Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Lost Names, with three photographs of Barry Bucknell
A rare day at home, bar a visit to the dentist. Dentist fills one tooth, photographs another, says come back. Fine. It's a beautiful sunny morning, if blowy, and I return to translate, to write yet another introduction to something, and to deal with correspondence. The sun shines. Le soleil brille.
At about one C and I decide to have hot comfort-food lunch at the caff on the corner - sausages and mash for me, followed by jam roly poly - she has scampi and chips followed by carrot cake. You are such a girl, C! Pot of strong tea for two. Nothing in the caff can have changed since about 1961. They are playing, at reasonable volume, a long selection of songs from the period: Do the Locomotion, Wonderful Land, Love Letters in the Sand, Oh Carol, Bobby's Girl, Walking Back to Happiness, Runaway, Cumberland Gap, Telstar (Telstar, begob!)... and so forth. I name them and shame them. Well, actually I don't shame them - I recognize them and give them a brief, faintly absent-minded, mental caress as I would an elderly relative of the kind I don't actually have.
C and I start talking about names. I ask her about boys' names, since she does her day-a-week whack in a boys' school. We run across the names, the lost names, the boys she never teaches, the names that ring in the far distance with a dead sound on the final stroke of nine, as T S Eliot said of of the bells of St Mary Woolnoth. Where then are the:
Stanleys, Sidneys, Alfreds, Alberts, Grahams, Malcolms, Ronalds, Colins, Brians, Rogers, Ernies, Victors, Dereks (we actually begin with Derek because of Del Shannon and Del Boy and the Dels of my schooldays, Del Mackey and Del Parrott), Maurices, Leslies, Norberts, Percies, Terrys, Barrys, Garys... where have all the flowers gone? Now it's all Jacks and Toms and Tims and Georges and Bens and Simons and Robs and Wills and Dans and Steves and Petes...
I think of Barry Bucknell in his shed, Percy Thrower in his garden, of Erle Stanley Gardner and Stanley Baxter, of Colin Welland, of Malcolm Miles, of Stan next door, of Ron Knee and Roger the Dodger and Leslie Bricusse and Leslie Norris and Les Dawson, of Terry Paine, of Maurice Norman, of Nobby Stiles, of Victor Sylvester and Brian Blessed...
It's a decent pair of Norfolk sausages swimming in the gravy. The roly poly is constructed around the appropriate suet and is accompanied by reassuringly deep-yellow custard. It's like driving an Austin A40.
I myself have one careful owner, just a few spots of rust, with MOT till August and all working parts, though you have to go a little easy on the clutch.