28 February 2007

Childhood's End?

I'm not having a seond childhood, nor do I think it's true to say that I am reliving my youth. Despite my Most Glamorous Running Companion pointing out to me recently that I am middle-aged, I'm not sure that I ever really moved on from youth. Jim Morrison said you're whatever age you feel you are, going on to say he felt 40 and then dying at the age of 30. Life is often wearying and wearisome, but I'm keeping middle age at bay.

In the past few years, my resistance to aging has been aided by attending gigs by a variety of musicians who played an important role in my chronological youth - starting with Fairport Convention, and through the Cropredy Festival also Procol Harum and Lindisfarne: then the discovery (thanks to Mike Wood) that Audience were back: Roger Chapman and Richard Thompson along the way, and Robyn Hitchcock too, though he belongs to a slightly later generation: Kevin Ayers: and now Stackridge.

It doesn't even matter too much that I contrived to miss the new Stackridge's first appearance. I've read the reviews, and while I wish I was there (and also wish that I hadn't agreed to do a school careers convention on the day that they play their second gig - how can I talk seriously about the joys of being a solicitor while that's going on at the 100 Club?) I can also look forward to 1 April, which will be captured for posterity on DVD.

Just that they are playing again gives me a sense that a corner has been turned. Even life in the office seems brighter, although I have bored Shane and Bruce so much on the subject that Shane set me a quiz this afternoon, culling questions from (it transpired) the band's Wikipedia entry, which badly needs updating. I got all but one of his questions right, but who else would have been able to name the band members who proposed a reunion? I don't recall ever having heard of any of them before.

Shane has still failed to listen to the copy of Kind Of Blue that I lent him a week ago - even after I remedied my initial omission and produced a CD to go in the empty case I had handed to him. Bruce and I sang him the first few bars of Freddie Freeloader - I took the bass part - to show him what he's missing, though I imagine it sounded a little less than convincing. Later he started singing Bob Marley songs, so we exchanged favourites for a while. He was having a slow day.

Apart from Stackridge, my mood was elevated - whatever happened to that fine band the Mood Elevators who I saw with the Lemons several times in the early eighties? - when Henryk, the security man on the main entrance, approached me to ask a favour. He's always seemed a bit dour, and although I've long done good morning and good night as I passed his station he's not in the mould of Michael, his very friendly Ghanaian co-worker.

He needs a solicitor to sign his application for British nationality, which I find slightly surprising: I knew he was of Polish origin, but as he speaks idiomatic English with no trace of any accent except London I'd assumed that was some way back in his family history. Although there are well over a hundred solictors in the building, he asked me to sponsor him, and I find it flattering that he has done. I'm just a little apprehensive about that word "sponsor", but there's a box on the form in which to set out my level of knowledge. There's also a box for my passport number, so I cannot complete it today anyway.

He's done his test, he proudly tells me, 45 minutes to answer 25 questions on citizenship issues - rather like Liz Gamble's experience when she went for US citizenship, which sounded like Trivial Pursuit: indeed, it was while playing Trivial Pursuit with her and Mark when we were visiting them in Kentucky that she told us about it. The question had come up in the game, what is the only amendment to the Constitution that has been repealed? The same question had come up in her test. (The answer is prohibition, though I can't remember what nuber amendment it was.)

Henryk proudly told me that he had rattled off the answers in only 15 minutes, then checked through them to satisfy himself that he was home and dry. He reckoned he had at least 20. One of them, he told me, had asked what "consensus" was, and one of the choices had been a method of electing members of parliament. Of course, he said, it's a means by which the government updates information about the population.

Either Poles do irony far better even than the English, or I'd better keep my fingers crossed for him. Still, I'll take my passport in tomorrow.

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