The Fragile Memories of a School Boy

It’s been proposed that everyone has a photographic memory, only some don’t have film. Our memories are forged from the real, the lived, the imagined and the projected, and trying to define the lines of truth and verisimilitude in our personal histories can prove to be a genuine challenge. Where and when certain moments occurred tend to slip into a blurry Photoshopped archive, channelled over time into new memories and experiences, and we learn to join the dots between each others’ histories to form a succession of Proustian reminiscences that become our own.

An album cover for band Wire, with title Chairs Missing on the top right. Image features two curtains, open, with a white table top on the floor and a flower bot sitting just behind. A very clean and sterile atmosphere

I’ve kept a diary since I was 12 years old and never missed capturing a single day since then, so I can recall with some accuracy that in December 1977 when Pink Flag hit the record stores, I was evidently more excited about purchasing Houdini on Magic, enjoyed playing volleyball, failed to buy trousers with my mother, and was sick all over the carpet on Christmas Day. When Tennessee Williams wrote that “in memory everything seems to happen to music” I find a resonance with this suite of songs. It took a couple more years for them to filter into my head, since Chairs Missing corresponded more with my angst-driven teenage experiences, yet to this day I feel certain that I must have nodded my fluffy mullet hair to “12 XU” on John Peel at the time without acknowledging the source. Studying at an all-boys British grammar school in the 1970s brought with it many clich├ęs, amongst them the music we listened to.

I was drawn to outsiders, those who played with the system, and I recognised a very British approach to the sensibility of Wire, with their playfulness, their brevity and surly surreal lyrics. In between bouts of King Crimson, the Virgin Prunes, the Fall, Klaus Schulze and Throbbing Gristle, Wire offered a unique voice that spoke of something other, something unattainable, a lineage that intrigued and fascinated me.

Completely black album cover with only the words WIRE in white text and Mind hive in blue, but the letters are all cut up for the album title

Some years later, having befriended the group members and somehow mischievously formed another art-rock band with the singer with Black Hair, I’m honoured to have them in my life and to share my enthusiasm for a music that has shape-shifted over the years but continues to tell a story of the past and the future.