The Rock and Roll Headband of Linchmere Common

Tank Green/ December 30, 2023/ Writing Walking

A photo of a multi-coloured glittery headband hanging off an old wooden fence railing with lichen on it. In the background are blurry trees.

A photo of a multi-coloured glittery headband hanging off an old wooden fence railing with lichen on it. In the background are blurry trees.

It’s called the Rock and Roll Headband of Linchmere Common, but actually, any genre of music can be called forth upon wearing it. It’s only called the Rock and Roll Headband as the first recorded wearing involved a multi-stadium sell-out tour supporting Black Sabbath in 1981. Or at least, that’s the impression Barry in his drainpipes got, but he was so shocked that he took it off within 13 seconds, so it might have only been one Black Sabbath stadium show. No one’s sure.

Thankfully, other wearers of the Rock and Roll Headband have been more courageous than Barry, although to be fair to him, they did kind of know what they were getting into ahead of time, unlike Barry. Nevertheless, since Barry’s 1981 stadium tour[s?], there have been three outings to the disco scenes of New York City and Washington D.C., a bunch of  visits to south London jungalist massive clubs, various renditions of Grease and other musicals, some Royal Albert Hall type-stuff, and, embarrassingly for Kate who previously swore blind that Shuggie Otis was her favourite, a summer spent dancing round the maypole whilst a bunch of Morris dancers played the lute. 

The fact of the matter is, that each and every one of the glittery sparkles which adorn the Rock and Roll Headband reflect a different genre of music. You might be looking at the Headband and thinking, ‘there aren’t many genres of music’. In response, I would remind you that you are a mere earthling and the Rock and Roll Headband is intergalactic. Anyway the point is, once you put the Headband on, you are instantly transported into the musical environment which matches your inner spirit. The upside for Kate was that, after she got over her initial embarrassment, she joined an historical reenactment society and now lives a very fulfilling life as a fair maiden on the weekends.

As usual, I’m confusing things as it’s not Kate or Barry that I’m here to talk about. I’m here to tell you about Sue. Sue was a nurse at the local health centre, and had faithfully served the town for years. Needed an asthma review? That was Sue. Got some dressings that need changing? Good old Sue. Even the little babies got their check ups with Sue, as she also stood in for the midwife on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. Sue was a stoic type and open, warm, and dependable, but because of the way the townsfolk interacted with her—in their time of need—very few of them knew anything about her. To the townsfolk, Sue just was. She was just there. A reliable fact in times of their need. I labour this point for one reason only: to underscore why Sue’s jaunt with the Headband became the principal story in Headband lore. It was so unexpected: that was the real Sue?

Unbeknownst to the townsfolk, Sue loved Mexico. She had been there once when she was twenty-five and had retained a solid love affair with the country ever since. When she wasn’t ministering to the town’s needs, she sewed miniature sombreros which she filled with wadding and affixed to her walls as a Mexican-themed sound proofing. Sound-proofing, you say? Yes, sound-proofing. This was necessary as she played the panpipes with a large collection of Sol bottles, and had a nifty set of maracas made out of repurposed mezcal bottles filled with rice. She also had four (irritating) chihuahuas and made a mean mole. 

So, Sue. Sue the Lady who Loved Mexico. Sue of the four (irritating) chihuahuas. Sue who had never married as her true love was a romance of the spirit with Xōchipilli. Sue the, by now, really rather adept player of the Solpipes and Mezimaracas. Sue who, one fine Sunday morning, was walking her four (irritating) chihuahuas on Linchmere Common and spied some multicoloured shimmering from within a bramble bush. 

The shimmering was, of course, the Headband. It had been thrown there in a fit of rage by Penelope who had been snubbed by Taylor Swift during her recent jaunt with the Headband. Sue gingerly fished out the Headband from amidst the brambles and marvelled at her good luck in finding it. After inspecting it for rogue thorns, she popped the Headband on and that is where the story gets really interesting.

When most people put the Headband on, there is generally a connection to modern(ish) contemporary or classical music, so the intergalactic disturbances are fairly minimal. A pop star might think ‘WTF just happened there?’, or an orchestra may have one extra cellist for an hour, perhaps. However, as Sue’s true romance was with Xōchipilli, the god of music, the Headband had the occasion to call forth ancient forms of cosmic power and bestow unto Sue, and the townsfolk who witnessed it, some epochal-level changes.

The first thing that happened was Sue got twenty-three gimp background dancers, whose vinyl chaps shone in the summer sun, as their variously hued, oiled flesh rippled in muscular glory. Sue herself was liberated of her clothes, and instead had some strategically placed Dahlias to protect her modesty. On her head was the most elegant of hats made out of elaborately folded corn tortillas, and best for Sue, given how many photos were taken, her body was transformed into a firm but voluptuously perfect hourglass form. Finally, her wrists and ankles were adorned with yellow, green, and magenta feathers.

Aah, that Sue: finally it was her time to shine, and shine she did. Every day, for the next year, four days, and eight hours, Sue put on the show of a life-time. Before her were Solpipes of every pitch and Mezimaracas of every rattle, and she blew and she shook up a truly cosmic storm. At the end of each day, the universe applauded alongside the townsfolk present. In the early days, all of the townsfolk came to see her shows, but after a week or so, many reluctantly returned to their jobs and could only come on the weekends and vacation time. Sue was treated as if she were on secondment, and Bill came down from the hospital to temporarily minister to the towns wounds and other nursing needs.

The key to why Sue’s adornment of the Headband became the principal story in Headband lore is in the paragraph above: that the universe itself was called to applause. It is unlikely that you know what it is like to witness the universe applaud, as this hasn’t been common in the last thousand or so years, so I shall explain. When the universe is moved so, everything moves, as the universe is everything. Thus, one finds that what was once elsewhere becomes here. What was far becomes near. What was left becomes right. What was north becomes south. What was anger becomes tenderness, and what was once red becomes blue. And so on. You get the point.

The best way I can think to describe this, is to ask you to imagine you are on a funfair ride, zipping from left to right, with your insides only catching up after you have started your way back again. It was magisterially discombobulating and the wildest ride of the townsfolk’s lives. Sometimes they were upside down, sometimes side-by-side. Sometimes they were in Peru, sometimes Zimbabwe. Sometimes it was 1982 and sometimes 432. Sometimes they were humans and sometimes cocos cuckoos. 

There was a certain subset of the townsfolk who loved this, and decided to Grateful Dead Sue, by which I mean: dig out their tents and airbeds and permanently camp out on Linchmere Common for the entire year and some change. This was to be expected, as it is the way of music to create die-hard fans, and it is to them we owe the Great List of Change which recorded every single thing an audience member became. Give thanks! It is, obviously, too long to record in toto here, but I commend you to visit the local library and peruse the list yourself if you are interested. 

Finally, one year and four days after Sue first put the Headband on, she realised she’d had quite enough of that. So she announced to the crowd that this would be her final performance, and eight hours later, she took the Headband off. I cannot say that the crowd rushed to try it on themselves, as there was a lot of transpersonal psychology which needed to happen first. So really, all that happened was that Sue suddenly had her wellies and dog walking gear on again, her four (irritating) chihuahuas reappeared and started yapping, and she hung the Headband on a fence and went home for a nice cup of tea.

Listen to me read The Rock and Roll Headband of Linchmere Common: