Monthly Archives: November 2017

Two men discussing Chopin in a Pub.

As I sit ,listening to the Chopin exudes by the American Pianist,Murray Perahia,my mind is transported to a live recital by Perahia that I attended with my son at the Barbican theatre over ten years ago now.In fact,the Chopin he played then became part of a studio album that is now playing.

He is ,of course,technically brilliant,but also,very authentic,with voice and phrasing that is ,to be sure,unique.With the retirement of Brendel,The infrequent on the concert platform of Ashkenazy,and the scandalous crime of the British public being denied Zolotov on the stage,I suppose Perahia has reached that height ,along with Kissin,of a true living Pianist genius.

As the revolutionary is art is ally played now-my rendition is rather a bashed out version in comparison-he transfers me into that world of Chopin in all his personalities .Its just music for the gods,balm to the confused and downhearted,and grace to the human.What wondrous gifts these masters left us,and also the fact that their music is still played throughout the world again and again.

Our music business now can sometimes be a thin membrane of music masquerading as art when it is purely prurient and lacks substance .Chopin ,and in this instance,his Etudes stand the test of time,of world wars,of cultural change,of poverty,of abundance,of every will of the wisp non sensical mush that has permeated our consciousness to still speak to us.Chopin cleanses us from the emotional pollution of insincerity and feeds us from the brain to the heart with fortified beauty,tangible in structure,not make believe,but real,yes,totally real.

Murray delivers a Chopin that stands up with the greats,talks to me along with millions of others,he has something to say,and,after he has said,I remember.Just like after his recital all those years ago,his playing stays with you until you start to referee yourself musically while waiting for the dreaded circle line to see its way clear to turning up at Moorgate.

So,From feeling a little agitated,I feel rejuvenated and I have to thank these wonderful artists for doing that for me,and as I pen this muse,it’s always a joy to express what I think and feel.Now,Wether it’s a joy for yu to read it is entirely a different matter,but there you go.My muse is,and always will be,my ramblings on an event,a memory,a music experience,or associated artistic comment.Thank you for indulging me .

Now,my son makes his living from music on the operatic stage so his perceptions will be more attuned than mine,but I remember that concert and our post concert chatter as if it were yesterday.

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The Key that unlocked a school boys heart!

He turned the key of the old Edwardian door:Its mechanism,rusted by years of decay and the sea it,refused to budge.Examining the key ,its sheer size dominated the seat of his hand,and he took a piece of granite laying to the side of the path to remove some of the rust.He applied force,but not too much,not wanting to damage the key ,the means of discovery.He had wondered why the Estate agent had been reticent to show him around herself.She was a pleasant girl,more YTS than young precessional,but sincere and willing to try.After what seemed quite a concerted amount of industry with this grandfather of keys,he tried again.As he did,and with a little more force,he felt at least that there were signs of the lock being released.Ever mindful of the place,or,to be exact,the place the house had had on his esteemed friend,he pulled the key out again,preferring to extract more rust particles to its outer layer.It might have only been a rust membrane he thought,but this was the only key that the previous owner had had,he being dead now for over 15 Years.The Estate agent had acquired it via the executor of his friends will .

At this point,some background might be useful to put some flesh on our story as our imagination in this case would never arrive at the actual real events of this story. As children,they had developed a close friendship at Humphrey Daley Grammar school in West. Cornwall in the 1960s,and Dean and Chris formed a bond of sorts.Yes,like many teenagers,they had their ups and downs,but a mutual liking for science and engineering,added to a hatred for Rugby,sort of drew them together in a rather obtuse way.You see,their school prided itself on its passion and ability for Rugby,with many an old boy going on to play union at a higher level when they left.Dean and Chris though,were not of that ilk.Their needs were not met on the Rugger or football field.As their schooling progressed,Chris seemed to excel in the academic disciplines that were central to the schools ethos,and he would have been an ideal head boy ,if he had indulged the school by making a presence of loving sports,but pretence wasn’t part of his DNA,facts were.Dean struggled to keep up with the demands of Grammar,but he was hard working,honest,and loyal,and all these traits drew him to Chris.During their lunch breaks ,they would talk about their goals of getting into the Camborne school of mines,or maybe getting a job at Hollmans,the main employer in the area.

