Fast, She Can

Four hours passed. It was nearly seven.

“Who the Hell is Jimmy, anyway?”

A woman, unknown to date, entered the room. In the years it took her to pass from the door to the blackened window, a forest grew. Trees emerged from the carpet, but not from seed. Rather the tops appeared first, exposed by a tide pulled hurriedly back like a sheet at morning.

She stepped into the carpetlake without pausing, moving with a slow, deliberate grace until the water swelled around her white dress. The staircase she followed led down, and as she disappeared under the surface she began to sing. A song of longing, of beautiful and unrequited despair, in a language understood by no-one but the singer, yet common to the many tongues of the fish that moved behind her eyes and between her legs.

Outside, an engine roared, and sirens. Emergency vehicles screamed their egocentric best “Me me me, Look at me” and flashed blue lights into the faces of those who dared to look away.

Without her, the town turned around. Within, hidden music began to play. A sweeping curve of sound lead her into a vast submerged cathedral, half fallen, where the rusted shells of abandoned cars lay neatly, as if parked, along the aisles. She looked up at a gargoyle, but didn’t see his goatface, and the book she was carrying fell from her arm. Bending quickly, gracefully animated, the woman reached to pick up the book, its scattered pages dancing on the current, but as the shadow of her hand fell on them and her fingers touched the pages, they began to dissolve. To crumble into dust. Beneath her feet, the ground was covered in the finest deep sand, the dust of millions of pages, eroded by mourning, loss, frustration, jealousy and greed. These emotions swirled around in the water on an invisible tide, carving both disfigured sculptures of rock and the most delicate corals where tiny coloured fish sparkled like precious stones.

Where did the light come from, that cast the shadow?

The distant sunlight, slowly filtered through the greenish water, illuminating the myriad organisms that hung there like motes in an empty room?

Or was it some forgotten moon, white and cold? Was it day or night?

A lantern perhaps, swinging on magnificent ironwork outside a shoemakers, sqeaking in the soft twilight breeze?

Breeze. She remembered the breeze on the hills. And as it came to her mind, so she could feel it again, in the moving water.

Quickly, it came. And he was there.

Some of Them

Some of them are changing day to day
Some of them flicker then they fade
Some of them are triggered off by any crazy thing

Some of them are all that’s left
Some of them are just dead regrets
Some of them are shining out through everything I see

Some of them
Some of them
Some of them

Some of them are brittle, some are sad
Some of them are aching, some are glad
Some of them are gone so long they’re hard to recognize

Stand close to the long parade
Watch them passing by in their million ways
Walk on through the evergreens
Pass from scene to scene through all these yesterdays

Some of them are friends just as they were
Some of them are gentle, some can flare
Some of them are crowding closer every passing year

Some of them live in photographs
Some of them still give me a laugh
Some of them I’ve altered slowly as they’re changing me

Some of them
Some of them
Some of them

Lyrics © John Foxx.

Thoughts on the text © Martin Smith and translated from birdsong.
Link to the post by all means, but please don’t reproduce the content without permission.

By the time it came to their third album, Systems Of Romance, Ultravox had established themselves not only as one of the biggest live draws on the circuit (performing over 70 shows in 1978) but they had come to fulfil Seamus Potter’s prophecy and cast aside the “musical crutches” that much of the music press had accused them of leaning on rather heavily – at least on their first release. The band were all accomplished musicians, working at the height of their collective form, and front man John Foxx was writing songs that (at least in the most part) stand independent of the film, art and literary references that allegedly ‘propped up’ some of his previous compositions.

While it could be argued that as a result the lyrics lack some of the intellectual layers, textures and context of pieces like “I Want To Be A Machine” or “HIroshima Mon Amour”, it is readily countered that Foxx has matured as a songwriter and is feeling more confident now, his own observations and subject material ready to be heard through his own voice. Having gathered and absorbed his influences, he is now setting them in his own context, creating his own reference material for the plethora of bands that would ultimately come to cite Ultravox as a source of their own inspiration.

