Each To Their Own

So I’m standing at the kitchen sink doing the washing up the other evening, when Mr Litlove looms out of the darkness coming up the garden path. He’s been out with his chums at Shed Club, which, yes, is totally a thing. It usually makes him happy and indeed he is looking very chuffed with himself.

‘Look what I made!’ he’s saying, before he’s even got close enough for me to see him clearly.

He appears to have a great wicker bow sprouting from the back of his head.

‘What is it?’ I ask.

He moves the pole he is carrying off his shoulder and waves it at me. ‘Look! It’s a willow dragon fly. For the garden.’

When he is finally indoors and in the light, we examine the dragon fly. It has a densely woven body and great looping wings and a faintly malevolent air. Mr Litlove is pleased as punch with it.

‘I thought you were wearing it in your hair,’ I confess. But he is not displeased with this idea.

‘It could be a fascinator,’ he says, balancing it above his head. ‘What do you think?’

It is quite fetching, his Hobbity fascinator.

‘And if I’d said, “Darling, will you come with me to macrame class,” would you have done it?’ I ask.

‘Probably not,’ he agrees cheerfully.

Once upon a time, several months ago, Mr Litlove went down to the woods at a nearby National Trust house and joined a green woodworking circle. It was just to have a go, just to see what it was that they did. He made what can only be described as a very Brothers Grimm stool, and was then invited to join a sort of spin-off group to weave the seat out of strips of bark. Then he kept going so he could whittle spoons, and then try making bowls with a pole lathe.

I said: ‘You whittled spoons?’

Only the other weekend, he was in the woods again, stripping the bark off of a tree. I watched him skip down the path to the car with some bafflement. It makes me think of those verbal reasoning questions you’re given in the eleven plus exam.

‘Stripping bark off a tree is to Litlove what…… reading poetry for fun is to Mr Litlove.’

It’s really only a question of taste. I’m just not into rustic, particularly. I’m sure it’s lovely! Really! In the right setting and all that. Or in the wake of Armageddon. I’m sure that, if we survive, I will be completely thrilled that Mr Litlove will be able to whittle us some more spoons and bowls. And weave us some seating.

Isn’t it a funny thing, taste? It’s so random and unaccountable and yet it means the world to us. We were having a different conversation about essentially the same thing last night, when we got talking about what the first records were that we ever bought. I swear hands down that you will not be able to beat Mr Litlove’s first record choices either in terms of eclecticism or unaccountability. You could never guess them in a thousand years. His first records were George Formby, The Smurfs and Jesus Christ Superstar.

Isn’t that joyful?

‘I really want to blog about that,’ I told Mr Litlove.

He shrugged. ‘Oh go ahead. No one will believe you.’

I didn’t buy many records when I was a child because I have a much older brother who was always, always into music, so I just listened to whatever he was playing. For those of you who were children in the 70s and may enjoy the nostalgia, I remember especially: Supertramp, Steely Dan, The Police, Ian Dury and the Blockheads (My given name is Dickie, I come from Billericay, and I’m doing very well…), Judie Tzuke (probably my favourite of the albums my brother played), Gerry Rafferty, Pink Floyd, ‘Afternoon Delight’ by Starland Vocal Band (which I always thought was about a 4th July picnic!) Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell, Simon and Garfunkel, The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen (Baby we were born to run…) and probably my brother’s favourite: E.L.O. I remember also ‘Baby Don’t Fear The Reaper’ by Blue Oyster Cult and the one heavy metal band he liked, Hawkwind. Everyone else thought it was just a racket, which spurred my brother on to play ‘Silver Machine’ as loud as the volume would go.

I do remember buying ‘Take A Chance On Me’ by Abba, because there was no way my brother would be buying that. And I am also pretty sure my first ever record was ‘Forever Autumn’ by Justin Haywood, though I know he had the double album of War of the Worlds. I still have a strong visual memory of the cover art with those menacing stalk-legged tripods. But my great personal obsession when I was a child was with the score of West Side Story. I was given the album for my 8th? 9th? birthday, something like that, and I probably wore it out.

But you just can’t negotiate with what you love. And much as you can get an appreciation of something that doesn’t speak to your heart, it’s difficult to get further. I also thought I’d never heard any of The Smurf’s singles, but when Mr Litlove sang me a few, I did recall them!

