How to kidnap Colin

La Rochelle, October 1985

My dear Epo,

It is once more very late at night or very early in the morning, all the others have left the flat and sleep stubbornly doesn’t come.
Time for me to write you my report on the case that concerns us, isn’it ?
Coquelicot , Maude and Valentine were here tonight and  we had heated discussions about Colin’s situation. It was nice to have girls’ point of view on it. But one thing always remains; it is serious , and we have to do something for your brother. Not only to avoid Edouard’s presence at the beginning of holidays, but to build his project for next year.

I’ve called him. He’s in such a state of despair that he can’t even have the slightest idea of ​​what will become of him. It hurts me, what happens to him, I can feel it in my flesh; and I’m not exaggerating. It was good to talk to each other, and to realize that we have to deal with the same difficulties in our lives. And really Eponine , I thank you to have trusted me this way, for calling me immediately; and for confiding his problem to me. I know it may sounds weird, being glad in such circumstances; but rest assured that I will do anything to help him.

Since you have to know the enemy well in this kind of business, I got it into my head yesterday to read Edouard’s books; but surely not to buy them. And as he’s a “local hero” I thought I would find some old ones at the library on Gargoulleau’s street. But I was a little ashamed to ask the curator who I know is a fine scholar, not particularly fond of this kind of literature.
I was searching by myself on the shelves, and there, stroke of luck; I came across a crazy Edouard’s admirer… It must be his readership, idle middle-class women in their forties, but you know me a little now; I can be hypocritical enough to strike up a conversation.

I love people, and their diversity fascinates me; but frankly there are things totally beyond me. However, this little talk brought me a detailed bibliography,and especially the language elements in force among his fandom…

Virgile visited me in the afternoon, and caught me reading his latest novel : Restless by my side (just the title is evocative …) Well, of course he didn’t expect to find me immersed in this kind of hyper- heteronormous literature. Then we drank and laughed a lot by reading together; and it ended with a bet.

Dare or not (for a bottle of scotch) to pass me off as an old Edouard’s  bigot who would call his publishing house to know the dates of his promotional tour in the United States. I know Virgile and Colin aren’t on very good terms, but you’ll always find Virgile’s support for a good prank.
And it didn’t stop there, he will have to order me Erasure’s first LP (Wonderland, to come next year)  at our rather picky record seller, because I even played my role of old fury to call his first book fair in Boston. We now know exactly when he will have to leave France and be sure that David, Virgile and your servant will kidnap Colin precisely beyond this limit. It will be good that you call us during this kidnapping, to keep us informed of what the sad sire intends to do.

Because really, on top of all the hassle he causes us; his book literally falls from my hands ( maybe I’ve found my Rohypnol , sugar, thank you ! ) I wonder why such tortuous love intrigues and all these privileged men’s concerns can interest so much people; they seem so far from the struggle of life. And I say love, but it’s almost sex; with very few feelings, always incomplete ( in my opinion anyway) . I understand so much why Colin wants to run away from this world …

We are not giving you the funniest part in this case, but I promise you that we’ll properly celebrate our victory at the DJs’ set in Rochefort, and why not invite Diane? Tender friends also deserve their ( great) reward.

Have a nice last week of school, and lots of kisses…

Alb

Plans for Colin in a vintage phone call

Royan  , October 1985

«  They want me to be at home on the first Saturday of holidays. They both want me to agree without conditions to what Edouard has planned for me. A tiny flat in the building where he lives and the obligation to look after his old mother when he’ll be abroad to promote his fucking books , namely almost all the time. Officially, this should allow me to have free housing; but I know very well this is a way to have me constantly on sight, and incidentally to escape his mother and have his “affairs” in peace.
– What can I do, Colin?
– I have no idea for the moment, but I wanted you to know that I won’t come back for holidays, or at least for the beginning of these. I’m staying at Simon’s home, taking time to find a solution. But keep me posted on everything they plan to do.”

I hung up with a heavy heart, the trembling of his sobbing voice still in mind.

