My hip operation is now scheduled for January 15th. I really don’t want to go through all the inconvenience. No driving for six weeks. Build up to walking half a mile a day after four weeks. So for six – eight weeks there will be no dog walks; no snooker; no Lewes matches; no Brighton matches; no Samaritans’ shifts. My own personal lockdown. Of course, I understand that, if it goes well, it will be worth it. I’ve had disturbed nights’ sleep for the past month now and last night had to take painkillers at 3:00 a.m. There’s a lot of hassle to go through before things start to improve.
On the other hand, I’ve just bought my pass to watch all of Sussex’s T20 matches next Summer. I’m not going to miss many Brighton matches and I’m aiming to get to the Liverpool match eight weeks after the operation. I wrote about how I compare the past, present and future in my post on The Shangri-La’s. Things can only get better.
I’ve been invited to two “social events” over the next few weeks. One is with a group of great guys who used to work at Oakmeeds. Most of the conversation will be about the past. How Tony missed a coach. How Pete led the singing in a pub. How Mark is what he eats. I wasn’t present at any of these events but I’ve heard the stories so many times, it feels like I was there – that these incidents have become part of my history. We will be meeting in a pub in Brighton and talking bollocks for a few hours while supping the sublime nectar known as “Harvey’s Best Bitter”. The other event is a Christmas meal with the Maths Department at BHASVIC. Over the past eighteen months, I’ve lost contact with most of them and I wasn’t sure whether or not it would be a great time. Talking about the good old days and finding out how teaching has changed; finding that I have nothing in common with most of them. Eating in a Turkish restaurant in Brighton with bottles of beer in a carrier bag at my side.
I wasn’t sure whether to go to these gatherings or not and then I thought about two months staying in, nursing my sore hip, struggling to walk anywhere and going stir crazy, wishing I could get out. So, trying to remember my Latin “O” level, the conditional tense comes into play here. I feel that I would not like to be sitting around in February, wishing that I had been more sociable in the past. That’s the point at which I “snapped out of it” and decided to go an be my normal lovable charming self. Or failing that, sit in a corner and look miserable. Either way, it will be a chance to get out, meet some good friends and catch COVID. Or, as Rosali put it in an interview about her new album, “I imagine confidently walking away from the past, toward a new approach to love and intimacy to achieve a closer relationship with myself.”
“No Medium” is Rosali Middleman’s third album. UNCUT are fans of her work. Her first album, “Out Of Love” was named one of their best albums of 2016. Her second album, “Trouble Anyway” was their album of the month in January 2019. “No Medium” is their 74th best album of the year.
I’ve been listening to this album on repeat for 24 hours now and I love it. Her voice is a mixture of Chrissie Hynde and early Lucinda Williams. Musically, the electrifying David Nance group provide a heartland rock setting, slightly reminiscent of the great sound of Mary Margaret O’Hara’s “Miss America”. Some reviewers have spotted other musical influences, including Bob Dylan, Iain Matthews, David Bowie, Gene Clark, Harry Nilsson and Richard &Linda Thompson. There are a couple of quiet songs (“All This Lightning” and “Your Shadow”) but the majority are backed by two guitars, bass and drums. Some of the lead electric guitar playing is sensational.
The title of the album comes from “Jane Eyre”. “I know no medium: I never in my life have known any medium in my dealings with positive, hard characters, antagonistic to my own, between absolute submission and determined revolt. I have always faithfully observed the one, up to the very moment of bursting, sometimes with volcanic vehemence, into the other.” There is, apparently, a deliberate ambiguity about the use of the word “medium”. Does it mean the middle, is it the means by which she expresses herself (the medium of music) or does it refer to a psychic?
In January 2019, Rosali spent two weeks in a remote farmhouse in South Carolina after a UK tour with J Mascis was cancelled. She claims to have experienced supernatural events which caused her to face up to the reality of her own life. The publicity that Rosali’s management released with the album states that the album “explores the often dark territory of loss, death, sexuality, self-sabotage, and addiction“. Lyrically that is illustrated in such lines as “Through the darkness of the field I walk through without yielding to the rest of the feelings I’m carrying.” Musically, the contrast between her mournful, yet strong, voice and the harshness of some of the instrumentation conveys a mood of introspection. Rosali has said that “Where words fail, the guitar becomes the conduit for raw feelings, providing a direct connection to them.” In “Pour Over Ice”, Rosali wanted her lead guitar to sound like a slow motion car crash. The song is about her use of alcohol and how its use gives her confidence in social situations. I must remember to drink alcohol when I venture out next week.
One of the excellent aspects to the songs is the structure: most songs have memorable choruses which, if I were in a particularly desolate mood, I could sing along to. On the other hand, I’m sure that other dog walkers would think I was bonkers if they saw an old man walking a morose dog, muttering “All this lightning ain’t frightening to me“.
“I think feelings and emotions aren’t just one thing, and when you’re experiencing a moment that’s maybe really intense, and you might feel one way, but then reflecting on it you might remember some random detail that might have felt mundane at the time, but now later on holds some significance and potency. ” If it’s good enough for Rosali to acknowledge that mundane experiences can have a deeper significance, then I’m feeling fine about talking shit with some old friends over the next couple of weeks.