Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Miracle Drug

Alexander on his way to Kanchenjunga
I was asked to do a live radio interview a while back. It was a Sunday morning programme where the guest picks a few pieces of music to discuss, and the chat starts with the reasons each are important and wanders on to the memories they evoke.  I found it surprisingly hard to come up with three songs that define my life. I thought of Brick in the Wall, as a comment on my struggle at school because of my dyslexia, and it is of course by a local Cambridge band.

Bridge over Troubled Water was another classic that got me thinking of the stilling influences of the quiet people who are most important to me, but also it had me recalling some of the scary bridges we navigated in Nepal. Some were so rotten or flimsy, we were never confident we’d all get across safely.

I was also thought of using U2’s

“I want a trip inside your head
Spend the day there...
To hear the things you haven't said
And see what you might see

I wanna hear you when you call
Do you feel anything at all?
I wanna see your thoughts take shape
And walk right out....”

This seemed to say so much and was so very poignant to me, because of my experiences in trying to contact my baby. But before I settled on this choice, I thought I’d better check on the lyrics. I was surprised to discover that the song I’d heard as Miracle Child, was actually Miracle Drug. So this wasn’t an innocent song about a parent’s love and contacting a troubled child, but a description of someone tripping on illegal substances.
David trekking in A Glimpse of Eternal Snows

THEN I strayed across a YouTube clip of Bono talking about the song and its inspiration. He explained that all the band members attended the same comprehensive school and a child called Christopher Nolan joined their class. Christopher’s body and his brilliant brain was locked in by severe cerebral palsy; he could hardly move. But then he was given a drug that relaxed just a little of the tension in his muscles. This enabled him to start typing by way of a 'unicorn' stick attached to his forehead. And so he wrote The Dam-burst of Dreams – his first book – at the age of 15.
“The songs are in your eyes
I see them when you smile...”

Nolan's book is a miraculous outpouring of all the creativity that was bottled up inside his wonderful mind for his entire childhood.

So there it was: the song that had spoken to me so powerfully was indeed about a mother’s love for a difficult-to-contact child. I didn’t discover this until after the interview though. Instead of Miracle Drug, so ended up choosing something ‘safer’: a piece of Nepali folk music, and I was probably the only person to enjoy its unusual chords and unpredictable rhythms that Sunday morning.

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