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The village of Tafraoute, high in the Moroccan Atlas mountains, is a trading cross-roads untouched in many ways by this century or, indeed, by any of those preceding. Outside rough buildings of mud and rock the dentists show their prowess with rusty pliers in the stacks of extracted teeth on hessian sheets and offer their services to anyone fool enough to glance their way. I get the impression anything could be bought here. Though the Berber tribesmen come in on donkeys, dress in rough clothing to stave off the awesome heat of midday, they nevertheless seem to have acquired some highly modern weaponry, which they tout as a sign of wealth along with their gold watches. Why anyone needs a watch to tell the time is beyond me, it's always too hot to do anything anyway. Mangy dogs bark at mangy goats in between toothless hags selling rotting vegetables to men with guns.
There are only two hotels in Tafraoute and they are equally festered. I'm staying in the Hotel Chatte Verte at the expense of the rest of the Glasperlenspiel team. A freebie? A jolly? After four days here, on a diet of espresso, Gitanes and with near constant diarrhoea I think not. But, after extensive negotiations with Eldritch, we've secured an interview, though very much on his terms. He was "in the area on business" and had a free window when he could meet me in the hotel to talk about anything and everything: the new album; the future; the changing political landscape in Europe where the marginalization of the Right and Left has led to a growing apathy towards centrist, populist politics; the Sisters' past; the growing black market in fissionable materials particularly in the former Eastern Bloc countries with their unstable economies; donkeys; women; Chinese poetical methods. From our phone conversation it sounded a blinder of an interview. Only one little problem, he's unfashionably, unEldritchly late. Four days late. I start to wonder if I got the wrong month.
I'm sitting in the hotel bar to avoid being out in the heat of the village at this time of day. Even the myriad of arthropod life finds it a bit much and it seems like they all choose to chill out in my room. The profundity and diversity of insects and arachnids here, coupled with my grasp of statistics and caffeine-fuelled imagination, means that my perceived odds of survival in that room are pretty minimal. I order another espresso. As the Arab boy stokes up the Gaggia for the umpteenth time, one of the lizards on the ceiling slithers down the wall for a chat.
"He's not gonna show, you know," he informs me, before going on to mention that he can be hired from the bar staff for a minimal sum to police my room, which means predating anything that I find remotely scary.
"How Burroughesque," I think, wondering if I've maybe overdone the coffee, or if I've been here for so long now that reptile life has evolved sufficiently far to make conversation with humans possible. Tiredness. Anxiety has kept me awake for a few days. Amongst the manifold stresses I choose to keep me company, the overriding one is of missing my main chance, of going home with nothing more than blank tapes, an empty page and a sob story to share with the team.
This close to the equator there's little variation in the day length, time behaves with a more predictable bent, and night falls like a shot man. In a dimly lit bar I sit, sharing a whisky and exchanging life stories with a lizard. This is a lot less exotic than it seems, as the lizard seems primarily obsessed with comparative studies on the stringency of scorpion blood.
Car lights in the night, like languid tracers towards the village delineating my destiny.
An obscenely large Mercedes pulls up outside the hotel. Sand coloured meal, sand obliterated windows, 60s vintage fins. The reasons for my wait may well be rooted in the bullet-scarred metal along the sides of the car. Sharp, precise holes might suggest that someone was using armour-piercing shells, which would suggest that Someone Else has had their car armoured. Plenty of time for questions and explanations later, just now I want contact, proof, evidence..... The driver's door opens and a statuesque blonde clad entirely in rubber gets out and starts walking straight at me. How she can walk in heels that high is beyond me. How she can dress like that in this heat and not sweat is probably beyond medical science, but the weirdness just rolls off me after the last few days. She stops at my table and hands me an envelope with my name on the outside. As I open it she starts to leave and my grasp on hope slips. Inside a card with Von's name printed on one side and obversely inscribed in his own handwriting "Get out of this cliché, it's well past its sell by date you sad fu...
end of reel one
narrow shot on manchester cafe interior along aisle between rows of formica-topped tables where working men sit devouring breakfasts and sports news from the backs of tabloid early editions. 5:30 am reads a digital clock
in complete silence the camera stalks through the clientele, passing through dense clouds of cigarette smoke and vaporised lard from the kitchens, approaching three incongruous figures towards the back, immersed in mute conversation, their clothing is sweat-soaked from a night on the town, between them: ketchup stained lard-smeared plates demonstrate just how early they arrived, pints of tea half-drunk, a dictaphone and a notebook with a few scrawls on it. interviewer's mouth moves silently addressing eldritch and we reach out and switch on the dictaphone to play...
"...yeah, but he's constantly imposing his will on the Party and leaving traditionalists with little room for manoeuvre. It's a deep arrogance of the Christian democrats that they've some kind of moral high-ground that precludes the necessity for debate. Coupled with populism and the down-sizing of political, I can't really believe we're headed in the right direction."
Eldritch ponders the statement for a moment, then speaks.....
"Infusion of Internet money won't make a difference - music corporations rarely have cash problems, and they make those themselves, but if they've demeaned the currency to the point where they can't see its future, it doesn't really make sense to yield control to a company which is nothing more than broadest-band marketing notions, because that's where they fucked up in the first place. Fact is, they're just net-ignorant and net-scared."
.....GPS (was supposed to) interview Andrew Eldritch in GPS 03.
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