William's Study (Diary Of A Hyperdreamer)
Tuesday 8th March 2011 -- 9:00 pm
I really should be dealing with the upcoming television show preparations, but have found myself pottering about on the 'Dreamsville' website every day, answering questions and responding to fan's postings. It's as if I'm trying to deny that the 'Legends' television appearance is actually going to happen, even though full band rehearsals kick in on the 19th of this month.
Trying to pretend that the programme doesn't exist is one thing, but denying the presence of stress in my life as a result of it is impossible. I've not had a full night's sleep since this thing appeared on my horizon. I wake up at crazy hours with endless details of this or that or the other buzzing around in my head like a vicious swarm of synaptic bees. Lack of confidence, I suppose, and a general uneasiness about appearing like some flickering digital ghost in the electronic picture frames of our nation's living rooms...Or maybe I'm simply frightened of looking like an ancient fish in a haunted fishtank.
I wonder, will I regret doing this? As I've said before, my gut instincts are screaming 'run, run, run, run away...!' But common sense and commercial expediency says, 'do it and damn the torpedoes...
'I've been trying to choose some solo pieces to add to the 14 band songs that we are planning to perform. I've decided to include a couple of melodic familiars frommy solo concerts: 'For Stuart,' and 'A Dream For Ian.' Both pieces were written as deeply felt tributes to people who are sadly no longer with us: the first to an old friend, the second to my dearly missed brother Ian. Perhaps these tunes will reach out and touch those who are unfamiliar with my more recent work, (provided nerves and failing memory don't make me screw them up).
I also want to include something a wee bit more left of centre in the show, something that dances a little closer to my current sensibilities...At the moment this look like being 'Golden Dream Of Circus Horses' and 'Above These Clouds The Sweetest Dream.' Neither piece could be considered radical or avant-garde, I admit...but they're probably more than enough enough of a challenge for anyone unaware of my musical development since the 1970s.
Recurring themes throughout my creative life: Dreams, reveries, memories, meditations, musings, coupled with desperate attempts to get to grips with it all, to try to figure out what it all might mean, if indeed it means anything at all. Always the age-old tension between an egotistical desire to mean something...and our deeply repressed awareness that, ultimately even the most profound artistic commentary amounts to absolutely nothing.
Had to search through some old photo' albums today to find images of a particular guitar I once owned. Looking through these albums I was shocked to discover how badly deteriorated many of the photographs have become...colours changed, contrasts lost. Washed out memories, once taken for granted, now precious and fragile, fading fast.
I realised that I need to spend time scanning them into my computer and adjusting the quality as much as possible if these old images are not to be lost forever. There are polaroids taken on US tours in the '70s, very early black n' white shots of Be Bop Deluxe, family archive photographs...etc, etc. All suffering from the accelerating effects of entropy.
So...I made a decision to try and scan and restore some of them each day. And not just do this but also publish them here in Dreamsville. As the only means of personal access I have to the site is this diary and the Forum, I've decided to do a sort of 'archive photographs' version of the diary. It won't have much to say about what is going on here and now but will comment a a series of photographs that I'll upload. The text will be brief but the images will hopefully speak volumes. I'll flag these types of diary entry up on the forum in a way that will distinguish them from my more usual 'journal' type entries. This particular entry will introduce the first six images from my archives. It may be that I've posted some of these images on the site previously. If so, my apologies...but stay tuned over the next few weeks for some regular updates on these visual archives.
Here are the first six photographs:
1: Bill Nelson in the grounds of The Century Plaza hotel, Los Angeles, USA, 15th April 1976.
2: Bill and Be Bop Deluxe standing beneath a Be Bop Deluxe 'Sunburst Finish' advertising billboard on Sunset Boulevard, Los angeles, USA, April 1976.
3: Bill Nelson standing by a vintage American Car, New York, USA, 1970s.
4: Bill Nelson at the Mayflower Hotel, Washington DC, USA, 26th March 1976.
5: Bill Nelson rehearsing at S.I.R. sound studios, in Los Angeles, USA, 1970's.
6: View of Beverly Wiltshire Theatre frontage with billboard announcing Bill Nelson solo concert, Los Angeles, USA, early '80's.
