There’s Magic In The Air (A Sunday afternoon in Amsterdam in the 90s)

Prince Glass Votive Candle, available from  Flaming Idols at Etsy . Spot the reference to this candle in  issue 33  of Oh Comely. 

Prince Glass Votive Candle, available from Flaming Idols at Etsy. Spot the reference to this candle in issue 33 of Oh Comely. 

words: Anniki Sommerville

I switched over to the local cable channel. It was Sunday. I hadn’t thought about what day it was. If you go out four nights out of seven it feels irrelevant. There was a Catholic mass on. Like many of my generation, I only believed in God in those desperate, dark moments when I needed serious help. Like the night I passed out outside the queue for The Roxy and woke up not knowing who I was. Or the time I ate hash and wanted to curl up and die. This priest looked familiar. I flipped the channel. An MTV VJ popped up - an inane grin plastered across her open, freckled face.

‘At number 9 we have Mr Big with ‘I’m the One,’ and at 8 we have a surprise newcomer!’

I flipped the channel again. CNN was supposed to be an American news channel but mainly showed weather and images of boring, business men rushing around trying to catch planes. It was an eerie kind of world that I’d never fit into. I thought about Mum who’d be making a giant vat of ratatouille and listening to Joni Mitchell. There was no food in the fridge except for a half-eaten ready meal lasagne. I flipped again and the VJ returned.

‘Here at number seven we have Prince and his tribute to a very special girl. This is ‘Diamonds and Pearls,’ and……. Lola, we’re thinking about ya! Stay cool.’

She blew a kiss and the screen dissolved into Prince sitting astride a red, velvet piano stool. It was unfair that he had so much talent and drive and yet here I was lying on a Sunday afternoon, doing absolutely nothing, with absolutely nothing on the agenda for quite some time. How come some people were infused with so much talent? Was it just like nature where some animals were more powerful and the rest of us just cowered in the bushes, hoping we’d survive another day? Hang on - had she just mentioned my name? MY NAME?!

‘All I can do is offer you my love.’

Yes she had mentioned my name. It was clear! I felt a surge of emotion. It was obvious that Prince had penned this song JUST FOR ME, knowing full well what I’d been going through. He knew I’d been burning the candle at both ends -  in fact just burning the candle completely till it was a blackened, smoking stump. I’d always had this sneaking suspicion that our lives were connected in some way and here was the proof. He was E.T. reaching out his glowing red finger and telling me he loved me and to STAY COOL.

Lighting a cigarette, I thought about the possibility that we might actually have a relationship - not just a long distance relationship but one where we actually lived in the same house (he’d give me one of those great names like he did with all his muses and he’d dress me up in a violet basque. No in fact he wouldn’t MAKE me do anything because he was a feminist. He’d just steer me in the right direction). Something significant was happening in this moment. Okay I was tired and hadn’t slept properly for two days. Okay the blackened candle and all that but at the moment who cared?

I pulled the curtains shut with a bit too much vigour and one fell down. Two drawing pins tumbled to the floor.  Prince would be appalled at the state of the flat and the fact that there was a strand of dried spaghetti stuck to the wall. He would arrive soon. He’d track me down pretty easy. There weren’t many English girls living in this old, decrepit house with spaghetti stuck to the walls. Until his arrival, I just needed sleep.

Sometimes it’s hard to know when you’re asleep and when you’re awake. This is especially true if your thoughts are spiralling. My connection with Prince was weakening. The TV was on and maybe four hours had passed but there was no mention of Prince now. I was suspended in the midst of a rapture. The meaning of life would soon become apparent. Would I ever write a song as good as Prince? Would I even write a line? Or word?

We are all closely linked. All the songs that have ever been written are speaking to us. I was waiting for Prince. I was using my brain to attract him into my life. I would be his next muse. I would prove myself worthy of his attention.

Soon he would arrive and my life would finally begin. The mystery of life would reveal itself. I closed my eyes and waited. 


Anniki Sommerville is a freelance writer and Super Editor at Selfish Mother. She is in the middle of writing a book about her lost teenage years spent in Amsterdam. Follow her on Instagram @annikiselfishmother. Seek out more stories of magic in issue 33 of Oh Comely, on sale now