What a Difference a Week Makes | Pushing the Wave

What a Difference a Week Makes

Writing, 4 November 2022
by L.A. Davenport
Writing on a Typewriter
Back to work on my trusty typewriter
I know, I know. The phrase talks about a day making all the difference, but sometimes it takes a little longer than that for something to take effect. Although I finally got back home, with no need to travel again for a whole month, on Sunday, it’s taken me a while to recover physically and mentally from being away for so long; from not seeing my family, from not eating simple home-cooked food, from not sleeping in my bed, from not having my things around me, and from not waking up in the morning and knowing I am home.

It’s in some ways intangible, what makes up a sense of being ‘home’, yet it is quite easy to put one’s finger on what disrupts it. It sounds boring, but having a routine really is important, as it grounds us, as well as provides a predictable pattern for our body to follow. And it is quite amazing how simply being away can make the familiar seem special or even exciting.

After a slow couple of days, I rediscovered the delights of the kitchen and I have taken great pleasure in the past few days from rooting around in the fridge and the cupboards and deciding what to cook. I managed two creations that were pretty good, if I say so myself. The first was a mushroom, courgette and cream pasta sauce. I livened it up with nutmeg, and ground caraway and cumin seeds, but I realised as I took the first mouthful that a touch of tarragon would have added an extra twist.

The second one was intended to be a warming hug of a meal, as it was a cold day and the rain had come down relentlessly all afternoon from heavy clouds that cast a dark shadow over everything. I cooked aubergine, carrot, tinned tomatoes and borlotti beans in a red wine stew seasoned with ground coriander, bay leaves, rosemary and oregano. The flavour was a little brighter than I expected, but it achieved it’s intended outcome, and I was so satisfied I went to bed soon afterwards and the next morning finally felt I had caught up on my missing sleep.
One of my great happinesses in finding myself back home is being able to potter through my music collection. Partly due to the COVID pandemic and partly due to a return to CDs alongside the ongoing love affair with vinyl and cassettes, the collection has grown enormously in recent years, to the extent that I am no longer sure where it can all go without some drastic storage measures.

Another cause of the expansion has been that I have approached music, specifically classical music, in a different way in recent years. I used to search for a single version that I liked of a given piece and would want to have just that one as the version that suited me the most. So I had one set of Beethoven symphonies and piano concertos, for example, or one version each of the Verdi or Wagner operas, or the Mozart piano sonatas.

This came about because, as I was developing my taste in classical music, I had it told to me numerous times that so-and-so version of the Beethoven symphonies was the definitive one, that there was only one decent version of the Ring Cycle (no, not Solti’s), etc, etc. And yet I found myself disagreeing every time. And the more I looked, I found another recording that corresponded much more to how I saw the piece (still not Solti’s for the Ring Cycle).

But when I got the DG box set of Pierre Boulez conducting various composers a few years ago, and then read that his earlier work with Sony was perhaps less polished and majestic but typically more urgent and vital, I got that box set too. An indulgence, yes, but it made me understand for the first time the idea of having an interpretation of a given piece of classical music for a given mood. Even with the younger and older Boulez, there are times when his later take on Bartok suits me more than his earlier recordings, and vice versa.

As a marketing gimmick, it’s brilliant, as that gave me an excuse to double my collection by having at least two versions of everything. No longer was one set of Bach’s sacred music enough; I needed another one, to lend perspective on the first, and to play on those days when I wanted something brisker, or whatever the word might be that characterised the difference between the two.

Fast forward a few years, and now I have to admit that I have gone from one set of Beethoven symphonies to seven, and I am eyeing up at least two more. Oh dear. Where will it all end? Every time I say that’s enough, I have all I need now. But then I see another set that looks very interesting…
One artist who has fascinated me for as many years as she has been recording is Bat for Lashes. She did a lovely live set from LA, I think, during lockdown, and it reminded me how her catalogue is peppered with shining gems from every album.

When I got back earlier this week and was looking for something to play one evening, I alighted upon The Haunted Man. When that album first came out in 2012, I was a little underwhelmed, as it has fewer hooks and dramatic moments than the two preceding albums. More than that, every time I played it, I never seemed able to remember a single tune, which is not exactly a good review.

However, over the years, I have found myself returning to it more and more, and it’s now the album of hers that I play the most. There is something very intimate about it, something quite reassuring, even though it does have its moments of real power. When I played it the other day, it all seems to click into place, and I truly heard it. It is a clearly great album and surely, after the time it has taken for me to understand it, the very definition of a grower.

Interestingly, the moment it was over, I reached for The Soul Cages, by Sting. The immediate thought that came to mind is that, somehow, those two albums are spiritual cousins. What do you think?
Considering that I am a writer, and this site is about my writing, I haven’t talked much about writing yet in my weekly missives. But I can reassure you that, happily, all is not lost.

The plot for a short story popped into my head as I was walking down the street this morning, fully formed and ready to go. As I subsequently wrote the details down over a cup of tea in a cafe, it grew and grew, with none of those niggling hitches that can crop up. I even managed to come up with an ending, right there and then. So, keep your eyes peeled. This will be the next thing I publish, as I get myself back into gear with writing.
© L.A. Davenport 2017-2024.

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What a Difference a Week Makes | Pushing the Wave