Will you get out of the way?
Or lend a hand?
Forgive me. I’m taking liberties with the words of Nobel-Literature-Prize-winning poet, songster and disappointing-live-performer, Bob Dylan.
Yes, disappointing. I was disappointed. Except for his rendition of ‘Something’ by way of a tribute to George Harrison. The concert was in Liverpool and he performed that rather nicely. (Ta very much, Bob.)
I was lying awake at three in the morning when the song came into my head.
I was thinking about change. Major change. Societal change.
And I wondered. The times, are they ‘a-changin’ as Dylan predicted? And as – arguably – happened in the sixties?
It’s not the kind of thought to send you back to sleep. Especially when the ear-worm of song takes up residence in your head.
I’d had a surprising day, thanks to my sister and her mobile phone. I’d texted her, suggesting we might visit but she didn’t check her phone. And I didn’t want to bother her so didn’t ring. Which turned out to be a good thing.
Because although we set out anyway, we were only a few miles from home when we realised we didn’t fancy a 100-odd-mile round trip in order to walk on some hills.
Even the wizardy, magical hills I’ve blogged about before around Alderley Edge.
The prof had recently returned from Zambia unwell and was only just recovering. Unable to drive for a week, our first expedition, the day before, had taken us over the Pennines to Yorkshire and the Hepworth Gallery. For an exhibition of art celebrating India, by painter Howard Hodgkin.
We looking forward to beautiful colours and forms. But it didn’t work for either of us and we rapidly left the crowded rooms to more sympathetic gazers.
I didn’t mind.
The paintings might have disappointed (they did) but there was still the work of my heroine, Barbara Hepworth, to make the trip worthwhile.
It was a tiring trip, though, for a recovering traveller.
Which is why we abandoned the quest for enchanted hills. Eschewed the prospect of deep caves harbouring ancient mysteries.
And, instead, headed for…
… you’ll never guess.
… you won’t.
Here we go …
No! Wait! Don’t go!
I’m not stopping with shopping.
Though there was a little more. Because on the way home we stopped to buy food for dinner.
As our car slid between the snug white lines, the sound of live music wafted over her pearly white body.
We stepped out and with gleaming eyes glanced at each other over her roof.
A Brass Band! On a sunny Sunday. In Ormskirk.
My generous husband waved me off and went hunting for free range chicken.
(Prepared, in a box in a chiller cabinet, I mean. Not free range and needing to be killed and plucked. He may be just-back from Zambia, but he hasn’t forgotten that supermarkets do these things for you round here.)
And what a sight met my tired, Ikea-fuddled eyes.
A proper bandstand.
In a park.
An ice cream van plied a steady trade.
Some folk sat on folding chairs. Some lolled, ‘déjeuner sur l’herbe‘ like, on the grass (the women all fully clothed, mind).
Adult faces wore serene smiles.
Feet tapped and children danced.
The bandstand wore pretty summer flowers.
The band, Trinity Girls, was terrific.
I can’t say I would have chosen Air on a G String arranged with Whiter Shade of Pale myself, but it kind of worked.
The repertoire bubbled through the Carpenters, the Gingerbread song (uh-huh), something from Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, a march (of course) and a rousing Paso Doble which signalled the interval.
The music, which felt tuned to a human frequency, accompanied an almost bucolic scene.
Daisies and green grass.
Pick-and-mix coloured fairground rides.
A man with Down’s syndrome grabbed my arm, enjoying the friendly faces, the music and – while cared-for still – the freedom of the open air.
It was Olde England- but it also wasn’t Olde.
The band was all female, for a start.
And several adults enjoying the free entertainment would, in Olde days have been closeted in some institution.
It was old but also new. Superficially changed, but with the underlying warp and weft remaining the same. Or so it felt.
One or two pieces gave me goosebumps, like this one as the gentle strains grew into an emotional crescendo.
Reluctantly – but hungry – we left. Ikea’s meatballs hadn’t appealed.
We had a short walk. Prepared some food. Popped a bottle of Cava – and ate and drank and talked.
Opened a bottle of red (I know) and ate and talked some more.
Of Donald Trump – of course.
Of education and this brave new age of unreason.
Of freedom of speech and of a new un-freedom to speak.
Of the daily addition of new letters to the minefields of things we ought to know.
Of gender traps for the unwary among the confusions of LGBTQIA and CIS.
Of publications that don’t pay writers but are the new news.
And of the sixties ‘liberal revolution’ and its legacy.
Which is why I wondered. Is the order rapidly changing? Again?
Should the old folks move out of the way if they don’t want to lend a hand?
Well, I reckon the curse has been cast.
And with Trump, the line is daily being redrawn.
Truth is hiding in the corner, kicked and beaten. Not yet dead.
But there are no longer any certainties.
No right, no wrong.
No genuine, no reality.
Just – alternatives.
The new – the now – the everything. (I think that was me channelling Barry White.)
Well, in this Ball of Confusion (Temptations), at least the songs that were remain the same.
‘They’ can’t change what was. Just what is and what will be.
Or, can they?
Of course they can. We’ve always had Alt history.
It just depends what side you’re on. Or rather, what you choose to believe.
In a democracy we have choices. And we have voices.
Our votes, our pens, our emails, our phone calls, these are the voice with which we can – and must – hold to account those ‘we’ have elected.
Get out of the way – or lend a hand?