Monday, 5 June 2017

Words and Music

There was a session devoted to my brother at the Sydney Writers' Festival the other day. The organisers asked if I'd be part of it; I couldn't but I sent this along:

"A few details you might like, to round the picture people have of Marko:

1. he noticed clothes (there are a couple of outfits I'm particularly fond of because he admired them - "I do like that jacket, sis"; "Oh that dress is lovely" - quite unusual in a man) but he also had some sweetly old-fashioned ideas about them. A senior ABC person gave an address to staff the other day & Marko told me he was very shocked she was only wearing a cardigan: "She should have worn a good suit"; he was staying with us in Vienna and on the day he was leaving he came downstairs in a smart jacket and tie. When my husband asked him what had made him dress so smartly, he explained that he would be crossing a border and he thought you should always dress smartly when crossing borders. He is probably right, but it seemed somehow endearing.

The other thing to note is that he was interested in all things cultural, not just so-called "high culture". While he might not go so far as my daughter's friend who, at the end of an English literature degree at Cambridge, said "Well that was all very interesting but I still haven't read anything I've enjoyed as much as the Harry Potter series", he did like Harry Potter and much else besides. An illustration of this was a rather ludicrous scene not long before he died where he insisted I look up the Wikipedia synopsis of the final episode of the current series of a BBC thriller series called Line of Duty and read it to him, as he wouldn't have time to watch the episode now. As nurses and doctors milled around checking drip lines and blood pressure and asking him to scale his pain etc, I read this complicated thing out to him, with my mother beside me, the pair of us interrupting the flow with questions - "What, so Roz is a baddy?", "Oh yes, a real baddy"; "So she tampered with the jumper?", "Yes, she smeared DNA on it".

Another illustration came from a young cousin writing to say how sorry he was to hear of Marko's death - "I remember very clearly Marko coming to the Old Rectory when I was 14 or 15 and being surprised how much interest he had in us and in the music we were into; he had an eclectic taste, which we shared and 20 years later I still have some of his music on my hard drive."

I have so many stories I could tell you. He was so loveable

Interestingly, I've just been talking to the mother of that young cousin and she tells me that he had given the bowdlerised version of his experience of Marko, who actually had a more profound influence on him than he had described. While talking to our young cousin about a piece of music they both enjoyed listening to, my brother said, "Those lyrics - have you listened closely to them? They are so brilliant", and with that small comment Mark made his younger relative realise that he had always been too stoned to even notice that there were any lyrics. Since that day, that whole extra dimension of the songs he listens to has been opened up for him.

A win for my bro and his love of language. He would have been very pleased to hear that extra bit of the story.


  1. I'm so sorry to learn about the death of your brother. Please forgive my late response, but I haven't visited the blogosphere for quite a while.

    Your eulogy was beautiful and I was also deeply touched by his need to know the conclusion to 'Line of Duty', which says something about his zest for life and unflagging interest in the world.

    The only words of comfort I can think of sound platitudinous, so let me just say that I'm sending you my heartfelt condolences from this small corner of Sussex.

    1. Thank you so much. If you would like to really cheer me up, keep on blogging - your posts give me such pleasure; you have a tremendous gift.

    2. Thank you for your kind words. I have resumed blogging after a brief break.

    3. Hurray, feel better already

  2. you should always dress smartly when crossing borders

    Ah! A man after my own heart.

    These posts about your brother have been lovely.

    1. Thank you very much. I wish I had not had the occasion to write them.