I Don't Love Anyone.
not a review of the Belle & Sebastian record they titled Tigermilk

belle & sebastian

[café culture]

It feels like a lifetime ago that I was sitting in the café at the top of the city, drinking iced tea spiked with tequila, looking out to Haldon and into Jo's eyes. In some ways, I guess it really is.

The way time slips, or rather the way our lives slide around the way that time slips; this has meant two or more years of madness, two or more years of chasing dreams and moments that may never have existed in the first place, at least not outside of the innermost chasms of my headheart. The sounds that once dominated the days and informed on the feelings that suffused all waking seconds, these sounds have passed beyond the pale, have become wraithlike, mythic sounds. They have come to exist in the realms of the subconscious, always there, always able to emerge fully formed whenever the slightest input might arouse them. Etched on the psyche, these sounds are the sounds of love and loss, magic and feeling beyond reason. Everyone who breathed has had these moments. They are our sounds of music, our moments of Pop.

These are my moments of Pop. They envelope my world, make me what I am, have been, may yet be, may yet not want to be. These moments are brown eyes, blue eyes, smiles wider than the oceans of the cosmos and the scent that holds the promise of forever impossible possessions. These moments are deviations from the norm, are my norm, are what makes the way my world appear, make it appear so special. I wouldn't expect anyone else to understand.

[pictures on my wall]

The picture on the wall in the picture is of Jo, and the deep, dark despair is in the impossibility of connection beyond the expectations defined by the world at large, alone. Looking at the picture, and watching movements transform and coalesce into meaning, my meaning is that this is too hard to bear, that this is my created desperation, my imagined obsession sculpted into tangible form. I stand watching, reading words I once wrote through love and desperation, (and desperate love is always the only kind worth having), words that screamed out the contents of my hollowed out heart, words that carried the scent of petrified roses: these words of mine in the context of pages unmoved and lacking a passion I always imagined, imagine still, convinced of still. These words falling to the floor. Perhaps in the years that come the truth will prevail, my truth will come from the clouds of frittering and will anoint the eyelids of the world with kisses of gentle longing. Perhaps not.

No-one really cares.

[refrigeration keeps you young, I'm told]

The club is busy, but less so than usual because all the students have gone home for their extended summer. The décor is uninspired, banal, dingy. There are boys in the corner looking suitably intense and beautiful, their cheekbones catching the light from the bar and casting the shadows of infatuation. They are thin and hungry looking, wearing their worn suede jackets despite the height of summer, and their fringes like Roger McGuinn. I feel out of place already, already too old and waylaid with travels down avenues in my head calling for attention, attentions that leave me frustrated and weak. I drink my shot and lean against a wall, curling into myself, away from the noise of vacuous gestural guitars. If my friend Chris were here I'd tell him that I prefer the noise of desperate anxiety, the noise of internal confusion. I'd tell him that I prefer the noise that breathes fire and ice along the spinal cord, the noise that throws caution to the wind and escapes gravitational pull through sheer other-worldliness, but that by the very contradictory nature of such noise, is so very specially world-weary and world-affirming. It just depends on what, or whose, world you mean.

But of course Chris is not here, has not been here for so long, which means of course I am here alone and such things are just fine. So I get another shot, look into the eyes of strangers and wonder why we are here at all.

Of course the answer to that is obvious. We are here to pay homage, here to show allegiance, here to tell everyone who will listen that we were in it from the start, that we are the ones who know, the ones who count. It just seems strange that the ones shouting loudest are the ones telling the biggest lies, and the ones telling the beautiful truths are the ones with drowning whispers. And of course in the end it doesn't even matter, because next year there will be the same atrocity exhibition, with the same competition which the same people will win. The same people will applaud and the same people will die quiet deaths.

So it goes.

[fade out]

The knowledge that when moments have passed they are past, that they will not come again despite all the willing and wanting: it is this knowledge that makes me want to escape from view, to become invisible. It is the knowledge that it is only the essence and not the product that counts that makes me desperate to withdraw, to be distanced from the muddy rivers of distributed artifice.

All of which is being too harsh by half, but that's modern life for you, making out like the little details are the most vitally important elements that hold the whole mess together. The irony of which is of course that they probably are. It's just that today I don't need reminding of my fallibility, my fragility and my falsehoods. It's like the man said: Don't look back.

© Alistair Fitchett 1999.