To Never Become What They’re Not

They received top billing in the early 1960s but thereafter slipped gradually into obscurity, quite the opposite career path to that of, say, the Beatles. They came from nowhere in the Harold Macmillan era and, after some continuing success, had gone back into the same nowhere by the time Edward Heath was prime minister…

So it’s not surprising now in 2013 that you have never heard of them. Not even any hits on Google. You may even wonder if this group called FORMULA ONE had existed at all. Google is now full of references to Michael Schumaker, Nigel Mansell, Jenson Button and Keke Rosberg when you put those words in such search engines, outgunning any possible restart from the pit of the past by Juan, Rog, Stingo & Claude who once made up FORMULA ONE, reaching No. 1 in the charts on an insignificant week during a printers strike, itself now forgotten as an industrial dispute because of the lack of printed newspapers to report it. What was more, neither the hit or strike seemed worthy enough to reach the BBC news – or was it because there coincided a freak storm effectively wiping all those old-fashioned sound and vision tapes …. which meant even the freak storm has now been forgotten, too?

Back then, before Jenson Button was born, Claude stared at Stingo as the latter started darning his mother’s stockings on a wooden mushroom. Every cloud has its aberration as well as its silver lining. FORMULA ONE’s biggest hit was a cover of an Elvis Presley song, as it happened.

“The storm that was forgotten” as it later came to be called already sat low in the sky above the semi-detached house where Stingo and Claude sat in the living-room. Juan and Rog were already in the loft setting up the equipment for the group’s rehearsal, so those two couldn’t see the impending climactic cataclysm. Not sure anyone saw it coming.

Or going.

Memory is a peculiar thing, because it is now doubtful if FORMULA ONE were together that day for rehearsal, in any event. The storm, they say, created more mental than physical havoc. Roofs torn off were far and few between but the many brains loosened in the head can now only be seen in hindsight by those same brains. Unit Four Plus Two … minus the Nine O’Clock News.

Stingo’s mum now does her own darning; a stitch in time saves nine, she often says, staring at the empty spaces in the family photo album. And the empty record rack … and the crippled gramophone with one blunted needle.

You need two needles to knit things, she said to herself, while yawning. A tire change coming on the next lap, a lap where noodles of something that might once have been unspooled wool spilled down her front into the pit of her stomach. A chequered flag, a chequered life. A search engine without hits, an empty space where nothing can now be writ. Round in circles till the red bull gives out. A body with a wooden heart that’s made its final drumbeat. A bing without a bong.

She wept as she heard those same ghostly drumbeats from the attic, those thumps beyond the dynamic reach of even the biggest sub-woofer. Left unrecorded. Unrecorded eventually by what’s here writ. Cyber storm forgotten long before it strikes.

Button’s push comes to shove, as even metal hearts shunt shut.

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