Child in Time

A bit of a rambling journey this and it starts with the subjectivity of musical appreciation.

I was listening to the wireless this morning when without introduction, three notes played, the introduction to a song I have known and loved for many years.
Music can be such a wonderful thing, three notes play and immediately your mind goes to a place, a time. Three notes presaging what I think is a wonderful piece of music, three notes and I relax intent on nothing but listening. Three notes, warm, relaxing Hammond organ sounds.
Child In Time by Deep Purple, not to be confused with the vastly inferior Sweet Child O’Mine by some other band (subjective opinion). Ian Gillan once introduced this song as “a song about a loser”, and yes, maybe the lyrics are a bit down in the dumps;
“…you’d better close your eyes, ooohh, bow your head, wait for the ricochet…”
but the music, the music is wonderful, well, I think it is and there again my friend is the subjectivity.

The last time I saw Deep Purple in concert was in May 2017, the show was really good but they didn’t perform Child In Time, Mr. Gillan’s voice is I think not quite up to it these days. One or two other songs performed that evening were also telling in the voice department. Perhaps it was just the rigours of being on tour but his voice in one or two songs was deffo subpar. No matter that they didn’t perform Child In Time, maybe it’s better to have the good memories rather than be subject to a lacklustre performance and that my friend is a consequence of getting older.

Child in time; in a sense we are all children, in time.
We are all approaching that second childhood, as Shakespeare wrote:
“…At first, the infant, mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms…”
and then a return to childhood:
“…last scene of all that ends this strange eventful history is second childishness and mere oblivion…”

I like to think that I’m still in the first stage, not mewling and puking although given the right conditions it does happen from time to time. 20 odd years ago I broke my right arm, both bones, Radius and Ulna; the Ulna was in three pieces. That was due largely to copious amounts of Theakston’s Old Peculier and Firkin Brewery’s Dogbolter and maybe just a little blame can be laid on conducting piggyback races along the Holloway Road in North London after chucking out time at the Flounder and Firkin. There was no puking but there was a certain amount of mewling.

So yes, I like to think that I have not yet put away childish things. Of course I became a man but I did not put away childish things, a fact evident in the contents of my model railway cupboard. To be childlike is often seen as a bad thing in adults and I suppose in some respects it is but to maintain a child-like wonder is I feel sometimes a good thing. To see the world through the eyes of a child, not through the dark glass of confirmed adulthood. Maybe it’s maintaining the balance twixt adult and child, being able to see things differently. Whatever it is, I’ve tried to hang on to it because I know some confirmed adults and they are the most boring people ever, all adulty and House, Work, Position, Car, Money…

And we are, let’s face it, all children in time; we may act the part, walk the walk, talk the talk but none of us actually knows what time will bring; we peer into the future full of hopes and fears, wondering where we are going.
Are we there yet?
Are we there yet?
Are we there yet?

Where though? Isn’t it more about the journey?

If I may allow myself to paraphrase The Bard, Willie, not Rob:

All the world’s a station,
And all the men and women merely passengers;
They have their arrival and their departure,
And one person in their time makes but one journey

Children in time, consigned to the journey; for “station” substitute port, airport, bus stop, whatever. We are sent on our way and at some point it ends. Is that our destination?

When I was 10 or 11 years old I was consigned to a journey. My parents took me to Paddington Station and put me on a train. I was hoping for a window seat in the carriage but I was positioned between two adults. My parents asked if someone in the compartment would help me take my suitcase down from the luggage rack and make sure that I got off at Bodmin. Someone obviously did. I was met at Bodmin Road station by my grandmother and spent two weeks at a house called Corncockle in the village of Trebetherick on the estuary of the River Camel.

My grandmother didn’t live there, it was a holiday home of the family that my grandmother and grandfather had worked for. He had been the groundskeeper and she the housekeeper of a rather large house in Berkhamsted. They lived in a self-contained annexe to the house. When my grandfather died in the early 1960’s my grandmother gave up the job and moved into a house of her own. Anyway, the family maintained a friendship with her and often invited her down to Corncockle and one year I was invited down too. It was a splendid house with a long garden which ran down to a low-ish cliff-top overlooking the estuary.

Just one of many journeys as part of my ongoing journey to wherever my destination is. I was a child then and when I look back I can still identify with the child I was.

I’m a child, in time, a child through time. I’ll be a child, in time…

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