Home Thoughts from Abroad

Pete touching base with his Suisse roots via Passage Hollard

At the moment we have a mate of mine and his lady staying with us from our home town of Maleny back in Australia. We’ve had a fun week with Pete and Wendy. Shopping in France, doing the Martigny (Suisse),Aoste (Italy) and Chamonix (France) through the Suisse, Italian and French Alps in a day trip, exploring Fribourg, Montreux, Rolle, Thonon and Evian, and walking Lake Geneva and Lausanne in the spare spaces at day or night to share a taste of what is currently home for Jo and I. It is a very beautiful part of the world here, and this has been brought home to us by the fresh wonder and superlatives from Pete and Wendy.

Lausanne Cathedral at night
A courtyard outside the cathedral

Sometimes at night, all four of us sit around the kitchen table with our matching white Macbooks, uploading photos and stories and catching up with our other friends around the world. We take this time to share creative ideas and youtube songs that have been a part of our life, while drinking coffee and eating Suisse chocolate. Last night Pete and I were quizzing each other about old songs, you know things like ‘I bet you don’t know who sang....?’ And a song came to me from 1975. I had the album, I loved the song but there was no way I could remember the singer. I said to Pete ‘Who sang Home Thoughts from Abroad?’. Pete said he had the album still and described the cover. But neither of us could remember the singer's name.
Well that’s exactly why Google is such a wonderful invention! Open all hours, no dewey index cards to look up, no need to shoosh, nothing to borrow or carry home and its a record bar and library wrapped into one. And definitely no losing sleep while you are lying awake at night at three in the morning for days to come, wasting good zed hours back tracking dusty, stored memory banks to 1975 and beyond.
And there it was on youtube. Instant gratification. The song and the singer, the original album cover and a complete history of things that weren’t even written on the album cover in its original release in 1973.
Clifford T. Ward. Clifford, the writer and singer of Home Thoughts from Abroad hailed from a little village called near Birmingham where he was an English teacher at Stourport primary school. He was inspired by the classic poets he sang about, especially Browning and Keats. He had a big hit with a song called Gaye and with the release of eleven albums between 1972 and his untimely death from MS in 2001, he managed to blow some fresh indie air into a sometimes stodgy studio and label controlled UK music industry. According to some critics  Clifford could have been a great success if he had toured overseas and done interviews with the right people. But he was his own man. He wouldn’t do anything that took him away from his wife and children overnight. 
Some liken his melodies, lyrics and voice quality to Sir Paul. Others say that Home Thoughts from Abroad is the best love song ever written. But no matter what ever others might say, I personally think Clifford T. Ward may well have lived one of the greatest love stories ever written. He wrote and sang beautiful song stories about his life. He  shared them to the end with his child-hood sweetheart and those he loved. And we listened in.

Home Thoughts from Abroad - Robert Browning

Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England--now!!
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops--at the bent spray's edge--
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
--Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

Blue - (c) Rob Swales ( A poem inspired by Clifford T. Ward)
I went for a walk
to the lake to see
what other people 
were doing with their afternoon.
And  once there, I joined them
in the blissful blue
of a balmy autumn
held captive by thoughts
of summer.
So warm the sweetness
of a book folded
across the brown-skinned
lovers where they hug
on the rocks.
So pure the reflection
of a fisherman’s net
but empty when
on the wrong side
it returns to disbelief.
And so wanting
inside me for the harmony
of blue on blue on blue
where no other colour
need wait or be sad
in a moment filled
with disappointment.
Life so fleeting
the drops of misunderstanding
dry before
the sun sweeps
the mountain range in farewell
and leaves me dreaming
where stars become 
my lovers
and the moon
a beacon for my heart.
Pete and Wendy in Fribourg
Fribourg old town


Popular Posts