I went to Baines Grammar School in Poulton-le-Fylde. For boys only it had a very good reputation and a long history being founded in 1717. It was quite traditional; it had an annual Founders Day, taught Latin, retained some of the very old buildings, employed several teachers who still wore gowns and mortar boards, had prefects who could dole out lines as punishment, four very historically named Houses, a hideous brown and yellow school uniform and a dreary school song only sung at Founders Day to which no-one ever bothered to sing along. And I really enjoyed my time there.
It’s an interesting word isn’t it? Nostalgia, the sense of looking back fondly. Then we have the word reminiscence, from an entirely different root, which means virtually the same thing. And very few other languages have words at all to compare with these unless they rob from English. We have an infinitely wonderful language that draws from Latin, Greek, Arabic, German/Dutch, Scandinavian, ancient sub-continental, modern American and so on. Anyway the point is I had a feeling of wistfulness (another lovely synonym) today when I listened to Beautiful South singer Jacqui Abbott on Radio 2 talking abut the Tracks of her Years. She recalled happily (I’ll stop doing similar phrases now) a song which her mum loved and played a lot – And I Love You So – sung originally by Don McLean. It is a haunting little tune for sure
I’ve been thinking about my old friend Steve, from Plympton, who shared a flat with me very briefly in Aberystwyth in our first bonkers few weeks at the Uni. I so hope he’s found happiness and success. I really liked him but his Uni life hinged on his relationship with a local Welsh Uni girl. But it didn’t last and after some turbulence, including a major subject course change on Steve’s part, they split. It hit him pretty hard and I spent many, many hours listening through the walls to Leonard Cohen’s So Long, Marianne on his record player before he left Uni for good and a life back in Devon.
I got to thinking about all this recently as the lady who Cohen sang about, his muse Marianne Ihlen, who died 3 years ago, shortly followed by the poet/singer, have been in the news again of late but I can’t remember why.They met nearly six decades ago on the Greek island of Hydra. She, a beautiful Norwegian blonde, alone with a young son. He, a dark, handsome, soulful Canadian poet struggling to write a novel. These were the hippy days of drugs and free love. His love song to her featured on his debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen in 1967. That song, already 5 years old when I reached Aber, seared into my mind though I haven’t heard it much since then….
Now for something completely different. I’ve been going through some website/domain reviews recently, relinquishing a number of sites and addresses that I no longer use or can justify maintaining, which has been a bit poignant. And a particularly sad farewell was for my website itswriteforyou.co.uk – a writing service I set up when I was dealing with my cancer treatment 6 years ago. It was for people who needed some words delivering – on things like CV’s, LinkedIn profiles, promo copy for business materials, website content, speeches etc. I’d let it fall fallow in recent years to be honest but was surprised to find out how many people were still intrigued by it and how many wordy/occasionally humorous blogs I’d written on the site. Loads of them. I cannot believe how much splodge I’ve written over the years. Don’t go and have a look because the site is really cack – I never really liked the design but somebody was advising me at the time and I followed his suggestions rather than my own instincts. Lesson learned. Anyway I’ll surely be re-cycling any decent blogs on pp. Ha!
But the thing is this site was my salvation when I thought my commercial life was finished because of my illness. I was right about that as it happens – so few of my many business contacts came through with work opportunities – but hey you get on with life and I ended up re-establishing myself as a content writer and marketing/social media specialist for loads of local businesses who don’t have the dedicated resources to do any decent marketing on their own. And I help people because I want to, not necessarily for the money. Plus I get to write more words – lots of them. Right now I’m writing about impactful designs for work spaces, the joys of bee-keeping and making naturally-based skin care products, sourcing fantastic furniture, the history and heritage of Brackley, gas appliance engineering, the delights of Turkey and, oddly and quite separately, Turkish cuisine, space planning as well as dozens of profiles on people in business. And I’m an expert in absolutely none of them. No knowledge but a bit of imagination, a browser and loads of opinion. Christ I sound like a speech writer for Donald Trump.
Anyway I’ve so much writing work in fact that I don’t really need the website anymore. No more requests from women of a certain age to transform their CV’s and turn them from seeming dullards into sassy, fascinating, achieving, highly-qualified, delivering, energetic, task-challenging, focused, driven, learned, uber-tasking, imaginative, super-intelligent, brain-sexy women which any company would be foolish to reject. Ah no pressure then. I’ll miss those conversations with women discussing their foibles, tiny flaws, insecurities and vulnerabilities. Men were always so dull by comparison. So I guess you could say with the end of the website it’s…
…so long flatterman.
It’s time that we stopped our chats
and for you to try and try and write your own CV again.
From one Leonard to another, here’s to you Mr Cohen
Last week-end our very good friends L & S came to stay and I had a quick browse through L’s paper of choice the Mail on Sunday. I came across an interesting feature in the Event section about how some of Britain’s biggest music stars wrote their signature hits. In other words what was their method of composing and their inspiration? Later the same evening I watched a programme on BBC 4 about the most valuable songs of all time which asked a similar question. One illuminating fact shone out for me.
Are you one of those people, like me, who believes that great lyric writing died with the end of the Beatles? To be honest McCartney had a tendency to come up with your moon, June and croon stuff when penning solo but together with Lennon they came up with some of the most intriguing lyrics and phrases. Who else would have come up with song titles and subjects as unusual and left field as I am the Walrus, Eleanor Rigby, Norwegian Wood, Strawberry Fields Forever, Hard Days Night, Paperback Writer, Yellow Submarine, Taxman, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and many more?
I’d kind of forgotten about old Steve Harley to be honest. I’d occasionally caught his evening radio 2 show ‘Sounds of the 70’s’ but I found it a bit too self-indulgent – all that me and Charlie Watts were best mates stuff, grates very easily. Tell us something fascinating or even mildly interesting about the characters you’d met or don’t bother and just play the music is my attitude. I’d even caught him being a tipster on some radio show – he’s a big fan of the horses by all accounts. So why this posting? Well the Independent did a 5 minute interview with him this morning – he gets a free plug out of it for his and Cockney Rebel’s upcoming UK tour. It was very short but knee deep in bullsh*t. Continue reading
I was reading in the Independent today that the President of Indonesia, one Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (top name!), has composed a whole album of romantic ballads, entitled My Longing for You. How cool is that? What’s more his anticipated opponent at the next General election, the former army chief General Wiranto, has also recorded an album. Now it got me thinking that we should have more of this in British politics. How much less bitter would it have been if Tony and Gordon had recorded an album of songs to celebrate their political fortunes over the last 12 years or so. It’d be a cracker ….