“One two three four, down the stairs and through the door.”
The nights are drawing in, darkness is creeping up around my windows and I am plagued by a feeling of frustration. The thought that if I don’t get out of this fucking shit hole town soon, I‘ll be bound to it forever. Looking on the bright side, it could be worse.
I could be living in seventies Yorkshire.
With this in mind, I returned to something which hit with a bullet first time round. Didn’t make it past the first page. Never has a book affected me so much as to cry. Especially so long after reading it.
“Christmas bombs and Lucky on the run, Leeds United and the Bay City Rollers, The Exorcist and It Ain’t Half hot Mum.
Yorkshire, Christmas 1974.
I keep it close.
I wrote lies as truth and truth as lies, believing it all.
I fucked women I didn’t love and the one I did, I fucked forever.
I killed a bad man but let others live.
I killed a child.
Yorkshire, Christmas 1974.
I keep it close.”
And with that, David Peace’s Nineteen Seventy Four broke me.
Nothing happens, but the tone is set.
It’s then that you remember just how much this world meant to you. How deep every character settled in your head, every word digging under your skull like insects crawling in through your ears, laying their eggs in your brain. Hatching when you least expect it, the larvae free to squirm. Invading your daydreams and haunting your nights. You remember how each part left you fucked over. Eyes glazed, shaken up. Broken, and sometimes a little confused. All you can muster is a whispered “Jesus Christ” and you’ll never leave it be. You’ll return to it for the rest of your life. For the love of it. To be reminded of a punch so powerful. For the unrelenting hell of it all. Worst of all, you know you’ll never find anything like it ever again, nothing will ever be able to compare to it. Nothing will mark you as deeply, nothing will make you obsess over it as much…and you don’t want to think about it, but you know everything you read from the moment this ends will always come second.
Close, but no fucking cigar.
The thought of a book should not make me cry, but this? There is so much love I have for Nineteen Seventy Four, Nineteen Seventy Seven, Nineteen Eighty and Nineteen Eighty Three that I can’t put it into words. I wish I could do them justice, but I can’t. I’ll never be able to. When you can’t look at something from a detached viewpoint, criticism won’t work. Not that I know how to fucking approach critiquing anything anyway. And the personal take I usually have? Perhaps when each reread is over, I can begin to think about that, but right now? Who wants to read pages of me frigging over David Peace?
Yeah. Peace fucked my ability to fall so deeply in love with any other fictional world ever again. I will read everything he ever publishes until the day he stops. None of it will have the impact his Red Riding Quartet had, but nothing else in print has had the ability to catch me by the throat, shove me up against the wall, and shout at me to listen the way that David Peace can. I don’t mind, as recent forays into fresh literary territory have either failed me, left me cold, or ended with a shrugged nowt special – so I’m heading back to Yorkshire. The man is a fucking genius in my eyes, and can do no wrong.
Maybe I can even head back to the screen adaptation again. Maybe.
I might have initially been harsh where The Red Riding Trilogy was concerned, but I couldn’t quite remove myself from the nightmare Peace painted in my head. Etched in blood and feathers, with a backdrop of gunshot and drills. Secrets. Too many fucking secrets. All of them burned into the memory.
I almost envy those viewing it with fresh eyes, who can take in all its beauty, because let’s face it – it was bloody beautiful at points. I should have loved it.
I had been waiting for this to happen from the minute I met Eddie Dunford. Jack Whitehead. Bob Fraser. Peter Hunter. Maurice Jobson. I should have loved it. Red Riding seemed like an obvious choice of source material to make a fucking masterpiece. I was prepared to look past the lack of Nineteen Seventy Seven and see how it all played out. Ridiculous excitement and a hefty dose of expectation followed the more I found out. Peter Mullan. Paddy Considine. David Morrissey. Sean Bean. Eddie Marsan. Rebecca Hall. Maxine Peake. I could go on, but that should be enough. Should have been enough.
I should have loved it.
When those re-jacketed covers came into work? I was like a kid at Christmas. Did I give a shit that Bean’s John Dawson seemed out of place? Did I hell. Smiling at those nipples poking through that tight white polo neck I thought fuck yes, Sean. Sizing up Andrew Garfield’s Eddie, giving him the once over. Hugging multiple copies of Morrissey’s Maurice to my chest on the long walk from the stock room? I was happy. Lovingly – and repeatedly – rearranging piles of poor Peter Hunter. Fuck.
That went tits-up rather quickly. Ah well. Worse things have happened at sea and all that…
Yesterday I found a folder on my pc that had something close to twenty screen captures from each part of the trilogy. I don’t even know why I have them, or where I got them, but I’m assuming they belong to the period of “Complete and utter Red Riding Hard-on (or female equivalent of)” I suffered from. They elicited a response I didn’t expect. And no, take your mind from the gutter, it wasn’t that kind of reaction. Not this time anyway. They too, like that opening page of Nineteen Seventy Four, almost brought me to tears. Holy shit, what the hell‘s all this about? I felt a slight sense of loss, and disappointment. But I also felt that I’d let the television adaptation down. I didn’t really give it a fair go. Couldn’t give it a fair go. Never done that to a screen adaptation before. Making judgements based on another medium isn’t something I normally do.
I don’t think I do.
It would seem that sometimes you can form such a strong attachment to something, that you can struggle to let it go. What’s the use in that though, eh? All art forms need to breathe, spread their influence and spark new offshoots. Everything should be open to interpretation. Hang on too tightly to an idea and you’ll strangle the bastard to death.
Etched in blood and feathers. Too many fucking secrets. Think it’s about time to bury those secrets deeper and have another try.
Likely I’ll not forgive the ending of 1983 though, you can be sure of that.