Friday, 5 June 1998

to a poet


i grew up with your songs
i sang them too (and played)
your Donna made me cry
and still, at times
the wind you sought to catch
is the very same that blows
through the corridors of my life

and then i met you - hale and hearty still
and though i tried
to say how much you meant
i could not find the way
my commitments took me
and you are gone

a moment treasured
and another moment lost
be well my friend
be well and sing your poems
for such as you
come only time to time

I was working in Rome - i'd been flown there from Melbourne after having only had one day to recover from having returned from France. I was pretty tired. The company i was working for had put me up at a hotel near to where i had to work for the whole weekend. It was pretty nice. It was there that i first experienced one of the most divine dishes i have every had - "three cheeses" pasta. Words can not do justice to that meal. I remember taking some from the buffet expecting it would be like some pasta i had had in Australia - just so so. But when i got back to my table and forked a little into my mouth my whole life changed. It was just so totally overwhelming. Delicious does not describe it. It was literally life changing.

The next evening i went back for more - that was i think the Friday. The hotel restaurant was almost empty. I sat alone with a book and took a sip of my wine while i looked around. There was another man, bearded, sitting alone at a nearby table - i lifted my glass in greeting to him and he beckoned me over to join him.

We sat and ate and drank wine and talked for hours about life after having introduced each other by first name. He was really quite delightful - very interested in everything i was doing and what i had done. The talk drifted to how i had played music for years before i had started my IT business. He asked me a lot about music and it was not long before i was telling him about those musicians who had most influenced me. At one stage i even sang him one of my favorite songs "Donna" by Donovan.

He smiled at that and said that i had sung the song really well. There was something about that smile. Donovan. That was the name he had given me when we introduced ourselves.

THAT Donovan!

I was embarrassed to have not recognized him but he was so much older than the very young man i had only known from  record covers. He laughed it off.

He asked me if i could still play the mandolin. I told him yes indeed, it's been one of my greatest loves. Then he asked me if i would like to come and join him on stage for his concert the next night. He would provide me with a mandolin.

Me? On stage with Donovan? Are you kidding? Yes oh yes yes please.

Oh what a total fool am i. You know, the following day i had to work on a sale that required a lot of technical input at Italy's biggest telecommunications company - and they had supplied me with a whole team of technical people to work with. All through the time i was there i knew but would not admit to myself that the sale would go nowhere - that these conniving Italians were just bleeding me of all i knew of the technology so they could build their own version of what i had done. I knew it yet i kept at it even when on Saturday the work dragged on and on and as the deadline for me to leave to go to the concert drew near and passed i became more and more depressed.

I never got to go and play the mandolin for Donovan. I never even got to see him again because the next day i had to fly out again to go to France.

So sorry Donovan - if you ever read this i hope you know that i have regretted missing that opportunity ever since.

But thanks so much for what you did give me because that was a great night and not because you are "Donovan" but because it was the only time in all my travels that i enjoyed dining with someone so gracious and friendly.


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