I wish I could take you to the places I went to yesterday: to the moments of joy, to the moments of unexpected sadness, to the moments of exquisite realisation that we can all transcend, heal, connect, disappear. Transient, all of it, of course – and perfect.

 

Picture this: a haunted suburban room, a sleep-grey Saturday morning. Fears for the future and an avalanche of regret. A half-drunk cup of lukewarm coffee sits on the table; joints ache. As He said once, it’s our consciousness of being in the world that separates us from it. You put the album on for the second time: thoughts dissolve into breath, pulse, expectation. That old, cold, too-male armour starts to melt into something strong, your terror ushered away in the music’s glorious embrace, buried soon under love and snow and a sensuality that weeps and screams for joy. The Voice – older now, more and less sure – caresses, prods, mocks, kisses. Her words wander and wonder, jump and skip, play ancient games, inhabit the new-born and the dying within us. You want to scoff, naturally, you want to bring your punk rage crashing down on her hippie spirituality. But, but… this is punk, this is raw and real and pagan and white-strong and full of faith. The future’s gone and so’s the past: you’re a little frightened and that’s OK. When she reaches her climax, you both stop breathing for a while and then start all over again.

Then picture this: you’re on the afternoon banks of our river and you’re wandering around a cathedral of colour and commerce, of light and shadow and snatched melody.  You find yourself teased, confronted, carried softly along by voices and visions so foreign – and so familiar – that you start to hear the morning’s music swim back into your soul. Behind a ghostly curtain, in a near-silent cave, you lie down and let her climb through your eyes; as smiles and tears come, each is welcomed. Blood and flowers and sheep and sunlight and tyres and skin and breasts and the cool salvation of water: images flow, ecstatic in their everyday pain and bliss, insinuating and pinning us into life, into our histories, into our birth and death. Something’s changed and you never want to leave.

And now picture this: hard night air, friendship and whiskey still warming your blood, a not-entirely-sober limp up the steps of the station and into the madness of the ordinary. You turn round suddenly, catch a glimpse, over there by Burger King: a woman, dressed entirely in white, is smiling, licking her lips and humming to herself, beautiful in her raw, content otherness. You head for your train.