Peter Hammill - "Clutch" 2002

  1. We are Written
  2. Crossed Wires
  3. Driven
  4. Once You Called Me
  5. The Ice Hotel
  6. This is the Fall
  7. Just a Child
  8. Skinny
  9. Bareknuckle Trade


  10. We are Written

    "It was always going to be like this, whatever you bring yourself 
    to say. Why don't you point that thing the other way and telescope 
    this tangled story? You've got the whole thing at your fingertips, 
    already scripted in an alien Braille, snagged up under your 
    fingernails." 
    Oh, so blissful, in ignorance we pin the tail, with smudgy marks 
    we scratch the surface. We are what we were born to be, we are what 
    we become over time, under our own thumbs. We are written in our 
    fingerprints, in everything we do and see; we are written in our 
    fingerprints, so very singular the marks of our destiny. So open 
    the hands: this is a lifespan.
    I found the future in my grasp, the line of least resistance, 
    naturally; joined up the dots and never thought to ask could I 
    somehow do this differently? In the heat of the moment it's impressed 
    on me what's done is done in understanding. And if I had a choice to 
    make I ignored it as such. So our lifelines accumulate like the dust 
    on the things we've touched. We are written in our fingerprints, all 
    of our virtues, all our vice. We are written in our fingerprints. 
    Once upon a time the story: we won't go through these motions twice. 
    We are written in our fingerprints. We don't get to do this thing twice, 
    so let's play out the hand, unconsciously pre-planned.

    Crossed Wires

    "I don't know, somehow our wires got crossed: you've been mistaking me 
    for someone who never gave a toss. Life's too short for me to rewrite 
    this page out of pig ignorance into all the useless wisdom of age. 
    Something I said off the cuff, without thinking, has driven us apart. 
    Oh, you took it so much to heart. To get this straight we need to find 
    some common ground, some understanding ...but that remains unfound. 
    It's ancient history, feels like it happened so long ago; of insignificance 
    I've forgotten more than you'll ever know. Say what you like, I found the 
    debate absurd; if we settled all our differences we'd never get back 
    where we once were. Let's get it straight without a shadow of a doubt. 
    Sooner or later the naked truth will out - incomprehension is what it's 
    all about."
    I was only speaking my mind: over my tongue I tripped. I put my foot in 
    it the moment that the words left my lips. The moment that the words left 
    my lips I knew that language had eluded my grip. I know what I meant but 
    perhaps in the telling the wheels fell off the cart...oh, but you took it 
    so much to heart.
    "Getting it straight our smiles are just like Cheshire Cats', half of the 
    time we're both talking through our hats...I tell you this I never meant 
    to tell you that I got it straight, I put the whole damn thing to bed. 
    Sooner or later we're going to lose our heads, sooner or later the 
    lines'll all go dead. Getting it straight I don't take back a word I said: 
    sooner or later the lines'll all go dead." 
    Sooner or later the line goes dead.

    Driven

    "I know you haven't got the thread of the story so far. Just throw your 
    luggage into the back of the car. We'll drive around until you think I've 
    gone too far but you can't go home, no, there's no way home. You haven't 
    lost the plot but there's detail you lack. This is a one-way trip and 
    there's no turning back. No protestation can divert us from the track 
    we're set upon. Soon it's done and dusted and we're gone. No-one ever 
    knows the road they're on." 
    I'm driven by my younger self into a corner. I remember dreaming the 
    open road. I liked to think I had control but my hands on the wheel 
    were guided by some outside force as my future revealed. I slalomed 
    through life's obstacles more on instinct than feel. I picked myself 
    up as a hitcher and it's really quite a deal to see this lifelong journey 
    through his eyes. Just as we got going we've arrived. We're driven by 
    our older selves into what we become and all our careful planning turns 
    out strictly rule of thumb. We're driven by ourselves but dream we're 
    free, on the open road. Free, on the open road.

    Once you called me

    I wish that I remembered better. You've grown so fast before my very 
    eyes. The woman that you're now becoming suddenly takes me by surprise. 
    I thought that there'd be time and tide a-plenty to grow into a proper 
    fatherhood but underneath our feet the sands were shifting. You spread 
    your wings, soon you'll be gone from me for good. And when I tucked you 
    in at night and swore I'd always love you madly I'd wonder would this 
    be the last time that you'd ever call me "Daddy"? 
    A bittersweetnes runs through every memory: a daughter's father wants to 
    be so strong, then suddenly he's just an ancient relic. You spread your 
    wings, you weren't a little girl for very long. And if trouble's on its 
    way you know I'd lay my life down for you gladly. I only wish that I 
    could still remember the last time that you called me "Daddy". Once you 
    called me "Daddy". Oh, my precious girl.

    The Ice Hotel

    Mercury's down to zero, absolute time will tell we're only over-wintering 
    as guests in the Ice Hotel. All that we build will crumble, every empire 
    fades; humbled, we should admit impermanence marks the man-made. Under the 
    Ice Hotel the permafrost is stacked but down along the walls the first melt 
    starts to track. The wind's whipped voices up and swept them down the years 
    but in the Ice Hotel the guests all have cloth ears. Are we all so 
    cloth-eared? 
    We're only here a season, paupers and presidents. Reason allows us only a 
    temporary residence. Inside the Ice Hotel the mirror ball revolves while 
    in the cinema the screen goes to dissolve. Over and over what's destroyed 
    will be remade and in the Ice Hotel we're only passing trade. The walls 
    are sweating as the Celsius starts to climb. Of all our works this is the 
    transient paradigm. Each year another team will build it up anew, for in 
    the Ice Hotel we're all just passing through, we're just passing through.

