I've been on the allotment for four hours today digging and planting chitted seed potatoes. And now I've drunk wine, only 250ml, but I can tell you, I am now floating in the sky with diamonds. Pete says I have the look of someone who has been drained by a succubus.
It feels good, though. I've done a thorough job of obliterating all thoughts about The Situation.
There shall be spuds
I nearly gave up the allotment this year. It's only an 8x15m half plot but without John, my former allotment partner who left me for another plot, it has become an eruption of grasses, plantains and weeds. Now I'm counting my blessings that I kept it on. It's like a porthole to a dimension of 'the before'.
And in 12 weeks or so, there shall be spuds.
But it's not really about the produce; it's about an activity that is simultaneously physical, spiritual and mental. The only thing that could have made it better under today's blue skies and warm southerly winds was a soundtrack.
Soundtracking the allotment
So, during the breaks, I sat on the fading foldout chair, once vivid turquoise now almost grey, poured some tea from the flask and stuck in the headphones to play a few tunes. Think:
- Into The Mystic – Van Morrison
- Chelsea Morning – Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66
- Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms) – The Detroit Emeralds (you'll recognise the sample even if you don't know the original)
- Praise You – Fatboy Slim
- Five O'Clock World – The Vogues
- We Can Work It Out – Stevie Wonder
- Garden – C Duncan (thank you Bev for this song)
- I Believe in Miracles – Mark Capanni (chill version of The Jackson Sisters)
Into The Mystic was the song that best hit the spot, with its feeling of floating in a summer reverie.
Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly
Into the mystic
I thought: how amazing would it be to write the perfect lyric to the perfect music for a perfect moment If I could do that then I would die happy.
A different time when the world ended
Which reminds me of how I came to the conclusion that music was part of the meaning of (my) life back in 2002.
It was a different era of metamorphosis and radical change, also driven by sickness and death. In the early 2000s, after Mum died and I lost my partner, I spent a year in semi-isolation because I couldn't go back to 'the before' of my life. It just felt wrong to pick up where I had left off like nothing had happened. (Will that happen after Covid-19?)
And so in 2002 I spent a year in grief-stricken limbo when I moved back to Birmingham and left my job, home and all my friends in London. After a year of thinking about what was important and fundamental to me, I came up with the following answer: music! Apart from the fundamentals of life, music was the only thing that really mattered to me and had the power to lift me out of my grief-stricken, loss-driven funk.
From that realisation I started looking for an adult education or access course and that soon escalated into doing a BA in popular music. Flashback!
20 years on … maybe this time is another precious chance to reflect on what is important in life. Because life is fragile and rarely more so than now.
I wonder if the meaning of (my) life will change again. I have a feeling that the answer will be less about me and more about us.
Today I am mostly thankful for the privilege of having some sod to dig.