NOT EVERYTHING IS
The stage is set with a
table, a chair, a hatstand.
A BIOGRAPHER enters and puts a
laptop on the table.
The memory can play tricks on you. Have I
said that already?
But here’s what I remember about the last
year. I’ll start with me.
I’m a biographer. My first book – the life
of my Grandfather – he worked in the
pharmaceutical industry – created
Addictin, a drug that has no actual
discernible effects apart from causing a
craving for more Addictin – made a fortune
for Pfizer and they add it in trace
amounts to pretty much everything they
sell now. The book went down well. My
second one, went down not so well. My
third and fourth went down and came
straight back up.
A FOOTNOTER enters the story.
Footnote 1. This is true so far as it goes
– the first book was a success, there was
no great call for the others.
I have been resting on my laurels, which
if you happen to have laurels, I recommend
you rest on them, they can be very
In my work I use a technique called
peripheral specificity. I don’t tell
linear “then this happened” type stories,
I focus on the tiny details, the minor
bits of living that eventually become a
life. Not just what someone does but how
they are, who they meet, what they wear,
what’s in their pockets. I am a detail
devil, a between the linesman. And I need
lots of details. I won’t tell you how
many, I mean I could, but I’d probably
exaggerate, and believe me I know the 4000
rules of exaggeration.
2. There are not 4000 rules of
exaggeration. That was a joke.
Later, the Biographer tracks down a
piece of music called the Rogers
Creation. . .
I don’t know much about music but my
friend Alan does. Have I mentioned
musician Alan? The memory plays tricks
He’s a descendant of the composer Handel –
hasn’t inherited his talent, but the name
opens doors. Alan made his way writing the
beeps for medical equipment but his career
is now on life support. He was gutted when
Brian Eno had been appointed by the WWF as
the official composer for the extinction
of the rhino – haunting tunes – and was
taking up a consolation posting as
composer in residence at the last days of
a certain African dictatorship. He said
he’d look it up and get back to me. While
online I paddle the news websites –
another birth bombing on a bus in
Jerusalem where heavily pregnant
Palestinian women set off life; this time
the birth toll was four including a set of
Then I go ogle the Creation myself. I find
a few references but nothing firm. A few
people have heard it apparently but
there’s no real description of what it
6. D. E. Rogers composed and recorded his
Creation in 1923, his only known work. He
said the tune had come to him while a
soldier in the World War One trenches, an
echo of heaven while being deafened by
hell. Rogers then seems to have
disappeared. The recording Alan would burn
onto a CD for the biographer had been
sitting in the basement of the BBC music
library since the 30s waiting to be heard
The next week I meet up with musician Alan
at The Cram, London’s smallest bar. We
have gins and tonics made with 110% proof
gin, so powerful it sucks in the alcohol
of drinks around it. He looks like a
railway junction with all the features
leaving his face in different directions
at different speeds. He hands me a CD of
the Rogers Creation and asks why I wanted
it. Just research. He always had a doomed
thing for Meredith and asks after her. I
say she’s sort of seeing someone, which
may or may not be true. We go onto a retro
gaming arcade playing Morris Dance Dance
Revolution and Grand Theft Tram. Ding
I’m mentioning people in the wrong order.
Mere is my ex-girlfriend and current
Meredith’s a journalist, she is
generically pretty, has whisky and water
hair and chocolate eyes on a long skinny
body, and she moves like a fading
civilization, worried about its future.
We’d met when she was doing an article
about my ex-ex-ex-girlfriend Sandy.
And then a postal delivery. . .
Autumn performs its slow striptease. The
conversations about Christmas starting
earlier every year start earlier this
year, but pretty soon it’s card sending
and receiving time. I send off and receive
. But the week before Christmas something
appears in the pile of post and it takes
me aback a bit. A bit aback.
It’s just another envelope. No stamps but
it’s with the other cards. What’s this, I
ask Mere. No answer, or at least none
before the end of recorded time. It’s a
diary. Someone had sent me next year’s
diary – the first page – my details had
been filled in. I flick through, there’s a
ton of entries – it’s actually virtually
full. Names, phone numbers. Things to do,
notes on things done. Is this a joke from
Mere? No answer. It’s actually a neat
present. They’ve faked my handwriting
really well. What’s going to happen in the
first week? Brunch on New Year’s Day. I
always do that – it’s an annual thing. I
make it my new year’s resolution to make
others break their new year’s resolutions.
There’s a big table of food and booze and
cigarettes, it’s bad dirty fun.
But looking at some of the other entries,
bells remain unrung.
Poodling? No idea what that is. The Museum
of Upturned Cups. Nope. The Burn. The
Chapel of Impact. Life as a rollercoaster.
Lots of mentions of Rogers – is the
Creation going to be my next subject after
The last entry is on September 22nd, then
there’s no more. According to this,
nothing would, will or did happen to me
It’s one of those things you know you
could spend some time and thought on, but
the time you spend thinking about how much
time you should think about it seems to be
enough, so I put it down, get a drink and
see what Meredith is up to.