Thursday, April 17, 2003

Maybe, Maybe Not

When I was 14 years old, my father would sometimes drive me home from school. He drove an EH station wagon. He always had the radio on: there was Mitch Miller and Doris Day and Connie Francis. And I would sit there wishing it was The Beatles and The Stones and The Who. Then one day, I heard a woman speaking softly against a low accompaniment say:

I remember when I was a very little girl, our house caught on fire.
I'll never forget the look on my father's face as he gathered me up
in his arms and raced through the burning building out to the pavement ...

As she spoke, I was drawn into her story, although I thought it was a little strange: this couldn't be a song. Then she reached the chorus and I realised that, yes, it was a song. And though I resisted - this was not the sort of music that I was supposed to like - I came to like it. After a few weeks, it wasn't getting played and I forgot about it. I never made the mistake of mentioning it to my friends, in case they thought me daggy.

Years later I fell in love, head over heels in love, with the most wonderful girl in the world. While there were no long walks by the river, there were times when we would sit for hours gazing into each other's eyes. It ended just as it did in the song - she went away and I thought I would die, but I didn't. I did go out and buy an album of Peggy Lee's greatest hits; not intentionally, it was there in the record store when I went in to buy something else. I picked it up anyway. That night I played that one song over and over for hours, until the guy in the flat below started banging on his ceiling, to let me know that it was now his turn to piss me off by playing Help Me Rhonda ad nauseam.

I know what you must be saying to yourselves: this piece isn't going anywhere, why doesn't he just end it now?

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