Hearing the children in the playground this morning made me think about how innocent life can be, running around screaming and shouting bumping into each other and holding on to your mates in a wrestle. The sound reminded me of 1973 when i was at Maxine’s house in Blackheath when i first met Glenn and […]
Hearing the children in the playground this morning made me think about how innocent life can be, running around screaming and shouting bumping into each other and holding on to your mates in a wrestle. The sound reminded me of 1973 when i was at Maxine’s house in Blackheath when i first met Glenn and the kids were playing in the school playground a few streets away. My own playground in memory seems a little quieter for some reason, no screaming no shouting or running around like a hare. I would hang around with the quiet ones. What joy to be that young in this World weaving in and around the obstacles of the day, and then being tucked up at night safe and sound in your bed with nothing to worry about, dreams of parachutes and clouds, toys and TV all day long. As i walk through the fields and back home i hear nothing but a single engined plane in the sky, a few birds in the trees and off in the distance the A27. I feel safe here in this corner of the Downs, but i fear having no shows in the diary and no way of knowing when that might change, it’s as if i have been made redundant, semi retired. Here in my writing room i can see the months ahead one day at a time very much grey and bleak as Winter dives in to take us all into the cover of darker nights and misty mornings. Such a cruel feeling. Back in the Submarine for me.
Since my last blog in May things have moved forward in my life, but not by design by letting go of the trapeze and being found in mid air. I know there is a hand reaching for me and i will be safe, between each move there is pure journey built around faith and a love for everything within and around me. I have been moving forward by hosting songwriting online retreats from my writing room helped along by Help Musicians who are so wonderful to work with. Mrs D does the online work and locks in the dates, she is keeping my back and doing a fine job. I love my online work, i sit here and share with so many people the wonder of writing songs. Every other Saturday i have been running Zoom shows to raise money for various charities, to date we have gathered a purse of around £19,000. Not bad. Here is a list of my guests. Shawn Colvin and Nile Rodgers, Don McClean, Yungblud and Julia Fordham. Stephen Fry, Midge Ure and Bob Harris, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Robert Vincent. Chris Wood and Kathryn Williams, Elvis Costello and Kimmie Rhodes. John Lloyd Judith Owen and Julia Fordham.
Live shows have gone to the wall although i was lucky enough to zip down to Cornwall and play the Minnach Theatre, this was so amazing, to play to people was such a thrill. A long drive but broken up by two rare nights in a hotel. I had to climb up into the loft to find my suitcase, it was gathering dust as i was dreaming of touring. My life down the years has been in and out of the suitcase, on the bed in a hotel room, in the boot of the car, under the bus or in the hold of a plane. Days of yore. Two Squeeze shows fell into the diary as well, drive in shows, not to be sniffed at, although im not sure i would do that again. Playing to cars parked in a field, a car park, with people eating at tables in small squares, not a great look or indeed feel. It was lovely to see the boys and girls in the band and wear the suits, it was a brief glance into the window of live work, and then the blinds were pulled and here we are again. I feel nervous about the future, we may be off stage now for a very long time, some say not until 2022 at the earliest. That makes me feel redundant and sometimes deflated, i feel a heavy loss as the rhythm of my year is suddenly swung into free form. It’s a heavy loss for our industry, so many people are out of work, our crew and perhaps the band themselves. Focusing on the future is not easy, planning for the future almost impossible so i sit here in my chair at my desk and try to embrace the normal which is now. I heard on the radio that we should learn to live with the Virus as its not going away for a very long time, so the stage and my work must remain a dream i would love to come true, but when i wake up each day i can not recall the outcome to that dream, as i rise to my routine i can only hope that the things will change and we will be back out in the playground once again.
Teaching or mentoring is so inspiring i have met over 100 new writers and they are so talented, all of them ready to do something new and i hope i can provide a little walk into the something new park. Its not my week to decide how well it goes its theirs so i am lead by the great talents that i work with everyday. I have been building a new album for the Help Musicians fund with some of the writers i have met, this album will follow Song Club, 20 tracks written by my friends who i have met along the merry walk of life, mainly from Pennard. It’s been an emotional ride and with the help of some lovely people this album is now ready to be released, on the internet. All of the songs are inspired by the work of Hannah Grace Deller, during the warmer months of the summer we met for the first time in my village, she is a great photographer and all round lovely person. As a frontline nurse she knows how awful things have been, and her pictures tell so many stories most of them now intertwined in song. All the money raised will go to The Royal Collage of Nurses Corvid 19 fund. In my playground this summer i have been working with such nice people, friends indeed all on line socially distanced by the power of Zoom, screens of faces smiling with love.
