TOWARDS THE LIGHT

So it has been a little over two weeks now, and I can report that progress has been made. The combination of pharmaceuticals, cognitive behavioural therapy and aversive therapy seems to be doing the trick. I’m feeling much lighter.

Thanks to the nightly medication, I’ve stopped dreaming about record shops and actually had a conversation yesterday that wasn’t about music. (It was about the food at this retreat, in case you were wondering.)

The CBT is interesting. At first, being asked to dispute the statement ‘Records are not a need’ seemed entirely non-sensical but the patient young graduate therapist helped me slowly dismantle this and other irrational beliefs that had built an almost impregnable wall around my consciousness. I can see that a life without daily catalogue additions is possible, if not yet desirable.

It hasn’t been all beer and skittles, of course. The aversion intervention was pretty rough but as I brought it on myself, I’m not complaining. Anyway, the involuntary tremors have almost stopped.

How did I come to earn a Level Three treatment? I’ll explain, but you need a little background.

When you first arrive at The Crate they explain clearly that the residential nature of the program admits no exceptions. No visitors, no day-release, no music in any form. No phones, devices, instruments, vinyl-related t-shirts, square carry bags. No books, magazines, podcasts or newspaper articles in any way connected with music. No sheet music and no humming.

They are serious, too. On the third day, a guy was unceremoniously expelled for smuggling a few drinking vessels back to the dormitory, adding water to create a (roughly) tuned glass harmonica and entertaining us with a some Neil Young songs. The Cratemaster was not amused and the offender was deposited outside the compound at dawn the next day.

My infringement was much more significant. Having worked out that the centre was only twenty kilometres from the village of Kongwak, I skipped Sunday breakfast and managed to hitch a lift to the famous market. The plan was based on knowledge gained from previous visits to this marvellous little country oasis of inner-city hippydom, namely that Kongwak, nestled in a narrow, steep-sided valley, has absolutely no mobile phone reception at all. I figured (not entirely correctly, as it turned out) that The Crate’s wristband trackers would be similarly inoperative in this secluded setting.

Cutting to the chase, they nabbed me around morning tea time, up to my elbows in albums. But not before I’d managed to purchase two LPs and four compact discs. They are locked away at present, but will be returned to me on release.

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It’s obvious, then, that I deserved the punishment—or re-training, as it’s called here—I duly received.

Before I describe it, I want you to suspend judgement. Remember, I am a voluntary patient. I came of my own free will to break the vinyl shackles that ensnare my spirit. A future free of dusty boxes of vinyl and cracked CD cases awaits. A life emerging from vinyl darkness into the light. That’s what the brochure says.

But I must be honest, it was not pleasant.

They shut me in a room with a single table on which sat a battered turntable. In the middle of the floor was a crate of records. Obviously I was instantly down on my knees leafing through them as if my life depended on it. But oddly, bizarrely, they were all the same album: Harry Secombe Sings Songs of Praise. Brain goes a bit funny when something like that happens.

I started checking the condition of the LPs anyway and found to my astonishment, that one of the Secombe sleeves contained a scuffed by playable mono pressing of Revolver.

I had that platter on the turntable quicker than you can say Doctor Robert, but the excitement was short-lived. The opening beat of ‘Taxman’ blasted out for less than a second before the record stuck. Boom-chick-boom-chick-boom-chick-boom-chick… And as I grasped the tonearm to halt the distressing snag of noise, well, that’s when the electric shock was delivered. Several jolts, as I recall. Which is not too well, actually.

It’s a bit hazy after that.

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Anyway, I’m doing really well now. No more bucking the system. I’m a model patient. I’m living in the light.

Except… there’s this guy in the other dormitory. He has Flock of Seagulls hair and there’s a rumour his electric shaver is actually a novelty mini-disc player. Word is, he’ll loan it to anyone without a beard on the promise of future payment in albums.

I wonder if I can bribe him with one of my Kongwak records.

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34 comments

  1. I’m breaking you out tonight. Be ready. There’s a record fair to get to!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m in. Code word: Walrus.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. If you say that you’ll end up with late period David Crosby records.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Ability to have non-music conversations? and identify records as ‘wants’ rather than needs? What sort of facility is this?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not one you want to enrol in, Geoff. Not entirely scientific, their approach.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    God that’s hysterical. You pathetic fool! You kin of mine! You loser! You louse! And how I love that Hawkwind cover. How I baste in some post-bath-like-pathetic-candle-hewn-drone-CD-existence now. To hell with good reason! Down on your knees Doctor Robert! I love it…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Reason has nowt to do with it, as you well know curly wordsmith.

