Archives for posts with tag: Music

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It’s just over one day to the end of this year and I can’t help wonder which other celebrities will not see in 2017.

Bowie went on my birthday and the year started as it meant to go on, they kept on coming, or should I say going, thick and fast. Reaction seems to fall into a few categories – much younger people, mainly untainted by loss, referred to it as, (in the case of my son’s friend), The Year of the Dead Celebrity, while much older people note yet another death, having a tally chart on their bed ends, having outlived many family and friends. But it feels like it’s my contemporaries, us middle-agers, who are shaking our heads the most.

Some of it is inevitable, many of those familiar faces came from the baby boom era, becoming famous around the same time and hitting late middle age or early old age en masse. For those of us, menopausal women, midlife crisis-ed men of a certain age, it seems to have kicked away a cultural crutch. These were the faces and the voices we grew up with, the musicians that were always there, who put words and sounds onto the feelings we couldn’t express, the Bowies and the Cohens, the poets for our teenage dreams. All of us with our moments and fragments of how these lives intersected with our own.

For me, school uniforms were worn to the comfortable voice of Wogan and delight when he read out my poem, Saturday evenings with sausage and mash watching The Two Ronnies and ‘four candles’ learnt off by heart. Then leaving home, dancing on a table in a Liverpool club, watching Pete Burns spin through the fug of late night neons, before the taxi to my digs back out of town. And much later, the home town chattering with a mate obsessed with Prince, how I helped her to start up her band that came to nothing and their home, which smelt of great dane and cigarettes, in the years before my husband came along. And when he did, when we danced to George at our reception, when I swished and he smiled, when we watched Carrie in the multiplex with our best man, there seemed no sense of time. No thought that all these people, exaggerated in our minds through fame and internet would be so vulnerable, could be so human, as we were.

Of course, we were younger then, not scarred by loss and change, the world was still unpredictable but felt safer somehow and now and again a celebrity died, but not like now, now when it’s a weekly occurrence. Sometimes I read posts from people distraught that their idol has gone and I can say nothing. To them, in their world that’s not mine, it is overwhelming (at least for a while). In my own early grief their reaction would have outraged me but not now. Their reaction is their business, it’s their genuine view of the world, where they walk without my shoes. How shocked they are, that he or she was only 60 and yes, it’s young but then I think, they had 12 years on my husband…and then the older ones, the ones that made it to three score and ten, how it’s alright really as their innings were so good.

When you live with loss, when it’s carved out the person you’ve become, you learn many things but one thing stands out. All loss is felt at 100% whether it’s for an ancient movie legend or a pop star taken ‘too soon.’ It’s the impact of that life, the ripple effect of their talents, their stories, the real people they were to their families. And in addition to the fan’s devotion to their work, an immeasurable fact shines out, that they lived. They achieved, they failed, they fought their demons like we all do and made connections.

Grief is as unique as the relationships that created it, whether the loss is for the first crush of your youth, the poster on your wall, or the actor who’s films you never missed, or your husband – the person you planned to spend the rest of your life with. All life is precious. There’s no half way house with grief, it’s the whole relationship to be looked at, to be mourned along with layers of secondary losses. And these frequent deaths this year throw spotlights on our own pain with a reminding terror of the raw, illuminated in a stark white light by Debbie Reynolds running to catch up with her girl.

It was this time of year, another lifetime ago, that I found out I was pregnant. The joy of knowing new life beat and pulsed inside me was a feeling like no other, bringing another soul into this world, into this time based place where everything is temporary. And now as this turbulent year closes, as more people prepare to mourn, to dress for funerals at the opposite end of life, it seems to underline one thing. Famous or not, infamous or invisible we all have an impact on each other with the skills we bring, with the talents that we share. So share them well, find your bliss and know it, make a difference while you can. We’re not all posters on someone’s wall but we all matter, we’re all fragile in the storm.

I’ve lost count of the number of deaths this year, the tweeted ones and the nameless ones but each life was a universe in itself, each an individual with such impact on others. This cultural hacking away, this chipping out of the pieces of my life reminds me of our vulnerability and our transience in this world.

Time will catch us all in the end.

Be good to each other. Be kind. We have such responsibility, such potential to enrich each other’s lives.

With love.

