The things we leave behind

September 25, 2012

When I was clearing out our flat in London, there were a few things that didn’t really fit properly anywhere. Valuable books and pictures went to my sainted and long-suffering mother, with vast thanks. Ordinary books, photos, kitchen implements and so forth went into a padlocked cubbyhole under the stairs, to be retrieved when needed, which is probably never. That’s one of the nice things about moving so dramatically across the globe: you find out what you really need. I brought one bag out here (admittedy the same huge one as that fetishist British spy was found zipped into in the bath a couple of years ago) and was refreshed by my zen-like sense of non-attachement. Sort of.

But there were a few things that were difficult to work out what to do with. One was my guitar amplifier. Since I never gig, or record, or, in fact, do anything anymore, this huge Peavey Bandit, which I bought when I was 15, seemed surplus to requirements. But, by god, I loved that amp. I maintain that it would blow out your windows if you pushed it past 8, volume-wise. I grew up with that amp, pushing it to practice sessions in a wheelbarrow at times, because it weighed a metric ass-load.

But I never used it, not in the last 10 years. So a smart friend, who owns a warehouse with space to house it, offered to take it off my hands. He apparently hopes his son might want to use it in a few years. I hope so, but I imagine that tube amps will be about as useful as fax-machine polish in the future.

Another deeply valued thing was my bicycle, and I gave that away too. I originally got it from a gang of bike-obsessed thieves, who had spent innumerable evenings putting stolen parts together in an effort to create the perfect bike, then had grown up and got real jobs. It had stupefyingly smooth wheel bearings, a titanium seat post, cranks and derailleurs and a headset that were non-pareil, but it looked like shit, deliberately.

I used it for 10 years in London, and it was a perfect ride. I once forgot it for a week against some railings outside Victoria Station, and it was still there when I went back, it looked that crap. But it was probably worth £1,500 in parts alone. I gave it to a friend who probably just wanted a way home that night, without springing for a taxi. I miss it.

The big thing I gave away on moving to Cambodia was my stereo speakers. I’m quite keen on music, and these speakers were wonderful: I’d smuggled them into the UK from the States to avoid paying duty on them, and they were punchy, crisp and very, very loud.

So, anyway, I was stewing a bit about my music recently, and finding myself in the grip of a sort of musical lassitude. To be honest, I was wondering if the music mojo had deserted me. I might be too old. The rebellion at the heart of proper music might be passing me by. I’m practically ancient now: the rebellion isn’t nescessarily that sustainable.

But then a wonderful thing happened. Back in the UK in August, I saw the friend I’d given the speakers to, with the stipulation that I wanted them back, and the confident expectation that I’d never see them again. And, to my infinite surprise, he’d brought them with him, and cheerfully handed them over. So big respect to Richard, for being a man of his word, and an awesome friend.

So I lugged the speakers back to Phnom Penh, with some difficulty. And life suddenly became more complete. I’m sitting writing this on my balcony, in a warm breeze, listening to my album of the month, Weather Systems by Anathema, loudly, and mentally hugging myself with happiness. If you love something, set it free, and if it comes back, then it was meant to be. According to loonies, and Hallmark Cards. But my speakers, and by extension, music, have come back to me. I’m slightly worried about what to dream of next.


3 Responses to “The things we leave behind”

  1. Nicola said

    I think you will find it was me who returned your speakers to you – but well worth the swap for Cambodian red pepper! Speakers now replaced in our kitchen with a nice shiny new one! And your bike is currently in the back of our car!

  2. Robin said

    this morning i woke up and realised your bike was missing. this was very annoying as i was about to give it to Jordan for cycling in Cambridge.

  3. Nick Bartle said

    Nice Ru

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