It really has been a long time since I posted. I conclude that being ill was/is good for my writing productivity, being quite well is good for everything else but kills off my writing mojo. Not having an incident to report which surreptitiously shows how brave and alternative I am being has blunted my pencil. All that political posturing, all that ‘hey look at me’ aren’t I a free spirit, well I guess it was just a cancer diagnosis -drug induced- panic attack, but despite that it really did make me happy, if not as original or as provocative as I thought/wished.

Some of you are to blame. You said that you enjoyed the blog, so I wrote stuff to be enjoyed – some of you unsubscribed – not you of course otherwise this post is the proverbial unheard tree falling in the forest – some of you found it funny, so I wrote more funny stuff -cringe – none of you read my poems – so like some petulant teenager I stopped writing them.

Hey but I have joined a writing group at the university. “What about me” WAM. It’s about writing the self which as you know is what I do. As WAM members may read this I will say only nice things – I LOVE YOU ALL – but joining WAM has been enough to make me want to write again.

I have really worked at avoiding it for at least a year – longer really. I am very happy not writing. I work, I play, I worry – the usual stuff. Writing is no longer important. Excuses like I am too busy – bahh cobblers. Today I graveled the back, yep the back, the bit nobody sees, where nobody goes apart from the cat for a poo, the back of my red telephone box. It needed gravelling more than I needed to write. So there it is – my writing comes second to a spot of redundant tarmacing. Poor cat.

I have been advised to keep my posts short. So…

Lisa Marini – Wonderful new video

The new single.
I think this video and design work captures the spirit of the singer, the song writer, the poetry and the song. I love it!!!

Illustration: Anna Millais/ Animation: Adam Hodgson/ Shot & Edited: Lisa Marini. – More? written by Lisa Marini / Produced: Patrick Wood Vocals&Guitar: Lisa Marini / Bass: Jack Tustin / Drums: Arthur Newell / Lead Guitar: Patrick Wood / Second Guitar: Benedict Wood / Cello: Sam Brown/ Keys: Patrick Wood.

George is on the road

George is on the road – passed his driving test – FIRST TIME – with only a few lessons !!!

He inherits Maria’s car which was once Maria’s dad’s and then Maria’s mums. We buy a Ford from Maria’s brother that was once his mother-in-laws. Arthur’s car, which was once Maria’s brother’s daughter’s and then Maria’s, gets a new clutch in York but is scrapped a week later in Peckham at a garage owned by an ex Ewok.

Lisa Marini – new single – amazing! Out on Friday.


Lisa is performing at the Green Note in Camden on Sunday – get tickets here https://www.ticketweb.uk/event/lisa-marini-green-note-tickets/9380025?REFERRAL_ID=twfb&fbclid=IwAR2d_X8ltNj3K4ivusvI7Fuhi5aulWoLkVTJ-s0wVJA1Fx4SBUA2p05wbHM

“I have seen LISA MARINI perform several times at different venues – as a solo artist and with different backing musicians. The thing that is a constant is that Lisa is spell-binding and mesmerising. Her self-penned songs are achingly melodic and artfully delivered. Her oeuvre is not soul but is totally soulful, it`s not jazz but is cat-like cool, it is not country, but she has global appeal.”

Lisa Marini is a delight to the ears and eyes…a joy to the senses.” Paul Latham | CEO, Live Nation

Beautifully crafted songs, infectious guitar picking and a defiant voice performed with some of London’s best young jazz players. Expect a delicious hybrid of Folk, roots and jazz.

Piers, Ashes and Appendicitis

I feel guilty for not having written for so long. I wake up early and a niggling wave of failure makes my heart beat even more irregularly than usual. Not that anyone other than me is bothered but although I have dropped many things during the course of my life writing this blog is not one I feel ready to drop. Putting aside childish ambitions to be an inventor or an astronaut or a diver or a vet, whilst an adult I have failed to maintain my music theory, piano playing, bass playing, German language, Italian language, a million different computer languages, learning maths, philosophy, photography keeping up regular exercise, eating fewer sweets, writing poetry, reading poetry and brushing the cats. Things I have kept up – watching telly – all the episodes of the Good Wife, Gilmore Girls and Friends – shopping, particularly online and particularly prime – tee totalism (enforced through illness) and that’s about it. I am not a failure yet but I am a lazy git!

That said I have been quite busy. As my health is excellent my body and brain’s reflex is to store brownie points by being a good boy at work. I have quite a bit of teaching and adminy things to do and I rather enjoy doing them. I have discovered that if I devote quite a bit of time devising systems to do things efficiently I actually enjoy the process of doing them more. I quite like puzzling out the optimum way of recording video feedback and distributing it in a timely way to students. Yes it’s true I am a bit of a nerd! “If a jobs worth doing its worth doing well” I hear the hordes of tiresome goody goodies holler – and here I am hollering right alongside them.

Since my last post Maria and I had a short holiday. Most importantly I discovered a very palatable alcohol free beer in Southwold but we also distributed my parents ashes and my eldest got appendicitis. What a strange thing to do on both counts! Needless to say however you do it you end up with a Clarks shoe load of parent dust and in this case, as the two events directly coincided, (ashes and appendicitis) an absolute shed load of anxiety. Poor eldest was extremely very horribly unwell and to be honest despite having my entire wonderful extended family doing the dust chucking I was just not in the mood, preoccupied as I was with the what then seemed a rational thought, that my dear lovely dead parents were reaping pestilence on my current loved ones just because in 1971 I sold the gold sovereign they had given me for an electric guitar. Anyway he is better phew!!.