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February 22nd
It’s quiet – apart from the birds opening their breaks, trilling their throats to the skies. It’s quiet apart from the over the fields sounds of traffic and high above this quietness is the hush brush throb of a plane. People going places, like they do. To the right, out of sight, the ubiquitous farmer pulls his trigger yet again, startling a flock of large birds. They scatter in a cluster over me, a few stragglers hurrying behind and rain pats at the old patio knocking down the moss, splitting a splot on the car roof and I watch.

I try to hear a rhythm in the rain, a haphazard pattern almost there. I’ve been learning about counterpoint and variation with our son and everything seems to be made of music, of repeated imagery, broken up with altered patterns and we note the numbers underlining it all, the circles of fifth that encase us and we are this song.

Today is the first day after half term, it’s grey but almost fresh. And although the dates lie one week out I remember. Five years ago we went back to school for the first time; the first time since we’d been changed; the first time since the world we’d known had been severed away and our friends walked us in and I left. I took our son to the door, everyone had been informed and I watched his back as he started his new day. I peeled myself away to the headmaster’s office and there in the black sphere that became my cell, I started to try to find words. And afterwards I must have walked back home where my parents waited and people came and went with flowers from the day before, with faces and information that I couldn’t understand and then they left.

The unseen farmer interrupts my thoughts with another salvo, he’s on a mission again. There was a dead rabbit on the drive yesterday, maybe stopped by the circling kite and somewhere in the prickle of hedges a family carries on foraging because they have to.

I remember this date from seven years ago. We were leaving for school when our son noticed that his fish was on its side. I told him we’d check on it later and later while I was at work you rang me to say it had died. We’d bought three fish, one each and I sighed that it had to be his that was the first to go. We discussed the plan for the evening, how to manage his first loss and when, if he wanted to, to go back to the pet shop and buy another, and we did.  I remember the sound of the door closing as we’d walked up to school, then with a fish floating, and two years later in our brittle broken world and the sound, the leaden searing sound of closing the door again from the inside, when all of the visitors had gone.

And now. I watched our son’s back this morning, his trousers are slightly too short. I used hemming tape on some new ones but it didn’t work well, so just for a day or so he’s still in the trousers from last half term. They sit just above the shoe, showing his growth, showing the passing of time. He has mocks around the corner and I help him prepare, now like back then, I support, I encourage him to find what he needs but then I watch him go. Into his world, to deal with it all in his way, in that classroom five years ago, in the school hall soon, this week and next and in life. Trousers getting shorter, birds calling out for food and our planet, turning.in its orbit.

On the way to school we pass new builds. I notice the lintels hanging from cranes, the fluorescent men manipulating windows. Someone will live there someday soon, in a new way, in a new world for them and they will stand at their window, like I stand at mine. The rain will wash the muck away, cars and people will go about their business and the birds will open wide their beaks and sing.
A repeated song, a variation on a theme. The music of our life.

February 28th
I brushed up brittle bamboo leaves in a chilled afternoon. I must have disturbed so many creatures building homes underneath the mush of winter. I looked out for them as I cleaned but they were too small to spot. They were busy rolling in the dust, startled, wiggling their feet to find more soil again, to right themselves and regroup.  I watched a sycamore spore twirl in the air, it spiralled up and across in haphazard patterns till it settled out of sight. Our son was warm indoors, studying atoms, how the outer shells will seek out what they need, if they haven’t enough electrons they will bond to other elements, they adapt and  make changes to their structure. And I prepare the new food for the birds, hang it in the tiny cage up high, sprinkle more seed on the brushed patio and go back inside.

February 29th
And now before he strode off to Chemistry and English, I reminded him to watch out for marriage proposals from all the girls today. He checked his watch for the date but the small rectangular plastic still flashed out that it was the first of March and somewhere deep inside, it still was.

Steam rises up from the new flue outside our window. I watch the conservation of energy, the water transforming, changing shape and form. As its elements become a part of everything, the birds peck and fill their bellies with fresh food from our patio round the back.

Its early, I have work to do. We have all we need.

xxx

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Can’t get moving today, have no momentum. I’m here with zero spin like the Higgs particle and I read about it hurling around in Switzerland, teasing the physists with it’s revealed truths. But it appears to still fit into the standard model, nothing new yet, nothing more exotic and it shows them we only understand 4% of our universe.

And I also continue to collide around in here, charging into things, smashing myself into memories, exploring this strange new world, our new civilisation, understanding only fragments of how we still exist.

