Thursday, 26 April 2012

I got a letter this morning.

There’s a long history of rock and the post office – a long history.

I had returned from university and found myself temporarily in charge of a red framed bicycle and post bag. My degree had been in Sociology and Communication Studies and wandering back into Goldsmiths’ to pick up my ‘award’ for best UK animation etc and explaining to my previous tutors where I was currently at I was met with the line – ‘well it is a form of communications I suppose – the post office’.

Yes thank you for the support – it was reminiscent of Casper receiving his careers advice. Still I had to leave the capital [Exit this Roman shell] at that time – I had those empty pockets and I couldn’t afford the beer.

I used to sing to myself when I was on the post round. Post rounds have that kind of freedom. I was living out a Bukowski phase of my existence. The round was a means to an end – the round was clouded in the rounds I’d had the night before.

Bagging up and off into the emerging morning – sometimes wide eyed from the night before or tired eyed from the weekend – that sense of camaraderie and then emerging isolation all thrown into one. Shouting out inanities as letters were thrown in racks and bandied up in elastic and then just you and your bike – riding to deliver the good, the bad and the ugly.

I used to get a whole heap of things through the post.

Having attempted to write [insightfully] about music on the page – and then thrust it on unsuspecting bowl headed youth at gigs and concerts – somehow my late night ramblings as to the power of The Impossibles to change the world or how the next Clouds release would bring down western capitalism had broken into the ether and people would scrawl letters and sellotape fifty pences to card asking for a copy from all over the world.

Letters with suggestions of bands and sounds – places to visit and voices that chimed with mine. It was an indie scene see? All wrapped together with staples and photocopies. It was the Post Office uniting minds and [teenage] dreams [so hard to beat] so that we felt part of a gang – a movement – a wave – even if we walked our sodden towns’ streets alone.

I didn’t by the way – I had friends – real ones.

But postmen – like me - would have to deliver these letters with scrawls about ‘that’s love ba ba ba ba’ or ‘see it glow and paint a rainbow’. Our own S.W.A.L.K as we borrowed Stephen Pastel’s words to give our ideas a voice. It was fun really. And inside these delicate envelopes came outpourings of independence – of fight and fury as we rallied against the world with our band allegiances proudly displayed on our [t-shirt] sleeve or in my case [my college folder – lever arch maaaan] You had to wait for a letter – a correspondence between two minds – feverishly trying to drop a new piece of indie news into a letter. Have you heard Dolly Mixture? Here’s a tape of my band – a friend’s band – my dad’s band. It was counter to all the NME blurgh – it was social networking without technology. It was different. We didn’t ‘like’ one another’s page see – we wrote letters to each other – if we disagreed – we either worked it out in ink – or stopped writing. No flaming or trolling for us. So sounds emerged slowly, with less fanfare. You could argue that it gave everyone time to make a decision about music – about selecting and rejecting – living with the listening rather than flipping and shuffling. You had a cassette from someone – they’d taken some time to tape it – it deserved a listen – a real listen – you were going to have to write back.

I ‘liked’ a page on Facebook this morning – and then had a quick skip through a ‘deep house session’ on Soundcloud that I was directed to from the page and haven’t really given any of it my attention. I left with little opinion. But when Stephen from Middlesborough wrote and asked again what it was I didn’t like about the tape he sent – I had to return and listen - form judgements and write down my reasons – perhaps this naïve correspondence of hurt feelings and the race to impress shaped my thinking processes – perhaps I just pause for thought sometimes.

You have to take a breath to read - to listen.

Which brings me to this – a simple song – that I discovered through a shared love of anoraks and bowlheads – or should that read rock n roll and anger. And of course Paul’s recommendations too. There wasn’t anything twee in digging The Pastels - it was about the real rock in roll. There’s that simplicity in all The Pastels songs – chugging guitars and heartfelt responses. Melodies that linger and race around your brain.

Stephen and Aggi making beautiful noise and shared cassettes and memories scrawled down on paper making connections.

They’re raising the price of the post. No more time to pause then.

Put away your pens.