Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Of Ballads and Blogs

It has been a slow and gradual return to the blogger’s universe for me since Joe’s funeral. The moving tributes and accounts by Joe’s friends have meant a great deal to me, as the brief meetings with them at the funeral were not representative of the large meaning of their presence. So thanks to Robbie, Lucy, Tristan and Claire, and to those who in turn commented on their posts.

Joyce has also been recovering from a severe asthma attack following the Dust Cloud over London, which entailed a 10 day stay in hospital. She is only just adjusting now, and it will take several more days before she will be fully rehabilitated.

I have been fortunate to have a storehouse of memories of seeing Joe regularly in the weeks before he died and am attempting to turn these into some kind of ballad, maybe The Ballad of Heidi and Joe…

However, this is proving hard and unpredictable, a project in the making rather than a statement or even the draft of a statement.

My friend John Arnett met me in The Pineapple for a drink. He was telling me about his favourite aunt, who has recently died, and how on a visit to her he found himself alone with her, while his cousin went to make some tea.

“What are you thinking about?” John asked his aunt. Her vagueness and memory loss of recent months had not prepared him for the answer. She looked straight back at John and pronounced, “I’m thinking about you!”

On the way back to London in the car (I imagine a late sun slanting in under the visor) John found the words of a poem forming and formulating in his mind. As he drove the phrases became more clearly etched and by the time he reached home he was able to reach for a sheet of paper and write down what was in his head. It was only then he fully realised the poem was all about his favourite aunt.

I happened to have an envelope and a pen in my pocket and it was on this surface that John wrote out the following while I fetched him a pint. Here is John’s tribute to his aunt.

Try to remember where

You saw it last

This thing you lost

Somewhere in the past.

It won’t be where you left it

That’s a fact –

And I know to my cost

It can’t come back

This thing you lost

This thing we call the past.

Some things aren’t meant to last

Some things do, and should

So, whatever else you lose,

Don’t lose heart –

There never was a heart

So true, or good.


Thanks to John for allowing me to share his poem on my blog, and for the willingness to appear in the Pineapple from time to time to drink deep and discuss consciousness.