Thursday, 23 June 2011

an odd boy : mister love

mister love
“It’s the music Mr Love ” I said, feeling slightly anxious “I hope you don’t mind – but I don’t know what it is. I’ve never heard that music before and . . . and . . . I like listening to it. What is that music, please? ”
He smiled. “It’s . . . Blues ” he replied, beaming at me. “It’s from America. That is why . . . you have never heard it before.” 

I asked him if I would be able to hear it somewhere and he replied “People don’t listen to music like this in England.” Then he laughed quietly “It’s a little too . . . lively . . . yes . . . too lively.” 

I asked “Is it . . . alright then – if I stay in the tree and listen? ” 

Mr Love laughed gently and replied “We can do better than that—young Victor—you can come into the garden and sit with me. I can tell you about this music . . . if you like.”
Fantastic! I’d like nothing better in the entire world. “Yes please Mr Love! I would like that very much indeed! ” I replied eagerly.

I descended from the willow tree and sat near him—in a raggedy old orange and blue striped deck chair with a delicate woodworm tracery in the frame—listening to crackling 78 records of Big Bill Broonzy. He brought out glasses of ginger beer that his sister had made. It was delicious. I’d never tasted ginger beer before – but Mr Love provided it whenever I visited. I somehow conceived of it as the thing that Bluesmen drank.

I wonder why that south-bound train don’t run, now you don’t need no telling, little girl, you know what you done. 
Southbound Train—Big Bill Broonzy—1937

What a voice that man had! “Who—is—that man? ” I asked – and Mr Love told me all about Big Bill Broonzy. Who’d ever heard of a person having such a name? The three Bs together were magic. Mr Love told a long story and illustrated it by playing different gramophone records. It was like being in school – but as school ought to be, not school as it was.

“I want to sing like Big Bill Broonzy! ” I proclaimed with joy.



Volume 1 of an odd boy by Doc Togden will be published by Aro Books worldwide in 2011

Excerpts can be read on Doc Togden's Facebook fanpage

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