“ What the fuck can we do for him ? This is unbearable.
– You see , right now I just want to run away, but it won’t solve anything for him. We can do nothing, because we’re too young; with school and parents…
– Didn’t you say me that you had another gay friend of his age in La Rochelle?”

Instantly I kissed Diane on the lips. Alban , of course. Wasn’t he the one to call in all inextricable situations? And then more, he was the only one who could bring good mood and adventure in all this sordid story. This time it was a slightly shrill hissing sound in the telephone line that brought us to La Rochelle.

I hadn’t heard Alb’s voice since august, it was strange to hear him pick up, with the noise of cutlery, the sound of New Order and laughes in the background.
I was sure they were all there, everyone from the party, by him.

“ Eponine? What’s happening to you, you’ve got such a small voice” And then, silence behind, just the music, more melancholic this time.

I told him about Colin, about adults, about Edouard, and about the noose of intolerance in which he would be trapped the next year, in Paris. I was trying to take a detached tone, but my emotion, and all this fear of things I only half understood caught me up while speaking. And the lack of breathing at the end of the line made me understand it wasn’t funny at all.

“ Give me his number. We’re gonna call him, David is here. And don’t worry, we’ll find something to get him out of there, even if we have to spend the night on it. What kind of friends would we be otherwise? “

In my head, there was now his smoky room, guys and girls leaning over a coffee table, and chatting animatedly while drinking a lot. No doubt, a perfect battle plan would come out of this brilliant meeting …
I don’t know why, but I was reassured. Knowing that there were plenty of friends in the business , even the least concerned, but all united by the comforting power of a vodka bottle warmed my heart.

“ Epo, there are guys outside” moaned Diane.

Night had completely fallen now, and it was the hour when  particular bunches were hanging out around the station.
Alb could hear them knock on the plexiglass walls.

“ For heaven’s sake, I don’t know who you are with nor where you are, but keep a low profile when you go out from this booth. Just walk, do not respond to provocations !”

As we were quickly going out , a guy called out to me.
“ Hey you ! You’ve forgotten your phone card.
– Take it, it’s for keeping you waiting …
– But it is that the young lady has manners… Don’t you want to have a phone call with us?”

We continued to walk, very quickly; we were already far away and this ordinary threat got lost in the night.
Anyway, I wasn’t losing much; there was almost nothing left on my card.

Couroucoucou

Royan  , october 1985

The times I speak about didn’t know the existence of cellphones.
How many strategies did we have to elaborate in order to fool our parents … things would have been completely different with all these convenient little smart stuffs, digital technology has become an ally in generational conflicts.

On a Thursday morning, I received a large envelope from Colin.

Dear Sis,

Here for you , the last the last two issues of fanzine “L’Equerre “, we literally tear them off in Montaigne.
I thought you might like it; and gentle reminder : your brother, it’s me !

Colin

PS : Couroucoucou on Siouxsie’s head

Dad started to moan while drinking his coffee.
“ You’re lucky, you, at least ! Does he say anything?
– Nothing particular. It’s just the magazines”

But the last line was not a private joke. A breath of hot air seized me while reading the onomatopoeia that we used when we invented ourselves and acted out stories as kids. One of those voluntarily terrible stories where brother and sister lost their parents, find themselves under the tutelage of bloodthirsty domestic tyrants; and “Couroucoucou” was a sign of connivance when one of them was in danger of death.

Feverishly leafing through the fanzines on the bus which drove me to school, I finally found Siouxsie in double page ; wearing an amazing Jean-Paul Gauthier’s black dress and just above her full hair, “ CALL ME” with a phone number which I noted immediately before covering it with white corrector .

I said above that in this pre-cellphone era, things were much more complicated; reaching Colin before the night was a fucking obstacle course that gnawed my mind all day. With just an hour for the meridian pause, even without eating, I would never have a proper conversation with him because the line to the only telephone booth was always huge. All that I could do is was to try my luck anyway and tell my parents I’ll have a snack with Diane , my new friend living in Royan, and we could use the telephone booths at the railway station after school.