And I make an attempt at tidying,
up in here, by the old stereo, your old record player from the museum of a life and through the smokey grey Bakelite it says ‘Thorens’ with a flourish, TD160B MK11, apparently. And the stylus has a small triangle on its tiny brushed steel finish. The counterweight sits still, round the back, the softly boxed ‘disc-cleaner’, a furry product of time. And in front of it an old beaten coaster, the image peeling up at the corners, the one with the dappled horse that I bought from the country park, way back in that May when the hayfever tablets worked well.
Our son’s redundant Playmobil lies down, redeployed as a statue, on it’s back fighting no fires, looking sideways to the things I can’t see.
The old cassette tapes in a triptych
underneath, wound slippy brown ribbon, imprinted with days. I need to play them some time soon but not yet. And I look down passed the Lost calendar bought for you before I watched it and the tuner, black crackling brute, that had begun to loose it’s growl, in those months before and the radio over the tape player with its satisfying click clunk of depressed buttons. And the memory of it’s red lights, (5 in from the left) in the time when it lived behind the settee arm, in the other home, in the other world.
And I study these elements carefully
to the background radiation of our son playing with friends, loud, up here and he needed to be careful not to bump it, with it’s delicate old mechanism, fragile but still working, handle it all with care.

And I remember the huge old speakers, the white monsters carved by your Dad and the stories of hoiking them down from the North and up the Southern stairs. They squatted in our bedroom until the move evicted them and they were sold and removed to somewhere else, somehow, in a time before eBay.
But the cupboards that sat in between them still sit, their place in the garage where they took root, in all the new plans of new homes.

And I draw in the dust remembering your music, the compared lists, the groans and distaste, the raised eyebrows and head shaking. Just remembered Go Moog! oh my god, how I laughed and how I wound you up about it and getting the ‘image’ right between the speakers. Hi-Fi, obviously, I really shouldn’t have said stereo…And I remember the jazz and the name choosing for our son and the track you wrote to me about, hundreds of years ago, before txts, without email, in a chat-free, app-free world, when we held a pen and used a stamp and we waited, waited to see what would happen. And I found the track again, somehow, in that week, despite my carnage and played it again on that day.

And I’m back in the old Orion with Meatloaf before the first meal, the creamed out trout and slapstick corn, the meal we never really lived down. And the endless journeys in the Sandbanks days, the naff tunes that came to have their meaning, the ones that always reoccurred and the concept albums from a 70’s teenage room. The disparaging looks at my collection, the what and the why and The Who and how we swapped on Crowded House and became Keane in the closing days of forest trips, in the car, by the lyrics we couldn’t keep up with. And I sourced out some Be bop Deluxe as a joke and moved you into Rufus Wainwright with that song that I haven’t played since.

I’m sat here now with all your vinyl boxed and inaccessible but the names and sounds are pouring and images spinning hard and fast. The Christmas dancing, the corporate meals, the waistcoats and velvet and the old car radio, up loud and personal, shaving off the angles on the roundabouts as we hurtle late at night.

And downstairs, almost camouflaged behind our first pot plant, (the one that survived the years and moves, its glossy veins mapping our growth,) sits your leaning tower of CDs. I rumbled through it in that week back then, stumbling to find what to play, wanting Tom Waits but not knowing where to start. So I replaced them as best I could, in your special order, not alphabetical, (of course not,) too simple. Placed them back in their unique genres, your categories of ‘taste’. Haven’t been near it really but it’s calling, from the old wood, it’s chipped lips, the thin plastic covers, dog eared gatefolds, a frozen picture of movement and verve.

And high up above me, shiny hidden blackness, a toast rack of 45’s, brittle skin and grooves, with Epic signposting, no doubt Sweet, smiling down at me.

I can hear them all, playing over layed, a turned down tumult of you and the Swing, just remembered the Swing and the joy of zoot suits in Malcolm X.
And it’s coming at me with the speed or firing particles, a need to hear some, to spin inside, to crank it out loud and blaring, like I used to, like you used to, when there was dance without restraint and we were younger, we were us, with our collection of collections and the sounds spun out of our old universe, lit by a distant sun.

And I accelerate faster to unknown speeds, pushing the boundaries of what I know, looking for answers
and forming new questions, in these places, in this soundtrack of our life.

Today in the music of our spheres.

xxx

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