I read, recently, about ‘The Riverbed’, a three-part installation by Yoko Ono. The mention of her name immediately filled my head with a collage of images. The full frontal nude pose with Lennon, the floating presence amid the death throes of those loveable moptops, her film no.4, ‘Bottoms’, the bagism, the bed-ins, the wailing and the screeching. But also, a music album.
I used to get annoyed with shoddy customer service, but now I have some sympathy with those caught up in the career-crushing culture of the call centre. What prospects for those poor souls who spend their days anchored to a screen, stuck to a script, with little room for improvisation? Holding your nerve, under a barrage of customer queries and complaints, with only a meaningless mission statement for protection, must be hell. Every shift, a series of repetitions, punctuated only with beeps, clicks and, the occasional expletive.
Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you. – Walt Whitman
I do enjoy a bit of Facebook. The exchange of news, views and general information. It’s a place for sharing, and it can be quite an education, in a social media kind of way. People love to share, and they love to share for a variety of reasons. Pure generosity, uncontrollable enthusiasm, loyalty to the cause, etc, etc. But nothing gets shared quite as quickly or widely as the news of someone’s death. It’s customary, when one of these announcements pop up, to react with a sad emoji, or leave a short comment by way of a condolence. Easy enough if the dead person is a name you know. David Bowie, Bruce Forsyth, Alan Rickman. More recently, Cyrille regis, Jimmy Armfield, Dorothy Malone, Bella Emberg, and Peter Wyngarde.
Some of you will notice that the name of this blog has changed. It used to be, ‘The Label Fell Off’. I don’t know what I was thinking when I came up with that one. Anyway, I don’t want to dwell on it for too long, although I’m sure a psychologist would have a field day. It’s now called ‘From the Sticks’, which is a fair description of my origins, and an accurate reference to where I live. Not a little thatched cottage in the woods, however. But a rented first floor, two bedroom flat. A habitat, housing association style. A place we decided, 18 years ago, would be temporary, for three years, max.
A lesson that comes easier to some than others is this: the years gently twist the lenses of experience, bringing into sharp focus all the things that are truly important. Love. Respect. Kindness. I’ll let the Big Yin have the last word. He sums it all up much better than I can.