14 – MY THIRD STORY (WATER)

And this is where I snap out of it, and realise that none of the previous introductions to myself have in any way been correct.

Or, there may have been parts of them that are true, but to be honest, I couldn’t pinpoint exactly which ones anymore.

It’s all a bit blurry at this point.

But the real story is that it’s now three o’clock.

Wednesday.

Early in the summer.

And I’m at home, here in East London.

Upper Clapton, to be more specific.

43 Gunton Road, to be exact.

I’ve lived in this house since I first arrived in this city.

Back in 1987.

When I moved in, the house was a squat.

As were most houses in the area.

This was mainly due to London’s housing-legislation at the time, stating that as long as you weren’t caught red-handed breaking into an empty house, it was the landlord’s duty to prove that they had concrete plans for using the house before any squatters could be evicted. 

Because of this, Hackney was filled to the brim with the most amazing people.

Every kind of freak you could imagine gravitated here from all over the world.

Even the odd broker from the City squatted, saving money by not paying rent.

They would slip into their suits in the morning and disappear for most of the day, only to return in the evening with a cheap takeaway in hand.

It worked for those who didn’t rattle their jewellery too loudly.

Or park a fancy ride in the street.

Some had to get burned to understand the rules, of course.

But they were the exeption.

In our specific house, a bunch of young, searching souls had huddled up together in order to escape their more or less difficult pasts.

Ranging from broken families to apartheid regimes.

Or just the bland boredom of their home towns.

Those lucky enough to hold a British or Commonwealth passport could sign on and get dole-money.

That is, if you considered being paid £30 a week lucky.

The few who had a job would evaporate through the city’s web of buses in the morning, only to come home at night to find the rest of us hanging out in their living-room, smoking dope and listening to music.

Or gathered around bonfires in the back yard, brewing magic mushroom tea.

It was all about trying to capture every single bit of excitement we could find.

Which usually included having a party at some point.

But there were more to it than that.

My definition of a sucessful day was all about finding enough cash for a ten-pack of cigarettes and a half-pint of milk.

And the cheapest teabags available.

Supplemented by a handful of bags of sugar nicked from the local greasy spoon, it was all that was needed to get through the day.

Along with my most essential asset.

The music-making setup.

An Atari 1040 computer running C-Lab Creator and an E-Mu Systems Emax keyboard sampler.

Expensive tools that were an unlikely find in a squat in Hackney at the time, but something that had to do with my rather privileged background.

I wasn’t born here, you see.

I was born and raised in a small Arctic town in the kingdom of Norway, where a monthly unemployment cheque amounted almost tenfold to that of a UK one.

In addition, I sold everything I owned before leaving home, including all the music gear I had been buying since I started working as a cleaner when I was 14.

My savings first and foremost went into buying the home-studio setup, and a couple of years later, buying this house, when the frustrated landlord realised that it was better to get rid of a property in an area where most people who could afford it would never set their foot.

The house cost £3000.

The same as the music gear.

After that, I was broke.

But on a day to day basis, a basic diet of cigs and tea was all I needed to be happy.

As happy as can be.

It hadn’t always been like this, though.

After all I had left a lot behind.

Not that I had anything to run away from.

My childhood wasn’t difficult in any way, or lacked the magic every childhood should have, if the world had been a fair place.

Mine was mostly about wild rides of the imagination and untamed emotion. 

Immersing myself in little big things.

I can still recall almost every emotion from when I was little. 

Simple triggers, like seeing a familiar view in an old photograph, or the smell of wood burning in cold, crisp air, can instantly transport me back to events from the past.

Vividly.

As if the grains of silver and the smoke particles serve as little storage devices. 

The DNA of every experience.

I remember most of my childhood dreams, too.

And some nightmares.

I guess I was quite vulnerable.

Easily moved.

My early years taught me to appreciate my family.

We lived in the attic of my grandparents’ house until I was 4 years old.

The house included me, my mother, my grandmother and grandfather, and their black cat.

My dad came and went.

Working on a ship abroad, he had to be away for months at a time.

I missed him greatly when he was away.

And loved every minute he was home.

When he was absent, my mother and I got the support we needed from my grandparents. 

Being part of a greater family gave us love and strength, and laid the foundation in making me a strong believer in cooperation.

Working together to accomplish even the most challenging tasks.

I’ve had my share of loneliness, though.

Especially in my teens.

The formative years.

I believe that’s where my love for music came from.

Comforting sounds.

Waves of melancholy.

“The Figurehead”.

“Pearly Dewdrops Drops”.

“A New Dawn Fades”.

Music that helped me get through the hardest times, and the motivation eventually brought me here.

To this City.

My drive to make my own music is probably rooted in a wish to be as important in the lives of others as the artists I’ve listened to have been in mine.

To say that I’ve reached that goal would be an exaggeration.

But to say that my love for music has never been stronger, is not.

Enough of the past.

Now, years down the line, I’m still here in this house, getting ready for my walk.

Like I do every day.

I look into the bathroom mirror as I put on my make-up, and decide that the foundation is pale enough, the eyeliner appropriately thick.

I walk into the bedroom and pick a black t-shirt from the wardrobe, then grab a couple of rings in the wooden bowl on top of the drawer.

The lion’s head goes on my middle finger.

The infinity loop on my pinky.

It’s too hot to wear my fake leather jacket.

But I choose it anyway.

Some things in life are essential.