Pete Townshend has a new diary entry called "The Clown Who Plays Ukulele". Having told a story by teen cancer patient Sarah Sterner about a ukulele playing clown touring a pediatric cancer ward, Pete feels guilty about seeming to make fun of someone giving up their time to entertain the sick.
The Clown who plays Ukelele.
It occurs to me that Roger’s first TCA ‘ambassador’ Sarah Sterner, who tells a funny story about being entertained by a clown playing ukelele when she was recovering from cancer treatment, might not be so funny for the clown in question. She did not sneer at this clown. She used him as an example to make a distinction between what little kids enjoy in hospital, and what teenagers prefer.
I have repeated the story a few times, playing it for laughs. Then I suddenly remembered that once or twice in my life I have portrayed myself as that very clown, pounding stages.
The volunteer, dressing up and going to paediatric wards to entertain children, does so out of love and duty, and I must be careful to make very sure here that I do not sneer at what this clown, who volunteers to entertain and nurture young people in hospital, is doing. It is a high calling.
Roger’s pitch is that Sarah says she needed something different, more grown up, more TEENAGED. Sarah agrees, so we must accept their mission.
A young woman recovering from cancer might prefer the clown to go in without the costume, dressed in his street clothes, with a guitar rather than a ukelele, reveal himself as a bit of handsome dude, gaze in her eyes, and sing her some of his coolest love songs……..Sarah is certainly beautiful enough to merit the music.
You know what I mean. But if you’re a little kid, a clown with uke is very cool. If you’re a teenager God only knows what you’ll think is cool.
- Pete Townshend. December 9th, 2012