Sunday, 7 February 2016

A Perfectly Foolish Young Man I Wanted

Introduction

The flower thus far of Carl Halling's writings was first collected in early 2012 as the works Where the Halling Valley River Lies and Far Beyond the Borderlands of Scotia. And then with the cream of a later work, The Boy from the Tail End of the Goldhawk Road being added, this same flower became What Though Are the Wonders of this Brief Life, When Compared to the Fathomless Joy Awaiting, As a Perfectly Foolish Young Man I Wanted, Everything to Prove to the World Something, Paid for my Past in a Worldly Sense, Compared to the Fathomless Joy Awaiting and A Perfectly Foolish Young Man I Wanted. And so consisting to the best of my knowledge of Halling Valley and Scotia in their entirety with modifications...and extracts from the previously published eBook, At the Tail End of the Goldhawk Road, again with modifications...as well as selected extracts from The Boy from the Tail End of the Goldhawk Road. With still more widespread minor edits taking place in 2013 and 2014. It's a truly panoramic work, much of it of overt or subtle autobiographical origin, an incredibly informative compendium of essays, verses, memoirs &c., created in a spirit of Christian truth and integrity...a thrilling voyage...featuring culture, history, art, literature, verse...addiction, humour, redemption, faith, love and so much more besides. While in the cases of all the autobiographical writings except Where the Halling Valley River Lies, names of people have been changed, or modified, to the best of my ability in the name of privacy. Unless, that is, their privacy is unaffected. Or respecting those I consider to be public figures (one of which has been afforded two names, his own and a pseudonym). The same applies to certain places or institutions if I believe naming them might infringe on their right to privacy; thence a certain place of learning has been tendered two names, as in the case of the previously mentioned celebrity.

Part One Where the Halling Valley River Lies

Book One

Leitmotifs from an English Pastorale

One thing is certain. Paul Runacles had not been born into a typically privileged upper middle class family, and so by the time he arrived at his college, he was bereft of a frame of reference; unlike the majority of his fellow pupils, weaned on the gilded sports of the British social elite.
And he escaped from his college once, like some kind of hysterical gymslip schoolgirl...just the once it was...around 1971 or '72 to avoid being punished for something stupid he did.
It was an utterly pointless exercise as it was the last day of term, but he just panicked and bolted, and kept on running...until he ended up wandering through some muddy field in the heart of the English countryside before simply giving up and sitting by the side of the road.
But he never did it again, and in later years, when he looked back at his time as a public schoolboy, he'd insist if he possessed a single quality that might be termed noble such as patience, or self-mastery, or consideration of the needs of other people, then he owed it to his education, and not least the four years he spent at his college.
Yet, looking at the facts after his eventual exit, you'd be forgiven for thinking he'd simply picked up from where he left off before he collapsed in that muddy field in the heart of the English countryside and started drifting in circles again leaving so many tasks unfinished he effectively wrecked his gilded destiny. But in fact this was far from the truth, for he was never without purpose; but simply...he lacked the go-getter's ability to turn his dreams to good account.
And looking back on all he'd lost in late middle age, he'd often weep silently to himself at night, at the end of yet another day spent doing really very little when he thought about it.
And there'd be times when certain pieces of quintessentially English pastoral music still had the power to evoke his strange and sudden flight, or rush of blood to the head, of over four decades ago. Such as Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending, which seemed to him to bespeak a passion for the Arcadian soul of England that verges on the ecstatic. And the same could be said for the opening sections of Mike Oldfield's Hergest Ridge, which tended to convey to him a deep mournfulness silently existent beneath the picture perfect image of English privilege.
Any argument in favour of such a tragic element would be powerfully reinforced in his eyes by playing the music of the much-loved singer-songwriter Nick Drake, who was not so much handsome as beautiful in what could be called a classically English, soft, wistful, romantic, Shelleyan fashion, with seemingly perfect skin, full lips and a head of cascading curls.
And in some of his many photos, he bears an uncanny resemblance to the former Doors front man Jim Morrison; and like Morrison, he was a poet as much as a musician. But the likeness ends there, for while Morrison was able to conquer his natural shyness and become a wildly charismatic showman, Drake never mastered the art of Rock performance.
However, blessed with a precocious musical genius, he secured a recording contract with the Island label while still only twenty years old and at Cambridge University.
On the surface of things, he was destined for a long and happy life, but unlike his near-double, was unable to translate his enormous gifts into commercial success. And he became very seriously depressed as a result, dying mysteriously at the age of just 26, after having released only three albums in his lifetime.
Looking back from the vantage point of the early 2010s, Runacles couldn't help thinking that in any era other than that ushered in by the Rock revolution, Drake would have pursued a career more suited to his background and temperament. As opposed to one which, while ensuring his immortality, clearly caused him an inestimable amount of pain.
And he came to maturity in a Britain whose young were in active rebellion against the Judeo-Christian value system on which the nation had been founded. So was perforce affected by the spiritual chaos of the times, which propelled him towards the endless night of worldly philosophy, deadly for a mind as litmus-paper sensitive as his.
And listening in late middle age to such perfectly English examples of pastoral music as Drake's River Man, which seemed to him to bespeak a passion for the Arcadian soul of England that verges on the ecstatic, Runacles became suddenly cognizant of a colossal compassion within himself.
But not just for the youthful Runacles...who ran away from his college once like some kind of hysterical gymslip schoolgirl...so much as for the privileged classes as a whole...those traditionally educated at public schools.
A somewhat unusual receptacle for the milk of human kindness, some might say. But the privileged among us are surely no less in need of consideration than any other social class.
For despite the fact that the vast majority of those who pass through the British public school system go on to lead full and successful lives entirely free from melancholy, social advantage can clearly be a heavy burden to bear for some. Such as Nick Drake, who sang so devastatingly of "falling so far on a silver spoon" in the dark pastorale, Parasite.
As to Runacles, he'd not been born into a typically privileged upper middle class family, and so by the time he arrived at his public school, he was bereft of a frame of reference, unlike the majority of his fellow pupils, weaned on the gilded sports of the British social elite.
Yet, a close connection existed in the shape of his paternal grandmother, arguably born into what was once known as the lower gentry, in as much as her father was independently wealthy, and so had no need to work. Yet, she left her first husband to live in Australia with a man she'd met in Ceylon while working on a tea plantation, a Danish citizen who'd allegedly once been a successful businessman, until some reversal of fortune reduced him in social status. His mother, on the other hand, was the product of working class immigrants to British Canada from Ulster, Ireland and Lowland Scotland. And it amused him to think there was a good chance distant relatives of his continued to live in these regions.
But that was not the reason he had trouble adapting to public school life, for his brother positively thrived within it.
No, there was something intrinsically askew about Runacles himself. For after all, who thinks of running away on the last day of term without any purpose or aim, only to finish up collapsed by the side of a muddy field in the heart of the English countryside?
The truth is while public schools have long served as the traditional places of learning for future members of the British governing and professional classes, they have never done so in the capacity of pampering wet nurses.
And so not every child who finds themselves within the bosom of such institutions is able to develop along extraverted lines. For during Runacles' time at his own college, there were boys who responded to the intensely hierarchical nature of public school life with varying degrees of self-effacement. And not just initially, for most new boys are inclined to quail when confronted with this ancient way of life for the first time, but afterwards too. So that they remained relatively quiescent even while succeeding within the system.
Yet he himself was not among them, for while he could hardly be said to have thrived, he was yet happy in his own way, and enormously popular. What they used to call a character. So this strange flight of his was totally out of character, especially seeing as he was famous for his resilience, having been one of the most intensely disciplined pupils of his generation.
But he never ran away again, and in later years, when he looked back at his time as a public schoolboy, he'd insist if he possessed a single quality that might be termed noble such as patience, or self-mastery, or consideration of the needs of other people, then he owed it to a significant degree to his education, and not least the four years he spent at public school.
Yet, looking at the facts after his eventual exit, you'd be forgiven for thinking he'd simply picked up from where he left off before he collapsed in that muddy field in the heart of the English countryside and started drifting in circles again, leaving so many tasks unfinished he effectively wrecked his gilded destiny. But in fact this was far from the truth, for he was never without purpose; but simply...he lacked the go-getter's ability to turn his dreams into good account.
Now, souls in thrall to the psychological persuasion might assert that failure in life is but the consummation of an underachieving childhood.
But the Runacles of the early 2010s had no time for theories of this kind, since pupils historically written off by their teachers via the medium of the school report have included the greatest Englishman of them all. No, not Runacles...Churchill.
While many might dispute this fact, and goodness knows Churchill has his detractors, few would go so far as to label him an underachiever.
And Runacles himself was offered multiple opportunities to turn his life around; so why didn't he do it...simply in order to prove to the world that while a failure on the surface, he'd been a success all along?
There's no sure way of knowing why other than to have recourse to a theory earlier expressed in this piece, that there was something intrinsically askew about Runacles himself. For after all, who thinks of running away on the last day of term without any purpose or aim, only to finish up collapsed by the side of a muddy field in the heart of the English countryside?

And who knows how long he'd have sat there, had it not been for the fact that as he did so, his Divinity teacher happened to spy him while driving by before offering him a lift back to college.
And as might be expected, by the time he arrived, there was hardly anyone left; yet, he was summoned by his housemaster, who assured him he'd not be punished, for after all, it was the last day of term, and school was over for a month or so, and he was therefore free to do as he wished within the limits of the law.
But there was no one to take him home, as his mother had earlier departed without him, as no one was able to tell her where he was. So he contacted his father, who then set about the hour-long journey from London to Berkshire to pick him up.
And he later heard from his friends about just how frantic with worry his mother been when, after innocently turning up to take her son home, she was informed he was nowhere to be found. One can only imagine what she went through. And looking back at this terrible afternoon from the vantage point of late middle age, it pained him deeply to think of her suffering.
But he never ran away again, and in later years, when he looked back at his time as a public schoolboy, he'd insist if he possessed a single quality that might be termed noble, such as patience, or self-mastery, or consideration of the needs of other people, then he owed it to his education, and not least the four years he spent at public school.
Yet, looking at the facts after his eventual exit, you'd be forgiven for thinking he'd simply picked up from where he left off before he collapsed in that muddy field in the heart of the English countryside and started drifting in circles again...leaving so many tasks unfinished he effectively wrecked his gilded destiny. But in fact this was far from the truth, for he was never without purpose; but simply...he lacked the go-getter's ability to turn his dreams to good account.
From the time he was about seventeen, he was desperate to succeed as actor, musician or writer, yet the evidence suggests that despite an enchanting and extrovert personality he was under-equipped for the task he'd set himself.
For instance, he refused to apply himself to developing as a musician, even when being taught by a true virtuoso, as was the case towards the end of the '70s...when a future member of a supergroup struggled manfully to motivate him. And he was incapable of finishing a single cohesive piece of writing due to his tendency to allow his teeming imagination to take him from one unending digression to another.
As to his professional life, if you can call it that, it was marked by a similar desultory quality. And in the summer of '77, he worked briefly for a sailing school on the Costa Brava, but lost his job before too long; and ended up drifting for a time, spending many a night at the Disco, where he fell in love with Donna Summer's A Love Trilogy.
And later that year, he spent a short period of time at Merchant Navy School, before serving as a salesman in a long-vanished jewellery store in suburban Kingston, and after calling in sick while working as a filing clerk early in '78, lost that job too. Still...he'd made a good friend on his day off in the shape of a young punkette covered in safety pins who'd spied him wandering aimlessly around Kingston with spiky blond hair like his Punk doppelganger, Billy Idol.
But by this time, he'd been accepted as a student at a prestigious drama school in the centre of London. Although when it came to his actual studies, he failed to convince the authorities he had what it took to succeed as a professional, so departed in the summer of '79.
What a hopeless case...but then what kind of person decamps on the last day of term without purpose or aim, only to finish up collapsed by the side of a muddy field in the heart of the English countryside?
For that it was he did; and he never forgot it, for those four years he spent at boarding school were his rosebud years, when everything was heightened in terms of its effects on his temperament which was at once happy go lucky and high strung, an unusual combination perhaps.
And one that saw him at once almost universally popular, and yet beset by tics and twitches. Such as the head-shaking habit he thought he'd never kick. But which vanished soon after he quit college at the early age of 16, at which point he which he mutated by degrees from a round-shouldered youth with a Chaplin-esque walk into a full-blown narcissus. But what an inefficient Adonis he was...he couldn't even cut it at acting school.
Although the '80s were a time of relative stability for him, and he worked as an actor for a time, before completing a degree in French and Drama.
But then he resumed his maundering ways. And perhaps it's significant that one of his musical passions around about the turn of the decade at college had been Led Zeppelin, a band deeply indebted to the Delta Blues whose Ramble On from the second album, a key work for him at the time, as well as for a good few of his contemporaries, possesses vagabondage of a romantic kind as its principal theme. And there were many songs from the era with a similar peripatetic motif.
But it's surely safe to say that the vast majority of those who were Underground Rock acolytes at the same time as him ultimately settled into conventional occupations. So why not Runacles? Why did he persist in relative instability way beyond his college days?
It's impossible to say for certain of course, but it may be that like self-styled poor boy and rover Nick Drake, he'd been blessed - or cursed - with the sensitivity of litmus paper. So that the messages being relayed by the Rock-Youth Counterculture penetrated more profoundly into his psyche than those of most of his generation. And among those was an exaltation of rootlessness; born of a spirit of restlessness.
But, there being nothing new under the sun, its origins lie deep in history, at least as far back as the great Romantic movement in the arts which produced wanderers from life and art alike from its inception. And Romantic nomadism could be said to have reached an apogee in the shape of the Byronic hero, who went on to exert such a powerful influence on French Romanticism, which while the last, was surely the most powerful of the movement's three great waves, for it was the true forefather of the avant-garde.
And Runacles became an acolyte of the latter from his late teens, falling in love with one of its icons after the other...Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Cocteau, Genet; and in time, he developed a taste for avant-garde nihilism, and its repudiation of all of the so-called bourgeois values, including sanity and health, even life itself.
He came to adore the idea of early death, and to resign himself to dying young himself, in fact not so much resign as commit himself to it. But out of a deluded romantic death fixation, as opposed to any genuine desire to die.
And it may be this refusal to settle into any kind of conventional existence was rooted in a desire to be one of Jack Kerouac's "mad ones", and so to "burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars..."
By the time he quit university in 1985, he'd been a devotee of this dark ethos for several years, so that his art was more important to him than his life; and he welcomed every experience, no matter how ruinous to his health, if it could serve as fuel to his creativity. And the art that fascinated him most was literature, and he longed to be a published writer, but most of what he'd attempted to write since his late teens remained unfinished.
But at university he'd evolved into a magnetically intense stage actor, and he inspired many with his performances, as well as his larger than life personality, so he was likened by one friend to Hesse's Goldmund, by another to Don Juan...while still another suggested he read Buchner's Lenz.
And one of his tutors informed him he had the makings of a heroic figure, if not as actor, then as academic...and even writer.
But Runacles would not have been true to himself had he not failed to justify their faith in him, and so following his eventual departure, he sought work as a deliverer of novelty telegrams. But not for the money, which was excellent, so much as for the sheer joy of showing off, which points to something awry at the base of his soul.
And by the time he did, he was well on the way to developing an alcohol problem, which in later years he'd at least partly blame on what he termed a negative identity. Which is not to say he was negative in his attitude to others, for contrary to what may be believed given the evidence so far, the effect he exerted on others was almost overwhelmingly positive.
Yet he deliberately chose such an identity as a means of making himself more interesting than he would otherwise have been; to shock, in other words. And his motives in doing so weren't entirely frivolous, for his attraction to the avant-garde was authentic, and rooted in a deep-rooted raging intelligence that also fuelled his constant, frenetic defiance of respectable society.
And looking back from the vantage point of late middle age, he'd muse that having foisted this nihilism onto himself for as long as he had, his litmus-paper mind had finally started to turn on him by the middle of the '80s.
To begin with, his empathetic powers started to recede, which caused him enormous distress, because he'd always found great comfort in his compassionate and affectionate nature.
And he started to drink as a means of restoring them. But what right did he have to them, when his negative identity included a corrosive cynicism of the type he so admired in his avant-garde idols? It's as if he wanted it both ways; to be loved for his personal sweetness...and yet reserve the right to rage like Rimbaud whenever he felt like it.

Yet, his inner turmoil proved an asset when it came to his acting career, and he provided some extraordinary performances in the second half of the '80s.
The first of these took place at the University of Cambridge, where he studied for a term in the winter of '86 as part of their teacher training unit, before typically taking off in the early part of the new year. While the second was at Notting Hill's famous Gate Theatre, where he received some fair reviews for his acting from various periodicals including The Times of London.
But no sooner had he done so than our boy was on the drift again, taking a job as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language in one of several TEFL schools situated on London's teeming Oxford Street. But to be fair, he needed the work, for the acting profession provides little by way of remuneration for all but a small minority.
And by the time he did, his drinking was under control, but long-term tendencies had developed into full-blown Obsessive Compulsive Disorder so that his day was marked by an endless series of rituals:
At the height of their intensity, his rituals included parting his hair so that it went from his crown to a specific point above one of his eyebrows (he'd carry a tiny mirror on his person for the purpose of checking on it throughout the day)...ironing his shirts inside out with the seams inclining to the right, and touching every item of clothing including his belt with said iron...arranging the items in his jacket pockets so that they went from left to right in terms of importance...constantly wiping the insides of his boots before dousing them with water...and holding an intimate part of his anatomy for a set number of beats...
But if the physical rituals were tormenting, the mental ones were even more so. And every time he met someone, he became beset by a need to compare them to someone else, so that some kind of card index set to work in his mind, proffering faces until to his horror it stopped at one resembling the person in question. And he'd not rest until he'd calculated the significance of their names.
It was as if his mind had assumed a life all of its own and started producing thoughts independently of his will. But he came to view it with a certain morbid fascination; and if he drank enough at night, he was able to sedate it. It was a wonderful feeling.
And yet for all the turmoil of his existence, he remained almost manically elated by life, so that on Saturday mornings, he'd often be seized by a sense of joy so intense it verged on the ecstatic. For all that, though, he was at all times aware of a need to keep depression at bay, for on those rare occasions he succumbed to the blues, they were so violent he could be moved to minor acts of self-harm. But they were usually short-lived, and once they'd moved on, the elation returned. It was a wonderful feeling.
Yet, there may have come a time when the latter started being produced not so much endogenously, as through alcohol. For although he didn't drink on a daily basis, the effects of his nocturnal binges persisted throughout the day in the shape of a euphoria which he supplemented with endless cups of coffee.
But as might be expected, as a result of poor attendance and other issues, he lost his beloved job early in the 1990s.
And having found a degree of fulfillment in his post as an Oxford Street English teacher almost unmatched by any other means by which he'd attempted to make a living, he tried desperately to regain it. But his efforts were unavailing.
So by the summer he'd made a return to the stage, and despite the fact that his work was once more the object of justifiable acclaim, it was a short one. And by the end of the year, he'd embarked on another teacher training course, quitting this one before the end of the term. At which point, he set himself up once again as a peripatetic deliverer of novelty telegrams.
But the following winter saw him roving anew, ending up in Hastings, an English coastal town with a large London overspill population, a distinction it shares with several dozen towns throughout the UK, some new, some older towns like Hastings, expanded to accommodate the newcomers.
And once there, he set about taking a course intended to net himself a TEFL certificate, which would entitle him to teach English as a foreign language on an international basis. Because, he still hankered after his days as an English teacher of foreign nationals, having effectively fallen in love with this vocation.
But if he thought he was going to pass the course, he had another thing coming, because although he was well-liked at Hastings, there were few who knew him there who'd not be of the opinion that something was troubling Paul Runacles.
Precisely what, they'd be at loss to say...but one things was certain...his mind had become such a chaos he was losing his ability to communicate normally with his fellow man. But he still only drank at night, and to such an extent there were times he lapsed into incoherency. It was a wonderful feeling.
Soon after returning to London with nothing to show for a fortnight's hard graft and a fairly hefty sum of money, Runacles' drinking assumed a lethal quality from early '91, although in truth it had done so almost a decade earlier. But there was a new recklessness to it in that it became diurnal as well as nocturnal. And perforce, in later years, he'd have little recollection of the rest of '91, and much of '92 to boot, and so struggle hard to recall precisely how he spent his time.
Looking back from the vantage point of the early 2010s, he recalled quite regular work as a television walk-on. And among the parts he fulfilled as such was that of a crime scene photographer for a long-running British police series.
He also saw a lot of a close friend from East London, performing with him for a few years from about 1990 as half of a musical duo in various clubs, pubs and restaurants, and even busking on one memorable occasion, which saw the two musicians being showered with cigarettes from an appreciative member of Leicester Square's homeless community.
And at some point in what may have been '91...or '92, he resumed his career as a deliverer of novelty telegrams for a third time.
While all throughout this period, he wrote...constantly...in a bizarre style replete with archaisms culled from various sources, some being ancient dictionaries, while one was a cheap facsimile of an ancient edition of Roget's Thesaurus.
In the summer of '92, he made one final attempt at passing a TEFL course, but the strain proved too much for him, and he left before it had finished.
While towards the end of the year, he was praised for his portrayal of Stefano in a production of The Tempest at Conway Hall in London's Red Lion Square. This despite the fact he was intoxicated from his very first rehearsal to the second he quit the stage after the final curtain call.
Then a little later, he accepted a small part in a play based on the life of James Joyce's beautiful troubled daughter Lucia to be performed at the Lyric Studio, Hammersmith. By which time, he'd embarked on yet another teaching training course; and resumed his career as a deliverer of novelty telegrams for the fourth and final time.
And while his life was hectic, he lived it as if in a dream, which is to say in a state of near-constant elation occasioned by vast quantities of alcohol.
It's difficult to explain the appeal of alcohol taken in the kind of quantities characteristic of Runacles' intake towards the end of 1992 to all who are not nor have ever been alcoholic. But there is a theory held by several authorities on alcoholism that in certain alcoholics, alcohol comes in time to exert a morphine-like effect. Although how true it is its impossible to say.
While another proposes that in common with other drugs, alcohol can ultimately tamper with the body's ability to produce the naturally occurring pleasure-inducing substances known as endorphins, such as serotonin and dopamine.
Certainly there came a time in Runacles' life when the thought of an existence without his beloved elixir filled him with the utmost horror, for what would he be without it, other than the most hopelessly dull and timorous individual? Which would not have been the case for the Runacles of about '82, who was the most incandescent individual even when sober...a natural extrovert whose warmth, while verging at times on the fulsome, was viewed with almost universal appreciation.
And while much of this warmth remained in late '92, it was being sustained by booze, in fact his entire existence was being held together by ethyl alcohol. So that when he finally did collapse under the strain of his responsibilities, it was a messy crash indeed, provoked first by alcohol alone, then by alcohol in cahoots with prescription medicine. And a few weeks after that, he suffered another crisis involving a potentially deadly combination of prescription medicines.
But by this time, he'd undergone a Damascus-style conversion to born again Christianity; so that his life from early '93 onwards was as tranquil as it had once been frantic. Not that it ground to a halt, but it certainly slowed down to a snail's pace.

Sometime in the early part of 1993, while still occasionally attending meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, he received a call from a man who told him he was from an organisation by the name of Contact for Christ based near Croydon in Surrey.
He'd got in touch with Runacles as a result of a card he'd filled in on a British Rail train some months previously. He tried to put him off, before he knew it, he was at his door, a neat, dapper man with a large salt and pepper moustache and gently penetrating deep brown eyes.
He wanted to pray with Runacles, who promptly ushered him into his bedroom, where they prayed together at length.
Later, he found himself a guest at his house deep in the south western suburbs where Runacles was asked to make a list of sins past requiring deep repentance. And once he'd done this, the two men spent a few hours praying over each and every one of these sins Runacles had made a note of.
The man was a Pentecostal of long standing, and therefore convinced that the more supernatural Gifts of the Holy Spirit such as Tongues and Prophecy are still available to Believers.
In this capacity, he opened Runacles' eyes to many facts of the Pentecostal world, including the magazine Prophecy Today, then edited by the Reverend Clifford Hill, and the works of the late New Zealand Evangelist and writer Barry R Smith.
And to think there was a time Runacles viewed theories concerning the End Times, or Last Days prior to the Second Coming of Christ with rabid contempt. But he was changing on every level. In fact he was barely recognisable in the early nineties to the man of only a year or two previously, having become calm and sober, even sedate in manner.
But he'd not entirely lost his taste for underachievement, for in late '94, he failed his third and final attempt at qualifying as a teacher. Only to go on to secure a personal rave review from the London Time Out for his acting in a little-known play on the Fringe, which is the London equivalent of Off-Broadway.
And his acting triumphs persisted throughout the '90s, a decade throughout which it could be said Runacles survived on the minute amount of energy he had left over after his collapse. But it was hard for him; and in terms of impetus, he was running on empty.
And it may be his experiences with alcohol and prescription medicine, and the health crisis these produced, had left him at the mercy of some kind of depressive condition. But if this was indeed the case, it was one which while debilitating was yet relatively mild.
For he still had a great capacity for joy. But a joy born of the peace that comes from the promise of eternal life, which is infinitely purer and more profound form than any earthly joy born of a love affair with the fleeting pleasures of the world. But which doesn't necessarily preclude great suffering, for from the time of his conversion, he was engaged in a terrible struggle with what some Christians called The Old Man.
And there had always been a dark aspect to Paul Runacles, but not in a romantic, Byronic sense, although this appeal was something he'd always coveted. So much as one that was in terrible conflict with his warmer, more affectionate side, which was no less seismically intense than the other.
It had once made him a ferocious critic of what he saw as the follies of humankind, while threatening to turn his once tender heart to stone.
But as a Christian, he no longer sought to condemn people, so much as seek their eternal salvation. So this aspect was something to be confronted and tamed, rather than fuelled by corrosively cynical writings, and then partially controlled by lavish quantities of alcohol.
And from the mid '90s onwards, he went to war against it, little knowing he had the most colossal fight of his life on his hands. For having been sidelined, it's as if it had assumed a terrifying new force, and was determined to win. And it manifested itself not just as depression, but intrusive thoughts that seemed to have a life and power all of their own, in so far as they had an ability to alter his mood and countenance for extended periods of time, which made him petrified of them, and so at all times inclined to permanent social seclusion.
The first phase came in '95 when Runacles made contact with a former pastor who ran his own ministry from a tiny little village in the south of England after reading an article he'd contributed to Prophecy Today. And some time later, he travelled down to meet him where he laid hands on him in his capacity of what is known as Deliverance Minister. But this was just the first of several experiences of this kind, one of which saw Runacles being ministered to by a vicar in his ancient village church.
But nothing could cure Runacles of his restlessness, and, unable to settle in a single fellowship for any great length of time, he encountered a vast variety of churches throughout the '90s...affiliated to the Word of Faith; Vineyard, Baptist and Elim Pentecostal movements among others.
And in each one, he hoped to find a lasting solution to his shadow side, the darker Runacles who tormented him. And which he saw as a throwback to his pre-Christian self, incubated over the years through immersion in a decadent culture he now uncompromisingly rejected.
And as he did, he acted more or less consistently, notwithstanding a fairly lengthy period of office work, which stretched from about 1997 to 2000, by which time he'd performed in his final play for a long time.
He then made an attempt at launching a modest career as a session singer. And as such recorded a vocal in the style of Chanson master Charles Trenet, which received some praise for its closeness to the original. In fact, so much so he was asked to record a second one in imitation of one of his favourite song stylists, Nat King Cole, which was rejected.
But while his session career floundered, his singing career was still in full swing, and he served as front man for a Jazz band for two years between 2000 and 2002. And yet when the latter folded, it was as if Runacles folded himself in a social sense.
But there was still some fight left in him. And in '03, he started taking himself seriously as a songwriter for the first time, before attempting to place some recently demoed songs with a music publishing company. But none were interested.
He turned to creative writing in early 2006. While the following year, a CD of popular standards featuring himself and one of the world's leading harmonica players finally saw the light of day in 2007 after much rehearsal. And while it received a rave review in the official magazine of the British Musicians' Union the following year, it only went on to sell a handful of copies.
But he'd achieved a degree of artistic stability nonetheless; and this was reflected in his church life, for towards the end of the 2010s, he tired of church hopping, and permanently settled in a Church of England fellowship in the south western suburbs of London.
Both Evangelical and Charismatic, it was highly sought after, with up to four services taking place each Sunday...which meant Runacles could conceal himself within the congregation if he so chose.
And so it seemed he was definitively quieted; a bizarre state of affairs for one who'd once been among the most frenetically extrovert of souls. But if he found himself all run out, as had been the case all those years ago, when he collapsed by that muddy field in the Arcadian heart of England...well, it was only a temporary situation in his mind, and one day he'd be in a position to quit the wilderness after so many years of languishment.
And yet there'd be times when, looking back on his youth he'd often weep silently to himself in the dead of night at the end of yet another day spent doing really very little when he thought about it.
But he was being typically harsh with himself. For hermitic as he was, he was far from worthless. For instance, in his eyes, he'd seen many results from a powerful prayer ministry. And he continued to grow as a musician, planning a future for himself as a singer-songwriter despite being in the midst of late middle age. While he was able to make a modest living as a writer after more than five years of trying to set the world wide web on fire with his pen...and failing.
And there'd be times when certain pieces of quintessentially English pastoral music still had the power to evoke his strange and sudden flight, or rush of blood to the head, of over four decades ago. Such as Gerald Finzi's A Severn Rhapsody, which seemed to him to bespeak a passion for the Arcadian soul of England that verges on the ecstatic. And the same could be said for Elgar's Elegy which tended to convey to him a deep mournfulness silently existent beneath the picture perfect image of English privilege.
When he ran away from his college...like some kind of hysterical gymslip schoolgirl...just the once it was...to avoid being punished for something stupid he did. And it had been an utterly pointless exercise as it was the last day of term, but he just panicked and bolted, and kept on running...
And then there was a point he stopped, because he realised to his horror that he'd arrived back at his college. And he saw his mother's car. And it pained him to think what she'd been going through while he ran around the English countryside like some kind of demented faun, only to finish up collapsed by the side of a muddy field in the Arcadian heart of England.
And having become newly mired, he despaired of ever being fully free again. But he searched for solutions on a constant basis. And he comforted himself with the thought that even if he failed to effect an escape, God was beside him, while four decades previously he had no faith to speak of, other than in the pre-eminence of might. For after all, is God's Grace not sufficient?
And he took courage from that fact, while continuing to plan for the time he'd find the strength to make good on the faith that had been placed in him by so many for so long. So when he looked back at memories of his youth, such as the time he ran away from his college on the last day of term without purpose or aim, it would be in peace not pain. And he might even return to the scene of his flight as if in atonement, and commune with the soul of his beloved England with a passion verging on the ecstatic, and then along with so many others, put the memory to rest for all time.

Book Two

Adversary (a Quartet of Modern Discourses)

1. The Coming of the Absaloms

Introduction

When it comes to the key events that helped to create the society that emerged in the American/Western World in the wake of the Second World War - arguably the most traumatic event in history - many would be inclined to cite the 1950s as the fulcrumic decade, and according to Charles Ealy, author of the article Seeds of Change Sown in 1955, published in Nov. 2005 in The Dallas Morning News, that's especially true of its midpoint.
For all that, though, it's the mythic 1960s, with its Rock-Youth culture, and quasi-religious worship of sexual abandon and the use of mind-expanding drugs, that tends to be credited as the true decade of change, and with the reader's permission, I'd like to trace the evolution of the most revolutionary decade of the 20th Century, by briefly depicting the culture whence it sprang, and then - and at greater length - the decade that both preceded and birthed it, with special emphasis on its central year of '55. And all opinions are just that, opinions, but expressed as in the cases of all four discourses, in a spirit of Christian truth and integrity, to the best of my ability.

The Coming of the Absaloms

Were they really so staid and conformist, those much treasured mom-and-apple-pie fifties? We've already established that they weren't, and that they didn't yield as if by magic to the wild, Dionysian 1960s.
The truth is that far from being a sudden, unexpected event, the post-war cultural revolution, whose repercussions continue to be felt throughout a tragic broken West could boast historical roots reaching at least as far back as the European Enlightenment. Since that time, the Western World has been consistently assailed by tendencies hostile to its Judeo-Christian moral fabric, and what happened in the 1960s was simply the culmination of many decades of activity on the part of revolutionaries and avant-gardists, especially since the First World War. Even Rock, a music which the celebrated American evangelist John MacArthur once described as having "a bombastic atonality and dissonance" was foreshadowed at its most experimental by the emancipation of the dissonant brought about by Classical composers of various Modernist schools.
Moving to the totemic year of '55, I begin with a day marked by an event which had a colossal if still largely unrecognised influence on the evolution of American and Western culture, that being the 7th of October, on which five major 20th Century figures, namely, Elijah Muhammad, R.D. Laing, Ulrike Meinhof, Oliver North and Vladimir Putin, attained the ages of 58, 28, 21, 14 and 3 respectively.
It was on that day that - at San Francisco's Six Gallery at 3119 Fillmore Street - about 150 people gathered to witness readings of poems by Allen Ginsberg, Philip Whalen, Philip Lamantia, Michael McClure and Gary Snyder.
All went on to be leading artists of the Beat Generation, a term which first saw the light of day in a 1952 article entitled This Is the Beat Generation, written for The New York Times by John Clellon Holmes, author of the 1952 proto-Beat novel, Go. Holmes had allegedly coined the term following conversations he'd had with Jack Kerouac in 1948 with regard to the disillusioned generation that had emerged in America in the wake of the Second World War.
Kerouac, the - purportedly self-styled - "shy Canuck" from Lowell, Massachusetts, also attended this epochal clarion cry to the Counterculture, but didn't read, preferring to cheerlead instead in a state of ecstatic inebriation. However, his roman a clef, On the Road (1957), which centres on the mid-century wanderings he undertook in America and Mexico - largely with his muse and close friend Neal Cassady - remains Beat's defining work.
After the reading, the Beat movement, which had existed in embryonic form since about 1944, left the underground to gradually mutate into an international craze, so that by the end of the decade, the Beatnik had taken his place as a universally recognised icon with his beret, goatee beard, turtle-neck sweater, sandals &c.
'55 was also the year in which Rock and Roll assaulted the mainstream thanks to hits by Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and others.
Although it's Richard Brook's film version of Evan Hunter's semi-autobiographical novel, Blackboard Jungle, which, released on the 20th of March, is widely credited with igniting the Rock and Roll revolution, indeed late 20th Century teenage rebellion as a whole. And it did so by featuring Bill Haley & His Comets' Rock Around the Clock over the opening credits and beyond.
For unlike an initial far Jazzier outing by Sonny Dae and his Knights, Haley's version was remarkable for its earth-shaking sense of urgency; and so ensured the world would never be the same again following its inclusion in Blackboard Jungle.
Then in August, Sun Records of Memphis, Tennessee, released Mystery Train, written - and first recorded - by Blues musician Junior Parker some two years previously, a semi-mythical 45rpm by Elvis Presley, Scotty and Bill featuring the so-called King of Western Bop who went on to become Rock's single most influential figure apart from the Beatles.
On the 30th of September, James Dean died in hospital following a motor accident aged 24 after having made only three films, the greatest of which, Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause, emerged about a month afterwards. It could be said to be the motion picture industry's defining elegy to the sensitivity and rebelliousness of youth, with Dean its most beautiful and tortured icon ever. As such his image has never dated, nor been surpassed. The modern cult of youth was born in the mid 1950s.
However, Dean himself had been powerfully influenced by Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando, arguably the two foremost pioneers of the Stanislavski Method within the Motion Picture industry, who'd honed their craft in the late '40s at the celebrated Actors Studio in New York City. The screen personas of Clift, Brando and Dean, in which vulnerability and defiance were fused to luminously magnetic effect arguably served as prototypes of the neurotic and narcissistic individualism that went on to exert such a seismic influence on the evolution of the sixties Counterculture in era-defining movies such as George Stevens' A Place in the Sun (1951), Stanley Kramer's The Wild One (1953), and Elia Kazan's East of Eden (1954).
Their mixture of incandescent beauty and sullen defiance was hardly new though, having been a feature of Romantic rebels again and again at least since the heyday of Byron and Shelley; and it could be said that their true spiritual ancestor was none other than King David's much loved yet fatally rebellious son Absalom, of whom it was written in 2 Samuel 14:25: "But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him."
Again and again, 1955 is cited by cultural commentators as the year in which things started to change in America and the West. When it comes to Britain, there seems to be no doubt that within the space of a mere two generations, a spectacular rise in criminal violence from the low rates of at least the previous two centuries, occurred from about 1955. This same rise coincided with increasingly large-scale denigration of such traditionally sanctified Christian institutions as marriage, pre-marital purity and the two-parent family, which had always been seen as the enemy by various revolutionary tendencies within art and politics, while being respected by the majority, and affected every industrial nation apart from Japan.
As in Britain, so in the US, but given America's far greater size and complexity, the situation has of necessity been more extreme. Take a remarkable article written in the Fall of 1955 for the Trotskyist Fourth International, entitled Youth in a Delinquent Society:
Its author, Joyce Cowley, was at pains to emphasize the general conformity of American youth in the mid 1950s, while also making it clear that cautious conservatism was far from being the total picture, and that there'd been a sharp rise in crime since the onset of the decade. She also stated something to the effect that the nature of the crimes committed during this period were of a shocking gravity that had been relatively uncommon in the US in more recent decades. To support her point, she alluded to various phenomena which are all too familiar to those of us who came to maturity in the '60s and beyond, including the abuse of narcotics, and acts of gratuitous cruelty and violence, from teen gang rumbles to the senseless sacrifice of innocents.
But does all this mean that civilisation, not just in the US and the West, but as a whole, is irrevocably doomed? Many Christians are indeed of the belief that these are the final days prior to the return of the Lord, of which He speaks in Matthew 24:37: "But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be." They may indeed be right, and there are many indications that this is the case. However, in the verse immediately preceding the one just quoted, Jesus makes it clear that when it comes to the precise day of the Second Coming, only God the Father knows: "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."
Thence, it may well be that if the nations of the West return to the Judeo-Christian values on which they were founded, not half-heartedly...but with the kind of uncompromising passion for God that provoked the great revivals of history, like prodigals, broken and contrite in spirit, our great civilisation may yet survive.

2. Weimar Shadow of Future Things

Introduction

Many cultures have made monumental contributions to the development of our great Western Judeo-Christian civilisation, not least that of Germany, one of the most purely artistic, poetic, musical and spiritual nations in modern history. Yet it could be said that the greatest and most blessed nations are those most liable to decadence, a word which seems to suggest both moral decline and a dark, sinister glamour; and few societies have been more associated with this latter quality than that of Germany between the wars, and that's especially true of its then capital city of Berlin.
The Weimar era, which came into being in 1919 and lasted until Hitler's ascent to the Chancellorship in 1933, has been likened by some cultural critics to the contemporary West.
Indeed, it could be said that much of what's happened to the West since the end of the second world war was to some degree presaged by the Berlin of the 1920s, familiar to millions through Bob Fosse's movie version of the Kander and Ebb musical, Cabaret, itself a descendant of one of Christopher Isherwood's two Berlin stories, Goodbye to Berlin, penned in 1933, but referring to incidents that took place between six to eight years earlier.
Needless to say, the Weimar era was no isolated historical instance of a society in decline, having been significantly shaped by the culture which birthed it.
Germany was of course the birthplace of Luther, and the great Protestant Reformation that has exerted such a monumental influence on the evolution of Biblical Christianity. At the same time, by the dawn of the Weimar Republic in 1919, it had long been associated with myriad revolutionary and esoteric ideas.
For example, more than any other nation in the late 18th and early 19th Century, Germany had played host to Higher Criticism, a school of Biblical criticism which flagrantly attacked the authenticity of the Scriptures. Moreover, late 19th century Europe had witnessed a significant occult revival and of all its great nations, it was arguably Germany that had been most affected by this, even more so perhaps than France and Britain, and to the obvious detriment of Biblical Christianity, even while modernity thrived.
Thence, the legendary hedonism of the so-called Golden Twenties could be said to have arisen as much - if not more - from her spiritual legacy as the more immediate source of a long and terrible war and its aftermath, but it's this latter that we turn to now.

Weimar Shadow of Future Things

Despite the fact that the bona fide Weimar era was set to dawn in all its gaudy decadent glory in early 1923, Germany was yet a terribly ravaged and traumatised land as a result of a long series of crises leading back to the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II and military defeat in the First World War.
Following on from the armistice, she was subject to still more bloody conflict in the shape of the German Revolution, which culminated in the Spartacist Uprising of January 1919, during which the Spartacist League and other leftist factions rose up in revolt in Berlin, only to be put down by paramilitary Freikorps consisting of volunteer soldiers, many of them on the extreme right.
The liberal democratic Weimar Republic was established soon afterwards, but Germany's post-war miseries had only just begun. During the debates in Weimar, a Soviet Republic was declared in Munich which was crushed by the Freikorps, resulting in the proliferation of far right movements throughout Bavaria. One of these was the German Workers' Party, and several of its key founding members went on to exert a powerful influence on a young war hero by the name of Corporal Adolf Hitler with their shadowy brand of nationalism.
To further compound the nation's woes, The Treaty of Versailles was signed on the 28th of June 1919. Of its many provisions, one of the most vital required her to accept sole responsibility for causing the war and so to agree to drastic military restrictions, as well as a good many territorial concessions including the surrendering of all her overseas colonies. She also had to pay heavy war reparations, the total cost of which came to 132 billion marks, or 6.6 billion pounds sterling.
The following month, while still in the army, Hitler was sent as a police spy by German Army Intelligence to infiltrate the ranks of the previously mentioned German Workers' Party in the mistaken belief that it was Socialist in ideology.
The German currency was relatively stable during the first half of this year, but May brought the harsh London Ultimatum, which demanded reparations paid in gold or foreign currency, as well as 26% of the value of Germany's foreign exports. Hyper-inflation followed soon afterwards, which resulted in the Mark becoming all but worthless. By January 1923, defaults on payments had grown so serious that French and Belgian forces felt compelled to invade the heavily industrialised Ruhr Valley close to the Franco-German border, where they set about securing reparations in the shape of coal and other commodities.
Many Germans, including skilled workers, started working for the bare minimum necessary for the sustenance of life, as the nation started to become increasingly afflicted by unemployment, poverty, hunger, and even malnutrition, leading to widespread bitter unrest and resentment, one of whose expressions was the infamous Beer Hall Putsch of 8-9 November 1923. This was an attempt by Hitler's National German Workers' Party, including paramilitary storm troopers under the leadership of Ernst Roehm, as well as future leading Nazis, Hess, Goering and Rosenberg, at a revolution modelled on the Fascist March on Rome of the previous October. Of all the putschists, it was World War I hero General Ludendorff who demonstrated the greatest courage under fire, but he was to subsequently disown Hitler. As to the latter, he spent just a little over a month in Landsberg Prison after the putsch was decisively put down by the Army, where he dictated his memoirs, Mein Kampf, to his friend and fellow inmate, Rudolf Hess.
Somehow, however, total economic collapse was halted under the chancellorship of Gustav Stresemann - who was both charismatic and democratic, at a time when such politicians were in desperate need in Germany - by the replacement of the worthless Papiermark with the new Rentenmark, which was introduced on the 19th of November 1923. Stresemann had earlier sought peace with Germany's enemies by calling off all passive resistance of striking German workers in the Ruhr Valley, an act which while having a beneficial effect on the economy, served also to fan the flames of nationalist rage. Millions of middle class Germans had been left ruined and embittered by the period of hyperinflation, with the result that they became susceptible to extreme right wing propaganda, while many workers turned to Communism.
For the time being, though, Germany, and specifically Berlin, feasibly became the supreme world epicentre of Modernism, of creative and intellectual foment not just in the fields of literature, architecture, music, dance, drama, cinema, and the visual arts, but of science as well. While she'd been a cradle of the Modern Impulse for centuries - a distinction she shared with several other Western nations including her closest European intimates, France and Britain - it could be asserted that never before had she been quite so fiercely inclined in a cultural sense towards the radical and left-leaning, the experimental, the iconoclastic, the frankly scandalous, nor on so large a scale, as in the Weimar era.
Artistic innovation wildly thrived in Berlin in the years 1924-'29 in the shape of, among other phenomena, the artists of the New Objectivity, such as Beckmann, Dix and Grosz, Berg's ground-breaking opera, Wozzeck (1925), as well as the staccato cabaret-style music of Kurt Weill, Fritz Lang's dystopian Metropolis (1927), the spectacles of cabaret queen Anita Berber, and so on. The same applies to that lost city's notorious sexual liberalism, which still has the power to shock as seen in pictorial and photographic depictions of her cabarets and night clubs in which license and intoxication flourished unabated.
So much of what has become familiar to the West and beyond in the last half-century, from the philosophies that have dominated our academia for decades, such as Critical Theory and Deconstruction, all the way to the theatre of outrage that is the essence of Rock music pre-existed in some form in the Golden Twenties. But beneath the glittering carapace she carried within her the seeds of her own ruin, for despite the genius that flourished alongside the licentiousness, she was operating largely in defiance of the Judeo-Christian moral values that have long formed the basis of Western society.
Given that several other European and American cities were hardly less hysterically dissolute than Berlin, it's little wonder that this key Modernist decade has been described by some critics as the beginning of the end of Western civilisation. In its wake came the Great Depression, the ineffable horrors of the Second World War, and the collapse of the greatest empire the world has ever seen, all of which were succeeded in turn by the Sixties social revolution.
Since the inception of the latter, many of its core values have progressively infiltrated the Western cultural mainstream at the expense of the previously mentioned traditional Judeo-Christian ones; and for some this might raise the question: Could a time be coming when the disasters that befell the once glorious Weimar Republic will appear to those of us still alive in the contemporary West to be little more than a dress rehearsal in comparison? For my part, I hope this will not be the case, but needless to say the future's not in my hands.

3. Adversary and the Birth of the Beats

It would be false, indeed absurd, to suggest that the Counterculture of the 1960s was a unique historical event devoid of precedents and precursors. In fact, by the time of the Hippie revolution, much of the groundwork had already been done, not least during the two immediate post-war decades.
During this brief 20-year period, the Existentialists, Lettrists and Beats became international icons of revolt...Britain's first major youth cult surfaced in the shape of the Edwardians or Teddy Boys...a cinema of youthful discontent flourished as never before, fuelling a desire among many young people to be identified as rebels and wild ones...and Rock and Roll took over the world with Elvis Presley as its first true superstar. But it was the Beats who were the true precursors of the Hippies.
Few today are aware of the existence of the Lettrists, that scandalous band of avant garde agitators who thrived in post-war Paris under the leadership of Isidore Isou, but their contemporaries the Beats continue to enjoy an exceptionally high profile. This may be the result of Paris plausibly ceding her time-honoured role as the world epicentre of the avant garde to New York City in the late 1940s, but whatever the truth, the Lettrists have been all but forgotten while the Beats are still hot.
It had been earlier in the decade...around 1943, in fact...that a disparate group of would-be poets and authors of Bohemian inclination had coalesced around a brilliant angel-faced young Columbia University undergraduate by the name of Lucien Carr. The first to gravitate towards Carr was a fellow Columbia student from nearby New Jersey by the name of Allen Ginsberg. Through Carr, Ginsberg was introduced to Arthur Rimbaud, the quintessential post-Romantic bad boy poet whose terrible yet beautiful visionary verse and frenzied rebellious rage has exerted an influence on the development of the adversary culture of the post-Romantic West that is second to none or close to it. Rimbaud went on to significantly inform the evolution of Ginsberg's own poetic vision.
Also through Carr, the bookish-looking poet met the boyfriend of future Beat biographer Edie Parker, who was another of Carr's Columbia friends. This was Jean-Louis Kerouac, known as Jack, who, from a French Canadian family from Lowell, Massachusetts, had until recently been a Football player of enormous promise. But soon after gaining a scholarship to Columbia, things had started to go awry for him.
First, he cracked his tibia during a game; and then he clashed with the coach Lou Little, and was - apparently - repeatedly benched. The upshot was that he left Columbia in his sophomore year, and ended up drifting in New York City, where he met the two men - both through Lucien Carr - with whom he went on to form the nucleus of the Beat Generation, these being the aforesaid Ginsberg, and a friend of Carr's from St Louis, the patrician William Seward Burroughs II.
In 1957, Kerouac emerged as the movement's undisputed leader with the publication of On the Road, a fictionalised account of the cross-country wanderings he undertook between 1947 and 1950 with his close friend Neal Cassady...famously named Dean Moriarty in the novel.
Cassady, who somewhat resembled iconic movie star Paul Newman, was the son of an alcoholic whose early life had included the early loss of his mother, a childhood spent on Denver's skid row, a spell in reform school, and eleven months imprisonment for theft. So while Kerouac was the genius behind Beat's defining work, Cassady provided the inspiration as the Beat par excellence.
Oddly perhaps, Lucien Carr himself never went on to write anything of note, preferring to father a family and pursue a long career with the venerable news agency United Press International. It fell to his son Caleb, author of Casing the Promised Land, The Alienist, The Angel of Darkness, Killing Time, The Italian Secretary and The Legend of Broken, among other works, to be the novelist of the family...but his place in literary history is secure. As Allen Ginsberg once put it, "Lou was the glue" of the entire Beat Generation, itself the most significant avant garde movement of the 20th Century, as the primary impulse behind the '60s Counterculture.
It was in about '64, in fact, that Beat started to shift imperceptibly into the Hippie movement.
'64 was also the year the Beatles conquered America...but away from the mainstream, a certain Colorado farmer's son and former Stanford University student called Ken Kesey set off on his legendary trip from California to New York on a psychedelic school bus he named Further, with one Neal Cassady doing most of the driving. He did so in the company of a band of Counterculture pioneers, writers, artists, students &c., known as the Merry Pranksters. Once in the Big Apple, they met up with the New York Beats including Jack Kerouac who, deeply patriotic and a devout Catholic at heart, was allegedly repelled by the Pranksters' outlandish dress and appearance, and took no part in the coming psychedelic revolution, unlike Allen Ginsberg, who embraced it wholeheartedly.
The first of the infamous Acid Tests occurred a short time later in 1965, and during these LSD-fuelled events, there'd be slide and/or light shows and experiments with cutting edge sound technology, and bands such as the Warlocks - later the Grateful Dead - or Kesey's own Psychedelic Symphonette would regale the crowds with proto-psychedelic Rock.
Two years later, the Hippie, wild child of the Beat Generation, became an international media obsession, before setting about the piecemeal infiltration of mainstream society.
This slow co-option by the mainstream of many of the key values of the '60s Adversary Culture could be said to be the ultimate triumph of the Beat Generation, and all the avant gardes that preceded her...but were Kerouac alive today...you can't help but think he might be weeping at the thought of it.
For it's as if he came to deeply regret the culture he'd helped to foment; and yet felt powerless to control. And, instead of forgiving himself, effectuated a flight into the alcoholism that ultimately led to his dying at his mother's home from cirrhosis of the liver at just 47 years old.
And while he was ten years older than his hero Thomas Wolfe, another in a long line of writers of great and original genius destroyed by the thirsty muse, he was yet far too young to suffer such a terrible and painful death. While any Christian worthy of the name must surely weep at the thought of any sorrow that leads not to repentance and salvation, but the endless night of fathomless desperation.

4. From Avant Garde to Global Village

Introduction

It could justifiably be stated that we are currently living in a Western World whose moral world view owes much to values which until recently were associated with progressives operating within the arts, politics, philosophy, religion etc., and that this morality remains more or less constant, affecting everything from top to bottom in our society, despite sporadic shifts of power from the political left to the right. At the same time, traditional morality - founded on the West's Judeo-Christian heritage - is being increasingly seen as harsh and exclusivist, where once it held almost total sway.
In order to come to some sort of conclusion as to how this situation came about, as good a starting point as any would be the early 19th Century, at a time when the Romantic Movement was birthing the concept of an artistic avant-garde on the cutting edge of innovation, not just in terms of creativity, but societal change.
Plausibly, the avant-garde worldview was the scion of a greater revolutionary spirit that had been impacting the West at least since the dawn of the Enlightenment, the great European move towards greater Rationalism regarding the key issues of life. The Age of Reason began towards the end of the 18th Century, lasting until about 1789, the year of the French Revolution, which was one if its earliest fruits.
Many theories exist as to what - or who - was the main driving force behind this spirit, but it's not the aim of this essay to attempt to unmask these, so much as to trace the course of the avant-garde throughout history, and so speculate on how so humble a tendency might ultimately have come to alter the entire fabric of Western civilisation through a process known as Modernism.

From Avant Garde to Global Village

It may have been the great English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley who, by asserting that "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world," was the first major artist to give expression to the concept of an avant-garde on the cutting edge of creative innovation. That said, the first actual use of the term in an artistic rather than military sense was probably made in 1825 by the early Socialist theorist Henri de Saint-Simon in his Literary, Philosophical and Industrial Opinions.
Whatever the truth, it's a recent development, fostered by the early, and especially German and English, Romantics, whose influence on the development of the notion of the Artist as Rebel cannot be underestimated. Yet, it arguably found its first spiritual home in post-revolutionary Paris. It's impossible to say precisely why, of course, but what is beyond dispute is that of all the nations of Europe, few could lay greater claim to national genius than France...and that this genius is most encapsulated in her ever-enchanting capital city. More particularly, though, by the 1830s, and following a long series of national traumas including the Revolutionary War itself, Paris had - I think it's fair to say - become the leading world incubator of the most charismatic originality of thought and behaviour.
It was a uniqueness, moreover, that has tended ever since to verge on the downright bizarre when manifested by certain of her most gifted citizens...such as her celebrated accursed poets - so-called, of course, for even the most malefic among us are capable of coming to faith in Christ - who have long been the ultimate apostles of the avant-garde.
It could be said that the first generation of these were numbered among the young men who - in the wake of the July Revolution of 1830 - congregated about such wild and brilliant youth as Petrus Borel and Theophile Gautier, two writers of the so-called frenetic school of late Romantics. They did so with the purpose of enforcing the Romantic worldview in the face of widespread censure on the part of the despised respectable middle classes.
To the Gautier of the mid 1830s, this censure constituted a veritable Christian moral resurgence, which he rails against in the famous preface to his 1836 novel, Mademoiselle de Maupin, the first known manifesto of the doctrine of Art for Art's Sake.
These seminal avant-gardists have become known as the Bouzingos, although little distinguished them from the earlier Jeunes-France.
They were originally members of the Petit Cenacle, a Romantic clique allegedly founded by the sculptor Jehan du Seigneur, whose role in the infamous Battle of Hernani at the Comedie-Francaise theatre in February 1830 was paramount. This took place on the opening night of Hugo's play, Hernani, and was marked by violent scenes involving defenders of the Classical tradition, and Hugo's supporters, who flaunted long hair and flamboyant costumes in defiance of everything the former held dear. In addition to Gautier, Borel and Seigneur, they included Gerard de Nerval, Philothee O'Neddy and Augustus MacKeat, all of whom went on to be numbered among the Jeunes-France.
According to one theory, while the first Bouzingos were a band of political agitators who took part in the July Revolution in wide-brimmed leather hats, their artistic counterparts were wrongly named by the press following a night of riotous boozing which saw some of them end up in prison for the night. They too embraced radical political views, because for the most part, the artistic avant-garde has inclined to the left, while containing an ultra-conservative element.
Needless to say perhaps, they owed an enormous debt to the earlier English and German Romantics, who did much - or so it's been asserted - to promulgate the myth of the tormented artist ever-existent on the fringes of respectable society...which later came to be known as Bohemia.
Akin to the bohemian was the dandy; and of the purported accursed poets of mid 19th Century Paris, several were both bohemians and dandies, depending on their circumstances at the time. They included Charles Baudelaire, whose 1863 essay The Dandy is one of the defining works on the subject.
The great Parisian Bohemias of the 19th Century were the Left Bank of the Seine as a whole - including the Latin Quarter and Montparnasse - and Montmartre, which exploded on an international scale towards the century's end; while the first literary work to officially celebrate the Bohemian way was Henri Murger's Scenes of Bohemian Life.
Later Bohemias included London's Chelsea, and New York's Greenwich Village, but Paris remains Bohemia's true and eternal spiritual capital.

The first waves of the avant-garde, and the Bohemias in which they thrived, ultimately produced the Decadent movement of the 1870s and '80s, and a multitude of minor sects, such as the Zutistes of the early '70s, which for a time included Verlaine and Rimbaud, and the later Hirsutes and Hydropathes, and finally, the great Symbolist Movement in the arts.
However, the spirit of the avant-garde could be said to have triumphed as never before in the shape of the massively influential and truly international artistic and cultural phenomenon known as Modernism.
In an artistic sense, she existed at her point of maximum intensity from about 1890 to 1930, producing such earth-shaking works as Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (1913), T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land (1922) and James Joyce's Ulysses (1922). Mention must also be made of such Modernist schools as the previously mentioned Symbolism, as well as Expressionism, Futurism, Dadaism and Surrealism. It could be said that she represented the triumph of the avant-garde, anticipating her future at the very heart of the cultural mainstream.
Furthermore, whenever Modernism is discussed with regard to the arts, parallel iconoclastic developments by figures such as Marx in politics, Nietzsche in philosophy, Freud in psychology, and Darwin in science must surely be taken into consideration. They all served to fuel the Modernist agenda, which - according to certain cultural critics - is intrinsically anti-Christian...and there is substance to their argument, although several major Modernist figures have been professing Christians.
Taking things further, it could be averred that rather than emerging from the avant-garde, Modernism actually predated it, that is, as a spirit rather than a movement as such, having roots further back into the depths of Western history, beyond the Age of Reason, to the Renaissance and its revival of Classical Antiquity.
She seemed to undergo a falling away in terms of intensity in the years leading up to the Second World War, while the immediate post-war age brought renewed activity through the Existentialists and Lettrists of Paris, but more especially through the Beat Generation, born in the city which had recently become the cultural capital of the world: New York.
Together, they helped to usher in what could be called an age of Mass-Modernism, although they weren't operating alone, because by the early '50s, the Modern had formed a strong alliance with the popular arts. In fact, this had occurred some half century earlier with the genesis of Pop Culture, which gave rise to the cinema, and one of the first true Pop music genres in the shape of Ragtime. However, these were minor developments in comparison to the cataclysmic events of the '60s.
Possibly the single most powerful weapon in the Modernist armoury has been Pop Culture, and in terms of its evolution, the influence of the Beat Generation was enormous. That is especially true of its role as the begetter of the Hippie uprising, which took place between about 1965, with San Francisco as its centrifugal city, and 1967 when it peaked, before ceding to the year of revolutions, which was 1968.
One of the keynotes of late Modernism and the social revolution it provoked, most notably in the 1960s, has been the progressive acceptance by mass culture of beliefs once seen as the preserve of bohemians and avant-gardists, the most obvious being the so-called "free love" once promoted so forcefully by angel-faced atheist, Percy Bysshe Shelley.
This process was considerably facilitated by the Rock revolution which, after having begun around 1955-'56, segued into the sentimental Pop music that reached its apogee with the Beatles. It then underwent a further quickening at the hands of harder, earthier bands such as those of the first British Blues boom; and so evolve into Rock pure and simple.
By the end of the '60s, Rock had become a truly versatile music, running the gamut from the most infantile hit parade ditties to musically and lyrically complex compositions owing as much to Classical music and Jazz as Rock and Roll. As such, it was an international language, with the power to disseminate values hostile to traditional Western morality as no other artistic movement before it, while the most powerful Rock stars attained - if only fleetingly - through popular consumer culture a degree of influence that previous generations of innovative artists operating within high culture could only dream of.
Yet, as the ultimate manifestation of what might be termed Mass-Modernism, Rock has not functioned alone; in fact, from the outset, it was impelled by the cinema of youthful discontent of the early 1950s, whose magnetic icons, including Monty Clift, Marlon Brando and James Dean, could be said to have been Rock stars before their time. Furthermore, as the Rock revolution proceeded apace throughout the '70s, it was buttressed and enabled by a cinema finally freed from the shackles of the Motion Picture Production Code, which had been in force since 1930 but which was finally jettisoned in 1967, after at least a decade of declining efficacy.
At some point in its recent history, Modernism's unrelenting drive towards permanent societal change arguably reached a logical conclusion, as the classic values of the avant-garde had begun to wholly dominate the cultural mainstream; and so the West entered a Postmodern phase. When this occurred is open to conjecture, but 1980 has been put forward as a likely date. Certainly, after 1980, it became impossible for artists to scandalise the bourgeoisie as they'd once done; and even when they strained to shock a public all but impervious to outrage, originality eluded them. Others have insisted Postmodernism began as early as 1950, on the eve of the television and Pop Music revolutions.
What is certain is that things have changed beyond all measure in the West in the last half century or so to the extent that in the 2010s, the age-old dream of political and artistic radicals, and their allies within the realms of religion, philosophy, psychology, science etc., of a world united by humanitarian values could be closer to becoming a reality than has ever been possible up to this point in time. In the meantime, the old world, the Judeo-Christian one bound by love of God, love of country, and love of family, has to all intents and purposes been cast out into the wilderness, as if there can be no place for its ancient certainties in the paradise about to be born.

Book Three

Your Lethal Life and Further Versified Fragments

First (Versified) Fragments

Wicked Cahoots

When he made
his first personal appearance
in the dirty alley
on someone else's rusty bike,
screaming along
in a cloud of dust,
it rendered us all
speechless and motionless.
But I was amazed
that despite his grey-faced surliness,
he was very affable with us...
the bully with a naive
and sentimental heart.
He was so happy
to hear that I liked his dad,
or that my mum liked him,
and he was welcome
to come to tea
with us at five twenty five...
Our adventures were spectacular:
chasing after other bikesters,
screaming at the top
of our lungs
into blocks of flats,
and then running
as our echoed waves of terror
blended with incoherent threats...
"I'll call the Police, I'll..."
Wicked cahoots.

The Woodville Hall Soul Boys

Soon after I'd paid
My sixty
Or seventy pence,
I found myself
In what I thought
Was a miniature London.
I saw girls
In chandelier earrings,
In stiletto heels,
Wearing evening
Dresses,
Which contrasted with
The bizarre
Hair colours
They favoured:
Jet black
Or bleach blonde,
With flashes of
Red, Purple
Or green.
Some wore large
Bow ties,
Others unceremoniously
Hanged
Their school ties
Round their
Necks.
Eye make-up
Was exaggerated.
The boys all had
Short hair,
Wore mohair sweaters,
Thin ties,
Baggy,
Peg-top trousers
And winklepicker shoes.
A band playing
Raw street rock
At a frantic speed
Came to a sudden,
Violent climax...
Melodic, rhythmic,
Highly danceable
Soul music
Was now beginning
To fill the hall,
With another group
Of short-haired youths...
Smoother, more elegant,
Less menacing
Than the previous ones.
These well-dressed
Street boys
Wore well-pressed pegs
Of red or blue...
They pirouetted
And posed...
Pirouetted and posed.

Some Perverse Will

I'm a restless man
I am never
Still
I'm always spurred on
By some perverse
Will
The grass is never
Green
No peace here
To find
Some demon
Of motion's
At work within my
Mind
No bed is too soft
That I won't
Abandon
Its sweet calm
And comfort
For a softer
One
I'm a restless man
I am never
Still
I'm always spurred on
By some perverse will.

