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Analogue Delay

Updated: Jun 11, 2021

IMAGE: Abstract collage-painting interpretation of the text

Latency is a ticket to a rescheduled gig, an arena scooped out of silence, a white line stretching down an empty road, scattered by the first flurries of an apprentice storm. I check my pulse and body temperature, my space cadet glow cooled by inclement weather, the precise angles of steel gantries casting a lattice of light and dark across unkempt grass. It’s a good year for bees, a bad year for rock & roll, and space exploration is edited down to fit around the ad breaks.

At work I’m an astronaut, my lips out of sync with words that split apart and defy the gravity of any situation, my hands gloved against contamination and all feeling, flailing on the wrong keys, sending nonsense comments to the wrong people. After all, we’re just another planet, and our fields are humming like a waiting PA, with wildflowers idiot dancing in nature’s very own mosh pit. The sky recalibrates my understanding of blue and is so clear I swear can see Neptune with my naked eye.

Inside the hive, I have friends in suspended animation, friends who are crashing and burning, and friends who fill my screen with drunken emojis at unpredictable hours. Time is anything but relative, all barriers have become permeable, and I am suddenly thirteen years old again, tentatively removing my bubble helmet, my ears ringing in sympathy with speaker cabs the size of my working-class bedroom. Space is at my fingertips, but every road out of here is too far away. It’s a good year for everything except futures and growing up, and as I loosen my Velcro-fastened gloves, I’m not sure I’m ready to feel anything.

But now it’s 2020 and there’s that photo doing the rounds that looks like an amazing gig, but when you look closer it’s a combine harvester in a cottonfield, and I wonder if I could tell the difference in a multiple-choice exam, or if I’d be down to floromancy and guesswork. My every memory, from conception to low Earth orbit, is on YouTube, in high definition, though with the sound out of sync and a low buzz. Yet, when I search for moments that could maybe help me now, nothing’s ever quite how I think it happened, and sometimes I’m not even there, sometimes I’m not even an astronaut, and sometimes there’s not even music, only metal thrashing in the sun.

On balance, it’s a good year for remembering and a good year for forgetting, and even loss smells like honey. I’ve worn nothing but jeans and old tour T-shirts for so long that I’ve forgotten what buttons are for, and everything is rescheduled except the bees that dip into purple flowers beneath a steel gantry, on an alien world that looks less like home with each detail I observe. Time and temperature brook no delay, but through the clouds shines a perfect flower moon, neatly cut from last year’s adverts, descending in silence on striped silk parachutes.

Written by OZ HARDWICK

Artwork 'space cadet glow' by NIGEL ADAMS

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