Wednesday 9th March 2011 -- 3:00 pm
Another in a new series of diary entries specifically intended as a way of sharing a few of my personal archive photographs with fans on the Dreamsville website.
Nothing new to report progress-wise so I'll get straight to the six images that I've attached here. These are all from 1977, (35 years ago!)
1: This is a photograph of Villa St. George, in Juan-Les-Pins in the South Of France. It was where Be Bop Deluxe began recording the songs that eventually made up the band's 'Drastic Plastic' album. Sadly, this lovely villa was demolished more than several years ago. The last time I visited Juan-Les-Pins, all that remained was a huge quarry-like crater in the garden where it had stood, although the gates and perimeter fence were still intact.
Recording in this location was an unforgettable experience, one of the most treasured memories of my life. We were a particularly happy group of people, all working together to make the album, but in a romantic, relaxed and idyllic atmosphere.
In this photograph of the villa you can see the white Range Rover which was used by the band for travelling to concerts in the UK. It was taken to the South Of France to serve as general band transport, although I travelled there in my black Daimler.
On the left of the photograph you can glimpse the Rolling Stones mobile recording truck which we used on these sessions. The band played in the lower room (with the white shutters). Microphone cables were run from the truck, (which contained the 24 track recorder and a mixing desk), into the villa to capture the performances.
The balcony with the red sunshade was part of my bedroom. The views down to the sea were wonderful and I recorded my vocal for 'Islands Of The Dead' on that very balcony, a microphone set up so that I could gaze out to sea as I sang.
2: This photo' shows me standing on that same balcony although the angle doesn't reveal the full view.
3: This photograph shows me sitting at the grand piano inside Villa St. George. It was a lovely old French piano, a 'Gaveau' I believe, ('though I may have got the spelling wrong).
This was the room where the majority of the recording was done, although I think this photograph was taken just before we left the villa to return to England as the band's equipment is no longer set up in the room. The villa was filled with lovely old French furniture and had some nice vintage light fittings. Most evenings we ate in the villa's dining room, our meals being cooked by wives and girlfriends who were with us. I forget exactly how many people made up our team but we had John Leckie and Haydn Bendall and their wives and children, our crew and road manager, sometimes our business manager and his girlfriend...mealtimes were a communal affair.After dinner we might do a little more recording but usually we'd amble down the road into the centre of Juan-Les-Pins and take a couple of tables at one of the open fronted bars, (usually 'Le Pam-Pam'), and indulge ourselves with colourful cocktails and ice cream extravaganzas whilst watching the beautiful local girls and boys parade around the block in their open-topped Ferraris and Porches.
4: Just to show that I was once a lithe young thing before the years took their terrible toll, here is a photograph of me sitting on the rocks on the edge of one of Juan-Les-Pins beaches. I had to spend rather more time at the villa recording than the other guys in the band so didn't get as much time as them for sunning and relaxing. However, once in a while, I'd take a few hours out of the day to work on my tan!
5: And here's another photograph of me at Juan-Les-Pins enjoying the salt-water sparkles and the glorious Cote D'Azur sunshine. Again, taken 35 years ago.
6: This photo' shows mestanding outside the gates of the Villa Santo-Sospir on the little peninsula of St Jean Cap Ferrat. Cocteau lived at Santo Sospir for quite a time and decorated the interior with his artwork. I actually own an original Cocteau letter which is written on Santo Sospir headed notepaper. Like these old photographs, the ink is fading on the letter now but I bought it over 35 years ago and it hangs on my dining room wall today.
It took me a little while to find Villa Santo Sospir back in 1977. I didn't have a full address, though I knew from books that it was somewhere in St. Jean Cap-Ferrat. I also had seen a photograph taken in the villa's back garden and noticed that Cap Ferrat's lighthouse was visible in the background. When I decided to try and find the villa, I located the area where the lighthouse stands and drove up and down various streets until I finally discovered Villa Santo Sopir on Rue De Phare. Like some sort of crazy groupie, I sneaked into the villas front garden and pulled up a small flowering plant which I eventually took home to England where I planted it in my own garden at Haddlesey House. I've no idea if it still grows there as Haddlesey House's gardens have sadly been turned into a housing estate by a local building company. But for a while, a little piece of Cocteau's Santo Sospir grew in the Yorkshire sunshine of my garden.
