Flood in Burnley


I wake up and look out of my window and something is different – the bands of silvery grey are twice as big (the road up to the park and the pond). The trees are gyrating to gales and it’s almost like they’re waving at me. Heavy lashing rain swathes horizontally. It’s flooded. Cars are turning back. I’m not even thinking about going to the ranch.

It’s just before 10 and it’s rare that I’m up this late but then I didn’t go to bed until 4 so it’s OK. I’ve reached an age where my parents’ generation would be thinking about a caravan in Arnside or a holiday in Benidorm. That was never my thing. I played guitar in a punk band. I could reasonably be playing gigs in a covers band entertaining the over 60s of Barnoldswick but I’m not.

I’m still playing guitar in a punk band playing fresh original stuff and that’s probably as cool as fuckety-fuck can be. The difference is that never once over all these years, did I flinch from sticking to the plot. It wasn’t anybody else’s plot, it was my plot. Punk rock taught us to peer between the cracks and that’s what I did.

I saw simplicity in the complicated and I saw bits of the future that all came true and all along I was right. Nothing fancy. Just the glaringly obvious. Grow your own food, because the day will come when cunts will conspire to take away access to clean food for people like us. Make your own music. Make your own art. Keep believing. Keep trying and one day it will all come good.

One of Don Juan’s themes is impeccability. If you believe in something don’t just do it well. Do it impeccably. Once you see the bigger picture, you realise that there’s just no slack for not doing things properly. Do it right. Down to the last- and most-minute detail.

That attitude has made me lonely. There’s a hair’s breadth difference between aspiring for impeccability and being a control freak. Even now, not a single person I know gets the connection between shovelling the horse muck to grow the food and making a hit record. That’s fine. Just me and the trees.

Last night it all came good. I just did what I’ve been doing for forty years. Business as usual. Nothing different. I’m an observer and I record what I observe. I’m a coordinator and I can see how to bring the threads together and weave them into something bigger and better.

My thing is guitar playing and stringing little observational sentences together. It would probably die with me but it won’t because it’s passed to the next generation and that’s the real nub. ‘If love is the drug, you should see our back streets.’

I’ve lost track of the gigs that I’ve organised where no-one came. I should have given up long ago but I didn’t. I saw the bigger picture and somewhere a quiet voice kept saying ‘when the time is right ….

Today the time is right. Me and a couple of mates organised a gig. It didn’t quite go well. It went exceptionally well. It wasn’t ordinary. It was extra-ordinary. It was punk as fuckety-fuck can be. Any snapshot from the evening could have been from somewhere ultra-cool like New York. Oh what a stunning building with its stained glass roof. Guggenheim? Pompidou? No, it’s Burnley and I’m in the library. I’M IN THE LIBRARY! It’s not just me. I’m not being deluded. I didn’t imagine it. People came from: Australia; America; Amsterdam; Germany; London; Bath. (and Burnley of course).

They came to Burnley because that’s where the cool kids are. We did a lot of rehearsing. Me, Gaz, Sam, Tyler, Dawn, Leon, Eamonn, Rebecca, Michael, Khany, Boff and a few other people. Gaz was kind of the musical director. He was at every rehearsal with me.

It was quite exhausting but worth it. We might have a hit record on our hands. That’s because several people said you MUST record that song. Dawn put it very well when she did that little gesture with her fingers and said ‘a pinch of spice’ (meaning Leon’s addition to the mix). We have everything we need. The musicians. The music. The recording know-how.

The highlight and the thing that mattered most to me was seeing Inger. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. As beautiful as ever. My life would have been so much more fucked without her. We were almost children when we first met and her stoic wisdom kept me on track when I needed it most. We’d been going out for quite a while before, in my sludgy slowness, I asked her when her birthday was. Really? That’s a coincidence.

We had an after-party at Burnley’s new cool bar. It’s seriously cool. It’s where the cool kids will be hanging out from now on.

I was thinking after this, I’m going to disappear into the woodwork but that’s not going to happen. I’m certainly going to have a rest but then there’s stuff to do – a record to make, seeds to plant, horse muck to shift and so on.

I don’t like cats. Prob because I’m scared of them. They’ll scratch me or bite me. Louise started feeding Keith’s cat after he died. It’s a fat ginger. He lives in our back yard. It’s all her fault. He’s feral. I don’t understand why he’s unferal with me. Every day when I open the blind, he’s sat on the windowsill staring at me and he irritates me. On the odd occasion that I do stroke him, I get covered in cat hair. Yuk. He gets on my tits.

This morning, he’s drenched and bedraggled and staring at me. I go out and say ‘are you coming in or what?’ I lose patience and just pick him up and bring him in the house. After half an hour of wowing and remonstrating, he’s sat on my knee purring deeply.

Tyler’s just arrived. Tod’s flooded. The river has broken its banks.

In the library? Can you believe it? We made a cool newspaper with Casey’s photos and Boff and mine’s interviews with the first generation cool punk kids – the exhibition is on for a while and the newspapers are there for free – make sure you go and get one.


Sick of Being Normal at the library.