There are a lot of decent guitarists about. In every town, every night, there will be at least one on a stage somewhere playing Stairway To Heaven or Voodoo Chile note for note and feeling very pleased with themselves. And many of them will think this makes them as good as Page or Hendrix.
But the truth is, there is a universe of difference between listen-and-repeat and feel-and-innovate. Anyone, with enough time on their hands to listen to a tune a million times and keep on practising for years (or, you could argue, an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of Les Pauls), can imitate Jimmy or Jimi. Sometimes very well, and sometimes earning a few quid in a covers band.
Only a true genius, though, will have the inspiration to write those riffs and solos in the first place. Only a truly great guitarist could write a tune with a guitar part like this. Only a truly great voice could accompany it. And only a truly great writing duo would dare to have lyrics about a favourite dog. And yes, the thump-a-long rhythm gives it a wonderfully rustic campfire feel. You can keep Stairway, that cliched overplayed overworshippped overlong epic. Bron Y Aur Stomp is the seminal Led Zep
At last, the third instalment of this new(ish) Fiction project.
And now, part three…
The hiss of the carriage door’s pneumatics and the glide of the mechanism which slid it open were engineered to be quiet, unobtrusive, as silent as the technology of the day would allow. But to Daniel, standing over Jennifer and carefully reaching for her bag, they were deafening. With a practised calm, he withdrew his hand, stepped away from her seat and as the train conductor walked through the newly opened door, Daniel was casually seated on the opposite side of the carriage, his eyes and his attention on the blackness of the tunnel.
“Tickets please,” the conductor announced. Jennifer snapped back awake with a snuffling grunt, and quickly coughed to cover her embarrassment at the unladylike sound. She pulled her bag to her across the seat and dipped her hand in the side pocket, smiling apologetically as she searched for her purse. “It’s in here somewhere,” she said, digging further. “No rush,” the conductor said. He turned to Daniel, recognised that he had checked his ticket two stops earlier – but hadn’t he moved seats since then? – and tapped his pen against his “Simon” namebadge, waiting patiently.
Jennifer’s rummaging became more frantic as her hand failed to locate the small leather purse. The purse with her credit cards, her business cards, the address of the hotel she had booked, the £500 cash she had withdrawn from the joint account – and in the flap on the front, where she always kept tickets, her ticket.
“Sorry,” she said, bringing her bag close enough that she could see inside its pocket, and checked again, this time more frantically. She took out her phone, her camera, the heavy paperback she had intended to read during the journey, and placed them all on her lap. The pocket was empty. Her purse wasn’t there.
“I don’t understand this,” she said, a panic beginning to enter her voice, I always keep my ticket in my purse, in THIS pocket, and it isn’t there.” She pulled the pocket fully open for the conductor to see. “Look,” she said, hoping this explained her predicament.
Simon leant forward, peered uncertainly into the bag where Jennifer’s hand was scrabbling again. There was nothing there. “Maybe it’s in another part of the bag?” he offered, helpfully. “No, it won’t be,” Jennifer snapped, her impatience aimed at her lost purse rather than his unhelpful suggestion, “it was in here. This is where I keep my purse. I put it here as soon as I’d paid at the counter.”
“I see,” Simon said, and watched. Jennifer was becoming distressed as she looked in the same pocket again, with the same fruitless results. Her eyes had the worry of one who had genuinely lost her purse. Or maybe of one who had just been caught fare-dodging.
Daniel had heard all of this and, as the black of the tunnel wall allowed the scene to be clearly reflected in his window, he also watched. It seemed impossible that a woman as organised and methodical as Jennifer would deliberately not buy a ticket, she must have genuinely lost it. But either way, without one her train journey would be over, and Daniel’s plane ticket would leave with her.
In the reflection, Daniel saw that Jennifer was calling across to him. After weeks of seeing her, observing her from a distance, he turned now and looked at her directly for the first time. “Hmmmm?” he answered, innocently.
“I wonder if you’ve seen my purse anywhere,” she asked hopefully, “a black one, with a popper on one side, a silvery clasp…” She pulled open the zip of her bag’s main compartment and began searching. It was futile she knew, but it had to be somewhere.
“I don’t think so,” Daniel said. Now that they had spoken, did this make it easier or harder for him to deliver the envelope? Maybe he could offer to look in her bag, drop it in there while he was searching… don’t be daft, that would never work.
“It had my ticket in it, my cards, my money, my fucking life…” she was desperate now, angrily emptying clothes, toiletries, books, shoes, underwear onto the seat beside her. “Or my future life anyway.”
“If you don’t have a valid ticket for travel,” Simon explained carefully, “I’ll have to charge you the penalty fare.”
“I did have a valid ticket,” Jennifer pleaded, “But I’ve lost my purse, you can see that.”
“If you aren’t able to pay the penalty fare, I’m afraid I will have to call the police. Fare evasion is a crime.”
“I didn’t evade the fare, I paid it. Can you help me look? It must be here somewhere.”
Daniel had done everything right, the last four weeks had led up to this drop, he had been seconds away, inches away, but now it was all slipping from him. They wouldn’t accept excuses, they wouldn’t give him another chance.
