Two weeks ago I attended a candlelight Christmas carol service in a place where there has been a church since c.1120. Temple Church began as place of refuge for pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem when it was first founded according to several websites, by the Knights Templar. This linkhas some great information if you would like to know more about Temple church.
Even though I was at the back of the church with my camera in silent mode, my friend’s son was curious about what I was doing.
Afterwards, I posed for a quick photo with my friend Lara who had invited me to the service. I had been very interested when she first asked me, but as Sunday evening approached, I began to come up with reasons why I should give it a miss. It had been a tough week and I felt fairly antisocial preferring the quiet of home. In the end, I went with her family and I was so glad I did.
I would have missed this sweet photo of the children helping to put out the last of the candles just before we walked out in the dark. You cannot see it, but there is a young girl holding up the boy straining to reach the light and this combined effort and gentle way they took turns, was fitting close to a lovely service of worship. Here’s a lovely video if you’d like to see Temple in the daylight.
The clock has rolled over into a new day, it’s Christmas Day, although it is still night and I am soon ” for bed ” as some say here.
If you celebrate Christmas, I wish you a merry one.
Growing up, my world view was severely limited by the life I had with my mother and step-father. In their house, anything normal was considered a privilege which could include everything but breathing, depending on their mood. Television and music fell directly in the privilege column and were both a tightly controlled experience that didn’t happen all that often.
Music was limited to their mostly country collection of artists like Charlie Rich, Tanya Tucker, and Glen Campbell and if I was lucky, they might mix in a little Elvis which fortunately was more vintage 50s than the music of the jumpsuit wearing 70s. It turns out that I like a fair amount of country music artists now, but back then I yearned for something more.
I didn’t know what more might be until I heard Three Dog Night’s “Joy To The World” blasting through a classmate’s transistor radio on the school bus ride home. I know some of you youngsters are likely thinking, “Transistor radio, what year is she even talking about?” I think I was about eleven so it would have been around 1971 and I was hooked from the moment I heard the words, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog.”
I remember some of the kids were practically dancing in their seats and the boy holding the radio was up on his knees encouraging those closest to him. In my mind he is eternally cute and definitely crush worthy, especially to someone who’d been living in what felt like musical wasteland while the rest of the world was listening to more variety.
By 1974, I’d moved to Georgia to live with my dad and step-mom. My father worked with someone who was taking his daughter and one of her friends to a concert and they invited me to join them. When my dad dropped me off at their house, the man he worked with said, ” They’ll be down in a minute, they’ve been listening ‘The White Album’ all afternoon.” I remember it was said in a way that assumed I knew what he was talking about which would have been a reasonable given the concert we going to.
Sadly, I had no idea what he was talking about and at 14, I didn’t even know who The Beatles were. It was November 28, 1974 and George Harrison, Ravi Shankar, and Billy Preston were playing the Omni in Atlanta, a venue that was torn down in 1997. A few things still stand out for me when I think about my first concert and it was the recent death of Ravi Shankar that made me remember George Harrison singing “My Sweet Lord,”and Billy Preston dancing as he sang “Will It Go Round In Circles”
I’ve been to loads of concerts since 1974 and worked backstage at a few of them over the years as well. When I read the news last week about Ravi Shankar’s death, I went back to my studio space and pulled out a box filled with notebooks that hold half-written stories and ideas for more that I might write one day. Tucked into the mix was a program from that first concert.
It’s kind of funny what I’ve held onto over the years and interesting that this souvenir made the cut when I shipped my 200 cubic feet of remaining stuff to England.
I’d be curious to know the first song you remember and your first concert if you’d like to share it in a comment below.
While on a coast path walk from Padstow to Harlyn Bay yesterday, John and I walked past a farmer’s field where the hay for winter had been cut and baled. I commented on how unusual it is to see it in squares as it usually looks like the round mounds below.
