Articles / Reviews

For Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow by Michael Dudley

date: May 12, 1999


 

For Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

"You can see forever from here…"

It was a clear, warm and sunny spring morning when I got there. I was the first to turn up and was way too early. To pass the time, I took a walk around the huge graveyard that surrounded the crematorium chapel and looked at the inscriptions on the stones. So much loss and regret. For me - so many missed opportunities. Ah, the benefit of hindsight… I didn't know how I would react to this. Searching hard to sense how I was feeling, I found an empty hole where emotion should be - this was a new experience and there was no precedent to help guide me. I'd been to funerals before, of course, but none so full of "might-have-beens" and "if-onlys" to which I was so closely connected. The first people I met that I knew were Bob & Wyn. They didn't recognise me at first due to a foolish experiment with face hair - there was a strange pause that allowed memory to flood back in. Shortly after that, so many familiar faces from the past - the original "Outsiders" rhythm section, Jan and Bob. Benita Biltoo (Bi). Mick Griffiths, Steve Budd and Wally Brill. The "Crooked Billet" crowd (including a couple of Honolulu Mountain Daffodils)…

No Graham, who lives in America and of course, no Max. Others I didn't know, some of whom I took to be connected to the "White Rose Transmission" crew, some who said they knew me but who's faces I couldn't bring to mind from the past. When the hearse arrived, there was a palpable hesitation, as if we all still didn't want to believe that this was actually happening. A coffin, flowers, and of course, a guitar. I found myself on the wall-side of the second row. Standing at the front was a collection of what I took to be some of Adrian's fans - most seemed too young to have been around when The Sound were treading the boards, "perhaps from Holland" I thought. The service was a deeply moving mixture of traditional hymns, prayers and Adrian's own work from his solo years. As Wyn read out the words from "You Can See Forever From Here", the emotional hole suddenly filled up. I wasn't the only one in tears, but that didn't lessen the shock of finding myself doing something I hadn't done since childhood. At the end, Adrian's coffin and his guitar disappeared behind his final curtain and people started to file out in an orderly fashion, one row at a time. All at once the strength left my legs and I had to sit down. I lost all sense of what was going on around me, it was too much to cope with - bitter, dark and tragic. I suddenly felt very old.

Time passed… Eventually, I looked up to see that everybody else had left the chapel except for the row in front of me, who were standing politely and waiting for me to move. With my hand on the back of the pew in front to help me get up, I rose on unsteady legs and walked, tears subsiding, slowly out from the hushed gloom of the chapel into sudden birdsong and bright sunlight in the garden… It was strange to read the words of "You Can See Forever…" and find that Adrian had taken to "the great outdoors". He had always been a city boy at heart and never one for fresh air and exercise, or the bucolic pleasures of the countryside, I remember. I have, since '92 been fanatical about Mountain Biking, riding out solo or with a group of like-minded friends that I first met in the early '90's. One of the pleasures of this is working hard and putting effort into getting to the top of a remote hill or mountain on terrain far away from tarmac, bricks and mortar; then finding a feeling of great peace creeping over me as I breathe in the air and take in the view. All the hassles and irritations of day-to-day life are left far behind up there in what feels like a "higher realm". It almost seems that he wrote the song just for me, so perfect is his description, as if he had heard about my MTB passion and decided to try out something of the experience of being in a high place like this for himself. But then his work always did have a great quality of "written just for me" resonance about it for so many people, of course…

Whenever I am once again in a high place, flushed from the exercise and feeling as though with one breath I could breathe in the whole world, I think of Adi and this song of his and feel that I am somehow sharing something of his spirit. So with this in mind, for yesterday, today and tomorrow, I offer the following, (trad. anon.):

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn's rain.

When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.

I am not there; I did not die.

 

2002 MICHAEL DUDLEY (drummer of The Sound)



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