Most writers have a tendency to keep things. I don’t want to call myself a hoarder that would be admitting the truth. Well, some truth as I am selective hoarder. I keep stuff as a living memory, objects that trigger something deep in my memory. Like jump starting an old car, and after tidying up this space, discovering a radiator I’d forgotten was even there, finding a lamp I thought I’d chucked and then finding a load of floppy discs with cryptic clues written on them I have discovered that I am not always a selective hoarder.
There is that moment when the fiftieth pile of floppy discs fall on you that you realise that sticker that meant something circa 1995 means nothing to you 23 years later, if anyone can untangle AR* BXu 1998 is more than welcome to try and find a way to read the blasted disc. There are horror top trumps that remind me of school in 1982 and I even search to see if they still make them, then I put them away carefully because they’re worth more than they were in age of leg warmers and Wham. There are sad moments too when I find a t-shirt a late friend designed for me to wear on a tour, a little grubby now, a little too tight on me, it has been folded up, placed carefully in a bag and stored safely away. We worked on many things over the years, me and my late friend, Mike, from daft songs with dance beats sampling Vic Reeves to full blown digital whodunnits. Mike was always up for a spot of creativity, he even had a jar of pickled bums in his room. Then I find a tape and start playing it, it’s full of music and my wife hears it and asks who is it, I look at the tape and realise it’s me in a band long forgotten. She doesn’t believe me, she keeps asking, ‘Are you sure?’ It’s me but she looks at me incredulously. I have forgotten how good I once was on guitar and keyboard. I gave them up for words as bassists really annoy me. As I trek through the past I find things that would make Mike laugh because he wasn’t a bassist, like the first digital magazine in the age of dial up, on yet another floppy, which was posted to your house, as in posted through your letterbox. There are so many publications I have been in, many forgotten, many folded, some still clinging on, some that where just a glorious moment of publishing and I have dragged them out of boxes and onto shelves. There it is, a twenty year career on several shelves and in a large filing cabinet. I am struck at how this is like layers laid down beneath our feet, stratum, that they show my growing confidence, moments of me being prolific, moments of sedentary, and publications that twenty years ago I only dreamed of being in. That’s writing, layer by layer we get larger, we get bigger, we get harder, we dig in for the long haul and forge on from post to digital, from digital to who knows what.