Thursday, 23 February 2017


Laura Oldfield Ford: Alpha, Isis, Eden

1 February – 18 March 2017
Preview: 31 January 2017, 6.30–8.30pm


The Showroom presents a major new commission by London-based artist Laura Oldfield Ford.
The Showroom’s neighbourhood of Church Street is an area largely untouched by gentrification, but now on the cusp of transformation, with a host of new developments and housing schemes planned, including a major regeneration initiative called The Futures Plan. Alpha, Isis and Eden are the names of three of the housing blocks local to The Showroom that are proposed for radical redevelopment.
Central to Oldfield Ford’s installation is a new sound work, made in collaboration with sound engineer and producer Jack Latham, using field recordings taken by Oldfield Ford during experimental, critically-engaged walks or ‘dérives’ in the area. Mapping the psychic contours of the urban environment through her subjective experience, Oldfield Ford also draws on her personal history of working in the area in the public care and social welfare sectors, as well as on time she spent in subcultural scenes as a squatter and political activist.
In the gallery space materials such has plywood and Sitex (perforated steel used for boarding-up abandoned buildings) create a structure covered with collage, drawing and text, interwoven with fragments of overheard conversation and other sounds and summons of the street. Layer upon layer of personal and public histories, individual and collective, imagined and real, intertwine and articulate an intersubjectivity which exposes and reassembles the urban landscape spatially and temporally; its private domestic spaces and public areas, and the lives that pass through and in-between them.







The Showroom
63 Penfold Street
London NW8 8PQ
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7724 4300
Opening hours
Wednesday – Saturday, 12–6pm







Monday, 16 January 2017

Always Yearning for the Time That Just Eluded Us

Mark Fisher's Introduction to Savage Messiah by Laura Oldfield Ford captured a vision of London paved over by neoliberalism, but where glimmers of a different world were visible through its cracks. We share the text in memory of his life and work – his brilliant, expansive writing. ‘Savage Messiah is written for those who could not be regenerated, even if they wanted to be. They are the unregenerated, a lost generation, ‘always yearning for the time that just eluded us’... So many dreams of collectivity have died in neoliberal London.’ 




