by Ric Carter
We caught fish and sent them by post to the record shop. They would exchange a seven-inch single for a decent-sized mackerel, whereas a bass would land us a twelve-inch. We had no front door. When the postman came to deliver our packages he just walked into the house and handed us the post while we were still in bed. The record player was at the foot of the bed, actually it was on top of our feet, which meant we could change the record without getting out from under the covers. We spent whole weeks like that, and these were weeks that went on and on – we invented new days so as to make a week stretch until it became ten, twenty, thirty days long.
Our plan had been to spend a year there, but the year kept on expanding. It also happened to be the best year for new music since records began.
We gave the postman some mackerel for his trouble and he brought us news of the outside world, from which we made connections to some of the lyrics we heard. There were fantastical lyrics, lovestruck lyrics, satirical lyrics, obtuse lyrics that didn’t seem to mean anything until you had listened to the record over and over.
Our elongated weeks passed slowly. We looked out of our bedroom window and saw fighter jets screaming across the sky. We looked out of our bedroom window and saw mushroom clouds far across the sea. We looked out of our bedroom window and saw the military doing manoeuvres on the beach, smartly dressed in banks of three, guns over their shoulders, a marching band out front. We got back under the covers where it was warm and where we had been thinking about the possibility of going out to catch more fish so we could send away for more records.
We heard the postman coming in through the space where our front door might have been, but when he entered the room, it turned out to be a soldier instead. He pointed his gun at us and ordered us to sit up and turn off the music. We put our hands to our heads and kept them there. We told him that all we were doing was catching fish and listening to music. He picked up our records and began to look through them, throwing selected titles to the floor. He put the depleted collection back on the bed and then snapped the discarded records under his boot.
After he had gone we decided that a new week should begin with immediate effect. What the hell, we may as well make it a new year. We slept for longer than usual, then we went out and caught fifteen mackerel and three bass, which were sent straight to the record shop. Back in bed, we listened to the records we had left, but the best ones – the most thrilling, the most vital, the most monumental – had all been broken.
The postman delivered our new batch, but no matter how hard we listened we couldn’t hear anything that told us what was going on.
– Originally from Bury in North West England, Ric Carter lives in the Channel Island of Guernsey. He publishes on his own website, Digestive Press, has produced several handmade chapbooks and has had work featured in various places online.