Diane was older than us in the class , quite a rebel temperament, and the adventure naturally excited her. Me too, I must admit, be both in this cramped space, all misted up by the freshness of an autumn evening, and have secret conversations with the elder made us look like conspirators …
There were muffle laughters while the ringtones stretched in a distant sizzle.
“ Where d’you think he is?
– No idea …”

A female voice answered , and I gathered all my daring to ask to speak to Colin.

“ You finally made it… well done Epo…
– What’s going on , brother?
– It’s about next year, dear. You need to know … They want me to go in Paris. I firstly thought that if I failed the entrance examination in Normale Sup, I could escape them. I mean, Dad and Edouard.
– What’s the problem with them ?”

Then I heard a long trembling sigh, and more, tears. He was searching his words.

“ I can’t. I can’t with them anymore… They’re homophobic , Epo. They won’t accept who I am. And I want to live my life. I , I won’t bear to suppress my true nature, because with Edouard I will be under constant surveillance. And do you know what he once told to mum ? “If I’ve had a son, to find out that he is homosexual would have been the worst thing that could happen to me.”
– But what an asshole, I can’t stand him. It has always been … Wait, you’re more than 18, fuck them , Colin !
– I want to keep on studying. I’m made for studies, sister, but not under these conditions. Not by agreeing to live without love for many more years, and continue to play the learned monkey like when I was a kid…”

At the other end of the line, I could hear his breathing who tried to be regular despite the sobs.

It was the first time in many years that I heard my brother cry like that, in such infinite despair; it was the worst thing in the world. Even Diane, who always had something to say about everything, was holding her breath; while mine was a constant stream of blue vapor in the falling night.

A final point of truth

La Rochelle , october 1985

My very dear Epo,

It’s seems we’ve overcome this first month of the year which separates you from high school, haven’t we?
Lark, I’ve promised that I would be there each time you needed to write or speak during these days, and I’ve got only one word ( we all should …) I’ve waited so greedily for high school myself that I can easily understand this feeling of endless time, my activity bulimia probably comes from there, as well as this unfortunate tendency to insomnia.
Nothing bores me during the hours of the night, and especially not all these things that you say which do not seem bland or confused to me.
All that to say you don’t always have to be witty or on the point, those who are obsessed with it often fall into caricature and get boring from wanting to be interesting at all costs.

There are many things I may see in what you’re telling.
First, these worries about Colin which probably wouldn’t exist without the adults’ pressure.  As long as he does well, why bother him with his plans for next year ? I don’t want to question this friendship your father has for a long time, but why does he let this “Edouard” intrude like that in his son’s university career ? Really I think that the less you involve “informed advisers” in the guidance of someone, the more you give him the possibility to find what will really make him feel fulfilled.
I would even go further, for me it smacks of deception. I don’t feel like your mother has a say in all this, and with his prestige as a “writer” and his elitist mentality he would have the right to take her place and steal her concerns about Colin’s future? To be completely frank with you, I don’t find this very “sane”, even if it’s none of my business…

What bothers me the most in this story is that the place of this man in your family affects you too, makes you feel useless and unimportant. So it doesn’t seem so surprising that you seek refuge in lyrics and sounds. We probably never see ourselves so well than in songs that touch us.
I’m not the greatest Depeche Mode’s fan, but I’ve listened to “Leave in silence” and I loved it. I find Martin Gore  really good at catching the scent of toxicity that surrounds us sometimes, and of relationships falling apart.

As for Ian Curtis, what he writes always seemed to me ( and this is very personal, but anyway …)  to be the ultimate point of vibration that a lucid mind can achieve when he comes up against the incomprehension of others. I wouldn’t say it’s sadness; not only, but an absolute degree of clairvoyance , and what happens when you listen to him may finally be as ancient as world. A catharsis.
To me, it’s precisely related to what you say about poetry which can’t afford to lie. But there’s a tragedy in it also, such a point of truth rarely finds an answer in the world we live in, and when it does , it can be too late. Maybe your mother can be right on this point : don’t immerse yourself too much , or too fast in his lyrics; also stay grounded in reality, even if it seems boring to you.

