William's Study (Diary Of A Hyperdreamer)
Tuesday 25th May 2010 -- 2:00 pm
The gaps between diary entries become wider as the complexity of daily life increases. As I've said so often before, finding enough free time to write up this odd little journal is not always easy. My previous entry, dated 5th January, seems an eternity ago. So much has happened since then that it would be impossible for me to record everything in detail here without spending several hours typing. Instead, I'll attempt to fill in the missing pages in as condensed a form as possible.
The last few months have certainly been eventful. During a bout of severe winter weather Emiko and I were involved in a car accident up in the hills of West Yorkshire, not far from Emley Moor. We were driving through a fairly remote area of countryside, on a narrow country lane running down a very steep hill, when, despite progressing slowly and carefully, we lost control of the car and slid sideways down the hill and into a grass verge, narrowly missing a tree. A large four wheel drive vehicle then came over the brow of the hill, stopped for a moment then attempted to drive around us but hit the same treacherous section of ice and snow and also lost control, slamming violently into the side of our car. We were lucky in that we were not physically hurt but we were badly shaken up by the event. Our car, however, suffered some quite serious damage which required it to be sent to an accident repair centre for extensive (and expensive) work. It was off the road for several weeks. Luckily, we were fully covered by our insurance and were given a courtesy car until the repairs were complete. The car is now visibly as good as new. A very unpleasant experience however, and not one that Emi and I would care to repeat.
Another unpleasant experience was had when I fell ill with a very nasty gastric flu virus. It started with sudden shivering and aching body, then a very high temperature and stomach pains. I was confined to bed for three or four days, feeling absolutely awful, then not out of my dressing gown for a week. A further week passed before things really began to improve and I felt strong enough to venture outside. I always seem to catch some evil bug or other in the period between New Year and Spring. However, the really annoying aspect of this particular illness was that it caused me to miss the Rufus Wainwright concert in Sheffield for which our good friends Steve and Julia had provided us with tickets as a Christmas gift. I had been so looking forward to seeing Rufus and was terribly disappointed at being too ill to attend.
A severe and prolonged toothache has also proved debilitating. It's settled down now but is still somewhat uncomfortable,especially when eating. Of course, my phobia regarding all things medical works against me in these situations. I tend to endure the problem until it resolves itself. Although I consider myself a reasonably bright chap, I certainly can be stubborn and stupid sometimes.
I've also been spending time with my mother every week, travelling over to Wakefield to take her out for dinner, giving her a hand with supermarket shopping, etc. Also helping her to deal with the conclusion of the litigation process that she was forced to undertake in order to gain a little more security, all as a result of inadequate provision being made for her in her late husband's will. The whole thing proved to be a tough and totally undeserved ordeal for my mother but, after more than two years of legal action and a modest settlement, there are still a couple of loose ends to tie up. Hopefully, these final issues can be resolved as soon as possible and mum can put this unfortunate situation behind her and get on with her life.
Another major pre-occupation for me has been the preparation of volume one of my autobiography. I began work on this project several years ago but, due to various other responsibilities, haven't touched the manuscript for quite a while. A recent decision to privately publish volume one in book form has meant that I've had to devote several weeks of my time exclusively to reviving the project. I've adjusted and re-written large chunks of the original text and compiled over seventy photographs from family archives which I'm hoping to include in the book. The work has required intense concentration and long hours each day to pull it together but it's now almost ready for a rough mock up to be produced so that any final layout/cosmetic changes can be made before it goes off to the printers.
The book's title is 'Painted From Memory. Volume One: Evocation Of A Radiant Childhood.' It covers the period from my birth to leaving school and tells how I first became bewitched by guitars and my consequent attempts to learn how to play the instrument. I suspect that a publisher would, in the interests of commerce and conciseness, edit the manuscript quite dramatically...but I'm determined to make this privately printed, limited edition version of the book as true to my original concept as possible. It is packed with detailed descriptions of my early life and provides a unique view of the post-war, working class life in which I grew up. I'm hoping that it will have a broader appeal than a 'How I Became Guitar Boy' type of story, (although that aspect is more than adequately taken care of in the text).
