The Official Chris Difford Website

Composing myself

It’s here the big New Year, time to let nature sleep, so far it’s been a calm couple of weeks, this always leads to optimistic thoughts. A good thing. To find out what its like to write again i have come down to a house in Cornwall, looking out to sea there is calm. In the distance large grey ship like objects slowly slide by along the horizon. The sun spreads its eyelashes across the clouds down onto the water below. It looks cold. For thousands of years this shipping lane has been the story teller, and i can not compete with the past. Today is hard, sitting here trying to find the start button, the coming together of ideas, the blank piece of paper, the bare distance comes into focus with stark clarity. 40 years ago i could sit with myself and the flow would be constant, hundreds of ideas would flow, mostly not every good but then in the not very good some crackers. I have spent the last few days putting words into folders sitting back and looking out at the calm sea. Sitting with myself i learn that there is nothing as important as being still, being still helps the mind to find its place in the World. To break the stillness i walk to the lighthouse and back, a round trip of three miles, plus a pasty. As i walk i can feel the bones rattle and the inspiration buckets fill with design. But it’s the doing that makes me wonder, wonder why. After a few days on my own i get to value the things i can not change.

The waves of the sea roll very slowly towards the shore, and as they land on the rocks below me they crash and return back on themselves. A small fishing boat passes by, what a hard job that must be, there he is on his own putting out pots tied to orange buoys. Crab maybe. My pots are floating too, waiting for the inspired moment when i net a good line lyric or phrase. I have the patience of two saints today, while he in his boat knows that patience is not a virtue. My day bends slowly around the yard arm until its time to leave the house and venture out for some food. The fridge is well stocked but i want to see people and be around faces and hear other peoples words. Nature sleeps all around me in the still of a dry cold afternoon in January. If i sit still any longer i might turn into a toad, i look like one sometimes so maybe its an evolutionary thing taking place on the sly. Perhaps i need the hubble and bubble of home, where doors open and close, food is on the table, arms are open wide and everything seems part of the picture. I like the hum of home and the balance i find being there and being not there at the same time.

Things will fall into place, they have to, thats how life works, if i just open my arms to the creative and the new something will happen. A call, an email, something will happen. God is a creative guy so to put my faith in his way would be wise, he leads me not into temptation and composes me into the present moment in which i belong. Meanwhile the sun has gone around the house and is waving bye bye from over the top of the lighthouse across the bay, a very rocky bay. Everyone needs a lighthouse in their life and Louise is mine, she guides me through shallow water and keeps me from landing on the rocks, she takes the fog of work and transposes it into clear sky. She shines a light on the road less traveled and inspires me to risk each journey. She is my lighthouse and has been for the past 8 years since we first met. Life works. When we first met life was the open book that it always is, you then spend the rest of  your life colouring it in together. Choosing the right colours can often be a challenge but the picture appears slowly and it reveals the effort and the commitment of love.

The still of the day strokes me with its quiet, i feel miles away from the plot, from the words i need to find. Songs are many but the few are the ones that make you who you are, it’s those im looking for. I have a chain of ideas that i think will lead me to a place of fertile beginnings, it will take a few sittings but the end result should be worth it. When i write i put the person im writing for or with right in the centre of my mind, and my day, they sit with me but today that seat is empty. The chairs in my room have been filled with many great people and co writers, some of them are still come back to my room, a few have left for ever. There is sadness when the people in your room leave, the empty chair is a presence like no other. You hope that other people will come into your life and take a seat in your room, these days thats not such a regular event. Once upon a time the room was full to heaving with people, all co hosting the songs that cascaded from my, or our, souls. Good or bad. I will be defined in life by the good ones, and most of the good ones are obvious to all. I guess eventually there will only be one chair and it will be mine. I will sit with myself and reflect back on the days when there were no empty chairs. It feels not far away.

Darkness is not far away either, as the afternoon has dissolved into grey, the sun is now on the edge of the sea with its orange fingers trailing down to the horizon. Wherever that is. I have shaken off some thoughts and with the evening in my sights i can relax into the fall. Two more sleeps. Being here has been enough and for me to sit in this puddle of still, im lucky and grateful for all the gifts of life that have come my way. Long after i leave this place the ships will still cut grey images in the distance and the sea will always chop and change its mood, like nature. 100 years ago men used to live in this house and shake flags around when ships passed by, they could read the colours as letters of the alphabet. Staying in a signal house is something of coincidence as thats what im trying to do myself, im trying to find the right colours and flags to wave making up songs as i go, making up stories and being in conversation with others. I may not have much to say, im no politician, but i know how i feel and where the heart keeps its council. I may not always be correct or as sharp as a blade but who really needs that in their life. The chairs are put away, the pot is landed, and the ships are ahoy. What else is there now but to sit back and sigh.

Its night time, outside the darkness is only cut by a small line of light coming from a stationary ship. Every 4 seconds the lighthouse takes my picture, no flash please. Nothing is happening outside, the bone cold night cuddles the house and the rocks around the bay, and in my mind not much. London seems like a lifetime away, the peace and emptiness of life down here is brave and not for everyone. To retire here must be to sign off.

I would not like to walk to the edge of my life from this stillness. The two people in the pub talk about the merits of closing because nobody is coming out to eat or drink, im not even sure many people live around here, it seems most of the houses are second homes or holiday lets. There is a small community of people, some rich and from landed, others from the sea and the farm. I have found my time here creative and inspiring, the rest in the pudding. I feel ready for the punches, and the pudding. I feel secure knowing that the lighthouse will always be there to shine its light on danger and that maybe one day the empty chairs will be filled.