Monday, 28 October 2013

Windmills of your Mind

A small scrap of sadness this week. The death of Noel Harrison. The son of the actor, Rex Harrison who so brilliantly talked his way through the songs in the film of the musical My Fair Lady as Professor Higgins, Noel Harrison is otherwise only known to me as the singer of the Oscar-winning theme of The Thomas Crown Affair, Windmills of your Mind. Surprisingly, since I was only 12 at the time, I bought the single of Windmills of your Mind and its poignant lyrics still resonate with me now.

It seems an appropriate song for this time of year as autumn tends to have a less than uplifting effect on my own mental windmills and there seem to be a lot of endings and departings just now. Not that I didn't love the celebration of autumn colours on our last weekend trip to the Lakes to Low Graythwaite Hall with our village chums. The trees were definitely dressed in their stunning autumn best and the roaring evening fire that greeted us on arrival was perfectly in tune with the mood. After a massive and delicious feed, charades were next on the menu and no-one present is going to forget the singing dancing doctor's mime of The Pelican Brief for a long time! The following morning, segway (again!) and a picturesque walk round a rather small lake followed by a very big lunch was the order of the day before returning home to a surprisingly tidy house and two tired children, one of whom had had two very chilly nights under canvas. No, we didn't chuck him out, it was part of his A level PE.

On Tuesday we said farewell to a lovely man, Charlie Clayton, who had been in our outer circle of friends for more years than I care to recall and with whom I had also had the pleasure of working. He was just one year older than me and his funeral was a testament to his fun-filled, friend-packed, all-too-short life. He was a kind and generous man and if ever a funeral reflected this, his did in spades.

It's a sign of the season too when southern friends start dropping in to stay on their way to shoot in the North. However late at night the last glass of red is consumed, the following morning they are up early and dressed in their shooting breeks ready to be off and away to kill things. As long as they don't want me to join in, it's fine by me.

And then, my beloved's younger brother, with whom we have shared many holidays and so much fun, arrived on Friday. He is having a mid-life gap year and setting off this week to Austria to be a ski instructor for a season. His parents (MIL and my beloved's step-father) live nearby and they came for a slap-up tea, allowing me to indulge in some post-Great British Bake Off cake and scone-making and I am rather proud of my made-it-up-as-I-went-along blackberry and apple muffins. Less proud, of course, of my scones which I could have rebranded as fat biscuits!

Over breakfast this morning, we suggested to BIL (brother in law) that he adopt a different persona for every week of his sojourn as a ski instructor on the basis that he will be teaching a completely new group each time. We hope he will start with his own take on Leslie Phillips ("Ding Dong") as he has already mastered the voice. He seemed less keen on blacking up for a week even though my beloved offered him one of his many shades of make-up to take with him. Apparently, even Sri Lankan tones didn't appeal.

So, as I write, the autumn leaves are being ripped off the trees by Hurricane Jude and the last of the apples will no doubt be strewn across the lawn by the time we get back from watching Newcastle Falcons play London Irish at Kingston Park with our friend Declan O'Kidney this afternoon. Definitely time to batten down the hatches and prepare for winter.

If you'd like to listen to Noel Harrison, forever dressed in a polo neck sweater, which is how I remember him, here's the link:

Postscript: Between the writing of my blog and finally getting it out in the ether, another of my musical heroes, Lou Reed, has also passed away. Walk on the Wild Side was one of the anthems of my sixteen year old self, and had my parents been able to discern the lyrics they would, I am sure, not have allowed me to play it at such volume. "Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side..."

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