Waldeaux | The Real John Reed…

The Real John Reed…

Well it’s a common name with multiple spellings. I find it strange that while the logical way to spell Reed is with two ‘e’s, almost everyone I meet for the first time seems to assume it should be ‘Reid’. Reid is widely regarded as the Scottish form of the surname. The accepted meaning of the name is ‘red-haired’ or ‘of ruddy complexion’, which would seem to support the Scottish theory. But actually all spellings are a derivation of the Old English, probably Anglo-Saxon, word ‘read’ – pronounced ‘red’. There is Reed, Reid, Read, Reede, and Reade, and in theory each version hails from a different part of the UK and Ireland.

Portrait of John Silas Reed (1887?1920). (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

There are numerous ‘John Reeds’ and there have been many more throughout history, with the most famous being the American poet and revolutionary writer who as a close friend of Lenin witnessed the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, coincidentally portrayed in the epic film ‘Reds’ by Warren Beatty. That John Reed died of typhus in 1920 and was subsequently buried beneath the Kremlin with a number of other Bolshevik heroes. There have been acting John Reeds and professional footballing John Reeds. There is John Reed Fitness in Berlin (definitely not me) and  a Texas based guitarist and songwriter who shares my name, and probably many more.

This particular John Reed (ie: me) only started writing and recording music seriously in August 2014 after I purchased my first cittern, but I have been playing guitar since the age of 15 and wrote about 100 largely unrepeatable songs in my student years. Life and work took over and my early exposure to the music industry (stage managing gigs at university) introduced me to enough egos and up-their-own-backside people to move on to other things. Today I fund my music with earnings from my day job as an international trade consultant.

Thus, a be-suited John Reed is frequently seen in various parts of the UK and the world, helping client companies and training other consultants from the experiences of a 30+ year career, which by the way confirm (if you didn’t already know it) that Brexit is utterly insane. Human beings seem to like single dimensions in other human beings, so when they experience me in a suit being important, they think that is how I am. I remember two incidents in my working life where colleagues expressed genuine shock that I possessed humour, one exclaiming loudly in the middle of a company Christmas meal “It’s alright everyone. He says Fuck!” So those I guess are my two extremes: the serious man in a suit, and the man who says Fuck.

Somewhere in between is the one who, following a second day training consultants in Ukraine earlier this year went for a beer with a local partner consultant in the bar of the hotel where I was staying. Dmytro headed straight for the bar as I took the opportunity to go to my room and change into my ‘civvies’. I walked into the bar dressed in my customary black t-shirt and blue jeans and he looked up and said “Ah! So this is the real John Reed”. Indeed it was.



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