Wednesday, June 21, 2006


I've been holding off from doing this post so long it hurts. Each day I walk past a demolition site where an old factory is being torn down. It seems such a clichéd and obvious thing to write about that I just didn't bother. I mean, I'm sure anyone reading Join The Road can't wait to hear how such desctruction is symbolic of this or a metaphor for that.
But as I said, I walk past the damn place every day, and now each time I go by all I can think of is how I'm NOT going to write anything about it. Which means I have to, if only for sanity's sake.
Anyway, what is such a big deal about a demolition site anyway? It's more or less a fairly mundane thing really, surely such sites come and go all the time. Is it the child in me lusting after the noisy machinery or just the idea of such fantastic (and legal) destruction?

The signs had been up for ages before the the bulldozers turned up. Huge plastic boards warning passers-by of the impending doom of this particular factory, of how yet another little slice of my town's industrial past was being erased. I'm hardly trying to defend this eyesore though, with it's smashed windows from too much air-gun practice and it's peeling walls daubed with such nuggets of dubious wisdom as "Hitler was right".
After years of dereliction, it was all over in less than a week. It happened so fast it just didn't seem right, only surreal. A swarm of white vans, tabloids slung on their dusty dashboards, surrounded the place whilst the dozers started their work. Rather than one of those wrecking balls that you generally see on TV, these guys had this machine with a huge lobster-like pincer that methodically nibbled at the building and slowly tore it to pieces. There were no Hollywood sound effects either, with only the occasional muted falling of bricks to be heard over the lull of daytime radio. No rending of twisted metal or massive collapsing walls here, this was the health and safety conscious version.

A few days later and a calm carpet of dusty bricks now covers the floor of the entire site. It's strange how it all seems so smooth, even from just across the street, when to actually walk on it would be very difficult. The reinforcing rods from the various concrete parts of the building has all been gathered up into a single giant hairball and placed atop the bricks like an odd piece of abstract artwork.

Seeing all this happen is to witness the evolution of the town. Such demolition is a part of that strange half-remembered intermediary stage between what was there before and what is there now. I know that sounds so ridiculously obvious, but it is something that we always forget about, the inbetween. We seem so obsessed with the end result that we don't take time to appreciate the getting there.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Stephenville TX

It would be negative of me to say that this post was borne from laziness, so let's just call today's update a 'guest post'.
Hidden away on the new Jewel album, "Goodbye Alice in Wonderland" is this little honey 'Stephenville TX', which is certainly in the spirit of Join The Road, just written by someone a few years younger and much better looking. It seems that we're all on this journey together.


Housewives trying to recapture their youth
By wearing floral print and suede
Fixing their hairdos with PC, chemical-free hairspray
Martha Stewart taught them to make on TV
I was raised a farmgirl
I'm too far from home, all alone on the road
Trying to figure out who I am now the the stardust has turned to sand
And the sand has turned to stone on the starmaking machine

I'm 31 years old
That ain't the end but it sure ain't where I began

And my daddy, he wrote songs and he broke colts
And he went back to school to get a degree
Now he teachs music to kids, he taught music to me
And this Alaskan girl was living in Stephenville, Texas
Yes, you guessed it, I moved here because I fell in love with a man
And I moved his ex-old lady's things out of the closet
The same closet I had to move my things back in
It didn't make me feel that great, as if to demonstrate
Everything's temporary given enough time
But hey, I've got nothing to lose
I'm a singer for crowds, I'm a writer of songs
Hey Mom, look, I'm an entertainer
I'm a modern day troubadour trying to find justice with six strings
Trying to make the world make sense out of me
Trying to be loved completely, trying to love honestly
Trying to find a decent high noon cup of tea
In another shitty hotel
I'm trying to listen to the leaves speak
Trying to steal secrets from fishes in the creek
Trying to figure out who I am
A singer, a pretty bad cook, maybe a good mom
What will it be?

And I'm 31 years old
That ain't the end but it sure ain't where I began

I'm trying to figure out who I am
But there's no hand to hold, no Doctor Martin Luther King
There's just syncophants
And the mindlessness on TV or in the magazines
On the latest ways to behave
So why not follow me, the blond bombshell deity?
I'll sell you neat ideas without big words
And a little bit of cleavage to help wash it all down
Hey, everybody thought Godard was a clown
And that ain't gonna be me