My hope is to have the book printed and available to fans of my music by November. Which would coincide perfectly with this year's Nelsonica fan convention.
Nelsonica 10 is an ongoing and important preoccupation for me, even at this early time of the year. This year celebrates the 10th anniversary of the event and the Nelsonica Team and myself are trying our best to make it a special one for fans. After some deliberation regarding practicalities and dramatically increased production costs we've decided to attempt a complex two-day event to mark the occasion. I've concocted a fun title for the event: 'Captain Future's Psychotronic Circus,' which suits the playful nature of this special anniversary Nelsonica, and also reflects my childhood fascination with circuses and science fiction.
So...this year's event will include a three-part live concert on Day One and a number of interesting presentations on Day Two. The live performance, due to its wide-ranging nature, presents me with a challenge in itself, even before the features of the second day are taken into account.
I'm planning to put together a solo set of guitar-based instrumental music with video backdrops, followed by a trio-based set as 'Orchestra Futura,' (which will concentrate on improvised music featuring Theo Travis on saxophone, flute and loops and Dave Sturt on bass guitar and lap-top treatments, plus myself on guitars and loops.) Then there will be a third set featuring my 7-piece 'Gentlemen Rocketeers' band playing a selection of music from my past, (but with a subtle hint of the future!)
Choosing, preparing and rehearsing such a complex and extensive 'one-off' show will certainly prove time consuming and physically exhausting but will also offer convention attendees a rich and rewarding listening experience. A fully-packed evening of live music and visuals.
The second day will feature special presentations that the Nelsonica Team and myself are already in the process of planning. Amongst these presentations will be an exhibition of my guitars. One of the exhibited jewels in this particular collection will be a unique Campbell Nelsonic Transitone guitar that has been hand painted for me by American artist Nicholas Del Drago. Nicholas is a renowned painter of motorbikes, custom cars and guitars. He is also a guitarist in his own right and a friend of guitar super-star Joe Satriani, (for whom he has also painted a guitar).
The Nelsonic guitar that Nicholas has painted for me features a wonderfully retro panorama inspired by some pulp 1950's sci-fi illustrations I sent to him just over a year ago. Nicholas has achieved, on this guitar, a fabulous, deep metalflake paint effect that really sparkles and comes to life when lit by strong light. The sides of the guitar feature a 'flip paint' finish that changes hue depending from which angle it is viewed. The instrument is equipped withAlumitone pickups which in themselves are quite different from any of my other guitars' pickups. In short, it's a very special piece and I'm extremely grateful to Nicholas and Dean Campbell for creating such a striking instrument for me. I've already used the guitar on some of my new but as yet unreleased recordings and it sounds just as good as it looks.
Recording, of course, is a continual process for me, an almost daily exercise, or, (dare I say it?) a sort of meditation on 'being,' in the Buddhist sense of the word. (Yes, I dare...)
There's something both compulsive and revelatory about just 'doing the work'...I suppose, for me, it's the creative process itself that throws the switch that turns on the internal lightbulb, rather than anything to do with what people might perceive as the musical end result. That old cliché about the journey being more important than the arriving fits my experience perfectly because, whilst the finished albums finally find their meaning with the listener, it's the creative act, the private ritual of making, that ultimately illuminates things for me, especially as I compose and record these albums in an extremely solitary fashion, all alone here in my tiny studio.
Since my previous diary entry I've released an album of the soundtrack music I created for the documentary film 'American Stamps.' The film was aired on the US television PBS, (Public Broadcasting Service), channel last year. The music has produced a pleasant and colourful album and, judging from comments posted on my website's forum, seems to have charmed those who have heard it. The album is titled 'PICTURE POST' and it's packaging features a set of imaginary stamps depicting some of my own American pop icons such as Orson Welles, Les Paul, John Cage, Duane Eddy and Fred Astaire.
