Friday, 20 January 2017

Bells, Beads and Sitars

In my life I have met many people, some more significant than others. Some have remained, some sporadically flit in and out of my life, some have gone forever. Time is never a factor when meeting and interacting with people. Sometimes the briefest encounters are the most profound and people touch your heart in ways long-term friendships do not. Timing on the other hand is crucial.

I recently learned that one of a group of people I encountered for a little less than a year, had passed away. For my shame I had given little thought to these people apart from the telling of some anecdote or another, I doubt they even remembered me even though I've been told I'm quite hard to forget (not sure if they meant that in a good way or not). They were older than me, I was little more than a kid and a pretty damaged one at that.

At the time I didn't realise this group of people had probably saved my life, and I doubt they knew it either. You see, I met them just as my time on the streets ended. I was still in a very dark place. Drink and drugs had become a part of my life as I tried to suppress the nightmares and memories of the previous five years. A rage burnt deep inside me and I was in self-destruct, then I met Ray. Like most other older people at the time, I think I amused him. Anyway in time I was introduced to different people and found this sort of hippie-type subculture.

For the previous five years at school all I had met with was hostility. I had become defensive and reactionary to any perceived threat. This was different to anything I had experienced. Nobody said mean things, there was banter but it was tempered by empathy. Everybody was so full of fun, nowhere else could I relax like I did with these wonderful people. Music was very much an important part of their lives and many played instruments. One of these was Reg. I had heard he had some limited success but never really asked about it (I later learned Manfred Mann covered one of his songs).

I was just grateful to be in this company, even though I was often teased. It was never malicious, they just didn't understand me. Maybe they hadn't met someone so damaged, so young, yet so seemingly comfortable amongst a group of older strangers. In this company I began to like people again and more importantly I began to trust. It is difficult to gauge just how much they changed my life. All I know is that I was on a slippery slope towards disaster. Had I mixed in a different circle at such a critical point in my life I might not be telling this tale.

Thanks to all those people. Reg has sadly passed on but he left a legacy with his music and one song in particular. In the song several of those people are mentioned and I recognise some from the images.

RIP Reg you were a star and always will be

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