Mar 23, 12, 11, 10, 09, 08
Dec 07, 01
Nov 25, 24, 23, 22, 21, 12
Dec 31, 19
Nov 28, 01
Sep 09, 04
Dec 24, 04
Oct 19, 09
May 27, 03
Dec 29, 08
Nov 20, 14, 10
Oct 31, 23, 10, 05
Jul 29, 17, 14, 11, 07, 02
Jun 30, 29, 12, 05
May 25, 09
Apr 26, 10
Thursday 25th May 2006. 8 : 20 pm
It's now just over a month since my brother Ian passed away. I'd like to think that I've begun to accept the situation and am coping reasonably well...but the truth is a little different. There's an underlying depression at work here, dark and muted but insistent, insidious. So, how does one deal with bereavment of this kind? What's the precise formula? I presume that there isn't one. It just takes time. Maybe several years and, even then...I'm still in shock. Was else can I say? I'm doing my best?
I've immersed myself in work this last week or so. Concentrating on the 'Return To Jazz Of Lights' album. The hard work doesn't remove the sadness but at least temporarily distracts me from it. It has to be said that some of the more melancholy pieces on the album, even though they were written before the events of 23rd of April, seem remarkably apt with hindsight.There are several poignant, prescient moments.
This album has been an unexpected struggle...perhaps even more so than 'The Alchemical Adventures Of Sailor Bill.' Maybe it doesn't have Sailor Bill's sense of absolute completeness, or maybe I personally don't have a sense of completeness right now. The whole album seems to comprise one big fragmented statement and could be judged tenderly flawed, 'though for special reasons. It's subtle imperfections may be interpreted by some listeners as seductive come-ons. ( Well...I DO hope it slides the pants off you.)
So, yes...It's another personal, unique thing, sentimental, but with a dash more irony than Sailor Bill. It has a bizarre mix of inspirations / influences, containing elements of jazz, big band swing, jive, lounge, electronica, easy listening and Vegas show music, shot through with what, I guess, an objective ear might describe as archetypal Bill Nelson ' whimsicality.' It's somewhere to the left of post-modern...not easy to describe in precise terms at all. The truth is, I don't really know what to make of it. But it's finished, as of this last, exhausting hour.
I've decided upon the final song selection and running order and now have to arrange time at Fairview to master the damn thing. It's gone through several mutations. It started life as a throwaway side-project, a light-hearted six song ep or mini-album, everything recorded quickly, something that I hoped might be reasonably painless to put together. But, despite those modest intentions, over the last few months it has taken on a peculiar life of its own and I've had no choice but to follow wherever it led.
The project grew from six tracks to ten.Then to 12 and now, this week, to 15. (Although I've recorded 18 songs for it in total.) Listening back to the 15 track version last night, I decided it was too long and have spent all of today re-working the running order to get it back to a more easily digested 12 track album. I think this latest 12 song version works better.
The six songs left over from my final selection will be moved to the list of possibilities for this year's fothcoming Nelsonica fan convention cd. In that respect, the project has gone down almost the same path as Sailor Bill. Last year's Nelsonica cd, 'Orpheus In Ultraland', provided a home for tracks that didn't make it onto the Sailor Bill project. Ironically, people snapped that one up faster than the Sailor Bill album.
The final selection, as of this moment in time, looks like this:-
BILL NELSON: 'RETURN TO JAZZ OF LIGHTS.'
1. 'Return To Jazz Of Lights.'
2. 'Fearless Beauty. (Kisses and Cream.)'
3. 'Mysterious Chemicals Of Love.'
4. 'It's A Big World And I'm In It. (The Great Rememberer.)'
5. 'October Sky.'
6. 'For You And I.'
7. 'Velocity Dansette.'
8. 'Now Is Not And Never Was.'
10. 'Always You.'
11. 'Steam Radio Blues.'
12. 'All These Days Are Gone. (For Ian.) '
As I noted above, the six songs that didn't make it to the album will be held over for this year's Nelsonica limited edition album. Their titles are:-
'Premium Standard Number One.'
'Distant Towns With Different Lights.'
'The Girl In The Galaxy Dress.'
'Take It Off And Thrill Me.'
'The Song My Silver Planet Sings.'
