Monday, April 04, 2005

'Wouldn't It Be Great If...?'

Now there’s a question we’ve all asked at one time or another. Often in moments of excess consumption. There you are, sitting in the pub, chatting away, letting the cares of the world wash over you like dust in the desert, and some smartalec begins a question with ‘wouldn’t it be great if…?’

Happened to me just the other day, now I come to think of it. Wouldn’t it be great if we got in contact with Guy Clark and flew him over from Texas for an acoustic concert in the back room of a pub in Cornwall. A very nice pub, as it happens, and I’m sure Guy would have loved to do it, but the trouble with that sort of plan is carrying it out. The plot was hatched in December, the gig was planned for August, it’s now April, and I’m pretty sure the gig schedule of a country and western legend doesn’t allow him to drop everything and fly to distant Celtic Britain at a mere four months’ notice.

Especially when nobody’s given a moment’s thought to the money.

Maybe next year. We all have a ‘pending’ file somewhere in our subconscious for the long-term storage of harebrained schemes, purposeless plans, abandoned projects, and the 45 books we’re going to get around to writing if only we can find the time. Doubtless the Richard Bransons of this world are where they are because they have the knack of turning these daft ideas into money, but for most of us it’s usually a case of ‘do what you can and do what you must’. As Bob Dylan sang all those years ago.

Except sometimes the harebrained schemes get carried out. Especially when you’re young and stoned and fanciful.

It would have been Yaya who said it. He was the one who did most of the travelling, so it follows he did most of the thinking about travelling. Somewhere on my mothers’ bookshelves is a dusty copy of our school magazine from 1968 or something like that in which Yaya dutifully describes, in his best ‘edited to protect the sensibilities of parents and teachers’ style, how he and another boy hitch-hiked around Europe at the age of seventeen. Possibly younger: I may have got these dates wrong.

I know that’s not especially unusual these days. But it was a big deal at a minor boys’ public school in leafy Hertfordshire back in 1968. Christ, we’d only just persuaded them to abandon the collar studs and let us wear our jackets unbuttoned.

Since which time Yaya had also:

- Spent the best part of a year working on a Kibbutz in Israel.

- Travelled across North America and ended up working as lighting engineer for Canada’s leading pop group, Abraham’s Children.

Yes, I know no-one’s heard of them outside Canada.

Yaya’s a few months older than me. But at that point the best I’d managed was a one month Eurail Pass that took me and my girlfriend of the time to Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Cannes.

So Yaya tended to be more confident in all things international. This may have had something to do with altitude - Yaya’s principal distinguishing feature being his height: 6’8". Perhaps the world’s just a little less alarming for a 17 year old schoolboy when everyone’s just that little bit underneath you.

Here’s a picture of Yaya taken at around the same time, with some people of lesser physical stature. You get the idea.

Ya and Libs and Liney Posted by Hello

We’ll come back to the 6’8" thing in a while (it has a small but significant part to play in this story). For the time being we need to imagine Yaya sprawled on a bed at 123, wreathed in smoke and with a giant doobie between his lips.

Who else is in the bedroom?

Stu is, for sure. It’s his room. He’s Yaya’s younger brother. For a comparison, mentally shave off 4".

Mark Fowler is probably there. He’s Stu’s best chum. We’ll refer to him as Mark F from now on, to avoid confusion with…

Mark G. that’s me. I might have been there. I could fictionalise myself into this little tableau, but it’s just as likely I was still off at college in London, where I was systematically helping to trash 1, Victory Square, Camberwell (another address we may return to later).

There are various other possibles, but it’s not important. For now let’s just focus on Yaya, legs akimbo and sucking in a great lungful of cannabis sativa and Virginia’s finest, at the very moment Joni starts to sing 'I was a free man in Paris…'

Da dee dah-di dah di-duuum.

‘Wouldn’t it be great,’ says Yaya, ‘to drive down the Champs Elysee with this on the stereo and all the windows wide open…’


Blogger Mark Gamon said...

'Wouldn't it be great if...?'

Everyone's got one of THOSE in their life.

Just a thought for anyone who drops in here...

8:19 pm  
Anonymous caroline said...

I don't have time for my 'wouldn't it be great' moments - but I might steal the idea...

Now, why is Yaya called Yaya? That is tall, really tall.

You were allowed to leave your blazers UNBUTTONED??? This is shocking stuff. We weren't.

Bob Dylan also sang:
When you ain't got nothing,
You got nothing to loose.

9:59 pm  
Blogger broomhilda said...