      That’s a good Hawkwind album, too.

      Can’t chat; off to listen to Indiscreet Music by Brain Enema.

      Like

  4. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    Is “towards the light” a line from a blissed-out, like over-the-top Hawkwind moment? I’m having a vague sense it is. Like, pseudo preaching but really high on acid and goat’s blood and amazon, topless women on stage. Something like that, towards the light….?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That would surely work.
      As I was writing this morning I was hearing Zepp’s “In the light” playing in my head. Can’t chat; got an urge to order goat’s blood on Amazon.

      Like

  5. Befuddled, bemused, a little afraid. I must keep this idea away from Michelle or I will find myself in a vinyl themed episode of Intervention, my family sat around me explaining how I am neglecting them for records.
    I am a little fearful for you Bruce, although I like the sound of this strange hippy town with no cellular signal.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Auditioned for Intervention but they thought I was a lost cause.
      Kongwak is delightful. Has a Primary School, a Hall, and the market. That’s it, other than some lovely people.

      Like

  6. The impact of Keith Jarrett’s music ( mainly “The Köln Concert) was fatal for young people in the 1970s, which coquetted with the saint.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Köln Concert is fabulous (and has been visited in these pages). It does flirt with the holy muse, for sure.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Talking of Hawkwind …. never mind code words, be ready for the sonic attack and look for the silver machine parked outside.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I tried to use my wheels, but they were confiscated too.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I join Neil in being a bit befuddled, bemused, and a little afraid…confess I can’t tell if this is satire or not…are you OK?! (That J.C. Burris LP looks like good stuff, and love the name of the label: Arhoolie! Sounds like something to shout when jumping from a height into a lake or pool: “Ar-hoo-lie!!” But that could just be me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for a great big LOL, JDB. I bought the Burris LP because (a) it is on Arhoolie, a great US folk/blues/roots label, and (b) because Mr Burris is credited with playing bones.
      As for my story, the satire is aimed squarely at your correspondent, and perhaps a little obliquely at cure-all cults. It seemed a potentially amusing extension of the Rearview Mirror series.

      D’you know, I have jumped naked into a deep river pool in Northern California (in a younger suit of skin) and I deeply regret not yelling “Ar-hoo-lie”.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And she breathed an audible sigh…! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m sure you can (crate) dig your way out. The Great Escape had three tunnels – named Tom, Dick & Harry. I’d expect you and your fellow escapees could call your tunnels Crosby, Stills & Nash.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A fine plan.
      At present we’re working on building a Wooden Ship.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. So much smart repartee in these comments/replies…I love it!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Hahahahaaaaa this was awesome! Except that the very idea of such a place frightens the hell out of me…

    My lovely wife is well-trained and certified in CBT and DBT, and will get a real kick out of this when I show her this post. Thanks! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope she doesn’t come gunning for me Aaron. And delighted you were both entertained and a little bit scared.

      Like

      1. Nah you’re safe, man. She’s got more than enough of this condition to deal with right here at home… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  11. You were in need of some “correction” or “re training as the facility calls it. You have way too much music. Time for a shift in your hobbies. Collecting t shirts or hats are a couple I think would suit you. As far as that nasty old collection you have. Get rid of it. Send it to CB and I will dispose of it. Be strong Bruce. (Don’t send the Jarrett album. I already have it.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL-thing.
      A well-packed shipping container is even now bobbing your way across the briny seas. Scan the horizon daily, me hearty.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. A terrific piece, thanks.
    DD
    PS:
    I shocked myself when I was installing a 33 1/3 & 45 rpm turntable in an old radiogram 50 odd years ago. It really hurt. May be explains a few things.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Very entertaining, Bruce. Well, after I got over the initial horror of the possibilities of such a centre. My word. That’s a thing of nightmares.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Man, I’m just pleased they haven’t got me yet. Jonesing for the vinyl.

    The Ali Farke Toure is a wonderful album, one of my faves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That African harp is amazing. Such a gentle, meditative album.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gentle and Meditative are my middle names.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Always thought they were Aggro and Tautology. Silly me.

          Liked by 1 person

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