“Hey Littleone, I wrote a song about you. I was up the whole night with my bed covered in paper. When I record it I’ll send it to you.”
When I was 17 I went to France with my family. One night we went out to a pub where there happened to be a band playing. It was a small venue but they had the whole crowd going. Now its no secret that I have a thing for rock stars, I was in my element. ‘Mason’ was the band- named after its lead singer Paul Mason. Paul is an Englishman who many years ago relocated to the South of France to be an artist- both a musician and a painter. His sister was out visiting at that time and her and I chatted while we sang and danced in the front row. This is the closest I’ve ever been to meeting Paul Mason. Until now.
After the holiday I went back to South Africa and curiously contacted Paul to, you know, let him know how awesome his band had been. Remember, I was 17! This was the beginning of a long back and forth of emails that developed into an online friendship between a 17 year old girl and a 38 year old man. There was never anything sexual about our ‘relationship’, it was monogamous and friendly, probably mainly to do with the age difference. And it stayed that way.
At first we emailed. Using my dad’s address in the beginning and soon I got my first online account. Paul sent me post, first their album, later a t-shirt and a key ring. We even Skyped, which was a big deal in those days! Then he wrote a song about me and called it ‘Madison’. I was taken aback, mainly because his choice of title was a girl’s name I’d always liked. I was obviously curious to hear it. What would it sound like? Would it be upbeat or slow? Would I like it?
Soon he sent me the mp3 of their newest recorded song- my song. Within the first few seconds a smile spread across my face that I couldn’t wipe off for days. I had inspired someone to write a song and now I’m listening to it. It must have been because of the circumstances that I didn’t go around telling everyone about it. I must have played it for a couple people but mainly it was my little secret. Years down the line in my third year of university I struggled to explain the story to a good friend of mine. It was met with confused reactions as to how or why it had happened. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it since.
Back to the present. I’ve been living in France for the past six months only about 100km away from him. And even though we still wish each other happy birthday, our correspondence doesn’t go much further than that. Our fascination with each other faded over time. But one thing I always wanted to do was meet Paul Mason- face to face. He has an art gallery in San Tropez that he and his long-term girlfriend run. This is where I went to find him. After everything, I was anticipating a little more nervousness from my side. What was I expecting it to be like? What was I looking for?
8 years later we stood face to face chatting about his art, his new music venture, his dog and the massive family I had forgotten he belonged to. I met his girlfriend and wondered just how much she knew about who I was and why I was there. I can’t be sure but I imagine the details had been spared and I felt less uneasy than I thought I would introducing myself to her. I couldn’t be more chuffed with my decision to find Paul Mason, he formed a big part of my late teenage years and I believe I, at some point, had a small role in his. Mission complete!