Through The Looking Glass – Mew And The Glass Handed Kites at 15

“From a dance hall there met me as I passed by the strains of lively jazz music, hot and raw as the steam of raw flesh. I stopped a moment. This kind of music, much as I detested it, had always had a secret charm for me. It was repugnant to me, and yet ten times preferable to all honest sensuality.”

– Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf


The world suddenly feels like a bleak place. No art or romance. A bad dream to end all bad dreams. What did we do to deserve this? How should we resist it? What is there to understand?

Let’s go back to first principles, to a time when there assuredly was art and romance in the darkness, and it belonged to us.

Mew are a band who provoke fanaticism globally, but not on a global scale. The distinction is important. That innate outsidership has always heightened the significance for the individuals scattered across the map who each feel like this is somehow just for them. And at a certain point in the mid-2000s, something seismic happened. It felt like being under the spell of genius. It felt like it might be epochal. It was all about this.

That idea, though – “genius” – has to be one of the most hackneyed concepts going. Poor overused, tired, familiar genius. Everything is genius. Pithy Tweets, chamber pop written by committee, languid footballers. Let’s be more discerning – it doesn’t do for any old John Doe with a keyboard and a set of ears to declare greatness on a Danish import (“probably the greatest band in the world”). We’re smarter than that, and should know better. So why did so many of us really feel that way, in spite of reason?

Maybe it’s because we know that – in spite of cynicism – individual geniuses, and collectives of genii, do exist. Not in great numbers, and never shown consistently throughout whole lifetimes, but in sparks and flashes and inventive moments, they are there. There’s often something effortless about them when they do get fleetingly sighted; the suggestion of freakish simplicity, the chance invention of something, a style, an archetype, that no-one else could have imagined, let alone made their own. Brian Eno. Robert Johnson. Jacques Tourneur. Julian Barnes. Disco Inferno. The Fire Engines. Douglas Coupland. The Velvet Underground.

If this theory is even partly correct, then it is possible that Mew And The Glass Handed Kites isn’t necessarily a work of genius, despite the temptation to dub it that way. The record isn’t simple. It isn’t effortless. In places, it is very hard going indeed. It’s cold and alien and stubbornly complex. There is a palpable chilliness, realised through the extraordinary production of Michael Beinhorn.

One half of this music, the melody, was all pomade and sugar and sentimentality. The other half was savage, temperamental and vigorous. Yet the two went artlessly well together and made a whole. It was the music of decline.”

Kites is manifestly not a record of happenstance, redolent of the carefree and the spontaneous. In spite of the odd moment of respite – Special‘s disco stomp, or Chinaberry Tree‘s dreamed-out keyboards – this is generally a pretty fiendish opus, and when I heard it in full for the very first time in September 2005, it felt painfully obvious that people had suffered deeply in making it. Or that the creation had only been possible because of deep suffering. Either way, it made sense.

No, this wasn’t a breezy invention, a teenage kick. I think, if we want the plainest proof of the genius of the best pop band on the planet, we should instead look at Chinese Gun, or Say You’re Sorry, or Wherever, or Web. It was kids who did those songs. Kids! These Swirlies-baiting, primally textural, rhythmically savage outtakes achieve more than most could in a flight of a career. And the creators then had the audacity to leave some of them on the cutting room floor. Genius – yes, it is. You sold me. The capacity for it is, was, and always will be, the rarest of the real.

Compared with Bach and Mozart and real music it was, naturally, a miserable affair; but so was all our art, all our thought, all our makeshift culture in comparison with real culture.”

Whether genius or not, I do believe that Kites is a masterpiece. It reflects certain bleak realities of life, and living, and then not living, with an icy, focused clarity. It’s a product of sad experience, rather than a hedonistic flash of awe. It is a mosaic that has been a trial, a pain to assemble, with loss worn on its sleeve.

But this is not about quibbling over categories. That is alright; that is OK. It doesn’t matter who you are – you only get one masterpiece. Those are the rules. I’m fine with that masterpiece, in this instance, being this. When Joseph Heller would occasionally get asked why he hadn’t written anything as good as Catch 22 again, he would reply “Who has?”. I get the feeling that Mew might understand the sentiment.

So why, then, did I make plans to go to America, right in the middle of this horror show, this waking nightmare, May 2020? DC, NYC? Why organise to fly an ocean for a couple of gigs? Why choose this present, wretched now, to attempt to see this band of diffident mortals on another continent for the first time? That’s quite a lot of hubris to exude for the purposes of feeling familiar. Although as it turned out, the universe’s desire to be a dark place got in the way, big time. There are some things that cannot be fought, even by a righteous cause.

