My foresight of a plan to “float whichever way the musical breeze blows you” turned out to be more predictive than anticipated. My attorney and I arrived on two wheels, a little later than planned after fate had dealt us a hand we had to fold.

Beyond James Street was a scene of unbridled theatre – a courtyard of jesters in conical party hats worn to accentuate their masks of artistic sharpness, resting atop zombified expressions, chasing the next new sounds with their own hum of unrest until sated and soothed. I acknowledged a couple of them, paid for one of their triangular snacks and hurriedly moved on.

The streets’ unsoiled cracks were again cleaner than each year previous. Any pub dereliction was disguised by the squeaky clean veneer of progress. But with a look upwards, the street-level promises of excess and luxury for all shallowly caved in like the rotting rafters whose holes leak more than just the semblance of decency in this town. Charlie Cocksedge’s drizzled waves of Echoplex were taking place in one of the last pubs standing on Chapel Street. “We’re both too negative,” my attorney reminded me.

We left to get loaded on jerk chicken (the past source of protein highs so pure my legs could exercise at a mechanical rate) and ear-splitting music, and encountered a straying rabble of the jesters, a moving, sentient, hedonistic swarm of a multi-being with colours brighter than my eyes could handle. The jerk must have been working on realigning my corneas by chewing through the optic nerve.

“This is the best thing I’ve seen today.” Housewives? The best thing? I stared at my attorney. His curried goat must have been working at double speed, because it was already too late. This dual-drumming dirge of Shellacity had hooked its pick axe guitar of monotony deep into a rut of a groove around my attorney’s skull, encircling his phased mind’s eye like a needle around a record. Or perhaps my own protein rush had swayed my senses. Who was I to judge in this state, when for all I knew a shattered bone lodged in my larynx was causing the steady distortion of blood loss-induced tinnitus?

I had to take a break. My attorney found a cohort to negotiate his next wave of sounds. I fumbled in my pockets for inspiration on the timetable and found the business card handed to me at the registration desk. The timing seemed about right and there ahead of me was a queue. The lady in the blue t-shirt took back the card and I was in a cold brick room, squared off and with some cone-hatted jesters whose colours were dampened sat in fours. Jason Schwartzman might have been among them, since the next sequence of sounds would fit with a Wes Anderson miniseries. I took a place against the back window as the staccato quartet began, like tiny penny spiders tiptoeing across a grand piano. Philip Glass was there in spirit, but there in body were a BBC Philharmonic quartet and ambient Scouse guitar wallopers Ex Easter Island Head.

“So you’re a case of nominative determinism,” offered the voice of my attorney’s cohort. This was it, then. Not Pentagon, Pentecostal, penance or penitentiary, but penning nonsensical retrospectives. We arrived at the Bexley Square marquee with the clouds circling. The crows gathered overhead, blackening the sky as the dryly humorous Liz Green dosed ‘Bad Medicine’ with an equivalently sombre tone. Wind raged outside as the assorted jesters cowered before the flapping sheets. The howling horsemen were competing against Green’s nasal twangs. Through her eyes there must have been contorted expressions flailing wider than the odds against the apocalypse actually happening, eyes of headlamps shining back towards her as swirling vortexes envelop the tent’s vertices, whooshing us all into the air like Dorothy and Toto. A look across the pews says we landed on the spire of St Phil’s, spiked through the spinal column by the power balladeering of Welshmen via San Fran accented Zun Zun Egui.

My attorney turned to me, eyes bulging with the ferocity of certitude. “This man has the face of Alan Shearer and sings like a girl.” I hadn’t yet brought myself to look, and could barely see past the pillar or a sea of heads, bobbing and inflating like the gluttonous plastic noggins of hungry hungry hippos. “You’re probably right, but I’m not sure,” I replied, more concerned with sidestepping away from the bar and away from the huddle of alcohol-thirsty musos in their pointed hats. “Of course I’m right, fool. You can quote me on that.” So here we are, with the quote scribbled in my notes and now on the page, and Gengahr tarred with the crazed brush of a curried goat fuelled madman.

Ian Pennington