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The snows of yesteryear, Boyd Clack

(June 01, 2012)

The snows of yesteryear *

Boyd Clack (Photo- Ben Hussain)Boyd Clack (photo - Ben Hussain)

I was about seven or eight years old. It was Christmas eve. I'd had a red tricycle as my main present. I took it outside in the early evening blackness. the ground was white with snow, which was still falling in big slow drifting flakes. I sat on my tricycle and peddled down The Avenue. The snowflakes danced in the light of the street lamps and everything ceased to exist beyond the roofs of the houses. It was like being in a fairy grotto. I recall that moment so perfectly.

I was sitting at a table in The Green Mask Indian restaurant in Southsea with my girlfriend late at night. I was eating a meat Rogan Josh. It smelled lovely. I was quite pissed, nicely pissed, I was nineteen; booze still worked its magic then. The room was lit by side lamps and candles on the tables. My girlfriend was wearing a white dress with sparkly things on it and she had white ribbons interwoven into her raven black hair. I looked at her beautiful face and it lit up my soul. Her loveliness entered into me. I cry now as I think of it. I was so young. Love was young. That was 1969. We went home and watched the moon landing on our black and white telly. Life can be joined up by such moments like dots.

Met a girl at a John Clarkes Scientific leather measurement course, in Street in Somerset in 1970. She was blond and pretty. I was a hippy in a green Afghan coat. We didn't talk much, just a chat at a social evening in a pub. When I got home she had sent me a letter saying she had two tickets to see Marc Bolan at the Winter Gardens, Weston Super Mare where she lived, and asking if I'd like to go with her. Her parents said I could stay at their house. I didn't reply. I don't know why, because she was lovely and she had been so brave to write the letter. I regret it to this day. In fact, it is one of the few things in my life I am ashamed of.

I was lying in bed the other night listening to Pink Floyd and she waltzed into my mind. I imagined that I had gone to see Bolan with her and that I kissed her outside the Winter Gardens. I imagined I stayed in her house that night and that we became boyfriend and girlfriend. I half dreamt that we fell in love. She came to Tonyrefail to meet my family. We walked up the Glyn Mountain on a warm summer evening and made love in the long grass. I could taste her beautiful breath, I felt her beautiful lips against mine. We got married. I liked her family, they were younger than my parents, more modern; in keeping with the times. It was 1969. We both carried on working in office jobs and moved to somewhere outside Bristol, equidistant between our families. After a time she got pregnant and she stopped work and I became the breadwinner.

In real life I went to live in Australia, where I pursued a life of drunkenness and drug-taking debauchery. But I was a good husband in that alternate reality. We grew old together, had grandchildren. She grew more beautiful. I was strangely content. I have never been content in my present life. As I lay there, I began to feel a profound, almost overwhelming nostalgia for this unlived life. I cried for its delicacy, its inexperienced beauty. It was like a child that died in the womb. That lovely girl, whom I never kissed, filled my heart and I became intensely aware that every moment, every thought, every decision taken changes everything.

We each have thousands, millions probably, of paths unchosen; each one representing a different possible life. Maybe in that life I wouldn't have had so much of what society considers success. But I would have had love. And I am sure that that is what true success is; to love and be loved. When I am lying on my bed in another twilight, that of my death, in that last, immeasurable silence when there is no need to pretend any more, I think that I will measure out my life in individual moments of love - pinpricks of lovelight in the sky outside my window. Kissing that blond-haired girl (the wife I never had), outside the Winter Gardens on that night, will be one of them. There are so many women I could have loved. Anyone can love anyone else. It's just those momentary choices that decide.

* Mais, où sont les neiges d'antan? (But, where are the snows of yesteryear?) taken from Ballade des dames du temps jadis (Ballad of the Ladies of Times Past), a poem by François Villon (c. 1431–1463)

Boyd Clack, 1 June 2012

Watch "The Gospel according to Rev. Boyd Clack" and "The news in Welsh", by Boyd Clack - on You Tube

Boyd's new website is

Boyd Clack's latest album, Labourer of Love is available in Tesco and ASDA stores now, or online from Amazon - as a CD at £8.99, or mp3 at £5.99. We interviewed Boyd last September - fascinating reading - read it here: Boyd Clack interview, September 2011.

Boyd Clack - Labourer of LoveBoyd Clack's latest album, Labourer of Love



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