It only took me 14 years to get to Guernica. This was the time between first staring at the name in black and white on the back of the 12” version of The Stone Roses’ stupendously sublime Made of Stone single and spending a freezing Sunday afternoon in February among the verdant hills of northern Spain staring at an oak tree. What I didn’t know at that moment in the summer of 1989 was that this word would pretty much influence forever there on in reading habits, holiday plans, political leanings and choice of sexual partners (I made that last bit up…).
If you’ve never heard of The Stone Roses then where you been? And if you haven’t heard of Guernica then, as the title of a Roses’ song goes and what John Lennon once sang to his former writing partner – how do you sleep? Probably quite easily without recurring thoughts of screeching Heinkel engines and screams of innocent women and children whirling around your head. How I came to spend a freezing Sunday afternoon in February among the verdant hills of northern Spain staring at an oak tree can be blamed purely, squarely, totally and unquestionably on an incontrollable desire for that intangible thing commonly referred to – and what Jarvis Cocker once so memorably uttered in a song about common people – as a thirst for knowledge. And I’m not even Greek.
Any wannabe social media expert who somehow happened to stumble upon this blog will have by now clicked off in search of something else to use as a subject for an online tutorial to their 50,000 tweeter followers, screaming as they go “What is this fool going on about? A whole paragraph and no sign of an introduction or theme. Have they never heard of SEO’s? What the fuck is a ‘Guernica’ anyway?”
It’s thanks to a thirst for knowledge that I’ve been fortunate enough to cross paths with so many great writers, directors, artists, and beer makers. It’s been instrumental in helping build a record collection that if it were to be played all in one hit would still be going strong after 100 days. It’s taken me literally around the world and through more than 50 countries, providing a much needed distraction from football and loose women (at the age of 13 these two subjects probably dominated 98% of my day. Today, I have other distractions such as work, kids and writing pointless articles that no one will read so I’ve managed to shave a few percent of that total). Mostly however, a thirst for knowledge has ensured that I’ll probably wind up my days poverty stricken with nothing to my name besides a laptop overloaded with an unfinished novel and streams of photographs that never made it through Boots processing lab. There will of course still be an iPod to soundtrack my plight. I have considered potentially selling my kidneys if things got too desperate – there’s got to be a long weekend in a Ryanair destination in one of those.
A thirst for knowledge controls your passions. In my case, once I realised there was something more important in life than Subbuteo and Panini football stickers, each new thing I discover turns me onto something new, until you arrive at a point seemingly several leagues from where you first started but is all somehow intrinsically linked. Where it all started is a cause of much debate, but I’ve decided that The Stone Roses and Guernica are the two staples that continue to trigger my intrigue and appreciation for the world around me. In my head I’ve created a family tree type diagram of all the things that I love and draw inspiration from with the aforementioned Roses and Guernica sitting at the top like a married couple. From there lines shoot out towards the likes of Picasso, Miro, Orwell, Hemingway, Cervantes, Madrid and The Clash. After that it’s just a short hop to Dali, Pollock, Camus, Kafka, Kerouac, Steinbeck, Salinger, The Stooges, Joy Division/New Order, Bowie, Dylan, The Byrds, Neil Young, The Smiths, Prague, Berlin, Vienna, San Francisco, New Orleans, Buenos Aires and Rome. And from there, well from there it’s infinite, but some of the names along the way I’m going to explore on these pages. You could conclude that by this logic that all things are related to one another in some way, but I can unequivocally state that no amount of thirst for knowledge would be strong enough to make we wish to listen to a Chris de Burgh album or watch anything featuring Sarah Jessica Parker. It’s obscene to even contemplate such actions.