Published: September 14th 2007September 14th 2007
Barry & Linda
Playing music on the Douro in Portugal
I started out by trying to work out when this journey started and of cause I failed. However, why it starts is probably a little easier and more relevant. We all have some of the nomad in us or as my mum called it the wander lust and all it needs to kick start it is some catalyst.
In my case this was the sudden death of a very close friend in April this year. We had a drink on the Friday before Easter, as a little farewell, before he and his partner went off to play music in Majorca for a folk group and we went to stop with friends in France. The flimsy nature of life comes as a cruel and bitter lesson. Looking for some rationale, as humans tend to do in such times, everyone agreed if you're going to go this was the model: instantly and painlessly, doing what you love most: in Barry's case playing English country music. Although we have no control over the type of death waiting round the corner, but before the grim reaper strikes, we have the ability to attempt to realize our dreams or at least do what we want
to do. For me that's seeing as much of the world as possible in the time left without, hopefully, doing too much damage to it: hence the reason for traveling as far as possible by bus. But to be honest flying scares me to death.
Although I only really knew him for 20 or so years for me Barry Callaghan was one of the most successful individuals I have known for the simple reason he enriched the life of everyone he came into contact with; in stark contrast to the politicians of this period (Thatcher to Blair). It seems to me that the democratic process in at least the UK and America if not the rest of the west is about separating the good from the bad and then empowering the latter politically and economically. The rest of us seem to make this process even smoother and certain by our inactivity.
A large group of us were on holiday a few years ago in the French Alps, just outside Annecy, when my wife Anne decided she was going to try parapenting i.e. jumping off a mountain top strapped to a Frenchman (Philippe) and nestling between his thighs and putting all her faith in the strength of his lower torso and a single piece of material called a parachute. When we informed the group that she intended to do this early the next morning the response was split between 'you must be mad' (my feeling exactly) and 'oh I'd love to do that followed by a but……….excuse, excuse, excuse. I suddenly realized there are those who do it and those who are content to dream and I sadley was one of the latter. Not that I have ever dreamed of subjecting my life to a flimsy piece of cloth but I have wanted to see the world since the nineteen sixties and now's the time before it's too late. I wrote a little silly song about this experience and Barry helped me sort the tune out. I will always visualize him sitting drinking claret on the campsite and writing the tune down as I sang it to him. The chorus summed up my feelings at the time:
Dancing so high like a prima ballerina
Sailing the sky like a clipper on the sea
We reach as we try to join them on their journey
Then watch our lives drift by from the safety of our dreams
On this journey I'll take these memories and the photo of Barry & Linday above to remind meof what we're doing and why we're doing it.
Also most Sheffielders of my generation will have grown up knowing the story of Tip's Grave which is situated by the side of Derwent Reservoir - of Dam Busting fame - just outside the city boundaries in Derbyshire and commemorates the devotion of Tip (dog) to his master. In short his master a shepheard died out on the moors and so did Tip refusing to leave his side. Therefore I am also including on the blog a photo of Ben our house dog for the past eight years who sadly died yesterday. He will reminder us when we are visiting the endangered Tigers and Orang-utang reserves the real nature of our relationship with all animals.