Democracy Can Be The Problem

Monday 20th August

Sometimes indeed Democracy is the problem.  Not the concept of Democracy, but it’s implementation.  The idea indeed that Winner takes all.  Democracy should be about both involving everyone and trying to take account of all differing views in decision making.  But because of the mechanics and the lack of any form of Proportional Representation in electing members of Parliament we never have a Government which represents a majority of votes cast, or even one backed by more than 40% of those who voted.  Governments then declare that they have a mandate for their actions, even when these were never mentioned before the election itself.

However, we also face other problems with Democracy.  Brexit itself has been declared a success of Democracy; but as the complexities of the negotiations unravel more and more people, even many who voted originally to Leave, are questioning the un-Democratic way that that decision is being implemented, with all sides of the debate appropriating for their own arguments a Democratic mandate.

But there is a further problem with Democracy in that now all the major Political parties have given the final (and often the entire) say in electing their Leaders to their members. This has, and will inevitably, result in leaders being chosen who are more radical in their Political views than the general public. Anyone deciding to become a member of a Political party is almost bound to have more Politically extreme views than the general public; Labour party members are more left-wing, and Tory members are more right-wing than the general public.  In fact, of course, most people are not that bothered about Politics at all, or at least until a General Election; and then the majority will vote the way they always or recently have.  Sea changes, and huge landslides are rarer than one would think.  Only two really in my lifetime – one, when Mrs. Thatcher won her second term after the Falklands (and even then, this may have had more to do with the SDP than people voting Tory), and Tony Blair in 1997, after 18 years of the Conservatives.

But now we have a left-wing leader of Labour, who, whatever you think of his policies, would never have been elected before ‘one member one vote’.  The Tory party appears to be shaping up for a Leadership election too, as soon as Brexit (of whatever variety) is finally declared.  Already there are calls for thousands of Leave voters to join the Tory party so that they can vote in a ‘True Brexiteer’ such as Boris or Rees-Moggs.  So, in the name of ‘Democracy’ our Politics will be more divisive than ever.  And whoever wins the next election will again declare a mandate despite in all probability winning about 40% of the vote and possibly having to cobble together a coalition of sorts.  And we call that Democracy.

Running On Empty (A Recurring Dream)

Saturday 18th August

I feel tired, but tired beyond tired.  Nothing seems to register anymore -news, politics – all pass me by in a blur of senseless information.  I feel I am running on empty.  My reserve tanks are empty and I am drifting.  Sometimes I am drifting in space, like Major Tom himself.  Sometimes I am walking, trudging along, stumbling down a road with no direction signs, simply putting one foot wearily in front of the other, my eyes fixed on the never-ending tarmac.  Sometimes I am in a car, though I am no driver – and there is no driver beside me either, but somehow the car rolls on and on.  No engine noise – the car is running on empty too.  I am alone, on a never-ending road.  I am always alone.  I have always been alone; never had a friend I could confide in; I discovered long ago that parents and teachers are not to be told things, not about your feelings, not about anything that really matters..  And sometimes I feel I have been running on empty for ever; maybe other people feel it too – how can you tell; they all seem happy enough – but then, so do I; so what does that tell you?  I wake every morning and feel so old, as if my life has been draining out for days, weeks, months – and this is indeed the last day.  The road stretches on but I feel the car is slowing, running out of fuel too.  And there is an incline ahead, a slight slope and I can feel the car visibly slowing as we crawl slowly up.  Whether the car will actually grind to a halt or will suddenly pick up speed as we crest the hill and the road dips again I am not sure.  I have no control, there is no accelerator pedal this side, and no brake either.  There is no engine noise – we are running on empty, gazing blankly as the countryside drifts slowly by..

And there, just up ahead the road disappears and the grey tarmac rises up into a wall and still the car drifts on, running on empty.  And just before we crash and I discover pain or oblivion – I wake up.  But then I wonder if I were really asleep or awake all the time.

What The Dickens

Tuesday 14th August

A couple of years I set myself the task, though it ended up a joy, of reading the novels of Dickens.  Many years ago I had read Oliver Twist and David Copperfield.  I had seen numerous TV adaptations and, sort of, knew the story of The Old Curiosity Shop and Nicolas Nickleby and maybe a couple of others.  It is a remarkable body of work – though tiny compared to one of his contemporaries – Anthony Trollope who wrote more than fifty novels.  Still.  And these were all hand-written in those days, so revision must have been a nightmare.  We are so lucky today having Word to move and delete and copy several versions – but I am not sure for all that that the quality of writing has improved.  Almost all of these novels were originally published in fortnightly sections, and the books are really long.  You need patience to read them; the plots unwind slowly; there seem a multitude of characters; much seems unnecessary to the story – and yet Dickens, the master puppeteer, pulls the strings and makes it all hang together in the end.

