There has been quite a lot happened since I wrote this piece but its part of the journey and wanted to post as much as I can during this period. So I’ll be catching up over the next week or two with what I’ve written. I hope you enjoy, dip in when you can and read what you enjoy.
We’d enjoyed the drive up to London calling in to do some work just outside Bristol with a wonderful courageous lady called Gayle. We’d stayed over in Bath that first night and froze. Then next day to Avebury circle, which even though a road runs straight through it and has a pub in the middle, still has something very special. We slept the night inside the circle too which was interesting, next morning received a blessing from a wandering red haired druid priestess in the car park. We both love it there.
Then on up into London, which we’d been a little apprehensive about due to the constant news reports of bombings, stabbings, shootings, strikes, political intrigues and general lawlessness etc.
But we of course glided easily into the familiar landscape and were in Limehouse in no time. London is amazing, but it would be a pit stop
It was instantly full on, but good to be back and a blessing to be able to drop in on my dear friend Mikheil who is living in the flat whilst we’re away. We went straight across that first night and worked at The (Phil Pooke) Healing Center too where I’d started practicing healing 14 years ago, and it’s true you don’t really know how far you’ve come till you go back to the place you started
We did some great work that night and was so good to see all the center gang, straight back in as if we’d not been away, all very matter of fact, warm and loving. I’ve always loved the group there and through all the places and people we have worked with the Bermondsey Healing Center remains the very highest standard. Amazing really, just quietly getting on with it no fuss doing amazing things there. If we are in London on a Tuesday you’ll find us in Bermondsey for sure.
We’d worked 7 festivals this last summer and been at the Rebellion Punk festival festival back in August, upstairs in the Spanish room in our blue geodesic dome.
Buck the singer from the Belfast punk band the Defects had come up, we’d known each other for a few years now and we did some work that afternoon, it had been a great session, afterwards we’d been talking music and I’d told him I’d been working transposing the songs I’d written on electric over to acoustic which I am much more comfortable with.
He’d said “Come over to our place and record them”
People say a lot of things they don’t mean or can’t follow up, but it sure put the cat amongst the pigeons, I couldn’t shake it off. I left it a while but messaged him a week or so later when we got back to Teignmouth “Was he serious?”
He simply replied “Anytime”
I couldn’t quite believe it, if I was going to do it I had a lot of work to do, so began rehearsing in car parks, gardens centers sat in the cab of Pearl, or on the benches up and down the promenade or outside the launderette, anywhere in fact I had a few spare minutes. People began to recognize me as I’d be there on the Den 3 or 4 hours just about every day, I got a lot of good comments from passers and usually arrived back lifted by something someone had said
I’d questioned was I good enough, were the songs good enough? I’d been wounded the last time round with The Fits, there’d been storms and waves of self-recrimination and doubt.
I was tempted to let the opportunity pass by, nobody would ever know, but it wouldn’t lie down, I couldn’t miss it could I. So I’d contacted Buck once more, suggested dates, I could fit it in before we set sail across the channel to France and the Alps for the winter. He messaged straight back
“Cool, just bring your guitar”
So that last 6 weeks in Teignmouth I stepped it up and got down to it, every spare moment rain or shine out on the benches. Then headed back to London first week in November. But that last week there I’d come down with a strange bug and had been very sick. Back in London I practiced hard with a click track but could hardly speak never mind sing, I worried that my voice wouldn’t be up too it, but it had to be then, next available time would be the end of April 2018. So on Tuesday 6th November I made my way to Stanstead airport for the 10.15am flight to Belfast, puzzled but excited.
An hour later I stepped out from the EasyJet A320 onto the runway at Belfast international it was shrouded in a thick heavy damp grey cloud, as I shrugged up my shoulders and shivered, looked up and noted we’d landed in bay 13
“Unlucky for some” I said to myself “But not me”
Buck and Sharon were waiting for me in their silver BMW, I slung my guitar and bag in the back and slid in and we were off, headed for Lisburn a suburb of Belfast up in the green hills and quiet right on the outskirts. It was all so natural and easy to be with them, we stopped off for a big breakfast on the way back, chatted, caught up and then back to the house once I’d stocked up with a few supplies. I would have four days there to get it all done. I was rearing to go, perhaps a little too much that first day as I needed to slow a few things down the next day.
The studio called “The Dog House” is an old barn at the back of their house Buck had converted. He’d said come and record your stuff, he hadn’t said he would record them; that was a bit of jolt.
In the past there had always been somebody on the desk who would get the sound, the levels, drop me in and out of a song whilst I’d be stood in the recording room next door. I hadn’t actually worked a desk before, I’d mostly explained or moved a fader, Buck was also really sick so it would be down to me mostly to figure it out.
