“Bobby Shaftoe’s gone to sea” / “Love is all the lamb dinners”. 2011
Occasionally, and unsettlingly, the fabric of life exposes a hole through which we glimpse an unwelcome reality.
We are faced with unfamiliar questions for the answers we think we already possess. Love: what is it? Is it a manner of enslavement, a form of madness, or a blessing? All three? A vast and futile con trick, played on us by nature, in an endeavour to keep our species alive?
To have never been burned by one of cupid’s golden tipped arrows is a sorrowful loss in life.....an irreplaceable, unfulfilled yearning.
But is an injury from that golden tipped arrow a more preferable fate to the one delivered by blowpipe? Curare-tipped and silently lethal.....are they not the same thing?
These Two Crowns question the real nature of love.
Bobby Shaftoe, if you remember, was the golden haired sailor, sung about in the playground rhyme. The young girl who sings the song has been left with his blue eyed promise, and a baby. “He’ll come back and marry me”, she sings, believing that even as he sailed away over the horizon, he really meant it. And time passes. The rose petals have faded, the song he gave her is turning to rust and dust, carefully bound in a ribbon that was the colour of his eyes.
Her wedding crown, like her daydreams, seemed so real. At the front, which is the only bit she’ll ever look at, it all still makes sense. But follow it along just a little bit, and it’s clear that she’s deluding herself, creating this beautiful construction out of stray scraps of hope, which helplessly unravels among the broken links of rusted chain.
His ship left such a very long time ago.
Is that love? Or is love all the lamb dinners? Patiently cooked up, week after week, by red raw, loving hands? The un-thanked task of sweeping up the dog hairs, in wanting to make the world a better place, just here, just now, for a loved one? There’s no romance in that. Is there? Cod liver oil pills to ward off the dark day when we seize up, and we can only care about each other, not for each other, can no longer stride along the country lanes, laughing at each other, marvelling at the raindrops, and pushing each other over in the mud.
“Caution- Please drive carefully. Old people playing.”