Shaking hands

Shaking hands – or rather not shaking hands has been in the news because of the present situation, and for some reason I was thinking about people I have shaken hands with – there must have been thousands in my life, but for various reasons a couple sprang into my mind.

Many years ago I was staying with friends and they took me away for a weekend to visit some of their chums. There was a party and I was talking to an elderly gent who was most interesting. I was in my twenties and he must have been at least seventy and he was a published poet, so of course I was very impressed. He was a very nice man and I guess I must have asked him about how he began writing poetry, and what experiences he’d had. He looked across the valley at the hills opposite, painted a reddy gold in the setting sun and he remarked that he always thought they were most feminine hills. I saw immediately what he meant, they looked like a giant woman, lying on her side asleep, so peaceful, so beautiful. We must have sat together for an hour, chatting and he kept referring to his friend Tom, who was a better poet than he. He had some stories about him, things he’d said, things they had done together, which unfortunately I don’t now remember. His friend Tom was actually Thomas Stearns Eliot, yes ‘Tom’ was T.S. Eliot! So my hand has shaken the hand which had shaken Eliot’s hand!! I was in awe! I wish I knew who this man was!

Some many years later I got talking to a lady, older than me, after a gig; she was American and very interesting and had obviously been in the music business. We talked about the gig, we talked about this and that, ordinary stuff, and it was only afterwards learned that she was a backing singer for Elvis!! Once again my hand has shaken the hand which shook Elvis’s – and not just Elvis, it turns out, this lady also recorded on songs by Bob Dylan and Dolly Parton!

I know I have never met Eliot, Elvis or Dolly Parton – but I feel I’ve almost been in touch with them!

My featured image is of the Thames – Eliot lived in London which connects my image to him! The quote is from Henry VIII by Shakespeare, “Men’s evil manners live in brass; their virtues we write in water.”


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