A long and I mean long board meeting as we get ready to begin a capital campaign. Those kids need a new dorm! Nobody will argue with that. Four hours is a long time to spend with the board. Bless them.
So I retreated to the sounds of my youth.
What was most annoying was the meeting filled up the entire part of Saturday that didn’t involve rain.
This picture adequately describes my mental state.
Don’t get me wrong. I like the board. They are all incredible people who give up their time to support our programs.
Then it rained all day Sunday. High point of the day was clearing the blocked drain in the shower.
I danced and rocked my way around the house.
The moral of the story is that when things get tough take the time to dance man.
Now that’s a big part of my teen years in several albums.
I forgot how enjoyable Rainbow can be when you are in the exact right state of mind.
We are at our best when we know what we are doing and why.
My mums upset. I’m heading back to the UK in a couple of weeks and she’s worried the war in the Ukraine will mean I’ll not be able to come. I had to reassure her and I have to admit it crossed my mind that she may be right.
I remember sitting on the plane heading out of the UK in 1994 and thinking. “What if there’s a pandemic” I’d watched Terry Nations Survivors too many times. Then there was a pandemic and the internet saved us. From 6000 miles away I could do my mums shopping, buy her books and gifts and things she didn’t really need but they made her feel better.
Now there’s a “conflict” and we’ll see what happens.
I’ll climb on that plane hopefully towards the end of March and head back to Liverpool. I’ll fix the fence,paint the kitchen plant some flowers and tomatoes and basil and parsley. I’ll hug my mum watch Coronation Street read some books and visit some friends and hopefully I’ll make it back.
This evening as I was sitting here thinking this stuff through I essentially reached for a warm blanket as I listened to Thin Lizzy’s Live and Dangerous. I think I’ve heard this so many times I can anticipate that very vocal inflection, guitar solo and drum fill. It’s the perfect album to make you feel better as we I sit here with doubts.
I’m hopeful that the mess in Eastern Europe will hopefully settle down. That common sense will prevail, the strong men of the world may see sense who knows.
At the end of the day Phil and the boys will always sooth with their soulful melodic and raunchy rock and roll.
Maybe we all need to be rescued. Swept up by our astronaut fathers and taken to the new pastures above. I keep trying to connect with the excitement and joy I felt as I entered the new world. It’s hard to connect with these days. As the flag wavers collected their gas heaters and barbecue from the Main Street intersection after their weekly outing of intimidation and public outcry.
On lazy afternoons and evenings I would sit and absorb this album. It’s lazy rhythms and obscure lyrics wafting over me. We lived in south east Portland and the whole strange world would pass my window as I gazed out in the afternoons/evenings, gangsters, moms pushing strollers, strippers, dealers, old folks, young folks, hippies, punks, hookers, students and busy workers. They all passed by because the Dairy Queen was at the end of our road.
Some days I miss the vibrancy of that neighborhood. They called it “felony flats” for good reason. I never however felt afraid there.
She wore Doc Marten boots and a floral dress, yellow with vines and red flowers, a better observer would know which flowers. as we rode trains and busses and she sat on my lap in the back of a Cortina that picked us up. The smell of clean hair.
We were on the run. Nobody new where we were, my Nan was a hopeless romantic she would keep our secret. My cousin was usually sloping off to climb and drink he’d keep the secret. We’d created a web of confusion and misdirection in our wake and there were no cell phones to keep tabs.
We were on a mission one so out there it required secrecy and discretion on the part of our sponsors.
We had a plan to climb Scafell Pike in June.
We were 16. We’d got the train, bus and hitched to Keswick and then a campground near the climb. It was 1982
The first night we shared a pint of bitter sitting on a pub wall. We looked at the climb held hands and new we were adventurers.
We were ill equipped. A bottle of Tizer some sandwiches ten pounds we had borrowed from my Nan and an old two man tent and one sleeping bag. We had an old Swiss camp stove that ran on methylated spirits and some tea to brew. Two chipped mugs from my Nans cupboard, we figured someone would give us milk. Who needed more.
Late into the night we sat looking at the stars and got ourselves ready. It was cold and the sleeping bag was warm. We had an old cassette player and one tape. Hex Enduction Hour by The Fall. We played it low the cassette player and it’s single speaker between our heads. We were unified in the world of Mark E. Smith, “I’ve never felt better in my life…” We were different, we weren’t like the others in the camp site, we were different, on an adventure, being inventive, inspirational, impulsive, witty and free.
