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NOW AVAILABLE TO PREORDER WITH RELEASE 5TH APRIL
‘Farewell to Childhood Live in Europe 2015-16’
The final farewell performances of the seminal Marillion album ‘Misplaced Childhood’ by Fish on the 30th anniversary of it’s release. Taken from shows on the hugely successful and acclaimed tour.
2 CD’s and a DVD in a hardback book case with 96 pages of photos ,artwork designed by Mark Wilkinson and 9000 words of sleeve notes by Fish.
Recorded live at the Progresja Music Zone, Warsaw Poland November 9th 2015 except “Market Square Heroes” recorded Stuttgart, Longhorn November 23rd 2015
DVD – full show filmed and recorded live at the C Club, Columbiahalle , Berlin 5th November 2015 , same set list as CD’s
16.9 ratio/ stereo language english NTSC (O) all regions
All audio Mixed and mastered by Calum Malcolm
Fish – vocals Robin Boult Guitars, John Beck Keyboards,
Steve Vantsis Bass, Gavin Griffiths drums
1 Pipeline 9.41
2 Feast of Consequences 4.41
3 Long Cold Day 7.46
4 Family Business 5.53
5 The Perception of Johnny Punter 12.12
1 Pseudo Silk Kimono 2.39
2 Kayleigh 4.18
3 Lavender 2.37
4 Bitter Suite 8.26
5 Heart of Lothian 5.26
6 Waterhole (Expresso Bongo) 1.47
7 Lords of the Backstage 2.19
8 Blind Curve 14.04
9 Childhoods End? 4.43
10 White Feather 5.33
11 Market Square Heroes 6.52
12 The Company 5.26
Free T shirt offer (while stocks last) when you buy this with any of the new remasters or ‘Moveable Feast’ live CD. Details available on the website
Well I saw the physio today and was given a big green thumbs up to go.The shoulder is healing nicely and all my exercises have been updated. The right arm is ok’d to move above shoulder height and I’m allowed to sleep on my right side. I’m now attending gym classes with a physio on a Friday for the next few weeks so I will be under supervision. Also permission to drive a car (when I eventually get it back from the garage) which means a return to school runs with Liam to replace all the brownie points I’d racked up before the op and spent in bed while Simone did the early rises for the last 6 weeks.School holidays mean I have a chance to retune my body clock before the dawn patrols begin when he gets back.
I’m not kidding myself, there is a hell of a long way to go and I have to take it easy and play the sensible game until the end of the year and the UK tour. I’m still in pain and was again reminded today by Neil my physio just how big the operation was. However he’s really pleased with my progress and urged me to slowly start stretching the tendons to get the flexibility and full movement back.
I have to say I thought it would have taken me longer to get this far but the mantra of “don’t overdo things or it’s back to square one” continues.I’ll be fully fit by December if I can keep this up and that’s my principal goal.
Neil said I could probably get back to the “Big Gym” in 4 weeks or so to start light training and after the buzz of the early part of the year working to strengthen my back it’s a fantastic feeling to finally seeing a chink of bright light after all the surgery and repairs in the last 5 months.
As I said there’s a way to go yet but I’m moving in the right direction
I’m now about 6 weeks into recovery but the broken wing is still healing and causing me endless frustrations. At least I can now pull a T shirt over my head but as I am feeling the absence of gym time,stretching the waistband of the trousers over to button them is a trial when they first come out the laundry. I am constantly reminding myself to forego the right hand maneuvers such as the long sleeved shirt when a cuff goes over my wrist and I flick my hand to free it or the inadvertent reach for the bottle of wine on the top shelf at Tescos. The sharp twinge of pain that arrives is like a cattle prod reeducation. I still can’t sleep on my right side and as I can’t perform any back exercises to strengthen up my core muscles I’m finding aches and twinges returning in my lower spine as I am constantly on my left side or on my back. The first physio visit was positive and I have another tomorrow morning to ascertain where I go next. It does grind me down knowing there’s still many more months of this but the hope of driving a car in the next weeks brightens me up.
I’ve managed a fair bit of sowing in the greenhouse but again a moment of forgetfulness when I opened the top of a propagator and stretched over with a deliberately quarter full watering can caused a gasp and a minor shock wave in the shoulder area. I’d been told by the physio after he read my notes that the operation was one of the biggest he’d come across and that it was going to be months before I was anywhere near back to normal movement. The digging and lifting has to be designated to others and I get frustrated and angry sometimes at my incapacity to perform simple tasks. Simone, quite rightly, scolds me when I am dragging the wood in a basket across from the pile to the house to pathetically take a badly directed ax to a log with my misguided left hand.A weekend ago I thought some light trowelling of compost into a trug was ok but the shaking of the head and the twinges that followed indicated she was right as always. We’d been repositioning bluebell bulbs under the apple hedge and planted a pine tree and a couple of sycamores that had grown over the years from bird deposited seed in containers in the kitchen garden. It felt good digging them into the scraggy treebelt on the farm drive but my contribution was mainly heeling them in and adding the fish,blood and bone powder. I did however get to drive the mini tractor and took the long way round every time. I paid the price later and had my arm in a sling as a penance.
We are however on top of the garden demands. The bubble wrapped heated greenhouse glows purple with it’s LED’s and the chillis, peppers and tomatoes that started in propagators in the studio in the bright “new” room have survived the move although I shudder at the electric bill coming at me.I accommodate the expense with the knowledge they’ll taste better than anything supermarket bought and that we grew them ourselves. Cabbages, sweetcorn,broccoli,leeks and broadbeans have all been “brought on” out in the ‘Blue house’ under lights but I would have had more in the dining room if allowed.
Rab built a great cold frame from scavenged wood and e bay bought plastic roofing, now known as the “Purdie Bunker”. We finally got to use the metal uprights that used to hold up the old tomato house from the early 1900’s and all that were left from a major fire here in the 60’s. I’d contemplated cutting them down with acetylene torches many’s a time but they’ve become an integral part of the new design and a couple of big old timbers slotted in perfectly between them to provide me with the front of the new frames.We’ve needed a big set of cold frames for a while as the 2 I shop bought years ago were way too small to cope with the outpouring trays of plants from the greenhouse. The “Purdie Bunker” is immediately outside so load in’s are easy and we have more stuff destined for the garden this year than ever before as now there are two avid gardeners in the studio.
