July 31, 2018

8.30 am: We caught the train to London. This would be one of those father-son excursions on which we’d indulge our passions for jazz and art. The journey gave me time to respond to emails, write references, and take stock of my work (and life). I tried hard not to succumb to the refreshments trolley’s temptation of over-priced PG Tips. My resolve buckled less than an hour later. (‘John! You’re pathetic’.)

These days, I tend not to plan not far ahead. 2020 will mark the end of a seven year cycle of research projects and personal determinations. By then, what I’d hoped to have achieved will, in all likelihood, have come to pass. Presently, I’ve no particular interest in (or ideas about) what comes after that. Life can turn on a sixpence (as they used to say); the unexpected can intervene. Tragedy and loss may come out of the blue, just as surely as health, happiness, and contentment, dissolve in an instant. Alternatively, the best in life can fall like dew from heaven without warrant, warning, or asking, and just as suddenly. (The unhoped for blessing.) Thus, all my resolutions are made in the light of these realisations: ‘Only if’, as it were.

Within the compass of my world view, I believe in the possibility of change, restoration, betterment, hope in the absence of reason (humanly speaking), and (on occasion) an extraordinary turnabout in events. Likewise, I’m convinced that persistence, waiting, striving, and seeking do pay off, more often than not. Patience is rewarded.

Moreover, ‘Hope springs eternal in the human breast’, Alexander Pope wrote in his ‘Essay on Man’. In other words, there’re desires, visions, and determinations that persist, even in the most discouraging of circumstances and in spite of our faintheartedness. They appear to be, for all intents and purposes, indestructible, as though buoyed-up by an external power. One ought to pay attention to such. (A woman carrying a large, framed print of Frances Bacon’s Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion passed down the aisle.)

1.15 pm: The train arrived at Euston. From there we took the tube to Brixton. Thereafter, we made our way, via a laundrette-cum-tailor’s shop, to Soho and a series of independent record shops, to handle the vinyls. There was an original copy of King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King on sale for £1,400. I could be sitting on a small fortune with the contents of my collection of original records. I’ll make an inventory on my return.

There was a peculiar nostalgia about rifling through the stock, extracting something of interest with one hand, while holding open its space in the rack with the other. No mean feat.

5.00 pm: We headed for the Dog & Duck on Frith Street for a pre-concert drink, before standing in the queue waiting for the doors of Ronnie Scott’s jazz club to open:

We were there (again) to hear the Chick Corea Trio on this occasion, and enjoy dinner together. What an extraordinary display of watertight musicianship. These were three guys of conspicuous ability (a gross understatement), who’d been playing together for decades and had developed an almost telepathetic connection between their creative minds. We had a gas; and I had a superb Ronnie’s Burger. 9.15 pm: My son and I made our way back onto the streets of London and homeward, feeling cool (in the 60s sense of that word) and enthusing as only jazzers do as we travelled:

 

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