Sunday, 1 April 2012

Got It On Vinyl


“Do you mind if I turn on the radio? It helps me keep my focus on driving within the guidelines as laid out in the Highway Code.”
“If you must.”
“You don’t drive do you?”
“It’s only a temporary situation.”
“You still banned then?”
“I haven’t hired you for the benefit of your fucking jawing.”
“Now that’s what I call, more like it.”
Pavement turned on the radio and rapidly moved the dial from an irritating Sunday afternoon talk show to a station that appeared to play classical music with a choir. It lasted for the entire journey. Uninterrupted coverage. Perhaps a live broadcast. I am not saying I actually enjoyed listening to classical music, but it did allow me to relax again, feel comfortable with myself. I then went into a trance as I stared out of the window. I found myself considering my life. How I had ended up here, in the back of Pavement’s car, driving to pick up a guy who we were then going to introduce to Lenny Fenton and then mentally torture. My stomach tightened as we passed the stand-alone tin church and then we took a left at the Tried For Treason.
“Do you mind if I speak?” Pavement said as he slowed down moments later, after finally locating the turning that should lead us to two more turnings – one left, one right – and then into Spooner’s road. At long last Pavement was treating me with the respect I deserved. Like he should have fucking well done from the start. But there was no point getting myself stressed about the past now. The fact was this. I was the one in charge again and I was the one who had done all the hard work so far. I mean, it was me who had single-handedly brought about the pick up.
“Yeah, you can speak,” I said. “But keep it brief.”
“Thank you. I was just wondering if you had you been listening to this?”
“Hardly had any choice.”
“Do you know who the composer is?”
“No.”
“Want to know?”
“Not really.”
“Johann Sebastian Bach.”
“Thanks for letting me know.”
“My pleasure. We have been enjoying the Saint Matthew Passion. I know this well.”
“Is that a fact?”
“It is. I know this very well indeed. Got it on vinyl, imported. Perfect for a Sunday though. Don’t you think? You can, of course, be an atheist and still get pleasure from Saint Matthew Passion. The crucifixion, after all, is there for everyone to enjoy.”
Pavement then aggressively suddenly swerved to the left without indicating and pulled up kerbside. A blue transit van beeped its horn as it passed by.
“Fuck you wanker,” growled Pavement.
“Are we here?”
“Yes.”
“Can you turn off the music then please?”
He seemed to take forever in responding.
“You seriously sure about that?”
“Yes.”
“I actually think we should leave it on. While we sit here and ponder.”
“No.”
“Don’t you think it creates an environment of rich intellect with a silent undertone of impending doom?”
“Turn it off,” I said.
“Surely a perfect soundtrack?”
“I said turn it off.”
He finally obeyed.
The flat that Adam Spooner said he lived in was above a launderette that conveniently happened to be situated in a ghostly parade of boarded up shops. Such a typical student setting. The one that projects the student lie. In all of its glory. The student lie of the apparent hardship of a young poor ambitious person’s life. The temporary struggle until the return to the nice house with mummy and daddy when University has run its course. Pulp definitely nailed it to the mast with the lyrics to ‘Common People.’ Amazingly, one sharp beep and there he was. I might have been losing it since I had been up, but seeing this four-eyed-kid come out beaming the joy and excitement of being with people he genuinely thinks actually take a sincere interest in his career path, allowed me the opportunity to once again take a metaphorical backwards step and intelligently refocus on why I was here doing this. I thought about the sharpened words Bob Sloane pierced my heart with last Sunday, the way my brother Mark always treated me like some cunt and Vera Vaughan and her misguided viewpoint of why I am what I am. But above all of that I realised I felt something for Carol Lawns. She
had something I was certain she was going to give me back after all of this. I was going to give her something back too. Something that Malcolm obviously never did or could. I was definitely going to fuck her brains out after all this. I felt warm inside. Yes, the gear had done what Pavement said it needed to do. It had sorted out my head. Adam Spooner might as well have skipped all the way to the Mercedes. By his smile he definitely seemed impressed with Pavement.
“Good afternoon, sir, I hope you’re well,” Pavement said to Spooner as he opened the rear door.
Adam Spooner was holding a black puffed jacket and he was wearing a black T-shirt with the words PEEPING TOM on the front in orange stencil.
“I am very well, thanks,” he said.
Pavement smiled into the back of the car at me and then closed the door once Spooner was inside.
“Hello again Charlie and a good afternoon to you.”
“Good afternoon to you too, Adam,” I said, half turning my head, so to ensure I did not make eye contact. “Great to finally have you on board.”
He then asked if I had a cold but I was still getting this warm, satisfying rush. I seemed to definitely want to forget about what Pavement had stolen off of me as I now wanted to concentrate hard on how I had made this happen. This very moment. This very moment and
how if it had been placed in the hands of fools, this would have never seen the light of day. Come on, give me some credit here. I have made this creation. This, what we had before us now. I have made this. Me. Not fucking Pavement. Me.
“Did you get to the Chelsea Harbour okay?”
“Sure did,” I replied, while picking at a fingernail.
Pavement’s name for the day was Ronnie Falcon and as Spooner made himself comfortable, I formally introduced them to one another.
“Nice to meet you too, Mr Spooner. Did you bring a copy of your film then?”
I threw Ronnie a fixed stare. I was in charge of that sort of talking.
“Sure did!” Adam Spooner then said, running ahead of himself and grinning like an idiot, pulling the video out from within his folded jacket and then stupidly waving the tape about like it was a tambourine. So there it was then. The video tape that killed Malcolm.
But Spooner did not get too long doing that though before the Falcon swooped and had it out of his hand.
“Sorry, you don’t mind, Mr Spooner?” said Pavement, without making any effort to conceal the evil fun plastered all over his face. “You see, we’re all just dying to see it.”

An extract from The Roadside Picnics by Joe England

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