Today 60+ perennials that were bought as plug plants and brought on under the lights went out to the closet chill and 3 sets of early salad tatties that have been chitted moved out into growing sacks.Rab had set up the 7 types of potatoes to chit in large trays in the greenhouse but before he moved them out to the “Purdie Frame” he’d raised them slightly as there was rain coming in through the roof. In doing so they’d moved and mingled across the types. When I had delegated the tattie planting the “8M bed” was scheduled for maincrop and I’d measured out spacings against length. After he had planted there were still over 2m left and I had a head scratching moment. The ‘Rooster’ and Picasso’ types were 25 each variety and I had 15 each of ‘Charlotte’, ‘Anja’ and Vivaldi’ designated for the 9 growing sacks with 25 each of early ‘Belle du Font’ and ‘Red Duke of York’ for the other beds. In all honesty I’d got carried away with ordering and was well over my space.However in the cold frame the numbers didn’t work out and that was when we realised the types had got slightly mixed up. Telling the difference between tattie types is not my best suit and having over ordered already a few were designated for the “miscellaneous” patch. I just hope in a few months time we don’t find the labels were mixed up as well as there may be some very disappointing salad potatoes in June!
The ‘Romance’ and ‘Amsterdam’ carrots and ‘Boltardy’ beetroot in the ‘Kitchen bed’ are so slow I’m wondering if I screwed up with too much compost as it’s over 3 weeks and no sign of green. I covered them with fleece the other nights when we had a couple of frost scares but still no real movement. Just in case I sowed another 2 rows of each in the 2m ‘Gate Bed’, salad under a cloche and ‘Petrowski’ and ‘White Milan’ turnips with ‘Raab Broccoli’ in the ‘Bedroom Bed’. (They all have designated names)
There’s all sorts going into seed modules in the next month and the peas and beans I’ve sown in fibre pots in the greenhouse should be growing and stretching above “mouse size” in the next week ready to hit “the bunker”. This will be a big season and I’ll be here for all of it.
The ponds , all 3 of them, have been cleared out . I had to replace the pump in the ‘Japanese Garden’ as the cascade was keeping us awake. A 1000 litre a minute takes over from a 3500 litre per minute which means less visits to the toilet at night as the sound of the Niagara Falls was intruding not comforting. The new Arcadian trickle is better suited to peaceful slumber. The fish are active in the ‘Peter Pan’ pond with it’s new rejuvenating air pump bubbling away and we are watching the new frog spawn develop as excited as wee kids at school.The orgy that occurred a week or so ago took me by surprise as no sooner had I cleared away the debris from the winter than they were all rutting in a Dionysian apocalypse.I heard from a friend with a pond that they were even shagging his Koi carp they were so much in a frenzy!
There’s a new weather station here. Nothing too grand but enough for wind speeds, rainfall, humidity etc and frost warnings.I don’t entirely trust it as the wind was coming from about 6 different directions the other day and it signaled cloudy with rain on a a pair of blue sky days. I can only hit reset so often before it goes out the window.
I know some of you are thinking “what’s this to do with the music?”. Sorry to perhaps bore some of you but I really do get off on all this gardening lark and Simone and I even keep a garden diary these days. I need it, it keeps me sane and relaxed amidst all the other stuff. It also clears my head which is what I need just now as the recovery is gumming up my mind not freeing it.This is going to become a regular blog and there will be videos to follow. If you are into all this let me know, we can exchange tips! 🙂
Off to close the “Purdie Frame” now and check the greenhouse heater. I will ignore the electric meter. Watching the Hibs v Morton game on BBC text and quaffing a wee cheeky Savvy in the office. Tomorrow is parsnip sowing mixed with accounts, physio,paperwork and the next blog on the remasters !
The 2 revamped sleeves. I’m waiting on dates for delivery from my production company and as soon as I have them I’ll announce a pre order.
‘Farewell to Childhood’ is a double CD featuring a show from Warsaw and a DVD with the full show from Berlin both November 2015. It comes in a hardback cover same as the current remasters and ‘Moveable Feast live’ album and has 48 pages of photos, artwork and 9000 words of sleeve notes written by myself and put together by Mark Wilkinson.
Track list on the Cd’s and the DVD is ‘Pipeline’, ‘Feast of Consequences’, ‘Long Cold Day’, ‘Family Business’, ‘Perception of Johnny Punter’, the ‘Misplaced Childhood’ album, ‘Market Square Heroes’ and ‘The Company’ all mixed and mastered by Calum Malcolm
It’s exactly the same price as the other recently released titles and is only available through the fishheadsclub.com website mail order outlet and on Amazon across Europe.
The Amazon release has a printed FSK logo on it denoting it as an over 18 release.This is a legal requirement for videos in Germany and I can’t put the title up on Amazon without it as they do not differentiate between territories in their warehouses.
I can’t sticker it as the logo has to be printed on the cover, front, bottom left hand side and the size as indicated on the 3d mock up.The DVD is not an 18 category but to have it vetted could take weeks and cost over 300 euros and I would still have to have an FSK logo even if it was denoted as suitable for under 16’s. I just went for a ‘bad ass’ 18 registration! 🙂
The lyrics of ‘Perception’ and a couple of “off the cuff” expletives meant that it would probably be 16 age group anyway. To not put the logo on automatically classes the title as “over 18” on Amazon and would have meant German fans paying an extra 5 euros for signed delivery and proof of age with passport to get it.
If I stickered it and was caught out I would be heavily fined. As you can see from the FSK version the registration is obtrusive but I have no other choice. The version we sell through the fishheadsclub.com mail order service will NOT have the FSK logo.
The “unblemished” cover is on the inside on the sleeve notes.
Some of you have already offered suggestions to get round it but I can’t put in a “spare” or “turnaround”cover as it’s a hardback book, can’t have a removable sticker ,can’t use a dummy front and a slipcase is too expensive. Believe me we looked at everything. It’s the law in Germany for any visual carrier.I don’t like it, think it’s over the top and unnecessary but those are the rules I have to play by.
