I scraped the snow from the December -beaten car this morning, opened the door, sat down in the driver’s seat, stuck the keys in, just sat there. For a couple of minutes, there was no traffic, no sound: a pre-industrial peace. This calm stillness was pricked, suddenly, by a rush of fierce thoughts and blurred, threatening memories and I quickly scrabbled around for some music to put on. I stuck Nebraska in the CD player, wondering briefly why this was the first time I’d listened to it for years, wondering when I’d actually bought a CD of it, wondering if the heater was ever going to start working, wondering if Springsteen had ever driven a bloody Seat Leon. I put off turning the key a little longer, just sat there, shivering, as song followed song, as the thoughts and memories shifted and as, slowly and surely, a misty, twisted, echoing cloud of tired, sick ghosts eased into the car with me: young people whose zest and fire was long-ago extinguished by the adult world’s sly envy; unemployed middle-aged men who’d worked all their lives for family and self-respect and their country; lovers whose joy in each other had turned to pity and alienation; coppers and criminals whose ideals had disappeared in nights of need and desperation; women whose love and desires and heat had been suffocated, petrified. I turned to look at all these familiar strangers, felt an angry, insistent guitar slice through me and I thought: this is the soundtrack to our future. For what seemed like hours, I didn’t move, just listened, still cold but OK with it until, halfway through Johnny 99, I brought myself back, took a deep breath, turned the engine on and drove us all off, carefully, down sharp-white, funereal roads towards our English town.