Making Plans for or with or about Nigel

Help Me Somebody (2006 Digital Remaster) — Brian Eno

The first rule of success – take inventory of your assets – don’t be modest, or critical.

I approach the bar and order a gin and tonic and a shot of tequila. The salt tastes good, the lime delicious, the tequila is (of course) disgusting. I allow myself a moment to regroup, my chest burns as the alcohol goes down, so I take a sip of the gin. Well-made. I make a note of that and to tip the barman well when I settle the check.

I’m sat on one of those high swivel stools, deep red leather with cracks and yellow plush foam poking out, waiting for the The Governor to arrive. It’s a downstairs bar so I’ve got no signal – I have taken a seat at the end so I can face the stairs down and spot him when he arrives. I consider telling the barman I’m expecting someone and to let me know if they call, but I figure with his nervous disposition The Governor is highly unlikely to call ahead looking for me, so I drink my drink and shut up.

The bar is mahogany with a lip around the end to keep the dribbles from dribbling down onto the patrons’ legs, there’s a napkin holder with a partition to hold those thin stubby straws for cocktails served in short glasses. I wonder why the longer straws are kept out of reach of the customers and it briefly crosses my mind that I once inhaled cocaine through one of those in the bathroom of a bar just like this one, and assume that’s why they keep the thin ones out and the long ones hidden, to limit the highs and keep the customers thirsty. I’m probably over-thinking it but, hell, I’ve got nothing else to do.

There’s a jukebox in the corner which is in need of some TLC. I catch the barman’s eye and motion for him to watch my drinks and make my way over.

After a few flick throughs I realise the retro display is just a façade and the only songs prior to 2009 are the ubiquitous power ballads that have been reclaimed by 00s lads, a real shame. I’m about to give up when my eyes catch a name that seems so out of place amongst the frat-dance-rock it shares a virtual turntable with – Brian Eno. It’s not even one song, it’s a whole album, and it’s not even a pop Eno album, it’s the 1981 David Byrne collaboration My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Huh. Weird. I look around the bar and there’s just a handful of people here so I figure what the hell and give it a spin. A few years earlier I would have texted Alex about this and shared a laugh at such a random addition to an otherwise turgid selection, but there’s no point doing that now – the cellular network doesn’t range to where he ended up (or where I currently am for that matter).

It’s a weird album, that’s for sure. It draws you in more than Eno’s later travels down the ambient music path, and you can pick out the twangs of ethnology that David Byrne likes to pepper his music with, but it’s not wholly unpleasant. It’s the sort of thing you’d hear walking past a tent at Glastonbury at 4am, a throng of pilled up ravers slowly throwing their bodies against each other to the machine gun beat of the African drums, swapping saliva to the rolling pulse of the Middle Eastern sirens. Not really my scene.

I’m back sitting at the bar when The Governor finally makes his entrance.

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