“Hello you. There you are.” said Fai with a smile, suddenly appearing beside me.
“It is good to see you my friend.” I said looking at his face. Chinese features combined with a love of music and good times always made him look younger than his years. Fai is one of those musicians who can jam along, or launch into a solo, not only on the guitar, but the piano, and most spectacularly, on the violin too. I’d missed the music and his company.
The way I’d found to live with little money for the previous two years involved moving around quite a lot, filling gaps of need where I could find them. I house sat, stayed with friends and family or did other work in exchange for food and accommodation. All of which meant that a regular practice with a band wouldn’t work. My occasional dose of music would come from an improvisation at an open mic. Fun, but it doesn’t reach the quality of a band that knows each other and practices together.
We chatted in the pub about the journey, our old band, Fai’s work and research on climate change and inevitably, about the dark emotions which arise from any honest look at the global climate crisis. The restrictions on scientists to explain the horror of climate change without any emotion. Fai was lamenting the way people don’t react to the severity of climate change.
“When you tell someone terrifying news but you don’t sound frightened, it doesn’t reach them.” I said. “Or devastating news, but you don’t sound sad. Every day we watch the news and someone who is not emotionally reacting tells us about things we really ought to be reacting to. But we don’t. We’re programmed with mirror neurons. So we don’t react.”
“I’ve not considered that aspect.” said Fai, pleased to be discussing a new area.
“If the emotions are not engaged, we don’t change our behaviour. That’s at the heart of behavioural change research.” I said.
“But you can’t force it.” he said.
“Yeah, if you feel forced, it won’t connect.” I agreed.
“What are you doing with music these days?” asked Fai.
“You know, not counting improv, I haven’t written a song in nearly two years?” I asked.
“What?! Well sort it out!” said Fai. I smiled back and nodded.
“My lyrics never seem enough anymore. Climate change occupies my mind, but how do you write a song about that? How do you write a song about armageddon? There’s nothing big enough… All the good words and phrases have been taken. By adverts or movies… It’s just cliche.”
“Well, tonight you will!” said Fai slapping me on the back.
Fai’s housemate Matt joined us and we walked to their flat in central Bristol.
“I like the bustle,” said Fai, “being so near the heart of it.”
While Fai cooked dinner, Matt and he started a bottle, and the jokes flowed even faster than the wine. The banter whipped back and forth like a married couple but with more of the presence of a stage comedy duo. Sat on the back of the sofa, with my legs on the seat I watched the match like a tennis fan, and laughed squintingly down into my tea.
In the corner my tent was open and drying. With the frequent rain I had had to keep putting it away wet and it was beginning to smell of rot and have tell-tale little brown spots.