Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Looking For Diana Decker

With the Rock gone, what is there left to live for? Quite a lot, I would have thought, but perhaps my subconscious knows more because I think I am dying. It's not that I feel unwell, it's just that bits of my past life keep flashing in front of me in a manner similar to what happens if you are about to be shot or run down by a car (or, at least, such things happen in a large number of the books I read). Last night I had a vivid dream about the bus journey from Keele University to Hanley. As I looked out of the murky bus windows I saw buildings, streets and factories I hadn't seen for thirty years. I could even small the oatcakes browning on the grill of an Oatcake Shop down a little narrow street. The dream was spookily real, and if it hadn't have been for the woman with a goat's head travelling up the road at 80 mph in a children's pram I would have difficulty telling the difference between dream-time and real-time.

But the dream was only a minor element of my current mental queasiness. A much more prominent indicator that all is not well in the head of AB is the fact that I keep hearing Diana Decker. As I walk into rooms, I hear her. As I walk through the woods, I hear her. As I climb into bed at night, I hear her. Sometimes she is talking, sometimes she is laughing : normally she is singing "If I Had A Golden Umbrella". We had this record when I was a child. An old 78 rpm with, I think, "Poppa Piccolino" on the other side. She does not sing "Poppa" much in my company, limiting herself to endless choruses of "Golden Umbrella". The words provide a strange insight into my mental state : I need a golden umbrella (with the sunshine on the inside and the rainfall on the outside).

Needing to reacquaint myself with the record I find a copy of it on YouTube. It is a weird little film which simply shows the record turning round and round on an old record player. It is almost hypnotic. Listening carefully to the record again after all these years I realise that the extracts Diana sings to me come from different stages in the overall performance. As the days have gone by the phrases she sings seem to come from nearer and nearer the end of the record. She is telling me something, but what? I need to find her and ask her. The problem is I can't find her. If you Google her you get many hits all promising to tell you about her career as a singer and an actress: but there are few facts available. Bizarrely, she did star in Lolita in 1962 but there is little information after that. It appears that she was born in 1926 so - if she is still alive - she will be 82 now. But where is she? If she is out there and reading this, please get in touch. I need some answers.

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