Call me when Colin will be back for holidays; we’re going to mix in Rochefort at the end of the month. Coquelicot got over her breakup and thanks god she’ll be on boards with us again. But there is nothing exceptional in what we do,our respective jobs and studies don’t leave us much time for creation, unfortunately. David’s arrival gives me some hope however, the repertoire he brings maybe give us more leeway.
I may explain it to you more precisely later, but I’m exhausted, and I don’t want to miss the moment when sleep will finally catch me.

Take care of yourself, and once more, don’t hesitate to write what bothers you , but also what excites you (as Colin doesn’t seem to be very “available” at the moment) . Have a sweet week Eponine and don’t get it into your head that your moment will never come.

Read you very soon,

Alb

Leave in silence

Pontaillac, September 1985

Dear Alban,

Your letter arrived this morning , and you can’t imagine in which state I was in when I discovered the playlist and more, the photo you took of Coquelicot and me.
It seems that all things you send come on such a perfect time to boost my spirits soaring. How on earth are you so kind?
You offer me to write anytime I feel blue, I guess I wouldn’t dare with anyone else- although we barely know each other – but I decided to enjoy it without measure ( tell me if it annoys you , nevertheless) . And God knows how much I need it …

You see,  I had just woken up, after spending the night to play “Leave in Silence” on repeat, to remember the lyrics. My parents would be mad at me knowing I do things like that, they already are quite all the time without that. But I really can’t have a simple, authentic conversation with them. I feel they don’t care about me and they’re all obsessed with Colin.

I don’t know if if he ever spoke to you about this writer my father knows since High School, Edouard. The guy is supposed to facilitate Colin’s installation in Paris , if he passes the entrance exam to Normale Sup’ . But Colin hasn’t answered to any of his phone calls , nor to his letters since he’s back in Bordeaux. He doesn’t answer to us neither, I have written to him yet, to warn him that Dad and Edouard tried to pull it out of me although I don’t know anything. In all this I feel terribly useless, and unimportant.

That’s why Martin’s words were so precious to me these days : “ I can’t stand this emotional violence”.
Of course, there is no straightforward brutality from adults, but it’s all these little things they say ( or they don’t say sometimes) that breaks me down and make me want to leave this house so damn hard. I know you told me not to idealize your” world”, but it’s only in music that I find comfort. And in poetry.
Novels are cool also , but I feel that poetry can’t afford to lie. It’s too short for that, there’s no room in poetry  for the deceptive and worn-out words of everyday language, it must hit or fall flat, there’s nothing in between.

I started listening to Joy Division also. Mom thinks she’s doing the right thing by reproaching me to listen to what she calls “such depressing things” when I’m already sad , but I can’t explain to her that it’s precisely when I hear Ian that I feel better. And to be honest, I can’t really explain it to myself either.
The fact is that Joy Division’s songs literally stick to your skin once you’ve heard them. It happened to me last Tuesday; as I’ve listened to “A Means To An End” in the morning. The sound, the words where coming back again and again in my head as I was thinking on a grammar exercise, or taking my tray from the cafeteria; even when I was talking with my friends… It was as if I dissociated myself from reality, and that the most important part of me was embarked on this journey “ where dogs and vultures eat” . And at the same time, it feels like such a crucial text on disappointment and idealism.

Well, I hope I haven’t been too confused,  or boring, or both. It’s not that easy to put words on what I have in mind at the moment. The only thing that motivates me a little in my life is the trip in Germany my school organizes  with correspondents, in March… Just hope not to be paired with a Barbie girl…

Thanks again, so much, Alb, for being here, and finding time between your work, your studies and the mixing sets with Virgile to read my nonsense. Good luck for all what you’re doing ; and please tell me about the band ; on what you’re working … Colin told me Coquelicot sometimes mixed with you?