As things turned out,it would be Chris who would surpass all expectations,gaining a place at Cambridge to study natural sciences,before travelling the world with his company and achieving great things.Dean,on the other hand,managed to get in at Hollmans ,where he worked in the engineering department.Of course,as folk do,especially in the pre social media days where it is easier to stay in touch,they drifted apart with Dean thinking that Chris had moved on to much greater things and to mix wth far more important people.

So,I’m Dean,and I’m here with this key ,rusted through disuse and time,but the key is to the family house of Chris Candy,who had been killed along with over 2000 others at the world trade centre ,or,as it is now called ground zero.Chris had never married,folk said that he was married to his work.He had moved to the states with his job where later he set up his company.All this was new to me ,it just seemed like another world.From what the Estate agent had informed me ,the house had been in Chris’s family since it had been built,but I had never visited it,as Chris lived at St Just and I the same .In fact,we lived quite close to one another and often spent time with one another.So,you see,I was in the dark about the existence of this place,but my respect for my schoolfriend was such that I couldn’t refuse to have a look as such to see if I could return the house to its former Edwardian splendour.

Not to be put off by this hiatus to my entry,I applied some WD40 to the door lock and reinserted the key.This time,after far more force than I was comfortable ,I felt the catch release,and that Frankenstein creak as the door became a jar heralded me int the hallway.It was,as expected,bare,but with an acoustic made more interesting by those high ceilings ,it struck me that this was a substantial house,use to bring a home,neglected by the demise of its family.As I realised that by entering a home that had been in a family for generations,I had been given ,not just bricks and mortar,but a heritage.Yes,the people who once graced its rooms were long gone,but the memories that must have been made here were dormant ,ready to be u locked as such-hopefully ,with a key that isn’t so rusty.

It was almost as if the place was hallowed,not just a house,but special,at least to me.As I looked around it,employing my practical head on,made sensitive by a lifetime of machining metal,making tools,studying drawings for mining equipment et al.So,in this house ,even though the signs of neglect were there,even the sorrowful state of many of the walls,with the damp coming off the sea doing what it does best,that is ,to ravish and destroy,I still fell in love with the place.

As I did,as I kept to the agreement ,my mind went back to our motto that Chris and I had As school friends :True friends forever ,loyal forever,curious forever.We made that vow together when we were 12 and I still remembered now.As I did,I almost forgot to open the other letter that I had promised only to do after I had looked around the house.Having surveyed the whole of it,having fallen in love with it as much as you can by a house of other people’s memories,I owned the letter.

Reading it’s contents gave me the surprise of my life,for contained in it,was not only the deeds to the property but a cheque made payable to me for the complete restoration of the place.It had one stipulation ,and that was that the house should now be called:”Humphrey Davey house”!Im not an emotional man,but something in this whole thing ,this trust,this relationship summoned me to my childhood at our school,our motto,our friendship.Yes,we had grown apart,and I was as much responsible for that as Chris,but he had not forgotten me.Even though he had died tragically,the only person that he truly trusted to look after this house,the heritage of his family,was me.For a while,I had only just made a cursory glance at the cheque because I was so taken up by the memory of us at school and the name change,but when I looked again at the amount ,I had to do a double take,for it was more money than I had ever seen written out.Referring back to the covering letter,it appeared that the money was for me to restore the house as I saw fit and to live off the left over amount.It was as if Chris had had that motto etched on his soul from a child,had never forgotten Dean,even though Chris had moved away from Cornwall,left the country as it were,but Humphrey Davey was still in his heart.

“See he morrow boys,see he morrow”!

It’s six o clock,the cars rush past my front door on their way home from another busy day at work.If the temperatures are anything to go on,it’s going to be another cold night,one in which we can begin to feel the full force of the Winter climate.If I were younger,I would be wishing that it might snow,with all its attendant excitement,but,alas,my enthusiasm is tempered somewhat in my later years.Of course,when it snows in land,and particularly on high ground,it settles ,It forms that white carpet of adventure for children where the imagination can run wild.

