The girl in the mustard sweater stood directly in front of me. She wore blue jeans and a pair of high-heeled dark purple suede boots with a zip. Her hair was streaked to be blonder than natural but it was growing out, it didn’t look too bad which was probably why she’d been putting off redoing it. She was in her early thirties, about 5’8” and conversing with a couple of friends in the queue, one woman shorter and a man about the same height. I couldn’t catch anything they were saying as they were talking in whispers with their backs to me. I never saw their faces, just the side of the shorter woman’s face and it didn’t give me much of an idea what she really looked like by just seeing her profile. I didn’t see what they were buying as I was standing back more than an arm’s length. The shorter woman had something in her arms, hidden by her right elbow, I suppose she was nursing what she had come for. Olivia joined me in the queue after a fruitless search for something the shop didn’t have, I can’t quite remember what it was. It was busy but not too bad, considering the circumstances and after all it was a Saturday afternoon. We checked out via the self-serve machines and as we were scanning our purchases, my phone rang. It was my friend and Anekdoten bandmate Nicklas Barker calling from Stockholm, I had to take it. I left the shopping with Olivia and let her pack and pay as I went to the front of the shop to take the call.
Nicklas and his partner Sophie were supposed to be coming here on Wednesday. We were going to be working on some music, rehearsals for the Canadian gigs in Quebec City and generally have a creative week of learning, listening to music and breathing in the fresh Cornwall sea air. I wasn’t really surprised to hear that they wouldn’t be coming. The situation is making it increasingly hard to travel and feel safe. Staying home, staying in, working from home seems to be the best thing to do until the world gets a handle on what’s happening. Nicklas told me that he’d been informed that his tickets for the plane and the train that he’d already purchased are still going to be valid for another date so for now we sit it out and hope for an end to the crisis.
It’s not just Nicklas that has had to postpone his trip. Steve and Lynne from Atlantaeum Flood have had to postpone their trip, too. We were booked into the studio early April to start work on the second album. The problem is that when they come down here to Cornwall to work with us they camp in their vehicle and it didn’t seem like the right circumstances to do that. So that album is now on hold. It gives everyone another year of ‘One Day’ and one day who knows when we will begin work on ‘One Year’. On a positive note this is going to give Dare and I more time to work on the new Noctorum album as well as Jed sessioneer’s Space Summit project. More time for general Skype sessions if anyone would like to get in touch. You can do that here:
Inbetween the studio and the sea is Morrab Gardens, a subtropical park that has a host of odd plants and shrubs that I’ll show more of as the spring approaches. Olivia managed to catch the sun shining out of the clouds as I stood in front of the flowering pink magnolia tree. The pathways are always inhabited by inquisitive squirrels that nervously get closer to you if they suspect you might have some food, flitting about with a lightning metabolism that sees them shoot up a tree trunk at the slightest hint of a rash move or unexpected shift. Overhead the seagulls cry like cats, moaning and then sharing their bird cries with their shrieks that crow out of their throats. On the ground they crane their necks and shriek and squeal equally, moaning and calling into cacophony. Sometimes you see them stamping on the grass, mimicking rainfall, dislodging the worms from the safety of the soil. These birds are huge, with powerful beaks and strong wings that remind me of the Hitchcock classic. In the summer I’ve seen them swoop down in the high street and take an ice cream out of a child’s hand. Other creatures are few and far between just now as spring is in its early stages, an occasional blackbird or a sparrow flutter in the bushes.
Tommorrow is a big sessioneers day so today I’ve tried to make it a big archive day, that is cleaning records, listening to records and filing records (although we also had a Skype chat with Salim in Dallas, trying to plan an uncertain future). I couldn’t decide what mood I was in so I listened to some disparate sounds. Queen’s Jazz, an odd record with some dated lyrics and drum sounds but with Freddie still killing it as a singer and Brian May parading his unique guitar tones. They are frustratingly hit and miss on this album. After that and very confused by what Queen were doing in 1978 when you think about what other music was happening in that year, I decided to reverse the numbers and go for 1987 and more politically incorrect lyrics but musically influenced by Queen. Def Leppard’s Hysteria came out when we were making Starfish. It’s a mixture of dodgy words, buried vocals, bizarre drum sounds due to the situation with their drummer, but has some great musical moments and is full to the brim with Pop Metal hits. Love Bites, Hysteria, Women, Armageddon It, Rocket, Animal, Pour Some Sugar On Me. I list them because in the time from making Starfish to the band breaking in the US (within its own genre but making the ‘real’ charts) and consequently leading the band back to LA to make a follow up in Gold Afternoon Fix, Def Leppard were still releasing singles from the same massive multi-platinum selling album.
On a more thoughtful level I listened to the first Roxy Music album from 1972 which is just magnificent on all musical, vocal and lyrical levels, but I also went all over the place and listened to my favourite Dutch ironists The Nits and singer-songwriter Henk Hofstede’s perceptive observations of the universe, smart in a wacky suit, perhaps in the same way Split Enz were, not so obviously theatrical, but sometimes I think a madder Dutch Neil Finn when I think of Hofstede’s creativity. I also went to Canada and listened to the surprisingly great third April Wine album, Electric Jewels, from 1973 and then the first Blue Oyster Cult album from 1972. So I was a little all over the place tonight. I did manage to clean a few records that had been waiting to be attended to, but I struggled with the filing. Every time I pull a record out I give it time and after that start looking at the other records by the same group, see what’s missing from the catalogue and that takes you down one long rabbit hole…and yes, if you were wondering, I read The Pool Of Tears to Olivia, chapter two of Lewis Carroll’s 1865 masterpiece Alice In Wonderland.