‘I regard my work as diaristic; the city can be read as a palimpsest, of layers of erasure and overwriting,’ Laura Oldfield Ford has said. ‘The need to document the transient and ephemeral nature of the city is becoming increasingly urgent as the process of enclosure and privatisation continues apace.’ The city in question is of course London, and Savage Messiah offers a samizdat counter-history of the capital during the period of neoliberal domination. If Savage Messiah is ‘diaristic’, it is also much more than a memoir. The stories of Ford’s own life necessarily bleed into the stories of others, and it is impossible to see the joins. ‘This decaying fabric, this unknowable terrain has become my biography, the euphoria then the anguish, layers of memories colliding, splintering and reconfiguring.’ The perspective Ford adopts, the voices she speaks in – and which speak through her – are those of the officially defeated: the punks, squatters, ravers, football hooligans and militants left behind by a history which has ruthlessly Photoshopped them out of its finance-friendly SimCity. Savage Messiah uncovers another city, a city in the process of being buried, and takes us on a tour of its landmarks: The Isle of Dogs... The Elephant... Westway... Lea Bridge ... North Acton... Canary Wharf ... Dalston... King’s Cross... Hackney Wick...
In one of many echoes of punk culture, Ford calls Savage Messiah a ‘zine’. She began producing it in 2005, eight years into a New Labour government that had consolidated rather than overturned Thatcherism. The context is bleak. London is a conquered city; it belongs to the enemy. ‘The translucent edifices of Starbucks and Costa Coffee line these shimmering promenades, “young professionals” sit outside gently conversing in sympathetic tones.’ The dominant mood is one of restoration and reaction, but it calls itself modernisation, and it calls its divisive and exclusionary work – making London safe for the super-rich – regeneration. The struggle over space is also a struggle over time and who controls it. Resist neoliberal modernisation and (so we are told) you consign yourself to the past. Savage Messiah’s London is overshadowed by the looming megalith of ‘London 2012’, which over the course of the last decade has subsumed more and more of the city into its banal science fiction telos, as the Olympic Delivery Authority transformed whole areas of East London into a temporary photo opportunity for global capitalism. Where once there were ‘fridge mountains and abandoned factories’ out of Tarkovsky and Ballard, a semi-wilderness in the heart of the city, now a much blander desert grows: spaces for wandering are eliminated, making way for shopping malls and soon-to-be-abandoned Olympic stadia. ‘When I was writing the zines,’ Ford remembers, ‘I was drifting through a London haunted by traces and remnants of rave, anarcho-punk scenes and hybrid subcultures at a time when all these incongruous urban regeneration schemes were happening. The idea that I was moving through a spectral city was really strong, it was as if everything prosaic and dull about the New Labour version of the city was being resisted by these ghosts of brutalist architecture, of ’90s convoy culture, rave scenes, ’80s political movements and a virulent black economy of scavengers, peddlers and shoplifters. I think the book could be seen in the context of the aftermath of an era, where residues and traces of euphoric moments haunt a melancholy landscape.’
All of these traces are to be eliminated from the Restoration London that will be celebrated at London 2012. With their lovingly reproduced junk-strata, overgrowing vegetation and derelict spaces, Savage Messiah’s images offer a direct riposte to the slick digital images which the Olympic Delivery Authority has pasted up in the now heavily policed, restricted and surveilled Lee Valley. Blair’s Cool Britannia provides the template for an anodyne vision of London designed by the ‘creative industries’. Everything comes back as an advertising campaign. It isn’t just that the alternatives are written over, or out, it is that they return as their own simulacra. A familiar story. Take the Westway, West London’s formerly deplored dual carriageway, once a cursed space to be mythologised by Ballard, punks and Chris Petit, now just another edgy film set:
This liminal territory, cast in a negative light in the 70s was recuperated by MTV and boring media types in the 90s. The Westway became the backdrop for Gorillaz imbecility, bland drum & bass record sleeves and photo shoots in corporate skate parks.
Cool Britannia. Old joke.
‘Space’ becomes the over arching commodity. Notting Hill. New Age cranks peddling expensive junk. Homeopathy and boutiques, angel cards and crystal healing.
Media and high finance on the one hand, faux-mysticism and superstition on the other: all the strategies of the hopeless and those who exploit them in Restoration London ... Space is indeed the commodity here. A trend that started thirty years ago, and intensified as council housing was sold off and not replaced, culminated in the insane super-inflation of property prices in the first years of the twenty-first century. If you want a simple explanation for the growth in cultural conservatism, for London’s seizure by the forces of Restoration, you need look no further than this. As Jon Savage points out in England’s Dreaming, the London of punk was still a bombed-out city, full of chasms, caverns, spaces that could be temporarily occupied and squatted. Once those spaces are enclosed, practically all of the city’s energy is put into paying the mortgage or the rent. There’s no time to experiment, to journey without already knowing where you will end up. Your aims and objectives have to be stated up front. ‘Free time’ becomes convalescence. You turn to what reassures you, what will most refresh you for the working day: the old familiar tunes (or what sound like them). London becomes a city of pinched-face drones plugged into iPods.
