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  • Writer's pictureKate Clarke

Arrest This Moment

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

I'm reading that book about Michael Marra that I bought for you but you hadn't yet read.

'From Kate, Easter 2018' - you always wrote the date and the giver in the back of books.

Terry, you would love him a little more with every page. I do.

Someone said this week, of you, "He was a true artist."

You would blush at that, and give a small smile. You would almost believe it, and then you would take your bike out for a spin. (The one you named Johnny Cash, since it is entirely black. Matte black.)

But you would come back with half a song in your pocket. They stuck to you like burrs stick to Vera's fur when she runs through a summer field.

Michael was a true artist. You knew that. How often did you tell me that?

I think of you every time I hear him speak during those lightly-fencing kitchen interviews throughout the book.

His voice - smoky, quiet, careful, leads me to yours.

As does his stumbling across songs at family gatherings, at water's edge, in greasy spoons, and tucking them in his pocket for later.

Oh yes, and his fry-ups.

And all of those moons.

For him it was: "If the moon can be believed" and the one that lights up Ullapool. For you, also a romantic of the Ellington school, it was "The Sound of the Moon" and "under a wedding dress moon"

And muses - Frida Kahlo for him, Laura Nyro for you: "Is that a quarter moon over Manhattan or the moonlight on your cheek, or a slice of almond on your lips?....."

For Michael, crayon and felt tip pen. You would have read a lot into that, as I do.

A great artist can use the tools of kindergarten and make them shine.

For you it was the camera and your stories that carried the spark into every corner of your life.

You met Michael once, while on the road with Ronny and Wes. Was it The Tartan Heart Festival at Belladrum? I think so, because The Proclaimers were playing.

You called me, delighted to meet this quiet man with a silent movie actor's face.

"He used an ironing board to rest his keyboard upon. He sang Hamish The Goalie." "......There's Grace Kelly by Taylor Brother's Coal...."

Songs like those, and phrases like his, the chutzpah and the joy of them, made us laugh out loud. We were like those tourist types in foreign cinemas who always laugh in the wrong place. But we knew it was the right place.

"I was going to leave it" you said. "But I couldn't help it, Katie. I approached him like a fan and I told him I had all his records. He gave me a slow, sly smile and said: "I shall tell my wife when I get home that you're the guy who bought them.""

"Hey Laura, this song's for you

its on the mimosa side

a little bit butterfly

a little opera

and a little oobie-doobie-do" - Terry Clarke, Song for Laura Nyro

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