The Trojan white elephant in the room.
It’s getting rapidly to the point where I can’t turn back. There will be no hiding. It will be out there. It will be exposed.
Now, they say that when something giantically obvious but awkward exists between people, their mutual or group instinct to not mention it to eachother is like having an elephant in the room. But I doubt this. I think it’s probably a poor analogy.
I think that even if you and your fellow awkwardees did instinctively swear an unspoken pact to not mention the inexplicable presence of a three-and-a-half metre tall, eight-ton African land mammal in your kitchen diner, as it casually overturned your pine dresser with an inadvertent tusk swing, the direction of your conversation would eventually slide.
I think that your noble English understatement would be somewhat undermined by the fact that your floor’s integrity suddenly would be.
And anyway, I think that the elephant would be too smart to play along. I think it would politely but firmly clear its throat. And prod a trunk at the pile of letters from the WWF asking you how you intend to look after it.
It makes me wonder though. If the ancient Trojans had adopted this marvelously oblique and English attitude, would Troy have turned out differently – “What big horse?”. Or is this attitude exactly how Troy was allowed to be finished and put on theatrical release in the first place?
I mean, surely only an unnaturally developed ability to ignore the bleedin’ obvious could have gotten some of the film crew through some days of that film production, screened again lastnight on Channel 5.
You can hear the execs talking about the idea in pre-production meets and all slavering in agreement: “a huge cast of absurdly pretty, famous people, supported by a secondary cast of respected elder voice-over actors, all dressed to the nines in ancient world finery, with a bunch of epic battles and a couple of shots of Brad Pitt’s butt – what’s not perfect? What?”
Yeah. Right. Nothing. Except for the small detail that the whole thing’s a stinking embarrassment of an idea.
Really, it’s a howler. Watch it again sometime. You won’t make it as far as the ruddy horse. We didn’t. It’s clearly a very slow horse.
And what we’ve learned is that the easiest elephants in the room to ignore are clearly the white ones.
Now. You may be wondering why I’m pondering the subject of epic ineptitude.
Well. Glad you ask. And you’re there ahead of me, obviously. Because it won’t be long before I’m quietly rolling out the red carpet to the premier of an epic production of my own.
Inviting the stars along. Gurning smugly at the paps outside. Winking at the reviewers. Straightening the sleek bow tie. Making the lovely first lady of Momo slip on some preposterously expensive evening wear. As if that’s different to usual.
Because I have begun the final, unnerving, dispiriting process of doing the final mixes for The Golden Age of Exploration.
And I’m wondering if it’s possible to hide behind the massive bulk of a white elephant when the rotten cabbages start raining onto the stage.
Now, now. I’m not being disingenuous. As I step back in the studio and try to take one more honest look at the canvas, like most artists, I vacillate between thinking I’m looking at a masterpiece and wondering if I’m actually staring blankly at Aphrodite at the waterhole, by that famous Parisian sculptor, Tony Hancock.
It’s neither, of course. I’m exaggerating for comic effect. Really – I do that from time to time. True story. It’s a collection of tunes that are, I suspect, cheekily likable.
But, as someone of a more effortlessly hip demographic might put it with withering efficiency, likeable ≠ credible.
The last time I rolled out the red carpet for a production of mine was August 2001. Just a couple of weeks before 9/11, I happily invited all and sundry down to Cranleigh’s church hall for the launch event of a little ‘space opera’ all about an unexpected terrorist attack on an Earth of the future. Whole thing starts with a massive explosion sound. Friends came. A handful stayed and listened to the whole darned two-and-a-half hours of electronica and drama – a kind of loving cross between Jeff Wayne’s musical version of The War of the Worlds and Blake’s 7. Which, be honest, you secretly think sounds brilliant. And if I’m secretly honest back, I think was kind of groovy. It was also, after four toiling years of my life, essentially a very long bedroom demo, featuring many of my mates in lead roles, and a lot of very inadequate recording techniques, plus a number of shaky moments in the script.
I had a blast, of course. And was crushed because Chaser was basically pointless, of course.
Well, I wasn’t really. But imagine the pressure now, after seven years of prep. Especially given the fact that I’m claiming The Golden Age of Exploration as more than just a worthy creative demo this time, but in fact A Musical Product That Will Actually Be Released For Purchase. All be it via iTunes to a fan base that doesn’t exist beyond the Thinking Juice studio and a single inexplicable but friendly chap in the Czech Republic.
I’ve mixed three tracks so far. Spent most of Friday working on one enormous song near the start of the album that I’m trying to convince myself is not a wildly ill-advised bit of pop melodrama.
Dear me, three tracks in and I’m wondering if I’m wasting my time. Or whether I’ll do what I always do and press on, finish it, invite people and pray they don’t mention the giant white elephant in the room.
Thankfully, most of my close friends are English. Doubt they’ll have the heart to say anything.