8th of January, 2022, and a long time since my last journal entry. Such a lot has happened since then, including Christmas and New Year.
One event was the final internment of my dear Mother’s ashes in November. Her ashes had remained at the funeral home since her cremation in 2020 as we were unable to get the remaining members of the family together for the internment because of the Covid pandemic. But time quickly passed and things haven’t really got much better on that front, so we decided to go ahead.
Her ashes were placed in a ‘mini-grave’ in Wakefield Cemetary, right in front of my brother Ian’s grave, which is what she wanted. There was just myself and Emi, Ian’s son Julian, my eldest daughter Julia and my grandson Luke present. Just five of us. Julian picked up Mum’s ashes from the funeral director and brought them to the cemetary.
It was a sad but somewhat surreal experience as Julian arrived at the cemetery with a carrier bag containing a green plastic jar or urn in which Mum’s ashes resided. It seemed a totally utilitarian object, not at all special or beautiful but Julian explained that this was a standard thing nowadays as the container was designed to not only be green in colour but also to be green in terms of eco friendliness and was meant to break down in time.
A very kind man from the cemetery staff had removed the black pebbles from the surface of the mini grave and unscrewed the bolts that held the metal plate in position over the cavity. The plate was removed and, after we all held the jar containing the ashes for a few moments, Julian lowered it into the grave. We stood in silence contemplating the significance of the event.
It was so strange, I found it hard to associate that humble green plastic container with the mortal remains of my Mother. If there was some form of spiritual afterlife I hoped that it wouldn’t be here in this small cavity in the ground, but ‘out there’ somewhere, everywhere, all enveloping, all around us. A subtle, sublime energy released from the physical confines of the corporeal body.
Emi and I returned to the cemetery just before Christmas to place seasonal decorations on both Mum and Ian’s graves. There were many such decorations throughout the cemetary, people remembering their loved ones at Christmas.
Lately, Mum often appears in my dreams, and in these dreams in which she appears I never seem to question her ‘aliveness’. She is simply there, as she always was, just my Mum. I dream of the dead a lot these days, my father, my brother, my two cousins, my musical friends who have left this Earth: Harold Budd, Alan Quinn, Charlie Tumahai, Ian Parkin and others...they all appear in my dreams, but mostly my mother and father and brother.
Sometimes the dreams are slightly disturbing, always disconnected yet somehow linear. They can resemble a David Lynch film, but also a fairytale. God knows what’s going on in my subconscious...
December marked the first anniversary of Harold’s passing. I miss his letters and postcards and emails but most of all the sound of his voice. What a lovely man and a great artist he was, and how priveleged I was to be his friend.
Another sad note: I learned of the death of another friend, Tony Baker, on the 23rd of December last year. I first met Tony a good number of years ago when he was a teacher at York College and asked me if I would give a talk to his students about my experiences of being a musician. I was nervous about doing this but I agreed and actually went on to deliver similar talks at other educational establishments around the country.
Tony and I became friends and went on to collaborate on some things including an exhibition at Flannels Gallery in Leeds. Tony played guitar and sang and had a band who I played a couple of numbers with at his 50th birthday party. He was a lovely guy, very talented, passionate about art and music and I’m so sad that he’s no longer lighting up the world. He was younger than me and should have had many more years to give to his family and loved ones.
I want to turn away from mortal thoughts, but I’m feeling exeedingly mortal at the moment. I have eye surgery coming up on Monday, (10th January,) which I am absolutely dreading. (Perhaps ‘terrified’ would be a better word for how I feel.)
My eyesight has continued to deteriorate, diabetic macular degeneration and age related macular degeneration being the two main culprits. Reading has become very difficult indeed and I really should not be driving anymore. Emiko does the bulk of the driving, particularly at night when the headlights of other cars dazzle, or when the sun is low during winter. But on top of the macular degeneration, I have cataracts too.
The purpose of the surgery is to remove one of the cataracts and implant an artificial plastic lens in my left eye in an attempt to improve my sight a little. But the consultant said that, even if it works, the improvement will be very modest. But he thinks it’s worth a try, so I reluctantly agreed to have the operation.
But tonight I’ve been looking through the pages of complications and risks that can occur from this type of surgery and it makes frightening reading. Am I doing the right thing? Too late now to back out...10 o’clock Monday morning is the moment of truth.
Now, more positively, the six CD ear book that is the ‘My Private Cosmos’ album has been released and has been given a very positive reception from fans. The whole package looks very good indeed and comes with a postcard of one of my drawings and an engraved signature guitar pick. Creating this album with its 94 songs and luxurious packaging was a real labour of love, but one which I think was worth all the effort put into it.
Also released in December was another new album titled ‘Mixed Up Kid’, so it’s been a very productive year in some ways.
2022 is set to follow suit with a series of releases of never before heard albums from my archives. And already I’ve just completed another brand new album, tentatively titled ‘Man Of Dreams’ (though this title may yet change.)
I quietly celebrated my 73rd birthday in December, though thinking back on it now I honestly can’t recall if we did anything special or not. That shows just how inconsequential the whole thing was.
Time flows on and on until it stops...
Christmas and New Year were equally subdued, partly due to the ongoing Covid pandemic but also to a certain lack of enthusiasm on my part. I just couldn’t seem to drum up my usual Christmas spirit for some reason. The Christmases of my 1950s childhood were magical, sparkling, joyous occasions, but these days the tinsel has rusted somewhat. Even our Christmas Tree lights gave up the ghost a couple of days after we had assembled and decorated the tree. Must remember to buy a new set for next year.
Well, there’s much more to tell but most of it I’ve forgotten as it has been so long since I last wrote. Must try to write a little sooner next time, all being well...
A FLYER FOR ONE OF THE PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED ALBUMS FROM MY ARCHIVES.
MY MOTHER'S GRAVE ON THE DAY THAT HER ASHES WERE INTERRED. EMIKO MADE THE FLOWER ARRANGEMENT OF ROSES AND APPLES.