Well, that's all for today...not really a diary entry, more of a reminiscence, but hopefully an entertaining one. I'll perhaps continue this theme tomorrow. Stay tuned!
Thursday 10th March 2011 -- 1:00 pm
Emi has caught a nasty cold and is in bed feeling poorly. We suffered a sleepless night due to a combination of Emi's restless coughing and the wild weather. Strong gusts of wind and rain rattled the windows and stormed the rooftops all night long.
Feeling tired and without energy today.
I now have to avoid catching whatever virus Emi has come down with. Not easy when we live in such close proximity to each other. The last thing I need at this point in time is to fall ill. Rehearsals for the tv show start soon and then the show itself.
Strange how this has happened now...the same situation cropped up just before last year's Nelsonica when I was desperately trying to stay clear of a bug that Emi had caught at that time. I managed to avoid it but succumbed to a different flu virus right after Nelsonica was concluded.
Today's diary entry once again serves as a means of publishing more photographs from my personal archives. This selection continues with yesterday's theme of Be Bop Deluxe in the South Of France. All these photographs are from 35 years ago.
Photograph number 1: Here is a snap of John Leckie and myself in Juan-Les-Pins, strolling from the town's central square and heading towards Villa St. George to get back to work on the 'Drastic Plastic' album. I think we'd been for an early morning coffee and croissant.
2: A portrait of myself taken in the bedroom I had at Villa St. George. The guitar pendant I'm wearing around my neck was a gift from EMI Records. They had it specially made for me. I think it may be made, (legally I hope), from old ivory. It has solid silver fittings and I still own it today. That blue, flecked shirt is rather nice too. I remember buying it in the Kings Road in London, before Kings Road became just another corporate chain store high street. I don't have the shirt anymore but, even if I did, I wouldn't be able to squeeze into it!
3: On the final day of recording at Villa St. George, we had a sort of 'wrap' party. Lots of good food and wine and a fun jam session, part of which featured Charlie Tumahai playing my acoustic guitar, Simon Fox playing the harmonica and myself playing percussion, (which I'm doing in this photograph). The guy in the pale grey shirt on the left of this photo' was, (if I recall correctly), called Mathieu. We'd befriended him at one of the bars in Juan-Les-Pins. He turned out to be a purveyor of the odd 'jazz woodbine.' ;-)
4: Another shot of the same jam session at Villa St. George. I think that is Andy Clarke behind me holding the drumsticks.
5: Whilst we were working in Juan-Les-Pins, the Queen's Jubilee day occurred. None of us were staunch royalists or anything but we used the Jubilee celebrations as an excuse to stage an open air party in the grounds of Villa St George. We decked the place out with red, white and blue bunting and balloons and laid on a very nice feast for everyone, even inviting in locals we'd met at various locations in town.
One of the people who turned up to our party was Bill Wyman, at that time still in the Rolling Stones and living nearby, close to the walled hilltop town of St. Paul Du Vence. This is a snap of him having a drink and a snack in Villa St. George's garden. The Jubilee party features in my 'Be Bop Deluxe In The South Of France' video on the 'Picture House' DVD. In the video, Mr. Wyman can be glimpsed popping in to the Stones truck to have a listen to what we'd been up to.
6: A snap of me with my Canon home cine camera, the one I used to capture the footage that I would eventually edit to make the 'Be Bop Deluxe In The South Of France' video. This photo' was taken during those sessions at Villa St. George in 1977.
Well, that's all for today. If I find time, I'll scan some more archive photo's and post them here tomorrow.
