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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Saturday, June 28, 2008
    Those who wish to be
    "The glittering prizes and endless compromises / shatter the illusion of integrity," says Tommy Saxondale, quoting Rush's Spirit of Radio, a 1979 classic for metallists with philosophical pretensions. In 1979 I would quote this lyric all the time. When I saw this scene again tonight on a DVD of Steve Coogan's excellent series, I shuddered to think that there's quite a lot of Saxondale in me.

    In 1981 I created a poster quoting Rush's Limelight, a critique of the music business which, I felt at the time, might also be transferred to other walks of life:
    Living in the limelight
    The universal dream
    For those who wish to seem.
    Those who wish to be
    Must put aside the alienation,
    Get on with the fascination,
    The real relation,
    The underlying theme

    For a couple of years afterwards people noticing this on my wall would screw up their eyes and, if brave or daft enough, ask me what that was all about. Well, obviously, it describes the opposition between those who wish to seem - happy with living life on the surface - and those who wish to be - who really want to live... y'know... by getting on with the fascination of exploring life in depth ... I'd go on, just like Coogan's Saxondale does so wonderfully naively and unblushingly all the way through the series. I really don't think my philosophy in life has changed much at all since then, just as Tommy's hadn't since his days roadying for 'The Tull'...

    The great thing about Saxondale is that he's the classic self-taught working man, a rodent catcher who quotes Aristotle, a pest controller driven to despair by too much thinking. Relentlessly opinionated and occasionally savingly self-aware, Saxondale is an autodidact who famously affirms, "I don't dance to Dido, dude," then admits straightaway that he's overdone the alliteration. And that you can't actually dance to Dido anyway. Saxondale: I like him a lot, and now I'm facing the realisation that in some ways I'm like him a lot.