Sunday, 24 April 2016

Those were the days of miracle and wonder...

Last weekend it was Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven. This week it's Paul Simon's Boy in the Bubble on my in-built sound system that seems to be playing something, constantly, like musical tinnitus, whenever I'm conscious. The reason for last week's tune was the fact that Zeppelin were in court over the opening chords to their mammoth anthem – a band called Spirit from America's west coast was claiming that the heavy rock band powered by Page and Plant had 'stolen' some chords from a song called Taurus.

I like Spirit. When I was a hopeless teenager – and in my equally hopeless early twenties – they were constantly playing in my head and I'd advise all readers to check out The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus and an album entitled Future Games. Very strange, but very good too. There's also an album called Spirit of 76, which is well worth listening to if you veer towards the strange, as I've always done.

The reason for Paul Simon's Boy in the Bubble was probably Jools Holland's BBC2 show, Later. Paul Simon was on the programme – I'd imagine he's been recording some new stuff – but all you have to do is mention the name Paul Simon and I immediately think of Graceland, an amazing album that I never bought, but one I heard a few times. Boy in the Bubble has a great, flatulent bass line that carries the song, so it was playing loud and clear as I rolled down West Hill on my way to mum's yesterday morning.
The blossoms are out at Purley Playing Fields
While the sun was out and the skies were blue, there was a chill in the air, albeit a mild one, as I headed towards mum's house, following the usual route and stopping, as always, when I reached the Purley Playing Fields, this time to take a shot of a blossom tree in full bloom. That's one of the great things about this time of year. When the blossom trees are out there's hope in the air and a mild scent of the summer to come.

The ride to mum's, as always, was uneventful, and while I was hoping to see my brother's Cannondale parked up outside mum's house, it wasn't there and he later texted me, following my text explaining that I was on my way, to say he woke up late.

A house full of Kit-Kats.
I had the usual fantastic breakfast: boiled egg with fingers, some soft, white bread, a few chunks of fresh orange and some tea. In fact I had two, possibly three mugs of tea and a small Kit-Kat from the Kit-Kat House (see photo right).

As always, mum has plenty to say about what's going on in the road.

"Next door's having another baby, Math! That'll be three little babies living next door and she's such a tiny thing [the woman who will be giving birth, not the babies]."

They're doing a lot of work to their house, knocking down walls, pulling down garages, adding this and adding that. "He's the project manager, Math, but he's a trained electrician, he's ever so good."

It's at times like these that I start to feel inadequate when I consider my complete lack of DIY skills and the fact that a little bit of painting – or anything for that matter – is a big deal for me.

"The curtains are drawn down the road. I think Elizabeth has died, Math."
"Elizabeth? Dead? But why?"
"Something to do with arthritis, I think."
"That's a shame, she was only young, " I said, remembering the family when I was kid and living at home. I can see them all clearly now as I can the whole street, back in the days when the sun was always shining and Billy Wheeler, who lived across from us, was building a boat – a big boat – on his front drive.

But just because the curtains are drawn doesn't mean somebody's died. Don't most people draw their curtains? Perhaps they simply forgot to draw them back. I can't believe she's dead just because she didn't draw back her curtains one morning.
Typical of the things you'll find in mum's garden...

We started to speak about other people in the road, now long gone or long dead, like the Bottomleys. I might have related to you the tale of the Best Wishes chocolates and it was odd that it didn't come up as it normally does, but it passed us both by. In a nutshell, when I was a child, probably under 10 years old, the aptly named Mrs Bottomley handed me a large box of chocolates and I, quite rightly, thought they were for me and me alone. The occasion was a trip to the cinema to watch Mary Poppins. Having decided that the chocolates were mine, I proceeded to scoff the lot of them, palming others off with some Opal Mints that I happened to possess. The end result? I was ill. My arse was on fire and I was pebbledashing anything in sight, including the inside of my uncle's mini van. It was a family story that ran and ran and even today, when the words 'Best' and 'Wishes' are uttered together on family occasions, eyes turn towards me and smiles break out on the faces of family members. I still feel I owe my uncle an apology for that day.

I started to wonder again whether drawn curtains necessarily mean that somebody has died, but mum was adamant. "The husband has come back from Canada," she said.
"What was he doing in Canada?"
"Elizabeth came back, she didn't like it there," mum explained.
"Perhaps he's over here for a holiday," I suggested.

Another breakfast at mum's...
We started talking about our old neighbours: Mrs Bottomley, Mr and Mrs Lee, the Morrisons – Mr Morrison looked like Boris Karloff – Mrs King, the Conquests (Bill and Betty), Mr and Mrs Elliot, the Tillmans (including Elizabeth), the Clarkes and, of course, Mike and Sonia, who moved into Mr Dale's old house. I'll always remember Mr Dale, an old chap who we always invited in for a drink on Christmas morning. He was sit quietly in the corner, smiling occasionally while sipping Harvey's Bristol Cream.

We never spoke about the people on the other side of the road – the bit leading down to Westmead Road to the right of mum's – as they were rarely part the mainstream goings on and were only occasionally part of the story. There was Mr Hooper the alcoholic – I recall him doddering around drunk at our Silver Jubilee street party – Mr Doyle, the former Mosquito pilot – who once shouted out 'too early!' in his west country accent when we were carol singing early in December – the Spaldings, the Barringtons and, of course, the Reeves, who threw the occasional flamboyant party.

"Would you like to look at my cherry tree?" asked mum.

Mum's garden – she spends a lot of time keeping it neat and tidy...
We went into the garden and then came in again as it was a bit chilly. I had another cup of tea and then put on my hat and gloves and said goodbye to mum. Halfway down the road I realised I'd left my mobile phone, glasses and camera behind and so turned around to retrieve them.

The traffic was heavy on the ride back, but not until I reached Wallington. It started to spit with rain too, but never got any worse and I escaped a soaking, arriving home around 1040hrs.

On Sunday morning there was rain so we aborted. It was dull and grey outside and I vowed to go on a short ride later. And by 'short' I mean the Woodland Trek. Then I set about finding Boy in the Bubble on Spotify, but in vain. Later, perhaps.

No comments:

Post a Comment