Everyone glad to be back in the daily grind then? Yep, ain’t life swell. Though the burd hasn’t ventured much further than the couch since Tuesday when the flu finally struck.
All in all, it’s not been a great start to 2011 and the announcement of the death of one of Scotland’s greatest troubadours kind of sealed it. In typically Scottish fashion, suddenly we all care, and respect his talent. Far more than we did – than we do with so many of our cultural geniuses – when he was alive. Gies us another reason to be maudlin see?
For what it’s worth, this is my favourite Rafferty track. Simply wonderful.
What is it with folk who leap into the New Year full of upbeat resolutions, all springy and zingy and full of life? Don’t they know it’s January, the most miserable, melancholic month in the calendar, when all around is dreich and drab?
January is a dark month, in lots of ways. It’s a low time, for quiet introspection, for picking over the bones of the year just gone, before determining how to move forward. Detoxifying your life takes time. Otherwise, there is a risk that you decide in haste and repent at leisure….
Spending the New Year in the company of Detective Inspector Laidlaw was a good choice. Like all great literary cops, the mystery that is his mind and soul is the real attraction. Laidlaw’s as deep as the ocean, as they say, addled with self doubt, keening his way to understanding. Discontented with where he stands in life, fitting badly into all his chosen roles, even though William McIlvanney created him some thirty odd years ago, Laidlaw is a man of our times. And he is surely ripe for a reprise.
Returning to the writing of McIlvanney is always a revelation. His prose is sublime and this time, Laidlaw hit the mark in so many ways.
“The predominant impression the room gave was of stains and scrapes and scuffs, a haunting history of past moments, not deliberate memorials, just the accidental graffiti of a lot of passing lives…. Looking from booth to booth, he saw this room like a street of artisans in some Eastern market. Here each had come to practise his own obsessive craft, beating a life into a bizarre shape, fashioning a slow, deliberate death…. Across from them were four round a bottle, three women and a man, as if it was the tit of the universe. Each face was a ruin….”
“…He had been watching Laidlaw draw protection from his clothes, socks, trousers, shirt and jacket, until the rawness of himself had grown a shell. Laidlaw shaped the big knot on his tie. He jutted his chin out and ran his hand along its edges, checking for bristles. He put his tongue across his teeth and showed them to himself in the mirror. He was no longer at home to visitors.”
“They stared across at each other. Laidlaw and Harkness sat silent. It wasn’t the kind of look to interfere in. That stare was about twenty years of marriage and it was carrying more complicated traffic between them than the M1. It was no longer about a dead girl or policemen’s enquiries. It was about other kinds of death. It was about how much a woman had never got out of a relationsip and the decency she had maintained in spite of it, about how much a man had hidden from promises he perhaps didn’t even know he had made. It was about pride kept and pride lost.”
Retreat, review, recharge and renew: if indulging in such activity is making the burd a bit blue, then so be it.
But I’m not worried and neither should you be.
We all need time out to reflect and ruminate. A pause to process the year just gone, and envision the one ahead, is the only way to determine your purpose and set your goals: gloomy January is the perfect month in which to do it.
Such activity requires a signature soundtrack: Saturnalia, the 2008 album from the Gutter Twins, has been playing a lot this week in the burdz eyrie.
Reflection is also necessary if past mistakes are to be avoided. Easier said than done frankly, particularly when the ghosts of my life grow louder than before.
This week also saw the passing of one of music’s great, yet largely unsung innovators, Mick Karn. His was a seminal presence in the burdz teenage years: Japan’s Quiet Life and Tin Drum albums were ever present on my turntable in the eighties. And this track is just perfect for my current mood.