Traveled to Wakefield this afternoon as today marks the 13th Anniversary of my brother Ian's passing. Ian was born on April 23rd, 1953 and died on the morning of his 50th birthday, April 23rd, 2006, just two years after we'd been performing together, throughout the UK, with my band 'The Lost Satellites' on the 'Be Bop Deluxe And Beyond' tour.
Ian is buried in Wakefield's main cemetery and Emi and myself took my Mother to lay flowers on Ian's grave, sharing a few moments of melancholy reflection. He would have been 63 today.
The day of his funeral was a bitterly cold one. An icy wind whipped over us as we stood by the grave where he was to be buried. The deep sense of grief we all felt back then is impossible to describe. The freezing wind that cut across the graveside that day in 2006 served to underline the cruel reality of the situation and the sadness and loss in our hearts. It still haunts me to this day.
But today the weather was more kind and the little avenue of trees that line the way to Ian's burial place were full of pink blossom. After cleaning Ian's headstone and laying the flowers we'd brought we stood quietly beside the grave, remembering. I thought about my little brother when we were both still kids living on Eastmoor Estate in Wakefield, playing in our back garden with the girl from the flat above ours, (Bronwyne Jackson.) I thought about our holidays together in the '50s, at Reighton Gap, Skipsea and Witherensea, how we'd played on the beach, building sandcastles and looking out across the vast blue sea, as if we were looking into an infinite blue tomorrow, stretching on for ever with the two of us, side by side, always there for each other. It was not to be. How could we know? Cut short, stolen by cruel fate.
So now, there's just mum and me left from those carefree 1950s days. And mum is 91 years old this year and increasingly frail. This is what time and tide does and it does it to us all, eroding everything we hold dear, just as the sea erodes the Yorkshire coastline that my family and I loved so much in those summer holiday bygone days. Tragedy, joy, life and death. The stuff of dreams, of melancholia, the abundant fuel that fires Art.
Well, if not a way of understanding all this, Art at least hints at a kind of universal sympatico, a gut-level embrace, a shared sensitivity about our apparently meaningless mortal condition that ultimately, and finally, transcends it. As Cocteau once said: "No longer to see Art as an amusement, but as a priesthood..."
A 1950s photograph of Mum holding Ian with me sitting at their side in the front garden of the bungalow we sometimes spent a holiday in at Reighton Gap on the East Coast of Yorkshire.
Dad with Ian and me in the front garden of the Reighton Gap bungalow, 1950s.
Ian and I at the rear of the Reighton Gap bungalow with Dad's Hillman Minx car in the foreground. Photo' taken in the 1950s.