There is also a progression in the books – you can feel him getting better as a writer, defining characters more subtly, relying less on crazy co-incidence – and writing much more satisfying novels.  If anything his best characters however were in his earlier books – Fagin, Quilp, Uriah Heep, Mr. Squeers – stay in the memory forever.

Dickens was really a socialist, he wrote about rich and poor alike, he exposed corruption and cruelty; money is almost always a motivating force in his stories.

My favourites are of course Great Expectations and David Copperfield.  These two are simply two of the greatest books ever written. I am so glad I stuck with it and read all his books.  And although in many ways I enjoyed Trollope more, there is no denying Dicken’s place in English literature

Charles Dickens, whose pioneering shower was known as 'The Demon'

My Record Collection 39

Thursday 9th August

BOWIE –  POP-ROYALTY

1980 saw Scary Monsters and Super Creeps; a somewhat return to normal, and David’s second number one ‘Ashes to Ashes’, a sort-of sequel to Space Oddity – 11 years on.  It had a brilliant video – Bowie was now producing the schemes for his own very artistic videos.  The age of MTV had arrived and records were increasingly sold as a package of song and videa – David excelled at this.  The album itself is a bit of a curates egg – good in places.  Brilliant singles ‘Ashes’ and ‘Fashion’.  The record was much more conventional sounding – even with some Japanese on one track, but somehow it has never really been a great favourite.

A break of three years when he seemed to appropriate the mantle  of Pop Royalty, along with Elton and Rod and Phil Collins and Queen and Clapton.  A strange time, and even stranger when Punk had set out to destroy this very clique-iness.  He joined Queen for a brilliant single ‘Under Pressure’ and ‘Cat People’ with Giorgio Moroder – a ‘hip’ dance producer.  He re-recorded this for his next album – the superb ‘Let’s Dance’ co-produced with Nile Rogers of disco band Chic.  The album went straight to number one, like it’s predecessor and the next one too.   David was seriously cool now and had a run of number one or two singles.  The title track from this album and ‘China Girl’ (previously written for Iggy Pop) and almost my favourite track ‘Modern Love’.  The album was his most accessible in years – he had regained his cool ‘pop’ schtick.  Almost every song off the record was excellent, his voice hovering like some exotic falsetto bird over driving rhythm tracks. Favourite track is ‘Without You’, a slower number. It almost felt that David could do no wrong…

But the following year’s Tonight, was a disappointment, although like many of his records on re-listening it really isn’t so bad – but this was Bowie, and we expected better.  Or maybe it really is that bad.  Singles ‘Blue Jean’ and ‘Loving The Alien’ are okay – just.  Duet with Tina Turner ‘Tonight’ is pretty awful, and god only knows why he attempted a cover of ‘God Only Knows’.  (maybe he had caught religion – the cover shows him almost as a saint). He said he wanted to make a straight Rock and Roll record, he made a straight down the middle of the road album instead.  Things couldn’t possibly get any worse – could they?

Oh yes, they could. 1987’s Never Let Me Down let us all down, Bowie and all his fans.  This is ordinary beyond belief.  Hard to make out just what he was thinking.  I saw him just after this album – The Glass Spider Tour, not his best show; that was in 1978 just after Low and Heroes.   Oh well.  After this debacle Bowie announced he was joining a band Tin Machine (see T).  Generally poorly received , but compared to this record it was an improvement.  We would have to wait until the mid-nineties for any new solo records.

Image result for photos of Bowie mid eighties

 

 

My Record Collection 38

Monday 6th August

BOWIE – BERLIN   In 1976 Bowie moved to Berlin, he stayed in a flat and recorded right next to the Berlin Wall.  He worked with Brian Eno, who had just left Roxy.  They were influenced by the electronic music coming out of Europe – Kraftwerk, Neu and my favourite Tangerine Dream.  Using synthesisers and electric piano and guitars and drum machine they worked on instrumentals.  Bowie wrote words for a few of them but the resulting record LOW is mostly unsung.   It was a huge departure from anything which went before, Bowie was ready to lose his entire fanbase, who were still mourning the death of Ziggy.  But gradually he won almost all of them back and many more too.  The album roars in with ‘Speed of Life’ and the bleak ‘Breaking Glass’ – Bowie’s voice sounds distanced, detached, emotionless – like the music itself.  Even the single ‘Sound and Vision’ is bleak and dystopian.  Side 2 is completely instrumental, but I love it.  I can even remember the first time I heard the record, on a friend’s (brand new in those days) cassette player.  This sounded suddenly so modern, so fresh, so alien even.  And I couldn’t wait for the follow-up ‘Heroes’.

