All text copyright Stephen Coates 2006 - 2015


"Is love the lyric cry of longing, the song of our desire?
Or some crazy chemical confusion, mistook for something higher?"
I was walking in Gorky Park in the sunshine last Saturday.  It's a rather precarious and insecure world being a musician in some ways but one of the compensations is the opportunity to travel and meet extraordinary people and do funny shows and walk in Gorky Park in the sunshine.  I love that. And love was very much in the Moscow air that day.  A bright, clean cool sky over an unusually happy city with just-married couples promenading by the river to have their photograph taken on their big day.  You really would need to be a incorrigible cynic to not wish them well - whatever the future may hold.

Wandering through the silver birch trees, I came across a little bridge over a ravine.  Attached to it were lot of brightly covered padlocks.  I have been told since that this is a European tradition but I have never encountered it before.  I think the idea is you get married then you attach a lock to the bridge and throw the key over the edge as a symbol of forever.

But who knows how long forever is these days?!  Time is not what it once was - or what it was once going to be is it?.  But for the moment, as Blake said, there may be 'Eternity in an Hour' and for these hours at least, the key has been turned and the lock holds true.  Long may it do so.

I particularly like the one with the little red jumper - it is as if to say: "I will stay with you through our winters" or perhaps: "Let's keep this promise warm!".


I was mainly in Moscow to interview people about Mikail Tariverdiev the Russian composer with who I have become fascinated. I spent some time with Vera, Mikhail's widow at their apartment in the centre of town in an area reserved for academics, artists and party members during the Soviet times. It was a fascinating insight into their life together and into life as a musician during that era.  There are many, many incredible stories to tell - and we shall tell them.  But the main thing I experienced with Vera was a strong sense of the deep love she still feels for Mikail long after his passing.  The apartment preserved as it was when he died and her work on his archive is a testimony to that.  It was a privilege to witness both.

I suppose you could say that their love had a lock that once fastened could not be broken - not by time and not even by the reaper himself.

Yes my friends I bring you good news:


Baby you know I'm guilty
So lock me up and throw away the key
I don't need no bail
If you're the jail
Just give me life and grant me no reprieve
Yeah baby you knows
This case is closed
And don't suppose I'll make a plea
"Cause baby you know i'm guilty

Baby you know I'm guilty


Spilly Jane said...

My heart is particularly warmed (ha,) by the lock with the wee knitted jumper on as well - as you might well expect.

I noticed a lot of locks cropping up on Millennium Bridge when I was last there, which I was pleased to see.

I have heard, however - and I sorely hope that this is NOT true - that some municipalities are in the habit of going around to various bridges under cover of darkness and removing these locks with bolt cutters. It's slightly distressing - one hopes that a snipped lock would not mean a snipped relationship for our happy couple.

The Real Tamsin said...

There is one in Shoreditch too now!

clerkenwell kid said...

My God. They are everywhere.

And do you know these? - Albeit for a different kind of municipal love..

Spilly Jane said...

Ah yes - I keep meaning to make it to Crossbones! Maybe on this trip, then?

The Real Tamsin said...

I knew about Crossbones, I didn't know about Tower Bridge tho:

I have an inkling I saw some others in London recently, I'm guessing either Shoreditch or Greenwich but it's entirely possible I dreamt it.

Empress Cixi said...

That's interesting to see the links made between love-jail-guilty-lock me-key...
Someone has seen where are my handcuffs and whip ? lol

A lock as a security, and no one here gets out alive ! as the key is lost in the river !
I like the idea that their love had a lock that once fastened could not be broken.
But love doesn't need to be fastened; love doesn't fear anything.
If you decide to lock love, it will quickly disappear. No ?

As a symbol for love, i prefer white doves : they touch the sky, they are high and hold by the breath.
And they are free.
And alive.

Well, that was a thought.

clerkenwell kid said...

Tamsin - I am obviously behind the times here - is this a modern phenomenon? OR have I been blinded by love?

And it is true a padlock isn't the symbol I would use for love - it has the slightly odd flavour of being in a prison.

But captive, captivated? Maybe

The Real Tamsin said...

Wikipedia suggests its fairly recent in Europe - this century, and certainly I'd not heard of it until the french one at Pont de l'ArchevĂȘchĂ©.

Google seems to suggest its Chinese in origin though.

As a trend I wonder how long it will last.

clerkenwell kid said...

And a very poignant thing to have to walk past if your love proved breakable

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Ashton Macarthur said...

Being a musician is a privilege. Yes, you get to travel and meet a lot of people. Anyway, this post is a mind-opener. Attaching a lock to those bridges may be just an act of love or a promise of loving each other for eternity—but it sure does keep couples grounded. Well, keep posting those thoughts of yours.

clerkenwell kid said...

it is a privilege - and one for which I am nearly always grateful. thank you