"Can you see if they've got Hammocks"
The voice came from the back of the hot tin box, parked on the corner of a mountain in Italy. Having stopped off for a piss not long prior, we'd all been reminded of the bloody-thirsty relentlessness of Italian mosquitos. Micheal Gove says that Covid-19 does not discriminate (unlike the government and decades of capitalism, which has ultimately led to the a much more sinister impact of the 'rona on the working class and BAME groups but that's another blog for another day). Well, neither do Mosquitos in the mountains of Italy Micheal. Those Boiz just keep coming, whoever you are. The pharmacy was a juicy little sight as we swung round the strade ventose (Italian for windy roads according to Google Translate, did it sound cool?), boys holding onto their seats. The roads aren't that awful, I just drive like a Mole on a jet ski. Jake wanted us to see if they had Hammocks. He'd been talking about Hammocks since we were late for the Ferry. How nice it would be to rock between two trees in the shady green slopes of northern Italy. Jake, the air, the rocks, the bear (apparently there was one about), the stars, the moon, the serenity. He could sleep in it, think in it, just BE in it. "Should have thought of that before we left Jake" "We're going to be driving to the middle of nowhere Jake" "Where you gonna find a Hammock Jake, Hammock land on hammock corner? Hans the Hammock Specialist in the mountains?"
Jake and the quest for his Hammock became somewhat of a theme on the road to Italy. All of our eyes desperate to make contact, to dish out knowing looks and crows-feet grins amongst one another whenever our young protagonist spent his his little-boys-break looking to acquire a hammock from a McDonalds or equivalent (as you can see, even now I make light of the matter, guffaw guffaw). Should Jake have approached the matter with urgency and desperation, perhaps it wouldn't have been so funny to witness at the time. It wasn't so much an 'AT ALL COSTS' scenario for Jake as much as it was a 'Hey man, you don't have hammocks here do you, I'd quite like one' situation. To whom? To anyone he saw. Jake wanted a hammock, but damn it he wasn't going to go about it in anything other than a calm and inquisitive manner. Imagine Taken starring Liam Neeson, except it's not starring Liam Neeson it's starring Dylan from the magic roundabout instead. Let me get one thing straight here, all the above that appears to be mockery, is coming from just one of many in that little van that likes to act first and think later. Impatience, an addictive nature, cynicism, short-temper, vanity and a self-acknowledged materialism are all personality traits of myself and others in the little unit that is Town of Cats. We jest and dig at each other frequently in order to point out these flaws (we all have our coping mechanisms). With Jake however it is different. We've japed at the lad for years but in reality, it comes from a place of startled respect. When Jake sets his sights on something, it begins as something tiny. An organism. Jake follows it curiously as it begins to evolve, grow fins, grow legs, stands, makes spear, invents wheel and so on. Eventually the idea is fully grown. Jake approaches the idea, and by the time he's said "hey man, you're a cool idea, I like you", the Idea has gone off in it's chariot full of spears and returned with Jakes desires flung over it's shoulder, head bowed and ready to present it.
As Aesop's Hare, I am in awe of Jake's way about things, but looking for a hammock in the small-towns and villages of the Italian mountains, ludicrous.
In a hot tin box full of eight or nine sweaty boys, driving for hundreds and hundreds of miles, little in-jokes like this stick fast. In fact, everything sticks fast. Conversations never fully end, they linger in the way that cheap tanning-oil does, the faint taste of it remains on the tongues of all in close proximity. As an example, I love Marvel now. Marvel this I say, Marvel that. OMG The Avengers I go. I didn't have a single care for it not long ago, but in the hot tin box the talk of it went round and round. Marvel this they said, marvel that. Not just the first year we drove hundreds of miles, but the second, the third. Eyes on the road, I had no choice but to listen to conversations about The Hulk, and Kevin Feige, and Tony Stark, and Thanos or whatever. As soon as one sweaty little cat merely scratched their chin and the cheap-tanning oil of MCU factor fifty plucked up into the air they'd be jabbering again. So if you can't beat em, join em innit. I did my homework, watched my Iron Man, my Captain America, My Thor, just to make that hot tin box a little more bearable on the road to wherever.
Come to think of it, Jake is our little Thor. Pure heart, good intentions, an Asgardian relationship with the universe, blonde hair obvs. He doesn't carry about Mjölnir though, but a pair of sticks and a little pad for everyone-else-in-any-band-other than-the-drummer's favourite practice technique; rudiments. Rudiments in the front, rudiments in the back. Any opportunity Jake practiced his Rudiments in the hot tin box on the way to Italy. On the ferry, beyond the ferry, in France, in Belgium, the Black Forest, the rolling hills of Austria, all the way to Riva Del Garda, a quiet little tourist trap by the big lake. It was here, in Riva Del Garda, the close-to final destination, the end of the road, near the middle of nowhere, that Jake stopped practicing rudiments. Sticks away, Jake left the van, and immediately found a specialist Hammock shop. Love ya Jakey Boy, and your ability to conjure serendipity. Keep it up, gr8 work. HERE IS JAKE'S PLAYLIST AND SOME WORDS ABOUT IT!
"During quarantine I’ve had a great opportunity to explore rhythms from around the world and that is the main focus of this playlist. A mash of modern and familiar older tunes I hope this helps you too loosen your hips and dance off your quarantine blues just in time for the
more gentle and thoughtful songs to give you time to reflect"