In Abridged Ego

There’s a classic Peanuts cartoon in which Lucy looks up into the stars and says: ‘Poets tell us that the answers to life can be found in the stars.’ She considers this a while as she gazes at the night sky and finding no answers at all she turns away in disgust proclaiming: ‘Stupid Poets!’ Abridged can’t of course claim to own the frighteningly furious sense of self-belief that our Lucy possesses but we do believe that this cartoon is the perfect antidote to the current societal fanaticism for easy answers. That you ‘can be anything you want to’ attitude of corporate advertisers and wellness gurus. And in our heart of hearts we know that we can’t all be what we really want to be. And we can’t all go wherever we want to.

One of our favourite quotes was from the inimitable Violet Carson, (Ena Sharples from Coronation Street): “When I was a little lass, the world was half a dozen streets, an’ a bit o’ wasteland, an’ the rest was all talk.” And she could have added that when you grow up you take those streets and that wasteland with you. You can’t really escape, if it’s escape you are attempting. Growing up we didn’t travel much apart from a day here and there in the summer to Buncrana/Moville/Bundoran or on occasion Portrush. Mostly similar seaside towns apart from the colour of the flags and Portrush had Barrys amusements and a rollercoaster. And for the majority of us growing up in the 1970s a day or two at the seaside was the height of it. We’re not going to go on a ‘younger generation don’t know they’re born’ kick. We’re just going to point out the fact that was all we knew and so we never expected anything more. It’s not to say we were ignorant of the world. Any football mad boy (and it was boys we were informed that were allowed to like football) could name 20 European football teams. We didn’t know what a Dukla was, but we knew it was in Prague and that Prague was in Czechoslovakia and that Czechoslovakia was a communist something or other. Shoot and Match magazines were better lessons in geography than anything we learned in school. The only times we heard of Northern Irish towns mostly was when there was a bomb or a shooting in them though that was often enough it has to be said. But we knew who played for Bolton or Huddersfield and we even knew the name of their grounds.

We travel a little more now, still strangely enough, mostly to northern English post industrial towns, for gigs and the like, but we take those half a dozen streets with us, as a weird off-shoot of imposter syndrome, an insecurity blanket if you will. The planners optimistically named them after Curlews, Shearwaters, Lapwings and Herons and the like. We think we may have seen a heron once. In Galway. Rats and mice were the only sign of the natural in these end of the 1960s housing estates. Nature never really came near us. It might have been too frightened to. There was anger (and not just the prevalent sectarian viciousness) and slow suicide, firstly by drink and later and much quicker by drugs. There still is.

So, with these streets mentally suit-cased we carry our little wastelands to various corners much in the way empires over the centuries recreated their home in far flung lands. We haven’t subjugated anybody just yet though. At least not anyone we can remember.

These streets were integral to the the origin of Abridged though (and the Chancer before that). It could never have been ‘positive’ (how could a word have become so meaningless so quickly) though it we think all the better for that. And these are no doubt Abridged times. We had a Contagion issue. We had not a Lockdown issue but a Lockjaw issue (look up your old-school diseases). We even had a Dis-Ease and a Relapse issue. A stay at home residency suits us perfectly.

So why are we using Google Earth as the basis of this residency? Because all artistic activity is abridged by something, by social, economic, political, religious forces or even by just luck. Sometimes this turns it into something wonderful. Sometimes it just destroys it. We’re just going to see where malediction and a corporation lets us go. The rest is all talk.