William Pryor talk in Granchester, Cambridge
Written by Symon Vegro   
Monday, 27 August 2012

William Pryor talk in CambridgeWhen I read on the Brain Damage site that a former friend of Syd Barrett was planning to give a talk to the Rupert Brooke Society in Grantchester, I was intrigued enough to go along. I've visited Granchester a few times in the past, and have always marvelled at its pastoral beauty and its sense of timelessness, and been filled with thoughts of all the great artists that have been inspired by it - not least Pink Floyd of course. The last time I went I had a pint in a pub overlooking the meadows and played 'Ummagumma' quietly to myself, which was quite an experience!

I didn't know who WIlliam Pryor was, or too much about Rupert Brooke beyond a few of his most famous poems, so didn't know what to expect. What we got was a genuinely fascinating and thought-provoking talk about art - "an escape from Hell" - drawing several parallels between Brooke and Syd. Not so much about their very different work, but about their approach to their art and to their lives, and that for very different reasons both of them created beautiful and long-lasting art for only a brief time.

Mixed in with quotes from famous philosophers (whose names now escape me) and the likes of Virginia Woolf, William read extracts from the lyrics of 'Bike' and 'Jugband Blues', and for good measure the entire jyric of Roger Waters' 'Grantchester Meadows' - which I have to say wasn't out of place at all in the company of Rupert Brooke's poetry.

Afterwards we sat outside in the sunshine eating sandwiches and cakes and sipping tea, and I talked to William about his memories of Syd. The conversation then turned to Keats - my own favourite poet - and I was politely told that I "don't look like a Keats fan". Not being sure what a Keats fan is supposed to look like - white shirt with sleeves too big and buttoned up to the top, with wavy long brown hair perhaps - I wondered about the enormous influence that Keats and Syd Barrett have had on my life - my two greatest single influences - and then drove home in my Team GB "Better never Stops" t-shirt seeing one of the most fantastic sunsets of my life. Somehow, that felt right.