Apart from the fact that diffidence, self-doubt and fragility are generally all pretty high on the list of musical USPs that I value most, I suppose that there were lots of partial reasons for the proposed transatlanticism. It was partly about the comfort that comes from my continuing identification with, and sharing in, the vulnerability that is inherent in Mew’s canon. It was undeniably partly about raw nostalgia, and we have discussed that plenty enough through the Frengers retrospective. The ultimate truth remains the same; I will never be young again, so get over it. Get on with it.

And it was partly because if not now, then when was I ever going to try? I thought about the importance of having no regrets. No what ifs. If Kites offers a meticulous, Castrovalvan world to explore, rather than a preening, strutting, manifestation of unrefined talent, then it seemed worth fully celebrating that world and how it intersected with my own. Let’s take the complexity for all it’s worth. Let’s dive in. That was my impulse, and I followed it naively and wholly.

I was determined that the Atlantic would be no barrier. Whatever other barriers there have been, distance itself couldn’t be allowed to be one. We laugh at distance.

So, first principles. This is Kites Time, and this is my story, or rather my collection of stories, that I dearly wanted to lead me Stateside, through twists and turns and misplaced leaps of faith. No turning back. No regrets – or, at least, no regrets within my power.

Whatever else, demons or none, I needed to be able to say that I had tried.

October 2004, exact date unknown

I have a pile of CD-Rs, maybe five or six, that someone I have never met has burned for me because they think I’ll enjoy them, despite not knowing what I’m like or what I like. There are no printed inserts. There is no writing on the sheen of the plain white upper surfaces. I do not know what any of the discs contain, in what order they have been compiled, or what the motivation has been for sharing them. It’s just stuff that someone else is fond of. I like music, so I may be fond too. The logic holds good.

The first one shudders its way into my PC’s flimsy pop-out plastic tray. It’s a pleasant enough singer songwriter. Her voice is nice. “Nice”. The tunes are bland, but admittedly well written. The kind of thing that people might describe as “lovely”. I search some fragments of lyrics via the ever-temperamental 56k, and it’s Tina Dico. Danish, it says here. Four or five songs later, I stop. This is not a grower. The only time this music is likely to be involved in any upwards trajectory is whilst ascending along with the elevator in which it is playing.

The second CD-R is a compilation by Gilles Peterson. Again, it’s OK. World music, though. It feels slightly faddy, a short directory of trends. Melody is strictly limited. It doesn’t move me, in part or in whole.

I’m about to give up, but there are CDs still in the pile, and someone has gone to this trouble. I tend to want to be polite. So I give it one more benefit of one more doubt.

Large parts of my life turn on whether I give up or not. Some of my formative loves turn on which order the remaining couple of discs have been stacked in.

I put the third unidentified CD into the drawer, and push it shut with my finger with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. The mechanism clicks loudly as it closes. There’s a second of melodramatic silence.

27 July 2005.

This is now Kites Time proper, and this is a last night. I’m sure.

I’m sitting in the Rescue Rooms bar in Nottingham, it must be at least an hour before doors even open. I’ve gotten the bus here, and I think I went to McDonald’s on the short walk between Broadmarsh and the venue. I haven’t got any money to speak of, I can’t afford to drink, although I have a fragmented memory of maybe buying one pint when I arrive, but that could just be an unreliable recollection of some later time when I came back different. I have no idea how I’m going to spend the upcoming dead time. There was no practical reason to be here this early, except that I needed to get out.

There are people in here who I don’t know yet. I will, given patience. I sometimes wonder whether things would have worked out any differently if I had picked them out that night, randomly, to test my mingling skills. I had those then. My charm was still something I could use when it suited me, and to boot I got to choose when I felt like finishing using it. Now I don’t have the self-confidence to turn it on. But this is the 27th of July, 2005. This is a previous me. The only barrier this time is that I ain’t that lonely (yet). My personal discomfort is pleasant enough company to be getting along with.

Fast forward. The show finishes and I’m speechless. I feel high with sobriety, I’m kind of staggering around the shoebox room, and I distinctly remember nearly walking into Chloe Alper from Pure Reason Revolution as we both try and get through a door, opposite directions, simultaneously. I want to tell her how amazing her band is, but I don’t. I have a Mew setlist stuffed inside my jumper – I don’t have a jacket with me and it’s teeming down with rain outside. I get on the bus back to a house.

