CHRIS COOPER'S BLOG - infrequent forays into fun, freedom, fysics and filosophy...

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Tuesday, February 03, 2004  

Out of the Shadows

"How very appropriate," said Brian Micklethwait when I turned up at a soirée of liberty-lovers last Friday, "that your last blog entry should be headed 'Gaps', considering ... "

Considering that it's been seven months since I wrote it.

I was touched that Brian had noticed. I was even more touched today to get an email from Jackie D of Au Currant , who was charming enough at Brian's meeting, but doubly so when she told me she hoped I'd get blogging again. Jackie's looking for a job: she's clearly even more attractive, intelligent and talented than I realized when I met her.

Overwhelmed by this flattering attention, I break my silence. Like stars, let my blog entries be the more dazzling for being separated by light-years of darkness.

The title of the last entry alluded to my son's gap year. He's now at university, reading English at the feet of Lisa Jardine, among others. My daughter gives off music in all directions, having just risen from the county's second youth orchestra to its first to play flute, while also taking singing lessons.

I always tell people the kids get their musical talent from their mother, but I do myself an injustice: after all, I'm sitting at the dining-table typing this with The Very Best of the Shadows as my muse. You don't get the footwork on CD, of course, but sometimes I jump up, put on a pair of huge goggles – my last bifocals but one – and do a little cross-legged dance while playing air guitar.

There's an entire orchestra behind the Shadows on many of these tracks, entirely unacknowledged on the sleeve notes. Gone as if they'd never been: all those shabbily dressed middle-aged men who could read music, but went home on the bus after the session, while the current permutation of Hank, Jet, Bruce, Tony, Brian or John rode home in what were not yet called limos.

But as the sleeve notes explain, Hank Marvin became the first British musician to own a Fender Stratocaster. The men in the session band hadn't done that.

Now somebody will tell me the personnel in those backing bands and prove that they were filled with young talent that was to hit the charts in the 70s. And all I shall learn from this is that a third person has read this blog, at least once.

A brown dwarf is born

Why should anyone be afraid of putting their fingers to the keys, just because they can't imagine what they're going to write? There's no problem about writing: some poser on the radio put it very nicely the other day: "each word calls down the next". Yeah – usually in a desperate attempt to repair the damage done by the previous one.

This entry, for instance: I didn't know it was going to be about the Shadows; but once they were in, the piece wrote itself by its own remorseless logic.

And now I have this little piece of nonsense: a soufflé, a morsel of junk food. I like it well enough, now that I've written it; and oddly enough, I know I will be even more fond of it when I look back on it months from now, with surprise, having completely forgotten it. But if I'd known in advance that this was what I was going to write, I don't think I'd have liked it well enough to have bothered.

But of course, you can never know in advance what you're going to write. You can at best know the gist – not the words. In the case of a squib like this, there isn't even a gist to know.

12:06 AM

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