I saw a dying rat today. It was hunched over its hole, weeping; out there in the street, in the daylight, where everybody could see it. It made me feel so sad. It was shivering and convulsing, forcing out its final breaths; staring down the hole, into the safety that it would never reach. All around people were shocked, shouting “Rata! Rata!” in astonishment at its presence, disgusted and revolted at it being there. I knew it was only a matter of time until someone stamped on it, or hit it with something hard.
I used to have a pet rat (pictured above). He lived with me in a van, under my bed. He was a lovely fellow; so amiable, so friendly, such a good pal. He was always pleased to see me, and was so happy to have a play. Sometimes it would get scary in the van, it being just the two of us; parked up in some unfamiliar town at night, with drunkards shouting just a metre or two away. I would reach out my hand from under the covers, down to where he was, and he’d grab my finger with his little rat hand, and together we would wait it out.
He was such a lovely fellow. I’m shocked at the reputation rats have. People think such bad things of them, you hear such nasty tales. But if only you get to know one, then you’ll find out just how charming they can be. But I guess it’s circumstantial. I guess they’re just misunderstood.
It’s the same with crows. They’ve got this reputation of being harbingers of doom. A ‘murder’ of crows. Their “Caw, caw” being the symbol of something sinister in films and TV. But it isn’t true. Not from what I’ve seen. To me they are symbols of freedom and wisdom. They sit up high in their nests conversing, looking out over the horizon, swooping gracefully over open fields, picking effortlessly at food on the roadside. They’ve never done me no harm. In-fact, whenever I hear their call I feel a great amount of comfort, as I know I’m somewhere close to some old tree, some green open space, or some overgrown riverbank. They’ve got good taste. But a lot of folk won’t agree with that. They make a lot of people feel uneasy. They’re misunderstood.
And it’s also the same in music. Some artists don’t get accepted easily either; they too are misunderstood. Which is ironic really, because it’s music that seems to understand those misunderstood parts of us. They perhaps don’t get specifically labelled as ‘dirty’ or ‘evil’, but rather ‘naff’ which in art terms is much worse. It’s fine not to like something, so long as you first give it a chance. But often artists are struck down immediately. Perhaps they can’t sing too well, or some of the lyrics are a little too bare, a little straight-to-the-point; perhaps the music is a little too unpolished, a little haggard; perhaps they can’t play their instrument too well, or perhaps the sound is just not compatible with what’s current; perhaps it’s a little too different. But, thankfully, if the magic is there, and if the artist persists, it will eventually be appreciated. It just takes a little time. And thank god there’s some people who can see past those minor faults to the talent which lays behind them, else we might not have had all the great artists who have inspired us over the years. I shudder to think of all the great creators that were put off too soon.
And for the crows and the rats, their time will come. One day their beauty and majesty will too become mainstream, it is inevitable…
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