Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Going Home

I blame Cathy Laney, Sprog3's flute teacher.

At the start of several years’ hard labour dinning a basic competence in the flute into Sprog3, Ms Laney invested a few minutes drilling the essentials of ¾ time by waltzing parents and children round the room and setting a simple puzzle as homework. The tots were to identify pop songs in ¾ time.

This was always doomed to failure, since:

  1. All homework is by definition uninteresting and 
  2. All pop songs are set in ¼. And a maximum of three chords. Bah I don’t understand why their time and money on such utter tosh. Mumble splutter.

But the puzzle piqued something deep in my subconscious, which I have never been able to shake off. So every so often (usually listening to Radio 2) my Pop Waltz neuron fires me a tiny happy jolt.

Fortunately I was acquainted with a depressive female student at university. So it follows that I came into contact with Canadian Chansonnier Cohen, whom I may have mentioned once or twice before. And he does a LOT of lilting ballads, so I was reminded of him when we began casting around for waltzes.

Which is a rather roundabout way of saying that I tend to prick up my ears when I hear news of him.

So, anyway, I was looking up transport to my godfather’s funeral when Cory Doctorow tweeted a review and complete stream of the new album, Old Ideas. The first track, Going Home, sets out how the creator keeps the performer on a tight leash. And, how they’re going home now. Beyond the curtain. I'm not ashamed to say that, at this moment, this brought forth the manly tear.

Good tune, too.

I was not close to my godfather for many years: certainly not close enough to say whether he was driven by such an internal dialogue. With a nip and a tuck, the words (hope you have been paying attention and following the links?) fit him pretty well. He was certainly “a sportsman and a shepherd”.  He had a mischievous sense of fun that complemented his calling as a vicar of the church, spending his working life “living in a suit”. (I don’t believe he was a “lazy bastard”).He was proudest of the work that he did in his last job, done one on one, comforting the sick and dying as a hospital chaplain.

I rather suspect that, in public, he did say what a higher power told him. 

He was the kindest, gentlest man I ever knew. 

I have two clear memories of him. He took me to “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” in a fleapit in Edinburgh and, some years later, sold me his Lada. Now, the Lada is NOT generally considered very high up the list of desirable motors, and OHMSS IS generally considered the worst Bond film ever made (even after some stiff competition from some of Roger Moore’s later offerings). But I have fond memories of both. He was one of those people who invest every transaction with a rosy glow of warmth and goodwill.

I’d like to think that the dit higher power also loves to speak with him and has welcomed him home.

Slight rewrite:
Coming home
Without his sorrow
Coming home
Some time tomorrow
Coming home
To where it’s better than before

Coming home
Without his burden
Coming home
Behind the curtain
Coming home
Without the costume that he wore

RIP John Nicholas Chubb