Tales of a Paris Flaneur

Early days as a flaneur;
I recall the couple
On the Metro
When I was still innocent
Of its labyrinthine complexities;
Slim pretty white girl,
Clad head to toe
In new blue denim,
Wistfully smiling
While her muscular black beau
Stared straight through me
With fathomless, fulgorous orbs;
And one of them spoke
(Almost in a whisper):
"Qu'est-ce que t'en pense?"
Then it dawned on me...
The slender young Parisienne
With the distant desirous eyes
Was no less male than I.

Being screamed at in Pigalle,
And then howled at again
By some kind of wild-eyed
Drifter who told me to go
To the Bois de Boulogne to seek
What he clearly saw as my destiny;
Getting soused in Les Halles
With Sara
Who'd just seen Dillon as
Rusty James,
And was walking around in a daze;
Sara again with Jade
At the Caveau de la Huchette.

Cash squandered
On a cheap gold-plated toothbrush,
Portrait sketched at the Place du Tertre,
Paperback books
By Symbolist poets,
Second hand volumes
By Trakl and Deleve,
And a leather jacket from
The flea market
At the Porte de Clignancourt.

Metro taken to Montparnasse,
Where I slowly sipped
A demi blonde
In one of those brasseries
(Perhaps)
Immortalised by Brassai;
Bewhiskered old man
In a naval officer's cap,
His table bestrewn
With empty wine bottles
And cigarette butts,
Repeatedly screeched the name
"Phillippe!" until a bartender
With patent leather hair,
Filled his wineglass to the brim,
With a mock-obsequious:
"Voila, mon Captaine!"

I cut into the Rue du Bac,
Traversed the Pont Royal,
Briefly beheld
Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois,
With its gothic tower,
Constructed only latterly,
In order that
The 6th Century church
Might complement
The style of the remainder
Of the 1er Arrondissement,
Before steering for the
Place du Chatelet,
And onwards...Les Halles!

Spark of Youth Long Gone

Two days ago, I decided
To realise
Some cherished memories
Of my beloved little pueblo;
So I drank about five glasses
Of Monteviejo
In preparation for
The rediscovery of
The town of my heart.
Firstly, I sat in the bar
Where I used to meet
All my friends,
And was assaulted
By the prices of the drinks
And the volume of the music.
I searched the place
With my eyes
For the innocence and laughter
Of yesteryear, but in vain.
The young people are forced
Into tight little groups,
So atmosphere
Is ponderous and alienating.
Where is the fun?
The wild and foolish socialising?
The comic local music?
All gone. I could cry.
Oh, these nerves, this living death.
I am so full of fear,
Lethargy and fury,
I can hardly function.
There's a lack of innocence
Of simplicity
And is this change
From deep within me?
The freedom,
The spark of youth
Is gone,
Or have I merely lost it?
Sophistication spoils,
The city ravages,
Senses refined
By knowledge and wine.

London as the Lieu

Until recently, I had the impression
Of decaying
Along with the moral standards
Of contemporary Europe,
With London as the lieu
To which all Autoroutes lead.

In my room, I was surrounded
By debris
Of my existence,
Lacking the will even to clear
The carpet, whose colour,
Incidentally I came to forget.

I ceaselessly tampered with my hair,
Growing it long,
Having it cropped, hennaing it red,
Dyeing it blue-black, bleaching it near-white;
It fell out in bunches,
Dessicated and exhausted.

My face grew sallow and haggard,
With bloodshot, inflamed,
Glazed, blue-ringed orbs,
And bitten, bloated, ravaged lips.
My body lost its athletic aspect,
And became shapeless and emaciated.

Lone Birthday Boy Dancing

Yesterday for my birthday,
I started off
with a bottle of wine...
I took the train
into town...
I had half a bitter
at the Cafe de Piaf
in Waterloo...
I went to work
for a couple of hours or so;
I had a pint after work;
I went for an audition;
after the audition,
I had another pint
and a half;
I had another half,
before meeting my mates,
for my b'day celebrations;
we had a pint together;
we went into
the night club,
where we had champagne
(I had three glasses);
I had a further
glass of vino,
by which time,
I was so gone
that I drew an audience
of about thirty
by performing a solo
dancing spot
in the middle
of the disco floor...
We all piled off to the pub
after that,
where I had another drink
(I can't remember
what it was)...
I then made my way home,
took the bus from Surbiton,
but ended up
in the wilds of Surrey;
I took another bus home,
and watched some telly,
and had something to eat
before crashing out...
I really, really enjoyed
the eve, but today,
I've been walking around
like a zomb;
I've had only one drink today,
an early morning
restorative effort;
I spent the day working,
then I went to a bookshop,
where, like a monk,
I go for a day's
drying out session...
Drying out is really awful;
you jump at every shadow;
you feel dizzy,
you notice everything;
very often,
I don't follow through.

More (Lyrical) Fragments

Stevie B and Me

Stevie, we were free,
Stevie, you and me,
On that golden day,
Was it '68?
The decade's last few days,
The whole wild world was crazed,
But where we were was peace,
For you and me at least.

If I stop for a moment,
I dream groves and country paths,
Green's Albatross is playing
In this our past,
Whole empires were falling,
The old ways were fading fast,
Things never last,
But you and I
Found pleasant peace at last.

We weren't friends for long,
These things aren't too strong,
We were far from home,
Together less alone,
We drifted far apart,
Hardened up our hearts,
We had so far to fall,
Four years took their toll.

We walked and talked
For many hours,
Safe under Blue Berkshire Skies.

Stevie, we were free
Like we'd never been,
On that halcyon day,
Stevie B and me.
The decade's last few days,
The whole wild world was crazed,
But where we were was peace
For you and me at least.

The Ones We Love

Though we fight every day
I can say Honey
I do love you
With a love
A burning love
A tender love
A kind of love
That's forever true

It seems that it's the truth
Between man
And woman
And age and youth
It's true that we do
Hurt most the one we love

So many times I've let you down
I've messed you 'round
And I still do
I know it's weird
It seems absurd
But I never ever wanted to

You know it's often said
And I've seen it
Many times
In all the books I've read
It's true that we do
Hurt most the ones we love

You've got to forgive me babe
Sometimes it's hard
To control the things
I do and say
I'm just a weak and sinful man
Yes I am
Trying to do the best I can

It seems that it's the truth
Between man
And woman
And age and youth
It's true that we do
Hurt most the one we love.

It Wasn't So Long Ago

I shaped a heart outside her door
With the matches I'd procured
We had our season in the sun
Our romance when we were young

It wasn't so long ago
A new time may have grown
And so many tears have flown
But it wasn't so long ago

A melody plays from time gone by
All the years between them fly
I'm back in her tender arms once again
Embracing in the summer rain

It wasn't so long ago
A new time may have grown
And so many tears have flown
But it wasn't so long ago

Time rushes by like a hurricane
And leaves so much chaos in its wake
Run to the one you love tonight
Say something tender
Find it in your heart
Don't wait too long

Two lovers kissed on a summer morn
And a lifetime love was born
A love that makes a man a king
And a maid's heart start to sing

It wasn't so long ago
A new time may have grown
And so many tears have flown
But it wasn't so long ago.

Time Travel

Time travel's set me free
And sunk its
Sharpest hooks in me

In disguise as a young man
In the city
But the bright young lights
No longer belong to me
I'm not a London man
I'm just a carbon copy
Doing some travelling

Time travel's set me free
And sunk its
Sharpest hooks in me

Seeing faces that I knew in '77
When I was young
And in love with London town
But please don't ask me
Where those thirty years
Have flown to
They've just gone travelling

Time travel's set me free
And sunk its
Sharpest hooks in me

Lady though your sweetness
Is such a blessing
Tender angel
Please don't lose your heart to me
For I'm a visitor
From a distant generation
Doing some travelling

Time travel's set me free
And sunk its
Sharpest hooks in me.

All Through the Ages

All through the ages
I have faithfully waited
Now I'm ready
For you
To make this dream come true
All through the ages
I have faithfully prayed
You'd come and rescue me
You've been
So far away
All through the ages
I have faithfully kept
Myself so pure for you
Except a crush or two
All through the ages
I have faithfully waited
Now I'm ready
For you
To make this dream come true.

Toilers of the Sea

Come away with me
To toil upon the sea,
Come away and see
How sweet sea life can be,
I'll sing Bonnie Dundee
Off the coast of Old Guernsey,
You and me
Are toilers of the sea, toilers of the sea.

Help me put that wrecked
Romance away from me,
Help me understand
How it was lost at sea,
It wasn't destined to be,
She belonged to another not me,
So I let them be,
Whatever will be will be
For the salty old likes of me,
For toilers of the sea, for toilers of the sea.

I can stand it if you're
There with me,
For the solitary life at sea
Is enough to make you sea crazy,
With the whales and gulls for company.

We can ponder on
The ocean's mysteries,
I'll unveil a few of
My old sea stories,
You'll see how kind a tar can be,
I promise you'll be safe with me,
When we're out at sea
As toilers of the sea, as toilers of the sea.

Under Summer's Sun

Faith, where's your smile,
Don't be a melancholy child,
Can't you see
That the summer's come?

Stuck in your room
With your winter curtains drawn,
While the suburbs
Are all bathed in sun.

No more winter time lows,
Only joy now because
We can shake off the blues,
Faith, there's no time to lose.

We can go for a cruise
Down the Thames
Or down the Ouse,
Or just snooze under summer's sun,

Find a village green,
Watch some cricket,
Take some tea, as you please,
Summer's made for fun.

Get some sweet summer air,
Feel the breeze in your hair,
Forget that sad old affair,
He's not worth all the tears.

Cast you cares on me,
I can set you free,
Don't let me wait too long,
Summer will soon be gone.

No more winter time lows,
Only joy now because,
We can shake off the blues,
Faith, there's no time to lose.

We can go for a cruise
Down the Thames
Or down the Ouse,
Or just snooze under summer's sun.

Like all the Moonstruck Do

If I fell in love with you
I would like to
Make my dreams come true
You could fulfil all yours too
So come on angel
Just one look will do
I'll lose my heart to you
Like all the moonstruck do

We could go all round the world
Just like other
Moonstruck girls and boys
So come on angel
Don't be scared
We are only young once
Say the word
I'll lose my heart to you
Like all the moonstruck do

Bali Frisco Rio or wherever
You may choose
The world's our oyster angel
There'll be no more bad news
We could escape tomorrow
I tell you we can't lose
We will soon be
Saying bye bye to those blues

If I fell in love with you
I would like to
Make my dreams come true
You could fulfil all yours too
So come on angel
Just one look will do
I'll lose my heart to you
Like all the moonstruck do.

I Let You Go

What was I thinking
I let you go
I wasn't drinking still
I let you go
Where was my head at to
Let you go
I can't accept that I just
Let you go

I wish I could make
Amends
So we could at least
Be friends
I have no real
Reason why
I let you say goodbye

Did I confuse you when
I let you go
Such a fool to have
Let you go
You were so precious still
I let you go
Worth more than jewels still
I let you go

I wish we could start again
I'd be quite a different man
I've learned quite a lot
Since then
I know how to keep a friend

We could meet up in the
Centre of town
And I'd explain my motivations
About how I came
To let you down
And all those other
Explications and complications

I'm not asking for
Romance
Just give me half
A chance
Cos I got a real
Good heart
So how 'bout
A brand new start

What was I thinking
I let you go
I wasn't drinking still
I let you go
Where was my head at
To let you go
I can't accept
That I just let you go.

Time Was I Was (A Wand'rin' Star)

Time was I was a wandering star
With a restless quenchless soul
Time was I had an unquiet heart
And from dream to dream I'd roam

Well I thought I was a free bird
And I didn't have a worldly care
Till I found myself abandoned and
Alone I cried but you weren't there

Now all I really want is you is you is you

Time was I played the gadabout
Thought I did not need a home
Time was I thought I was so smart
I could do it all alone

Till it dawned on me that there would
Come a time when you would say OK
If that's the way you want it babe
I'll leave you to go on your way

Now all I really want is you is you is you.

(Your Beautiful) Lethal Life

Shooting star
With a quicksilver mind,
You deserve to go so far,
Can't someone stop you
Before you ruin your soul
With irreversible harm?

Drinking all day,
Every single day,
Out of your head on booze,
Is this the life,
Is this the way,
A gifted child should choose?

Your beautiful lethal life
My friend,
Has sent you around the bend,
Your foolish defiant
Dionysian dance
Could soon be at an end.

But you don't care
Do you, shooting star?
As you drift in your blissful dream.

Book Four

Seven Chapters from a Sad Sack Loser's Life

Chapter One

Sometime in the early 21st Century, anyone carefully contemplating the life of David Cristiansen would be forgiven for thinking of him as a loser. In fact not just a loser but a king-size loser, a loser among losers, a loser supreme. And being told he was the best at what he did may have afforded him some consolation at those times his status in life meant the most to him; and he felt most helpless to change the conditions of his existence.
They might see him as someone who'd failed in pretty well every conceivable area of life. And so ended up living alone in an apartment adjacent to his parents' suburban home on the wrong side of 55, unmarried and childless, and without fortune, profession or vehicle.
And they'd have a point. For when it came to the areas in which he hoped to succeed since he was a teenager with the world at his delicate feet, he had little to show for his labours but for a precious few fruits with which he was inordinately pleased. But in the end, they amounted to, well if not little, then far less than they should have done; and deep down inside he knew that all too well.
And it hurt him terribly to realise he wasn't a genius after all, so much as a regular sad sack with delusions of grandeur; as actor, musician and writer...especially as writer.
"I'm not done yet," he'd tell himself, or anyone else willing to listen, and to look at him, you might think he had a point. For despite his age, he still possessed a remnant of what was once a truly remarkable physical beauty.
Yet, many would insist David was foolish to lament all he had lost in terms of opportunities for fame, status and glory and all the wondrous things that accompany these. For after all, these are things one cannot take with us when we quit this earth, and life is short, so terribly short that it is described in the Bible as a "vapour".
And there were times his still handsome eyes failed to see this truth, as if they'd become clouded o'er by the tears he'd shed time and time again for the follies of his faraway past. While at others, it became manifestly clear to him, and he rejoiced as the most fortunate of men. Yet, it could have all been so different.
He'd been born at the tail end of the Goldhawk Road, a lengthy street within the limits of inner West London, while his first home was a little Victorian cottage in the long-demolished Bulmer Place in Notting Hill. And you'll search in vain for it in any London map, although you'll still be able to locate a Bulmer Mews, tucked away some yards from the main road of Notting Hill Gate.
His brother Dany was born two and a half years later, by which time his parents had been able to afford their own house in Bedford Park in what was then the London Borough of Acton.
During David's boyhood it was still demographically mixed, yet well on the way to becoming completely gentrified.
Future Who front man Roger Daltry had relocated there from nearby Shepherds Bush when he was 11 years old in 1955 or '56.
And a few years later, he formed a group in the Skiffle style called the Detours, which would go on to shape-shift into the Who, whose furiously hedonistic music and philosophy would go on to make a permanent impression on the Western psyche; and help fuel the British Invasion of the American Pop charts.
David's father Pat had been born Patrick Clancy Cristiansen in Rowella, Tasmania, and raised in Sydney as the son of a Danish father and English mother.
At around eight years old, he won a scholarship to the Sydney Conservatory of Music, soloing for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on a single occasion shortly afterwards.
And soon after his father's death on the eve of the Second World War, he set off with his mother and two siblings for Denmark, his father having expressed a wish to be buried in his native land. And then on to London where he studied both at the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
He joined the London Philharmonic Orchestra while still a teenager, and during the Blitz on London, served in the Sea Cadets as a signaller, seeing action as such on the hospital ships of the Thames River Emergency Service.
While David's mother had entered the world as Angela Jean Elizabeth Watson in the city of Brandon, Manitoba. However, while still an infant she'd moved with her parents and four siblings to the Grandview area of East Vancouver.
Many of Grandview's earliest settlers were in shipping or construction work, and largely of British origin. Indeed, Angela's own father, whose reputed trades included those - variously - of farmworker, builder and electrician, was from the little town of Castlederg in County Tyrone, Ireland. While her mother hailed from Springburn, Glasgow.
In high school, she came into her own in the Glee Club, thanks to a singing voice of rare beauty and quality. And in time was able to make her living exclusively as a soprano singer; while many of her greatest triumphs took place at Vancouver's famous Theatre Under the Stars in Stanley Park, which officially opened on August the 6th 1940.
After the war, she hoped to expand her career either in the US or the UK, but despite a successful audition for the San Francisco Light Opera Company, ultimately opted for England, a ticket to sail having become available to her.
And so she set off for the country of her forefathers laden with letters of recommendation from her singing teacher, as well as numerous press cuttings from her brilliant Canadian career.
And within a short time of doing so, she met Pat Cristiansen through their shared profession, and they married in the summer of 1948.
Seven years later, they decided to have their first child, but Angela was repeatedly informed by her doctor she might miscarry. In the event, David breathed his first at 3.50 pm on the 7th of October.
While his first school was a kind of nursery school held locally on a daily basis at the private residence of one Miss Henrietta Pearson, and then aged 4 years old, he joined the exclusive Lycee Francais du Kensington du Sud in London's ritzy South Kensington district, where he was to become bilingual by the age of about four years old.
Almost every race and nationality under the sun was to be found at the Lycee in those days...and among those who went on to be good pals of David's were kids of English, French, Jewish, American, Yugoslavian and Middle Eastern origin.
His first two closest playground pals were Esther, the dusky scion of a successful Norwegian character actor and a beautiful Israeli dancer, and Craig, an English kid like himself, and for a time, they formed an unlikely but inseparable trio:
"Hi kiddy," was how she'd commonly greet him, and David would respond in kind.
While not a typical Lycee father as a man who favoured patched canvas trousers, David's father Pat was determined Dany and he enjoy the best and richest education imaginable, and to this end, he worked, toiled incessantly in the tough London session world.
And so that they be distinguished from the common run of British boys with their short back and sides, they were dressed in lederhosen with their heads shorn like convicts. These boys would be different. And David certainly set himself apart from the outset not least though his physical appearance, whose remarkable thinness was enhanced by long-lashed blue eyes of an almost exaggerated largeness.
He was also the kind of child who'd remove a periodical from a neighbour's letter-box on Esmond Road, and then mutilate it before re-posting it...donate a loaf of ancient green bread to another by posting it over the wall...and destroy still another's brand new balsa wood fence while trying to retrieve a stray ball, going through one rung after the other with a sickly dull thud...thud...thud...much to the hilarity of a close pal. But the neighbour couldn't see the funny side.
The era's famous social revolution kicked in in about 1963, and yet for all that, seminal Pop groups such as the Searchers and the Dave Clark Five - even the Beatles themselves - were quaint and wholesome figures in a still innocent England. They fitted in well in a nation of Norman Wisdom pictures and the well-spoken presenters of the BBC Home or Light Service, of coppers, tanners and ten bob notes, sweet shops and tuppeny chews.
It was in '63 that Beatlemania invaded David's world, and he first announced his own status as a maniac at the Lycee in that landmark year; but within a short time, a single new group had started threatening the Beatles' position as David's favourite in the world. They were the Rolling Stones; although an initial reaction to what he saw as a rough and sullen performance of Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away on TV, was one of bitter disappointment as he would later recall.
But before long, it had become evident he'd fallen hard for the band with the outlaw image. For during a musical discussion that took place in about 1965 with some of the new breed of English roses, who, if they had favoured such totemic Swinging Sixties fashions as mini-skirts or kinky boots, Marianne Faithfull tresses or spartan Twiggy crops, would have been typical, he proudly announced his fealty.
One of the girls was a Fab Four loyalist and announced this fact with a sweet smile as he'd come to recall. While another preferred a certain earthy Newcastle combo and acted cooler than the rest, as if these Geordie Bluesmen were somehow superior to mere Pop acts like the Beatles. While David felt compelled to ask her an unflattering question about her favourite band, which provoked a flustered response from the Pop fan.

During this golden era, David divided his time between the Lycee and his West London stomping ground, and from a very young age, took Judo classes in South Kensington. And it was there that one of his teachers, a former British international who'd fought in the first ever World Judo championships in Japan, was quoted as having said:
"I always know it's Saturday when I hear Cristiansen's voice."
Later, he took classes in a Martial Arts club in the somewhat rougher London suburb of Hammersmith. But if he thought he was going to raise Cain there he had another thing coming, given that its owner was a one-time captain of the British international team who'd served as an air gunner with No 83 Squadron RAF during World War II. He later held Judo classes in Stalag 383.
David resumed instruction there in the early '70s, this time mainly in Karate with a soft-spoken black belt from the north of England, until he got it into his head that he no longer wished to have anything to do with anything martial, precious blooming aesthete that he was.
For all that though, he knew real happiness on those Wednesday evenings he attended his cherished Wolf Cub pack.
Memories such as the solemnity of his enrolment, and being helped up a tree by an older cub to secure his Athletics badge remained with him for many years afterwards. As did the times he won his first star, and his swimming badge, with its peculiar frog symbol, as well as the pomp and the seriousness of a mass meeting he attended, with its different coloured scarves, sweaters and hair.
And then there was the Saturday afternoon when, following a soccer match between rival cub teams during which David dirtied his boots by standing around in the mud, and his elbow by tripping over a loose bootlace, an older cub offered to take him home. So they made their way to the bus stop through underground passageways teeming with rowdy kids, both white and West Indian, all shod in black plimsolls with elastic side strips...or so it seemed.
"Shuddup!" shouted David's new protector, and they did.
"Where exactly are you taking me?" David queried anxiously.
"The bus stop at Chiswick 'Oigh Stree' is the best plice, oi reck'n. You be awroigh' theah, me lil' mite."
David became convinced he'd never see his home again, and so started to loudly wail, his cherubic little face contorted into a hideous mask of anguish; and as they mounted the bus, faces both white and black suddenly turned towards him in concern, and what a strange sight he must have made, this tyke in distress, surrounded by a bevy of older wolf cubs.
After a few moments, David's new found friend, his brow furrowed with concern, as if he'd done his frail young charge some unspeakable wrong, assured him:
"Oim gonna drop y'orf where yer dad pu'y'on."
Then, David saw a street he recognised, and promptly left his seat, grinning uncontrollably:
"This'll do," he announced.
"Wai', Dave!" his friend cried out, "are you shoa vis is awroigh'?"
"Yup!" David replied him, as he stepped off the bus, which then moved on down the street and out of his life forever.
There was a point in the mid 1960s when David was dubbed Le General by his form teacher, by which time he'd be found barking orders in the playground to a tight circle of friends. While in the classroom, he'd sit at the back, leaning against the wall with his cronies, while pretending to smoke a fat cigar like a Chicago tough guy.
Certainly he was not above organising elaborate playground deceptions; and one of these involved his pretending to banish one of his best friends, Bobby, from whatever activity they had going on at the time.
Bobby played along by putting on a superb display of water works, which had the desired effect of arousing the tender mercies of some of the girls. They duly rounded on David for his hard-heartedness, but he refused to budge, and of course it was all a big joke, and Bobby and he had never been closer.
If he was Le General at school, back home he apparently saw himself as some kind of spokesman for those kids whose houses backed onto the dirty alley that ran parallel to his side of the Esmond Road. For one day, he crossed the road to announce a feud with the kids of the clean alley...so-called because it was concreted over rather than being just a dirt track.
Soon after the feud had thawed, Dany and he went over to pal around with some of the clean alley kids, but there must have still been some bad blood because before long, a scrap was under way and he was getting the worst of it.
"Hit him, David," his brother urged above the chilling din of the clean alley loyalists baying for his hot young blood to flow, but the best he could manage was to briefly get his antagonist into a headlock. Finally he agreed to leave, and as he cycled off, one of the clean alley kids kicked his bike, so that it squeaked all the way home in unison with great heaving sobs.
But if David's good mate Paulie had been with him on that afternoon in the clean alley, its unlikely he would have had to suffer as he did. He lived virtually opposite the Cristiansen family in Bedford Park, but was from another dimension altogether, a skinny cockney kid with muscles like pure steel who seemed to have been born to wage war on the bomb sites of post-war London. And when he'd made his first personal appearance in the dirty alley on someone else's rusty bike, screaming along in a cloud of dust it rendered all its denizens speechless and motionless.
"Davy!" He'd always cry when he wanted his treasured friend's attention, while their wicked cahoots included howling at the top of their lungs into random blocks of flats, and then running away, as their echoed screams blended with incoherent threats of:
"I'll call the Police, I'll..."
Yet, David's mum made a point of liking him; and he was always welcome to come to tea with the Cristiansen family at five twenty five; even though one of her closest friends, Helena Jacobs, expressed concern over David's association with Paulie, as if he might end up going to the bad. And incredibly, she was not alone in thinking this. For far from being some latter day Jack Dawkins, is it not fair to say David was just a lovable little imp causing mayhem in a leafy London suburb; and as one of those premature romantics who never go through a phase of detesting the fair sex, blessed with a naturally tender heart?
And if ever proof was needed that puppy love can be as agonisingly painful as its adult counterpart, it came in the shape of his adoration, as a fantastically skinny nine year old, of a young blonde girl of about his age with a strong London accent whom he met through no fault of his own in the midst of that most mythologized of decades of recent times.
It was the year of '65; and he knew this to be an absolute fact thanks to certain songs which, even when played in the early 2010s, took him violently back to the time of his love for little June Cassidy.
And each and every one of these tunes, such as the Fab Four's We Can Work It Out and Pet Clark's ever so poignant My Love stemmed from that most totemic of years when Pop plausibly started mutating piecemeal into Rock; and London was in mid swing with Carnaby Street as its trendy epicentre.
She announced herself to him with a radiant smile one afternoon while they were both attending classes at their local swimming pool soon after asking him whether his name was David. After he'd confirmed to her that indeed it was, she confessed her reason for having so unexpectedly entered his world:
"My mum knows your mum," she chirpily informed him, before explaining that her mother Maryanne had become friendly with David's own mother through their mutual attendance of a sewing class in what would have been a local education centre. She then turned to her friend and, still smiling, more or less reiterated what she'd told David:
"My mum knows his mum."
But if she was overwhelmingly friendly during that initial meeting, she was never so pleasant again, but the more David was ignored, the more he adored. And on one occasion, he may have tried to attract her attention by swimming ever so close to where she was sitting on the edge of the pool with a friend, only to get caught up in the splashing of her feet; but he could have sworn she smiled to her friend at this point, and he clung to the hope that this indicated some kind of affection for him.
But such hope was forlorn, for she never spoke to him again, and he was driven to distraction by her indifference, even to the point of looking up her mother's name in the telephone directory. And oh with what joy he saw it clearly written there, Maryanne Cassidy, and it restored some kind of control to him, so that the intensity of his love was somehow mitigated thereby.
In fact, it consoled him to realise that should he so desire, he could call her, and speak to her, but what would he say? After all, they weren't friends; in fact, she didn't even seem to like him, so he let it go, and in time, his love receded.
Yet he carried its memory far into adulthood, despite the fact that were she still alive, she might have grandchildren of the same age she'd been when shed so enchantingly introduced herself to David in that totemic year of '65:
"My mum knows your mum!"

He left the Lycee in the summer of 1968...before spending some months at a certain Central London crammer...so as to become sufficiently up to scratch academically to pass what is known as the Common Entrance Examination.
Taking the CE is a necessity for all British boys and girls seeking entrance into private fee-paying schools, including those known as public schools, which are the traditional secondary places of learning for the British governing and professional classes.
And the vast majority of those who go on to public schools begin their academic careers in preparatory or prep schools, and so for the most part leave home at around eight years old.
The school his father had selected for him was the Nautical College, Welbourne, and somehow, he managed to pass the CE, so that at still only twelve years old he became Cadet David Cristiansen 173, the youngest kid in the college, and an official serving officer in Britain's Royal Naval Reserve.
Founded at the height of the British Empire, Welbourne still possessed her original title in '68, while her headmaster, a serving officer in the Royal Navy for some quarter of a century, wore his uniform at all times.
However, in '69, she was given the name Welbourne College, while the boys retained their officer status, and naval discipline continued to be enforced, with Welbourne serving both as a military college and traditional English boarding school.
The Welbourne David knew had strong links to the Church of England, and so was marked by regular if not daily classes in what was known as Divinity, morning parade ground prayers, evening prayers, and compulsory chapel on Sunday morning.
Later in life, he felt indebted to her for the values she'd instilled in him if only unconsciously, even though, by the time he joined Welbourne, they were under siege as never before by the so-called Counterculture. While failing to fully understand the implications of the cultural revolution of the late 1960s, David was to passionately celebrate its consequences, and take to his heart many of its icons, both artistic and political.
Yet, from the outset, he desperately wanted to distinguish himself at Welbourne...and especially at sports, starting with the great ruffianly game for gentlemen of Rugby Football...and oh with what longing he gazed at the sight of colours on the blue blazers or striped blazers of those who'd earned them on the playing fields of Welbourne.
Traditionally awarded in public schools and universities for sporting excellence, colours weren't everything David desired; but for a few years they came pretty close.
But he'd not been born into a typical British family, and so attended a prep school, as has ever been the case for the vast majority of those destined to pass into the public school system.
Although, it would be false to assert that Welbourne was exclusively composed of the sons of the privileged, because she wasn't. And neither was she a narrowly Anglo-Saxon institution, because during David's time, he knew American, West Indian, Middle Eastern and South African cadets as well as British ones, and several of these were close friends of his.
What's more, she was supplemented in the autumn of '68 by cadets from a recently dismantled training ship, founded in 1885 by a wealthy businessman and keen yachtsman for the rescue of London slum boys who would then be trained for service in the Royal and Merchant Navies.
Most fitted in well, as indeed did David, but he was never going to be one of Welbourne's wonder boys, despite his having been kept back an extra year in the third form, which should have put him at an academic advantage; but didn't. And he may have done so partly in response to the meningitis he succumbed to in Spain during his first summer vacation. And which necessitated his being hospitalised for a time in Zaragoza, where he became the white-haired boy of several of the medical students, who hailed from such diverse regions of the Spanish-speaking world as Peru and Puerto Rico.
Yet, there were those teachers and pupils who insisted that while criminally idle, he was also intelligent...a bit of a fraud then, or what the French call a fumiste; but for all that, his behaviour did sometimes verge on the medically alarming.
On one occasion, for instance, he went for an eye test in the village, only to return to college without having taken it, before announcing that he'd forgotten why he'd gone into town in the first place. As for his hygiene, at one point it was so minimal that the bottoms of his feet were literally as black as soot, as if someone had painted them:
"Talk about 'Paint it Black', Cristiansen!"
"When did you last wash your feet?"
But he never stopped longing to be recognised as being good at something, even going so far at one point as to become a member the college boxing team. As such, he suffered punch-drunkenness at Eton at the hands - or rather fists - of an elegant young adonis with what he later recalled as a classic Eton Flop. He later commented on an especially cruel blow he'd inflicted on David with a certain degree of remorse...and how deceptively graceful he was, this flower of Eton...king of all public schools.
However, around '69, some time after having seen a TV programme about young revolutionaries who idolised Che Guevara, David became a Che acolyte himself, and one of the greatest accolades he ever received while at college came in consequence of a short story he wrote about a young man who becomes involved with Che in his revolutionary activities in South America. And it was during this era that he came to fancy himself as a full-blown Communist, covering various items with the hammer and sickle, including at various times, a school notebook, and possibly even his own hand. And in consequence of having fallen hard for the Hard Left, an older, far larger boy was provoked into setting about him in a spirit of mock-outrage...but his heart wasn't in it.
In fact, his time at Welbourne coincided with the Counterculture being at its point of maximum intensity, which is to say between the infamous year of rioting and street fighting of 1968, and that, four years later, when the sixties really and truly came to a final close and which was defined in Britain at least by the artifice and decadence of Glam Rock.
And one sweet afternoon, David found himself longing to join the Hippie throngs he saw flocking in all their ragged multicoloured glory to what was almost certainly the famous Reading Rock Festival from the window of a college coach. For rebellion was everywhere in a desperately imperilled West, and in later years David would hazily recall...the dreams of Hippie freedom lying beyond the confines of college...the intensely close friendships forged by bands of cadets in secret wooded places within the college...the adoration of Rock music and its icons with their defiantly androgynous clothes and floating, flouting hair.
Yet, by the early 2010s, David would insist that all that was best about him he owed to his faith first and foremost of course, but also to a significant extent to his education. Within this sphere, he'd place the four years he spent at Welbourne, whose authorities extended him a fair and decent report following his premature departure in the summer of 1972. As well as a good send-off in the college magazine, mentioning his time in the Boxing and Swimming teams, and his tenure as 2cnd Drum in the college band. And he'd wish his old friend well, having come to love her in her sanctuary deep in the Arcadian heart of the English countryside.
Some forty years theretofore, he'd moved back into his parents' home in a small largely working class suburb close to the Surrey-London border to where they'd relocated from Bedford Park at the start of the decade.
Their own street was quite gentrified; and their two closest neighbours, businessmen with roots in inner West London...Jack at number 12 being the son of a former boy soldier during the Great War; while Johnny at number 16 was the product of what he proudly called "abject poverty" in Shepherd's Bush.
He was still a hippie at heart; and yet 1972 could be said to be the year in which the androgynous seventies really began, as the excitement surrounding the Alternative Society and its happenings and be-ins and love-ins and free festivals and so on started to fade into recent history.
The golden age of the long-haired boot boy had lately come to pass, and every street seemed to David to be pregnant with menace in the Glam Rock nation he'd returned to, while so many of the songs were like football chants set to a stomping Glam Rock beat. It was as if the spirit of Weimar Berlin with its unholy mix of violence and decadence had been resurrected in stuffy old England.
Such a terrible time to be young; but for better or worse, it would be David's era, and he'd come to love it, lap it up.
And a change came over him in the summer of '72, which may have been caused to some degree by the prevailing zeitgeist, but which can also be traced back to a single defining incident.
This took place in a bar named Castilla in the little Spanish former fishing town of Santiago de la Ribera on the Mar Menor - a large saltwater lagoon separated from the Mediterranean by a thin strip of land known as La Manga - where he'd been vacationing with his family since about 1968.
It involved a young man he'd idolised for several years, and who incarnated a kind of old-school Iberian macho cool. He was quite fair of complexion, as opposed to swarthy, as might be expected, and stocky, with muscular arms. And if he'd worn a medallion and identity bracelet, he'd have been typical of his kind.
By that summer, he was sporting collar length hair, which was still quite rare among Spanish men, as well as large-collared shirts, which he elected not to tuck into his trousers. The style of these meant that his hair would occasionally get caught between neck and collar, which necessitated his flicking it out with a sweep of his hand, and coquettishly tossing his head. This he did one evening in full view of Castilla's clientele. While these gestures seemed perfectly in keeping with his swaggering machismo in David's besotted eyes, there was another of Castilla's patrons who was less impressed. But rather than put David off, he came to covet the notoriety that had suddenly been afforded the young Spaniard.
Yet while this incident may have marked the beginning of the end of his identification with undiluted masculinity, his interest in the opposite sex was no less forceful than that of any other male in late adolescence. And if an attractive female happened to speak to him in a public place, he'd be in acute danger of falling in love on the spot. In fact, he didn't even have to be spoken to:
It was on SS Patricia while travelling back from vacationing in Spain late in the summer of '72 that he fell in love by sight with a fellow passenger, a young Spanish girl he saw several times about the ship but was too frightened to approach. So he became obsessed by her, even to the point of roaming the streets of London for several days in succession in the vain hope of somehow bumping into her.
Two songs especially served as the soundtrack to this irrational spell of romantic insanity; and these were Betcha by Golly, Wow by the Stylistics, and Last Night I Didn't Get To Sleep At All by the 5th Dimension. And like all the loves he'd ever lost, they'd remain with him for the rest of his inchoate life.
As would the vision of a seventeen year old, sauntering late one afternoon in the receding sun, his quest in tatters, yet, who is suddenly drawn to a girlish voice floating downwards from an apartment of a lofty dwelling in the heart of the ancient city of his birth, causing him to ponder, if only fleetingly..."could that be she?"

Chapter Two

Soon after returning from Spain in the summer of 1972, David Cristiansen was launched by his dad on what could be called an intensive programme of self-improvement.
Through home study and with the help of local private tutors, he set about making up for the fact that he'd left formal education at 16 with only two General Certificate of Education passes to his name, where a respectable amount would be no less than five.
He took Karate classes in Hammersmith, and among his fellow students were hard-looking young men - some of them flaunting classic '70s feather cuts - who may have been led to the dojo by the prevailing fashion for all things Eastern, such as the films of Bruce Lee, and the Kung Fu television series.
And while he enjoyed them for a time, in fact, far more than the swimming classes he attended weekly in Walton on Thames, they were destined to be short-lived.
This possibly due in part to his growing fascination with an androgynous way of life inspired by Glam Rock, which was yet quiescent in late 1972. While Classic Rock was still foremost in his affections if the earliest long players of his nascent record collection were anything to go by.
And he was successfully initiated into the basics of the Rock guitar solo by a shy and sweet-natured man of about 45 by the name of Gerry Firth, who gave lessons from a tiny little abode in an alley on the edge of Walton. For it was there that he lived in apparent content with his wife and infant daughter.
While his profound love for the rebel music of Rock and Roll was wholly belied by an appearance which was almost militantly square in David's eyes. For he wore his salt and pepper hair in a severe short back and sides style, which he supplemented with shirt and tie and sleeveless sweater, and possibly also, baggy grey flannel trousers or something equally sobersided.
Was to some degree a typical early seventies dad in other words; that is, on the surface of things, for the truth was infinitely different.
And on one memorable occasion, David tried to persuade him of the superior merit of Classical music on the basis that it's "well-played", which Gerry countered with:
"Well, isn't Rock Music well played?"
David was baffled by his argument, despite his own preference for Rock. And another thing that bewildered him about Gerry Firth was his admiration for Marc Bolan of seminal Glam Rock band T. Rex. For Glam was yet to make any kind of impression on David, who still favoured the hirsute macho men of the Heavy Rock movement.
"Don't you find him effeminate?" David once asked him of Bolan, obviously expecting Gerry to express due consternation at the thought of Bolan's startling choirboy looks, while continuing to appreciate his music. But Gerry trumped him with an answer that may have caused his adolescent jaw to drop:
"Not as excitingly so as Mike Jagger," he said, smiling all the while.
"Mick Jagger," said David, correcting the older man as if in a trance.
"Mick Jagger," Gerry conceded, doubtless without meaningful change of expression, having struck quite a blow on behalf of the old guard in the generation wars that were still being fought back then. And in terms of Bolan's music, there are many today who'd insist he was right in doing so, as it went on to achieve the classic status it continues to enjoy in the 2010s; although the man himself would sadly die aged just 29 in 1977 without realising the full extent of his legend.
And by the time T. Rex had released hit single The Groover in the June of the following year, sometime scoffer David Cristiansen was no longer resistant to the Bolanic charm, had succumbed, in fact, to the entire Glam Rock genre he'd helped to engender. More of which later.
Late in the summer, David signed up for five years service with the Thames Division of the Royal Naval Reserve based on HMS Ministry on the Embankment near Temple station. And not long afterwards, it became clear to him that he was attracting some attention by virtue of his budding pretty boy looks. But far from being offended by this development, he found it strangely flattering, as if a seed of vanity had been implanted within a boy who'd spent the last few years as a swaggering lout.
To a degree then, it was a case of an ugly duckling suddenly finding themselves to be a swan, and enjoying the resultant notoriety, such as that latterly conferred on the young Spaniard of the Bar Castilla.
Not that he'd ever been ugly, in fact, several of his mother's female friends had already commented on his looks; but he'd never seen himself as any kind of adonis with his twitching head, greasy lank hair, bony round shoulders and splayfooted walk.
Having said that, though, he had nurtured a sentimental streak throughout his teens that placed him somewhat at odds with his peers.
It also made him susceptible to such potent tearjerkers as Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, whose movie version, which he saw at the flicks with his mother at about 15 years old, had a life-changing effect on him.
And the same applies to John Schlesinger's stunning screen adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd, which may have initiated a lifelong love affair on his part with hopeless love and high romantic tragedy.
Yet, the softening process that took place in the closing months of 1972 was unprecedented in its sheer intensity, and can be at least partly attributed to the spirit of the times. For popular culture was changing, and hirsute Rock and Roll stars in scruffy denim flares were no longer the last word in cool. While the cinema was producing a new breed of film idol who was a far cry from the he-man of old.
It received a further boost when, towards the new year, he saw former Bubblegum band the Sweet on an afternoon Pop programme called Lift Off With Ayesha.
The Sweet had once incarnated all he opposed in terms of commercial chart Pop, yet, watching them prance around in high heels and make up, pouting and preening like a quartet of hysterical transvestites, he underwent what was little short of an epiphany.
Then, several months later, veteran hopeful Rock star David Bowie appeared on the chat show Russell Harty Plus with his eyebrows shaved and a glittering chandelier earring dangling from his left ear, and so David's devotion to Glam became total.
Even David's mother was charmed by Bowie, when, towards the end of the interview, after Harty had made a joke about his dainty strap-on platform shoes, he referred to the chat show host as "silly", before flashing an impossibly innocent smile:
"Aww, he's sweet," said the former Miss Ann Watson; and she was also enchanted by the wit of Elton John when he appeared on Harty's show a short while later. But when she caught sight of the cover of the first New York Dolls album, which David had latterly ordered by post through his usual outlet, she told him that apart from the hardest hard core pornography, she couldn't imagine anything quite so repulsive to the eye, or something to that effect.
Yet, Bowie's sphinx-like charisma was so potent that even some of the most unreconstructed of macho men were drawn, irresistibly, to his art, which combined the most seductive melodies with complex, deeply literate lyrics.
For the cult of androgyny was a powerful force in Britain in 1973, having been earlier incubated by both Mod and Hippie culture, and musical acts as diverse as the Stones, the Kinks, Alice Cooper, the Stooges and T. Rex.
Furthermore, it was reinforced in the cinema by several movies featuring angelically beautiful men.
And yet, you still put yourself in danger if you chose to parade around like a Glam Rock star in the mean streets of London or any other major British city in the early 1970s; and therefore few did.
But David fantasised about fame and adulation as never before throughout the Glam era, and he built an image based on his idol Bowie, spiking his hair like him, and even peroxiding it at some point.
And there will surely be those students of human psychology who will wonder precisely what effect the gender revolution exerted on young men such as David who came to manhood at a time some of the foremost male heroes of the culture resembled beautiful women.
And they did so of course in direct defiance of strict Biblical commands concerning sexual appearance.
Yet David had initially resisted the seductions of Glam, until its leading exquisites came to represent something quite deliciously taboo to him. And he sought to emulate them, resenting his adolescent stubble, which he smothered with concealer along with unsightly acne spots, and which he would soon enhance with subtle application of rouge.
And quite understandably perhaps, he didn't entirely fit in in his blue collar surroundings, unlike his brother who wasted little time in becoming part of a local youth scene centred mainly around football, traditional sport of the British working classes.
As to David, he came into his own in La Ribera, and it was towards the end of the summer of '73 that he finally started being noticed in a big way by the local youth, most of whom were from either Murcia or Madrid. He'd croon for crowds of La Riberan boys and girls, who'd make requests for their favourites along the lines of:
"Oye, David, canta la de Gilbert O'Sulliban!"
"Conoces Cat Estebens?"
"Canta como Sinatra!"
An ever-evolving group forged an incredible closeness that summer that lasted for a full four years, and oh what magical summers they were for both Dany and David. They'd never forget them, nor be able to fully recapture the purity of the joy they knew in the still so innocent Spain of the final years of the Franco administration.

Even later in '73, the minesweeper HMS Thamesis set out for Bordeaux in Gironde in the south west of France. It was David's first voyage as an Ordinary Deckhand with the RNR, and he was just seventeen years old.
He struck up a friendship with the most unlikely pair of bosom buddies he ever came across in the RNR or anywhere else.
One half was Mickey, aged about 23, and rumoured to be a permanent yearlong resident of HMS Thamesis. The other was just as much of a lad as Mick even though he boasted the patrician manner of a City of London stockbroker or merchant banker.
Mick took David under his wing with a certain intimidating affection:
"We'll make a ruffy tuffy sailor of you yet," he once promised him, even though both men knew he'd never be anything other than the most useless mariner in the civilised world. And there was one occasion when, during some kind of conference being held below deck, he was asked by an officer what he thought of minesweeping, and he replied:
"It's a gas!"
On another, after the ship had been prepared for a major manoeuvre, such as a jackstay transfer, and every hand was in their respective allotted position, he was found wandering about on deck in a daze, and when asked what he thought he was doing, casually told them:
"Just taking a stroll..."
And it was incidents like these that made him the object of much good-humoured banter onboard the Thamesis, where he served as a kind of latter-day Billy Budd. Although without a tithe of the young foretopman's seamanship.
Its crew spent its final night in a club in the southern port of Portsmouth, though it might just as easily have been Plymouth.
The main event was a hyperactive drag artiste who tried desperately to keep them entertained with cabaret style numbers sung in a high woman's voice, and bawdy jokes told in a deep manly baritone, but he was way out of his depth and the Thamesis salts subjected him to a savage barrage of heckling for his pains.
At one point - perhaps in the hope of seeing a friendly face - he turned towards David, and excitedly trilled:
"Ooh...you look pretty, what's your name?"
"Skin!" the sailors bellowed back, as in "a nice bit of skin", which may have referred to David's cherubic appearance.
A little while later, the tar with the beard who'd been seated next to David all night asked him to hold the mike for him while he performed Rossini's William Tell Overture on his facial cheeks. And he ended up passing out on the table in front of him after having collapsed face down with an almighty CRASH! But he wasn't the only one to suffer such an undignified fate that bacchanalian night.
And speaking of bacchanals...as soon as he was back onshore, David resumed his growing passion for all that was louche, bizarre and decadent in music, art and culture.
However, increasingly from '74 onwards, he turned away from what he now saw as the old hat tackiness of Glam Rock, convinced that Modernist outrage had nowhere left to go. Instead, his devotion started to centre on the more refined corruption of the golden age of Modernism of ca. 1890-1930, and especially its leading cities, in terms of their being beacons of revolutionary art, and of luxury and dissolution. They included the London of the Yellow Decade, Belle Epoque Paris, Jazz Age New York, and most of all, Weimar Republic Berlin.
At some point in '74, he started using hair oil or brilliantine to slick his hair back in the style of F. Scott Fitzgerald, sometimes parting it in the centre just as his idol had done. And to build up a new retro-style wardrobe.
Within the next two years or so, this would go on to include such items as a Gatsby style tab collar, worn either with striped collegiate tie, or cravat or neck scarf, as well as a short-sleeved Fair Isle sweater...a Meakers navy blue, or striped boating, blazer...a belted fawn raincoat straight out of a forties film noir, and so on; and while he initially favoured grey flannel trousers from Simpsons of Piccadilly, in time he gravitated to white ones, worn with matching white, or two-tone Co-respondent style shoes, or something equally elegant along those lines.
There were those artists in the Rock and Roll vanguard around 1974-'75 who appeared to share his love affair with the languid Cafe and Cabaret culture of the continent's immediate past. Among these were established acts, such as David Bowie and Roxy Music, and newer ones such as Steve Harley of Cockney Rebel; and Ron and Russell Mael from L.A band Sparks. Some of Roxy's followers even went so far as to sport the kind of nostalgic apparel favoured by Ferry himself, but they were rare creatures indeed in mid-seventies London.
As for David, he wore his bizarre outdated costumes in arrogant defiance of the continuing ubiquity of shoulder-length hair and flared denim jeans. And in the summer of '75, he would even go so far as to attend a concert at West London's Queen's Park football stadium in striped boating blazer and white trousers like some refugee from a Cambridge punting party.
While all the while he was surrounded by hirsute Rock fiends, including his professorial friend Jim, who felt moved to enquire of him:
"You're just taking the mickey, aren't you..."
But he was deadly serious. And even though the headliners were his one-time favourites Yes, whose Relayer album he'd bought the previous year, his passion for Progressive Rock was a thing of the past.
And he'd moved on since '71, towards a far deeper love of darkness and loss of innocence.
But there was nothing even remotely dark about the time he fell in love with Dutch beauty Marianna, while sitting his Spanish "O" level in June 1974 in Gower Street, Central London. Although she didn't look Dutch; in fact, with her tanned complexion and long dark brown hair, she was Mediterranean in appearance.
It was probably she who approached David, because he'd have never made the first move, and in all the time he knew her, he didn't have the guts to tell her how he felt. So, once they'd completed their final paper, he allowed her to walk away from him forever with a casual "I might see you around," or some other cliche of that kind.
For about a week, he took the train into London and spent the days wandering around the city centre in the truly desperate hope of bumping into her. One time he could have sworn he saw her staring coolly back at him from an underground train, possibly at South Kensington or Notting Hill Gate, just as the doors were closing. But he was powerless to act, and simply stood there as the train drew away from the station.
In time, his infatuation faded, but certain songs - such as Just Don't Want to Be Lonely by The Main Ingredient, and Natural High by Bloodstone - would continue to recall for him those few weeks in the summer of '74 which he spent in hopeless pursuit of a woman of whom he knew quite literally nothing.
It wouldn't be long before he'd forsaken his twenties style image; nor started to wonder whether Marianna had been slightly repelled by the vast expanse of white forehead that had been revealed by his slicked back hair, slicked back with hair oil or brilliantine.




Once he stopped styling his hair like Valentino, his romantic appeal started to swell by degrees...but this didn't return Marianna to him. She was lost to him forever, and whether he ever fully recovered from her loss is open to debate. The chances are he never did.

In July, David's father decided that a week-long yachting course in the little village of Lymington on the south coast of England might help him develop some sorely needed moral fibre.
He was to reside for this period in a guest house owned by the gracious Mrs Edith Drummond-Smith, whom David came to see as belonging to a type of quintessentially English upper class widow native to the sailing-besotted villages and hamlets of England's south coast. To him, they were all charming if slightly aloof, immaculately spoken, kind, calm and considerate, and distinguished by the most beautiful manners imaginable; although for all David knew about them, Mrs Drummond-Smith may have been the only one to be so blessed.
For he knew little of the arcane secrets of heartland or rural England, his father and mother having originated from the commonwealth nations of Australia and Canada respectively, while his earliest months were spent in a tiny little Victorian cottage in London's Notting Hill. His veins could boast English, Scottish and Scots Irish, and possibly also Danish and Irish blood. Yet, he dressed as a perfect English gentleman, or rather how such an individual might have dressed several decades theretofore, which rendered him an unusual figure in a Britain still dominated by long hair and flared trousers.
Also resident with Mrs Drummond-Smith were Gilles, a Belgian boy of about twenty, and Mr Watts and his teenage son Dylan, and while all were on the same course as David, they had different sailing instructors.
For example, David had been allotted the course director, Captain Peter St Aubyn, which was propitious, as he was an alumnus of his own alma mater of Welbourne College, a private school of military stripe situated in the wealthy county of Berkshire near London.
All four became firm friends, David and Gilles becoming especially close. As to Dylan, he liked to listen to David's theories on music and fashion, and was fascinated by his use of brilliantine, even going so far as to dab some in his own hair on one occasion. He did so in the hope it would make him resemble the man who was for him, an icon of "smoothness", a synonym for cool in those days. This being singer-songwriter Bryan Ferry who was also a favourite of David's; in fact, David's twenties-inspired wardrobe was remarkably similar to Ferry's.
On the first day of the course, David discovered who would be sailing with him for the duration of the week; namely Corin, a cool, tall, dark young man of 28 with a full moustache; and typically sporting fashionably heavy spectacles; Tom, a sweetly genial man of about sixty or seventy; and Simon and Peg, a deeply pleasant young married couple. To say nothing of the skipper, a charismatic presence whose wryly solemn countenance concealed a warm heart and dry sense of humour.
That evening, David dined in what may have been the clubhouse of that bastion of Englishness and English privilege and English exclusivity, the Yacht Club...perhaps even the Royal Lymington Yacht Club itself.
He did so in the company of Corin, who informed him of his humble origins and the fact that through natural resourcefulness and sheer hard graft, he'd ascended to a managerial position within his chosen profession. They'd become good friends despite David's bizarre affectations, and Corin's suspicion thereof, but Corin couldn't help but warm to the kid despite himself.
But uncompromisingly masculine men such as Corin were always a little perturbed by David, as Hemingway had been of his friend and fellow writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, whom he met in Paris in 1925. And in the essay collection, A Moveable Feast, he describes Fitz as having "a delicate long-lipped Irish mouth that, on a girl, would have been the mouth of a beauty."
David loved to play the clown for those who both liked and despaired of him; and among those possibly falling into this category were Corin...and Captain Peter St Aubyn, as he was to discover once they'd finally set sail.
"Take the helm, David, steer 350," he ordered, and David duly did as he was told, before settling himself comfortably at the helm as the yacht meandered peacefully through Hampshire waters under an English summer's sun.
"Mmm," he cooed, perhaps a little like the youthful Kenneth Williams, "this is nice..."
"Oooh, you thing," said the skipper, causing David to lash out with a sneaker-shod foot, much to the good captain's amusement.
And then there was the time Corin goaded him for having wrongly plotted a course, and he snapped like a petulant schoolboy.
"Oh shut up," he hissed, "let's see you do better!"
And once again, the skipper came up with his catchphrase, but with even more glee than the first time:
"Ooh, you thing!"
On the second or perhaps third evening of the course, there was a large informal get-together at the clubhouse which included David, Corin, Gilles, Dylan and four or five other yachtsmen, the course's acknowledged wunderkind Daryl among them.
"He comes alive in the evening, this boy," Corin told the assembled yachtsmen, clearly referring to David's propensity for getting tight each night, and the shenanigans that inevitably ensued.
"I'm not an alcoholic," said David.
"You drink three pints to my one," Corin countered, "so you've certainly got potential."
At this point, David decided for reasons best known to himself to have a dig at easy-going course whiz-kid Daryl:
"Daryl," he said, "how long have you had long hair?"
"What...long hair?" said Daryl, "what's that got to do with anything...is my hair long...I don't know anything about that."
"Do you realise that twenty years ago with your hair as it is, even though it's only a little below your ears, you would have been hounded, persecuted, beaten, for being a deviant, a freak, are you trying to ignore that?"
"And you would have been accepted?" said Daryl.
"Oh yes," David replied, looking over his attire, "knife edge pressed flannels, blue blazer, white V neck pullover, open neck shirt and cravat, a bit sporty, I suppose, but utterly acceptable."
"How safe!" scoffed Daryl.
"Safe?" said David incredulously, "that's something I never am, safe."
"Well, quite frankly, I think you look ridiculous!"
Following this last statement of Daryl's, David could no longer contain his hilarity, but his laughter was like no other his new friends had ever heard, nor would hear again. For it assaulted the soft-carpeted clubhouses quiet and respectable clientele as if it had proceeded from the depths of Hell themselves.
Daryl struggled gamely to control his own mirth, possibly going a redder shade of tomato in the process, while Corin, quivering with glee, hid his face in an attitude of mock-mortification.
"I disown him," he gibbered, "he's insane, insane."
Gradually the hysteria subsided, and Corin decided it was time David had a taste of his own medicine.
"How do you get those bracelets on your wrist?" he queried, referring to the four or five bangles David liked to wear on one wrist in those days:
"Easily," David languorously replied, displaying his remarkably slender wrists, "I have very graceful wrists."
"Let me see," said Corin, almost in a whisper, and David duly handed him one of his bangles, before it was passed around the entire group, each member attempting, with considerable difficulty, to put it on his own wrist. Presently, it was back in David's possession, but rather than express his relief, he cried out in his distress, having discovered it had been cruelly mutilated by one or another member of his party.
"My bracelet," he hollered, "look what you've done to it...I entrusted it to you and you've gone and twisted and bent it."
The group stared as one at David, not knowing whether to look sincerely sorry for what they'd done, or merely laugh at his distress, and so settled for a nervous cross between the two. After several uncomfortable moments, Gilles broke the silence by requesting to see the injured bracelet.
"Let me see eet," he said, "I weel try to feex eet."
Everyone was hushed as the Belgian contemplated the bangle, touched it, turned it round and rattled it, and finally, with considerable calm, placed it on the floor. He scratched his head, as if trying to settle on a decision, and ended up extricating one of his shoes.
David looked a little concerned at this turn of events, but in a desperate attempt to preserve his cool, lit a cigarette, which promptly fell from his slim white hand when a terrible crack like a tree hit by a sudden flash of lightning echoed throughout the clubhouse.
Gilles was attempting to persuade the bracelet to revert to its original shape by raising his shoe, profuse with studs, before repeatedly bringing it down on the trinket with all the strength he could muster.
"Oh come on, it's not funny," David protested, reaching out to retrieve his precious bauble, which a grinning Gilles now held out for him, but which, far from being shattered beyond repair, was barely altered from its original slightly misshapen state.
"Ees all right, David," Gilles chuckled, "I was eeteen' zee floor wiz my shoe, not your brezlet."
David looked at Gilles, then he looked at the other lads, then his eyes began to sparkle, his throat to gurgle, before it all came out at once, that terrible infernal laugh:
"Hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi..."
"I'm not with him!" cried Corin
"We'll get thrown out!" said Daryl.
"He's insane...in-sane!"
"Come on, drink up, lads," David barked suddenly, having made a rapid recovery from his latest paroxysm, "let's go where the action is, let's go and find a party or something!"
"No, it's not worth it," said Daryl, "we're having a good time here. You're a real laugh, David, just so long as you don't go too far. We might as well stay."
"Not me," David announced, "I'm getting out of here. I need a change of atmosphere. Who's coming?"
"Yeah, might as well," Corin volunteered.
"Yah, me too," the boy from Belgium followed suit.
So, the trio left the clubhouse, and before long, they were heading along a main road, although to precisely where they hadn't the slightest notion. David performed his manic laugh to each passing car, sometimes even going so far as to stand in the road as he did so, before fleeing at the final second. After a time, though, he tired of this lethal activity and took to chatting to Gilles, with whom he felt such a strong rapport.
"That Belgian girl in your group is nice, isn't she?" he said.
"Oh yes," said Gilles, "eef only 'er farzer wuren't weez 'er all zee time."
After a time alone, they found themselves being trailed by two pretty teenage blondes; and perhaps urged by Corin or Gilles, David turned around to confront them with an unlit cigarette in his hand.
"Can I have a light, please?" he said, looking intently at one, then the other of the two young women, one of whom was slim and petite, the other, far taller, and yet with the same long blonde hair. After he'd succeeded in getting his cigarette lit, he made an effort at conversation.
"So, what shall I do, stay here with you, or go back to my friends?"
"Stay 'ere," one of the girls mumbled, almost inaudibly, in a strong London accent.
"Pardon?" said David, and both girls answered him by smiling, so David bid them goodbye, and the trio then continued on its way, with the two girls in hot pursuit.
"Why don't you turn around?" Corin suddenly said.
"Why?" said David.
"They like you," Corin announced.
"Really?"
"Course they do. If you can't see that, you're more short-sighted than I thought you were."
So David returned to his admirers.
"What are your names?" he asked them.
"My name's Julie," said the smaller of the two, "and this here's Sue...what's yours, baby?"
"Why do you call me baby?" asked David.
"Because you look like one," said Julie.
"I happen to be all of eighteen years old," said David, feigning indignation.
"We thought you was abaht twen'y," said Sue.
"Really? Well I'm eighteen and my name's David."
"Wha's your name?" said Julie, gesturing towards Gilles.
"My nem eez Gilles," he replied.
"Where are you from?" Sue asked David.
"London. Why?"
"You sahnd Ameri'an or somefing."
"Well, I am half-Canadian."
"Oh, that would explain it," Julie resolved.
"Why," David went on, "where do you girls come from?"
"We come from London an' all," said Sue, "sarf London."
"What are you doing down here?"
"We're spendin' a few days on 'er dad's boat," Sue went on, pointing at Julie.
"Has your dad got a boat?" David asked, as if amazed these two cockney waifs should be associated with the super-posh world of yachting.
"A yacht!" cried Julie, "not just a boat. Don' come from any old family, I don'."
For reasons best known to themselves, the three young men set on their way once again, and once again, they were followed by the girls, who took to kicking a stray tin can around to make their point.
"I weesh Coreen were not 'ere," Gilles whispered into David's ear.
"Why?" said David.
"Eez prezence eez deesconcertin' zem."
As if to confirm what Gilles had just said, the girls suddenly turned a corner and left their half-hearted suitors to their own devices.
"See ya, then!" they cried.
"Bye, girls!" said David.
"Bye, David darlin'!"
And with that, they disappeared, doubtless feeling, quite reasonably, that they'd given David and Gilles every opportunity to demonstrate their romantic interest in them.
"I wonder where zey went?" Gilles wistfully enquired.
"I shouldn't worry about it," said David, "you've got your Belgian girl, haven't you?"
"'Ave I?" the forlorn Belgian replied.
Perhaps he couldn't understand why David had behaved in such a cavalier fashion towards two girls who'd clearly been besotted with him on sight. But then was he not a normal young man, devoid of the loser gene that causes those such as David to waste and squander every good gift that comes their way.
It's as if they don't have enough to fight against, or fight for perhaps, a little like WASP prince Hubbell Gardiner, as depicted to perfection by Robert Redford in the romantic movie masterpiece, The Way We Were. For at the beginning of the film, a short story of Gardiner's by the name of An American Smile is read out in class by his college professor, much to his evident discomfort...commencing as it does with the clearly self-descriptive lines: "In a way he was like the country he lived in. Everything came too easily to him, but at least he knew it."

