Do Sydney School of Arts & Humanities writers agree or disagree? They aired their personal views on LOVE in a public performance at The Rocks this month.
The Writing Meet Up group members’ responses came from a 10-minute exercise prompt, ‘Love is All You Need’. The pieces range from the cynical to the romantic to the star-struck. Here we go – eleven written responses:
Love is All You Need
When she came out of the station she nearly tripped over his hat on the footpath and his dog who was tenderly licking his face. That’s when she saw the scribbled sign ‘Love is all you need’ and its owner.
‘Can you spare some coins for a weak decaf skinny pumpkin spice latte?’ he asked.
Obviously, love isn’t all you need. Tonya Bassett
Love is all you need. That’s an iconic line from a Beatles’ song. There are so many iconic lines and phrases in the Beatle’s catalogue of songs, and it doesn’t matter which one I hear, it takes me back to my student days in Liverpool.
My old school, The Holt High School, was a sworn enemy of John Lennon’s Quarry Bank. We would have been in the same year at our respective schools. To live in ‘The Dingle’, where Ringo spent much of his youth, you’d have needed more than just love to survive.
I recall as a student going to a pop concert at New Brighton in 1962, which was a twenty-minute ferry ride across the Mersey (sorry Gerry!) from Liverpool. The main act was Kenny Ball and the Jazzmen. He had the youthful audience raising the roof with enthusiasm. Then the interval group came on – The Beatles. Hardly anyone had heard of them. After about fifteen minutes they received the slow handclap as the rowdy crowd wanted Kenny Ball back.
It was only about six months later that The Beatles gave Liverpool all the love it needed before the tired old city two decades later had to suffer the ravages of Thatcher’s Britain. Lawrence Goodstone
Love is all you need
Love is all you need, if you’re
A sentimental bunny
Take my advice
It’s much more nice
To go for power and money.
All you need is love, they say
If only it weren’t lies
For you can love with all your heart
And still the person dies.
Love is all you need
Simple when it happens, sweet when it’s fresh, savoured when it’s strong, sustaining when it’s true.
The earth is happy, you are in delight, birds chirp and animals are cute, there’s colour everywhere you look. Cynicism banished, sadness hurried away, the dull ignored and bruised egos humoured.
Scents are wickedly tantalising, muscles are toned, and sleep is secondary. Food is no longer the first thought.
Knights and princesses, kings and queens, East meets West, you travel the seven seas, you think big: the Taj Mahal, Genghis and the Tartars, Boadicea, Caesar and Cleopatra.
Life begins, careers and a home are built and the self is discovered.
Support is given, blind faith and encouragement.
Love is all you need. David Kelly
From the roots of my being
comes the soul of abundance:
seeds of gratitude, fields of joy.
I will never hunger for love – love is all you need.
All you need is love
Humans are funny. Today I heard a big row break out on the street. It was of course a he and she. She, crying, and in a high-pitched voice whining about how her birthday had been ruined. She followed him down the street, taunting, screaming at him – about the unfairness of it all. This went on for twenty minutes, her voice consistent in its high pitch. She wavered between wailing and pleading. Pulling his t-shirt, trying to evoke an equally emotional response.
He was bothered and uncomfortable but staring ahead in his emotional blankness. ‘Don’t pull my shirt,’ he said several times in a monotone growl.
The problem is that nature has paired up two incompatible beings who don’t know how to deal with each other. And you tell us that all you need is love? Deirdre Keenaghan
Not even one more day
His sprouting beard felt like thorns on my face: popping out by the second. I couldn’t get images of myself walking on fired coals out of my head. It was not something I could forgive him, for a loving heart would forget the bristles’ passage on a sensitive woman’s skin. Instead, a rage prevented my every effort to tolerate the carnal game of the man I’d married ten years before.
Things were different now. As soon as he touched me, I imagined the embers’ rivers in my veins sending a series of explosions out of my body. I could see the saucers of my teacups rising up in the air, taking their flanked positions and vibrating with a combatant’s rage.
Another part of me asked, ‘How come, you couldn’t live without him nine years ago? You thought he was the God-chosen man it was worth travelling fourteen thousand kilometres from the Old Continent to Australia for. Calm down, all you need is love.’
‘No!’ my sober half grumbled, ‘it wasn’t me who married him. It was the slave in me, the pleaser and the giver to a Napoleonic type of a man, who abused his servant, me, and belittled me when I did not please him. But now I want to be my own master.’
The moment of self-inauguration came. I pushed him away from me and declared, ‘I don’t love you anymore. I’m leaving you.’
