Thursday, 11 May 2017

And then one day you find...

It is sometime in 1975. I am ten years old.  My mother is a dinner lady and cleaner.  During school holidays she takes my sister and me with her to the houses she cleans.  Mostly this is very dull.

One day I am rifling through the LPs in Anthony's house.  I am allowed to do this if I am careful.  One of the albums has an amazing cover.  My mum is upstairs.  I put the album on - and track four changes me forever.


Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day 
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way. 
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town 
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way. 

My heart, my very soul chills.  I do not fully understand the lyrics, but intuit, somehow, that I am being warned.

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain. 
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today. 
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you. 
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun. 

Oh no.  No no no no no.  A great void opens up within me: ten years! Ten years can just... pass.  Ten years - an entire lifetime - can, if you are not careful, simply slip by.

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking 
Racing around to come up behind you again. 
The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older, 
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death. 

I love running!  I chase ideas and lizards, butterflies and novels, encyclopedias and girls.  I am just running towards my own end?

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time. 
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines 
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way 
The time is gone, the song is over, 
Thought I'd something more to say.

I listen again, and again, and again.  I have never heard of Pink Floyd.  I do not know that Dark Side of the Moon - released just a year or two earlier - is one of the greatest achievements in the history of rock music.  I know nothing of mental health, drugs or Syd Barrett. All these things lie ahead.

But in 1975, aged ten, I hear the clues: do not 'hang on in desperation'; do not merely make plans - do them; do not leave scribbled lines on half a page - have something more to say.

The clues take up residence deep in my being, echoing and rippling and reverberating for decades.  On a long drive in 2017, seemingly on a whim, I play the whole of Dark Side of the Moon, in order.  No shuffle.  Loud.

Very loud.

And I cry and I shout and I laugh and I yelp with delight at the madness and the genius and the past and the future and the sheer bloody luck to have heard their warning.  Thank you Roger and David and Nick and Rick - and thank you, most of all, Syd.




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