Monday, 5 September 2011

Whores and heroin

You spend your life accumulating acquaintances, finding friends, building a circle of people to spend your time with. Somewhere along the way, you work out what it is you like about others, what they might find to like about you. You begin to understand and comply with the compromises that friendship requires, you relish the opportunities to try new experiences, build shared histories.

Once in a while, if you're lucky, you get to meet someone outside of your normal social sphere; someone who carelessly crushes all the criteria you've formulated for friendship.

"You'll like him - he's got great hair."

"He doesn't wash much, but he never smells."

"His boots have got more holes than leather and he's got really skinny legs."

"He's very, very talented."

"He talks about whores and heroin. And sex. A lot."

"He's become my sort-of adopted son"

You're not sure how to react to that sort of introduction, but you're each choosing guests for your wedding party and you want to be fair, so you go along with the suggested invitation for someone you've never met.

You barely talk that first time, though you quickly acknowledge he does indeed have great hair. A few months later, you go to see him play and you're bowled over by the power of his voice, the strength of his lyrics. You wake up the next morning singing a song you've only heard a couple of times that already seems implanted in your brain.

Then you begin to see the impact he has on the people you love; they way your husband speaks of him with smiling enthusiasm; the times your daughter is suddenly eager to spend an evening in your company when he's around. You start to like him a little bit more just because of that.

Conversation doesn't come easily or instinctively at first; you notice how polite he is with you and you feel a bit like a venerated grandmother.  But then there comes a time when the three of you get gloriously drunk on peach cider and you spend an evening swapping fish-based puns, juggling Maltesers and falling from bar stools. One day he sends you a message saying he's come up with a great new idea, suggesting you write a space-based musical together. Gradually, you forget to feel old and out of touch when he talks to you.

After a while you realise that he's no longer just your husband's adopted son. The pleasure you get that night in Clapham, when the whole bar is clapping and singing along to Happy Song is something akin to loving pride.

Whenever you meet his girlfriend you're really pleased that she seems so right for him, you're delighted that she takes such an interest in his adopted family, that she's happy to spend time in the village, decorating plastic ducks for the duck race, talking about knitting and sewing, visiting the allotment. You know though, that she's only here on a visa and sooner or later she'll have to leave. That day comes round much too quickly and without understanding how the time has sped so fast, you find yourself saying a hurried goodbye of hugs and tears at a railway station, wishing her good luck as she sets off for another continent.

You worry about him when she's gone, not sure if he's eating or sleeping properly, you're concerned he'll descend into a cycle of drink and despondency. You know they've planned to meet up in Canada in a month or two and you hope he'll stick to the plan, that they'll be back together soon. But you also know there's a downside to that.

Tomorrow you'll make your way to the Windmill bar in Brixton, where he'll be playing his last London gig for a long, long time. It'll be a great night, a proper send-off in a crowded bar; the sort of occasion you'd have tried to avoid before you knew him. In a few days he'll be getting on a plane to Canada. You want him to go, you want them to be together, but you also know how much he'll be missed. You sense it will be a while til anyone in your household wakes up singing their own version of Happy Song with anything like conviction.


trashsparkle said...

So lovely to hear about another member of your interwoven family. Bon Voyage to Dan - and hope its not long before you all see him again. x

BarkyMag said...

Yes, he does have great hair!
Really enjoyed the way you described your growing relationship and how he became part of your family. There was a genuine warmth in your writing.
Hope it all works out for him in Canada.

Nessa Roo said...

Wow, you are so poetic, without even trying! What a tribute to somebody you obviously have grown to care about. I hope you don't miss him too much, but after all, he's a free spirit, and he'll probably talk about nothing but poets and peach schnapps while he's away.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

This is wonderful. It moves quickly and creates a real sense of your growing relationship. I like him already, and I wish him well!

Dani said...

How lovely! And a great encouragement in the beginning to be open to meeting new, different people.

Out of Sync said...

Cool post =)

savannah said...

well done, sugar! it's always difficult to say goodbye when what you really want to say is, i'll see you tomorrow! xoxo

Anonymous said...

Well written. You’ve drawn me in, I want to know more about him. Hope Canada works out ok for him.

Bobby Stevenson said...

Hi Sharon, I read this in the middle of the night and really enjoyed it. It must be great to be missed in that way, to have made such an impact that you have penned about it. I guess we cross paths and are allowed some time with people before they move on but they're always with us, and their parting always leaves a bit of them inside.

Mike German said...

Wow, I really enjoyed that. Thank you for filling me with pride.

lladybugg said...

This was wonderful. Thankyou for introducing another member of your family, and another part of your life to us. Its always hard when family leaves, I have to imagine my mother feels the same when I leave for Mexico. I suppose you have adopted him yourself. :)

I love the way you put this together as well, an interesting way to tell the story.

Baglady said...

I've heard P talk alot about Dan and so it's especially nice to get another perspective on him. Maybe a trip to Canadia will be in the offine sometime soon?

Starlight said...

What a lovely piece. It seems to me that you love Dan as your own son.

Pat said...

This twanged a few heart strings.
God speed to Dan.

Jayne said...

Sharon- so, so lovely. Fold it up, stuff it in an envelope and send it to the sort-of adopted son. He's going to want to hold on to it. :)

Happy Frog and I said...

I loved how you put the whole post together, the writing, the description of how your friendship with Dan developed from the first meeting to know and how much you all care and look out for each other.

Liz said...

Beautiful post, Sharon.

Not sure where they're at (I'd guess out west as that's where the Aussies go when they come here...can't blame them either; that's where I'd go!) or for how long they're here, but if they need anything, we're here. And if there's any chance Dan's playing in these parts, we'd sure like to hear about it.

Anthony Hodgson said...

It's funny how out perceptions of people when they are first described to us can change when we actually meet that person. He sounds a great guy I hope he gets everything he wishes for.

Bth said...

Just BRILLIANT. Having met/heard Philip's adopted son, I just know how perfect this post is. I mentioned to Philip how much I loved this post, and now I absolutely must tell you. You capture people wonderfully.

Fraser said...

And here I sit on the Canadian side of the pond, thinking of my "adopted daughter", originally from England, in the exact same (yet completely opposite) scenario. You wrote my thoughts beautifully, thank you.

Dan German said...

Crossroads ... seem to come and go ... yeah
The gypsy flies from coast to coast
Knowing many, loving none
Bearing sorrow, havin' fun
But back home he'll always run ... to sweet Melissa

Freight train ... each car looks the same ... all the same
And no one knows the gypsy's name
No one hears his lonely sighs
There are no blankets where he lies
Lord in the deepest dreams the gypsy flies ... with sweet Melissa

Again the morning's come
Again he's on the run
Sunbeams shinin' through his hair
Better not to have a care
So pick up your gear and gypsy roll on ... roll on

Crossroads ... will you ever let him go
No... will you hide the dead man's ghost
Lord, or will he lie ... beneath the plain. Or will his spirit fall away?
But I know that he won't stay ... without Melissa
Yes I know that he won't stay ... without Melissa

Sharon Longworth said...

Dan,I don't think there could be any better response to this post than for you to reply with a song. I only wish I had your talent for writing the music to go with it.
I really hope it's not too long until I hear you singing it. x

Sharon Longworth said...

Fraser, hello and thank you for leaving a comment, I'm really glad this struck a chord with you. Adopted relationships are great aren't they?

staticextacy101 said...

Absolutely love the images you have painted here. I found myself so connected to the story. Kudos.

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LizzieG said...

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drewski said...

sounds like a fun time.