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.



Lucy said...

Good to hear from you again Ken, but very sorry to hear of Joyce's illness, which must have been further heartache and worry. I hope she continues to recover well.

I was very glad to meet you at Joe's funeral. Please do write that ballad, even if it's long in the writing, don't let it drift and fade. John's poem is very touching, and says much in a deceptively simple way about matters that can't help but preoccupy us at these times; he sounds like a good friend to have to talk with.

Lucas said...

Many thanks for your encouraging words. It was very good to meet you too.
I find i'm writing quite a lot, and what takes time is sifting out the false from the true.

Roderick Robinson said...

Sifting the false from the true. Been there and often failed to do that.

I look forward to your ballad, even though I needed an exact definition of the word:

A narrative poem, often of folk origin and intended to be sung, consisting of simple stanzas and usually having a refrain.

I take it you'll stop short of the singing bit. But if you decide to go the whole hog I'd be inclined to use an existing tune. I tried this a year or so ago by writing new words to Did You Not Hear My Lady (also known as Silent Worship) and it was extraordinarily difficult. Any attempt to blur the stresses quickly leads to disaster.

My first guess at "ballad" was that it might be a form of story, based on a sustained continuity. I wonder if that crossed your mind.

How horrible for Joyce. London can often be an alien address.

Lucas said...

Many thanks for your comment. You have picked up on exactly the issues and quandaries I am currently going through with the "ballad". I am exploring the Chaucerian 7 liner model with a very curious refrain. I wanted to tell the story of Joe and Heidi in health and also the stark suddenness of their last illnesses by contrast.
However, I also wanted to introduce an element of the essential characters of both.
I have just had a terrible shock. I went to look at Joe's blog and found it has been deleted!!! All those years of work, care and attention....just disappeared.
Also, I tended to use the links on Joe's blog to get into yours and Lucy's and Tristan's. Please could you send me a link to your Tone Deaf?

Roderick Robinson said...

As if he'd been tidied up. Whereas we can accept irregularities in anyone's life. All those sonnets and short stories...aarrghhh.

My link:

Lucas said...

Good News!
Pippa has got the blog back, and is looking into further ways of backing it up. We can see it again now.
Thanks for the link, which I do need in any case.

Lucy said...

I still go over to Joe's blog sometimes, others do too. I hadn't realised it had disappeared, but am glad it's back. His google account did appear to have been hi-jacked, quite shortly after he died, I was getting e-mails purporting to be from him but with spam links, which was horrible. I looked into what happens to these accounts when people die, and it seems quite difficult to close them, google require death certificates and authorisation from next-of-kin etc, but whether when that's given the blog disappears I don't know. Surely this must happen a lot, there ought to be safeguards and procedures.

Martha/Crow set about saving the blog in chronological order shortly after Joe died, presumably in a document; I don't know how far she got with it, I'll ask her, and perhaps I'll try to do something like it too, since it's potentially at risk. Awful to think of it just evaporating.

Ken, please will you e-mail me? I've something I want to pass on to you but don't seem to have an address to contact. I'm at lucy-dot-kmptn-at-gmai-dot-com.

Lucy said...

Sorry, that's 'gmail', obviously.

Lucas said...

Hi Lucy
I have sent you an email. If it does not reach you please let me know in this space, but so far it hasn't come back to me.

Lucy said...

Sorry Ken, no sign, don't know why not; let me write the address properly

Thanks for trying...