Lay a Place at the Table
Sometimes songs arrive unexpectedly. I had only just released the double album “In The Studio” . I had a group of songs I was working through as I tend to write songs or outline stories regularly and they become the 'best' songs of the moment.
That doesn't mean all those that have been recorded are any less. It does however mean as you are always in the moment some that are recorded rarely get performed live. The reason the album happened was due to an experience and a relationship that got me thinking about the journey we make through life. We are creatures of narratives and being together. Some of these 'meetings' leave marks as we journey. They could be from long term relationships or in the case of 'Walter' brief but even so the mark left is as strong. Walter was a Polish immigrant. I didn't know him until late in his life when he had dementia. I used to sit with him while he spat out snapshots of his life, a life which seemed incredible. He would often speak in other tongues, Italian, Spanish among others.
Walter passed away and I went to his service. While his daughter read the eulogy everything fell into place. Born in Poland he worked the land with his Dad when not at school, They were poor but got by. It all changed when the Russians took them to Siberia and set then to work long hard hours in the freezing cold. Late they were moved South. At 16 he joined the Polish Army and was on the 'bonk next to Monte casino in Italy when many of his countrymen lost their lives . Walter didn't return to Poland for 11 years. He came to West Brom, married an Irish girl and worked in industry.
Mary's story began to spark a fire in me . As she carried on I began to write on the service note paper. Stories flooded. Retired at 65 back in work months later and at 70 could do the work of two men. Christmas he would help his wife get everything ready then go to the 'club' instructing her to keep a place free. Every year he brought a man home that would be alone. Lay a Place at The Table was written by the time we left the church and became the title of the CD. I book-ended it with an old song I wrote for my late wife which speaks of a journey not ending but beginning.
Walter was truly exceptional.