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The snows of yesteryear (March 2014)

(March 01, 2014)

But, where are the snows of yesteryear? *

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

I lived with my auntie and uncle when I was a boy, but spent the holidays with my mother, brother and sister in Pontycymmer. I got to know a few friends there, one of which was a young girl and her brother. They were the same age as me, seven or eightish. The girl's name was Mary and we struck up a close friendship. She was lovely and very pretty, but she was ill. I didn't understand what the illness was but one day they told me she had died. i was very upset; but more because she was gone than that she was actually dead. I didn't understand what it meant. A year later I was back in Pontycymer and went over to call on her brother to go out and play. When I got there he was getting dressed upstairs, so I stood in the living room waiting for him. It was one of those small rooms at the back of the house. It was latish afternoon on a cold but clear day, the blue sky was fading outside, wisps of cloud dissolving into nothingness. The room itself was unlit and being overlooked by the side of the house next door, gloomy and silent. The fire was dying in the grate and the father was sat alone at the table eating his tea. It was Pilchards in Tomato Sauce. We didn't speak or make eye contact, just there together with the sound of his knife and fork scraping the plate. It was eerie and sad. Then he suddenly dropped the cutlery onto the plate and let out a fearful moan. He was a big man, a miner, tough looking and it was unreal to see him burst into tears, not just crying but sobbing, wailing in agony. I stood not knowing what to do. The food dribbled from his mouth as he rent the heavens. What unhappiness was there. What unspeakable pain. His little girl had been taken from him. He was heartbroken in a way that hearts can never be mended. I thought of this recently when sunlight fell into a room in my house in the same way; dull and mocking. Life truly is a veil of tears.

I was living in Jersey in the summer of 1970. I was nineteen. I was a recently formed hippie and I would walk around in St Hellier or Goree near the mental hospital where I was working in red velvet trousers, a shirt with lines of tiny roses and shoes with an American flag design. It was a beautiful Summer that year. I'd wander down Daisy Hill to the Dolphin pub on the harbour hand in hand with the delectable Pauline who wore white socks and have a few beers and listen to Barney the Irishman singing rebel songs to the tourists. I didn't really know anyone, no-one cared about me, I had no measurable talent or anything that others would consider special about me. I was just a thin bespectacled youth, a sort of walking dandelion, and yet I actually felt special. I thought there was something wonderful inside me, a sparkle, I felt that I was sort of magical and delicate, a child of the sun. I had a gentle but tingling energy inside me. I felt beautiful, as though there was an angel inside me. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'd be sad, I'd cry, I'd get drunk, I'd sit on the beach at Arichondel Bay and stare out into the ocean in the nights, watch the tiny lights of the cars on the coast of France and be overwhelmed with surges of emotion, of love and fear and wonder. I have never felt as alive as I did then since. The resonance of that time has faded slowly but steadily throughout the passing years. This is why things from that time, the late sixties has affected the rest of my life so profoundly. That is why the music of the time, films, literature, television, news stories ... The Beatles, Haight Ashbury, fashion, all of it means so much to me. It reinvokes memory of that feeling. An innocent self awareness. I had known love by then, romantic, intense love and I was actually in love with every girl I saw, every one of them, just passing in the street or sat near me in a café. I was in love with them and they were in love with me. Our eyes would meet for possibly the only time in our lives, for just that moment we would both know we were in love. It was very delicate and painful, a seering intensity to it. It made me cry. It was as if I was being lifted of my feet by invisible beings carved from the wind. I felt as though I was a part of everything. Time was still. It would never go forward, never go back, there was just the moment. I've never experienced this since. Everything seems in transition since then, always a step towards something else. I was in some sort of divine state I suppose. Yes ... the perfect innocence of childhood was what it was. Nothing compares.

Boyd Clack, March 2014

* 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)

Also from Boyd Clack:

     The snows of yesteryear; December 2013


     The snows of yesteryear; September 2013
     Requiem; June 2013

     Mother to her son; March 2013 (with Kirsten Jones)

     The snows of yesteryear; December 2012

     The snows of yesteryear; September 2012

     The snows of yesteryear; June 2012

     Interview with Boyd Clack; September 2011

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.


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


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