Sunday, May 15, 2005

Granite and Quartz

The Allman Brothers played for many hours.

And so would anyone. You’re an Allman Brother, playing at the height of your powers. Why would you want to stop?

They did, of course. And those of us returning in Bertha shuffled footsore and happy back through the security fencing and out over the crushed grass of the car park and climbed aboard and rolled a final spliff and slipped something mellow into the tape deck and waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

Parking logistics were never well planned in 1974. Leaving the car park also took many hours.

And here comes one of those perfect nuggets of memory, worming its way through the muddled synapses of your correspondent’s brain like a sliver of translucent quartz breaking through grey granite.

I’m sitting there, in the back of Bertha. I’m on the right-hand bench, leaning back with my eyes closed. Opposite me, at the end of the left-hand bench, is Yanni Flood-Page, head bent forward, face hidden by thick waves of hair. It’s dark, and Bertha’s crawling forward, two yards at a time.

Then Yanni starts singing, in note-perfect harmony with the stereo. All the words, all in the right place, all a third above, just where you’d want a harmony to be.

End of memory.

Here’s the curious thing. Until I started writing this down, I was convinced the memory of Yanni singing was purely visual. I could see it, but I could not have named the song.

It just came to me, literally as I wrote the picture down:

John Martyn, singing May You Never.

Can’t recall a damn thing about the rest of the journey back. Give me a break: I was that stoned and exhausted I’m lucky to remember anything. We all were, which explains Yaya’s one nugget of memory about the journey: when he got to Bishop’s Stortford he was too tired to drive any further, so Libby and Liney had to hitch-hike on to Dunmow in the middle of the night.

That’s about ten miles. Hey, we used to hitch-hike a lot in those days.

Yaya’s been feeling guilty about that ever since.

Curiously, Paul has exactly the same memory, from an entirely separate occasion. Been at a party in Stortford, exhausted and wanting to get home to Much Hadham (the opposite direction), dropped Libby and Liney at Hockerill traffic lights to hitch-hike through to Dunmow.

Felt guilty about it ever since.

Libby and Liney are emerging from this story as two of the most tolerant people I’ve ever known. They must have been well ticked-off with us a lot of the time.

And I suspect they’re about to get even more ticked-off. We’re a week away from Bertha leaving for Istanbul, and I’m pretty sure that by now the big decision has been made…


Anonymous CarolineM said...

Good to see you back Mark.

May You Never sung by John....saw him sing this once at Sussex University, he could barely stand but it was incredibly beautiful. Damn, I wish I hadn't sold my LP collection... Libby and Linney get on the bus? I'm guessing not.

9:52 am  
Anonymous yaya said...

Christ! That was a long set.

9:11 am  
Anonymous CarolineM said...

Glad you're here Yaya, Mark's gone AWOL.

12:42 pm  
Blogger Mark Gamon said...

No. I'm here. Next post tomorrow. Promise.

7:19 pm  
Blogger Omykiss said...

Whatever happened to hitch-hiking? Is the world really so
unsafe or are we just more paranoid? Methinks ... paranoid.

11:46 pm  
Blogger Mark Gamon said...

Hitch-hiking. That's a whole other blog. Interesting thought...

7:53 am  
Blogger broomhilda said...

I used to hitch-hike a lot in the 70's. I once went from Chicago, Illinois down to Texas, from there to California and back to Illinois. Lots of stops, parties and a few close calls along the way.

2:23 pm  
Blogger Mark Gamon said...

One of these days, I'll be brave enugh to write about a close call I had in upstate New York in 1976. But that, too, is another blog...

5:32 pm  

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