I’ve been reluctant to write a journal entry for a while. I’m still very depressed about losing my Mum and can’t find much positivity at the moment. Feeling down and disheartened...
I’m currently trying to deal with Mum’s belongings and have been travelling to Wakefield a couple of days each week to continue sifting through a lifetime of her stuff, trying to decide what to throw away and what to keep. There’s a lot of it and it’s not been easy.
I’ve brought back a few car loads of memorabilia and paper ephemera from her cupboards, drawers and boxes, plus some items of crockery, glassware and kitchen utensils that I remember from my childhood in the 1950s. It's not easy to find space for everything here, but some items, whilst inconsequential to anyone else, have a great deal of sentimental resonance and value for myself.
In a spare bedroom there were tons of boxes of reel-to-reel tapes that I’d stored at Mum’s many years ago when I’d become divorced and had no place of my own to keep them.
I’d forgotten just how many tapes there were, from ¼ inch stereo mixes to four, eight and sixteen track master tapes from my home studio in the‘70s and ‘80s, plus some two inch multitrack master tapes, (the latter very heavy to carry.) It took four or five trips in the car to bring them all back here from Wakefield.
I haven’t had time to go through the tapes in detail but there are quite a few ¼ inch stereo monitor mixes from the tour that was recorded for Be Bop Deluxe’s live album. These are not multi-track tapes, just raw stereo recordings straight from the front of house mixing desk, so the quality or balance won’t be great, but they may make interesting listening and might cover shows that were not chosen for the official live album.
There are also master tapes for the soundtrack of the ‘Dream Demon’ film and some other film and tv master tapes. Plus odds and ends of solo home recordings, live backing tapes and so on.
Of course, one of the problems in dealing with all this material is that they’re on various different tape formats and I no longer have the machines to play them back on and, in the case of multi-track tapes, to mix them. I need to find somewhere that has the facility to copy them across to a digital platform that would be compatible with my Cubase system, but that is going to prove expensive and time consuming.
Dealing with Mum’s furniture is proving to be more of a headache. I’m planning to contact a house clearance company to see if the majority of it can be taken by them, even though there are some items that go back to my ‘50s and ‘60s period. In particular there is a very nice bedroom suite that my Mum and Dad bought in the late ‘50s when we lived at 28 Conistone Crescent on Eastmoor. It comprises two large wardrobes, a big dressing table, bed headboard and side tables. It’s in a kind of grey Melamine finish, quite unusual and stylish. It’s a very nostalgic and sentimental thing to me.
When I was a boy and was told by my parents that I would be getting my first electric guitar for Christmas, I couldn’t wait. And when Mum and Dad had gone out into town, I searched the house to see if I could find where they might have hidden the guitar. Various cupboards were explored but with no luck, then I tried the wardrobes. Nothing in the first one other than clothes, but in the second wardrobe, behind the clothes, was a brand new Antoria solid body guitar. I took it out, posed in front of the dressing table mirror with it for a minute or two, then carefully placed it back behind the clothes in the weardrobe. On Christmas day I had to pretend I was seeing it for the very first time.
Anyway, those wardrobes are just one of the things that must now be disposed of. I’d dearly love one of them but we simply have no space for it, so it will have to go along with the rest of the bedroom suite and other items of furniture.
One thing that has proved fascinating whilst sorting through Mum’s things has been the discovery of old photographs and documents relating to different generations on her side of the family.
I’ll attach some to this and future journal entries but there is also an excellent thread on my website’s forum in which a fan has researched my geneology on my Mother’s, (Griffiths,) side of our family. He’s done a great job of piecing things together from census and marriage records, tracing my ancestors as far back as the early 1800s. It brings to life what I previously could only speculate on and I now feel a real connection with my great grandparents and great, great grandparents and even further back than them.
The only thing is that I wish my Mother was still here so that I could share this new-found knowledge with her.
