The Weather Clock: To My Loveedna

The poem that forms the centrepiece of this track was written by my Grandmother, Edna Taylor (b.1913 - d.1998). Edna grew up in Coventry and unfortunately lost both of her parents at a very early age. Edna then moved to Birmingham to live with relatives where she married her husband Harry. During Word War Two, Edna was assigned to the Auxiliary Territorial Service and billeted at Sinfin Barracks in Derbyshire. Harry joined the REME and was involved in DDay+1 as part of the British 30th Corps on Gold Beach and then beyond.

After the war, Edna lived in a prefab with Harry and their daughter in a suburb of Birmingham, where she had a piano upon which she would play classical and contemporary pieces of the day. Edna eventually moved from her prefab to a flat in the early 1970s, where she happily lived out her days amidst the surroundings of post-war architecture.

Unfortunately Edna was not able to take her piano to her flat and it had to be sold. Despite this, Edna recorded many of her poems, children’s stories and organ recitals which she had written throughout her life to a cassette recorder during the early 1980s.

So it came that I would eventually be working with an unfinished track from the Dreaming of Spires era against a short spoken extract of her poem To My Love.  The poem seems to be about unrequited love, may be from a personal experience around the WWII period, although we will never know. Fortunately it fell into place against the music following hours of editing.

The inspiration of July Skies has a lot to thank Edna for. Her living room contained an old 1950s bakelite record/radiogram which I would listen to when visiting in the 1980s; displaying exciting long lost radio stations such as BBC Light and Luxembourg. Her record collection, spanning many decades, also delighted (especially the 7” records from the 1950s and 1960s). I particularly remember the sounds of a galloping horse and whistling wind that sweep across the introduction to that great lost pop song Johnny Remember Me by John Leyton (produced by Joe Meek) and the lovely Wonderful Land 7” by The Shadows.

There was a definite sense of post war Britain in the flat, from the formica table tops and other 1960’s decoration, right through to beautiful patterned wallpaper from the period.

The one thing that mesmerised me the most during visits was a sea-green and cream circular Bakelite foundationake  container with a logo embossed on the lid. This piece of design and graphic design fascinated me from an early age. The logo seemed striking and enigmatic but I did not understand what it represented.

Despite this fascination, I would not make the connection to what the logo was from until coincidently noticing it again some fifteen years later, whilst becoming interested in the social history and design of the 1951 Festival of Britain. The logo was designed by Abram Games and hence the inspiration for the track Festival of Britain on The Weather Clock ep.

Whilst Edna is sadly no longer alive and dearly missed, I hope she would have been pleased with the humble approach of bringing her poem to a wider audience.

“One chance to prove to you my love is true”

Below: Extract from Edna’s diary (October 1988)

Harry