The Songwriter - Chapter 5 Part 1
The Songwriter – A Novel by Paul McCann
Chapter Five -EMOTIONS OF A CITY
As I walked down Old Street I noticed some of the empty buildings that had seen better days . I’m sure if these old foundations could speak they would have spewed up from their tired old shells and cried out to the modern day architects for a reconstruction or a final demolition .
A strange fascination crept over me as once again I happened to find myself in a place where I had never been before and with absolutely no idea of how I had got there or even why I was going this way or that . After walking through the rain for an hour or more I knew I was lost so I rang Linda again . In the end I hailed a taxi-cab . I was getting into the taxi a young lady threw herself in with me and said ,
“ I hope you don’t mind sharing . I’ve been waiting for a bus for ages and a taxi fare halved is a burden shared ”
“ Where are you going ? ” The driver asked .
“ Regent Street ” The girl replied .
“ What about you ”
I saw a number 48 bus on its way to Piccadilly and asked the driver where in London I was .
“ Near Covent Garden squire “
“ Near Covent Garden squire “
He replied .
How on Earth did I ever get from Old Street to here ""
“ Excuse me sir , where do you want to go ?”
“Dalston ” I said .
“ I hope you don’t mind me jumping in to your taxi .”
The girl seemed friendly . I looked at her and said ,
“Isn’t it different looking at London through the window of a taxi . See those two people holding hands there . They must be in love , and look at those people hurrying to the underground ”.
She smiled just as some of the neon lights came on around the city . The evening was cool and there was electric in the air .
There was I sitting next to a beautiful young girl in the back of a London Cab , just as mystery beckoned the taxi pulled up and the driver reached out his hand for the fare .
After she handed over a few nuggets the young girl thanked me and ran off down Regent Street . The taxi pulled away from the kerb and made its way through the heavy traffic .
As we passed Her Majesty’s Theatre I said ,
“ Parting is such sweet sorrow ”
“ Take my advice and put her behind you . I’ve shared my cab
with all kinds of girls . Some of them were nice and some
rough . Usually the nice ones give me the most trouble .
Where in Dalston are you going then ?”
“Queensway flats” I replied .
“ Sure I know them ”
A few moments silence passed and then he said .
“ I love London . Where abouts in Belfast do you come from ”
I had to laugh and said ,
“ Would you believe me if I told you I came from Australia .”
“ Yea . I lived in Sydney for a while ” The driver said .
We shared a brief story or two about different places we knew in Sydney , like Luna Park , and some of the beaches .
As much as I wanted to carry on talking the driver pulled up outside the tower block where Linda lived . The driver reached out his hand and I paid him the fare then I grabbed my belongings and said goodbye .
Making my way inside the flats I took the stairs because the lifts rarely ever worked . I stood outside her front door and prepared myself for what was ahead . I rapped with a confident knock and when Linda opened the door , she put her arms around me and gave me a kiss . I liked the welcome and it
created an immediate reaction . I felt as if I had touched a personal place with her , which meant something to me .
I walked into the flat and sat down . She sat next to me .
Linda seemed reluctant to talk so I started .
“ Its good to see you again ” I said .
She almost broke down in tears .
“I’m sorry for the way I spoke to you the last tine you where here . It was because of Steve . He is very jealous and I had to push you away . ”
Slowly but surely I began to really believe her .
As the night went on , we drew closer to each other and even polished off a bottle of wine in the process .
Something happened that night between Linda and myself . We shed our fears and cast off responsibilities for a while . I could see she was trapped in London and had nowhere else to turn . She had a high pressure job in marketing and her latest nightmare was debt . It seemed Steve had been burning up a lot of Linda’s money . Mainly on drugs and gambling . He prevented her from doing things she wanted to . The only reason he gave his KO for me to board there was for the extra money . I looked at her and felt a pity .
Steve owed over three weeks rent to the council for the flat and was in the red to his drug supplier . His job was on the shaky side and his car was in need of repair . Linda had asked if I could pay three weeks in advance and I said I would , but that I needed to get to my bank to get some money out . I realised there and then that it was not me Linda was after , but my money and I almost felt something kick me in the guts . The walls began to close in on me , there where too many memories for me in this flat already . Too many moments ,
and too much hurt . I decided that I would stay the night but
the first thing I would do in the morning was to move out
and chance my arm sleeping rough until I could find a job that would pay my fare across the water to hometown of Belfast .
I had to let Linda sort out her own life and try to forget about someone that I did care for very much . I had to leave behind the girl I had met in Coffs Harbour and the admiration I once had . In my heart there was nothing left for Linda but pity .
Morning tapped me on the head as if I was a baby in the arms of its mother . I got up and had a shower . Linda had made breakfast for both of us and then she put on her coat and walked out the door .
“ I’ll see you later then .” Linda said .
“ Have a good day ” I replied .
