You have no idea how much I am looking forward to this. The other 3058 fans in the Edinburgh Playhouse will be very happy to be there. But you need to know that I will take the biscuit. I haven't said too much and it's not a Stephen King Number One Fan sort of excitement, but, come on, my blog is named DearTimMinchin..... My blog, I think we have established, is mostly a series of love letters or posts to the people I think highly of. All of the others are actually in my life. But I have, so far, made an exception for you. I haven't written him in yet but Tom Waits has his own pedestal.
I have said it before and will say it many more times - I LOVE your rhyming skills and the two many syllables that casually yet precisely say something, when they cram themselves into their baked-bean-like lines. You make me cry and want to drink white wine (I am more red, usually) and more than anything to be with my own family at Christmas. You make me laugh and wish to be more ginger. You make me wonder if I can sing a semitone up from the key I am playing in (I can't carry it off).
If I were questioned, I would be found lacking in true fandom. I don't know all your songs. I haven't even looked up where you live or your wife's name - I have my own life to lead. But I am so excited to be seeing you in concert, in just over a month. It is a collaborative birthday and Christmas present from my brother and his wife, and from Isabelle and me to each other. Mike paid for my birthday and Isabelle's Christmas. I paid for Elsa's birthday and Mike's Christmas. And so on.
Like you, I particularly enjoy playing barefoot piano. I also wear my hair wild occasionally. I make a point of listening to your graduation address to the University of Western Australia at least once a year, to remind me to be a little wiser and more philosophically rigorous. I started writing songs and piano music a couple of years ago and until then it never had crossed my mind that I might be able to. They are not great shakes, my songs, and I am sadly not a singer, but there is something so satisfying about finishing one and recording it. Can I ask if you listen to yours over and over again for the first few days when nobody else is in the house? And do you think to yourself, wow I wrote that? I am particularly pleased with my Passing Place Song and my Anti Gun song to Trumpet. (Truth be told, I am pleased with most of my songs.)
So. I challenged myself to write a snippet of a different song or piano piece each day. A snippet is easy - it is the other five sixths that are difficult. The poignant ending, the repeat without being too dull, the middle eight. I wonder when you first heard of a middle eight? I had got all the way to 45 before hearing the term.
As it happens, there was quite a lot going on in August. Some of it was mundane, some predictable. I was blindsided by some of it. Quite often the day's events had a direct impact on the nature of the snippet. But sometimes not. You might like some of the snippets. You might not like any of them. I have a feeling you might like the kite one and the ones about my newly found brother. And maybe the one about midges. Have you ever come across midges? If you are ever in Applecross, the one on the West coast of Scotland rather than the Aussie one, I would advise you not to come between the beginning of June and the end of September.
August the 1st. My first snippet. It would have been our 22nd wedding anniversary, Ian's and mine. It was such a good day, our wedding. I was so incredibly happy. There are some bits I would tend to gloss over, like Mike not enjoying his dinner because the roast potato ran out. (You won't know this Tim, but my brother has Asperger's. Thoughtful, considerate, funny, witty, generous - but don't expect him to eat his dinner if he did not get the potato he had asked for.) My mum arguing with me until 2am about whether or not my dad and his wife should have been invited - it was my brother who saved the day, and the bags under my eyes, by saying stop it, go to bed. Several of our friends had been up here for the whole week, others for a long weekend. Our lovely friend, David, had come round in the morning to take the first photos (he was the official (unpaid) photographer) - of my ballerina underskirt and corset. The hall had been decorated with local wild flowers and others from the Walled Garden. Our friends had picked them, placed them around the venue, beautified the then run down village hall, changing shabby orange curtains for muslin and heather.
My dad picked me and my sister up - she wore a forest green long dress from Monsoon, non flouncy, as I hoped it could be worn somewhere else. My own dress had cost £38 in Starry Starry Night in Glasgow, off Byre's Road. I had actually bought it when I was a student because I had tried it on and it had fitted. ''Send a photo!' the shop lady enthused - I didn't let on that not only was I not getting married, but I didn't even have a boyfriend at that time. I just really liked the dress....
It thundered a couple of times as Dad drove up, and he got a golf umbrella out of the car. We laughed at the dark sky. The sun came out as we arrived, two minutes later, at the registrar's house. It stayed for the next five weeks. Seriously - it was an Indian summer in Applecross until mid September that year (1997) - and we stayed up here for most of that time, only going back down the road to Helensburgh, to sign on. We walked every other day the 3 miles to the Applecross Inn, and on the odd occasion, stopped for a plate of chips and a half pint of Guinness.
The registrar had Ian repeat his vows phrase by phrase. The registrar lost the natural breaks when it came to my turn and he delivered four or five phrases all together. I managed, with effort, to say them all. I, Suzanne Elliott...... until death do us part. I don't think anybody actually applauded but that was really some feat of concentration. We ate, we toasted, we danced. My brother took it upon himself to make sure the ceilidh band had plenty to drink. They stayed well past their paid two hours - they said they had never seen such an enthusiastic ceilidh, feet jumping for every dance. They drank and as they drank, some of the 4 beats to a bar became 5 beats. This lands you with an extra step on the leading foot if you spot it, or if you don't, you continue to dance but are out of sync with the strong beat. There were people out of sync, there were puzzled people and there were some people putting in the extra step (We do have musical ceilidh dancers among our friends).
'Til death do us part. I meant it. I didn't promise to obey. But I did promise to love. I fell in love, absolutely, with Ian 26 years ago. The whole heart leaping, not sleeping, barely eating, head strong, head all over the place kind of absolutely falling. I have never stopped loving Ian. He makes me glad to have met him, to have been with him. He is a one off, Tim. I am assuming that you have not read the rest of my blog, and so do not know that four years ago, I fell absolutely heart leaping in love with Isabelle.
I have made it a rather messy love story. My blog might be seen as a series of love letters, but it is also a long apology or maybe in part, an explanation. It is also a thank you. It is a recognition that sometimes life is shit and sometimes we are shit. Sometimes life is heartbreaking. But quite frequently, life is bloody beautiful.
Where we are at now, all of us, I couldn't have written that into a believable script. I live with Isabelle. People got badly hurt. We moved away. We came back. And we regularly see Ian for dinner.
'I gave a promise always to love you.
And I do.'