Playlist: December 2017

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This month of emotional popcorn. Crack spit salt sweet. The chest heaves with illness, it is heavy and green—a surge, a burden. Nights are made for cheating time, like the bars open awful late with special license and in the swill of a glass with ice and fizz there are memories. Restoration. Working Christmas Day is like admitting your failure to comply with the nuclear family, but getting paid for it. Capitalism rewards and kills. When folk wish good cheer and you try to absorb it, like each little smile is a gift, a rare candy. Upgrade, level up. I’m swirling around the room and I could carry ten plates at once, if only the illness wasn’t muscle-wasting. Hear the symphony of all this cutlery. It’s been what, three weeks, since I’ve lifted a weight? Since I’ve twisted my limbs into trembling shapes?

A pale green glitter fingernail, brush of forever. So many moments in suspension, like looking over the banisters at what’s below and recalling every banister seen below in every moment a startle, sparkling. Length at random. The shape of his cheekbones, the imprint of angled buildings you recall walking beneath in sleep. Waking, they shudder. They are not so solid. In the dark corner of the bar we discuss what’s sexiest and I don’t know what to say, except Jonny Greenwood’s string arrangements and Yves Klein blue. Sucking gin through a straw at the thought. Maybe blue is not the sexiest colour—after all, it’s awful cold. But there is something hot about lapis lazuli, a sudden burning of sense that is like blushing except inverse, except not. When the eyes open and they are a startling blue, but who but who? The tiny golden flecks in-between.

(He plunges my wrist in buckets of ice to stop the fire, the itching. It hurts like hell, sears through nerves). Outwith is a word only used up north.

I have this memory of being at the edge of the crossroads walk in Maybole and looking out at the housing estates and every house paired off with its opposite—lights on, lights off. Kids have a sense for dead people, the names in the cemetery. In some reverie writing a story about figure skaters longing for ice, eating Weetabix at work listening to Sufjan, trying to find calm in a place of chaos. Cold of soy milk. There’s a precision to exacted, melancholy melody. What comes fully-formed. My darling. This is a month for pathological outbursts of sorrow, I should know. You can carry around the hard winter nut of endurance, crack it and let the shame ooze its sweetness. So many submissions fall back upon squirrels. There are things I cannot tell. I dream of my childhood garden, coated in snow. Snow back home was not like snow here. Maybe the salt in the air made it prettier. Here the snow is slush within seconds and the dirtiness of the city ruins it, ruins everything. We can’t have nice things. I write in my diary on the 11th December: It’s so cold my teeth hurt to breathe in. I don’t know what this means, but my teeth have been evil and I’m chewing cloves every day to feel okay.

The bar floods with water and washes the women with Chardonnay away. This pleases me somewhat. We watch the floods come in and I predict the next great plague will be locusts. I make vague calculations about the waste caused by crackers and such statistics depress me, like taking armfuls of shitting cardboard off customers, fragment snapping, each twist of a joke still worse than before. If crackers were made of glass and you had to smash them and inside each one was a Christmas fairy that could grant a wish but then the world would be covered in so many shatterings, so many spent wishes. Christmas is never that easy, but I break a glass or two simply for negligence and staring through the bar like a mirror might catch me looking. A warmth. Alien fairytales of Glasgow. Keep goodness around you. Keep up with straight spirits at ten in the morning. Cold medicine lurches the blood to effect. A curious rebellious book of bliss, thrown off course cos I hate this.

The group chats of Landfill Indie. Lad Rock. Mild and humorous light up disgust, discuss. My last gig of the year is a delightful Withered Hand show at the Glad Café. I keep bumping, fortuitously, into friends. Lying on the sofa, hacking my chest, I read Call Me By Your Name and dream of verdant Italy, all ocean blue and peach-flavoured lust. Found out some very good news vis a vis writing and the future, earned the most tips I’ve ever earned in one day and lay upon the floor of the office in sheer joy (then spent said money on a nasty gas bill).