The younger one has been in Senegal learning drumming. The experience was life changing in a million different ways not all to do with drumming. He is a total Afrophile now with the kind of wanderlust I used to pretend to have when I was his age. He is the real thing but actually my modest globe-trotting was never really a pleasure – I didn’t much care for going places, all scary and inconvenient, lucky really cos I don’t go anywhere now – ah that’s not true on our recent holiday we went to three piers, Southwold, Brighton and Deal. We met lovely family members and actually had time to talk properly. Most encounters with my extended family are big do’s really busy and noisy and full, civilized enough but not my thing. I much prefer slow socializing- aren’t I dull. Piers thrill me – I honestly don’t know why. I want to own one.

I might be involved in a fun project for the university, my first consultancy for five years. I really fancy it because it’s in Bridlington which is everything you imagine about a seaside town but dare not say in case you offend someone who lives there. I love it, love it, love it.

The Matthew Read Trio are in the midst of an Arts Council funded tour so they are nipping round the country in my Volvo Estate. Catch them if you can they are great. I am forced to drive either Art’s Clio with the dicky clutch or Matthews rather too nice Vauxhall. Anyway both vehicles have this thing you may have encountered called a manual gearbox. Who in their right mind would chose a car that has more than 2 pedals – one to go and one to stop. Seriously though I now hate the effort involved in driving manual cars and look forward to becoming reacquainted with my stately black petrol guzzling ocean liner. I believe she is back tonight with the trio- who play in Leeds on Sunday – be there or be square.

Love to all.

Gradually madder

Since coming off the chemo drugs and feeling gradually better I have gone gradually madder. I noticed almost immediately that as my body started to run more normally my brain was skating off in the opposite direction. How could it be that a holiday from daily poisoning was making me feel more anxious and disorientated? The responsibility of going back to work with a brimming bowl of teaching was not something that would normally bother me but, on this occasion, I was choking on every morsel of preparation, feedback or marking. My 9:00 till 5:00 Friday (hardly exceptional but necessitating a 5:30 alarm) paralysed my eyelids open. I certainly wasn’t worried, depressed or even sad, actually the opposite, just hyper anxious and obsessively hard working. What was going on??

Yes what was going on? – I failed to ask myself in the rush toward start of trimester. As day one of teaching approached I decided to revisit resort-not-sleeping, a place that had been off my bucket list since the trip to China in the 80’s fiasco, the abandoned to burn by my costume designer fire incident and the dragging my mattress around the hotel corridors looking for somewhere to shack up with the sleep fairy debacle. Anyway in the last few weeks, and after some practice, I manage to achieve that special status reserved for only serious insomniacs of not sleeping for one night AT All! OK so a slight exaggeration – I needed to get up at 6:00 am. I slept from 5:45 till 6:00. I know because I was digital-flashing-clock watching all night. For those of you who have never tried it, I recommend insomnia as way to experience what it’s like to have OCD. I guess it might be a derivative. Your head goes into a loop ‘Look at the time, and I am still not asleep!’ -> ‘I am still not asleep. What time is it?’ -> repeat ad-nauseam. For those of you who have it, and I know some of you in the family suffer, maybe it helps to know we are all in the same club, even if nobody in their right mind would want to be a member.

Tips for surviving insomnia

  1. take pleasure in punching the smug, right-on GP who puts up a massive fuss about giving you sleeping pills and recommends mindfulness (more about that incident when my rage abates)
  2. Read what the brilliant Labour MP Jess Phillips has to say about managing anxiety and insomnia

    “When things are really bad I take medication.”

so refreshing to hear someone say “Take the drugs.” Instead of – go and swim with dolphins with crystals down your trunks.” Yes, she also advocates regular exercise, I can forgive her for that, but a public figure addressing the stigma felt by us ‘softies’ that occasionally need some chemical coping strategies, is just what the doctor ordered, at least for me.

  • And this is the big one – read the back of your drug packets when you are on chemotherapy because ….

I mentioned in passing to my consultant that I was surprisingly anxious and had trouble sleeping despite being in such a positive place medically. I expected an explanation along the lines of – ‘now you have a bit less to worry about, your brain has invented some trivial worries to fill the hole’ … but no, he barely broke his verbal stride (you know the one that goes Him: ‘How are you?” Me: “Good.” Him: “Fine. Shall we say see you in 3 months.”) as he explained that for the last nine months I had been effectively taking sedatives. More than one of the drugs I was taking, even in small doses (I was taking big ones) would put most people to sleep. Thalidomide was prescribed originally both to alleviate morning sickness and to calm the mother down. My body had grown used to daily inputs of self-inflicted narcolepsy and now I was cold turkeying.

So there it is – now it all makes sense.

I am not having an Ingmar Bergman (Persona) moment.

I am having a Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) moment.

The anxiety and sleeplessness has not stopped yet but I have got a grip and a bunch of pills. Meanwhile Tracy Emin, another hero of mine, has taken a bunch of selfies to make all us nutters feel less alone at 3:17 in the morning.

Lisa Marini – London gig March 8th – we will be there

The marvellous Lisa Marini and her marvellous band that includes the marvellous Jack Tustin, Benedict Wood & Arthur Newell are gigging on March 8th at St Pancras Old Church. Tickets and information can be found here https://www.bandsintown.com/e/100692521

The new album is totally amazing!!!

Lisa’s new website is here https://lisamarini.com/

Maria and I will be there and it would be fantastic to catch up loads of family and friends. So book your tickets pronto.