Four Songs (Part 2)

I said my bit – and read out what Rachel had written.  I think my voice was clear.  I was shaking, the blood had left my hands, I sat down.  Then this started playing and tears, tears streaming as I looked up at the ceiling, the windows, the white of the sky through them, the flowers, and that unfeasible, impossible, unthinkable, solidly wooden, solidly real coffin.

2.  Kate Bush, ‘Oh England, My Lionheart…’ (Lionheart, 1978)

I first saw this album propped up on a coffee table in the shopping mall in Henderson, Auckland, New Zealand.  The antique look of the cover image, the browns and golds, lent a bit of class to the veneer furniture on sale and echoed its colours.  Some months before, my primary school friends and I had been making triangles with our legs and waving our arms about like seaweed: ‘WOPPAdoo, WOPPAdoo, WOPPAdoo, aiyeee Heath-cliiiiiiiiiiff, Esmee, Es Cathay Am Car woa-oa-oa-oammmm….’

And it was The Kick Inside that Tara first played for me, not Lionheart, in her college room all those years later.  That stratospheric, witchy voice.  The crackles as the needle collected fuzz from the vinyl.  And this extraordinary music; this bit of the seventies that I’d missed, the interesting stuff, while I was hooked on disco, and Grease, and singing along to John Denver and Steeleye Span…

Tara’s room smelt of incense.  We’d stretch out with our wine or coffee on the floor, the bed and she’d put another record on; Tom Waits, Lou Reed – who knew that he’d done solo albums?  Not me, not until then – Leonard Cohen, and Kate, wonderful, strange Kate Bush, unashamedly female and feminine.

And in between listening to the music, we’d talk.  About being women, about what that meant, what it seemed to mean to the world and what it actually meant to us.  And then the silences, safe silences, with both of us listening.

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