And feel your lumps

Go and sit upon the grass and I shall come and sit beside you…

Back in the early seventies a couple of forward-looking sixth-formers at my school booked a series of acts, with varying degrees of success; Hatfield and the North were very nearly booked at one stage, but they ended up with Keith Christmas. I always wanted to be like those sixth-formers, but by the time I got there respect had given way to derision; they shouted at me in the corridors, in other words. (They called me ‘Medusa’, which was literate at least.) Anyway, Keith Christmas was pretty good; he could certainly bring off the long hair. The Albion Dance Band (as they then were) were also good, although I’d been hanging around all day with the people doing set-up and was out of my head on London Pride by the time they came on. And then there was Ivor Cutler, who disappointed some by not bringing his harmonium and disappointed me slightly by giving half a set to Phyllis April King (as she then was). I was prepared for the writing, as one of my sisters had left a copy of Cockadoodledon’t! at home. The writing was good.

But Ivor Cutler is dead.

Years later I saw Ivor Cutler again; at least, it was either him or an elderly man of medium height who was determined to look as much like Ivor Cutler as possible. Our paths crossed on a bridge over the Thames – one of those railway bridges with the fenced-in pedestrian section to one side. (Blackfriars, Waterloo, I don’t know.) I contemplated saying something but rapidly realised that I didn’t have anything more cogent to say than “Hey, you’re that Ivor Cutler, aren’t you?”. (Unlike my sister, I had never purchased any of his works.) I didn’t say anything.

But Ivor Cutler is dead.

As you’ll read in his interview with the Wire, Ivor Cutler wasn’t entirely pleased to have his contribution to Robert Wyatt’s Rock Bottom described as his own work. His own work was quite different. Wyatt later paid him a greater homage with his version of “Grass”, a.k.a. “Go and sit upon the grass”: a wonderful, hilarious and highly meaningful song about the path to enlightenment, which I have myself sung in public to great acclaim. (I made somebody cry with laughter – of which I have to say I am rather proud. Thanks, Ivor.)

Ivor Cutler is dead.

He has left a gap. The gap has many shapes; one of them is this. That’s a good gap.

And we shall talk…

Advertisements

2 Comments

  1. Clare
    Posted 9 March 2006 at 15:48 | Permalink | Reply

    My friend Francis has a great story about Mr Cutler. Told here.

    Tis a great shame. He was one of my favourite legends.

  2. Clare
    Posted 11 March 2006 at 00:55 | Permalink | Reply

    Phil, I have a meme I think you might be interested in. But I can’t find an email address for you?

    Email me on Clare at ClareSudbery dot co dot uk?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: