First off, I just finished reading The Sirens Of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut. It is the third of his books that I have read, and I think that it may be the best book by anybody that I have ever read. It is right that I read it now, as it pulls together all the things I have been thinking seriously about this past year (and my whole life, to a less concentrated degree). All the stuff that my new album is about. My Dad gave me the book for Christmas, and I am grateful to him. Here follows a cautionary tale.
Ten years ago, I was living in Birmingham. One day, I was walking up New Street, having just stolen a bottle of Coca Cola. It was the last time I ever seriously shoplifted, I think. Everything looked like someone had whacked up the contrast in Photoshop. The sky shone bleached white, and a light rain began to fall. I raised my hand to feel the little goblets of water soak into my newly-shorn head, and felt a little bump, just to the left of my crown. I fingered it, curiously, and sometime later, perhaps, weeks, or years, I imagined it to be a little lump of cancer. I didn't mind. I was young, and invincible.
Over the years, it remained - a little lump of reality in my make believe, happily blurred existence. I never thought very hard about much at all, nothing so real, so blatant and obvious and physical as my lump. Sometimes I would feel it, and be reminded of my mortality. I didn't mind too much. All it did was make me wary of shaving my head, but I did that too, with some regularity, until 2004. That was the last time I shaved my head (and my top lip, come to think of it). Sometime between then and now, the lump grew a little, enough to disturb me. If I pressed it very hard, it would squish down, and give me a little headache.
In the Spring of 2007, I walked into my local doctor's office, and registered myself. I have been to see a doctor once, perhaps, twice since I was a young boy living with his Mum and Dad in North Wales. They took my name and address and gave me an appointment to see a doctor. On the day I was due to find out what the lump on my head was, my Dad was to find out from his doctor what the shadow on his lung was.
In the dawn of the last Summer, I went to the doctors. The doctor looked at my head for a split second between reading his emails and rearranging some pens he had in a mug on his desk, and idly told me it was a Something-iscious Cyst, and nothing to worry about. I could leave it there if I wished, or I could have it cut open and removed, in a month. I wanted it removed, and I was too ashamed to say that "c" word out loud.
On the same day my Dad found out that the shadow on his lung was not cancer.
On the day that I was due to have the cyst removed, the same doctor told me that I had a kidney infection, and I was admitted to hospital. Later they decided I had pneumonia. After I got out of hospital, I never went back to the doctor's to book another appointment to have my C word removed. I didn't want to talk to any doctors. And I was still very ashamed of my imperfection.
On the Friday night just passed I drank a few large whiskeys and made a song, while my girlfriend attended her office Christmas party, which they hold in January because they are contrary, and when she got home we listened to Jeres play some of his songs and drank a little more. My girlfriend went to bed, and presently, I joined her. I lay next to her warm, softly breathing lushness, and began to skirt about the edge of dreaming. I felt my lump begin to throb, and colours, purples and reds and greens flickered about inside my eyelids. I became aware of what it was I had to do. It seemed perfectly reasonable at the time.
I got up, put on my pink towel dressing gown, and went downstairs to the bathroom, where I found my many-bladed shaving razor, and to the kitchen, where I took a handful of Party Ice from the freezer. I went to my studio, and put the ice in the red and white New Era fitted baseball cap my girlfriend bought me back from New York last year, and put that on my head. Then I took apart the razor, took off the hat, and, holding one of the blades between thump and forefinger, attempted to hack out the lump from my head.
The razor cut my thumb and my finger.
I mused on this for a little while, red and green and purple still dotted about my vision. On my desk was a pair of pliers. I took the pliers, gripped the blade with them, and stuck it into the lump at the back of my head. I beamed to myself as I felt the blade go into the bump, deep into the middle of it. I pushed hard with the pliers, cut through the back of the bump, then straight out and through the top of my head, SLICE to the front.
I said, "oh shit," dropping the pliers, and felt the top of my head. My hand came back wet and garish with blood. It looked much like it does in cheap TV drams. Fake. Red. Amazing.
Then it started to pour out of my head with frightening intensity. It streamed down the front of my face, and didn't stop. It poured off of the ends of my hair. I grabbed a glass from the foot of one of my arm chairs, and it poured into that. I said, "oh shit."
"Oh shit," I said.
I said, "Oh shit."
I saw myself in the mirror next to my desk. I looked amazing. I was covered in blood. I looked like something off TV. It poured down my chest. I got my phone - my new phone, my first cameraphone - and took photos of myself and all my blood. The photos looked nothing like what I saw. They looked like the pictures you take of sunsets.
I went downstairs and stood in the shower, hoping for it to stop, for the water to go pink, then clear, like when you dye your hair. The water stayed red. The blood stubbornly refused to stop. Didn't stop. Still it poured.
I woke my girlfriend up, and she looked dreamishly up at me, and her face collapsed into awful confusion. But she woke up properly soon enough, and stuck a huge wad of toilet paper on my head, and applied pressure until the bleeding stopped, and the next day she took me to hospital and the doctor laughed a great deal, and said that I had made his day, and glued my head back together. I was amazed that they had glue for putting people back together nowadays. Truly, I thought, this is the future.
So. What did we learn?
Do not be ashamed of being imperfect. Do not attempt drastic self-surgery when you don't have to. Most people know this stuff anyway. I am not sure what it is that makes me do dumb things like that. I would like to say it's my inquisitive nature, but that would be giving myself far too much credit.
THE WINNERS OF THE AKIRA THE DON WORKING TITLE COMPETITION!
The winners, in no particular order, are:
Mark, for Thriller 2 Neko, for The Hermit Crawls From His Cave And Shouts "TITS!" Lacey, for Ten Better Reasons Wonchop, for Akira The Don Vs The World Bloodred, for World Piece
Congratulations to the lot of you! Email me some photos of your fine selves and I will draw you a crappy avatar. Hurrah! And congratulations to the rest of you for your fine brains! There was some brilliant titles for things in there, that will blatantly show up somewhere, at some point, as they are now tiny little wisps of steam amidst the giant cloud that is the collective human consciousness. I would drink to that, but I can't be bothered to go to the kitchen, and it's nearly 4 am. GOOD NIGHT!