keep the bloody racket down
the bloody train is bloody late
you bloody wait you bloody wait
you’re bloody lost and bloody found
stuck in fucking chickentown
(John Cooper Clarke, Evidently Chickentown)
The last few days I’ve often thought about John Cooper Clarke and his hair cut. That might sound somewhat weird and funny, but I mean it very seriously.
The evening after my return from Antwerp I was at the Appenzell railway station, in the very East of Switzerland. It had been snowing, it was already dark and very quiet. In this scene I remembered what I had almost forgotten, there was something about this railway station and my childhood village, something about the train and expecting, that it would take me somewhere, away away away, to a place full of people and upcoming events, there was something about me being restless, about the idea that not very far from this place many things might be different.
Since I’m not living there anymore, but somewhere instead, this feeling has come over me less and less often, and yet, it is indispensable: it holds dissatisfaction with reality, a strong objection against order and quiet, like John Cooper Clarke’s the bloody neighbours, bloody moan / keep the bloody racket down / this is bloody chicken town.
Since Evidently Chickentown in 1980, John Cooper Clarke has aged, and I was born only in the meantime, yet, I recognised him at once: I saw him sitting at a table in The Hague, holding a spoon in his hand. I saw him standing on the stage with his poems, separate sheets of paper in a plastic bag. I saw him sitting on the edge of that stage, his legs crossed, nodding to the rhythm. I recognised him right away by his hair cut, it was tumultuous, his hair going in all directions. Completely unthinkable that this hair would be self-acting, I thought, and this idea pleased me deeply: John Cooper Clarke who wakes up every day and creates this chaos on his head, this objection against order or reality and that he has been doing this for a long time, for years and years, up until today John Cooper Clarke has been doing this. Up until today, so it seems, he has refused to obey order and to take back his ancient thought: he is still there.
Three days ago, I was in a bar at night; there had been a party as opposed to order, or even better: against the fear of disorder that is spreading in Switzerland, a fear that makes people drowsey and fake, and eventually always turns against those, whom all pretend not to belong to themselves.
It was late, the music had been turned down, there were just few people left inside, and I was waiting for the first train back to Chickentown. I was standing there thinking that just maybe this type of hair cut could prevent one from degrading to order, but I was not absolutely sure about that.
Anyway, that night, there was just a little nip of whisky left in my glass and my train could be there any minute, I finally heard his voice through the loudspeakers: Oh!, I thought, John Cooper Clarke is still around as well.