7 Bells ring out from St Peters Church just up the hill and village life begins, outside I can hear the cockerel across the way, rooks shouting from a nest, rooks shout. Birds sing in the smaller trees, apart from that nothing. The house is still, the […]
7 Bells ring out from St Peters Church just up the hill and village life begins, outside I can hear the cockerel across the way, rooks shouting from a nest, rooks shout. Birds sing in the smaller trees, apart from that nothing. The house is still, the sky is blue, crystal blue and clouds are few, the surreal nature of each day stacks slowly up, each day like the one before its 7am. Routine is keeping us all going, keeping us sane, there is a pattern and there is a rhythm that takes us under its wing as we swing from hour to hour. We have never been this close and yet this far apart. Our garden is becoming like a tailored suit, it’s beautiful, the fresh air, the nice chairs, the plants the vegetables all growing in orderly lines, it’s eden down here. Louise has been working hard to unravel what we have in the garden with a hoe with cutters with muscle. I fold my arms and offer tea and give encouragement and the odd barrow load of nettles. Watering the garden is something I have become attached to, each night I see more growth and things I have not seen from the day before, nature is an ever changing palate. It can take an hour to feed all of the plants and the shrubs, thirsty work while the rooks shout abuse. Gardeners World is now something we both watch, i do love Frosty he seems like a passionate chap.
The stage seems a long way off, the memory of seeing crowds of people on the last tour haunt me, however the electricity of love shown by music keeps the soul powered. I have no idea when we will get back to the stage we all know and love, it might not be for a couple of years, people need to be confident that they are safe, as we do as a band. Who really knows. I watch as people are losing their jobs and our industry stands still, I see nothing but horror on peoples faces, sadness takes over once proud and confident features. I watched a TV show where a man had a nursery selling plants, his company closed down as nobody wanted to buy his carefully grown crop. He gave them all away to people in the towns around where he lived, they donated to his nursery and he survives for now at least. Heartbreaking. I feel so lucky as I sit here in the country surrounded by green and blue, love and nature, horses and sheep and Amazon packages arriving. I feel lucky to just be in the moment without fear of the virus, at least for now. I miss my kids so much though, I wonder when I will hug them again, I see them on Zoom and they are well happy and getting on with life. Grace has discovered the garden, Cissy is back in Dublin making wonderful things, Riley is online, Nat is writing and learning the piano. All good there. Here at home home school rules, it is not fair, not a place to learn to mess with mates and be on the learning curve of life. So sad. Laying back on the sofa with a glass of orange juice in one hand and a laptop in the other will never replace the closeness of mates.
Suddenly its 5pm and the day has raced away, yet nothing seems to have been done, the hours have been snatched away, time has been riding a very fast car these past nine weeks. We walk we ride bikes we stay in touch with our friends and family we try to get through each day one day at a time. Before I know it 7 Bells ring out from the church and the sun has gone to the other side of the house, beyond the village along the downs, we nestle in the bosom of the downs, and fine breasts they are too. Its 7pm. Walking clears the head and passes the time, it keeps oxygen in the body, a commodity of great importance. A circuit of the estate with the dog keeps us in check, and then a bike ride around the village, not too far but far enough for a bum like mine. It’s a revolving door each day of the week, we have a curry night and a food delivery day, we have a cleaning the house day, we have weekends with all the trimmings but we still have no idea when I will be back in the footlights.
Being on stage has been a huge part of my life for over 40 years and here we are, the rug has been pulled and I feel unbalanced waiting to find out when the backstage will reappear. Reading between all lines I think it won’t be for at least a year, if not longer, so how can I survive. For now I have been building an online writers workshop, a few online shows. I think it’s taking shape its re imagining the now, the place we all find ourselves in. Recently I played two online shows and 75 people turned up on my screen for each one, I sang some songs and found a community of like minded souls, it was wonderful plus we raised lots of money for local food banks. The second show was to raise money for Save Our Venues, we raised 2k on each event, amazing and we seemed to have kept the doors open at The Old Market in Brighton. So is this the new backstage, here on the sofa? here in my writers garden. The new footlights the angel poised lamp on my desk, the walk along the garden path to sanctuary in musical joy. If this is me for the next 12 months I better get used to the noise of nature and less the roar of the amplifiers and crowd. Whatever comes next is what comes next, I have no control over anything other than the way I hear the 7 bells and what they might mean to me each day. Ding dong ding, or is it dong, dong, dong.
Happiness is in the sleep provided by a busy day standing still, sleep is deep and meaningful, I love the hour when the mind reverts to self, a place where I can debrief the thoughts of the day while being next to such a wonderful person. She reads, I rest, I sleep. We sleep. Summer is almost here the entourage of nature fills every vista from the window here, and across the way a Pony eats her way around a garden. Along the way a vegetable stand stocked by Jim the oldest man in the village who we all love. Down the way the Park where sheep and cows wonder around in the sun of each day and the farmer who knows them all so well, and they know him too, it’s family. How wonderful to know that this time tomorrow it will be just the same as it is now, the 7 bells will ring and postman will come and leave letters inside the front door, the baker will come with the weekly box of bread, the world will spin and the radio will tell us how many people have passed away from this dreadful virus. So sad. Backstage I sit and plan my next show, I figure out how to teach people online and how to be in the new reality that in some ways is heaven. It’s so amazing to see the sky so clear, the roads so empty, we venture not too far from home and thats bliss. I love this place I love this time where only the 7 bells of St Peters Church somehow comfort these days of isolation. My dreams are few, my hopes are high, and the view from my inner window is one of clarity and joy.
And then the seven bells ring out again, above me the sound of an aircraft flying, i race to my phone app to see what it is. A DHL plane on route to Rome from London. Kids in the 2nd World War must have been like me, but without the app, racing to see the sky when a plane flew overhead, and the sky then would have been as clear as it is today. ‘Sometimes in our Kentish summer we still see Spitfires in the sky’ sings Chris Wood. Seven bells. Another day and the rooks are on fire, bastards, the rest of the garden cooing, tweeting and being. We have only had maybe four days of rain in 8 weeks, the weeks turn into days the days into hours and the future into the laundry basket. Nothing seems certain, we maintain staying in to save lives, we feed each other time through a straw of sunlight, frustrations grow, tensions rise and nothing seems like it was. I miss my kids i miss the touring, i miss the band and i miss the songs that put me in this chair by my desk. It’s time to hum like an amplifier while the summer deepens. I look for light down the end of a Zoom feed, i hear myself sing and watch faces as they watch me. Home is here, my desk my garden my words. Home is here.