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

View from a window

What is it so relaxing to just sit and watch the traffic go by?
Depending upon how you look at it, I'm either lucky or unlucky enough to live on a busy main road. Although my town isn't the biggest around, I live right on the main artery through the centre. It's just gone 9pm, the light is slowly fading from the sky but the occasional lit cars still seem too bright as their headlights swish by beneath me, leaving trails on my retinas like a long-exposure photograph.
My apartment is two floors above a shop, my third floor eyrie being just great for such casual voyeurism. No-one ever spots me so high, above even the upper deck of the frequent double-decker buses that squeal to a halt at the bus stop opposite every 10 minutes or so, loaded with lounging teenagers busily hiding illicit cigarettes from the driver.
I silently scold the erratic one-handed driving of those with cellphones clamped to their ears. I imagine I'm down there amongst the high-pitched revving of a vintage scooter club out for a midweek evening blast. I wince at the oversized exhaust fitted to an improbably tiny hatchback and think how proud the owner probably is of the fact that the noise can drown out his stereo. Sometimes fate and the road conspire to throw up a fun surprise; tonight an ancient pick-up truck trundles by, its flatbed rear filled containing a fairground dodgem with a mannequin clinging to the wheel, its bright ginger hair wafting crazily in the breeze, framing a rictus grin.
It's great to see such things hurtling past my window. I never wonder, as some might, what their destination may be. It doesn't matter. The few hundred metres I can see in each direction is all that matters, and what I ultimately see is not individuals with lives and cares of their own, but rather a wonderful collage of metallic paintwork and tiny habits. Like a daydream, they are gone almost as soon as they appear; fading from memory before a tangible opinion can be formed, to be replaced by another.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Can you imagine what it would be like to be three years old again? Not a single shred of cynicism to cloud your mind or furrow your brow. Every thing you do is a new experience and it's always, always exciting. Unless it's scary, and then you just refuse to do it, like not eating the funny bits of dinner that you don't like the look of.

Each Sunday I visit friends for lunch and just live for the pleasure of playing with their daughter all day. Usually I'll be subjected to an endless procession of books to read and games to play. Sometimes we'll do both at once. Often we'll play house and I'll endure pretend cups of tea and ice cream cooked in her miniature microwave oven (you try telling her that's not how it works). Sometimes we invent games and also make things too, which means fun with glue and glitter and generally being really messy.

This Sunday we took a trip to the park. Her mum told me that she had been looking forward to this all weekend. I was wearing a t-shirt that read "birth-work-death" in a logo that parodies the recycling symbol, and there I was having my cynicism washed away by a three year old endlessly climbing up the steps of the slide and shouting wheeee in a fit of giggles as she came hurtling down it.
I remember buying that t-shirt. I remember chuckling when I bought it. I just never envisaged myself wearing it a couple of years later whilst making daisy-chains in the sunshine.
I think she must have climbed that slide at least 30 times, and in fact one of the few Sundays where she actually got properly tired. She has enough much energy to put all of us to shame. Her chatter is essentially one question after another, a constant thirst for knowledge for which she doesn't yet have a purpose - she just needs to know. When she looks at me, it is always directly into my eyes. There is no evasion of eye-contact with her, nor any other evidence of the barriers we adults place upon ourselves to protect against our own insecurities. That will come later, and it makes me so sad.

But, each week I learn so much from her. She is the brake on my skewed view of life. It sometimes seems so very strange to me that this won't last forever, as each week she grows up a little more, but right now she is my balance in this crazy world.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Making sense of things

I still don't have a clear purpose yet. I'm guessing that no-one has read this yet anyway so I'm free to ramble. I don't even know if I can find clarity without writing things down- well that's my excuse anyway.

At this moment, blogging seems like a better idea in the head than on the blank glare of the screen - or maybe its just set myself too abstract a goal? Should I just start again and do one on football or something. Much easier.
It's probably something to do with my hoovering up episodes of 'Lost' at the moment, but I have this vague idea to present readers with seemingly random shots of life and it will all piece together like some gigantic puzzle. Or at least I think that's how readers will perceive it if there's no clear goal from the outset. Of course, life is like that; the puzzle may not fit together at all, or even if it does it might not be worth it. Or it might just look like a pretentious bunch of arse.

And that's part of the point. Is a life worth reading about? If I pretty much tell you right here and now that there is no way this blog, if indeed it ever reaches a conclusion, will ever satisfy like a good TV show or movie can, will anyone still be reading?
I'll admit right now that music, movies, videogames and other aspects of pop-culture will colour my writing. In fact, it was my delving into various videogame-related blogs, and my reaction to what I found there, which initially inspired me to do this.

Actually, that's probably quite a good place to start.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

From Little Acorns...

A clichéd title line for my first post maybe, but it's a line from The Long Good Friday so I'll forgive myself. I'm writing this and I'm feeling worried that I haven't really thought this through. I mean, what have I created this for? Will anyone read it? Do I care if anyone reads it? Maybe this is all an experiment - testing my ego. Are my writing skills good enough to engage a reader, any reader? Will this be a meandering diary like that of a teenage girl? Christ, I hope not - but should I have a specific purpose? Will my posts just reflect my day-to-day interests or have a higher purpose? The title I chose has a purpose, but it's as deliberately ambiguous as the meaning in Dido's song "Stoned" from which it came.
Join the road, and let's see where we go...