Many, many hugs …

Epo(nine) !

From the sky you could almost hear them cry

Pontaillac-Royan , September 1985

Obviously, going back to “troisième” grade was -to say the least- brutal after a night like this. And Colin’s departure for his second year of “preparatory class” in Bordeaux didn’t help my doldrums.

If I hadn’t got Alb’s letter, and this photo, I could have persuaded myself that it had all been just a dream, of those who are so beautiful when you wake up, that they tend to become real memories in your head.

I had to go back in class, with my 14 years old mates, who collected football pics, or neon pink mittens, and built ridiculous amorous intrigues based on scraps of copies exchanged without discretion during classes.
In this last year of “college” , you could find some New Wave apprentices but their researches where most often reduced to the composition of their looks. And as Alb said about some fanatics at Val’s birthday
“ They should be fined for possessing and using panoplies…”

I was hanging out with them a bit however, without much conviction, wondering what I was going to do with my skin next. Explore lyrics, and musical press was the only activity that really motivated me.
I was rather lonely, speaking little, reading a lot and trying to write.

I was now back to the sources of Depeche Mode, fascinated by this moment when Martin had taken the band’s reins to infuse it with his tempo and  universe.

I was reading, and reading again the first sign of his writing in the enigmatic “ Tora! Tora! Tora!” with this line that I adored
From the skies you could almost hear them cry

From that angry, triumphant and warlike roar falling from the sky, he started  to compose the black dream about to spread on the amorous and vast landscape of a long work still in childhood.

You took my love and died that day

Something inexorable and cursed was attached to the offered feeling, and his this “form of modern art” , beauty was inextricably intertwined with destruction.
Without confessing it to me clearly yet, I enjoyed it , that’s precisely what I liked.

All Alb in a letter

La Rochelle, August 1985

My very dear Eponine,


Thank you so much for your letter, it’s always a pleasure to see young people awakening to music with so much passion. I think it’s primordial for us to answer quickly then.

But it wasn’t that easy  to find the songs’ list plaid at Val’s birthday. Virgile always has a ton of records on hand, precisely so as not to act according to a prior plan, but to follow and accompany the “temperature” of a room, bring somme kind of coloring that can be uplifting; whether it calls for movement or at times for a deeper breathing. And in all of this it has to come to what people like and expect.

I thought I noticed that your brother Colin didn’t like him very much, I wouldn’t say it’s reciprocal because Virgile doesn’t care; and usually he doesn’t care for anything except music. It’s sad , they’re both sweet, and there’s no precise reason for this animosity. I guess it’s because we’ve got two ambitious temperaments there, in different fields.

We’ve plaid together since a quite long time now, making sounds for several parties, some not at all of our style ( but it’s always been a good exercise) . We’ve been able to earn enough for our firts mixing board, and Virgil could collect the money he needed to pay for an Emulator
But for my part I have no musical pretensions. I play just for fun , sometimes to improve myself, but I don’t want to annoy my parents , who already are not rolling in gold, nurturing dreams of musical glory.

In fact, I’m studying law; and I’m doing little jobs to afford it . Most often as a server with an employee student status, which allows me, thanks God, to stay in La Rochelle.
Because my university is in Poitiers , and oh my , what else to do in such a depressing town other than burry your head under loads of pillows and listen to Joy Division?

But I’m always digressing too much… I’m sorry, honey, you will find the coveted list with this letter and more, this interesting picture of the party, that I do not resist sending you…
That said, don’t idealize our world too much, pleasant and inspiring certainly, but just as filled with tensions and rivalries as any other.

And once more, listen to your brother’s wise words ( I’m sure he has some) , and do your best this year. I would have dreamed of a classical guitar training like yours, and it will be a real chance to take lessons at La Rochelle’s  conservatory with your section in Dautet High School…

In the meantime, enjoy your last hours of vacation, and I wish you all the success for your last year in Royan.
Queen of gays kisses you, don’t hesitate to call her when blues comes…

See you (very) soon

Alb(recht) !

