Chris Smith, one of my oldest friends, stayed over last week on his way back to Otley. Now Chris is slightly younger than I am with a similar childhood history. In his case he was adopted and, for most of his life, knew virtually nothing about his biological parents. He is, as I’m sure he won’t mind me saying, a great singer/songwriter and a multi instrumentalist with a smokey blues voice. He is also a self effacing person who can take on a different persona on stage; where he mutates into a public person that often involves a double breasted pinstripe suit, correspondent shoes, white hat and dark glasses. In that guise, he is more flamboyant than I am in my speaking personality, where I swap my jeans and tee shirt for a three piece tweed suit.
He also has a wealth of stories, especially about his early days in the music business which I keep telling him that he should write about. Among these was, when he was an arts student, setting up a stage for a very young David Bowie to perform, being in a band called “Smile” which, when Freddie Mercury joined, became quite famous as “Queen” and being told that the music company liked his songs but thought that this other new musician was the better option. That musician turned out to be Bruce Springsteen. Chris can remember listening his demo tape over the phone line and has been an aficionado ever since.
We talked, as we always do, putting the world to rights and, specifically, how difficult it was to see this new generation inheriting a world that is a much harder place than it was for us. We also talked about how we were fans of “Long Lost Family” and found it difficult not to cry when watching it. The following morning before he left, Chris gave me a copy of his latest CD, “Shoreline Gold” about his search for his birth mother and his family which is worth a listen. I, of course, gave him a copy of my latest book, “Lessons from a Chequered Life”. A day or so later, full of his usual enthusiasm for what others have done, he rang me to say how much he was enjoying reading it.
In many ways and in common with a great many others, our lives are tinged by what might have been. However, given that we both like to live in the here and now, they are also about what is and what we do about the cards that we’re dealt in life. After all, although it needs to be understood, the past is the past and it’s only the future that can be created.