As expected though, I'm already deep into recording brand new music for release later in the year. At this point in time, the aim is to gather together the best, or most compatible, pieces into two distinctive albums. One of these albums will become this year's Nelsonica special edition CD. It will, like the convention itself, be titled 'CAPTAIN FUTURE'S PSYCHOTRONIC CIRCUS' and should be loosely, (though not exclusively), themed around that particular concept.
The second album is to be titled 'MOON GOLD PALLADIUM' and, if all goes to plan and I don't shift my conceptual gears, be a lush, richly textured, epic but deeply romantic, (in the poetic, painterly sense of the word), album of vocal-based songs. It will also contain a few appropriate instrumental interludes.
All of this is ongoing and organically developing. Lots of work done so far but I still feel that I need to continue along these particular mysterious garden paths until I've gathered enough flowers to make a beautiful arrangement. The vase in the window is patiently awaiting (and anticipating), the artist's hand. Thankfully, the sun is out and the Idea Bird is singing.
What else? Well...A shiny new computer sits in front of me as I type these words. Yes, finally, I am connected to broadband and am able to access the internet in a far more contemporary and speedy fashion than before. My new iMac takes up less space than my old G4 Mac and things look slightly less crowded in this tiny home studio than previously.
I've yet to fully understand the finer points of some of the latest software, but all that will be resolved in time. My previous computer was ten years behind my current software so there's a reasonably steep learning curve to deal with, especially when it comes to things such as Photoshop and Final Cut. But it's really inspiring to suddenly have the opportunity to move my creative work forward with the help of this sleek machine. It's as if I've moved from gas to electricity!
And there are changes in our domestic life too: We are currently being assaulted by banging, hammering, drilling and sawing. Our old, rotten, leaky and unhygenic kitchen is in the process of being completely renovated. I'd hung on to our old kitchen for a long time, hoping that I could postpone the radical changes, (and expense), required to drag us into a more clean and contemporary realm. But, suddenly, there seemed no choice but to 'bite the bullet.' Things were falling apart in a bad way and what had once seemed charmingly 'shabby' had become frustratingly useless.
Actually, our home desperately requires a variety of renovations, most of which are currently beyond our reach... but the kitchen's many problems are finally in the process of being rectified. The work began with us emptying stuff from the old kitchen cupboards. An astonishing amount of 'stuff' as it happens. It is now occupying the dining room, actually filling the entire space! AND overflowing into the lounge and into the little study, (a room that was already almost impossible to enter due to accumulations of this, that or the other item of 20th Century bric-a-brac.)
The physical work of demolishing the old kitchen began last Wednesday and since then we have had no means of cooking, (or washing up). Today the installation of the new kitchen units has begun, though there's much more to be done in that department, including fitting the worktops, sink and various items of hardware. Still, the tiled floor has already been completed and a new 'range-style' oven will be delivered on Thursday. Hopefully, with the exception of re-decorating the walls and ceiling, the new kitchen should be operational by the early part of next week. Emi is very much looking forward to finally having a decent, practical and easier to clean kitchen to work in. She's thrilled about it all and can't wait to see the finished thing.
Lots of plaster dust in the air at the moment though, even up here in my studio...A fine layer of it seems to cover every surface. The cleaning up process will involve more than the kitchen and dining room areas by the look of things.
Meanwhile, we've been eating out every evening, (but tonight we had fish n' chips from the village chippie).
Had dinner with Elle and Elliot at Ceasar's Italian restaurant in town last night. They're busy people and I don't get to see them as often as I'd like. Rehearsing and performing with 'Honeytone Cody' takes up a lot of their time. I'm just as wrapped up in music too, I guess. But they're very talented and I'm extremely proud of them and it's always good for us to spend some time together.
