Thursday, 21 June 2018

Love is an Event

John Berger --- 'You can plan events, but if they go according to your plan they are not events.'

Love is an event; in Berger's sense of what an event means. If love went according to plan, it would not be love but an evening of well-scheduled television.

'Dad, do you have to watch the news seven times a day?'

'It's important to know what's happening in the world.'

Nothing is as clear-cut as the Radio Times.

My father would circle the programmes. Flick to the news channel.

'Dad, can you---?
'Be quiet! This is very important.'

'But you've already watched it.'

'Shush! I can't concentrate now.'

Love does not happen at 6 o' clock each day. It comes unexpectedly in care homes. The sun is hotter when it is present. Even in the face of death, love is strong and bold and can cope with anything. On the day that I saw and heard my father die, love swept into the room.

Friday, 8 June 2018

My First Book

The title of my first book 30 Love Poems is self-explanatory. I have committed myself to one universal theme, namely love.

I am aware that Pablo Neruda published a book called 20 Love Poems. The Camden Town branch of Waterstones reminded me of this just the other day. Why is Pablo Neruda more famous than I? Several possible reasons occur:---

a) He was South American and presumably had Latin fire in his blood; I am English and therefore sexually repressed.

b) Neruda smoked a pipe; I have a penchant for Werther's Orginals boiled sweets.

c) Possibly. He was a better poet.

Yet, despite these self-damning comparisons, I remain buoyant. My reasoning: Neruda and myself have been in love at some point in history. Therefore, our material is essentially drawn from the same source.

Imagine a penniless Will Shakespeare. He took the journey down to London with only an ink quill to his name. I am already in London; and I am blessed with smart phone technology.

I have another advantage over The Bard. That being, I have written well on Othello, Richard III and Coriolanus. Surely, this gives me an edge.

As for my love theme. I am certain that the best love poems are written by the hurt, pained and confused. Think of Yeats He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven or Keats' Bright Star. These poems talk of longing and unfulfilled passions. They make no mention of great sex-lives or marital bliss.

During the process of writing 30 Love Poems, I kept a journal running. That would be where the hidden detail resides: in prose. Sadly, however, it shall be thrown upon a bonfire moments before my death. Byron did much the same.

So, my first book is done and dusted. It is what it is. Now I am finding new themes and already writing my second book.

My father never was much of a poet. But occassionally he would slip a simile into the conversation.

'Daniel, woman are like busses.'

'Why is that Dad?'

'If you wait long enough, another one will come along.'

'Thanks. I only wish they'd stick to the timetable.'

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Hidden Treasure

I am at an age when most of my friends are married-off. All I have are thirty love poems and some sun-lit holiday photos. The pub can be a lonely place after six pints.

'You are both so lucky---to have someone. This is what I was thinking at your weddings, privately. To know that someone loves you and will not leave you or choose another man over you. I'm beginning to think I am one of those people who will never get married. A male spinster.'

When emotions are loosened, tears thick with pain trickle down.

'You'll get married Dan. You're still young.'

Then a face comes into ones mind and fills it with grief. The married men are supportive, rational.

'Keep going mate and you will get there.'

'Have you tried the internet?'

All I can see is her red-cheeked face. She is sitting in the chair opposite. Drinking a Bailey's with my school friends. In another dimension? The future? I cannot communicate in conversation what I want to say. It can only be illuminated in a sober light. Poetry is the language of paradox. Some free woman have loved me.

'I still think she is the one.'

'Come on mate.'

'Another drink or food?'

'Food. I could murder a kebab.'

The simple words of friends heal the heart so easily. I will publish my poems. They are a map to the hidden treasure which lies buried between a man and a woman. Only prose can fill in the gaps. Poetry merely distills the passing into blue on white.

30 Love Poems by Dan Sandman...coming soon...

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Charity Library Concert

I am the youngest of five siblings. Nobody in my family has ever taken up a musical instrument or performed on stage. My father listened to Beethoven and Caruso. He was an electronic engineer and my two brothers took degrees in electronic engineering.

'Daniel. If you studied as much as you played guitar you'd be going to Oxford.'

My dad never did understand what literature and music meant to me. When something fell apart he would always suggest that I take up engineering.

'Dad. I spent three years studying English. Not engineering.'

So I took up guitar teaching.

'Daniel. How are your finances?'

'Okay. I have twelve lessons this week.'

'Do you have enough to support yourself?'

'Yes. But I need to find ways of making more money.'

'Why don't you try engineering?'

This cycle would continue for another decade. I would make albums and write articles. Organize events that never seemed to profit. I was stuck in an invisible circle of my own creating.

'What are you working on Daniel?'

'A new album. It will be my best yet.'

'There's no money in music.'

'That's why I'm only making fifty copies this time.'

'What about the seven-hundred you have in the attic?'

'As I said. That's why I'm only making fifty.'

We would always laugh about this. I can hear my father now and see him smiling. His beard is untidy, he is wearing his blue sweater. I inherited his green one when he died. One remembers the voice of a lost loved one that always stays in ones head. The sound and texture of it. Its notes, timbre and dynamic. A rhythm played harmoniously without conscious breath.

'You need more lessons. Why don't you advertise?'

'I do. But it's more important to retain the students I already have.'

My father was always problem solving with his children. This was not always entirely effective.

'I am an engineer and we engineers like to find practical solutions to problems.'

'But I'm a musician. Not an engineer.'

So I carried on making music; and so my father kept suggesting I give it up. I wish my father could have been there at the concert last Saturday. With his grandchildren helping to put out the programme sheets on the chairs. It was a beautiful summary of all that a community-minded musician can achieve. We had a full house of appreciative listeners. Ever vigilant, my mother Carole volunteered on the door. The chief executive of The Winch gave a speech. My students attended and were happy. Supporters of the open mic were taking drinks out for the interval.

Then we had that grand piano dominating the centre of the room, a great pianist at the helm and two poets dressed up for a concert. Knowing me, knowing you; they were dancing once again, as the dancing king and queen.

Daniel and Angharad are available for your event:

Angharad and Daniel
Saturday April 21st, 2018

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Community Volunteering

The inter-generational mix we had last Thursday, at our open mic, was an incredible moment for me as a community volunteer. I believe free access to local libraries can be life changing for people: young, old or middling. The unique combination of grime, folk, pop, rock, classical and poetry that occurred was more than art; greater than music; far more significant than an open mic. It was a community of people engaging in a cultural exchange. This is exactly what we had envisioned when we originally discussed the plans for the event. Pictures or videos do not do justice to it. Come along to one of our open mic events and see for yourself what a difference giving folks a stage to perform on can make to a group of individuals.

For an entire decade, I performed for myself and for my own selfish reasons. This meant that I could create art from life: and I am grateful to everyone who supported; especially those attended gigs or purchased music. But what happened last Thursday has changed my entire perspective as a musician. Of course, I will continue to create songs, write poetry and compose instrumental music for a public. However, now I can see that my social, organizational and communication skills can be used for the power of good, I am further inclined to employ myself towards actions that benefit directly society.

I am grateful to all those people in my community who have steered onto this path: a winding road that I continue to tread with occasional side-tracks and mishaps.

Swiss Cottage: a Communal Space