Sitting here on a sunny Wednesday morning with sunlight streaming in to our cosy front room, I decided to blog about something nice. Something drawn from the past.
It's the evening of Monday August 31st 1970. I am standing outside a fish and chip shop with my friend Lee in the small Hampshire city of Winchester. In order to eat our bags of chips we have removed our burdensome rucksacks and rolled sleeping bags from our shoulders.
We should have set off earlier - from The Isle of Wight I mean. Midday ferry across to Lymington and then thumbs out hitching north. But the fish weren't biting that day. It took all afternoon to travel forty miles up to Winchester.
Less than twenty four hours before, we were watching Jimi Hendrix's last gig in England. Carving out a slow and distorted version of "God Save The Queen" and then my favourite number, Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower". Before too long Leonard Cohen greeted the dawn at the very end of August... "And you want to travel with her, and you want to travel blind/ And you know that she will trust you/ For you've touched her perfect body with your mind"
The entire festival was pure magic. Sometimes you live life intensely with total relish, eating up every moment. That was one of those times. Far more people attended The Isle of Wight Festival of Music in 1970 than attended Woodstock in 1969. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
So there we are eating our chips and darkness has fallen. With good fortune we would have been back in East Yorkshire by now. But there we were stuck in Winchester, wondering where we were going to sleep. At eighteen, Lee was two years older than me.
Then a thirty something fellow in a white shirt comes out of the fish and chip shop.
"Have you lads been to the festival?"
"Yeah. Yes we have."
"Have you got somewhere to sleep tonight?"
"No. No we haven't."
"You can come and sleep at my place if you want."
We accompany him to some Victorian villas down a leafy side street. He takes us up to his first floor flat. There was nothing sinister - quite the opposite in fact.
It turns out that he is a junior doctor at the local hospital and he shares the flat with his girlfriend who is "away at the moment" . He tells us that he will be on an early shift in the morning then he points out where the bathroom is and invites us to make our own breakfast and then push the spare keys through the letter box as we depart. Such trust. Such kindness.
We leave him a thank you note on the old pine table and then trudge out of the city to point our thumbs at the sky. It is the first day of September.
We have three hundred miles to go.
Again the hitch-hiking isn't the best I have ever known and it takes us all day to get to Hull. The last bus out into the countryside has gone and it is thirteen miles back to our village. We are trudging along Holderness Road like emigres from Oklahoma in "The Grapes of Wrath" or like hobos in a song by Johnny Cash.
We bump into two young men returning from a pub. They are brothers and they work on fishing trawlers. They ask us if we have been to The Isle of Wight and we say yes. Then they invite us back to their parents' house where they make us tea and toast and we unfurl our sleeping bags and sleep on their living room floor.
They are still upstairs in bed when we leave after scribbling a thank you note and leaving it on the old pine table.
We are almost home. The bus weaves around the bends from Ganstead to Coniston then on to Skirlaugh and Long Riston before we pass White Cross to the south of our village. The music called and we went. We were with our tribe and life was never quite the same after that.
There are heroes in the seaweed, there are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love and they will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds her mirror