Archive | July, 2012

5 Random Songs, 5 Random Memories

24 Jul

Whilst I was walking in the pissing sunshine (aside: In London we have ‘pissing rain’ when it is unrelenting, unpleasant and leaves you drenched, in Denver we have ‘pissing sunshine’ which has more or less the same affect) listening to my music, I started wondering about the relationship between songs and memory. I know that some songs, like smells, are intrinsically linked with certain times, places, people etc. So much so that if that song comes on the radio it can take you right back. So I set myself a challenge, for every song that randomly shuffled on my IPhone I had to think if there were any memories associated. Once I opened myself up to this idea I found that every single song had really strong associations (If you’re bored one time, give it a go, it’s amazing the things that get triggered.) So here I have decided as a small experiment, and a way to waste half an hour, I am going to put my Itunes on shuffle and whatever 5 song comes on I’m going to put down my associations. Yes this is very self-indulgent, yes no one else cares, yes it is navel gazing and yes it’s MY blog so eff off!

1. Sam’s Town – The Killers

Right so this one’s easy, I used to listen to this whole album when working at the behavioural neuroscience lab in York. During the 10 weeks I spent at the university that summer I worked on a study of reptilian behaviour. So it was me, a tortoise called Moses and a maze. I remember singing along to this song whilst sitting in the tiny spare room we used for the study. Moses was slowly inching his way around the maze whilst I recorded his movements on a clipboard. I remember the smell of the small electric heater we used, a bit like burnt toast, and of Moses, who smelt a bit like dried fruit! Bless him, he now lives with his owner in Vienna… oh and he turned out to be a she! I do still miss my little transgender tortoise *sniff*

What Ever Happened – The Strokes

Two memories here! One is of being a spotty 16 year old and downloading this song off Napster, I remember it took about 3 hours to download each song and I was constantly terrified of the cyber police breaking through the window and arresting me. The other memory is of THE BEST NIGHT OUT EVER ™ at university. On this fabled night me and two of my good friends from university went to see ‘Marie Antoinette’ at the cinema, ate Mcdonalds and went to an indie club… I can’t say why it was SO great but all three of us agreed that this was the most fantastic night out! I know we drank a lot, decided that ‘We Are Your Friends’ by Simian was our personal friendship song and I tried to pick one friend up and dropped her on the dancefloor. Students are very simple creatures. This song was on the ‘Marie Antoinette’ soundtrack which I borrowed off Alex (one of the two friends) and this is how I have this song today.

3. Waiting for the 7:18 – Bloc Party

One rainy British summer I worked at my dad’s office for a few weeks to make a little money. One of his coworkers would make copies of his CD’s for me and Bloc Party was one of them. I’d heard them before but this was the first album I owned. I used to listen to this song on the 30 minute tube journey from Tufnell Park to Barbican, squashed like battery farmed chickens with the rest of North London! The work was dull, my hands were always covered in papercuts and covered in dust, but it was an all right time… getting excited about Fresher’s week, seeing my friends, meeting boys… all that. This song pretty much sums up being a 19 year old student for me.

4. Beautiful – Athlete

I got this album for my 17th birthday, I remember it being an extraordinarily sunny day (rare for my birthday) and I think I remember wishing I could go to a music festival, except I had school and no money. Instead, I was revising for my AS Psychology exam with this playing in the background. Nothing too profound just a warm summer evening after a day spent pretending to revise with friends on Hampstead Heath.

5. Can’t Stop – The Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Now this I really remember! I used to listen to this album at my friend Carmen’s house, we would sit in her bedroom and draw these hugely intricate drawings of mice… It all started in an English lesson I think, but we would just sit and draw these really strange Where’s Wally/Waldo style pictures of mice. We also were trying to make a house in the style of The Borrowers and a cardboard version of all the Houses of Harry Potter. Yeah we were weird and geeky but those summer nights were great, we’d order in a pizza and just make things all day with this album playing in the background.

