Saturday, November 19, 2005
I dropped her off and made my way up town, with only a couple of ideas what I was going to do. I wandered into Fopp for a quick look around but all their books have been replaced by DVD's for the Christmas shoppers. In Waterstones and I discovered they do have a poetry section after all. Hidden away on the top floor it contains a lot of the usual names but also, quite pleasing was the number of small chapbooks published under lesser-known names. I think I stand a good chance of being able to get a few copies of Fringe Fantastic alongside them and I allowed myself the delight of figuring out where on the shelf any books by Galbraith would sit.
I never bought anything but I browsed the fiction sections as well, checking out Paul Auster's new novel, Brooklyn Follies. I'm a couple behind but will definitely get a copy at some point.
I spent a quick hour in the shop before heading off for a quick coffee in my usual place and writing some notes about marketing ideas I picked up on while in the store. Then on my way back to get Laura I stopped off in Cartridge World and stocked up on some badly needed ink cartridges for my printer.
Lots of work to do round the house; tidying, box-sifting of things to make room in the garage for our new cross-trainer and moving the huge set of shelves from the kitchen to the garage to use as storage and make for more room in the eating area. It took up most of the afternoon so in the background I got to burning some CD's.
I'm sending a DVD over to a pal in NY and as I've been reorganising my own stuff on file I keep finding some good utilities to send over. So I got that disk burnt loaded with some great utilities and then decided to copy more of my collected Madness audio/video for the PC onto disk to free up some space.
In the top disk (the reader) I had the original disk with my collection of Madness MP3's and videos collected over a period of about 8 years (I wanted to listen to some tracks). In the bottom disk (the writer) I had the disk I was going to reformat and wipe so I could copy on all the newly collected stuff - around 700Mb of it.
I hit the reformat and wipe button and forgot about it so I could get back to sifting through the boxes not long in from the garage. Gail nipped out for ten minutes to get some shopping for her pals coming round later so I made a coffee and watched a bit of the news.
I went back up to my office to see the reformatting had completed and I sat down to prepare to copy the new files onto it. I looked at Explorer and the drive letters didn't match up with the drives on my machine. 'E' and 'F' were the wrong way round. It's done that before so I just ignored it.
I highlighted the files I wanted to copy and added them to the list, when it suddenly hit me like a size ten boot in the testicles.
I opened the lower disk tray and pulled out the disk, not the blank one, but the one that held my Madness collection of song, music and images collected over a period of 8 years. Had I wiped my Madness disk? I switched to explorer and confirmed the worst - I had wiped it all.
I was totally and utterly devastated. Some of the stuff is replaceable, but not much. Most of it was rare bootlegs from gigs stretching back to 1979. There were demo's too and interviews with guys from the band, documentaries and video footage you just can't get hold of anymore.
The collection stood for much more though. Through it, I was able to trace my career with Madness, from the days of when I was but a naive youngster wishing I was old enough to see them, to when I got to finally see them in concert. It traced my life as I met with the band and exchanged emails, visited London for spin-off events and promotional activities, drinking sessions and fun. With the soundtrack to that life wiped out in an instant, it felt like someone had died and I felt like crying. 8 years - gone in an instant.
I must have sat and stared at my monitor for ages. When Gail came back she knew something was wrong and I told her. I knew she didn't understand but I really wouldn't have expected her too. She patted me on the back and asked if I could retrieve it somehow, but there wasn't.
Eventually I gathered myself together and tried to write my blog. Maybe writing about it would help but I couldn't. I resorted to a glass of red and a Chinese meal with Gail's pals but I wasn't much fun so I went to bed early to watch Match of the Day. I couldn't think of anything else except how stupid I'd been in not being more careful.
Can you talk to other Madness fans who might have some of the same rare footage? Maybe you could retrieve some of it?
On a brighter note, I DO hope your poetry book makes it to the shelves of the bookstore you discovered.