Brighton Rock
by Alex James

And I dream of being a writer. Two weeks of bedlam. Insanity. I'm not normal, I live in a
bubble. We're tearing round the seasides on tour. We are desirable, we are pursued, we
are screamed at. Squealing louder than the 16000 watt PA system, deafening, scary
teenage girls realising the myth of pop music. Fantastic. Eat as much as you want,
money in your pocket, sex when you want it. On the radio, on the telly. We can't do
anything without getting a police escort, not even go and get plastered.

You'd think getting everything you'd dreamed of would make you happy. That's the basis
of wanting it in the first place, eh? And it's definitely recommended, I'm not a maudlin
one, but when everything, the stuff of adverts, the precious stuff, becomes freely
available, it gets ordinary. Of course if does; it's a cliche, but cliches are the only truths
those of us in altered states deserve. 

We have everything we're supposed to want, even fame. I'm addicted to fame and so are
you. Let me show you a famous person you won't talk to. You won't? OK, get someone
more famous until you will. Fame is irresistable, sucker.

I generally feel utterly shit all day and invincible all night, it's a recursive thing. Of course
we're ridiculously busy. Perpetually en route, devoured by the mass media, devoured by
the masses. Four hours sleep a night and no tea breaks. I love it. You can't enjoy idle
moments unless they're stolen, there's got to be some voltage, otherwise you just sit
there meaninglessly.

I'm holding a pebble that fits nicely in my hand. A worthless, useless, round, round
pebble. An ergonomic piece of eternity. A Zen launch pad, a subconscious diving board.
cosmic blob that no one's put there. There's something of the ink blot about the pebble,
surely. I mean, they're just pebbles, you're projecting yourself when you talk about them,
dull lumps with no capacity for fractal behaviour. I collect them. I've got loads. Big ones,
small ones, some as big as your head.

I nearly bought a meteorite in Osaka. I'd always wanted one, you know, a piece of outer
space. And there they were: small and spikey and expensive, in collect-and-keep plinth
presentation cases, and I had one of those lovely turnaround moments that change your
whole perspective forever, a paradigm-shift job. It went: they don't look as nice as
pebbles, and then I suppose pebbles are from space in a way, and we're from space in
the same way, and this is outer space, this is outer space anyway. Gorgeous. A rush of
vision: pebbles are our cosmic neighbours.

Sand's a little bit pretty and intangible, gold's a tart, diamonds are whores. They're more
man-made than a Linda McCartney "Chicken" Kiev, smelted and cut and polished and set
and oh so expensive. Overtures of overtones, they stink of status, superficial shiny
ephemera. They're not from space, they're from the shops.

So I'm back on the beach with all these really really pebbles, a million zillion really really
pebbles, thinking where do they come from, and even more, where do they go? Where do
they go?

The first thing you think is that these quiet restful round things are all surface, a
mysterious surface hiding the inside, the covert essence of the thing. But the whole thing
about pebbles, the nice round thing, only happens because they are perpetually being
ground down, I mean, having their surface removed. So in scientific terms you could
argue there's probably no such thing as a pebble, just a big lump and then a dynamic and
then nothing. The pebble gradually realises its insides. So I remove a palm-sized pebble
from its journey down the plughole, hold it for a moment and think: Where do you go?

And another marvellous turnaround thingy. I mean, they don't just disappear, they must
form some necessary mineral element in some necessary food chain, and a monster big
feeling of unity of all these pebbles in all this sea and sunshine and little splishy ripples
and what it all looks like and how much a part of me it is and how gentle and round
overwhelms me. I'm holding a piece of forever, a piece of me and you and everything. I
have the outside inside me, and I'm in outer space. How they belong where they are,
these blobs, they're as precious as orchids. So I hurl the thing back into the sea as hard
as I can, it makes a Zen-fibrous Zen-fabulous parabolic straight line and changes the
remote future completely with a splash.

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