35 thoughts on “Each To Their Own

  1. I think I’d rather have grown up in your household than Mr L’s, music wise anyway.
    I’m listening to Patti Smith’s Easter, which has just been re-released, was that one of the records you had?

    • Oh I remember listening to Because The Night – that was a great song! I was extremely lucky to have a brother so into music at that time. Mind you, I never really formed my own taste – I still like listening to what other people are playing! 🙂

  2. The first record I bought was Masters of the Universe by Black Sabbath, but somehow you knew that lready I suspect 🙂 I really hope you were, as I was, a fan of Siouxsie, The Cramps, The Slits and X-ray Specs too! Yay Punk! (I was aslo obessed with Joni Mitchell)

    • I can certainly go along with Joni Mitchell (though I was early twenties before I came across her), and OF COURSE you were a big fan of Siouxsie, heh, should have guessed that! In all honesty my brother wasn’t into punk, and so therefore I never really heard that much of it, he was playing all this other stuff. I think he had the Sticky Little Fingers album, but I don’t recall it much. I was just that bit too young to understand punk – a couple of years make a big difference between 9 and 13!

  3. Hmmm, I did like Abba growing up – although my parents were the ones who bought their records. I must have been a strange child, because the first record I bought was David Bowie’s Scary Monsters – and it had been out for a few years by the time I got it. As for West Side Story, I too was (and am) obsessed by it – and cry every time I watch it.

    • Ah, another West Side Story fan! Yay! Oh boy yes, that’s a film that makes you cry for sure. My brother definitely liked David Bowie but I don’t recall listening to him, not really, until he reappeared in the 80s with Let’s Dance (I loved all of that). I just adore childhood tastes – they are so raw and unconfined by what you should/ought to like. I think they’re wonderful like that.

      • Well, yes, I admit I discovered David Bowie with Let’s Dance (I wasn’t old enough before then) but I liked his earlier stuff much better. And I still know every word of every song of West Side Story. I made my kids watch it too. They were embarrassed by my tears, but liked it. Officer Krupkie etc.

  4. This did make me laugh! And I was familiar with all those records, though I gravitated towards punk pretty quickly in the 1970s – and Patti Smith’s records were some of the most important to me from the word go! 🙂

  5. Some of my earliest records were the ‘Muppet Show’ LP, Blondie’s ‘Parallel Lines’ and Arthur Mullard & Hylda Baker singing the Grease song ‘You’re the One that I Want’. I think I had a Smurfs single as well. My tastes improved.

    • Oh Blondie was class. I loved her. I just love childhood tastes – they are so, so amusing and often so far away from where we end up! The Muppets still make me laugh, though!

  6. Lovely!
    The first CDs I bought were by 5ive and The Honeyz… neither of which are on regular rotation with me now. But the dragonfly sounds far more up my street.

    • I remember 5ive! Did Colin like the same records as you or were you different in musical tastes back then? There wasn’t much I didn’t like in the 80s, I’m sorry to say. As for the dragon fly, I would happily have it fly over to your garden if it could! 😉

  7. The first 45s (yes, 45s!) I bought were Billy J Kramer’s Little Children and Cilla Black’s Anyone Who Had Heart … and of course She Loves You and I Wanna Hold Your hand by that little-known four. I played and played and played them on my Dansette record-player in my room and I could still sing you all the words, should you ever ask me to. But what I remember about them now is the feeling of excitement and independence that came with them: I’d chosen them without any advice from anyone (I must have heard them on the Radio Luxembourg) and I knew (of course, I was 13) that I was the only one who really understood what they were singing about and they – of course – were singing only to me.

    As you say, they meant the world to me.

    • Angela, that is so lovely. I’ve often said that I would have SO much more room on my inner hard drive if I could just clear out the hundreds of fragments of pop lyrics I seem to be storing there. I remember Radio Luxembourg and Radio Caroline (my brother was very interested in that sort of thing) and I was playing Anyone Who Had A Heart just the other day (I was watching Sheridan Smith’s version on youtube). Somehow I seemed to know all the words to that, too. It’s still a great song.

  8. I think Mr Litlove is refreshing honest about his youthful musical tastes! H’s first record was Jerry Lee Lewis’ Great Balls of Fire and he was a Grateful Dead fan when we first met – older stepbrother syndrome for the latter but no excuse for the former. I remember playing Hunky Dory in my teenage bedroom until I’d practically worn it out.

