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Do I look sane to you? June 11, 2014

Posted by Phil Groom in Life, Mental Health, Music, Short Story.
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DO I LOOK SANE TO YOU?

No, don’t turn away: look me in the eye and tell me. Do I look sane to you?

C’mon, it’s not that hard a question… ah, I get it: you need another drink. Don’t worry, this one’s on me — waiter, over here please! What will it be? Really? Sure, no worries: iced water for my friend here, please; another Guinness for me. Thanks.

So c’mon: whaddaya reckon? Ah, I see: you’re scared. Scared in case you give the wrong answer and I react badly. Well there’s no need to be, that ain’t gonna happen. It’s a long time since I killed anyone, 2,000 years give or take, another life, might as well have been another world too, y’know, and anyway it was perfectly legal. Horrible way for someone to die, though.

Look, it’s OK: even if I did pull a gun, it wouldn’t be you on the wrong end of it, it’d be me. At least it would silence the voices. There are at least three of us in here so yeah, it’s kinda crowded, but apart from when we argue we get on OK, and that’s the only time the gun ever comes out.

Huh? Yes, yes, I have got a gun. Well no, not me: she has; but she’s not in control right now, I am, so we’re safe. No, I haven’t got it with me right now, we left it at home: if ever she does use it, it won’t be somewhere public like this, we never bring it out. She’s laughing now: says she wouldn’t use the gun, she’d use a knife. Nothing wrong with this body, she says, that she couldn’t put right with a sharp knife. Yeah, I wince when she says that too, you’ve got the idea.

Her name? Seriously? You want to know her name? Sorry, mate, but if I tell you that, odds are you’ll start talking to her instead of me, then she’ll be in control. That’s where it starts, y’know: get control of the voice and you’ve got control of the whole body. Scary. Best if you let me stay in control, I’m the sensible one.

Yeah, you’re right, never get lonely. Chance’d be a fine thing. It’s the music that did it, tipped the balance I mean. I was perfectly happy bashing away at things, as y’do, getting on with the job, just the usual background noises of the factory and other workers down the assembly line. Then they decided we needed music to cheer us on so they started piping it over the PA: a repetitive mix of noisy, thumping rock and mind-numbing pop with the odd bit of hip-hop/rap stuff thrown in, same tracks over and over and over, day in, day out.

How many days? Four’s the regular shift — four on, three off, round and round, week after week. Long shifts, yeah: ten hours plus. Works well for the business, though, means they can keep it going 24/7. Kinda dull but a good crew, friendly, mostly part-timers; easy-going management too, long as we hit our targets. Ha! That’s a laugh: hit our targets! That’s what made us think of the gun: shoot out the PA system, restore the silence. “Go on,” she said, “do it.”

“No way,” I said. “Yeah, we’ll get the silence back, but they’ll throw us out. Then what’ll we do? Not many jobs around here; and pull a stunt like that and no one will take us on.”

“So what?” she said. “We’ve been saving for years, can live off that.”

“Live where?” I said. That shut her up, for a few minutes anyway. Coz if we did that, we’d be out of a home as well as a job. So we didn’t. But hell, yeah: would’ve loved to’ve done it, would’ve showed the management a thing or too. Thing is, it’s not the music itself: we love music, we’ve got our songs that we sing. But we sing them in here, and this stuff, it was pushing them out, taking over. Earworms, y’know? Intrusive at work, invasive after. Relentless, stealing our minds. Yeah, minds. Don’t look at me like that, I’ve seen that look too often: “Got a right one here, haven’t we?” That’s what you’re thinking, innit?

