Well, the title might have got you here anyway.
I was watching the video of ‘Last Christmas’ a few days ago and although I have seen it many times before and heard the song many times before for some reason the opening two lines stuck in my mind on this occasion.
‘Last Christmas I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away’
That first line, there’s a whole story waiting to be told to explain those simple words. Had the two people just met? Had they known each other for months, years? What happened to make one of them give the other their heart? Did the other appear to feel the same way on that day? Were they only pretending? There’s a novel there.
And the second line, what made the person give the heart/love away? Did they meet someone else and suddenly realise they had made a mistake? Had they been pretending all along to reciprocate the love offered to them? Again, a story waits to be written.
So in just two lines of writing the author has presented us with a myriad of alternatives.
George Michael: literary giant?
(written some years ago, it almost still makes sense)
Rising to the clouds,
A shield undefeated.
Drawbridge eternally locked ,
Locks forged in Hell.
The castle stands,
A safe haven,
A secure port,
A sanctuary unbreakable,
For my heart.
Carole King – Tapestry
I rediscovered this album when searching for bargain ‘2 for £10’ CDs in a local store last week. What a pleasure to revisit these wonderful songs and hear that delightful voice again. And the cat – immortalised on the front cover. Sweet.
Late middle age agitation,
beige colour-washed in clothing and mind,
early morn coffee,
recapturing youth tho’ wrinkled and pilled up,
vacant hopes as damp as the drizzle falling around the wet washed smoking zone,
outcast and outdated,
out of step with youth fast passing whose screens quick-flick with lives sped read by,
their days long spread ahead,
minutes like hours slow passing,
mealtimes the office bells of a life rapid passing slow to a rolating highway to a homeless Home,
offspring long gone to hours wage-tied,
TV schedules their timetabled replacement for school routines
secret revisited in daydreams
of a future once more glittering in hopes,
elders sit grouped in playground reminiscence,
carrier bags and walking sticks,
not satchels and cricket bats,
talks of prescriptions and missed appointments,
of customer service and missing buses,
not gossip of TV heroes, friendship breakups,
the sweetest tasting sweets and sticker swapping successes,
cold dregs now swished,
stubbed stubs ground,
they depart all ways west to window shop and bus stop dawdle,
till the hissing coffee machine recalls them,
the next nameless day.
The title might sound like the opening to an exciting story but in fact it’s a phrase that takes me back to when I was about 8 or 9. A stroll along Hastings Beach made me remember the words, they were what a friend and I shouted at the waves as they broke around our feet.
Kevin was an American boy the same age as me. I believe his mother and father had divorced or possibly his mum was a widow and she, being English, had brought Kevin back to the UK. They were renting, I assume, a property in Tenterden High Street, some distance from where I lived and so I’m not sure how we became such good friends, admittedly only for a short time before he and his mum moved on. Maybe we sat next to each other or our mums met at the school gate. Anyway, I remember Kevin coming around to play on at least one occasion and another time my parents taking us to the beach, presumably Hastings as that’s where we usually went. We stood in the water and tried to be King Cnut, sending the waves back.
I can recall Kevin playing in my garden and picking up one of my toy rifles and saying to my mum that it was similar to the one used to kill President Kennedy. I’m not sure it was, mine was a cowboy-style gun but it showed how that event was still in a young boy’s mind some 2 or 3 years after the assassination.
Kevin moved on with his mum but not before leaving me one of his toy cars, a large wind-up red monster that made my Dinky and Matchbox ones pale into insignificance. I kept it for many years. Being boys we didn’t think to exchange addresses, maybe Kevin’s mum wasn’t sure where they were going, but we lost contact and at that age you just move on to the next day and the next game and the next friend. Having moved back to that town Tenterden a few years ago I used to often walk past the terraced house where Kevin and his mum stayed briefly and it would bring back memories. Kevin would now be a sixty year old guy, I wonder if he still remembers me and ‘Go back, Charlie, go back!’
Simon and Garfunkel – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
Just such a simple, clear sound with beautiful lyrics. Sums up the mid 60s so well.
I like to wallow in nostalgia as I write with this on in the background. It takes me back to my teenage years in the ’70s and the long tracks are great to have playing as I try to get into a scene or episode. Jon Anderson has a fantastic voice and any track or album from the earliest through to this one can be chosen. I’m not so keen on the Yes work from the 1980s onwards.