The Isle of Wight is separated from the mainland by a strait of the English Channel known as the Solent, and on David's penultimate day, a trip to this island county lying to the south of Hampshire took place, and the entire course was involved.
Lunch was in a public house in the port of Yarmouth to the east of the island, where tall, slender English gentlemen of the old school, clad in double-breasted reefer jackets and flannels or white duck trousers, were apt to take a tincture or two between sails. Some sported bow ties, and others, magnificent handlebar moustaches which appeared to betoken a former membership of the Royal Air Force. Their wives favoured large navy-blue pullovers, silk scarves and slacks, although by nightfall they'd be in full evening dress.
Back in Lymington for tea, David happened to bump into Sally, a fresh-faced young sailing ace, possibly in her early 20s, who typically scorned the use of beautifying products, but for whom David had a soft spot nonetheless.
"Hello," he said, "where are you going?"
"Back to my room," Sally replied.
"Oh," he went on, "hey, apparently there's a get-together of all the crews on the course tonight, you know, a few drinks, a bit of dancing, a lot of laughs, are you going?"
"I don't know, I..."
"Oh, go on," he urged, "I'm going."
"Well...okay," she said, "I suppose I'll go...uh...this is where I turn off."
"Oh. Well..."
"See you tonight then."
"Yes, bye...hey wait! Do you know my name?"
"Yes, of course I do, David, bye!"
"Bye, Sally!"
Back at the guest house, the clock struck five to find David dressed to the nines as was his wont, and taking tea with Mrs Drummond-Smith, who'd have been scandalised had anyone suggested he was anything other than a deeply likeable young man with a single, glaring fault: forgetfulness.
She had a duty to charge her guests for the packed lunch she made for each of them every day, even if they forgot to take it, but never did in David's case, despite the fact he was the only one of her guests to routinely leave his lunch behind.
She seemed to have something of a soft spot for him, for he may have reminded her of the bachelor dandies of her youth.
A little later, David, Corin and Gilles set out together for the dance, briefly stopping off at a pub for some much needed Dutch courage, although David's was the greatest need by a hectare or three.
"Half of bitter, please," Corin ordered.
"Half a shandy, pleez," came Gilles' modest request.
"Double scotch for me please," said David...and a mere ten minutes later, he was ordering a second one, while Corin wisely passed, and Gilles ordered his usual half of shandy. Some ten minutes after this, David started up on the pints.
"Come on, David," said an exasperated Corin, "let's go."
"We mus' go," Gilles agreed.
"Drink up!" Corin went on, "we don't want you in a disordered state before the dance, now, do we?"
David swallowed his pint and the three departed the pub. Shortly afterwards, they arrived at the site of the evening's festivities which was a large hall filled with tables and chairs with a space left for dancing. But David's first concern was locating Sally.
He saw her sitting next to a slim, smart, casually dressed young man with fashionable light blond collar length hair and a neatly trimmed beard, and approached the apparently happy couple, perhaps half-expecting she'd quit her date just to be with him.
"Hello, Sally," he said.
"Hello," she replied.
"Do you want a drink?" he asked.
"Er, no thanks," she said, "but I will have one later on."
"Okay then," he agreed, before making his way to the bar.
"Double scotch!" he ordered, and then some ten minutes later, he ordered a second one, soon after which, things went a bit hazy for him. However, one thing is certain, the evening ended with his jumping fully-clothed into the filthy waters of Lymington harbour.
What happened is that Corin and Gilles had spent some time wrestling with him, pretending they were about to throw him in, and then, as if exhausted by their efforts, they relented. At which point, to their amazement, David launched himself in by his own volition, before spending some time in his soaking wet clothes discussing music with a coterie of hippies encamped nearby listening to The End by the Doors.
The final day of the course was a melancholy one for David. For someone had told him it was possible to catch a deadly disease from swimming in the waters of Lymington harbour.
Around lunchtime, Dylan's father Mr Watts found him gazing into the very part of the harbour into which he'd elected to project himself the previous evening, and set about reassuring him that in all probability he'd escape from his injudicious dip unscathed.
Soon afterwards, David set off for the final time for Mrs Drummond-Smith's elegant domicile in order to pack in anticipation of his father's arrival, expected later in the day. On the way there, he had a chance meeting with Captain Peter St Aubyn, who urged him to mend his ways in a spirit of paternal concern:
"David," he said, "stop the drinking and the chasing of the birds, it's a hard world out there."
While he was touched by the skipper's words, he might as well have told him to stop breathing. He was only 18 after all.
Soon after reaching the guest house that had been his home for the past fortnight, David discovered that his dad had already arrived. In fact, he was getting on famously with Mrs Drummond-Smith, with whom he was engaged in an animated discussion, whose central topic was: David himself.
"He is a little eccentric," he told her at one point, which caused the gracious lady to almost cry out in protest, as if it had been a mortal insult.
"Eccentric?" she exclaimed, "oh, anything but, but he does have one fault, I'm afraid to say, he is rather forgetful."
She then went on to tell David that Gilles had been looking for him earlier on in the day, and was sorry to have missed him. Of course, were this today, the two young men would have already exchanged e-mail addresses or cell phone numbers. But in those days, precious friendships and romances forged over extended periods of time were all too often discarded overnight to be lost forever. The reason being that the only way to stay in contact was via telephone or snail mail, which required a certain amount of dedication, and not everyone had the patience for it.
The words of singer-songwriter Carole King's So Far Away, from her classic Tapestry album from 1971, "So far away, doesn't anyone stay in one place anymore", could be said to be an apt description of social life in the mid 1970s for some people. You could say goodbye to a person you loved on any day of the week, in any month of any year, and never see them again as long as you lived.
Indeed, after the summer of '74, David never saw Gilles, or Corin, or Dylan, or Daryl, or Sally, or Captain St Aubyn, or Mrs Drummond-Smith, or the two blonde teenagers who'd tried so hard to elicit his romantic interest ever again. But he never forgot them, nor the events of that faraway summer of so long ago.

Chapter Three

The summer of '74 was one of the most blissful David Cristiansen ever spent at the beautiful little former fishing village of Santiago de la Ribera; and there were a good few of those.
Many an afternoon he'd meet up with friends both male and female on the jetty facing his apartment on the Mar Menor, which was more or less deserted after lunch, where they'd listen to Bowie on cassette, or Donny keening Puppy Love on a portable phonograph, and generally enjoy being young and carefree in a decade of endless possibilities.
To some youthful Spanish eyes back in '74-'76, David was an almost impossibly exotic figure from what was then the most radical and daring city in Europe, and he played his image up to the hilt. In truth, though, he was barely less sheltered and innocent than they, and how wonderful it felt for him to bask in their soft Mediterranean loveliness for a few brief seasons.
However, a change came over Spain with Franco's passing, and the birth of the so-called Movida, which could be said to be the Spanish equivalent of London's Swinging Sixties revolution. So that, by David's last vacation in La Ribera in the summer of '84, it was he who was in awe of the local youth rather than the other way around. For they seemed so cool to him, dancing their strange jerky chicken wing dance...doubtless to the latest, hippest tunes, such as Won't You Hold My Hand Now by King, named after Galway-born front man Paul King.
By then, of course, most of his old friends had vanished into their young adult lives, and his time as the gilded English prince of La Ribera long passed.
He returned to London in late summer '74 with a deep tan and his long hair bleached bright yellow by the sun.
Only days afterwards, he found himself on HMS Ministry, moored then as today on the Embankment near Temple station. This involved his passing through Waterloo mainline station, which wasn't tourist-friendly as it is today, with its cafes and baguette bars, but a dingy intimidating place complete with pub and old-style barber.
There, he was approached by an old sailor who kept going on about how good looking he was; but he was no predator, just a sweet lonely old Scotsman who wanted someone to talk to for a few minutes, and David was happy to oblige.
He even went so far as to agree to a meeting with him the same time the following week, but he had no intention of keeping it. Besides, it wasn't long before HMS Thamesis was on its way to Hamburg, second largest city of Germany and its principle port.
Once they'd arrived, one of the CPOs warned David not to wander around Hamburg alone, for fear of what might happen to such a good looking boy as him.
He duly joined up with a group of about three or four other ratings on his first night ashore; and they headed straight for the Reeperbahn red light district where sights awaited him, some of which he'd almost certainly never suspected of existing before beholding them, and which
were in such stark contrast to the tranquil outer suburbs where he found himself, possibly a day or so later, through a specially organised coach trip.
A contingent of sailors ended up in a park where David had his picture taken - looking forlorn on a bridge - by a reporter for the Surrey Comet, before a group of breathless tittering schoolgirls asked him to join them in some of their own snaps. And on the way back to Thamesis, one of the tars announced he'd been quite a hit with the Hamburg teenyboppers, while another wryly opined:
"It's cos 'e's blond, innit..."
Whatever the truth, their simple unaffected joy of life may have been like a breath of fresh air to David, especially in the light of what girls barely older than they were subjecting themselves to only a short distance away.
Some months later, in what was by then '75, David became a student at Prestlands Technical College which lay, then as now, on the fringes of Weybridge, an affluent outer suburb of South West London.
In semi-pastoral Prestlands, as in his beloved La Ribera, he learned to be a social being after years of near-seclusion, first at Welbourne and then as a home student. So, attention came to be a potent narcotic for him in the mid 1970s.
However, despite constant displays of flamboyant self-confidence, those who tried to get to know him on an intimate level found themselves confronted with a paradoxically inhibited individual.
The regular Prestlands Disco was a special event for David. And on one occasion early on in a Disco night, he got up in front of what seemed like the whole college and delivered a solo dance performance to Fair Exchange, opening track to Be-Bop Deluxe's conspicuously literate Sunburst Finish, possibly with white silk scarf flailing in the air to frenzied cheers and applause.
On another, a trio of roughs who may have gate crashed the Disco only to see in David the worst possible example of the feckless wastrel student strutting and posturing in unmanly white, took him aside at the end of the night, doubtless intent on a touch of the old ultra-violence:
"Oy you, we bin watchin' you, you're a poof, ain'tcha," he observed.
But David stood his ground, insisting that despite what they may have thought about him, he was just as straight as they. Apparently convinced, they then vanished into the departing crowds after muttering a few dark threats.
'75 again, and David's music, swimming and Martial Arts sessions were no more. But the private lessons continued with Mark, a slim young academic with long darkish curly hair who lived alone but for several black cats in long time Rock star haven Richmond-on-Thames. For as well as being a private tutor, he was a successful session musician who'd go on to play drums for a prestigious British Folk Rock band.
Specialising in the French Symbolist poets, he exerted a strong influence on David in terms of his growing passion for European Modernist art and culture. However, it was the less well known literature of Spain they studied together, from the anonymous 16th Century picaresque novel, Lazarillo de Tormes, and embracing Quevedo, Galdos, Machado, and Lorca.
Mark was also an early encourager of David's writing, a lifelong passion that would degenerate in time into a chronic case of cacoethes scribendi; or the irresistible compulsion to write. As a result of this, he became incapable of finishing a single cohesive piece of writing until well into the eighties when he managed to complete a short story and a novel, both of which he went on to destroy but for a few fragments.
It was through Mark that David came under the spell of the Berlin of the Weimar Republic of 1919 to 1933:
After he'd expressed interest in a copy, conspicuously placed in front of him on the desk they shared, of one of Christopher Isherwood's Berlin novels, Mr Norris Changes Trains, Mark told him in animated tones that it had inspired the 1972 movie version of the Kander and Ebb musical, Cabaret. In fact, while a work of art in its own right written for the screen by Jay Presson Allen, and directed by former dancer Bob Fosse, Cabaret had been largely informed by Isherwood's only other Berlin story, Goodbye to Berlin.
Seeing Cabaret later on that year was a life-transforming experience for David, one of only a handful brought about by a film, and the beginning of a near-obsessive preoccupation with the Berlin of the Weimar era.
So much that has become familiar to the West and beyond in the last half-century, from the deconstructive philosophies that dominate our academia, to the theatre of outrage that is the essence of Rock music, pre-existed in some form in the Berlin of the Golden Twenties, during which she existed as the undisputed world epicentre of the Modern impulse.
Under her auspices, great artistic freedom thrived in the shape of - among other era-defining phenomena - the painters of the New Objectivity movement, such as Beckmann, Dix and Grosz, the staccato cabaret-style music of Kurt Weill, Fritz Lang's dystopian Metropolis, and the provocative dancing of Cabaret queen Anita Berber. And then there's the notorious sexual liberalism, which, through pictorial depictions of her cabarets and night clubs, has carried a power to shock even as far as the jaded 21st Century.
But beneath the glittering carapace, she bore within her the seeds of her own ruin, for despite the genius that flourished alongside the licentiousness, she was operating largely in defiance of the Judeo-Christian moral values that have long formed the basis of Western society. Given that several other European and American cities were hardly less hysterically dissolute than Berlin, it's little wonder that the key Modernist decade of the twenties has been described by some critics as the beginning of the end of Western civilisation.
In its wake came the Great Depression, the unspeakable horrors of the Second World War, and the collapse of the greatest empire the world had ever seen, all of which were succeeded in turn by the dawning of the Rock and Roll era, and its quasi-religious exaltation of youth, which some critics see as the very triumph of Western decadence.
Decadence...that loaded word had a very special meaning and power for David Cristiansen in the mid 1970s ever since his mother had used it, in fact, in reference to a series of photos of Germany's Weimar era featured in an edition of The Sunday Times Magazine:
"Why do people want to be decadent?" She'd asked, as if genuinely concerned for those featured, which of course she was, having been raised in a Salvationist home in the idyllic Vancouver of the 1920s, and therefore imbued for life despite herself with a Christian worldview.
But to David Cristiansen, the answer was obvious, because in his Rock and Roll eyes, decadence was so heavy with the mysteries of the most forbidden sins that he could scarcely wait to become its incarnation; and while he would fall far, far short of his goal, he'd almost die trying to attain it.

David made no less than three sea voyages in '75, two as a civilian and one with the RNR, as well as spending a week with them docked at the Pool of London.
The first of these was to Amsterdam, via Edinburgh and St. Malo, on a three-masted topsail schooner TS Sir Francis Drake of the Society for the Training of Young Seafarers.
Among his shipmates were his 17 year old brother Dany, several young men from Scotland and the north of England, some recent recruits to the RN, and a handful of older "mates" who'd been given authority over the rank and file of deck hands.
In overall charge, though, was the suave Ship's Captain, who also happened to be an alumnus of David's own alma mater of Welbourne.
It was an all-male crew, and David was well-liked at first, even if his popularity faded in time, with a few good pals remaining him, such as the small cherubic southerner with long dark hair worn shoulder length like the young Jack Wilde, who stayed loyal to him after they'd tried to impress a couple of girls together during a brief stay in St Malo, France.
He got on fine with a few of the others, but Jack was a true prince who'd helped him out in his time of need:
What happened is that David had fallen hard for one of the girls, Solange, and was wandering around in a mournful daze after having failed to pluck up the courage to ask her for her address:
"Oh, I really like Solange," he whined, over and over again, but his misery was genuine. That is, until Jack handed him a piece of paper containing Solange's address. It transpired she'd scrawled it down just before leaving them, and for a time, David was drunk with relief at the news, just walking on air, because there was the danger of his coming down with a serious case of lovesickness had she become lost to him forever, but thanks to Jack, he'd found her again.
There were heavy storms, and on at least one occasion, the crew were ordered out of their hammocks in the middle of the night to help trim the sails, and while David took no part in this, he did climb the rigging once, just before the Sir Francis Drake docked at Amsterdam harbour.
Dozens of boys manned the yard arms, to which they were attached by their safety belts alone. David had been determined to make the climb, even though the experience made his legs shake throughout.
The Dutch capital was marked by the same kind of open sexual licence he'd witnessed only the year before in Hamburg, although it seemed to him to lack the German city's sinister vibrancy. Then - just as today - the sad De Wallen red-light district was filled to the brim with hundreds of little illuminated one-room apartments, each with a single woman sitting in clear view of onlookers plying her lonely trade.
As for Edinburgh, just before setting foot in the city for the first time, one of the lads, dressed to the nines himself in the trendiest seventies gear, warned David not to go strutting about Edinburgh town centre in a flashy boating blazer with his long white socks tucked into the same blue jeans he'd worn for sailing. But having only packed a handful of clothes, David was forced to ignore his advice, and, waltzing some time later into an inner city pub in broad daylight, a grinning hard man with long reddish curly hair asked him something along the lines of:
"Are you frae Oxford, son?"
Perhaps he was aware of the great university's reputation for producing flaming aesthetes a la Anthony Blanche, but it's doubtful. However, it may have been touch and go for a while as to whether he was going to inflict some serious damage on David's angelic English face; but in the end he left him be. He may even have admired his chutzpah; and there seemed to be something about David...some mysterious protective force that repelled physical violence.
Within a few weeks of returning to London by train from Edinburgh, David and Dany were off to sea again, this time as part of the Mariners' Club of Great Britain, bound for the Baltic coast of Denmark by way of Germany's Kiel Canal. And while they were once more supervised by "mates" under the command of a Ship's Captain, the Mariners' utilised modern yachts rather than traditional tall ships.
The Cristiansens were quick to recruit a good looking young guy called Cy from Wotton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire as their best pal and confidante for the trip. It turned out they'd actually met him some ten years previously while passing through Calpe, Spain, either on their way to or from their grandmother 's home on the Costa Brava.
Soon after setting foot on Danish soil they got talking to a couple of girls who, as might be expected, had natural golden blonde hair, but their efforts at romance were wholly innocuous, despite the reputation Scandinavians had in those days for progressive sexual attitudes.
A less pleasant romantic episode took place towards the end of the trip, which saw David in pursuit of a pretty German girl called Ulrike. He was crazy for her, and she made it pretty clear she liked him too, and yet he'd senselessly sidelined her for the sake of a night of drunken idiocy with his brother and Cy, perhaps expecting her to run after him or something.
Suddenly overtaken by sickly pangs of remorse, he set out to find her; and at some point during his quest, while walking along some kind of wooden pontoon, he lost his footing and fell fully clothed into the waters of what must have been the Kiel Canal.
He was a pathetic figure the next day, with his fancy dandy clothes all laid out on deck...and at some point something approximating the following conversation took place:
"What happened last night?" the captain breezily asked him.
"Well," he hazarded in response, "I was looking for this girl and..."
"You live in a dream world, David."
Indeed he did, and self-sabotage was fast becoming one of his specialities.
Also during that summer, David attempted to pass what is known as the AIB - or Admiralty Interview Board - with a view to qualifying as a Supply and Secretariat officer in the Royal Navy.
Up to this point, he'd not had any ambitions beyond becoming a celebrity, or rather major Rock and Roll star. And to this end, he'd made countless recordings of himself singing and playing his own simple songs on a series of portable cassette tape recorders. And all too often, these sessions culminated in a full-on tantrum, such as the time he hurled a newly purchased machine against his bedroom wall, totalling it instantly.
So he took the train to London Waterloo; and thence to the south coast of England, to spend three days within the gates of HMS Stirling, a shore-based specialist training centre in Gosport, Hampshire, attending various examinations and interviews intended to assess his potential as a future naval officer.
His father was delighted at this unexpected turn of events, little suspecting that in his desire to join the Senior Service, he was driven not by any selfless instinct to serve, so much as a vision of a privileged existence of refinement and elegance. And if this sounds distinctly Wildean for a mid 1970s youth, then it was perfectly in keeping with what we've learned of David so far.
For while he'd been a scruffy feisty jack the lad male in his adolescence, around about the time of his 17th birthday, he fell under the spell of Glam Rock, as well as a narcissistic regard for his own image. And about a year after that, started to move away from the gaudiness of Glam towards a fascination for those artists whose rebellion against middle class respectability manifested itself as dandyism, or the tendency to ostentatiously over-dress. And this they invariably combined with that typical corollary of dandyism, decadence.
They included poets Charles Baudelaire, who affected dandyism in the Paris of the 1840s, Jean Cocteau, whose youthful playground was the Paris of the so-called Belle Epoque, and the aforesaid Oscar Wilde, whose delight it was to scandalise the late Victorian bourgeoisie of the London of the 1880s and '90s.
Thence, David arrived at HMS Stirling as an immaculate aesthete. Doubtless complete with foundation style make up and some blusher and eye shadow, where most of the other candidates might have favoured standard issue jumbo collared shirts and great billowing flared trousers.
His foppish attire was compounded by a face that would have made him a perfect choice for a casting director scouting around for someone to play Dorian Gray in yet another celluloid version of Wilde's only novel. By the same token, he could have played Waugh's Sebastian Flyte with no less facility...or Highsmith's Dickie Greenleaf...or any number of kindred idle male beauties. But the role of a naval officer was clearly way beyond him, and it wouldn't be long before he'd provoked someone of a more serious cast of mind to irritation.
The "someone" in question turned out to be a Northern lad with a little hint of a moustache who, finding David putting the final touches to his toilette before some assignment or another in front of a handy looking glass, felt moved to remind him:
"Its not a fashion parade, mate!"
He wouldn't be joining David at the disco that night, or any other night for that matter; but you couldn't fault his dedication, nor his powers of observation.
Two guys were eventually persuaded to keep him company, but their hearts weren't in it, and they sensibly returned to base for an early night, leaving David alone at the disco, where he befriended a shy young woman with short golden curls by the name of Shirlee, with whom he spoke about the AIB, and his fear of failing.
"Oh, you'll pass," she told him with a reassuring smile.
But if she'd looked a little closer at his wardrobe, with its boating blazers and striped college ties, and shoes fit for the Charleston rather than the Latin Hustle, she might not have spoken so confidently. For, far from bespeaking the status of the perpetual high achiever, they may have constituted a disguise, distinctly overdone, and donned daily by an individual who'd tasted failure too many times for one of such tender years.
When David finally returned to Stirling himself, he was shocked to discover that her main entrance had been locked and was now being manned by an armed guard.
As the young man set about trying to make contact with his superiors, he must have wondered what kind of person returns to base in the small hours, dressed to the nines, while in the midst of three days of tests and interviews that were supposedly vital to his future career. But he gave no indication of it.
And in time, his efforts were successful, so that shortly afterwards, a sheepish David Cristiansen was forced to pass through an officer's mess in order to reach his room. And after briefly exchanging pleasantries with its airily affable occupants, he retired for the night.
As might be expected, David failed in his noble attempt at passing the AIB, and never did get to wear a naval officer's uniform.
Perhaps he'd have stood a better chance if just for once he'd done the right thing and gone to bed early rather than rave it up at the disco in all his finery, but then again perhaps not. For after all, few if any naval officers have been historically selected on the basis of how good they look in a well-cut uniform.
Like all dandies he could be said to have partaken to some degree of the nature of the infamous Biblical character Absalom, about whom it was said in 2 Samuel 14: 25:
"But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him."
And yet, Absalom's flawless beauty was ill-matched by a vain and reckless character which ultimately secured his ruin. As to David, despite exceptional artistic gifts, he'd spend much of his early adult life trying to find a place for himself in the world with little real success. And on those precious few occasions when those gifts came close to fulfilling his lifelong dreams of fame and glory, all too often, he mysteriously sabotaged his chances. It was as if despite his endless self-promotion, he felt that failure was all he deserved; and so failure became his destiny.
The summer of '75 also saw David spending a week with the RNR in the Pool of London, a stretch of the Thames lying between London Bridge and Rotherhithe.
Halfway through the week, he decided to attend a nearby club known as the Little Ship, which he knew for a fact to be hosting a discotheque. For oh how he loved to dance - quite alone - to the sweetest Soul music, for Soul it was still known in '75, as opposed to Disco.
And Disco he came to associate with a commercialised form he saw as closer to pure Pop than Soul. And which was epitomised at its best by the Bee Gees' soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever, which he rated quite highly as he'd come to recall, and its worst by the infamous Disco novelty song.
And so dressed in a white open neck shirt worn sporting style with striped boating blazer and white trousers and shoes, he made his way to the Little Ship alone.
Once he'd had a drink or two, and the Soul had seeped through to his bones, he hit the dance floor possibly with a cigarette smouldering elegantly in his hand, and he was in his element. But within a short time of his having done so, the up tempo songs gave way to a long series of slow tunes, and he began to scan the departing dancers for a partner.
Soon his unfeasibly long-lashed blue eyes fell upon a slim girl with a head of bobbed curls of a striking yellowy blonde, who was frantically shooing her friend away in order to make room for David; and he walked up to her and asked her to dance. She agreed, and they danced, wordlessly, for what must have been a full half hour, until, exhausted, David's new found companion informed him she had to rejoin her friend, which she did, leaving David at a loss as to what to do next.
The bond had been broken. But then, as they'd not exchanged a word despite having been intimately locked together for aeons, there'd barely been one to begin with. And then he spied her at the bar, conversing with her friend, and he acted cool towards her, as she did him, and they made no effort to approach each other, and the moment was gone for good.
Perhaps David then returned to the floor to dance alone as he'd done earlier, like some kind of Mod, lost in a narcissistic reverie.
But David was no refugee from an age when peacock males were supposed to have been more interested in their beautiful images than any romantic experience with a woman. For later that night, while a power boat was ferrying him out to his ship in the glittering Pool of London, he announced to one of the officers onboard:
"I'm in love!"
At which point the officer, a tall, languorously elegant man with a charming, approachable manner, graciously replied:
"That's good news."
But if he'd divined the condition of the handsome sailor's soul, he'd have spoken differently. Yes, David was in love, but his love was nowhere to be seen, and he'd returned from his night of dancing desperate to be reunited with the slim blonde angel he'd held so close for a blissfully brief thirty minutes or so, only to lose her forever.
But that was David, and he'd be back on that disco floor again before too long, risking his heart again before too long, dying a little of his solitude again before too long. And oh how he loved to dance.

Since 1974, David had worshipped at the altar of those artists who had either immediately predated the age of Modernism or been part of its Banquet Years, and beyond into the Golden Twenties and so on.
However, in '76, a gaudy new era started to influence the way he dressed and acted, and for much of that year, he dressed down in a workmanlike uniform of red windcheater, white tee-shirt and cuffed jeans as worn by '50s icon James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.
Dean had died a week to the day before David was born in late 1955, and the 20th anniversary of his death appeared to exert a strong influence on rising Pop stars such as John Miles and Slik's Midge Ure.
Slik were one of the biggest bands in Britain in '76, sporting an image somewhat suggestive of Rebel or some other lesser fifties delinquent movie; while Miles' first album, which featured a Dean-like photo of the gifted young singer-songwriter on the front cover, was actually named Rebel.
As entranced as David was by the fifties, there were still times when he reverted to the old escapist dandy image he'd adopted in defiance of what he saw as the leaden drabness of post-Hippie Britain, while discovering Modernist giants such as Baudelaire, Wilde, Gide, and Cocteau for the first time.
One of these occasions came during the dying days of a famous long hot summer, when he wore top hat and tails and his fingernails painted bright red like some kind of hellish vision from Weimar Berlin to a party hosted by a friend from Prestlands.
It was mid-September, and David would have been at sea at the time, serving as Able Seaman David Cristiansen on the minesweeper HMS Kettleton.
A day or so afterwards, there was an accident involving Kettleton and a far larger ship, which resulted in the loss of twelve men, most of whom he knew personally. Of the twelve who didn't survive, David knew three quite well, and they were all men of remarkable generosity of spirit and sweetness of disposition, and it broke his heart to think of what happened to them.
He so wanted to comfort his shipmates for their loss, to bond with them and be part of what they were going through. He wanted to have survived like them; and he went over it all again and again in his mind, but the fact remained he'd taken the easy way out, and it troubled him.
And it was as if the world took a darker turn for David Cristiansen, as the following year was marked by the irruption into the British cultural mainstream of Punk.
From its London axis, it spread like a raging plague, even infecting the most genteel suburbs with an extreme and often horrifying sartorial eccentricity, which, fused with a defiant DIY ethic and a brutal back-to-basics brand of hard-driving Rock produced something utterly unique even by the standards of the time.
David was assaulted for the first time by the monstrous varieties of dress adopted by the early Punks while strolling along the Kings Road the morning after a party in what may have been January 1977, and it would only be a matter of time before he too hoped to astound others the way they'd done him.
However, for most of '77, he dressed in a muted form which first took shape as a pair of cream brogue winkle pickers. And which he went on to supplement with black slip-ons with gold side buckles, mock-crocodile skin shoes with squared off toes, and a pair of black Chelsea boots. All perilously pointed; in fact so much so that within a year or so, they'd finish up being jettisoned into the murky black waters of the Thames.
His new look evolved by degrees at the endless series of parties he attended as one after the other of his old Welbourne pals celebrated their 21st in houses and apartments in various corners of trendy West and Central London.
Of all of these, he was perhaps closest with future oil magnate Chris, who was still finding his feet in London's most exalted social circles. These included Adrian Proust, a friend of Chris' from the north of England who forged cutting edge images for some of the most powerful trendsetters in Rock music.
David joined them a couple of times at Maunkberry's in Jermyn Street; and apart from the Sombrero in High Street Ken, it was the classiest club his suburban eyes had ever seen.
Being the suburbanite he was, he thought the style that dominated London's club land was somehow Punk-related, but he was way off the mark. While it was the antithesis of the hippie look that was still widespread throughout the UK, it was deployed not as a gesture of violent social dissent, but for posing and dancing to the sweetest Soul music.
It was partly the realm of the Soul Boys, whose love of Black Dance music was a legacy of the Mods and Skins that preceded them.
Yet while the Soul Boys were largely working class hard nuts from various dismal London suburbs, some Soul lovers were in fact not Soul Boys at all, so much as elegant trendies. But with a penchant for floppy college boy fringes, plaid shirts worn over plain white tee-shirts, straight leg jeans, and the by now obligatory winkle pickers. And these were the kind to be found at such sumptuous places as the Sombrero.
The Soul Boys also favoured the wedge haircut, which could be worn with streaks of blond or red or even green, brightly-coloured peg-top trousers and winkle pickers or plastic beach sandals.
Speaking of the wedge, it was taken up at some point in the late 1970s by a faction of Liverpool football fans who'd developed a taste for European designer sportswear while travelling on the continent for away matches. Thence, the Casual subculture was spawned.
And its passion for designer labels persisted well into the 2010s, being manifest in every small town and shopping mall throughout the land.
By the summer, David was working as a sailing instructor in Palamos on Spain's Costa Brava, but he wasn't the greatest teacher and his heart wasn't really in it, and he was eventually dismissed. But instead of heading straight back to London, he chose to stay on in Palamos, perhaps parading around town by day, while spending many an evening at the Disco dancing most memorably to Donna Summer's A Love Trilogy.
As much as he loved the party life, what he wanted most of all was to enjoy it as a successful working actor like golden boys Peter Firth and Gerry Sundquist, both of whom found fame on the stage before branching out into movies and TV, although Firth had begun his acting life as a child star.
The problem was, he wasn't really cut out for the task. Granted, he had the pretty boy looks, but very few actors, or even musicians, become truly successful on the strength of looks alone, and this was especially true of the seventies, an age without MP3s or My Space or endless TV talent showcases.
He'd had no acting experience to speak of, except a handful of roles at Welbourne, all but one of which involved him wearing women's clothing.
The first was in Max Frisch's The Fire Raisers, which saw him standing stock still as an old woman for a few brief minutes without uttering a single word.
The second, in a short play by George Bernard Shaw called Passion, Poison and Petrifaction, saw him clomping around as a household maid in dress and studded military boots, and each time he spoke in the falsetto he'd selected for the part, the house erupted.
A third garnered some praise from one of the cadets for a convincing performance as a Holly Golightly style socialite; while his only male role was as psychopath Alec in a little known Agatha Christie one-acter called The Rats, one of whose key lines was:
"Darlings, how devastating!"
And if the praise of the college nurse was anything to go by, it showed real promise:
"What are you going to do with your life, David? You're a good actor..."
But when all's said and done, he was hardly a National Youth Theatre wunderkind. And in terms of his other "talents", he'd written a few simple songs on the guitar, but he still couldn't play bar chords. Although he managed a passable take-off of Sinatra.
While as a would-be writer, he'd filled countless pages with endlessly corrected notes, but there was nothing tangible to show for it all. It could hardly be said then that his future positively glittered before him.

Chapter Four

David Cristiansen's final trip with the Thames Division of the Royal Naval Reserve came towards the end of the summer of 1977.
And while his best oppo Lofty O'Shea wasn't on board, he had other mates to raise Cain with, such as Damon Cates, a tall redheaded young man of about 26 who looked a little like Edward Fox in The Day of the Jackal, with a trace perhaps of Old Etonian actor Damian Lewis: he had an aristocratic look about him.
Like David, he loved music and fashion and the Soul Boy and Punk scenes, and they hit it off from their very first meeting back at HMS Ministry.
He later confided in David about his early life which had been marked by one family tragedy after the other; and his reserve masked a deep and complex sensibility. But he was not a man to flaunt it; nor an ability to handle himself in any situation. Such as the time an intoxicated sailor started to behave in a threatening manner towards David in a south coast bar, and was possibly poised to do some serious damage to his pretty cherub's face. At which point Damon placed himself between David and his aggressor, before convincing him to back off in no uncertain terms.
Doubtless though, there were those who wondered how such a natural-born gentleman ended up on the lower deck, such as the guys from another division altogether, based far away from the fleshpots of London where a simpler, harder way of life prevailed, who sailed with them that summer to the port of Ostend in Belgium.
And when some of them were squaring up with some locals who had somehow offended them, Damon and David made it clear they had no intention of joining in.
Which prompted one of their number, a little waiflike sailor of about 16 or 17, to turn to them and ask, "What's wrong with youse guys?" with a look of utter bewilderment on his beardless face. But Damon simply didn't see the point of fighting for the sake of it. While a secret inner fortitude would eventually see him being commissioned as an officer in the Royal Navy, which had been his destiny all along; but not David's.
His time with the Thames Division, RNR, came to an end in late 1977 with a surprisingly positive character report. And if military life had never been for him, it became an important part of his identity nonetheless.
Even later in the summer, he joined the former Merchant Navy School in Greenhithe, Kent, as a trainee Radio Officer.
He formed several close friendships there; but closest of all was with Jayant, from Gravesend, a tough Thameside town in North West Kent with a large Indian community. And for a time, he and David were inseparable.
And it was through Jay that David started going to discos at Gravesend's Woodville Hall; and pretty well every week for a while, a gang from the college would take the train to Gravesend, to be treated virtually like visiting royalty by the kids, white and Asian alike...whose outfits stood out in such striking contrast to the industrial bleakness of their surroundings.
For English suburban life in those days didn't include mobile phones or DVD players, personal computers or the world wide web, and so was a fertile breeding ground for way out youth cults such as the Punks and Soul Boys.
There were girl in chandelier earrings, wearing evening dresses and stiletto heels, which were in stark contrast to the hair colours they favoured, such as jet black or bleach blonde, with flashes of red, purple or green. Some wore bow ties, while others hanged their school colours around their necks.
The boys favoured short hair, thin ties, mohair sweaters, baggy, well-pressed peg-top trousers of red or blue, and winkle picker shoes. And when they took to the floor to pirouette and pose, they could forget the ordinary cares of their working class lives and become superstars for a brief few hours.
David enjoyed his time at Merchant Navy School and made several good friends in addition to Jay, but ultimately had to realise it wasn't for him.
And soon after returning to London, he auditioned for a place on the three year drama course at the Silverhill School of Music and Drama in the City of London, which was really where he'd wanted to go in the first place.
And Silverhill took him on, which was a bit of a surprise to him to say the least, seeing as he'd already failed two earlier auditions for the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Yet, it failed to prevent him sinking further into the nihilistic Punk lifestyle. And having been blown away by the hairstyle of one of a small gang of Punks he knew by sight from nights out in Dartford, he decided to imitate it a few weeks later:
It was spiked in classic Punk style, with a kind of a halo of bright blond taking in the front of the head, both sides, and a strip at the nape of the neck. And if you chose to chose to flaunt such a style in those days, you lived in constant fear of attack or abuse. For Punk's culture of insolence and outrage was extreme even by the standards of previous British youth cults; such as the Teds, the Rockers, the Mods, the Greasers, the Skins, the Suedeheads and the Smoothies.
And at the risk of being fanciful, it could be said that to some extent, Britain was a nation still under the sway of the moral values of the pre-war years, so that a cultural war was being fought for the soul of the nation. While the Punks were the avant-garde of a new Britain in a way that would be impossible today. And this may go some way towards explaining the incredible hostility Punks attracted from many ordinary members of the British public.
But David was determined to be part of the revolution. And to this end, he saw local Punk band Sham 69 in a hall above the Surveyor, a pub in the heart of the Molesey Industrial Estate some 12 miles from the centre of London.
This was shortly before they shot to fame after singer Jimmy Pursey was arrested on the roof of the Vortex Punk club in central London on the 23rd of September 1977.
Sham's very name had been derived from the legend Walton and Hersham '69, scrawled on a wall in Molesey's sister town of Hersham, referring to the year she topped the premier division of the long defunct Athenian amateur football league.
David already knew Pursey by sight, having seen him a year or so earlier miming to Chris Spedding's Motorbikin' at the famous Walton Hop, supposedly Britain's first ever discotheque, which held mime competitions for Hop regulars at the height of its popularity.
Pursey was such a regular, and the same could be said to a degree of David and his brother Dany. And one evening, David and Dany and a friend considered taking part in the competition themselves; having selected Can't Give You Anything (But My Love) by the Stylistics to mime to; but at the last minute, they changed their minds, as they hadn't even taken the trouble to rehearse.
While unlike the ditherer David, Pursey made it clear to all who witnessed his performances at the Hop he'd been born to be a star.
And sure enough, for a brief period, he was one of Britain's leading Punk heroes. While his followers, the Sham Army, consisting of skinheads on both the left and the right of the political spectrum, became almost as famous as him. But after a riot at the Middlesex Polytechnic in North London, the first frenetic phase of Sham's performing career came to a close. Although they continued having hits until in 1980, when they disbanded until the inevitable reformation.
But 1977 was Punk's year zero in the UK, and thence, perhaps axiomatically, a darker one than those immediately preceding it.

Around about this time, David was often to be found at the Surveyor on a Sunday night with Dany, and mutual friends.
On one occasion, the usual Disco or Pop gave way to a violent Punk Rock anthem which saw the tiny dance space being invaded by deranged pogo-dancers as if they'd been summoned by some malignant deity. On another, a Ted revivalist who favoured flashy fifties-style clothing, tried to start some trouble with him in the toilet, at which point Vinnie, another Ted who'd befriended him about a year previously when he looked like an extra from a '50s High School flick stepped in with the magical words as: "He's a mate!"
Vinnie's intervention may have saved him from a hiding that night, because Teds had a loathing of Punks informed by their essential conservatism. To them, Punks probably seemed to have no respect for anything.
The Teds, or Edwardians as they were initially styled, were widely perceived as folk devils when they'd first emerged in the UK in about 1952, with a look purloined from a small minority of upper class Guards officers who'd adapted the Edwardian fashion in the late 1940s in defiance of post-war austerity.
However, in comparison to the later Punks, they were a model of respectability, and that was especially true of the '70s, when a brief revival resulted in battles between Teds and Punks taking place on West London's Kings Road all throughout '77.
They persisted into the '80s, only to all but vanish from the face of the globe with the passing of that last great decade of youthful eccentricity.
It may have been that very night that Vinnie the Ted almost imploringly asked him whether he into "this Punk lark", and David assured him he wasn't. He may even have added he still loved the fifties, which was true to a degree, but that wasn't the point. For the fact is he lied to him to look good in his eyes, which was a pretty low thing to do to a friend.
But given the times, young men like David were forced to learn certain survival tactics, such as the ability to flee at the first whiff of trouble.
Yet, by the time of the internet revolution, Punk had become just another exhibit of the Rock and Roll museum, itself just another branch of the vast entertainment industry. And the culture wars of the late '70s had long since been quieted, while rebellion had become more or less fully co-opted by the mainstream.
To give Punk its due, that this situation had come about in the first place was at least partly as a result of its utter ferocity. Which is to say of its first serious assault, which targeted a Britain still desperately clinging to the final vestiges of its Judeo-Christian moral fabric, or so it could be argued. And while it was rejected by the vast majority of British people - indeed the West as a whole - its influence went on to be little short of cataclysmic.
Yet, largely depleted as a truly subversive force by about '79, it returned to the underground, where it set about fertilising one rebel movement after the other throughout the '80s. And so, Post-Punk, No Wave, Anarcho-Punk, Industrial and Goth all benefited from its ethos, until finally in the early '90s, the Alternative Rock revolution brought it fully back into the mainstream.
Spearheaded by acts as diverse as Alice in Chains, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Smashing Pumpkins and above all, Nirvana, this movement could be said to have been Rock's final desperate outburst of sedition. And after its passing, Rock finally took its place alongside Classical, Jazz, Folk and World as just another music genre, where once it had been little short of a religion of youth.
While the sheer intensity of Nirvana's later music continues to startle, it's been wholly shorn of its iconoclastic power; and it's available for anyone of any age to access via the simple click of a computer mouse. And the same could be said of the Sex Pistols, whose one-time bassist, the tragic Sid Vicious, has emerged as Punk's leading icon.
Is this development in some respects a fulfilment of Nietzsche's philosophy of the transvaluation of all values?
There are those cultural commentators who would insist that this is indeed the case, and that far from being a positive move towards universal tolerance, it's a tragedy beyond compare, although rather than Nietzsche, it's the Book of Isaiah they might feel moved to quote from:
"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil."
But there was a time that such a revaluation met with enormous resistance, and the British public's outraged reaction to Punk in '77 was a perfect example of this. As for the Teds, goodness knows they were no angels. But to them there was something uniquely rotten at the heart of Punk, while the Rock and Roll they loved possessed all the purity of a classic art form.
It was at the tail end of this Punk Rock Year Zero that David took Jay to a party in London's swanky West End. It was the last in a long series of celebrations he'd gone to throughout '77 mainly as a result of friends from Welbourne reaching the landmark age of 21. It was also one of the last times he ever saw Jay.
Before arriving, Jay and he met up as arranged with future oil magnate Chris, and as soon as the introductions were over, Jay saw fit to offer a solo display of his lethal street fighting skills:
"I'm suitably impressed," said Chris...and he was, although he was no wimp himself; but Jay was something else, and few would have benefited from crossing him, but they got on like a house on fire that insane night which at one point saw David pouring a full glass of beer over his head. What the beautiful dancer he'd spent most of the evening with thought of a nice guy like David doing a thing like that she didn't say.
In the spring of '78, he was on the move again...this time to the city of Fuengirola on Spain's Costa del Sol; and with the intention of helping set up a sailing school with Adam, a young Englishman whom his father had recently befriended in London. But for some reason, the project came to nothing.
However, David stayed on, living first in an apartment Adam had kindly set him up in, then in a little hotel in town; and finally, rent-free with an American friend, Scarlett, one of a handful of US ex-pats resident in Fuengirola in the late 1970s alongside young people from Australia, Britain, Ireland, Germany, South America and other parts of the world.
It was a hedonistic scene, and David wasted little time in becoming part of it, spending many a night at the Tam Tam night club, where, as a result of his spectacular dancing skills, there were those who likened him to John Travolta, then an international sensation thanks to his role in John Badham's Saturday Night Fever. But if he was Fuengirola's "Travolta", it was in Punk Rock attire.
It was his first year as a full-time Punk, in point of fact, and among the clothes he favoured were a black cap-sleeved wet-look tee-shirt, drainpipe jeans of black or green, worn with black studded belt, festooned with silver chain filched from a Spanish restroom, and kept in place by multiple safety pins, fluorescent pink Teddy Boy socks, and white shoes with black laces like the ones he'd seen on the cover of an album by London Punk band 999. At one stage, he even wore a safety pin - disinfected by being dipped into a drink - in his left earlobe, but removed this once his lug had started to pulsate.
After a few weeks, he became lead singer for the Tam Tam house band, and would typically wear so much make-up onstage that one occasion, the microphone became smeared in lipstick; but the patrons liked him, and he'd pose and pout and throw his spare frame about for their benefit.
He was always short of money, but could order anything he wanted from the Tam Tam bar, and when he was flat broke, his close friend Laura bought him toasted cheese sandwiches to keep him going.
Laura and he were rarely on the beach, but would sometimes hang out at the famous Campo de Tenis; although David spent a lot of time rehearsing with the band. And in the evening, he was often to be found at Laura's parents' house, putting on the slap, and perhaps even painting his nails a gaudy shade of red, before heading along to the Tam Tam to do his gig.
One night her dad, a charismatic former tennis pro, was disturbed by their antics, and upon spying the pair of them, with David possibly wearing more make-up than his own daughter, incredulously asked:
"What is this ****, Laura?"
However, there were those nights they preferred to get away from it all, and for David, it was a special joy to be alone with Laura, while brimful with anticipation, in the demi-light of the Disco, with the evening still in its infancy. And on one incredible occasion as they were making their way through Fuengirola by dark, possibly to or from yet another club, the legend that was racing champion James Hunt called out Laura's name before emerging from the shadows. They exchanged a few words; and then it seemed he vanished just as suddenly as he'd arrived.

Once David Cristiansen had started at college, he made it pretty clear than the nice clean-cut young man who'd auditioned the previous year had been a curve ball; as he was making no further attempts to conceal his Punk image.
This was compounded by a bizarre hyperactivity that occasionally verged on the downright outrageous, not to say, disruptive. It was as if he was determined to convince the world that he was an artist with a capital "A", and therefore entitled to incessantly attract attention to himself with aberrant behaviour and clothing.
And among the items he favoured were slim jim ties, drainpipe jeans, fluorescent Fifties-style socks, and white leather brothel creepers, but the piece de resistance was a pair of tight plastic snakeskin trousers which he actually only wore the once.
As if all this weren't enough to cause eyebrows to raise among the authorities, he insisted on wearing make-up even in classes, although to be fair it was subtly applied, except for gigs and parties, when he really piled on the slap...foundation, eye shadow, blusher, lip rouge, the works. Talk about lipstick, powder and paint.
On one occasion, in the course of a class supervised by Den Denaghy, a brilliant bearded professional mime artist who'd been a regular on children's TV for a time, the compact he usually carried about with him for sporadic touch-ups fell out of an inner pocket of his jacket during an exercise, before hitting the floor with an embarrassing clatter. All eyes went to the compact, and there was a mortifying silence, which the manic Den mercifully broke by retrieving the offending article from the floor, and furiously daubing peoples' startled faces with glittery blusher.
Still, his days of wearing slap were numbered. It was as early as '79, in fact, that he developed some kind of allergic reaction to a certain brown eye shadow, which caused his eyes to become so puffy and sore as to verge on the porcine...yet, he'd only worn it a little time before, and suffered no ill-effects.
This was during that first gig, held in the basement of the nearby Lauderdale Tower a few days after his 23rd birthday as part of one of the Folk Nights held occasionally at Silverhill in those days. And he was singing for a band he'd named Narcissus, one of several he was involved in at Silverhill.
And through one of them, the Rockets, he was talent-scouted as lead singer for a guitarist of genius called Don Taylor, who was hoping to form a band himself, and clearly thought David would cut it as a front man. But for some reason, it never came to be.
Don went on to play and write for one of the world's leading Rock superstars, but at one point he briefly joined a Silverhill-based Jazz-Funk outfit with another then friend of David's. That band would go on to become one of the most successful Pop acts of the eighties, chalking up one hit after the other in a Britain in which Jazzy Dance music was favoured by flash boys in white socks and tasselled loafers. David was even invited to an early rehearsal, at a time when they might have done with a front man like himself...but of course, he didn't go.
Through Narcissus, he found only disgrace and humiliation, and not just the once. Narcissus played a grand total of two gigs, both of them fiascos.
The first time they played together was just prior to the forming of the Rockets, and although it had been a disaster due to his drunken upstaging of the other band members, piano player Perry was sufficiently impressed by him to ask him to front the Rockets.
And it was through the Rockets that he was offered the job of front man for Don's mooted musical project. However, rather than wait for the call from him, David went on ahead and re-formed Narcissus with original members Simon on guitar and John on percussion.
David piled on the make-up, and Simon and John followed suit, but being relatively untainted by personal vanity, the results were unsettling. Sweet-natured Simon painted his Botticellian features like an ancient pagan warrior, while gentle giant John saw fit to smother his with military-style camouflage. Not surprisingly, their set was accompanied by a riot of heckling which, although far from malicious, ultimately provoked David to irritation, and he ended up tossing his plectrum into the audience with a sarcastic:
"Here's to all my loving fans!"
This petulant outburst may have caused no end of harm to his reputation, because the chutzpah of the natural leader who demands and gets attention and respect through the sheer force of his personality was never among his gifts. Rather he was blessed with the seductive charm of the social climber for whom alpha status comes through the subtle exercise of exquisite manners. In this respect, he was a little like Julien Sorel, anti-hero of Stendhal's The Scarlet and the Black, who, despite humble origins, succeeds in ascending to the very top of the social ladder, only to allow a single act of madness to destroy all his good work.
David's final band was the '50s revivalist act Z Cars, which even won a small fan base for itself, its members being Carl Cool, the front man and chief songwriter who had a tattoo painted onto his shoulder, Robert Fitzroy-Square, the geek with the Buddy Holly horn rims, Dave Dean, the hard man of the band, and Little Ricky Ticky, the baby at only 18.
Things went wrong when one of the key members quit, to be replaced with a close friend, the deeply gifted Rhys Gruffydd, who was a far better musician than any of them. And thence to deviate from their usual three-chord doo-wop or Rock with more complex songs, starting with a tightly arranged version of Arthur Crudup's That's All Right, complete with harmony backing vocals. But they weren't up to the task, and disillusion swiftly set in; although by this time, David had left Silverhill anyway, and things just weren't the same.
There had been emotional scenes at his farewell party held in the depths of the Barbican Estate's Lauderdale Tower, and some cried openly at the thought of his leaving.
During the course of the night, a very dear friend of his, Tamsin, told him to contact Harry Creasey, a London-based impresario and agent well-known for offering young actors their very first positions within the entertainment industry.
David was to take her advice, and sauntering cigarette in hand into Harry's Denmark Street office a few weeks later, he was confronted by a dark slender man of about forty whose outrageously flamboyant manner was compounded by seismic levels of personal charm, but not before he'd made one of his final ever trips to Spain.
Yet, even though the guys from the band had so wanted him to reclaim his place as front man in Fuengirola, he'd chosen to go to La Ribera with his parents instead, and he felt a deep and overwhelming sense of exhaustion as he stretched out under the Costa Calida sun. It was as if he was already unconsciously aware that his acting career was destined to be a non-event.
Yet, shortly afterwards, he took up his very first official acting job as Christian the Chorus Boy - doubling as Joey the Teddy Bear, complete with furry ursine costume - in a pantomime tour of Sleeping Beauty, all thanks to the infinite generosity of Harry Creasy, who wanted David to look as good as possible:
"Because he's pretty, all right?" he explained, and no one was going to dispute that.

Chapter Five

A few weeks after Sleeping Beauty had culminated at the Buxton Opera House over Christmas 1979, David Cristiansen appeared in A Midsummer Night's Dream at both the Bristol and London Old Vics alongside legendary method genius and future Hollywood superstar Daniel Day Lewis, who played Philostrate; and brilliant character actor Nickolas Grace, who made a mesmerising Puck.
However, the cast as a whole was incredibly gifted and charismatic, and shortly before the opening night, David was lucky enough to see a BOV production of one of his favourite ever musicals, Frank Loesser's Guys and Dolls, featuring Clive Wood as Sky and Pete Postlethwaite as Nathan, which may have provided him with more unalloyed pleasure than any other theatrical production he'd seen up to that point.
After resuming his role as Mustardeed in the summer, his next acting job came early the following year courtesy of an old family friend, Howell Jones, who just happened to be the Company Stage Manager at the famous Phoenix Theatre on Charing Cross Road at the time.
A production of Petronius' Satyricon was already under way, and they needed an Assistant Stage Manager at the last minute, and Howell suggested David. He'd also be the show's percussionist, with primal thrumming rhythms opening the show, and featuring throughout.
Also in '81, David became a kind of part-time member of an initially nameless youth movement whose origins lay in the late 1970s, largely among discontented ex-Punks, but who were eventually dubbed Futurists; and then New Romantics.
Their music of preference included the kind of synthesized Art Rock pioneered by German collectives such as Kraftwerk and Can, as well as the highbrow Glam of David Bowie and Roxy Music. All of these elements went on to inform the music of Spandau Ballet and Visage, who emerged from the original scene at the Blitz Club in Covent Garden, and Ultravox, a former Art/Punk band of some renown whose fortunes revived with the coming of the New Romantics.
The name arose as a result of their impassioned devotion to past eras perceived to be romantic, whether relatively recent ones such as the '20s or '40s, or more distant historical ones such as the Medieval or Elizabethan.
Several of the cult's more outlandish trendsetters went on to become famous names within the worlds of art and fashion. They stood in some contrast to more harder-edged young dandies such as the Kemp Brothers from working class Islington. Their Spandau Ballet began life as the hippest band in London, famously introduced as such at the Scala cinema by writer and broadcaster Robert Elms in May 1980. In time, though, they mutated into a chart-friendly band with a penchant for soulful Pop songs such as the international smash hit, True.
David attended New Romantic nights at Le Kilt and Le Beat Route among other night spots, and was even snapped at one of these by photographer David Bailey, believed to have served as model for the central figure of Antonioni's enigmatic evocation of sixties London, Blow Up. But he was never a true New Romantic so much as a lone fellow traveller keen to experience first hand the last truly original London music and fashion cult before it imploded as all others had done before it.
Despite its florid decadence, it was always far more mainstream than other musical movements which arose in the wake of Punk, such as Post-Punk and Goth.
For this reason, several of its keys acts went on to become part of the New Wave, whose mixture of complex tunes and telegenic Glam image partly inspired the Second British Invasion of the American charts. This occurred thanks largely to a desperate need on the part of the newly arrived Music Television for striking videos, and went on to exert a colossal influence on the development of music and fashion throughout the eighties.
As '81 wore on, David's acting career lost momentum, with the result that some kind of family decision was reached to the effect that he should return to his studies with a view to eventually qualifying as a teacher. Thence, he went on to pass interviews for both the University of Exeter, and Leftfield College, London, scraping in with two very average A-level passes at B and C, thanks to the infinite generosity of his interviewers, both of whom, the brilliant and charming Dr Mia Pastor of Leftfield's French Department, and the enigmatic Michael, would go on to be among his tutors.
He wanted to stay in London, so as to keep (preservr?the possibility of picking up some acting work in his spare time, so in the autumn, after taking up residence in a small room on campus, he started a four-year BA degree course in French and Drama. This taking place mainly at Leftfield, but also partly at the nearby Central School of Speech and Drama, where the previously mentioned Michael worked as a teacher.
At first, he was so discontented at finding himself a student again at 25 that in an attempt to escape his situation, he auditioned for work as an acting Assistant Stage Manager, but he wasn't taken on, so he simply resigned himself to his fate.
A short time later, though, while sauntering around at night close by to the Central, he was ambushed by a group of his fellow drama students who may have seemed to him to incarnate the sheer carefree rapturous vitality and joy of life of youth, and because of them and those like them, he came to love his time at Leftfield, which just happened to coincide with the first half of the last of a triad of decades in the West of unceasing artistic and social change and experimentation.
Indeed, the adversary culture which exploded in the '60s and '70s could be said to have reached its full flowering in the crazy eighties, while perhaps shorn of much of its original potency; even if the vast majority of people whose salad days fell within its boundaries ultimately forged respectable lives following a brief season as outsiders.
As for David...as much as he loved being young in the wake of the sixties social revolution, by the 2010s, he'd come to bitterly regret the shallow narcissism that once caused him to scorn the trappings of status, security and respectability. And he'd find himself pining for them like some cruelly spurned lover.
But then, as he saw it, the flouting of all the elements of a contented life for the sake of a few seasons of joy had been tirelessly promoted in the West for over half a century, not least through Rock culture.
As to the society it had helped to create, it was somewhat akin in his eyes to the antediluvian world, whose workings of the flesh survived the Flood to be disseminated throughout the nations to spell the end of one empire after the other, the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Greek, the Roman.
And the older, wiser David saw himself as having embraced the libertine life for no good reason, having been blessed by every great gift a young man could possibly hope for, including a stable childhood and first-rate education.
Yet, as he'd come to understand it, our most treasured qualities, such as brilliance, beauty, charm and talent - which can operate together to devastating effect - must be submitted to God, lest they become dangerous, as they so often do. While the gifted, being so visible, are also more susceptible than most to a multitude of temptations. And so all too liable to fall prey to Luciferian pride and Luciferian rebellion...which is why, or so it could reasonably be averred, so many are drawn to the power offered by artistic renown. And in terms of the post-war years, it can perhaps be said that the greatest glory has come through music - the writer of the first song Lamech having been in the line of Cain - and specifically Rock Music.
Indeed, there are those Christians who believe that the Cainites were the first pagan people, and that they corrupted the Godly line of Seth through a sensual and wicked music not unlike much of the contemporary music known as Rock.
Of course, not all Rock music is flagrantly wicked, far from it. Much of it is melodically lovely. While in terms of its lyrics, its finest songs display the most delicate poetic sensibility.
The fact remains, however, that arguably no art form in history has been quite so associated as Rock with rebellion, transgression, licentiousness, intoxication and death-worship, nor been so influential as such.
And while the David of the 2010s viewed this truth with the fiery eyes of a modern day Jeremiah, his '80s counterpart still desperately sought fame as a Rock and Roll star himself; and if not as Rock artist, then actor, or writer.
And as the former saw it, it was possibly a good thing he never gained this secular form of immortality; because had he done so, he'd almost certainly have been used for the furtherance of the kingdom of darkness. And once he'd served his purpose, may well have died a solitary premature death as an addict. As has been the fate of so many men and women all too briefly inspirited by the magnetic charisma of the superstar.
And Leftfield in the early '80s was a seething hotbed of talent and creativity which provided David with almost unlimited opportunities for acting and performance.
Within days, he'd made a close friend of a fellow French and Drama student by the name of Sebastian Stockbridge.
Seb was a slim, good-looking, dark-haired charmer from the north east of England who, despite a solid private school background and rugby player's powerful wiry frame, dressed like a Rock star when David first met him, with his left ear typically graced by a pendant earring, and favouring drainpipe style trousers and black pointed boots as he'd come to recall. Together, they went on to feature in Brecht and Weill's The Threepenny Opera.
David had two small roles, the most fascinating to him being that of petty street thief Filch, as he'd been played by Antonin Artaud in one of two film versions of the play directed by G.W. Pabst in 1931; and Artaud, an example of the avant garde faith in extremis, was one of his most beloved so-called accursed poets.
Through this production he went on to play jive-talking disc jockey Galactic Jack in the musical play, The Tooth of Crime, its director having been impressed by Seb and himself in The Threepenny Opera, and so cast them in the lead role of Hoss, and Galactic Jack, respectively.
It's no coincidence that its author, Sam Shepard, has gone on record as having been influenced by Artaud in his own work, as the latter's concept of a Theatre of Cruelty has proved prophetic of much of the theatre of the post-war years, indeed art as a whole, with its emphasis on assailing the senses, and in some cases the sensibilities as well, of the public through every available means.

Before long, David was channelling every inch of his will to perform into one play after the other at Leftfield, while any real ambition to succeed as an actor receded far into the background.
When it came to his French studies, in his essay writing he often flaunted an insolent outspokenness perhaps partly influenced by his favourite accursed artists, but also reflecting his own exhibitionistic need to shock. And while some of his tutors may have viewed these efforts with a jaundiced eye, one came to thrill to them and await them with the sort of impatience normally accorded a favourite TV or radio series. This was the remarkable Dr Elizabeth Lang, born in Lancashire in 1924, as the only child of working class parents who went on to gain a place at Oxford University, before becoming a lecturer there, and then at Leftfield.
What an ascent...from humble northern roots to a lectureship at the most hallowed place of learning in history...little wonder she was so fragile, almost febrile as a person, but so kind, so single-minded in her devotion to those who shared her passionate view of art and life:
"Temper your enthusiasm," she'd tell David, "and the extremes of your reactions. You should have a more conventional frame on which to hang your unconventionality. Don't push people, you make yourself vulnerable."
Was she was trying to save him from himself, and from the addiction to self-destruction that so often accompanies extreme distinction, whether of beauty, intelligence or talent, as if it were the lot of some of the most gifted among us to serve as examples of the potentially ruinous nature of privilege when operating in a purely earthly realm?
For David so loved to play the accursed poet and to scandalise by way of the written and spoken word. How close this carried him to the threshold of a terminally seared conscience it's impossible to say; but one thing is certain, his compassion would soon suffer, a process that would prove excruciating to him.
That's not to say he ever fully stopped being a caring person, because he certainly didn't, and he continued to be repelled to the core by those artistic revolutionaries who advocated actual physical violence. At the same time, he was slavishly devoted towards certain favoured artists who sought the total demolition of the established order, a consequence that inexorably results in increased crime and violence, not that this occurred to him at the time.
This nihilistic love of destruction kept uneasy company with a high and mighty dudgeon towards what he perceived as social injustice, and among its chief targets were dictators on the right wing of the political spectrum - in fact, the political right as a whole - and while he also opposed left-wing oppression, he reserved his real animus for the right.
The 1980s was a decade of protest and riot in the UK, and all through its years of raging discontent, David allied himself with one radical lobby after the other; including Greenpeace, CND, Animal Aid, Amnesty, and the Anti-Apartheid Movement which published one of his characteristically apoplectic letters of protest.
And he marched against the looming nuclear threat in London and Paris, and was a remorseless disseminator of rants, pamphlets, tracts, postcards, and whatever else was at hand as a means of spreading a message of social revolution.
He would ultimately contend that his was the self-righteous fury that is rooted in a false notion of the perfectibility of Man, that fails to recognise that oppression stems from the sin we all share, and that has no real satisfying motive other than its own existence. But at the time, he knew nothing of any of this.
In the summer, a faction from Leftfield, culled mostly from the Drama department, took Shakespeare's Twelfth Night to the internationally famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and in their production, Shakespeare's Illyria was transformed into a Hippie paradise, with David playing Feste as a Dylanesque minstrel strumming dirge-like folk songs with a voice like sand and glue.
Among the wildest of them descending many a night on the Fringe Club on Chambers Street were, apart from David, Massimo, a dashing Britalian of passionately held humanitarian convictions, who played Sir Toby Belch, Denny, with the deep-set blue eyes with whom David would go on to form a close musical partnership, and Jez, a tough but tender Scouser with slicked back rockabilly hair, who played Malvolio in a mesmerisingly understated manner.
Jez was a fascinating, charismatic guy with a hilariously dry sense of humour who had been in a band in the early '80s at the legendary Liverpool Post-Punk club, Eric's. He and his girlfriend Gill, who'd designed the flowing Hippie costumes, and was also a very dear friend of David's, never stopped encouraging him nor believing in him:
"I think you should be one of the greats, David," Jez once told him, "but you've given up and that's sad. When I'm 27, I'd be happy to be like you. In your writing, make sure you've got something really unbeatable...then say...'here!'"
Yet, while he was complimented by many at Leftfield, others betrayed their disquiet with their words, as if he had the power to remind them of the true tragic essence of saudade:
"You give to everyone, but are incapable of giving in particular."
"I'm afraid...you're inscrutable. You're not just blase are you?"
"I'm afraid there's something really troubling you, that you don't want to tell anyone."
"There's a mystery about you...you change."
"I like it when you really feel something, but then it's so rare."
"Don't go away so long like that, David, it worries me."
"Disabused."
"Blind, deaf, indifferent."
David's relationship with Leftfield was one of the great passions of his life, and one destined to haunt him for the remainder of his days, as if he knew he'd never know such depths of intimacy again, and be increasingly prey to the torment of fading affect.
Then the following year, his second at Leftfield, he lived in an upper floor apartment in Golders Green with his close friends from the French department, Seb, a former Sedbergh School alumnus, and fellow northerner Stephen, whose alma mater was Sedbergh's age-old rival, Ampleforth, a Catholic college largely run by Benedictine monks.
Steve was an incredibly gifted pianist and guitarist who despite a misleadingly serious demeanour was a warm, affectionate, witty, eccentric character who endlessly buzzed with the nervous energy of near-genius. He might not have wanted to ape the way his flatmates dressed and behaved, but he was fiercely protective of them despite their social butterfly ways.
And David was determined to live like an aesthete, even if it meant doing so on a shoestring in a cramped little flat in suburban north London, which was hardly the city of dreaming spires; and to this end he organised what he optimistically termed a salon, which although well-attended didn't survive beyond a single meeting. For as aesthetes, David and co. fell pathetically short of the new Brideshead generation that was thriving at Oxford in the wake of the classic TV series.
But David couldn't have cared less, for self-doubt simply wasn't an issue for him in the early eighties and he was a truly happy person; in fact so much so that he may have exaggerated his capacity for depth and melancholia as a means of making himself more interesting to others.
In the final analysis though, what possible reason was there for him to be discontented, given that his first two Leftfield years were fabulous...an unceasing cycle of plays, shows, concerts, discos, parties set in one of the most beautiful and bucolic areas of London?
His second year drama project was centred on a theatrical production of Playing with Fire, a one-act play by the controversial Swedish dramatist August Strindberg. He was allotted the task of supplying the music; as well as the leading role of Knut, a sardonic Bohemian painter forced to endure the adulterous behaviour of a friend. This being Alex, played by budding playwright Paul, who following an invitation to stay with him at the house of his upper middle class parents for a few days, embarks on an affair with his wife Kerstin.
Later in the year, Paul asked David to appear in a short play of his entitled Wild Life in which he interpreted the role of a violent young psychopath intent on causing mayhem at a house party, just one of a succession of plays or shows in which he was featured during that heady second year at Leftfield. The others including Twelfth Night with the Edinburgh cast more or less intact, and a Rice-Lloyd Webber showcase in which he played his former idol Che.