I heard The Zookeeper’s Boy for the first time that night. Maybe it hasn’t retained quite the same sheer wonder as it did then, and I had no earthly idea what the words were, but that solidly unearthly melody remained at the forefront of my idle thoughts for months afterwards. It was difficult to imagine having lived for any time without knowing it.

I get “home” out of the downpour, clutching some chips. Open or wrapped? Wrapped mate, thanks. Cheers. That’s great. Thanks. See you. It’s biblical out there, I’m absolutely doused.

I wake up hideously early the next morning to catch the train to actual home. I don’t remember exactly what time but it must be 7 or 8am – I still have chronic sleeping discord, which will get progressively worse over the course of the next few years. I’m groggy and grumpy and sad. The rain is still relentless.

I write a note and leave it on the counter – “Thanks for everything xxx”. I’m out of there, depositing my key on a little side table next to the black leather sofa. Halfway down the Close, I look back over my shoulder one last time and I still vividly remember a sky in tiered shades of austere grey hanging over the roof.

It’s been a bad day – please don’t take a picture.

23 September 2005.

Edinburgh is freezing. It’s the Liquid Room, just round the corner from the High Court where I get the reluctant, unwanted, unrequested power of freedom or none over some poor bastard. Ladies, gentlemen and ill-equipped child of the jury, this is a five-day trial, working hours of nearly 9-5, it finishes on the Friday when the gig is. If it turned out he did it, he might get out in time to see +- released.

The Court is right round the corner from the venue, and I go there straight after dismissal and sentence to wait outside for a few hours and get my head together. There are, obviously, no smartphones, and texts are 10 pence each and therefore rare. Once more, I am entertained only with idle thoughts. Pure Reason Revolution are supporting again. It is actually they who provide some of my more potent memories from the time – this night especially, but in general too. The original single edit of Apprentice of the Universe gave me shivers. Still does, sometimes. Bright Ambassadors is a consummate work on the highest artistic level.

24 October 2005.

Rain again – a displaced sea. It looks like a levee has broken. My train ploughs through floodwater on the main line so deep you can’t see the wheels below, never mind the track. 90 minutes to Newcastle. It isn’t raining there, though, much.

I walk out of Central station and retrieve some stuff that’s been in an isolated compartment in my wallet for the past few months, the only reason for its continued presence being that I haven’t consciously got round to disposing of it yet. Photos, notes. We’ve all been there. I dump the collection in a square-shaped bin directly outside of the concourse, and walk around the Toon in the miserable drizzle by myself for hours.

After the gig, Donald picks me up, we go to the pub, I have a few pints of Titanic IPA. “You’re clearly thirsty as hell”, he says, recommending that I drink a glass of water instead of necking beer that’s too nice to just be necked – he’s right. Valuable life lessons.

We leave the pub an hour or two later, I say hi with an affected casualness to Jonas Bjerre who’s hanging around outside the tour bus a bit further down the road. We talk about Paddy McAloon – he had prick-teased his potential attendance at this show, but never showed up in the end. Shame for him. On theme, Jonas recommends me a Prefab Sprout album that, honestly, I never got close to getting into. Donald and I go back to Gateshead in his battered-up car and get absolutely ruined on a two litre bottle of economy cider like characters in an Arab Strap song.

He reads me a trippy short story he’s written, about a chaotic train journey culminating in a girl fantasising on a sunny beach, naked. He asks me what I thought the point of the story is/was. I’m not coherent, analytical or un-inebriated enough to get it straight away – “It’s autobiographical, don’t you see? This happened. It’s true.”

This makes a great deal of sense. The narrative was about the uneasy state of wanting to be wanted, and could only have been penned so vividly with the benefit of experience.

Life lessons. The ability to capture the spirit of a place. The genius loci. I wanted to be able to do that through the written word too, but I didn’t have the talent. I don’t have the guts.

18 November 2005.

There’s no story here, really. Mew are supporting Elbow. We queue up in, yet again, staggering cold outside the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh. The other fans, of the headliner, in the queue are aloof, prissy. Passively confrontational. Like comments on an internet forum in malattached, over-compensatory human form. I start to despise Elbow then and have never got over this prejudice, never felt like listening to more than the dreary introductions I made before stopping. Their gig is shit as well, by the way. The support slot from MY main event is fine.

