Chapter no 36 – Podcast of Revelations‌

The Midnight Library

‘So, it has been a crazy year for you,’ Marcelo began, in his very good English.

‘Oh yeah. It has been quite a ride,’ said Nora, trying to sound like a rock star.

‘Now, if I may ask about the album . . . Pottersville. You wrote all the lyrics, yes?’

‘Mostly, yes,’ Nora guessed, staring at the small, familiar mole on her le hand.

‘She wrote all of them,’ interjected Joanna.

Marcelo nodded while the other guy, still smiling toothily, fiddled about with sound levels via a laptop.

‘I think “Feathers” is my favourite track,’ said Marcelo, as the drinks arrived.

‘I’m glad you like it.’

Nora tried to think of a way she could get out of this interview. A headache? A bad stomach?

‘But the one I’d like to talk about first is the first one you decided to release. “Stay Out Of My Life”. It seemed such a personal statement.’

Nora forced a smile. ‘e lyrics say it all really.’

‘Obviously there has been some speculation about whether it refers to the

. . . how do you say it in English?’

‘Restraining order?’ oered Joanna, helpfully. ‘Yes! e restraining order.’

‘Um,’ said Nora, taken aback. ‘Well. I prefer to get it all out in the song. I find that stuff dicult to talk about.’

‘Yes, I understand. It is just that in your recent Rolling Stone interview you talked a little about your former boyfriend, Dan Lord, and mentioned how dicult it was to get the . . . the . . . the restraining order against him, aer he stalked you . . . Didn’t he try to break into your house? en tell reporters that he wrote the lyrics for “Beautiful Sky”?’


She hovered at the intersection of tears and laughter, and managed, somehow, to give neither.

‘I wrote it when I was still with him. But he didn’t like it. He didn’t like me being in this band. He hated it. He hated my brother. He hated Ravi. He hated Ella, who was one of the original members. Anyway, Dan was very jealous.’

is was so surreal. In one life, the life he’d supposedly wanted, Dan was so bored in his marriage to Nora he was having an aair, while in this life he was breaking into her house because he couldn’t stand her success.

‘He’s a dick,’ said Nora. ‘I don’t know the Portuguese swear word for a terrible person.’

‘Cabrão. It means someone’s a dick.’

‘Or an asshole,’ the younger guy added, stone-faced.

‘Yeah, well, he’s a cabrão. He turned out to be someone else entirely. It’s weird. e way when your life changes people act in dierent ways. e price of fame, I suppose.’

‘And you wrote a song called “Henry David oreau”. You don’t get many songs named aer philosophers . . .’

‘I know. Well, when I studied Philosophy at university, he was my favourite. Hence my tattoo. And it made a marginally better song title than “Immanuel Kant”.’

She was getting into the swing of it now. It wasn’t too hard to act a life when it was the one she was destined for.

‘And “Howl”, obviously. Such a powerful song. Number one in twenty-two countries. Grammy award-winning video with a Hollywood A-list cast. I suppose you are done talking about it?’

‘I suppose, yes.’

Joanna went to get herself another honey cake.

Marcelo smiled, gently, as he pressed on. ‘For me it seemed so primal. e song, I mean. Like you were letting everything out. And then I discovered

you wrote it on the very night you fired your last manager. Before Joanna. Aer you found out he’d been ripping you off . . .’

‘Yeah. at wasn’t good,’ she improvised. ‘It was such a betrayal.’

‘I was a big Labyrinths fan before “Howl”. But that was the one for me.

at and “Lighthouse Girl”. “Howl” was where I was like, Nora Seed is a geniuse lyrics are pretty abstract, but the way you just let out that rage was so so and soulful and powerful all at once. It’s like early Cure fused with Frank Ocean via e Carpenters and Tame Impala.’

Nora tried, and failed, to imagine what that could possibly sound like.

He started to sing, to everyone’s surprise: ‘“Silence the music to improve the tune / Stop the fake smiles and howl at the moon”.’

Nora smiled and nodded, as if she knew these lyrics. ‘Yeah. Yeah. I was just . . . howling.’

Marcelo’s face became serious. He seemed genuinely concerned for her. ‘You’ve had so much shit to deal with these last few years. Stalkers, bad managers, the fake feuds, the court case, the copyright issues, the messy break-up with Ryan Bailey, the reception of the last album, rehab, that incident in Toronto . . . that time you collapsed from exhaustion in Paris, personal tragedy, drama drama drama. And all that media intrusion. Why do you think the press hate you so much?’