That is not to say that Foxx is writing about different things. The songs still relate the observations of a man walking the streets of a city, watching the people around him – and of not quite being a part of it. He still writes of detachment and dislocation. Of change, and of longing.

And it is the latter sentiment that is expressed here, in Some Of Them. It is a ‘list song’ and as such quite a new venture for Foxx, writing in a style that he had not used before and seldom has done since. Drawing on sentiments expressed in earlier songs like ‘My Sex’ and ‘Slip Away’, Foxx is reflecting on lovers and relationships. Here is an inventory of “all the bodies I knew” (and those he wants to know), the lovers who wrote the letters that lie in the grate…

The city as memory. Faces and feelings sparked off by a reflection in a shop window, a street corner.
A park, a handshake or a style of clothing. A door that we have not noticed before.
Hauntological psychogeography. Any crazy thing…

Memories are real, they walk with us. Moments stay, and follow us wherever we go. The past IS the future.
Strange how moments last so long. Always with you, long after they’re gone.

Some are unstable, vague. Flicker and brittle. Like old film, stored safely in a can but too fragile to be viewed. A glimpse perhaps on a Super 8mm home movie. A short, shaky sequence of someone we once knew. An uncle, a grandmother. This sequence maybe all we have left.

They are ghosts. We stand on this hill over looking the town below us where they pass by. Spirits drifting. A crowd of yesterdays, their outlines and identities obscured by longing. Those we wish had never been, walking hand in hand with others that should have been. Instead, or as well. In a glance of their passing eyes we see situations, and personalities. Some eyes we avoid lest they trigger recollections we would rather not acknowledge. Others make us smile.

Still others pass, that we wave at gleefully.
Holding up a photograph or a postcard. “Remember this!” Hey, those were the days…”

And slowly, while watching, nodding, longing, we feel layers of living skin dust peeling of us. Like endless strata of silk, unravelling and following the passing crowd. Golden motes drift off on the breeze and we are changed. Ever changing, as fragments of others take their place. The experiences we have and the memories of them filter slowly into our veins. We are altered imperceptibly slowly by all of them and they become an eternal part of our composition. We breath memories and moments and live upon them as an essential component of the air around us. We process some, absorb others.

Some of them will provide enough material for forty years of creative expression.
Some of them are in the room beside you now

