Friday, October 20, 2006

fires, flats & the band of holy joy

band of holy joy - manic, magic, majestic

do you have records or songs that come complete with smells, sounds and images?

band of holy joy were wonderful.
a beautiful sounding band with the most fantastic storyteller as a lyricist.
they're still on my iPod today.

but whenever i listen to their "manic, magic, majestic" album i can smell fire, see snow and feel the cold of winter.
it's a shame as the album is actually very summery - lively and warm.

so here's how it happened.

we'd moved into a tiny flat in shrewsbury, spent time decorating it in primary colours with matching habitat furniture and were working a few miles away in telford.
it was january.
it was snowing hard.
before going to work that morning one of us (and i'm pretty sure it was me) had put some washing around the fire to dry (remember the t-shirts i mentioned in a previous post? they were all there - mctells, 14 iced bears, television personalities, pastels, the lot).
at some point during the afternoon our cats had knocked the clothes horse against the fire.

we had a long drive home that day - it was slow going due to the snow.
i'd taped "manic, magic, majestic" and it was all we listened to in the car for weeks.
as we pulled into our street we could see a fire engine and all our neighbours.
"oh", we said in unison.
"oh dear."

our flat had been put out before the rest of the block went up in flames, but it was trashed.
we weren't allowed in that evening and so we found the cats and drove to wales.
we sat in shock until the following day before returning to view what was left of our home.

there is a kind of happy ending though.

our insurance company sent someone over to estimate the loss.
the man sent out met us in the early evening and it was dark.
he hadn't thought that the electricity may be out and he hadn't brought a torch.
i think he may have been new to the job, because instead of saying he'd come back in the daylight he simply asked us to make a list of all the things we'd lost and they'd cover it.
we also convinced him that we should be staying in a hotel until the flat was habitable again.

the next evening we sat in a rather nice hotel room in the middle of shrewsbury and decided on all the things we might like.

- we claimed for 500 LPs (we lost about 20).
- we claimed for a new guitar (a fender telecaster) and a new bass (like the one lemmy plays - can't remember it's name).
- i wanted a skateboard so we claimed for one of those.
- we claimed for our clothes of course, and the carpet and furniture.
- we got a professional cleanign crew in to clean all the records and put them back on our shiny new shelves in alphabetical order.
- we claimed for a whole heap of stuff we wanted. most of which we didn't have before the flat caught fire.

the only thing we couldn't replace was all those t-shirts i'd printed.
but that was a small price to pay as the money we received for the "lost" records bought us a new car.


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