Sunday, February 21, 2010

Road Accident

I saw, or half-saw, a very unpleasant road accident yesterday. I was walking back from the shops when, in front of me, on the other side of the road, a motorbike crashed into the side of a van. Although this was only about 60 yards ahead of me, I didn't see it that clearly, because it was dark, and I was walking along looking mostly at the pavement at the time.

I got a brief glimpse of the van turning into a driveway and the motorbike crashing quite fast into it. I had the sort of impression that the van crossed the road and turned into the driveway when maybe it shouldn't have, and also the bike might have been going too fast. But it was only a brief impression and I could be wrong. Anyway, there was a startlingly loud bang when it happened, much louder that you'd normally hear in a city traffic accident.

Although I was close, there were other people on the pavement in front of me, and by the time I got there, people were already phoning for an ambulance. Other cars had stopped too, and a crowd gathered immediately. The motorcyclist was lying beside his bike. I'm sure he was very badly injured; it had been such a violent smash and he went right into the side of the van. I did see his leg move so at least he wasn't dead.

I stood there uselessly for a little while. You think you should do something but there was nothing to do, really, but hope the ambulance arrived quickly. When I heard the siren in the distance I walked on, thinking that I wasn't helping anyone by standing there staring at it all. It was such an unpleasant incident. I arrived home feeling very sorry for the bike rider, and hoping he would be all right.

Motorbikes seem so dangerous, especially in cities, with cars turning all the time. As I said, I sort of had the impression the accident wasn't the motorbike's fault. But whoever's fault it was, the biker was severely injured, and the van driver wasn't hurt at all.

I had a motorbike accident when I was 18. It wasn't so bad, though I ended up in hospital. I still have scars on my knee, and a crooked finger, which didn't quite set right after it was broken. When I was 18, I thought it was a good idea to ride a motorbike. Nowadays, nothing would get me on one. It wouldn't surprise me if everyone knows someone who's had a motorbike accident, quite possibly a bad one.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Rough Trade

Reading obituaries of the recently departed J D Salinger, I was awestruck by his achievements. After having a big success with Catcher in the Rye he disappeared from view, declining to publish anything else. While doing that, he had various affairs with young women. At the age of 53, he had a long affair with 18-year-old fan, and then he married another woman who was 40 years younger than him.

So basically, Salinger lay around doing nothing very much, living off his royalties, while young women just threw themselves at him. This man is my hero.

I wish I could spend the rest of my life lying on the couch watching SpongeBob SquarePants, meanwhile women are beating a path to my door. It sounds great. It's the ideal life for a writer, never actually having to write anything again. You have to take your hat off to J D Salinger for managing to do this.


Every time I make a foray into modern music the results are disappointing. I was listening to Joy Division's Transmission, and thinking, as I generally do 'This is a great record' and also thinking 'Oh dear, that came out a really long time ago, and I remember watching them play it live before it was even released, so I must be getting old' - when I became aware that there was a cover version, by Hot Chip. I am informed that Hot Chip are a popular modern band. I head for youtube to listen to their version. I don't like it. It makes no sense to me. I can't imagine why they made a cover version like that. (But hey, everything else they've recorded might be great, I wouldn't know)

So, that was another disappointing exposure to modern music.

Watching Joy Division on stage at the end of the 70s was a mesmerising experience. I remember buying the single Transmission, at Rough Trade Records, in their original shop in Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill. Which would have been in 1979, I suppose.

That original Rough Trade shop was like a small wonderland at the time. The walls were covered with picture sleeves from singles, which, in original punk days, was a new innovation. You could go into the shop and end up buying things just by seeing what looked good on the walls. They sold fanzines, too, which was also a new innovation. Somewhere, packed away, I still have some original copies of Sniffing Glue, original punk fanzine.

Here's a picture of where the first Rough Trade record shop was, in Kensington Park Road. It's now a toy shop, Cheeky Monkeys. This picture is slightly distorted, possibly because I'm not very good at manipulating Google street view.