And, of course, it didn’t disappoint.  Side 1 is all sung and 2 is mostly instrumental.  Of course, the shock had worn off, and one could simply enjoy more of the same.  Although the sung songs with the exception of the classic title track seem a bit mechanical.  I like ‘Sons Of The Silent Age’ but not much else.  The instrumentals are if anything a bit mellower, except the bleak Neukoln.  In many ways I prefer Low as an album.  Lodger, which came out later in ‘1979’ is maybe better.  No instrumentals this time, but the sound is more varied; there is Turkish influence in ‘Yassasin’ and a classic vocal ballad in opener ‘Fantastic Voyage’.  He had a hit with ‘Boys Keep Swinging’  – but I particularly like ‘Repetition’ – a tale of family violence sung very tiredly.  This last album completed David’s Berlin trilogy and has consistently undersold – maybe people were just getting bored with it.  In fact, all three records, though loved by the critics, sold poorly.  David had certainly come a long way in just a decade, unrecognisable from his Space oddity days.

Although this record came out over a decade later All Saints slots in here.   It is a collection of David’s instrumental tracks – everything from Low and Heroes and a few film tracks and discarded attempts.  I like it ‘Crystal Japan ‘ is very good – it is quietly refreshing, the lack of vocals give you more time to think.  In many ways David has always been a painter; literally he painted paintings (rarely seen) but with his music he often paints in sound collages, the lyrics sprinkled like highlights over the base colours.

But maybe, lack of chart success, or just boredom – David moved on from the pretty bleak terrain of his Berlin period and sought out more conventional ‘Pop’ sounds…

Zeit! 77-79

My Record Collection 37

Friday 3rd August

BOWIE – America  – Bowie was sinking into drug dependence; he had probably dabbled for years but Fame brings pressure – records to record, songs to write, endless touring and drugs seem to have affected almost all of the Sixties and Seventies stars.  Diamond Dogs came out in 1974, and I don’t really know why but I have never loved this record.  Most of the songs are of a dystopian future, many were destined for the soundtrack to a film of 1984, and then the producers chose other music.  The hit ‘Rebel Rebel’ was never my favourite and seems out of place on this record.  ‘Rock and Roll with me’ is quite good – as is ‘Sweet thing’ but the album leaves me strangely unaffected.  David was spending more and more time in America and, at exactly the same time as Elton, he fell in love with the disco sounds coming out of Philadelphia.  Under the influence of Luther Vandross and having dropped Ronson and the other Spiders (rather abruptly) he adopted a new band of session players.  Apparently the recording sessions were chaotic with a few songs discarded along the way.  John Lennon joined Bowie for a couple of songs too (as he did with Elton).  But the resulting album Young Americans is superb.  Never afraid to lose his audience and confront them with new sounds Bowie absorbed all this new music and created something brilliant.  The best is the title track with it’s horns and piano driven riffs, a classic – but it would have been unrecognisable as a Ziggy song.  There is the ballad ‘Win; again unlike anything he had sung before.  He does a cracking and roaring version of Lennon’s ‘Across the Universe’ and finishes with another classic ‘Fame’.  Quite incredible – and what a journey.  This is almost my favourite Bowie record – but of course there was more to come.

The following year (1976) came Station to Station – a move on from the Philly sound, and just 6 songs this time, but what songs…The title song roars in with the sound of a train puffing and wheezing, ‘TVC15’ is another wonderful song, almost a rocker but with disco influence – it is actually about 15 channels on TV (if only, now).  But the best are two slower songs ‘Word on A Wing’ and ‘Wild Is The Wind’.  Although we mustn’t forget hid best single in a long time ‘Golden Years’.  Bowie was filming ‘The Man Who fell to Earth’ with Nic Roeg, and he began to take on the persona of Newton – as the alien who came to earth.  He also name checks ‘The Thin White Duke’ and changed his image to a more forties style with slicked back hair and wide trousers.  Ever the magician he wove his spells – but for me it was always about the songs.   But none of his ch-ch-changes had prepared me for what came next.