All the contents including the Berlin audio will eventually be put up for download on i tunes and other platforms but at the moment I have clockwork BT broadband and am waiting on a new wi fi broadband connection in the studio that will enable me to upload both this title and all the remasters and ‘Feast’.
There are no plans at present for a vinyl release as it’s too expensive to invest needed funds in. The same applies for the remasters. Hopefully next year I’ll be more solvent but with all touring knocked out by the shoulder recovery I have to go canny and put things in perspective.
‘Farewell to Childhood’ follows on with the other titles recently released and qualifies for the free t shirt offer in combination with the other remastered titles and ‘Moveable Feast live 2013-14’. The t shirts available are as denoted on the fishheadsclub.com website and are available while stocks last. We are already out of some sizes and styles so if you can’t get what you want give one away to a friend. They are Free! The ‘Childhood’ tour t’s are not part of the offer.
I hope that answers all the questions that were raised in previous posts and I’ve tried to cover most of the points that were brought up.
I’ll let you know when the pre order starts as soon as I get the delivery details from the manufacturer.
Thanks for reading 🙂
You bare probably a bit confused as to the attached photo of the ‘Hateful 8’ DVD but it will make sense when you read on.
Mark Wilkinson and I are just putting the finishing touches to the ‘Farewell to Childhood’ cover and have ran into a seriously annoying slab of bureaucracy. We have discovered that because there is a DVD in the package and if I want to sell this on Amazon we have to adhere to German film certification which requires putting an ugly orange 18 marker on the front cover. It can’t be a removable sticker and has to be printed. If we don’t do this then Amazon mark it up as automatic 18 certified and charge 5 euros for the album to be delivered and signed for with passports having to be shown by the purchaser on receipt. The authority in question is the FSK who I called on the phone and an unnamed representative from them himself considered the ruling over the top and had nothing but sympathy for my predicament.
The FSK certification and implementation is only used in Australia and Germany.
It’s ridiculous in my opinion as anyone can buy the album with the FSK 18 certification and not be checked apart from through card info.As much as I respect the need for some sort of age restrictions on certain products there could be a far less intrusive way to deal with this especially on albums where the artwork has more ‘value’ than on a DVD.
It costs 300 euros plus to get a 2 hour DVD checked and certified by FSK and with the lyrics to ‘Perception’ being what they are and 2 uses of the word ‘fuck’ I will definitely get a restricted age rating. We have decided to just put it up as an ’18 rated’ disc as I figure I don’t have that many fans under 18 and those that are I figure can easily get their hands on it.Even if the age rating was “0” we would still have to put the logo on the front cover and at the size the law dictates as per the ‘Hateful 8’ DVD.
The package is pretty much the same as ‘Moveable Feast live’ except it’s got 48 pages of booklet with photos and 9000 words. The 2 CD’s are the Warsaw show and the DVD is a full show from Berlin.
Being a white cover like Feast the orange FSK logo stands out quite rudely.
My choices are have German fans pay an extra 5 euros or have the FSK accreditation printed on the front cover ( it has to be on the front). I think that is unfair on the German fans.
I’ve decided to print 1000 units for Amazon only with the FSK ,logo. as I can’t split the Amazon batch into separate territories. All units sold through the fishhheadsclub.com website will be unadulterated except for a small’ parental advisory’ print on the back cover leaving the front artwork “pure”. There will be a “clear” version on the front of the inner booklet.
I can’t get round this if I want to sell an Amazon DE and risk a fine if I try to bend the rules with removable stickers etc.
It’s a regal pain in the ass but I have no other choice but to comply.
The good news is that both the CD’s and the DVD are now with the production plant and once Mark has the cover sorted the artwork will be joining them. I should have delivery dates very soon. The ‘Childhood’ title will be included in the free t shirt offer with the other existing titles. Please note this is only while t shirt stocks last and they are getting low and out on some sizes.
Once I get my new wi fi broadband on line I aim to put all the remasters so far and both live albums up for download including the Berlin audio file. At the moment my BT Broadband is like clockwork and totally unreliable to send up big files.
3 weeks into the recovery now and I have to admit I’m feeling a lot more flexible and in a lot less pain than I envisaged at this point. Saying that I am being very careful and not extending myself in every meaning of the word. The sort of thing I have to be really careful of is the instinctive reaction like I had the other day when a cupboard door in the kitchen swung out and was about to hit Simone’s head. I reached up and out with my right hand and felt that sharp twinge of pain in the shoulder to remind me that movements such as that couldn’t be considered in the slightest.
The operation had been the most painful experience so far.
I’d been taken by my mate Rab and dropped off at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary just before 7.30 in the morning. I’d been told already my operation wouldn’t be until probably 2 in the afternoon and was looking forward to getting into a bed, stacking some zeds up and doing a bit of reading.
I eventually found the day surgery unit at the back of the main hospital and where the new Sick kids’ hospital was under noisy construction. Up the stairs to the reception where I registered and sat in an uncomfortable seat in the waiting room with about 20 other people. I noticed that patients were being called and returning minutes later. My name was called and an interview with a nurse re my identification and some basics lasted about 5 minutes and I was told to go back to my seat. Another call, this time with a friendly anaesthetist to confirm I hadn’t eaten anything in the last 12 hours. My last food was the day before at 4 when we dined gloriously on pheasant with my Mum, Simone, Liam and my friend Phil. My stomach was now rumbling and as I hadn’t had a drink of water for hours either my mouth felt like the bottom of a budgie cage. Did I mention I’d had a few glasses of wine with the meal?
The anaesthetist sent me back to the waiting room where I sat for another 15 minutes until the next interview. My back was now starting to ache and I just wanted to lie down somewhere. The final call out took me to another room where I thought that my next stop would be a bed in a ward. More routine questions followed always beginning with name and date of birth before being sent back to the waiting room. I asked when I was going to get a bed and was told that as it was day surgery I would have to sit and wait until I was called to theatre. It was by then only 9 o’clock and I had 5 hours to wait. The nurse took pity on me and showed me through to the room where patients waited to go home and where the seats were by far more comfortable. She also got the ok to give me a cup of water as the operation was far enough away to not cause anaesthetics issues. I was so grateful for the understanding.
