Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Remembering the guitar

I was watching a not particularly good film about a teenage boy who has crippling shyness and discovers that his next door neighbour was once a famous rock star but faked his death in order to avoid paying taxes (or something similar). I discovered that the film is called 'The beat beneath my feet', but it's not worth looking for. 

Something however clicked in my mind, and I found myself playing 12 string guitar and singing a song which I wrote in February 1972, called 'Gemini and Leo' (I'm the Leo and Mimi was the Gemini ... funnily enough, several of my closest friends were Geminis).

Gemini and Leo are incompatible
 But don't let that fool you 
They'll trick you with any phrase of doom
As long as their personal aims are satisfied
And the witch cries 'folly!' up on high

Man and woman are incompatible
Unless both make a try
Don't sit back with your tea and sigh
About the things you'd do if you had the time
But don't, for is it really that wise?

We say we're as close as the pages in a book
But we know we'll never get to that stage
We'll try as we may but we know deep inside
I'm not your opposing page

So dear friend, as we grow old
We grow away from the ideals we set ourselves
They'll remain in situ till the wedding bells
Which will never ring, as we know so well
For Gemini and Leo just don't gell

I have a memory of writing the lyrics during a free period at school, but I don't remember whether I had the tune before the lyrics or vice versa. I certainly didn't have a guitar with me at school! Some good lines in there, along with one clinker and one obscure Hammill reference. I also remember playing this song on my beaten guitar at an open mic session at the 1972 Lacock festival, and discovering to my mortification that Maddy Prior, lead singer of Steeleye Span, was in the front row (believe it or not, I used exactly the same words to describe this eight years ago).

Finishing the above song, I then went on to play two songs from Richard and Linda Thompson's "I want to see the bright lights tonight" - "Withered and died" and "Has (s)he got a friend" - which is when my wife came into the lounge and took a picture of me playing.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Harvest festival

The traditional harvest festival was held last night on our kibbutz - and presumably on most other kibbutzim in Israel. The programme is agricultural branches displaying some of their 'goods' - a sheaf of wheat, a young turkey, etc - interleaved with songs and dances. Some of the dances have a long tradition on the kibbutz - the dresses and music stay the same, but the girls wearing the dresses over the years change.

The weather over the past few days has been terrible - 40°C outside! Inside, the air conditioner in our lounge struggled, cooling the air to only  29°C. I don't know whether this was because the a/c doesn't work properly or whether the air outside was too hot to be cooled sufficiently. Fortunately, the hot weather broke early yesterday evening, so by the time the festival started (at about 7:30pm), the temperature was a balmy 30°C, if not less: definitely bearable and even pleasant.

Many years ago, it was my lot to have guard duty on the main gate during the day of the harvest festival, when again the temperature was far too high. I had a mild case of overheating and was nearly physically sick when I tried to drink water.

I was slightly envious of those playing, singing and dancing: over the years, I have taken my place with the performers. Looking at it rationally, I don't have the time these days for rehearsals, so maybe it's just as well that nobody asks me anymore to perform. 

After the programme finished, we had a picnic on the grass (only dairy products), then someone put on a tape of music for folk dancing. After my last experience of dancing (Independence Day), I wasn't inclined to participate, although I was going over the steps in my head. Actually, I did dance a few steps to 'The shepherd's dance', which is yet another complicated dance with lots of twirls and hopping which I learnt when I was 15; during the dance, I realised that my shoes weren't right for this kind of dancing, and I was also afraid that my sunglasses (which I didn't need at all) would fall out of my breast pocket. So after one chorus, I said my goodbyes and left.

I very much enjoyed yesterday evening!