Saturday, February 28, 2004


The lead is twisted, recoiling,
Dragging the plug - slyly toiling
To plug it back in,
And whilst you sleep, the plug will spin
And stretch like a flower
Searching for light;
It will find the socket in the night,
And bloom with the dawn ...

These words are taken from my new track on Electromancer, called OCD and the Phototropic Plug

Before uploading this track, I imagined that some knee-jerkers would regard it as quite the nonciest aubade ever recorded, but it’s actually a song about what it’s like to suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

OCD takes control of sufferers by issuing them with an apparent means of taking control themselves - over their fears. Compulsions and ritualistic behaviour develop as a way of allaying intrusive, obsessive thoughts about death, illness, contamination, failure, etc.

‘Checking’ rituals are common, and although it is always far from harmonious, the relationship between the fear and the ritual is frequently unambiguous - fear of a gas leak causing death may compel the sufferer to check and re-check and further re-check the gas taps. Ironically, the compulsion of continually re-pressing the knob to the off position, sometimes to the extent where the strain of checking over time actually weakens the mechanism, may make it more likely the gas will leak.

There are many examples where the link between the fear and the compulsion is less obvious: Caradog Seliskar, a psychologist studying obsessionals in Paris, describes how a patient deliberately struggled to yawn in sympathy every time his dog yawned, feeling this would somehow prolong the life of his ageing pet.

In this track, I attempt to show how a person fearing failure in life, loss of reputation and humiliation, is persuaded by the voice of his disorder to compulsively re-check that the plug is out of the socket before going to bed, in order to ensure that no illegal or dubious material is planted on his computer by a virus activated in the night. To be incriminated unjustly this way, resulting in the implication that he has downloaded ch1ld pr0n0graphy, represents the worst thing that could happen to him; and so, although he is tired, swaying slightly as he kneels on the floor, the man continues to stare at the plug connected to his computer – checking, re-checking.

In fact, this is the second time the track’s been on Electromancer: minutes after I first uploaded it onto my page, a few weeks ago, the website's server mysteriously went down - for 24 hours in the end - and no explanation was given to the webmaster, who is still claiming to be bemused. I wondered if some sophisticated software had sniffed out certain terms in the song, and pulled the website so the suspicious artefact could be investigated. OCD informs my rhymes - when I die, I'll die three times ...

Thursday, February 26, 2004


My Fib – Your Reply

My fib:
I'll soon be off to work in the Namib region of Namibia - a cool coastal desert with sand dunes and gravel plains. I've been told I will need some headgear – made of breathable fabric, and flexible enough to fold into a rucksack. I've already got a baseball cap, but want something else a little different … Do you know where I can find one of those Oliver Twist caps - the kind with peaks and a steepish front?

Your reply:
Working in a desert of Namibia?
Hmm, has there ever been told a more fib-ier
Fib than that
(‘Cos I ain’t heard one, so far)?
But I hope you find your Dickensian hat
("... oom-pah-pah, oom-pah-pah!!") ...

Rolling inland, the sea mist parts
To reveal the backdrop to Lionel Bart's
The rookery slums are suddenly strewn
On the side of a giant sand dune.
Two native ostriches
Use their beaks to pick at the stitches
In a pile of stolen wallets.
Fagin is blinded while he sings,
And his pet owl cowers, using its
To shield its eyes;
His treasure stash lies
Exposed in the sun, glinting
(Oliver Twist is squinting,
Having lost his cap in the sand).

Gazing across the palm of his hand,
Bill Sikes sees the air wobbling
With the rising heat of Nancy's blood
(Her body in a red dress
Looks like a rosebud
On the horizon).

Although I did originally fib about working there, I am now toying with the idea of going to Namibia this summer, specifically to the Namib Desert, where I dream of putting on a production of Lionel Bart's "Oliver!" among the sand dunes. I just wonder what it would be like ... Dehydrated and burnt, the Dodger loses his vigour, becoming a sluggish lully prigger, tangled in a mirage of laundry hanging on a washing line - sneezing while he tries to suck moisture from the judge’s wig he imagines is drying there; the photic sneeze reflex - triggered by exposure to the desert sun - completely ruins the song he is singing ...