Ode to Joy

Don’t we accumulate friends over a lifetime.
A posse of like minded pals, or even unlikely chums that crop up year after year when their birthdays come round.
January is lean for me, I do know about three folk with their birthdays in the bleak month. But I’m too overwhelmed by Christmas to remember them.
February is the time for an ex boyfriend, a schoolmate from Bushey and two musicians who are both itinerant troubadours which means I can’t send them cards as they don’t have permanent addresses.
We get into family time when March comes around, the dawter, me, two natal twins and my first beau.
April flies past until we hit the 30th then May has a straight flush of 7/9/10/11/12/1318/19 my grandaughter, my Irish friend and my mother who have left this realm. One who has disappeared from my radar, an Irish dipsomaniac and our long standing Swedish muso who died on stage with a bottle of beer in his hand and was revived by a crack medical team who flew him to safety and bunged a digital pacemaker in his musical chest. All the others get the obligatory emoji overload of hearts and posies, lipstick kisses and virtual gifs.
My granddaughter, Goddaughter, homeopath, brother, surrogate son, and wife of an ex-bass player straddle June and then we get to July.
1/2/3/4/5&5/7/8/9/10/12/24/29; Germans. Poets. Writers. Producers. Actors. Acupuncturists. Babies. Artists. Gardeners. July is a month I clearly resonate with.
But yesterday started the right Royal flush.
It was the 52nd wedding anniversary of one of my oldest friends. We knew each other when PVC jackets were all the rage and Vidal Sassoon was shaping the five point haircut. I was one of his models in one of his shops somewhere in London, she was at art school and I was heading to drama school. I went into my world and she became a head teacher. She was always really clever and an accomplished artist. I have at least five of her pictures dotted about the house. She and her bee-keeping husband of over 50 years, thats her husband of fifty years not the bees, went to Winchelsea to have fish and chips on the beach. She ate mackerel with gooseberry sauce and he had calamari and chips.
Today we celebrated our next doors neighbours birthday. The old git gifted him a harmonica, from his ancient collection, and I gave him a tiny little clockwork train with a five-piece track and a plastic tree. He sat on the floor assembling the railway whilst accompanying himself with the suck and blow method the old git taught him. Our neighbour is three years old and says ‘scuse me’ a lot which he figures can get him out of a deal of trouble, which it does.
I cooked a delicious black bean salad with quinoa, red onions, tomatoes and a spicy dressing, the dawter made tagliatelle with a pesto, mushroom, garlic and pea topping. She also made a cherry cake with housed 25 whole cherries, each slice had a little black cherry in it with the stalk still in tact, perfect for pulling out the luscious fruit. The feast was to celebrate the birthday of the dawters Godmother, which is tomorrow. I’ve known the woman since she was a Bunny in the 60’s, and England won the World Cup. She’s been everything from a school matron to a peace campaigner in Bosnia and a ‘Cordon Bleu’ Chef in Devon. She arrived as the wind was trying to tear down the eucalyptus tree
and blow up her anorak. She landed in the kitchen laden with peach liqueur, bottles of bubbly and a healthy appetite. We drunk too much champagne and ate way too many slices of olive bread with newly churned butter, until we all collapsed at the table.
On Sunday it is the day that my ‘oosbind was born 77 years ago.
The child of a glass blower, he grew up oop north, went to the same grammar school as Brian Turner the chef, attended Loughborough College, worked in Leeds, his hometown, met me in 1976, and it was down south/hill from there. We’ve bought him a surprise gift which I can’t reveal in case he reads this.
Monday is the birthday of another Godchild. She will be one year old and has formed a dominatrix relationship with Dennis the cat.
August gives us Buddhists and Artists, Therapists, Retired Theatre directors and a darling photographer.
By the time we have reached the end of September we will have celebrated 8/10/13/18/22/ which includes a publisher/writer friend of mine of over fifty years. We’ve shared the best part of a lifetime kvetching and complaining, analysing and putting the world to rights, in person, on the phone, on fax and now on e-mail. We even talk on Sykpe when her old man is playing bridge and the ‘oosbind is watching ‘How Things Work’ on the box.
Then it’s my beautiful nephew, my remarkable Swedish acupuncturist, my Japanese violinist and the surrogate sons partner.