John and I talk about a lot of topics when walking the coast path, but yesterday’s walk got a bit livelier when I remarked as we passed this fresh-cut field that it reminded me of Kansas. From there we moved on to Oklahoma landscapes and John seized the opportunity to launch into a chesty version the theme song for the Rogers and Hammerstein musical, Oklahoma! which he did very well.
When he paused for a breath, I said that I had used a song from that show for musical auditions in the past and he was off again singing, I Cain’t Say No in a scratchy falsetto complete with flirty gestures intended to make you think of the girlish Ado Annie.
Imagine if you can, a bearded Englishman stomping down the trail singing the lyrics below with good British diction. I was howling with laughter!
It ain’t so much a question of not knowing what to do. I knowed what’s right and wrong since I was ten. I heared a lot of stories and I reckon they are true About how girls’re put upon by men. I know I mustn’t fall into the pit, But when I’m with a feller, I fergit! I’m just a girl who cain’t say no, I’m in a terrible fix I always say “come on, let’s go!” Jist when I orta say nix…
Some of you may remember Jersey Girl from earlier posts. She is John’s eight year-old granddaughter who lives on the Channel Island of Jersey. Two years ago she came to visit and we had loads of fun during the week she was with us and I shared some of our experiences around Cornwall in a few posts that you can find by following mylink for Jersey Girl.
She arrived last Thursday and by Friday we were at Eden Project with our necks craned back as we spent the evening looking up watching the NoFit State Circus perform their new show, BIANCO. It was a an enjoyable evening, but not one we would likely take a child to again. Jersey Girl was put off by the lack of seats which required standing and moving about for the entire show. Additionally, I think using the word circus to a child brings to mind a show with animals where as this one had no animals and seemed modeled after the Cirque du Soleil shows I’ve seen over the years.
We got a quick peak at the venue before being allowed to enter and I wondered how it might all work with what looked like only a small amount of equipment.
I was a bit disappointed to learn that no photography, not even flashless would be allowed during the show. The man with the dreads in the center in the pinky-red vest was one of only two photographers allowed to shoot during the performance so I had to settle for a shot of him. I wonder how long it took his hair to grow down to the back of his knees.
Here comes Jersey Girl with her Bapa.
Time for a quick intermission.
During the break we found a place to sit and JG and I had an ice cream.
One of us likes to break a few rules and imagine my surprise when I glanced back near the wall to see John sitting on the floor snapping contraband photos inside the venue after the intermission.
You can see what John was trying to get a shot of if you look in the middle of the photo. I’m in the orange jacket with JG next to me. Up in the right corner you can see my favorite part of the evening. The musicians were the best and I loved it when at one point all four band members were beating on a variety of drums at once.
It doesn’t take much to make me think of my sweet husband and a weekend away in Dublin without him just before Valentine’s Day kept him ever-present in my mind.
Despite a busy schedule of seeing the sights and long talks over coffee with my friend David, I found myself imagining what it would have been like to walk the streets of Dublin with the younger version of John as he was when he lived there 40 years ago.
Staring into my ‘heart’ chocolate at a table in Bewley’s, a place that he had recommended and whose tables he sat at years before, I felt only gratitude and a kind of sweet contentment knowing he was missing me too.
Valentine’s Day is the last in our trinity of dates that bunch together at the beginning of the year and mark the anniversaries that defined our early time together. Four years ago today I stepped off an airplane to meet John face to face. Most of you know this story, but if you’re new to GOTJ, you can click on the airplane link for the full ride.
I was full of hope and romantic daydreams with a clear musical soundtrack that began and ended with this tender song of longing.
We’ll go back to Bedruthan Steps for our annual Valentine’s Day ramble and snap a photographto mark the anniversary of our first visit there. I’ll likely add it to this post later if you’d like to come back for a look.
Chocolate Hearts For John From Dublin
Here’s a couple of photos from our afternoon at Bedruthan Steps. It was so chilly we didn’t stay out long, but we had a warm drink and a flapjack afterwards and I took a photograph of John in the afternoon light that I think might become a favorite.
