Sometimes it behooves us to extend some gratitude

It’s lunchtime early in the year of 1981. I am sitting in a venerable pub called The Feathers on the High Street of Gorleston, a suburb of the Norfolk seaside town of Great Yarmouth. It’s chilly outside and in my recall I am feeling a profound sense of isolation within myself. My recall tells me that, though I am no longer aware of why I felt alone in a world so far away from the one in which I grew up.

I’m sure there were others in the homey pub, though I can no longer picture who might have been there. I am nursing a pint of Norwich Castle bitter and eating a liver-pate sandwich. Funny how I remember the sandwich.

Somebody punches in something at the jukebox. The song that comes up is Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street. Perfect choice, though probably the worst choice considering the mood I was in. The song had been around for a few years by 1981 but it was one of those pieces that had deservedly segued into ‘standard’ realm. 

I listen to that incredible Raphael Ravenscroft saxophone riff  (for which Ravenscroft was paid a disgusting one-off sessions fee of £27, I might add) and the poignancy of the piece permeates my mood (and arguably my soul) that day almost exactly 30 years ago.

To me the piece had always been a background offering but on this day I actually listened to the lyrics.

He’s got this dream about buyin’ some land
He’s gonna give up the booze and the one night stands
And then he’ll settle down there’s a quiet little town
And forget about everything

For Rafferty the song was an ode to his days as a busker outside the Baker Street Underground station. But, more importantly it was about how he wanted to escape a life he was living.

I found that I empathized with the lyrics more than I had perhaps with any other bit of musical poetry. He captured exactly what I was feeling at that moment in my life. And what he wanted to ‘give up’ applied too painfully accurately to my life at an earlier incarnation of who I am today.

More profoundly, it told me what I had to do if I wanted to get out of assorted funks in which I tended to find myself, and to keep moving forward in my life. 

I think on that particular day I bade goodbye to my protracted childhood and set out on a kind of quest to make it through this mass of confusion and sometimes self-indulgence called life. In retrospect it’s been good and I kind of like the man I am today. 

Thanks, Gerry. At the news of your too-young recent death I couldn’t help but show gratitude for what you gave me. 

Too bad and so sad that you didn’t really follow your own advice.

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7 responses to “Sometimes it behooves us to extend some gratitude

  1. Funnily enough, a post on Gerry Rafferty was my last post on blogger before I switched over to WordPress (I’m struggling but haven’t given up on WP just yet!)

    Ah, Norfolk, pubs, beer, liver-pate sandwiches. Oh, I wanna go home . . .

  2. Poignant. Kind of strikes home to me, today…

  3. The Feathers in Gorlestone at that time would have been enough to depress anyone, let alone someone questioning his life.

    Not that it was a dirty, spit and sawdust pub, far from it, I remember it as pleasant and friendly but it partook of the depressed air of Gorlestone…a feeling of going down the tubes.

    Mark you I would kill for a liver sausage…which I think it was rather than pate…sandwich.

  4. Farbeit from me to say the odd thing, but The Muppets song, “You Gotta Put Down The Duckie If You Want To Play The Saxaphone” resonated with me 🙂

    Glad you are steady on, Ian!

  5. I’ve always loved that song and started catching it on different radio stations and mentioned to my husband that it was odd that it was playing so much and on different stations. He did a quick web search and found out Rafferty had died. It really is a shame. But he will live forever in a great song that is, like you said, “a standard.”

  6. One of my most favourite songs. I was so sorry to hear that Gerry had died. Somehow I missed it on the news and only read about it on Dumdad’s blog. He used to go to a pub near me with Jeff Beck and Roger Daltrey – Roger’s trout farm was just down the road. They would often do impromptu jams. I don’t know the Feathers in Gorlestone but the last time I went to a pub in Norfolk I sat next to a man who was there with his goat. Mind you, the goat was wearing a very natty neckerchief!

  7. Life is like a library owned by the author.
    In it are a few books which he wrote himself,
    but most of them were written for him.
    Harry Emerson Fosdick

    Wow. Very deep Ian. Serendipitous event, me thinks. I’m gobsmacked by the amazing recall you have. I guess we all have events in our lives that we can re-live with such clarity – no matter the years gone by. Just have to tap into them. Right down to the sandwich and pint of bitter!

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