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Auf dem Flusse

It’s early evening and darkness is already creeping over the creek as my dog and I traverse the muddy banks. Walking is a great way of organising thoughts and the realisation that I am putting off the seventeen wine tasting notes due before morning. Knowing that I have to write other things, in the elusive search for the non-standardised adjective, I steer my dog toward the village pub.

Das Wirtshaus

I know the pub well, and although recognised by staff (it’s their job after all) it has taken the best part of eleven years for any of the regulars to shout hello. Most, like me, do not hail from this part of the world and perhaps, like most city transplants, are waiting for someone they know to greet me to be sure I am alright. Sometimes I am bothered by this cool, quintessentially English, reserve, but tonight I don’t mind, preferring to sit quietly by the open fire with my dog, beer and thoughts.

Like Schubert’s wanderer I have undergone my own winter journey, and as Meyerhoffer so succinctly put it ‘life has lost its rosiness’. Although not syphilitic, like Schubert, endless visits to a psychiatric hospital, to see my eldest son, have worn a hole in my normally happy heart. Conversations are currently confined to healthcare professionals and not my dear boy who refuses to talk to me, perhaps blaming me for consenting to his admission. Heidegger said that ‘thinking is a lonely business’ and any stray, self-pitying, tears would spoil the nut-brown, hoppy, beer before me and it would be rude to disturb the reverie of my warm, dozing, dog.

Der Leiermann

The Moon is on its back in the star littered sky as I turn homeward, silhouetting the bare, rheumatically gnarled, fingers of the denuded trees that describe the direction of the prevailing wind over the cold damp hills.
I, like the wanderer, am questioning the conditions of my existence in this winter landscape, a sort of middle-aged Werther with a bit more sardonic wit and schadenfreude. Looking for Der Leiermann I surmise that, but for God’s grace, he could be any of us. A lonely, squalid, untrained, musician, cranking the hurdy gurdy with frozen fingers without the simple pleasure of a consoling ale. As I walk on I silently ask ‘will you play your hurdy gurdy to one of my songs’ but it’s Donavon’s I am given, not Schubert’s, and I count my blessings. Now on to those notes.

‘My favourite things are playing again and again but it’s by Julie Andrews and not by John Coltrane’   Elvis Costello