“She will piss fart a squirrel, defying all logic.” Caroline P has started speaking in this ridiculous, nonsensical 3rd person fashion. This, I assume at first, is because she is drunk on gin. However, after some time I begin to question this theory and wonder instead that this is merely the way she speaks nowadays. I haven’t seen her in over 15 years; I suppose a person can change a lot – though this is not my experience. Having said this, she is dressed as if from a Victorian chocolate box depiction, all pretty skeins of satin and silk, whereas she used to dress in black hemp and DMs. She wears pearls at her throat.
“Living by the coast can do that to a person.” This is Nick B. He appears, as ever, out of thin air. He is dressed as Orson Welles; an off-white two-piece and cream Homberg: it suits. He is replying to something, possibly CP’s statement or commenting on her attire, possibly my thoughts, possibly something I missed altogether.
We are all now stood on the sea wall of a vast harbour or pier. The tide rises very quickly and the water is soon around our ankles and safety is still quite some distance away. A figure emerges from the sea and clambers onto the green weed wall. At first I assume it to be a seal, but it is actually Mik T.
CP wants more to drink and instructs us to hurry. “Carry a torch, life touches us in many different ways.” The water is now at our knees and there is serious danger of being dragged from top the slippery wall. Whales bask on the swell. They blow jets of water into the air. Now there really are seals! They rush the wet rocks like cute dogs. They bark tiny barks and they snap ineffectually at our hands as we reach out to pet them. As the water threatens to take us all under, two oil riggers appear in a row boat and help us escape. They are very kind, but their language is strange; it rankles my ears!
We jump out of the boat onto the sand. We are in a sort of Brighton. There is a theatre that NB wants to visit. It is just across the street.
Joe Strummer is crying.
New Brighton is a wonderful city. This much I already know – having visited once before, the night Jo[e]-Anna died. Quivering palms still sleeve the bay road. The turquoise sea is a sparkling millpond and the morning sunlight splashes the windows of the pastel villas as the same old orange Beetle swallows the tarmac. There should be a billboard with a seagull stretched out like a W in flight, white scrolled typeface on sky-blue, Life in the afterlife is good.
But, like any city, New Brighton has its downtown, and here, soon, back from the seafront, life is cluttered and shadowed. The temperature drops and the angled, dark streets become tighter and thinner, more awkward to manoeuvre. The buildings tower to impossible heights, all ramshackle and shanty. They are built from sheet metal and wood scrap and possibly card. This is where the poor dead live; those that fell owing promise and apology. The air space echoes with gripe and the windows home little or no glass. Laundry hangs on the breeze from a cats’ cradle of wires strung overhead, barely drying and, broadly speaking, still grimed. The VW leaves parts of its pretty, orange paintwork on the apartment walls as the streets become almost impossible. The scratches are like sentences without any meaning.
People will offer all kinds of advice, but at the close of day, the road that you choose will be your own.