THE SKY IS BLUE, a uniform flat, dusty purple-blue. None of the brilliant blues that gleam as summer comes closer, but still, cloudless light falls on the ravaged artery below. Ripping the street apart—again—beneath my bedroom window is the cacophonous rite of only days-old spring. Vehicles beep backwards in circular succession. The maw of a machine grinds against the ground as it empties, the sound of a half-ton ashtray being casually emptied. The buses announcing their terminal destinations north, south, west, east, are lost in the sound of fuels being spent. The crews don't work all day with their machines that chew out the old pavement and then regurgitate its tarry cud. The noise and clatter goes for an hour or two, and they're gone. Their just-begun $6 million efforts expose, only a few inches below, aged cobbles and streetcar tracks erratically gouged from earlier resurfacings. It's not lunchtime yet this Friday past, and from the sky's cloudless cover comes now a sudden sweep of white, a tumble of urgent fluff, and all the ruck of chunked sidewalk, orange caution horses, rectangles of yellow caution tape around tanker-length open holes, loses its instructive contrast as one vast playful gust of winter spirits all color away for ten minutes and then evaporates, leaving the slightest damp atop the dust and trouble. [Originally published in a slightly different form in Newcity, 29 March 2006.]
"In the flesh, Heap is a gangly, voluble 28-year-old who looks, in the best possible way, as if she has been dragged through a theatre wardrobe backwards. Her studio, in an insalubrious corner of south London, seems like an extension of her personality: a treasure trove of creative clutter. Lights shaped like dragonflies dangle from the ceiling; a cello and guitar hang from the wall; flight cases litter the floor. Against one wall stands her mother's piano, the same one at which she spent most of her Essex childhood. She also plays cello, clarinet and a Zimbabwean thumb piano called a mbira. "I wanted to be either an astronaut or a composer, and gradually I decided that a composer was more likely." —Dorian Lynskey in the Guardian, talking to singer Imogen Heap.