After the second year ended in the summer of 1983, David had a few months to spare before travelling to Paris to work as an English language assistant at a Lycee Technique in the suburb of Bretigny-sur-Orge in Essonne...some sixteen miles south of the city centre.
This spelled his exile from the old drama clique, and he'd not be joining them in their final year celebrations, and the knowledge of this must surely have affected him. He was, after all, severing himself from a vast network of gifted friends of whom he was deeply fond, and so losing an opportunity of growing as an artist in tandem with like-minded spirits. He could have opted for just a few weeks in France, but did he really want to be deprived of the chance of spending more than six months in the city he'd long worshipped as the only true home of an artist?
Earlier in the year, his close friend Madeleine, a brilliant dynamic woman of North African Jewish ancestry had told him something to the effect that while many were drawn to him, it wasn't just in consequence of any magnetic attractiveness he might have possessed:
"They sense death in you," she chillingly opined.
Cognizant as she was of the intellectual worldview of the great psychologist Sigmund Freud, who identified a death drive subsequently dubbed Thanatos, she may have divined some kind of will to destruction within him, or rather, self-destruction.
As things turned out, she was right in doing so, although this was barely embryonic in the early '80s, if it existed at all, but he would ultimately attribute its existence to a cocktail of intoxicants, namely, alcohol, the occult, and intellectualism, and to be of the belief that each exerted a terribly negative effect on his development as a human being.
It was not, he would contend, that intellectualism is evil in itself, but that intellectuals are more tempted than most by pride, rebellion and sensuality, and that the same could be said of those blessed with great wealth, great beauty, and great talent. He'd see intellectuals as among the most powerful men and women in history, and the Modern World as having been significantly shaped by the wildly inspired views of men such as Rousseau, Darwin, Nietzsche, and especially Marx and Freud.
To the man he'd become, their theories fanned the flames of a largely bloodless revolution in the 1960s, and rather than fade once the latter had been largely quenched, set about infiltrating the cultural mainstream where they became more extreme than ever. And so to enter the realm of the Post-Modern, while remaining the ultimate consequence of centuries of Modernist influence on the Judeo-Christian fabric of Western civilisation.
However, David was never a true scholar like Madeleine, so much as someone who was both troubled and fascinated by the idea of hyper-intellectuality. Reading Colin Wilson's The Outsider in the early '80s, he especially identified with those intellectuals who were tortured by their own excesses of consciousness such as T.E. Lawrence, who wrote of his nature as being "thought-riddled".
As a child he'd been extrovert to the point of hyperactivity, but by the time of his late adolescence, found himself subject to rival drives of equal intensity, one towards seclusion and introspection, the other, attention and approbation.
In his quest for the latter, he subjected his body, the creation he tendered so lovingly at times, to a ruthless almost derisive work ethic, and intoxication - mild and otherwise - facilitated the constant socialising that brought him the affirmation he so craved, what could be termed a narcissistic supply. How else to explain the sheer demented fervour of his endless self-exaltation?
That's not to say that he wasn't a loving person, because he was; but precisely what kind of love was it that he spread so generously about himself? One thing it wasn't was agape, the perfect, selfless love described in 1 Corinthians 13.
He was hardly less remorseless towards his mind than his body, bombarding it with information so much of which existed on the dark side of knowledge. Little wonder then that he turned to drink as a means of pacifying it, although alcohol still wasn't a serious problem for him in the early '80s, when his exhausting daily regimen tended to be fuelled instead by massive quantities of caffeine tablets. That said, Madeleine didn't like it when he drank to excess, as if she'd already singled him out as someone who'd go on to develop a drink problem. In this as in other things she showed remarkable insight.
"Your friends are too good to you...it makes me sick to see them...you don't really give...you indulge in conversation, but your mind is always elsewhere, ticking over. You could hurt me, you know...you are a Don Juan, so much. Like him, you have no desires...I think you have deep fears...it's not that you're empty...but that there is an omnipresent sadness about you, a fatality..."

In the autumn of 1983, David took residence in a room on the grounds of his allotted school.
It was during those early days in Paris that he became infected by a serious sense of self-disillusion, as a new darkness spread over his mind.
This sea-change marked the onset of a real drink problem that went way beyond the usual student booze-ups into the murky realm of drinking alone by day, and which David would ultimately attribute to a conscience that was starting to become calloused through repeated defilement. His well-being, however, remained relatively unaffected, in fact, for those first few months, he was happy, blissfully happy to be a nomad in the city which had inspired so many great poets to write classics of the art of urban idling. He wrote of his own experiences, usually late at night in his room, and almost certainly with the assistance of alcohol and cigarettes; and while few of these notes survived, some incidents that may once have been committed to paper stayed fresh in his mind.
There was the time he sat opposite a same-sex couple on the Metro when he was still innocent of its labyrinthine complexities. "She" was a slim white girl, dressed from head to toe in denim, who gazed blissfully, with lips coyly pursed, into some wistful middle distance, while her muscular black boyfriend stared straight through him with eyes in which desire and menace seemed to be mixed, until one of them spoke, almost in a whisper:
"Qu'est-ce-que t'en pense?"
He came to recall the night he took the Metro to Montparnasse-Bienvenue, where he slowly sipped a demi blonde in a brasserie, perhaps of the type immortalised by Brassai in his photographs of the secret life of '30s Paris. At the same time, a bewhiskered old man in a naval officer's cap, his table strewn with empty wine bottles and cigarette butts, repeatedly screeched the name, "Phillippe!" until a pallid impassive bartender with patent leather hair filled his glass to the brim with a mock-obsequious:
"Voila, mon Capitaine!"
And then there was the afternoon when, enacting the role of the social discontent, he joined an anti nuclear march through Paris which ended with a bizarre street cabaret performed by a troupe of neo-hippies whose sheer demented defiance may have filled him with longing for a time when he treated his well-thumbed copy of the Fontana Modern Masters bio of Che Guevara by Andrew Sinclair as some kind of sacred text...
A day spent as a nomad in the City of Light would often end with a few hours spent in a movie theatre, perhaps in the vast soulless Forum des Halles shopping precinct, and there was a point he started to hate the movies he chose, as he struggled more and more with fits of deep and uncontrollable depression. For the first time in his life, he was starting to feel worse after having seen a film than before, the result perhaps of creeping anhedonia, which is a reduced ability to enjoy activities found pleasurable by the majority.
He grew bored of watching others perform. What joy, he reasoned, was to be found in watching some dismal movie, when there was so much to do in the greatest city in the civilised world?
He'd never really been any kind melancholic up until this point but this situation may have started to change in his first few months in Paris. If his travels failed to produce the desired uplifting effect, he'd fall prey to a despair that was wholly out of proportion to the cause.
As a means of protecting himself, he started squandering his hard-earned cash on endless baubles and fripperies. These wholly pointless trinkets included a gaudy short-sleeved shirt by Yves St Laurent, a retro-style alarm clock with the loudest tick in Christendom, a gold-plated toothbrush which he never actually used, a black and gold cigarette holder and matching slim fit lighter, a portrait drawn of him at the Place du Tertre which made him look like a cherubic 12 year old, and a black vinyl box jacket procured from the Porte de Clignancourt flea market.
Mention must also be made of the many books he bought, such as the three Folio works by Symbolist pioneers Barbey d'Aurevilly, Villiers de L'Isle-Adam and Josephin Peladan; as well as the second-hand books of poetry by such obscure figures as Trakl and Deleve...part of Seguers' Contemporary Poets collection.
Could the kids who loved to wave and coo at him from all corners of the school have guessed that their precious David who looked like a lost member of Wham or Duran Duran was prey to dark depressions?
Could they ever have known he was a collector of the literary works of late 19th Century Decadents...and a social discontent given to recording snarling rants on a cheap cassette tape recorder?
The simple answer is not in a thousand years...for he was leading a double life, perhaps even a multiple one. Little wonder, therefore, that he was starting to drink to try and make sense of what was happening to him, which was something akin to the fracturing of the personality.
It wasn't long before he tired of his solitary existence; but then becoming more sociable may have simply been the result of being in one place for a significant length of time and nothing more meaningful than that. In fact, he'd already befriended twenty year old Theresa "Tessa" Evans, English assistant in the neighbouring town of Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois while they were both attending classes at the Sorbonne intended to prepare them for the year ahead. And they went on to see more and more of each other as their Parisian sojourn proceeded apace.
She'd been a close girlhood chum at convent school of his great Leftfield friend, Ariana Hansen...in fact, one of the first times they met up was with Ariana, when they saw Gimme Shelter in some dinky little art house theatre. This being, of course, the documentary of the Rolling Stones' 1969 American tour which culminated in the infamous Free Concert at the Altamont Speedway in Northern California, which helped to put an end to the Hippie dream of peace and love.
Other close friends included Metal Work teacher Milan, the son of Yugoslavian parents from the suburb of Bagneux whose impassive manner belied the exorbitantly loving soul of a true poet.
As well as Maths teacher Jules, who was the generous-spirited son of an army officer, and a furious hedonist who worshipped the Rock and Roll lifestyle of Keith Richards and other British bad boy musicians. For David there remained a lingering vision of Jules...tall, thin, dark, charismatic, with his head of wiry black hair, dressed in drainpipes and Cuban heeled boots, playing the bass guitar - but brilliantly - at some unearthly hour with friends following a night's heavy partying before rushing to be with a girl friend as the dawn broke.
And Jean-Paul...another Metal Work teacher as he'd come to recall, possibly from provincial France, and one of nature's gentlemen, sincere, warm and convivial.
So many of the people of Bretigny went out of their way to make David feel welcome and content from the headmaster all the way down to the kids, some of whom staged near-riots in the classroom whenever he appeared. He felt so unworthy of their kindness, of the incredible hospitality that is characteristic of ordinary French people.
However, if he was much loved in the warm-hearted faubourgs, in Paris itself he was at times as much a magnet for menace as approval.
In fact, he was hysterically threatened in the streets of Pigalle only days after arriving in the city; and then verbally assaulted later in the year, this time on an RER train by some kind of madman or derelict who'd taken exception to his earrings and was furiously urging him to go to the Bois de Boulogne. But what he suggested he do there is too obscene to print.
And mention must also be made of the sinister skinhead who called him a "******* anglaise'' for trying on Tessa's wide-brimmed hat while travelling home by train after a night out with her and Ariana. But as ever, he was mysteriously protected against all the odds.
On a far brighter note, he spent a sizeable part of the journey from Paris-Austerlitz to Bretigny with a self-professed "voyou" with chilling shark-like eyes, who nonetheless seemed quite fond of him, as he made no attempt to threaten him. He even gave him his number, telling him that unless he phoned as promised, he was merely what he termed "un anglais ***."
David left Bretigny without saying goodbye to so many people that it was painful to think of it afterwards, but frenetic eleventh hour socialising had left him exhausted. However, there was one final get-together, organised by Tessa and a few other friends. Milan was there of course, as well as well as several mutual friends of Tessa's and his. Sadly though, Jules wasn't, although he bumped into one of his girl friends, who, her voice dripping with incredulity, asked:
"Ou est Jules?"
Seized by guilt for having failed to invite him, David phoned him at home to ask him to make a last minute appearance, but in a muted voice, he told him:
"Nah, I'm in the bath, man, it's too late."
It was the last he ever heard of him. As for Milan, he and David were to talk on the phone once the latter had returned to London, but they never saw each other again. On the other hand, Tessa and he stayed friends until the early '90s, by which time she'd got married to a fellow church-goer and former Cambridge University alumnus called Peter, who also became a good friend. And some two decades afterwards, they'd resume their friendship, and so regularly assemble as a trio with Ariana.
His parents stopped by that night to pick him up on their way to La Ribera where they were due to stay for a few weeks before returning to the UK, and after a day or so spent sightseeing, they set off. Soon after arriving, it became clear to David that over eight years after the death of Generalisimo Franco, with Spain's beatific innocence long gone, his beloved pueblo had changed beyond all recognition.
In Murcia, while quietly drinking in a night club with some very dear friends of his from La Ribera's golden age, he found himself in the surreal position of being visually threatened by a local Punk who clearly objected to the bootlace tie he was wearing which immediately identified him as a hated Rockabilly. As he saw it, such a thing would never have happened ten years before; or perhaps even five.
As for the youth of La Ribera itself, where once they'd been endearingly naive, now they seemed so worldly and cool that David was in awe of them, as they danced like chickens with their elbows thrust out...almost certainly to the latest hippest hits, such as King's Won't You Hold My Hand Now, which David endlessly translated for them.

Chapter Six

David Cristiansen returned to Leftfield College in the autumn of 1984, and it may be that it was soon after this that his recent past started haunting him for the first time. After all, was it not only a few years previously he'd known legends of sport and the cinema, mythical figures of the theatre, blue bloods and patricians, and they'd been kind, generous of spirit to this nonentity from the outer suburbs. Now he was nearly 30, with a raft of opportunities behind him, and a future which looked less likely than ever to provide him with the fame he still ached for with all his soul.
At first he lived off-campus, thinking it might be fun to coast during his final year as some kind of enigma freshly returned from Paris. But before long, he desperately missed being part of the social hub of the college, even though this was a virtual impossibility for a forgotten student in his fourth year.
His time as one of Leftfield's leading prodigies had long passed, and other, younger whizz kids had come to the fore since his departure for Paris. They included the handsome young blond whom his long-time friend and champion Ariana described as being some kind of new edition of himself, due perhaps to the incredible diversity of his gifts. The first David saw of him, he was playing Gorgibus in Moliere's Les Precieuses ridicules, a part Ariana had originally earmarked for David, but he turned it down. The young man would ultimately find superstardom as comedian and character actor, and far more besides, while David persisted in the sweet, safe obscurity where he remains to this day.
He read incessantly throughout the year for the sheer pleasure of doing so. For example, while Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh was a compulsory part of the drama course, there was no need for him to wade through O'Neill, the massive two-part biography of the playwright by Arthur and Barbara Gelb, but that didn't stop him.
He made this descent into the depths of O'Neill's complex psyche at a time when he himself was starting to drink during the day at Leftfield. While his first can of extra strong lager would often be opened at breakfast time, he'd wait until the afternoon to get seriously hammered in the company of close friends. Such as Paul, from Playing with Fire, and Alastair, a science student who shared his passion for the dark romanticism of the Doors and Peter Gabriel.
Paul was still trying to persuade him to join forces with him against an indifferent world, he with his writing and David with his acting, but for reasons best known to himself, he wasn't playing ball. Paul had always sensed something really special in David, which was variously described as energy, intensity, charisma, but for all the praise he received from Paul and others, he didn't seem to have a very high opinion of himself.
It's possible that while he possessed the vast ego of the narcissist who requires constant attention and approval, he somehow also suffered from low self-esteem, which might indicate that he was a sufferer from actual Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Whatever the case, he was going through one of his showily perverse phases, affecting a world weariness he simply didn't have at 30, but which upset and alienated a really good friend. And it wasn't long before Paul was out of his life forever, leaving him to stew in his precious pseudo-cynicism:
"What an appalling attitude," he'd told him, and he was right on the money.
His principal final year tutor was Dr Elizabeth Lang, and subject of study, the works of literary genius Andre Gide. And so he came to closely examine such Gidian characters as the urbane Menalque from The Immoralist, who encourages the protagonist Michel to embrace Nietzschian individualism...the feral Lafcadio from The Vatican Cellars, who commits a crime of terrible cruelty simply for the sake of doing so...and the mysterious Comte de Passavent from The Counterfeiters, his only novel according to his own definition of the term.
And in later years, he'd recall actually mentioning a particular instance of Michel's amorality to Dr Lang with what was relish pure and simple. Oh, how much he'd changed!
But far from being a mere Decadent, Gide was the deeply conflicted product of a middle-class Protestant upbringing whose first work, The Notebooks of Andre Walter, was an anatomisation of Christian self-abnegation based on his troubled love for his devout cousin Madeleine, who went on to be his wife, a theme he would enlarge upon in Straight is the Gate.
And a special favourite of David's by Gide was the novella Isabelle, which appealed to his softer, more romantic side. Written in 1911, it's the tale of a young student, Gerard Lacase, who stays for a time at a Manor house in Normandy inhabited by two ancient aristocratic families in order to look over their library for research purposes. And while there, becomes bewitched by the portrait of a beautiful young woman, only to discover that its model, the eponymous Isabelle, is now a hard, embittered individual entirely distinct from the lovely vision in the miniature.
By the same token, his favourite ever play by O'Neill was another story of hopeless love, A Moon for the Misbegotten, written in 1947.
Its leading character is based on Eugene's tragic yet infinitely romantic elder brother Jamie. And David became fascinated by him; and read all about him in the massive biography by the Gelbs.
Blessed at birth with charm, intellect and beauty, he was one of Father Edward Sorin's most favoured princes while part of the Minim Department of Notre Dame University, Indiana. And so apparently destined for a glittering future as a Catholic gentleman of exquisite breeding and learning. He was also potentially a very fine writer, although he only left a handful of poems and essays behind; and the owner of a beautiful speaking voice which ensured him work as an actor for a time alongside his father James. His greatest legacy, however, is Jamie Tyrone, the brilliant yet troubled charmer who haunts two of his brother's masterpieces with the infinite sorrow of promise unfulfilled.
David left Leftfield for good in the summer of 1985, and discovered soon afterwards that he had achieved a lower second BA degree in French and Drama.
His first employment was as a deliverer of novelty telegrams, a job which brought him into many potentially hazardous situations, but which for him, was worth the risk, as he was getting well paid to show off and party, two of his favourite occupations at the time...but it was an unusual way of life for a man of thirty.
What he really wanted was the immortality provided by fame, and he didn't care whether this came through acting, music or literature, or any other means for that matter. But until his big break came, he was content to feed his addiction to attention through the novelty telegrams industry. He evidently had no deep desire to leave anything behind by way of children, nor for any career other than one liable to project him to international renown. How then did he end up as a PGCE student at Coverton College, Cambridge in the autumn?
The truth is he'd yielded to family pressure to provide himself with the safety net that's doubtless been advocated for centuries as a sensible if less romantic alternative to penury by the concerned parents of struggling artists while being despised - as a rule - by the artists themselves. For was it not the great singer-songwriter Nick Drake who said it was the last thing he wanted when it was suggested to him by his father Rodney?
For David's part, he was so unhappy about having to go to Cambridge that just days before he was due to start there, he arranged to audition for a Jazz Funk band, and was all set to sing The Chinese Way by Level 42 and another tune in that then fashionable genre, but he never made it; because late and desperately drunk, he simply threw in the towel and resigned himself to Cambridge.
From the time he arrived in the beautiful medieval university city of Cambridge, he was made to feel most welcome and wanted, and made some wonderful friends at Coverton itself; such as Donovan Joye, a most gracious poet and actor from the little town of Downham Market in Norfolk, with whom he was almost inseparable for a time. As well as Dale Slater, a singer-songwriter of melancholy genius from Yeovil in south Somerset who eventually went on to record both as a solo artist and group member in the London of the late 1980s and early to mid '90s at a time the neo-psychedelia he embraced was thriving. And stunning redhead Clarissa Catto, a budding professional actress from a vast sprawling area to the west of London whose principal eponymous town of Slough is perhaps most famous for having inspired a ten-stanza poem by much-loved former poet laureate Sir John Betjeman in 1937.
When he made his first appearance at the Cambridge Community College in what may have been Arbury in the northernmost reaches of the city where he was due to begin his period of Teaching Practice the following January, the pupils reacted to him as if he was some kind of visiting movie or Rock star. His TP would have been a breeze. Everything was falling into place for him at Cambridge, and he was offered several golden chances to succeed as an actor within its hallowed confines.
Towards the end of the first term, the then president of the Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club had gone out of his way to ask David and Donovan to appear in the sole production he was preparing to mark his year-long tenure. He was a Coverton man, and so clearly wanted to give a couple of his fellow students a break after having seen them perform a couple of Donovan's satirical songs for the club.
This was a privilege almost without measure, given that since its inception Footlights has nurtured the talents of Cecil Beaton, Jonathan Miller, Germaine Greer, David Frost, John Cleese, Peter Cook, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie and Sacha Baron Cohen among many others. David could have been added to that list.
As if this opportunity weren't enough to persuade him to stay put, a young undergraduate, renowned for the high quality of the plays he produced personally asked him to feature in one of his productions during the Lent Term. This after seeing him interpret the part of Tom in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie some time before Christmas. Someone then told him that if this young man took an interest in you, you were pretty well made as an actor at Cambridge. What more did he want? For Spielberg himself to be in the audience and discover him?
In his defence, though, he did feel trapped by the course, and was finding it heavy going. In order to pass, you had to spend a full year as a teacher after completion of the basic PGCE. That meant it would be two years before he was free again to call himself an actor and work as such. It just seemed an awfully long time, when in fact it wasn't at all, and two years after quitting Cambridge he was even further away from his dream than when he'd started off.
The truth is he left Coverton for no good reason, and there are certain verses from Maud Muller, by Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier, could be said to be most applicable with respect to his decision to do so, which came to haunt him in later years:
"For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: 'it might have been'."
Still, within a matter of hours of the start of the Lent Term of 1987, he'd vanished, disappeared into the night in the company of a close friend he'd wheedled into helping him out.

Once he was free, he set about the task of resuming his career, sporadically commuting to London from a semi-rural village 8 miles north of Portsmouth where he was resident at the time; although most days he achieved little. While it was music rather than acting he was interested in at the time, not that it ever really mattered to how he became famous, just so long as he did.
He duly auditioned for a series of bands, such as the Jazz-Funk outfit from what may have been Croydon, and the Rock and Roll revival band from Pompey itself; but none of them took to him. And highlighted hair and dinky twin ear studs could hardly done him any favours, although by around about the beginning of '87 he'd started sporting a two-tone parka worn with tight grey corduroy jeans in an attempt to better blend in with his surroundings. Which is to say in contrast to such nostalgic sartorial items as '50s style gold lame waistcoat, cuffed drainpipe jeans, and black suede winkle pickers with side buckles, which he'd only latterly favoured.
However, he did succeed in impressing the artistic director of a Ladbroke Grove pub theatre who remained a close friend of his well into the 2000s. And with whom he worked soon after returning to London - which he did in the summer of 1987 to a minor flurry of creative activity - first for a play at the aforesaid theatre; and then a film pilot featuring the lavishly gifted American artist Ray Shell.
1987 was also the year he got seriously involved in walk-on work for television and the cinema, although he wasn't entirely new to the game. For example, he briefly features as a Salvation Army bandsman in a scene from The Mirror Crack'd, directed by Guy Hamilton in 1980 from an Agatha Christie novel entitled The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side.
This took place at a typical English village fete set in the 1950s, and was being graced first by Geraldine Chaplin, daughter of Sir Charles and his fourth wife the former Oona O'Neill; then by legendary Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor.
Also, in Charles Jarrott's miniseries Poor Little Rich Girl, he can be seen gesticulating as legendary crooner Rudy Vallee in a party scene featuring Farrah Fawcett as Barbara Hutton, and Burl Ives as her grandfather F.W. Woolworth.
But these were just isolated episodes. For from around 1987, he took the work more seriously, first in the sitcom Life Without George, written by Penny Croft and Val Hudson and featuring Simon Cadell and Carol Royle; and then in the long-running police series The Bill, in which he sporadically appeared as a crime scene photographer for several years.
Soon after he'd finished his work for Life Without George, he started rehearsals at the justly renowned Gate Theatre in London's Notting Hill for the world premiere of The Audition by Catalonian playwright Rudolf Sirera - with English translation by John London - under the direction of Ariana.
While it's likely to have been originally set in pre-revolutionary France, Ariana updated it to the late 19th Century, possibly the Paris of Huysmans' notorious Against the Grain. And it involves the kidnapping of an actor Gabriel De Beaumont by an unnamed Marquis played by Steven Dykes, who goes on to sadistically toy with his victim before finally murdering him.
It received some fair reviews...with David being singled out for some praise in The Times among other periodicals.
But rather than capitalise on this modest success, he decided to start work instead as a teacher at the Tellegen School of English in London's Oxford Street. And he did so at the behest of his closest friend, Huw Owen, the Swansea native who'd served as the model for Robert Fitzroy-Square in their Silverhill band, Z Cars, but who was now working at Tellegen's. Besides which, he'd already undergone a week's training with them and been offered a job.
Thus, he entered into one of the most purely blissful periods



of his entire life, even while his theatrical career suffered. Although in August 1988 and at Ariana's behest, he served as MC for a week-long benefit for the Gate Theatre called Captain Kirk's Midsummer Log in the persona of one Mr Denmark 1979, a comic monstrosity specially created for him; also providing several impressions.
Among those appearing on the bill were comedienne Jo Brand in her then incarnation of The Sea Monster, satirical impressionist Rory Bremner, Renaissance Man Patrick Marber, initially a stand-up comic, but best known today as an award-winning playwright and Oscar-nominated screenwriter, and maverick singer-songwriter John Otway.
The Denmark character went down so well at the benefit that David wrote an entire show around him on the premiss that winning a Scandinavian male beauty contest in 1979 had so altered the balance of his mind that he'd since convinced himself he'd been at the forefront of pretty well every major cultural development since the dawn of Pop, only to be cravenly ripped off by Sinatra, Elvis, the Beatles, the Stones, Punks, Rappers and so on. It premiered to considerable audience enthusiasm on his 33rd birthday at a new variety venue called Club Shout.
And for David, being a Tellegen teacher was the perfect dream job...providing him with a social life on a plate, as well as enough money to finance the hours he spent each evening in the Champion public house on Wells Street, W.1. For once the final classes had ended some time after 7.30, student and teacher alike would meet at the Champion to drink and talk and laugh and do as they wished until closing time. And David himself would usually leave around 10.30 to catch the last train home from Waterloo, although, sometimes he'd miss it and have to catch a later one which might see him stranded deep in the Surrey countryside. At other times, there'd be a party to go to, or the Tellegen Disco at Jacqueline's Night Club in nearby Soho.
Most of the teachers socialised with their own kind, while David preferred the company of the students, although this situation was to become modified by 1990, when his friends were being chosen from among both the teaching and student bodies. But at night, it would be almost impossible to extricate him from his circle of favourites from Italy, Japan, Spain, Brazil, Poland, France...fact which proved irksome to his good friends, Stan and Neddy, at a certain stage in his short-lived career at Tellegen's.
For Stan, a Tellegen teacher and resting actor like David, and Neddy, a young student from the great city of Sao Paolo in Brazil, were trying to organise rehearsals for a band they were supposed to be getting together. But thanks to David's dilatory attitude, this never happened despite some early promise, as Neddy was a gifted guitarist, and Stan a potentially good front man.
But David continued to discard precious opportunities as if they were so much stinking refuse...little suspecting that he was shoring up the kind of heartbreak that stems from unfulfilled promise, and which caused Jamie Tyrone to quote from Dante Gabriel Rossetti in Long Day's Journey into Night, while clearly describing himself:
"Look in my face; my name is Might-have-been;
I am also called No-more, Too-late, Farewell..."
As well as the perpetual party lifestyle, he spent his spare cash on clothes, cassettes, books, and of course, rent. That is, during those brief few months he spent as a tenant in Hanwell, West London at the house of a friend of his father's from the London session world, Dai Thomas.
Dai was a slight, bearded, bespectacled Welsh fiddler of the utmost sweetness of nature who, always nattily dressed, lived life close to the edge but with what seemed to David to be with the absolute minimum of effort and maximum self-possession, which made him very cool in his eyes; and they became good friends.
He also spent several hundreds of pounds being initiated into the art of self-hypnosis by a Harley Street doctor who specialised in hypnotherapy and nutritional medicine. This, in the hope of finding a solution not just to his alcoholism, but the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to which he was increasingly prey in the late 1980s.
Yet, despite the drinking and the OCD, he was not an unhappy man, far from it, was full of joie de vivre, in fact, and subject to elation; but he was also prone to fits of intense depression. And it was hard for him to accept he wouldn't be returning to Tellegen's in 1990. But it was his own fault, because he'd left without warning early in the year...and then decided he wanted to return, despite having refused an offer to do so from the school itself some weeks theretofore.
So, reluctantly delivered from a job he genuinely loved, he revived his acting career thanks once again to the influence of his dear friend Ariana.
She suggested he might like to play Feste for a production of Twelfth Night, to be staged in the summer at the Jacksons Lane theatre in North London. And so after a successful audition for the director, Sandy Stein, he set about re-learning Feste's lines, and arranging the songs according to the original primitive melodies.
Yet, if the play itself was a joy to be involved in, the same can't be said for the train journeys to and from Highgate for rehearsals. For it was during these lengthy trips across the capital that David started feeling the need to inure himself as never before against what he saw as nocturnal London's ever-present aura of menace.
It's likely that years of hard living were finally starting to take their toll on his nervous system. For in addition to alcohol and nicotine, he'd been ingesting industrial strength doses of caffeine for years, initially in tablet form, and then in the shape of the coffee cocktails he liked to swill one after the other before afternoon classes at Tellegen's.
This may go some way towards explaining the sheer paranoia which ultimately caused him to start drinking on the way to rehearsals, and then for the first time in his life as a professional actor, during rehearsals. However, he promised Sandy he'd not touch a drop for the actual performances, and was as good as his word. Although each performance was succeeded by some serious partying on his part...with most of the cast members joining him in the revels.
And his hyperkinetic performance was well-received, with one beautifully spoken Englishwoman even going so far as to tell him he was the finest Feste she'd ever seen...and what a pity she wasn't a passing casting director. But then serendipitous incidents of this kind may have happened to some people...but not apparently to poor David Cristiansen.
Later in 1990, he began another PGCE course, this time at the former West London College of Further Education based in East Twickenham, taking up residence in nearby Isleworth.
He began quite promisingly, fitting in well and making good friends, and as might be expected, excelling in drama and physical education. And he was abstinent by day, while on those rare occasions he did drink, it was just a question of a pint or so with lunch.
He'd mentally determined to complete the course, and yet on the verge of his period of teaching practice, found himself to be desperately behind in his preparation. And so provisionally removed himself in order to decide whether it was worth his staying on or not.
In the event he chose to quit, but rather than return to his parents' home, he stayed on in Isleworth to rekindle his career as a deliverer of novelty telegrams. At the same time, he continued to work as a walk-on artist, something he'd been doing on and off for over a decade. But specialising as a crime scene photographer for a long-running police series with its HQ in Merton, South London.
He also became half of a musical duo formed with a slim young Mancunian with short reddish blond hair and brilliant light green or blue eyes who rejoiced in the name of Maxie Coburg, although his true surname reflected his roots in Northern England. And while working as a singer-songwriter at the time, Max eventually evolved into a bona fide Renaissance Man, and not just as singer and musician, but actor, writer, performer, impressionist, film maker and radical thinker.
They began as buskers in Leicester Square, before settling down for rehearsals in the hope of getting some gigs, their repertoire a mixture of Rock and Roll and Motown classics, as well as a host of originals, mostly written by Max. But with one or two contributions by David.
He wanted to call the band Venus Xtravaganza, but in the end, they settled for Max's choice of The Unknowns, that is if they were



ever called anything at all. And unknown is what they remained which for poor David was simply business as usual.

Then early in '91, he spent a few weeks in the beautiful seaside town and major London overspill area of Hastings, in an effort to pass a course in teaching English as a foreign language.
To this end he worked like a Trojan; but he was struggling terribly, tormented by OCD and its endless demands on his time and energies in the shape of rituals both physical and mental. And while he didn't drink at all during the day, at night he was sometimes so stoned he was incoherent.
Predictably perhaps, he was failed; and when he asked the authorities if they might reconsider, he was informed that their decision was final. It was a bit of a let-down for him for sure, but he'd loved his time in Hastings, even while continuing the search for some kind of spiritual solution to his mental troubles which led him to a "church" which was far, far from the kind he'd come ultimately to seek out.
At least part of the reason for his torment may be provided by the following extracts from a letter his beloved mother wrote him during a fascinating but fruitless sojourn:
"...I had a chance to look at your library...I could not believe what I saw. These very strange books, beyond my comprehension, most of them, and I thought what a dissipation of a good mind that thought it right to read such matters...I feel very deeply that you have up to your present state, almost ruined your mind. Your happy, smiling face has left you, your humorous nature, ditto, your spirited state of mind, your cheerful, sunny, exuberant well-being, all gone. Too much thought given to the unhappiness and sad state of others (often those you can not help, in any way)...I've said recently that I am convinced that anyone can get oneself into a state of agitation or distress or anxiety by thinking or reading about, or witnessing unpleasant things, and the only thing to do is to, as much as possible, avoid such matters, to not let them get hold in the mind. Your fertile mind has led you astray. Why, and how?"
How many millions of mothers over the course of the centuries have asked this of offspring who've been inexplicably drawn to the shadow lands of life only to lose their way back to sanity? Only God knows. Most of course, successfully make the journey back before settling into a normal mode of life, but the danger of becoming lost is always there, especially for those who remain therein far beyond adolescence. Eternal adolescence being arguably one of the prime features of our era, facilitated by its exaltation of youth, which is an intrinsic part of its pre-eminent art form, Rock Music. And while there are those who'd insist that far fewer young people today are in thrall to the dark glamour of self-destructive genius than in previous Rock eras, the world view still very much exists.
For David's part, he came ultimately to view Rock as more than just a simple Pop music derived from various Folk genres, so much as an enormously influential subculture, even a religion, and to contend that those who grew to maturity in the sixties were spiritually affected not just by the music but the cultural changes brought about by the Rock revolution.
He'd insist that from quitting formal education aged 16, he was in thrall to a cult of instant gratification that had been growing progressively more powerful throughout the West since about 1955.
After all, he'd contend, he failed to build a future for himself, in terms of a profession, a family, financial security, and so on, having once viewed all these with an indifference verging on contempt. And it hurt him deeply to realise the extent to which he'd sabotaged his life with such a negative identity.
The following summer of 1992, he made another attempt at passing the TEFL course...this time at a college set in one of London's most beautiful parks. But he was drinking on pretty well a daily basis, and even though he worked hard and gave some good classes, there was no way on earth he was going to pass.
Still, it was a fabulous summer, and much of it he spent in a state of manic hyperactivity. Bliss it was to stride in the warm suburban evening sun to his local station of Hampton Court...perhaps with the Orb's eerie Blue Room playing again and again in his mind...on his way to yet another long night of ecstatic insensibility. He could have passed out on any one of these wild nights and found himself in Hell; that is the terrifying truth of the matter.
The romantic decadence associated with the eighties was no longer even remotely current, and there was a new spirit as he saw it, a kind of mystic techno-bohemianism perhaps, which appeared to him to be everywhere in the early nineties.
And he sought to visit as many clubs and venues as he could where it was being celebrated, even though in the event he only ever went to one, Cyber Seed in Covent Garden, which was poorly attended and only lasted a short time.
Later on in this final beautiful lethal summer of intoxication, and soon after appearing as Stefano in The Tempest at the Conway Hall in Red Lion Square, he set out on yet another PGCE course; this one bearing the suffix "fe" for Further Education.
Its purpose was to train himself and his fellow students to teach pupils in sixth form colleges and other further education establishments. And while its base was the University of New Eltham in the tough outer suburbs of South East London, he divided his time between New Eltham, and Twickenham College in the leafy Royal Borough of Richmond on Thames.
While on top of all this study, there were the gigs with Maxie...the novelty telegrams...and who knows what else...and he loved every second of a frenetic lifestyle lived in total ecstatic defiance of the wholesale ruin of mind, body, soul, spirit...

The period embracing the autumn of 1992 and the first few weeks of winter may well have been the most debauched of David's entire existence.
He'd - typically - rise early during the week, possibly around six, before preparing himself for the day ahead with a bottle of wine, usually fortified; then he'd keep his units topped up throughout the day with vodka or gin, taking regular swigs from the miniatures he liked to have with him at all times. Some evenings he'd spend in central London, others with his new friends from the college, and they were a close and pretty wild crowd for a while. There were times in town when he couldn't keep the booze down, so he'd order a king-sized cola from McDonald's, which he'd then lace with spirits before cautiously sipping from it through a straw.
He was a euphoric drunk and so almost never unpleasant...but he was unpredictable...a true Dionysian who'd cry out on a British Rail train in the middle of the afternoon, causing passengers to flinch with alarm...or perform a wild disjointed Karate kick into thin air on a crowded London street. One afternoon he tore his clothes to shreds after having arrived too late for an audition and a barman who served him later on in the day asked him:
"You bin in a fight then?"
And then there was the shameful night at Waterloo station - or was it Liverpool Street? - that he was so incapacitated by drink that he had to be escorted across the main concourse to his train by one of a colony of rough sleepers that were a feature of mainline stations in those days.
However, all these insane incidents came to a head one night in early 1993 in an Indian restaurant in Hampton Court close to the Surrey-London border. He'd been dining there with two female friends when, suddenly feeling like pure death, he turned to the lady who was next to him and asked:
"Do I look as bad as I feel?
As soon as she'd told him that indeed he did, he got up from the table, walked a few paces and then collapsed as if stone dead in the middle of the restaurant. He was then carried bodily out into the fresh night air by two or three Indian waiters, one of whom set about shocking some life back into him by flicking ice cold water in his face.
"Don't give up," he pleaded, his voice betraying true concern...and in time thanks to him some semblance of life returned, and David was well enough to be driven home.
Yet, within two days he was drinking as heavily as before, continuing to do so virtually around the clock until the weekend. He then spent Saturday evening with his close friend from the restaurant; and at some point in the morning of what was almost certainly Sunday the 17th of January 1993, after having drunk solidly all night, he asked her to fill a long glass with neat gin and each sip took him further and further into the desired state of blissful forgetfulness.
He awoke exhilarated, which was normal for him following a lengthy binge. It was his one drying out day of the week, and so he probably spent it writing as well as cleaning up the accumulated chaos of the past week. One thing he definitely did was listen to a radio documentary on the legendary L.A. Rock band the Doors which he'd taped some weeks or perhaps months earlier.
He especially savoured When the Music's Over from what was then one of his favourite albums, Strange Days, released in the wake of the Summer of Love on his 12th birthday, 7 October 1967. This apocalyptic epic with its unearthly screams and ecstatically discordant guitar solo seemed to him about living in the shadow of death, beckoning death, mocking death, defying death.
He powerfully identified with the Doors' gifted singer Jim Morrison...who'd been drawn as a very young man to poets of darkly prophetic intensity, such as Blake, Nietzsche, Rimbaud, Artaud. As well as those of the Beat Generation, who were themselves to a degree children of the - largely French - Romantic so-called accursed poets, whose works have the power to change lives, as they surely did Morrison's. ======================================================================================================
His philosophy of life was clearly informed by Blake, who wrote of "the road of excess" leading to "the palace of wisdom." While his hell raising persona came to a degree from Rimbaud, who extolled the virtues of "a long, immense and systematic derangement of all the senses" as an angel-faced hooligan in the Paris of the early 1870s.
After having spent the day revelling in his own inane notion of himself as a poet on the edge like his heroes, at some point in the early evening he got what he'd been courting for so long...an intimation of early death, when for pretty well the first time in his life alcohol stopped being his beloved elixir and became a mortal enemy, causing his legs to lose sensation and his life force to recede at a furious and terrifying rate...or so it appeared to him in his desperate condition.
In a blind panic, he opened a spare bottle of sparkling wine he had about the house even though he'd hoped not to have to drink that day. Once he'd drained it, he felt better for a while, in fact so much so that he took a few snaps of myself lounging around looking haggard and unshaven, with freshly cropped hair.
Soon after this macabre photo session he set off in search of more alcohol. Arriving at a local delicatessen, the Asian shop keeper nervously told him that the off-license wasn't open for some time yet. There was nothing for him to do but take refuge on a nearby green, where he lay for a while, still dressed in the shabby white cut-offs he'd been wearing earlier. Finally, the offie opened and he was able to buy more booze.
In years to come, one of the last things he remembered doing on Sunday evening was singing hymns in a nearby Methodist church as the tears flowed.
He had no further memory of what happened that hellish night, but there were many such nights ahead. At least one of these saw him endlessly pacing up and down corridors and stairs in an attempt to stay conscious and so - as he came to see it - not die...and each time he shut his eyes he could have sworn he saw demonic entities beckoning him into a bottomless black abyss.
He set about ridding his room of artefacts he somehow knew to be offensive to God from the night of the 17th or 18th onwards. Many books were destroyed...books on astrology and numerology and other mystical and occult subjects, books on war and crime and atrocity, and books about artists some call accursed for their kinship with drunkenness and madness and death.
He genuinely came to believe that for all the horrors he underwent, it was during that first night he came to accept Christ as his Saviour, and that had his violent conversion not come about when it did, he might have been lost forever, although whether one agrees with him or not depends on where one stands on the issue of predestination versus free will.
But he'd have surely immersed himself further in the new bohemianism of the 1990s, which of course was not new at all, simply a revival of the adversary values of the sixties. Far from vanishing around '73, these values had merely gone back underground, where they set about fertilising new anti-establishment clans such as the Anarcho-Punks and the New Age Travellers who quietly flourished throughout the '80s.
Around '92, some kind of amalgam between these tribes and the growing Rave-Dance movement could be said to have taken place. And David was primed...supremely, passionately ready...to take his place as a zealot of this New Edge, only to be delivered from its seductive grasp by a "Road to Damascus" conversion to Christianity.
However, if he'd been reborn against all the odds, he still had to suffer in the physical, if only briefly. And on the morning of the 18th, he somehow made it into New Eltham for classes at the University, but by evening he felt so ill he started swigging from a litre bottle of gin in the hope this would improve his condition. He also phoned Alcoholics Anonymous at his mother's request, and agreed to give a meeting a shot.
Next day, on the way to Twickenham, he got the feeling that his heart was about to explode, not just once but over and over again. Then, after that morning's classes, he tried taking a stroll around town but couldn't feel his legs, and was struggling to stay conscious, so he ended up ordering a double brandy from the pub next door to the Police Station. He was shaking so much the landlord thought he was fresh from an interrogation session.
Later, he was thrown out of another pub for preaching at the top of his voice, and, walking through Twickenham town centre he started making the sign of the cross to passers-by, telling one poor young guy never to take to drink like some kind of walking advert for temperance. The fellow nodded in assent before silently scurrying away.
Back home, in an effort to calm himself down, he dug out an old capsule of Chlormethiazole, a sedative commonly used in treating and controlling the effects of acute alcohol withdrawal, but dangerous, in fact potentially fatal, when used in conjunction with alcohol. He still had some capsules left over from about 1990 when he'd been prescribed them by his then doctor, which meant they'd long gone beyond their expiry date. For a time he felt better and was able to sleep, but soon after waking, felt worse than ever.
Later, at an AA meeting, he kept leaving the room to douse his head in cold water, anything to shock some life back into me, to the dismay of his sponsor Dan who wanted him to stay put, for the purported healing effects of doing so:
"What do you think I come here for," he asked him, "the free cups of tea?"
Wednesday morning saw him pacing the office of the first available doctor, and it may have been touch and go as to whether he was going to stay on his feet...or overdose on the spot and die on him.
It was he who prescribed him the Valium which caused David to fall into a deep, deep sleep which may have saved his life, and from which he awoke to sense that a frontier had been passed and that he was out of danger at long last.

Chapter Seven

David Cristiansen struggled on with the Post Graduate Certificate in Education throughout the earliest days of 1993.
And he did so while rehearsing for a couple of tiny parts for a play based on the life of James Joyce's troubled, fascinating daughter, the dancer Lucia Joyce. Under the direction of Ariana, it premiered at the Lyric Studio, Hammersmith on the 4th of February 1993.
He also attended occasional drugs and alcohol counselling sessions at a church in Greenwich, South East London with Ellen, a lovely blonde woman of about 45 with a soft and soothing London accent and the gentlest pale blue eyes. The only time he ever knew her to lose her composure was when he announced over the phone that a matter of hours after deciding of his own volition to stop taking Diazepam, he'd reverted to Chlormethiazole:
"Why'd you do that?" she unceremoniously asked.
However, enough time had passed between his taking the capsule and calling Ellen for him to be out of danger; and she literally laughed with relief at the realisation.
Then, a matter of days after coming to Christ, he received a phone call from a counsellor for Contact for Christ based in Selsdon, South London by the name of Denver Cashe. Perhaps he'd half-heartedly filled in a form of theirs the previous summer while filled with alcoholic anticipation as he slowly approached Waterloo station by British Rail train with the sun setting over the foreboding South London cityscape. And before long, he was at the door of David's parents' house, a trim, dark, handsome man in late middle age with gently piercing coffee coloured eyes and a luxuriant white moustache. And at his suggestion they prayed together.
Some time later David visited him and his wife Rose at his large and elegant house where suburb meets country just beyond the Greater London border. And on that day, David and he made an extensive list of aspects of his pre-Christian life requiring deep repentance, and they prayed over each of these in turn.
In addition, they discussed which church he should be attending, and there was some talk of his joining Denver and Rose at their little family fellowship. But in the end, Denver gave his blessing to Cornerstone Bible Church, now Cornerstone the Church, a large fellowship affiliated to the Word of Faith Movement, and based in the prosperous London suburb of Esher in Surrey, where David would soon be baptised by its pastor.
David had attended his very first service there even before becoming a Christian in late 1992. Drunk at the time, he'd sat next to a beautiful blonde woman of about 55 whom he later discovered to be a successful actress. Apart from an elder from the Jesus Fellowship, who'd laid hands on him at a meeting of theirs in central London, she was his very first Christian mentor. However, he was never to see or speak to her again as he didn't return to the church for several months, and by the time he did as a new believer, she'd moved to another church. Then they kept on missing each other, and she died in 2001. But David never forgot her.
In the early part of '94, David set out on the final phase of his PGCE, although he was ultimately to fail the course as a whole.
To their credit, though, his tutors at did offer him the opportunity of retaking the Teaching Practice component alone, but he chose to turn them down. And if he was depressed, it can't have been for long because in September, he successfully auditioned for the lead role of Roote in Harold Pinter's little known The Hothouse. This for a newly formed fringe theatre group called GRiP based at the Rose & Crown pub in Kingston, a large suburban area to the south of London.
Written in 1958, The Hothouse is eminently Pinteresque, with its almost high poetic verbal virtuosity and inventiveness and dark surreal humour laced with a constant sense of impending violence, although it wasn't performed until 1980, when it was directed by Pinter himself for London's Hampstead and Ambassador Theatres.
From the auditions onwards, David gelled with the American director Ben Evans. For most of the auditions he'd attended up to this point had hinged on the time-honoured method of the actor performing a piece from memory before a panel of interviewers. But Ben insisted his candidates read from the play in small groups, which enabled them to attain a basic feel for their characters; and so feel like they were actually acting rather than coldly reciting. For David, this was the only way to audition.
Once David had been told the lead was his, he devoted himself to Ben's vision of Roote, the pompous yet deranged director of an unnamed English psychiatric hospital: the Hothouse of the title. Ben demanded of him an interpretation of Roote which was deeply at odds with his usual highly Method-oriented, subtle, intense, introspective and yet somehow also emotionally vehement approach to acting. But Ben's directorial instincts were spot-on, as his production went on to receive spectacular reviews not just in the local press, but the international listings magazine, Time Out, in which David's performance was described as "flawlessly accurate" and "lit by flashes of black humour." An amazing triumph for a humble fringe show.
A theatrical agent - and an apparently reputable one at that - went out of her way to express her interest in David; and then asked him to ensure his details reach her, which he duly did. But he didn't pursue the matter further, which speaks volumes about his attitude to the push that is essential to success within such a competitive profession as acting...more so perhaps even than talent itself.
Although, in his defence one might say that since his recent conversion his priorities had shifted so that he viewed worldly success with less relish than he'd done only a few years before. Also, he badly missed the relaxation alcohol once provided him with following his work on stage; as well as the revels extending deep into the night during which he'd throw his youth and affections about like some kind of maniacal gambler. So, while he still loved acting itself, the process of being an actor had become pure torture.
He'd boxed himself into the position of no longer being able to enjoy social situations as others do, nor to relax.
This may have had something to do with the state of his endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. For a theory exists to the effect that these can be permanently depleted by long-term abuse of alcohol and other narcotics.
To further complicate matters, he'd started suffering from deep tormenting spiritual problems for which he'd ultimately seek a solution in the shape of what is known as Deliverance Ministry.
Within a short time of The Hothouse reaching the end of its two week run, GRiP's artistic director Richard asked David if he'd like to audition for an upcoming production of Jim Cartwright's two-handed play, Two. Naturally he said yes; and so after a successful audition, found himself playing all the male characters opposite gifted character actress Jean from Liverpool, who played all the female.
By the end of the run the houses were so packed that people were sitting on the side of the stage at the actors' feet, something David had never experienced before on the London fringe. Yet, he dreaded the end of each performance, which would see him make his excuses as soon as it was possible to do so without causing undue offence.
Release from a torturous dungeon of sobriety came while he was attending some unrelated function at the Rose & Crown a day or so following his final performance in Two, when a guy he'd only just met offered to buy him a drink and he asked for a glass of wine. Apart from the time at his parents' house a few weeks earlier when he took a swig of what he thought was water but which turned out to be vodka or gin, this was the first alcohol to pass his lips since January '93.
This single glass of wine made him feel amazing, doubly so given the purity of his system. He cycled home that night in a state of total rapture, feeling for the first time in months that he could do anything. Over the next few weeks his drinking incrementally increased, reaching a climax in a pub in Twickenham where he met an old university friend who'd just finished a course at St Mary's University College in nearby Strawberry Hill, and where he drank and smoked himself into a stupor.
Cycling home afterwards, he took a bend near Hampton Wick and came off his bike, striking his head against a bus shelter. He stayed flat on his back for a while, abject and stinking of drink. He could have sworn he saw a shadowy figure running towards him as he lay there in the dark, but before long he was shakily resuming his journey home.
However, weeks of controlled drinking and one massive binge, possibly combined with the ill effects of a violent blow to the head, resulted in his becoming ill and virtually incapacitated for what might have been as long as a fortnight. And there were times during this awful period he'd awake from a semi-sleep in a desperately agitated state...pale...faint...and terrified of imminent death; but each time a single further second of consciousness seemed beyond him, it was as if God breathed life back into him and the fear of dying subsided. All he could do was lie around, waiting, praying for a return to normality...and when this came, he determined never to drink again as long as he lived. But we swiftly forget our sojourns in Hell...

A few months after appearing in Jim Cartwright's bitter-sweet two-hander, Two, David performed in one final play at the Rose & Crown, the ensemble comedy, Lovelives.
Written entirely by the cast, it consisted of a series of sketches centring on the disastrous antics of a group of singletons who'd come together at a lonely hearts club in the suburbs. Perhaps then it chimed perfectly with the spirit of British post-war comedy and its characteristic celebration of banality and even failure.
Later in '95, he undertook two small roles in a production - at the Tristan Bates theatre near Leicester Square - of Iphigenia in Tauris, the great Greek tragicomedy by Euripides, one of the three major tragedians of classical Athens, allegedly written somewhere between 414 and 412 BC.
These being Pylades, cousin and constant companion of the main character Orestes, and the Messenger, whom he played as a maniacal fool with the kind of "refined" English accent once supposedly affected by policemen and non-commissioned officers. Directed by a close friend who'd also served as translator and musical supervisor, the houses were sparse at first, picking up towards the end of the run.
In January '96, he joined a Christian theatre company based at the Elim Pentecostal church in West Croydon, Surrey. They were known as Street Level, and he went on to serve variously for them as MC, script writer, actor, singer and musician with two other members, married company leader Serena, and 19 year old Rebecca from nearby Sanderstead.
Together, they toured a series of shows around schools in various - usually tough - multicultural areas of South East London, and on the whole, were greeted by the kids with an almost uniform affection. And there was an incredible chemistry between Serena, Rebecca and himself...until things started to go wrong.
Towards the end of the summer, Serena asked David to write a large scale project for the group, suggesting a contemporary version of John Bunyan's classic Christian allegory, The Pilgrim's Progress:
"I'll put your name in lights," she might have told him.
This he set about doing, and after some weeks of labouring over what turned out to be a black comedy epic, punctuated by scenes of menace, violence, decadence, and which while genuinely witty, would verge in parts on the frankly tasteless, thereby reflecting David's spiritual immaturity at the time, he started to have second thoughts about carrying on with Street Level.
The play, Paul Grim's Progress, had left him in poor shape spiritually, and he didn't fancy too many more of the long and costly train journeys that were necessary to get him to Croydon and back. And so he began to withdraw.
And by the time of his final exit from Street Level, he'd already moved from his first spiritual home of Cornerstone to the Thames Vineyard Christian Fellowship, part of the Association of Vineyard Churches founded by John Wimber in the 1970s. This as a result of being told by a phone friend that the Vineyard movement contained members whose spiritual gifts were in the realm of the truly exceptional.
His curiosity aroused, he went along one Sunday evening and had a powerful experience which made him want to stay; and so he did.
As with Cornerstone he joined a Home Fellowship Group where he completed part of the Alpha course, which had been pioneered by Nicky Gumbel of West London's famous Holy Trinity Brompton.
He visited HTB at some point in the mid '90s, when it was at the height of the revival movement known as the Toronto Blessing. This being so called because it had been ignited in January 1994 at the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church by St. Louis Vineyard pastor Randy Clark.
Clark had himself received it from South African evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne during a service at Rhema Bible Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, then pastored by Kenneth Hagin Jr., father of the Word-Faith movement, one of the major strains of Charismatic Christianity, with a controversial emphasis on what is known as Positive Confession.
The Anointing spread to the UK in the summer of 1994 where it was eventually dubbed The Toronto Blessing by The Daily Telegraph. Its main centres included HTB, Terry Virgo's New Frontiers family of churches and Gerald Coates' Pioneer People.
Pioneer's centre at the time was a cinema in the Surrey suburb of Esher, which David visited a couple of times, when it was so packed he was forced to stand all throughout the service, a situation which was duplicated when he dropped in at the London HQ of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God one afternoon around about the same time.
Like many Charismatic churches, UCKG upholds the Fivefold ministry, and so believes that the five gifts referred to in Ephesians 4:11, namely Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher, are still in operation.
But to return to David's acting career...in the spring of '98, he started rehearsing for a production of Shakespeare's infamous Scottish Play, to be staged at Fulham's Lost Theatre in the summer. And despite the fact that his three cameos - as Lennox, the Doctor, and an Old Man - were praised by cast and audience members alike, to date, it remains his last hurrah as an actor. Quite simply, the passion to perform in front of a live audience that raged within him like a forest fire for more than two decades had long been extinguished, or rather turned to dread.
A few months later and the troubled, turbulent 20th Century gave way to the 21st to the sound of fireworks frantically exploding all throughout David's neighbourhood. Phoning his father that night to wish him a happy new year he discovered that his mother was desperately ill with flu:
"Some start to the millennium," he grimly told his dad.
It went on to occur to him that she'd become susceptible to the flu virus partly as a result of stress caused by his recent departure from yet another course, which also happened to be one of the most prestigious of its kind in the world. In time though, her incredible Scots-Irish constitution saw her through to a complete recovery. But his decision to withdraw would come to haunt him.
Subsequent to making it, he started playing guitar for Liberty Christian Centre, a satellite church of London's Kensington Temple, a large Elim Pentecostal church pastored by Colin Dye based in Notting Hill, West London. Then, shortly after agreeing to be Liberty's lone musician, he quit his position as a telephone canvasser for an e-commerce company based in Surbiton, Surrey, thus bringing a fairly lengthy period spent as an office worker to an end.
A real change in his professional fortunes came around Christmastime when he was made lead singer for a Jazz band formed by an old friend of his father's. And which was complemented at various times by his dad, a double bass player, a brace of drummers, and David. They went on to cut several beautifully arranged demos, with David crooning Fly Me to the Moon, Moonlight in Vermont, The Days of Wine and Roses, and other standards of the Traditional Pop canon.
In early '01, Liberty's Pastor Phil decided to dissolve the church, so David made yet another return to Cornerstone. While the following summer, the band folded in the wake of the 2002 Shelton Arts Festival, which was a real shame because it had finally found its optimal audience, if the enthusiasm with which their performance was greeted was anything to go by.
Within days, David started working from home making appointments for a genial travelling salesman. And he was briefly very successful, until things started tailing off in the autumn; and he was let go. By this time he'd effectively left Cornerstone for good, although he was to make many subsequent sporadic returns.
This sudden exit came in consequence of a desire born of intensive internet research to seek out churches existing beyond the Pentecostal/Charismatic fold. These being Cessationist, which is to say they don't accept that the more spectacular Gifts of the Holy Spirit such as Tongues and Prophecy are still in operation.
For up until this time, any church that didn't encourage the speaking in other tongues David had refused to accept as being truly Christian. In fact, before 2003, which was his year of relentless internet research, he'd known next to nothing about the finer points of his faith.
Although he was fairly well versed in the subject of prophecy thanks to having been introduced to the same early in his Christian life by Denver and Rose. And specifically through various magazines and books, such as Prophecy Today; and the works of Barry R Smith.
He had no clue as to the meaning of Calvinism or Arminianism, Predestination or Foreknowledge, Cessationism or Continuationism and so on...but he didn't believe that made an iota of difference to the condition of his soul, as people - as he saw it - are saved by faith alone, with true saving faith producing the fruits of repentance.
In a general sense the year 2000 turned out to be something of a turning point for David, not just spiritually, but in terms of his entire personality, which became more inward looking, even by the standards of the previous seven years.
Significantly perhaps, the previous year had been the first since he was about 17 that he faced the world on a permanent basis with his hair its natural medium brown after having sporadically dyed it for nearly three decades. What prompted this was not a sudden loathing for the vanity of the bottle blond, but the fact that the peroxide-based streaking kits he favoured were causing him to have breathing difficulties.
At first, he missed being blond, but in time he came to prefer his natural colour after years of youthful blond androgyny. The fact is that throughout his twenties and for much of his thirties, he had effectively remained in a state of extended adolescence, blond being after all the natural colour of eternal youth.
It's perhaps fair to say that in his time, David had elicited a fair amount of admiration for a perceived maverick tendency...a cool avoidance of the conventional life, which certainly characterised his pre-Christian years. But the price for such an attitude turned out to be high, cruelly high, in terms of social and financial humiliation, leading him to become a veritable Jeremiah in his 50s in terms of his opposition to the rebel lifestyle he'd once adored...but which he now saw as a destroyer of happiness.
Yet, young people worshipped at the altar of romantic rebellion as they'd always done. But perhaps not to quite the same degree as those of David's poor generation, who came to maturity to a frenetic Rock soundtrack. And who can say what effect it had on them, this music...tailor-made to inspire a generation scornful of deferred gratification, a generation of hipsters.
To the David of the Christian years, Rock - far from being just another music form - was a total art, involving poetry, theatre, fashion, but even more than that...a way of life with a strong spiritual foundation.
He fell under the influence of various Fundamentalist Christian critics of Rock music for a brief period in 2003, which made him feel inclined to destroy all traces of Rock music in his possession, even though he'd long lost any real taste for Hard Rock by then. However, by the summer, his attitude had mellowed to the extent that he was prepared to write about an hour's worth of Rock songs in response to a request from his dad for songs for a possible collaboration with the son of a close friend. But these were as far from Hard Rock as its (changed from its)






possible to be, being influenced by such relatively benign and melodic genres as Folk, Pop and Soul.
Some new, some upgrades of old tunes, they were recorded on a Sony CFS-B21L cassette-corder, and were generally well-received despite their humble origins. And so two of David's songs were recorded on a friend's computer using what may have been state of the art technology for 2004, with the resultant demo being sent to a music publishing company for assessment. But when their response was far from encouraging, it was back to the drawing board for David Cristiansen.

As if disillusioned by constant failure, David decided he wanted to write creatively as of January 2006, although the real motive for his doing so was altogether different. In fact, it was a period of sickness that spurred him towards a serious literary career.
This began with a panic attack in central London, which grew into a flu-like illness, but it wasn't until he developed a painful condition affecting a singularly delicate section of his integument that he decided that he'd no further interest in maintaining optimal physical attractiveness, and so felt he had little to lose by writing.
The truth is that soon after becoming a Christian, David had destroyed most of what he'd written up to that point, and then wrote quite happily for a time as a Christian, until it seemed to him as if God was calling a halt to his writing. So, once again, he started destroying any writings he managed to finish...sometimes dumping whole manuscripts into handy dustbins, or dispensing with them one sheet at a time down murky London drains.
Then in about 1998, he more or less gave up altogether...that is, until he felt compelled to break his literary silence as a result of the aforesaid extended bout of sickness. Thence, he started posting articles to the Blogster web site, which went on to form the basis of his memoir, Rescue of a Rock and Roll Child.
In 2007, a CD of popular standards featuring himself and one of the world's leading harmonica players finally saw the light of day (omitted in 2007) after much rehearsal. And while it received a rave review in the official magazine of the British Musicians' Union, it only went on to sell a handful of copies.
The following year, he completed a first draft of his memoir in its definitive format after more than two years of labour.
Around about the same time, his former mentor Dr Elizabeth Lang died in her adopted village of Woodstock, Oxfordshire. The executor of her will, who was also the publisher of her final book, asked him to read one of the lessons at her funeral and deliver a eulogy in the capacity of a former student. This took place in the parish church of St Martin's in the beautiful village of Bladon, where Winston Churchill is buried, along with fellow members of the Malborough family.
It was a sad experience for him to be reunited with Elizabeth in such a way after nearly a quarter of a century, while being unable to communicate with her as he'd have been able to had he thought to make contact...even a handful of years earlier when she was still a published writer. It made him realise how important it is to stay close to friends and family before a time comes when its no longer possible to reconcile with them, and the world is so much the poorer for their sudden absence and silence.
By the beginning of 2011, there were so many versions of his story that David no longer knew which, if any, was the definitive one, and he occasionally teetered on the verge of dejection, as if his image of himself as a writer had been terminally shot to pieces.
And anyone carefully contemplating his life would be forgiven for thinking of him as a loser. In fact not just a loser but a king-size loser, a loser among losers, a loser supreme. And being told he was the best at what he did may have afforded him some consolation at those times his status in life meant the most to him; and he felt most helpless to change the conditions of his existence.
They might see him as someone who'd failed in pretty well every conceivable area of life. And so ended up living alone in an apartment adjacent to his parents' suburban home on the wrong side of 55, unmarried and childless, and without fortune, profession or vehicle.
Yet, is it not so that among those who ultimately come to faith to Him though Jesus Christ are men and women who would be judged failures in the eyes of the world, and yet having lost in life, have yet found a purpose that eludes life's victors...among whom they may once have been counted?
The answer is of course yes, and the ultimate example of a high achiever who became the ultimate loser once he'd given his life to Christ was the Apostle Paul, the former Saul of Tarsus born into the Tribe of Benjamin who as an impeccably pious high-ranking Pharisee was yet a ferocious persecutor and murderer of Christians.
Yet, as a Christian, he suffered losses that most contemporary Western believers have no experience or even conception of. For while he was mocked and despised for his beliefs, he was also flogged, beaten, stoned, starved and repeatedly imprisoned, before being ultimately put down as if he were a sick and ageing dog.
But that is not to say that all Christians come to faith in Christ through a violent Road to Damascus conversion after having undergone some unspeakable loss, far from it, for many - perhaps even most - come gently to faith without having suffered in any dramatic way whatsoever.
Yet the Damascus converts are deeply valuable to the Body of Christ, for they serve as living proof of the fact that anyone can be saved, regardless of their background. And their testimonies are as precious as they are for their very relative rarity.
It could be said then that David was foolish to lament all he had lost in terms of opportunities for great wealth and success, for fame, status and glory and all the wondrous things that accompany these, for after all, these are things that one cannot take with us when we quit this earth, and life is short, so terribly short that it is described in the Word of God as a vapour.
And while for the most part his still handsome eyes failed to see this truth as if they'd become clouded o'er by the tears he often shed at night for his wasted past, and for the pain he felt when he thought of all he had lost, at other times, it became gloriously, brilliantly clear to him, and he rejoiced as the most fortunate of men. Yes, he was a loser, and yet yes, he'd gained so much more than he'd lost.
Then in November 2011, a semi-definitive version of Seven Chapters from a Sad Sack Loser's Life saw the light of day. Narrated in the third person, with the character of David Cristiansen doubling as himself, which is to say the author Carl Halling, the names of most of the other characters included were also changed. As were the vast majority of the names of institutions. While dialogue was as David remembered it, as opposed to being reproduced with 100% accuracy. Either that, or based on ancient informal diary notes, and then edited for inclusion in his writings.
And by the time it did, he'd finally gained some real confidence within himself as a writer...
"I'm not done yet," he'd boast to himself, or to anyone else who might listen, and to look at him, you might think he had a point. Yes, he was a loser, and yet yes, he'd gained so much more than he'd lost.
Yet, it could have all been so different...