Some of them will always be this way


Tuesday 19th May

Awake at 0630

Grey and still
My, how they snore!
In harmony! woke me up three times.
Charging my phone overnight has had no effect.
I wonder if I brought the wrong cable?
Dead as dead so there will be no pictures till its fixed
Add ‘something’ to this morning’s shopping list.
Walk this morning is a ‘stroll’ up the east side of Loch Long, through Bundalloch.
A different name for what seems to be the same village
Settlement string out here along the banks of Lochs
No definition of what is which and who is where.
Everyone leaves everything everywhere
Bikes. tyres
Cement mixers and fishing pots
Boats, kit and garden furniture
Add Curlew to this list
Now 61
A colony of Common Gulls on the island over there
So good to see
So good to get to know
They flight light and call distinctly
Spend time just watching as a Heron comes too close
The gulls defend.
And Common Sandpipers by the dozen, everywhere.
Their piping call, their flicking flight
We have them in the Park at home, but this is where they live
(And against the running stream that feeds the loch
They disappear
Their freeze-frame flight and bobbing gait making them
Invisible on the rocks.)
before that two Mergansers flying off – another tick
Wigwam holidays
My God they’re small!
And new – two cabins that were not
Here a year ago.
Village fading out.
And by this knackered barn?
Two Twite for sure
Confirms I got the call right yesterday.
Not bad after thirty years
Campers in this soggy field
A tent beside another new machine
Angletech recumbent tandem, doncha know!
The boulder stream stream is now 15ft wide
Leading up a classic V-shaped valley
Rocky crags on either side
Walk with me
Take my hand
Take my lead and take a chance
And walk with me
Rocks, mud, sand, bog
The River Glennan takes us east
But after 2km its pissing down and I am cold.
Lets watch these Willow Warblers
In this birch tree on the bank
And turn for home
Heather, primrose
Moss and ancient fern
A cliff face scarred with knife-stroke ravines and gullies
Geography in action
Take too the micro-view and see these tiny pink flowers
Day flying Mountain moths
Even in this bastard driving rain
Toast and porridge
Half past eight
Hands colder than I realised
Did you know that you can use
A light fitting to hold a boiled egg?
Anyway – shopping
Co-op in the Kyle
Can I get an in-car phone charger in this hardward store
No – try the chemist
And it works
After a quick jiggle of the battery
So off to Applecross in Wester Ross
Why does the map show a green area defined by a line of longitude?
How does that work?
Some historic agreement perhaps.
Loch Carron via
Plockton and a narrow winding road
Alongside a railway line that I can touch.
From here (and all the Eider)
Can you believe it is
Already half past twelve
As we ascend the hairpins up the Pass Of the Cattle
Bealach na Baa in Scottish Gaelic
Just like what is writ on all the signs.
And we are overtaken on the way up by Tesco Direct
Yes really
Snow in fissures
Vertical granite
1 in 3 and wind like you have never seen.
Sharing the massive views to east and west with Japanese
And this time the Swiss chapter of shiny HD bikers
The top is wild
Humbling, ancient
And bloody cold
Views over to Raasay and Skye
The Cuillin ridge far off picked out in sun
More Buzzards
Yes they’re buzzards
People see buzzards and think that they are eagles
But no one sees an eagle
And thinks it’s a buzzard…
Monty Hall’s Great Escape
Where they took great care not to show
The great big house just yards from his ‘remote’ cabin
European TV tourists
Passing faces
Passing Places
Overloaded pub
Over priced food, but loads of beers
It’s when I sit and eat in places
Like this that it gets me
And pot of tea will do
And I can stare ‘re-mosely’ into the warming cup
My heavy longing heart
Sees a girl with legs over there
A silly bobble hat and shades
She writes and smiles and looks across the bay
But it’s just not the same
We walk from the village on a km circular route that leads
Past the Loch-with-no-birds
Where there is a hide (I might have guessed)
Farmland and a dark pine wood, not harvested but old
Silent and spooky
Into an ancient, stunted glade that looks like it should be
Where fairies are
Home farm Hebridean barn renovation complex
One for the visitor guide
Spring is later here
I stop to gaze
To stroke a beech leaf
Thoughts of you
And I’m lost in the line of white light that picks out
The island from the sea…
Wee Highland cattle babbies
Cute as fuck
There are only two houses on Rona
They leave you for a week and you have to take all that you need
And catch the rest
Let’s leave early so that we have time
To go up and round the top
Past Cuaig there’s a million lochens
Tiny little ponds set in the moor
Black-throated Diver
Stop the car!
There’s two and I creep up on them
Lie down and watch behind this rock
Smiles all round – a must have bird.
Absolutely superb.
But its bleak now
The Applecross Smoke House Fishery on the east coast
Loch Sheildaig where Tony’s lunch was farmed
The ‘Teal’ Bridge (64) and back and back
It takes for ever
Why is everything so big and far
Look, there’s A DOCk at Ardarroch in Loch Kishorn
One of the deepest fjords in the world
Where they make North Sea Oil Platforms
It’s raining
Are we nearly home yet…?
Feels like hours
I’ll cook (again) shall I?
Just drop me at the cottage and walk back to the Clachan
if you like
(They like)
Within a minute T was running back inside
Waving “Eagle! Eagle!!”
It was pouring down and I ran out
But it was gone
Briefly up over the village – one of the local birds
I’ll have to add to to the List
But oooh, it hurts
There is nothing worse than
Other People’s Birds
Later, after nine, we walk, to the Village hall to view
The picturesque castle lighting up
The loch is still
Grey glass and lovely
Sedge Warbler
And 9 text messages – the first I’ve had all day
So something’s worked
Late night Ledaig, dominoes and Jura
And whose idea was it
To buy this St Agur?