“Perhaps I can help,” Daniel said, rising from his seat.Jennifer reached the bottom of her now empty bag. No purse. No ticket.
“Let me pay your fine.”
“Really?” Jennifer gasped. Normally she wouldn’t accept money from a complete stranger but if it meant a way out of this, a way to avoid having to go back…
“Your purse has obviously been lost somewhere and I’d hate to see you getting into trouble with the police.”
“That would be… fantastic.”
“No problem. You can send me the money when you get your new cards.”
Simon, happy that a solution had been reached that didn’t require hours of paperwork, tapped a few buttons on his handheld ticket machine. “Where are you headed?” he asked.
“Waterloo,” Jennifer blurted, her heart racing.
“Okay,” tap tap tap, “Full fare from the beginning of the line,” tap tap tap, “to Waterloo. Plus penalty charge,” Tap tap tap, “comes to £327.96.” He looked from Daniel to Jennifer, back to Daniel. Daniel pulled a brown paper bag from his rucksack, and crouched over it, hiding its contents. He emerged with £340 in purple twenties and handed them to the conductor. “Keep the change,” Daniel smiled, “buy yourself a pint.”
Simon nodded his thanks, printed a ticket for Jennifer and pocketed the money. “Thank you sir,” he said to Daniel, and then to Jennifer, “I hope your purse turns up.” With a courteous nod, he turned and opened the carriage door.
Ooooh look, it’s Friday! And that means Frific is here!
Rochelle sent the world a prompt pic and we all wrote 100 words each. Here is the pic:
And here are my 100 words:
The final line of code input, the last bolt tightened, Richard’s homemade Tardis was complete. Eager for the historic First Trip, his trembling hands set the controls to China, 6th century BC.
The master looked up from beneath his shaded tree to greet the visitor.
“Confucius, your wisdom transcends time,” Richard said, “years into the future, your thoughts are still great truths.”
“You know of my thoughts?”
“I read them every day on Twitter.”
How to explain this?
“It’s a modern communication device, but using only 140 characters.”
“140 characters? I would never have time to write so many.”
The best ideas are the simplest. An animated band. Brilliant. Damon Albarn is a ludicrously talented and shape-shifting artist, and he is the voice behind Gorillaz, the band he created with artist collaborator Jamie Hewlett.
A feature of Gorillaz has been the use of guest vocalists alongside 2D (voiced by Albarn) and on this one, it is the legendary Happy Mondays and Black Grape frontman Shaun Ryder. How can you not love an animated band collaborating with Shaun Ryder? It’s genius.
And musically, it’s a corker of course, driven (as so many tracks featured in this series are) by a fiere, floor-filler of a bassline. But that’s not all there is. The contrast of Damon’s melodic alto voice and Ryder’s Manc shouty stylings also conspire to make this a
I first heard this tune on the radio in the car that John Candy is driving through the night in Planes Trains and Automobiles. I love that film, and I love this choon.
Obviously it’s all about the relentless, irresistable boogie-woogie piano from Ray Charles – the strongest left hand in the business – but the drumming doesn’t let up for a second and oof! that sax solo too. It’s impossible not to dance in your chair while this is playing, and it’s impossible not to play along on the air piano. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is a
Oops! Sorry there wasn’t a Choon last week – I got my dates wrong and scheduled this one for today by mistake. Sorry. But it does include a bonus track so I hope that makes up for it…
There hasn’t been anything from BDB for a while, or nothing that has reached me anyway. His first album The Hour Of Bewilderbeest came out in 2000 and was a brilliantly innovative folky/indiey/a bit electronicky selection, and I thought we had found an immense new talent. He hasn’t reached those creative heights again, but that album still remains one of my favourites.
This track in particular is a stormer. I like tunes you can deconstruct and listen to well-made individual parts, and the two guitar lines in this are brilliant. There’s the quieter, subtler lead part which follows the melody, and then the strength of the strumalong wah-wah line. Perfectly matched. And then Gough’s wonderfully casual vocal style. All in all?
Oh, and as proof that sometimes there is a cover which does justice to the original brilliant song, here is the Kings Of Convenience version. Also a
Life is pretty full this week, Camp Nano amongst other things has ensured I don’t have time for a FriFic this week, or even a FriFic intro. So I bring you instead a FriFact, a story of an real-life event from this week.
Be warned though
Ted readers, it contains scenes of me talking to a girl and not securing a date.
GAW had a day off this week. She let me know the day before so that I would know not to leave a mug of tea on her desk. “You doing anything nice?” I asked. “Getting a spray tan,” she said, “I’m going to a christening on Saturday, I want to look my best.” I nodded and smiled, hoping she would not come to work the following day plastered in that unsubtle shade of orange that a fake tan often creates.
I didn’t need to worry. When she walked in the day after, she looked stunning, the prettiest since she spent two weeks in Florida a couple of summers back and came home with a deep tan. Plus she was wearing a red top, her best colour, with tiny straps that showed off her fake-sun-kissed shoulders. Delicious. My head was telling me to let her know she looked gorgeous, but my mouth could only manage to form the word “hello” before it stopped working.
The day passed, it came time to go home. “You haven’t mentioned my tan,” she said with a mocking pout.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, laying a hand on her bronzed arm, “I think you look beautiful.”
Because she did.