I hunkered down in a big soft seat the only other occupant of the room being a Russian guy who could barely speak English and who I discovered was waiting on a liver operation. The TV in the corner was broken and the 5 hours felt like a sentence. I couldn’t sleep and was annoyed as I could have stayed at home and got on with writing up the sleeve notes on ‘Farewell to Childhood’ that I had hoped to have finished before the hospital appointment. I needed to do something and phoned home to ask if Simone could bring in my laptop so I could at least use my time more positively. 40 mins later she came to the front door with Elspeth and dropped off my computer before heading off as unlike my previous back operation at the Spire hospital there was no private room and nowhere for her to hang around and wait much to her disappointment.
The room I was in was by now filling up with other day surgery patients who’d discovered the comfy seats. I was being tortured as the area I was in was close to where they prepared the food for the wards and the smells of lunch menus as well as the wafting aromas of coffee were driving me crazy. The glass of water I savoured like a man adrift on a boat and it tasted wonderful.
I couldn’t find any wifi signal and my laptop announced that I had to download software to write documents. I resigned myself to writing up on an e mail which I intended to save and send to my home PC later. It was frustrating but I was happy to be working. 1000 words or so later I needed a break and headed downstairs for a vape. As I stood outside in a cloud of strawberry haze I had a shiver that wasn’t just from the chill in the weather. I returned to my seat and opened up the lid on the laptop to discover a blank screen. The computer had crashed. Windows 10 had done me over again. I knew I should have saved the tappings before I went outside and was now paying the price. All my mornings work disappeared. I was despondent and gave up any further attempt to write locking myself down into the Springsteen autobiography again. Time rolled ever so slowly by.
Around 1.30 I got the call. Again I was expecting to go through to a ward but instead found myself in a corridor where a nurse took my bags now weighed down by the computer equipment. She tagged them and put them in a luggage rack like you’d expect at a regional airport and I was shown through to another small room where I was instructed to change into a theatre gown behind a screen. It was quite surreal.
There were another 2 guys in the room which was pretty sparse apart from a sink, a trolley full of hospital accoutrements and 3 seats, the unoccupied one accepting my cold butt. A conversation developed and I discovered one of the guys had been brought in at short notice for an operation on his oesophagus after he’d been recently diagnosed with a recurring cancer condition. I shuddered and the other guy, who was in for an operation on his knee and I tried to keep the atmosphere as light as possible given the circumstances we were all now in. The cancer patient was unbelievably positive and open about his predicament and I listened to him with great admiration. He was incredibly brave and accepted his lot as given. It was obvious he was facing a huge fight. He was called and I never saw him again.
I thought I’d be last but my name was announced and I walked back through to the corridor and was instructed to climb onto the gurney that would take me to theatre. It was all happening so fast and I was thrown at the sudden change in the situation. I hadn’t quite come to terms with what was happening and the imminent surgery. I was a lot more nervous than I had been before my back operation when in this situation. Amazingly my blood pressure was ok but as the nurses struggled to put in the drip feed valve into my hand I had to concentrate on staying calm as the pain was threatening panic especially as the anaesthetists were beginning the procedures to deliver local injections into my neck and shoulder that were intended to block the severe pain I was told to expect after the operation. I was listening to the talk through of what was happening and acknowledging the strangely reassuring voices of masked people I could barely see. It crossed my mind for a moment to call the whole thing off and get up and walk away just as I sucked on the mask that had just been placed on my face. I started to drift, the anaesthetists and the room disappearing in the distance.
I woke in agony. “On a scale of 1 to 10 how bad is your pain?”
“9 point 5”
Both sides of the Q and A were repeated for what seemed like an eternity as I moved in and out of consciousness on a wave of morphine that didn’t seem to be touching the intense pain in my right shoulder. I felt really calm and composed and the strangers around my bed reassuring and comforting. I remember a flurry of jokes and trying to talk properly while laughing at myself. I was told that the operation had been more complicated and involved more repair work than originally thought and that I’d been in theatre for nearly 3 hours. I certainly felt like I’d been through a battle.
I was back in the ward and going in and out of consciousness. As expected I was being kept in that night as I’d been told that as I was the last operation of the day the potential problems of recovering from a general anaesthetic needed monitoring. On top of that I couldn’t be released without consulting the physio .
The physio had come round to speak to me but I was so out of it that I even told her to forget it as I wouldn’t remember anything she told me in the state I was in. I didn’t and only just remembered her visiting me and laughing when I spoke to her.
I called Simone a couple of times when I came out of my stupor and she told me next day that I sounded completely wasted and she couldn’t make much sense of what I was saying.
I kept passing out and waking up thinking I’d just slept for an hour or so and discovering from the hands on the clock on the wall of the ward that it had only been a couple of minutes. The pain came in rolling waves and I tried to ride them as best I could. It was a strange night full of wild dreams and a reality in the ward that was surreal at times.
The beds emptied as the day surgery patients vacated the premises leaving me and one other guy in the ward. He’d been babbling, sometimes quite aggressively. I’d noticed his top lip was badly cut and mashed up and one of the crude tattoos on his arm was “1690” the date of the Battle of the Boyne celebrated by supporters of Glasgow Rangers. That was confirmed when I heard him trying to sing Gers songs and asked out loud if anyone was a Rangers supporter. He was parked up next to me when the nurses decided to move us both to a “quieter” area which turned out to be a wide corridor. He sounded drunk and was pretty unintelligible and I was nervous of any confrontation with my right arm useless and being off my head on morphine. I might not feel any pain but didn’t need any more damage. I was wary and ignored him as much as possible. I was glad when they pulled the curtains around our respective beds.
I was still bobbing in and out of my confused state kept awake by the bright lights and willing myself to tumble into a deep sleep to get me through the night. I was offered some food at some point but couldn’t stomach it settling for coffee and rich tea biscuits. I was now navigating the very early hours but time seemed not to move. The lights in the ward and corridor were eventually switched off but then I came to and everything was fully illuminated again. There was so much traffic throughout the night it felt like I was in Kings Cross station or a war time medical facility in the height of battle. Convoys of gurneys moved back and forward, nurses chatting as they followed their wake, the lights blazing on and off as the units negotiated the corridor carrying damaged strangers to wards in other parts of the hospital. It seemed incessant.
