Nature is elitist. The bees buzz around the most attractive flower, and spread its pollen
. The unattractive flowers
wither and die. Their pollen dies with them. How many photographs did you take before you could call yourself a master?
Sometimes I contemplate Sting, the popular pop musician and actor and cultural figure. He was one of the men from The Police, a reggae-tinged post punk new wave pop group from the late 1970s and early 1980s. In fact, the group almost survived past the early 1980s into the mid 1980s. Sting played the bass and also sang, and another man in the group played the guitar, and a third man played the drums, insofar as it is possible to play drums. He performed with the drums, by hitting them rhythmically. He was drum man.
His name is Stewart Copeland and he is still drumming today, more than twenty years after The Police split up. He has a profile on a website called Drummerworld. He resembles a computer programmer and does not look like a drummer. I always had the impression that Stewart Copeland imagined himself as the star of The Police, whereas Andy Summer - the guitarist - was humble. Copeland is taller than Sting, and could probably beat him in a fight. He is of American descent. I respect drummers. No-one cares about them except for other drummers. They are like the dunnock in that respect, or the gadwall, or the wood pigeon. I imagine they mate amongst themselves, and this is how the world is never short of drummers. Perhaps there is a drumming gene.
As I write this it is early in March of 2006, and the season of Spring has Sprung. Could it be said that the season of Sting has Stung? His real name is Gordon Sumner, and he may still use that name for legal reasons. I find it hard to believe that his friends call him Sting. They would feel ridiculous. It is not the kind of nickname that could be used in casual speech. Do the receptionists at hotels call him Mr Sting? I imagine a man called Mr Sting being a short fat black man with diamonds in his teeth and a cane, and a retinue. A posse. An entourage. Sting is not short or fat or black, indeed there were very few new wave post-punk pop stars who were short or fat or black. The chap from Pere Ubu was fat, but he certainly wasn't black. I don't know how tall he was in the late 1970s. There is very little information about the physical dimensions of new wave pop stars on the internet. Generally, pop stars tend to be the most attractive flowers. Ladies love Sting. They always have.
What might Gordon Sumner have become, if he had been born in the 1700s? I imagine him being a pirate, or a seafaring man, or a buccaneer. Before he became a rock star, Gordon Sumner was a professional teacher - he is listed on the website of Northumbria University as a famous former pupil of their school for teachers (and so it could be said that Sumner was a professional teacher and a professional pupil) - and I imagine that the kind of mental skills involved in completing a professional qualification in teaching would come in handy on the open seas. Although Sting was not the 'leader' of The Police, he is the only member of the group to have had a successful solo career, and in 2003 he became a CBE. I can see him as a leader of men, a captain. I cannot see Gordon Sumner fitting in with the Royal Navy of the 1700s - he would have hated the discipline, and the Navy would been suspicious of his artistic leanings. Would Sting have been sufficiently ruthless to remain a leader of men in a world of ruthless men?
What else could Gordon Sumner have done, in the 1700s? I imagine a drummer's skills would translate more readily into a historical context that those of a bass guitarist. After all, one can drum with almost anything - a stick, and a cardboard box - whereas a bass guitar is an electrical machine. I am sure that there were guitar-like instruments in the 1700s, perhaps even specialised bass machines, but was it possible to make a living as a bassist? It is easy nowadays for a talented bass guitarist to become rich and famous, but in the 1700s there was no mass media and western society was too conservative to dance to bass-heavy music. Instead, people danced to the fiddle. Fo-shizzle my fiddle, or whatever it is that black people say. The All Music Guide - which has the worst biography of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra I have ever read - describes David Thomas of Pere Ubu as "hulking", which is a polite way of saying fat. Philip Seymour Hoffman is fat and he has an Academy Award.
When I was young, back in the early 1990s, there was a lot of transhumanist nonsense about how in the future people would amplify their bodies with machines. Man-amplifiers of greater power and sophistication than spectacles and pacemakers. I believe that there is a case for including alcohol in this spectrum of amplification. Alcohol does not amplify my body, except in the most literal sense, in that it makes my body larger and more girthsome. It does not amplify my mind, either. However, it amplifies my perception of myself, and that is enough.
There is a certain glamour in drunkenness. Richard Burton was often drunk, and he was a successful actor who was married to several women, although none of his marriages worked out, except for the last one which lasted a year and a month, because Burton died before the marriage soured. He died so that his marriage might live. He died in Switzerland. It must be great to die in Switzerland. Only the elite die in Switzerland. And the Swiss, they die in Switzerland. There must be drunken and unsuccessful Swiss people, Swiss bums, yet they are better off than me. Dylan Thomas was a drunk and he was also a successful poet. I am sure that there are many drunks who are untalented and/or unsuccessful, but I have not heard of any.
Richard Burton's real name was Richard Jenkins. He took the name Burton from his former schoolmaster, who adopted him, in an innocent time when adoption did not conjure up images of child slavery and abuse. Gordon Sumner took the name Sting from a jumper that brought him peace. It was striped like the stripes of a bee. I love bees. It is an odd coincidence that Bernard Dicken of Salford in England would, during the very early 1980s, change his name to Bernard Sumner, under which name he sang, played keyboards and also played guitar for the pop group New Order. Sumner is a city in Washington.
They call Eric Clapton "slowhand". Does he compensate for this by playing notes very precisely? Or does he have very large hands, the better to play very large notes?