From her balcony thirteen floors up I watched Linda catch the bus for work . For a while I felt removed from everything . I watched the traffic below race along the road , avoiding the odd pedestrian that suddenly scurried across the roadway . As time went on the sidewalk’s where alive with people . The presence of space invaded my mind and I started to think about so many things we often take for granted in life . I thought about the sun that rises in the morning . I felt my thoughts chase some of the everyday things around us . Those busy hums in the house , of water running from a tap . The stillness of a wall with a picture , a book on a table , good company . The sound of rain hitting a roof as you drift to sleep can be music to the ears . The security of lying on a comfortable bed , thinking of the day that has been , or the things we have seen ,
is decadence .
Then I thought how lucky are those who take all of this for granted and do not have to suffer the songwriters syndrome . Being a songwriter can separate you from the world and as you become more in tune with the subconscious you notice a world where many things are taken for granted . So many times I thought about having a wife and a home with our children all gathered around at the dinner table . I wished for things at times like electric lights , baths , soft sofas , good food , and shelter from the cold streets that so many times where home for me . London so far had been merciless and hard . I stood there on the balcony and thought for a while . I thought about things the cold world outside that awaited my presence .
A sudden adrenalins surge threw my thoughts on an elevator and deep down I felt life inside me stir into a new awakening . I grabbed my bag , my guitar and in an instant I walked out the door of the flat leaving nothing but a shadow behind me .
As I walked into the lift Linda’s next door neighbour got in also .
She had a kind face that was pleasant to look at .
As I smiled at her she spoke .
“ Are you a friend of hers ” ?
“ Not really ” I replied .
“ Where are you going ?” She asked .
“ I don’t know ” I replied .
“ Jesus can save you ” She said .
“ I know , but I’m already saved ” I said .
She burst out in with laughter and almost sang her response ,
“Praise the lord child , my names Maria , what are you doing later on this evening ?”
“Nothing Maria . My names Paul ”
We got out of the life on the ground floor, and she said .
“Do you want to come along for some praise and worship with me and my husband later on Paul ?”
“ Be here at five thirty and we will take you with us ”
“OK Maria, see you later on then ”
“Bye , have a good day ”
Oh yes , at last I met someone who was the genuine article .I could see some light in the tunnel .
For most of the day I wandered around checking out the sights with thoughts of finding a corner somewhere to busk .
I was drowning in a sea of angry faces and quickly gave up the idea of busking in London . Being a stranger in London is very hard for some to accept . I stood out like a sore thumb on the pavement . I was called a lot of different names .
The blacks called me Honky , and the whites called me Paddy .
There was no place to escape to . I walked along a lonely path and found the front door of a pub not far from the Dalston police station .
You know how , when sometimes things go wrong , which triggers a series of events that seem to snowball , well that’s just what started to happen to me . Murphys law was running out of control and nothing stood in its way .
I threw down a pint and went to answer natures call .
I innocently stumbled in to the ladies instead of the gents .
Within seconds I was thrown up against the wall by this gorilla ,
who also ran the bar . I tried to explain to him that I didn’t know that this was the ladies but he was just too mad and too
bad to convince . A short scuffle developed with me coming off the worst . There was a difference of opinions . When I told the gorilla that I’d never walk through the door of his pub again .
He never blinked an eye . When I asked him if he treated all his customers like this , he called me a pervert . His eyes began to burn , and his forehead began to sweat .
It was time to go , so I pushed him away from me and although shaken up a bit I did manage to walk unassisted from the pub . I’m sure there where skid marks left behind me .
My nerves were jumping and my heart was thumping .
I walked as if on air along the Kingsland Road trying to avoid
hard faces that passed by . Sure enough this part of the city was giving me a real welcome .
I got on the first bus that came along Kingsland Road and spent an hour getting over what had just happened . I got off at Liverpool Street station and just wandered into a train .
I got off the train and had no idea where I was . For some reason I guessed that I was somewhere near West Ham .
I walked along strange sidewalk’s and made my way to a place I had never seem before in my life .
Feeling very lost I thought things couldn’t get much worse so I stood in the doorway of a pawnbrokers shop and watched people pass by . I saw a black taxi and put my hand up . I left my troubles in the doorway and jumped into the taxi .
I was still only in second gear as part of the morning was still left , so I asked the taxi-driver to drop me near Trafalgar Square .
He left me at the at Charing Cross Road , where people sat around tables at a cafe , in the morning sun drinking tea and coffee . I took up a position in Trafalgar Square and began busking some of my songs . I played for about an hour and left empty handed . I thought to myself at least the pigeons seemed to enjoy the music . I promised myself to return again everyday for a week until I received some kind of reward for my trouble .
I was on the air now as the lunchtime crowds pushed along sidewalk’s . Not far from the South Bank Centre , a tiny piece of green grass became the resting place for a great number of people who had found a place to capture refreshment and a
brief escape from their busy day . I sat nearby and played some easy blues in the midday sun . Nobody told me to move on or shut up so I stayed and continued to play some of my songs . I pulled out my blues harp and placed in my mouth .
End of Part 1
link to part 2