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Saturday, 28 December 2013

Speeding through the dark night

"You know what annoys me?" I say to my son, as I'm driving him home after the holidays.

"Bankers," he says. "Windmills. Me.

"All of the above," I say. "Also people who complain about my singing. I like music. I got a great sense of rhythm. But they tell me I sound like a spaniel with its paw stuck in a fence, when I sing." 

"What annoys me is people complaining," he says. "They do it all the time now, about everything. I get a lot of complaints about my spelling, grammar and pronounciation."

"It's pronounced pronunciation," I complain.

"See that's what I'm talking about," he says. "If you recognise it's wrong you've got the meaning. So picking me up on it is pedantic. Language changes all the time. I'm just ahead of the curve." 

"Well ahead," I say, as the steady beat of the windscreen wipers brings an old Motown number to mind, and I burst into song. 

"Red light, green light, speeding through the dark night, driving through the pounding rain. I gotta see Jane." 

Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, R. Dean Taylor, Don Gooch

"What on earth is that?" he says.

"Great track from the sixties by a guy called R. Dean Taylor," I tell him. "I always thought his name was Ardene."

"There you are then," he says. "Who gives a toss?"

"He does, I'm guessing," I say. "You wouldn't like it if people spelt your name wrong."

"I wouldn't care. I spell it wrong myself. Shakespeare never spelled his name the same way twice."

"He got away with it because he was Shakespeare," I say. "You're not. You don't want people thinking you're illiterate. They won't give you a job."

"I don't want them to give me a job," he says. "They can shove their job."

"What will you live on?" I say.

"Art," he says. "Fresh air and vegetables. The universe will provide."

"No it won't."

"It has so far," he says.

"That wisnae the universe," I say. "That was me." 

"Cheers, man," he says. "Appreciate it."

"Aye, no problem. Windscreen wipers, splishing splashing, calling out her name, I gotta see Jane."

"What I do with people that complain about my spelling or grammar is to thank them," he says. "Then I make the same mistake again as often as possible. It drives them nuts." 

"Why do you want to drive people nuts? I try very hard not to drive people nuts."

"And you still drive them nuts. Wasted effort, I'd say."

"Fair point. I used to make your mother criminally insane by being in the same room with her."

"Same house is how she tells it," he says. "Same town."

"Same country," I say.

"Speaking of which, I'm going to Newcastle for Hogmanay," he says. "Have you noticed how guys in Glasgow are into this Geordie thing now of wandering around with no shirt on, to show how hard they are?"

"I don't get out much," I say.

"You'd see it all the time, if you did," he says. "I'm like all that proves, pal, is you're going home to a nice meal in a warm house with the central heating turned up high. Put a shirt on, ya tosser."

"Although I tried I could not survive," I belt it out and he picks it up and sings along with me. "The frantic pace, the constant chase to win the race, it's not a part of me. I've gotta find what I left behind. Oh, I gotta see Jane.

"Oh I gotta see Jane."

"So you do know the song?" I say when our last notes have sped together through the dark night.

"I do," he says. "Just not the way you sang it. You are a terrible singer, man."

"Are you complaining?" I say. 

"No way," he says.

I Gotta See Jane by R. Dean Taylor. 
Science of singing by Nandhu Radhakrishnan at the University of Missouri.

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