In search of the greenwood…

9 Jul

Two unconnected things I encountered this week wistfully reminded me of mythical, less complicated, times.

Firstly, I saw one of my favourite musicians – Simone Felice (http://www.simonefelice.com/about/). At one point he said how great it was just to have people gathered in one place instead of at home on their phone/the internet. This Luddite attitude perhaps explains why following him is like traipsing after bands in pre-internet days, where fans lovingly made type-written, badly photocopied newsletters. No instant information then. A few years ago Simone Felice left his siblings’ band, the excellent Felice Brothers, and then later formed The Duke and the King, an even better outfit only to seemingly disband it awhile back. There is little on the web as to why or even any acknowledgement they have split up at all. So he just turned up at St Giles church just off Oxford Street with a new, excellent band, and sang some beautiful, mournful songs. Little preview or hype. Perhaps that’s the way it should be. And what a great venue too. But allowing a bar there wouldn’t hurt, would it?

The second, deeper, call of the ancients came from Laurence Scott’s brilliant article on one of my favourite novels (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jul/05/rereading-maurice-e-m-forster), E. M. Forster’s Maurice. Written before the first world war but not published until after Forster’s death in 1970, the novel follows Maurice’s self-discovery. A gay man in Edwardian England, he memorably, (spoiler alert) goes on to have a happy ending, eloping with his lover into the ether. They disappear into ‘the greenwood’, the wilds of England. As enticing as it is preposterous, this notion has always stayed with me. Could the forests of England really ever have harboured society’s outsiders? Who cares? Forster’s paean ‘to an England where it was still possible to get lost’ remains incredibly appealing, a manifesto for love and a rejection of an oppressive society’s norms, where the only solution is to escape into the shadows…     

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