The door to the nurse’s station directly opposite my bed opened and closed with tedious regularity. The darkness that was giving me some comfort interrupted by the beacon of light from the room when the door was left ajar allowing me to hear the alien chorus of conversations belonging to the bright green scrubbed minions that shuttled unflustered back and forward throughout the night. The hours dragged by and the pain in my shoulder turned from a dull ache to a bullet wound sometime around 7am.
I’d had a couple of tablets in the night but I asked a nurse for something a bit stronger. Name, date of birth and a soothing vial of liquid morphine was poured in my mouth. As I still had hours to go before seeing the physio and the doctor to get my release paperwork it was deemed ok to allow me a visit to the lands of Orpheus for a while. Just as I floated away what seemed like an army of fresh green minions flooded into the ward as the shifts changed, some smiling, others visibly unhappy to enter the fray. I was told that the previous night had been close to overwhelming and everyone had been stretched to the limits. I was made very aware of the strained resources and the eternal demands on services we mostly take for granted. I lay in my bed and watched the arriving angels scurry around and find their places and gave my thanks and farewells to the ones that had looked after me in the long night who were now putting on coats and jackets relieved to be leaving the trenches for a while. They disappeared quickly along the long corridor as I drifted into another dream.
When I came to I felt the need to pee, one of the main prerequisites of being granted my ticket home. A woozy walk and strained relief put me back in bed with a smile. I’d drunk at least 4 pints of water during the night and my bladder was now responding with a vengeance. My neighbour had woken and was rambling again. I’d noticed that during the night he’d been greeted by passing porters and was obviously known. In my delusional mind I had him down as a “face” that’d been beaten up, a Don of thugs now hidden away for his safety in the bowels of the hospital. When the curtains were pulled back for the morning doctors rounds I started to see him in a new light.
On the return from my second toilet visit I engaged him and was immediately overwhelmed by a crushing guilt as I couldn’t have misjudged the guy more. His name was Paul and the reason behind his slurred speech wasn’t just down to meds and the dreadful wound to his mouth but also that he was mentally handicapped. He had taken a hard fall and had badly damaged his knees. His right in particular was obviously worse and he had undergone an operation to fix ligaments. Like me he just wanted to go home and was practically pleading to be let go. The physio had come round and tried to get him to walk on crutches but it was impossible for him to manage. I felt really sorry for him as he valiantly struggled to stay upright and make the few paces that would take him ultimately home. There was no way he was going anywhere.
I was by now dressed and had been given the green light to go. I was just waiting on Rab and Simone to pick me up, pain meds in a bag, instructions on physio exercises given and all paperwork to hand. I sat and talked with Paul until my mobile chirped announcing their arrival at the main door. The screens were drawn around Paul just as I was leaving and I said my goodbyes and best wishes to the stranger I’d maligned in my imagination on the other side of the curtains. His farewell was saddening and I left him trapped in a system he really didn’t want to be in.
The confusing routes around the new construction site meant I had to walk through the main hospital to find Rab who was at the entrance. I was still wrapped in the cotton wool of opiates and the journey home might as well have been on a medevac helicopter. I was detached and part of the scenery at the same time. I’d only been interred for just over 30 hours but it seemed like 30 days in a hole. The studio appeared out of the misty blue and I dissolved into the couch in front of the fire to begin my recovery as soon as I entered the sanctuary. I’d crossed the line of the surgery and now it was the long haul to get back to normality. My shoulder ached. I took more pills. The warm soft fuzz enveloped me. I just hoped I’d made the right decision to go ahead with this operation. There was so much that could still go wrong.
I had my fingers down my throat just after midnight.
I’d wolfed down the creamy mushroom and chicken pasta Simone had made me for my return and that, combined with a couple of glasses of guzzled white wine had interacted with an already confused stomach blown by meds to lower the acid levels and leave me with a chronic indigestion. The pink slime of Gaviscon wasn’t touching it and I remembered warnings from the night after my back op when it was inexplicably rationed by nurses. I figured there was a good reason so I decided to empty the contents of my stomach into a plastic basin. It was a long and painful night as I tried to sleep propped upright on pillows on the spare bed which could be cantilevered to help the position I was supposed to maintain for the next 4 weeks. Simone was an unprotesting angel and didn’t complain once as I wrestled with the discomfort and slipped in and out of consciousness. My head was spinning like a slow motion blender. I honestly don’t know what I would have done on my own and thought of Paul back in the ward.
The following days were a blur, the nights filled with codeine fuelled dreams that were lucid and entertaining, never scary and none of which I could remember fully in the morning despite trying to take notes in my mind. They were beautifully bizarre and sometimes off the charts and I allowed myself to run with them wherever they took me. Novels exploded in my head and I would find myself staring out through the French doors of the spare room into the garden as the dawn came up trying to regain my upright position on the pillows which I’d slid from in the previous hours. The pain was never far away and neither were the pills which I knew were contributing to the visions and which I knew I had to stay in control of and regulate. It was easy to see how an addiction could surreptitiously creep in to a command position. Over the next days I would limit my codeine intake and rest heavy on the ibuprofen and paracetemol tabs using the heavy cavalry for respite in the darkness. I had to admit I was enjoying the dream machine.
I was frustrated at my inability to do things. I taught myself to plunge a cafatiere holding the vessel with my good left hand and using a towel to push my head down with my right hand to avoid a scalding upsurge of liquid onto my face from a displaced filter. I managed to chop kindling via some awkwardly misplaced down strokes that threw sparks from the flagstones in front of the stove and some left shoulder numbing hits as I misjudged knots in the wood and the momentum and force required to split the timbers. I wiped my own arse, showered effectively, lined a glass of wine from a bottle with a steady left hand and after 2 weeks I was carving my own meat and finished writing the 9000 words on the keyboard for the ‘Farewell to Childhood ‘remaster. The latter did have my arm back in a sling for a day. As I said although I was well aware of overdoing things I pushed it a little too far as I got eloquent and overconfident. I had been advised to leave any typing until the second week when I could remove the sling temporarily for short periods. 9000 words took me a little longer than expected.
