Tuesday, 26 February 2008


So I've just spent an hour searching through old audio cassettes looking for a particular snippet of music (something recorded on a cheap tape recorder with a Casio keyboard in London in 1988...but that's another story) which I hope to incorporate in a suitably mangled way into what I'm working on. I was amazed to actually find it but, as I rifled through the storage box, coughing as small clouds of dust obscured my view, and cursing as the phone went - how DARE someone interrupt me! - I found a tape of New Orleans Jazz, which (surprise surprise) triggered off a memory.

(note: are there any blog awards for overly convoluted sentence structures?)

Anyway it's an odd one, and there's no punchline as such, but I thought I'd share it anyway.

I'd bought the tape while at college, and used to listen to it on headphones while I was working on a number of specific, large-scale abstract charcoal drawings: it was part of a project. You can tell this is going back a while: listening on headphones, pre-tinnitus. But I associate this tape less with the aforementioned project, than with one particular weekend around the time that I didn't have (for a number of reasons) a fixed address. I was thankful for the hospitality of a couple of friends who had a place in the halls of residence (after one weekend I was equally thankful that I didn't have a place of my own in the halls).

On the Saturday night, I think we'd had a night out and come back to the room in the halls. After some late night conversation and listening to music we retired. My place of repose was the living room floor - there was no settee, only very uncomfortable chairs - where I had a couple of blankets, and a cushion for a pillow. I'm not exactly the tallest person in the world, so it's telling that in order to lie comfortably, I had to lie with my head and shoulders underneath the desk in the corner of the room.

Lights out, and I realised (no shit, Sherlock) that it would take me a while to get settled or vaguely comfortable enough to actually get any sleep. So I put my personal stereo on, with the sound of the aforementioned New Orleans Jazz tape being piped into my oh-so-cultured ears. I remember that just next to me, also under the desk, was a box with a few potatoes in it. Quite why it was under the desk, I don't know.

Quite why, over the sounds of the tape, I could hear what sounded like the potatoes moving around in the box, I don't know either. I would have known if there were rodents or anything else of that ilk in the room: I certainly wouldn't have stayed on the floor. I seem to recall turning the light on briefly, and yes, it was just a box with a few potatoes in it. I also seem to recall waking up in the night - long after I'd removed the headphones - several times by the same sound: potatoes moving round in the box.

Whatever the explanation, I never solved it: so like I say, there's no neat ending or punchline here as such. But just seeing the cover of the New Orleans Jazz tape took me right back to a few short weeks of no fixed abode, of that weekend in the poky little room, and of what was apparently (and for all intents and purposes shall remain) a box of moving potatoes.

And no, I wasn't the druggy type either.


That's So Pants said...

Hi Trews

Lovely story, one might even say moving.



jazzpack said...

Fuck Music again.

Merkin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pixie said...

realy pleased your getting seriously into your music again. even it all is a bit odd but that about sums up your life really doesn't it!!!!

szwagier said...

Congratulations, t. You've found something I don't have in my collection. Not one note of NO Jazz can be heard on any of my records, tapes, cds, and mp3s. I think even country music has had more success than that (I can think of 2 songs off the top of my head).

PS. Could you send an email to my avantgardening address please? Complete and utter computer meltdown has meant that I've lost all email addresses.

First rule of data management - when backing up your data, make sure you back it up to a different hard disk. Different partition won't do, as I've discovered to my great misery.

Merkin said...

Jeezuz, Swagg.

DJ Kirkby said...

Did you see the potatos move? Cockroaches perhaps? Love jazz but not enough to listen to it next to moving vegetables...though some of the men I have slept with may have resembed exactly that at times...

zola a social thing said...

The art of keeping a Cockroach alert is to keep it tickled.
Never sleep on the job.

trousers said...

Thanks pants - and I see what you did there :)

Yes/no jazzpack (surely someone's alter ego..), since I'm not entirely sure what you mean.

Thanks pix - yes it is odd since you know some off the context. I'm all for oddness, it doesn't happen often enough :)

szwag, I think we can partially blame this on my dad, who loved jazz. Not that I had a clue what the appeal was for a long while, but sometime after leaving home I sort of rediscovered it for myself starting with New Orleans kind of stuff and then moving on to bebop (and finally free jazz). I don't think I'll try and explain the appeal though, maybe I'd be wasting my time... :)

Oh thanks for the original comment merk and the email, I will reply before long.

No I didn't see any such evidence of movement dj, though I think I'd rule cockroaches out in this particular set of circumstances (I wouldn't have felt comfortable lying there if I knew there were cockroaches crawling about).

I'm sure there's a perfectly rational explanation, but I like the fact that I never found one, since it leaves me with the absurdity of the thought that I was lying next to a box of moving potatoes.

Exactly, zola!. Have yourself a bonus ASBO :)