John Winchurch & Elizabeth Harper - February 14, 2012- Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall
For some people this empty glass is an invitation to buy another round. They do that in our village pub. Buying rounds in they way they do was new to me. It might well be the same in the US, but due to my lack of alcohol consumption, I don’t have much experience with these things.
I tend to have a camera in hand more often than a pint when we’re at the pub and I’m always trying to capture the best images I can using a small point and shoot camera without a flash so as not to disrupt the naturalness of the scene. The image above I shot standing on a picnic table outside the pub while looking in through a window. I don’t think anyone saw me that time, but sometimes I do get funny looks.
This poorly lit image of John was taken on the restaurant side of our village pub. He’s drinking a cider (I think they taste like apple juice gone bad) and I’m having my usual diet lemonade which is like a diet Sprite. On quiz night I splash out as John would say and go for a double.
Elizabeth Holding Jess At The Pub
Here’s a shot John took of me last February holding one of my favorite pub pooches. Jess tolerates me cuddling her for a bit, but her gaze is never far from her John who I wrote about here. (It will make you smile)
I was sitting on the same stool last night holding her as I joined John and some of the other Friday night regulars who stop in for a drink and to catch up on the week. It’s a nice way to relax with friends and I make do just fine with my diet lemonade or diet Coke.
Most Saturday nights we have live music at the pub and tonight we have a local family doing their annual night in August where they’re billed as the Spriggs Family Robinson.
A group of us are meeting at the pub this evening to support Jos, Connie, Rebecca, and other Spriggs family members, and as we were confirming our arrival times among our group last night I said, ” I might even have some alcohol! ” As I am so well-known for not drinking anything with more kick than a bit of carbonation, this comment quickly elicited a rousing chorus of ” Oooooo! ”
I’ll let you know tomorrow if I decide to splash out or spend the evening as I usually do with my camera and a diet drink.
I think I need to consider my options carefully as it seems that I have a bit of a reputation to maintain now.
When my sweet husband bought me a bike of my own, he gave me a gift that made my heart very happy and I’ve had the wildest thoughts while zipping through the lanes or pushing hard to make it up hills. Due to having only three gears, I love how this little beauty makes me work a bit harder to get up the steeper places. Somehow the success at the top feels more like I’ve earned it. I could not have done it half so well without my season of spin classes and think this new bicycle and I shall become the best of friends.
That said let’s move on to the naming and why I chose the one I did. I tend to assign meaning to most things in life so I should not be surprised that the idea of a name for my new ‘girlfriend ‘ seemed important.
Thanks to everyone who offered a suggestion yesterday. They were all lovely in their own way and I appreciated the explanations as well. Angie came closest to the name I chose … offering something similar, but not quite what I had in mind.
I’m calling her Dora and here’s why …
When I was riding so hard up the hills around our village for the first time, I could almost hear the music playing when the bad witch rides by during the tornado scene in the Wizard of Oz movie. Although not the actual scene I’m referring to, this video link has the music I was hearing in my head on those hills.
Counter the witch imagery with the thrill and excitement of flying down through the lanes and you have some of the childlike enthusiasm I was feeling the rest of the time even going so far as to let out a few ” Weeeee, I love this biiiiiiiike” screams in places where my joy could not be contained.
Given the visual imagery, music, and my struggle to go home, how could I not think of Dorothy, her ruby slippers, (my bike is a deep shade of red) and the witch who had to be conquered. Even though Dorothy was was a front-runner, I knew I wanted something shorter and more racy for my girl. I thought Dora might work and when I checked online, I found it was a nickname for Dorothy and that it meant ‘gift’ which seemed just about perfect since she was gifted to me by John.
I know in America that ‘Dora the Explorer ‘ has been a favorite of young girls in particular for some time and while I had no thought at all about that Dora, I feel sure that my Dora and I will do quite a bit of exploring as we spin our way to new adventures.
