OF AN ODE TO A QUIET CLAP
The tragicomic elements of life abounds,
Manifest in the melancholic sounds of a wheezy harmonium.
Oozing out and thus satisfying the auditorium.
A puss-filled boot.
My father-in-law’s father was a grounds-man
Born in Glasgow with trench foot.
I never knew his name but his son was Sandy.
Now buried deep, in the loamy ground, a long way from his father’s home town.
He is in a bluebell wood hidden by the shadow of the old common.
A resting place for the not-so-common-man.
We shared a love of World Music; Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Geoffrey Oryema, Stella Chiwesha and Marta Sebestyen
They would never let us down.
And nor did Ivor Cutler.
Solo on Mbira (Bikembe) in 5:3 time.
Seductive both in his lilt and his Life in a Scotch sitting room he made me feel warm.
His attitude of quietude, cocooned and safe and away from the harm of a gas fire.
Shakespeare, Dickens and Martin Parr.
Ivor Cutler was a chronicler of his age.
A teller of tellable tales.
Eyes to the fore and ears ever alert to the din of the quotidian.
Many flies have feathers.
A life lived in all weathers.
His art exists in order that one might recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things, to make the cup of tea more cup-of-tea-like.
The recognition and then the release of the mundanity in all its’ profundity.
The hilarity a glue for all of life’s disparity.
The world in a few lines.
Not always the rhyme but invariably sublime.
I’m walking to a farm
A barrel of nails.
Squeeze or The Kinks pale into insignificance.
John Peel knew this. We all know this.
This is not a love song, this is a lament.
He set about his business; one part Spike Milligan, several parts Bruce Lacey.
Quintessentially quirky, awkward and nerdy.
But ultimately he had the power to beguile.
And when he frowned upon the applause that he begot at The Purcell Rooms all those ever-so-many-years-ago I could not help but fall, head-over-heels into the web of his enthrall.
His ruck-sack, floppy hat and tweed trousers.
His egg-and-spoon-race, hop-scotch, and enamel badges.
He played with us and transported us.
An excavator of himself.
The smile-within and the laugh-out-loud.
Every sound he made revealed a little bit more of his autobiography.
Cutler was Vic’s vapor rub.
Vic and Bob in the early days at my local pub.
The Outsider playing within the gulag of mainstream thinking.
Then gone like The Young Marble Giants, The Slits and Spizzenergi.
Hold your breath and think of Spinoza;
Student – “Can a question also be an answer?”
Socrates – “Yes”
How do you explain your interest in the ordinary?
It’s clichés it’s clichés it’s clichés all the time.
Ladies are lovely and so are Gentlemen.
The past went that-a-way.
When faced with a totally new situation, we tend to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavours of the most recent past. We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future. Heads held high up on the scaffolding of nostalgia;
Dah dit dah dit dah dah dah.
The best thing about being dead is that you no longer have to say I wish I were dead.
The best thing about being alive is that you can still say I wish I were dead.
The man who writes about himself and his time is the man who writes about all people and all time. And this is what Cutler did. This was his wager. By remaining faithful to the contingencies and peculiarities of his own experience and the vagaries of his own nature he delivered the universal.
Deep down you know you’re him.
And thus the zeitgeist moves on in; from The Band of Holy Joy to David Shrigley, from Billy Childish to Lonnie Holley.
Cutler never wrote anything large.
There was a ridiculousness to his celebration of the desultory that held fast.
Never knowingly understood.
And the one-minute sculptures of Erwin Wurm remind me of him. Sometimes absurd they can make you feel uncomfortable.
They are uncomfortable; try standing with a bucket on your head and your feet in warm offal for a minute or with your head down a stranger’s blouse, where bosoms abound.
Under an old oak tree
The end of this song
A hole in my toe
Miss Velvet Lips
You can always recognize the pioneers by the number of arrows they have in their back.
So when he frowned upon the applause that he begot at The Purcell Rooms all those ever-so-many-years-ago I could not help but fall head-over-heels into the web of his enthrall.
But above all
He taught me to perfect the quiet clap.
The clap from within.
NB; The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler is presently doing the rounds.
Go and see it.
The beautiful man’s life presented in sounds.
Ps; “You are the centre of your little world and I am
of mine. Now and again we meet for tea, we're two of a kind.
This is our
universe, cups of tea.
We have a beautiful cosmos, you and me.”
PPs; For Ivor Cutler and my father-in-law Sandy McMillan
Old Town - Hastings