To me,I love the tense silence of snow fall,that winter wonderland of falling flakes festooning the outside space ,heralding a co plenteous new environment until the thaw.It generates its own stories when it snow,a folk law all of itself where everyone has a story to tell and tell it they must.Winters become desolate events in the calendars of our shared history over a pint at the dog and duck with elderly farmers and workers of the outdoors.As I think about that ,this returning from work in our town seems to happen in a wi Dow of time,whereas ,as a child,I would hear the men returning at odd times depending on their shifts patterns but hear them you couldn’t help as their hobnail boots scraped across the pavements and their Cornish dialects dissipated into the evening ,or early morning,or late at night.Those men just loved the crack of finishing another shift,always the chatter always the “see he morrow boy,see he morrow!”.Always the talk ,the rapid conversation interspersed with the clearing of the throat from the dust,the washed mica,the detritus of waste minerals.

One day though,and I remembered it well,there wasn’t any talk,no crack,just the hobb nails ,and they were toned down as if to tap dance along the pavement in memorium to the honoured dead.Yes,whenever there was an accident,and there were,even in the 1970s when the clay industry was meant to be safe,there were accidents and often they were fatal.When one occurred,the men in solemn procession returned home heavy hearted ,almost defeated,manly scared as my gran would call it,manly scaredis when you saw it in their eyes.When I was a child,that look,that empty ,desolate look,made me determined to somehow get a profession rather than to work in the dangerous industries of mining and Fishing,where you risked life and limb to bring home the bacon each day.

So,as the cars rush past my window,I’m pleased that the people are returning home in one piece,home to their evenings,their clubs,their tea,their loved ones,their pets,their existence maintained for another day ,and their replenished hearts to recover ready for another day tomorrow.

“See he morrow boys,see he morrow”!

My memory inside the seashell!

When recently,I watched the tides from the cliff top vantage point of “The Great Western” in Newquay,I wondered about a myth peddled,nurtured if you like by many a person used to life in the hinterland:That thought that contained in the hollow of a Conch shell will always be the sound of the sea ,that whistling ,almost trance like vibration that takes you out of yourself into that Netherland where your imagination can run wild.

Wether that short story the sound of the sea being heard in a sea shell has been replicated around the world,well,I like to think so,I like to think that small little boys and girls retold that to others,and it became a local ,then a national story ,until it reached the far flung corners of the world.

If stories told in the oral tradition have the affect that I feel they have,then this short little story does indeed have so much to offer,it transcends the locality where it was born,and I certainly believe in stories,in the hearing of them,and in the telling of them because they fuel our imagination,bringing us ever closer to a different world where it is alright to dream,alright to have our safe place,our cave of wonders as it were.

You see,that was always my safe place by the sea,and I always tried to do that as much as I could and I taught my children the joy of the seaside too in its simplistic form so that it could became a fertile breeding ground for their imagination too and a narrative also ,in many ways,to how they might navigate their life.

As the waves of the sea pulsate,as the tidal metronome operates a stabilising mechanism in our world,we love to look,to wonder ,to be awestruck as it were in its presence.As I’ve witnessed so many tidal patterns in my almost 6 decades of life,it just never disappoints me,never bores,never gets related to the banal,but always it is the apex of my life experience and I am so very very grateful that I have had those experiences.To have lived ,as a child amidst such scenery is,indeed,a wonderful stroke of luck ,just wonderful.As I look back on it,as I’m apt to do quite often truth be told,I haven’t ever lost my love for the sea views of the North Atlantic coast of Cornwall.Lets be honest,how could anyone ,it would be like to me ,stopping liking Beethoven,Brahms,Schubert,Schumann or Chopin,it just wouldn’t make any sense.

Wether I would have been a different human being if I’d lived in a landlocked country is an interesting personal question.All I know is that I always have a yearning for the sea,and whenever trials in my own life have caused me to struggle mentally or emotional,I have resorted to the reservoir of memories from my times as a child and as a young adult of the Atlantic.You could say that it has always been my safe place,my emotional friend,and abstract companion at arms throughout my life.

Returning to the short story:Yes,I believe it ,I hear the sound of the sea contained in the sea shell.The story was first told me by my sister Donna and it stuck with me.That story stayed with me and as I’m still grieving the loss of my sister Donna who assed away just over a month ago,that story will remain with me in perpetuity for I will write about it ,and I will ,To the best of my ability,keep the story living,breathing,pulsating,it will have its own ambience,it’s texture of sonic splendour to bathe my heart in as I accept that grieving isn’t something that you can rush,it isn’t a 24 hour thing,it won’t be fixed by a set timetable.

