I’ve just been watching a magpie hiding a biscuit beneath a leaf. I’ve got kids like that.
Watched the first ever tasting of beef grown in a laboratory. Carefully cultivated from cells and grown, a culmination of years of work, a small portion of this lab grown beef was cooked and tasted. The verdict?: “It tastes like fried chicken.” Now, I am no scientist……
The 8th of December is a date that links together my two favourite musical artists, two artists that I have been listening to for what seems most of my life.
On the 8th of December, 1943, James Douglas Morrison, son of a Navy Officer, was born. He would go on to become the focal point and frontman of The Doors, known by self-given and tongue in cheek epithets such as the Lizard King, Shaman, and Erotic Politician.
He is one of the few rock or pop stars whose poetry is read seriously, as poetry. As a poet he tends to polarise opinion, but I like his writing, and his song lyrics helped to set the group apart from the usual music crowd. In the days when The Mama’s And The Papa’s were dreaming of California and over the pond The Beatles were telling the world that all you need is love, Morrison was channeling Oedipus, saying he wanted to kill his father and fuck his mother. They were a darker group, harder to pigeonhole, with elements of rock, jazz, blues, and yes, poetry.
Morrison’s was an intellect and creativity that was drowned in excess, a pursuit of a muse that would not be tempered or compromised. The recording life of The Doors, when Morrison was with them, lasted for just four, short, years. But what an outpouring it was.
Also on the 8th of December, in 1980, John Lennon was shot dead in New York. I was a Lennon fan before I even knew who Lennon was. As a kid, almost all of my favourite Beatles songs were his. On his true collaborations with McCartney, for example We Can Work It Out, I always preferred the parts that he sang, the parts that he wrote, without at the time being able to discern who did what.
My favourite Christmas song, right from my childhood, and still, is Happy Xmas (War Is Over), but it was a few years before I discovered that the song was by Lennon. I was a fan of the music before I knew whose music it was.
Today Lennon is regarded almost as a saint, but the truth seems to be that he could be a real shit to the people who were closest to him. He would sing about peace and love yet at times be unable to demonstrate such sentiments. The figure of Lennon is a conundrum. He appeared to be a man of contradictions, which I think has its roots in his troubled childhood. His anger drove him and so made him a Beatle. Always transparent, the lyrics
I heard something ’bout my Ma and my Pa /They didn’t want me so they made me a star
Tomorrow, the 9th of December, is my birthday. I can remember opening my birthday presents on my ninth birthday, back in 1980, and the news was all over the television and the newspapers. All that I was aware of at the time, in my young ignorance, was that some guy who was in a group called The Beatles had died.
Little would I know that, for years, for decades later, I would always be struck by a terrible sense of waste when reflecting on his untimely, senseless death.
Fans are selfish. We barely see beyond our own wants and fixations.
There is a woman who lost a husband, and two boys who lost a father, yet all I think of is the music that we could have had, the wit that the world has lost, and the extra pages that could have been in the biography.
Two men, linked by one date, whose words and music provided a soundtrack to my life. R.I.P Mr Mojo Risin’ and Dr Winston O’ Boogie. Thanks for the inspiration.
Happy Birthday HN!
My debut poetry collection, Heading North, was published by Nordland Publishing two years ago today. I’m still rather proud of it.
If anybody wants to buy a copy, with Christmas around the corner, there is a link below. Or, if any of you should find yourself near the Middleton public library in Manchester, UK, or the Norway National Library, you could have a read for free.
I’m all for the opportunists among you 😉
I didn’t even want to go to Manchester.
“You realise why there’s so much traffic don’t you? I asked my wife. “It’s Black Friday.”
“Oh I forgot about that! But it’s the only day I’ll have off before Christmas,” she replied. “We’ll see how busy it is when we get near the centre.”
“What we going for anyway?”
“Pyjamas for your Mum.”
“That’s it?! All the way to town for pyjamas? Why don’t we get them in Middleton?”
“She only likes them from Primark.”
I knew we were doomed as soon as she mentioned Primark.
About half way to Manchester city centre a car suddenly torpedoed out from a side street straight into us. I was leaning against the door and had about two seconds to brace myself before the collision. Appropriately enough this took place outside a funeral home. My wife works in the funeral business. Always on duty.
I clambered out of the car. “Talk about *#%~>$€ Black Friday! I didn’t even want to go to bloody Manchester!”
The other driver was distressed and extremely apologetic. I told her that it was okay-we didn’t have the kids in the car and nobody was badly hurt. My shoulder and hip was bruised from taking the full force of the impact, and I had to go to the local A&E department to be checked out. I had to hold onto the door handle all the way there.
We pulled up outside the hospital, me managing to close the door after four slams which must have attracted the interest of every traffic warden in the area.
Parked on a busy main road, as she got out of the car my wife said to me: “Pull my mirror in.”
Happy Black Friday everyone.
Let’s do this every year.