I went to The Dell yesterday, for a chilly fest of music – the Hangover Blues Band (the name says it all), Stewart Duthie’s PAS Trio (a great, trippy, set of acid jazz) and, of course, The Swaps (the headline act, fresh from Geno Washington’s cancellation the night before).
The Dell is, in the words of a guidebook published in 1818, “a little romantic dell”. It was acquired by the Council after the war, and a picture of 1948 shows a very beautiful, but very formal, garden. From then on, it became the subject of disputes and debates between those councillors who wanted to run a dual carriageway through it and those who wanted it to remain an open space. The latter, helped by some direct action activism from local residents, eventually won the argument, and subsequently the estimable Pearl Braddock and the Friends of the Dell took over to demonstrate that parks are for people after all. Sunday was something like the 64th birthday of The Dell as a public space.
The music was great, but during the inter-gig moments, I was remembering old times. Jill and I used to live overlooking The Dell, and we had a rope ladder slung over our back wall to allow children and adults alike to scramble down for games of football and cricket. They were good times.
And then I got to musing about those lovely kids, aged 8, 7, 6 and 3 when we first moved into that house and used The Dell as our own secret garden. Jill and I joked about writing a children’s book: Four Go Wild in The Dell. Each chapter would end with the following line. ’“And me” said Cass.’
That was 1987. It’s now 2012, and those gorgeous children are seriously grown up. Guy is married to the beautiful Sophia and lives 100 metres from the sea in Hove, actually. Vicki is married to Andrew, codemaster extraordinaire, the father of my exquisite grandson. Lara has just embarked on a new career, which takes her into pubs at all times of the day and night, and lives happily with Adam, who designs supercars on the quiet.
More importantly, however, she got engaged last month. To Michael, a cinematographer, who was once, a few years ago, a young kitchen porter at Wilde’s. He was wonderful then, he is wonderful now. Cass is very lucky. And very happy.
Which is my point. Jill and I have been very lucky with the children, and their happiness makes us very happy indeed. If we are only as happy as our unhappiest child, we’re doing ok.
Thanks all you - Guy, Vicki, Lara and Cassidy. Be happy. I know you will.
Today's listening: Robin Gibb died today. I was not a fan of The BeeGees until my friend Martin Skinner introduced me to Martin Carthy's version of New York Mining Disaster 1941. So that's what I'm listening to today.