Say Goodbye To Me Gently

I wrote ‘Say Goodbye To Me Gently’ in around January 2017, strumming away on an old yellow guitar we had in the house. The song and melody was pretty much whole when it came out and I had to scrabble around for something to write it down on as it came out before it was lost. I have rarely been able to remember a song unless I quickly make notes immediately after or sometimes during the spontaneous creation of it. With some editing later it became this, although as I have difficulty memorising songs and poems verbatim, so the words are often fluid and no two versions are ever the same.

I have written before about the Journey I have undertaken to get to this place, to be able to sit in public and sing and play, albeit in this case with no audience other than the sea and some early morning dog walkers. I still stumble over the finger picking and the song only has two chords and that is all ok because when I wrote it I couldn’t fingerpick and with its flaws the song is now out there.

I will keep practicing this song and there will be new recordings of it. I am also working on a banjo version of it which is an interesting diversion. My dream would be to hear others creating their own versions of the song, the chords and a version of the lyrics are below, the melody you’ll have to pick up from the video.

Say Goodbye To Me Gently

C                                                               G

Take me down, take me down to the water
Take me down, take me down to the edge
Take me down, take me down to the water
Lay me down, lay me down at the edge

Say goodbye, say goodbye to me gently
Say goodbye, say goodbye to me at the edge
Say goodbye, say goodbye to me at the water
Let me slip, let me slip gently out to the West

Take me up, take me up to the mountain
Say goodbye, say goodbye to me at the edge
Take me up, take me up to the mountain
Let me slip, slip gently off of the edge
Take me up, take me up there to the mountain
Lay me down, just lay me down on the ledge

Say goodbye, say goodbye to me gently
Take me down, take me down, take me down to the water’s edge
Say goodbye, say goodbye to me gently
Say good bye, as we slip down from the edge.

Take me down, take me down to the water
Take me down, take me down to the edge
Say goodbye, say goodbye to me gently
Say goodbye, say goodbye to me at the edge

Cufflinks

Clearing out a drawer the other day, my Mum came across a small box containing a pair of cufflinks and shirt pins and a piece of paper inscribed ‘these were my Bruce’s studs – with love from Aileen’.

Aileen or Auntie Aileen as we knew her was my Grandfather’s sister, my Dad’s aunt. My Grandfather Cecil William Farrar Laurie and his sister Marie Aileen Lorna Laurie had been born in Barbados where the family once owned a sugar plantation.

The Bruce in the inscription was Bruce Hamilton, he and Aileen had married at the end of 1934 and it’s possible my dad, born in 1939, had been named for Bruce. He also received Farrar for his middle name, as I did later, a surname from Aileen’s branch of the family descended from Colonel Thomas Austin, another Barbados plantation owner, albeit it a much earlier one having been born there in 1728. This branch of the family included Austin Farrar who had been taught to write by Enid Blyton but was better known for inventing the ‘pulpit’, a guard rail that fits around the bow of a sailing yacht as a safety handhold and also for designing anti-torpedo nets during the Second World War. These two inventions have been credited with saving innumerable lives at sea.

Bruce and his younger brother Patrick Hamilton were both authors, Patrick being the more critically acclaimed author of ‘Hangover Square’, ‘Rope’ and with one of his plays, ‘Gaslight’, turned into the 1944 film starring Ingrid Bergman. ‘Gaslighting’ has entered the colloquial English language as the term commonly used for a form of physiological manipulation as experienced by the Bergman character in the film. Bruce’s most renowned works were the cricket based novel ‘Pro: An English Tragedy’, a poignant portrayal of the life of an English County cricketer around the time of the First World War. Patrick died in 1962 and Bruce in 1974, shortly after completing his brother’s biography ‘The Light Went Out: The Life of Patrick Hamilton’.

Aileen, an artist in her own right, was an infrequent visitor in the 1970’s to the quiet Northamptonshire village where her brother and his large extended family lived. I don’t remember much of these times as I was quite young, but I do remember she always seemed to be drawing. She would often make pencil sketches of the children and I’m sure many members of the family have these tucked away in old family photo albums.

My last memory of Aileen was from when I was perhaps 14 or 15, which would have been around 1986 when my Mum and Dad and I travelled to Brighton to visit her. Aileen died in 1987, my Dad in 2015 and now thirty years after first being given, these small mementos of both Bruce’s lives have come out into the open again.

C.W.F. Or Cecil William Farrar to give him his full name is my paternal grandfather, Aileen’s brother.