There will be a few more tracks to add to the convention album, including the song that proved very popular on last year's concert tour, 'Snow Is Falling.' (But how that will fit with the above 'jazzy' stylings is another mystery.)
So...for the moment, that is ALL the music I have to offer, other than the completed though not yet mastered 'Neptune's Galaxy' album. As usual, there are other concepts percolating in the coffee shop of dreams but I'm feeling genuinely tired right now and need a break. Perhaps the trip to Tokyo in June will give me a breather of some kind, 'though it won't be particularly relaxing. To be honest, I'm not looking forward to the journey at all...I don't enjoy flying, especially long haul flights to Japan that involve several hour's stop-over, awaiting connections at some Europen airport or other, (in this case, Amsterdam.) But cheap tickets require one to endure such tedium. I'll take my camcorder, still camera and small sketchbook / watercolour set with me. Perhaps there may be a moment's grace during our Tokyo stay when I can capture the tranquility of a Zen temple garden amidst the city's hustle and bustle. I fear there will hardly be time to relax though, as Emi needs to hook up with long-missed family and friends. It will be a very busy schedule, once we arrive.
I bought a book dealing with aspects of the history of Wakefield, yesterday. Wakefield, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, is my birthplace.
In the book, there is a section dealing with the history of Wakefield's 'yards.' Amazingly, there is mention of Marriot's Yard, around which Marriot's Buildings were located. (I've searched for years to find reference to this personally important location.)
Marriot's Buildings was where my grandmother lived and where I was born. (Now long since demolished.) The book quotes from an ancient report written by a medical official in the 1800's. He comments on the unsanitary conditions of the housing there and briefly describes the setting. When I was born there, in 1948, Marriot's Buildings and its yard had not changed at all from those dark Victorian times. There was still no hot water, no electricity and only a communal outside privy with newspaper for toilet paper. An old tin bath for the once-a-week bathnight and a stone floor that would later, briefly, receive the 'luxury' of linoleum. Unbelievable. Nevertheless, I remember the place with clarity and great fondness. As I've often mentioned in these diary pages, my autobiography contains elaborate descriptions of that dwelling, exactly as it was when I was a very young infant, not yet able to walk but definitely able to retain strong visual impressions of my surroundings, albeit from ground level. How I wish I could trace some photographs of the building as it was around the time of my birth. Or at ANY time before its demise.
My old pal John Spence called me last night. We spoke for quite a while, talking about my brother, (and life and its struggles in general.) John has come to play an important part in my life over the years, not just because of his talents in the realm of studio engineering, but because of his understanding of me as a human being. I value his friendship tremendously and feel priveleged to know him.
I'm still receiving kind messages of sympathy from various people. So many that it is proving difficult to answer every single one of them, although I'm still attempting to. I've certainly felt the spiritual embrace of many good hearted people these last few weeks. A lot of love has come my way and I'm very grateful.
I've been reading some Buddhist texts before sleeping. In the mornings I've watched the clouds passing overhead, glimpsed through the bathroom skylight as I lay in the bath. I've also watched the recent torrential rain hitting the vast pool of water in our garden, making rippling circles of light on the driveway. Our garden and drive doesn't drain and becomes a virtual lake when the weather turns wet. One of dozens of flaws that this place has. It needs lots of money spending on it at the moment, but things are tight and it will have to wait. I live in a perpetual state of 'make-do', and that includes the recording of my music. It's a never ending compromise. But, isn't everything?
I've been playing the first prototype of my Campbell American 'Transitone' signature guitar and have refined my initial ideas for the instrument's development which I'll be passing on to the campbell company soon. It is, unsurprisingly, a very unique instrument and will become even more so as its development continues. Meeting Dean Campbell himself at the London Guitar Show a week or two ago was a real pleasure. I actually saw Bert Weedon there too, 'though just from the back as he walked the show's corridors with, (I presume, ) his wife. He looked very frail. His 'Play In A Day' book was purchased for me by my father when I got my first guitar. I did absorb the info in the tutor book about which way up to hold the instrument and how to attach the strap but, beyond that was a mystery to me and remains so to this day. I have fond memories of Bert on 'Five-O'Clock Club' on television in the late '50's, early '60's.. He used to have very thick, crinkly, shiny hair in those days. It's very white, faint and wispy now.