In the morning we set out after a cup of tea and filling the empty Tizer bottle with water. Our neighbor gave us milk and a bacon sandwich, he laughed at our tent and told us we were lucky it was warm and didn’t rain. He was our age but square, he had maps and notebooks, the right shoes and rain gear. Tied down by possessions and the plan.
She wore a pair of my jeans, they were held up by a guy rope she found abandoned in the campground, she’d rolled them up with three big folds and pinned them. White t-shirt and a raggedy black sweatshirt. Most of this came out of an old backpack she had apart from the jeans, luckily I had two pair. She was prepared, heavy socks and a rain jacket in case, she would have climbed in the dress.
She posed at the gate to the climb, standing like some explorer heading into the jungle, eventually she broke the pose and doubled up laughing, standing erect and saluting the hikers passing us at the gate.
It’s generous to say we climbed, it was more of a hike. 3000ft elevation though, it took all day. We may have dawdled.
Ill equipped, jeans, t-shirts and Doc Martens. The experienced hikers in their fancy boots and thick socks scoffed. We strolled up hand in hand stopping to rest and laugh. Irreverent on the holy ground. Rolling down a slope chasing each other free at last. At one point we leaned against a stone wall in the sun and took a nap. Always letting others pass, it was as if we were afraid to get to the top too soon. Luckily the weather held and it stayed warm.
At the top we sat our backs to the cairn. Sweating leaning shoulder to shoulder our hair mixing together in the breeze sharing the same breath.
Heading down we felt accomplished grown up.
Hikers passing us panting in their gear, heavy back packs and water bottles.
That evening we sat on the wall again sharing a pint of bitter. She had on her floral dress and was barefoot her face was flushed her hair wild and her skin glowed after the sun and breezes of the day. We knew this was a perfect time that would never come again. We held hands and looked across the fields and mountains and lakes.
In the morning we headed back. Hitching and riding the train.
Walking into my Nans kitchen that afternoon she made us egg and chips, patted her hand and said you look happy dear.
Where have you been my mum asked the next day.
A week later we were stood on “switch island” thumbs raised heading south. She had on Doc Martens and a floral dress. One foot proud on her back pack, hair blowing back in the breeze, blue eyes piercing the distances her back erect, holding my hand and smiling.
“You show me the bloody poor bores And this day And this day The surroundings are screaming on the roads”
I’m sitting there shoulder length hair, flannel shirt and cut off jeans gurning for the camera petting my dog. It’s a picture from a simpler time, sitting in my mum and dads yard I must be 15/16 or so. Convinced that there was nothing better in life than sitting around all day and listening to music and reading. It’s that period in life when you are aware of the possibilities life has to offer and you have none of the responsibilities, all I was probably bothered with was where I was going to find cash to buy the next record or three, maybe nothing has really changed in some ways.
So I looked around a bit more and there are the strange and wonderful pictures, fragments of life, my dad and uncle with the canoe they made, my mum sitting on the sand, my grandad in his suit in a deck chair, my aunt brushing flies away from the sandwiches. My Nan presiding over all of us, her hair perfect, china cup with tea in it, watching us the maternal presence.
Later on pictures of me with friends, girlfriends, teachers, priests, neighbors and passersby Sitting on the grass, in pubs, grave yards, drunk, stoned, bored, sometimes all at the same time. The family gatherings, the school trips the events, christenings, weddings, funerals, concerts, festivals, all the moments in a life.
Leafing through old photo albums. Kids being born, raised, leaving home, coming back, seventeen house moves, various gardens, cars, truck, ski trips, hikes, canoeing, kayaking, bike riding, running, falling, walking, out of breath, sweating, laughing, crying, blowing candles out, empty beer cans, wine bottles, soda cups, cakes and hamburgers. It’s all there before it went to the cloud.
Realizing how young we looked with our first kid, long hair, blue jeans, flannel shirt, two young hippies(?) with a new baby as the neighbors in Formby would say. Get a haircut son as I pushed the stroller/pram along the road. Riding around in a blue Ford, station wagon/estate car. The cat, black serene, vicious, condescending. Clothes on the washing line. The uneven footing of the pavement.
These days the pictures are not a physical item, they are digital in the cloud, in the aether maybe. We are older now, slower, less hair in my case, the blue jeans are there, the flannels, the sweatshirts and shirts. The ideals are the same, humanism, liberal, considerate, surrounded by the conservative, actually when I think of my neighbors here in the styx, the majority are fairly liberal, the conservatives are however the loudest most intimidating, big trucks and target practice on the weekend.
The knowledge that however it gets we are all pretty rich at the end of the day.