Nora began to feel a bit queasy. Was this what fame was like? Like a permanent bittersweet cocktail of worship and assault? It was no wonder so many famous people went off the rails when the rails veered in every direction. It was like being slapped and kissed at the same time.

‘I . . . I don’t know . . . it’s pretty crackers . . .’

‘I mean, do you ever wonder what your life would have been like if you had decided to take a dierent path?’

Nora listened to this as she stared at the bubbles rising in her mineral water.

‘I think it is easy to imagine there are easier paths,’ she said, realising something for the first time. ‘But maybe there are no easy paths. ere are just paths. In one life, I might be married. In another, I might be working in a shop. I might have said yes to this cute guy who asked me out for a coee. In another I might be researching glaciers in the Arctic Circle. In another, I might be an Olympic swimming champion. Who knows? Every second of every day we are entering a new universe. And we spend so much time

wishing our lives were dierent, comparing ourselves to other people and to other versions of ourselves, when really most lives contain degrees of good and degrees of bad.’

Marcelo and Joanna and the other Brazilian guy were staring at her wide-eyed, but she was on a roll now. Freewheeling.

ere are patterns to life . . . Rhythms. It is so easy, while trapped in just the one life, to imagine that times of sadness or tragedy or failure or fear are a result of that particular existence. at it is a by-product of living a certain way, rather than simply living. I mean, it would have made things a lot easier if we understood there was no way of living that can immunise you against sadness. And that sadness is intrinsically part of the fabric of happiness. You can’t have one without the other. Of course, they come in dierent degrees and quantities. But there is no life where you can be in a state of sheer happiness for ever. And imagining there is just breeds more unhappiness in the life you’re in.’

at is a great answer,’ Marcelo said, aer he was sure she was finished. ‘But tonight I would say, at the concert, you seemed happy. When you played “Bridge Over Troubled Water” instead of “Howl”, that was such a powerful statement. It was saying: I am strong. It felt like you were telling us, your fans, that you were okay. And so, how is touring going?’

‘Well, it’s great. And yes, I just thought I’d send a message that, you know, I am out here living my best life. But I miss home aer a while.’

‘Which one?’ asked Marcelo, with a quietly cheeky smile. ‘I mean, do you feel more at home in London, or LA, or on the Amalfi Coast?’

It seemed this was the life where her carbon footprint was the highest. ‘I don’t know. I suppose I would say London.’

Marcelo took a sharp intake of breath, as if the next question was something he had to swim under. He scratched his beard. ‘Okay, but I suppose it must be hard for you, as I know you shared that flat with your brother?’

‘Why would it be hard?’

Joanna gave her a curious glance from above her cocktail.

Marcelo looked at her with sentimental fondness. His eyes seemed glazed. ‘I mean,’ he went on, aer a delicate sip of beer, ‘your brother was such a big part of your life, such a big part of the band . . .’


So much dread in such a small word. Like a stone falling through water.

She remembered asking Ravi about her brother before the encore. She remembered the crowd’s reaction when she had mentioned her brother on stage.

‘He’s still around. He was here tonight.’

‘She means she feels him,’ said Joanna. ‘ey all feel him. He was such a strong spirit. Troubled, but strong . . . It was a tragedy how the drink and drugs and the whole life got to him in the end . . .’

‘What are you talking about?’ Nora asked. She was no longer acting a life.

She genuinely needed to know.

Marcelo looked sad for her. ‘You know, it’s only been two years since his death . . . his overdose . . .’

Nora gasped.

She didn’t arrive back in the library instantly because she hadn’t absorbed it. She stood up, dazed, and staggered out of the suite.

‘Nora?’ laughed Joanna, nervously. ‘Nora?’

She got in the li and went down to the bar. To Ravi. ‘You said Joe was schmoozing the media.’


‘You said. I asked you what Joe was doing and you said, “schmoozing the media”.’

He put his beer down and stared at her like a riddle. ‘And I was right. She was schmoozing the media.’


He pointed over to Joanna, who was looking aghast as she headed over from the lis in the lobby.

‘Yeah. Jo. She was with the press.’

And Nora felt the sadness like a punch.

‘Oh no,’ she said. ‘Oh Joe . . . oh Joe . . . oh . . .’

And the grand hotel bar disappeared. e table, the drinks, Joanna, Marcelo, the sound guy, the hotel guests, Ravi, the others, the marble floor, the barman, the waiters, the chandeliers, the flowers, all became nothing at all.

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