Geoff Mann, Member of the Band Twelfth Night, Solo Performer and Recording Artist in Cavalier Studios
Now and again, over forty plus years, a musician would pass through Stockport’s Cavalier Studios, and leave their mark; not only by the music they made but by the raised level of their being; creating an ambiance of attraction for others hearing about them though not actually meeting in the flesh. Geoff Mann is one of these remarkable individuals. Lol Cooper, who knew Geoff Mann; working with him at his recording studio has created a video to accompany a poem called ‘A Scapeshifter.’ This poem, which looks back at the last one hundred years with clips of video footage taken from The Lol Cooper Band playing at New Mills Art Theatre cryptically critiques events going back to 1922, when the New Mills Operatic and Dramatic Society was formed, and Shakespeare players walked the stage. This brought to mind the play Twelfth Night, and the Band that went by the same name, and their connection to the songwriter, artist, and man of the Spirit Geoff Mann. On YouTube, in Germany 1991, a couple of years before Geoff Mann’s death in 1993 at the age of 36, there is a solo performance of Love Song, where the line; “take a tip from the Carpenter” is used. Along with the epigraph: ‘A Scapeshifter,’ which opens with part one, titled, Call Me Carpenter (ref 1922 book by Upton Sinclair) uses the template of T S Elliot’s ‘The Wasteland,’ first published in the Criterion in 1922. T S Elliot was a genius of organisation, so ‘A Scapeshifter’ makes use of the organisational skills and connection to this poet; taking note of the meaningless circles of repetition and chilling existence, that is disconnection from spirit. Geoff Mann, who by 1989 was ordained as a cleric at Manchester Cathedral, after training in the Church of England, understood the importance of the spirit that feeds the Soul, and that with disconnection from this, life may well become an infertile wasteland, and that there is Good reason to re-link with the divine; Via Veritas Vita. The first five lines (five a number to challenge us) of ‘A Scapeshifter’ have a connection to Geoff Mann; the iconic Carpenter in the window, the esoteric meaning of the play Twelfth Night for a world of appearances where things may not be what they seem to be, and Gerry Cruncher (Tellsons porter); the resurrection man, selling cadavers to medical science in King George the Third’s England. Two cities are used because Charles Baudelaire (French modernity poet and influence on T S Elliot) compared his city of Paris to hell, in his ‘Flowers of Evil,’ and T S Elliot did the same with the London of his day, making comparisons to Dante’s Divine Comedy. Bough or the Hind contrasts the inner metaphor of the gold in the alchemy of personal transformation, with the money metal of materialism in a purely naturalistic world, where the cricket brings no relief (Charles Dickens, The Cricket on the Hearth, and line in part 1 of the Wasteland). Cricket (the game), used as a metaphor for life, forms a theme throughout ‘A Scapeshifter,’ to contrast the green of the field with the dry arid wasteland where the Water of Life is not to be found. The third line questions the fending off of Geoffrey Chaucer’s welcome to spring by T S Elliot, describing as cruel; the desires, transitory; of spring, and maybe also prompted by the death of his close friend Jean Jules Verdenal, in the first world war, and also with lilacs; the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, cited in Walt Whitman’s death bed addition of ‘Leaves of grass;’ ‘A Scapeshifter,’ uses as a metaphor, the dogged defence of batsman Geoff Boycott, to fend off what’s being sent down, and the profit of artificial intelligence peddled by Jeff Bezoz, seeming like so much smothering of lines like Chaucer’s at the beginning of his Canterbury tales. What is perhaps needed more than those things in today’s world, and what still makes Geoff Mann relevant today, is the extant Geoff, singing The Love Song of G E Mann (play on T S Elliot’s Love Song of J Alfred Proofrock). The fourth line of ‘A Scapeshifter’ refers to the writing seen in stained glass windows, and plays on man and Mann: to transmute the inhumanity of Robert Burns ‘Man was made to Mourn’ (See also John Arlott; Tufty Mann and George Mann) into the Logos Word of the Anointed One, from Ephesians 5:14; “Awaken Though That Sleepeth, Arise From the Dead, and Christ will Give Thee Light.” The fifth line of ‘A Scapeshifter’ returns to a ‘Tale of Two Cities’ (See original name for the Wasteland for Dickens connection, Our Mutual Friend). We are a carbon based life form (carbon the only element present in all living things, yet at the same time claimed to be, by some, the culprit of a climate cataclysm). The human being seems unique, in being able to spiritually evolve and transcend their lower self, with Syndey Carton (transcending his sobriquet of the Jackal to become selfless; alchemy: ref KJV John 15:13) saying in the last line of the book “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” and “every man” a play on Charles Darney as Evremonde. The last Word of the poem, at the end of part 5 of ‘A Scapeshifter’ also refers to men like Geoff Mann; RESURGAM.
Maybe what Geoff Mann, and men and women like him stood for has never been popular; because of the hypnotic waking sleep that most of humanity seems to prefer to exist in, rather than awakening to what reality in the life of the spirit really is, perhaps it will always be a remnant that look to awaken to the courage of their conviction, when their magnetic centre prompts a yearning for something more, something Higher than oneself. In October 1922, G I Gurdjieff opened his Esoteric school just outside Paris for the harmonious development of man, and it was he who said “in life two things are infinite; the stupidity of man, and the mercy of God.” Hopefully; described here is a Mann that was not stupid, and who did awaken to join the conscious circle of humanity to Rise Again. After all; the only thing worth living for is Spiritual Joy, and connection to that which is Higher and that does allow the soul to develop through a ray of creation and the life giving sun / Son of God: The Carpenter, tip; “Forgive and Love Again.”