Have you heard Tea for the Tillerman?
It always comes into my head unbidden at strange little moments, so that when I listen to it I feel like I’m in all those places at once. It’s only a minute long. Well, a minute and one second. A dalmatian tune. 1:01.
But I’m everywhere in it. I’m in open fields by some upwater stretch of thames. I’m in some london pub in autumn, and I’m in friends flats. I’m walking along the Seine in crisp winter sunshine, I’m in the back garden of a house party, I’m in your kitchen, I’m smoking your cigarettes, I’m laughing at you over the rim of a glass, my eyes flashing and your eyes flashing. Inside the song are all the hands held, and hugs given, and heads patted, and arms flung round eachother and there’s also all the moments of quiet solitude in which I’m just on my own in the world.
Have you ever jumped into the ponds up at hampstead heath?
Watch your limbs turn green and feel the smart shock of cold as your hands then your head break the surface of the water.
That’s what that song sounds like.
Like the sun breaking through green leaves, dappled green and gold on damp skin, and cigarette edged chats about who’s talking to who and which person hasn’t texted the other one back, or what books we’ve read. Someone talks about the exhibition they saw at the Tate. Someone talks about something you don’t quite understand but its so warm, that you nod and turn your head sideways to squint through sun splinters and grin at them.
I don’t know. This is a difficult post to write. It’s not the hot take on Mary Kate and Ashley that I’ve been trying to finish for a few weeks. But it’s real. It’s about how I’m really feeling. And I know that you’re reading this, if there are any of you reading this, going: “no one cares about how u really feel. Give us Mary Kate and Ashley” but I can’t give you Mary Kate and Ashley because I wanna talk about how I feel OKAY?!
So it’s 1:01 am. Dalmation time.
And I’m listening to this Dalmation tune.
And I’m thinking about what life’s really about. yeah , I know. But… do you know? Do you really Know?
The other day someone said I’d gotten to this point in my life and I was just doing nothing. Just here. It didn’t matter what I just was, but she said i was just something. just.
I don’t think anything anyone has ever said to me has cut quite so deep, and I think it’s secretly because I think it’s sort of true. I’m just here. I’m not really doing anything important, and I can’t boast a full LinkedIn profile, but I can’t be just something, can I? Can anyone?
I don’t know.
I guess I’m standing at the Tiller of my own life, and I’m not sure where I’m steering. Do you steer boats? I don’t know. I’ve never driven one. I want one though. A little one I can take up the canals and write on and drift around in.
I think I just want to drift about. I think that’s what I actually want. because it’s not what I should want, whatever that means, and just because the mothers of my childhood friends would tilt their heads sideways at me and tell me what i was doing was alright enough in its way but how was I eve going to buy a house… none of that, really, means anything. Does it? I don’t want to buy a house. I don’t want to sit behind a desk, and I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing.
I wish I’d been born in 1346 so someone could try to catch me and burn me at the stake for selling hedge potions. I’d evade them, of course, because this is my story and I’ll tell it how I want. I’d evade them by turning myself into a hawthorne. They ward off evil do hawthornes.
Have you heard tea for the tillerman?
Put it on.
I’m so tired of feeling like I’m not good enough. And I’m so tired of feeling like I’m making the wrong choices all the bloody time. I want to feel, all the time, like the first outdoor swim of april. I want to feel, all the time, like the first sip of a pint after a long day. I want to feel, all the time, like the lights coming on at pont neuf when the sky has gotten dark enough, and the 800 eyes upon the bridge look upon me. Only I think they look upon me without judgement.
Find me, sometime later. Drifting like dandelion seeds in the wind. Drifting like smoketrails, or the first tufts of mayblossom, or swallows, or
A seagull singing hearts away
I’m reminded of my dad, for some reason. I hope he’d be proud of me. I hope he’d like me. I hope he’d think I were doing the right thing. I hope I’m doing the right thing.
The Tillerman stands at the wheel of the ship and,
takes his hands off to accept the tea.