I go across the street to my mates’ flat and perfunctorily get drunk on a suspiciously orange-looking “beer” called Lynx which you could buy four cans of for £2.50 at the corner shop. I think we then go onwards to a student cheese night at our university’s union. They would have played Chesney Hawkes, The Divinyls, Mr Brightside, Don’t Stop Me Now and that disgusting song by Reef. What, you think ALL these experiences were about wondering and wandering and angst and clunky introspection? HAH.

14 February 2006.

Valentine’s Day! LOVE YOU! I return to Nottingham. “How did you do this every week?” asks my incredulous friend on the train home. Four and a half hours each way. To this day, a nine hour round trip is no big deal. It just feels normal. My brain clicks into a vaguer zone and I feel content with this being a part of who I am and what I do.

I’ve forgotten bits of the city’s layout. Half a year seems an incalculable amount of time. Turns out I couldn’t retain every urban twist and turn. I get it. It’s not the geography or the architecture or the fading cartography – its the old me I feel that’s been slightly misplaced.

This is the same set that’s featured on the Live In Copenhagen DVD. It’s great, but I feel it deserves a bigger stage. Although it’s the Rescue Rooms again, the show risks seeming a tad boxed in this time, and the range of feeling doesn’t entirely convey itself. It feels like some potential for the theatrical and the widescreen has been retained.

We get obliterated on discount lager, I vaguely remember a lit-up dance floor with no-one on it, and we roll back up the hill to our hostel with a chicken kebab. I can say with some certainty that Kites Time featured a largely unhealthy diet.

4 April 2006.

Amsterdam. I haven’t slept. I spent the whole of yesterday in Glasgow attempting to get an emergency passport at ludicrous expense as I’ve found out dangerously late that mine has expired. The flight is at 7am and, as usual, I don’t have any money left, so I lie down on a row of benches in Glasgow Airport overnight and I’m a million miles away from unconsciousness. There are strip lights. There are arcade machines.

We don’t sleep in Amsterdam either. Two hours in a hostel room maybe. I liked the gig, at the Melkweg, a great deal. The lighting is sensationally good. I’m standing close enough that I can hear Jonas’s vocal sibilance and cadence, unamplified underneath the PA and from the other side of his mic, during the end of Louise Louisa.

I fly home in a stupor to the absolute hole that is Prestwick Airport, and then catch two trains back to Edinburgh in time to go and watch Juventus v Arsenal that night in the pub. I’m ruined. I’m finished. I’m quite done.

1 September 2006.

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen. This is the worst show ever, and an uncomfortable abandonment of all of the atmosphere and ether that made the album great. It is an aberration in the era. Still, we were all there. The band need not have played a note that night (and it would have been better if they hadn’t). The point was that the idea was now enough to bring people together.

This is the place in which Kites Time ends, in a squall of slight regret that things should have remained better than this. But the music had done its work. It transcended itself. It was no longer about the music.

I think we understood.

Postscript. 6 January 2016.

“How are you finding wintery Copenhagen?” Text message now. Years later. However many elapsed flights. I’m asking about a new recipient’s opinion of my favourite place, my own normal. Life would be strange and sad if one day I had no access to it.

The reply, verbatim, goes: “I find it windy and annoying, lovely and welcoming. I think I understand why you come here so often”.

This is the last communication I receive from Chris, though it has no earthly presence. If we’re going to be pedantic, it arguably doesn’t exist, as such – it is a set of binary notation, a digital sequence represented on a screen. Regardless, it remains on my phone like a beacon, a monolith, a carving.


April 2020.

The stories above are mainly not about the music. Not really. But they were only possible because of those tunes, which doubled as a looking glass to enter Kites Time through. Some of the consequences seem vaguely unreal, like they happened to someone else, but all of them were true, and all of it was me. And I’ve not far off doubled my lifetime since. Get scared. Get more scared now.

Part of the point of taking the time to write about this 15th anniversary is about accepting impending oldness. It’s about reflecting on experience, because there’s nothing else we can do with that commodity other than reflect. And it is about taking time to remember that the good times did really happen, even if some of them have developed an odd fog of disbelief, the ever-evolving lack of clarity of memory. A golden age, shimmering away back over our shoulders, surely too good to have been factual. An age when normality was real (I have pretty strongly come to think that we underestimated normality).

