Thursday, 31 December 2009

A review of how 2009 was for me in as few words as possible, month by month

January was ok, and so was I.

February had some light and a lot of dark, and so did I.

March I was trying to come to terms with February.

April I was having to get things organised.

May I was glad I'd got things organised.

June I got healthy.

July I felt healthy.

August I felt like a musician again.

September I can't remember.

October was when hope became a companion.

November was busy, and so was I.

December was like the previous eleven months rolled into one, and so was I.

My very best wishes to you all for 2010.

Monday, 28 December 2009


My Grandmother was a crumpled heap on the hospital bed, she looked utterly insubstantial. The disarray of limbs, joints and digits, ill-defined by the bed sheets thrown over them, barely seemed to suggest any sense of mass at all. They were just there.

It wasn't easy seeing her lying there: gravity cruelly altered the contours of her 94-year-old face, seemed to give a sense of weight that was missing from the rest of her, to diminish the life and spirit. She was incorporeal, a ghost.

She didn't know me at first, but welcomed my presence. She complained that she was thirsty, so I reached for the beaker on the tray by the bed. It had a spill-proof lid with a spout, like the ones I remember drinking from as a child. I held it as she took a few sips: the ease at which I was able to assist was inversely proportionate to my ability to bear that moment. (Oddly, my recollection of that moment is that it was already dark outside, the lighting being that of the lamps on the ward. It wasn't the case though, the skies were bright and clear and the sun had almost an hour before it would set.)

My mother had gone to find a nurse, who came and helped my grandmother out of bed and into the chair. I stood away and looked out of the window for a few moments, and then when I turned round and saw her sat upright, it was as though the life had returned to her eyes: no less frail overall, but her spirit - as addled as it is - stronger than her body.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Too many words here's a few pictures until I get the big spaghetti-like jumble of language untied and in some sort of order. No prizes for guessing where they're from.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Ich bin's

There's somebody in this picture you might recognise. Well you might recognise me if you happen to know what I look like in the first place. If that was the case, it would still be a bit of a struggle, given the size of the image. Still if you click on it to enlarge it, I'm the one on the right-hand pavement standing on my own and wearing black. Yes just there - about two-thirds to the right of the image, and more or less three-quarters of the way down from the top edge. Or, if it makes any more sense, I'm several metres to the right of the red bus.

Ok, perhaps I'll make it a little easier to spot me:

Yep there I am, the one waving my arms.

Still finding it difficult? Ok, I'll move to a different webcam. You can even get a sense that I'm using a mobile phone to send and receive text messages (along the lines of "try moving forwards and five paces to your right", for example).

For the avoidance of any doubt, I'll wave my arms about again.

Yep, that's me that is.

Friday, 11 December 2009


It would pain me not to at least try and improve what language skills I have whilst I´m here. But I felt very content yesterday whilst sipping gluhwein and sheltering in a little cabin in the Christmas Market on Breitschieidplatz: it was the realization that I didn´t have much of an idea of what my fellow gluhwein-drinkers, nor the throngs of market-goers, were saying.

It made it easier to switch off at last, and the realization made me grin. Well either that, or the grinning was caused by the generous shot of amaretto in the gluhwein.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Breathe out

I had a bit of a meltdown on Sunday, it was an odd experience. I'd just finished working on some music and also having a phone conversation (not at the same time) and then I just felt overwhelmed and rather shaky. It wasn't a panic attack - I had those often enough in the past to be able to draw a distinction - but it was a bit disorientating and it took me a while to fully steady myself.

I think what it was, was my mind and body telling me - oi, you need to take it easy - a timely warning, since things have been non-stop for the last 2 or 3 months.

Conversely, as I played my set onstage last night - this was the gig I've been waiting for - I felt very calm and relaxed. Cocooned, even. A couple of beers had washed away the tiredness of work, but left me with a clarity and a focus that enabled me just to get on with it: to enjoy it, actually. The calmness stayed with me all evening, and has done so in the aftermath.

I'm away from this afternoon, flying tomorrow. I hope to blog when I reach my destination.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

De Profundis

I occasionally get the urge to blog something really deep, profound and meaningful.

Without fail, that urge is accompanied by a complete lack of anything really deep, profound and meaningful to blog about.

I think it's probably for the best that those two conditions always seem to occur simultaneously


Friday, 4 December 2009


Just a few days remain before my next gig. It's the one that I've been focussing all my attention on...or rather, had been focussing all my attention on until the last one came up which required a different approach entirely.

I just had a run-through of two alternative sets to play. Well, each version comprises the same set except for the last piece. I've got a new one which I do like but which isn't quite there yet: the last piece will either be that one or a tried and tested one which I've played a few times now.

Generally speaking, I'd rather play a completely new one with all its flaws and rough edges, than rely on one which I'm familiar with. Having said that, I'll be opening my set with a completely new one anyway, plus I've shuffled the order around and I've got another one in there which has only been performed live once before. The thing is, ending the set with the tried and tested one, as it were, does seem to make the whole thing more homogenous, more of a solid unit (if that makes sense), and when I played that version through it gave me a lot of confidence.

I've the weekend to play around with it all, but it feels like a luxury to be in such a position. Particularly when the night of the gig promises - as an event in its own right, regardless of my contribution - to be a really good night anyway.

I've two more days of work in my daytime job, then the gig, then I'm off for my break in Berlin.

I should make the most of this particular moment in time. There are shadows, but some of those, at least, are because the lights are brighter at this precise moment than I've known them to be for a while.

The new track that I'll be opening with - though largely an interpretation of someone else's music rather than my own - was completed in a couple of hours in the middle of the week, based on the following formula:

You can see why I'm excited about it, I'm sure.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Cardinal sin

Yes, I just committed one earlier. Something I'd vowed never to do.

I had left work and hopped on a bus. Tedium it was, as we edged our way out of town agonizingly slowly, so I welcomed the distraction of a call on my mobile. It was a friend enquiring about events and arrangements for this evening.

Whereabouts are you at the moment, said friend asked me.

I'm on the bus, I replied.

Damn. Take me outside to be shot, throw me into a pit of snakes, whatever: I surely deserve such a fate, or worse. For there's nothing I can bear less than that mundane, banal, endlessly-repeated phrase uttered by loud voices conducting one half of a desultory mobile-phone conversation.

I'm on the bus.

Well at least my own voice wasn't loud: I'd retained enough self-awareness to make sure of that.

But I said it. That phrase.

I won't do it again, I promise. I swear.

A happier exchange of words did occur today though, and I hope it makes up just a tiny bit for the above transgression.

Someone from a bunch of bright-eyed and pathologically enthusiastic market researchers (or something of that ilk) approached me in a manner which can only be described as - well, bright-eyed and pathologically enthusiastic.

Excuse me sir, I'm sorry to bother you!!!!

I smiled and tried to appear bright-eyed in return.

That's alright, I said, no problem!! and carried on walking.