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  • 1. Leaving My Old Life Behind

    Leaving My Old Life Behind

    I learned quite a lot
    Shooting through my mind
    Things I never guessed at before

    And so I decided
    To leave my old life behind
    I don’t need it anymore

    I’m gonna learn to climb the clouds
    I’m gonna learn to climb the wind
    I wont stop til Ive understood the dark

    I’m gonna learn to fly the clouds
    I’m gonna understand the air
    My mind will listen to the stars

    To everyone else I appear quite the same
    And I help them as much as I can

    But they’ll never know that my mind is in the air
    O how could they ever understand

    I’m gonna learn to climb the clouds
    I’m gonna pull upon the rain
    I’ll learn what lies beneath the earth

    I’m gonna learn to climb the clouds
    I’m gonna understand the space
    I’ll even go back beyond birth

  • 20. Defibrillator


    I didn’t know Big Jamesy that well. He hung about with McPherson, my flatmate. I met him on Christmas Day when I worked a shift at the 13th Note. He sat at the end of the bar, drinking and drinking until he threw up over it. Watery spew dripping onto the pint glasses on the shelf below. Christmas Day. Thanks Jamesy.

    McPherson was the star of the Glasgow easy listening revival, spinning Klaus Wunderlich and Peters and Lee records in a kipper tie and polyester suit, smelling of Oxfam and Brut for men.

    “Let’s get a band together! It’ll be great! Big Jamesy can play guitar. He’s really good.”

    “Okay. I’ll ask Baldy Keith to come down and play drums. He’s got a van as well.”

    So I was back in the basement of the 13th Note with Big Jamesy, McPherson, and Baldy Keith. We didn’t have a name, any songs, or any idea of what we were going to do other than that it was going to be ”really heavy”.

    Big Jamesy looked like one of those late Ramones. You know those guys that came in to play the drums or the bass when Dee Dee had gone off to rap. Leather jacket, black bowl cut, surly stoop, and malnourished frame.

    “And on drums it’s…BENNY RAMONE!”

    Instantly identifiable but completely anonymous.

    We set up our gear. Baldy Keith’s parents had bought him a huge, ostentatious kit with too many toms and one of those backwards cymbals. McPherson’s bass was a beautiful Paddy’s Market semi that shrieked when any amp was turned up over two. I was gonna sing. And Big Jamesy brought out his Charvel and plugged it in a luminous, yellow-doored, Metal Maniac pedal. Then turned every dial into Peavey tranny amp as far to the right as it would go. Then he started.

    Ah shite. He’s a shredder.

    Shredders are found in every guitar shop across the world. From the age of about thirteen they become consumed by World of Warcraft, the fear of females, and the desire to move their fingers as quickly and loudly across the fret board of an electric guitar as inhumanly possible. Jamesy shredded. Shooting bursts of angry, stuttering noise like jets of frustrated spunk from the speaker. McPherson joined in. Of course he did. He was the most enthusiastic guy I’d ever met.

    “Life’s a joke. Let’s make sure it’s a good one!”

    An ironic, knowing good one. He dropped his head and randomly whacked his thick strings.

    And Baldy Keith went for it. Rolls and rolls and clunky rolls. Complex patterns, taught by a ten-pounds-an-hour drum tutor, each ending in a triumphant blow to the backwards cymbal. Each completely disconnected from the bass. Which in turn had no way of connecting to chaos of Jamesy’s shreds.

    In that time I was into Noel Coward. I was the only guy in Glasgow singing with the thirties “received pronunciations” as a suicidal act of contrary twat-ery. So I rasped effete witticisms only I would ever appreciate over the sound of insanity at a 140 decibels. Eventually, Baldy Keith dropped his sticks and grabbed four cans of Red Stripe from behind the bar. McPherson was, unsurprisingly, exuberant.

    “I thought there were some great moments in there! All we need now is a name.”

    Big Jamesy had unplugged his lead but his fingers still shredded. His left hand a malevolent grey spider, skittering to and from the pointed headstock.


    “What’s that, Jamesy?”

    “We should call the band Defibrillator.”

    “That’s great! What made you think of that?”

    “The santa. The dead Santa on the defibrillator. You know the guy that stays in the bed cell on the stair. The santa! The old guy with a big white beard, likes a drink. I kill him with my guitar. You know he’s always moanin’ about my practicin’, bangin’ on the flare, pure moanin’ all the time. Anyways, so I’ve been playin’ for a couple of hours the other day when I realized there was this bangin’ on the door. So I goes to open it and he’s stoned in there. This big fat santa face. Bright red and bits of spit in his beard. Pure shoutin’ at me, how he’s goin’ to give me a doin’. This guy’s a total santa. Must be seventy or something, man. Anyway, like I said, he’s totally in my face and going off on one when he falls flat on his…starts having this mad eppy fit. Pure shakin’ on the floor like a big, fat spazzy santa.”

    “You can’t say ‘spazzy’, James. It’s ignorant.”

    “Aye, right. So I didn’t know what to do so I just closed the door and I rolled a spliff and I smoked it. Then I reckoned I should maybe call an ambulance so I got 10p and I goes to the phone box but you don’t need 10p ’cause the 999 calls are free. Anyway, so they tell me to stay in the room. So I go back. But I panic a wee bit and I think they’re gonna find my stash. So I’m hidin’ my stash when all these guys arrive wearin’ those bright suits. And it’s all f–ing crazy, man. These guys are goin’…They got santa’s shirt open. And one guys blowin’ at his mouth. The other guy’s pumpin’ up and down on his chest. Totally frantic, man. Totally frantic. And they get out the machine. The defibrillator. That thing is mad, by the way. They’ve got one on his chest and pure firing five thousand volts of electricity through ’em. Totally f–ing mental. Anyways, I think that would be a magic name for a band. ‘Cause it would be like…we were totally firin’…five thousand volts of noise into the ears of the audience.”

    “But what happened to the guy, Jamesy?”

    “Oh, the santa was dead. Took him away. But check this out!”

    Jamesy had his hands in his pockets.

    “When they were blowin’ in his mouth, they had to take his false ones out. And they left these behind when they took him away.”

    Jamesy opened his hand to reveal a complete set of pink and white dentures.

    Everyone agreed that defibrillator was a magic name for a band. But we never practiced again for some reason.