Well...nothing much more to add at this point in time. Whatever else I've got to say would only come across as even more melancholy than usual and I'm trying to fight such a temptation right now.
Oh, I saw a film called 'Northfork' on tv the other week. It was marvellous, magical. A young boy goes to heaven in a silver Dakota aeroplane as a small American town vanishes beneath a man-made flood to make way for a new dam and its attendant lake. The film is filled with poetic and surreal images that sing from the screen.
Now that the new album's running order is decided, I may try to relax and watch an old Bing Crosby film tonight. Either, 'Birth Of The Blues' or 'Blue Skies.' My Mother and Father loved Bing when I was a little kid so I've sort of grown up with that kind of music and gentle sentiment. I also love the 'Road' movies with Bing and Bob Hope together. Happy, inconsequential nonsense. If only life could be that way.
The three images accompanying this diary are:
1. Ian Nelson at Reighton Gap, Yorkshire, approx 1958.
2. Bill Nelson in pedal car at Skegness, approx 1951.
3. A Sailor Bill promo image.
Tuesday 9th May 2006. 8 : 20 pm
Two weeks and two days have passed since my brother Ian died. Although I frequently note, in these diary entries, how quickly time flies, the last two weeks have gone by at hyperspeed. Life has been a blur, a world in a spin, glimpsed through a watery lens. I'm tempted to say 'dreamlike' but it's been more like a waking nightmare. I am still struggling to grasp the reality of it, to understand just what has happened and why. The 'why' evades me.
Ian's funeral was held on Tuesday the 2nd of May. Exactly one week ago today. Already. I should try to capture a little of that painful event here in my diary, both for posterity and my own failing memory's sake.
The funeral service was held in a little church in the village of Walton on the edge of Wakefield, (not far from Ian's home,) followed by burial at the city cemetary in Wakefield itself.
Ian's wife Diane had been a little unsure about Ian's wishes in this regard, whether he would have preferred a cremation or burial. She said that she seemed to recall Ian saying that he'd never felt comfortable with the idea of cremation. I remember that Ian and I, in our distant youth, talked about the subject sometimes. We talked about it in the casual way that young men do when life seems to stretch on infinitely ahead of them and death seems nothing more than a vague, abstract concept. Nevertheless, neither of us were favorably disposed towards cremation and thought that a burial, in pleasant surroundings, would offer more comfort to loved ones and leave some form of an indication to others that we'd existed in this world.
So, with all this in mind, Diane decided that Ian would have opted for a burial. My mother and myself felt that this was more appropriate too. It provided us with some small comfort that there would be a place where we could visit him from time to time, a kind of 'bridge' to his ethereal world, even though he would always be close inside our hearts. This need came as a surprise to me as, in recent years, I'd adopted the attitude that there would be no survival of spirit, soul or essence when life ends, just a slow dissolution of the elements, a scattering of atoms in the void. A poetic, zen-like emptiness. But of course, religious belief isn't for the departed but for those who are left behind to grieve. Any comfort, no matter how scant, furnishes our consolation. We grasp at any passing detrius the ocean of mortality throws at us, in the hope of staying afloat.
My cousin Ian Boyle travelled all the way from Cantebury to attend the funeral. He stayed here with Emi and I from Sunday through to Wednesday. My brother Ian was actually named in honour of my cousin Ian, who is the youngest of our father's sister's two sons. (Dad and his sister passed away many years ago now.)
My brother's middle name, Walter, was also chosen to honour family members. 'Walter' was both my father's name and my father's sister's eldest son's name. Sadly, cousin Walter was away in Venice so couldn't attend my brother's funeral.
The passing-on of family forenames seems to extend to me too: I'm named after my father's younger brother, Bill, who was killed in a motorbike accident before I was born. The Nelson family history has many lost chapters. It is shrouded in mists and forgotten memories, as I discovered when I began work on my autobiography a few years ago. Trying to piece together a complete picture is almost impossible. My mother, though originally from the Griffith's side of the family, is the oldest living repository of our family history but, as she admits, she has limited recall of the facts. My autobiography does what it can with what little information is available but a perpetual twilight mist hovers over certain aspects. Perhaps I'll never know the full story.