*Sigh* … well, I guess you’re right. Question now is, what do we do? The gun’s a no-no, I know that: don’t want to get locked away. We’re thinking maybe give them a recording studio. No, the songs: if we can build a space for them in here, shut them away in their own soundproof space, then they can get on with it without disturbing us. That’s the dead guy’s idea. Yeah, he’s in here too, the guy I killed. Says he used a similar sort of technique when we killed him, was the only way he could manage the pain. He’s OK with that now, says shit happens, death comes to us all, life and death. Lord, let me die while I’m alive, not when I’m already dead. That’s the thing, innit? To die while you’re alive. Like I said, three of us, plus the visiting band now. Nah, nah, it’s OK — don’t need another, but you go ahead.

Sleep? Nah, not getting much at the moment, not with all this stuff going around and around. It’s like a cross between musical chairs and the Magic Roundabout in here, round and round, up and down, wheeeeeee! You have to love it, I guess. Makes it hard to focus, though. Yeah, went to see the GP; no appointments available when I called. Then I got this email from the gaffer, said they’d turn the music off or turn down the volume, that was a relief. Was dreading going back in next week.

Counselling? Well there’s an organisation we can refer to, but they said they couldn’t help with this one, suggested I try ACAS. Emailed Mind too, but got no reply. I think they like people to phone, but I hate phones, you’d think they’d understand that. So we’re gonna go with the dead guy’s idea, build them their own little space. I’m picturing it now, complete with a stage, but behind soundproof glass. Yeah, reckon that’s gonna work.

Really? You think so too? And you think I’m perfectly sane? After all this? Straight up, no kidding? OK, thanks for that. It’s been good. See you again sometime. Dead guy thinks you’re OK by the way. So does she. Hell, yeah, so do I, so apart from the band, that’s more or less all of us. Cool, man. Enjoy the rest of your evening.

iTunes Ping Sucks #Apple #fail October 20, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Music, Technology, Watching and Waiting.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
4 comments

Here’s why:

Ping: "You cannot like or post to Ping about an item that is not currently offered in the iTunes store"

iTunes says, "You cannot like or post to Ping about an item that is not currently offered in the iTunes store"

… to which I reply, up yours, Apple! No, it is NOT “OK” for you to tell me what I can or cannot like. The fact is, I like ATF’s Like the Power of a Jet — and all the data about the track and the album it’s from, Der Kommissar, is out there in the Gracenote database, to which you have access already built into iTunes and which you could readily integrate into Ping if you were actually interested in what your customers like instead of simply being obsessed by your own income stream (in case you’ve forgotten, you found all the track names from Gracenote for me when I ripped the CD into iTunes: thank you).

So please do yourselves and your customers a favour: if you want Ping to be a social network, stop telling us that we can only like things that you can sell. Strange but true, Mr Jobs: life is bigger than Apple’s bank balance.

Thank you for listening.

Fresh Expressions of Holiday Club March 24, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Church, Music.
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2 comments

You may have seen this before. Never mind: it’s worth watching again: the Easter vacation is upon us and it’s children’s holiday club time. Here’s how a holiday club should be done, courtesy of one of my all-time favourite bands. Pump up the volume and enjoy:

Here is love will tear us apart April 12, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Lent & Easter, Music, Theological Reflection.
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2 comments

Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.

— William Rees

When the routine bites hard
And ambitions are low
And the resentment rides high
But emotions won’t grow
And we’re changing our ways,
Taking different roads
Then love, love will tear us apart again

Why is the bedroom so cold
Turned away on your side? 
Is my timing that flawed,
Our respect run so dry? 
Yet there’s still this appeal
That we’ve kept through our lives
Love, love will tear us apart again

Do you cry out in your sleep
All my failings expose? 
Get a taste in my mouth
As desperation takes hold,
Is it something so good
Just can’t function no more? 
When love, love will tear us apart again…

— Joy Division

I saw your sky fall down today… March 8, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Music.
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2 comments

Until yesterday, I’d never heard of Matthew West. I was introduced to him by Jaycee, who blogs at Light Her Lamp and has his song “Right by your side” as part of her soundtrack. Thanks, Jaycee!

Then I found this video version and it blew me away. Hope it blows you away too…

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