Skip to main content

Sitting Weeping in a car in California by Laura Barton

(Published in The Guardian on 26.12.14)

This year was a strange year.  The weeks seem blurred and indistinct to me now, though I remember the glimmers of it: Brazil, Bridgwater, Santa Fe; mimosa blossom, Heart of Gold, the sound of choughs on a warm Welsh morning.  

I have not often chosen to write about my personal life in my journalistic career; rarely do I imagine readers' lives enriched by such detail and mundanity.  But sometimes it seems impossible to write of anything else, and the loss of a child is a deep and particular grief; a root that spreads beneath all of the days of a year and leaves them unearthed.  

For a long time I do not look at it.  I cannot speak of it.  It sits in the dark place beneath deadlines and social events, gigs, emails, interviews, telephone calls, airports.  It lies under all happinesses and the bright days of summer.  

But I am driving along the coast of California when my iPod suddenly plays a song that I love and I find myself so buckled by sadness that I have to pull up abruptly on a slim, worn curve of road and cry.  Terrible Love is the National's 2010 album High Violet - though it is an acoustic version that plays today, and in its looser and more ragged feel I find a kind of kinship.  This is a song that has seen me through many sad times, hard times, hollow times.  In its final verses it builds to a catharsis, a gathering of guitar, brass, keys, and then sets loose its final line: "It takes an ocean not to break."

I sit in the front seat, with the windows down, and listen to it over and over.  It is autumn, but still warm, and the sea is thrashing below, giddy and oblivious.  I feel like a wild thing - crying and singing, crying and singing, until my face is swollen, and my throat is raw.  "It takes an ocean not to break." the stereo roars.  "It takes an ocean not to break."

And I feel I am flinging all of the year's hope and love towards the water, heaving my grief from its dark depths, until there is nothing, nothing nothing; nothing but music and air. 






Comments

Popular posts from this blog

An Expert Analysis of Michael Fassbender's Running Style From the Film 'Shame'

Tom Wiggins: What are your first impressions of Michael Fassbender/Brandon's running style? Paul Whittaker: He's running nice, smooth and relaxed. He seems like he has a good amount of fitness and he is running well within himself in terms of pace.   TW: What improvements could he make to his running style? PW: The main improvement I'd make is his foot plant.  He lands heel first and this causes a 'breaking' effect when travelling forwards.  If he landed on his mid-foot/forefoot, this would be a much better for impact stress and propulsion going forward into the next running stride. TW: Regarding his speed, how many minutes per mile is he running? PW: I would say he is running approx 7-7.30 minutes per mile. TW:  What do you make of his stride lengths?  Is he overstriding/understriding? PW: The actor is definitely overstriding in this clip.  It would help if his feet landed underneath and below his centre of gravity. TW: What's his posture like? PW: A slight forward le…

Lyrics, Lyrics, Lyrics! Ten Examples of Songwriting Genius!

I like music.

I like music and lyrics.

I like music and lyrics that make me go wow-wee!

I like music and lyrics that make me go wow-wee and cor blimey!

I like music and lyrics that make me go wow-wee and cor blimey and here are ten examples that do just that.


1.   Best Kept Secret - Laura Veirs

I never fail to be touched by these lyrics.  You can tell in Veirs' voice that it's real and beautifully, beautifully true.

December, I was lost in a darkness I couldn't shake,  Called you in California and you answered right away,  You answered right away,  You picked up right away. 

2.  Boyfriend - Marika Hackman 
A line that's perfectly delivered.  Sound and meaning in perfect synchronicity.  
You came to me for entropy and I gave you all I had. 

3.  K. - Cigarettes After Sex
A modern-day love song.  I'm always drawn to narratives in music and I love listening to a song with a strong sense of place.  This one ticks both of those boxes.  It also sounds beautiful.  
I remember whe…

The Diary of an Apprentice Letter Carver

I qualified as a stonemason last July and completed an incredibly enjoyable and memorable stonemasonry apprenticeship with The Prince's Foundation for Building Community in which I made so many friends and worked on so many historic buildings.  During that time, I had a two-week letter carving placement with Bernard Johnson, a very talented and friendly letter carver based in Oxfordshire.  It was with him that I picked up the bug for letter carving and realised that I didn't want to do anything else.  He didn't have an apprentice opportunities at that time, but pointed me in the direction of Fergus Wessel, another letter carver in Oxfordshire.  I went to visit  Fergus at his Stonecutters workshop and after a week's trial, he was able to offer me a four-year apprenticeship.  I am both incredibly lucky to have been given the chance of being his new apprentice, not least because he himself was trained at the prestigious Kindersley Studio.  A diary of my experience as an a…