Shimura Curves

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


It's an odd song, this one - completely out of character for me in every way, and yet still one of my favourite things I've ever written.

For such a dark, negative person, I have a pretty steady policy of only releasing the upbeat, positive stuff. Sure, I write more things that I have ever released, but it's the dark, cathartic stuff that tends to get left on the cutting room floor. When I still had a live band, the "darker" songs would usually get a couple of airings live until I either realised that the song just took too much out of me to perform life (lost Lollies track "RU486", for example) or the emotions that prompted the song had been exorcised and no longer needed to be exercised. (lost Shimuras demo "Trust" for example.)

This song just felt too "important" to lose.

The background to the song is this: there is a history of wrist problems in the women of my family. Many grandmothers and great grandmothers suffered from ganglion bursas, treated with the usual "bible therapy" of the time. So when my mother grew an odd lump on her left wrist, she viewed it as nothing out of the ordinary. However, while I was in my teenage years, as the lump swelled bigger and bigger, it was finally diagnosed, not as a ganglion or a bursa, but as a highly invasive (though thankfully not malignant) tumour.

My mum suffered through two series of operations to remove it - during the final phase, her doctor described removing all the tiny bones of her hand, scraping them clean, then putting them back together like a jigsaw puzzle, held in place with steel pins. It took years of therapy to get the movements of her hand anything approaching normal. (Ironically, the therapeudic toys she left lying round the house proved invaluable for building strength and agility when I started playing guitar, around the same time.)

So this is my state of mind, nearly 20 years later, when a lump appears on mine own wrist: total panic. To make matters worse, it's my right hand. I'm having visions of a world where I can never play guitar, draw, use a computer mouse ever again.

My first reaction was denial, but finally the Soundartist convinced me to go to the doctor. (Though this provoked another fight - officially, we were Not Living Together in order to evade taxes - he was afraid that if I registered with a local doctor, that would compromise his single person on his council tax. I offered to pay the difference - indeed, half the council tax *IF* he would put me on a lease or do something that would give me legal residency in our own flat. He, of course, refused.) The doctor prodded me, said "that's really odd" and put me on a waiting list for a biopsy.

Good old Camden Council. I waited. And waited. And went back to the same doctor, complaining of wrist pain so bad I couldn't work some days. All the time panicking that I had cancer. It was one of the promises that he made me - that if I did have cancer, he would stick with me, help me through it, no matter what? No matter what.

Of course, the tumour wasn't the worst of my problems. The relationship with the Soundartist was deteriorating, fast. The little foible about not wanting to put me on the lease of the flat (despite the fact that this would make his council tax go *down*) spread to other aspects of our relationship. He continualy demanded freedoms for himself that he would allow me. I felt pushed and constrained into a smaller and smaller space and grew more and more miserable.

I don't want to rehash the end days of our relationship, though this song puts me back in that dark, dark space. He pushed me to move out, swearing it was to make the relationship work - I didn't believe him - claiming he needed "space" and of course he dumped me for another girl before the ink was even dry on the lease for my new place.

The happy news, though, was the move to Lambeth Council, and a new doctor with a day surgery unit. I was referred to a specialist within a few weeks of moving in.

The biopsy was terrifying. I was convinced that I had cancer - it would just be the crowning badness of a bad, bad year. A friend went with me, and sat while I waited for the doctor. The doctor held my hand between his as it was anaesthetised, peering at the ugly lump - by this time, about the size of a large chestnut - then pulled out a comedy oversized syringe. Plunging the syringe straight into the base of the lump, he drew the plunger, then whistled through his teeth, before pronouncing those words I had been so terrified to hear.

"It's not a tumour."

"Are you *sure*?"

For effect, he squirted the contents of the syringe across a nearby pan. It was a thick, oily liquid with a pearlescent white sheen. "That's excess joint fluid. It's not a tumour."

It took another few investigations, X-rays, nuclear scans and full-on surgery to get to the bottom of the mystery of what it really was (an ancient, unhealed fracture) and finally cure it, but the news that I did not have cancer was like some kind of all-clear signal for my entire life. From then on, I could heal, get on with my life, put the pieces back together.

In a final irony, the now-ex Soundartist got back in touch a few months later. Camden had sent a letter scheduling the appointment for the now-not-needed biopsy. I told him I'd cancel it, that it had already taken place. Believe it or not, he had the audacity to act *hurt*. "But I told you I'd take you, I'd take care of you. I meant that," he insisted, even as he was cutting short our conversation to go away with his new girlfriend.

I gave him the most withering glance. "No," I replied. "No you didn't. And no you wouldn't have."

All of this emotion went into this song.

I've put it on Soundcloud this time as I've been having trouble with Mediafire lately, but you can still download it if you like.


At 11:36 AM GMT, Blogger jean louis mercier said...

salut viens voir mon blog et laisse y des commentaire!!!


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