My two daughters, Julia and Elle, travelled up from their homes in London to attend the funeral. It was the first time that the surving members of the Nelson clan had all been together in the same place for quite a while, the last time being a Christmas gathering at my home some years ago when cousins Walter and Ian, my mother, my youngest daughter Elle, my son Elliot, brother Ian and Diane, joined Emi and I for a pleasant day of family talk and seasonal celebrations. I can remember my brother Ian's laughter on that day. As usual, his ability to make people feel at ease in his company was clearly evident.
Emiko created the family's funeral flower arrangements. It was nice to have that personal touch and I think that Ian would have been pleased that Emi took care of his flowers, rather than a stranger treating it as just another job. Emi made a very large arrangement with Lillies and Roses from Diane, an arrangement spelling out the words DAD in delicate, tiny blue blooms with cream roses from Ian's children, a posy with roses and other flowers from my mum and an alto saxophone constructed from flowers from myself and Emi. I created a short verse to go with the message on the card that accompanied the floral saxophone. The verse part of the message read:
"Go blow your Saxophones of Golden Eternity,
wild and free in The Blue Beyond...
Go blow your Saxophones Of Golden Eternity,
safe and sound inside our hearts..."
I felt that it had something of Kerouac and The Beats about it that Ian might have enjoyed. Jack Kerouac shared Ian's sense of the immediate moment being all that mattered.
The days leading up to the funeral were filled with grief and a kind of dread. We all knew that the day of the funeral itself was going to be a grim one, an inescapable confrontation with our loss. I travelled over to Wakefield to see my mother almost every day. Although we were all devastated, we knew that my mother was suffering in a way that only a mother does when she loses her youngest son. Mum is 77 years old and fighting her own battle with illness. That she should have to face this kind of grief too is so very sad. But my mother is an amazing, beautiful person, (and yes, I'm aware that all sons think that of their mothers.) She has borne the weight of so many problems throughout her life, as many mothers do. My father's long illnesses, his confinement to a wheelchair after suffering the amputation of both his legs, her own medical problems, the worrying, wayward nature of both her sons, my two failed marriages and their unpleasant side-effects, etc, etc. Through the years she has always cared more about other people's sufferings than her own. She has never complained, never been judgemental. Mum has always been steadily supportive, a perfect example of unconditional love. Her generosity, strength, dignity and compassion are self-evident qualities, recognised by all who know her. And she thinks the world of Diane and Ian's children. And I realised, this last couple of weeks, that they think the world of her too.
On the morning of the funeral, Elliot and Elle and Julia travelled in Elliot's car whilst my mother, Emi, cousin Ian and I travelled in one of the two funeral cars, Diane and Ian's family led in the other, directly behind the hearse bearing Ian's casket. The emotional moment of the arrival of the hearse at Ian and Diane's house that morning, prior to setting off for the church, is beyond my ability to describe. I'll never forget it. A conformation of everything I'd tried to deny.
The little church was filled to capacity with Ian's friends. As part of the family, the church's front pews were reserved for us and Ian's flower covered coffin was displayed a couple of feet away from where we sat. Here was the hard reality of it all: my brother, the one person (other than my mother and late father,) who had been a stable part of my life for so long, was now about to be laid to rest forever. Sitting there, looking at that polished, crafted, dreadful symbol of finality, I remembered so many things that we'd shared, both as children and as adults. The sadness engulfed me, drowned me, crushed me. The vicar, whose first name, I believe, was Rupert, (somehow appropriate as Ian and I grew up with Rupert The Bear stories,) read a few Biblical passages. I could almost hear my brother, a passionately non-religious person, groaning, " Get ON with it!" Ian would have favoured an Irish style wake or a New Orleans style musical blast off with Bachanallian revels and joyous memories. He wasn't really one for morbid melancholia. That curse, it seems, has been left to me.
Then Ian's sister-in-law Angie read a tribute to him, after which, as part of the service, some recent recordings of Ian playing saxophone with his friend John were played to the congregation. The music unlocked the floodgates.The grief was unbearable. Everyone wept openly. So poignant and sad.
After the church service, the funeral procession slowly wound its way out of the village and headed towards Wakefield and the cemetary. We travelled in silence and tears. I kept getting glimpses of the hearse ahead of us as it turned this way and that through the blossom filled, tree-lined lanes that had been so familiar to Ian in life. In the car in front of us, Diane, Julian, Louis and Lucy followed Ian on his last ride. I can only begin to imagine how painful it must have been for them, losing a husband and a father so suddenly, and at such a relatively young age.
