it came knocking it seemed to sweep us all along without too much complaint.

The walls and floorboards are the worst of it. A chore. We put a couple of pumpkin lanterns out on our veranda this evening in time for a trickle of trick or treaters. Guisers, as we used to call them. Before we became so thoroughly Americanized.

Well. All right. Any peanuts we have left over we can feed to the squirrels.

Brushback said...

Welcome back, even though I have only a faint clue as to the problems you're describing. The old apartment was leveled? The new house has a faulty wire? Excuse my curiousity about these matters, and my lack of sense in figuring out anything that isn't completely literal.

ib said...

Don't vex on it. It's so convuluted a story, it's a wonder anybody can make head or tail of it.

The block which was levelled was the one just adjacent to our old place. Of four twenty-three storey apartment blocks, there is now only one left standing. We would be there still, but that we got the offer of a move out of the area; to a three bedroom tenement flat on the other side of the river.

Now. Our new home is a big improvement for us in many ways, but it was in fairly appalling decorative order. It is a fairly old building but structurally sound. I intend to repair the floor myself, just to avoid them cutting into the boards with and laying huge swathes of MDF floating between the joists. I did the same thing in my old place.

The new place was recently rewired, but we were forced to pay handsomely to get our phone line connected. And wait 21 days for the privilege. They led new cable from just inside the window to an existing master box in the hall, but the engineer who laid in the copper wire had not detected than the old cable outside the house was too decrepit to sustain even a healthy telephone signal, to say nothing of DSL. As it was, I had to argue vociferously with the telephone company to get them to send out a second engineer. Their remote tests could allegedly detect no fault on the line.

The second engineer arrived and when he checked the outside cable at entry point it sheared away in his hands. The wiring had shredded over four decades and some very btittle insulation indeed was all that was holding it together to carry any kind of signal.

Confused ? You won't be.

Yes. My life is like rerun of Soap.


Welcome back.
Joyous Samhain.
You're welcome for the Buk.
Sanding the floorboards, very domestic. Three bedrooms must
be fantastic for yer crewe.

Brushback said...

21 days to show up, we get that here, too (U.S.), though it's usually the cable TV company that's involved.

ib said...

A very domestic Samhain, indeed, NØ. We even had a few rust red leaves blown in against our front door. Almost suburban. Very John Carpenter.

jonder said...

I'm curious about the "hungover Glen Campbell". Is your telephone service privatized, or was he a lineman for the county?

Tim said...

The news is good in SF today, mostly. Weird shit in the Castro last night, nothing much happened at all. The cops "FORBADE" any boisterous happiness because of fear of violence in the streets. They did it last year too, I hear.I find it suspicious, of course, because thats my nature. I like the way you write, man. It's pleasant and relaxing to read. Are you in Scotland? I admire the Scots, they never surrendered. That didn't work out for a lot of people I know as well as myself, but I love a good fight. Nice to meet you.

ib said...

Since you raise the point, jondernethica, it occurs to me that this is stirring the hornets' nest. Given our coalition is bent on steering us back towards the dark reign of Raygun & Snatcher.

BT (British Telecom) was once our Ma Bell. While they held the monopoly on line rental and service, the company was a nationalized industry. The people owned it effectively, like the railways, the NHS and the post office. A whole raft of industries.

Then they sold it. And the people fell over themselves in the stampede to purchase tiny shares in something they already owned. Through taxes.

Big fucking deal.

Now there is BT Retail, which leases the infrastructure to a plethora of competing business. Including BT itself, and Virgin Media.

All the line work and installation is done by Openreach... Why, that would be BT, in case you were not paying close attention.

So. Our "hungover Glen Campbell" possibly started his career as a lineman for the county, but the insignia on his shirt has changed so often he probably has a hard time even remembering who pays his salary.

Either way, you have to pay top dollar for any services, and if it's broke nobody wants to be accountable.

The stitch you up in an 18 month contract, and fob you off with a call centr in Mumbai.

ib said...

Likewise, Tim.

Yes. That's Glasgow, Scotland. Not Kentucky. Although I have a weakness for bourbon, and rye over barley at that.

Relaxed ? In the flesh, I tend to twitch and perspire like a motherfucker. From a face like sour mash.

Suspicion is generally a fine direction to start in from, I feel. A bit jaundiced, maybe, but better that than gullible. Just look at the Massacre of Glencoe.

Löst Jimmy said...

Belated house warming greetings and a'that
Hope all is settled in the new abode now.

ib said...

Thank you, Löst Jimmy. We're getting there, but at a snail's pace.

And the neighbours, always the neighbours... this time directly below.

Another Chav. This one with a penchant for belting out "The Sash my Father Wore" at regular intervals between 3 and 4AM, and racking up the full size pool table in the bedroom directly underneath my son and stepson's while his inebriated pals whoop their way along the hall to spew their ring.

More of this, maybe, at some later date. If you have the stomach for the ritual whingeing.

Löst Jimmy said...

ib, it is the floor beneath me here as well. The present incumbents not as bad as the last lot who partied like it was 1999 on day/night basis, the front door was revolving, the regular infighting and for some reason they seemed to have a penchant for heavy garlic use for it regularly wafted up through the floorboards here - a strong odour to hide other things perchance?
Or perhaps a fear of vampires

ib said...

Löst Jimmy, I am glad you are rid of the last lot. Things have gotten so bad, I very nearly went down there one evening armed with a gun metal wrecking tool. Thankfully, I desisted.

Whovever promoted the idea that noise always travels down was an imbecile. That, or a shit for brains half wit lurking under the floorboards.