Wednesday had all the makings of a bad day.
The postman arrived with a tinkling package and an embarrassed look on his face. Either someone had sent me a crystal collection or judging by the shape of the item, a badly packed photo frame. It turned out on opening to be the latter. He suggested I claim for compensation but the prospect of form filling and endless waiting on a decision and the slight possibility of renumeration on a small pane of glass deterred me. The actual frame was undamaged as was the photocopied front cover of a Hibernian v Clyde Scottish Cup final programme from April 26th 1958. It was a very early birthday present. The frame was covered in a newspaper and a fold of bubble wrap and placed with a cardboard envelope inside a padded package. Not nearly enough to withstand the heavy handed gremlins of modern postal service machinery.I emptied the glass in the bin and left the package in the kitchen without further examination. The gift was appreciated but at the same time my studio walls, already groaning from picture frames, had little space for a photocopied front cover of a match day programme despite the well intentioned effort to find the cup final date from the day after my birthday. The other 3 letters that arrived added to my slight gloom. A bill for a late tax return, notice of an increase in national insurance contributions and a demand for payment from a company we pay by direct debit! I sulked into the control room. A bad angle to enter the day!
From then on I felt like I was trapped inside a pinball as phones erupted just as I was trying to concentrate on a myriad of “things to do” that required concentration and application all involving computer inputting as I attempted for the umpteenth time to get my entire recording catalogue onto an ever growing excel spreadsheet. This involved racing ISRC codes, PPL numbers, the original release dates and catalogue numbers of all the albums, singles and other product across the various licensing agreements I have had over the last 26 years for 9 studio albums and over 15 live albums! I’d put it off for weeks and had been sidetracked and kidnapped by other demands and intrusions when I did allocate time to apply myself to the monumental task. With the digital download question now becoming increasingly important to address and having discovered this one free day in the middle of an otherwise stormy period I was focusing intently on the problem and determined to break it’s back.
The phone just wouldn’t stop ringing and I spent most of the late morning and early afternoon at the barricades fending off waves of assaults on my deflating energies.They arrived in the form of accountants chasing final sign off’s, polishing off the vinyl set up and listening to the Karlsruhe live tracks to round off side 4, listening to the radio edits of “Blind to the Beautiful” which is now whittled down to 4 mins 40, checking in for the flights to Brighton for 3 of us next day, checking the MCPS invoices that had all started to arrive, chasing the builders for the next quote on the extension, Yatta for the live dates and the last arrangements for the rehearsals due to start in a few days on which I knew very little. A message from Elspeth that Shaun the FTC was due to arrive in the next days with equipment was unspecific. An interview with Eclipse magazine in Germany on the phone was imminent.The cataloging was only touched upon but I had the late afternoon and evening marked out for a full on assault.
A text came in from the FTC and jolted me. He was arriving at 5. The phone rang. It was my interview. The doorbell rang. It was Shaun.He had a clown carrier full of the monitor equipment I had hoped I’d said goodbye to before Christmas. I was now locked into an uncomfortable reminiscence of the “Fugazi” album that was beginning to drag. My back was aching from the previous couple of days hiking about Calton hill in Edinburgh and I was beginning to feel slightly overwhelmed and very tetchy. It took a few very deep breaths and a long slow count to stay in control.
I unloaded the carrier with Shaun as no one else was around and the house was once again strewn with boxes and cables. I was most definitely not happy at the intrusion and the lack of info that I’d been given about movements and arrivals of the circus. Yatta was away on a 2 week holiday the next day and I’m sorry to say he left with a piece of my mind as to the absence of communications. It had taken me weeks to get the band timetable together and the 7 days rehearsals I had from Sunday onwards were not what I’d hoped for at this early juncture. Their availabilities had significantly decreased the options to get together and I now found that the week I thought I had free to concentrate on setting up all the downloads for “Feast” album and “Blind to the Beautiful” single had been immersed in rehearsing.I was coming to the end of an incredibly fractious day that had pushed me right to the edge of my capabilities. I was quite honestly fragged.
A Chinese takeaway was mustered and I retreated to the control room for a few hours as Shaun set up the monitor system in the living room. Phone calls and e mails with James Cassidy who has been advising me on the digital world inspired me to get most of the catalogue listed leaving only a few live albums to declare. A mountain had been moved and I could now see the trees on the other side of the valley where I was ultimately heading.
The bills were paid, the vinyl was cooking, the accountants were dispersed, the flights were ready for boarding, the video was moving forward, the interview was nailed, the monitors were sweet, the Chinese was delicious, the fire burned brightly in the stove, bags were packed, the alarm was set and I settled for a brief moment into the couch, exhausted.
I went through to tidy up the kitchen before bed and picked up the packaging from the morning that seemed a battle away. I read the message on the inner envelope which said ” thought we would let you read this before you framed it”. I opened what I thought had been packing to discover a pristine copy of the match day programme from the Scottish Cup Final 26th April 1958 between Hibs and Clyde. It was a lovely moment and made ever so much more special at the end of this day. I was aware that I was wearing a very wide smile. Thank you Darren and Kerry, Georgia and Jack for a beautiful thought. It is a truly special birthday gift and it will be hanging on my office wall once I get it back from the picture framers as a memory of those special moments that make up those intensely trying days when you feel all is against you.
I left the smile on my pillow the next morning as I forged toward the next mountain just as dawn broke