He’d showed me how the desk worked, how to record onto which channel, played a few prerecorded drum tracks that we used as a guide, and sort of said “Well of you go then” dropping in every couple of hours to see that I was Ok or if there was a technical hitch I’d walk down to the house and drag him out of the warmth to explain what I wasn’t doing right, he’d then float back down to the house in a daze, he never complained. It would turn out to be a great gift.
The studio is covered from floor and ceiling with signed Punk Rock posters, I think just about every punk band that has ever played Belfast has been up there. It was amazing that they let me loose in there and after my initial apprehension I began to feel a little more comfortable behind the desk and got stuck in.
I barley looked up except when my friend Gary Fahy from Punkerama records came over and Billy Hunt who’d looked after the band when we’d been over to play Belfast and Dublin, called up to see how it was going. Gary stayed over one night sleeping on the other couch, just listening in, I’d felt a really torn as I hardly looked up, but there was such a lot to get through.
That first night we’d gone down to the house to have a little break and something to eat, then later all of us went back up to the studio and played the tracks back. They liked what they heard, it meant a lot to me. Buck seemed to get a second wind, was making us laugh messing around on a harmonica on “I should know by now” It sounded great so we just pressed ‘record’ it seemed obvious, it had something. I wished later that we’d done a lot more
It was so good to be sat at the desk each day in charge of my own drop ins and re takes, once the penny had dropped and hit that bell I was off. In the evenings there bands were rehearsing in the live room next door so was hard to record, so we took the opportunity to sit down in the house chatting and relaxing, buck on his face, book Sharon chatting, just easy and comfortable
Buck would go to take care of the bands up in the Dog House and left Sharon and I chatting, it has to be said Sharon tells a good story. She’d been researching her family the Kingsmill’s and done an amazing job. I’d been looking into my own picking up the thread my Dad had started. I told her how I’d come across the Crudge’s of Devon in Morebeth Churchyard; called Richard and Fanny Crudge which had always made me laugh, I’m hoping they have a good sense of humour on the other side as I have told the story a few too many times perhaps.
I mentioned I’d heard about an ancestor being the mayor of Exeter. Next morning Sharon had found him on a site she’d found her own relatives on. There he was 1515 William Crudg mayor of Exeter and then again 1518 who it said “Died in 1520 the wealthiest merchant in Exeter. He’d started life as a tanner and became a merchant after he was maimed in a quarrel.” I’m still not sure whether he died of his injuries or had become a merchant because of his injuries. Either way it was a nice surprise.
It was interesting to hear about their backgrounds, how it had affected them, the troubles and how the Defects had coped with it all, the flag flying and the expected anthems in certain places. Punk rock had crossed the barricades of the divide and hatred. They both had a refreshing common sense and had never let those stifling narrow opinions get in the way of their love of music and people, it simply didn’t matter to them. It was all about the music, it felt like a gift to be there.
They have no neighbours and so late in the evenings when the bands had gone home it was just me up there at the desk with a bottle of red wine a sharp knife and a lump of cheese, I loved it.
The pity of the whole thing was that my voice really suffered. I’d sung the songs hundreds of times before, busked for sometimes 5 hours at stretch in London. I’d had written them so I could sing them and be able to last a tour, with the old Fits songs I would have lasted a 3 dates max, my voice would have caved in singing at that ferocity, but was my voice deteriorated with each track, I was gutted, but pushed on, there was only now to get it done and down.
On the 3rd night I’d done all the guitar tracks and was a little happier but my voice was so raw and hoarse. It didn’t sound to good
Something said “You’re a healer ask for healing” so I did
I’d climbed onto the couch in the studio at around 2.30am to get some sleep, woke up the next morning with a clear voice. It was quite a surprised, I made coffee warmed up and was sat at the desk again by 9am The three tracks that I did that morning sounded much better, the recordings are demos, so I can hear the ideas, suggestions of what can be done, to hear them back, did they stand up?
Buck came up at around 10.30 for his regular morning livener and seemed happy that I was already up and at it.
“Your head must be scrambled” he’d said
Perhaps it was but I felt ok until later that day as the clock ticked on towards closing time I certainly felt the tension in my chest, it had been a little hard to breathe at times. Later on the plane on the way back to London it was really difficult to switch off and later at home in Limehouse it took a day for me to crash.
At the end of it all, I’d managed to get 11 songs down, 3 tracks of guitar vocals and backing on each song. The mixing is just as it came off the desk, no reverbs or effects, raw and just as it is. I learned a lot
Back in London for a few days. WE’d been to see Jane Palmgold’s exhibition at The Union on Greek street. We’d met up with Andrew and Donna owners of the Vanilla Black restaurant in our usual place Pret a Manger, brilliant and irreverent as ever, we always feel lifted when we spend time with them.
I’d managed to see the Underclass at the New Cross Inn one night too, finally got to see my mate Stuart play, the Underclass are ferocious.