The saucers zoomed toward me instead of him and crashed at my feet. I walked over the snow-white debris and walked out onto the wide street, my only possession my pride. Gabriela Dimitrova
All you need is love
That’s what my mother used to say – all you need is love, but in actual fact you probably need a bit more than love. Love helps, love helps a lot, but a bit more than love also helps.
My friend Marianne, always says, ‘I leave it to the Hands of God, he always knows what to do and he knows what is good for me.’
I always sit there with a look of … well, maybe he or she might need some help.
Anyway, Marianne was in a car accident, her car was a write-off – and she told me, ‘I left it in God’s hands.’
I said, ‘You know what, Marianne? It’s good that you left it in God’s hands but sometimes even God needs some help. Did you happen to ring the NRMA? The police? Did you get your car towed away? Did you ring the insurance company?’
Like, I think it’s a great thing that you leave it in God’s hands, but I hope you did all of that to help God help you.
And ‘All you need is love’ also reminds me of that story where there is a flood and there is a man trapped in this house and as the flood waters rise, he goes upstairs, the flood waters keep rising so he goes out on the window ledge, the flood waters keep rising and he ends up on the roof.
A row boat goes past in the choppy waters and the people in the boat offer him help, and he says, ‘No, don’t worry God will help me,’ and even though they insist that he get in the boat because the flood waters are going to continue to rise, he refuses their help.
Then a motor boat goes past, and they offer him help and again he refuses and says, ‘God is going to help me’.
Then a helicopter comes down in the raging wind and offers to winch him up and he says, ‘No God is going to help me’.
Anyway, he drowns. And he ends up in heaven and as he walks into heaven, he has a go at God –‘I was waiting for you and you didn’t rescue me,’ and God responds, ‘But I sent a row boat and motor boat and a helicopter, and you didn’t take their help, what more did you want?’
And that’s what I think about, ‘All you need is love’. It’s a great title for a song, but sometimes you need a lot more than love to keep you warm, to keep you fed, to give you succour, to help you get ahead.
LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED
Cousin Richard lived in Oxford, remote from his great love, his mum back in Sydney.
Visiting him for lunch as part of our tour of Ireland and the UK, I asked him, ‘Have you ever had a girlfriend? Or a boyfriend?’
In all the years we had known him he was such a personable guy but we had never heard a whisper of any partner or even a date.
‘I think you are being very impertinent – it’s not really any of your business.’
Before we left my mother told me his deep depression had lifted a little since he’d added a little kitten to his life, at her suggestion. He now worked two days a week at home, alone. Was this his first taste of a little love and a warm touch, I wondered?
Why does a friendly jovial guy get to sixty-five without anyone sharing a bit of his life?
I wanted to ask. ‘Have you ever been in love?’ but I bit my tongue.
There was no penetrating this lonely persona. If he could not fathom his isolation from the big L, except for his love for his mum, how could we?
LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED
We met just as she was about to go. A couple of weeks’ grace, perhaps. Maybe you know the feeling, maybe you don’t, but sometimes you can know all the reasons in the world not to do something and you’ll catch each other’s eyes and think ‘fuck it’.
That’s the true way of the world, after all. The structure we like to convince ourselves of, the invisible governance of the universe, it’s all bullshit. From chaos we came – and on chaos we thrive. The true deeps of feeling don’t follow any rules. They’re wild, and reckless.
So we stand on some street corner in the cold, hugging what should’ve been goodbye, and of course she says something about how I’m so warm, and of course I can’t help but crack a joke, and we pull away just enough to look into each other’s eyes before folding back in, except this time we find the kiss we’ve both seen coming all night. And when we finally part, some indefinable thing has passed between us.
It wasn’t smart. Even though we went our separate ways after; she still only had two weeks left. Not a great time for coincidence to strike.
But, well. Fuck it. We found something there, and though we had no choice but to let go, I wouldn’t change a thing.
It’s not much. But most times an ending like that is more than we can hope for. Sometimes – even an ember as small as that. All we need is love.
All you need is love
And air, and food, and water
And a roof over your head
And a civil society; with no victims
Only citizens – free to fall in and out of love or lust or self-interest
And children yelling at their parents
Encouraged by their neighbours
And a planet worth saving
Where we are content to believe that
All you need is love. Jim Pietrowski
SSOA thanks all writers who took part in our end-of-year celebration at The Rocks to showcase their work in public performance. Our thanks to the City of Sydney for office accommodation assistance to organise meet ups throughout 2018. Copyright applies to the work of all writers cited above. Photography wiki commons, CV Williams and Ferdinando Manzo.