In mid August the virus news simmered down and we ventured out for meals here and there, it felt safe to do so wearing a mask all the time. The Submarine came up for air. Here in the sticks it’s a corner of the room that feels away from most things. I did venture into London for a night, a ghost town, empty streets like a Sunday morning. I got my hair cut, a treat. The man in a visor talking all the time about his life and how he is happy to be back at work, although it wasn’t that busy, the shop was empty. I had my ears fried of hair and my eyebrows cut, this was my big day out in Soho. Mid August was a good time to be up and around the Downs with Sid, the sun was out and everything felt normal but not. September came and here we are slipping back into the scary stuff of last March, as the death toll rises and people are being told to stay at home, to work from home but have the kids go back to school and keep the pubs open, good news but i feel lost with that information. Japan got it right from the off, lockdown, masks and being safe around each other, but not the nobs of this country who must invade the beeches and pubs, who must dance and drink beer in the streets or worse in a field while the older generation stoop low in their dusty tracks. We are all confused, gone are the days when the Queen would come on tele to calm us all down, and at first it all seemed like we were at War again, in a funny way, or not so funny, we are.
My children are scattered far and wide and that could mean no Christmas together, i have not seen Riley Cissy or Nat since March. Grace has been nursing a broken collar bone in London, i get to see her which is lovely. I miss them all and fear for their future, what does it all mean. If they flew in to the UK they would have to isolate for 14 days and that would make Christmas a long trip for them all. Many family Zoom calls keep us in touch and the text chain goes on and on each day, it also seems like we have found so many pictures of each other over the last 6 months, not a bad thing, some thin some fat. Here at home the girls seem to make it though each day with food on the table and Sid on the sofa, so far so good, although i do fear from them too. What does a young persons future hold. For me at 65 almost 66 it’s all about holding on when you have to hold on and letting go when you can. Writing lyrics helps me through the transition from both. It has taken me 6 months to find the pencil, its complicated knowing what to write because im not sure who will be out there to hear anything or want anything. I see people scratching to make records and put themselves about on the internet, it looks cheap sometimes and often shallow, but we all have to try to keep up the deep end if we can. In the last few weeks i have managed to shine a few balls before bowling at the stumps, the hunger is stretched like a canvas over the images asleep in my imagination. I want to write songs and record them but the complicated fixation with the past divides me. I could make a lap of the pool but might not make it back. I seem to be torn between the youthful teenager who ran around the stage and then wrote songs in his sleep and the man in the garden slowly walking up the path to his lair. I have to bore the well and as i pull up the pale the thirst becomes too much and i loose site of the nourishment before me. It will come, it will come. I can bore the well all day long.
Back in the Sub, time to find a routine, and take each day as it comes. I heard a Submariner talk about 120 days beneath the waves with 120 people onboard ship, no internet, no connection with the outside World, only information coming in. He talked about routine, he got up and trained in his gym, showered and went to his post. The day is spent talking to his crew and trying to stay in the now. That makes this seems so easy. Not sure about the gym, maybe walking the dog would do, but routing is easy, we have had that all along. The days repeat, each day is like Sunday, each day is filled with certain heartbreak but also hope. It’s October 1st, the Sub feels like it’s about to dive dive dive, down where the big fish swim and the air is thick with mystery. One thing i could not live without would be the Internet, it joins me like a stitch on a torn shirt to the World beyond this desk. From the deep dark ocean back to the park and the sound of men on the cricket ground across from where we live shouting and clapping, the sound keeps me in the summer. I can hear young people playing football with the sweet sound of boot on ball, they bump and chase with no heed of the skills needed to social distance, perhaps like the children in the playground the innocence keeps them safe, for today at least. The sound takes me into Autumn. Optimism is the relish of the day, spread lightly over fresh inspiration, lightly toasted. There will be a stage and there will be people working in the theatres again and it will be wonderful as it always was. It will be very different and perhaps not the playground of yesterday at all but a new balanced safe and lovely way to share our musical joys. Before the future arrives and the clocks go back another trip to London and a haircut for the coming months, same place i expect. Light conversations and looks in the mirror at the boy in the glasses, eyebrows and nose hair, a wet towel and a smile from behind a visor. Here at may desk the night has fallen and darkness covers me in its warmth, tomorrow is only around the corner another distance between the trapeze and the hand that holds me. I think about that journey so much, it’s vital for me to go forward and to reward myself, the garden the walks the words. I am one of the lucky ones..