When I left England for America on April 22, I had no idea I would still be here in July. Much has happened that I did not feel free to share online at the time, but now that I have finally booked my return ticket, I will be back blogging regularly.
Henry David Thoreau said, ‘ We should come home from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day with new experience and character.’
It fits perfectly with what I’ve come to think of as my ‘lost and found’ summer experience and I hope you’ll come back to hear all about it.
Even though I won’t see my ‘Dancing Ladies’ until early August, my final countdown has begun.
The Dancing Ladies On The Hilltop - Almost Home
I’ve imagined my airport reunion with John more times this summer than I can count and while his face looks very dear each time I think of him waiting just beyond the arrival checkpoint, it’s the memory of our last embrace that I cling to in my mind and how it will feel to finally be back in his arms again.
In 1976, rock musicians were still limited in their physical movement by the length of the cords that connected them to their amplifiers. Attached as they were to the volume control, they could leap and dance about while they played, but only so far.
Music can act as a link for many of us with certain songs tethering us to old memories like those amp cords allowing us to gain distance, but never completely disconnect. We may hear a song in a different location years on, but within a few notes we’ve shifted back to the time when everything around us imprinted along with the music, linking it forever in a sort of soundtrack for our lives.
Last night I was at our village pub celebrating my friend Kate’s 50th birthday. It was quite the party with live music and great food and I had fun chatting with the people who’ve become my friends. It was at the end of the evening after having put on my coat while giving my husband a look that said, ” I’m ready to go if you are … ” that I heard the opening chords to a song that only has one memory for me.
It’s the summer of 1976. I’m fifteen and lost in the screaming energy of southern rock fans who don’t want the show to end. I have a perfect seat although I have spent little of the concert in it and from my position in the center section of the balcony, I can see the stage clearly and part of the audience below.
It’s one of three sold out shows being recorded for their live album, ” One More From The Road ” and fans of the band are making their thoughts heard. They want to hear another song before they go and I join in with the others shouting and clapping as we try to bring back the band for another encore because there’s one more song we need to hear before we say goodnight.
My voice is strained and I’m sweaty from dancing in place. I’m dancing alone, but together along with 4,677 other fans calling out and demanding in a way, to hear that one last tune.
The crowd roars as the band retakes the stage and Ronnie Van Zant, lead singer for LynyrdSkynyrd, asks that now famous question in southern rock circles, ” What song is it you wanna hear? ” It’s in the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia that a sort of musical history is made when the crowd responds in what sounds like one explosive voice with only two words,
Listening last night as the lone musician played the southern rock classic, I closed my eyes a few times remembering myself at 15 and that night when for a few minutes all that seemed to matter was a song. In a funny twist towards the end, I realized I was looking down at his shoes with no particular thought.
There was nothing wrong them, they were just ordinary shoes, but after about the third glance and somewhere around the words, ” Lord, I can’t change … ” I realized that I was looking at his feet because Ronnie Van Zant always went barefoot on stage and I remembered that I’d read that he did it because he liked to feel the stage burn.
While I was never the Confederate flag waving, Dixie loving, fan of southern rock music, that some of my friends were, I loved certain songs and ” Free Bird ” was one of them.
For years it has been a song that people shout out at inappropriate times at concerts or on other occasions when they think it might be funny. I’m sure many have no idea of the origin or why they do it. They just do it because their buddy did it once and got a laugh so they try it too.
I think it deserves better than to be used in a bad bid for attention by someone with no more creativity than that, but then that’s coming from someone who was actually there when the question was asked, and had a chance to answer.
It’s a special memory that 35 years later still has the power to make me remember a time when shouting, ” Free Bird ” was no joke, but simply a song request.
If you have a special song or a concert memory that takes you back maybe you could share it in a comment below. Don’t forget to leave a comment on Monday’s post if you’d like a chance to win my contest and thanks to everyone who has left one there already. I’m loving finding out new things about old friends as well as having the opportunity to meet more of you for the first time.