Ian Whitcomb is a highly respected performer, composer, and music historian. You can find all of his CD's, DVD's, Books, and Songbooks by clicking here.

 
You can find Ian's main website at
ianwhitcomb.com
 

Letter from Lotusland

November 2017

       

        It’s still rudely hot here, doesn’t seem like autumn at all. But next week is November fifth which reminds me of bitterly cold evenings at prep school in Seaford, Sussex in the early 1950s when steam came from our boy mouths as we surrounded the ritual bonfire.

       The bonfire, in front of the Scout’s kitchen, was built to remember the Gunpowder Plot of the 17th century, led by Guy Fawkes whose gang had prepared to blow up Parliament but were foiled. Fawkes and co were dyed-in the-wool Catholics when it was not the thing to be such. He was tried in a room in the Tower of London, the same room where, hundreds of years later, I sat with my family and Regina at dinner. That’s because my brother-in law was the governor. Ironically he too was a Catholic.

       We prep school boys shivered in our shorts as the vice-headmaster, Captain Manning, flung petrol onto the sticks. A few fireworks were offered as well. We “oohed’ and “aahed”, happy to be out of trouble and away from the slap of his slipper. Bonfire night was a much bigger deal than Halloween, a crude Celtic celebration not really observed by the cozy English.

       But now Newlands, the old school, has been sold for development; scads of high-density housing will squat where once my dreams played out. Ghosts of soccer matches and me peering at a Mickey Mouse film strip through a plastic viewer when I should have been shouting “Come on Newlands!” at the sporty boys; shades of the yard where we could roller skate near Captain Manning’s precious rockery, topped by the bell from HMS Belfast on which he’d served in World War One; the door to the corrugated iron passageway where, at the end of a visiting weekend, I‘d said good-bye to my parents and turned to face the racket of boys and the inevitable flood of tears.

       On the coming Nov 5 when effigies  of Fawkes will be burned on bonfires all over England, I will be in my corner at Cantalini’s Italian ristorante with Dave and Tom. A small basket will sit in front of us for tips. Most customers enjoy our ancient songs but we’ve noticed that millennials never tip us and seem oblivious to our charms. They often harbor pretty girls in tight skirts and with tumbling hair. I sit and spy on them over the top of my accordion. This is harmless and results in no actions but you have to be careful in his age of sex outing. On the drive home Dave fills me in on the history of ancient Mesopotamia, on how there they invented the wheel, writing, and perhaps even computing. He has learned all this through his studies at the university of Wikipedia.

       On Wednesdays and Fridays I attend group therapy at Verdugo Hills hospital, sitting in a circle in a custard-colored room stuck with a rural wallpaper scene of skinny brown trees with thin branches surrounded by brown birds, some toppling to earth backwards. The buxom female therapist invites one of us to start talking about how they feel. Glamorous Lulu, whose hair color changes alarmingly from day to day, tells how fearful she is of the upcoming trial of her black ex-lover who has robbed her and threatens violence. Will a restraining order stop him? She’s off to a hideaway cottage in the mountains this weekend—alone. But she may well meet a companion, for is she not a sex object?

    Next is poor Herbert who is living apart from his wife. He has recovered from the AIDs he got from a blood transfusion and he’s nursing a recently removed monstrous cyst from the back of his neck. There’ s a single woman with a new set of false teeth who is an ex-nun and would dearly love a man of her own. My troubles are nothing compared with these people.

       November 5 1953: the effigy has been burned and we are marched back to the school and our dormitories. “Books away eight o’clockers!”

       Lights out.

       Barkby, the head of our dorm, commands certain boys to report to his bedside. They are guilty of certain infractions. I am one of the condemned.

       Back in bed, my next-door bed fellow whispers: “What was the punishment?”

       “Oh it was nothing painful. I was jolly lucky really”

       “Well, what happened?”

       “ He just touched my balls ever so gently”

       “Golly! You got off lightly… perhaps he’ll go as easy on me when it’s my turn.

       “Night night”
       “Night night”


Ian Whitcomb is a highly respected performer, composer, and music historian. You can find all of his CD's, DVD's, Books, and Songbooks by clicking here.

 
You can find Ian's main website at ianwhitcomb.com