Snowcase #38 • 5 November 2007 • The SnowBlog

Snowcase #38

Susie Nott-Bower's novel, The Change, is about the metamorphosis of two middle-aged women whose lives are tested, torn apart and ultimately transformed by their involvement in a television makeover programme. Susie spent twenty years working for the BBC and Channel Four. She transformed her own life by moving to Cornwall in her fiftieth year. In THE CHANGE, Pete, a blind rock musician, is about to meet his nemesis in a toilet at AZ Productions... THE CHANGE Pete Street carefully places the statuette on the cistern, unzips his fly and pees. A stream of relief, smelling strong and umber. His head still rings with the clatter and roar of applause, the confusing cross-talk, the resonating bodies, hands reaching to clap him on the shoulder, lips leaving soft wet imprints in his cheeks. He has hated every second of it. Without the guitar, he is a one-armed man. A man without a friend. The guitar is his stability, his brother, his companion. This world-without-guitar is scattered and fragile, compromising and misleading. People can approach him without his say-so, finger him. Too close. Prying, pushing him for words he refuses to deliver. When he lost his way earlier and stumbled into that other, alien studio he had panicked, surrounded, crushed in by a weight of anonymous bodies. He had fought through hot flesh, cheap scent, stale lager breath, sharp elbows, furiously regretting his own refusal of Jongo's guidance. Jongo knew better than to push it, but on this occasion Pete wished he had. The lavatory flushes, sucking. Seemingly, there are no urinals. He zips, reaches reluctantly for the statuette. It is cold, angular in his hand. A lifetime achievement award. An icon for an icon. This is it, then. The sum of his ambition, of his discomfort. They had to give him this, rather than any of the other awards on offer tonight. He doesn't qualify for Best Single or Best Solo Artist. They are for today's performers, working artists with passion, creativity, drive. The line of platinums on his wall at home testify to those qualities. But that was a decade ago, when he was writing. Now, they wheel him out once in a while, when Jongo decides it's time. They say he makes good television. It's bloody Jongo's fault. He had rung unexpectedly, caught Pete on the hop. "C'mon, laddy, it's a great opportunity." Jongo's Glaswegian realism thundered down the airwaves. "You've got tae come out and accept the thing." "Why?" "Sales, my lad, sales." Pete could almost smell Jongo's heavy breath. "I don't need money." Jongo harrumphed. "Well, I do, laddy. How else will I keep m'self in malt?" And so it went on. All for the sake of another re-hash of Pete Street: Greatest Hits. Another tired old album from a tired old man. He fingers the award. What if I just leave it? He imagines the scene: some bloke coming in for a crap, finding it, taking it home to the wife. Look what I got, Marlene. Pete Street. Remember him? He clinks the statuette back onto the cistern, turns to go. Hears the soft sound of flat shoes on linoleum in the corridor outside. Feels his shoulders tighten. Why the hell did he send Jongo home? Someone's coming in. He pulls the cubicle door closed, finds the bolt. It won't budge. He turns, lowers the seat slowly, silently, and sits. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- SUSIE NOTT-BOWER susienottbower(at)hotmail(dot)com


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