These Radiant Hours …

Saujon , August 1985

Immediatly, everybody rushes on those surprising cakes, from which the biscuit base is torn with both hands, and cream scattered all over the lips, while strawberries explode under the teeth.
It’s with a full mouth and a snowy nose that guests generously congratulate Colin and Simon who join us, and so does David, after his part at the turntables.

There are also questions about Alban ‘s (far too) simple outfit.
“ What happens to you , queen of gays? It seems you didn’t even change yourself after work.
– It’s exactly what I did. But well, you’ve got natural style or not, bitches …”

David complains a lot about the girls, whose whims of ethereal will finally be answered since he is no longer the one who puts the music, behind the bar where two record players have been installed.
“What’s wrong with you, you killjoy? All girls and myself love “Treasure”, it’s an excellent record ! “protests Alb who takes me for a waltz, without giving me time to tell him that I absolutely do not know how to dance the waltz. But never mind … this waltz is above all an improvised and hectic tourbillon, to turn around and around the room, and tangling our legs is apparently part of the fun.

I’ve never heard such a music; the singer’s voice, so virtuoso that it seems to multiply, gives me thrills of joy. Everyone now seems to imitate Alban, improbable couples are formed; like Colin dragging David who groans at having to drop his cocktail for a dance.
When we move past the bar, the guy whose silhouette I can only see through the smoke, thumbs up to Alb. We turn on ourselves . DJ’s kissing Valentine who has just brought him an enormous piece of cake and a cocktail. One more turn, and I see him joyfully raising his arm, and with the other, nimbly slide over the second record player.
It will be the magic part of the night.

I hardly know any song plaid , but  all of them make me feverish. Sylvain finally jumps among the dancers when it’s Joy Division “ The only thing I like in your damn music !” And indeed , I didn’t think we could dance so frantically to the sound of this group of which I only knew the tragic story ( and “Love will tear us apart” that Colin plays regularly in his room). Pieces of these hours celebrate the power of drums, metallic guitars , synthetic layers, mesmerizing basses.

Let me take your hand
I’m shaking like milk

Songs that follow one another are greeted with fever, jerky dances focus on arms movement. I eagerly listen to learn the names of these bands , but the heat, the rhythm, the blood beating at my temples burning from alcohol most often prevents me. I however hold back names; New Order, Siouxsie, The Sisters of Mercy (which unleashes passions)
And it’s so damn true, that it’s so good to live this era, to dance on all this, with all young adults united in New Wave, and expressing there , during these little sleepless hours, all their pleasure breathes repressed by the day and its social conveniences.

How summer night is beautiful and crystal clear through the windows, how rhythm is good when it never goes out.
I’m barely 14 years old and I get it all in armfuls. I stock up on melodies, sounds and words  in my little head, I stock up everything which inspires life and will never leave me.
Alb will send me a picture later on. Coquelicot  kissing me in the crowd on Psychedelic Furs’ Alice’s house. My first real lover’s kiss.

I wish it didn’t stop, and I saw dawn like an enemy appearing  through the windows. David had to go back to the record store in Royan in the afternoon. Parents would be furious to see us show up so late, or so early…

From the end, I still see Alb consoling my sad head, by “scratching” my neck.
“ Work well this year, little Epo, and join us in La Rochelle. I’ll be so glad to show you places where we have fun and dance…”

I’d like to see Coquelicot before living, but she’s talking with the “music player”, tears in her eyes; and he’s listening to her, tasting a second huge slice of cake, Valentine’s head resting languidly on his shoulder.

Then, the heat in the car, still very intense despite the night that has just passed.

“ Shame that we could not say goodbye to the poor Coco, regrets David
– She chose her personal therapy, but I have doubts about the shrink’s choice… insinuates Colin
– No , no. Not with her. They’re friends since High School. “