Vesuvius and turpentine

Some assertions of the intuition are so strong and sudden you have to grant them some authority. I was standing at the sink, my hands in dishwater, when very suddenly the title of my next album appeared in my head: Climbing Vesuvius.

All I’d thought of the next album would be that, since I’m channeling the relationship songs into the Romantic Fiction series, I would focus on songs of a philosophical, existential, call-it-spiritual-if-you-like nature. That much I’d previously thought through. I wondered, then, what Climbing Vesuvius had to do with that. Over the next few moments, in fact by the time all the dishes were washed and stacked in the rack, I knew.

This will sound like the ramblings of a late night drunk but …

Itsh like life really … (burp), you keep on going even though you know you can’t survive the climb. You may not reach the top but if you do, there’s nothing to be gained. And the whole thing may blow apart at any moment – any moment. But the view is magnificent. And you keep on going.

You could say ‘and it smells of sulphur’ but we’d probably best leave the analogy there.

Actually that reminds me of the great American psychologist and philosopher William James who decided to take the psychedelic of the day, which I think was some kind of ethyl substance, to see if it gave him any insights. During the experience he felt he had truly uncovered the deepest possible truth about existence. The works – life, the universe and everything. His head swirling, he reached for a pen and paper and, forcing his hand to remember how to write, painfully scrawled a message that would explain his revelation when the ecstatic state had passed. Later, nursing a hangover, he remembered he had written the message and hidden it; eagerly he ransacked his desk and drawers until he found it. In spidery scrawl it read :

‘The smell of turpentine pervades all.’