Savage Messiah rediscovers the city as a site for drift and daydreams, a labyrinth of side streets and spaces resistant to the process of gentrification and ‘development’ set to culminate in the miserable hyper-spectacle of 2012. The struggle here is not only over the (historical) direction of time but over different uses of time. Capital demands that we always look busy, even if there’s no work to do. If neoliberalism’s magical voluntarism is to be believed, there are always opportunities to be chased or created; any time not spent hustling and hassling is time wasted. The whole city is forced into a gigantic simulation of activity, a fantacism of productivism in which nothing much is actually produced, an economy made out of hot air and bland delirium. Savage Messiah is about another kind of delirium: the releasing of the pressure to be yourself, the slow unravelling of biopolitical identity, a depersonalised journey out to the erotic city that exists alongside the business city. The eroticism here is not primarily to do with sexuality, although it sometimes includes it: it is an art of collective enjoyment, in which a world beyond work can – however briefly – be glimpsed and grasped. Fugitive time, lost afternoons, conversations that dilate and drift like smoke, walks that have no particular direction and go on for hours, free parties in old industrial spaces, still reverberating days later. The movement between anonymity and encounter can be very quick in the city. Suddenly, you are off the street and into someone’s life-space.
Sometimes, it’s easier to talk to people you don’t know. There are fleeting intimacies before we melt back into the crowd, but the city has its own systems of recall: a block of flats or a street you haven’t focused on for a long time will remind you of people you met only once, years ago. Will you ever see them again?
I got invited up for a cup of tea in one of those Tecton flats on the Harrow road, one of the old men from the day centre I work in. I took him up Kilburn High Road shopping and watered the fuchsias on his balcony. We talked about the Blitz and hospitals mostly. He used to be a scientist and wrote shopping lists on brown envelopes dated and filed in a stack of biscuit tins.
I miss him.
I miss them all.
Savage Messiah deploys anachronism as a weapon. At first sight, at first touch – and tactility is crucial to the experience: the zine doesn’t feel the same when it’s JPEGed on screen – Savage Messiah seems like something familiar. The form itself, the mix of photographs, typ face-text and drawings, the use of scissors and glue rather than digital cut and paste; all of this make Savage Messiah seem out of time, which is not to say out of date. There were deliberate echoes of the para-art found on punk and postpunk record sleeves and fanzines from the 1970s and 1980s. Most insistently, I’m reminded of Gee Vaucher, who produced the paradoxically photorealistically delirious record covers and posters for anarcho-punk collective Crass. ‘I think with the look of the zine I was trying to restore radical politics to an aesthetic that had been rendered anodyne by advertising campaigns, Shoreditch club nights etc.,’ Ford says. ‘That anarcho-punk look was everywhere but totally emptied of its radical critique. It seemed important to go back to that moment of the late ’70s and early ’80s to a point where there was social upheaval, where there were riots and strikes, exciting cultural scenes and ruptures in the fabric of everyday life.’ The return to the postpunk moment is the route to an alternative present. Yet this is a return only to a certain ensemble of styles and methods – nothing quite like Savage Messiah actually existed back then.
Savage Messiah is a gigantic, unfinished collage, which – like the city – is constantly reconfiguring itself. Macro-and micro-narratives proliferate tuberously; spidery slogans recur; figures migrate through various versions of London, sometimes trapped inside the drearily glossy spaces imagined by advertising and regeneration propaganda, sometimes free to drift. She deploys collage in much the same way William Burroughs used it: as a weapon in time-war. The cut-up can dislocate established narratives, break habits, allow new associations to coalesce. In Savage Messiah, the seamless, already-established capitalist reality of London dissolves into a riot of potentials.
