My mum had a friend called Maureen.
Maureen had a daughter who loved Kate Bush called Deborah.
When Maureen visited I was forced to entertain the daughter. We both went to schools away from our neighborhood so didn’t have a close group of friends locally. This meant that during school holidays and weekends we both would get dragged along to wherever our respective mothers went.
Entertaining involved me listening to Kate Bush with her in the dining room. I was probably about 13 years of age and she was maybe 14. To this day I remember her long auburn hair and the scent of lavender soap and apple shampoo as she sat on the floor in the dining room with me and tried to explain why Kate Bush was so great. She had every album and single and endless copies of fan club newsletters. She also had every album on cassette for some reason. She knew every word to every song and would shyly mumble along as the songs played on the infamous 70’s radiogram.
We would sit together our foreheads almost touching as she showed me the album covers and the lyrics her pink fingernails following along to the lyric sheets. She would point out lyrics that were important to her and at times blush and explain the double entendres.
Our mothers would sit there drinking tea and smoking cigarettes in the front room and we would be in the corner playing records. At some point she turned up with a cassette player with headphones, she would turn the headphones around so we had one ear piece each and almost cuddle in the corner listening to Never for Ever, for years I associated that album with only the left hand channel as that may be how I heard it most on that small cassette players headphones. We would lean against each other companionably and listen.
Deborah would bring every new Kate Bush album to wherever I was living to play it with me first. Sometimes she was happy and sometimes sad but she always smelled of apple shampoo and lavender.
Our mothers always lived in the same road and Deborah remained a visiting friend up to me leaving the UK in 1994. This was a year after Kate Bush made her last record for 12 years.
In 2005 I got a package in the mail. It was a copy of Aerial, Kate Bush’s then new album. In the package was a foam headphone cover, and I swear I could smell lavender and apple shampoo. There was no note.
I sat on the floor and played the album and cried a little.
During these strange times these memories of people and music seem more important.
Deborah and her mum have been dead awhile, on some level I am glad they never got to experience these odd times. Maureen because she missed her husband so and Deborah because she always seemed a little out of touch with the real world, maybe that is why she loved Kate Bush so much.
Tonight I played Aerial and got lost in the otherworldly world of Kate Bush. It is a remarkable album to come out of nowhere after 12 years of silence. It feels timeless and out of step with whatever else was going on with music or me at the time.