The morning weather had started out reasonably spring-like but, when we arrived at the graveside, the sky had turned a uniform grey and a cold wind animated the priest's vestments as he stood at the head of the grave that had been dug to receive Ian's casket. Ian's family, my mother and myself were beckoned forward to stand at the edge.The coffin was lowered down to rest at the bottom.The grave was much deeper than I'd imagined but I could clearly read Ian's name and the date of his birth and passing on the polished brass plate that was fastened to the lid of his coffin.
I really can't begin to describe the emotions and thoughts that flooded me at that moment. Here was my little brother, whose coming into the world had been part of my own life and whose exit from it will haunt me forever.
Ian was born at home, at my parent's ground floor flat, number 28, Conistone Crescent on Eastmoor Estate on the 23rd April 1956. When mum went into labour, the midwife had suggested that my bed would be more comfortable or suitable for Ian's birth than my parent's one, so I was moved into my parents bedroom whilst mum occupied mine at the front of the house. (The move was softened by a pile of comic books that my father had bought for me.) As a result, Ian was actually born in my bed, in my bedroom. It was in this same room that we would spend so much time playing with our toys when we were kids. I remember Ian being a big fan of Gerry Anderson's 'Supercar', as was I.
My dad bought the family an early domestic tape recorder, a two-tone grey plastic Phillips model with a 'magic-eye' device that flashed whilst recording to show the level of sound. Ian and I recorded little 'plays' on that machine, often re-creating 'Supercar' or 'Stingray' stories. I can still hear his high-pitched young voice saying " Stand by for action! Anything can happen in the next half-hour!" (A phrase from the opening sequence of 'Stingray.') I wish I still had that recording. Our bedroom was filled with model cars, aeroplanes, trains, toy spaceships, books and games. We shared that room for many years, our theatre of youth, filled with the symbolic contents of our nascent imagination.
And now, here I was, gazing down at all that remained of that life, those far memories, reduced to just a name and two dates etched on a brass plaque. I could feel my mother shaking as she clung to my arm next to me. I was shaking too, an icy combination of the cold wind and the deep emotions we were suffering. It seemed unreal, surreal, film-like.
Ironically, Wakefield Cemetary features briefly in one of my favourite films, 'This Sporting Life' and Wakefield Trinity football ground, which plays a big part in the film, is almost next door to the cemetary. Richard Harris played the central role in the film, a hard-living, down to earth character. I'm sure Ian would have appreciated this connection and felt it appropriate.
I can remember long-ago visits to Wakefield cemetary when I was very young. Walking trips on Saturday mornings with my mother to place flowers on the grave of my great grandfather, John Henry Griffiths, (who died when I was three or four, I think.) My great grandmother is buried somewhere in there too and also my father's brother Bill, mentioned previously in this diary entry. I've been unable to locate their graves in recent years and my mum can't recall exactly where they were buried. I think they had extremely small, modest headstones. Maybe just initials and a date. The area where I seem to remember my great grandfather's grave being located has several such small stones, now heavily worn away by the weather. Impossible to decipher. I'll try to locate them through the cemetary archives later this year...they must have official records of the graves, maybe a plan to help me locate them. I'd like to take flowers to my ancestors. They've been neglected for so long.
My brother Ian's grave is in a newer part of the cemetary, across the quiet road called 'Sugar Lane,' that runs off from the main, busy, Agbrigg Road. Sugar Lane divides the newer cemetary from the older part. The older section is mostly filled with Victorian and Edwardian graves, some of them marked by grandiose monuments, obelisks and angels. The 'newer' part, opened in 1961, is simpler, without the gothic trappings. Ian rests at the end of a tree-lined walk on the right hand side of the path.
After the burial, everyone went on to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park where a reception had been organised in Ian's honour by his former colleagues, including park director Peter Murray, (one of my painting tutors from Wakefield Art School days,) and Ian's sister-in-law Angie who has worked there for many years.
Ian's children had prepared a slide show of photographs of their dad, taken at different points in his life, which moved everyone deeply and reduced me to tears again. Ian's eldest son Julian, after giving a moving and elequent speech which impressed everyone there, proposed a toast to his dad. Ian would have been so proud of his children.
