Sunday, December 23, 2007


In Scotland it is in Nottinghamshire; in England it is not. A sign colourfully states: ‘Gateway to Lincolnshire.’

Once dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, for reasons time obliterates, the church in Claypole dropped St. Paul. Sufficiently ancient to be mentioned in the Domesday survey, inevitably the original wooden Saxon church was rebuilt. Today it still confirms and solidifies the faith of a dwindling congregation. Not belonging to this butter group it is neither my social centre nor a fear support system.

In an unusually soporific vault this evening’s concert play the work of Joseph Boden de Boismortier. He was prolific, and successfully cross-fertilised Italian and French styles and traditions. Melodies were concise with imitative dialogues. It worked! He was popular! An eclectic programme, it is performed by the homely Passacaglia Quartet, consisting of Flute, range of Recorders, Viola da Gamba and a Harpsichord lavishly painted à la Italianate Watteau.

a ... 1 .. 2 .. 3 .. 4
recorders in harmony
filter church air

This is not sacred music. Secular background to a turbulent French musical and social scene, it reflects a period when the rich could become their extravagant parties. Held in private gardens of private homes, a temporary mask of transference covered their lives. ‘Dressing down’ for a short exciting time, with no fear of hunger or impending danger, they copied and enacted a pastiche of their peasant workers and tenants. Lots of fun before clambering back through their Rococo-framed mirrors.

a pair of ravens
swoop through their conversation
ornate reflections

An interval. Miss wigglebum sitting next to me leans over my sketchbook with an innocent directness. She compares the drawing with the instruments left in positions of angled order. Had she failed to see the space between Viola da Gamba and floor? The evening package includes a drink. I move to the door of carved paneling, tracery and handmade nails.
........... ½ way through
................... an evening of bright music
......................... a yesterday voice
“Stanley Pelter?” ‘If I had a pound,’ as my mum used to say, ‘for every time I’ve heard my name spoken as a question,’ and that instant fear of failing to recognize the person within the voice, ‘I would be a rich man.’ Beyond the contemporary hairstyle, fashionable, smartly expensive dress, balanced, tasteful shoes and mature make-up, a flashed recollection of a forgetting. Familiarity at a distance.

her neat smile
fills with planned colours
blonde hair streaks settle

She seems more beautiful, more together, more in control than someone I would know in that far-flung centre of an overcrowded and disabled memory. Something structural vaguely reminds me of the different person she used to be in whatever part of my life we inhabited together. She does look good, exuding a remote touchability. I want to, but do not. “Sue Archer. I used to be Sue Mount.” My face, suddenly bustling, curls into a masked smile of recognition. “I’m still in touch with Jennie Rapp. You do remember Jenny, don’t you?”

Now here was a skinny-dip swim in a far-flung lake. For a time Jenny lodged with us. We had a number of Butler-led, Waitress-fed dinners with her parents who spread throughout the evening, gently probed for anything that might hint at drug-related experiments. Their, well, mainly sober daughter? It is one of nature’s curiosities how different parents deal with such concerns. For a time, Spike Milligan phones daily, obsessively enquiring into the welfare and well being of a daughter, temporarily stationed with us. Polite, direct, always serious, it hid a neurotic need to know whether, with magic powder, I am protecting her from a hyperactive drug scene. I hide behind fluffy, establishment ‘student confidentiality.’

Retrospection inspired by this flashing light from an exciting past fails to halt the machine gun fire of questions. Asked so musically the abstract sounds are more pleasurable than the content. “Where do you live? Whare are you doing here? Are you ….?” “In this village, here, in Claypole. And you?” “Not the next village but the one beyond. Brandon. I’ve a son. Starting an Art degree course soon. Chelsea. Divorced now. And you? You visited me in that god-awful College, in god-awful Stoke-on-Trent. Why did you send me there, of all god-forsaken places?” “Well, at the time, for the subject you wanted, in the way you wanted to study….”

“Please take your seats; the concert will continue in 2 minutes.” Just time for a telephone number and address before the interval finally collapses. Without looking back, sweating a bit, I regain my front pew seat; next Miss wigglebum and her looking-as-if-she-wants-to-talk-to-me mother. I give a shorthand smile and open my keep-me-private sketchbook at a clean page. ‘Sonata in D Major op 91/1; Pièce de Viole; Deuxième Livre and Gentilesse op 45/5 in G Major.’

musicians death mask .. inside a transparent box .. his music silent

By the time I am ready to leave, she had gone. I cannot tell you what I remember about her.

by Stanley Pelter
Claypole, Lincolnshire, England
first published in past imperfect, 2004

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