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Space Invaders…

10 Jul

So I haven’t written an entry for some time, months in fact. This is for a good reason; I have been busy enjoying the sights of Midwestern America, applying for jobs, volunteering, making friends and all kinds of important self-building stuff.

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This represents me being all fulfilled and stuff…

So what is my comeback article about? Something profound about the political system here? A comment on attitudes to gay marriage in America? Obamacare? Turkey and Syria? Well… I considered writing a little something about all of these things but you know what? I just couldn’t muster the energy nor the inclination to write something that has been written 10 million times before by people who don’t use Wikipedia as a major source of factual information! So instead, I’m going to tell you a little about my strange rather screwed-up 20 year long relationship with a certain Spielberg creation.

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night, covered in perspiration and with my heart racing. I couldn’t remember much about the dream other than the fact that it had terrified me. Slowly, I lay back down and let myself fall back asleep. It was already there waiting for me…. Two long gnarled fingers flutter spastically towards me as a bright witchy red light pulsed rhythmically beneath its membranous chest. A rattling intake of breath down that long tubular neck as it leans forward into a single beam of moonlight. Now I can see the light of cold distant stars reflect in its eyes, eyes staring out of the tight hairless face of some starving nightmare child. Nope, sadly this was not the deformed baby from Eraserhead, nor a Stephen King Horror or some other acceptably scary Lovecraftian monstrosity… Say hello to the loveable 80’s family film creation E.T. AKA everyones favourite extraterrestrial AKA the main character in my nightmares for roughly 22 years!

How shameful to be having nightmares about E.T. and at my age?! I mean seriously, I spent a lot of this morning wondering if I was losing my mind. I mean I haven’t dreamt about the little bugger for many years now but the fact is, this isn’t a new occurrence; From the age of 3 to 12 I used to have a frequently recurring nightmare which my parents knew only as ‘the hand’. Even at this young age I never admitted that the hand actually belonged to everyone’s favorite cuddly alien, I knew it was stupid. All the same that film terrified me, I mean seriously terrified me! And now, at the tender age of 25, worldwise and all grow’d up, he’s back…

So I did what any normal (albeit slightly neurotic) 21st century person would do, I googled it. And people, especially those of you sniggering, I am not alone! There is an entire community of people out there who were disturbed by E.T.. People who as children found the freakish bald monkey with a telescopic neck waiting for them night after night and who, to this day, are still occasionally visited by him.

So where does the irrational fear come from? True many people are terrified of spiders and snakes, but at least that makes sense… What is it about E.T. That scared me so badly that even now I am haunted by his presence? Well let’s go back to where it all began, Christmas 1989, I remember receiving the VHS from my parents. I had never heard nor seen the film before but apparently my misguided hippy parents thought it would be a heartwarming film that would teach me about friendship and racial harmony during post-Cold War 90’s paranoia. FAIL. Even the box scared me, I mean look at it!

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That is not a nice child-friendly hand it’s clearly the cold probing reptilian appendage of some horrific space-pedophile… clearly. *cough*

So anyway the film starts with some sinister warbling wind instrument as our ‘hero’ scurries around with his other interstellar-abortions fondling plants and scaring rabbits with his clammy fingers. The next hour is full of such things as a mystery shadow in a creepy shed, a set of swings moving by themselves and a scene in a corn field where E.T. appears and screams like some demented tongueless banshee (see clip below).

And don’t start me on the scene with the sleeping bag and the skittles… Jon Carpenter eat your heart out! So all in all my impressionable 3 year old brain blew a fuse. I remember fleeing the room and my older sister trying (and failing) to console me. I never actually saw the second half of the film until I was well into my teens, and even to this day I have this vague sense of uneasiness, as if my inner child somewhere deep in my subconscious, is screaming its head off!

Right so I got that off my chest, sort of. I’m none the wiser as to WHY E.T. freaked me out, he just did. But safe to say, those strange things that scared you as a child; that episode of Thomas the Tank Engine or the faceless puppets in Play Days, they stay with you! You have been warned, also feel free to share any things that used to freak you out as a child so that I feel less ridiculous. Thanks.

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P.S. You see, someone else gets me!