Current Essays

Vertigo On:2003-12-12 10:45:54

Last week, what with getting ready for Rowena's Christmas concert and what with taxi-ing Hereb all around Plano and what with well life in general and, of course, what with an attack from Procrastes (as you know that's the twin brother of the guy with the one-size-fits-all bed and, to be honest, the one Greek bad guy who just couldn't get his act together in time to meet Theseus and so doesn't appear in any of the myths or legends), so what with all of that it just so happened that I ended up recording my essay at the absolute last (no, no I mean REALLY the absolute last) minute, and I'm not proud of it, but there it is.

Now if you add to that the fact that with the current state of technology I can produce pretty good results recording directly to my computer and so, since my computer is portable, I can produce pretty good results recording absolutely anywhere (as well as saving thousands of dollars) but then I have to bring up the unfortunate downside that I CAN do it anywhere (and since I've never wanted to spend thousands of dollars on soundproofing my bedroom which is where I tend to do it) then you get the situation in which I found myself desperately trying to record, while every few minutes some absolute bugger in some sort of small aircraft was flying around slowly and lowly every few minutes revving his apparently amplified engine for all the world like a high-class Hell's Angel. And he wouldn't stop for ages and naturally I couldn't get his attention and do you know how hard it is to get a surface to air shoulder launched missile at nine or ten at night even in Texas so I had no alternative but to fume and swear, mainly that I'll never leave my essays till the last minute again (well at least until next week, um actually I'm writing this at the last moment, but I HAVE learnt my lesson for NEXT time).

And do you know, standing there in the unusually chilly chill of a Texas evening, waving my fist at the sky, I suddenly had an attack of what one might call déjà écouter---I had heard that member of the illegitimati who was roaring around above me before, or if not him then his direct spiritual ancestor.

It was ...Oh... near thirty years ago in London, in one of my previous avatars as a photographer. In those days I used to know David James the counter tenor of the Hilliard Ensemble quite well, and so he once got me to do some photos for an LP they were doing (yes, it was that long ago that I was a photographer, back in the days when if you had even tried to play a CD then the gramophone's needle would've scratched it to bits). And so there I was at their recording session which was being held in that delightful little church on Ludgate Hill the name of which escapes me as I write.

I merrily snapped away at them as they were setting up, until the observation was made that my camera's motor drive wasn't totally compatible with recording, so for a time I had little to do but listen to them (while trying very hard not to press anything that might go 'click' or 'whirr'). They were doing Britten's Canticles when IT started and from then on every time they got to that really quiet bit a double-decker bus would loudly labour up the hill. Every take! And then, of course, the first time one didn't they ruined that one by laughing. Their General Theory of the Bus was that it had been rented by the King's Singers who were gleefully driving it round in circles.

Now If I can just figure out how anyone can manage to get a small plane to sound just like a London Omnibus from the seventies I'll sleep sounder tonight, well that and if I can ever get this recorded

Cheerio for now
Richard Howland-Bolton

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