    • Susan, your comment really made me laugh! I think Mr Litlove’s early tastes, in that particular combination, are quite outstanding. I love childhood tastes, they are just so amusing and surprising. My dad had a printing press in his shed and a guillotine and I hoarded all the offcuts of paper he produced. I couldn’t get enough of them – and heaven only knows what I thought I’d do with them! And I just love that passion that makes you play a record over and over again. Drives everyone else nuts but it’s not enough to stop you playing it! 🙂

      • Lol!!!

        My dad printed all sorts – lots of business cards and invoice pads for small businesses, party invitations, programmes of events for local clubs (this was of course before the internet when people had nice cards and mailed their members), he did the menus for a local hotel, headed letter papers, all that kind of thing. My brother and I would help him out by interleaving – putting a piece of plain paper between each printed card so the ink didn’t mark the back of the next card. Standing in dad’s shed interleaving and listening to the cricket on radio 3 is a very redolent childhood memory!

  9. I loved this post – made me giggle. I’m not into rustic or shabby chic either. My first single and album were both by David Cassidy. I was totally besotted (until I discovered Bolan and Bowie).

    • Annabel, I was actually thinking of you as I was writing the music part of it. I hoped you’d share… Oh yes I can sympathise with the David Cassidy thing. I didn’t get to hear much of him, but I was rather fond of Cliff Richard, aged 6. But I was very fickle and it didn’t last!

  10. Any one old enough to remember ‘She Wears Red Feathers and a Hoolie Hoolie Skirt’? I can sing every word of that and of one my grandmother’s favourites ‘Oh Oh Antonio’ Paul Robeson was a family favourite, we heard all our music on the radio. I remember when crooners gave way to rock and roll, singers such as husky voiced Ruby Murray disappeared. Elvis Presley was a revelation. Our first records were a wedding present: Under Milkwood with Richard Burton narrating and Whale Song. We bought a record player with wedding present money and when we could afford it we were off: Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take 5’, Edith Piaf’s ‘Je ne regrette rien’ and an LP anthology of Billie Holliday (including ‘Strange Fruit’) Next came ‘Revolver,’ Bert Jansch, and Buffie Saint Marie. Within that year Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band came out, it and Joni Mitchell, Bessie Smith, Davey Graham, John Renbourn, the Stones and Alexis Korner became the heart of our collection.

    • A record of Under Milkwood with Richard Burton narrating must have been completely amazing. Wow. And as a Francophile I love ‘Je ne regrette rien’ – such an anthem. I also remember Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which my brother bought as his first Beatles album. And do you know what, I actually think I have heard ‘She Wears Red Feathers and a Hoolie Hoolie Skirt.’ At least there’s a version of it rattling around in my head right now! Lovely memories, Carol!

  11. Oh, you indeed cannot negotiate with what you love. I’m mostly in a place now where I embrace the things I love, although for years I felt ashamed of various bits of things. Jesus Christ Superstar was, for the record, among the first records I ever owned, too; and if I had to pick only one album to have for the rest of my life on a desert island, JCS is the one I’d choose. :p

    • I was attempting to sing the Hosanna song to Mr Litlove, only, ahem, the key was a tad elusive. And I do hope one day to surprise him (on so many levels) with my rendition of ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him’. There are some properly cracking songs in Jesus Christ Superstar, so I am not surprised it’s your desert island disc. Let’s not even begin with all the things I really ought to be ashamed of loving! But I do think it’s part of the magic of childhood that we just love so simply and with such disregard for convention. If only we could do that always!

  12. What a lovely post! I enjoy the idea of Mr Litlove having so much pleasure from his craft.

    Would it surprise you to know that even as a Young Person my taste in music was appalling? I did have an Abba album but also Bucks Fizz (until I spilt orange squash on it – it was a tape – oh woe!) and Status Quo. A little later I migrated to Marillion, Led Zep (OK they are quite cool), Gilbert and Sullivan and assorted heavy metal bands whose feminist credentials I rather doubted. Ah, if only I’d had an elder brother to guide my tastes! (And how my younger siblings must have suffered having me as their beacon.)

    • I would be disappointed to hear anything different! 🙂 The sheer delight of childhood is surely to be found at least in part in loving things that are totally at odds with what we ought to love! I think I probably still know all the words to ‘Making Your Mind Up’ (will test that out later), and I find the combination of Gilbert and Sullivan and heavy metal to be entirely joyful. I only hope your younger siblings followed your excellent example with gusto. 🙂

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