I saw Side by Side with Sondheim in 1976 at the Wyndham’s Theatre in London in 1976, and became a Sondheim fan. Oddly I had already seen Company (at Her Majesty’s) and A Little Night Music (at the Adelphi), but this compilation revue finally hit me. Sondheim was a complex tunesmith and a marvellous lyricist. Hot on the heels of this came Sweeney Todd and Merrily We Roll Along (which is coming back to London this Christmas). Here is one of my all time favourite songs – and one that has shaped my oddball sociology. It is from Into the Woods.
You move just a finger,
Say the slightest word,
Something’s bound to linger,
No one acts alone.
Careful, no one is alone.
This is one of my favourite poems: I only encountered it a couple of years ago
To My Friends by Primo Levi
Dear friends, and here I say friends
in the broad sense of the word:
Wife, sister, associates, relatives,
Schoolmates of both sexes,
People seen only once
Or frequented all my life;
Provided that between us, for at least a moment,
A line has been stretched,
A well-defined bond.
I speak for you, companions of a crowded
Road, not without its difficulties,
And for you too, who have lost
Soul, courage, the desire to live;
Or no one, or someone, or perhaps only one person, or you
Who are reading me: remember the time
Before the wax hardened,
When everyone was like a seal.
Each of us bears the imprint
Of a friend met along the way;
In each the trace of each.
For good or evil
In wisdom or in folly
Everyone stamped by everyone.
Now that the time crowds in
And the undertakings are finished,
To all of you the humble wish
That autumn will be long and mild.
16 December 1985
Primo Levi was a holocaust and gulag survivor; he wrote the important If This is a Man (1947); he died, almost certainly suicide, two years after he wrote this poem in 1987.
I have today placed a 50 page account of my illness and transplant. It is an auto/ ethnography and has appeared on a separate page on my web site marked Selected Writings . More on this will gradually be placed on this page.
Here is a little poem I wrote a while back. It’s not very good – but I will keep on trying! BEING KIND I have a dream. An empathetic world. A fair and just society. A humane society. For the generations to come. Making a kinder world. Let us join hands and be practical: Being…