I suppose I have a dream
By Parson Thru
I suppose I have a dream of some sort. I carry it around from place to place like my own personal Star of Bethlehem. Trouble is, it’s quite indistinct, obscured by clouds most of the time and quite hazy at others. It leaves a lot open to interpretation. Over the years it has said: “Be an agricultural engineer or something in the country – perhaps in the Yorkshire Dales.” Then it said: “Be a milkman.” Then: “How about an academic or a policy wonk?" (when they were the dog’s bollocks) "A philosopher?” Then: "RAF IT specialist." (which I sort of was for a while) Then: "Lorry driver." But, throughout, it has whispered: "Play guitar. Write."
Oh my, I’m as far away from it as ever and sadly lacking in the “tools for the job” department. Meanwhile, the Queen (“The Queen!”) keeps paying me for turning up and putting in an Olivier-quality performance of a dedicated servant of the Crown. But I am still stuck with this dream.
Oh, I know. I should be grateful. Don’t know how lucky I am. No famine, no Somme, or Normandy Landing. Not even Leukaemia. Dream ticket. But my curse is to see things differently. I always have, but usually shrugged my shoulders and got on with the job. But now, hovering around the 50 mark, the clouds keep clearing and the dream shines through, reflecting on the rippling waters of what remains of my life. I raise my binoculars and the point of light dances around drawing shapes in my eyes, none of which are familiar. Still, nothing is clear.
So I write a little. Quite enthusiastically, like a spaniel with a stick. I run up to people, wagging my tail and dropping the stick at their feet. Nobody picks it up. It isn’t very interesting. I pick it up and run to other feet. Drop it, step back a couple of paces and look up, tail wagging. Nothing. If they saw it, they are not interested. It’s not much of a stick and people have better things to do.
So I pick up the guitar. I had lessons nearly 30 years ago. Sheeit! How those years pass. I’m not a natural. Not a talent (what ever that is – blessed / gifted or obsessed?). For a few years I improved, then stopped, got divorced, estranged from kids. Messy. Picked it up again. Played around, on and off. Bought a nice guitar, then sold it to pay the gas bill. Funny how time passes. Lots happens. Great things. Bad things. Inherited my brother’s guitar. Then one day when you look at the case under the sofa, under an inch of dust, six to ten years collapses down to nothing and the Star of Bethlehem appears from behind the clouds. I like the guitar. I recently bought a new one. I feel guilty, but it is the first in 20 years. I work hard at trying to play it well.
Priorities are funny things. Really funny. A sort of alternative comedy without words, without the jumping up and down, or the tone of desperation in the voice (hollow laugh). I picked up the guitar again. This time, I’ll dedicate myself. I’ll learn properly. Technique, theory, scales, finger-style, the whole nine yards. And I have. Well, as far as servicing the Queen and my girlfriend will allow. Practice, practice, practice. I have invented tunes, one of which I actually like and walk around humming like it was someone else’s. But when I look up to the Star of Bethlehem, no dust comes shimmering down. Irina tells me to keep playing and it will all come together. And she should know. She is a Russian piano and music theory teacher. She is also crazy in the most lovable and infectious way. I’m putting my faith in Irina.
I don’t know where the dream is at the moment, but I like writing, even if my words are never read. I like guitar, aesthetically and for the rare moments when things come together and I move my own soul briefly, before lack of concentration and talent breaks things down. And that’s why I’ll keep writing and playing. Not for the dream, but for the odd occasion when my crazy pursuits make me miss my train to work. Magic moments. Take it away, Max…