Savage Messiah is written for those who could not be regenerated, even if they wanted to be. They are the unregenerated, a lost generation, ‘always yearning for the time that just eluded us’: those who were born too late for punk but whose expectations were raised by its incendiary afterglow; those who watched the Miner’s Strike with partisan adolescent eyes but who were too young to really participate in the militancy; those who experienced the future-rush euphoria of rave as their birthright, never dreaming that it could burn out like fried synapses; those, in short, who simply did not find the ‘reality’ imposed by the conquering forces of neoliberalism liveable. It’s adapt or die, and there are many different forms of death available to those who can’t pick up the business buzz or muster the requisite enthusiasm for the creative industries. Six million ways to die, choose one: drugs, depression, destitution. So many forms of catatonic collapse. In earlier times, ‘deviants, psychotics and the mentally collapsed’ inspired militant-poets, situationists, rave-dreamers. Now they are incarcerated in hospitals, or languishing in the gutter.
No Pedestrian Access To Shopping Centre
Still, the mood of Savage Messiah is far from hopeless. It’s not about caving in, it’s about different strategies for surviving the deep midwinter of Restoration London. People living on next to nothing, no longer living the dream, but not giving up either: ‘Five years since the last party but he held his plot, scavenging for food like a Ballardian crash victim.’ You can go into suspended animation, knowing that the time is not yet right, but waiting with cold reptile patience until it is. Or you can flee dystopian London without ever leaving the city, avoiding the central business district, finding friendly passages through the occupied territory, picking your way through the city via cafes, comrade’s flats, public parks. Savage Messiah is an inventory of such routes, such passages through ‘territories of commerce and control’.
The zines are saturated in music culture. First of all, there are the names of groups: Infa Riot and Blitz. Fragments of Abba, Heaven 17 on the radio. Japan, Rudimentary Peni, Einsturzende Neubauten, Throbbing Gristle, Spiral Tribe. Whether the groups are sublime or sub-charity shop undesirable, these litanies have an evocative power that is quietly lacerating. Gig posters from thirty years ago – Mob, Poison Girls, Conflict – call up older versions of you, half-forgotten haircuts, long-lost longings, stirring again. But the role of music culture goes much deeper in Savage Messiah. The way the zine is put together owes as much to the rogue dance and drug cultures that mutated from rave as to punk fanzines; its montage methodology has as much in common with the DJ mix as with any precursor in visual culture. Savage Messiah is also about the relationship between music and place: the zine is also a testament to the way in which the sensitive membranes of the city are reshaped by music.
This sombre place is haunted by the sounds of lost acid house parties and the distant reverberations of 1986. Test Department . 303. 808. Traces of industrial noise.
The roundhouse was easy to get into, and the depot itself, disused for years is lit up with tags and dubs.
You can hear these deserted places, feel the tendrils creeping across the abandoned caverns, the derelict bunkers and broken terraces. Midsummer, blistering heat under the concrete, Armagideon Time(s), a hidden garden, to be found, and lost again.
Superficially, the obvious tag for Savage Messiah would be psychogeography, but the label makes Ford chafe. ‘I think a lot of what is called psychogeography now is just middle-class men acting like colonial explorers, showing us their discoveries and guarding their plot. I have spent the last twenty years walking around London and living here in a precarious fashion, I’ve had about fifty addresses. I think my understanding and negotiation of the city is very different to theirs.’ Rather than subsuming Savage Messiah under the increasingly played-out discourses of psychogeography, I believe it is better understood as an example of a cultural coalescence that started to become visible (and audible) at the moment when Ford began to produce the zine: hauntology. Towards the middle of the last decade, Simon Reynolds and I started to use the concept that Derrida coined in Specters of Marx to label a series of – predominantly but not exclusively – musical artists whose work expressed a sense of broken time. The specters here were not so much ghosts from an actual past; they were instead the traces of futures that had never arrived but which once seemed inevitable. The most striking sonic parallel for Savage Messiah is the London audio-poet Burial. Like Savage Messiah, Burial’s music invokes a sense of London after the rave: the long comedown of night bus journeys, the keening pain of being yourself again now that the collective ecstasy has faded. This is London seen through the rheumy eyes of ravers fifteen years on: the former warehouse spaces where raves or free parties were held have now disappeared behind redevelopment facades; the old gang are married off, drug casualties or worse. ‘The London I conjure up ... is imbued with a sense of mourning,’ Ford says. ‘These are the liminal zones where the free party rave scene once illuminated the bleak swathes of marshland and industrial estates.’ So many dreams of collectivity have died in neoliberal London. The brutalist tower blocks that feature on so many pages of Savage Messiah recall the abandoned promises of what Owen Hatherley has called militant modernism – a new kind of human being was supposed to live here, but that all had to be cleared away so that the restoration could begin.

