Writers' Ink at Caledon Public Library

It’s All In The Name

Dave came round yesterday. He’s a pool guy. Possessing a first name that starts with D yet sounds friendly has become a must-have to deliver swim-pool service at my place. As a D-named man from south of Kings Highway #9 these days might well be a foreign-sounding Diego or Dante, or even worse, a Dag, I source my D-men from north of that county line. Schomberg Don opens and closes my pool, and his brother Dave from Tottenham is electrically intimate with its thirty year old wiring. Two weeks back Don from Orangeville came over to plug a leak in the pool’s water supply. Yesterday’s Dave is also an Orangeville man who’s about to relieve me of four thousand bills for a new liner.


I should mention though that Orangeville Dave, expensive as he is, is a Jethro Tull fan. As soon as they hear my name, J.T. fans brighten up and often begin running off the names of their favourite Ian Anderson hits. Yesterday I boasted that I’d recently watched the great man, the Pied Piper of Rock and my height, accent, age and namesake, at Copps Auditorium. Dave was some impressed! I resisted adding my Ian Anderson encounter story only because I wasn’t sure if his fee meter was already ticking. I’ll tell it here instead.


Ian Anderson flutist
As a just-married I lived in a ground floor flat along the road to St Georges Hill across the Thames opposite Shepperton Studios in West London. St Georges was where the Beatles and other pop music pantheon members of those days hung up their guitars at night. Between tours, even gods like ‘Keef (Richards)’ and Engelbert could be found pint in hand tucked into the snug at our area pub. To this day I’m not sure if my namesake parked his flute up somewhere among the mansions up the hill, but his road manager definitely kept his guitar in the small riverside flat next door to ours. That this roadie thought of his bass guitar as his passport to a better job became painfully clear all too often when, just back after a local gig, he worked at the frets long into the small hours. Early one Sunday morning at what seemed only a few minutes after our wannabe-guitarist had finally gone to bed, a white Roller pulled up on the street outside our bedroom window and sounded its horn. Ian stepped out clothed in his trademark tights and codpiece, and disappeared next door. Liking Tull’s work a lot, I contemplated slipping around to ask for a “To Ian, from Ian” autograph on the cover of ‘Songs From The Wood’, my favourite Anderson album. What held me back was worries that I might interrupt a promotion offer good enough to have that bass guitar disappear out of my life.


No luck on that one and not long afterwards I left England for a quieter life in Canada. However for my first twenty years here it seemed that every time Ian Anderson came across to Toronto on a tour (and that was quite frequently), some young fellow at a store checkout, once he’d spotted my card name and taken stock of my accent, would ask for my autograph. But, hey, what’s in a name and why not make some kid’s day, so I soon put my scruples aside and began to oblige. I sometimes wonder what price my John Henry might have fetched in TO if I had managed things better.

by Ian Anderson

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