concepts for a buntiful world
Tuesday, May 27

It was a pleasant afternoon. The rain that had wet the morning was gone and children were using sticks to chase an old man in a buggy through the park. Manchester felt warm now the rain had gone and even the smell of the canal was little obstacle to enjoyment of what was left of the day. Henry felt invigorated, his morning ablutions had gone better than usual and breakfast was cooking itself...hold it wasn't. That was fuc*ing burning itself. Henry catapulted himself off the sofa and with nary a backwards glance at Trisha "My husband eats other men's underpants" he pelted into the kitchen. Breakfast had made a worse job of it than he usually did. The foil underneath the cold pizza had obviously disagreed with Henry's opinion on reheating in a microwave. Smoke poured from the sticky window in the front of the machine...Henry cursed and violently pulled the plug out of the wall. Smoke continued to pour out of the machine so Henry filled a stolen pint glass with water and sloshed it over the tattered remnants of this morning's supper/breakfast. He turned Trisha off and grabbed his coat. His wallet was balanced atop an empty can of continental lager and his cigarettes had fallen into the sink.

Once outside the sounds of the escaping geriatric were more evident. The kids were trying for a ranged attack using a football but the closest they had managed so far was to skim the windshield. Henry headed for the shops.

Having bought cigarettes and cracked the pack Henry sat, nursing a burgeoning hangover and a large milky coffee. He peered moodily out of the window, across the window box filled with dandelions and other people's cigarette butts. He enjoyed days like today, it made him realise how lucky he was to be alive, still, those lads last night had been pretty pissed as well, and nobody could say that it was his fault the girl had chosen him over her obviously ugly and talentless boyfriend. His mates hadn't seen it that way though. That was one reason he hadn't managed to finish his pizza.

The cafe was small, with a computer monitor above the door displaying the tune now playing. The paint was orange with brown bits, whether by intent or because someone had tipped coffee grounds into it while the cafe was being painted Henry couldn't tell. He lit another cigarette and rummaged around his coat pockets for some sunglasses. The only pair were a women's pair with pinky rims and little diamonds stuck in one corner but Henry put them on anyway. The light hurt his eyes. Today was the day, and he had to live up to what he had told his mates would happen. It was a risky business and Henry wasn't sure he should try it in his current state, so he had another coffee continued brooding, smoking and occasionally flicking cigarette butts into convertibles that drove past on the road below.

His mates had been out with him last night, although they had all fuc*ed off by the time he got himself into trouble, the last one he had seen had been Peter desperately shouting that he didn't know Henry and would the nice men chase him instead. Henry grimaced, he had told him so earlier, but hadn't been believed. The lads hadn't been so dangerous anyway, allowing him to crawl home and curl up in the dark after shouting at him for a bit. The tequilas had definitely been a bad idea, especially after Henry had already dropped a tray of beer shooters all over the table. His stomach gave an unexpected lurch, as if it had finally woken up and decided that those aspirin were doing more damage than they were worth. Henry quickly ordered same food. The cafe was a vegetarian hideaway so there was no proper food but it did a decent enough hummus butty, if you could live with garlic breath for a day or two. Henry had no illusions about the coming evening. It would make no difference how his breath smelled; he wasn't going to pull. That was hardly the point though, and Henry liked garlic. He lit another cigarette; having just landed a half smoked one on the cream leather back seat of a passing Saab. It gave him a warm feeling inside, so he ordered a beer to go with the hummus.

The cafe was slowly filling up with the Sunday crowd, the students recovering after a night on the town, the ponces reading the paper, the grannies who liked the student atmosphere to drink their decaf coffees in. And Henry, who despite feeling better was glaring at everyone who came up the stairs. He was monopolising a table meant for six, and last week he had been caught between the window and six nubile fifteen year olds in short shirts and summer tops who had fussily waved at his smoking, choked at his hummus and laughed like dog whistles. They were jailbait, and multiple homicide puts you down for a long stretch. Henry had called the manager, who had been unable to help, the police, who were upset with him for wasting their time, and had finally climbed out of the window and threatened to jump onto the managers beamer before he had agreed to eject the young women. Henry wondered why they let him back in, he wasn't very good for custom. But he was glad that they did, because despite their other clientele, their awful music and the dodgy paint they did very good hummus.

