I've Been In This Business Too Long

Lyric by Clive James, music by Pete Atkin

A couple of drinks, a smile and we parted
Old friends who happened to meet in the afternoon
With a brave try at laughter and soon
Fell to talking it over, that close to forgotten
All but blown-over affair
Way back then, over there
Making light of it all, and after all no-one
Ended up broken-hearted.
A girl I once knew when I was just getting started.
I've been in this business too long.

When I think of that time the air is clear as a bell
The sand squeaks to walk on
The sun's hot as hell
And she's one of the ones in the crook of my arm
Not to guard her from harm
But only to lazily hold her
While the salt from the water dries out on her shoulder:
Two people face down, pinned down by the miles of light
Sleepily hearing the waves coming in, cracking up,
               losing height, spreading thin, pulling out.
And I was the sea,
That prodigal ocean was me,
And to have it to waste was what it was all about.

Now it's another day
Those days are years and the width of the world away;
Where I am now, the sun is a secret
The air's full of rain
And I'm starting to wonder if maybe I'm showing the strain,
If the old steady, surefire grip isn't starting to ease
Slowing up by degrees
When I meet an old friend in the afternoon
With a brave try at laughter and soon
Realise that no matter how hard and how long I try,
               while we're talking or after
I'll never remember her name.
I'm a long way from home and things aren't remotely the same.
I've been in this business too long.
Pete Atkin Discography