I was watching a documentary the other day on Meat Loaf, as you do. Or as I do when I’m having slight plotting problem. I used to listen to Bat out of Hell fairly frequently but have got out of the habit in the last few years maybe as my life got slightly less bat out of hell-ish. On hearing the intro to the song, ‘The sirens are screaming, and the fires are howling …’ the hairs rose up on my arms and I remembered just how much I loved the whole gothic, campy, sweaty, ruffle-shirted glory that is Meat Loaf. And it got me thinking about this ‘hair on the arms’ or ‘back of the neck’ thing or whatever you care to call it and how often it’s used in writing as a lazy shorthand for STRONG EMOTIONS and how it doesn’t actually happen that often in life or not to me anyway.
It got me thinking about another rather different time. It was 1996 and I’d gone to see the Dalai Lama at the Alexander Palace in London. I hope you appreciate the seamless segue from Meat loaf to the Dalai Lama that just happened there. There was an enormous crowd, delays in getting everyone in and a long wait. The friend I was with was out of sorts and the atmosphere was quite ‘heady-trippy’ for want of a more elegant expression. I remember feeling a bit irritable and bored and then the Dalai Lama came out on stage and the hairs didn’t just rise up on the back of my neck they rose everywhere there was a follicle. I can remember absolutely nothing about what he said only my physical and emotional response to him coming on the stage. I wasn’t a buddhist by the way and I’m not one now. The friend I was with had almost the exact reverse response and became more and more irritated which was very funny in retrospect but confusing at the time.
Scientists in North Carolina have apparently done some research into the link between music induced bumps and personality types. People who had the most chills had the most open personalities, they were receptive to new experiences, creative, curious and had active imaginations. So now I’m off to play Bat out of Hell. Maybe my plot will then be tricked by the sight of the bumps rising up on my arms into thinking I’m someone with an active imagination. Someone who will wrestle it into submission and with the sheer force of my … well, you get my drift.
So here’s the question. When was the last time you had goosebumps? Standing in a draft doesn’t count, seeing ghosts is absolutely fine but please, please don’t make me regret asking!