I have a few of those 'Wouldn't it be great if...?' moments. (smiling just thinking about them) Can't wait for the next installment.

1:42 pm  
Blogger Mark Gamon said...

We'll get to the Yaya thing shortly. I'm currently just a bit amazed how long it's taking even to introduce the main characters, never mind board the bus. Still, this is a blook and not a blog, so I'm sure everybody will be patient. It's lovely to know someone's reading it (so far, Yaya isn't, but that may change).

2:10 pm  
Blogger Morphess said...

Bet lots of people are reading Mark.
It's a strange world in Bloggerland...possibly folk don't quite know how to respond to this new 'novel' idea.

I'll place a bet that you get half a ton of feedback after the last installment.

9:06 pm  
Blogger Mark Gamon said...

hmmmm. At this rate the last instalment is around a year away. Possibly longer.

6:15 am  
Blogger Deirdre said...

"At this rate the last instalment is around a year away." That's good. I have this feeling Bertha is going to break down along the way, probably somewhere scenic and windy. Not wanting to put the hex on the trip or anything... But you've got spare parts? Tools? (Why are you laughing?)

4:22 pm  
Blogger Mark Gamon said...

Well. You know what they say about travelling, Deirdre. Better to travel that to arrive. Or as Kesey (I think) put it: better to be on the bus than off the bus. And all journeys have a destination of some sort. You might just not have intended to go THERE, that's all.

I keep calling Bertha a bus. I have to stop that. It's not technically correct. But welcome aboard the ambulance - you'll find yourself over there in the hitchhikers' list. Hoping that's acceptable, or course.

9:21 pm  
Blogger Mark Gamon said...

it's very late at night here and I haven't managed a post. I have a conference to help organise so we may have to live in the comments column for 48 hours.

However I do believe the comments column is about to get a little more lively. Watch this space...

9:23 pm  
Blogger Omykiss said...

I think you should invoke poetic license and call Bertha a bus ... it's somehow more romantic than an ambulance don't you think? And there's the alliteration too ....

9:40 pm  
Blogger broomhilda said...

I agree with omykiss - bus is much better than ambulance. Has more of that time traveling magic to it...more of that era of hitting the road, stoned and full of lifes possibilities.

10:28 am  
Blogger Deirdre said...

I agree with you, omykiss and broomhilda - Bertha's a bus. (trying to shoo away all that smoke...) Who's driving this ship, anyway? (peering into the murky depths...) Are we anywhere near the bus? (blinking stupidly) Drat and tarnation, where the hell are we?

5:27 pm  
Blogger Mark Gamon said...

We're somewhere, I know that...

(Blinking through the smoke)

Help. Looks like Margate. Please advise...

7:27 pm  
Anonymous yaya said...

hi everyone,
just not to get too involved I'd just like to point out that bertha was a truck( as in robert crumb "trucking")a special beast with both good and bad memories and mechanics. Definitely not a bus or even less an ambulance. As all of us Bertha had lived another seperate and very different life before she arrived into our loving embrace And anyway is Deirdre psychic? or what?
This is my first foray into blogdom. Are all you guys weird or bored and why do you all come from australasia.?(sorry brunhilda),
Does this shit take over your life ?
Are their any rules in blogland . ? can I Swear?
Mark is a a lifelong friend and one of those formative experiences that cements relationships was the summer of 1974.
love yaya

8:06 pm  
Anonymous caroline said...

*ahem* I think it's moi that comes over from Australsia Yaya, and I do because I can, therein lies the beauty of cyberspace.

Now that Mark has your ear I look forward to your many comments -

'I think you'll find that the spare wheel was nicked in Rome'

'You never actually managed to sleep with her Mark, not for want of trying.'

And yes, it's more addictive than red leb.

2:56 am  
Blogger Mark Gamon said...

Thought that might happen...

8:02 am  
Blogger broomhilda said...

I'm from the States, yes I'm weird and bored. What are you sorry for? (swipeing the smoke away) Hummm, 1974, I have vague, drug hazed memories of that year. I don't give a shit what language you use, although there may be others who may object. Rules, what rules?

Mark, you are master of this domain, do we have rules?

8:03 am  
Blogger Mark Gamon said...

Good punctuation. I INSIST on good punctuation...

12:42 pm  
Blogger Deirdre said...

Yaya, if I was psychic, I'd know what you meant by that... (Am I psychic? Huh? What?) And as for, "Are all you guys weird or bored and why do you all come from australasia?" Mark? Kick him. Please. No, please, I beg you.

3:45 pm  

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