THE WAY WE WERE

Finally selecting a time for a memoir escapade, so this is the first draft of Chapter 1 of what might be titled, THE WAY WE WERE…because there will be music riffling throughout.
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1975 and the livin’ was easy. We were easy riders of the storm, Cracklin’ Rosie an’ me, doin’ the hustle, the funky moped, foxes on the run, jive-talkin’ girls, on the trail of the lonesome man… ‘cause love was the drug.

We arrived at the hotel, introduced ourselves, were given keys to a room and directions to the staff quarters. The mansion on a hill looked impressive. Further inspection brought our attention to a notice stating that the building was derelict…not fit for habitation – condemned. Our room had two single beds, which we immediately pushed together for space. The walls grabbed our eyes; it had been covered in pictures of food – we were bloody starving and skint…of course there was enough in the purses for a couple of lagers down the local pub. Unpacking only the necessary: record player, the records and the radio, make-up was topped up moolighting with Leo Sayer, then we were out in a tiny coastal town in plenty of time for last orders. Rosie and me, she and I, slightly-practised non-virgins looking for adventure where the North Sea sculpts the east coast of Scotland. North Berwick, previously unmentioned in the Glaswegian vernacular.

Normally, we would have made an entrance in a strange bar, me with my fabulous red hair, Rosie and her raucous laugh, but knackered were the bodies that had hustled themselves out of Glasgow with huge suitcases and every penny we could scrape together from our last jobs. So there was no bending across pool tables or sexing it up dancing a bump in the middle of the lounge, just a languid satisfaction in a successful plan executed. In the morning we would be re-invented as chambermaids in the biggest hotel on the sea-front…and, food should be part of the deal.

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SIMPLE RHYME

Someone has got me ranting about rhyming couplets – I can’t call them anything but doggerel, and hate them with a passion…and I don’t hate anything or anyone but they are vile. Why do newbie writers fall for them? They’re not even attractive. All that shoving words where they don’t belong, twisting sentences out of all recognition makes me want to heave up into the world like some kind of Heaven-sent quake – even though I don’t believe in Heaven!

I critiqued someone’s poem on an online writing site, and mentioned that she might want to move away from rhyming couplets (for the reasons stated above) towards three and four-line rhyming schemes, if rhyme she must. Another writer made a comment that my criticism was too harsh, and perhaps it was, but the reason for the crit was because I saw something in her; if I hadn’t I would never have stopped to comment much less take the time to fashion a critique. He stated that she had posted the work under Simple Rhyme.

Simple Rhyme! What the hell is that? Yes, you would have to be seeing poetry in a very basic (old fashioned) way to fall into the trap of something so simple and feeble as rhyming couplets…note, I don’t capitalise their first letters – they don’t deserve that kind of attention. I have never been drawn towards that kind of poetry and couldn’t wait to get away from it in childhood – so I don’t have the same romantic image of poetry that a lot of newbie writers have; I don’t want to make copies of that old stuff.

The only old work, using rhyme, that impresses me are some of Larkin’s and especially Dylan Thomas’s Villanelle

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night:

‘Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’

I think I can like any poem that is constructed carefully so that every word is justified and has a real place in the work, not just existing to fill a rhyme. Poets who insist on rhyme are putting the rhyme before the subject matter…and isn’t the subject matter supposed to be the reason the poet writes the poem? Or, the metaphor and imagery; shouldn’t they have room at the top? I think rhyme should be a choice, and a last one at that. The poem, the statement, the emotion underneath needs to arrive first…and the rhyme should sway in the breeze, not batter the reader about the head before they can understand what is being said or portrayed.

Rant over. Maybe I’ll go browse a few poems, look for another fight.

Waking the Monster

I jump off prompt lines to the sound of silence and feel anticipation leap into my very soul at the thought of what might land on the page, and I am always surprised. It’s quiet inside my head but there must be a low frequency hum in there somewhere, something to vibrate tension.

Music thrills me but I forget that it exists. Right now I’m writing to the sound of hot water running through my new radiators; it beats heat into the threats of March snow and reminds me that each thrum of thermals costs money that I could be spending in Cyprus in June. My fingertips are cold, my legs are jumping and my chocolate will soon be melting – time to turn it off…and put on some music. Let’s see what happens with a bit of Springsteen.

Working on a dream drags me into fabulous melody and my head nods – I’m just an old dog on the back ledge of a car, bobbing to the man in the car behind. I was listening to Paul Carrack singing Into the Mystic on the train home and lost myself to the woman reflected in the window; she is a version of me but I hardly recognise her. She was thinking of sailing into the mystic during her funeral service but it’s not a song for a single woman, so I can’t have it.

Oh Bruce, I love your songs – I think they’re the only words I hear. In love with the queen of the supermarket is the supreme lyric! I listen to pop music and barely know what the songs are about because I’m lost in the tune, lifted and laid out by it every time. In the car I played one CD in a loop for weeks and repeated the action for the next one, but the words never got me – except The Boss’s. My iTunes is edited and his are the only albums that are complete.

George Baker Selection Little Green Bag is one of those tunes that could kill me on a busy road, or have a trainload of people laughing at how badly I sing… Looking for some happiness when there is only loneliness to find! Wow! And you know that it’s only the chorus I know even after all these years (and weeks in the car). Oh the songs that make me sound fabulous from inside my head! Deliver Me, Breathe, Torn, Wild Horses, Show me Heaven, Static and Silence, Stand by Me, I think it’s going to Rain Today, Careless Love, Amazing, Misty Blue, A Different Corner, Hallelujah, Streets of Philadelphia, Chasing Cars…

Stereophonics singing The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face is a show-stopper and I would stop and stand to attention anytime I heard it, but could I write to it? Oh lord make me young again and give me this man, this voice and let him sing this song to me and mean every word – yes, I hear those words and want to lie on a chaise longue somewhere…actually hang off it with my love-life scattered across the floor and promise of more to come painted on the walls. STAMPED on the walls, raining down the walls and falling against me…

So, was that good for you? Dreams and memories are what songs are made on, and I’ve slept with all of them – what a tart! And now that I’ve awoken that old monster I must go and play in YouTube.

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