Saturday, 20 October 2007


It's a particular source of frustration to me that I wake up at the same time on a Saturday morning as I do during the week, and rarely get back to sleep, regardless of the lateness of the hour at which I went to bed on Friday night. Such has been the case this morning, though on the brighter side it's equally a relief to realise that I don't have to get up and go to work.

This morning something else was impinging on my consciousness as well: a long, steady ringing tone, medium in register, occasionally fading for a brief moment before returning, sometimes seeming to come from the left, other times from the right. In other words, the internal orchestra that comprises my tinnitus (not that I want to give it too grandiose a description or anything) appears to have a temporary new addition.

I'd almost forgotten what this was like, lying there and listening in, trying to distinguish between external sounds and internal ones. I've become so used to the repertoire of ringing, whining and whistling that goes on, that for the vast majority of the time it really doesn't bother me at all. It used to scare the shit out of me: I'd be constantly finding somewhere quiet to sit and listen and work out whether the noises were fading or getting louder or whether there were any new ones (which would mean another nail in the coffin for my hearing). These days I'd probably find it more unsettling if the ringing disappeared.

The new tone I heard this morning shouldn't last. It was triggered by going to see a film last night: Control, the dramatisation of the life of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis. Normally I'd have the earplugs in for loud music (and the music is done particularly well in the film) but on this occasion I just couldn't bring myself to do so. Much like the handling of the rest of the film there was something very satisfying in how the rawness and immediacy of the band's live performance was captured.

I normally steer clear of biopics: if the subject is one you're very familiar with, I find it tends to be an unsatisfactory experience, defined as much as anything by what has been missed out, misrepresented or glossed over. Not so in this case: apart from one or two slight irritations, I can't see how it could be improved upon. My friends and I were talking about it long after it had finished, which is always a good sign: as is my willingness to tolerate the ringing in my ears.


NMJ said...

Hey Trews, I am sorry about the new ringtone and hope it doesn't stay for too long. I have brief periods of tinnitus (people with ME are v sensitive to loud noise) and I think it must be pretty tough to cope with longterm, but you sound like you are well used to it and have 'normalised' it ... Internal orchestra is not grandiose, it describes well what you must experience on a daily basis.

Anyway, to the film: I came home and wept after it. It was so brilliant and moving and nostalgic. Like you, I avoid biopics, but this is well worth seeing.

trousers said...

Hi nmj, yes I'm very much used to it, so it was actually quite novel this morning to have this temporary new addition.

I thought about you since you'd said you were going to see the film. It worked well on so many levels, I thought: how it captured the everyday aspects, how a lot of things which could have been built up to be very dramatic and "myth-making" were shown in their normality as far as was possible. The humour was very well done too.

Towards the end, despite knowing damn well what happens, I was willing him not to do it whilst resigned to the fact that he obviously would: I think that's a sign of how well the story was told.

szwagier said...

It's an interesting question. I generally find that learning about the real lives of my musical heroes - yes, I do have some - is a great disappointment. The defining characteristic of heroes is that they're larger than life, so any film that seeks to present them is doomed to failure.

On the one hand, if the film treats them as larger-than-life, the suspension of disbelief, at least in my case, comes crashing down around my (ringing) ears.

On the other, if it tries to present them as they really are/were, we discover that actually, with the exception of one small area, they are/were pretty much the same as the rest of us. A not particularly enlightening conclusion.

In the case of Curtis, a man for whose musical output I have some, although not a lot these days, time, it's fairly clear, given his untimely end, that life was larger than him in almost every respect.

Merkin said...

Well trousers, my ring-tone sounds like a cow moooing.
It makes me feel that I am in the country.
Shit! , I am in the country - maybe I have tinnitus.

My alarm tone goes cocka-doodle-doo and it doesn't ever wake me.
I've just realised why.

trousers said...

Interesting points, szwag. I think there's only one person I would describe as a musical hero, most everybody else I see in fairly level terms these days, regardless of how much I like their music (thanks mainly to gigging and to helping out at music events).

But I think that Control is a good film on its own merit, and for me it stands up irrespective of Joy Division's legacy and whatever else was built up about them in their aftermath.

Evening, merk

But Why? said...

Great description of the tinnitus, which sounds well and truely awful. It's not something I've ever experienced. Well, on second thoughts, perhaps it is. Maybe I just assume that the source of everything I hear is without of my head. If anything, I seem to have the opposite problem, and find I have said out loud things which I might have hoped would have remained firmly locked in my brain, for my mind's ears only. But I digress...

It goes without saying that I hope your new ringtone beats a hasty retreat (or at least becomes a more soothing sound - a waterfall, perhaps? Wind in the trees? What would you choose to displace it with?).

Pixie said...

I should have read your blog before the drink so I'd have understood!

szwagier said...

My eardrums were just about meeting in the middle after the gig on Friday night. I'm not sure what that says about my brain.

szwagier said...

I forgot to say - I wasn't thinking specifically of Control, which I haven't seen. And I very carefully said musical heroes. The fact that I like their music, or attitude, or ideas, or sometimes all three, most certainly does not and never has made them a 'role model' or anything so crass as that.

...I feel a rant coming on, I'd better go and post it.

szwagier said...

Dammit, I'm going to get banned for spamming at this rate. Does Fear and Loathing... count as a biopic?

trousers said...

Evening all from a rather sleepy me.

but why? I think the extra noise is already receding; should have just about settled in time for me going to see The Boredoms next Saturday :)

pixie, context is everything!

Fair points szwag, I realised you were talking about musical role models, but I was referring more to what I myself was likely to do (at least to a small extent) when younger.

I was pretty sure you weren't referring to Control, but it felt worth me continuing my thoughts about it.

As for Fear and Loathing, having neither read the book nor seen the film, then I wouldn't even like to hazard a guess...