Book Five

Where the Halling Valley River Lies

Chapter One The Heroic Life of Phyllis Mary Pinnock

In the Beautiful Valley of Tamar

My paternal grandmother grew into a remarkably beautiful young woman with dark hair and blue or green or hazel eyes and an exquisitely sculpted mouth according to a photograph the only one in existence as far as I'm aware of the youthful Phyllis Mary Pinnock.
She'd been born sometime towards the end of the 19th or beginning of the 20th century, possibly in the Dulwich area of South East London. And given her father had been what is known as a gentleman, which means he forswore all labour, it may have been she was a scion of that part of the upper middle class known as the lower gentry.
And according to my father's account, her first true love David was a scion of the Wilson Line of Hull which had developed into the largest privately owned shipping firm in the world in the early part of the century.
But like so many young men of that dutiful generation, immortalised in such heartbreakingly beautiful poems as Wilfred Owen's Anthem for Doomed Youth, which speaks to us of "sad shires" decimated by an inexplicable conflict, he died young during the First World War. And she subsequently married an officer in the British army, to whom she bore two children, Peter Bevan, and Suzanne, known as Dinny.
When her children were little more than infants, she elected to join her husband as a tea planter in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. And it was on that breathtakingly beautiful island, in a tough and typically isolated environment that she met the two men, tea planters like herself, who were destined to become her second and third husbands.
They were a British engineer by the name of Christopher "Chris" Evans, and my Danish namesake, Carl Halling.
Carl had evidently once been a successful businessmen within the linoleum industry before some kind of reversal of fortune found him on the famous tea fields of Ceylon, which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once described as being "as true a monument to courage as is the lion at Waterloo."
Mary's third child, my father, was born Patrick Clancy Halling in Rowella, Tasmania, in the beautiful Tamar Valley, but raised as Carl's son in the great city of Sydney.
And according to Pat, Carl and Mary eked an existence in various fields of endeavour, including fruit farming, gold prospecting and real estate. While Mary was at some point a primary school teacher, and another, a journalist for The Daily Telegraph. But it was a hard life according to Pat, especially after Carl contracted the multiple sclerosis that would ultimately kill him.
One blessing being that all three children were exceptionally gifted musically, Patrick as violinist, Peter as cellist, and Suzanne as pianist And while little more than an infant, Pat won a scholarship to the Sydney Conservatory of Music where he studied with Gerald Walenn, soloing for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on a single occasion when he was still only eight or nine or ten. And one can only imagine the effect it had on his childish nervous system. However, he reserved his true passion for the water, this love of the sea and ships and specifically sailing being a legacy from Mary, who spent much of her adult life by the sea.
Carl died around about the time of the abdication of King Edward VIII which took place in 1936, soon after which Mary and her family set off for Denmark, Carl having expressed a wish to be buried in his native land. And then all three children stayed behind for some time while their mother went valiantly on to London to look for somewhere to live on a permanent basis.
And it was in London that Pat studied both at the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, under the tutelage of Rowsby Woof and Max Rostal respectively.
He joined the London Philharmonic Orchestra while still a teenager during the Blitz on London.
And at the same time, he served in the Sea Cadets as a signaller, seeing action as such on the hospital ships of the Thames River Emergency Service, which, formed in 1938, lasted for three years, using converted Thames pleasure steamers as floating ambulances or first aid stations.
But some years prior to Mary settling back in her native London with her children, she'd evidently received a significant sum of money as an inheritance. And it could conceivably be said that doing so resulted in a reconciliation with her hallowed social class, although this suggests some kind of rupture, which may not actually have happened; at least in a spiritual sense.
But what is true is that she was convinced she was descended from a lost branch of an aristocratic family. For when I was a young man, my father would occasionally speak to me of it as a means of boosting my morale, as if I was born for the life of a scholar and athlete of distinction befitting blue-blooded origins.
And in this one respect, I was somewhat akin to the legendary movie star Montgomery Clift, whose extraordinary beauty and magnetism could be said to constitute the very quintessence of the aristocratic WASP Prince. For despite being born into a fairly humble middle class family, Clift was a scion of the southern aristocracy according to his mother Ethel "Sunny" Clift.
So Monty and his twin sister and elder brother Brooks were raised as if to the manor born, and educated by his mother and private tutors in both Europe and the US, learning to speak French, German and Italian in the process.
But I never fully believed Mary's story until one day in the 1980s, while my family was being paid a visit by her younger sister Joan, together with her husband, my great uncle Eric, I surreptitiously placed a cassette tape recorder close to the dining table during lunch or supper.
And I did so in the belief that one or another of my parents would quiz her as to the veracity of Mary's longstanding boast of distant blue blood.
If my memory serves me aright, among the truths she revealed about our family that day was that Joan and Mary's paternal great grandfather had been a coachman by trade who'd been left an enormous sum of money by a grateful employer. And this act of philanthropy introduced money into the family for the first time.
Another was that her maternal grandmother's maiden name had been Butler, which allegedly links the family to the Butlers of Ormond, a dynasty of Anglo-Norman nobles named after the Earldom they went on to rule in Munster, Ireland.
And the Butler saga begins in earnest with the Norman Invasions of Ireland, which took place in 1169 on the orders of one Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster, one of five kingdoms of pre-Norman Ireland.

The Mystery of Ormonde

But who precisely were these Normans who went on to create one of the most powerful monarchies in Europe and whose territorial conquests would ultimately include not just Ireland, but England, Scotland, Wales, Southern Italy and the island of Sicily?
Unsurprisingly, they are largely Nordic, although believed to have been of mixed Viking, Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock, a mixture which apparently produced an instinct towards elitism and dominance.
And the Norman conquest of England was famously sealed with William the Conqueror's success at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 AD, which introduced a new aristocracy into the country. Which means that the Normans replaced the Anglo-Saxons as the ruling class of England, while becoming part of a single French-speaking culture with lands on both sides of the channel.
And this explains her fierce rivalry with mainland France, as well as the 1842 poem, Lady Clara Vere de Vere, in which Tennyson makes the valid point that "Kind hearts are more than coronets, And simple faith than Norman blood," which of course inspired the classic Ealing comedy, Kind Hearts and Coronets, directed by Robert Hamer in 1949.
And what the poem was alluding to was the specifically Norman nature of the English aristocracy. But back to the travails of the Emerald Isle.
By the fateful year of 1169, Ireland, a land once given over to the ancient Celtic faith of Druidry and the worship of the Sidhe or Faery Folk, was profoundly Christian, despite a remnant of paganism.
But an invasion had already been authorised as early as 1155 by the first and only English Pope Adrian IV, decision which occasioned centuries of English dominance and Irish misery. While MacMurrough had been forced into exile in 1166 by a coalition of forces led by the High King of Ireland Rory O'Connor, and had fled...allegedly to Bristol first...and then to France.
There are various accounts of what happened next, but it's certain he asked Henry II, first English King of the Norman House of Plantagenet, for help in regaining his kingdom. And after Henry had pledged his aid, began recruiting allies in Wales, with Richard de Clare, known as Strongbow, foremost among them. So Ireland was earmarked for invasion.
In 1167, he returned to Ireland with a small army of mercenaries, but it wasn't until '69 that a full-scale invasion by the Anglo-Normans and their Welsh and Flemish allies got under way. And while contemporary accounts refer to the invaders as English, they have also been described as Anglo-Norman, Cambro-Norman and Anglo-French. With the Flemish contingent recruited largely from those Flemings who'd arrived in Britain with William the 1st and had settled in Wales...only to be perceived by the hostile Welsh as English. And also believed to have taken part was one Theobald Walter, patriarch of the Butlers of Ormond.
Two years afterwards, Henry II set foot in Ireland, the first English King to do so, and so High Kingship was brought to an end, to be replaced by over 750 years of English rule.
Henry was an ancestor of future generations of Butlers, and a grandson of William the Conqueror, which may provide a kinship with the mysterious Merovingian dynasty of Frankish Kings.
And when his son Prince John arrived in Ireland in 1185, it was in the company of the said Theobald Walter, whose father had been Butler of England; and so he was appointed Butler of Ireland and given a portion of land in eastern Munster that would become known as Ormond. Thence the name, the Butlers of Ormond.
Around 1200, he married Maud le Vavasour, purported inspiration for Maid Marian, wife of the mythical outlaw Robin Hood, himself allegedly based on Maud's second husband, Fulk FitzWarin.
And they had one son together, Theobald le Botiller, 2cnd Baron Butler, who, by marrying Margery de Burgh, a descendant of both Dermot McMurrough and the legendary Brian Boru, brought royal Gaelic blood into the Butler bloodline. While their sole and only son...also known as Theobald, took Joan FitzJohn as his spouse; and from their union came eight sons, the second of which, Edmund Butler, married Joan FitzGerald of the ancient FitzGerald dynasty.
It was for their eldest son James that the earldom of Ormonde was created for the first time. And his appointment came in 1328, only months after his marriage to Lady Eleanor de Bohun, beautiful grand-daughter of Edward the 1st of the House of Plantagenet, known as the Angevins from their origins in Anjou, France.
Dubbed The Hammer of the Scots, Longshanks was that Anglo-Norman king who'd had Scottish noble Sir William Wallace executed in 1305 for having led a resistance during the Wars of Scottish independence.
While among James Butler's descendants was Anne Boleyn, whose father Thomas, a Butler by matrilineal descent, became Earl of Ormonde in 1528. This having occurred when Piers Ruadh Butler resigned his claim by orders of the king; only to have the earldom restored to him ten years later. Act which heralded the title's third creation.
And by this time, England had become a Protestant nation, and Anglicanism established in Ireland as the state religion, despite the vast majority of the population being Catholic.
And much to Ireland's misfortune, the Butlers became involved with some vicious feuding with their long time rivals the FitzGeralds in the late 1500s. And when the so-called Black Earl Sir Thomas Butler vanquished his own mother's family at the Battle of Affane in 1565, it helped provoke the Desmond Rebellions of 1567-73 and 1579-83, the second of which was bolstered by hundreds of Papal troops.
But these were defeated by the Elizabethan Armies and their Irish allies, soon after which the first English Plantations were carried out in a devastated Munster. While the first plantations in Ulster, Ireland's most purely Gaelic region, remained yet in the future.

Of the Supposed Superiority of Nobility

In 1609 the first Ulster Plantation came into being in the wake of the Nine Years War of 1594-1603, which was largely fought between the Kingdom of England and its Irish allies and an alliance of Gaelic clans led by Hugh O'Neill and Hugh Roe O'Donnell. While the latter would ultimately include 6000 Spanish soldiers sent by Phillip II.
The routing of the Ulster Earls led to the famous Flight of the Earls to Europe, the end of the Gaelic Clan system, and the colonization of Ulster by English and Scottish Protestants.
While the next conflict to involve the Butlers of Ormond was the Irish Rebellion of 1641, which was an uprising not of the Catholic Irish, but the Old English, composed of Catholic gentry who'd become more Irish than the Irish themselves. And while the fifth Earl, James Butler, was placed in charge of English government forces based in Dublin, the Old English were led by his own cousin Richard Butler; with the Catholic rebels prevailing.
But in time it mutated into a war between the native Irish and the newly arrived Protestant settlers from Britain...which resulted in the massacre of thousands of Protestants, the precise number being a matter of much debate.
While a year later, James Butler was involved in yet another conflict in the shape of the English Civil War. And being a Royalist sympathizer, he despatched an estimated 4000 troops to England to fight for King Charles the 1st against the Calvinist Roundheads under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell...only to be made Lord Lieutenant of Ireland by Royal Appointment in 1643 for his pains.
But by 1649, Ireland had become a stronghold of support for the King; with Ormonde in charge both of the Royalist forces and the Irish Confederation of Old English Catholics and native Gaels; and this had the effect of attracting the hostile attentions of Cromwell and his New Model Army.
And when Ormonde attempted to thwart the English Puritan invaders by holding a line of fortified towns across the country, Cromwell defeated them one after the other, beginning in 1649 with the Siege of Drogheda.
While in the summer of 1650, following a long series of humiliating defeats for the Irish, Ormonde, having been deserted by Protestants and Catholics alike, was urged to leave the country by the Catholic clergy, which he promptly did, seeking refuge in Paris with the exiled Charles II.
Yet, on the Restoration of the Stuart Monarchy in 1660, he was showered with honours by the new King of England, Scotland and Ireland; and was made Duke of Ormonde in the peerage of Ireland in the spring of '61.
But eight year later, he fell from favour as a result, allegedly, of courtly intrigue on the part of Royal favourite James Villiers, the 2cnd Duke of Buckingham. While in 1671, an attempt was made on his life by an Irish adventurer by the name of Thomas Blood; but Ormonde escaped, convinced that Buckingham had put him up to it, although nothing was ever proven.
Then in 1682, he became Duke of Ormonde in the peerage of England, dying four years later in Dorset. While soon after his death, a poem was published that celebrated an essential decency that was never compromised.
One of his sons, the 2cnd Duke of Ormonde, commanded a regiment at the Battle of the Boyne under William of Orange, and took part in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. While his own son was the third and final Duke of Ormonde.
However, the Earldom lasted until the end of the 20th Century, becoming dormant in October 1997 with the death of James Butler the 7th Marquess of Ormonde, who had two daughters, but no sons.
And it may be I'm a distant relative of theirs...and if so, also related to many, perhaps even all of the most blue-blooded families not just in Europe but the entire world.
In the end though, the facts of history entirely fail to attest to the natural superiority of nobility, even though the Bible upholds the authority of parents and the instruments of the state. For God has implemented these as a means of controlling Man's innate depravity, while appealing to his hierarchical instincts and deep-seated desire for order and structure.
But all hierarchies erected by Man in order that one section of society might feel superior to another, whether on the basis of class, race, skin colour or some other false distinction, are Antichrist, because all human beings are created equal in the sight of God.
And there is a theory that those blessed by nobility of birth are in fact less likely to turn to Christ than those from backgrounds of brokenness or poverty. While great beauty or wealth or intellectual distinction can fill its possessors with a sense of self-sufficiency which can lead to a refutation of God.
But my beautiful grandmother Phyllis was ever attached to the notion her family boasted blue blood in spite of a life of unending hardship...much of this attributable to sheer ill fortune. For instance, having married Chris Evans soon after the death of her second husband Carl, she lost him in '49 while they were both out sailing together, the victim of a fatal coronary.
I first met her in the early 1960s when I was still just a small child, by which time she was living on a yacht in the south of France, possibly Nice, or Cannes, a striking figure, slim and tanned, with a magnificent head of the purest white hair. But by about the middle of the decade, she'd moved into her own house, Chartley, named after her former house in Sydney. And situated near the little town of Cambrils on Catalonia's Costa Brava.
And for several years until about '68, our family vacationed with her at Chartley every summer, often with Peter's family. Which is to say, Peter himself, my aunt Marge, and my cousins Rod, a future musician of genius himself, and Kris, known affectionately as Krispy. They resided virtually opposite us in Ramilies Road, Bedford Park, while we were in nearby Esmond Road.
Photos of her from around this time reveal a weather beaten woman with wiry white hair, habitually clad in old and even patched trousers; but she could be sweet when her heart was touched.
She was a fantastic spirit, given to what could be called Celtic whimsy, which may have proceeded from Cornish origins, which her maiden name of Pinnock certainly suggested. Although the Anglo-Saxons are hardly less inclined to this quality, for after all, did they not produce such icons of nonsense as Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll?
By the early '70s, ill health forced her back to Britain, where she lived until her passing in 1973, sometimes with us, and sometimes in her own little cottage in Berkshire. While her constant companions were two mongrel dogs whom she'd rescued from the beach towards the end of her Spanish sojourn.
These were Charlot, who was sandy-coloured and looked a little like a whippet, and Phillippe, who had long pointed ears like those of an Alsatian.
She was an altogether different person in frail old age, much mellowed and desperately vulnerable, writing desolate poetry for my benefit, or watching old movies with me on TV. Such as the sentimental Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Carousel, which she initially dismissed as "slush!"
But the famous climactic tune of You'll Never Walk Alone has a tendency to touch all but the most stoical of hearts, and Mary's was not exempt.
For my part, I'd left the room, possibly to weep softly to myself in some secluded part of my parents' house, only to return to find her in tears. I've never forgotten it.
There were times I was able to share some tender moments with her, but looking back, I wish there'd been more, and oh how she'd have welcomed them. But I was young and strong and thoughtless, with little concern for the trials of the elderly, fact which saddens me today.
For does not the Word of God say in Matthew 25:40, "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me..."?
Now I'm almost the same age she was when we first met, and I've come to honour the memory of a brilliant tragic woman, and to feel for her in a way I was never capable of during the brief few years of our acquaintance.
A little before her passing, Phillippe vanished under mysterious circumstances into the English countryside. So Charlot came to live with us on his own in '73; and was subsequently renamed Charlie. He proved a gentle, faithful and loving pet, but with a strong character akin to that of his doting mistress, dying himself in 1983 following a short but valiant battle with declining health.

Chapter Two Miss Ann Watt Had Stars in Her Eyes

The Scots-Irish Sept of Watt

My father Patrick Clancy Halling joined the London Philharmonic Orchestra while still a teenager during the Blitz on London. And during this time, he served in the Sea Cadets as a signaller, seeing action as such on the hospital ships of the previously mentioned Thames River Emergency Service.
Following his time with the LPO, he played with the London Symphony Orchestra with his cellist brother Peter, before going on to specialize in Chamber music.
His chamber career included eight years with the Hirsch quartet, led by Dublin-born violinist Leonard Hirsch, and the formation of his own Quartet Pro Musica in 1955, with Roger Raphael, Peter Sermon and his brother Peter, while Ernest Scott and Gwynne Edwards joined at a later date. And three years later, this resulted in an extraordinary event taking place in the Recital Room of the Royal Festival Hall.
On the 2cnd of November 1958, the Quartet convened to take part in a reading of TS Eliot's Four Quartets by four giants of the arts, including the then poet laureate Cecil Day Lewis, together with his wife, the actress Jill Balcon, fellow actress Maxine Audley, and Shakespearean scholar George Rylands. By which time, Lewis' and Balcon's son, future Hollywood superstar Daniel Day Lewis, would have been a little over a year and half old. And this was interspersed with a rendition of Bela Bartok's String Quartet No. 6.
He also played with the Virtuoso Ensemble, whose distinctions are believed to have included first UK performances of works by major British 20th Century composers, such as Elisabeth Lutyens, Humphrey Searle, Peter Racine Fricker and Matyas Seiber.
And among his recordings from the late 1950s currently featured on the internet are The History of Music in Sound, Vol. VI: The Growth of Instrumental Music (1630-1750), on which, with Richard Adeney on flute, Basil Lam on harpsichord, and Terence Weil on cello, he interprets Vitali's Trio Sonata in E Minor, Op. 2, No. 3, Legrenzi's La Cornara and Jenkins' Fancy in G Minor.
In June 1949, he wed my mother, the Canadian singer Miss Ann Watt, who through marriage became Mrs Ann Halling, thereby substituting a Scottish surname for a Danish one.
In Ireland, the Watt surname is allegedly exclusive to Ulster, home province of my grandfather James Watt, having been carried there by the Scottish and English planters of the late 1600s. It's common in the Scottish Lowlands, especially in the counties of Aberdeenshire and Banffshire.
As might be expected it's affiliated with that of Watson, and both are what is known as septs of the Forbes and Buchanan clans. A sept being a family that traditionally followed a particular chief or clan leader in the Highlands or Lowlands of Scotland, either through being related by marriage or resident on his land, and so helped to make up a larger clan or family.
Kindred septs include those of MacQuat, MacQuattie, MacQuhat, MacQwat, MacRowatt, MacWalter, MacWater, MacWatson, MacWatt, MacWatters, MacWattie, Vatsoun, Vod, Vode, Void, Voud, Voude, Vould, Walter, Walterson, Wasson, Waters, Waterson, Watsone, Watsoun, Wattie, Wattson, Wod, Wode, Wodde, Woid, Woide, Wood, Woyd and Wyatt.
She'd been born Angela Jean Elisabeth Watt in the city of Brandon, Manitoba, the youngest by 7 years of the six children of James and Elisabeth Watt from Ulster, Ireland and Glasgow, Scotland respectively. And the only one not to be born in Britain...the others, Annie-Isabella, Robert, James, and Elisabeth, who died in infancy, having been born in Glasgow; Catherine in Ireland.
While still an infant she moved with her family to the Grandview area of East Vancouver, whose earliest settlers tended to be shopkeepers, or tradesmen, in shipping or construction work, and largely from the British Isles. Such as James Watt himself, a builder by trade from the little town of Castlederg in County Tyrone, then part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Grandview underwent massive change following the First World War when Italian, Chinese, and East European immigrants moved in, and still more after World War II with a second wave of Italian immigrants. Today it's part of the Grandview-Woodland area of East Vancouver.
Ann's mother was from the Springburn area of Glasgow. And she's believed to have been born there possibly to an Englishman, from either Manchester or Liverpool; while her mother was allegedly a Scot. And if so, my mother is of mixed Lowland Scottish, Ulster-Scots and English ancestry, not that any real difference exists between these three ethnicities.
As to my maternal grandfather...he was almost certainly a descendant of the Planters sent by the English to Ulster in the 1600s, many of them originally inhabitants of the Anglo-Scottish border country and the Lowland region of Scotland.
According to some sources, Lowlanders are distinct from their Highland counterparts, being of Anglo-Saxon rather than Gaelic ancestry, although how true this is I'm not qualified to say. Certainly, the region straddling the Scottish Lowlands and Anglo-Scottish Borderlands, is one traditionally perceived as Sassenach, which is the Gaelic term for Saxon, or person of Anglo-Saxon origin.
Whatever the truth, the sensible view is their bloodline contains a variety of kindred strains including - as well as Anglo-Saxon - Gaelic, Pictish, Norman and so on, depending on the exact region. Moreover, all Caucasian inhabitants of the British Isles - including the independent sovereign nation of Ireland - partake of a fairly homogenous ancestry, which certain experts are claiming to be more Iberian than anything else. In the end, though, are we not all of the same single human race created by God? As a Christian, I can't believe anything else.
The Ulster Scots reportedly began to emigrate to the US in sizeable numbers in the early 1600s, and their descendants are to be found all throughout the country. But most famously perhaps in those regions which are culturally Southern, which is to say those states situated beneath the Mason-Dixon Line. Indeed most of the original European settlers of the Deep and Upland South are widely believed to have been of British and especially English and Scots-Irish origin. Today, many of them describe themselves as merely American, while others continue to claim either English or Scots-Irish ancestry.

The Theatre Under the Stars

By the time he'd moved his family to Grandview in the autumn of 1924, my grandfather James Watt had, according to my mother's account, forsaken the Presbyterian Calvinism of his Ulster boyhood and youth for the Wesleyan theology of the Salvation Army. Yet, in keeping with the Army of that time, his approach to Scripture was what would be described as fundamentalist today; and he was accordingly opposed to worldly pleasures such as dancing, the theatre, and movie-going.
Moreover, I think it's fair to say that alcohol was anathema; while even the drinking of tea and coffee was frowned upon.
Some years after moving to Grandview, James Watt built his family a house in Kitsilano on the city's West Side, but a reversal of fortune in terms of his business meant that the family was forced to return to Grandview.
Then at the age of 14, Angela joined her friend Marie and Marie's mother on a car trip just beyond the US-Canadian border into the state of Washington, where she saw her very first movie, a romantic civil war picture directed by Frank Tuttle entitled Only the Brave, and starring Gary Cooper and Mary Brian. Its effect on her was little short of seismic, as by her own admission it introduced worldly ideas into her psyche for the very first time.
Despite an intensively Christian upbringing, from then on, she became consumed by the glamour of the movies and show business. In other words, she'd allowed the camel's nose into her life, and it only remained for the rest of the camel to follow.
At high school, she'd been a diligent but not exceptional pupil; and her sole and only sporting distinction consisted of being part of her school track team. While her closest friend, the universally popular Margaret Stone, was an exceptional young sportswoman. However, Angela came into her own in the Glee Club, where presumably she first started using her beautiful singing voice beyond the confines of the Army.
When she was 17, her father became very seriously ill and she was forced to take time off school to do her share of looking after him. She spent long periods of time by his bedside, weeping for a man who when she was still only a little girl had a habit of affectionately flicking the back of her hair and she'd scolded him to make him stop. She was off for so long that Margaret Stone had come calling for her with another friend, concerned by her protracted absence. James Watt died after a short illness, and Angela, utterly heartbroken, wept openly at his funeral.
In her final year at high school, she learned short hand and other tools of the secretarial trade, while working part time at F.W. Woolworth's on Commercial Drive.
After leaving, she started work answering telephone enquiries on behalf of a laundry business by the name of Pioneer Laundry, where her sister Cathy ran a branch specialising in the washing and starching of men's collars.
And it was during her time at Pioneer that Angela received her first big break, when one of her co-workers, presumably after discovering Angela had ambitions to sing professionally, suggested she accompany her to a singing engagement at a gentleman's club in the city.
Angela promptly took her up on her offer, and as a result of having done so, was tendered details of a singing teacher by the name of Avis Phillips by a member of the club.
Soon after having made contact with Avis, Angela became her pupil, and ultimately also her friend, and this association brought her into contact with Avis' regular accompanist, Phyllis Dilworth, whose uncle Ira Dilworth just happened to be regional head of the Canadian Broadcasting Company.
It was through this family tie that Angela secured her first professional engagements as a soprano, indeed her entire singing career, with many of its greatest triumphs taking place at Vancouver's famous Theatre Under the Stars, which officially opened on August the 6th 1940. And where Miss Ann Watt played the lead in such classic operettas as Oscar Straus' The Chocolate Soldier, Naughty Marietta by Victor Herbert, with libretto by Rida Johnson Young, and The Student Prince by Sigmund Romberg, with libretto by Dorothy Donnelly.
And for the CBC with full orchestra, she broadcast many popular classics. Such as, to the accompaniment of Percy Harvey and the Golden Strings, two songs by Victor Herbert with the baritone Greg Miller, viz., A Kiss in the Dark, from Orange Blossoms, and the lovely title song from Sweethearts.
As well as Neath the Southern Moon, another breathtakingly romantic melody by Herbert, Strange Music from The Song of Norway, adapted from Grieg by Wright and Forrest, and Can't Help Singing by Kern and Yarburg from the 1944 movie of the same name.
Such was the loveliness of her voice, to say nothing of looks so glamorous she was likened to Betty Grable, she became something of a sweetheart of the Canadian Forces. While her irresistible vivacity and charm caused both audiences and press to fall in love with her not just in Canada but parts of the northern US as well.
Among the Classical songs she broadcast during the North American phase of her career were Schumann's Dedication, Brahms' The Vain Suit, Delibes' Les Filles de Cadix, Debussy's Mandoline, Rachmaninov's Before My Window, and Vaughan Williams' exquisite musical evocation of Rossetti's Silent Noon...with all Lieder rendered in English due to wartime restrictions on the German language.
After the war, she hoped to expand her career either in the US or the UK, but despite a successful audition for the San Francisco Light Opera Company, she ultimately opted for England, once a ticket to sail had become available to her.
She left for Britain laden with letters of recommendation from Avis Phillips, as well as numerous press cuttings from her brilliant Canadian career, possibly persuaded that once in London, success would be hers for the taking, at Drury Lane and elsewhere. Sadly though, soon after arriving, she failed an audition for the internationally famous Glyndebourne Opera House, home of the annual festival of the same name.
However, she did land a small role in the Ivor Novello musical, King's Rhapsody, which opened at the Palace Theatre on the 15th of September 1949, with its author, one-time matinee idol Novello, in the title role. It ran for 841 performances, surviving Novello who died in 1951.
And she broadcast for the BBC, with De Fleurs from Debussy's Proses Lyriques, Stars in my Eyes, an unutterably poignant love song by Fritz Kreisler, with lyrics by Dorothy Field, and the popular Harry Ralton standard, I Remember the Cornfields, with lyrics by Martin Mayne, among the songs she performed for them.
She also appeared in an early television show called Picture Post, of which there remains no record.
Sadly though, it wasn't long after her arrival in London that she realized her voice was deteriorating - this being especially true of her top notes - possibly as a result of sleeping difficulties; although she was a smoker.
And she had enjoyed a somewhat hedonistic lifestyle at the height of her fame in Vancouver, when she was Miss Ann Watt. And a fairly wealthy young woman at that, with a passionate love of beautiful clothes and shoes.
She went from one singing teacher to the other in the hope that her once near-perfect voice might be restored to her but little came of her efforts; although one of her tutors, who just happened to be the great German soprano Elisabeth Schumann, did offer some hope.
Schumann suggested that once her time in England was over, for she was recording her final Lieder 78s in London with the British pianist Gerald Moore, she accompany her back to New York City, where she'd been resident since 1918.
However, my mother turned her down, perhaps feeling she'd already spent enough money on lessons. And besides, she'd only been married to my father, the London-based musician Patrick Halling, since June 1949, and uprooting would not have been easy.
Pat and Ann spent the next seven years pursuing what I've been led to believe was a semi-Bohemian existence in London and on the continent, where they vacationed by both car and motorcycle...during the early years of that relatively innocent period between the end of the Second World War and the onset of the Youth Culture of the sixties, after which things would never be quite the same again.

Chapter Three And So the British Blues Explosion

The Riddle of the British English

The first son of Patrick and Ann Halling was born Carl Robert Halling at the tail end of West London's Goldhawk Road, which is the sole and only section not to bisect the traditionally working class district of Shepherd's Bush. And while officially in Hammersmith, is far closer to the more bourgeois area of Chiswick.
My first home was a little Victorian cottage in Notting Hill, but by the time of my brother's birth, the family had already moved to Bedford Park, which while also in Chiswick according to its postcode, is nonetheless part of the Southfield ward of nearby Acton. And presumably was then too.
One thing is certain is that it was part of the obsolete Borough of Acton; and along with the County of London, which paved the way for the contemporary Greater London Council, it was scrapped in 1965.
Carl was the name of my paternal grandfather, and Robert that of my mother's brother Bob, and technically speaking, I came into the world very much a Briton as opposed to an Englishman. Which is to not to say I don't consider myself English, because I most decidedly do; but my origins lie not just in England, but three of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom.
Thence, I'm Scottish and Scots-Irish and - possibly also - English Canadian through my mother, and English and - again possibly also - Danish Australian through my dad, with a further feasible Cornish admixture coming courtesy of my paternal grandmother.
For her maiden name of Pinnock is a common one in Cornwall, and therefore of conceivable Brythonic Celtic origin...the word Brythonic having served as the origin for more modern terms such as Britain and Briton, as well as British.
To explain...there have always been two distinct strains of Celtic people, which is to say, the Brythonic and the Goidelic, or Gaelic. And while the Welsh, Cornish, Manx and Breton peoples are of the Brythonic strain, the Scottish and the Irish are of the Gaelic.
It could be said therefore that I partake of both Gaelic and Brythonic Celtic ancestry. Confused? You should be.
Whatever the truth, I'm proud of my roots in Ulster and Glasgow, both of which possess long-established proletarian traditions, and the same applies to Wales and the North and Midlands of England. The South, on the other hand, is widely seen as an affluent, middle class region, and that's especially true of the so-called home counties, which are those adjacent to London.
Needless to say, though, poverty does exist in these regions, and even the great metropolis of London contains no less than fourteen of the nation's most deprived twenty boroughs. Yet it remains one of the most powerful urban centres in the world.
And according to certain authorities, it's easily the most powerful, being the financial heart of a still existent British empire.
Others would refute this theory out of hand, but it attracts strong support nonetheless. For my part, I view it with a characteristic mix of open-mindedness and scepticism.
What's more, while Glasgow is home to a massive urban working class, with clearly defined Catholic and Protestant communities, Scotland's capital city of Edinburgh has a reputation for great gentility. Yet, in common with other affluent cities throughout a nation of striking extremes of wealth and poverty, she also contains areas of enormous deprivation.
One of these, Leith, is the setting for the controversial novel Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh, which was made into a successful movie in 1996.
I'm also proud of more overtly Anglo-Saxon ancestry coming through my father, who although born in Tasmania and raised by a Danish father in Sydney, New South Wales, is English through his mother Mary. For having established my quintessential British credentials, England is the nation I identify with in spirit.
Indeed if anyone incarnates the riddle of what it is to be both British and English, it's me. For lest we forget, Britain is less a nation than a sovereign state of four nations, four countries, four peoples...England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Yet, for all this talk of earthly nations, in the end there will only be one state remaining, another country, to quote from the famous British hymn, I Vow to Thee, My Country, another country in which all distinctions of ethnicity and class will be a thing of the past, and all conflict consigned to the Lake of Fire to burn forever and ever.

And so the British Blues Explosion

My first school was a kind of nursery school held on a daily basis at the home of one Miss Pierce in Bedford Park.
But as the sixties were about to dawn, I joined the exclusive French Lycee in South Kensington, where I was to become bilingual within a matter of months. While it was early in the totemic decade of pop and youth culture that Pat Halling moved into the tough London session music world...where he was to record for film, television and the new popular music that had been recently sired by the Rock and Roll revolution.
And for much of the time he spent within this lucrative sphere, his main role was that of principal violin, or leader or concertmaster, traditionally in charge not just of the string section but the entire orchestra, and so answerable to the conductor alone. But he also served as the fixer contracted to recruit the players for a particular session.
In the meantime, Miss Ann Watt's musical life was put on hold while she concentrated on being the mother of two small boys, while supporting her husband in his various passions.
For example, she faithfully crewed for him for many years at the Tamesis Sailing Club in Teddington, West London, where he was a member for much of the sixties, winning several racing trophies initially in Firefly number 1588, while his career as a session player thrived.
According to what Pat has told me, he worked on early sessions for British musical sensations Lulu, Cilla Black and Tom Jones, as well as with superstar producers Tony Hatch and Mickie Most.
Hatch wrote most of Petula Clark's hit singles of the sixties, some alone, some with his wife Jackie Trent, and she went on to become a major star in the US as part of the so-called British Invasion of the American charts. And the same was true of several acts produced by Most; such as Herman's Hermits, whose angelic front man Peter Noone ensured his band were briefly almost as popular as the Beatles stateside.
Pat became close friends with both Most and composer-arranger John Cameron, the two men who helped turn Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan into an international superstar. And among those session musicians who played for Most in the early to mid '60s were Big Jim Sullivan, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, who also arranged for him.
And guitar virtuoso Page went on to join seminal British Rock band The Yardbirds, which had been initially managed by the impresario Simon Napier Bell, before being taken over by Most's business partner, Peter Grant.
When the Yardbirds collapsed in 1968, the two remaining members, namely Page and bassist Chris Dreja, set about forming a new band, the New Yardbirds, also to be managed by Grant.
While the super-talented Terry Reid, who was among those constituting what could be termed Page's first team of potential lead vocalists, turned him down, he yet recommended a 19 year old from the Midlands of England by the name of Robert Plant for the job.
Page duly travelled to Birmingham with Dreja and Grant to look the youngster over, and was impressed by what he saw. He then invited Plant to spend a few days with him at his home, the Thames Boathouse, in the beautiful little Berkshire village of Pangbourne for initial discussions related to the band.
And all this took place in the summer of '68, just months before I joined the Nautical College situated a few miles from the village itself.
So the New Yardbirds were born, but before long they'd mutated into Led Zeppelin, one of the most successful Rock bands of all time, and perhaps second only to the Rolling Stones in terms of legendary darkness and mystery.
It seems incredible that a force of such seismic power and influence as Led Zep should emerge from the relative innocence of the London Blues and session music scenes of the sixties, but then a similar thing could be said of British Rock as a whole.
So what was it that transformed an interest among young men of largely middle class origin in the bleak brooding music of the Blues into a musical movement that took the world by storm all throughout the '60s and beyond? That's not an easy question to answer, but I'm going to give it some sort of a go.
The Blues themselves may provide something of a solution to the puzzle, for in the shape of the British Blues boom they constituted one of the dominant tendencies within the Pop explosion of the 1960s.
Yet, far from proceeding from the Pop revolution inspired by the Beatles, the British Blues came long before it. In fact, they emerged from the Traditional Jazz revival of the late 1940s, although most Trad devotees decried the Blues as simplistic in comparison to Jazz.
The most beloved and fearful form of the Blues was the Delta Blues, whose spiritual homeland was the Mississippi Delta, a region lying between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, and stretching all the way from Memphis in the north to Vicksburg in the south.
With lyrics reflecting the sensuality, isolation and anguish of lost souls victimised by life and alienated from God, she found fertile soil in the still repressed United Kingdom of the late 1950s and early sixties. And especially in the affluent south among such passionate young men as Brian Jones from the spa town of Cheltenham in Gloucester; Eric Clapton from Ripley in suburban Surrey; and Jimmy Page from nearby Epsom, also in Surrey.
However, it's none of these legends, so much as a certain guitarist of Greek and Austrian ancestry by the name of Alexis Korner who's been called the Founding Father of the British Blues. And justifiably so, for more than anyone, he was the incubator of the British Blues Boom which was one of the great cornerstones of the entire Rock movement.
Korner began his musical career in 1949 as a member of Chris Barber's Jazz Band, but his love of the kindred but then lesser known music of the Blues led him to form Blues Incorporated in 1961. And he did so with several future Rock superstars, including Jack Bruce, most famous for his tenure with Blues-Rock legends Cream, and Charlie Watts, future sticks man for the Stones, both from a Jazz background. As was Brian Jones; for this was not unusual for the first generation of British Rock artists.
And in addition to those already mentioned, the list of future Rock and Roll stars who were drawn to Korner's regular Rhythm and Blues night at the Ealing Jazz Club in the early '60s included Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Ginger Baker, Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart, and Paul Pond.
Pond, a tall, elegant Oxford undergraduate with the chiselled good looks of a Greek god, had been Brian Jones' first choice as lead vocalist for a projected Blues band, but apparently convinced the Blues had no future, he turned the young Cheltenham Welshman down.
He later resurfaced as Paul Jones, front man for former Jazz outfit Manfred Mann, one of the first generation of British Blues bands to achieve mainstream Pop success. And alongside Jones and Mann were Mikes Vickers and Hugg, and bass man Dave Richmond...soon to be replaced by Tom McGuiness, who'd begun his career in the Roosters with Eric Clapton.
While Clapton himself found fame with the Yardbirds which, like the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, the Who and the Spencer Davis Group surfed the first wave of British Blues and R&B all the way into the Pop charts.
But British Rock was fuelled not just by the Blues, but an effervescent fusion of Rock and Roll, Skiffle, R&B, Doo-Wop, Motown and Tin Pan Alley known as Beat. And Beat emerged principally from the tough industrial North and Midlands of England to form part of the great Pop revolution of '63 to '64, although it's doubtful the great record buying public had any notion of the difference between Beat and the Blues.
Yet there were those Pop musicians who clung doggedly to the Blues ethos, despite spectacular chart success. Such as Brian Jones of the Stones; and Eric Clapton, who forsook Pop stardom to seek refuge in Blues purist band John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers...whose leader John Mayall played host to a veritable plethora of future Rock superstars at various stages of his career.
Another vital component of Pop that threatened to subvert Rock's evolution as an exclusive offshoot of the Blues was melody; which was the very element the Beatles made central to their music. And as the Rock revolution proceeded apace, it came to play as important a part in its music as rhythm.
And this was significantly attributable to the Beatles, who, in thrall to the nascent sounds of Motown, a form of R&B that had been heavily infused with a Pop sensibility, sought to emulate its exquisite romantic tunefulness.
They also imbued their early music with the sentimental sweetness of both Vocal and Latin Jazz and Canzone Napoletana; while all three songwriters were admirers of Classical Music.
Thence the Rock explosion emerged from several incredibly divergent areas to produce a veritable musical Babel. But lest we forget, it did not begin with the Beatles, for even the term Beat was first used in relation to Pop music as early as 1961.
For instance, in The Big Beat Scene by poet and writer Royston Ellis, Beat is used to describe the music of the first British Pop stars to emerge in the wake of Elvis. While the term Rock is used as shorthand for Rock and Roll in the selfsame tome.
In fact, by the time of the Beatles' first hit record in 1962, Rock had existed in Britain for at least five years, birthing a host of early superstars. Among these, song and dance men Tommy Steele and Joe Brown had brought a music hall element to the music; while Cliff Richard and the Shadows had preceded the Beatles as the quintessential British guitar band.
In other words, an entire spectrum of British Rock and Pop music had been established even before the Beatles had recorded their first hit record. But this is a truth that history has failed to sufficiently emphasize.

This Thrilling New Art Form

The Beatles are seen by some as the inventors of modern guitar Pop. While this is of course untrue, they are without doubt the best known and most successful Pop group in history. For it was they who consolidated and perfected British Pop, thereby laying the foundation for the entire Rock revolution.
Yet, while they began very much as a Pop group, in time, having resisted being typecast as mere Pop, they could be said to have birthed a special type of Art Rock founded on a vast variety of genres, including Classical music, Music Hall, Tin Pan Alley, Rock and Roll, Country and Western, Folk, Jazz, Motown, Soul and the Blues. But no less removed from pure Pop than the Blues-based Rock of their chief rivals the Stones.
While this might lead one to conclude that it was largely through their influence that Rock became the ultimate musical smorgasbord, this was only partly true, as I've already made clear.
Yet, during their brief few years of existence, they informed the development of Rock to a greater degree than any other group or solo singer. And that includes the Rolling Stones, for while the Stones' primal proto-Punk went on to constitute the basis of all forms of Hard Rock, even these have arguably benefited from the unrelenting melodic inventiveness of the Beatles.
In addition to those already mentioned, another of its chief sources was the Brill Building Sound, which thrived in that brief period between Elvis's induction into the US Army and the onset of Beatlemania. And during this era, the music's initial threat was neutralised by its co-option by teenage idols who, while heavily influenced by Elvis visually, had nowhere near the same devastating effect on the moral establishment.
Brill Building was named after the very building in New York City where many of its songwriters were housed and which since the '30s had been a centre for Pop music, a term allegedly coined as early as 1926.
Its music could be described as traditional Pop informed by the Rock and Roll revolution; and as such it exerted a massive if largely unsung influence on the evolution of Sixties Rock, with the Beatles covering several Brill Building songs in the early phase of their career.
Yet, while the Beatles remain indelibly associated with modern Pop, by the totemic year of '66, they were arguably as much a Rock as a Pop group; and their lyrics had started to acquire a marked intellectual dimension. And this was in no small part attributable to Bob Dylan.
For Dylan was a consciously intellectual figure who, in the fallow years immediately preceding the British Invasion, had mined the ancient American art of Folk Music for inspiration.
By so doing, he'd gained an international reputation as a poet-minstrel in the Protest tradition, and largely thanks to him, Pop had acquired a certain gravitas by the mid 1960s. And one which was strikingly at odds with the innocent and sentimental music of the early Beatles. Yet, the Beatles outgrew the Beat era with ease, while Beat itself was rendered obsolete by the depredations of Rock.
This thrilling new art form developed not just as a result of Dylan's influence as the first great poet of Rock, but an increasing musical complexity, possibly allied to a greater spiritual darkness. And while the Beatles led the field in terms of the former, the latter could be said to have arisen from a tougher element introduced into the music.
This came courtesy of such Blues-based outfits as the Stones, the Kinks, the Yardbirds, the Pretty Things and the Who, and the term Rock was somehow perfect in describing their powerful primal sound. However, when this moved in to supplant Pop as the critic's term of choice, it's impossible to say.
One thing is certain is that as soon as it did, Rock became far more than a mere music form. In fact I'd go so far as to say it was a way of life from the outset; a philosophy; even a religion, and as such, one of its prime tenets was rebellion against the traditional Judeo-Christian values of the West. So it's not surprising its spiritual homelands were Britain and the USA, given these are the nations most associated historically with the rise of Evangelical Christianity.
For despite having been inextricably linked to Pop since its inception, Rock is clearly more than just another form of popular music. And while it possesses very little ability left to shock, its rebel spirit, and the sexual and social upheavals it once spearheaded have altered the fabric of Western society, possibly beyond all hope of recovery.

Chapter Four Rock and Roll and the Western Soul

The Burgeoning Generation of Love

The highpoint of Patrick Halling's early Pop career was undoubtedly his leadership of the string section for the Beatles' All You Need Is Love, transmitted live at the height of the so-called Summer of Love on July 25th 1967.
The programme, entitled Our World, was the first satellite broadcast in history, and it secured an audience of 350 million, which was unprecedented at that time. And among those taking part were such legendary figures of the swinging sixties as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Eric Clapton, Keith Moon, Marianne Faithfull and Donovan.
But this was not Pat's first involvement with the burgeoning Underground or Progressive Rock movement. For the previous year of '66, he'd taken part in the recording of Donovan's Museum, destined to see the light of day on the Mellow Yellow album, which reached the number 14 position on the Billboard Hot 100. Although it failed to secure a UK release due to contractual complications.
Also involved with the Mellow Yellow sessions were close friends Mickie Most, who produced; and John Cameron, who did most of the arrangements. As well as session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan, and future Led Zeppelin members, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones.
A year later, he worked on a project that was as much a concept album as any of the Beatles' records of the same period, Ken Moule's superb Adam's Rib Suite, which fused elements of Jazz, Pop and Classical music to recount the history of womankind from Eve to Cleo Laine.
Needless to say, though, it was infinitely less successful than any comparable record within the Rock genre, Rock being at the vanguard of popular culture in a way that Jazz had once been, but no longer was. However, by the turn of the decade, a reconciliation between the two alienated factions was well under way, with Jazz-Fusion coming from one camp and the more populist Jazz-Rock from the other.
In '75, Pat served as leader for Mike Gibbs' The Only Chrome-Waterfall Orchestra, an unsung early example of British Jazz fusion, which was finally released on CD in 1997. Adam's Rib followed it on CD exactly ten years later.
By the time of his involvement with Adam's Rib, Pat had already moved into the worlds of film and television. And his early career included solos for the 1960 movie, Exodus, produced and directed by Otto Preminger, with music by Ernest Gold, as well as for much treasured British sitcom, Steptoe and Son (1969-'74), whose incidental music was composed by his close friend Ron Grainer.
He also served as concertmaster for the great Johnny Green on Carol Reed's version of Lionel Bart's Oliver in 1968, and for John Williams on three movies beginning with the musical version of James Hilton's Goodbye, Mr Chips.
And going on to include Jane Eyre (1970), directed by Delbert Mann, and Fiddler on the Roof (1971), by Norman Jewison.
Directed by Herbert Ross in 1969, Chips featured a screenplay by no less a luminary of British literature than Terence Rattigan. And as he was the author of such quintessentially English tragedies as The Browning Version and The Winslow Boy, both centring on the English private school system, he was the perfect choice.
Sadly though, for all its virtues, including a lovely score by Leslie Bricusse, it was not a critical success, although it was nominated for several major awards, and has gone on to enjoy something of a following on the internet.
Also in '69, he worked on David Lean's Ryan's Daughter, a visually beautiful epic set in rural Ireland during the First World War, which was another film that has grown in stature since its initial release. Written by playwright and screenwriter Robert Bolt, with music by Maurice Jarre, it was poorly received by the critics (while being a modest box office success), although today, it's considered by many to be among Lean's finest works.
In addition to Williams, Green and Jarre, he's served as concertmaster for a panoply of major 20th Century musical figures working within the media of film and television, including Dimitri Tiomkin, Nelson Riddle, Georges Delerue, Wilfred Josephs and Christopher Gunning.
But to return the world of Pop, which mutated into Rock, possibly some time towards the end of the late 1960s, while retaining a Pop subsidiary; and became known as such to many of its devotees, presumably as a means of investing it with some respectability as an art form:
As the '60s ceded to the '70s, Pat's close friend Mickie Most was poised to enter the second phase of his glittering Pop career, having been briefly involved with the nascent Rock movement through his management of the Jeff Beck Group. And yet, even at that, he'd sought to turn guitar virtuoso Beck into a major Pop star...while apparently remaining impervious to the star quality of his one-time front man, Rod Stewart.
And it fell to business partner Peter Grant to prosper within Rock music, first as co-manager of the Yardbirds with Most; then as sole manager of Led Zeppelin, who went on to become the ultimate Rock band; and second only to the Rolling Stones in terms of legendary darkness and mystery.
And by the time of the Zeppelin's conquest of America, the face of Western society had been altered almost beyond recognition by the Rock and Roll revolution. Yet, in all good conscience, responsibility for this transformation can't be laid exclusively at the feet of Rock. For, after all, tendencies hostile to the Judeo-Christian fabric of the West can be traced at least as far back as the Enlightenment of the 16th and 17th Centuries.
Much of the groundwork had already been done in other words, and that's especially true of the forties and fifties.
It was in these two immediate post-war decades that the Existentialists and the Beats became international icons of revolt, while lesser groups such as the Lettrists of Paris served as scandal-sowing forerunners of the Situationists, believed to have played a major role in fomenting the Paris riots of May '68.
At the same time, Britain's first major youth cult surfaced in the shape of the Teddy Boys, and a cinema of youthful discontent flourished as never before.
Movies such as Stanley Kramer's The Wild One and Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause fostered a desire among millions of young Americans to be identified as rebels themselves, reacting against the widespread conformity of Eisenhower era America.
For all that, though, none of these phenomena enjoyed a tithe of the influence of Rock in terms of its effect on the Western soul.

Glam and the Gender Revolution

My Pangbourne years coincided with the rise of Rock, which was Pop transmuted into an art form, while somehow including Pop as its less intellectual counterpart. And the music we listened to as self-styled lads had "lad value"; and we called it Underground for its shadowy exclusivity, while at some point it became known as Progressive.
But as I recall...it included both Hard Rock and Soft Rock, and the sophisticated Art Rock of acts and artists as diverse as the Beatles, Frank Zappa and the Doors. And for me, there was no real difference between the experimental Hard Rock of Deep Purple, and the out and out Prog of Yes or Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
For Rock was split into two categories...Underground and Commercial...a term we tended to spit out like some kind of curse, as this was pure Pop, whose domain was the despised hit parade featured weekly on the long-running British TV programme, Top of the Pops.
The Underground, on the other hand, was composed of acts and artists who made music largely for the growing album market. And there were those among them, such as Led Zeppelin, who never graced the singles chart despite earning fortunes through concerts and album sales. And from about '69, the Zep constituted one of my prime facilitators into the turbid depths of the Underground.
But by the time I quit Pangbourne in 1972, a new Rock revolution was underway in the shape of a heterogeneous mix of Rock and Pop allied to an outrageous androgynous image...and known as Glam.
Glam had begun to infiltrate the British charts as early as '71, while making little impact on the US, despite the fact that many of its pioneers were American. While its true roots were to be found in the Blues and early Rock and Roll, more of which later.
But it had been carried into the mainstream by one Marc Bolan, born Mark Feld in 1947 into a Jewish family of working class origins, who had been featured in 1962 in a magazine called Town, as one of the Faces, or leading Mods of Stamford Hill in East London. Although by then he'd moved with his family to a council house in Summerstown in West London.
He went on to achieve major success as one half of the acoustic duo, Tyrannosaurus Rex; the other being multi-instrumentalist Steve Peregrin Took who, like Bolan, was a leading figure of London's Hippie Underground centred on Ladbroke Grove.
But In 1970, Took was replaced by percussionist Mickey Finn, who shared Bolan's love of old-time Rock and Roll. And as T. Rex, they had their first top 5 hit in the shape of Ride a White Swan.
And by the time of their first number one the following year, T. Rex were a four-piece band, with Bolan the biggest British teen sensation since the Beatles. While the Bolan phenomenon was dubbed T. Rextasy by the British press...and all throughout the land, bedroom walls were adorned with Bolan's fascinating elfin face.
However, for the true roots of Glam one must return to the very earliest days of Rock and Roll. And specifically to a certain Rhythm and Blues shouter by the name of Little Richard.
As a boy, Richard had attended the New Hope Baptist Church in his native Macon, Georgia, and sung Gospel songs with his family as The Penniman Singers. And aged just 13, he joined Gospel legend Sister Rosetta Tharpe onstage in Macon after she heard him singing before the concert. And he had serious ambitions of becoming a full-time minister of the Gospel, while demonstrating extraordinary gifts as a boy preacher.
By 1951, however, the world had begun to beckon, and he won a talent contest in Atlanta that led to a recording contract with RCA Victor, but the four records he subsequently released all flopped. While around about the same time, he came under the sway of an outrageous Rhythm and Blues musician by the name of Esquerita, who shaped his unique piano style.
Esquerita is also believed to have influenced his increasingly flamboyant image, although self-styled King of the Blues Billy Wright, who piled his pomaded hair high on his head and wore eye liner and face powder, was also an influence in this respect.
Real success came for Richard in 1955 with Tutti Frutti, which has been cited as the true starting point for the Rock and Roll revolution; but within two years, he'd quit the business and returned to his faith. And as a Christian myself, I can only hope that for all his struggles, the good Reverend Penniman is a saved Christian man, and there is a good deal of evidence he is. For few Rock stars have been as vocal in their condemnation of Rock and Roll as he has been.
Yet, in his wake, androgyny went on to become one of its major features; and this was true of several of its earliest pioneers. And that includes the single most influential phenomenon in Rock and Roll history with the possible exception of the Beatles, the boy who once worshipped as part of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God for whom fame turned out to be such a mixed blessing: Elvis Aaron Presley.
And the mantle was taken up in the mid to late sixties by such pioneers of Glam as the Kinks, Barrett era Pink Floyd, early Soft Machine, the Rolling Stones, and Alice Cooper. But the decade as a whole witnessed an extraordinary explosion of androgyny on the part of the Western male, which served to pave for the way for the '70s.
And Glam swept a host of musicians who'd been striving for major success since the early '60s to fresh levels of stardom in the UK and elsewhere. Such as David Bowie, Elton John and Rod Stewart. For all three had first appeared on record as part of the British Blues Boom...Bowie and Stewart in '64, and John in '65; and despite being idolised at the height of Glam, they continued to be admired as serious album artists.
For there were two major strands of Glam in its heyday of 1971-'74, one being allied to the consciously artistic tradition of Progressive Rock, the other, to the purest pure Pop. And among those acts and artists affiliated to the former were David Bowie, Roxy Music, Mott the Hoople, the Sensational Alex Harvey Band and Queen; while the latter embraced T. Rex, the Sweet, Gary Glitter, Slade and Wizzard. While there were many more who either flirted with the genre from within the confines of Prog, such as the Strawbs, or existed on its fringes, such as Silverhead.
As to stateside Glam, pioneered primarily by Alice Cooper, it went on to include such cult icons as Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, the New York Dolls, Jobriath and Brett Smiley; as well as singer-songwriter, Todd Rundgren, a serious candidate for the most gifted Rock artist of all time. While several major acts were briefly touched by it; such as Aerosmith and Kiss, but it would not be until the 1980s that Glam entered the mainstream in the shape of Glam Metal.
Also among those part of the first wave of Glam was the band that effectively invented the genre, the Rolling Stones. Although they didn't adopt its more flagrant trappings until around 1972, the year they released the album which is widely considered to be their masterpiece, Exile on Main St.
Initial sessions took place in the basement of the Villa Nellcote, a 19th century mansion on the waterfront of Villefranche-sur-Mer in France's Cote d'Azur, which had been leased to Keith Richards in the summer of '71. However, several tracks had already been recorded at Mick Jagger's country estate, as well as at West London's legendary Olympic Studios.
Originally a theatre, then a film studio, Olympic was converted into a recording studio by the architect Robertson Grant, while his son Keith Grant - a very close friend of Pat Halling's - completed the acoustics in tandem with Russel Pettinger. It went on to become the virtual nerve centre of the British Rock movement.
Much has been written of the Exile sessions, which saw various icons of the Counterculture passing through Nellcote as if to lay blessings on the decadent antics taking place therein, which stand today as the very quintessence of the benighted Rock and Roll lifestyle. While less than a decade had passed since Rock's true inception at the hands of the clean-cut Beatles, Western society had already been altered almost beyond recognition within that short space of time.
Yet, responsibility for this transformation can't in all good conscience be laid exclusively at the feet of Rock, given that tendencies inimical to the West's moral fabric can be traced at least as far back as the Enlightenment of the 16th and 17th Centuries. So, how had society come to be so successfully and swiftly revolutionised by Rock?
Part of the answer lies in its sheer popularity, itself arguably born of its extraordinary eclecticism. And among bands embodying this quality during Rock's first golden age of the mid-1960s were the Rolling Stones. And this thanks significantly to the sheer musical brilliance of founder member Brian Jones, who plausibly helped to sow the seeds of the Progressive movement to come, but buttressed by the considerable song writing gifts of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. However, in the late 1960s, with Progressive Rock in the ascent, the Stones seemed to make a conscious effort to return to their Blues origins, as well as embracing other forms of roots music, such as Country and Western, and this process could be said to have reached an apogee with Exile on Main St. in 1972.
In that selfsame year, Pat Halling was involved with an album that was greeted with little of the ballyhoo of Exile. This being Slides, by the great Irish actor Richard Harris, who'd launched a Pop career on the back of Jimmy Webb's 7 minute Pop tour de force, MacArthur Park.
In 2005, it was released on CD with My Boy, receiving very high ratings from Amazon reviewers both in Britain and the US.
However, as the '70s progressed, Pat became involved with several far more successful projects on the fringes of Glam, more of which later.

Rock and Roll and the Western Soul

When such Glam acts and artists as David Bowie and the Sweet had first appeared on British television in full make up around 1972, there were those undilutedly masculine British males who were doubtless moved to revulsion and rage. Yet by about '74, Glam could be said to have shed much of its revolutionary potency.
But by the time it had done so, it had effectuated a minor sexual upheaval by making male androgyny more acceptable than ever before. And it did so in defiance of the Bible's strict delineation of the sexual roles, and prohibition of any form of cross dressing.
And one can only wonder what effect it had on the psychological development of young men such as myself, who'd already been weaned on the ferocious rebel sounds of Rock, only to swoon at the feet of the gorgeous androgynes of Glam.
But while it had entered the mainstream as Teenybop Pop, an avant-garde form persisted in the shape of an apparent nostalgic love affair with Europe's immediate past - and especially its decadent cabaret culture - on the part of acts and artists as diverse as Bowie and Roxy Music; as well as critically acclaimed newcomers Cockney Rebel. And the persona Bowie adopted in 1976, and which he enigmatically dubbed The Thin White Duke could be said to have been the apotheosis of this romantic Europhilia.
But little of this was in evidence in the happy world of Pop which continued to mine the Glam Rock craze for all it was worth, propelling a multitude of entertainers into the charts in the process. Such as one David Cook, a startlingly handsome young cockney Londoner of Irish Traveller extraction who as David Essex became a major star on the fringes of Glam.
But rather than Rock or Teenybop Pop, he did so largely through acting. And it was his own song Rock On that really put him on the map as a major heart throb in 1974, when it became a major hit on both sides of the Atlantic, due in no small part to its distinctive string arrangement, featuring one Pat Halling as concertmaster.
Its follow-up, Stardust, was the title of the hit movie of the same name, a salutary tale of a young Londoner who achieves his dreams of superstardom, only to end up holed up in some Spanish castle as a drug-addicted recluse.
Like its predecessor, it had been produced by New Yorker Jeff Wayne, with whom Pat worked both on Rock On and his own Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, widely viewed today as a masterpiece.
That same year of '74 saw the release of Cilla Black's In My Life, produced by David Mackay, and The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast by Rod Edwards and Roger Hand from an original book by Alan Aldridge and William Plomer; both with orchestra led by Pat.
While he was still a close colleague of Mickie Most, who was enjoying the second phase of his glittering Pop career. For as previously stated, Most had been briefly involved with the burgeoning Rock movement in the shape of the Jeff Beck Group, which had been formed in early '67.
But in time, he bequeathed the band to his friend and business partner, Peter Grant, and under Grant's aegis, they went on to enormous success in the US. And by so doing, they anticipated the mega-glory of another Grant-managed band led by a one-time member of the Yardbirds.
I'm referring of course to Led Zeppelin, a band perhaps second only to the Rolling Stones in terms of legendary darkness and mystery, if you'll excuse the leitmotiv.
While Grant went on to take the US by storm with Led Zep, Mickie set about turning RAK, which they'd formed together in 1969, into one the key Pop record labels of the '70s and home to several classic Glam, Pop and Teenybop acts.
These included Disco-Poppers Hot Chocolate which had been formed as early as 1969, and former Detroit native Suzi Quatro, both of whom Pat worked with on several occasions with Mickie at the helm; as well as Mud, Arrows, Kenny, Smokie and Racey.
Quatro benefited from the brilliance of songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, who also wrote for the Sweet, Mud, Arrows, Smokie and Racey, and for a time was one of the few female stars of the Glam-Glitter genre. But Pat's work in the mid 1970s was by no means restricted to the purest pure Pop, far from it.
There was a major movie project in the shape of The Day of the Jackal, directed by the great Fred Zinnemann, whom I have always admired enormously.
I was fortunate enough to be introduced to him by Pat. And he was the second of two legends of the cinema I met around about that time, the first having been the great Charles Chaplin, and they were both quite delectably charming to me.
Pat was the concertmaster, serving under the Frenchman Georges Delerue - whom I also met - who both composed and conducted the music.
In terms of recorded music, Pat became caught up in the final stages of the Prog Rock boom when he served as leader for Jethro Tull for two projects, War Child from 1974, and Minstrel in the Gallery from '75, for despite himself, he'd been part of the growing Rock movement from the outset.
And notably through his association with the Beatles, who by '67 were at the forefront of the Rock revolution; although their Rock was ever replete with beautiful Pop melodies.
But the same could also be said of Jethro Tull, one of the most purely artistic bands of the genre, which yet achieved both commercial and critical success on both sides of the Atlantic. And the aforementioned two Tull albums could be said to be the quintessence of Rock as an art form, whose earliest expression was the aforesaid Prog.
For by fusing elements of Classical, Folk and Rock, the Prog phenomenon created a music that at times amounted to high art, as in the case of Tull.
But it was Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention who effectively birthed the genre; although the notion of Rock as art had evolved by degrees in both Britain and America, with both the Beatles and Bob Dylan being especially influential in this respect.
Yet while both Britain and America served as the cradles of Art Rock, Prog was characteristically British, with King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Yes, Gentle Giant and Genesis serving as early exemplars. And in keeping with its position within the rebel music of Rock, its lyrics often inclined to a darkness of tone which was characteristic of much of the musical Underground of the late 1960s.
Speaking of which...from about '73, it could be said that Progressive Rock set about a return to the Underground whence it had emerged. And from there, took to informing a vast variety of musical genres...including Glam Rock, Jazz Rock, New Wave, Post-Punk, Alt Rock and Indie. In fact, one might go so far as to say its been ubiquitous ever since, so that as things stand, several of the most successful acts in the world could be said to be Progressive in varying degrees.
But by '73, pure Prog was already starting to look stale in comparison to the Art Rock of figures such as Todd Rundgren and David Bowie, who were operating as progressives within the Glam Rock genre.
And in that selfsame year, Pat worked on two concept albums that were nowhere near as commercial as anything by these two innovators, namely Cosmic Wheels by Donovan; and Johnny Harris' All To Bring You Morning, for which he led the strings. And which featured no less than three one-time members of Yes, who just happened to be recording next door at the time as Johnny and friends, and were great admirers of his work.
He went on to work on a series of Art Rock projects which while not as successful as international best-sellers by the likes of Tull have received fresh critical acclaim through the internet. They include Beginnings (1975) by Steve Howe, Octoberon (1976) by Barclay James Harvest, Visionary and Perilous Journey (1976/'7) by Gordon Giltrap, Donovan (1977) by Donovan, and Woman in the Wings (1978) by Steeleye Span lead singer Maddy Prior. While a very early Progressive project of Pat's was Definitely What (1969) by Brian Auger and the Trinity.
But for Pat, involvement in the rebel music of Rock and Roll was ever but a means of earning the amounts of money necessary to support a home and family. While in my case, it was entirely voluntary, and one after the other I immersed myself in its messages of revolt.
Which is not to say that all Rock music is overtly dark or iconoclastic, far from it. For much of it is relatively innocuous, and there is much beauty to be found in all forms of Rock, both musically and lyrically, as I've already made clear. Yet from a historical perspective, it could be said that few art forms have been quite so effective in challenging the Judeo-Christian foundations of Western culture as Rock.
And for a time, it was as if a civil war was being fought for the hearts and minds of the young. And that's especially true of the '60s, where in both Britain and America, the conflict was quite extraordinarily fierce...and this persisted into the '70s. With the result that the British Punk insurrection provoked a reaction from ordinary members of the public which would be inconceivable today in a West that has become so utterly inured to outrage.
While by the '80s it could be said to have started to wane, as the values of the Counterculture started percolating the mainstream. And while this was concurrent with a famous conservative backlash, the latter hardly constituted a wholesale return to traditional values. For these were still in terminal recession, and fighting desperately for their very existence. And the backlash was but an expression of this desperation as I see it.
And to those who disagree, I can only say they have failed to realise just how deeply embedded into our society these values once were.
While today, they are merely the province of a minority, and a relatively powerless one at that. So for the time being, it could be said that the culture wars of the past half century or so have been won...and that Rock and Roll stands tall among its victors.