I have professional friends in October, plus a delightful choral singing pal in Philly and my very own Yorkshire born mystic who lives in Hermosa Beach, California. What he doesn’t know about Trump ain’t worth knowing, if my clever clairvoyant is to be believed we will be rid of the orange Cock-Womble this November, which brings me to my two step daughters who are either end of the eleventh month, and then we finish with an American girlfriend in December, two days before Christmas.
We lived together in South Hampstead, she had lied to the authorities that she was older than she was so she could do what she wanted to do in London. We shared a house and the overweight landlady’s yellow hardback cookbook that smelt of vanilla and was published by Weight Watchers – naturally we both lost loads of weight. I would haggle with the stall holders in Queens Crescent Market, and come home laden with free tomatoes and battered potatoes. She was on the divan bed when the old git and I decided that our relationship was over. When I came too she was holding my hand. She encouraged me to call him back. I did and forty three years later our marriage has endured as how friendship. She lives in Saratoga Springs, writes like a dream, cooks like a bon viveur, and laughs at all my jokes. Now ain’t that what friends are for?
I was told if you can count your friends – and by that I mean real friends – on the fingers of one hand then you’re doing well. I have a fear that nobody will turn up at my funeral and the eulogy will be said by a humanist to one mourner who has bothered to drive down from Luton. So I count my friends dear, and hold them close. As more arrive like our next door neighbour to the latest Godaughter, I ignore the rising cost of stationary and hunker down to do my job which is to remain sane, buy witty birthday cards, make the world a better place, keep up with with their music, understand their language, enjoy their fashion, commiserate with them about their future, talk into the wee small hours, advise them on acne, keep my own stories to myself unless asked, tell them the truth about politics and men and government, and politicians and geography and knitting, and how to bake perfect potatoes, so hopefully when I cut the mortal coil they will turn up at my funeral and sing a rousing chorus of Beethoven’s ‘Ode to joy’ which the old git will have printed out, that’s assuming I go first and he still has the ability to copy and paste.
‘O Freunde, nicht diese Tone!
Sondern lass uns angenehmere anstimmen,
Und freudenvollere.
Freude, schoner Gotterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!
Deine Zauber binden wieder,
Was die Mode streng geteilt;
Alle Menschen werden Bruder,
Wo dein sanfter Flugel weilt.
Wem der grosse Wurf gelungen,
Eines Freundes Freund zu sein,
Wer ein holdes Weib errungen,
Mische seinen Jubel ein!
Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele
Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!
Und wer’s nie gekonnt, der stehle
Weinend sich aus diesem Bund.
Freude trinken alle Wesen
An den Brusten der Natur;
Alle Guten, alle Bosen
Folgen ihrer Rosenspur.
Kusse gab sie uns und Reben,
Einen Freund, gepruft im Tod;
Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben,
Und der Cherub steht vor Gott!
Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen
Durch des Himmels pracht’gen Plan, laufet, Bruder, eure Bahn,
Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen.
Freude, schoner Gotterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!
Deine Zauber binden wieder,
Was die Mode streng geteilt;
Alle Menschen werden Bruder,
Wo dein sanfter Flugel weilt.’
Here it is for you so you can translate it in your own time. I’ve omitted the umlauts because it makes for messy printing, if you don’t speak German it won’t matter and if you do speak German it won’t matter since you know what it sounds like anyway.
Not that I’m thinking of dying soon but as the evenings draw in and the leaves are yellowing, I’m aware that I am in the autumn of my days, however, if I keep up with my regimen (Day 5) I’ve got at least another 20 summers to go, and you have enough time to learn your Beethoven.
Auf Wiedersehen, pet till then.

2 thoughts on “Ode to Joy”

  1. Joy to ode Jeni – how sweet is this? On the cusp boy with trumpets and always the dreadful promise of too much fizz when one’s trying to control the sugar. At least you have the compensation of a cat who can curl up contemptuously on a chosen lap & casually claw its way into your hearts. I am chastened.
    I locked myself out yesterday – haven’t done that in about 25 years or so! I’d popped over to the shop just after 9 pm ‘cos wanted to avoid too many people. Thank Goddess my neighbour/friend with a set of keys was actually around and up. In non-pandemic times, she’d be visiting family this time of year & I might have been in trouble!

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