Haunting is about a staining of place with particularly intense moments of time, and, like David Peace, with whom her work shares a number of affinities, Ford is alive to the poetry of dates. 1979, 1981, 2013: these years recur throughout Savage Messiah, moments of transition and threshold, moments when a whole alternative time-track opens. 2013 has a post-apocalyptic quality (in addition to being the year after the London Olympics, 2012 is also, according to some, the year that the Mayans predicted for the end of the world). But 2013 could also be Year Zero: the reversal of 1979, the time when all the cheated hopes and missed chances are finally realised. Savage Messiah invites us to see the contours of another world in the gaps and cracks of an occupied London:


Perhaps it is here that the space can be opened up to forge a collective resistance to this neoliberal expansion, to the endless proliferation of banalities and the homogenising effects of globalization. Here in the burnt out shopping arcades, the boarded up precincts, the lost citadels of consumerism one might find the truth, new territories might be opened, there might be a rupturing of this collective amnesia.
Mark Fisher 2011


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

BRISTOL 1992/ 2006/ 2009/ 2016/ 207/ 2018/ 2022

MN Electrical. Ashley road. BRISTOL-- 1992/ 2006/ 2009/ 2016 / 2022

The shop had closed years ago and you pushed sheets of plywood to get up to the flat. There were six of us in there, me shacked up in someone's room. I suppose I should say my boyfriend's room but that's not how I saw him really. Bryn. It never felt like a relationship , more an intermission, somewhere to stay while I worked out where to go next.
In the winter the parameters of my world were confined to that freezing flat. Time was etched out between monitors and mixing desks. I watched the weeks unravel from a black and white portable, stretches of daytime tv subsumed in the amethyst light of the room.
He was always there, a heavy morphean presence, sighing with his back to me in a broken office chair . Hours would melt into the noodling labyrinths of Cubase, the bland dogmatism of drum and bass messageboards. Over the winter he'd got kind of bulky, all that weed, all those nights playing x box with bowls of doritos. When the spring came, casting its brutal light on that dusty hallway, I started going out without him.

STAPLETON ROAD. --

Day three of a heatwave, must be 30 degrees out there-
It's all kicking off , they're not letting some Somali bloke sign on .
Twitchy attention across the open plan office sucked into a writhing circle of G4s uniforms.

Onlookers emerging from Black Swan opposite .
other blokes mobilizing--
I'm sitting on a soft green chair watching Nigerian security guards push him around. Can hear the sirens, the noise outside and i'm thinking this is going to take time.

I'm hot after the run down here, sheen of make up slipping off my face. They won’t sign you if you’re a minute late.
I'm waiting for an emergency payout, my personal issue.
I forgot to bring something to read. I look at my phone, scroll through texts--
look across the street to the pub, blokes outside with pints of cider, bottles of lager-- red faced and jeering as the bloke gets thrown in the back of the van--

My turn. Usual moronic hassle. What have you been doing to look for work. Wrote jobseekers diary with five different pens at the kitchen table before . All this pointless stuff , what i'm available for- warehouse work, call centres. They want me to go to some logistics depot in Swindon, threatening to stop my money if I don't.
I draw on a composite of fictions and convince them i'm pliable.

Neroli, Magnolia, Rose
those scents, pulling me out of that seething hive, across the car park-
Black swan, them lot, usual crew, watching me in the yard, heat intense and my legs and arms bare, burning now-
push through Blackthorn stinking leers to the violet cool of the bar.

-subsonic ,big screens, adverts ricocheting across the walls--
it's the tramadol, maybe it's too much, making everything tremble, ceilings shimmer, indigo blur round the door-
Sit in a burgundy corner, ripped wallpaper, low mahogany table, vodka glass outlined with a neon glow. It was Adam that gave me the tramadol , told me he scored a batch from a hospital porter. Before that I was just getting by with the diazepam.

Adam. Should never have got involved with him. I mean he's alright looking, mohawk, thick black hair in gluey crests , but the way he acts, so manic all the time, i can’t handle it.

Gold piercings in jagged eyebrows-
Fruit machine
drugs taped under snooker tables.