Earlier we’d been to a Day of the Dead Party at the Phoenix gardens in the west end with a full mariachi band, we’d sipped wheat beer at my favorite pub the Captain Kidd in Wapping with Orsi and lovely Csep Orsi who’d come across from Budapest to hang out for a few days whilst we were there. We’d walked through the teeming brick lane market and Shoreditch lifted and loving the sights and sounds of London, the incredible metropolis, was at its very best. London has energy no doubt
We flew across to the Old Kent road to visit with Carole who runs the (Phil Pooke) Healing Center, we adore Carole, she is a truly gifted quietly burning bright light. Raced back over to Victoria park to visit with Bea & Balasz on their barge on the Regents canal. It was bonfire night so busses were cancelled, so walked from Bethnal Green to their mooring then later all the way home to Limehouse. We were shattered. London Life, if you want to socialize there you’d better be prepared to travel, bus, trains, underground and footslog it.
When we’d arrived back in town we’d left Pearl loaded up but locked up safely behind our estates new electric gates and so only now unpacked tents and festival gear and then loaded up for France all the day before we left, there just hadn’t been time. We tidied up the flat Mikheil has been and always is so generous, whenever we come back through town, we left it as we’d found it, gleaming. Got up on the Sunday morning 9am and set off north.
The plan was to visit my Brothers wife Julie and call in on the rest of the family in Blackpool, North West England which is around half way to Scotland, so we’d thought why visit with my Aunty Irene who had been inviting us up there for years and just so happens she is the caretaker of Eilean Donan Castle on Loch Dulch and Loch Long right up in the Highlands, from there drive down the east coast via Whitby and then to France. Then we’d drive along the bay of Biscay via the Bayeux tapestry and the Carnac Standing stones then down to the Lascaux cave paintings, then call in for a few days at the Blackie Moon’s Presbytery and if we have time Lourdes then finally across the chalet at Morzine on the 13th December to start work for the winter season till the spring 2018. It’s a plan and we thought a good one.
Some sad news though, a few days after we’d left Teignmouth. Whilst we’d been living there this summer we’d met a wonderful older couple called Jack & Sheila the first time we’d gone to the Serenity spiritual center to watch a demonstration of clairvoyance, my brother Stephen had come through on our second evening there. We had liked them instantly. We met them for a coffee and they had come across to the Clipper for lunch a few times. They felt immediately like kindred spirits to us, people we could talk easily and openly about the things we’d discovered and they it seemed felt the same about us. We began going round to their house in Bishop Steignton to meditate on Tuesday nights, we loved it and them. Jack had been poorly for a while and during the later end of the summer had had a heart attack. It had scared us all but Jack had been a spiritual warrior all his life, and I sincerely mean exactly that, and though tired he took it so lightheartedly, jack was 92 and sharp at a knife.
Mick he’d said one evening it his wonderful engaging thoughtful tones “I don’t believe in spirit; I know it” I knew what he meant and I have felt the same for many years. I think they knew that too. Sheila his wonderful wife, warm, funny and inquisitive, always made us laugh, jack would roll his eyes at her. They became dear friends very quickly. Some people you just know, do you know what I mean?
We’d consistently gone round to give healing and to sit, they knew just what it was and it always seemed to lift Jack, it felt to both of us such a blessing to have come across them. Shelia’s had asked if I’d help move a bit of furniture out in the garden but it turned out to be a rather larger job and Anna her daughter and I ended chopping hedges down and putting up a fence and very large gazebo out in the front garden, we got covered in mud much to Jacks mischievous delight and Sheila’s mortification. It was honestly a laugh, just wish I’d had more time.
We’d called round the night before we left had fish and chips with them. It was one of my happiest times there, we’d got up to go held jacks soft loving hands and said
“See you in the spring when we get back Jack”
He’s said quietly “Yeah” he’d said “If I don’t see you spiritualy before then”
He’d held onto my hand a little longer than normal, I remember his large gentle hands, soft and loving
I think it was whilst we were parked up at Avebury circle a few days later on the way back to London that Anna had called and told us Jack had fallen and banged his head. We were mortified. Apparently he’d remained funny and irreverent right up to the end. Quipping as he lay there on the floor about seeing their paintings from a whole different angle. Two days later he passed over. Jack really was a great man, a spiritual man, a warrior and still is of course.
We‘ve been calling Sheila regularly, she is amazing. A day later in London I’d woken with him in my mind, so I’d opened to him and asked in my minds eye
“Are you ok Jack?”
He’d said quick s a flash “Passing over successfully completed”
I burst out laughing and though funny it was a very serious statement, there can be wrong turnings it seems when one is going over to the other side of life as Sheila puts it. We are lucky to have met them, we learned a lot just being around them. Orsi says she is going to work with Jack now when doing healing. It is perhaps one of the reasons we’d found them or them us at that time and been able to connect on this side of life first. He’d always said
“There is spiritual work to be done”
We are expecting Jack along the way for sure