I managed a few days in the garden pruning and houking with my left hand. I negotiated the undergrowth like a ninja very conscious of a fall and the instinctive right arm defence, fully prepared for my face to take any hit. I built up a sweat, cleared the ground and pruned like a crazy man feeling so satisfied I was achieving something.
At night Simone and I waded through box sets; the entire ‘Black sails’ series, ‘Sneaky Pete’, both series of ‘Man in the High Castle’ and ‘Fortitude’ were avid and addictive viewing. I tried to put off going to bed as much as possible only succumbing when I was on the point of delirium. Sleep was a luxury as I continued to sporadically wake up throughout the night with my angel at hand to deliver the necessary painkillers. She put up with my snoring, moaning and constant rejigging of position without complaint, fetching glasses of water and rearranging my pillows into the mountain I was supposed to rest on. The first week we at least had the benefit of young Liam being in Germany so we could lie long behind closed curtains but on the second he returned and she was up at 8 to take him to school. I volunteered to sleep alone but Simone would have none of it. Although I’d built up a stack of brownie points taking him to school every morning before the operation I still felt guilty lying beneath a warm duvet as she raised herself from yet another disturbed night next to a snoring agitated bear to defrost a car and drive to town with her son.
I was banned from driving for at least 6 weeks and although my exercises, which I performed dutifully and more regularly after consultation with the physiotherapist were loosening me up I still wasn’t allowed to attempt to raise arms above shoulder level. An emergency manoeuvre with the steering wheel was too dangerous to contemplate. I didn’t take advantage of having a driver to take me to the pub and didn’t leave the house until the end of the second week when a visit to the Polish barber was insisted upon by Liam as I was starting to resemble the Count of Monte Christo.
I was tired of wearing tracksuit bottoms and dreamed of wearing a t shirt again. I was discovering shirts in my wardrobe I’d forgotten about but I had mastered dressing and doing up buttons and could now pull socks on with relative ease.
Simone, Liam and I took the 4 stitches out of the small wounds after there was no need for further bandaging and I could now shower without worry of opening up the scabs. The loose single loops were starting to catch my soapy fingers that could now just about reach the top of my head and my left armpit. I was healing as fast as I did with the wounds in my back and I put it down to the Chinese herbs Simone was insisting I munch regularly on and the fact that the both of us had given up smoking over a month before my operation with exactly these benefits in mind. I was feeling relatively healthy despite all. We had both being going twice a week to the gym between the back operation and the shoulder operation and Mike, our trainer, had really helped me prepare for all this. The only problem was that now I was unable to do anything and all the core muscles I’d been building up were slightly wasting as I couldn’t do any back exercises because it meant putting pressure on my shoulder area.
I stripped the sling off during the day and kept myself as busy as I could without overdoing it. As soon as there were any twinges or aches I strapped myself in again and vegetated in front of the TV letting a codeine pill take hold.
A couple of friends came over from Karlsruhe last weekend but I have to be honest and say it was the wrong time and too early for socialising. It was tough for Simone as she had to play hostess and deal with extra demands in an already stressful situation. As always she dealt with it all without complaint and although I tried to do as much as I could I wanted to do more. It was great to see old friends but we both could have done with more recuperation time together.
I exercised my mind in the office, sorting out a change in LPG gas suppliers and BT broadband issues both of which got me fired up and where I could plant my frustrations at other doors. I carried on working on the ‘Childhood’ live album, picking out photos, listening to mixes, watching DVD edits and continuing to set up that project which is now a week away from going into production.
I still couldn’t set my mind into album gearing but was drawn to the keyboard and began this in an effort to clear my mind and train the thought process. I can’t spend too long and am accomplishing this in bursts of enthusiasm before the aching grows and I have to retire to the couch again.
I’m wearing jeans again but still can’t wear anything but shirts. I long to yawn with both hands above my shoulders, to sleep on my right side, to place an axe head sure and straight and powerfully on a log, to drive a car to town, to place a seed tray onto a shelf in the greenhouse and lift a watering can, to dig over a raised bed and carry a trug of soil over to Simone’s new herb garden. At the moment I am king of the keyboard and I have to say I am enjoying myself.
Everything will come in time; I just have to be patient in every meaning of the word. My first physio visit is in 2 weeks’ time and my specialist appointment a month later. I’ll discover more then.
Four and a half thousand words.
I head for the couch and an uplifting documentary made all the more interesting with a few grains of codeine.
The sound you can hear in the distance is one hand clapping.
I was down with Simone at my Mum’s today on one of our regular visits as part of the mutual soup exchange programme we have and to pick up a couple of small slabs of smoked haddock from the fish van she’d got for us. As always we were gabbing and reminiscing and my Mum got out a couple of photo albums to show Simone some family history.
One of them had a collection of pictures of my Dad with his golf cups and some snaps of him with his mates on various golf courses. My dad was an avid golfer but had taken it up very late. He was good, in fact very good, and in all honesty if he’d taken it up earlier could have been edging on Pro status. He tried to get me into it but lack of patience and that father/son “I’ll not like what you like” teenage stance set me against it. For him it was an immense relief from the garage business and all the associated stress and pressures he had that I didn’t fully appreciate back then. Our mutual big thing was football.
During the 70’s my Dad had taken me down to London on the train to watch Scotland against England at Wembley. We had a few trips down, needless to say all were disappointing if not humiliating but the bonding sessions were unforgettable as I saw a very different side to my Dad. Football brought us together and all the alpha dynamics were forgotten at games.
In March 1988 I was booked to play a couple of shows in the Channel Islands with Marillion as part of a ‘Benson and Hedges’ music festival and decided to repay him. He had never been on the road with me only attending individual gigs throughout the years. He’d heard the stories and I knew he loved the ‘tales from the big bus’ (although there was some “tut tutting” and lowered eye brows at some recollections). My Dad was maybe a middle aged, middle class “boring” garage owner from Dalkeith but I also knew he had a great sense of adventure and a twinkle in his eye seen in old photos from his days in the REME in Kenya on national service that had been eclipsed by family demands.
