Bournemouth notebook

May 10, 2013 § 3 Comments

2008BW0384

The weird retrospective wish to have been drunk more often, or at least to have been better at drinking, at all those gigs at 60 Million Postcards, the Gander, I-Bar, basement & house shows, the Portman (w/ its weird receding & dropping back room) filled w/ people I didn’t know. The perverse pride in remembering them at all.

*

How do we get through, resist, the geopolitics of class even as it interpellates us as pigeonholed products of its processes of unfolding contradiction? In Bournemouth the children of the middle class read Steinbeck & Marvell, leave for Russell Group universities & Goldman Sachs internships & never speak of it again. This seems one way: the production of a late bourgeois “optimism of the will” that regards everything not connected to what they are (as in Nietzsche’s “become what you are”) as the product of gaily misspent youth. Or sublate it into a lifetime in insurance, weekends on the beach (at least in season) & Chilli White on nights out. For the working-class & lower-middle-class, now excluded from the fractional future once open to them? The endless lapse back into estate life, or a lifetime of muddle. Reading Camus at Year 11 Sports Day; quoting Merleau-Ponty in the 6th-form debating club, face barely visible under a helmet of hair sprouting in all directions; Dostoevsky (Brothers KaramazovThe Possessed) in the beach hut; ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’ in the bookshop basement; giving her a record collaged w/ Plath quotations; solitary loops of Joy Division, Miles Davis, Pink Floyd, The Fall, Arthur Russell, GYBE. Only to discover what everyone else already knew: culture is something else.

*

The spiritualist pendant hanging in a window on my road – silhouetted dove as holy ghost against a radiates of orange, blue and yellow – recalling the church on Holdenhurst Road, whitewashed & gabled but with no other adornments apart from the sign offering “Spiritualist Marriage Services”. Tourists went by charabanc from Bournemouth in 1871 to see the Hordle colony of Girlingites, feted for their association with Lady Palmerston who held seances at Broadlands in Romsey. The Church of England never quite secured a grip on the town, in spite of the three massive Gothic revival churches built in the town centre, one Catholic & two High Anglican, perhaps precisely because of the town’s lack of connection with the Victorian intelligentsia, northwards in dreaming Oxford & London, who stood at the core of it, too risqué for the town’s solid bourgeoisie & too stern for delicate holidaymakers who wanted to keep away from louche & strife-ridden Brighton. While my parents moved from Hordle to Bournemouth in the early 80s, my aunt was in Lancashire, where miners, textile workers & dockers had been, en masse, part of spiritualism & theosophy in the 19th century; she consulted mediums about my grandfather. In the hospital the light was unbearable, a solidification of time’s impassivity.

*

In the Christchurch Road charity shops, a guy in a Reebok top & drawstring bag, swigging Costcutter energy drink, drifts from one to another asking whether it’s Christmas. In Hospital Radio Bedside, where the vinyl prices stay low, I buy a Deutscher Gramophon Mozart Symph. No. 39, the sleeve only slightly cracked.

*

In the Royal Arcade the Tibetan shop, where T. worked, has closed or been swallowed up by another New Age establishment. With the ejection of the vintage market – one of the few instruments for attracting cash-rich art students to the area – further deterioration is expected. The sole customers are those who normally mill around the post office (where I was denied a job after leaving 6th form, friendless) & the JSA recipients making a coffee last for hours in Cafe Nero. A man with thinning grey hair, a blue pullover & sandals slowly stirs one packet of brown sugar after another into his latte. The roof-panes are well-cleaned, the whole nothing like the translucent leviathans of Benjamin’s reveries. The record shop is shut; round the corner another cafe prepares to go bankrupt.

*

The antiques shop window is a china bestiary: cats, spaniels, bears, high-domed busts of Shakespeare. Its baskets with drifts of floral & chinoiserie porcelain prefigure hills of potsherds or broken vases on the low-tide shore at Greenwich. Years before, between a gutted house & a demolished bookshop (later turned, in a work of grotesque alchemy, into flats for local property mogul Dave Wells), I rooted around in a skip for a broken-spined complete works of Shakespeare. Across the road next to the bus-stop cafe, trestle tables w/ Bret Easton Ellis, Graham Greene & James Kelman for 50p amid the Dave Eddings & C++ manuals.

*

A certain genre of detail at once binding writers to & distancing them from whatever it was they disappeared into the vault of the past to become what they are, in Peckham or Williamsburg. I’m thinking of something like Christian Lorentzen’s Boston piece or any number of New Inquiry pieces mentioning in passing the author’s teen drinking habits or listless joyriding or Kriss Kross posters. They both mark & dispel authenticity, conjuring up a past life that hangs around the author-function like an alluring aroma while wafting away its substance & image. That it isn’t that easy for those with a mainline to the culture’s other images, cut from their reproductive supports, is a never-occurring point.

*

In May 1988 ‘Theme From S’Express’ is number one, former Go-Gos guitarist Jane Wiedlin is at number twelve w/ a song I didn’t hear until yesterday. In October 1988, in the now-demolished Boscombe Hospital a couple deliver their only son; the Wee Papa Girl Rappers are at number eight, Inner City’s ‘Big Fun‘ at number eleven & hands vibrate the air, cousins to Deleuze’s “proletariat of legs”; the next day, a Sunday, the charts carry the last letter of the second summer of love.

*

Lightheaded from lack of sleep. Unable to read, to listen, for train-rumble. A summer between home & London, montages of weather. Purling darkness, pounding wind, riots of cloud. “Smoke, rain, abulia.” At the Twombly & Poussin exhibition in Dulwich, talking to R.: “you have no idea just how unbearably boring Bournemouth is, how stultifying.” She turns – of course even lovelier in profile – & walks to look, maybe, at The Arcadian Shepherds.

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