3:25am and awake anyway (that’s what turning on to my right side does) I heard the helicopter – previously seen as either a Puma or Merlin – passing over east-west. I read that we’re on, or rather below, air corridors Alpha 1 – previously Amber 1, which is nice, given this is the Amber Valley – and something called the Lichfield Corridor, which seems more military in nature and more likely to be the east-west path I seem to pick up on at night.
Two helicopters have gone over just now, but the sky, which was blue and clear at 7am is now one blanket milk-white, with nothing visible much above the telegraph wires where one of the two male blackbirds perches, planning.
Some bits of snow still hanging in the air. Opening line from a Wedding Present song, Octopussy, from Seamonsters. When I think of it I think too of a great mis-heard, on the same and wonderful (1991) album; the first line of Blonde, which for years I understood was ‘I just heard him in your voice’ – a phrase so getably Wedding Present, moreso for this collection of songs and befitting the call-and-response, the quick turnaround, of early-twenty-something relationships; the romangst in Harringtons and DM shoes. The real line was ‘I’m just some name in your book’. I played it now, it seemed in writing a world apart, but, sure thing, I can hear ‘my’ version clearly, clearer still.
Amongst other things, the Wedding Present make me think of laundrettes. I was reading an NME interview while waiting on my washing; the interview in which David Gedge responded to the observation that some of the songs on George Best end with, or fade to, crashing and thrashing guitars and whistling even, by saying that sometimes there’s just nothing more to be said. Stuck with me that exchange, in newsprint in a Reading laundrette, and I used it in a work situation some years after. But I was going to say that as the old laundrette in East Enders is cropping up frequently in current storylines (poor Dot’s demise) then I’m thinking of the Wedding Present more than I have done in a while.
One of the first things I did this morning, before looking up the flight paths, was to check when St Agnes Eve was. (It was back in January.) Thinking about Agnes, the butcher who lived here, and how Agnes means ‘lamb’, which feels right for her profession, and how beautifully that much is said by Principal Skinner’s mother, in ‘The Twisted World of Marge Simpson’ (The Simpson’s Season 8, Ep.11). A descendant of Agnes Winson came to this house by our invitation, and she told us that her older relatives remembered hearing the ghostly rattle of butcher’s chains in the night. We weren’t disrespectful, but we did laugh this off. Just the helicopters now.
© Steve Mitchell, Fisher Lane