After my Dad died in 1976, Mum continued to live on Eastmoor Estate but later, in the ‘80s, met George, (a widower,) who she married. Mum and George then occupied the house on the edge of Flanshaw Estate where she has lived, since then, until she passed away this April.
The house is not owned by Mum, it was left by George to his son and daughter, with some other property and assets, when he died, some years ago now. Mum was allowed to continue living there but only until her own passing, so the house reverts to George’s offspring now, who are both middle-aged.
Mum was married to George for almost 30 years, helped raise his kids, looked after George when he became seriously ill, and cared for him right up to his death. But since their Father died, his son and daughter have never once been in touch with my Mother to ask how she is. Not a word from them until the other week when George’s son contacted my nephew Julian to ask how soon we could hand the keys to the house over to him. I guess that speaks for itself...
I’ll change the subject: Another discovery in the spare bedroom at Mum’s was a box filled with old posters of different sizes. The posters advertised gigs and record releases from various times in my career, some going back to the earliest days of Be Bop Deluxe and some even before that. They’re all back here now and some would look nice framed but I have next to no wall space available to display them.
A few years ago, the Nelsonica team helped me to put an exhibition of my artwork and memorabilia together at an event held at the Clothworker’s Hall in Leeds. Maybe this is something we could repeat at some point in the future so that these vintage posters could be shown to fans. But the Coronavirus pandemic might not allow this for quite some time yet.
Emiko and I have been very lucky so far in that we’ve managed to steer clear of the virus, (despite one of our next door neighbours coming down with it,) But it’s still a tremendously worrying situation and especially risky because of our age and my existing health problems.
Some of the lockdown measures have been eased and more easing is planned by the government soon, but I question the wisdom of this. Already there is a big increase in cases in Leicester which has been forced to close shops and schools again, only a couple of weeks after they were given the ok to reopen. The evil virus is still in circulation and deaths are still occurring at far too high a rate.
People are becoming complacent. Not enough are wearing masks or observing the social distancing rules. At the supermarket yesterday, I only saw one other person wearing a face mask, apart from Emi and myself. And some people, mainly younger ones but some older ones too, seem not to care about keeping their distance. It’s irresponsible and annoying.
America, of course, is showing us just how dangerous, (and stupid,) ignoring these rules can be.They are experiencing a massive increase in Covid-19 cases and some states are now having to go into lockdown again. Trump and his government have bungled the whole thing, advising states to open too soon and not insisting upon the necessary measures to contain the spread of the virus. The numbers of cases and deaths over there is staggering.
If there’s anything good resulting from this, I guess it is that Trump’s ratings have plummeted and there’s a good chance that he won’t get re-elected. One thing that America doesn’t need right now is another four dismal years of Donald Trump pretending to be ‘President.’ What a corrupt, self-serving egomaniac.
Here at home, my evenings are spent in my studio and the new tracks I’ve recorded are piling up. Enough to fill three albums at the moment, I think, though I’m still finding it difficult to judge their worth. This system is certainly taking some getting used to, though I’ve got my head around the operational basics of it now. But I do miss my old Mackie hardware and mixing desk.
I really should start sifting through all these new tracks and choose which mixes work best and try and assemble an album and get it off to John Spence to master. And I’ve still got ten or so albums that were recorded on my old system waiting to be mastered too.
There hasn’t been any eye injections since March as the hospital suspended the monthly procedure due to the Coronavirus situation, but I’ve now been given an appointment for them to commence again. My appointment is for 7th July. Not looking forward to that but I have to admit that my eyesight has noticeably deteriorated these last few months due to the lack of treatment. So, even though it’s not a pleasant experience, I’m hoping that it will stop things getting any worse for a while.
Now it’s time to do a little more studio work.
My great Grandmother, Jane Griffiths, (seated,) and what could be my grandmother, or at least someone who looks very similar to her.
One of these is a Griffiths.
Another Griffiths family member, but I've no idea who...
And yet another ancestor of mine, but nothing written on the back of the photo' to identify him...