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  1. Half A Mile

From the album Traces

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This is by far the most difficult song I’ve ever written and I’ve wrestled with whether it’s an appropriate subject matter for a song at all. In memory of Susan Maxwell, from Cornhill on Tweed in Northumberland, whose story haunted me as a child (we were born a month apart) and chills me still as a mother. Susan’s life was stolen from her on her first solo trip home from the tennis club across the River Tweed in Coldstream. Dexy’s Midnight Runners were about to reach number 1 with Come on Eileen. In the back of my head whilst writing, I could hear the old Northumbrian Lullaby Felton Lonnen, a song that captures the visceral fear and panic of losing a child. With utmost respect to the Maxwell family.

Lyrics

HALF A MILE

Half a mile to go
All dressed in yellow
Swinging your racquet like Navratilova
Over the five-arch bridge
Along the verge of the main road
Half a mile to go

You were high on being alone
You were high on being old enough to walk home
For the first time
(Half a mile to go)
For the first time
(Half a mile to go
For the first time)
(Half a mile to go

Did you make it past the oak and the boortree
To where the wheat stalks the copse on the hill?
Did you spy big barn where the road bends round?
And were the finches charming you?
And were you singing?
Were you singing “Poor Old Johnny Ray”?

You were high …

How we raked through the hedges and ditches
The blistering hogweed and the ragged bulrushes
How we raked through the hedges and ditches
The blistering hogweed and the ragged bulrushes
How we raked through the hedges and ditches
But it was no good

You were high …

And the trucks still roll by
(Tweed runs to the ocean)