Friday 11th March 2011 -- 3:00 pm
Woke up this morning to the shocking news of a huge earthquake off the coast of Japan. The 'quake is the largest in Japan's recorded history and has caused a huge Tsunami that has swept inland carrying all before it. The scenes on television were unreal, like something from a Hollywood disaster movie. Predictions are that the effects of the earthquake will result in Tsunamis throughout the Pacific region over the next 24 hours, reaching as far as New Zealand and South America. Tokyo has suffered some damage as a result of the earthquake itself but the coastal towns to the north east of the capital have suffered most. Here both earth and water have conspired to cause devastation. Emiko's brothers are in Tokyo and it seems that they will be ok. However, Emi has a Japanese friend called Akko who lives in the next village to us here in Yorkshire. (Like Emi, she married an Englishman.) Akko is originally from Sendai, the Japanese town nearest to the centre of the earthquake, and Akko's mother still lives there. She must be very worried about her.
Emi's 'cold' has turned out to be 'flu. She felt much worse yesterday evening and developed a high temperature. Today, her cough is quite severe and she feels terrible. She has remained in bed and I'm doing my best to look after her whilst trying not to pick up the virus that has laid her low. I dread to think of the consequences if I should catch it. The entire tv show could go belly up. I did have a sore throat and a headache this morning and have taken all the precautions possible, multi-vitamins, echinacea, several glasses of fruit juice, etc, etc. Fingers crossed that it doesn't get me.
I'm continuing with my archive photo' presentations in the diary today. Here are six more from my personal snapshot albums:
1: This is a polaroid photograph of Eddie Condon's jazz club in New York, taken in 1976. That's me in the long coat with the fur collar, standing in the club's doorway, beneath the striped awning. I was first introduced to this club by a guy called Bob Bonis who worked for an American agency who handled Be Bop Deluxe's concerts in the 'States. Bob was a lovely man and became a good friend to the band and myself in particular. He had been the Beatles AND the Rolling Sones tour manager when they first toured America. Bob was a big jazz music fan and knew many famous jazz musicians personally. I remember him trying to get me to go and sit in with the great Joe Pass, (who was also one of Bob's friends), one evening, just to have a jam. I might have had more confidence in my playing back then then than now but, even so, I was wise enough to know that I'd be completely out of my depth and so politely declined the offer. What I really should have done was just go to see Joe play and let Bob introduce me so that I could shake Joe's hand and tell him how much his music meant to me.
But Bob took me to Eddie Condon's club, and to Jimmy Ryan's club which was right next door. I'd known about Eddie Condon since my early teens when I'd read Condon's 1948 autobiography, 'We Called It Music.' Eddie Condon played tenor guitar with various bands before running his own band. He worked throught the 1920's, '30's and '40's with many famous jazz musicians including Louis Armstrong. He established his 'Eddie Condon's Jazz Club' in 1945. Eddie died in 1973 but his guitar was still hanging behind the bar when Bob Bonis first introduced me to the place. Eddie Condon's and Jimmy Ryan's became favourite places for me to visit whenever I was in New York. The atmosphere was mellow and sophisticated and the live music sublime, even when played by musicians who were not so well known. I have fond memories of spending a relaxing evening or two there whilst enjoying the food and music so was shocked when, several years ago now, I was in New York and went to visit these two clubs only to find that they had been pulled down. All that was visible where they once stood was a car parking lot. Such a shame.
As a footnote to the above story, I came across an article in the March issue of Mojo Magazine regarding a recently published book of photographs Bob had taken of the Rolling Stones. This book, ('The Lost Rolling Stones Photographs: The Bob Bonis Archive 1964-'66') collects together Bob's personal photographs of the Stones, taken whilst acting as their US tour manager. It wasn't until I read the piece that I realised that Bob had actually passed away. I then searched the internet and discovered thatBob died in 1991...10 years ago now. I had no idea. I've never forgotten him though, or his kindness to me and that wonderfully chilled-out evening at Eddie Condon's in New York.
2: This is a photograph of me on the top of the Empire State Building in New York, in the 1970s. It was taken through an observation gallery window so suffers from some reflections which I've attempted to remove without much success. But I like the mood of the shot and that it was taken as the sun was going down. I look a little bit like Rufus Wainwright in this, don't you think?
3: This is a photograph of Be Bop Deluxe's keyboard player Andy Clarke, taken whilst touring America with the band. He's wondering if his weird little herbal roll up might turn him into a munchkin. ;-)
4: Here's a snap of myself looking thoughtful in Abbey Road studios during a Be Bop Deluxe mixing session. I'm thinking, "Hmmm...maybe that vocal is too loud..."
