Tue May 3rd 2016
Friday 9th March 1999
Well, I've always had a weakness for the kitsch, the ephemeral, the jewel in the trashcan.
Of course, if things become too dull, I could invent some exotic scenario, some fabulous lie. Inventors and artists are usually exquisite liars, creating the kind of things we are all willing to be seduced by. Old Queen Cocteau said: 'I am the lie that tells the truth'. Well, truth is as subservient to the laws of relativity as everything else. Wasn't it Hassan I Sabbah who said, 'Nothing is true, everything is permitted?' Perhaps I should simply think of it as a conversation with myself. Story of my life, really.
Spent a couple of hours working on the selection of material for the Noise Candy six-album box-set which I intend to release as a very limited edition luxury item via mail-order early next year. I've been working on the assembly for several months now but constantly change my mind about the running order and even which songs should be included. I'm drawing the material from many years of archived, previously unreleased work. Bearing in mind my daily routine of home recording, there are literally hundreds of songs to choose from. My real diary is the music. I guess it's a much more reliable indicator of my state of mind than these words could ever be.
Hot and sunny today and I suddenly became impatient and irritated by the sight of my battered old
mixing desk and decided to go into town and wander around. Still lots of tourists and kids on holiday.
Thank God the place reverts back to the residents in the winter. Something to look forward to.
Middle age has brought out a strong urge to rediscover my pop-cultural roots; subsequently our house becomes more like a museum every week. Emiko puts up with it wonderfully although I'm sure she'd prefer less clutter. I think I'm externalising my life, trying to make it tangible before it all slips away. In truth, none of it really matters, except to me.
Collected Emiko from her work and returned home. Monkfish and salad for dinner. We were going to eat alfresco but the sun had moved out of the garden and so we remained indoors. Later, we watched the Pathé Newsreel video. Emiko fell asleep on the sofa, missing the items about Stirling Moss, Hopalong Cassidy and the boat that looked like a flying saucer.
Watched Summer Dance, a BBC2 programme that featured work by choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh with whom I had collaborated, back in the Eighties, on a TV series called Map of Dreams. I had come up with the original concept for the series but, as often happens with these things, the concept was modified by the producers to make it easier for the viewer to grasp. The rule seems to be: when in doubt, always under-estimate the intelligence of your audience.
I'd like to make more music for dance (as opposed to making dance music). It strikes me as somehow poetic that a person with as little athletic ability as myself could be allowed the chance to create music that might inspire less chair-bound folk to hurl themselves about in space with great vigour. Maybe, one day.
I'll never be able to keep this diary thing up; it takes up too much time. Let's see what tomorrow brings. Time for bed.-------------------------------------------
Sunday 11th May 2003
The cancer finally took its toll yesterday morning. We received a phone call from the hospital at 5.45 am saying that the family should come straight away. Emi, with superhuman reserve, dressed and left for the hospital with her family. I was asked to stay at the house as there was to be a delivery of Mother's Day flowers for Emi's mother (Mother's Day is on a different day from the UK here) and someone must be present to receive them. Somehow, among the grief, a practical consideration. So Japanese. Emi phoned me 30 minutes later to say that her father had passed away before they had arrived at the hospital and that his body would be brought from the hospital to the house in an hour or two. This was my introduction to the 'hands on' attitude to death here in Japan.
Emi's father's body has been lying on a mattress on the living room
floor of her parents' house in full view since yesterday. There is no
coffin. It will remain there until the funeral/cremation on Wednesday.
I have to admit that, while I understand that there is a totally different
attitude to the rituals of death in Japan from those of England, I'm somewhat
unnerved by the casual way that people deal with a dead person in their
midst. People eat their lunch sitting next to the body and grandchildren
wander in and out of the room where the body lays, quite cheerfully acting
as teenagers always do in less unusual circumstances. It is both astonishing
Harder to take will be the part of the funeral ceremony when the family passes the cremated and charred bones of the deceased person from one family member to another with chopsticks before placing them in an urn with the rest of the ashes. I'm supposed to take part in this but, despite my past involvement in magical rituals and my years of study of the world's occult practices, this is one thing I feel I'd like to miss out on. As I type these words, sitting in the family's dining room in Tokyo, Emi and her mother and brothers, her nephews and nieces, plus a family friend, are sitting in the living room with her father's dead body, laughing and chatting merrily as if nothing were out of place. Maybe I have some sort of psychological hang up about death, (no maybe about it) but for me, when it's over, it's over. I don't particularly want to have to prolong the experience, nor have the image of a loved one in rigor mortis carved into my mind for eternity. I like to remember the person as a living presence, not as a morbid, fetishised object, emptied of life and soul. Despite the dark clouds that fill my skies from time to time, I'm a sunshine and skylark soul. I can't see the point of extending pain and grimness any longer than is absolutely necessary. But that's just me. I'm sure there are many western people who would feel differently.
We have cancelled our return flight to the UK so that we can attend the funeral, which I'm told
will be long and complex. Of course, it would have been unthinkable for Emi to leave today as originally
planned. Despite the sad circumstances, the airline (Japan Airlines) were totally unsympathetic to
our plight. They would not allow us to change the date of our return one more time (we'd already changed
it once) and so we lost the tickets, no refund, not even a part repayment. We had to buy completely
new tickets to return home next Friday. Obviously, this is an expense we hadn't budgeted for. We haven't
booked with Japan Airlines this time though, we've booked onto a British Airways flight. Damned if
I'm going to spend any more money with JAL after such unsympathetic treatment.
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