With the help of my old friend John Cavanagh we set it up for my Dad to come down for a weekend with us in Jersey and told him to bring his golf clubs. He was up for it and excited at a chance to get away with me.
We all arrived in Jersey on the same flight; the band, the crew, my dad and I. We were ushered into the customs area, bags searched and all interrogated by officers. My Dad, golf bag over his shoulder sailed through unchallenged. We all looked at each other on the other side of the glass and realised we could have given him a stash.
Hotel, check in, dinner and what was a night off. Not for me and my Dad. Unbeknownst to him it had all been set up and we were going out for a show that was part of the weekend festival. He still didn’t realise until we got to the venue that we were in fact going to see his all-time hero, ‘James Last and his orchestra’. It was all totally ‘secret squirrel’ and even when I put the sticky ‘access all areas’ pass on his jacket it still hadn’t fully clicked.
To put this in context. My Dad was one of the biggest James Last fans in the galaxy and subjected me to endless repeats of his 8 tracks as we drove to Hibs matches or anywhere really. One particular adventure was our first ever family car tour through Europe in the early 70’s where James Last and his orchestra seemed to be the equivalent of cultural waterboarding to this particular progressive rock fan. Only Frank Sinatra, the occasional Carpenters album and a smattering of Beatles ‘greatest hits’ kept me from harming myself in the back seat of his Mercedes.
And here I was in Jersey with my Dad watching a live performance of a man I considered a Teutonic Satan as a teenager – and it was truly brilliant. My dad was in heaven. James Last I could only admire as a showman working a band that were pro/ talented/in the groove and totally on the money. Maybe through my Dad’s eyes and ears I was catching them from a wildly different perspective or maybe I’d just grown up and was seeing them as fellow musicians. I’d thought I’d be outside for most of the show drawing on my free B and H’s or in the bar but I watched the entire show and applauded wildly with my dad at the end of the gig. He was close to tears as he had never seen the orchestra before.
And the ‘hits’ kept on coming.
After show we hung around in the auditorium and then headed backstage for what my Dad thought was a couple of Bacardis before heading back to the hotel. When he was introduced to James Last the smile was incandescent and he was as happy as I had ever seen him. It was only a short introduction, the backstage glimmer, the deep handshake a few words and an exit as James was surrounded by admirers and fans as one would expect.
Back at the hotel my Dad and I were Number 1’s at the end of the bar holding court and I was tempering our curve as there was more to come.
An hour or so later James Last entered the building and took up a table. He was staying in the same hotel. That was our cue and I took my Dad over to the company, glass in hand, him full of cool and reintroduced them. As they’d already met and bottles were well cracked there was a meeting on the square and my Dad settled into conviviality easily with his musical idol. He was introduced to another member of the company, Tommy Horton, the professional golfer, then a Jersey resident. And that was when the cracker was pulled. “Dad we’ve arranged you’ll be going out tomorrow afternoon for a round with James and Tommy”. I’ve never seen anyone try and supress the amount of excitement my Dad was feeling at that time and stay so calm. He was beautiful.
His cool then was nothing compared to later in the day when we met before the show after his round.
“How did you get on Dad, fun time?” ( hoping it wasn’t England/Scotland Wembley scenario)
“Pretty good” (nothing given away but a slight smile)
“Did you win?” (knowing James Last was a serious golfer and Tommy a pro)
“yes” ( him starting to burst into full smile)
“ You just beat James Last and Tommy Horton?” (me incredulous)
“Yes” ( we both burst out laughing)
We delivered a hug to each other befitting of 2 grizzlies and I felt so proud of him. It was one of those moments, forever remembered, and never repeated, it happened, a spike in the glory tales. You could not have written the script.
My dad beat James Last at golf!!! And Tommy Horton the island golf pro!!
And that is the story behind this photograph. More important to me than the show; with all due respect to the Channel Islanders to whom it was more than memorable ( Hullo Will Smith 😉 ) to a lot of people and someday I really want to get back there.
To tie the circle. A friend of mine in the States has sent me a reconditioned 8 track player this week and as I lie with arm in sling for the next 4 weeks plus I will delight in racking those old James Last tapes in and thinking about Jersey and when my Dad cuffed the maestro and holed an unforgettable moment.
Three and a half hours at Edinburgh Royal infirmary today being assessed for my forthcoming shoulder operation.Endless questionnaires, blood tests and all the pre op trimmings before a meeting with the surgeon. I’m scheduled in for the 13th which thankfully is a Monday but the bad news kept on coming today.
I needed the calm of the waiting room and a few pints of water from the cooler to get my blood pressure down and hydrate after a couple of whiskies too many the night before when a shit grenade went off. The pin was pulled by some usual suspects from afar but Simone and I took the impact as intended targets. It rocked us but we’re too strong to let it get us down. Regular incoming we’ve come to expect over the years we have been together and when all is ranted and done it isn’t really our problem. I had other more important things to deal with next day.
My blood pressure was normal by the time they ran the tests and I met the surgeon feeling relatively calm about the forthcoming operation. This was the first time I was to be fully briefed about the
problem which I had been told a few months ago was a torn tendon. The scans on the screen made little sense to me but the diagnosis that followed certainly did. It wasn’t what I expected.
The “torn” tendon is actually completely detached from my arm and required bone shaving, pins and pulled over to be “glued” to the new anchors. That was one of the tears. There’s another on the other side of the joint and a possible tear on the left shoulder as well. I listened in soft shock.The word “pain” kept recurring.
It turns out my condition is worse than was originally diagnosed and the 6 month recovery could actually be 12 with no promises and a diary of excruciating physio appointments.I could opt out and put up with this existing painful condition with no power in my right shoulder for the rest of my life but I’ve decided to go for it and take the consequences, bite the bullet and accept the advice of my surgeon who is one of the finest in her field and who won me over by saying I am young enough to have a great chance of a full recovery.
I’m nervous and to be absolutely honest a bit scared at what I have elected to sign on for. This ain’t gonna be easy by any stretch of the imagination and it’s going to bite me hard and long.