Thank you Donna,from the bottom of my heart,for another wonderful memory and bless your memory.

Well, to many,wishing my son,Phill a happy birthday isn’t much of a blog post,but to those who know him,it is recognition of a truly remarkable human being with sterling qualities and I just wanted to acknowledge that Today on my WordPress.

Love you so very much ,

Dad.

My mental lens!

Now,in this moment,the suns rays have shone a light on this Autumn day,

As the leaves allow visibility often shrouded by their dressings,

I see the bare ness of the trees,but the outer coating of light,

It is bliss,it is ,to me,mesmeric,and so I share the emotion,

No more,no less,I share that feeling of utter life from one look,

Yes,that’s all it takes if we have the right mental lens ,

I hope that your mental lens is in a good place today.

Choose Humanity!

Let Not our smile become extinct,

Let Not our kindnesses become alien ,

Let Not our willingness to listen ever fade,

For what are we if we are just selfish,

For what are we if it’s all about “me”,

For what are we if the pain of our fellows humans doesn’t hurt us?

Let Not our patience ever run dry,

Let Not our mercy ever be extinguished,

Let Not our need to cry ever die,

For what are we if we can’t wait,

For what are we if we can’t forgive,

For what are feel if our tears won’t come?

Choose humanity,go on ,choose it ,don’t allow possessions to choke your love of humanity.

Offering the gifts of listening and kindness to those in need!

So,you say:”I’m alright”,you do that because it’s easier than having to explain that you might not be alright as a more forthright explanation could affect your career prospects in the company,damage your street cred in the group,or just maybe make you appear a bit,I don’t Why,like Weird!

Is that something you recognise yourself verbalising?Or maybe ,that’s a bit strong,and you don’t feel as bad as that,but you just don’t want to be the life and soul of the party.Whatever reaction you have to the first paragraph,please don’t dismiss out of hand the quandary that so many have,because it’s real.Now,As a man,yep a very late middle aged one true,but a man no the less,I want to address how hard it can be for you to even hint at having any issues let alone ones that you might have shook help for from a mental health professional.But the truth is that men are finding just the process of living in the 21st century ,difficult,and some are way further down the spectrum than that,they are in crisis.If burying our heads in the sand ,stiff upper lips ,and stoic sandwiches were the post war default,those days are gone,consigned to the failure bin long ago

Truthfully,I’ve suffered with mental health maladies on and off for decades.Yes,I would have rather not have,but that wasn’t my reality.Now,it’s one thing to write those words,but entirely a different matter to live with and the recurrent demands that my mental health has on my life patterns have taken their toll both in my relationships,and in my day to day life.However,I can honestly say that being truthful to myself ,seeking help,and garnering support has been my saving grace.While many prefer to suffer in silence ,or even not to seek help,I feel that that only serves to postpone the inevitable Dow ward spiral to seriously us health issues,

If isolation were the key,then I would have been cured decades ago,as for many of them,I referred an exclusive cult like community that took delight in separation from society rather than the embracing of it.No,over the past 5 or so years,I have received so much support from truly wonderful people,and have ,through my being more open about my issues,have magi aged a pathway that has opened up possibilities to living ,rather than existing.

My writing isn’t to diminish the suffer of women who have historically suffered greatly with severe mental trials,no,it can only be from my perspective as a man because that has been my experience,and frankly ,I pains me that we ,as a society,are losing so many wonderful young men,who just don’t feel that they can carry on.

Sometimes,little conversations,reaching out to those who appear lost ,be it in public places,or at a place of work,or while on public transport,might just avert a crisis,and that willingness to do just that might be the olive branch of emotional connection that someone needs .Granted,no-one has a panecea to mental turmoils,because we haven’t lived that persons life,but we can,at least,try to empathise with that individual .

If I could encourage anyone to verbalise their feelings I would,As it is a vital step .Yes,there has to. Be trust on the part of the person who is in emotional turmoil,but sometimes,it can begin with just the acknowledgment of someone’s humanity.For example,the affect of just someone saying :”hello,how are you today,can have such a positive affect upon another person”.

Yes,there are many ways to support those with mental health problems in our community,but being aware that it is possible to reach out can have such a positive affect upon those who suffer.

Thank you for your attention on my blog post this evening,and my sincere best wishes for your health,both mental and Physical .