Chapter Five A Halling Is a Halling Wherever He Is

Incidents from an Infamous Year Zero

As the '70s proceeded apace, both Prog and Glam receded in terms of influence, although they'd experience periodic rebirths. Glam, for example, would be revived in the '80s through American Glam Metal, and the British Goth and New Romantic movements; and still exists to this day. However, given the extent to which the West has become inured to outrage, its power to shock has been reduced to zero.
By '77, it had been supplanted by Punk, a movement which, if it were at all possible, was even more scandalous.
While some years earlier, Soul, a melodic fusion of Gospel and R&B which had made a massive impact on the Pop charts, birthed a mutation known as Disco, one of whose major hallmarks was the liberal and highly distinctive use of strings.
Thence, Pat was involved in several major projects at the height of the Disco era, including Symphony of Love (1978) by Miquel Brown, which was produced by British composer Alan Hawkshaw. And another Hawkshaw production, Again and Again by Love De-Luxe, from the following year.
Pat also worked with Alec R Costandinos on his beautifully produced Love and Kisses album from 1977. And both Pat and Costandinos had worked with another French Disco pioneer, Jean-Marc Cerrone, on the 1976 album, Love in C Minor, concocted at a time when Disco had yet to truly enter the mainstream.
While Pat played on several other Costandinos records, including an acknowledged Disco masterpiece, Romeo and Juliet (1978), which has to be lauded for its subject matter. For while Soul in the seventies was as extensive as Rock; and every inch as sublime at its most artistic, Disco had a greater tendency to fixate on the pleasures of the flesh. And so was the ultimate music of the mid 1970s, at a time the values of the permissive society were seeping into the mainstream. Yet at the same time, there were many exceptions, and Disco could be no less artistically exalted than Soul.
He also appeared on Costandinos' own Sphinx and Winds of Change, from '77 and '79 respectively, Look Out and Ordinary Man (1979) for Bad News Travels Fast, and a Costandinos produced album for Tina Turner entitled Love Explosion, also from '79. As well as, from the year before, Melaphonia's Limelight Disco Symphony, produced by Franck Pourcel and Alain Boublil as a Disco tribute to Sir Charles Chaplin, who'd died the previous Christmas Day.
Boublil went on to write the libretto for the smash-hit musical, Les Miserables, with composer Claude-Michel Schoenberg; while John Cameron provided the original orchestration.
And Pat was involved with the London production of Les Miz for many years as the leader of the orchestra, one of several highlights of a concert career which has seen him work with Pop legends as diverse as Ella Fitzgerald, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Tiny Tim, Barry Manilow and Boy George of Culture Club; and tour with Tom Jones and Barry White.
But as a personal fan of the Old Groaner's, it's his participation in Bing Crosby's final tour that is perhaps the dearest to his heart.
In September '77, Bing, his family, and close friend Rosemary Clooney began a concert tour of England that included two weeks at the London Palladium. He recorded an album, Seasons, and a TV Christmas special with David Bowie and Twiggy, which featured a famous duet with Bowie.
And Pat actually managed to wangle an autograph from Der Bingle during what may have been a final recording session at Maida Vale studios. But the great man had initially objected to Pat helping himself to a piece of his sheet music, before relenting with the words, "He seems like a good man," and signing the music into the bargain.
His final concert took place at the Brighton Centre on the 12th of October 1977. For two days afterwards, following a round of 18 holes of golf on a course near Madrid, he died from a massive heart attack. And his passing came at the end of a year that had claimed a string of cultural giants including Joan Crawford, Elvis Presley, Groucho Marx, Maria Callas, Marc Bolan, and Charlie Chaplin.
And amidst all this tragedy, Punk's inexorable ascent to international notoriety showed no signs of abating. Yet while the London variant thrived, New York failed to capitalise on its initial promise as Punk's true spiritual capital.
For lest we forget...Punk's origins lie in the US among the so-called Garage bands of the 1960s. And their attempts to emulate the rougher acts of the British Invasion, themselves heavily indebted to American Rhythm and Blues. But it was the distinct New York variant of the early '70s that exerted the greatest sway on British Punk, and largely through the influence of a young entrepreneur by the name of Malcolm McLaren.
McLaren was born in London as the son of a Scottish father and Jewish mother, and raised by his grandmother, the daughter of a Sephardic-Jewish diamond merchant.
As an art student in the late 1960s, he was drawn to the subversive ideas of the Paris Situationists, believed to have played a part in fomenting the '68 riots, and were themselves offshoots of the post-war Lettrists.
Formed by the charismatic Isidore Isou in the late 1940s, the Lettrists were very much precursors of the Punks, and one of their number, Jean-Michel Mension sported a pair of trousers scrawled with slogans as early as 1953, as seen in a famous photograph by Ed van der Elsken.
In 1971, he and his then girlfriend, Vivienne Westwood, opened Let it Rock, an outlet specialising in '50s style Teddy Boy clothing designed by himself and Vivienne, at 430 Kings Road, Chelsea. It exists today - as World's End - as part of Dame Vivienne's global fashion empire.
Four years later, he became the manager of the disintegrating New York Dolls, who'd created a sensation in the UK at the height of Glam with a combination of androgynous image and uncompromisingly raw proto-Punk music.
He designed some red leather outfits for them in tandem with a new pseudo-Communist image, but it was too late to save them, and they folded soon afterwards. But while in New York, he came across a former Sandford Preparatory student from Lexington, Kentucky, by the name of Richard Hell.
He'd taken his name from a famous prose poem by Arthur Rimbaud, and was at various times a member of several key New York Punk Rock outfits. And McLaren was especially impressed by his unique image of torn tee-shirt and spiky unkempt hair, allegedly inspired by the famous tousle-haired photograph of Rimbaud by Etienne Carjat, and so before long he'd decided to take it back home to London and promote an anglicised version.
Some time afterwards, he afforded his Kings Road boutique the provocative new name of Sex, and set himself up as the manager of a group formed by three denizens of the Hammersmith area of West London, allegedly at the urging of their guitarist, Warwick "Wally" Nightingale. And there is some evidence they were called the Strand, after a song on the second Roxy Music album, For Your Pleasure.
And with Johnny Rotten, a young London Irishman born John Lydon in 1956, on board as front man, the band was renamed the Sex Pistols, and so began the most infamous Punk odyssey of them all.
However, no sooner had Punk taken off, than it was supplemented in the UK with those very elements it was reacting against; as a generation of brilliant acts and artists, such as the Police, Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson, fused the attitude of Punk with the sophistication of Art Rock.
While this New Wave threatened to supplant Punk at its crudest, other genres competed with it for the hearts and souls of the British young. Such as Reggae, which was favoured by many Punks, and Electronica, which had been pioneered all throughout the '70s mainly by so-called Kraut Rock acts such as Can, Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. And which became highly fashionable in the London of the late 1970s, ultimately birthing the New Romantics.
And Disco was at the height of its popularity, not just in the UK but the US, although I can't remember even being aware of the term. One thing is certain, though, is that I was as much a lover of Soul as Punk circa '77; and for much of that year, dressed more like a Soul Boy than a Punk, although I would not be apprised of the existence of such a phenomenon until relatively late in the year. Soul Boys and Girls being largely young working class men and women who in the late 1970s, dressed in a flamboyant style somewhat reminiscent of Punk (at least how I saw it), while favouring, as their name suggests, the melodic and rhythmic beauties of Soul.
In fact, it was only in its final few months I started affecting the more flagrant trappings of Punk; such as spiked and dyed hair and drainpipe jeans.
So for me, '78 was my own personal Punk Year Zero; and it was in that year, at the very height of Disco, that Central Heating by Heatwave, a rare classic of British Soul, was released.
Produced by former teen idol Barry Blue, and with arrangements by John Cameron, with Pat Halling serving as his concertmaster, it was a massive hit on both sides of the Atlantic, ascending to number 10 on the Billboard 200. And yielding two hit singles in the shape of The Groove Line by Englishman Rod Temperton, and Mind Blowing Decisions by American lead vocalist Johnny Wilder, Jr.
Temperton went on to write for the best-selling album in musical history, which is Michael Jackson's Thriller, produced by Quincy Jones in 1982.
He also wrote for Quincy on his own hit album The Dude, with singer Patti Austin sounding remarkably like Jackson; as well as for Patti herself. While George Benson's Love X Love was blessed with the same kind of stardust that helped turn Michael Jackson into the most famous Rock star on the planet.
Then towards the end of the '70s, Pat played what was possibly his most memorable ever solo for a television program. And this was for the stunning opening and closing theme to the BBC's Life on Earth natural history series by David Attenborough, composed by Edward Williams and conducted by Marcus Dods.
As a solo it was so breathtakingly beautiful that Pat was compared by one devotee of the violin to Jascha Heifetz, whom many believe to have been the greatest violinist of them all. Quite an honour for the boy from the Tamar Valley.

From New Pop to Rap in the Crazy 1980s

The '80s was a potentially tough decade for session musicians such as Pat Halling as the synthesizer started threatening the world of recorded music as never before. And one of the fruits of this putsch was the so-called New Pop that arose in the wake of Punk.
And New Pop could be said to be a more purely commercial variant of the aforesaid New Wave; itself an offshoot of Punk. Although the term was only ever used in the UK, while the US continued to favour that of New Wave to describe the explosion of British synth-driven bands that invaded the Pop charts on both sides of the Atlantic throughout the '80s.
For several New Pop acts took part in the so-called Second British Invasion, which saw British bands dominating the American Pop charts to a degree unknown since the hey day of the Beatles. And this was largely due to a demand on the part of the newly launched MTV music channel for glamorous videos which enabled British acts such as Culture Club, Duran Duran and Eurythmics to score massive transatlantic hits.
But for many, this resurgence of Pop was a negative development, despite the musicality of many of its proponents, so that it fused the commercialism of Pop with the virtuosity of Rock. And it could certainly be said that such phenomena as Glam, Punk and Goth witnessed a certain taming throughout the '80s; so that by the end of the decade, they had been shorn of their ability to shock.
But for all the ballyhoo created by the rise of Electronica, Pat Halling's career was barely affected. And in 1980, he worked again for his old friend John Cameron...this time on the movie The Mirror Crack'd, based on the Agatha Christie novel, with music by JC, and featuring a roll call of Hollywood legends. Pat even had a small non-speaking cameo in the movie as a World War II bandleader.
And in that same year, he led the orchestra for Man of the World by Greek superstar Demis Roussos, which, while produced by David Mackay, featured another close friend, Barrie Guard, as conductor.
He also found time to lead for the distinguished composer Wilfred Joseph's theme to the 1980 BBC TV series of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. While a year later, he appeared on Pas Facile by French Rock and Roll legend Johnny Hallyday.
In 1982, he was back with John Cameron for a further star-studded Agatha Christie movie, Evil Under the Sun, helmed, as in the case for Crack'd by Bond director Guy Hamilton, and produced by Lord Brabourne and Richard Goodwin, who became a close friend.
For Richard's wife, Christine Edzard, he served as the soloist for Biddy in 1983...working again with Christine, with Richard producing, on Dickens' Little Dorrit in '88, and two years later on The Fool, written by Christine with Oliver Stockman. While all three movies were scored by Michel Sanvoisin.
For Paul McCartney, possibly the most lauded Rock and Roll musician in history, he led the orchestra for the soundtrack to '84's Give My Regards to Broad Street. And while it sold well, the film itself performed poorly at the Box Office; although it benefits from a good deal of affection from contemporary McCartney fans.
A year later, he was concertmaster for his old colleague David Essex on the album version of the musical Mutiny, based on Mutiny on the Bounty by Nordhoff and Hall. And then a year after that, played on three tracks from Jazz musician Barbara Thompson's album Heavenly Bodies.
While in '87, he contributed to To Go Beyond II, final track from the hugely successful Enya album by Irish superstar Enya Brennan. As well as If for Hollywood Beyond, featuring singer-songwriter Mark Rogers.
In 1988, he and Richard Studt served as orchestra leaders on Elaine Paige's The Queen Album, produced by Mike Moran, while in '89, he worked with yet another Rock legend, Pete Townshend, serving as leader on his concept album, The Iron Man - The Musical, based on the novel by Ted Hughes.
Interestingly, Pete's father Jazz saxophonist Cliff Townshend had been a colleague of Pat's during their time together on the famous BBC television chat show, Parkinson, named after host Michael Parkinson.
Then in 1990, he appeared on John Williams' album, The Guitar Is the Song, having earlier worked with the great Classical guitarist on Gowers Chamber Concerto Scarlatti Six Sonatas (1972), and Portrait of John Williams (1982).
But briefly returning to film and TV, television projects on which Pat worked throughout the '80s include Hold the Dream (1986), based on the novel by Barbara Taylor Bradford, with original score by longtime friend Barrie Guard, Tears in the Rain (1988), from a novel by Pamela Wallace, with music again by Guard, and The Darling Buds of May (1991-1993), based on the novel by H.E. Bates, and with music by Pip Burley and Guard.
His recording career in the '90s included work for acts and artists as varied as British Indie band Cud, and French singer, Dany Brillant (Nouveau jour from 1999).
And on a larger scale, the '90s witnessed the fading of such once provocative cults of Glam, Punk and Goth to make way for the far starker cult of Grunge, as well as the facelessness of Electronic Dance. But the greatest success story of the decade was Rap, which many would contend is not a Rock music genre at all, but an entirely different form of music, as distinct from Rock as Rock once was from Jazz.
While others would insist all offshoots of Rock's first forefathers that have in some way benefited from the Rock revolution are perforce forms of Rock and Roll. And by forefathers I'm referring primarily to Rhythm and Blues and Country and Western. And I'm inclined to side with this view.

A Halling Is a Halling Wherever He Is

Moving into the Noughties...and Tiny Tim's 1968 concert at the Albert Hall finally secured a CD release in 2000 through Rhino Handmade Records as Tiny Tim Live! At the Royal Albert Hall. And conducted by Carpenters producer Richard Perry, with Pat among the first violins led by Tony Gilbert, it was revealed as a neglected masterpiece that had remained unreleased for nearly two decades. Yet within two years of its recording, Tim's legendary appearance at the Isle of Wight Festival would secure a standing ovation from the assembled hippies, with the Beatles and the Stones among them.
And between 2000 and 2002, Pat played violin for a band formed by his good friend Barrie Guard, and featuring myself on vocals; and together with bass player John Sutton, we recorded a series of demos at Barrie's home studio in Esher, and even went so far as to record a pilot radio show. We gigged sporadically for about a year and a half to limited response, until a final concert at the 2002 Shelton Arts Festival brought us - as I see it - into contact with the kind of intimate cultured audience we should have been aiming for all along...and we all but brought the house down. But dispersed soon afterwards after barely eighteen months together.
On a brighter note, there's a fascinating tale attached to singer-songwriter John Dawson Read for whom Pat served as leader on his two classic albums from the '70s, namely A Friend of Mine Is Going Blind from '75, and Read On from a year later.
Sometime around 2005, fellow singer-songwriter Michael Johnson included an MP3 of Read singing the title track of his first album, A Friend of Mine on his website, and many Read fans began communicating through the site as a result.
His subsequent re-entry into the music world after nearly thirty years of relative inactivity, resulted in a third album, Now...Where were we? being released that same year, and a fourth, One Life, in 2012.
Until quite recently, Pat served as leader for the longest running comedy series in television history, Roy Clarke's Last of the Summer Wine. And working alongside Pat was harmonica maestro Jim Hughes, whose playing it was that made Ronnie Hazlehurst's gently pastoral theme tune so distinctive.
From about 2005, Pat began work on an album of popular song standards featuring Jim on harmonica, myself on vocals, Judd Procter on guitar, Dave Richmond and John Sutton on bass, and John Dean and Sebastian Guard on drums.
The album was produced by Pat and arranged by John Smith. And largely engineered by sound recordist Tony Philpot, with contributions by Keith Grant of West London's legendary Olympic Studios. To be finally released in 2007 as A Taste of Summer Wine by James Hughes Carl Halling with the London Swingtette.
Further recent projects of Pat's have included the 2007 world premiere of A Poet's Calendar by long-time friend Derek Wadsworth. As well as performances of legendary drummer, composer, arranger and band leader Tony Kinsey's String Quartet No. 1 and String Quartet No. 2. And a string of concerts, the first of these taking place at Central London's Cadogan Hall in the spring of 2010. All with the revived Quartet Pro Musica.
Then in early 2012, the quartet comprising, apart from Pat, Keith Lewis (violin), Richard Cookson (viola) and Myrtle Bruce-Mitford (cello) - worked with harmonica genius Philip Achille in bringing a beautiful new work by Tony Kinsey, Quintet for String Quartet and Orchestra, to glorious life.
Away from his music, Pat continues to be a fervid dinghy sailor during the season at his local club of Aquarius SC.
Also, for several years he's attended functions organised by PPL, formerly known as Phonographic Performance Limited, a music licensing company which collects and distributes airplay and performance royalties on behalf of record companies and performers throughout the UK.
At one of these, the Fair Play 95, which took place on behalf of the Fair Play for Musicians campaign at the Stanhope Hotel in Brussels in April 2009, he played a medley of Tony Hatch's Downtown and the Beatles' All You Need is Love, before inviting flamenco guitarist Manuel Espinosa on to the stage for a short duet.
There seems to be no end to the man's almost preternatural energy and force of will.
And although there's no hard and fast evidence that Pat has Scandinavian blood, research related to the Norwegians who emigrated to the American Midwest from about the mid-19th Century onwards reveals that one of the purported characteristics of the Hallings of the Halling Valley in Norway's Buskerud County, in the words of the Norwegian-American writer, Syver Swenson Rodning, is firmness "in thoughts and beliefs"; so that he would "rather break than bend." The Hallings themselves settling primarily in Spring Grove, Minnesota, where traces of their dialect and subculture survived into the 1930s.
Perhaps then, alone among the three children born to Phyllis Mary Halling, Patrick is a true Halling with roots deep in the Hallingdal where the Halling Valley River lies.
And what of the music that has dominated his days and nights for so many decades? The truth is it has never been more accessible thanks to the miracle of sites such as Spotify and You Tube. Sites where one might access a degree of music inconceivable to those of my generation, who as late as the late 1990s could only ever hear as much music as they were able to afford via the medium of the long playing record, Compact Disc or Musicassette.
And of Rock...surely the most revolutionary music form in history, it could be said it has been tamed at long last. And quietly taken its place alongside Classical, Jazz and Folk as just another facet of the massive music industry. But then is that not its final victory?

Book Six

Beachcombings from the Halling Valley Riverbank

First (Versified) Beachcombings

Some Sun Drunk Day He Said

Emotions war against sense,
And his mind remains
A pot pourri,
And thoughts in his head
When he lies in his bed
Would make Dorian Gray
Appear pristine.
He wishes to moralize
On a corrupt example,
Yet from the wicked cup
He hath supped a sample.

He appears to think in extremes;
He is beau-laid and realist,
Whose inspiration stems from his dreams.
"Life is a beautiful strain for me,"
One sun-drunk day he said,
"But I pray I say what my soul needs to
Before the heavens decide me dead."
But his mind is a disorderly drawer
Full of confused categorizations;
He has that Scott Fitzgerald illness
For dates, times, rhymes and quotations.
"I have a clear flowing mind,
But I cannot foretell
When the clogging black clouds will arrive,
For they will arrive.
Live with the love, then bear the pain
Recurrent like the monsoon rain."

He is afraid of happiness
For the inevitable despair that must follow it;
Afraid of happiness
For its cruel impermanence.
Like Zola, the seasons in life, for him,
Are inevitable.
"All artists," he says, "are at once alike and unique
One day, it's clear,
The next, hazy, like a beery vision,
The fulfilment that they seek."
Misty dreams of sweet-smelling roses
And swaying streams
Bring him chills and pains in his soul and being;
He lives his life through a melancholy tragedy,
And has an ever-yearning mind.

Bouzingo: The Gathering of the Poets

The boy was aged about eighteen,
Pale and pensive,
Weary and frail in appearance.
He could have been
Goethe's Werther,
Senancour's Obermann
Or Chateaubriand's melancholy hero,
Embraced by a generation,
And about whom Sainte-Beuve said:
"Rene, c'est moi."
Tortured by a new mal du siecle,
He sought refuge
In the Club Bouzingo.
Two young poets,
One dark, the other fair,
Drifted past. The first,
Whose black hair
Hung in ringlets over his shoulders,
Wore a small pointed beard,
Black velvet tails,
A white linen shirt
Loosely fastened at the neck
By a thin pink taffeta tie;
The second wore a tight coat
That opened onto a silk crimson waistcoat
And a lace jabot, white trousers
With blue seams,
And a wide-brimmed black hat, and
In one of his hands
He carried a long thin pink-coloured pipe.
They were soon joined
By some of their dandified companions.
The music had stopped playing, and
The poet-leader in cape and gloves,
Dark and pomaded
With a Theophile Gautier moustache,
Took to the stage,
Where he proceeded to declaim
Selections from his subversive verses
To delirious cheers,
As if sedition was imminent;
Only the boy-poet remained silent,
His pale cheeks
Soaked by the freshest tears.
"Apres nous, le deluge,"
He said under his breath,
"Our leader preaches revolution
But provides no solution
As to the fate of coming generations,
Should the infant be cast out
With the bath water that is so filthy
In his sight
That, intent on doing right,
Gives no thought to the future,
Nor to what might supplant
The society he claims to despise."
The boy was aged about eighteen
Pale and pensive
Weary and frail in appearance.
He could have been
Goethe's Werther,
Senancour's Obermann
Or Chateaubriand's melancholy hero,
Embraced by a generation,
And about whom Sainte-Beuve said:
"Rene, c'est moi."
Tortured by a new mal du siecle,
He sought refuge
From the Club Bouzingo.

Gallant Festivities

It was my evening, that's
For sure -
"Its your aura"
For sure -
At last I'm good
At something.
"Spot the Equity card!"
"When are you going
To be a superstar?"
Said Sarah.
That seemed to be
The question
On everyone's lips.
At last, at last, at last
I'm good at something.

And so the party...Zoe
Called me...I listened
To her problems;
References
To my innocent face.
Linda said:
"Sally seems elusive
But is in fact,
Accessible;
You're the opposite -
You give to everyone
But are incapable
Of giving in particular."

Madeleine was comparing me
To June Miller;
Descriptions by Nin:
"She does not dare
To be herself..."
Everything I'd always
Wanted to be, I now am.
"...She lives
On the reflections
Of herself in the eyes
Of others...
There is no June
To grasp and know."

I kept getting up to dance
Sally said: "I'm afraid;
You're inscrutable;
You're not just
Blase
Are you?"
I spoke
Of the spells of calm,
And the hysterical
Reactions,
Psychic exhaustion,
Then anxious elation.

The Wanderer of Golders Green

I awake each morning
With fresh hope
And tranquility;
I might go for a saunter
Down quiet London backstreets...
Soon my aimlessness
Depresses me,
And I realise
I'd been deceiving myself
As to my ability
To relax as others do.

I decided on a Special B
Before the eve.
I bought a lager
At the bar
And chatted to Gaye.
Then Ray
Bought me another.
I appreciated the fact
That he remembered
The time he,
His gal Chris,
And Cary downed
An entire bottle
Of Jack Daniels
In a Paris-bound train.

A tanned cat
Bought me a (large) half,
Then another half.
My fatal eyes
Are my downfall.
I drank yet another half...

My head was spinning
When it hit the pillow;
I awoke
With a terrible headache
Around one o'clock.
I prayed it would depart.

I slowly got dressed.
I was as chatty as ever
Before the exam...
French/English translation.
Periodically I put my face
In my hands or groaned
Or sighed -
My stomach
was burning me inside.

I finished my paper
In 1 hour and a half.
As I walked out
I caught various eyes
Amanda's, Jade's (quizzical) etc.
I went to bed;
Slept 'till five;
Read O'Neill until 7ish...
Got dressed,
And strolled down
To Golders Green,
In order to relive
A few memories.
I sang to myself -
A few memories
Flashed into my mind,
But not as many
as I'd have liked -
It wasn't the same.
It wasn't the same.

Singing songs brought
Voluptuous tears.
I snuck into McDonald's
Where I felt at home,
Anonymous, alone.
I bought a few things,
Toothpaste and pick,
Chocolate, yoghurts,
Sweets, cigarettes
And fruit juice.

Took a sentimental journey
Back to Powis Gardens,
Richness
And intensity,
Romantic
And attractive,
Sad, suspicious and strange.
I sat up until 3am,
Reading O'Neill,
Or writing (inept) poetry.
Awoke at 10,
But didn't leave
My room till 12,
Lost my way
To Swiss Cottage,
Lost my happiness.
Oh so conscious
Of my failure,
And after a fashion,
Enjoying this knowledge.

More (Lyrical) Beachcombings

Some Romantic Afternoon

Some Romantic Afternoon
I will hear that haunting tune
The one that I would softly croon
By a lagoon

We'd go sailing to Cadiz
For a while it seemed like bliss
Now it all seems just a myth
Like Brigadoon

Took a boat to southern Spain
Just to see her face again
She had gone forever
Not to return there
I could not control the tears
How they burned my eyes
As I looked back at those lost years

Some Romantic Afternoon
I will hear that haunting tune
The one that I would softly croon
By a lagoon.

Oh My My My (Call the FBI)

Couldn't believe my peepers
When I first saw you
Couldn't believe the beauty
Of your baby blues
I knew I had to ask you if you'd
Like to dance
I knew I had to take heart and to
Take that chance

First you resisted me you said
You couldn't leave
Your friends alone
But after our first dance you said
You thought they would be
OK to find their own way home

Oh my my my
Call the FBI
I think I lost my pride
I think I found my bride

Couldn't believe I'd ever
Find a girl like you
Couldn't believe we'd bond
As if by Super Glue
I knew I had such tender feelings
In my heart
I knew that I could fix it so we'd
Never part

First you resisted me you said
You weren't ready
To fall in love
But after our first dance you said
You thought you'd give
This crazy swain another chance

Oh my my my
Call the FBI
I think I lost my pride
I think I found my bride.

For More than a Million Dreams

Keep on chipping
Right away at my heart
Because you touched it
Right from the start
If you were to leave me
And then
We were to part
It would really tear me apart

Don't stop now
Darling you're getting to me
Don't quit now
That you're ahead
Don't stop now
You've made an impression on me
Now there's no getting you out of my head

Keep on tearing
All my defences down
Because I feel that
They're all going to fall
Keep on keeping up with
All of your charms
Because I feel
I'm going to give you my all

Don't stop now
You lit such a fire in me
Don't quit now
Because that would be cruel
Don't stop now
Darling don't tire of me
I'd feel such a fool and so confused

You're the one
I have longed for you
For more than a million dreams
You're the one
I have been strong for you
You don't know how hard it's been

Don't stop now
Darling you're getting to me
Don't quit now
That you're ahead
Don't stop now.

Melancholy Girl

Melancholy Girl
With your Pre-Raphaelite curls
You don't seem quite of this world
Such a strange and a sad-eyed girl

What happened to your smile
How came you to be so full of guile
Your eyes seem to stare for miles
For such a sweet and a tender child

There's someone you've got to meet
The truth can set you free
Eternally
Enigmatic babe
The way you live is a shame
Life is more than a game
Freedom's found in just one name

I'd like to show you another way
Where the dark can't harm you
Night or day

Melancholy Girl,
With your Pre-Raphaelite curls
You don't seem quite of this world
Such a strange and a sad-eyed girl.

My Travels

My travels start
Right here
Deep in my mind
My travels take me just where
I please I don't have
To leave my warm room

My travels start
Sixteen sun
Beating down
Sinatra's crooning Jobim
And I'm just dreaming of my
Great romance to come

I don't need a little ticket
Tells me I can take the train
I don't even to risk it
There's no blistering sun
Or driving rain
And it's here that I remain

My travels end
With a sweet
And peaceful time
I've found such sense deep within
No more will I feel
The need to go travelling again.

Book Seven

So that it Remain Perpetually Inchoate

Being a somewhat convoluted explanation of how the various strands of Where the Halling Valley River Lies came to be concocted.
And which we begin with Leitmotifs from an English Pastorale, whose nucleus came about some years ago when I attempted to write a piece about the pastoral tradition within English music, before realising I'd set myself a monumental task. But I rambled on regardless, only to lose what I'd written so far when my computer crashed beyond all hope of repair. As for reasons best known to myself, I'd not ensured its continuing existence by way of a duplicate.
I think I then attempted a re-write with the singer-songwriter Nick Drake as its main feature, which I enhanced with references to various examples of English pastoral music, such as my own personal favourite, The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Ultimately it was given the title From an English Pastorale - For Nick Drake; but I only ever saw it as a makeweight. That is, until I decided to expand it into Leitmotifs from an English Pastorale.
I can't even recall why I made the decision to include the leitmotifs or recurring themes, which were of course originally used in music rather than in writing, although ultimately co-opted by literature. But it was a risky one, lest readers think I was inadvertently repeating myself. But then the piece as a whole is pretty "lawless", which is what the French writer Andre Gide proposed a novel should be. Although Leitmotifs is hardly a novel; and Gide's shorter works were far from lawless.
It's based on fact, and predictably so for anyone who's in any way familiar with what I optimistically like to call my writings. And while partly original, it's also rooted in a network of autobiographical pieces I've been concocting since 2006; having destroyed most of what I'd written up to that point.
But it's not a memoir as such, at least, not as I see it, but then in the end, it's not up to me to say what it is. In fact when all's said and done, I haven't the first idea what it is other than something I wrote. But by naming the central figure Runacles, I'm able to distance myself a little from him, so that Runacles is a version of me as opposed to the completed article.
And so we move on to Adversary (A Quartet of Modern Discourses). The first of which, The Coming of the Absaloms, having been fashioned from an early section of The Gambolling Baby Boomer, first chapter of my memoir, Rescue of a Rock and Roll Child. Or should I say memoirs...for it exists as two versions, one being a direct memoir, the other, similarly direct, but with many names changed.
And while Absaloms has since been enhanced, the similarities still very much remain. While the second was derived from another chapter from Rescue, The Triumph of Decadence. As to the third, it was based on The Riddle of the British English, which while still available online, has to all intents and purposes been shelved. While the source of the fourth, From Avant Garde to Global Village, was the final chapter of Rescue, A Final Distant Clarion Cry.
Which brings us to Your Lethal Life and Further Versified Fragments, which as the name suggests consists exclusively of versified writings.
Wicked Cahoots and The Woodville Hall Soul Boys stem from stories written in the late 1970s; while they first saw the light of day in versified form in 2006, before going on to form part of the Rescue. While Some Perverse Will, which originates from about 1980, has never been anything other than versified. Although the same could not be said of Tales of a Paris Flaneur, a relatively new work in its present form, based partly on a story written in about 1987 (and subsequently destroyed), and partly on material written specifically for what became the Rescue.
While Spark of Youth Long Gone and London as the Lieu also date from the '80s; indeed London first existed in prose form as part of the same story that partially inspired Flaneur, while Spark was from another - barely started - tale entirely. And Lone Birthday Dancing was forged specially for the Rescue from notes made some time in the early 1990s, possibly October '91.
With respect to the Lyrical Fragments, they were for the most part penned in 2003 before being roughly recorded onto cassette, and later transferred onto CD, which enabled them to be made into MP3 files. And these eventually ended up on You Tube, among other sites. Although versions of The Ones We Love and Time Travel were written in 1974 and '99 respectively, with All Through the Ages arriving around about the same time as Travel, although never making it onto CD.
And the same applies to Your (Beautiful) Lethal Life, a recent piece based on an earlier lyric written for a close friend at a time my own life was both beautiful and lethal.
Shifting to Seven Chapters from a Sad Sack Loser's Life, its origins also lie in the Rescue. For out of the latter came two kindred pieces centring on one David Cristiansen, namely, The Tormenting, and The Testimony, which is even more bowdlerised than its sister piece, if that's at all possible. Both are told in the third person as a means of rendering what is effectively a memoir more novelistic, and enhanced by dialogue, as in the case of Rescue, which is either as I remember it, or simply approximate.
While some of the narrative could be accused of being on the fanciful side, as befitting a piece of creative non-fiction, which concerns me somewhat, due to my fervid commitment to absolute truth. For instance, when I refer to the protagonist David as having realised he was a king-size loser, I feel I'm trying to provide a striking start to the story; and yet when I did so, I was at a low ebb when it came to my image of myself as a writer. So titling the work as I did may have been both petulant and cathartic.
But did I really think of myself, Carl Halling (as distinct from David Cristiansen) as a loser? The truth is I can't remember.
And Sad Sack is effectively The Tormenting, with elements of The Testimony added to it. Such as several autobiographical narratives which, deemed ineffectual as shorts, were shelved along with both longer works. While the Rescue was relegated to what might be called a second team of writings.
Which is where Book Five once existed...that is, until it was recently upgraded and completed. But its evolution was even more labyrinthine than that of Sad Sack.
What is certain is that it first emerged in the wake of Rescue as a second memoir, only to vanish from the writing site I'd initially used to store it...having failed to benefit from the safety net of a back-up copy.
And as a result, I was forced to re-write it; and it emerged in embryonic form as a vast diversity of writings. And some or all of these are still available to read online. Yet, it was ultimately fine-tuned in order that it focus on my father, Patrick Halling, as well as the successive musical and cultural climates in which his career took place. And tendered the name Where the Halling Valley River Lies.
While many, perhaps most of the elements pertaining to myself would be destined to end up in Sad Sack.
And so finally to Beachcombings from the Halling Valley Riverbank, whose opener, Some Sun Drunk Day He Said, has the dubious honour of being a near-unadulterated slice of juvenilia, having been conceived as some kind of poem in about 1976. And as such, it provides a certain insight into the psychological condition of the dandified figure from Chapter Two of Seven Chapters from a Sad Sack Loser's Life.
While the origins of sophomore piece, Bouzingo: The Gathering of the Poets, lie in an unfinished tale, possibly dating from around 1979. And which centres on a club situated in an imaginary small town in Southern Spain, in which fashionable young men and women are wont to nightly congregate as a means of fulfilling their wildest romantic fantasies. Is in other words, entirely fantastical, unlike most of my writings.
Call the FBI, For More than a Million Dreams, Melancholy Girl, and My Travels were all originally song lyrics penned in 2003...with Some Romantic Afternoon dating from much earlier...perhaps 1980. While Gallant Festivities and The Wanderer of Golders Green were versified for inclusion in what ultimately became the Rescue, having been based on notes made in the early 1980s.
And this short coda finishes things off quite neatly. But that's not to say Where the Halling Valley River Lies has attained its definitive state, because by its very nature, it can be added to ad infinitum. So that it remain perpetually fluid and perpetually inchoate. And in perpetual evolution.

Part Two Far Beyond the Borderlands of Scotia/At the Tail End of the Goldhawk Road/The Boy from the Tail End of the Goldhawk Road

Book One

Darling Fan and a Further Octet of Essays

1. Luke the Drifter and the Secrets of Country

Luke the Drifter and the Birth of Country

It's widely accepted that singer and songwriter Hank Williams is Country Music's single most revered figure, and among the most influential popular musicians of the 20th Century.
And as such he incarnated many of the key elements of this most American of arts, having been born poor in the rural South of the United States, for notwithstanding its Canadian and Australian variants, Country is quintessentially the music of the working people of the American South.
These allegedly originally consisting of southern English emigrants from rural East Anglia, Kent and the West Country, who settled largely on the coastal regions, but had reached the Appalachian Mountains by the 18th Century. While Appalachia and the Piedmont were both significantly colonised by Northern English and Lowland Scottish peoples, as well as the Protestant Scots-Irish from Ireland's Ulster province.
And the great majority of white Southerners continue to be of English and Scots-Irish origin, notwithstanding the sizeable amounts of Southerners who don't share these ancestries. Such as the French Americans of Louisiana for example; and the Irish Americans of South Georgia; as well as the German Americans of the Texas Hill Country and borderland areas of the upland South.
But Hank Williams was of English-American ancestry, like so many of those who bequeathed the South its distinctive culture, which includes its famous conservatism and patriotism, themselves the result of deep-rooted Christian foundations. And a culture of honour...born perhaps of the clannishness of herders from Western and Northern England, Lowland Scotland and Ireland's Ulster province...and resultant fiery sense of protectiveness.
As well as the time-honoured mistrust existent between the rural poor and wealthy elite, such as those of the coastal areas, who were traditionally of English Episcopalian origin. While those of the hill country were mainly of mixed English and Scots-Irish ancestry.
And of course its music...and while it's known as Country today, this has not always been the case. For its roots lie in the Folk Music of emigrants from Britain and Ireland, as do the Square and Clog dancing that flourished alongside it; although while the fiddle came from the British Isles, the banjo was African-American in origin. While the Mountain Dulcimer was native to the Appalachians.
Known today as Old Time music, it was first commercially recorded in the early 1920s. While among the earliest acts considered Country per se were Jimmie Rodgers from Mississippi; and the Carter Family from Virginia, whose music was marked by the Evangelical fervour that would go on to be one of the defining hallmarks of early Country.
And other early superstars included Uncle Dave Macon, son of a Confederate Captain, Country Gospel pioneer Roy Claxton Acuff, and harmonica master DeFord Bailey, self-styled purveyor of Black Hillbilly music. For at the time, Country was still described as such, with Acuff being known as the King of the Hillbillies (some time before he became The Backwoods Sinatra).
All three were early performers at the Grand Ole Opry, a weekly stage event instituted in 1925 in Nashville, Tennessee, which has since become established as the spiritual capital of Country Music. But which was originally but a one-hour barn dance featured on local radio.
And if Acuff represented the family values that have always been part and parcel of Country, then Western Swing, a fusion of Country and Swing which took root in Texas and Oklahoma in the late 1920s, was infinitely less spiritual. Although by contemporary standards, it was the soul of romantic innocence.
And in time it mutated into Honky-Tonk, which was variously fuelled by Country fiddle and steel and electric guitars, as well as the Boogie Woogie piano style of artists such as Moon Mullican. While Ernest Tubb's Walking the Floor Over You is widely considered to have launched the genre in 1941, which at the hands of Floyd Tillman, produced songs of great beauty which inclined as much to Traditional Pop as Country.
While Mullican's music was incredibly influential, providing much of the groundwork not just for Rockabilly, but Rock and Roll itself.
Although its dominance was seriously challenged by the birth of Bluegrass, which harked back to the classic Folk of yore, its founding father, Bill Monroe from the Bluegrass State itself. While other masterful acts within the tradition included the Stanley and Louvin Brothers.
If Honky-Tonk provided the essence of modern Country, then Bluegrass was the keeper of the classical tradition; and it could conceivably be said that Hank Williams stood at the crossroads of both. That is, if his dual inclination to the spiritual fervour of Southern Gospel and the out and out hedonism of Honky-Tonk were anything to go by.
And perhaps it's partly because he was such a divided spirit that he stands as Country's single most revered figure, and not just in terms of his music - Country of course having served as one of the prime components of primordial Rock and Roll - but his wild and colourful lifestyle. For there are those who'd insist this was perfectly in keeping with the Rock and Roll ethos that came in the wake of his untimely death in 1953. Although such a theory can only be partially true at best.
For far from being some kind of conscienceless libertine, there's evidence he was conscious of the necessity of repentance all throughout his life. And in this respect, anticipated the tortured relationship with Christ enjoyed by several of his progeny within Rock and Roll, such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis himself.
There's also evidence he made his peace with his Saviour immediately prior to his terrible lonely demise, which while indisputably hastened by long-term alcohol abuse, was ultimately the result of a heart attack. While mention must be made of the morphine and chloral hydrate he'd been latterly taking as a means of controlling his chronic back pain.
And could it be said his longstanding pain was ultimately spiritual, as well as physical...born of a conviction on his part he'd neglected the kind of faith that inspired several of his early songs, such as Wealth Won't Save Your Soul from '47, and I Saw the Light from a year later? And that he'd allowed himself to be blinded by worldly ambition?
Whatever the truth, it seems apparent this failed to provide him with any true long-lasting happiness. Or indeed the mainstream success for which he clearly so longed for a time. But if he died a saved man, in the final analysis, was this really such a great loss?

Luke the Drifter and the Life of Hank Williams

He was born Hiram King Williams in Mount Olive in the suburbs of Birmingham, Alabama, on the 17th of September 1923, to Elonzo Williams, a World War One veteran of English ancestry known as Lon, and his wife Jessie Lillybelle Williams - nee Skipper - known as Lillie.
Lon Williams' working career had included time spent as a waterboy on logging camps, while he was ultimately destined to ascend to the lofty status of engineer for a prestigious logging company. But he'd more recently opened a small store with his wife adjacent to their cabin in Mount Olive. And their first child, Irene, had been born on the 8th of August 1922.
Young Hiram was a frail and slender boy seemingly bound for a lifetime of suffering, and most of all from a mild undiagnosed case of the spinal disorder, spina bifida occulta.
Then, in 1930, when he was only seven years old, his father was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm related to a fall he'd suffered during his wartime service, and he was hospitalised for eight years. Which resulted in a lengthy peripatetic period for the Williams family, with Lillie finding work wherever she could.
And it was during a brief sojourn in Georgiana that Williams' musical career is believed to have come about, when Blues musician Rufus Payne, known as Tee Tot, provided the young Hank with guitar lessons in exchange for meals prepared by his mother. The upshot being he came to develop a unique musical style consisting of elements of Country, Folk and Blues which presaged the eventual birth of Rock and Roll.
And while still only a teenager he was already hosting his own show on a local radio station in Montgomery, Alabama, as the Singing Kid, while touring beer joints and other venues with his band, which he dubbed the Drifting Cowboys.
So that by the early '40s he was a regional star attraction, coming to the attention as such of various influential members of the music business, even while seeking the alcoholic self-medication that took a serious toll on his reputation for reliability.
And then, with America's entry into World War II in 1941, the band was virtually decimated, although Williams himself was exempted from active service by dint of his medical condition.
Two years later, he met Audrey Mae Sheppard, a beautiful divorcee from a farming family from Banks, Alabama, and they wasted little time in getting married, with Audrey becoming his manager a short time before their wedding. And in 1946, he and Audrey visited Nashville with a view to meeting music publisher Fred Rose, one of the heads of Acuff-Rose Publishing with one of Hank's idols, Roy Acuff.
He promptly went on to record two successful singles, which resulted in his signing a contract with MGM Records with Rose as his manager and producer.
Move It On Over, released in 1947 was Williams' first single for MGM, and while it went to number four on the Billboard Country Singles chart, it failed to make a dent on the Pop mainstream. Although its uncanny resemblance to Rock Around the Clock makes it one of the most influential records of the 20th Century.
However, by this time, his problems with alcohol were in constant danger of sabotaging his ascent to national celebrity. And far from contributing to these, it's believed Audrey was indefatigable in her efforts to keep him from the booze and encourage his rise to the top, notwithstanding the turbulence of their relationship.
But these were such that Fred Rose, who evidently loved him as his own son, gave up on him in despair, while in April 1948, Audrey filed for divorce.
However, after having reconciled with both his manager and the love of his life, his career was once more on track. And in August, he appeared on the Louisiana Hayride radio show, which would play host to one Elvis Presley just a little over a half dozen years down the line.
Then in 1949, his son Randall Hank Williams - who would go on to great success in his own right as Hank Williams Jr. - was born on the 26th of May. While his cover of Lovesick Blues, a Tin Pan Alley song written by Cliff Friend and Irving Mills in 1922, became his first number one on the Country chart, while crossing over into the Top 25 at number 24.
And when he performed it at the Grand Ole Opry in June, he received no less than six encores, which was unprecedented at the time, and had the effect of turning him into a true star at long last.
With success came the creative freedom to create an enigmatic alter ego, which he did in 1950. And under the name of Luke the Drifter, he recorded a series of recitation-based recordings of a marked spiritual inclination.
But 1951 was a year of terrible trial for Hiram King, and his final separation from Audrey came in May when they were divorced for a second time. While in August, his uncontrolled alcoholism saw him fired from the Grand Ole Opry.
Although his career proceeded apace, and he placed no less than five singles in the Country top ten in that year, including two number ones in the shape of Hey Good Lookin'; and Cold, Cold Heart, which the great vocal stylist Tony Bennett took to number one on the national chart.
But in the fall, he suffered an accident during a hunting trip on his Tennessee farm which exacerbated his already chronic back problems, while allegedly causing him to resort to a variety of painkillers including morphine.
While in '52, he scored as many successes as the previous year, including Jambalaya (On the Bayou), which reached number 20 on the national chart, making it his greatest ever hit.
His personal life received a shot of good fortune in October when he married another Southern beauty Billie Jean Jones in Minden, Louisiana. And it's she who has publicly testified to his reconciliation with Jesus shortly before his death on New Year's Day 1953, while it behoves all Christian men and women to maintain its sincerity. For when all's said and done, a person's salvation is in the hands of the Creator, and the Creator alone.
What is certain is that his death came some time after midnight on the 1st of January 1953, in the back of a Cadillac convertible in which he was being driven to a series of concerts by a college student called Charles Carr, and was in consequence of a heart attack. And it's been called the first great tragedy of Rock and Roll.
But were it still up to Williams, would he truly care to be identified with such an ecstatically sensual music form?
That is, in the light of the Luke the Drifter recordings; and his professed belief in the vital importance of repentance, as expressed through several of his earliest songs. To say nothing of the high poetic quality of his lyrics, which have caused him to be dubbed the Hillbilly Shakespeare.
Although to be fair, Rock wasted little time in becoming a bona fide art form, with Bob Dylan injecting voluminous quantities of high culture into the music once he'd crossed over from Folk in 1965. While the Beatles were among the first of the initial wave of sixties Rock groups to be powerfully influenced by the fledgling art form's first true intellectual.
And would it be too fanciful to suggest that Williams' considerable poetic gifts partially anticipated this development? For Dylan has included him among his foremost artistic mentors. While his musical progeny have also included the greatest Rock star of them all, Elvis Presley...the man who effectively birthed an entire era. Albeit unwittingly.
For Elvis was initially seen as a Country artist, performing on the Grand Ole Opry for the first and only time on 2 October 1954, and on the Louisiana Hayride a fortnight after that; and then all throughout the following year. Although in truth, his music subsumed the rougher elements of both Country and Rhythm and Blues to create an entirely new music genre, Rock and Roll.
And seminal Rock and Roll inclined more to Country or R&B depending on the artist creating it at any given time.
But whatever it was known as, it took the Pop world by storm around 1955, while fomenting a cultural and moral revolution whose repercussions continue to be felt in the West and beyond to this day.

Luke the Drifter and the Future of Country

It could conceivably be said that the means by which Country survived the Rock and Roll revolution was to distance itself from the very earthiness that had inspired it. And which was pre-eminently associated with Country music's single most revered figure, Hank Williams, who is also among the most influential popular musicians of the 20th Century.
So while the smooth musical genres of Soul and Tamla Motown emerged from the far rougher sound of primal R&B, the Nashville Sound was born from a co-mingling of Country and Tin Pan Alley style Pop in the city that tendered it its name.
While its earliest proponents included Jim Reeves, who sang with the finesse of a great song stylist...a Sinatra or a Como...and Patsy Cline, who had something of the Jazz chanteuse about her. But while the Nashville Sound saved Country Music in commercial terms in around 1958, a major creative backlash came courtesy of the Southern Diaspora city of Bakersfield, whose Bakersfield Sound, forged in the mid 1950s, started infiltrating the mainstream a few years later.
For during the Dust Bowl period of the early 1930s, this small conservative town in California's San Joaquin Valley had been subject to a massive influx of migrants from several southern states including Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas. And when they came, they brought their music and culture with them, with the result that Bakersfield became a Southern city in all but name.
And if the Nashville Sound was born of a harmonious merger between Country and Tin Pan Alley, that of Bakersfield harked back to the pre-Rock age, while ultimately co-opting several key ingredients of this upstart art, its first major figure the Texan Buck Owens, who settled in the town in 1951.
While his first number one, Act Naturally, from 1963, was later covered by the most successful Pop act of all time, the Beatles...who were allegedly influenced by the Bakersfield Sound; and certainly the distinctive twang of many of their earliest recordings has a powerful Country feel about it.
Although unlike the superstars of the Nashville Sound, Owens never had a top ten record on the Billboard Hot 100.
While Country Pop thrived throughout the '60s in the shape of such massive crossover hits as Jim Reeves' He'll Have to Go from '59, I'm Sorry by Brenda Lee from '60, Make the World Go Away by Eddie Arnold from '65, and the poignant Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell from the year of non-stop protest, 1968.
But it was also in the '60s, or rather the late 1960s at a time when Rock was in the midst of its Golden Age, that new earthier forms of Country could be said to have set about the task of challenging the Nashville mainstream. Such as the first major Bluegrass Revival; as well as the increasing popularity of Progressive Bluegrass.
While Country Rock became an international sensation thanks to such albums as the Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo, spearheaded in '68 by tragic golden boy, Gram Parsons, who more than anyone was responsible for introducing the Rolling Stones to his beloved music. Although Bob Dylan had perhaps been its foremost pioneer by power of incorporating elements of Country into his ground-breaking 1966 double album, Blonde on Blonde, with John Wesley Harding from '67, and Nashville Skyline from '69, serving to further consolidate the Country Rock revolution.
But it wasn't until the '70s that the genre truly came into its own, when the Eagles emerged as the most successful Country Rock act of all time. Although their powerfully melodic sound was indebted to a classic Pop sensibility. And specifically that of the Beatles, whose Beatles for Sale from 1964 showed a marked Country influence.
Among the other artists successfully operating within the Country Rock genre in the '70s were Neil Young, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris and John Fogerty, whose Creedence Clearwater Revival had been instrumental in bringing about the birth of Southern Rock in the late 1960s. This a form of music forged from elements of Rock and Roll, Country and Blues, whose most beloved exponents remain Southern legends the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynrd.
While concurrently with the coming of Country and Southern Rock, Outlaw Country, inspired by the spirit of Hank Williams, started making modest inroads into the mainstream. And it was Willie Nelson, ironically responsible for one of the most beautiful crossover ballads in Country Music history in the shape of Patsy Cline's Crazy, who stood at its centre.
But he was aided and abetted in this respect by other veterans from the '50s, such as Johnny Cash, George Jones, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard. While younger more troubled outlaws came in the shape of Townes Van Zandt, very much part of the pantheon of tortured prodigies that reached an apogee with Hank Williams, as well as Williams' own son, Hank Jr.
Although Country Pop with its roots in the Nashville Sound continued to dominate the Pop charts in the '70s, providing such diverse figures as Anne Murray, Olivia Newton John, John Denver, Glen Campbell, Kenny Rogers, and Dolly Parton with massive crossover hits. Even if by the mid 1980s, it had begun to be challenged by the New Traditional and Alternative schools, with Lyle Lovett widely considered to be the supreme pioneer of what has become known variously as Alt-Country and Americana.
While in the '90s and '00s, mainstream Country music experienced an explosion of popularity which propelled certain figures to levels of international pre-eminence previously unprecedented for Country artists.
And these included Billy Ray Cyrus, Shania Twain, Faith Hill and the Dixie Chicks, but most of all, Garth Brooks, who stands as the third most successful act in the history of recorded music in America. Even if in terms of international record sales, he is nowhere near as prolific as his closest rivals, the Beatles and Elvis Presley.
And if mainstream Country in the new millennium is closer to Teenybop Pop than ever before, then there are those who'd insist that much contemporary alternative Country is Rock in all but name, with little of pure Country remaining. But if this is so, then at its most progressive, its produced some truly exalted art.
Such as from native New Yorker, Gillian Welch, who more than anyone since the end of the last millennium has forged fresh territory for Country Music, by fusing Old-Time music not just to the sombre mysteries of Alternative Rock, but the beautiful melodies of Classical Pop.
While Hiram King Williams' own grandson, Hank Williams III, serves to disprove the notion that the spirit of traditional Country has been entirely lost to the upstart art of Rock. Even if his lyrics are informed by such quintessential Rock and Roll subspecies as Heavy Metal and Punk.
And what would his granddaddy, Country Music's single most revered figure, and among the most influential popular musicians of the 20th Century, have to say about the state of Country Music were he in a position to say anything at all?
One can't help thinking he'd be urging those with the requisite talent to return to songs of repentance pure and simple. And that wherever he may be now...he'd be devoutly wishing he devoted more of his life and career to songs bespeaking the seeing of the light and the subsequent preparedness for a time about which he once so fervidly sang, When God Comes and Gathers His Jewels.

2. Far Beyond the Borderlands of Scotia

As in the case of all the information I provide in my writings, that contained within the piece that follows stems from what I've come to believe is true according to my research, and is at no point intended to mislead.
But it's been estimated that some 27 million Americans are of Scots-Irish descent, making it one of the largest ethnic groups in the country, although the vast majority of these would consider themselves simply to be ethnically American.
And among those sons and daughter of the US able to boast of Scots-Irish origins have been many of the nation's most legendary figures. Such as, reputably, Andrew Jackson, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, Edgar Allan Poe, Kit Carson, Mark Twain, Henry James, Andrew W. Mellon, George S. Patton, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Jackson Pollock, Ava Gardner, Audie Murphy, Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley, Robert Redford, and Kurt Cobain.
But that does not necessarily mean that all these illustrious individuals possess Caledonian – or for that matter Hibernian - roots. For Scots-Irish is a term which, almost exclusively American, tends to refer to those one-time immigrants to the US from Ireland who were of Protestant ancestry, together with their descendants. And thence theoretically just as likely to be originally from England as Scotland; and more likely to be of Anglo-Saxon, rather than Celtic, lineage. Again, according to theory.
Perhaps given they are of alleged Anglo-Scottish stock for the most part, with probable Irish, Flemish, French and German admixtures a far apter description would be British Irish; or Ulster British. However, Scots-Irish is the name by which they are most famous, so from this point on, they will mainly be referred to as such.
In addition to the US, people of Scots-Irish descent are to be found in all other parts of the Anglosphere, including Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Ireland, and of course Britain.
Indeed, the people whence they directly emerged are still to be found in Northern Ireland and other parts of the United Kingdom. While living Britons of Scots Irish, or more correctly Ulster Irish, lineage include the much-praised actor and director Kenneth Branagh, Rock virtuoso Matt Bellamy, and film and stage actor Daniel Radcliffe. As well as all those Northern Irish men and women who identify as British, of which there are allegedly 37%. Although it's not certain whether the first-named, who has referred to himself as Irish, is among them.
To say nothing of your humble author, who, while proud of his Scots Irishness, nonetheless maintains that there is no justification for claims of superiority on the part of any ethnic group, given we are each of us subject to sin from birth.
This is a concept which will hold great appeal to many of those of Scots-Irish extraction, given their longstanding affiliation to that form of Christianity which is predicated on a belief in the literal truth of the Bible, and which has become known as Fundamentalism.
As I've already stated with respect to their ethnicity, the Scots-Irish are neither strictly Scottish nor Irish. In fact, their origins as a distinct group lie in what are known as the Ulster Plantations, which came into existence in 1609, in the wake of the Nine Years War, a bloody conflict fought largely in the province of Ulster, Ireland, between its chieftains and their Catholic allies, on one hand, and the forces of Elizabethan England on the other.
The latter's decisive victory led to the end of the Gaelic Clan system, and the colonization of Ulster by English and Scottish Protestants; hence, the Ulster Plantations.
Many of these planters had been inhabitants of the Anglo-Scottish borderlands, and so, hailing from Northern English counties such as Cumberland, Westmoreland, Northumberland, Yorkshire and Lancashire, and counties of the Scottish Lowlands, such as Ayrshire, Dumfriesshire, Roxburghshire, Berwickshire and Wigtownshire.
According to many sources, Lowlanders are distinct from their Highland counterparts by being of Anglo-Saxon rather than Gaelic ethnicity, although how true this is it's impossible to say. Certainly, the region straddling the Scottish Lowlands and Anglo-Scottish Borderlands is one traditionally perceived by Highlanders as Sassenach, which is the Gaelic term for a person of Anglo-Saxon origin.
Whatever the truth, the sensible view is that their bloodline contains a variety of kindred strains including - as well as Anglo-Saxon - Gaelic, Pictish, Norman and so on, depending on the exact region. Moreover, all Caucasian inhabitants of the British Isles partake of a fairly homogeneous ancestry, which certain contemporary experts are claiming to be more Iberian than anything else. Again, this is open to conjecture.
These Ulster Scots emigrated to the US in the 1600s, and their descendants are to be found all throughout the country, but most famously perhaps in those regions which are culturally Southern, which is to say those states situated beneath the Mason-Dixon Line. Indeed most of the original European settlers of the Deep and Upland South are widely believed to have been of British, and especially English and Ulster-Scots, origin. Today, many of them describe themselves as merely "American", while others continue to claim either English or Ulster-Scots descent.
In the early 1700s, some 50,000 Scots-Irish men and women left the ports of Belfast, Larne and Londonderry for the New World. They came as a fiercely independent people, complete with Bible and musket, and mostly as skilled workers, filled to the brim with the Protestant work ethic, and desperate for religious freedom.
Having had a negative experience of gentry-dominated societies in both Britain and Ireland, the freshly arrived Scots-Irish were understandably keen to steer clear of similar regimes in the US. So at first, they avoided Virginia, which had been settled during the English Civil War and its aftermath by Royalist Cavaliers of gentle birth, as well as the Carolinas, as all were under the sway of the plantation system and the Church of England; while Maryland had been established for the Catholic nobility.
Their first part of call was the Pennsylvanian backcountry, and from there, they moved further down into the Southern hinterland, to Virginia and the Carolinas; and following the war of independence, and together with fresh immigrants, they set about the population of Kentucky, Georgia and Tennessee, and so the rest of the South. At the same time, many remained in Pennsylvania and surrounding areas, while others moved further west, so that parts of Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma went on to become culturally Anglo-Celtic, and specifically Scots-Irish. The same could be said of the southernmost parts of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
They formed the dominant culture of the Appalachian mountains from Pennsylvania to Georgia, and featured strongly among those who tamed the West in the wake of the American War of Independence.
In time, they largely forsook their Calvinist roots to adopt the fervid Evangelicalism for which they are renowned throughout the world, as they are for their unyielding allegiance to God, nation and family.
Their influence grew to the extent that they became part of America's ruling elite, with no less than a third of all American presidents having ancestral links to Ulster, these reputedly including FDR, Truman, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, both Bushes and Obama. Thence, this remarkable little race made the voyage all the way from the borderlands of Scotland, where they existed as the lowliest and most oppressed of peoples, to the highest political office in the world.