5: Here's John Leckie in the control room at Abbey Road, probably during the above mentioned mixing session. He's probably thinking: "Hmmm...that vocal needs to be louder..."
6: This is a photograph of some of Be Bop Deluxe's equipment in Abbey Road studios. (Studio 3, I think.) A lot of it is still in flight cases and not set up yet but you can see, in the centre of the room, the gong that Simon Fox used on a couple of Be Bop tracks and, if you look carefully towards the rear of the room, sitting against the far wall, between the red door and the control room window, you can glimpse my twin Carlsbro amp set up. A noisy beast and that's for sure.
Well, that's all for today. Since beginning to write this entry, my sore throat seems to have become more noticeable. I'd better go and take some more 'First Defence.'
Saturday 12th March 2011 -- 3:00 pm
Another restless night due to Emiko's flu which troubled her with a constant cough throughout. She's feeling exhausted and washed out with it all. Her condition hasn't been helped by the news from her home country, which she is finding very upsetting.
Once again, all the tv news programmes today are filled with terribly distressing footage from Japan. First the earthquake, then the Tsunami and now a nuclear emergency at an atomic power station.
There has also been new footage shown of the Tsunami destruction which swept away property and lives yesterday. It's hard to take it all in, almost incomprehensible. Many other countries have offered help, including England and America. How long it will take to clean everything up and put it all back together is impossible to estimate. A huge task.
Emi has made contact with her brothers who seem to be ok. Her youngest brother, (who is a singer), was about to start a session in a Tokyo recording studio when the quake struck. He said it was the worst he'd ever experienced and very scary. He eventually managed to get back home to his apartment where, miraculously, everything was intact. Not so for Emi's older brother. He was at home when the quake hit and his apartment shook so violently that all his shelves and cupboards were emptied of their contents and crockery, glassware, family mementoes and decorative objects were smashed on the floor. Luckily he escaped unscathed but his apartment is a mess.
A friend of Emi's had just parked her car in the Ginza shopping district of Tokyo when the first, slightly less powerful 'quake struck. Even then, she had to cling to a tree to stop being thrown off her feet. Then the tree started to sway loose...She ran back to her car and the shaking subsided. Then, as she desperately tried to drive back to her apartment block, the main earthquake began. This was the 8.9 one which was long and violent. Emi's friend watched from her car as a huge crane mounted on the top of a tall building toppled over and fell to the ground. She said it was as if she was in a disaster movie.
Another friend of Emi's spent the night in her office as there were no trains running to get her home. Many commuters simply walked along the empty train tracks to get back to their apartments. From what we can gather from Emi's brothers, people in Tokyo are now worried about radiation leakage from the crippled nuclear power plant. Whilst the source of the problem is some distance from Tokyo, there are concerns that weather conditions might bring the radiation or dust clouds in the direction of the city.
Publishing more photographs from my personal archives seems churlish in view of the above...but I promised more snapshots and the time I've spent preparing them has helped to keep my mind of other things, including my worries about catching Emiko's 'flu virus. So here they are. Today's selection goes way back, much further than the 35 years of the Be Bop Deluxe ones I've previously posted.
Todays selection dates back to the 1950's.
Photograph number 1: This is a photograph of myself, when I was very young indeed. It was taken outside the caravan where my parents took a holiday at Chapel St. Leonards, near Skegness. (1949 or 1950?) I seem to be sporting a 'pudding-basin' haircut.
This is the only photograph from that particular holiday that didn't make it into volume one of my 'Painted From Memory' autobiography. Those fans who have the book will find today's selection of snaps adds further detail to the story and an extension of the photographs contained in the book itself.
2: This is my mother and myself standing on the cliff tops at Reighton Gap on the East Coast with the sea behind us. We used to stay at at a wooden bungalow owned by friends of my parents and this particular spot was just a few yards from there. A couple of years or so ago, I took my mother back to that same spot and Emiko took a photograph of us which I published in my online diary at that time. But here's the inspiration for it. In the book, there is a photo' of my father and I in the same spot, taken on the same day. As I child, I loved visiting Reighton Gap and staying at the bungalow. Where the old bungalow once stood is now a 'static' caravan site but the surrounding landscape has hardly changed. It's a lovely spot and always brings back fond memories whenever I find time to go back and spend a few minutes reminiscing.