I had the opportunity to speak with many of Ian's friends including members of 'Bolt From The Blue', the band that I'd enjoyed playing a few gigs with back in the late '80's (or very early '90's.) Ian had been a member of the band, as had an old art school friend of mine from the '60's, drummer Martin Foye. (Martin sadly passed away in the 90's, another one gone too young.)
'Bolt From The Blue' had been very kind to me back then. At the time of those gigs I'd been struggling to survive. My problems with business management and the music industry were at their peak and I had virtually no income at all. My life was filled with stress and fear. It was suggested that, if I performed a handful of gigs with Bolt From The Blue in local pubs, I could make a little money to help me out of some of the financial mess I was in, or at least pay an outstanding bill or two.
I hadn't played live for quite a while and was understandably nervous about performing, but I ended up having fun with the band. The first performance I gave with them was in Wakefield at a pub called 'The Post Haste.' I recall playing covers of Van Morrison's 'Dweller On The Threshold' and Muddy Water's 'Got My Mojo Working.' The local Wakefield Express newspaper kindly wrote a generous review about the show. We even travelled to Manchester, if I remember rightly, to do a gig in a pub there. It was an enforced return to my roots, a reminder of what it was all about. The generosity and care that Ian and the rest of the band showed me has never been forgotten, so it was good to meet up with some of the original members again at the Sculpture Park last week, despite the terrible circumstances.
Amongst many other people attending the Sculpture Park reception were musicians who had been part of my 'Lost Satellites' band: Dave Standeven, Steven Cook and my long-time friend Jon Wallinger. They all have fond memories of Ian from the 'Be Bop Deluxe And Beyond' 30 year anniversary tour that we undertook in 2004, and from the annual Nelsonica fan conventions. As they're much valued friends of mine, it was extremely supportive for me to see them there.
Two more, very dear friends were also present to honour Ian: John Spence who had worked with Ian in various musical situations over the years and Paul Gilby who had worked alongside the Lost Satellites on the 2004 tour. It was so comforting to have all these familiar faces close by at such a difficult time and everyone recalled their experiences of Ian generously. Another warm and welcome gesture was the presence of several loyal fans and regular members of the 'Dreamsville' on-line community. Everyone was extremely kind and I was touched by their considerate and compassionate concern.
At the end of the afternoon, people began to drift away. In a manner that Ian would have approved of, I was feeling somewhat woozy from the wine that had been served up by the Park's staff. I was hoping it would act as a kind of anaesthetic but it simply heightened the unreality of it all. Paul and Elliot provided transport to get Mum, her husband George, Julia, Emi and I back to our cars which had been left at Ian and Diane's house that morning.
We then collected my grandson Luke from his grandmother's house, (my first wife Shirley.) Once Luke was on board, Julia, Luke, Elle ,Elliot, Emi, Mum, George, my cousin Ian and my friend Paul Gilby, drove out to Heath Common, another old village on the edge of Wakefield. We all went to 'The Kings Arms' pub, a place that still has gaslight and stone-flagged floors. I used to go there as an art student in my teens and have also visited it several times with my brother in the past. After the day's stresses and strains it was theraputic to sit and eat and drink together in this old haunt with its history, both local and personal. My little grandson Luke, with his positive, wide-eyed wonder, inspired a smile for us amidst the sad recollections. I too, inadvertantly provided some humour by accidentally setting my hair on fire whilst standing beneath one of the pub's wall-mounted gas mantles. The first we knew of it was when we smelled something burning. Then the top of my head felt very hot. I managed to move away from the gas light just in time. I could almost hear my brother Ian laughing at my folly.
That evening I sat up with cousin Ian, talking about this and that. He's a lovely guy, good company, intelligent and knowledgable, (as is my other cousin, Walter.) The next morning, cousin Ian set off on the long drive back to Cantebury. We plan to get together again before too long...a summer break.
I went back to the cemetary last Friday with my mother. It was a warm, sunny, spring day...a clear blue sky overhead, the trees leading to Ian's grave heavy with pink blossom. Such a contrast to the day of the funeral and so much new-life and fecundity evident in the immediate environment.
