09 May 2009

Words are very unnecessary

And so we have reached another of those moments where I find myself sitting alone in our house, the wind echoing down the dusty corridors reminiscent of the ghostly footsteps of so many fallen soldiers returning home from the Somme, pointing accusatory spectral fingers at the commissioned classes and wordlessly asking "Why?".

Well, maybe not, but once again The Very Understanding Girlfriend has headed off to the Dark Continent, timeless, primordial, lush with a heart of darkness that beats to a tribal drum of a bygone era*, etc, etc, for a few weeks. When I travel by myself I end up in the Czech Republic making smoothies, when she heads off it tends to be for two weeks near the slopes of Kilimanjaro, or somewhere with the warm waters of the Indian Ocean lapping against the shore somewhere less than 100 meters from her bed. While technically her trips are always involve quite intensive research and workshops, her choice of locales has my shopping centre on the outskirts of Brno beaten hands down. I really must do better.

One of most difficult aspects to get used to of being alone at home for these extended durations is the silence. Whole days can go by where the only human interaction I have is a few meaningless words exchanged with my local purveyors of fine coffee. I believe myself to be a solitary creature, a bastion of self-reliance, introspection and quiet contemplation. This myth is mercilessly dispelled by the third day of any such unenforced retreat, as I invariably realise to my chagrin that I am providing a dvd commentary to the most banal aspects of my daily routine ("Interestingly enough the cornflakes Unkie Dave is eating now are sourced from the same shop that provides his vegetarian cocktail sausages. While not as tasty as a mass-market brand, they contain less sugar and are made from organic corn"), and run screaming with arms flailing wildly in search of the company of friends or even, heaven forbid, family.

Both to celebrate this fear of silence, and to ward off its evil presence**, I met up with a few friends last night and wandered into Meeting House Square for "Bumper 2 Bumper", a headphone disco that launched this year's Dublin Dance Festival***. In almost complete silence, a couple hundred hardy souls braved the mockery of their peers to boogie on down with a wide array of headphones and walkmen listening to a 2hr live DJ set broadcast on Phantom FM. To the amusement of onlooking diners in Eden restaurant, the crowd bopped away and occasionally warbled at the top of their lungs in scenes reminiscent of what one friend called "a hundred tuneless people in a shower". The crowd was very mixed, with families and children enjoying themselves side by side with tuxedo-wearing students on their way to the Trinity Ball, and all-in-all a good time was had by all.

All too often I return from a few days spent in another city thinking that Dublin, in comparison, is crap. Nothing fun ever happens, no one has any imagination, and all we ever do as a city is drink too much, eat kebabs and inevitably use the space under other peoples balconies as a public pissoir****. Last night was fun, free, and alcohol free*****, and I am sure there are many more similar events out there if I just got off my backside and looked for them.

But for now I return alone to my metaphorical hermitage with nothing but the sound of my own heartbeat to mark the passage of this quiet time.

oh, and my Tenori-on. Mustn't forget the Tenori-on.

boom-tish, boom-tish, boom-badda-boom-tish.

* These and other descriptive nouns, adjectives and evocative phrases are brought to you today by Binyavanga Wainaina's so-close-to-the-truth-its-painful article, "How To Write About Africa", in Granta 92. Many thanks to the Very Understanding Girlfriend for sharing it with me.

** a practice inspired by the Mexican 'Day of the Dead", where entire villages mourn the loss of their economic integrity to NAFTA and the WTO by sending parcels of bacon to random addresses in New York and Texas.

*** This will be the only event in the Dance Festival that I will attend. My opinion of dance, particularly interpretive dance, is unpublishable. In my world Interpretive Dancers occupy a layer of hell just below actors of experimental theater, and just above the writers of Two and Half Men. What you do in the privacy of your own home is your own business, but don't inflict that sort of pain on other people, its just rude.

**** Seriously, could whoever keeps doing this at three in the morning under my bedroom window every Tuesday night just stop. I mean, come on, its a Tuesday night for chrisake, haven't you got work/school/a court appearance tomorrow?

***** The event, not the people. I will admit to sneaking out to a nearby bar for a quick pint when the music got just a little too cheesy.

Links
Dublin Dance Festival 2009
Photos from the Headphone Disco. Honestly, I don't know why Apple bother putting a camera on their phone, it is the most useless piece of poo ever; unless you are standing in broad daylight on a California summer afternoon, it never manages to pick up anything decent.

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