This is a meandering post about Durham.
For those of you who don't read Wikipedia celebrity bios as often as I do, here's a brief rundown on Roger Whittaker, gleaned from the aforementioned uber-reliable source.
Roger was from Staffordshire of parents who ran a grocery store. His father had a motorcycle accident so the family moved to Kenya. Well, that makes perfect sense, I guess. His father played the violin and his grandfather sang in clubs. Or was clubbed for singing, it wasn't clear. Roger learned to play the guitar, and then (because he was so bad at the guitar?) was drafted into the Kenyan Regiment. Here I am going to take a wild American guess that Kenya must have once belonged to the U.K. Then it says he was demobilized and decided on a career in medicine. The article didn't say how he was demobilized. If I were left on my own to fill in the Wikipedian gaps, I would guess he was run over by a military motorcycle, following in his dad's footsteps, or perhaps was clubbed for playing his guitar at the wrong place or time.
At any rate, due to his demobilization (I surmise) he decided to study medicine, so he enrolled in the University of Cape Town in South Africa. For my mapless readers, that is a fur piece (hell of a long way) from Kenya. However, it is possible that it was another place the U.K. owned at that time, I suppose. My own knowledge of the history of the region is somewhat worse than murky, but I had thought the Dutch had outlasted the British there. Apparently not, as Roger was not an Afrikaans kind of guy, as far as I had ever known. Then again, he later gave concerts in German and apparently spoke it well. The folks in South Africa will tell you that Afrikaans is different than German, but it isn't. The only word I know in Africaans (that I can pull out of my mind right now) is "kak." Someone once told me that meant "thank you."
I'll admit I stopped reading before I found out whether he finished med school or not. The article was considerably longer and more detailed than I had wanted to learn about Roger's background, frankly, and I was starting to get suspicious it may have been written by his grandchildren, anyway. Right about then, I was also starting to think that "demobilized" might have meant that he was simply let out of the Army. Because that is how you people talk. To an American, demobilized means immobilized, hence the clubbing speculation. If he just got discharged from the army for -- what do you guys call it? Redundantated? Something like that? -- then I apologize for my earlier sickness or maimed assumption. But in that case I have NO idea why he decided to pursue a career in medicine if he wasn't doing research to heal himself.
I know for a fact that Roger was a professional singer all his life, so I feel certain he didn't become a medical doctor on the side. Anyway, in 1962 he was in Northern Ireland. Goodbye Cape Town, for whatever reason. I encourage you to read the entire Wikipedia article if you want to know. Speaking for myself, I don't. So just keep your wikiLearnings to yourself if you do happen to go read the article, if you would. Or you can just put your deeper learnings in a comment to this post and no harm will be done either way. I stopped reading about the time it said Roger had appeared on an Ulster television program called "This and That." I've never heard of that show, big as it might have been, and, frankly, I am still not even absolutely sure what part of NI Ulster is located in, though I have been told many times by a great friend and follower of this blog who is Irish. Dublin, not Ulster, though. But she knows. Oh, she knows. My personal theory is that Americans can only remember just so much information about the United Kingdom, especially Ireland, especially Northern Ireland, Especially Ulster, due to a set allotment of brain cells dedicated to the British experience and condition that God created in the average American brain. And, believe me, I am average.
Roger did have a couple of hits on both sides of the Atlantic. Maybe more, but I only liked a couple of them. One of them was titled Durham Town, about a kid from Durham, who left home. (So it was subtitled "The Leavin'.") I'm sure you all know the song by heart, so I won't sing it for you here. I don't remember all the words now anyway; just that the kid's father went off to war and got killed and the kid spent his TIME sittin' on the banks of the River TYNE, watchin' the ships goin' down the LINE. Then his mother died. Then he himself left "Old Durham Town". See, they all LEFT. That's where the subtitle of the song came from. I'm sure you understand that now, those of you who are still reading this.
Bottom line of this post, though, is there used to be a nice lady who followed this blog a long time ago who became a good friend, and she was from Durham. Not Durham TOWN, but the county at least. She LEFT home a few years back, like the boy in Roger Whittaker's song, like so many folks from Durham. She now lives in Oregon, a bit west of Durham, but I know she still has a piece of England in her heart. So this post is for this displaced Geordie girl, in case she happens to still read this blog from time to time, to tell her she is missed. Missed here, missed in a special town in Durham.