In the last month I ,together with Simone have stopped smoking and we have been attending a gym in Edinburgh with a personal trainer twice a week. Mike Heatley has done wonders to help strengthen my back and develop my core muscles again. It’s the first time I’ve been at a gym for years and I’m so feeling the benefits. I’ve been using this window between operations to prepare myself and in all honesty will miss the sessions as I move into the initial healing period with my rotator cuff problem.God only knows how this will affect the writing of the album. I’m hopeful I’ll get a chance to alow the cogs to turn and pontificate on ideas and directions. I’m going to miss my right hand and my keyboard musings are most definitely going to take a lot longer and be a lot more frustrating.
I’m going to miss being involved in the garden for which Simone and I ordered all the seed and gubbings for the other day. The first 4 weeks will be hellish, sleeping upright a nightmare for which I’m going to need a lot of chemical help. It can be done and I’ll be all the better for it in the long run.
The shit grenades I am sure will continue to be thrown and I know I’ll take quite a few sniper attacks in the coming months. Bring it on! I have a strong loving lady with me by my side without whom I most definitely couldn’t deal with all this and the two of us are going to get through this together and in style. As for the doubters, the underminers, the “unlikers” and the cynics- this circle is unbroken.
We are family here. And we are strong.
It’s been all quiet on the Northern front so far this year. After a traditional Hogmanay with great friends and neighbours we fell into the doldrums of that post partying/ pre work zone malaise and both Simone and I were clobbered with a virus. I honestly thought I had avian flu that I’d picked up as bad karma from plucking pheasants or from the bird feeders. Extreme swinging temperatures, tight chest, shallow breathing and sleeping over 16 hours a day kiboshed me for nearly a week. Getting back into the office groove was difficult and I wasn’t operating on all cylinders until last Monday. Liam returned from holidays in Poland snowboarding with his Dad and I was back to early morning school runs in mild shock trying to get my bearings on the year ahead.
2016 had completely thrown me and plans that should have been initiated and moving forward had all stalled. The replacement dates for the ‘Childhood’ tour closely followed by my father’s passing and then seriously deteriorating back issues in the summer that resulted in the operation late in the year meant my heid was full of chocolate frogs for long periods and I just couldn’t focus on anything creative. I should have been halfway through writing ‘Weltschmerz’ but I’m sitting here in January in a slight panic realising there’s a mountain to be moved.
My shoulder has worsened since the back operation as muscle groups realign and my body adjusts to its new upright position. Sleep is broken and I toss and turn like a live prawn on a Japanese hot plate in the night. I’m still waiting on the date for the operation and have been told there are delays on my hospital appointment which was pencilled in for February. I’d already cancelled all open air work this summer and first week of January I had to phone my new agent in Hamburg and tell him to postpone all work in Europe until 2018. With my right arm completely immobilised for 4 weeks and then 6 weeks painful physio as part of a 6 month recovery that requires a lot of careful attention I decided that to deal with writing and recording the album and aiming at an Autumn tour was too much to take on.
The good news is that I have been given the all clear on my spine and tomorrow I head to the gym in Edinburgh to start work with a personal trainer. The idea is to use the window between the operations to get some semblance of fitness in my back and legs and set myself up for the shoulder recovery. With all that’s happened in the last year there’s been a definitive wake up on my approach to health and lifestyle and having lost so much time in 2016 the original idea of a 2018 retirement from music has to be moved slightly back.
This year I will be concentrating on writing and recording which hopefully won’t be too much affected by the shoulder recovery. Calum Malcolm is mixing the live material recorded in Warsaw from the ‘Farewell to Childhood’ tour and is mastering the Berlin show for a DVD which will be part of the package scheduled for release in early March. I’ll also be working on the remasters for ‘Vigil’, ‘Internal Exile’, ‘Suits’ and ‘Songs from the Mirror’ throughout the year during the writing sessions for ‘Weltschmerz’ in order to fund the project as obviously without the expected live income from the summer there’s a shortfall. I won’t be able to invest in any vinyl releases on the remasters this year as the outlay is too expensive.
The UK tour in December will be the only live dates this year. With a fair wind and a bit of luck I’ll have the ‘Weltschmerz’ album in hand by then. If for some reason not I’ll follow the same tack as with ‘Feast’ and will be playing tracks prior to recording but in all honesty it should be in the can.
As with the ‘Misplaced Childhood’ farewell shows I plan this to be the first and last time I’ll be playing ‘Clutching at Straws’ in its entirety and that means a first time out the box for ‘Tux On’, ‘Going Under’ and ‘Just for the Record’ all of which will be rearranged for the tour.
The European tour will be set up for March 2018 onwards and there will be a few UK dates added to that section. At the moment there are no plans for North and South America but I am open to offers that make sense. With another £100 added to the cost of US work visas in recent months and the new administration tightening controls I’m sad to say a North American tour is highly improbable.
The most important project this year is the ‘Weltschmerz’ album. Mark Wilkinson already has images in mind; I have the seeds of a couple of lyrics, Steve Vantsis is primed and there are a couple of musicians in the wings that could play influential roles. I now have to start bringing it all together. I’m sure this is going to be an interesting year and the time is right for the subject matter. It has to be special and as you know well from my history this album won’t be released until I am sure it is.
Blue Monday for some Happy Monday for others. Here are the UK ‘Weltschmerz – Clutching at Straws 2017’ tour dates for December with tickets going on sale tomorrow at the venues and on Seetickets , Eventim and at The Gig Cartel
Fri 8 Leeds University
Sat 9 Manchester o2 Ritz
Sun 10 Leamington Assembly
Tue 12 Cardiff Tramshed
Wed 13 Bristol o2 Academy
Fri 15 London Islington Assembly
Sat 16 London Islington Assembly
Tues 19 Cambridge Corn Exchange
Wed 20 Newcastle Wylam Brewery
Thurs 21 Glasgow o2 ABC
These are the only dates this year as because of my shoulder operation next month with the extensive recovery period and my commitments to writing and recording the new ‘Weltschmerz’ album I decided to postpone all European touring until Spring 2018.
The set list for this tour will include a full performance of the ‘Clutching at Straws’ album on it’s 30th anniversary and as with the ‘2015-16 Farewell to Childhood’ tour will be it’s final full outing.
More news to follow