Sunday, June 26, 2005

I Could Drink A Case Of You And I Would Still Be On My Feet 

Long tall Wanda was in the pub on Friday night. She was a singer back in the eighties, making a packet on the “Maggie Maggie Maggie! Out Out Out!” circuit, but that’s all but dried up now, so instead she heads the Department of Good Manners at the University of Central Lancashire here in Preston.

She still does the singing though, and next week she’s off on tour around the folk clubs and bohemian hotspots of the West Midlands, where there is still much to protest about.
Most of her audience either wish it was still the sixties or are so far gone that they don’t realise it isn’t any more.
The high spot of her set is the Joni Mitchell medley, and when she sings “Oh I am a lonely painter, I live in a box of paints. I’m frightened by the devil and I’m drawn to those ones that ain’t afraid” there’s not a dry eye in the house, hippies young and old sobbing into their bandanas, coming up to her afterward to tell her how beautiful she is, and would she like to drop by for tea the next time she’s in town and does she know anybody who’d like some kittens and is it true you can remove red lentil stains by dabbing them with green lentils?
There’s an aura around her which speaks of wisdom and kindness and truth, and because she’s the goddess of the gently strummed 12 string people assume she’s also a public advice service, and given half a chance would have her helping them with their housing benefit forms and dubious insurance claims.
Show me a folk music audience and I’ll show you the emotionally needy.

Charlie was also out, which is always a treat. She’s very excited because she’s bought a new motorbike. It has alphachromatic pistons and orthopaedic brakes - yeah Charlie, like I understood every word you said - and it won best of breed in 1976 and is a classic of it’s generation, just like it's new owner.
One of her Hell’s Angel friends she used to ride with in San Francisco tipped her off about it, and it’s being shipped over as we speak.
She has a part time job in the University library and although she’s as comfortable with the metaphysical poets as she is with neurosciences or modern economic theory, it’s the automotive section that she thinks of as home. There’s not a Haynes manual from 1982 to the present day that she doesn’t know inside out.

In the winter months she teaches motorcycle maintenance evening classes, which to nobody’s great surprise attract a disproportionate number of students who’ve never been near a bike in their life, but she doesn’t seem to mind and the post-class pub sessions are the stuff of folklore.
She’s a legend in her own postal district.

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