3. Werther and the Rise of Romantic Melancholia

Most students of world literature would surely agree that Goethe's famous epistolary novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, has exerted a quite incalculable influence on the evolution of the Western mind from the date of its publication in 1774. And that it did so principally through Romanticism, that great movement in the arts of which it was a prime antecedent, would be disputed by few.
And while the notion that melancholy is a feature of sensitive and creative youth was not new at the height of Romanticism, it attained a credence within it that was possibly unprecedented, at least in its intensity. The name Weltschmerz, which can be translated as world pain, becoming attached to it.
Such a development can be at least partly attributed to Werther, whose forlorn hero has served as the forefather of succeeding generations of melancholy youth.
And then there are the countless scions of Romanticism within the Decadent and Symbolist Movements, Expressionism and Futurism, Dadaism and Surrealism and the Beat and Rock Generations, who by pursuing tragic, tormented existences and dying while yet young and preferably beautiful, have become the favoured artists of the Modern Age.
Surely, all who remain unconvinced by the romantic and avant-garde persuasions will view this development as not just tragic but horrifying. For while old age is all too often a source of deep regret for follies past, youth, precious youth, provides a person with almost unlimited opportunities for the eradication of this outcome.
Which is not to mitigate genuine depression, of which there are sufferers in all age brackets, and to which youth can be singularly susceptible. For to do so would be not just cruel but dangerous.
But most people in the privileged West, no matter how exorbitantly romantic in youth, yet survive into late middle age. And all that remains for them to do is find a place for themselves in the world, but without the advantages of youth and beauty and endless reserves of time.
So, what precisely was it that possessed Goethe to write a novel that at least partially caused an entire movement in the arts to be birthed in its wake. And what was it about the work that was so inflammatory?
In order to answer this question, it's necessary to examine certain events from Goethe's own young manhood.
For in 1770, at the tender age of 20, Goethe found himself in Strasbourg in order to complete a law degree he'd previously abandoned while at Leipzig. And while there, became a close friend of future fellow polymath Johann Gottfried von Herder, who introduced him to Shakespeare, then allegedly barely known in the German speaking world.
And by the following year, he was working as a licensee in Frankfurt, although he soon lost his position, at which point he set about attempting to make his living as a writer for the first time, publishing the drama, Goetz von Berlichingen, in 1773.
By so doing, he'd provided the first classic of the Storm and Stress movement, which also included his one-time mentor Herder. As well as - in the shape of the drama's eponymous hero - an example of the Daemonic as Goethe conceived it. Which is to say as a type of genius typically possessed by a charismatic individual of overpowering will and energy who could to some degree be said to be a precursor of the Byronic Hero.
And in this, he was powerfully influenced by Shakespeare, whose age he evidently saw as being in marked contrast to late 18th Century Germany in all its sedate respectability.
In 1772, he resumed his legal career in Wetzlar on the River Lahn, and it was in that city state that he met the woman who would inspire him to write what remains his most famous work apart from his masterpiece, Faust.
The woman in question was Charlotte Buff, who by rejecting Goethe in favour of the civil servant Johann Christian Kestner provided the model for Lotte, heroine of Werther. Yet while he suffered from her repeated rejections of his love, his friendship with Charlotte was far less intense than the novel suggested. While the titular hero himself was based not just on the youthful Goethe, but the German-Jewish philosopher, Karl Wilhelm Jerusalem, who committed suicide following an unhappy love affair.
Werther perfectly captured a nascent restlessness and passionate extremism among the youth of Europe in the later years of the Enlightenment that would ultimately culminate in the Romantic revolution. In fact so much so that in some quarters its depiction of suicidal despair was condemned for flouting the traditionally Christian view of the sanctity of human life.
Although to be fair, it was hardly new, having played its part in tragic literature since time immemorial. And there is no hard and fast evidence for the existence of the so-called Werther Effect of copy cat suicides.
But the fact remains that Werther helped to develop the notion of the hero as rebel against all constraints.
And Werther's rebellion even extends to his dress, which is to say the famous blue coat and yellow breeches, which were inappropriately proletarian for the bourgeois society of the day. And which serve to make him a remarkably contemporary figure, for in the days leading up to the sartorial revolution of the '60s, male clothing had been of a near-universal drabness for several decades.
While at the height of the Swinging Sixties, hordes of young middle class men on both sides of the Atlantic elected to grow their hair; and sport dandified outfits like the Rock acts and artists who were seen as vulgar and low class by many from among their parents' generation.
Other facets of Werther's rebellious uniqueness include his emotionalism, seen at the time as ill-befitting an educated male, but which went on to become an important part of the artistic armoury in a brave new aeon in which the Artist served as High Priest. Or to paraphrase Shelley, the unacknowledged legislator of the world.
And a certain wandering quality which results in his accepting a mission to go in search of a family legacy, and then feel no overwhelming desire to either return home or seek a job in the rural region to which he has been sent. An idleness in other words...possibly born of a rebellious distaste for the puritan work ethic that has long been one of the key foundations of European bourgeois society.
A distaste which has persisted since among Bohemian artists, but which is usually transcended beyond a certain age, as in the case of Goethe, who mutated into the most industrious of men. But Werther never matures beyond a state of infantile dependence, and for a time is content to do little other than socialise with the local peasant folk, or read Homer beneath the linden trees.
And when he does finally find himself in work, his employer's fastidiousness drive him to distraction, and he quits in disgust, only to drift to the nearby town of Wahlheim in search of a local girl by the name of Charlotte, with whom he'd earlier become infatuated.
This despite the fact that Lotte is as good as engaged to be married to an older man called Albert, who befriends the lad, so that a kind of love triangle comes into being. And it could be said that Lotte is tempted by Werther, as the essence of proto-Romantic Bohemianism.
However, Werther ultimately leaves Wahlheim to find work, only to return after quitting his job; while Albert and Lotte have since married and settled into domestic contentment. Yet Werther is warmly welcomed by the couple in his new capacity as a family friend.
But he becomes increasingly de trop until Lotte is forced to become firm with him and tell him to stay away until Christmas Eve at which point, he reveals his true feelings to her. Not that she'd ever been in doubt about these. But of course, she rejects him, and the following day, Werther kills himself by shooting himself through the head.
And so...after Werther, the deluge of the Romantic Revolution; although it would be unjust to suggest that his creator and partial role model, Goethe, was its only forefather. For Goethe himself was responding to revolutionary ideas that were already very much in existence, such as those of Rousseau for example. And it would be equally unjust to over-emphasize the movement's negative aspects.
For it could be said that Romanticism was a reaction to the stultifying rationalism of the Enlightenment, and thence in some respects a step in the right direction in terms of renewing interest in the spiritual side of life.
But at the same time, it ushered in this notion of the artist as set apart from the common run, and inclined to all manner of excess in terms of intuition and sensibility, of seditiousness and eccentricity, of mental and emotional instability, which is surely absurd. Or rather should be seen as such by anyone of a responsible cast of mind.
For in its wake there arose a series of artistic movements or avant-gardes which fostered the most aberrant behaviour on the part of some of its participants. And presumably they acted as they did because they felt they had the right to as artists.
And yet it could be said they were more inclined to do so than previous generations by virtue of the tenor of the times. Which is to say an age in which the Judeo-Christian values on which the West had ever relied on for its foundations had already begun to decline following the Enlightenment, and so given birth to a spirit which has come to be known as Modernism.
But it would be altogether wrong to suggest that Werther was* responsible not just for Romanticism but its protracted decadence...which could with some justification be said to still be in operation.
For there were many Romantic precursors, and in comparison to some of these, Goethe's breakthrough novel was the soul of innocence. And what's more, in the wake of its phenomenal success, its author distanced himself from the nascent Romantic movement which caught fire first in Germany and then in Britain.
And he did so for the sake of a form of Neoclassicism which has become known as Weimar Classicism, whose minute number of participants included, in addition to Goethe himself, his close friends Schiller and Herder, as well as the poet and novelist Christoph Martin Wieland.
Yet, some half century after the publication of the book that made him world famous, Germany's greatest poet, and the equal as such of his one-time idol Shakespeare, looked back on the time of Werther's* sensational impact on a restless, passionate generation of youth. And he described it as "a spring, when everything was budding and shooting, when more than one tree was yet bare, while others were already full of leaves. All that in the year 1775!"
One can't help thinking there are many of the so-called Baby Boomer generation who view such totemic years as 1965, or '67, or perhaps even '77, in much the same way as Goethe when he was inspired to pen these lines. But then is that not the way for all generations of youth now grown old?
Of course...but then perhaps it's especially true for the generation who didn't so much invent the madness of youth, as incarnate it as never before within living memory.
And for my part, without sacrificing a tithe of what I've learned and achieved up to this point, I'd dearly love to make a return to a time when life seemed like some kind of eternal spring when everything was possible, nothing too much trouble. And this time around, youth would not be wasted on me, no not one delicious drop of it.* Changes.

4. Alfred de Musset (Blessed with Every Great Gift)

It was in the glittering Paris of the 1830s that a certain French Romantic poet, playwright and novelist of noble birth by the name of Alfred Charles de Musset-Pathay came close to having the exorbitant ambition of one who didn't want to write unless to aspire to the greatness of a Shakespeare or a Schiller. But then as the son and grandson of writers he'd been an outstanding student; and one who'd published both his first poem and a translation of De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater when he was just 16 years old.
And he entered that decade blessed with every great gift a gilded young genius might hope to possess. Being tender as well as elegant, beautiful as well as brilliant, and an irresistible enthusiast...brimful with passion and sensibility. But he'd have to wait a few years before real artistic success came his way.
And his was the era in which the Romantic movement came into full flower in France, and he revelled in it, this prince of youth, his sphere, the mondain cafe society of the Parisian Right Bank, his closest friend, fellow dandy Alfred Tattet.
And yet for all his dandyism, his relationship with fellow Romantic George Sand arguably had much of the Bohemian about it in terms of its turbulence and debauchery.
It impelled the former golden boy of French letters to pen his hyper-emotional The Confession of a Child of the Century, which was as much about his failed love affair with Sand as the disenchantment of the generation that had come to maturity in the wake of the Revolutionary Age.
Sand, born Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin in Paris in 1804, was clearly a woman of quite extraordinary magnetic power...and by the time of her affair with Musset, she was a divorcee with two young children, and a baroness to boot, even though her own roots were only partly aristocratic. For her effect on Musset was little short of cataclysmic, inspiring much of his finest work; and not just the Confession.
For the famous series of poems known as Les Nuits, composed between 1835 and '37, also spring from his unhappy relationship with Sand, and they are rightly considered to be among the unimpeachable masterpieces of French Romanticism. Indeed of French literature as a whole.
Yet it could be argued that Musset is best known for his theatrical writings, which began as early as 1830 with La Nuit Venitienne. And of which Lorenzaccio from 1833, and On ne badine pas avec l'amour from '34 are among the most celebrated.
Having said that, it's the Confession, as well as the true life romance at its heart, that appear to most inspire contemporary creators. And certainly it's a glamorous tale; while Musset's life itself is the stuff of legend.
Yet despite the fact that like Gautier, he became a deeply respectable figure in late middle age, receiving the National Order of the Legion of Honour in 1845, before being elected to the French Academy in '52, his was an ultimately tragic life, blighted by alcoholism. Which together with the condition known as aortic insufficiency, brought about his demise from heart failure at just 46 years old.
An age which appears to be a common one for the deaths of great poets whose flaming, beautiful youths were garlanded with the most magnificent promise imaginable. For as well as Musset...Baudelaire and Oscar Wilde died at 46, and together they might serve as a testimony to the awful truth of the brevity of even the most glorious of youths.
As well as the ruinous nature of youthful self-indulgence which so often leads ultimately to what is described in 2 Corinthians 7:10 as "the sorrow of the world," and of which Musset's own heartbreaking poem, Tristesse, is a pre-eminent expression. As opposed, that is to "godly sorrow," which "worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of."

5. Thomas Stearns' Pilgrimage to East Coker

The great Anglo-American Modernist poet T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) had strong links to the East Coast, and specifically New England, that most spiritually English of American regions, a distinction it shares with the South, with which Eliot was linked through his mother, the poet Charlotte Champe Stearns, originally from Baltimore in Maryland. Although he was actually born in St Louis, a Midwestern city in which it could be said that the wildly divergent cultures of the North and South, Midwest and East Coast are somehow mysteriously fused.
He was a scion of the famous Eliots, a family of Brahmins, or top families of largely Anglo-Saxon extraction, based in Boston, but originally from the little Somerset village of East Coker, subject of one of Eliot's most famous poems, and who came to dominate the American education system. And after graduating from the exclusive Milton Academy, Eliot himself attended Harvard between 1906 and 1909, earning his B.A. in what may have been Comparative Literature by his third year and his M.A., in English, by his fourth.
He also discovered Arthur Symons' The Symbolist Movement in Literature, which introduced him to the French Symbolists and Decadents, such as Verlaine, Rimbaud and Laforgue, all of whom went on to exert a profound impact on his work, as did Symbolist founding father Charles Baudelaire, more of whom later.
After Harvard, he studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, where he attended lectures by Henri Bergson, to whose philosophical ideas he was drawn, as he was to those of the ultra-conservative writer Charles Maurras. And he came to know Alain-Fournier, ill-fated author of a single much loved novel, Le Grand Meaulnes, and Jean Verdenal, a brilliant medical student with whom he forged an exceptionally close friendship, cut short by the latter's death in the First World War.
But it was when he was awarded a scholarship to Merton College, Oxford in 1914 that his artistic life could be said to have truly begun, almost as if, by arriving in England, he came home in a spiritual sense. Yet he quit Oxford after only a year, and this academic restlessness persisted into 1916, when after having completed a PhD dissertation for Harvard, he failed to return to the college to defend it; and so never received his doctorate.
However, by this time, he was already a published poet, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock having been published in Chicago in 1915 at the behest of his soon-to-be mentor, fellow Modernist titan Ezra Pound, and dedicated to Verdenal.
Prufrock has been cited as the point where modern poetry begins, and its famous third line, in which the night sky is likened to "a patient etherised on a table," remains a startling and even disturbing image to this day. However, the literature of shock was hardly new in 1914, possessing as it did multiple precedents among the French Symbolist and Decadents, Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Lautreamont foremost among them.
Eliot had a special admiration for Baudelaire...Symbolist forefather and first great poet of the modern urban landscape...as he did for Rimbaud, the angel-faced enfant terrible whose ferociously beautiful free form verse contained in his last two volumes, Une Saison en Enfer and Illuminations, exerted an influence on the evolution of 20th Century poetry that exceeds even that of Eliot. While their ecstatic, visionary quality is an obvious precursor of Eliot's own poetic vision.
However, with its doleful emphasis on regret and frustration, failure, exhaustion and decay, Prufrock could be said to have to some degree anticipated Camus' theory of the Absurd, as well as the theatre that came in its wake, which attained its possible apotheosis in the shape of Beckett's Waiting for Godot from 1955.
Although needless to say, the Absurd was nothing new, having pre-existed for example in French literature in the shape of the vast array of Decadent sects that proliferated in the second half of the 19th Century.
He was also a married man, having wed the attractive and vivacious Vivienne Haigh Wood in June 1915, a move which evidently dismayed his family, who expected him to make an imminent return to the US in order that he might take up his rightful place as a Harvard professor.
Instead, after a brief period spent teaching at various academic institutions, he embarked upon a successful eight-year career as a banker for Lloyds of London, working on foreign accounts. And it was during his tenure at Lloyds that he wrote some of the most earth-shaking poems of the 20th Century, which have caused his name to become almost synonymous with Modernism, which prompts the question, what precisely is Modernism?

One possible definition of Modernism is the avant-garde, but the avant-garde translated into a worldwide artistic movement of some half century's duration, lasting from ca. 1880-1930.
However, there are those cultural critics who'd insist that Modernism is far more than a mere artistic phenomenon, is in fact a spirit, with roots in the Enlightenment, the great 18th Century movement which saw age-old conceptions, specifically related to the Divine origins of Creation, being questioned as never before.
For them, the Modern embraces all aspects of human endeavour: the arts, religion, philosophy, science, politics; while others would assert that the Modern lives on, confounding the notion of a Post Modern age in which the pursuit of the absolutely modern has exhausted itself beyond recovery.
But whatever the truth, few would disagree that of all the masters of literary Modernism, Eliot remains the most famous and most quoted.
And all thanks to a mere handful of masterpieces, starting with Prufrock, which in 1917 became the title piece of Prufrock and Other Observations. And going on to include Gerontion, which contains one of Eliot's most famous and desolate lines in the shape of "After such knowledge, what forgiveness?" which has been sporadically referred to since by writers seeking to convey the utter enormity of Man's inhumanity to Man.
While the third of these, The Waste Land, was published in 1922, a year which has been cited by at least one cultural critic as the very acme of the Modern, as it produced not just Eliot's obra maestra, but James Joyce's equally seismic Ulysses.
It was received by the youth of the inter-war years as some kind of clarion call to arms...a cry to the young to rise; and as such, could be likened to Allen Ginsberg's Howl, which ignited the Beat Generation in 1955, that totemic year in which Rock started to make serious inroads into the mainstream for the first time. And James Dean took his place as the prototype of youth in revolt for the entire late 20th Century simply by dying while still young and beautiful at the flaming height of his fame.
While the following year of '56 witnessed the onset of Britain's Angry Young Men, led by playwright John Osborne, and among whose manifestos could be said to have been The Outsider by Colin Wilson, which included several quotations from Eliot's poetry.
And Eliot himself was perceived as "wild" according to fellow poet Stephen Spender, which of course could not have been further from the truth, for all throughout the '20s, he faithfully worked from 9 to 5 as if he were the very epitome of middle class propriety.
Yet, he became an idol to a wild generation of gilded privileged youth...sonnenkinder such as Harold Acton, who famously declaimed The Waste Land from the balcony of his room at Christ Church, Oxford, an incident which Evelyn Waugh included in his much loved elegy to his own generation at Oxford, Brideshead Revisited.
However, according to Waugh, the novel's chief aesthete, Anthony Blanche, was based not on Acton, but another of Waugh's contemporaries at Oxford, that Bright Young Thing par excellence, Brian Howard, whose single published volume of verse revealed exceptional poetic gifts. Although unlike Eliot, he remained in decorous obscurity.
As a poem, The Waste Land remains quite inscrutable, although rightly or wrongly, it conveys a powerful sense of disgust with the Established Order latterly responsible for sending millions of young men to their deaths in a pointless conflict, with its unforgettable opening lines starting with "April is the cruellest month."

Eliot's next major poetic work, The Hollow Men, was from 1925, also the year of the publication of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, the quintessential Jazz Age novel, which serves as an exquisitely wrought evocation of the despair that underlay its frenzied hedonism. Little wonder that Eliot admired it so much.
Hollow Men contains lines which are if anything even more mythically desolate than those of The Waste Land, such as "We are the Hollow Men / We are the Stuffed Men," which opens the poem, and "This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper," which closes it.
Many are familiar with the former through their inclusion in Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam-era version of Joseph Conrad's The Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now, in which they are recited by the character of Captain Kurtz, which is apt, given that Eliot's original poem was prefaced by a quotation from Conrad's novel, "Mistah Kurtz - he Dead."
But this is just one of the seemingly endless allusions to The Hollow Men that have haunted the arts and popular culture since the midpoint of what Fitzgerald famously called "the greatest, gaudiest spree in history." In fact, references to the poem, not just in literature, but music, the cinema, television, even video gaming, etc., are so numerous as to verge on the plethoric.
Yet, it boggles the mind that the most influential poet of modern times was such an unlikely revolutionary, was in fact the most impeccably respectable of men. For also in '25, he left Lloyds of London to begin a new career as a publisher for Faber and Gwyer - later Faber and Faber - where he remained for the rest of his professional life, eventually becoming one if its directors.
Two year later, he joined the Anglo-Catholic communion, so that thereafter, his work was informed by his deep Christian faith, and he became a British citizen in the same year, ultimately declaring himself to be "classicist in literature, royalist in politics and Anglo-Catholic in religion."
His next major work was his first long poem published since his conversion, Ash Wednesday (1930), which while being almost entirely devoid of the darkness and cynicism of its better-known predecessors, deals with the struggle of one who, hitherto lacking faith, strives to move closer to God.
Also published that year were Eliot's contributions to Faber and Gwyer's Ariel Poems, a series of pamphlets containing illustrated poems by Eliot and several other poets.
But after 1930, rather than the poetry that made his name, he'd devote himself to a sporadic succession of plays, from The Rock, which was first performed for churches of the diocese of London in 1934, to his final play, The Elder Statesman from 1959, via Murder in the Cathedral (1935), The Family Reunion (1939), The Cocktail Party (1949), and The Confidential Clerk (1953).
In 1932, he accepted the Charles Eliot Norton professorship for the 1932-'33 academic year that had been offered him by Harvard, and when he returned he formally separated from his wife. In 1938, she was committed to the Northumberland House mental hospital, Stoke Newington, where she died at the tragically early age of 58 in 1947.
A year later, a collection of comical poems about cats written by Eliot throughout the decade was published under the title Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, while also in '39, he contributed two poems to The Queen's Book of the Red Cross, sponsored by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Consort, these being The Marching Song of the Pollicle Dogs, and Billy M'Caw: The Remarkable Parrot.
To say nothing of The Idea of a Christian Society; for Eliot's greatness was tripartite, being rooted not just in his poetry and his plays, but his essays and other non-fiction works, of which he published many between 1920 and 1957, with one being published posthumously. And together with Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, it sets forth Eliot's conservative Christian world view, which while unfashionable among intellectuals at the time, is even more so today and on a far wider scale.
For to Eliot, modern Britain was what could be termed Laodicean, or lukewarm, a society which while tolerant of Christian principles, yet fell lamentably short when it came to living by them, and if that was true in 1939, it's even more so today.

By the beginning of the Second World War, Eliot had already begun work on his final poetic masterpiece, Four Quartets, another markedly Christian work centring on various phenomena related to Eliot's belief in the necessity of Christian faith.
The first of these, Burnt Norton, was named after a manor house in the Cotswolds, and published as part of his Collected Poems 1909-1935 in 1936. The second, East Coker, took its name from the little Somerset village whence Eliot's ancestors, a father and son named Andrew Eliot, emigrated to Beverly, Massachusetts, between 1668 and 1670, and was published in The New English Weekly. As was the third, The Dry Salvages, written in 1941 at the height of the Blitz on London, and named after a rock formation known to Eliot. While the fourth, Little Gidding, owes its title to a former Anglican community in Huntingdonshire established by the scholar and courtier Nicholas Ferrar.
And the remainder of Eliot's life saw him being showered with honours for his services to literature, such as the Order of Merit and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948, the Legion of Honour in '51, the Hanseatic Goethe Prize in '55, the Dante Medal in '59, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in '64, as well as honorary doctorates from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, the Sorbonne, and nine other universities.
On the 10th of January 1957, at the age of 68, he married the 32 year old Esme Valerie Fletcher, his secretary at Faber and Faber since 1949, and the marriage brought him much happiness, lasting until his death from emphysema in 1965.
Since that totemic year, in which Pop music started to mutate piecemeal into Rock and disseminate the Modernist world view throughout the world as never before, a development one can't help thinking would have appalled the ultra-conservative Eliot, Valerie Eliot has devoted herself to her husband's legacy, which, by any standards known to Man, has been phenomenal.
For Eliot has haunted contemporary culture to a degree surely unparalleled by any other 20th Century poet.
Yet, some would argue that Dylan Thomas is the supreme poet of our age, and while he's undoubtedly a more colourful figure than Eliot, his cultural influence is surely but a fraction of Eliot's, and the same could be said of Sylvia Plath...although many would disagree.
And there seems to be no end to its depths, leading one to come to the conclusion that he's one of the greatest icons of our culture, taking his place as "the poet" alongside fellow giants...such as Charlie Chaplin, Frank Sinatra, JFK, Martin Luther King, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Michael Jackson and Princess Diana. But what would Eliot make of such a list? One can't be certain...but after surveying it, he might have wondered, "Where's Groucho?"
For if the portraits on the wall of his London home were anything to go by, there were few icons Eliot himself rated higher than his beloved Groucho Marx, the only man Eliot ever deemed worthy enough to ask for his autograph. Ridiculous? Not to Thomas Stearns Eliot, it wasn't.

6. Darling Fan (For the Love of Prunella Ransome)

Prunella Ransome was a fey and hauntingly vulnerable redheaded beauty who only made a handful of feature films, and never achieved the major stardom she so richly deserved. However, she was absolutely unforgettable as the pathetic Fanny Robin, abandoned by her sweetheart Sergeant Troy - played by '60s icon Terence Stamp - for having mistakenly jilted him on their wedding day in John Schlesinger's masterful 1967 adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, a writer of genius whose works were replete with Biblical allusions.
And yet could it be said the tragic nature of so much of his art is predicated on the fact he never came to saving faith, despite an early attraction to Evangelical Christianity? Only God knows the answer; but the tragedy is beyond dispute, not least in Madding Crowd, whose saddest character of all is surely Troy's pure-hearted "Darling Fan".
Her father, Jimmy Ransome, was the headmaster of West Hill Park, a private school for boys aged 7 to 13 located in Titchfield in Hampshire, from 1952 to 1959; and she was born on the 18th of January 1943 in Croydon in Surrey, a massive suburban area to the south of London which, in demographic terms, could not be more mixed, including as it does many tough multicultural districts, such as West Croydon and Thornton Heath, the largest council estate in Europe in the shape of New Addington, and wealthy middle class enclaves such as Sanderstead.
Her career began in earnest in 1967 with a television series, Kenilworth, based on the historical novel by Sir Walter Scott, in which she had the vital role of Amy Robsart, first wife of Lord Robert Dudley, who met her death by falling down a flight of stairs. Although, as early as 1959, she'd allegedly danced in the long-running summer show, Twinkle, which first saw the light of day in 1921, courtesy of the comedian and pantomime dame, Clarkson Rose.
On the back of this major role, she made her incredible debut as Fanny Robin, for which she was deservedly nominated for the 1967 Golden Globe for best supporting actress, only to lose out to Carol Channing for the role of Muzzy Van Hossmere in Thoroughly Modern Millie. While Crowd was not a major box office success despite some critical acclaim, it has come to be viewed by many as an unsung masterpiece. Despite this extraordinary early burst of success, she wasn't to appear onscreen for a full two years, when she featured opposite another idol of the swinging sixties, David Hemmings, in Alfred the Great, directed by Clive Donner, as Alfred's love interest, Aelhswith.
A good deal of British television work followed, until she landed her third and final major film role in 1971, as Grace Bass, wife of Zachary Bass - played by Richard Harris - a character loosely based on American frontiersman, Hugh Glass, in the action western, Man in the Wilderness, directed by Richard C. Sarafian.
From '76 to '84, she worked pretty solidly for TV, and among the programmes in which she had important roles during this period were Crime and Punishment (1979), directed by Michael Darlow, and featuring John Hurt as Raskolnikov, and Sorrell and Son (1984), based on the novel by Warwick Deeping, and directed by Derek Bennett. After this, though, she vanished from British television screens for a full eight years, and was only to appear in a further three more productions, the last one being in 1996. And she died in 2002 in Suffolk, East Anglia, although some internet websites give the date of her death as '03.
For my part, I'll treasure those few moments she graced the screen in Far from the Madding Crowd, and especially the fathomless anguish in her face as she watches her beloved Sergeant Troy walk out of her life forever, but for a final reunion so heartbreaking it destroyed both their lives, Fanny's within a few hours, Troy's after a period wandering the earth as a soul in torment.

7. Born in a Cabin in Cuyahoga County

James Abram Garfield may be less spoken of today in comparison to many of those who have held the office of President of the United States, but the 20th man to do so led an extraordinary and brilliant life despite the most humble beginnings.
Indeed, he was born in a log cabin in Cuyahoga County, Ohio on the 19th of November 1831 into a family affiliated to the Disciples of Christ denomination, also known as the Christian Church. His father, Abram Garfield, died when he was less than two years old and he was subsequently raised by his French-American mother Eliza Ballou. As well as French, he was of Welsh ancestry, and English by dint of being a descendant of Mayflower passenger and convicted murderer John Billington.
Aged 16, he worked for six weeks as a canal driver near the big city of Cleveland, before illness forced him home where, at the Geauga Academy, he discovered a taste for academia, which led to his being offered a teaching post in 1849, which he accepted. A year later, he returned to churchgoing, which he had neglected for some years, and he was subsequently baptised.
From 1851 to '54, he was a student at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute - now known as Hiram College - founded by the Disciples of Christ in Hiram, Ohio, where he developed a special interest in Greek and Latin, and ended up teaching there, while serving as a preacher in local churches, then at Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, from which he graduated in 1856. But he decided against preaching as a vocation, returning instead to the Eclectic Institute, where he taught Classical languages. Then, while still only in his mid-twenties, he was elected principal in 1857, a position he held until 1860.
By this time, he'd been married for a short time to Lucretia Rudolph, one of his more brilliant Greek pupils, who went on to bear him seven children, and had begun the study of Law, being admitted to the Ohio bar in 1860. This took place soon after he'd entered politics for the first time, becoming elected an Ohio state senator in 1859, and serving as such for two years.
When the Civil War began in April 1861, he was still under thirty years old, despite an already incredibly full professional life. He subsequently joined the Union Army, and was given command of the 42cnd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. On January 11th 1862, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier, and in that same year was elected by the Republicans to the United States House of Representatives. By the time he resigned his commission to take his seat in congress, he'd been promoted to major general.
He was elected the 20th president of the United States in March 1881, an office he held for only a matter of months before being shot by a one-time lawyer and political office seeker by the name of Charles J. Guiteau.
Garfield survived the attempt on his life, and was bedridden for several weeks in the White House, before being moved to the Atlantic Coast of New Jersey in September in the hope that the fresh air might provoke a recovery, but this was not to be and he died on the 19th of that month from what may have been a heart attack exacerbated by blood poisoning and bronchial pneumonia.
It could be said that James A. Garfield lacks the legendary status of a Lincoln or a Kennedy, but by any standards known to man, he was remarkable in achievement and courage. Born in a log cabin, he rose to the highest political office in the world, becoming the only serving church minister to do so. As well as a preacher, he was a fighter for justice, and vocal opponent of slavery. And he was still only 49 when he died, with so much potential yet unfulfilled.

8. Tribute to a Paisley Troubadour

The deeply talented Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty (1947-2011) remains best known for his signature tune, Baker Street (1978), as well as a series of hits he enjoyed as one half, along with Joe Egan, of the duo Stealers Wheel, the most famous of which was Stuck in the Middle With You from 1972.
He was born - the son of a coal miner and truck driver of Irish extraction, and a Scottish mother - in Paisley in the west central Lowlands of Scotland on the 16th of April 1947.
In 1963 he left school, whereupon he is believed to have worked first in a butcher's shop, and then as a clerical worker, while in the midst of the most mythologized decade of recent times he'd play in a Rock band called the Mavericks with former schoolfriend Joe Egan.
At some point, evidently inspired by both the Irish and Scottish folk songs he heard as a boy, and the iconic music of sixties legends the Beatles and Bob Dylan, he began writing his own songs.
In '66, at a time when Rock was arguably seeking emancipation from Pop, Rafferty was a member of the band the Fifth Column, again with Egan, releasing a single which failed to set the Pop charts on fire. Three years later, he hooked up with future comedy legend and actor Billy Connolly and Tam Harvey in a folk band called the Humblebums, recording two well received albums with Connolly alone for Transatlantic Records, but they split in 1970.
Rafferty then went on to the first phase of his solo career. While enjoying critical acclaim with the first album released under his own name, Can I Have My Money Back?, in 1971, commercial success continued to elude him. That is, until 1972, when he joined up with his old friend Joe Egan in Stealers Wheel, who had a hit on both sides of the Atlantic - number 8 in the UK and 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100 - with Stuck in the Middle With You, featuring a lead vocal by Egan that seemed to fuse the talents of both Bob Dylan and John Lennon; while Rafferty supplied the harmony.
Stuck in the Middle was followed by two further hits in the shape of Everyone's Agreed That Everything Will Turn Out Fine (1973), and the gorgeously melodic Star (1974), featuring stunning harmony work by Rafferty and Egan. But for all their success, they disbanded in 1975, after having only recorded three albums, Stealers Wheel from 1972, Ferguslie Park from '74 and Right or Wrong from '75. They reformed without Rafferty or Egan in 2008.
Three years later, Rafferty enjoyed his biggest ever hit with the autobiographical Baker Street, widely considered to be a masterpiece and for good reasons, not least the memorable sax solo - written by Rafferty himself - by Raphael Ravenscroft, and Rafferty's own sweetly mournful vocal, to say nothing of touching lyrics evoking both restlessness and hope. It was a massive worldwide success, reaching number 3 on the UK charts, and number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The album from which it was taken, City to City, sold over 5.5 million copies, ousting the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever from the American top spot on the 8th of July 1978, and turning Rafferty into a major star in the process.
Further hits from the album followed in the shape of Right Down the Line and Home and Dry, which reached no. 12 and 28 respectively on the Billboard Hot 100.
Despite his purported discomfort with his new found star status, Rafferty enjoyed further success with the album Night Owl (1979), which yielded several hit singles in both the UK and US, although subsequent albums were less successful, a situation which may have been exacerbated by Rafferty's alleged dislike of performing live. His final album Life Goes On was released in 2009.
He was married to Carla Ventilla between 1970 and 1990, while his later years were marked by a struggle with both depression and alcoholism. In late 2008, he checked himself into St Thomas' Hospital, London, suffering from a chronic liver condition; and some two years later, was admitted to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, passing away at home on the 4th of January 2011 of liver failure. He is survived by his brother Jim, daughter Martha, and granddaughter Celia.
Speaking as a former problem drinker myself who has nonetheless barely touched a drop of alcohol since 1993, the year I came to saving faith in Jesus Christ, I feel a very special compassion towards those, such as Gerry Rafferty, who've not been so fortunate as I in terms of conquering a dependence on a drug which is still widely seen as the most dangerous of all.
Such a tragic end; but as in the cases of all gifted artists of renown, Gerry Rafferty's work lives on, with Baker Street especially continuing to serve as intensely poignant testimony of the terrible sense of isolation city life is capable of producing in those who find themselves in London or any other big city, and yet who long to be somewhere else...somewhere they call home.

9. Pinteresque (A Controversial Artistic Legacy)

Introduction

Harold Pinter is a serious candidate for the greatest British playwright of the last two centuries. And that he was also a proficient poet, composer of short stories, screen writer, director, and actor can only serve to enhance his already enviable reputation.
He even lent his name to an adjective, Pinteresque, implying typical of his style. A style which while indebted to several traditions existent within the literary avant-garde prior to his initial success, yet remains enormously distinctive. And among those traditions one might include the Dadaist, Surrealist and Absurdist movements in the arts, all of which were birthed in Paris. But these were preceded by a kind of snickering nihilistic humour that thrived in Parisian avant garde circles towards the end of the 19th Century, and which has been termed "L'Esprit fumiste", of which Alfred Jarry, author of the infamous King Ubu (1896) was perhaps the quintessence.
Although even this spirit didn't just spring out of nowhere; having been arguably evident, for example, in the defiantly anti-bourgeois attitudes of the Bousingots, a band of extreme Romantics that came together in the Paris of the 1830s. Just as these turbulent young rebels passed the baton to Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Jarry, Artaud and so on...all the way to the Theatre of the Absurd of the late 1950s, which is widely considered to include Pinter. And which was perforce an outgrowth of Absurdist fiction, which could be said to have reached an apogee in two works by Camus, namely The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus, both from 1942.
So, what does Pinteresque - a term Pinter himself found altogether meaningless - actually signify?
In providing a response to this question, mention could be made of the almost high poetic inventiveness and verbal virtuosity lurking beneath a veneer of banality. As well as the rich dark surreal wit laced with a constant sense of impending violence characteristic of his earliest plays of the so-called "Comedy of Menace". But doing so does little to elucidate precisely what it is that makes his work so unique. So perhaps a return to his early years might be in order.

Pinteresque (A Controversial Artistic Legacy)

Harold Pinter was born - in October 1930 - in Hackney, East London, to Ashkenazi Jewish parents, and first attempted to make his way in life on the stage, learning his trade both at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and the Central School of Speech and Drama...and as a jobbing actor in the early to mid 1950s.
But an initial step towards success as a dramatist came in 1957 when his play The Room was performed at Bristol University in the South West of England under the directorship of his close childhood friend Henry Woolf.
By this time he'd been married for a year to the young Yorkshire-born actress Vivien Merchant (1929-1982), who would go on to illumine some of his most famous productions for television with a uniquely attractive screen presence.
The following year, their son Daniel was born. While his second play The Birthday Party was produced at the Lyric Studio in the West London district of Hammersmith, and was both a critical and financial failure, closing after only a handful of performances.
And yet, once it had done so, it received a review in The Sunday Times by drama critic Harold Hobson, who described Pinter as possessing "the most original, disturbing and arresting talent in theatrical London", which all but salvaged his career.
He followed The Birthday Party with The Hothouse, which would not be seen on the London stage until 1980, and The Dumb Waiter, which was produced as part of a double bill with The Room. But it would take The Caretaker to make Pinter's name in Britain on the eve of the most feted decade since the twenties, during which he became increasingly involved with television and the cinema. While The Collection followed a year later.
And the first of his works to be broadcast on TV was the one-act play A Night Out, featuring himself and his wife Vivien, to be followed by Night School, both being televised in 1960, while The Lover was broadcast in March 1963, the totemic year the Beatles ascended to fame in the UK, and in which the '60s could truly be said to have begun in a cultural sense.
It featured Alan Badel and Vivien Merchant as a suburban couple seeking to spice up a stale marriage with role-playing games. And although it was tame by contemporary standards, it chimed perfectly with the times, and thence could be said to be part of the first stirrings of the Swinging Sixties social revolution, together with the Pop explosion spearheaded by the Beatles, the first Bond movies, and such trendily sophisticated TV series' as The Avengers.
In that same year, Pinter wrote the screenplay for the film version of Robin Maugham's The Servant, which kick-started a lasting artistic relationship with director Joseph Losey. Starring matinee idol Dirk Bogarde in the titular role, its themes of darkness and decadence, which were becoming increasingly prevalent in the cinema at the time, still have the power to astound and disturb today.
Also in this year of Beatlemania and the first stirrings of Swinging London as the world's cultural epicentre, a celluloid version of The Caretaker was produced under the direction of Clive Donner, and starring Alan Bates, Donald Pleasance and Robert Shaw. While in '64, the year of the Beatles' invasion of America, Pinter provided a screenplay for a second seminal sixties movie after The Servant, which is to say The Pumpkin Eater, directed by Jack Clayton from the novel by Penelope Mortimer, and starring Peter Finch and Anne Bancroft. While a third would emerge two years later in the form of The Quiller Memorandum, directed by Michael Anderson.
And the following year of '65, it could be said that Rock started to seek an independent existence apart from Pop...while the Sixties' more innocent phase came to a close; and Tea Party, based on one of Pinter's short stories, was broadcast on TV under the direction of Charles Jarrott, and again featuring his wife Vivien in the lead female role.
Vivien also featured in Accident, whose screenplay was the second Pinter wrote for Joseph Losey, this time from the novel by Nicholas Mosley, and again starring Dirk Bogarde. And in the same year - of 1967 - Peter Hall's production of The Collection reached Broadway, winning four Tony awards in the process, and turning Pinter into an international celebrity.
Also in '67, The Basement had its premiere on BBC TV, again directed by Jarrott; and the following year, American director William Friedkin made a film version of The Birthday Party, featuring Robert Shaw in the lead role of the beleaguered Stanley.
While Pinter himself moved beyond the Comedy of Menace to the so-called Memory Plays of 1968-1982, which went on to include Landscape (1968), Silence (1969), Night (1969), Old Times (1971), No Man's Land (1975), The Proust Screenplay (1977), Betrayal (1978), Family Voices (1981), Victoria Station (1982) and A Kind of Alaska (1982).
1970 saw Pinter produce a screenplay for yet another classic British movie in the shape of The Go-Between. Based on the novel by L.P Hartley, and starring sixties beautiful people Julie Christie and Alan Bates, as well as a youthful Dominic Guard in the title role, it was the last of his fruitful three-picture collaboration with Joseph Losey.
And further into the decade, 1973 to be precise, Peter Hall directed a film version of the 1964 play The Homecoming. While in '76, a second Scott Fitzgerald novel was made into a movie, this time with a screenplay by Pinter. Yet while Jack Clayton's The Great Gatsby (1974) was a box office success despite receiving merely average reviews, Elia Kazan's The Last Tycoon was a commercial failure, despite being considered an artistic triumph by some critics.
A year later, with Punk Rock raging through Britain, another television version of The Lover appeared as a visitor from an earlier more innocent age with Patrick Allen replacing Alan Badel as the eponymous Lover; while Vivien Merchant reprised her original role as The Mistress.
While in '78, a television version of the original Old Vic production of No Man's Land, directed by Sir Peter Hall and featuring theatrical giants Sir John Gielgud and Sir Ralph Richardson was broadcast by the BBC.
In 1980, Pinter married his second wife, the historian and novelist Lady Antonia Fraser, with whom he'd remain for the rest of his life.
And a year later, he produced what was perhaps his most famous ever screenplay for The French Lieutenant's Woman, directed by Karel Reisz from the novel by John Fowles, and featuring Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep in star-making performances.
In 1983, another Pinter screenplay was made into a major motion picture, which was the critically acclaimed Betrayal, based on his own play under the directorship of David Hugh Jones, and starring Jeremy Irons, Ben Kingsley and Patricia Hodge.
By this time, Pinter was moving into the final phase of his writing career, during which his plays would become more flagrantly critical of injustice and repression. While this period would be preceded by the revival of The Hothouse (once allegedly shelved for being too political) in 1980, its first full fruit was One for the Road, which premiered at the Lyric Studio, Hammersmith in 1984 under the directorship of Pinter himself.
It would be succeeded by - among other works - Mountain Language (1988), Party Time (1991), Moonlight (1993), Ashes to Ashes (1996), and his final play, Celebration, from the first year of the new millennium.
At the same time, his screenwriting life proceeded apace, and he'd continue producing notable work for the cinema, such as his 1990 screenplays for The Handmaid's Tale, directed by Volker Schlondorff and The Comfort of Strangers, directed by Paul Schrader, both dark and disturbing pieces based on highly acclaimed contemporary novels, by Margaret Atwood and Ian McEwan respectively. While his final contribution to the cinema came in 2007, when the celebrated British actor Jude Law commissioned him to write a screenplay for a second movie version of Anthony Shaffer's Sleuth to be directed by Kenneth Branagh, and starring Law and Michael Caine.
By this time Pinter had been involved in political issues for some fifteen years at the very least, having forcefully opposed the Gulf War of 1991; as well as the Kosovo Conflict of 1998-'99, the 2001 War in Afghanistan, and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.
By the time he died in December 2008, Harold Pinter had left a quite phenomenal - if controversial - artistic legacy, which ensured he was liberally garlanded with multiple awards, including the CBE in 1966, and the Nobel Prize for Literature for 1995; although he refused a knighthood in 1996.
And enthusiasm for his work shows no signs of abating, despite the fact that it could be seen as very much of its time by virtue of its admirable lack of what could be termed flagrant outrageousness, in comparison, that is, to so much of the theatre produced in the wake of his breakthrough as a playwright in 1957...when the West stood on the brink of a cultural revolution which would see it changed arguably beyond all recognition.

Afterword: Descent into the Hothouse

In September 1994, I successfully auditioned for a newly formed fringe theatre group called Grip based at the Rose and Crown pub in Kingston for the role of Roote in Harold Pinter's then relatively unknown play, The Hothouse.
Written in 1958, it wasn't performed until 1980, when it was directed by Pinter himself for London's Hampstead and Ambassador Theatres.
From the auditions onwards, I gelled with the director because while most of those I'd attended up to this point had hinged on the time-honoured method of the actor performing a piece from memory before a panel of interviewers, he had us reading from the play in small groups, which enabled us to attain a basic sense of character, and so feel like we were actually acting rather than coldly reciting. For me, this is the only way to audition.
Once he'd told me the part of Roote was mine, I devoted myself to his vision of a pompous yet deranged director of an unnamed English psychiatric hospital: the Hothouse of the title. He demanded of me an interpretation of Roote which was deeply at odds with my usual highly Method-oriented, subtle, intense, introspective and yet somehow also emotionally vehement approach to acting, but his directorial instincts were spot-on, as his production went on to receive spectacular reviews not just in the local press, but in the international listings magazine Time Out. An amazing triumph for a humble fringe show.
I'd become a Christian the previous January, so struggled a little with the play's darker aspects, despite the fact that by contemporary standards, it's mild indeed.
Yet in later years there was nothing even remotely mild about Pinter in terms of his political beliefs, which were distinguished by an intensity of conviction which stood in marked contrast to the restraint he manifested as an artist.
And I've no desire to discuss the source of this intensity, nor whether I believe it to have been justified or otherwise. But what I will say is that as a Christian, I believe the only true lasting solution to the evils of the world lies not in art or philosophy, science or politics, or whatever other field of human endeavour one might care to consider, but a change of heart, or repentance, born of faith in Christ, and faith in Christ alone.
And until such a change occurs, the world may seem a place of total absurdity to those whose extreme intellectual brilliance draws them inexorably towards examining it with a laser-like eye, an eye which can produce such magnificent works of art as Camus' The Stranger, Beckett's Waiting for Godot, and the earliest plays of Harold Pinter...all unassailable masterpieces of Absurdism...and yet all ultimately so tragic as such. At least how I see it.

Book Two

The Man Who Came From Contact for Christ

Sometime in early 1993, while still attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, I received a call from a man who told me he was from an organisation by the name of Contact for Christ based in the South London suburb of Selsdon near Croydon in Surrey.
He'd got in touch with me in consequence of a card I'd filled in on a British Rail train some months previously. I tried to put him off as I recall but somehow he got round me and before I knew it, he was at my door, a neat, dapper man called Denver Cashe with a large salt and pepper moustache and gently penetrating deep brown eyes, whose youthfully slender frame belied the fact that he was probably already in his 70s, although looking at least ten years younger.
He wanted to pray with me, so I ushered him into my bedroom, where we prayed together at length.
At some point, perhaps that very afternoon, in fact, he invited me to his home for further counselling, with the result that shortly after our first meeting, I found myself as a guest at his large house deep in the south western suburbs where he asked me to make a list of sins past requiring deep repentance.
Once I'd done this we spent a few hours in his living room praying over each and every one of the sins I made a note of, and there were a good few, and any one of them would have seen me damned to hell for eternity had I never come to saving faith.
It transpired that Denver was a Pentecostal of long standing, Pentecostals being those Evangelical Christians who - along with the Neo-Pentecostals of the Charismatic and Apostolic movements - maintain that the more supernatural Gifts of the Holy Spirit such as Tongues and Prophecy are still available to Believers.
In this capacity, he introduced me to the magazine Prophecy Today, then edited by the Reverend Dr Clifford Hill, through which I came to be in contact with another contributor, the late Frank Wren of Trumpet Sounds Ministries. I wrote to Frank soon afterwards concerning various issues including my spiritual condition. The upshot being that in the summer of 1995, he invited me to his home in the little Devon village of Crediton for what is known as Deliverance Ministry, which he felt I might benefit from.
Denver also introduced me to the conspiratorial view of history through his recommendation of the works of the late New Zealand Evangelist and writer, Barry Smith, and specifically, Final Notice by Smith, which I subsequently bought.
I should say he re-introduced me, because I'd already learned something of the conspiratorial weltanschauung through my reading of various books purchased in the years immediately prior to my becoming a Christian. Indeed, during this period, I was actively, not to say, contemptuously opposed to Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and other aspects of the then Religious Right, especially when it embraced theories concerning the End Times, or Last Days prior to the Second Coming of Christ. In this respect - as a rabid persecutor of the Saints - I was somewhat in the mould of Saul prior to undergoing a Road to Damascus conversion and having the scales fall from my eyes.
But I'd have to wait until 2003 before fully exploring the labyrinthine world of conspiracy theories.
How long these have proliferated within contemporary Christianity and elsewhere I'm not qualified to say but what is undeniable is that it wasn't until the internet revolution that they started disclosing their secrets to countless millions of hitherto unsuspecting web users.
Despite the fact that - as I see it - they vary wildly in terms of credibility and are subject to enormous distortion and disinformation, I'd nonetheless be slow to automatically discount every single conspiracy theory, although I have no further desire to investigate them in search of an absolute truth that is of necessity unattainable.
It also transpired that Denver was a member of the Guildford branch of the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International, founded by Armenian-American Demos Shakarian in 1952.
Shakarian had left his native country in 1905 as part of a small group of Armenian believers, and arrived in Los Angeles a full year prior to the famous Azuza Street Revival which ignited the worldwide Pentecostal movement.
They'd done so in response to an 1852 prophecy on the part of a godly child of Russian origin by the name of Efim Gerasemovitch Klubniken, which warned of a coming cataclysm for the Armenian people, and when Klubniken warned that the latter was imminent in 1905, many left Armenia for Los Angeles.
Shakarian founded the FGBMFI a full century after the original prophecy with only 20 fellow believers, by which time he was working as a dairy farmer, and yet today, it's active in some 150 countries across the world, and can even boast a rival organisation, which came into being following Demos' death in 1993, at which point his son Richard took over as leader. This being the Business Men's Fellowship.
The Full Gospel is that upheld by Christians within the Pentecostal family of churches which includes the Charismatics, in the understanding that the Gospel is made more complete through emphasis on the more overtly supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit.
One of the family's forefathers was the famous English divine John Wesley, who while never disassociating himself from either The Church of England nor the Reformed tradition, went against the grain of both in certain extremely vital respects.
His emphasis on personal Holiness went on to exert a colossal influence on the evolution of Pentecostalism, and of course the Holiness movements that preceded it. These included the Salvation Army, and the lesser known Church of the Nazarene.
Both are spiritually Wesleyan in so far as they uphold such doctrines as Conditional Salvation, or the ability of the Believer to make a shipwreck of his faith and so lose his or her salvation...which runs contrary to traditional Reformed or Protestant theology; and by Wesleyan, I mean Arminian, after the Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius. And few men in history have done more for the Arminian cause than England's own beloved John Wesley.
But rather than any lukewarm variant, Wesley's was a truly Biblical Arminianism with a powerful emphasis on personal Holiness, the very type, in fact, that was bequeathed to several generations of churches up to and including the early Pentecostals.
It lives on to this day among Classical Pentecostals of every stripe, not least those of the Alliance of Biblical Pentecostals...as well as various fundamental Arminian groups including the Fundamentalist Wesleyan Society, and the Society of Evangelical Arminians.
At the same time, like Arminius, John Wesley never saw himself as anything other than Reformed, a word now almost completely associated with Calvinist Christians, which is to say whose who've traditionally subscribed to what is known as the Doctrines of Grace - or Five Points of Calvinism - which stem from the Protestant Reformation. And according to which God predestined a limited Elect of men and women to be saved and that this election is unconditional, given Man's total inability to respond to the Gospel without Grace, which is irresistible, and that salvation is irrevocable.
In terms of my health, I was in fairly good shape throughout the early part of '93, although if my memory serves me well, there was a distinct lack of sensation in my legs, and for a time I was subject to terrifying panic attacks which seemed to me to anticipate impending unconsciousness and even death, and which would be triggered simply by leaving the confines of my house. I controlled these with Diazepam.
When I suddenly and for no good reason switched from the latter to a powerful sedative known as Heminevrin within a few weeks of attaining sobriety, I felt quite inconceivably awful for a few hours and seriously thought I might collapse at any moment and die, but in time these deathly sensations subsided.
Soon after weaning myself off the Valium, I lost my taste for cigarettes, with the result that I've barely smoked since the mid 1990s. Was it a coincidence that one of the issues addressed during my initial prayer time with Denver was my continuing addiction to nicotine? Perhaps not.
Denver wanted me to join himself and his wife Rose at their little family church in West Byfleet, but realising that it would probably be too far for me to travel to each Sunday, he gave his blessing to one based in nearby Esher, also in Surrey. This was Cornerstone Bible Church, affiliated to the famous Word of Faith movement, and specifically Ray McCauley's Rhema Bible Church based in South Africa, which has since been renamed Cornerstone The Church. But by '96, I'd moved from Cornerstone to the Thames Vineyard Christian Fellowship at the behest of a passing acquaintance who'd spoken highly of the level of spiritual giftedness found therein.
I was still something of a baby Christian, and so relatively naive in Christian terms, despite what I'd read up until this date; although this innocence received a further blow in 2002.
This being the year I underwent a long voyage into the heart of the faith, as well as the myriad conspiracy theories flourishing at the time both within Christianity and beyond, significantly perhaps as a result of the proliferation of knowledge and information occasioned by the rise and rise of the World Wide Web.
It was in the summer months of that year, when, suffering from quite extraordinarily low levels of energy, I started visiting multiple Christian websites, only to discover for the first time since my conversion that some believers see themselves as Calvinists or Arminians, while others still refuse all such labels.
I also discovered that while some Christians subscribe to Covenant Theology, others incline to Dispensationalism, and that while some are convinced the Saints will be caught up in the air with Christ prior to what is known as the Great Tribulation, others are convinced this event will succeed the tribulation. And are thence believers in the Post-Tribulation Rapture, and so on.
In terms of the aforesaid conspiratorial worldview, in a message posted some time ago by a listener to the Sermon Audio website regarding a study by erstwhile broadcaster Scott A. Johnson, he described one aspect of Conspiracy Theory related to the identity of the Antichrist as a mind trap.
And while I'm inclined to agree with him to a degree, as so much contradiction, misinformation and plain absurdity exists as I see it within its tortuous confines, I'd in no wise automatically discount every conspiracy theory, given that the Bible clearly states that in the Last Days, perilous times will come. And there is sufficient evidence in terms of contemporary world events for me to propose the possibility that these are indeed the last days prior to the Second Coming of Christ.
What's more, among those Believers currently endorsing a conspiratorial view of history and culture from a Biblical perspective, there are many for whom I have the greatest regard. For instance, I greatly admire those who have been called to be Watchmen in these perilous times, although I do not consider myself to be sufficiently mature in a spiritual sense to be named among them.
What's more, in consequence of internet research related to the origins of both the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, I decided to explore churches existent beyond the latter's confines; although by the end of the year I'd returned to the fold, determined to start attending services at my local Church of God.
This was in consequence of several e-mail conversations I'd enjoyed with an ordained minister of the Pentecostal Church of God (Cleveland) whose online ministry is committed to discernment in a dangerous age. And in my view, his is one of the soundest of the many Discernment Ministries I encountered during that year of non-stop research. Although sadly, I never made it to my local Church of God.
Instead, I bounced from one church to another, beginning in '03 with Bethel Baptist Church, situated in Wimbledon, West London, and affiliated to the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist movement, which I came across through the Sermon Audio website, and specifically Pastor David Cloud of Way of Life Ministries.
I didn't officially become a member of any church, however, until early 2009, when I was granted membership of Duke Street Church, a Grace Baptist fellowship situated close to Richmond Green in the picturesque south western suburb of Richmond-on-Thames.
The Grace Baptists, who are quite generously represented in the affluent suburbs of South West London such as Richmond, Twickenham and Teddington, subscribe to the Five Points of Calvinism, unlike their Independent Fundamentalist counterparts, who tend to be passionately opposed to Calvinism, while refuting the Arminian label. And justly so, given that a key IFB tenet is a belief in Eternal Security which doesn't square up with classical Arminianism.
Yet, by the time of the completion of a purported definitive draft of this piece in 2012, I'd been attending services at a large Evangelical Anglican church in East Twickenham in London for several years, having initially explored the possibility of membership some half decade or so ago; and I've no intention of straying.
All I have to do now is work towards losing my taste for near-total anonymity, which, in a fellowship as vast as mine, with its three to four services each Sunday, is pre-eminently possible, although part of me suspects my dreams are forlorn, for I'm neither as young - nor as well - as I once was.
I still find myself planning some kind of escape from my present sequestered existence...and one through which I might go so way towards compensating for my past; and all the stupidity and mistakes, the sheer criminal waste, I associate with it, despite the fact that for much of it I was, I think it's fair to say, perfectly happy.
And yet, for all that, my soul's truest, deepest desires have already been fulfilled.

Book Three

The Revenge of the Feral Dogs

Introduction

Another name for a feral dog is a pariah dog, although the term tends to be applied exclusively with respect to a handful of countries, notably India, when in fact feral dogs are to be found all throughout the world. They are widely believed to be the descendants of discarded domestic dogs, although unlike the latter, they are hostile to humans, which is understandable, given their history of abandonment. If one is to believe the news, attacks on humans by such animals are more common today than ever, although the truth is they have always existed, as the following tale attests.
It was based on actual incidents that took place, and I know this to be a fact because the character of Sean is based on myself, while all the other characters also existed, although their names have been changed to protect their privacy. That said, what follows is a somewhat sanitised version of the events as I remember them, and I do so thanks largely to an unfinished story I based on them in about 1977 and which forms the foundation of what follows. Itself, the sole and only "short story" to become part of any of my books thus far...even if it's hardly less rudimentary in its present form than it was when it first saw the light of day some three and a half decades ago.

The Revenge of the Feral Dogs

It was a city-port on the Atlantic Coast of France, in the summer of 1975, a time very similar to our own in a vast variety of ways, and yet a million galaxies away.
Then, as today, the youth of the West ran wild to an electronic Rock soundtrack...and even though the Rock and Roll era is now over half a century old where it was yet in its adolescence in '75, the hedonistic lifestyle it fostered has differed little since then.
In other ways though, it was altogether a different age. There were no cell phones back then, nor personal computers, nor iPods, and if you wanted to hear the latest album by your favourite act or artist, you had to save up for it and march to your nearest record store to procure it on vinyl or cassette.
Subsequently, most people only ever heard a fraction of the music that was available, unlike today, when you can hear any song, any album, ever recorded in whatever era you choose through the simple click of a mouse.
It was about 8.30pm, and a quartet of young British naval ratings, hailing from HMS Thamesis, a minesweeper attached to the shore-based Thames Division of the Royal Naval Reserve, were enjoying their "run" ashore, which is to say a short period of leave coming in the midst of an exercise at sea. At one point, they decided to split into a pair of duos with one of these returning to the Thamesis, and the other, setting out into the night in search of whatever delights their temporal city had to offer them.
They were an unlikely pair. 27 year old Kevin was a genial-looking salt of the earth Londoner, while Sean, was an angelically handsome youth of just 19 from a privileged upbringing in Surrey, although not from Surrey per se so much as a little blue collar village that had been swallowed up by London's urban sprawl, and that was only nominally part of Britain's wealthiest county.
Yet, they were also unusually akin by dint of their gentle easy-going ways, and all-round nice guy naivety. Things happened to them rather than the other way around...and that was especially true of Sean. With his blond hair and baby blue eyes, he was the antithesis of the domineering macho male, and yet a magnet for attention nonetheless...although not all of it positive.
"Oh, what a pretty sailor," a flame-haired woman of a certain age proclaimed as she passed him by in the busy, bustling streets.
"And you, madame," he replied, with typical obsequious gallantry.
"How comes you speak French so well, then Sean?" said Kevin, "ain't you German?"
But before Sean had a chance to properly answer his friend, three youths, dressed in battered blue jeans, and sporting long greasy hair, approached the two sailors. One was white, a second black, and a third North African. Their eyes were suspicious, but Sean's potent pretty boy charm caused them to look kindly upon the sailors.
"Hey there, sailor boys," said the white youth, who was extraordinarily handsome, with long dark eyelashes, and a dazzling smile that revealed broken and discoloured teeth. The single gold earring he wore in his left ear lent him the air of a beautiful Romany boy.
"All right?" Sean replied.
"Are you French?"
"No, I'm English," said Sean.
"Hey, how's it going with the girls, huh, is everything OK with the ladies?"
"Sure," said Sean nonchalantly.
"They're all insane, insane, insane," said the hirsute adonis, dismissing the entire female race with a drunken wave of his hand, before being borne away by his cohorts, much to Kevin's evident relief, as he'd already started to distance himself from the trio, despite their friendly intentions.
In time, the two sailors had attained the town's central square, where a bedraggled sextet of Jazz musicians were blowing Dixie as if their lives depended on it for the benefit of tourists dining on sea food. Many of them looked up from their fishy repasts as Sean passed by. In time, they found themselves in a tavern which had been taken over by a large gang of rowdy revellers, presided over by a strolling guitar player, and a young expatriate Welshman with the burly body of a prop forward.
Needless to say, the sailors were singularly conspicuous by dint of their uniforms, and at one stage, Sean's cap was removed from his head and passed around the tavern to be gawped at by the assembled clientele like some imperialist curio. It may have been this mortifying incident that provoked the minstrel's sympathy for Sean, and his subsequent efforts at befriending him.
He was a strikingly handsome man, probably of Spanish extraction, as his name turned out to be Javier, of about 28 years old, at least in appearance. In fact he was 40.
"Give me your address," he said to Sean, taking his hand in his, "I believe in true comradeship, real friendship...we will be friends."
"OK," Sean agreed, whereupon Javier disappeared.
Just then, Sean noticed that he was being intently observed by a beautiful girl of the gamine kind with short lemon yellow hair and distant, pale-blue eyes wearing a strange, melancholy smile, who presently seated herself behind him. She turned out to be Javier's girl friend, Catherine.
"Bonjour," she said, "I'm Catherine."
"Hello," said Sean, in his usual shyly charming way, "isn't Javier a great guy?"
"Oh yes," Catherine replied, "I've been with many men, but this is the first time I've been with a real man."
"Is he really forty?" Sean asked her.
"Yes, forty years old, but he'll always be young, he's not aged along with the rest of his generation. We travel together, we're very much in love."
Soon Javier returned to engage in further praise of his new found friend:
"Sean is our friend," he enthused, "he is our true friend."
"Oh yes," Catherine agreed, "he's really sweet isn't he, and cute, and nice, you're our friend, Sean."
"Thank you," Sean replied, overwhelmed by their effusiveness.
"You're going to give us your address before you go, OK?" said Javier.
"Sure," Sean replied, before getting up to check on Kevin, who was engaged in an intense conversation with the Welshman, Gryff. Realising that interrupting them was not in his best interests, he sat back down and started sipping from someone else's wine glass.
Before long, the entire tavern had erupted, and people started dancing around the tables, with some electing to actually dance on the tables. Sean thought it best to leave at this point, and went to say his goodbyes to Catherine, who took hold of one of his hands, while smiling warmly and gazing directly into his eyes.
"Oh," said Sean distractedly, "I must give my address to Javier."
He walked over to Javier, but no sooner had he done so, than he was grabbed by the arm, and virtually thrown into the back of a rickety grey fiat being driven by Gryff, which then leaped and screeched through the city's dingy back streets for a few brief terrifying moments before alighting within a short distance of a discotheque. As soon as Sean was out of the car, he noticed a bewildered looking Kevin among the disco party, of which Gryff had taken charge:
"How are we going to get the sailors in?" he asked out aloud, "they're not allowed here."
"Smuggle them in," someone suggested, "take their hats and jackets off, and sneak them in."
Gryff set about divesting the tars of much of their attire, with the result that they soon found themselves among the city's beautiful people, including young heavily made up belles, several executing the most complex and obscure of dance manoeuvres in small groups, and tall, thin young men who punctuated their terpsichorean histrionics with high-pitched squeals.
After a time, it occurred to Sean that unless they set off soon, they'd never get back to their ship, and this time, Kevin was in accord, and so they set about retrieving their clothing. Then, Catherine walked over to them to see them off.
"You should take care," she told Sean, "I mean...your uniforms, your hats, your symbols don't mean a thing here. I mean none of it means anything here.
Sean smiled weakly without answering, and she went on.
"But you're so cute, you know," she said, stroking Sean's cheek.
"Good bye," said Sean.
"Good bye," Catherine replied, visibly upset.
Soon, the young sailors were groping their way in the dark towards the city's main port, with only the crunching of their navy issue boots to break the menacing silence.
"It's late isn't it, Kev," said Sean, as the lights of the disco faded into the distance.
"I don't care," Kevin replied, I thoroughly enjoyed myself."
"What if we can't find the ship?
Within an hour, they reached their destination, although neither knew exactly where their ship was located, and each thin strip of dusty road resembled the last.
Just when they'd turned down yet another one, a feral dog emerged from out of a decaying chalky dwelling, baring its salmon-pink gums and emitting falsetto squeals which attracted a second vicious, fearless canine, this one resembling an Alsatian cross-breed. Sean panicked and picked up a stone, before threatening his aggressors, then running first from them, then towards them, screaming at them, shrinking from them, but nothing he did served to deter them.
Kevin preferred the role of pack leader and with index finger pointing directly at the dogs, started to command them in tones of masterly severity, but they refused to accept him as alpha male, and continued to circle him as if they'd earmarked him for an early morning feast. And the dogs squealed, and slavered, and snarled, and the more they sensed the sailors' fear, the more hysterical they became.
The sailors' fate seemed sealed. They'd surely pay a high price for separating from their companions in order to seek out stimulation in the depths of a city in which their status as strangers rendered them deeply vulnerable. Kevin was easily the more streetwise, while Sean was to all intents and purposes...prey on legs; and it was only a matter of time before this truth became evident to him. Yet, nothing would have stopped him stepping out of his comfort zone that night, as millions of his kind have done since, and continue to do.
"You should take care," Catherine had said, almost prophetically as it turned out, "I mean...your uniforms, your hats, your symbols don't mean a thing here. I mean none of it means anything here."