Two hours and forty-five minutes later Henry was en route to his place of worship. He had consumed a further three pints and two coffees in the time, and stopped off at home to empty his bladder and hide the microwave. His housemates had yet to arise on this bright and now sunny day, and Henry hoped that they would meet up with him later. He gently prised their wallets from their hands and borrowed forty quid. The bus was late and he thought he might hail a cab. As it turned out the bus turned up shortly after Henry arrived at the bus stop and, pass waving, allowed him to board. He headed directly to the back where he lit up a cigarette and pondered the more immediate problem of having very few drugs on his person. His housemates had consumed theirs the night before, leaving evidence strewn across the lounge and a paperback textbook with very little cover left. Henry had had the university councillor round after one of his tutors had enquired as to where the cover of his textbook had gone. Unfortunately the university didn't fund people to get rid of this kind of roach. He disembarked, grunting a to the driver cheerfully, and began the two hundred yard hike to the bar.

This bar was larger, and had fewer people in. It was Henry's place of worship, a quiet little place where he enjoyed communing with himself and upsetting as many of the customers as possible. Again it was odd that the bar still let him in but Henry was not going to reason why when he didn't have to. He ordered a beer and lit a cigarette. The main foyer was non-smoking but they couldn't touch you if you were standing up. Henry went and stood near the manager for a few minutes, gaining some nasty looks before treading his cigarette butt into the floor and wandering off. The manager knew and disliked Henry, hating the way Henry was there for the bar rather than the theatre. The building itself was a theatre but the bar within was of more interest and had better actors in. The theatre itself had huge amounts of money it had to get rid of and very little talent to give it to. As a result it wasted as much money as possible on things that lasted as short a time as possible and funded literally dozens of programs that helped talentless want to bees become talentless now I ams. Henry finished his beer and returned to the bar. It was a nice bar, he decided, for the first time since he had entered the building. It was a ritual of his, deciding it was a nice bar, then bemoaning the lack of nubile clientele, then bemoaning its location, the reason for its major clientele being luvvy, ra- dah- lings and then concluded that all its problems could be sorted out using violence, if only you could get hold of a couple of specific people. Henry bought another beer, put his back to the bar and scanned the seats. No young ladies. Henry bemoaned the lack of nubile clientele. He wandered outside and squinted at the road through the sun. The geriatric in the buggy had made it all the way here, the kids had been reduced to a pair on a bike, who were rapidly gaining on the old man. If only this bar were nearer the road, Henry mused, it could be perfect, and that might solve the pussy problem too. He glanced at the stray curling itself around his ankles. Henry was convinced they were only here because of the bins and the fact that it was far enough away from the road that they didn't get run over. None of the other bars had this problem, the cars kept the population down. He shuffled back inside, reluctant to lift his feet for fear that he might be unable to put them down without damaging the cat. The cat left him as he crossed the threshold, that, he reflected sourly was the problem, too many pussies outside and none inside. The ones outside had fleas too, but that was a separate issue.

He looked around, closed his eyes and wished for a set of brass knuckles. No one answered his call, although someone did call out "Daaaaaaaaaaahling..." not to him however, so he finished his beer and ordered another. It was nearly time. Henry ascended the balcony to watch his friends arrive.

Three of those he had invited to watch arrived having obviously not gone to bed. The beers clutched in grubby hands shook slightly as the drugs finally began to expire. His housemates turned up ungraciously and almost immediately started looking at their watches. Henry had the barman take them some drinks as they seemed unable to stretch to buying their own, even on this most special of days. The girl from the night before turned up, looking a little lost it had to be said, but minus the boyfriend which was a bonus. Henry was irritated that the manager was still around, but contented himself with trying to tap ash into his coffee whenever he put it down. The manager didn't seems to notice, Henry smiled, he felt at peace with himself. He dropped the butt of his cigarette onto the receptinist and whirled himself away before they looked up. Henry could see almost everyone he had invited now, bar the waitress from this morning, but she had said she didn't finish till six, and that not to Henry. She had been a trifle less than impressed with the invitation he left written in mayonnaise on the table. Henry had watched from across the road. She had known it was him though, she had given him the finger. He lit another cigarette, fingers rock steady, his mind shaking like a leaf. He hoped this would work.