This last weekend was more like summer than spring: bright, clear blue skies and hot golden sunshine. As the kitchen company were not working at our house on Saturday and Sunday, Emi and I took the opportunity to get away from all the kitchen debris and distraction for a while. On Saturday afternoon we went to Knaresborough and enjoyed apple pie and ice cream whilst sitting at the edge of the river, watching the little rowing boats drift by beneath the old Victorian railway bridge. A favourite fair weather spot for us.
Later, we drove to Harrogate for dinner and ended up at a restaurant called 'William And Victoria.' It was the first time we'd eaten there and it was extremely enjoyable.
Sunday we drove to Whitby, 'though the traffic was terrible and it took us far longer than usual. Had lunch at a place called 'Marine' which we hadn't been to before. Very nice it was too, we'll be going back next time we visit Whitby. The weather was beautiful and we sat overlooking the harbour after lunch, just taking in the view. I love visiting that place, even though it's sometimes very busy with tourists.
Sadly, one of our favourite Harrogate restaurants has unexpectedly closed down. 'San Martino' is no more, a victim of the economic climate by the look of it. Such a shame. But there are so many places suffering the same fate. 'The Lamb and Lion Inn' in York was another favourite eatery of ours. Several weeks ago now, Emi and I drove into town to have lunch there, only to find the place locked up and in darkness. Gone forever due to the Royal Bank Of Scotland calling time on the business, despite the owners turning things around and getting it into profit after the losses incurred by previous owners. We miss the place very much as it had become a regular haunt of ours.
And I still miss 'Borders' bookshop in the centre of town. The building it occupied remains empty and forlorn, the 'Borders' logo remains displayed within its walls but there are only the ghosts of books and the ruins of bookshelves to remind one of the place it once was. As I've probably mentioned elsewhere, 'Borders' opened here several years ago now, with such promise and style, only to slowly deteriorate, its original wide-ranging stock becoming narrower and narrower, less specialist and more predictable. A victim of the bland and mediocre consumerism of the modern marketplace? Or just bad management and exorbitant rents?
Actually, the effects of the economic malaise seem to be more acute than ever. And, despite the usual hopes that accompany a general election, all I can see from the results of the recent hung Parliament is an exercise in spin that somehow defines the naivety and the gullibility of much of the public. Throughout the election campaign, the word 'change' was bandied about like a toy balloon at a children's party. And a children's party, I fear, is what we may have ended up with. I hope this uncomfortable coalition will not be as disastrous as it might appear...but I watch the television images of Cameron and his new found Lib-Dem pals sitting side by side and don't know whether to laugh or cry. What should we call such an alliance, other than 'disappointing?' The 'Con-dems' maybe? An arrogant toff with no upper lip and a fake Yorkshireman who resembles The Mekon but doesn't have green skin? Ok, that's rather unfair of me, I know. I'm just having a go, all in fun. Still, that old satirical tv show 'Spitting Image' would have a ball with this lot.
Maybe they're very nice people and kind to their grannies, etc...but, despite their best efforts they come across, to me at least, as condescending and not a little devious. (But that's often a trait of the political classes, so nothing new there.) It will be interesting and darkly entertaining to see which way their wind blows though.
I'm trying to think of other things I should include in this 'catch-up' of a diary entry but am finding it hard to think at all due to the threateningly loud sound of drilling and sawing coming from the kitchen below me. So, maybe that's enough typing for now. Until next time.
The images accompanying this diary are as follows:-
1: A shot of a corner of Bill's studio showing iMac and Rocketship Nelsonic Guitar.
2: Photo of Bill in front of Whitby Harbour, May 22nd 2010.
3: Photo of boats in a corner of Whitby Harbour taken by Bill 22 May 2010.
4: Bill with Rocketship Campbell Nelsonic guitar. May 2010.
5: Close up of Bill's Rocketship Campbell Nelsonic guitar painted by Nicholas Del Drago.
6: Weird creatures lurking in a corner of Bill's studio. Taken by Bill, March 2010.