#32: Clifford T. Ward - "Home Thoughts From Abroad" (1973)

If Clifford T. Ward Were Your Boyfriend (With Thanks And Apologies to The Toast


1. If Clifford T. Ward were your boyfriend, you'd feel a slight sting of shame that you didn't have a more practical, blunt forename like his seminal hit, "Gaye". Not in a moral way, more that vague sensation of having lost something you never had, that the Japanese have a word for that you can't remember. He strokes your hair and smiles at this show of charming angst. "There isn't a note that exists to carry the beauty of your name." You swoon into his shoulder.

2. Sunday afternoons are spent, without fail, in the pub, which is a short drive but a much nicer country walk away from the secluded, shabby old vicarage where you've settled down. The papers don't last long between you. He lets you read the supplements first and you know what that means. You drink port and lemon then move onto wine when your roasts arrive.

3. Though he sings for a living, he never sings along to any of the records that eternally spin from the study. Just hums, tapping his fingers on the armrest of his chair. You jest that the walls aren't made of brick but vinyl and poetry. But there's truth in that - because isn't this where you always wanted to live? In the house art built?

4. When letters fall onto the mat, your heart rate quickens from fear. You rush to the pile and sort through with shaking, silent hands. No postcards means a good day. Despite the glory of your present together, you know some part of him will always be in the past, remembering the ones who came before you. You hate them for hurting him but hate yourself more because you're so frightened that you'll do the same.

5. Everything in his wardrobe is earth-toned, flared or corduroy, which makes him seem very together and practically falling apart all at once.

6. He makes you breakfast but doesn't eat it himself, choosing instead to set it by your sleeping head whilst he sits in the early sunlight reading his dog-eared copy of Keats for the hundredth time this year.  You didn't realise how much you liked cold scrambled eggs before now.

7.  "But darling," your mother says as you twist the phone cord round and round, "he's just so... wistful." As if that were a bad thing.

8. The lovemaking is transcendent, natch.

9. He's nearly finished the portrait of you in the style of Vermeer. You're desperate to see it but his perfectionism forbids it. You still have the crick in your neck from holding that milk jug for two hours but the glint in his eyes as he intensely studied your frame was worth it. 

10. Sometimes you wish he'd say what he felt at the time rather than writing a song about it but then you realise you'd be robbing other people of his gift. This is the price of admission. But the fairground rides are bright and none of them plunge from great heights or turn your stomach. Tea cups and ferris wheels and hard boiled sweets as far as you can see. The lights glimmer on the horizon line.