A Shangri-La that was also 90% formed of pure co-incidence. The third, blank, mysterious CD-R that kicked off my Kites Time? That was Frengers. That was my introduction to it all. How fragile and circumstantial our loves are. How based on other people’s kindness they are.

But it’s equally about reconciling events in between. And I’m so sorry. To everyone I treated poorly, or failed to treat at all. It’s little excuse, but we all have fight, flight or freeze built into us on a primal level. I have tended to prefer to get frozen or to get gone. Perhaps Glass Handed Kites itself contains these familiar traits too. Perhaps the attraction is mutual, in a weird way.

So it was, then, with the Steppenwolf too. It cannot be denied that he was generally very unhappy; and he could make others unhappy also, that is, when he loved them or they him. For all who got to love him, saw always only the one side in him. Many loved him as a refined and clever and interesting man, and were horrified and disappointed when they had come upon the wolf in him.

It would also have been possible to use this space to offer an interpretation of the compositions, the lyrics, the forms of Kites. Plenty have fought their way towards having a stab at that, and good luck to them all. I still sometimes wonder about the theory that Apocalypso is about a terminated pregnancy (not my analysis, but a nice example of the kind of creative thinking often needed to unpick Jonas Bjerre’s lyrical abstractions).

But when a record is so much about raw feeling, far more so than the ebb and the flow of a narrative, this is by the by. The album is about fear, at least partly; the pixellated nightmare of the cover shows us that clearly enough. But is that the fear of the loss of innocence? Fear of waking up old? Fear of not waking up at all? Fear of the havoc of an unrecognisable world? Fear of wanting something you can’t have? All of the above? Does it matter?

Instead, I thought the more immediate thing might be to ignore the fear, and to say a little about how this soundtrack happened to be there like a pulsing magnet at the time I most needed it. About the associated events that meant these sonics shaped my ideas about sound, and tones, and the potentially extreme limits of the creative impulse. About the last times I saw faces I would never see again. And about why this record is possibly the most important thing that has ever, musically, happened to me.

The melodies and the poetry run through everything described above, sure. They are part of the same whole. But the record also bridges then and now. It is a constant, in a world that tends to be otherwise made up of inconstants. It is my belle époque.

If I feel sad, down, deflated, and I swear that had never felt universally truer than during some of the time it has taken to write this, it’s not because I particularly miss being sentient in late 2005. It’s not that I really want to relive it or experience the described events as if anew. As I think about losses since, ruined plans since, I’m mostly just numb. Numbness is never a great state to trigger again, to drown in and to wallow in, through choice.

It’s because I now understand that an event like Kites, in all its glory, can only happen to us once – when there’s the right amount of naivety, credulity, the craving for more, for the experience to be life-changing. That said, this wasn’t an easy lesson to digest. These songs suggested that much worse was in store, if one was paying the slightest amount of attention. And, guess what; they were correct.

Alas! this transition was not unknown to me. I had already experienced it several times, and always in periods of utmost despair. On each occasion of this terribly uprooting experience, my self, as it then was, was shattered to fragments. Each time deep-seated powers had shaken and destroyed it; each time there had followed the loss of a cherished and particularly beloved part of my life that was true to me no more.”

It seems to me that plenty of the significance was reliant on being conscious, extant, youthful, open-minded, simply at a particular dot in history, about how people and events and, most co-incidentally of all, music, happened to fall together and liaise into a spiralling whirl with what turned out to be an ex-you in the centre of it all.

Right place, right time, for once. I was there during the right time after all. I always joke that I was born fifteen years late – I missed Creation Records, Bark Psychosis, Pale Saints, Flying Saucer Attack, Chapterhouse, the Rollercoaster tour, yada yada. I didn’t get any of that, and I have pondered away some years believing that I should have. It is a struggle to understand that my reality has been better than any of that imagined, ethereal ideal. But ultimately, I concede that the people would have been different, and I wouldn’t trade some of them for anything, even the ones who traded up, traded out. In any case, I have done a share of the trading up. I have occasionally been the one trading out. That’s how it goes.

Besides, as well as the contemporary discoveries that became, in my own head, mine, I’ve also experienced the recycling of many things I thought were long gone. mb valentine, Slowdive, Pixies, Slint, Adorable, The Telescopes, the JMC playing Psychocandy. They have, too, existed in my here and my now. Some of them were also formative influences for Mew, which may or may not be coincidental. J Mascis, for one, hangs over Kites like an exhausted apparition with a sore throat.

