Which would be a better name for my band, ‘Tinned Beef’ or ‘The Basement Tapas’? I’m just kidding of course; I have no band. None other than the one in my mind. But that one doesn’t need a name. Simply 'Band' will do fine. Besides, they have all sorts of problems, from the recurring death of the drummer, being bamboozled by the manager to the inevitable split-ups because of 'creative differences,' which aren't fooling anybody of course, we all know the guitar player is just a thug… We’re not bigger than Jesus, but a lot fatter (have you ever noticed how ripped He is? Wow!). However, I do make Him my bitch on the Telecaster any day of the week.
Anyway, just for the fun of it, I'll tell you about what happened today… ‘if you really want to hear about it.’ It all began after waking up and perceiving the world as a mighty boring place. Nothing abnormal. Feeling sluggish... The perfect way of facing any new day in all its horribleness is of course by reading, the wholesomest antidote against the Big Worry. I slid the curtains open a foot width for letting in some morning light and read a few pages in a book with a title that will mean nothing to you: Het Sadistische Universum (The Sadistic Universe) by Willem Frederik Hermans, the old sour sweet Mandarin Hunter.
I got up. Coffee & eggs. Good old C&E... yum yum. Then ogling the Great Outside through the window… la fenêtre I like to call it. And why wouldn’t I? After all, a man’s language is his institution. Everything looked peaceful down in the street. It’s not a bad neighbourhood. Perhaps I’ll tell you more about it later, also about my neighbours like the lady with her daughter who's half Russian and half crazy. And about the old man who regularly sits in front of his house in his tank top singing ‘Costa Brava Costa Brava!’. But this is not for now. Things looked good outside, as I was saying. No threats. With fresh green leaves on the trees, the street quiet, the workfolk already long gone, Mrs. Purplecoat walking her little shaggy dog and no wind blowing debris over the tarmac. As long as there’s no wind, I’m happy. You can put that on my grave.
I got in the mood for a long bike ride, but it was raining and looked like going on for all the livelong day. So I took the old car instead and drove around a few neighbouring towns to look for more books in the second hand shops. At the same time, I was hoping to encounter an un-unearthed original Les Paul guitar, a record of The Pink Floyd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn or a bride-to-be, at least for a day. Vis-à-vis those last two things, I would settle for the original Holey Grail of Christ Our Lord. Or possibly a good Chinese replica anyway, of the Grail I mean.
When I drove home through the rain, later that afternoon, I was in high spirits. It had been an enjoyable day out rummaging and I had found many a good book. For to get some refreshments, I stopped at the local supermarket. Here I parked, took out the key and the engine died. It took me a while to notice something was amiss. The car was off, but the radio was not! This was not possible, defying the laws of logic and car mechanics. I thought that I was dreaming or hearing this music in my head.Tonight ight ight, live for you ou ou, for one night only ee… please give it up for… Tinned Beef! But no. This was all very real and by no means a laughing matter. I just sat there, with the key in my hand and the classical music blasting from the haunted machine through the cabin. Radio 4, the classical station is the only one of the country not driving me mad. But today it did. And nothing could be done about it. None of the controls worked. Nothing. Nothung! Fuga in F.
How bizarre. How grotesque, anomalistic, curious, outlandish, ridiculous… what utter fucking piece of Mephistophelean shit this was! Bubonic buggery bugger! Cry havoc and instigate Armageddon! That’s what any other hot blooded man would have thought. But I kept my cool. I quickly saw the consequences and the choices I was facing: to drive around till Kingdom Come in order to not let the battery die, or somehow clawing the radio out of the car with my bare hands, gnawing through the (live) wires… Flashes of fantastic fantasy went through my mind. Of performing some sort of miracle operation with a tooth pick, a coin, a piece of gum and supernatural engineering skills normally only reserved for silver screen secret agents. Something that would later lead to baffled comments from skilled mechanics. 'Frank, Bill, you gotta come over and see what this dude pulled here... stand back and be smitten. You's not goin' to believe it!' Or, or I could just go home and hear the Wiener Symphoniker perform Brahms’ third symphony all over the neighbourhood till it would die down in a pitiful decrescendo multo con dolore.
Both options looked decidedly daunting. So I started the car again and quickly drove to my regular garage on the other side of town, accompanied by the high baroque variety of slapstick farce music. The garage had just closed and the mechanics gone home when I got there, but the friendly guy from the office, who had just put on his jacket, helped me anyway. He diagnosed that it was the computer (pox on them! Pox on them all!) that had gone mental. So he popped open the hood, pulled the plug on the battery and the accursed music stopped. He then reconnected the battery and everything was back to normal.
I loathe car trouble, even worse than regular trouble. As far as I am concerned, the inside of a car is just as mysterious as the menstrual cycle of an orang-utan. Anyway, the car works fine again and I'm just telling you in case you ever have this same experience and don't know what to do: just pull the plug. Repair instruction advisable for almost every problem, come to think of it.