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dancing to Paul Quarrington

Today’s tears: standing in the kitchen in front of the radio, swaying to “Gotta Love a Train” by Porkbelly Futures. The song’s sad, sweet vocals and words are by Paul Quarrington, who died this morning at the age of 56. How many good writers have beautiful singing voices and a band? How many men can be successful at both the solitary work of the writer and the extremely social work of the lead singer? Well, there’s Paul.

I met Paul Quarrington at one of the high points of his amazing life – at the Humber School of Writers first, and I think only, autumn workshop session in Siena, Italy. Paul was there with his beautiful true love, and he explored all things Italian with the gusto and good humour that were his trademark. Then, I knew him just as a writer and writing teacher. It wasn’t until I went to the dance at the end of the Writer’s Union of Canada AGM that I heard him sing with Porkbelly Futures, raunchy, hard rockin’ songs, many of which he wrote himself. The dance floor was packed the whole time, and writers are not usually given to wild flailing of the body.
I knew, partly because Paul and Wayson were good friends, that there was sadness, the failure of relationships, and then the horrifying diagnosis of incurable lung cancer. I attended the first part of the event held in his honour at the Writer’s Festival last October, during which one famous Canadian scribe after another, including Margaret Atwood and Wayson himself, spoke movingly of their love and respect for Paul. When he played and sang, the whole room wept.
His death is a great loss for the arts in our country. No, a great loss just for our country; for us.
My children came over yesterday, both arriving at the old homestead at nearly the same time, which usually only happens when a large turkey is in the oven. Sam cooked our dinner, Anna cleaned up, both spent time Facebooking on my computer, Sam flipped through 56 channels on TV, Anna talked and texted to 56 people on her cellphone, they spoke long-distance to their grandmother in Ottawa, and they were gone. While here, they remained in constant contact with their own planets, but I did get a glimpse of them.
As always, as you’ve heard before, I feel the dilemma of the parent of adult children who have not yet really set up their own homes and lives: how to be there, available, helpful or comforting, yet not obtrusive? There, yet not too much there? It’s a balancing act, one which I sometimes feel I’ve aced and then, when one or the other pulls back and away, I know that I have not.
And more re aging: yesterday I was at Shopper’s, where only the other day I was looking at anti-aging creams. This time I was looking at pimple medication. How unjust, that we should be afflicted with crevices in our faces and, at the same time, acne. Enough already!
There’s a pimple on my chin the size of a meterorite, I swear, now being plied with the 5% stuff the druggist gave me to make it go away, just as I did with Clearasil when I was 15.
I wonder if the lovely Carol Burnett has pimples.
PS I have just tried to simplify, yet again, the process of responding to blog posts. So if you’d like to give it a try, to write and say hello and give me some feedback, be my guest. I’d love to hear from you.



2 Responses to “dancing to Paul Quarrington”

  1. Lynnie says:

    Beth, I can stand it no longer! I have to say something. There is no apostrophe in Shoppers Drug Mart. I have held back on commenting in previous posts of yours, but when I saw "Shopper's" tonight, I felt compelled to mention it. I worked for SDM for nineteen years, so this is a long-standing pet peeve of mine.
    I apologize if I sound harsh or negative. I'm sure this wasn't the feedback you were looking for.
    Still a huge fan of your personality, your writing, and above all, your teaching …

  2. Beth says:

    Lynn, my friend Marilyn wrote a little poem in my autograph book in 1959:
    "Learn a little every day
    and for the future, put away."
    So I have learned a little already today, and it's not even 9 a.m. Many thanks. A misplaced apostrophe is not a small peeve.
    Good to hear from you.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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