Monday, April 6, 2009


Funny how things turn out.

1984, as you’re probably aware, was supposed to have ushered in a nightmare world of surveillance and street patrols of old men in flat caps.

Instead, we got George Bloody Michael and that other useless bastard singing Wake Me Up Before You Go Go. And Phil Collins to clear up the vomit.

Twenty five years on and the man from Google Street View has just let himself into my house to take a pee. So we’re all pals now.

Do I sound flippant and frivolous? Of course. It’s because I’m feeling sad today.

In spite of the wealth of information available “out there” it’s all too easy to miss out on important news. Not the earth-shattering stuff, like how Gordon Brown spends five minutes before Prime Minister’s Questions ironing his ears, but the news of one’s personal links with the world.

I now discover Adrian Mitchell is dead. His lips breathed their last three days before my Dad, as it turned out. December 2008 has a lot to answer for, say I — even though Son of Whirl bought me a killer Magic The Gathering deck and Girly of Whirly poured so much rum on the Christmas pudding, pirates turned up before the fire brigade.

In my student days, I worked with Adrian Mitchell on a collaborative theatre project in a primary school. The remit was exquisitely simple: spend five weeks getting to know a handful of kids, write stories, read stories, write poetry, read poetry, help the kids to put on a performance and round it all off with a theatrical spectacular in the college gardens culminating with a party with fizzy pop and jelly in a dance studio converted into a theme park.

Before the project began, I consumed a few of his earlier works and wondered how I was going to deal with this left-wing firebrand. As it turned out, I was moved by the strength of his compassion. Sure, he was angry — but he made it work for the common good. This, as history shows us, is one of our harder apeman tricks.

As you can see, the theatrical spectacular in the gardens was something of a washout.

Everyone in the photos is now half a century older, and I wonder what became of all those kids. They must be in their mid-thirties by now. I still have all the scrapbooks we made, all the silly drawings they did of me with my long hair and dressing gown, looking like some kind of Doctor Who That Never Was. Quite what prompted this sketch, however, I really have no idea...

Looks like today is going to be one of those when the past won’t go away — but in a good way. It makes me think of how much there is still left to do — up to and including the laundry. Is that really me, shielding myself from the cold in my purple cape? It seems like an age away since I took on the world with that particular mantle. From a writing perspective, though, there’s nary a fag paper between the slightly grizzled figure beating out these words on the computer and the manic fool sat cross-legged on the bed scribbling plays about superheroes and window cleaners onto a pad with a Platignum fountain pen. And sitting on a toilet pretending to be a woman...

A long post, I know. But I figure it’s going to be a long day. Time to break open the Joni Mitchell and slit my own throat. Actually, no — I’ve got a better idea...


Bevie said...

"Looks like today is going to be one of those when the past won’t go away"

Some days it does seem to clamor for more attention than it's due. Have some tea, view the scrapbooks, and write some more.

Oh, and you're probably not going to appreciate this, but that last picture kind of looks like Tiny Tim.

No offense intended.

It just does.

Whirlochre said...

Ah yes, the Tiny Tim thing. Such a curse.

jason evans said...

Although there's a touch of gnawing pain beneath it, I enjoyed this retrospective. Thanks for the glimpses.

writtenwyrdd said...

I hate bummer days. And I also thought you looked rather like Tiny Tim in that picture (although I wasn't going to mention it. But since Bevie did...)

JaneyV said...

There's something amiss in the cosmos methinks. I've been quite unlike myself for the last few days and I'm still grisly and I have no idea why. I too have been thinking over the past and it's just been pissing me off to be honest with you. Sometimes I just get the feeling that outside forces are sticking their foot out to trip me up. Well I've given myself this fortnight of workless days to change my thinking around and get back on course. I wonder if the clocks changing fucks up our brains a bit for a while coz I seem to remember this time last year I felt exactly the same.

I'm sorry about your friend Whirl. The world is a better place because of those who don't ignore injustices.

And thanks for that picture of you on the loo. That hair is priceless. I had to look up Tiny Tim and you bear no resemblance to him except that you both had funny 'dos'.

Whirlochre said...

funny 'dos'?

Such toilet humour.

freddie said...

Ah, sorry to hear you're having one of those days where the past keeps pecking at your shoulder for attention. Hope it leaves you in peace soon.

Never heard the Smiths before (blasphemy, I'm sure). Good stuff.

Kiersten said...

I think that Smiths guy has worse hair. I'm curious to see more of Whirl's hair through the ages though--this picture combined with the massive fro one from Robin's goodness. What entertainment! In high school Hot Stuff had hair to his shoulders (being a surfer, naturally). It's probably a good thing I met him later.

And I, too, have no idea who Tiny Tim is/was, so you're safe from any comparisons, here.

That being said, you weren't a very attractive woman--but a rather good looking guy, so I suppose that's better.

Oh, and now I've gone and stuck my foot in my mouth, having forgotten all about that pre-op tranny stuff...I mean, I'm sure you're a perfectly lovely woman now, having grown into yourself and whatnot...

I think that program sounds wonderful, by the way. The arts are getting shoved aside in favor of "true" academics, and to the detriment of all, in my opinion.

(Although I was one in 1984, I will have a five-year-old--FIVE--in a month, and I'm right there with you on the strange melancholy.)

Whirlochre said...

This gets worse.

I've just been playing the game of What Happened To Some Of My Old College Chums via detective work on FaceBook and MySpace.

Some look as grizzled as I do now, bless them, and most are sadly AWOL.

But one very sweet person is dead.


JaneyV said...

Stop looking. Stop looking now! Concentrate on the breathing ones that you like. Makes for a much happier day.

If you find me on FB I promise to be twinkly.

Whirlochre said...

Twinkly indeed.

Whirlochre said...

Now it's as late as it is, I see a day of veils and spectres.

Waking up tomorrow ought to be interesting...

McKoala said...

I was looking through some photos of similar vintage on the weekend. It's sad that all we have of some of our most significant life/personality/humour-forming moments is a few black and white or blurry colour snaps.

The looking was because I've just reconnected with an old school friend who also found herself out here. It's been good and bad reminiscing and updating one another. Not all good news. I'm a bit ruffled inside, as is she.

Whirlochre said...

What's wretched about this is that the photo of me on the loo is about the only one I have from this time. No camera.

Robin S. said...

Love --- The Smiths! Love, I say.

I feel ungainly pissed off and aching for something other I agree. The cosmos is currently fucked up royally.

The pics are great.