Friday, 6 March 2015

Where do you go to my lovely?

"Where do you go to my lovely?
When you're alone in your bed
Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head, yes I do"

When I was in my early twenties I worked for Apple. They were some of the greatest days of my life for many, many reasons not the least being that I was in my early twenties. I have memories that make me smile every time I think of them even decades later but there is one that still amazes me as much as it did when it actually happened all those years ago.

I was at one of their national conferences in Sydney and out for the evening with all my newly connected colleagues from head office and the branches around Australia. The early 90s was pre Fringe Benefits Tax so EVERYTHING went on the Apple tab. EVERY.THING. So much fun. Lots of drinking and lots of late night talking. And on this particular night I was talking to a relatively new exec at Apple called Lorraine. She was older than me [I WAS young after all, everyone was bloody older than I was] but we ‘clicked’ and sat chatting in the bar for hours about all things.

I can’t remember how or why but I do remember talking to her quite openly and nostalgically about my recently departed dad. Perhaps it was just that he was recently departed or perhaps there was another catalyst but whatever the reason, I felt inspired to share.

I told her about my parents’ great, young love and romanticised their demise. I spoke of the inherent ‘coolness’ of having young parents who loved each other in the 70s and I told her of ‘their song’. You know how all our relationships [good and bad] have ‘the song’? The one that you hear today, even decades later that will remind you of that time and that love? Well their song was ‘Where do you go to my lovely?” by Peter Sarstedt. In my circles of friends it was a little-known, old song. But I knew it word for word because I had heard it so many times.

So I tell my new found friend Lorraine of this song except instead of telling her the song, I sing it to her because no-one ever knows the song when I mention it by title. And as I sing, paying no mind to the bar we were sitting in, I cry a little bit because I’d been drinking and I was young and my dad’s death was fresh on my heart.

And I watched her face change as I sang it and saw the tears well up in her eyes too and I remember thinking very briefly that she was moved by my story and by the lyric. She waits until I have finished the chorus and says to me :

“Peter Sarstedt is my brother”

Accascuse me?? [of course I didn’t say that because the genius of Pitch Perfect hadn’t been invented yet but my 20 something self would definitely have rolled that one out if I had known about it then]

I can’t even tell you what I thought in that exact moment. But I do remember thinking she must be bullshitting me. No-one I knew had even heard of the song, let alone the artist and here was this woman, that I had just met who for some bizarre reason I felt compelled to share such an emotional part of myself with telling me that she was this artist’s sister.

And then she told me things. Many things about her and her relationships and her family and how she never tells anyone who her brother is. She told me that hearing how something her brother had done was so special to a family on the other side of the world, made her feel proud and connected to him. That shared moment of vulnerability was extraordinary and will be forever imprinted on my life’s tapestry. When I got home I told my mum, who COULD NOT BELIEVE IT until a copy of the cassette [it was the 90s people] signed by Peter himself arrived for her. Very, very special.

It was never a story I thought to share until just last week a friend of mine posted a link to that song on her Facebook page. And the memory hit me, full-force, in the gut. And I told her that story and she loved it and it was her that highlighted the value of vulnerability and where sharing can take us all.

So here I am, sharing.

"I know where you go to my lovely,
When you're alone in your bed
I know the thoughts that surround you
'Cause I can look inside your head"

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