3: This is a photograph of my mother, my brother Ian and myself, sitting in the garden of the Reighton Gap bungalow. You can just glimpse the sea and its horizon beyond the bushes to the right of the shot.
4: In this photo, I'm kneeling with my brother Ian in front of the family's Hillman Minx, which is parked at the rear of the Reighton Gap bungalow. This was the second car we'd ever owned. The first was an old 1930's Jowett, (either a Jowett Kestrel or Jowett 10 model). The Hillman seemed quite modern by comparison. It's number plate registration was 'MUM 333.'
5: This photograph shows my mother, Ian and myself on the ferry that took us to France for a day trip outing when we were holidaying at Dymchurch on the South Coast. It was the first, (and only), time that the family had ventured out of the UK. We were back in England by late evening, our day trip taking in a World War 2 cemetery where many British soldiers were buried. I'm still in short trousers and have a little Kodak camera in a canvas camera case, hanging around my neck.
6: I'm not sure where this photograph was taken...a beach in Yorkshire I would think. Bridlington? Withernsea? Scarborough? Or was it in Blackpool on the other coast? Anyway, it shows myself, (on the left of the photo), and my brother Ian making a sandcastle. (I'm looking rather smart in my little blazer and Brylcreemed hair.) Behind us is my mother and next to her, on the extreme right of the photo' my grandmother Ethel Griffiths. Ian's hair was wonderfully curly back then. My mother recently told me that he hated his curly hair when he was little. Apparently he used to say, "I want it straight like my big brother's..." But everyone used to say, "Hasn't he got lovely curly hair?"
Well, that's all for today. I'll see how things are tomorrow before scanning more. Maybe some very early, first line-up Be Bop Deluxe ones next.
Wednesday 23rd March 2011 -- 10:00 pm
Back home from the final day of band rehearsals for the 'Legends' tv show. It's been an eventful five days.
The first day, (last Saturday), was cursed with car breakdowns: Before I left home to drive to the rehearsal studio in Leeds on Saturday morning, I got a call from Adrian at Opium Arts to say that our drummer for the tv show, Gavin Griffiths, had suffered a broken car exhaust on his journey from South Wales to Yorkshire and would be late. As it was the first day of rehearsals and the technical equipment required setting up and checking through, it seemed that this might not be a particularly serious set-back. The extra time for equipment wrangling could prove useful.
Emiko was busy that morning putting on a traditional Japanese Kimono with all the trimmings in preparation for a fund raising event to help children suffering from the effects of the tragic Japanese earthquake and Tsunami. The event had been quickly put together by our local Japanese Family Association and Emi had volunteered to make traditional Japanese Tea for visitors. The event featured a Koto concert, Japanese martial arts and a 1,000 Crane Origami challenge amongst several other attractions.
Earlier on Saturday morning, intrepid guitar Tech Andy Newlove arrived at Nelson Acres with a Transit van to pick up my guitars, processors, pedal boards, cable boxes, etc, etc, before setting off for the rehearsal studio. After Andy had left, I then loaded a few extra bits and bobs into my car, jumped into the driver's seat and turned the key in the ignition...only to be greeted by a stony, electrically cold silence. Nothing, zero, zilch. Not a 'vroom-vroom' to be heard.
I rushed back into the house and told Emiko that I would have to borrow her car to get to rehearsals. Of course, she was just about to leave for the aforementioned charity event, so I drove her across town to the venue before doubling back on myself and heading out of the city in the direction of Leeds.
At the rehearsal room, the band, minus Gavin, (and Theo, who would only be available to rehearse with us on the coming Tuesday,) were still setting up their gear. Andy was busy with my guitars and associated equipment, sorting through a maze of cables and pedals.
Meanwhile, poor Gavin was suffering further setbacks in Monmouth where his car had been taken in an attempt to facilitate exhaust repairs.
