crawling out from under my rock i suddenly realize it’s world aids day…

this is a song i wrote about aids 24 years ago,that got released on an album i did a long long time ago.

it came about when i’d just started dating my present day partner.
i’d come over once a month from ireland to london,or he’d come to me…

this went on for ten years,before we finally settled down together in the one country[england]

in the very first months of our courtship,my partner had a close friend who was an economist at bournemouth university..
it became clear within hours of meeting the man that he was very very unwell ,and a crisis was afoot..
each time i’d visit from ireland,he’d just be thinner and thinner…
and then christmas 1988, while we were looking after him at my then partners home, we had to call the ambulance…
he’d become far too dehydrated…
the ambulance people arrived wearing spacesuits…
i kid you not..

ignorance and lack of information meant even the good ambulance folk thought they could get infected by being in the same room as a person with aids…

within those final months of his life,we’d be visiting him in saint marys hospital in london…
it was very shocking to a dizzy self absorbed 28 year old songwriter like me…
these were early days,and the doctors/patients were clutching at straws…

and the atmosphere in the wards was one of great warmth and support mixed with gay folk[some closeted] looking around to see who they knew,who was coming through.

our friend was so thin that he was laid out on a special air bed..

the bones were nearly pushing through the skin, and he was in unspeakable pain.[brain infections]

i remember the sheer guilty pleasure of leaving those hospital wards…bounding down stairs at top speed,feeling so grateful for my mobility.
there were folk in that ward younger than me,more intelligent than me,with way more potential than me,suddenly cut down to invalids.

they’d have plastic tubes sticking out of their chests and noses..mostly none of them survived.

i went back to ireland after one of these weekends to my little farmhouse recording studio and wrote this song in five minutes..
the vocal you hear, is as i was writing it..tears were streaming down my face as i nailed it to tape..and i don’t think i ever wrote a song so fast ever again.

it’s a eight track demo that was then cleaned up of all the inherent tape hiss in a bigger studio later on.

in time i began to hate this song..
in 1995 i was sent around america with just an acoustic guitar where i’d perform this song night after night in front of mostly gay people.
it drained me..and people always wanted to hear this blasted song…

by the end of that period i never wanted to ever hear the song ever again.

y’know one of the sad things about aids is i’ve never been able to fully relax during sex…
for nearly all of my adult life i’ve been scared of blood and semen…i’m sorry if that sounds crude,but i’m just talking straight to you.
it must have been great for folk in the times before aids when they could just ‘let go’…and ‘fly’
but of course,there were other problems..bigotry..the law..prison..
and lets not our parents times,you could have been hung by the neck in an english prison for what they charmingly called *being a sodomite*
isn’t that beautiful?…just lovely!!!!

ye gods..i almost want to laugh…a sense of the absurd is what gets me through this life…it really does.

happy fucking aids day pop pickers

mary of the wilderness

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8 Responses to WORLD AIDS DAY

  1. Karen Manni says:

    How are you doing, you insanely beautiful boy you. I love this song..appropriately gentle . The photo above makes you look very well content and with health. I hope it is so. God bless and take care.


  2. martin says:

    way back in 1983/4 i attended a public talk about aids in wolverton in miltonkeynes by the terence higgins trust it was very well publicised in the local press but sadly only 14 people felt it was an important enought issue to actually attend there was 8 gay men and the others were from help groups like the samaratins citizens advice ect and the local vicar every single gay man that attended that meeting is still here with us sadly every other person i knew from that time is no longer here. This was a time when i was still comming out and it was as much a discovering of my spirituality as anything else i lost 11 freinds in the space of one hell of a crazy year i can only say it is a mixture of the miraculose and common sense that i am here today for which i give thanx to the tht and all that they do


  3. i agree entirely martin…there’s a lot of people we have to be thankful for,and the good work they’ve done…much love to you.


  4. Dawn Redmond says:

    Another amazing piece from you… I know you wrote it a while back, but I’ve been scrolling through your posts…and this touches a core because my Dad has AIDS, he was diagnosed in 2003 when he came down with PCP pneumonia, he had tried to hide his gay lifestyle for years (he was that generation when it was a ‘crime’ and I knew years ago that the only reason he married my Mother and had a child (me) was to make him appear…here comes that word…”normal”…yeah, what’s that?!!) and even in his sick bed when he came off life support, he couldn’t believe I’d figured it out years before (‘your daughter’s spent her life around the music business, and she’s University educated, how can you think she doesn’t have a brain and couldn’t figure it out’ is apparently what they said to him), actually it had been so obvious to me since I was very young…and the sad part is, even to this very day, he still can’t talk about it to me, speaks just of his ‘special blood condition’ but I guess the generation gap and the years of hiding his secret is what keeps that habit of hiding his truth, which makes me sad. He’s dying very slowly now, he’s nearly 78 which is amazing given they gave him 5 years when he was diagnosed, and if it weren’t for the incredible developments in HIV medication he would not still be here, but his kidneys and liver are shutting down, he has congestive heart failure, spinal stenosis (nerves in his back are dying) and lives with constant and daily pain, its still a slow, unspeakable ending because no-one should have to suffer like this. He wants to go now and I don’t blame him, but the sad thing is it will still end with the fact that he never talked, could never bring himself to have an honest conversation with me, has always kept me at arms length…I’m still learning to deal with that. I just wish he would listen and understand that to me it’s never mattered and never will…because why should it?!! I hope you don’t mind me confiding this in you, I just have the feeling you’ll understand.


    • that’s heartbreaking dawn…what a story..and to think there must be so many families where that’s the case…that is the saddest thing..and of course i don’t mind you telling’s good to know what goes on.


      • Dawn Redmond says:

        Thanks, appreciate that, think your words/therapy writing must have had a very strong impact on me, because I’ve never told that to anyone before…know I knew you years back but to feel I could tell you that seems quite amazing, very grateful for your sympathy and understanding x


      • i just think it’s great that your share that story,dawn…it’s reality…and it hasn’t gone away,even though some folk think it has,or like it never


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