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Farewell, Dave Swarbrick


My heart didn’t stop exactly, but I had to swallow hard a couple of times last night when I read the Sunday Times from June 12 (carried around in my handbag unread for two weeks) and happened to glance at the obituaries page: Dave Swarbrick had died on June 3rd and I hadn’t known.

Where is that damned Facebook when you need it? It was Dave Swarbrick! Swarbs! Fiddler, singer and on and off frontman of legendary folk/rock band Fairport Convention. And he was my first love.

I mean, my first distant celebrity love whose photos I drooled over and whose angelic voice and violin I listened to until my ear canals were completely worn out.

Now I realise that he must have been in his mid-thirties in the months and years that I loved him as a young teenager (the crazy infatuation changed to indifference when he grew a beard) but he looked so young! So …not demonic, but slightly devious, certainly mischievous, laconic and knowing. He was the epitome of perfect manliness for me in the 70s: Short build, long hair, highly gifted musician and composer and he wore one big gold earring, a habit I immediately copied and which plunged me into hippiedom (a state from which I didn’t escape until I moved to London in 1982).

I’ve put most of the music from my younger years behind me, but Fairport Convention has remained steadfastly in my album collection and hardly a week has gone by without me listening to them.


Oh, Dave Swarbrick. Oh, my youth. When your beautiful idols die aged 75 looking like a gnome, you realise your youth is well and truly over. Farewell, farewell. A great musician and, apparently, delightful human being, has left us.

As a bonus, here is the most beautiful version of The Flowers of the Forest ever recorded with Dave Swarbrick forever young and beautiful.

Mexican Wedding


You will forgive me for my thoughts and feelings straying somewhat from Cantonese recently. It’s all about the Spanish now. Now, for example, I’m in Cuernavaca which interestingly means Horn Cow. It’s a beautiful, hilly holiday town for weary Mexico City dwellers, where people drive with their car windows open (an increasingly rare sight in Mexico City. The crime, you see) and the threat of being mugged, kidnapped or cartelled is much lower.


We’re here to witness the union of Larisa and Alfonso. My friends had assured me that a Mexican wedding was something else, and they were not wrong. After a beautiful outdoor Catholic ceremony of which I understood that the most important thing in a marriage is to be friends, at 2pm I could finally have breakfast – Corona.


That is to say, I hadn’t had time to eat before we hurried off to the wedding at 10:45, only to find that we were about two hours early for Mexico time. They were still decorating the church after half of the guests had arrived. But even half a bottle of Corona on an empty stomach couldn’t finish me off this day! It was just so very very pleasant with super happy people of all generations



lots and lots and lots of drinks of which my favourite was iced black coffee with some coffee liqueur together with hot black coffee with a white wine chaser,


great food and non-stop dancing.


Sated! Sensibly went back to the hotel before midnight! Woke up at 04:00 feeling slightly nauseous but now great and learnt the Mexican word for shitfaced: Pedo(s).

I’m so grateful to my host Hector for letting me experience all this.

齊啡 (Tsai feh – black coffee)
跳舞 (Tiu mou – dance)
婚禮 (Fan lai – wedding)
貓咗 (Mao jo – shitfaced)



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