Updated: Jul 7, 2020
Spent the last three days over at my mother’s house again, trying to make a little more progress with the task of sorting through her belongings.
My eldest daughter Julia and Grandson Luke travelled up from London to lend a hand and they have both been incredibly helpful. They managed to take many of Mum’s clothes to a charity clothing shop, some of which was of no use to the shop so will have to be sent to a waste/recycling depot, but about half of the clothes were deemed useful and will hopefully raise some income for the various charities. I think, no, I know, that Mum would have approved of her clothing being disposed of in this way.
But there was one jacket in Mum’s wardrobe that I wanted to keep as a personal remembrance of her. It’s a blue, kind of ‘checked’ jacket that she wore at the Clothworker’s Hall concert event in 2018, the event that was held to celebrate my 70th birthday. I have photographs of her at that event, wearing that very jacket whilst watching my performance. It’s a deeply touching memory for me as it would, sadly, be the last time that she was able to come to see me playing.
Julia also took some of Mum’s mobility apparatus to the care home that Mum had briefly been in at the start of the year, and they were grateful for the donation.
I’d called a house clearance company earlier last week and arranged for a guy to call and have a look at Mum’s furniture with the possibility of buying some of it, but he was careful to only pick some of the more valuable pieces and then didn’t offer what they were worth. He seemed more interested in getting me to pay him to remove the less valuable items to the council tip. I told him I’d think about it, but I don’t intend to let him have the stuff.
Actually, there are two items of furniture that belong to me personally that I’d stored in Mum’s garage, several years ago. One is a 1930s Art Deco ‘Sunray’ display cabinet that used to sit in my own library/study in Haddlesey House in the late 1970s. I loved that cabinet and managed to hang on to it when I divorced in the early ’90s, hence it being stored in Mum’s garage since that time.
For a while back then, due to the divorce, I didn’t have a place of my own to live but Mum let me stay with her for a while. I then moved to Japan to be with Emiko and lived in Emi's Tokyo apartment for a year. We then came to England and rented an apartment at Gateforth, near Selby, and later were married. At the latter part of the ’90s, Emi sold her apartment in Tokyo and, with the proceeds, bought the house where we have now lived for over 20 years.
Unfortunately, there is no space for my Art Deco Sunray cabinet here as Emi shipped much of her furniture over from Tokyo when we first moved in. (The house is not large and is already filled with stuff, including far too many guitars.) So, basically, the Deco cabinet stayed locked in Mum’s garage, along with a 1920s oak wardrobe I’d bought.
So, now I’m looking for a buyer who might appreciate the piece and give it the home it deserves. It’s a very attractive thing and totally evocative of its period.
I might try to offer it up for sale on my Dreamsville website as it may also appeal to any fans who would like to own something that once sat so handsomely in my own personal library/study at Haddlesey House in the 1970s. It requires ‘feeding’ with restorative furniture polish after its sojurn in Mum’s garage, but is otherwise ok. Just needs a little tender loving care.
Meanwhile, our dining room continues to fill up with memorabilia and sentimental items that I’ve brought back from Mum’s. Where to put it all is an ongoing problem.
There are quite a few items that I remember from my 1950s childhood that she had held onto, mostly pieces of glassware including a Deco patterned glass bowl that I remember Mum serving custard from when we lived at 28, Conistone Crescent on Eastmoor Estate, when I was just a kid. Mum’s baked jam puddings with custard were a favourite of mine in those long ago years. Can’t eat them now of course due to my Diabetes, (more’s the pity.)
Also in the garage were several cardboard boxes filled with magazines and similar ephemera which I’d also stored at Mum’s for safe keeping after the divorce. In one box was a number of old ‘Rolling Stone’ magazines from the 1960s featuring now legendary and sadly deceased musicians on the front cover. This was Rolling Stone magazine’s most vibrant and influential period.
Also in the box was a lot of ‘Zig Zag’ magazines from the late ’60s, early ’70s with artists such as Captain Beefheart and The Edgar Broughton Band on the front cover. I need to set aside some time to wade through all these vintage publications and perhaps scan some items to present to fans via my website.
Another box contains early ’70s copies of the American magazine ‘Guitar Player’ with people such as Joe Pass on the cover. And yet another box has very early copies of ‘The Face’ magazine, which was stylish and hip when it was first published.
But now, despite shifting much of this stuff from Mum’s to my house and making inroads into winding up her day to day life, such a lot remains ‘in situ.’
I’m currently faced with the enormity of what to do with her furniture, some of which, as I’ve previously mentioned, has great sentimental value for me. Some of the decorative ‘knick knacks’, pieces of porcelain, crockery, unused electrical items, framed prints, kitchen stuff, DVD’s, CD’s etc, we’ve wrapped up in newspaper, ready to take to charity shops where their sale might hopefully benefit one needy cause or other. But even shifting and transporting all this stuff is going to be difficult for Emi and I.
One thing that has hit home during this sad time is the realisation that, no matter how timeless I might feel mentally, in physically terms, I’m in my 70s with some serious health problems. Therefore, unfortunately, it’s quite hard to deal with all this stuff as if I were a young man. And, aside from that, the emotional impact is deep and debilitating. Sometimes it all becomes too much to bear. Driving away from Mum's house the other day, I remembered how she would stand at the door and wave to us as we drove away after visiting her every weekend. I looked ’round at the door as we left the other day and, of course, she was no longer there.
Well, ‘that’s life.’ And from the moment we’re born, we’re dying. As the old Buddhist Dharma says: ‘Death is caused by Birth,’ and, yes, I get that totally, but it’s what we do in this fleeting moment of our performance on life’s tragic stage that matters. And what matters most is to love and be loved...
EMIKO, MUM, JULIAN AND J