This is a ritual coming in here after signing on, when i've escaped from the dole office I come in and have a vodka to celebrate--
They don’t own me. They can cut off my giro. I’m still here. That's how I think sometimes, I can just take off - hidden tracks, a helix of boltholes. If it gets too much I can just leave. And i'm thinking maybe it's time, Bryn at home on Cubase, Adam liking me too much--

Black Uhuru on the juke box, juke box wired up to juggernaut soundsystem-
room reverberates, blokes at opposite table skinning up. I know some of them from when I was living in that squat in Stokes Croft. Wiry one comes over, blond pony tail and grey adidas tracksuit –asks me if I want to order any shopping from Broadmead…
I tell him, Chanel Chance and that YSL nail varnish, irridescent black, shining blue like a magpie feather, he says yeah, should be able to bring it all back for twenty.-

look across at the dole office, red brick fortress casting doubt over the pub--
security guards talking to the police , screw faces broken now with sycophantic smiles-

Adam texts and says he's coming down. I've been meeting up with him in here, nothing serious- just having a drink, getting stoned in the afternoon.
Out in the yard, concrete is warping in the heat, splitting into zones--

exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke and that scent , Lemon Haze reminding me of last summer-

Collapsing buildings beneath the motorway flyover. Biggas carwash, men hanging round in vests and bomber jackets.
Hoardings ,luminous poster shreds.
Shah Jalal mosque.

A load of lads in off the street, baggy jeans, fluoro vests, Adam's crew wheeling massive speaker cabs . Yard becomes a spindly convolution of tarpauline and scaffolding poles. He comes over in that bouyant, arrogant way he has, spike under his lip , vexed Egyptian eyes.

I knew from the start I shouldn't get involved with him .
When he asked me to go round to his I always made excuses , but then there was that party, that solstice one in the orange factory--
me in that stretchy pink dress, bleached hair backcombed, first blazing heat of the year.
We'd been drinking in the Coach house, that pub under the railway bridge. Place was full of Trowbridge punks, rough cider, Amebix patches hanging off denim jackets. There was something disorientating about that pub, like stepping into a mirror, all the rooms seemed to double - two bars, two snooker tables, twin corridors of yellow light. -
I remember the banners draped behind a burgundy stage- text becoming invocations-- Class War A.L.F the conjuring of Swing risings.

There was a yard at the back, plastic chairs and sullen brick walls..
Sabs in combat trousers, black vests, baseball caps
plotting rural revolt

I remember how we stepped out on to the street to face a crescent of filth with telephoto lenses.
We gathered in the stark , mathematical shadows of an iron railway bridge and faded into lanes of conifers . The track brought us to the M32 and the concrete inclines of an unsteady footbridge. Lines of vehicles were waiting on Gatton road, a convoy going to this party.


It was in a red brick factory on an industrial estate hemmed in by a span of railway tracks and the elevated section of the A434. The convoy trailed into a desolate lane of corrugated iron and breezeblock walls.
We slinked in under a metal shutter, place still had the stink of UHT orange -
I remember heavy chains and fluorescent strip lights, long corridors crawling with glyphs and sigils--
then a vast hall-- all the rigs were in there, doors thrown open to a scratchy meadow of broom and gorse-

bashment, jungle, breakcore -

big crew in there , time distorted, circles moving.
I wanted to be outside—there was a bonfire and a few people I knew from the Swan .
Adam with his mohawk, his intense eyes.
Wasn't really my type, bit young, early 20s maybe. I wasn't really feeling it-- there was something not right about him, maybe the accent, a kind of public school smoothness beneath the slangy narco speak-- there was a swagger about him but even through the veils of MDMA I knew it was fake.
We talked for hours, strange unspooling conversations about hospitals, hostels, the network of institutions he'd inhabited. He told me about his walks around Bristol—he called them circuits, told me they were all mapped. He made notes on every place he scoped, routes in and out of the city centre, Broadmead Shopping centre, the new Harbourside Development, the abandoned sorting office behind Temple Meads.

melancholic dub , stacker PA's

bass
kick drum
scratchy breakbeats

crew swarming around us, absorbing us into a strident, fleshy band-
that ALF lot from the Coach House going on about the Beaufort Hunt and that Life Sciences place in Cambridge-
the monotone credence of their talk, the tramadol, the residues of those pills- I just remember the motorway slip road buckling, bending like plasticine as anxiety rose in icy beads on my arms.

