Jude Cook limehouse blues It’s important to remember things right, and maybe this is a skill we acquire over the years. Recalling things wrongly, incorrectly, is strictly for amateurs. I only knew Ade for a couple of years – the most intense of my twenties as it turned out – but some people stay with you for a lifetime. He was my loyal Personal Assistant and, over time, my close friend. Though I wouldn’t say I knew him well. Or maybe I did. Adrian, like many approachable, dry-witted, capable, knowable people, had myriad layers. He was ultimately unknowable. But then, by the same token, he seemed to be an open book. He also had easy access to my mind, my heart, my mechanism. For a while, we were as inseparable as twins. I was first introduced to Ade on the road: Minnesota, the Midwest. Dusty prairies and Hopperesque gas stations next to cinder-block motels. As a young tenor with the lso, I wasn’t staying in anywhere so low-rent – the band, as classical musicians so comically call their orchestra – was booked into the Sheraton Hilton most of the time. The tour was Verdi’s Aida, and a sell-out success: I was singing Radames, and my ‘Celeste Aida’ would bring the house down every night. I was twenty-four, a rising star, as they say, and in need of someone to manage my day-to-day itinerary. And there was Ade one night, in the lobby of the St Paul Crowne Plaza, standing next to Ingrid, my agent, who had flown in with him from London that very day. He was diffident, almost shy; of slight build; features strongly reminiscent of a Bruegel peasant; and with a baseball cap permanently fixed to his forehead. I liked him immediately. It was his tinder-dry wit that really put me at ease, made me think he was an interesting person, someone I could spend time with. He was steady, wise, easy-rolling; but faceted, like crystal cut-glass. As the lobby filled with tourists, many of whom had seen the performance of Aida that night, he twisted the brim of his cap and grinned, ‘The Last of the Mohicans.’ Or was it, ‘Welcome to the cheap seats?’ As I said, it’s important to remember things correctly, and the distortions of time don’t help when recalling someone you’ve since lost contact with. Touring, as the cliché goes, is a blur: it’s the people that surround you who stay in the mind, not the endless ribbon of road, the faceless lobbies. Adrian was easy company
Published on Feb 22, 2016
Published on Feb 22, 2016
Structo issue 15 features 11 short stories, 17 poems, a feature on cover design & an interview with the ex-poet laureate of North Korea Jang...