This is a triple bill – a song, some pictures, and philosophical pondering – on a common theme. The photos are of our old flat (hardly missed at all).
The words of the song have a melancholic poetry with the odd humorous tendril growing in the spaces inbetween. They describe absence of a person in places and things, either because he’s moved on, maybe he’s even passed away. But when I was singing the chorus on my daily rounds, trying to fill in the rest of the song, I felt it was about being in places, knowing I won’t be there forever, and feeling that I already didn’t belong there. And then remembering all the layers of places that I have left but where my spirit still clings in some way.
In my spirit, I still live at the scene of my birth & childhood – semi-detached in a village in rural commuter belt Surrey. However humbly insignificant the house and garden, it is always my strong deep roots – the very earth that the toddler-I-was grubbed around in. The same feeling but less powerfully associates with subsequent abodes I have bided in, or offices I have worked in, and this could spread to the slightest space I’ve spent any time in a knowing frame of mind – a pub, a street, a country walk.
Do I possibly feel a constant state of rootlessness, drifting? Wherever I am, I feel like I shouldn’t still be there, that I’m just passing through & I shouldn’t be clinging to my past, my childhood, my nostalgia, my unrealistic comfort & ease – and then this may colour my feeling about a locality. Singing this at any time, particularly in the home-of-the-moment, or in the workplace-for-the-time-being seems to be a sort of defiance to that nagging feeling that I don’t belong there, and I’ll shortly be moving on – is this internal or external pressure, or both. Not only is it defiance, but at the same time it must be rueful admittance that the place I am in can only be temporary, because I am not happy there – especially held up to my first ideal, the village house of childhood in the crucible of my first family.
These sung words are somewhat paltry and inadequate to come anywhere near conveying my state of mind, but hopefully they are still charged with emotional portent. As an ironic footnote, there was a corridor where the words “I no long live here” caused especial sympathetic vibrations in moments of snatched solitude at the music library I worked at in East Sussex. These were days when the songs was still in a state of incubation. The library sadly got closed, the cheap build quarters were knocked down, and that place is now a car park…Best thing about the old flat – cloud and sunset views!