I wanted to trace his circuits through the city centre, back to Easton-

back to Stapleton road, a load of us, a collision of his crew and mine. 5 am, sky a dazzling salvo of
Freesia, Litchi, Peony.
scents coming in waves--

Spiralling tracks round Brandon hill, site of insurrectionary gatherings, mass gatecrashing.
He showed me nests of intricate symbols on walls and windows, he told me he'd been communing with the revenants of the city, channelling them into oppositional currents-

He spraypainted burn down sigils over the new developments with a practiced elegance, dancing runes marking the hoardings, the new vestibules-

He took me through Harbourside, the rebranded docks, showed me the heritage symbols , the psychtropic theme park, the parched tangle of trees in aluminium tubs.


Toxic stink of the aerosol -
Ox-eye daisies, red campion , knapweed-

Cascading down Bridewell street, the ruby fracturing of morning-
buildings opening up , neon interiors, glowing amusement arcades .

Saint Jude's

Saint Agnes

Stapleton Road

Shutters down, the haze of morning rain burning off in the heat-- iridescent vapours and saplings of ash in breezeblock yards--
TSB, luminous signs replicating , detaching from the front of the building , glowing circles of jade-
two storey houses, flaking paint, grey with exhaust fumes
all sloping towards us.
Attic conversions heaving off rooftops, cracking and breaking--

He reaches for my hand, a cool act of possession-- I feel nothing but pale, narcissitic attraction- the glimmer that comes from being wanted-
had hoped for another taste of last summer, those incendiary days of Yorkshire, -
but as we traipse through overgrown gardens, expanses of scorched ivy, it's not even an echo.

breezeblock walls, exquisite scent of damask , forgotten tangle of roses.

When I first turned up in Bristol last Autumn it was about getting away, being off the map. What I was looking for never appeared. It wasn't enough, me and Bryn, one of those dull, drifting relationships, neither of us really bothered, shacked up for convenience and comfort . It started when he was coming down off a three day bender. He came round to our squat in Stokes Croft and asked us for temazepam, or codeine, or anything to take the edge off. He was hallucinating catastrophes, walls swarming with black. I'd managed to straighten him out, nursed him through the next few days. He'd triggered something in me, a protective, nurturing side and we started hanging out in the flat at Ashley road. It was less hectic than the squat in Stokes Croft and I thought maybe it could be ok staying there a while, I could cook dinner and have everyone in for a few beers, seemed more like a family than that big office block before.

Transit vans parked skewed angles on the pavement,
Adam smiling , holding my hand,
a greedy, monopolising smile.

Iqbal textiles and sari house,,
Narwaz Kurdish
Flat to let , window held together with parcel tape.
mattresses and bed frames.
heavy plastic sheets behind smashed windows.

There are three of us now, me Adam and some bloke picking up coke cans in search of a lost stash. The way he trudges, seems like he's blind to us. Adam said he'd met him sleeping rough in the Bear Pit, that brutalist hollow between Stokes Croft and town.

Shah Jalal mosque, under the motorway flyover. It was them that was first onto him, Adam, much later, long after i'd gone-
Peach walls, ,flow charts, redacted words.
I mean i'd seen it, I knew that he wasn't right, that's why i'd ended up avoiding his calls, why I bailed out of Bristol altogether— he was too hectic, all those weird drugs he was getting from the hospital but still the ban on alcohol--

squeezing through green railings, beneath the sweep of the motorway-
round the back of the dole fortress,, 90s architecture harshing my buzz.
He puts his arm around me, speaks softly to me, presses a valium into my hand-

Row of derelict houses, windows sitexed.
Buddleia sprouting, bin bags hurled on pavement – a network of itinerants following codes-
they are there if you can read them--- marker pen letters sliding off walls, shoes hanging from telegraph wires, sigils spraypainted on plywood windows-

Under the railway bridge- that stone they have in Bristol, crumbling red like Mars-
their house ,
three satellite dishes, barred windows, yellow newspapers taped inside-
and pale green plaster like sugared almonds.
He opens a metal door,,
a front room you walk into off the street -
70s wallpaper, orange geometries unfolding across damp walls-
mottled olive green carpet.
place stripped of furniture--

Records and cds splintered across the floor, prismatic reflections on the ceiling.
photocopied maps in a heap,
miniature lightbulbs, circuit boards-