Shrink again into the genuine. Redraft, edit, repeat. A month of meeting lovely people for the first time, catching up with old friends via Messenger while mutually we both drink in bars alone. Watching copious strangenesses across YouTube, videos of spooky houses whose internal structure makes no sense. I want to be well again, to think clearly. These landscapes of unremembered drive, this falling asleep through meals at four in the morning, yearning for normal. In sickness, revisiting the zone of waterfalls and sparse, 8-bit graphics—the ersatz pastoral of dangerous greenery. I did a podcast, read poetry beside someone whose music I love, whose music is a part of my past, a breezeblock heart. Recall winter evenings drinking at the old racecourse, singing ‘Poke’ to protect ourselves from the cold: Poke at my iris / Why can’t I cry about this. Little things build up strength for the soul. Finished The Wire in a daze of admiration. The days cut short, right to the clip of the solstice. Stasis in darkness (O Plath, how sometimes insomniac I return to you). Visited the Shire for 24 hours, trying to read a lot, read the past, falling through the uncanny narrative parallels of Nicholas Royle in veering through sleep, tucked up like a tootsie roll in the dark room of warmth and dark dreams. Keep saying, I’m so sorry. Sometimes reality has a weight you can’t manage. Reply to messages. Walk into sunlight, find pools of it dripping gold over water and cry rapturous over the sheer fact of it. Toothache brings you to presence again. Get annoyed by action, turn off the goddamn movie.

Douse in whisky. Amberous painkiller. Happy hardcore at the back of Christmas Day, sitting at marble tables with chipped edges and focusing on the sheer ascendence to what comes next. She swings her hair around like a blaze of ashes. My legs are mottled with bluebottle bruises. A customer takes one look at me and says “you need to get a sun-bed, that’ll fix you up nice and good”. Another says I am two shades of red. I am trying to find a word for the part of the day that’s like a whole chunk of afternoon, two hours of white light as stripped and boring as sitting in offices doing nothing. But that’s not necessarily the condition for existing, but how it feels anyway, trying to survive the hours in the cold of a room in the cold of a body. Rib rattling. How nice to see a small gold glint in the crest of the collarbones under the light. A trove of myriad empty cans, glinting metallic when you leave the flat and it is all of a whiteout not quite, not quite. The silver takes its self-denial, stealing pieces of light where it shouldn’t. I’m blinded on the walk, inappropriately euphoric in the blistering white, the sunlight. Pick up a slim volume, think of milk chocolate I’ll probably eat. The suspension between us. Something of joy and hibernation later, waking up sore-limbed to cigarette hair and the price of a sonnet. How many names for a sky powder blue? I miss you. I make mix-tapes. I’ll be misty-eyed for Tigermilk and then again keep awake with Death Grips.

Somebody give me a new skin; it’s the last day of the year and I’m already thinking of a dark room of startled lavender, smell of fresh-cut oranges, the premise of yesterday as already gorged on tomorrow. There is a freshness, a refreshing. A browser caught between worlds, time-zones; intercontinental weather that makes no sense. I feel better today, it’s my body’s promise.

~

The Verve – Star Sail

Ride – Pulsar

Four Tet – Daughter

GoGoPenguin – Raven

The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Fact 67

Ash – Shining Light

Coma Cinema – Loss Memory

The Velvet Underground – Stephanie Says

Slowdive – When the Sun Hits

Protomartyr – A Private Understanding

Bright Eyes – The Movement of a Hand

Belle & Sebastian – Write About Love

Alex Cameron feat. Angel Olsen – Stranger’s Kiss

Los Campesinos! – The Sea is a Good Place to Think of the Future

DOPE LEMON – Marinade

Princess Nokia – Goth Kid

SZA – Drew Barrymore

Fred Thomas – Mallwalkers

Bloc Party – So Here We Are

Sufjan Stevens – Tonya Harding

Frightened Rabbit – It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop

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