Young Americans (40th Anniversary Picture Disc) [7" Vinyl]

 

 

My Record Collection 36

Wednesday 1st August

Bowie – Ziggy So, that seminal moment – just like ten years before when we first heard The Beatles, Ziggy arrived in 1972.  And we all got it.  Straight away.  Ziggy was some weird androgynous creature arrived from outer space with a great rock and roll band and all the right songs and all the right moves.  Boys and girls were both in love with Ziggy with his mop of red hair and white face and bright green and sparkly cat suits and white heeled boots.  And of course, like everyone else I ran out and bought the record – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars.  Take back what I said about Hunky Dory – this is the Bowie album….the songs are incredible; from the apocalyptic ‘Five years’ to ‘Rock and Roll Suicide’ – all brilliant.  Not a poor song on the record.  David’s singing is immaculate, the band really rock and Mick Ronson’s guitar floats above everything.especially on ‘Moonage Daydream.’  And listening again 46 years later – the thrill is still there. The album was supposed to be a one-off – the last song killing off Ziggy, but somehow he began to take over Bowie as he toured the country.  And Ziggy stayeded for another two records.

Alladin Sane (Ziggy in another faint disguise) came out in ’73.  Another brilliant album, written apparently while Bowie was touring the States.  He had recruited Mike Garson, a jazz pianist – and his influence is all over the record.  A very jazzy feel to some songs.  But in some ways this is a more disjointed record, a couple of rockers, the singles ‘Jean Genie’ (not my favourite) and ‘Drive in Saturday’, the fey ‘prettiest Star’ and a torch ballad ‘Lady grinning Soul’/  But Bowie was God by now and could do no wrong.  Listening now, I am struck by how sexual the record is, which of course was a large part of the Ziggy persona.  Later the same year came ‘Pin-Ups’; a modern covers album, which may have been a cash-in disc but was actually almost as good as Hunky Dory and Ziggy itself.  With its brilliant cover photo of David and Twiggy it makes up the trilogy of Ziggy albums.  This is a great album, even if it is covers -Ziggy (Bowie) ‘s voice has never been better.  He out Daltreys Roger on the two Who tracks.  He re-invents ‘See Emily Play’ and gave us another great single with ‘Sorrow’.  Best of all is ‘Friday On My Mind.’  This record always cheers me up !

PinUps

Return To Factory Settings

Wednesday 31st July

The future is always almost upon us, we just haven’t realised it yet.  Our only real function as humans is to be consumers; to spend our money on goodies, to keep the wheels of industry turning.  Savings are useless, spend spend spend…and as quick as possible too.  And we must not actually remember anything.  1984 is already here.   Words mean what we tell you they mean.  Yesterday’s news is expunged from our brains and we must accept today’s truth – until tomorrow of course.  No inkling of conscience must remain, anything is acceptable as long as we cannot remember what we did bad yesterday.  And so with Politicians, so with us all.

And when we get confused, as some faint memory rises to the surface and fights its way past all the Celebrity news (which is the only news of any real value at all) and the froth.  When our brains think they might remember something we did or said a few days ago, or was it something we heard, surely that can’t be right.  But wait a minute – that causes unhappiness, that brings doubt into the equation – and as consumer units we cannot question things – that only brings pain.

So, press the reset button, return to factory settings – and all that nasty stuff, those bad memories, in fact all memories, all disturbing thoughts are deleted, your in-box is nicely empty again.  This is the only way to remain contented today.  Every day reset your mind, return yourself to factory settings and forget what you cannot possibly remember anyway.  Stop worrying, the machine will restart in a few minutes, do not switch off – 10% of updates are completed, your brain will restart in a few minutes.

My Record Collection 35

Sunday 29th July

BOWIE – Now there is a name to conjure with, or at least become a knife thrower…boom boom.  Apparently David Jones chose the name Bowie because of confusion with the lead singer of the Monkees; and what a good choice it was.  He joins that handful who are known simply by one word – Dylan, Joni, Elton etc.  Well, I had heard of him.  The single ‘Space Oddity’ came out in 1969 and it was great – but seemed a one-off.  Like most people I became an instant fan when I saw him singing ‘Starman’ in 1972 (probably in black and white – not sure).  I instantly bought Ziggy, then worked backwards.