So, as it turns out, looking back isn’t all to the bad. These unlikely experiences, bringing together past and present tenses, collectively act to curb my instinct to live through memories of memories of memories. I may also find some semblance of good in attempting to forget what has been lost between my youth and whatever this is. The absence has crystallised, and that means it could theoretically be embraced.

But that’s the problem. We can’t forget. We never really forget. It becomes about simply learning how to get on with it, when it’s unreal, when we’re scared, when everything looks unlit.

No stage was left for the noble and heroic heart. Nothing was left but the simple

choice between a slight and swift pang and an unthinkable, a devouring and endless suffering.”

If a house ever stops being a home again, one of the aesthetic differences between Kites Time and Current Time is that I don’t really have the obvious contemporary soundtrack for what’s happening today. DIIV’s Deceiver, maybe, perhaps Death And Vanilla’s Are You A Dreamer, Eupnea by Pure Reason Revolution (events 15 years ago came full circle with that one), or anything gifted to us by Beach House. These are all exquisite, but they don’t complete anything. It’s not their fault. It’s me that’s different. Times have changed, and one album more than any other changed them.

That is why this piece has, instead of being about the songs, been about how – in the end – it turns out that Mew And The Glass Handed Kites and my life became one and the same thing. Some of the lives I have shared in between depended on it too, whether they knew it or not.

It is why these stories were supposed to culminate, for the time being, in America. If there is nothing else to celebrate, then I wanted to celebrate this with conviction. A masterpiece has got to be worth reliving. Who knows? If it captured my youth, maybe it could have captured the genius loci, the feeling, the spirit of this daydreamed adventure too.

And whether events will conspire to stop it temporarily, or entirely, or if the truth is that I’m simply incapable of having an adventure of the magnitude of Kites Time again… “Who has?”

The constants aren’t constant unless us kids put the miles in. The real genius is the connection between us and them, between me and then, between the sounds and the receivers. What’s in between. The fascination and the noise, even if they are both shushed and dimmed for longer than we want.

Even if that is true, the impulse remains, and the noise will flicker and the noise will wait for us. Let’s fly, again. This is what we do – and we will, someday. Now we understand.

Saviours indeed.


It is comforting to know that someone else feels the same as you do. That’s why art resonates so deeply, but also why those ripples are unequally received, unevenly cherished. It’s also perversely nice to find out that someone has so accurately predicted how a depth, an abyss, can feel. If we’re talking about trauma and stigma, then art can’t necessarily heal the trauma. But it is surely the greatest de-stigmatiser of all.

Hearing that dark clamour, that sick amour, in advance, can prepare us for the worst. It gets some of the mourning done before the event, even if we didn’t entirely appreciate that was what was going on. It can be a primer, a signal, a set of wind chimes, the siren’s song, a clarion call.

I thought to myself, Where in this town or in the whole world is the man whose death would be a loss to me? And where is the man to whom my death would mean anything?”

Glass Handed Kites has been an education as much as an inspiration. It told me about the merits of attention to detail, the rewards that are possible from slavish adherence to principles that are pure of heart, that mean something. It braced me for the reality of receiving the worst news imaginable by patiently rehearsing what it might feel like to receive it. It was then polite enough to be there for me through that worst as it did occur.

When you go, I stay.

I suppose the record will also continue to remain a trusted confident for whatever else could possibly be yet to come. And, despite its intentional vagueness, it is such a potent work, so haunting and permanent, that it assuredly keeps my memories of places, people, and travel to get to those places and people, firmly rooted in what’s real.

Through the prism of experience, those songs are almost supernatural. They endure. They speak with a ghostly wisdom and they visualise all kinds of other possibilities, better, worse, whatever. Through articulating fear so eloquently, Kites offered the chance, the hope, to embrace and ultimately to overcome fear.

In the end, though, we understand that they won’t come back. We can’t bring them back.

Even great art can’t do that. Even my favourite band can’t do that. Even time to quietly grieve won’t do that. Even photos won’t do that. Even the tantalising, withdrawn promise of America wouldn’t have done that. Certainly my wrecked plans, and the resultant little fissures in my heart, haven’t helped that. Even my memories can’t do that.

Nothing can do that.

In memory of:

Donald James White (1946 – 2018)

Chris Tenz (1987 – 2016)

Text: Ally Winford
Photos: Emi Wakatsuki

Scroll to Top