    This is the Fall

    All humans are siblings, this is a truth that I've assumed; all fighting 
    over the legacy of a lifelong and timeless family feud in the name of I 
    don't know what. I don't believe in God but if I did I'd surely say there 
    is only one Power up above us, one face refracted in each different Faith. 
    But for every holy confessor there's a priest of self-worth trading in the 
    eternal for power on earth.
    Soaked, the blood of believers in the ground where prophets trod. How in 
    God's name did religion get so far away from God? Oh, mercy, mercy, mercy 
    now! Oh, mercy, mercy, mercy! I don't believe in God but, with all respect 
    to those who do, surely no purpose could be served under heaven if there's 
    no mercy in this place we're passing through? Oh, now for every sainted 
    ascetic drawing heavenly breath there's a literal fanatic in love with death.
    Soaked, the blood in the pages pored with all-too-human pride...in what book 
    of what religion is the blood-lust sanctified? In the name of creation, for 
    whatever that is worth, why in God's name is religion bound so mortally to 
    earth? Soaked, the blood of believers in the ground where prophets trod. 
    How in God's name did religion fall so far away from God? This is the Fall 
    from God.

    Just a Child

    This is more than merely wrong, as sin on sin's grotesquely piled. Don't 
    look so surprised when you find yourself reviled. Don't look to me for 
    comfort in your trial - the girl was just a child. Uttering remorse with 
    weasel words and shameless guile... it was "a mistake", no, paedophilia's 
    "not your style"; all's undercut by your crookedness of smile - the girl 
    was just a child. Close to being grown up, occasionally wild, but the girl 
    was just a child, the girl was just a child.
    
    Now here come the limp excuses with a euphemistic turn of phrase. The fact 
    is sexual abuse undoes its victims, down through all their days. Darkness 
    clouds her face, no longer fresh and juvenile. Home's no longer safe, her 
    innocence is lost, with rising bile. This is not a hurt that will ease 
    after a while - the girl was just a child. Offer your contrition, in remorse 
    you're meek and mild but the girl was just a child and you can't restore 
    the treasure, the flower you defiled - the girl was just a child. More 
    than merely wrong, this is simply vile - the girl was just a child.

    Skinny

    Nobody knows what she sees, no-one can get behind that warped 
    reflection. What glossy varnish strips away protection from young 
    girls like these? No-one admits what it means, no-one permits a 
    gesture of contrition; how carelessly they stacked the ammunition 
    in the magazines. Like a gun to her head, skinny model fantasy. 
    No, she just can't bear to live with this body image.
    Who knows what she sees? Who knows what she sees in body image? 
    Nobody knows what she sees, no-one can guess the depth of her 
    self-rejection. Seen through the eyes of the disease her unblemished 
    skin's all pock-marked with imperfection. Somebody messed up all 
    her young dreams; pretending that this is all of her own volition 
    how carelessly they stacked up the ammunition in the magazines. 
    Like a gun to her head, every glossy fashion shot that reminds her 
    of all the pretty girls she's not in body image. Like a gun to her 
    head skinny model fantasy; no she just can't bear to live with this 
    body image. Like a gun to her head, every glossy fashion shot reminds 
    her of all the pretty girls she's not in body image. Like a gun to 
    her head, every image that she sees. No, she just can't bear to live 
    with this body image, body image, body image.

    Bareknuckle Trade

    And when you feel you can't go on what kind of laurels do you 
    look to? Sometimes we get what we want, sometimes we take 
    a good hook too. Once you thought you were so strong...some 
    young pretender came and shook you. Now there's a lesson to 
    be learned: we must respect what is gone and still expect 
    there'll be something more, but there's a tab left to pay 
    for the experience we're gaining day after day as our knuckles 
    are grazed by the marks that we made with the tools of the trade.
    A telegraph is on its way that might explain my every action. 
    Sometimes we get what we want and then forget what we came here for. 
    From fitness to decay we trade in opposite attractions. There are 
    still lessons to be learned and when we get what we want  we find 
    it less than we might deserve. Now I'm a little bit lost, not for 
    the first time I'm here in some disarray and returning in spades 
    are the hands that I've played with the tools of the trade.
    If I learned my lesson well I've got time to buy and sell with the 
    tools of the trade.
    "What do you want? What do you get? What do you want? What do you 
    expect?" What you want, what you want's not what you get. The tools 
    of the trade, look what you made with the tools of the trade. But 
    what price has been paid for the tools of the trade? And here's a 
    message in my hands, though I'm not sure I can decode it. Sometimes 
    we get what we want and yet still don't know quite what that is. 
    Timidity be damned - hang on to that towel, never throw it. Still 
    there are lessons to be learned: if we don't get what we want at 
    least we get to request the bill, carrying on until the last one is 
    standing still in the game. With quick breath we all pay for the 
    fists that we made: these, the tools of the trade.


Russian Peter Hammill / Van der Graaf Generator Page
Sergey Petrushanko hammillru@mail.ru, 1998-2017