Farnborough Sands

Random Songs

Whilst out for a run, some years back, two random songs popped up on my Playlist – playing consecutively and forcing me to consider the random shuffle and to join the dots, during my 5k.

The songs were: The Jam with 'A Town Called Malice' (written about Woking in Surrey) followed immediately by 'Godspeed', the version by the Dixie Chicks.

Paul Weller of The Jam – is a bit of a hero of mine. Rewind to 1995 – with my A Levels done and on a year out, I took a job at W.H Smiths in Woking. Every day spent in the stock room from early morning – picking the stock, doing the newspapers and generally trying to be a useful pair of hands away from the shop floor. It was a good year, and coincided with the release of the iconic ‘Stanley Road’, the solo album by Paul Weller – (the 46th greatest album of all time according to Q Magazine). Stanley Road itself was a connecting artery in the centre of Woking, running up to the railway and Maybury Road from the town centre. The road name sign, which was covered in fan graffiti and Paul Weller stickers, could be found at the junction of a pretty non-descript mini roundabout and located amongst some corporate offices and car parks.

So, I spent 1995 a couple of streets away from Stanley Road and singing along to ‘Broken Stones’ and ‘You do Something to Me’ like everyone else. From this time onward, I developed an affection for Woking; my then girlfriend (now wife) Stephanie knew the town well as her father owned Trumps Dry Cleaners in the town centre, (that premises is now a Wetherspoons). Many of her family lived and worked in Woking – so it was a friendly place for me, as a 19 year on his year out. I made friends and relationships in that year that survive to this day.

If we fast forward a little, we navigate University, buying our first house, find jobs – and find ourselves married, living in Camberley – visiting Woking less often now but still loving all things Paul Weller and his now rarer appearances on TV and in the charts.

We start a family and our beautiful daughter Lois is born, she is a lovely baby. Parenthood is great. Making a family seems easy and straightforward, we fall pregnant again, 20 week scan – wow, a little boy…..wait…..what’s that? BOOM – our lives are shattered as our little unborn boy, George, is diagnosed to be “incompatible with life”. His little broken heart means he is too ill to be born. Heartbroken but lucid – we want to be merciful to him and he dies peacefully, before Steph delivers him at Frimley Park.

George changed us, he inspired us and we cherished him. We appreciated the wonderful people we met through Sands and the worthy causes they represented. We gratefully take the support, we receive the hugs and the care.

I’d first heard my second random song, “Godspeed” sung at the first Sands Memorial Service we attended, during Christmas 2011. It was sung beautifully by another bereaved parent; a mother who had performed on the West End stage in various musicals. This beautiful song inspired my tattoo in memory of our son George, which reads “Godspeed little man”.

Along our bereavement journey, as we strengthened, we identified a purpose – fundraising. In February 2012, we held a Valentines Black Tie Ball – in aid of The British Heart Foundation, to raise money in George’s memory. We held the event just outside of Woking at the Bisley Pavilion. Unbeknownst to us, one of the silver service waiting staff for the dinner is Paul Weller’s mum. She was dressed in a white blouse, black skirt, a clone by appearance, the waiting staff all dressed identically - anonymous to the guests – but a smart and proud grey haired lady in her seventies.

But! She is the person who Paul Weller calls ‘Mum’ – who bore a giant of music, who nurtured a unique offspring who is became the Godfather – the Modfather of British Music.

On the night, someone told me who she was. I was thrilled but shy to say Hello – but of course she made it easy. She made a discrete but generous donation to our event, noting our loss and encouraging our efforts.

It IS a small world, it is also a kind, strange, and circular world.

Woking maybe The Town called Malice, but our brushes with the town through the highs and lows of life were anything but malicious.

The way life intertwines experience, music, emotion and coincidences is brought home by two apparently random songs, but which will forever echo from that period of our lives which changed us forever.