And upstairs, two little rooms. That biscuity smell of old bedding.-

sloping ceilings, dorma windows , light filtered through sitex sheets-

We sit talking, he says he wants a total reordering of the UK, wants to see the entire system dismantled-
I say I understand that--
He says Britain is a cesspit, says the shopping centres, the clubs in town are immoral hives -

feel like i've been here before-

those words, echoes of another time-

the sleeping bag , the scorch marks, , marker pen circles-

Spike under lip.. two rings through eyebrow-
he's staring at me, demanding something.
I say i'm going downstairs to the bathroom


hexamethylene triperoxide diamine,
spooked electronics

video on loop.
everything falling into place.

Creep through the front room-- bloke shuffling about near the door —I'm not even sure if he can see me.
Into the kitchen , missing mdf units, gouge marks in the wall-
I try the door but it's jammed behind a case of steel.
Bathroom at the back. Wasp carapaces on a dusty window sill. Peroxide bottles, mould creeping across the ceiling. I try the frosted window, feels stuck, frame resisted by a chlorophyl bank, a yard of nettles neck high. I clamber onto the ledge , shove through and fall into the stinging tangle , blisters of pain erupt across my body, the pleasure of them rising in the rush--

By 2009 I was back living in Yorkshire, i'd never bothered keeping in touch with him or any of that crew. I'd never been able to connect with Bristol and didn't miss it.
I read they'd given him 11 years. Must have converted the year after I left.
Broadmead shopping centre was the target.

Home made vests.
Air gun pellets, batteries , electric bulb filaments, ball bearings, tubs of screws.
12 bottles of peroxide.
They said he kept the explosives in the fridge in a Family Circle biscuit tin.

Monday, 20 June 2016

GREIL MARCUS REVIEW IN PITCHFORK

http://pitchfork.com/features/greil-marcus-real-life-rock-top-10/9906-the-life-beneath-our-feet-trump-don-delillo-and-the-nihilistic-impulse/ 

 The Life Beneath Our Feet: Trump, Don DeLillo, and the Nihilistic Impulse Real Life Rock Top 10: 


10 JUNE 16 2016


 Ford, born in West Yorkshire in 1973, who from 2005 to 2009 published the zine Savage Messiah, a street walking excavation of the ruins of present-day London—it was collected in 2011 by Verso—has never accepted stable time. The past is always present, but it isn’t history: it’s a promise just over the horizon, or a hand in a horror movie pulling you down. In this 36-minute soundwork, she’s traversing Birmingham, looking for “the psychic contours of a city,” speaking quietly into a tape recorder, traffic humming around her, sometimes the noise of crowds or small groups of people, pop songs occasionally mixed in, and you are following the trail of a woman who seems to remember 1974 as if she were her own aunt, the one the rest of the family never talked about, so that when she says 2016 it barely feels real. “You keep finding the embers,” she says, with previous allusions to IRA bombings and urban riots as a rolling backdrop: “Places you must have seen from car windows 23 years ago.” 

There is the building that once housed the Birmingham Press Club: “They used to have the upstairs, a litany of names, they’ve all been here, Bernard Ingham, Margaret Thatcher, Enoch Powell, Barbara Cartland, Earl Spencer, Cliff Richard—it’s all too much,” she says of the specter of bland power, of seeing herself on the same stairs, in their footsteps. “This is where it was all concocted”—a conspiracy of government officials, pop stars, romance novelists—“in those rooms upstairs.” 
She looks at graffiti on a pub: “A refusal to accept what England has become, they hover above the walls as a negative ambiance,” a gateway “into those undercurrents of excess, violence, destruction for its own sake.  You’ve tuned into the undercurrent that speaks of refusal, a hatred of doing the right thing.” It’s a civil war of the dead, people turning into specters as she passes them, as she does to them. At the very end you hear Rod Stewart, with “You Wear It Well,” from 1972, the sound rickety and distant, as if you’re listening not to a record but to the woman you’ve been listening to remembering what it was to hear him sing it at a show she attended before she was born, and it’s never sounded more true.