If you are sitting in the archive when it rains you don’t actually hear the rain falling but rather the result of it, that is water dripping into the deep grids outside the windows. They are something like 3 feet deep, 3 feet wide and 18inches in width with a grill and a drain at the bottom. The building was built in the 1800s so everything is solid and large, big stones and wide windows, it’s sturdy, that’s how they used to do it. They couldn’t imagine why you would want to build something that wasn’t going to last, the concept of planned obsolescence was a capitalist principle yet to be imagined. When I moved in here the grid outside the archive window was 3 feet deep in gunk and the previous tenant had had a flood, duh. It was a mud and plastic casserole made of seagull shit, sweets wrappers, bottles, weeds and anything the rain could find to sweep in there. I had to dig it all out and at the bottom there was a functional drain that had been blocked for years. Luckily we are on a bit of a slope so flooding would only come from torrential rain but in a music archive you can only lose your record collection to water once, and then it’s ruined forever.
So sitting here in the archive room on the cosy red couch you can hear the water dripping outside the window and flowing away down the hill. When I look out of the window you can see the stone wall of the drain often with silverfish darting about under the drain grill. On top of the grill, lots of legs walking along the footpath into the town. One of the grills that doesn’t sit square in its slot is particularly noisy when heavy feet step onto it but luckily the road beyond the parked cars is not a throughway so people often walk there instead. Sometimes a child comes by and because of their height they look down through one of the windows into the studio control room to see what’s going on usually running away quickly when they see whoever is in there, staring back. Sometimes a seagull looks in and other times we get slugs crawling in through the window and leaving a trail of slime. Other times it’s a small frog and sometimes we find a dead one, dried and flat, lying between the tangle of the electrical cables. The other day we had a massive spider, luckily it’s England and despite scaring anyone with arachnophobia out of the room, you’re not going to die. There was once a regular cat visitor that used to jump in through the window and hang out but he/she has long since gone.
We are close to a couple of pubs so there’s often some rowdy voices, shouting and screaming, the humans making their presence felt with a skin full of alcohol in contrast to the nature and the beauty of the Morrab Gardens. In the alleyway (Parade Passage) that links Parade St to the town, you occasionally see a hedgehog in the summer but from November to March they hibernate trying to find a safe place to remain undisturbed by predators hoping that their spikes deter any feline or other general interest. The other day at the top of the passage I went past a bush full of sparrows all furiously tweeting like it was a sparrow rave. The day before a magpie on a roof with its raspy chatter. Today a seagull was just ahead of me, it saw me, jumped onto the wall, then as I got closer jumped onto the higher level of the wall and then across onto the low roof near the small carpark. It seemed convinced that I was following it but it didn’t fly off to the distance, it just stood on the roof as if to say you can’t get me now. I noticed it was young, remnants of the brown feathers of the summer chicks. To think that if this creature can keep its distance and find food it could be a resident here for another 20 years.
As I sit here now I can hear the wind outside, I have a small bright heater on and it feels very cosy in here as I sit down to write. Earlier I had sessions with Ava in Minneapolis and Craig in Wisconsin and although it was hard to get a feel for the day with Craig who was in his studio but with Ava it was easier to assess, sitting in her fur-lined jacket with Palmer the cat looking for attention and warmth, the autumn trees visible outside the window. My friend Ed who is somewhere upstate New York told me that today he woke up to snow. It’s here, summer has gone, the howling winds of winter are on the way, the ice and the snow, the rain, the low clouds and the chilling winds. We can now officially use the term ‘last summer’.
Music today came from Mike. Over the years Mike has sent me mixtapes and today I picked up a package from him with 28 burned CDs and printed artwork. There were five great compilations from all kinds of classic Folk and Progressive groups and the Group 1850 box set. I’ve mentioned them before, the Dutch Barrett era Pink Floyd. You gotta hear them.