:: letters home ::

Dearest Sarah

I can only hope this reaches you, hit 'send' and pray. We were moved last Friday to a cluster of increasingly snow-bound bivouacs over an exposed corridor cutting across the Hindu Kush. Shelling continues. A Northern Alliance council made it through last night and we renegotiated defence of a supply route. Itís a desolate, confusing place and itís hard to tell who's on which side, sometimes. The stakes get higher every day. So, when I have a chance, I think of you and the brief moments we almost shared.

I didn't know you were a pop journalist when I met you at the Hives gig. Always thought DPS would give critics something to chew on, at least. Thank you for agreeing to marry me too. But my concerns that it was too late to avoid the first wave of call-ups proved to be founded. As a unfettered wastrel I was ripe for conscription and boarded the grim, hired bus to RAF Manston and a brutal Saudi bootcamp without whimper or complaint. As an ex-rock guitarist, and rock being a phallic medium, the useless prick is something I have felt obliged to explore in both song and website. Despite my protestations that I would be better suited to horn-rimmed Secret Squirrelling over some PlayStationesque enigma machine in Whitehall, the thought of you forced to cower, illiterate and disfranchised under a yashmak makes me peel these Maris Pipers with renewed vigour. Sometimes I draw a beard on a particularly ugly one and kick it over the goat pen.

One thing this has made me realise is the significance of romance. Everything decent on this sometimes crummy planet springs from hope - objective romance. Love, politics, family, opening oneís mouth. Writing suggests an aspiration for a reader that is almost romantic in itís concept. Letís get the hell out of London and live in a log cabin and write. Warren Beattie and Diane Keaton in Reds. Tonight. Letís go. And only half-joking. All thatís in front of us is clambering empty-heartedly about on a ladder towards an ever more inane pseudo middle class tomb. Who are we trying to kid? Run, we agreed. Pool meagre savings and hock everything and get on a train and just go. The moment we almost shared.

Life in the bivouac revolves around a particularly British form of male bonding: ribbing, snigger, piss-take and thwack. According to Kev, the Taliban's problem is that they are "repressed pooves". Bri asks if that makes us "queer-bashers" and point blank refuses to lift a belligerent finger, until a shell erupting over the nearby mountain steppes snaps him back to harsh reality.

You're a good writer, Sarah. Sexiest thing in Club International - the airdropped subscription to which guarantees I never want for snout or Pokemon cards. A stash of these will provide leverage upon my capture and televised goading with electroshock apparatus. More importantly, Club helps to remind me what Iím here to preserve but which was in serious need of redefinition.

Run, we agreed. Just go. The end credits - this laptop being carefully replaced into the window of the creepy North London pawn shop from whence it came (by Peter Cushing in some fingerless mittens and that weak, sick smile of his). A TGV sweeps across Kent towards the Eurotunnel. Your lower lip drops a little. I kiss you and throw aside the plaid overnight bag containing all the jewels. Close-up on them. Dissolve. The moment we almost shared.

Also flown in last night amidst the shelling - a generator for our communications with which we were able to download the latest intelligence information, including what were believed to be direct telephone numbers to the Bin and his cronies. Bri immediately struck a blow for democracy by calling the man himself and patching him through to some live sex chat from the back pages of Club. Do Me Like A Mad Slag Gone Cock Bonkers - the number suggested. A woman turned down Sunset Beach and introduced herself as Abbie.

Abbie - Whatís on your mind sugar? OBL - (incomprehensible) Who is this please? Abbie - Iím your every fantasy. OBL - My fantasy would be complete military jihad against the infidel Satan. Now if you'll excus.. Abbie - I can be very wicked. Funnily enough, I feel like being a real devil right now. OBL - (incomprehensible) Abbie - Take your time. You sound all flustered. Can you guess what Iím wearing? That's right a little.. OBL - Stop this shamefulness! Your existence itself is blasphemy. Abbie - You're just nervous, mate. I'm touching myself in front of a mirror. OBL - I have innumerable wives. Abbie - A side dish when youíre extra peckish. I see. OBL - I would like to thank you, young lady. You are increasing my resolve to pour the poison that your people are down the drains of history. Abbie - You donít want me to tickle myself a bit then? OBL - Certainly not. Abbie Ė Earpiece around the cleavage? OBL - This is stupidity. Abbie - (sighing) To be honest I'm sitting here in overalls and I've just dropped a second Hobnob in my coffee and I'd like to know what exactly you called to talk about. OBL - Nothing. Goodbye. Oh, describe to me the abject terror in your country. Abbie - Country? Same old things but all shook up thanks to him in Afghanistan. OBL - You have friends in the military? Where are they based? Abbie - My cousin Paul. I hope he gets that bastard soon. OBL - Ha! They possibly will, young lady. They possibly will. His bravery and vision shall be immortal. Abbie -(sighing) Iíd hate that. OBL - You have no wish for what you do to be a lasting example for future generations? Abbie - Grunting down the blower? Nah. Iíve got one future generation and sheís enough hard work. OBL - Goodbye. Abbie - Sure.

Anyway, Sarah, there've just been several almighty bangs outside and planes are coming and it's time to hit 'send'. My friend, I'm not sure what prayer is but terrorism must surely be it's opposite. And now there are even more ignoble levels of terrorism. Responsibility unclaimed, itís just a little matter of good versus evil. So I pray this thing settles quickly and that I see you again soon. Just getting bored of the war, bigging it up, whatever. Yarning till closing time rings through the Lord Stanley and sweeps us from a full, filling and hilarious conversation and into the night bustle of Camden. Moments are the greatest thing we have. They just can't be created.

There were times I recalled thinking if the world needed more songs or another website and I assumed I'd never know. There are no real gains to be had and I have to say that I was at a stage where the whole thing struck me as an elaborate advert for myself and I wanted out of that sort of weak self-consciousness. But I read you, Sarah, and that's one answer. That's all I can say, my friend. I read you.