I type from the thunderous sanctuary of a conservatory in Abergele, North Wales, upon which the pregnant Welsh skies are emptying with a great and vengeful ferocity. Indeed, it is rajjing it down, as we used to say bombing down the hill from Upper Bangor after school in the pissing rain on our way to buy (in my case rob) sweets from Woolies and swarm through the legendary Cob records like a blizzard of music-hungry teenaged locusts.
I hear Cob Records is shutting down, which is sad news (and not just because I was hoping they'd stock my album). I shed no tears when Reddington's Rare Records of Birmingham shut down, as it was a sweaty den of theives and charlatans, a rip-off factory selling hastily assembled "presentation frames", and ludicrously overpriced Radio Promo CDs, preying upon the ignorance and enthusasm of music lovers. Cob, on the otherhand, was that rarest of things - an excellent record shop, staffed by knowledgeable and friendly humans where many similar places had grumpy, rude, misogynist smart arses. I spent innumerable joyful hours in that warm, poster-wallpapered place, rifling through vinyl, flipping through CDs, swapping crap old cassettes I'd stolen from the bargain bin in Woolies for 99p slabs of sexy 7" vinyl. Sometimes I was accompanied on those post-school record shop runs by a pretty young thing called Charlotte, who on one occasion bought a bright yellow 7" by an English indie band called Shed Seven with no knowledge of them whatsoever because she though it was "pretty" and I'd assured her the band were "dead cool". I married that pretty young girl in London last year, and if only we could have been able to remember which Shed Seven song it was, that might have been our first dance. As it was we went for I'm Your Man by Loenard Cohen. So it goes.
(Charlotte just remembered that it was Going For Gold, which wasn't their greatest song, but added that she was with me when she bought Hometown Unicorn by The Super Furry Animals, which would have been prety glorious)
I also bought the ticket to my very first club night from Cob Records, for a princely £5, when I was 14 years old, and yesterday we drove past the site of said illegal escapades, the former Student Union, later rebranded as Amser (Time, in Welsh) and it had been unceremoniously bulldozed into the dirt, along with Theatre Gwynedd next door, where our school performed it's annual Christmas play, and I was once moved to tears by an all-Welsh langage performance of The Snow Spider.
We had less than an hour in Bangor, but we still managed to do some nostalgic sightseeing. We passed my first bedsit - as described in my song Security. We passed the church outside which I smoked my first joint - as described in a song I haven't written yet and pictured above. We went to Morrisson's, formerly Safeways, the scene of that arrest I suffered on the morning of my 15th birthday where I'd been shoplifting celebratory sweets - as detailed on my classic song Liverpool. One of the checkout girls in the Supermarket eyed me suspiciously, and I vaguely recognised her features from school, although she looked much older now, and was conspicuously devoid of Spark. I was most excited to visit the supermarket toilets, where as a teenager I spent many happy afternoons sat reading books I'd stolen from WH Smiths, instead of going to school. I once read half of Trainspotting in there, sat in a cubicle sipping on stolen Pepsi and munching my way through a great big bag of Woolie's fines Pick 'n' Mix, mouthing the phonetic Scottish to myself and dreaming of escaping to London and an exciting future or art and adventure.
Poetically, while I was visiting the scene of former crimes, my art was adventuring out there in the world of today, the glorious future of which I dreamed. H&M on Oxford Street were playing my music, righteous and well crafted blog sites were posting my music, and a brilliant musician from San Francisco was announcing an imminent release of music we will make together, over the seas, through the wires, bouncing off of satellites.
The first sign you see when your drive in to Bangor from a certain direction says BANGOR, and the second says CREMATORIUM. It was there that we assembled to say goodbye to my Auntie Pat. It was a beautiful service, which I spent much of gazing up at the rafters, thinking about how ace my Auntie at was, imagining her disembodied essence gazing down at the congregation, and how funny humans must seem to any and all former-and non-humans alike. We sang some hymns, which my wife did a much better job of than I, and afterwards we trooped up a hill near Pat's house in Abergwyngregyn, in the shadow of the Skyrimesqe glory of the Welsh mountainside, to a meeting room above a cafe where metal rimmed chairs framed a banqueting table covered with plates of bread and scones (which I pronounce sc-oh-ne, in case you were curious). Five generations of humans united by a common emotion drank coffee from delicate white cups, ate tiny triangular sandwiches and talked about those that they loved.
Godspeed Auntie Pat. You will be greatly missed, because you were Great.
While we were at Pat's Wake, Charlotte's old school friend Polly gave birth to a seven pound baby girl called Naomi .
What a world she has been born into! What wonders she will see!
I wish baby Naomi Ffion all the love in the world.
Joy to the future!