December 22, 2008


The West Yorkshire police press conference after Sutcliffe's arrest in January 1981

Marcello Carlin responds to my most recent David Peace post:

    Nineteen Eighty in particular I also found a key book since it took me back to the North of England through which I travelled, from Glasgow down to Oxford for my entrance interview, on Monday 8 December 1980 (it was my mum’s birthday) – pouring with rain and oily blackness, Warrington indistinguishable from Penrith, an encroaching and then unrelenting dark which bore the residue of foretold apocalypse, all of it stained with what was going on with the Ripper and everything else. And the records of that time seemed to carry that coagulated, wine-coloured blood within them; think of UB40’s “The Earth Dies Screaming,” the 45 of the Specials’ “Do Nothing” whose string synth (played by Pete Waterman and not a lot of people know THAT!) tied it firmly to “Atmosphere,” even the sepulchral echo that Dave Edmunds slapped on “Runaway Boys” by the Stray Cats – this reflected the dying, two-dimensional, yet to be reborn Glasgow but also Afghanistan, and the endless darkness…

    (my big record of the time was The Hapless Child, Mike Mantler's adaptation of Edward Gorey, sung by Robert Wyatt, which is the nearest equivalent to DP in music I can think of outside 1980 Leeds or Manchester...)

    I woke up in Oxford – a misty and practically invisible Oxford – on the Tuesday morning (yes, I felt like McGoohan stumbling to the window and seeing Portmeirion instead of Stag Place SW1), switched on the trusty transistor radio, heard the news and everyone was in a daze; not an especially grieving one – more a bemused one, a “where the hell do we go now?” one…but I’m rambling already…

    (and of course "Who is Number One?" may = "Where is this God that shall deliver us from processed, smiling self-torture?")

    ...Peace’s work strikes me as a howl of hope – UNBURY OUR GHOSTS! – and strangely enough The Damned Utd (set in a parallel Nineteen Seventy Four) provides the exit door; Clough goes but we know he’s going on to greater things rather than damnation (though I’d love to read DP do one on Keane and Sunderland in the fullness of time)…there is hope and DP’s cry is one that’s on the side of life, which is why I think the kneejerk comparison with Ellroy doesn’t work; Ellroy sneakily loves the destruction he wreaks and his heart is with the Pete Bondurants of this world, the reckless freebooting right-wing if they could be bothered to vote “adventurers” who never realise that they’ll always be slaves.

Posted by mark at December 22, 2008 12:04 PM | TrackBack