At the garage, an over-enthusiastic mechanic drove Gavin's car at a recklessly hasty lick onto the hydraulic ramp that would lift the car up so that its exhaust might be repaired. As a result, the car hit the ramp at such a speed that it ripped off what was left of the exhaust and severed the air-line that powered the up and down motion of the ramp. It seems the car was lifted up high on the ramp without too much of a problem, (other than further damage to the exhaust), but then, due to the severed air-line hose, the ramp wouldn't descend.
To cut a long story short, Gavin eventually, (once they'd managed to get his car back on the ground), had to drive the long distance from Monmouth to Leeds with his exhaust tied up with string. He finally made it to the Leeds rehearsal room around 4pm.
We were all acutely aware of how stressed out Gavin must have felt, particularly as this was his first day with the band, none of whom he had ever met or played with before. But he rose to the challenge with great style and, once his kit was set up and we got under way, it was as if he'd been playing with us for some considerable time.
My own car problem continued: I decided that I'd have to attempt to get my own car started for the next day so I bought an expensive power pack from 'Halfords,' a piece of kit apparently capable of starting any car whose battery was failing. Unfortunately, when I got this 'jump-start' gizmo home, it turned out that it wasn't going to be an immediate solution to my problem...the power pack required a 36 hour charging-up period before it could be used. Once again, I had to borrow Emiko's car to get to Leeds.
On my way home from rehearsals that day, Emi's car also developed a worrying problem: a high pitched, metallic screeching, grinding noise. It continued all the way home, a relentless, nerve shredding racket, extremely disconcerting. I did manage to get the car back safely but I couldn't risk using it again to get to and from rehearsals. Since then, every morning, I've used the jump-start machine to get my engine going, both here at home and at the rehearsal room in Leeds. A nuisance but it's got me there and back. Tomorrow, I need to source a new battery, or find out if the alternator is at fault.
BUT, alongside these mechanical problems, health has become an issue. Emiko has been suffering from a nasty flu' virus and I've been desperately trying not to catch it. Miraculously, with the aid of various herbal potions, anti-bacterial sprays, vitamins and so on, I've managed to steer clear of it, despite it keeping Emi bed-ridden for a few days and leaving her with a terrible cough for a week and a half. You can imagine the paranoia I felt with the tv show rehearsals looming, (not to mention the show itself).
Anyway, I thought I was going to be ok. Then, a couple of days into rehearsal it became apparent that Steve Cook, (keyboards), was not as chipper as usual. He looked poorly and it turned out that he'd caught some nasty bug or other and wasn't feeling at all well.
Lo and behold, damn and blast, if I didn't wake up a day or two later with a sore throat, runny nose, feeling clammy and weak, and little physical energy. So, I'm now trying to fight this thing, doing not too bad during the day when my mind is occupied with rehearsal details, but going downhill later, (in the evening), and waking up feeling like I might not be able to utter anything beyond a hoarse whisper. I've had to adapt some vocal melody lines to accommodate my virus stricken voice, singing lower or part-speaking some lines, but I've managed better than expected. How things will develop is hard to say...I might get worse, I might get better. Impossible to know for sure. All I can report here is that I'm not feeling great at the moment and that my energy levels are down, and a cough now seems to be developing. Nevertheless, being part of the post-war generation, raised on the golden age of Hollywood musicals, I'm trying to follow the tradition of 'The Show Must Go On.' Even though, at 9-15 pm on Wednesday 23rd of March, I'm feeling utterly crap.
But rehearsals are concluded. The guys in the band have been brilliant, I couldn't wish for a more dedicated group of musicians. As always, there are still a few rough edges, (mostly mine), that could easily be smoothed out by a series of regular live performances, (a luxury we don't have, I'm afraid). So, what will be will have to be. I just hope that we will have a sympathetic audience and suitable technical resources to make the best of our modest performance this coming Saturday. And, despite all else, I pray I'll find a source energy (and less of a cold and cough), to deliver something approaching the dream of excellence that I always seem to wake up from with a sense of disappointment these days. But maybe I demand too much of these situations...
It's now all down to Saturday...and the two days prior to that.