Henry looked around, his eyes grey steel, his brain pinky brown mush. He lit a cigarette, realised he was holding two, and threw one away from himself. He drank deep from the brown bottle he held, finishing his beer and stepped to the edge of the balustrade. "Friends, people I met recently, Managers and passers by." He began, his voice strong and loud above the bustle of the crowd below. People froze, some recognised him and craned their heads to get a better view. Henry stepped onto a bench to display himself better. "I stand here, on a bench because..." he swayed and burped slightly. Perhaps he had had a little too much to drink. He was feeling enlightened, and it was better than being hungover, but at what cost? This whole idea could still go horribly wrong. He soldiered on. "...because I feel the world has gone wrong." He smiled, inexplicably happy. " It needs to be fixed and I think I am the one to do that." At this point his foot slipped and Henry shot out of sight as he fell painfully onto his backside. He cursed to himself and scrambled to his feet as quickly as possible. He couldn't afford to let his audience start thinking about anything else. "I may be a little inebriated at present," he enunciated carefully, "but I assure you most rigorously that I will sober up very rapidly soon." Henry's mind began to wander very close to the edge of the balcony. He hoped they could see that he wasn't that drunk. He had to make them believe that it was not an accident that he had been chosen. He could see his housemates shuffling. "You," he swung up and arm, "have never appreciated the finer side of daytime television." He rounded on another group of people he had invited from the last lecture he had attended, about a month ago. "Thank you for coming," he was surprised to see them there. "I don't think you will ever be doctors." They were studying drama. "In fact you should probably shoot yourselves now." It hadn't been a lecture he had particularly enjoyed, and the lecturer was there. "Especially you..." Henry singled him out. It hadn't been a lecture that was part of his course either, he studied Chemistry. "Anyway, aside from the young lady looking sheepish at the back, whom I met for the first time last night and haven't had the opportunity to get to know very well yet." She looked less comfortable than ever at this point, as every eye in the building turned towards her. "You're all fools, and your loss will make the world no poorer. In order to fix the world." He straightened at this and pointed his finger at the ceiling, "I must enter its working parts, its minutiae. You on the other hand must rid the world of yourselves, except for the girl at the back, whom I met at a club last night and haven't had the opportunity to get to know very well yet." He smiled in her direction, as everyone else glowered in it. There had been intakes of breath but no actual interruptions as yet. Henry knew he had to milk it for all it was worth before he was lynched. "Aside from the afore mentioned lady," he bowed in her direction, nearly tottering off his perch, then lit a cigarette. "you should all be ashamed of existing. Do something about it for once!" He took a deep drag on his cigarette and threw it in the direction of the theatre manager. It landed in his cappuccino. "Otherwise my efforts will have been in vain." Henry leapt dramatically from the balcony.

After mildly twisting his ankle Henry punched the theatre manager on the nose, waved goodbye to the girl he had met a club last night and hadn't had the chance to get to know very well yet and threw himself in front of a magic bus. They haven't found his body yet, but the lost property rooms at stagecoach are huge and badly lit.

- posted by Buntifer @ 5/27/2003 08:41:00 pm
Thursday, May 15
Happy hardcore holds a melancholy belied by its name. Its pulsing tones, hurried beats and haunting melodies weave an audio shroud around the listeners. The listeners are shown the sadness of a life that is speeding up beyond any of our control, time being given for fewer and fewer occupations.
The soaring pauses in the music hark to days when we had moments when time stood still and meant nothing, the beat breaking back into consciousness- never allowing one to fully savour the feeling of rest. Even the sampled lyrics "don't stop for the rhythm that keeps you high" not talking about drugs but of the struggle every one of us dancing there will face through teh rest of our lives. Happy Hardcore mirrors society's facade of happiness, but also its core -in which we realise that things are not as they sould be. The sample "we know we aren't meant to exist in the outside world" shouting out the feeling of the crowd, we know the shitheap we are going to have to deal with when we take responsibility, and it is not our shit.
Even the pauses, the short whiles we get to rest have the expectation built in to imminent return to the chaos of the music. The challenge is to keep your body in order within this chaos for as long as you can.
HH truly is the music of the nineties- a cramming in of as much pleasure as much music and as many samples as one can during an ecstatic night- never mind that some people won't remember the pleasure. Those of us that do know that it was over too soon, and that the big bad drag that the music promised was following on its heels is here, now...
They call it "the rest of your life"
- posted by Buntifer @ 5/15/2003 12:43:00 pm

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©2003 Daniel Staniforth
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