Our Yesterday Lives

As you all know, we just finished our week-long winter fundraiser. For new readers who are unfamiliar with the closing routine: this is the “wrap-up” post, the main point of which is to give an overall list of the places that donations came in from. A few stragglers are likely to trickle in over the next few days, so the list may not be absolutely comprehensive.

This past week was notable for an astounding number of modest donations from a wide variety of places, which probably makes the list below the most diverse of any we have seen so far since we first started quarterly fundraising:

Stateside: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming

Near Abroad: Canada and the Dominican Republic

Far Abroad: Australia, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, India, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, and the UK

I’m not certain, but there may even be a place or two in that list we’ve never seen before.

A big thank-you goes out to everyone who decided to hit the tip cup. Individual thank-you notes are now trickling out, but it will take a while, because so many have to be written — a pleasant task, under the circumstances.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Dymphna and I riffed on the lyrics of an Al Stewart song for the seven topics of last week’s fundraising posts. To wrap up the occasion I’m going to feature a different song by the same artist. Unlike “A Man For All Seasons”, it doesn’t have a historical theme. Despite Mr. Stewart’s disclaimers in the interview that Dymphna posted last week, he does write an occasional love song.

Al Stewart is an exceptional lyricist, and “Elvaston Place” stands out for the concision of its lyrics. As a sometime poet, a concise lyric is something I admire in a song or a poem — conveying a story and its accompanying feelings using the fewest possible words.

I wasn’t aware the song existed until the 1975 album Modern Times was re-released about fifteen years ago, with “Elvaston Place” included as a bonus track. I don’t have a precise date for it, but the copyright is 1970. Based on the sound of the instrumental accompaniment, however, it was recorded in the sessions with Fairport Convention during the “Love Chronicles” period, so it may in fact be 1969.

The music is excellent, too, but I’ll just concentrate on the amazingly compact lyrics. I haven’t hunted down a YouTube for it, but I assume there’s one out there somewhere, for those who want to look for it:

Elvaston Place
by Al Stewart

Elvaston Place
A run-down basement in South Ken
Hiding your face
Behind the railings in the rain
Stony steps to a small grey herd
Of dustbins blinking in the sunlight
Our yesterday lives
Crouched by the fireside
In Elvaston Place

Holes in the lace-
Curtains, splintery window frames
A small furnished space
We never knew the landlord’s name
Electric bar to warm your winter toes
Evening paper for the bath mat
Watching the face
Happy beside me
In Elvaston Place

The city’s spreading like a stony tide across the countryside
I live alone now in London town
Cars and buses everywhere, they hide the sun and eat the air
You need a friend when it gets you down
All the money that I’ve ever owned
I’d give it all tomorrow
If I could lay happy beside you
In Elvaston Place

Elvaston Place
I stopped to look at you today
New whitewashed face
Behind the railings in the rain
You once held a love of mine
She changed just like the weather
The Kensington skies go on for ever
In Elvaston Place

That’s it for the chilly fundraising winter! See you in the spring.

17 thoughts on “Our Yesterday Lives

  1. I love that song.

    “Elvaston Place” was the B-side to the single version of “The News From Spain,” a song which wound up on the “Orange” album.

    The single version of “News…” was much different from the version that later wound up on “Orange.” It doesn’t have the Rick Wakeman piano work, but an electric guitar instead. It was subsequently remade for the album.

    The original single version of “News…” and it’s B-side “Elvaston” are now on the new reissue of “Orange” that just came out a couple months ago.

      • Cherry Red Records is doing some amazing stuff with reissues!


        Their artist list is eye-popping (to an old duffer like me). Al Stewart, Anthony Phillips (if you like Al Stewart, check him out; his “Geese & The Ghost” album is BEAUTIFUL!), Greg Lake, Jon Anderson, Jon & Vangelis. Lots of wonderful old gems to be found!

  2. I spent some time in “South Ken” several years ago, and liked it very much.

    It’s also immortalized in the excellent Donovan song “Sunny South Kensington.”

  3. To tell the truth, folks….

    In my soul (spirit, aura, whatever) nothing will ever beat the Big Band sound, Viennese Waltzes or a good polka. Thems my speed. …But I like you anyway.

    (And, that’s not a claim that all such are absolutely fantastic.)

    • PS: I should probably clarify that Big Band as Swing, the Viennese Waltzes as concert, and the polka as accordion.

    • I love the big band sound! Harry James and all the wonderful guest singers he’d have! Old Doris Day stuff!

      I really like that sound.

  4. Elvaston Place happens to be right next to the university where I studied… I also know a very successful biotechnologist who lives there – who had companies fighting over her, and paying her tickets on Concorde to fly to conferences in the US. But these days, I suspect not even such top talent scientists could afford to buy a flat there – rather, one would need to probably be a billionaire. Preferably either a Saudi sheikh, or a Russian oligarch…

  5. Baron, when I clicked on “email us” I got this: Could not perform this operation because the default mail client is not properly installed.

    Not really understanding it — is it my mail or your mail client?

    anyway, I just wondered if you had received my donation since I don’t see my state listed above. . . I’ll know eventually I suppose.

    Keep up the good work and give my regards to Dymphna.

    • I think the problem is with your email client. Clicking on the “email us” link here launches mine, which is Thunderbird.

      This page may be of use, particularly the link on re-installing your email client.

    • Mariadee,

      Yes, Col. Bunny is quite right — you need a mail client installed and configured on your computer before you click that link. However, if you use webmail only, you can right-click the link, choose “copy shortcut” or a similar choice listed by your browser, and paste it into the “recipient” box on a webmail composition window. You might have to remove “mailto:” from the front of the paste when you do it, though.

      As for your donation — you send by snail mail, and I haven’t been down to the post office yet this week. That’s why your state got left out! Sorry about that — I should have thought to add it in advance.

  6. Well, here’s one more from Arizona. Wish it could be more but auto and health expenses have intruded these past few months, and I am in precarious economic straits due to an extended period of “funemployment”.

  7. Dear Baron.
    I have come across a website called Deagle.com. It has some really incredible information. Apparently, some guy called Frank Deagle is the owner of this site, but that could well be a fake. One might suspect it is a hoax, but I suspect it is a front. After all, the best way to hide something is to hide it in plain sight. The website states that USA in 2025 will have a population of 65 million. That means that in just nine years the population of USA will be reduced by about 250 million people! Significant is also that countries like Brazil, Iran, China, and all the other enemies of The West have no reduction in population or GDP, while all western countries seem to collapse in terms of demography and GDP. Could you please investigate this?

Comments are closed.