By coincidence, Diane had also chosen to re-visit the spot at exactly the same time. As mum and I arrived, Diane was just helping her mother and father from her car. Diane's mum and dad are lovely people and it's plain that they both were very fond of my brother. I was conscious that we might be intruding on their privacy but my mother said not to worry and we joined them at Ian's grave.
Emi's flowers were still in place though the more delicate ones had either become wilted or blown away with the winds and occassional rain of the previous day. The floral saxophone, magically, seemed reasonably intact. I fetched water to nourish the remaining flowers in the hope of keeping them going a short while longer.
After a while, when Diane and her parents had left, Mum and I walked around the older side of the cemetary, looking at the old gravestones in the hope of maybe locating John Henry Griffiths, (mentioned above,) my great grandfather on my mother's side of the family. He was, in the 1920's and early '30's, a lamplighter, going around the Wakefield streets at twilight, lighting the gas lamps, then going around again at dawn, putting them out and knocking on people's windows with his lamplighter's pole to wake them up to go to work in the local textile mills. My mother tells me that she sometimes accompanied him in the evenings when she was a young child. She has told me of walking the rainy cobbled streets with him and watching the gas mantles burst into light as he switched them on, one by one. A poetic and beautiful image. However, his resting place still eludes us.
After dropping mum off at her home, I bought a copy of 'The Wakefield Express' as I'd been told that there was an article in it about Ian's passing. Ironically, in another part of the newspaper,( as I was later informed,) there was a photograph of myself, printed as part of an article about a local radio station that was apparently planning to broadcast my instrumental recording 'Radiant Spires.' How I wish that the only announcement in the paper could have been about Ian and myself performing somewhere together, as we'd done at the Wakefield Arts Festival at the end of the '90's, instead of the sad news that Friday's Express carried. That we won't be able to share a stage again in that way is an extra blow for me, something that will hurt every time I perform solo from now on.
Since the funeral, there's been an attempt by us all at some kind of adjustment, an attempt to come to terms with things. Not at all easy. Impossible right now. I travelled to London on Saturday to attend the London Guitar Show at Wembley Exhibition Centre where I'd promised to appear on the Campbell American Guitar stand. Readers of this diary will know that Dean Campbell and his team are developing a signature model guitar for me. I picked up the prototype of the signature model and brought it back home, along with an intense blue 'Precix' model that has a vibrato arm fitted. It was actually the first time I'd met Dean 'in the flesh', (despite many emails and 'phone conversations,) and I was made to feel very welcome by him. He's a warm, genuine, lovely guy and couldn't have been kinder to me. His care helped ease what was going on behind my smile and he, plus his colleague Dan, plus Music Ground's Rick Harrison, (who travelled down on the train and back with Emi and I,) helped me through what might otherwise have been a difficult day.
And so here I am, one week after the funeral, still in a dark cloud despite all attempts at moving on. Too soon, of course, but I have to try to pick up my workload again. The song 'Steam Radio Blues' that I was working on just over two weeks ago needs to be finished. It's just a matter of the mix really.
But then I have to write and record more songs for the 'jazzy' album. I realise that it will be impossible not to write something about this recent tragedy and sadness. In fact it may be a way forward for me, an attempt to exorcise some of the pain. I also hope to make a special tribute album for Ian later in the year, something that might directly benefit Ian's family. I have some ideas regarding this that I need to work on, but will announce more about it when things begin to fall into place.
Meanwhile, the sun shines outside my window, the swallows have arrived from Africa and swoop around the rooftops of the house. A cuckoo can be heard in the distant yellow meadow and fat bumble bees buzz amongst the flowers by our front door, oblivious to human suffering. Next month, Emi and I will fly to Tokyo for two weeks to visit Emi's mum and two brothers. And the work of making music will continue. Life goes on, though much more tenderly and tearfully than before.
Finally, I'd like to thank all those good people, family, friends and fans, whose words and deeds have brought a measure of comfort and kindness to what has been an extremely difficult time. Everyone's life is a work of art and everyone's life is precious. Heartfelt love to all.
The photographs accompanying this diary entry show:
1: Emiko working on Ian's flowers.
2: The floral Saxophone.
3. Ian, (in foreground) and Bill behind. Photo taken at Reighton Gap on the East Coast Of Yorkshire during a 1950's holiday.