Only three years earlier he had released his first album proper, now known as ‘Space Oddity’.  And what a lovely strange thing it is.  It was far too weird (even for 1969) to be a success – and it shows just how far he had travelled in those three short years.  I must have played this (and most of his records) hundreds of times, but this one still surprises.  The sweet melodies, the even sweeter singing and the brilliant songs.  It really belongs to the Summer of Love, two years earlier, but is also timeless.  Best songs – ‘Space Oddity’ which still sounds as fresh today, ‘Janine’ and ‘Memory Of A Free Festival’

In 1970 he released The Man Who Sold The World..  Now, for whatever reason I have never loved this record.  I listen to it every time I re-visit the kingdom of Bowie, but along with one or two others it is unloved.  It is certainly harder in sound than his first real album, a bit more guitar driven.  But I think it is the songs.  Apart from the title track I don’t think they are really so good.  Anyway, Lulu (of all people) had a massive hit a couple of years later with the title song – and her version is even better.  The album flopped.  Nowadays that would be it.  Two albums – no real sales, drop the artist.  But Bowie was allowed to carry on.  He was beginning to make waves, and John Peel and others at the Beeb let him have sessions (see later Bowie at the Beeb) and his next record did not disappoint.  Hunky Dory started the wave, which I caught a few months later.   It is my Favourite Bowie record.  There is  charm and naivety about it, and yet it is timeless and beautiful and full of wonderful songs.  From the opener “Changes” (a forewarning if ever there was one) to the haunting closer “The Bewlay Brothers’ it is varied and brilliant.  ‘Life on Mars’, ‘Kooks’ and ‘Quicksand’ really stand out.  And now Bowie was knocking of the door of fame; he had recruited Mick Ronson on guitar, and his mates soon joined to become the Spiders…and they started recording the next album as soon as Hunky Dory was finished.

Hunky Dory (2015 Remastered Version)

 

The Tree

Friday 27th July

The old man is wheeled slowly out by the nurse.  She positions him beneath the old oak tree, tucks in his blanket, and makes sure the alert button is on his lap; safely within reach.  She gives him a friendly pat of the arm and walks back to the house; she is dying for a break and a cup of tea.

The old man looks across the garden. His garden.  At least he had been allowed to return to his own house; the house he was born into, the house he grew up in.  The house he had his own children in too – though now they are scattered, like dry leaves after a storm, all over the World – James in America, Amelia in France and Jennifer in Hong Kong.  ‘What on earth is she doing in Hong Kong’, he wonders.  It was all a bit much to take in.  He had travelled, Europe mostly of course, and one memorable trip to see James and his new family in Arizona – far too hot for him, and he could barely remember James’ children, all grown up now and two with young ones of their own.  He would never get to meet them now, that much was certain.  He did talk occasionally on the telephone, but to tell the truth, they weren’t close.  None of his children were ‘close’.  But then he had not been close to his own parents; packed away to boarding school at six – how he had hated that.  And hated his father for sending him too.

Now Laura, his grand-daughter by Amelia, was different; she had come back at eighteen from France and lodged with her grandfather while she went to University.  And she had stayed, bless her – she was now his companion.  ‘My, she must be thirty by now’, he supposed.  ‘She’ll be marrying herself one day and leaving me too.  Or rather, I will be leaving her before then.  I’ve left the house to her in my will.  Plenty of money for the others’, he smiled to himself.

He can hear a blackbird singing somewhere above his head.  He looks up but the heavy canopy of leaves hides the bird from view.  ‘Ah, this tree’, he thinks.  ‘This tree has seen it all’.  He can remember when Laura and her brother Robert (what happened to him – he couldn’t remember) had spent their Summer holidays here with Grannie and Grandpa.  His wife Eleanore was still alive then, of course.  What lovely days they had spent.  And here, under this tree was where they had their picnics.  Ginger beer and egg and cress sandwiches and Victoria sponge cake.  Oh dear, he was dribbling, now where was that hankie – ah here it is.  Yes, how he loved playing with little Laura and Robert, it had been a second childhood for him, running around the garden, playing cricket, hide and seek through the bedrooms of the old house, giggling like a child himself.

A child?  Had he ever been a child?  Certainly not the carefree happy one his grandchildren had been.  He was an only child too, he remembered longing for a brother.  He had always been terrified of his father, with his moustaches and his ‘discipline’.  ‘Ah, bad memories – think of something else.  His mother?  She was always a shadowy figure’, he could barely recognise her from the few photographs he had.  Always escaping, slipping silently out of the room, that was his memory.