Epilogue:

Some time towards the end of the old or the beginning of the new millennium, possibly around 1996, a middle aged-man received a phone call straight out of the blue from an old friend.
He was still youthful looking and his acting career hadn't yet been entirely forsaken, while much of his music career lay in the future. In other words, there was still some chance he'd amount to something in a worldly sense.
He'd converted to Christianity some years previously in 1993, following many years during which his consumption of alcohol was at lethal levels, and he was barely to drink again thereafter, notwithstanding a long series of relapses, most as insignificant as they were incapacitating.
His friend spoke of many things, but while most of these were to elude his memory as the years proceeded, one especially remained. This was the time they found themselves cornered on some dusty street in a city-port on the Atlantic coast of France by wild dogs; but he never mentioned how they managed to extricate themselves.
Some fifteen years after the call took place, he reflected on his luck that night and wondered if the reason he emerged unscathed was that God had better plans for him other than to become food for a couple of feral canids. And this provided him with a goodly amount of consolation for the teeming multitude of failures and follies, mistakes and losses that had blighted his life ever since.
However, it's significant that the vast majority of these took place prior to his acceptance of Christ as his Personal Saviour, and that while his life had been far from perfect since '93, which is not surprising under the circumstances, God had restored to him the years that the swarming locust had eaten.

Book Four

The Lord is Coming (Nine Christian Song Lyrics)

Glorify the King

Give me words that will glorify your name,
Give me strength that will overcome my shame,
Give me power and give me wings,
To do your will wherever you decree,
Everything to glorify the King.

Give me thoughts that are purer than the snow,
Give me a love that will last forever more,
Give me the joy only you can bring,
All I'm asking for is everything,
Everything to glorify the King.

Glorify the King,
Glorify the King,
Glorify the King.

Give me a sword to keep the enemy at bay,
Give me wisdom to know what I need to say,
Give me music so that I can sing,
Of all the peace and joy your presence brings,
Everything to glorify the King.

Glorify the King,
Glorify the King,
Glorify the King.

Jesus O Jesus

Jesus O Jesus, I love you so much,
Jesus O Jesus, I long for your touch,
Jesus O Jesus, I thirst for your presence,
Jesus O Jesus, please send me your strength.

Jesus O Jesus, I have been far away,
Jesus O Jesus, take me back Lord I pray.

Jesus O Jesus, I miss you so badly,
Jesus O Jesus, send mercy to me.

Jesus O Jesus, I have been far away,
Jesus O Jesus, take me back Lord I pray,
Jesus O Jesus, I have been far away,
Jesus O Jesus, take me back Lord I pray.

The Lord is Coming

The Lord is coming
Like a thief in the night,
The Lord is coming
In flaming fire,
The Lord is coming,
Pray he won't be long,
Till the sound of the Trumpet of God...

He could come any time once the signs are in place,
Then any hour, any day, we could see his face,
See his golden face, see his awesome face...

The Lord is coming, he'll descend from the sky,
The Lord is coming, coming down with a cry,
He'll be upon you, better open your eyes,
Don't fall asleep and you won't be surprised...

Like a pain comes upon a pregnant woman with child,
Well the Lord will appear like a thief in the night,
Like a thief in the night, like a thief in the night.

The Lord is coming soon,
The Lord is coming soon.

The Lord is coming
Like a thief in the night,
The Lord is coming
In flaming fire,
The Lord is coming,
Pray he won't be long,
Till the sound of the Trumpet of God...

The Lord is Constant, Kind and True

The Lord is constant, kind and true,
The Lord is constant, kind and true,
The Lord's love pursues you,
There's no way out round or through,
There's nothing that He can't or will not do,
He's constant, kind and true...

The Lord forgives the foolish things we do,
The Lord forgives the foolish things we do,
He blots out all the trespasses
We ask Him to excuse,
The pain we put our friends and loved ones through,
The foolish things we do...

Praise His Holy Name

In the morning, praise His Holy Name,
In the evening, praise His Holy Name,
Each day without a change,
Come sunshine or come rain,
Praise His Name, praise His Holy Name...

When you're winning, praise His Holy Name,
When you're losing, praise His Holy Name,
Think how you've been saved,
Remember how you've been changed,
And just praise His Name, praise His Holy name...

Whenever you need a friend,
Get down on your knees and pray,
The Lord'll never turn away,
He's promised you a brand new day...

Down and out again, praise His Holy Name,
Your life is full of pain, praise His Holy Name,
He'll restore your faith, and all your wasted days,
So praise His Name, praise His Holy Name,
Praise His Holy Name, praise His Holy Name.

Thanks to Jesus

Thanks to Jesus,
My life has a perfect plan,
Thanks to Jesus,
I can find out who I am.

I can finally understand
Why I am here,
And what I've been searching for,
And all fulfilment's close at hand,
Thanks to the Lamb...

Thanks to Jesus,
I have found my heart's desire,
Thanks to Jesus,
I have been plucked from the mire.

I will never be the same,
Now I'm aware I have been chosen,
Now I have a destiny,
Thanks to the King of Kings.

Thanks to Jesus,
I am living first for the Lord,
Thanks to Jesus,
I am saved for evermore.

The Lord's Love

The Lord's love
Will never end,
The Lord's love's
The greatest friend,
The Lord loves you
Even when
You're unfaithful to Him,
Because that's the kind of love we have.

A rock and a foundation,
Think of all the lovely things He's done,
Always there with a helping hand,
Because He is the Lamb,
He is the Lamb of God.

To think that one day we will be
In his presence for all eternity,
To think that one day we will see
His lovely face,
Such a lovely place,
The Lord's Love.

Such a Mighty God

Such a mighty God,
Such a lovely Lord;
From the heart of a Heavenly Father,
Such a precious Word.

He has you in his arms,
He'll never let you fall,
He'll fill your soul with calm,
He'll always hear your call.

Such a mighty God,
Such a lovely Lord;
From the heart of a Heavenly Father,
Such a precious Word.

Let us all rejoice,
We have a destiny,
From a sinful choice,
We have been released.

Jesus Loves You (He Just Wants You to Know)

Jesus, Jesus,
Jesus has you in his heart tonight,
Jesus, Jesus,
Jesus' love will see the righteous right.

There's no sin he can't forgive,
Just trust in him as long as you live...

'Cos Jesus loves you,
He just wants you to know,
Jesus loves
His righteous children so.

Jesus, Jesus,
Jesus is the one who loved you from your birth,
Jesus, O Jesus,
Jesus' love spreads right across the earth.
Jesus is love itself,
what worth all earthly wealth, beside Jesus?

Jesus, Jesus,
Jesus has you in his heart tonight,
Jesus, Jesus,
Jesus' love will see the righteous right.

There's no sin he can't forgive,
Just trust in him as long as you live...

'Cos Jesus loves you,
He just wants you to know,
Jesus loves
His righteous children so.

Book Five

Epic and Autobiographical (A Versified Finale)

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1960s

Born on the Goldhawk Road
Provides a fitting preface
To a long autobiographical piece,
Consisting almost entirely
Of versified prose, and linear in nature,
Which is to say,
Beginning with my birth,
And leading all the way
To the early 2000s.
Whilst dealing with my earliest years,
It was fashioned only recently.
Although An Autobiographical Narrative
Has been composed not solely of
Stray pieces of prose
That failed to make the first team.
For it includes
Further versified phenomena,
Such as refugees from the memoir,
Rescue of a Rock and Roll Child.
The piece itself is a versified version
Of one much reproduced
In various forms throughout my writings,
Although it bears little resemblance
To its original, which first glimpsed
The light of day in around 2002,
As a meagre and mediocre slice of prose,
And while it can still be read
On the World Wide Web,
It's undergone much modification since then,
Including the alteration
Of all names of people and places
For the solemn purpose of privacy.
Although it was first published
In a form resembling that found below
At the Blogster website,
On the 1st of February 2006.

Born on the Goldhawk Road

I was born at the tail end of the Goldhawk Road
Which runs through Shepherds Bush
Like an artery,
And in the mid 1960s,
Served as one of the great centres
Of the London Mod movement,
But I was raised in relative gentility
In a ward of nearby South Acton
Whose vast council estate
Is surely the most formidable
Of the whole of West London.
Although my little suburb
Has since become
One of its most exclusive neighbourhoods.

My first school was a kind of nursery
Held locally on a daily basis
At the private residence
Of one Miss Henrietta Pearson,
And then aged 4 years old,
I joined the exclusive
Lycee Francais du Kensington du Sud,
Where I was soon to become bilingual
And almost every race and nationality
Under the sun was to be found
At the Lycee in those days...
And among those who went on to be good pals mine
Were kids of English, French, Jewish, American,
Yugoslavian and Middle Eastern origin.

While my first closest pals were Esther,
The vivacious daughter
Of a Norwegian character actor
And a beautiful Israeli dancer,
And Craig, an English kid like myself,
With whom I remain in contact to this day.
For a time, we formed an unlikely trio:
"Hi kiddy," was Esther's sacred greeting
To her blood brother, who'd respond in kind.
But at some stage, I became a problem child,
A disruptive influence in the class,
And a trouble maker in the streets,
An eccentric loon full of madcap fun
And half-deranged imaginativeness.

And my unusual physical appearance
Was enhanced by a striking thinness,
And enormous long-lashed blue eyes.
Less charmingly, I was also the kind of
Deliberately malicious little hooligan
Who'd remove some periodical
From a neighbour's letter-box
And then mutilate it before reposting it.
The sixties' famed social and sexual revolution
Was well under way, and yet for all that,
Seminal Pop groups such as the Searchers
And the Dave Clark Five;
Even the Fab Four themselves,
Were quaintly wholesome figures.

And in comparison to what was to come,
They surely fitted in well
In a long vanished England
Of Norman Wisdom pictures;
And the well-spoken presenters
Of the BBC Home Service,
Light Service and World Service,
Of coppers and tanners
And ten bob notes;
And jolly shopkeepers
And window cleaners.
At least that's how I see it,
Looking back at it all
From almost half a century later.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1960s

In its most primordial form,
Snapshots knew life as spidery writings
Filling four and a half pages
Of a school notebook
In what is likely to have been 1977.

And these were edited in 2006,
Before being tendered a new title,
Subjected to alterations in punctuation,
And then finally published at Blogster
On the 10th of March of that year.

Some grammatical corrections took place,
Which were suitably mild
So as not to excessively alter the original work,
From which certain sentences were composed
By fusing two or more sections together.

Ultimately, parts of it were incorporated
Into the memoir, Rescue of a Rock and Roll Child,
And thence into the first chapter
Of the definitive autobiographical piece,
Seven Chapters from a Sad Sack Loser's Life.

But recently, it was newly versified,
With a fresh set of minor corrections,
Although as ever with these memoir-based writings
The majority of names have been changed,
And they are faithful to the truth to the best of my ability.

Snapshots from a Child's West London

I remember my cherished Wolf Cub pack,
How I loved those Wednesday evenings,
The games, the pomp and seriousness of the camps,
The different coloured scarves, sweaters and hair
During the mass meetings,
The solemnity of my enrolment,
Being helped up a tree by an older boy,
Baloo, or Kim, or someone,
To win my Athletics badge,
Winning my first star, my two year badge,
And my swimming badge
With its frog symbol, the kindness of the older boys.

I remember a child's West London.

One Saturday afternoon, after a football match
During which I dirtied my boots
By standing around as a sub in the mud,
And my elbow by tripping over a loose shoelace,
An older boy offered to take me home.
We walked along streets,
Through subways crammed with rowdies,
White or West Indian, in black gym shoes.
"Shuddup!" my friend would cheerfully yell,
And they did.
"We go' a ge' yer 'oame, ain' we mite, ay?"
"Yes. Where exactly are you taking me?" I asked.

"The bus stop at Chiswick 'Oigh Stree'
Is the best plice, oi reck'n."
"Yes, but not on Chiswick High Street,"
I said, starting to sniff.
"You be oroight theah, me lil' mite."
I was not convinced.
The uncertainty of my ever getting home
Caused me to start to bawl,
And I was still hollering
As we mounted the bus.
I remember the sudden turning of heads.
It must have been quite astonishing

For a peaceful busload of passengers
To have their everyday lives
Suddenly intruded upon
By a group of distressed looking Wolf Cubs,
One of whom, the smallest,
Was howling red-faced with anguish
For some undetermined reason.
After some moments, my friend,
His brow furrowed with regret,
As if he had done me some wrong, said:
"I'm gonna drop you off
Where your dad put you on."

Within seconds, the clouds dispersed,
And my damp cheeks beamed.
Then, I spied a street I recognised
From the bus window, and got up,
Grinning with all my might:
"This'll do," I said.
"Wai', Carl," cried my friend,
Are you shoa vis is 'oroigh'?"
"Yup!" I said. I was still grinning
As I spied my friend's anxious face
In the glinting window of the bus
As it moved down the street.

I remember a child's West London.

One Wednesday evening,
When the Pops was being broadcast
Instead of on Thursday,
I was rather reluctant to go to Cubs,
And was more than usually uncooperative
With my father as he tried
To help me find my cap,
Which had disappeared.
Frustrated, he put on his coat
And quietly opened the door.
I stepped outside into the icy atmosphere
Wearing only a pair of underpants,

And to my horror, he got into his black Citroen
And drove off. I darted down Esmond Road,
Crying and shouting.
My tearful howling was heard by Margaret,
19 year old daughter of Mrs Helena Jacobs,
Whom my mother used to help
With the care and entertainment
Of Thalidomide children.
Helena Jacobs expended so much energy
On feeling for others,
That when my mother tried to get in touch
In the mid '70s, she seemed exhausted,

And quite understandably,
For Mrs O'Keefe, her cleaning lady
And friend for the main part
Of her married life
Had recently been killed in a road accident.
I remember that kind
And beautiful Irish lady,
Her charm, happiness and sweetness,
She was the salt of the earth.
She threatened to ca-rrown me
When I went away to school...
If I wrote her not.

Margaret picked me up
And carried me back to my house.
I put on my uniform
As soon as she had gone home,
Left a note for my Pa,
And went myself to Cubs.
When Pa arrived to pick me up,
The whole ridiculous story
Was told to Akela,
Baloo and Kim,
Much, much, much to my shame.

I remember a child's West London.

The year was 1963, the year of the Beatles,
Of singing yeah, yeah, yeah in the car,
Of twisting in the playground,
Of "I'm a Beatlemaniac, are you?"
That year, I was very prejudiced
Against an American boy, Raymond,
Who later became my friend.
I used to attack him for no reason,
Like a dog, just to assert my superiority.
One day, he gave me a rabbit punch in the stomach
And I made such a fuss that my little girlfriend, Nina,
Wanted to escort me to the safety of our teacher,

Hugging me, and kissing me intermittently
On my forehead, eyes, nose, cheeks.
She forced me to see her:
"Carl didn't do a thing," said Nina,
"And Raymond came up and gave him
Four rabbit punches in the stomach."
Raymond was not penalized,
For Mademoiselle knew
What a little demon I was,
No matter how hurt
And innocent I looked,
Tearful, with my tail between my legs.

I remember a child's West London.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1960s

In September 1968,
While still only 12 years old,
I became a Naval Cadet
at the Nautical College,
Welbourne,
Situated then as now
In the Royal County
Of Berkshire.
Which may have made me
The youngest and unlikeliest
Serving officer
In the entire Royal Navy,
If only for a very, very short time.

The Four Precious Years (I Spent at Welbourne)

My third and final school
Was the former Nautical College, Welbourne,
Where at still only twelve years old
I became the youngest kid in the college,
And an official serving officer
In Britain's Royal Naval Reserve.
Founded at the height of the British Empire,
Welbourne still possessed her original title in '68,
while her headmaster,
A serving officer in the Royal Navy
For some quarter of a century,
Wore his uniform at all times.
However, in '69,
She was given the name Welbourne College,

While the boys retained their officer status,
And naval discipline continued to be enforced,
With Welbourne serving both
As a military college
And traditional English boarding school.
The Welbourne I knew
Had strong links to the Church of England,
And so was marked by regular
If not daily classes
In what was known as Divinity,
Morning parade ground prayers,
Evening prayers,
And compulsory chapel
On Sunday morning.

Later in life, I felt grateful to her
For the values she'd instilled in me
If only unconsciously, even though,
By the time I joined Welbourne,
These were under siege as never before
By the so-called Counterculture.
And in the early 2010s,
I'd insist if I possessed
A single quality that might be termed noble,
Such as patience, or self-mastery
Or consideration of the needs of other people,
Then I'm at least partially indebted
For such a wonderful blessing
To the four precious years I spent at Welbourne.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1960s

For all the Beatniks of SF consists of
Edited and versified extracts
From one of my earliest
Existent pieces of fictional writing.
Dating at an estimate from about 1970,
It reflects the spirit of the times,
Even though it's been sanitised
For publication.
In the years immediately following
The revolutionary events of '68,
I was deeply in sympathy
With the West's prevailing
Adversary Culture
Or Alternative Society
Which is very much not the case today.
And my attitude is dictated
Not by increasing maturity,
But by my Christian beliefs,
Without which I might
Be an ageing hipster by now,
Blithely festooned
With ostentatious symbols of revolt.

For all the Beatniks of San Francisco

Shirley Brown was a very beautiful girl,
And her brunette hair
Hung down her back
And as the wind blew thru the window,
It waved around. It waved around.
She was making sandwiches,
And was packing them with fruit,
And two massive bars of fruit
And nut chocolate.
She lit a cigarette, picked up the basket,
And with a nod of her head,
Waved her hair backwards
And walked out the back door
Into the alley where,
Propped up against a fence
Was a blue mini-moped.
She mounted the bike,
And with a little trouble, started it.
And the rider made a sudden jump
As a horn blew behind her,
And a leather jacketed youth
Sped by on a butterfly motor-cycle.

People turned away
And the music blared on
And the youths talked on.
Then, a park keeper came
But the youths took no notice.
"What are you kids doing?"
The keeper shouted,
"I've had complaints from all over,
Clear off, wilya,
This is a park,
Not a meeting place
For all the Beatniks in San Francisco."

John Hemmings started dancing:
"Cool it, grandpa, get on,
Get going, don't bug me!"
The kids had gone too far
And they knew it.
Some of them turned away,
As the radio blared even louder,
Litter was scattered everywhere.
"I ain't chicken of dying,"
John Hemmings then said,
"We've got to go on,
ALL RIGHT! Who are the crumbs
Who want to chicken out at this point?
Just take your bikes and go.
We're free people now.
Nothing can stop us,
We'll rule the streets,
The young people will triumph."
He was perspiring wildly
And his black hair
Hung down his back.
It waved around. It waved around.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1960s

This jackadandy's original title was
An Essay Written by a Guy
Who Was Too Lazy to Finish It,
And it dates from
My college days, ca. 1971,
At a time I was yet enamoured
With the hedonistic
Hippie way of life.
It's been reproduced more or less
Verbatim, notwithstanding
Some minor editing,
And versification.
And I don't think it's necessary
To add there is no such cologne
As Monsieur de Gauviche.
As the first title implies,
It was never finished,
But I've taken the liberty
Of belatedly turning the protagonist
Into a dandified danger man
Somewhat in the mould
Of Peter Wyngarde's
Stylishly overdressed secret agent
From the classic television series,
Department S and Jason King.

Englishman, Jackadandy, Spy

He made no move at all
As the alarm clock went off.
But ten minutes later,
It was obvious he was awake.
He lifted himself out of bed
And went towards the bathroom.
He shaved himself
With a Gillette Techmatic
After having sploshed himself
With a double handful
Of icy cold water.
He washed again, dried his face,
Put on some Monsieur de Gauviche
And got dressed.
He wore a Brutus shirt,
A Tonik suit and a pair of
Shiny brown boots.
He was six foot two,
And he smoked sixty Players
Medium Navy Cut cigarettes
A day, and he lit each one
With a Ronson lighter.
His name was Titus Hardin,
And he had the biggest
Wardrobe in London.

He was a fair-haired man
And very good-looking.
He was thirty two years old
And a bachelor,
And lived near Richmond, Surrey.
He was immaculate,
Wore long sideboards
And a long moustache,
And his hair was shortish
And well-combed.
His shirt was light blue,
And he wore a dark blue tie.
He wore two rings on each hand.
He washed himself
After his usual breakfast
Of toast, black coffee and health pills.
He cleaned his teeth thoroughly,
Put some more cologne on,
And then went to do
His isometrics.
His name was Titus Hardin,
And he had the biggest
Wardrobe in London.

He was born in London in 1940.
He went to Eton and Oxford,
Had taught at Oxford for eight years
But was sacked.
He had been an Oxford Rowing Blue,
And got a degree in English, Art and History.
His father was Lord Alfred Hardin, M.P.
Titus loved teaching,
And not many people know the reason
For his dismissal at the age of thirty one.
He was nearly expelled from Eton
For smoking, drinking,
And being head of a secret society
With secret oaths, but he was
Too promising a sportsman,
And all the boys respected him
As a prefect.
He was a fair-haired man
And very good-looking.
He was thirty two years old
And a bachelor,
And lived near Richmond, Surrey.
His flat was beautifully furnished.
His name was Titus Hardin,
And he had the biggest wardrobe in London.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1970s

To See You at Every Time of Day
Is a song lyric, penned in 2003,
But heavily based on one composed
Almost certainly in 1974,
And which I originally sang
In a voice I stole from Bryan Ferry,
Who'd begun his career
As a conventional Glam Rock icon,
But who by '74,
Had reinvented himself as an old-style
Crooner cum matinee idol,
And it was his eccentric version of
These Foolish Things
That was the direct inspiration
For the lyric in question,
Indeed the song as a whole.

To See You at Every Time of Day

To see you in the morning
Be with you in the evening
To see you here
At every time of day
Such a simple prayer
To see you at every time of day

To hold you when you're laughing
Console you when you're crying
Take care of you
At every time of day
Such a simple prayer
To see you at every time of day

So tell me why you push me away
When I've sworn to be forever true
When I've pledged
My pure and simple heart to you?
How can you be so cruel?

To see you in the morning
Be with you in the evening
To see you here
At every time of day
Such a simple prayer
To see you at every time of day.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1970s

The Athlete, the Poet and the Reprobate
Was based largely on writings
Created possibly as early as 1976.
And as such, it's been reproduced
More or less word for word,
Despite having been recently edited
And subject to basic versification.
And in its original form,
It constituted some kind of
Unfinished fantastical novel
Centred on the titular
Athlete, Poet and Reprobate,
An absurdly self-exalting
Version of the original.
For within less than two decades
Of penning these self-same words,
I'd come to saving faith in Christ Jesus.

As to novels reflecting the luxurious lifestyle
Of a bygone age,
None had been even remotely completed
By the time of writing,
And unless I'm grossly mistaken,
I was several years shy of becoming an actor.
That said, the timidity described
Is at least partially accurate,
And I did feel the need to provide
An outward show of my significance
Through a peacock display of dandyism,
Which included
Some wildly idiosyncratic behaviour,
As well as the subtle deployment of cosmetics.

The Athlete, the Poet and the Reprobate

"I can't decide," she said,
"Whether you're an aesthete
Or an athlete
A poet or a reprobate."

"Even when I'm a lout,
I'm an aesthete," he answered,
"I lure, rather than seek."

"So why do you
Need to dress up?"

"Like Ronald Firbank,
I suffer from a need
To give an outward show
Of my significance.

His lifestyle is an uncanny
Parallel
To my own young manhood.

I alienated people
Through a crippling shyness,
Which I disguised
With my violently idiosyncratic

Behaviour, wore cosmetics
And wrote novels
That reflected the luxurious
Lifestyle of a bygone age.

The sensation
Of never quite belonging
Lingered about me always
That's why
I became an actor.

Through heavy experiences
I have built up
A stoned wall
Resistance
Against arrogance and aloofness.

I am a sophisticated cynic
With a kind heart
And a tendency towards regret."

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

The origins of An Actor Arrives
Lie in the barest elements
Of a story started but never finished
In early 1980,
While I was working at the Bristol Old Vic
Playing the minute part
Of Mustardseed the Fairy
In a much praised production
Of Shakespeare's celebrated
A Midsummer Night's Dream.

It was originally rescued in 2006
From a battered notebook in which I habitually scribbled
During spare moments offstage
While clad in my costume
And covered in blue body make-up
And silvery glitter. And while doing so,
Some of the glitter was transferred from the pages
With which they were stained
More than a quarter of a century previously
Onto my hands...an eerie experience indeed.

An Actor Arrives (at the Bristol Old Vic)

I remember the grey slithers of rain,
The jocular driver
As I boarded the bus
At Temple Meads,
And the friendly lady who told me
When we had arrived at the city centre.
I remember the little pub on King Street,
With its quiet maritime atmosphere.

I remember tramping
Along Park Street,
Whiteladies Road and Blackboy Hill,
My arms and hands aching from my bags,
To the little cottage where I had decided to stay
And relax between rehearsals,
Reading, writing, listening to music.
I remember my landlady, tall, timid and beautiful.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

Nineteen Eighty Tell Me
Has been reproduced more or less
As it was originally scrawled
In a red Silvine memo book
In the very summer of 1980,

Almost certainly as I was waiting
To go on as Mustardseed the Fairy
During the London run of a much-praised
Bristol Old Vic production
Of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Nineteen Eighty Tell Me

Nineteen Eighty, tell me,
Where are you?
What are you trying to be?
This week, you're 1963
And there's even
Talk of a rebirth of '67
But that's next week.
Nineteen Eighty, tell me,

When will you be mine?
A little bit '59,
I'll not share you with a Beatnik,
Take a rest after the exertions,
Punk revolutions,
Before our old friend,
Sweet nostalgia,
Goes round the bend.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

1.

Thanks to the large quantity
Of notes I committed to paper
While at Leftfield College, London,
My beloved college can live again
Through sundry writings
Painstakingly forged out of them,
Such as the poetic pieces that follow,
Which is to say, Some Sad Dark Secret,
Sabrina's Solar Plexus,
She Dear One Who Followed Me,
And I Hate Those Long, Long Spaces.
And as in the case of all
My memoir-based writings,
The names of people and institutions
Have been changed
In the solemn name of privacy.

2.

Some Sad Dark Secret was inspired
By words once spoken to me
By a former tutor and mentor
Of mine at Leftfield in around 1982 or '83.
And which then ended up
As informal diary notes
On a piece of scrap paper,
Consisting of both
The words themselves,
And my own perhaps
Partly fantastical
Reflections on them.
Some quarter of a century later,
They were edited and versified,
And then the process was repeated
A half decade or so after that.

3.

I Hate Those Long, Long Spaces
Was recently conceived
From thoughts confided to a notebook
Sometime between 1981 and '83
While I was a student
At the University of London.

As I see it, they betoken
An undiagnosed depressive condition
Which ultimately led to my contracting
A serious drinking problem,
And ultimately some kind of crack-up,
From which I emerged while unscathed,

Another man entirely,
And while I'm still the victim
Of a depressive condition, it's not as it was,
Which is to say, one alleviated
By spells of great elation,
And yet fundamentally rooted in desperation.

Today, it's seen by its sufferer as long term
Yet temporal, to be dispelled,
Once he comes into a new glorious body,
Which is his hope and his prayer,
So all the sicknesses of the old,
Will be a thing of the past, never to return again.

Some Sad Dark Secret

"Temper your enthusiasm,"
She said,
"The extremes of your reactions;
You should have
A more conventional frame
On which to hang
Your unconventionality."
"Don't push people,"
She said,
"You make yourself vulnerable."

She told me not to rhapsodise,
That it would be difficult,
Impossible, perhaps,
For me to harness my dynamism.
The tone of my work,
She said,
Is often a little dubious.
She said
She thought
That there was something wrong.

That I'm hiding
Some sad
Dark secret from the world.
"Temper your enthusiasm,"
She said,
"The extremes of your reactions;
You should have
A more conventional frame
On which to hang
Your unconventionality."

Sabrina's Solar Plexus

"You were frightening, sinister,
You put everything into it
I took a step back
You get better every time
How good can you get?"

People are scared of fish eyes
They confuse, stun, fascinate
Coldly indifferent
Fish eyes
Sucked dry of life fish eyes...

Sabrina was unselfish,
Unselfconscious,
Devoted, unabashed,
Spontaneous,
A purring lioness:
"Yes," she said,
"I can imagine people
Wanting to possess you."

People are scared of fish eyes;
They confuse, stun, fascinate;
Coldly indifferent
Fish eyes;
Sucked dry of life fish eyes...

Sabrina said: "I'm sorry;
I'm just possessive
I'm frightened of my feelings
You'll miss me a little,
Won't you?
You should read Lenz.
I'm sure you'd
Identify
With the main character."

People are scared of fish eyes;
They confuse, stun, fascinate;
Coldly indifferent
Fish eyes;
Sucked dry of life fish eyes.

Have I written about the
Crack-up?
When I came home
Empty-handed
And I just couldn't
Articulate
For latent tears.
But am I so repelled
By intimacy?
When will someone
Get me there (the solar
Plexus) as Sabrina said.

People are scared of fish eyes;
They confuse, stun, fascinate;
Coldly indifferent
Fish eyes;
Sucked dry of life fish eyes.

She Dear One Who Followed Me

It was she, bless her,
who followed me...
she'd been crying...
she's too good for me,
that's for sure...
"Your friends
are too good to you...
it makes me sick
to see them...
you don't really give...
you indulge in conversation,
but your mind
is always elsewhere,
ticking over.
You could hurt me,
you know...
You are a Don Juan,
so much.
Like him, you have
no desires...
I think you have
deep fears...
There's something so...so...
in your look.
It's not that
you're empty...
but that there is
an omnipresent sadness
about you, a fatality..."

I Hate Those Long Long Spaces

I hate those long, long spaces
Between meals and drinks
Specifically the afternoon
And after midnight.

I hate mornings too
Until I can smell the bacon
And coffee. I cheer up
Towards the end of the afternoon,

But my euphoria stops short
Of my final cup of tea.
I sink into another state of gloom
Until my second favourite time of the day.

My favourite is that of my
First drink and cigarette.
I hate those long, long spaces,
Specifically the afternoon and after midnight.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

Verses for Tragic Lovers
Adolphe and Ellenore
Is based on an essay I wrote
Around 1983
For a former mentor at university,
Who sadly died in 2008,
And who features
As Dr Elizabeth Lang
In various autobiographical
Writings of mine.

It concerns the protagonist
Of French writer Benjamin Constant's
1816 novel Adolphe,
(Which its author emphatically insisted
Was not autobiographical;
Nor a roman a clef),
Who is a prototypal victim
Of what has been termed
Mal du siecle,
Or the sickness of the century...

Which, born in the wake of the Revolution,
And arising from a variety of causes,
Political, social, and spiritual,
Depending on the sufferer in question,
Produced such qualities as
Melancholy and acedia,
And a perpetual sense of exile,
Of alienation,
That found special favour within
The great Romantic movement in the arts.

Although as a phenomenon,
Weltschmerz was hardly a novel one,
For after all, does the Word of God not say
That there is nothing new
Under the sun?
But it was possibly unprecedented
In terms of pervasiveness and intensity
At the height of Romanticism
And I'd have no hesitation
In labelling it tragic as a result.

In terms of my own pre-Christian self,
It was almost overwhelmingly powerful,
And so believer that I am, I feel compelled
To expose it as potentially ruinous,
For after all, is it not still with us
In one way or another,
Having been passed on by the Romantics
To kindred movements coming in their wake,
From the Spirit of Decadence
To the Rock Revolution?

And could it not also be said
That the peculiar notion
Fostered by Romanticism
Of the artist as a spirit
Set apart for some special purpose,
Of which pain is so often an essential part
Is also still among us?
Of course it could,
And I'd have no hesitation
In labelling it tragic as a result.

This Mal du siecle
Is surely especially melancholy
In the case of tragic lovers,
Adolphe and Ellenore,
For it results in Adolphe effectively
Drifting into a romance
With another man's mistress,
A young mother, Ellenore,
Who sacrifices everything for him
Only to discover he no longer loves her.

For Adolphe is in some respects
A work within the tradition
Of the libertine novel
Of the Age of Enlightenment,
And yet at the same time,
By no means an endorsement of libertinage.
Is rather perhaps, in many respects,
A powerful indictment of this tendency,
And thence as much a reproach
To the tradition; as a late addition to it.

And the forlorn figure of Adolphe
Was ultimately to prove influential,
Notably in Mother Russia,
Where he allegedly served in part
As model to Pushkin's fatal dandy,
The Byronic Eugene Onegin,
And if Tolstoy's Count Vronsky
Was also partially based on Adolphe,
Then there is of course a marked kinship
Between Ellenore and Anna Karenina.

In the end, though, one can only weep,
At the tragedy these eminently romantic
And sympathetic figures
Made of their lives. And I speak as one
Who was once in thrall to the tragic worldview,
But who came to view life
As something infinitely valuable,
To be lived fully under the guidance of God,
And not sacrificed like some beautiful bauble
For the bitter-sweet pleasures of the world.

Verses for Tragic Lovers Adolphe and Ellenore

Ellenore initially resists Adolphe's advances
But after a great deal of persuasion,
Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
And soon falls in love.

We know little of the physical appearance
Of Adolphe, but in all probability
He possesses the youthfully seductive charm
Of Romantic heroes,
Werther, Rene and Julien Sorel.

Ellenore initially resists Adolphe's advances
But after a great deal of persuasion,
Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
And soon falls in love.

Adolphe is preoccupied with himself
In the classic manner
Of the contemplative, melancholy,
Faintly yearning, hypersensitive,
Isolated, perceptive Romantic hero.

Ellenore initially resists Adolphe's advances
But after a great deal of persuasion,
Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
And soon falls in love.

Perhaps he is somebody who believes
That self-interest is the foundation
Of all morality, but then, he announces:
"While I was only interested in myself,
I was but feebly interested for all that."

Ellenore initially resists Adolphe's advances
But after a great deal of persuasion,
Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
And soon falls in love.

There is much genuine goodness
In Adolphe,
But much of it is subconscious,
Surfacing only
At the sight of obvious grief.

Ellenore initially resists Adolphe's advances
But after a great deal of persuasion,
Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
And soon falls in love.

The cause of this inability to feel
Spontaneously, is very probably the result
Of the complex interaction
Between a hypersensitive nature
And a brilliant if indecisive mind.

Ellenore initially resists Adolphe's advances
But after a great deal of persuasion,
Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
And soon falls in love.

By reflecting on his surroundings
To an exaggerated degree,
Adolphe feels a sort of numbness,
A premature world-weariness
Lucid thoughts and intense emotions confused.

Ellenore initially resists Adolphe's advances
But after a great deal of persuasion,
Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
And soon falls in love.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

Thanks to the large quantity
Of notes I committed
To paper while at Leftfield,
My beloved college can live again
Through writings
Painstakingly forged out of them,
Such as the poetic piece below,
Based on several conversations
I had with my good friend Jez,
A tough but tender Scouser
With slicked back rockabilly hair,
Who'd played guitar in a band
At Liverpool's legendary Eric's
Back in the early eighties,
When Liverpool post-Punk
Was enjoying a golden age.
These took place at Scorpio's,
A Greek restaurant situated in
North West London
Following a performance at college
Of Lorca's Blood Wedding
In which I'd played the Bridegroom.

One of the Greats Who Never Was

"I think you should be
One of the greats,
But you've given up
And that's sad.

You drink too much,
You think, ____ it
And you go out and get _____,
When I'm 27 I'd be happy
To be like you.

In your writing,
Make sure you've got
Something really
Unbeatable...
Then say...'Here, you _______!'

You've got the spark of genius
At sixteen, you knew
You were a genius,
At nineteen, you thought
What's a genius anyway?"

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

In the autumn of 1983,
I took residence
In a room on the grounds
Of a Lycee Technique
In Bretigny-sur-Orge,
A commune in the southern
Suburbs of Paris
Some sixteen miles
South of the city centre.
And for those first few months,
I was happy, blissfully happy
to be a flaneur in the city
which had inspired
so many great poets
to write classics
of the art of urban idling,
And the following versified
Refugee from
At the Tail End
Of the Goldhawk Road
Briefly touches on this phase.

Paris What an
Artist's Paradise (as Juliette Once Wrote Me)

...my paris begins with those early days as as a conscious flaneur I recall the couple seated opposite me on the metro
when i was still innocent of its labyrinthine complexity slim pretty white girl clad head to toe in denim smiling wistfully while her muscular black beau stared through me with fathomless orbs and one of them spoke almost in a whisper qu'est-ce-que t'en pense and it dawned on me yes the slender young parisienne with the distant desirous eyes was no less male than me dismal movies in the forum des halles and beyond being screamed at in pigalle and then howled at again by some kind of madman or vagrant who told me to go to the bois de boulogne to meet what he saw as my destiny menaced by a sinister skinhead for trying on tessa's wide-brimmed hat getting soused in les halles with sara who'd just seen dillon as rusty james and was walking in a daze sara again with jade at the caveau de la huchette jazz cellar the cafe de flore with milan who asked for a menu for me and then disappeared back to bretigny cash squandered on a gold tootbrush two tone shoes from close by to the place d'italie portrait sketched at the place du tertre paperback books by symbolist poets such as villiers de l'isle adam but second hand volumes by trakl and deleve and a leather jacket from the marche aux puces porte de clignancourt losing cary's address scrawled on a page of musset's confession walking the length and breadth of the rue st denis, what an artists (sic) paradise (as juliette once wrote me)...

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

A Cambridge Lamentation
Centres on my brief stay at Coverton,
A teaching training college
Contained within the University of Cambridge,
With its campus at Hills Road
Just outside the city centre.
A fusion of previously published pieces,
It was primarily adapted
From an unfinished and unsent letter
Penned just before Christmas 1986,
And conveys some of the fatal restlessness
Which ultimately resulted
In my quitting Coverton early in 1987.
In its initial form, it had been forged
By extracting selected sentences
From the original script,
And then melding them together
In a newly edited and versified state,
Before publishing them at the Blogster web log
On the 10th of June 2006.

A Cambridge Lamentation

This place is always a little lonely
At the weekends...no noise and life,
I like solitude,
But not in places
Where's there's recently been
A lot of people.

Reclusiveness protects you
From nostalgia,
And you can be as nostalgic
In relation to what happened
Half an hour ago
As half a century ago, in fact more so.

I went to the Xmas party.
I danced,
And generally lived it up.
I went to bed sad though.
Discos exacerbate
My sense of solitude.

My capacity for social warmth,
Excessive social dependence
And romantic zeal
Can be practically deranging;
It's no wonder I feel the need
To escape...

Escape from my own
Drastic social emotivity
And devastating capacity
For loneliness.
I feel trapped here,
There's no
Outlet for my talents.

In such a state as this
I could fall in love with anyone.
The night before last
I went to the ball,
Couples filing out,
I wanted to be half of every one,

But I didn't want to lose ***.
I'll get over how I feel now,
And very soon.
Gradually I'll freeze again,
Even assuming an extra layer of snow.
I have to get out of here.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

Both The Destructive Disease of the Soul
And The Compensatory Man Par Excellence
Possess as their starting points
A novel written at an estimate around 1987,
With one Francis Phoenix as chief protagonist.

Its fate remains a mystery,
But it may well be it was completed,
Only to be purged soon after
I became a born again Christian in 1993,
With only a handful of scraps remaining.

The versified pieces below
Were forged out of these scraps
In September 2011, although initially,
They'd taken shape as prose pieces,
Only to be edited and versified at a later date.

The Destructive Disease of the Soul

No amount of thought
Could negate
Suffering in the mind
Of Francis Phoenix.

That much he had always believed,
That humanity is a sad, lost
And suffering race.
Sometimes he felt it so strongly
That the worship of a Saviour seemed
To be the only sane act on earth,
And then it passed.

It was not increasing callousness,
But an increase in the number of moments
He felt quite intoxicated with compassion
That had soured Frank's outlook.

During those moments, he wept
For all those he'd ever been cruel to.
He could be so hard on people,
So terribly hard.
To whom could he ask forgiveness?

It was his sensitivity
That bred those moments of Christlike love,
When he cared so little for himself,
For his body, even for his soul
When it was the soul of his father,
The soul of his mother,
The souls of his friends and relatives
And everyone he'd ever known
That he cared about.

That was truth, that was reality,
That was the purpose of all human life,
That love, that benevolence,
That absolute forgiveness.
Otherworldly love is painful,
But it is the only true freedom known to Man.
Too much thought eventually produces the conviction
That nothing is worth doing.
Thought is a destructive disease of the soul.

The Compensatory Man Par Excellence

I seldom indulge in letter writing
Because I consider it
To be a cold and illusory
Means of communication.
I will only send someone a letter
If I'm certain it's going to serve
A definite functional purpose,
Such as that which I'm
Scrupulously concocting at present
Indisputably does.
It's not that I incline
Towards excessive premeditation;
It's rather that I have to subject
My thoughts and emotions
To quasi-military discipline,
As pandemonium is the sole alternative.
I'm the compensatory man par excellence.

Deliberation, in my case,
Is a means to an end,
But scarcely by any means,
An end in itself.
This letter possesses not one,
But two, designs.
On one hand, its aim is edification.
Besides that, I plan to include it
In the literary project upon which
I'm presently engaged,
With your permission of course.
Contrary to what you have suspected
In the past,
I never intend to trivialise intimacy
By distilling it into art.
On the contrary, I seek
To apotheosise the same.

You see...I lack the necessary
Emotional vitality to do justice
To people and events
That are precious to me;
I am forced, therefore,
To at a later date call
On emotive reserves
Contained within my unconscious
In order to transform
The aforesaid into literary monuments.
You once said that my feelings
Had been interred under six feet
Of lifeless abstractions;
As true as this might be,
The abstractions in question
Come from without
Rather than within me:

My youthful spontaneity
Many mistrustfully identified
With self-satisfied inconsiderateness
(A standard case of fallacious reasoning),
And I was consequently
The frequent victim
Of somewhat draconic cerebrations.
I tremble now
In the face of hyperconsciousness.
I've manufactured a mentality,
Riddled with deliberation,
Cankerous with irony;
Still, in its fragility,
Not to say, artificiality,
It can, with supreme facility,
Be wrenched aside to expose
The touch-paper tenderness within.

With characteristic extremism,
I've taken ratiocination
To its very limits,
But I've acquainted myself with,
Nay, embraced my antagonist
Only in order to more effectively throttle him.
Being a survivor of the protracted passage
Through the morass of nihilism,
Found deep within
"the hell of my inner being,"
I am more than qualified to say this:
There is no way out
Of the prison of ceaseless sophistry.
There are many things I have left to say,
But I shall only have begun to exist in earnest
When these are far behind me,
In fact, so far as to be all but imperceptible.

I long for the time
When I shall have compensated to my satisfaction.
I never desired intellectuality; it was thrust upon me.
Everything I ever dreaded being, I've become
Everything I ever desired to be, I've become.
I'm the sum total of a lifetime's
Fears and fantasies,
Both wish-fulfillment
And dread-consummation incarnate.
I long for the time
When I shall have compensated to my satisfaction.
I never desired intellectuality; it was thrust upon me.
I'm the sum total of a lifetime's
Fears and fantasies,
Both wish-fulfillment
And dread-consummation incarnate.
I'm the compensatory man par excellence.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

An Aphoristic Self-Portrait
Was expeditiously versified
In September 2011,
Using a series of teeming
Informal diary entries
Made in various
Receptacles in the late 1980s.
And as such may provide
Some kind of indication
As to my psychological
And spiritual condition
Some half a dozen
Or so years prior to my
Damascene conversion.

An Aphoristic Self-Portrait

As a writer, people are my vocation.
As for humanity, men, women
And other abstractions,
Their interests constitute little more
Than my hobby; I can only deal in people.
As soon as I start dealing in sects
And sections, I am either an insider
Or an outsider, and I feel lost as either
And as soon as I feel lost,
I make no attempt to find myself,
But simply retrace my steps
And return to the people.
You can call me detached if you like,
But you see, the only way
I can remain sane as a person
With such an all-consuming instinct
For attachment, is to be detached.
The world of subjectivity
Holds no sway over me,
Because it is paradoxically impersonal,
Being affiliated to partisanship,
Sentimental causes and other such abstractions.
I couldn't possibly belong
To a school of orthodox thought
That accepted me as a member.
I don't believe in myself
Other than as a crystal clear container
For the freshest cream of human individualism.
When I was younger,
I ached to be famous for the sake of it,
But now it occurs to me
That anyone can be famous
Provided they are sufficiently audacious
And thick-skinned, and I desire fame
Not so much for the vain satisfaction
Of being seen and known and heard,
But in order to guide others
Towards a happier way of being,
The only precept for celebrity,
Indeed for being in general, as far as I can see.
Adversity seems to be my fate,
As well as fortune.
The meek ones gravitate to me.
I'm the prince of the hurt ones,
The damaged ones.
I resent all success and authority.
I'm so affectionate one moment,
So icy and evasive the next.
I'm in love with many people at present.
I over-accentuate my individuality,
Because sometimes I look at myself
In the mirror and I say:
"Who's that pathetic wreck?"
The more complex you are,
The less you like yourself,
Because you frighten yourself.
The more I find myself liking someone,
The more I doubt us both.
Liking someone negates them for me.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

Strange Coldness Perplexing was forged
Using notes scrawled
Onto seven sides of an ancient
Now coverless notebook,
Possibly late at night
Following an evening's carousal (error: ')
And in a state of serene intoxication.

The original notes were based
On experiences I underwent
While serving as a teacher
In a highly successful
Central London school of English,
Which I did between the spring,
Or summer, of '88 and the summer of 1990.

It gives some indication
Of my emotional condition at the time,
Including a tendency, as I see it,
To wildly veer between
The conscious effusive affectionateness
I aspired to, and sudden irrational
Involuntary lapses of affect.

It also bespeaks the intense devotion
I manifested towards my favourite students
And which was reciprocated by them with interest.
All punctuation was removed around 2007,
And extracts tacked together,
Not randomly as in the so-called cut up technique
But selectively and all but sequentially.

Strange Coldness Perplexing

the catholic nurse
all sensitive
caring noticing
everything
what can she think
of my hot/cold torment

always near blowing it
living in the fast lane
so friendly kind
the girls
dewy eyed
wanda abandoned me
bolton is in my hands

and yet my coldness
hurts
the more emotional
they stay
trying to find a reason
for my ice-like suspicion
fish eyes
coldly indifferent eyes
suspect everything that moves

socialising just to be loud
compensate for cold
lack of essential trust
warmth
i love them
despite myself
my desire to love
is unconscious and gigantesque

i never know
when i'm going to miss someone
strange coldness perplexing
i've got to work to get devotion
but once i get it
i really get people on my side
there are my people
who can survive
my shark-like coldness
and there are those
who want something
more personal
i can be very devoted to those
who can stay the course

my soul is aching
for an impartial love of people
i'm at war with myself.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1990s

In the early part of autumn 1990,
I began a course known as the PGCE
Or Post Graduate Certificate in Education
At a school of higher education
In the pleasant outer suburb of Twickenham,
Becoming resident in nearby Isleworth.
I began quite promisingly as I saw it
Even though my heart
Was not really in the course
But I genuinely saw the benefits
Of successfully completing it,
And as might be expected,
Excelled in drama and physical education.
I rarely drank during the day,
But at night I was sometimes so drunk
I was incoherent.
The following versified piece
Serves a testimony to this sad truth.
Its original was a letter
Typed to a close friend in about 1990,
Some three years or so
Prior to my coming to saving faith
In the Lord Jesus Christ.
And concerning a series of accidents
I'd recently suffered.
However, it was never finished, nor sent.
When it was recovered,
It was as a piece of scrap paper,
A remnant from a long lost past.
It was subsequently edited and reassembled,
Before being subject
To some kind of versification in 2006.
And then some half decade later,
Further work was performed on it,
But it was still pretty threadbare for all that.

Incident in St. Christopher's Place

Dear, I haven't been in touch
for a long time.
Sorry.
The last time I saw you
Was in St. Christopher's Place.
It was a lovely evening...
when I knocked that chair over.
I am sorry.
Since then,
I've had not a few accidents
Of that kind.

Just three days ago,
I slipped out in a garden
At a friend's house...
And keeled over, not once,
Not twice, but three times,
Like a log...clonking my nut
So violently that people heard me
In the sitting room.
What's more,
I can't remember a single sentence
Spoken all evening. The problem is...

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1990s

The following oddity, recently versified,
And even more recently
Afforded a fresh new title,
Is one of only a handful of works of mine
Exhibiting the absurd
And affected writing style
I briefly adopted in the very early 1990s,
And which was typified
By an obsessive use of
Such archaisms as "tristful" and "pheere",
Although how much of it's
been based on something
I concocted more than two decades ago,
And how much of
More recent origin
I'm afraid I'm unable to say for certain.

Who Had He Not Sought Such Fatal Lethe

The playwright was most effective
As the dramatic illuminator
Of his own tristful destiny
As well as those of his kinfolk.
And of the two plays that treat
Of the tragic Tyrones
One features James,
His wistful pheere Mary,
And his two troubled offspring

A quartette of characters
Based respectively
Upon O'Neill's father James,
His mother Ella,
O'Neill himself,
And his elder brother, Jamie
Who had he not sought
Such fatal Lethe
Might have evolved into
A great actor like his father,
Or a writer like his brother,
Such was the luminous
Brilliance of his early promise.

How richly blessed he'd been
At birth with charm and intellect.
While part of the
Minim Department
Of Notre Dame University,
He was a favoured prince
Destined for a future
As a Catholic gentleman
Of exquisite breeding
And learning; and then
A prize-winning scholar
At Fordham, from which
He came to be expelled
For a foolish indiscretion.

While the other is an account
Of poor Jim Tyrone's
Last attempt at securing
Some kind of earthly felicity,
Through his love for Josie, a
Woman with a heart as vast
As the sorrows of his life,
A Moon for the Misbegotten.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1990s

The Loonie's Last Reckoning,
Based largely on events that took place
On the 16th of January 1993,
Was initially an adaptation
Of an autobiographical fragment
Possibly penned around 1996,
Which was then edited, reassembled
And versified for publication
As Remnants from Writings Destroyed 1
At the Blogster website
On the 10th of March 2006.
While in time, it was incorporated
Into an early version of the memoir,
Rescue of a Rock and Roll Child,
Known as Spawn of the Swinging Sixties.
Only to be unearthed in late 2011,
And wedded to a versified translation
Of notes made probably around 1992,
Shortly before the events
In question took place,
And then awarded a striking new title.

The Loonie's Last Reckoning

It was late in the afternoon
Of the 17th of January 1993
That my whole
Intoxicated universe
Finally exploded

Drink me one day = 10 vodkas
7 1/2 pints 14 wines
1 bottle of wine + 6 gins + 4 pints
Or 2 bottles of wine + halfs then 4 pints
Or bottle of wine + 5 pints +
Cans and shorts
Saw myself as a loonie
Of the Lunatic Underground

It was late in the afternoon
Of the 17th of January 1993
That my whole
Intoxicated universe
Finally exploded

Five + Two = Seven Units By 11.30
12.30 = Six Units 1.30 = 5+2 = Five
Units
6.30 = Four Units 7.30 = 3+2 = Five
Units
8.30 = 4+1 = Five
Units
12.30 = Free
Saw myself as a loonie
Of the Lunatic Underground

It was late in the afternoon
Of the 17th of January 1993
That my whole
Intoxicated universe
Finally exploded

Broken at last
With etiolated face
Tremulous hands
After so many years
Of semi-Icaran hubris

It was late in the afternoon
Of the 17th of January 1993
That my whole
Intoxicated universe
Finally exploded.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1990s

Oblivion in Recession
First existed
As a series of rough notes
Scrawled on a piece
Of scrap paper
In the dying days of January 1993.

Oblivion in Recession

The legs started going,
Howlings
In my head.
Thought I'd go,
Kept awake with water,
Breathing,
Arrogantly telling myself
I'd stay straight.
Drank gin and wine,
Went out,
Tried to buy more,
Unshaven,
Filthy white shorts,
Lost, rolling on lawn,
Somehow got home.
Monday, waiting for offie,
Looked like death,
Fear in eyes
Of passers-by,
Waiting for drink,
Drink relieved me.
Drank all day,
Collapsed wept
"Don't Die on Me."
Next day,
Double brandy
Just about settled me,
Drank some more,
Thought constantly
I'd collapse
Then what?
Fit? Coronary?
Insanity? Worse?
Took a Heminevrin,
Paced the house
All night,
Pain in chest,
Weak legs,
Lack of feeling
In extremities,
Visions of darkness.
Drank water
To keep the
Life functions going,
Played devotional music,
Dedicated my life
To God,
Prayed constantly,
Renounced evil.
Next day,
Two Valiums
Helped me sleep.
By eve,
I started to feel better.
Suddenly,
All is clearer,
Taste, sounds,
I feel human again.
I made my choice,
And oblivion has receded,
And shall disappear.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1990s

Some months after appearing
In the Scottish Play at the Lost Theatre
In the one-time working class
West London suburb of Fulham,
I wrote the piece featured below,
Such a Short Space of Time.

But in the first instance
It was part of an unfinished short story,
Not a poem at all.
My parents were on vacation
During the period which inspired it,
Which is to say early in the summer of 1999.

Hence, I spent a lot of time at their house
Performing various tasks,
Such as watering my mother's flowers.
As well as this, I took sneaky advantage
Of their absence to transfer
Some of my old LPs onto cassette.

It was something my own music system
Was incapable of doing, unlike theirs.
And it was a profoundly unsettling experience,
To listen to songs that, perhaps in the cases
Of some of them, I'd not heard
For twenty years, or even twenty five, or more.

With a heartrending intensity,
Doing so had the effect
Of evoking a time
When I was filled to the brim
With sheer youthful joy of life
And undiluted hope for the future.

Yet as I did so, it seemed to me
That it was only very recently
That I'd heard them for the first time,
Despite the colossal changes
Brought about not just in my own life,
But the lives of all those of my generation.

Hence, I was confronted at once
With the devastating transience
Of human life,
And the cataclysmic effect
The passage of time exerts on all human life,
And it was a profoundly unsettling experience.

Such a Short Space of Time

I love not just those
I knew back then,
But those who were young
Back then,
But who've since
Come to grief, who,
Having soared so high,
Found the consequent descent
Too dreadful to bear.

With my past itself,
Which was only yesterday,
No, even less time,
A moment ago,
And when I play
Records from 1975, Soul records,
Glam records, Progressive records,
Twenty years melt away
Into nothingness.

What is a twenty-year period?
Little more than
A blink of an eye.
How could
Such a short space of time
Cause such devastation?
I love not just those
I knew back then,
But those who were young back then.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 2000s

In (what I think was the summer of) 2003,
I wrote about an hour's worth
Of Rock songs in response
To a request from my dad
For songs for a possible collaboration
With the son of a close friend.
They were as far from Hard Rock
As it's possible to be,
Being influenced by such relatively
Benign and melodic genres
As Folk, Pop and Soul.

The songs, some new,
Some upgrades of old tunes,
Were recorded on a Sony
CFS-B21L cassette-corder,
Which I think has been discontinued,
And were generally well-received.
Most have already been featured
In this collection of writings;
While all exist as MP3s,
Except I Think the World of She,
And Love, You've Left Me Once Again.

So Lovelorn in London Town

From morn to friendless night
He tramps the streets
Just in case he might
Come across her he's a tragic sight
But he don't care
Love gives him might
He haunts the cafes and the discos
And the bars so lovelorn

He knows that he won't find her
But he's got to keep on trying
It gives some meaning to his life
It gives some substance to his time
It is his motive and his project
And his plan so lovelorn

He only met her once
But it changed his life
And it changed his type
And it changed his mind

They say he once was
A successful man
But he threw it all up
As if he'd gone insane
And he took to the streets
And another man was born

They say love comes but once
For some but when it does
It's like a mighty
Atom bomb inside
A disease that seizes
A gentle soul
And when it comes for him
He'd better try to hide

From morn to friendless night
He tramps the streets
Just in case he might
Come across her he's a tragic sight
But he don't care
Love gives him might
He haunts the cafes and the discos
And the bars so lovelorn.

O Lover Mine, Where are you Going?

O lover mine, where are you going?
O lover mine, where are you going?
Look, see the signs of summer coming,
You can't leave me at this time.

O lover mine, did I not please you?
O lover mine, did I not please you?
I tried so hard, tried hard to reach you,
Hoped that we were doing fine.

O lover mine, I'll always love you,
O lover mine, I'll always love you,
No matter where, how far you're roaming,
I'll be here when you return,
I'll be here when you return,
I'll be here...I'll be here...I'll be here.

I Think the World of She

She's precious as can be,
She means so much to me.
She spells generosity,
and she's always
been a friend in need.

Been so many years
Since we met in our heyday,
So young and so free,
Sun-soaked days,
No tears, no cares,
Back in our heady heyday,
what I'm trying to say is,
I think the world of she.

She's tender as can be,
Her kindness is for real,
So real for me,
She sends warmth to me,
Like gentle poetry I can feel.

The thought of her makes me happy,
Because of all she's done for me,
I guess you'd say that I've been lucky,
She's one in a million, can't you see.

Been so many years
Since we met in our heyday,
so young and so free,
Sun-soaked days,
No tears, no cares,
Back in our heady heyday,
What I'm trying to say is,
I think the world of she.

I'm That Kind of Guy

If you're looking for a guy who will honour you,
I'm that kind of guy,
If you're looking for a guy who'll be moral too,
I'm that kind of guy,
I believe in what's right,
and should I take you out day or night,
You can be sure,
Should I come to your door,
You are safe with me.

I believe in pre-marital chastity,
I'm that kind of guy,
I believe in old-fashioned chivalry,
I'm that kind of guy,
and in the midst of romance,
Should I take you out to a dance,
You can depend, I will defend,
Our honour to the end.

So, come on, angel, take a chance on me,
A man who'll uphold your purity,
Ain't no kind of bad boy,
Some might see me as a sad boy,
But there's more to love than just you and me.

I believe in courtship purity,
I'm that kind of guy,
I believe in the sanctity of matrimony,
I'm that kind of guy,
And in the midst of romance,
Should I take you out to a dance,
You can depend, I will defend,
Your honour to the end,
I'm that kind of guy, I'm that kind of guy.

Love, You've Left Me Once Again

Love, you've left me once again,
Gone to catch an early plane,
Where you gonna fly this time,
In search of the perfect clime?

I am the one you leave behind,
Worried out of my tiny mind,
I was the one who saw you through,
I need your care and loving too.

Love, you've left the happy home,
You've pledged your solemn word you'll phone,
But I would rather you were here,
You've no conception of my fear.

Halfway across a crazy world,
Is no place for such an unknowing child,
If only you could see me cry,
Then maybe you'd stop to wonder why.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 2000s

Ancestry Culture Nationhood (All of Them)
Is the only full piece to be lifted
(And subsequently doctored)
From At the Tail End of the Goldhawk Road,
which has as yet only been published
as an eBook. And which will
Almost certainly cease to exist
In its present form in the very near future.
Its origins lying in the concluding passages
Of Spawn of the Swinging Sixties,
An early version of the memoir,
Rescue of a Rock and Roll Child,
Both it and Spawn also being part of Tail End.


Ancestry Culture Nationhood (All of Them)

1.

As a perfectly foolish young man I wanted...to prove to the world...something...I tried too hard...to do and be everything...to prove to the world...something...

I was a peacock, swathed in decorative gallant dandyism,

of which I was an acolyte.

I've learned to love and honour inner masculinity at its purest...leadership, strength of will and purpose, protectiveness, compassion for the weak, courage and chivalry...Thanks to God.

I feel nothing but gratitude towards all the components which have gone into to making me unique in terms of my gender

...ancestry...culture... nationhood...all of them...

2.

There are those who might look at me and see an individual who treated some of the most precious gifts a person can be blessed with during the prime of their young life with a nonchalance so utterly cavalier as amount to blatant contempt.

In terms of natural endowment, these would include the kind of intelligence that produced an articulate speaker at just two years old, as well as health so robust that all serious childhood sicknesses were kept at bay until I was 13,

when I caught meningitis following a spell as a foreign exchange student in Brest off the Brittany coast.

By my early twenties anyone who knew me then would be forgiven for believing that if anyone was destined for ultimate celebrity it was me, "le futur celebre," as I was described in a letter in late '77 by a former friend from France,

or something similar.

These theoretical critics of mine might make mention of the fact that for all my lavish good fortune, I've finished up a lost soul haunted by the past, and tormented in the present by unfathomable regret.

That is far, far from the way I view my situation.

Some people in this city don't even have a roof over their head.

As for my being a lost soul, nothing could be further from the truth.

While I won't deny that I'm inclined to the occasional remorseful mood, the fact remains my soul has been salvaged not lost, which means that one day all my tears will be wiped away...for all eternity.

At least, that is my hope.

I'm not the most social of beings I'll admit, and yet paradoxically perhaps, I love to wander among crowds of people, gaining great comfort from doing so.

The truth is for one reason or another, I'm relatively incapable of pretending to be anyone other than myself in a social setting.

This in marked contrast to the myself of thirty years ago...a gifted social enchanter...

...as a perfectly foolish young man I wanted...to prove to the world...something...I tried too hard...to do and be everything...to prove to the world...something...

That said, I consider myself to be a person of far greater integrity today by the Grace of God.

At the same time, I've never been more aware of the necessity of my reliance on God, nor that He'll never leave me nor forsake me.

When all's said and done, I'm a deeply blessed man for all my superficial so-called woes, because my heart's desire has been fulfilled.

As for my supposed melancholia, this particular thorn in the flesh has been afflicting Christians for centuries.

To cite some examples for the sceptical...Martin Luther suffered for much of his life from a tendency towards dejection of spirits which he attributed to a variety of causes including spiritual oppression in the realm of the mind,

founder of the Quaker movement George Fox was by his own admission "a man of sorrows" in the early days of his walk with God,

poet and hymnodist William Cowper was a lifelong depressive who endlessly doubted his own eternal salvation,

Prince of Preachers Charles Spurgeon was prone to inexplicable anguish accompanied by lengthy bouts of solitary weeping, and so on and so on.

What though are the tears and trials of this brief life when compared to the fathomless joy that awaits the true Believer in Heaven?

3. (A Definitive Finale)

If I've given the impression over the course of this piece that I no longer see myself as an artist, then I've done so purely by accident.

What I resolutely don't do however, is subscribe to the theory of the automatically tormented nature of the creative artist.

Could God, the Creator of the universe, possibly condone such a role, which has legendarily entailed a variety of tragic conditions deemed to be characteristic of the "tortured artist" including addiction, depression, mental instability?

Perish the thought.

God wants artists to work for Him, the supreme Artist, to seek refuge in His love and care, where the sensitivity that is so often their undoing can be a blessing rather than a blight to them.

I can't deny I'm still deeply drawn to the creative genius of artists, but not in the way I used to be, which is to say from the position of one who worshipped them at their most turbulent and self-destructive, and thence sought passionately to emulate them...

...as a perfectly foolish young man I wanted...to prove to the world...something...I tried too hard...to do and be everything...to prove to the world...something...

...but from a distance, still appreciating them, but having a heart for them at the same time.

I especially feel for those artists whose sufferings have resulted in their lives being wrecked by alcohol, my own one-time near-nemesis.

I'd like to think that there were those, whether artists or not, who in consequence of reading my writings, come to the realisation that escape from alcohol addiction is possible through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I'm not saying I haven't paid for my past in a worldly sense...

As a perfectly foolish young man I wanted...to prove to the world...something...I tried too hard...to do and be everything...to prove to the world...something...

What though are the woes of this brief life when compared to the fathomless joy that awaits the true Believer in Heaven?

What though are the wonders of this brief life when compared to the fathomless joy awaiting the true Believer in Heaven?