“Nerves”.  His father dismissed her disappearance with that single word, “Nerves” – and then his Nanny would take him back to the nursery.

As a boy he understood nothing; now he wondered what an awful life he must have led her.  She died when he was fourteen –  a stranger to the end.

“Your Mother has died.  No need to return until half-term.  Do not let this disturb your studies.”  That was what his father had written. But then, he cannot remember being that upset at the time.

All too soon he was grown up – at least he was away from school.  But straight into the Army and very soon the War.  ‘Better not to remember the War’, he thought.  Not that he had seen that much action.  Boredom mostly, like so much of his life.  ‘Ah, no good regretting that now.   He’d had a good life.  That was what they said, wasn’t it?  But how do you know?  How do you compare to others?’  We, each of us, are actually as oblivious to what goes on, what thoughts, hopes and dreams, and disappointments of others – as this tree is as unknowing of him sitting there, like so many times before, under it’s leafy boughs.  ‘Morbid thoughts.  Must blow them away.  Little time left now, must remember the happy times’.

Ah his dear Eleanore.  Returning after the War and meeting her.  Here of all places, in this very house.  His father had just got engaged to his second wife.  A party for friends and neighbours.  Not that it was such a jolly occasion as he remembers.  His father barely acknowledging his presence.  No change there then.  The only two good things were that he met Eleanore here.  Actually, he had met her once before, but he had been a sulky boy of ten and she barely eight; he only just recalled her.  But my, how she had changed.  ‘Bloomed’ – that was the word everyone said about her.  “Oh Eleanore, how you have bloomed” people remarked. She was now a real English Rose, and she fell, she tumbled gently, her petals still fresh with the mist of morning, into his lap.  He had cherished and watched her flower every year – until she became ill, oh it must be ten years ago now.  She died quite quickly in the end, not too much pain.

The other good thing was his father’s death a few weeks later.  Driving his Bentley too fast and drunk as well.  Died instantly.  And before he had re-married, so the house came to him, his only son.  A real stroke of luck.  But Eleanore was his real prize.  To love and have been loved; what a prize that was.

He sighs and looks up again searching for that blackbird.  Still singing, still hidden.  This tree.  Yes, it was here that he first kissed her.  His father was out, but fearful of his return they had gone out to the garden and laid down under this very tree.  That was their first real kiss, the gentle pressure of her lips on his, stroking the nape of her neck, and those tiny whorls of hair he wound round his fingers. The back of his hand, gliding down her cheek and onto her neck, her splendid long neck, grazing over the twin humps of her collar bones.  He had watched the rise and fall of her breasts and felt such immense contentment.   Earlier that day they had declared their love for each other.  And those kisses were enough, everything else could wait a while.  That was the beauty of those innocent days.  He had no more idea of female anatomy than how a jet engine worked.  These poor youngsters of today with the internet and all ‘knowledge’ at their fingertips and yet….understanding nothing – and caring even less, he suspected.  Denying themselves the wonder of discovery, the ecstasy of simply kissing.

But everything has changed now.  Almost beyond recognition.  Air travel, television, mobile phones and computers.  Where would it all end?  At least he wouldn’t be here to see it.  Three to four weeks at the most the Doctor said.  And he’d had nearly two already.  Laura knew – but had been sworn to secrecy.  The last thing he wanted was his far-flung children flying home in a panic, declaring their love for him and all that nonsense.  Better to just go quietly with no fuss.

There’s that blackbird again.  He never seems to tire of singing his song.  And all to attract a mate.  Ha, nothing changes.  Where is He?  He peers up, trying to discover the bird from the sound alone.  He tries to wheel the chair out a bit but it catches in a tree root, he pushes the wheel but the chair stubbornly refuses to move and he feels himself losing balance, the chair is tipping over.  Falling oh so slowly, a delicious feeling in a strange way, an abandonment – and no-one to catch him, no-one to put him back in his chair, no nurse to tuck him in and give him morphine.  No, none of that, just a delightful toppling over.  Here he goes now, gently falling, comfortably wedged into his wheelchair.  The house rises up and stands on its end, he sees the tree turn almost a full circle, the panic button flies out in a beautiful arc.  Safely out of reach.  He lands with the gentlest of bumps and there just there, on that branch he finally sees him, the blackbird, still singing his endless song…ah, bliss.