Today I swam a mile, 64 lengths, freestyle, non-stop 46 minutes. It’s almost a record for me, although I don’t really compete with myself, I get in, do the best I can and hope I don’t get too much slower than before. I actually swam a little more, 70 lengths, I usually finish off with some backstroke and breaststroke to stretch some different muscles. The pool was pretty empty (unsurprisingly), I said “Hello” to one of the regulars as he was getting in. In the lane next to me was a woman. “Hello” he said to her, “How was the cruise?”. Inside I said WHAT?! Their conversation continued. “We went around New Zealand.” she said. “They almost didn’t let us off the boat. We only just managed to get the flight home…”. “No problems on the boat then?”, I offered tentatively. “No, no.” she said. She didn’t look ill, but she was really made up for the pool. I was hoping that she always did this.
Swimming is great, low impact, cardio, lots of muscles being used, the lungs love it. The chlorine is a bit of a problem though. Mostly when I get out my nose starts to run, then comes the sneezing. I suppose that all the good I’m doing to myself might be being ruined by the chemicals. Talking of chemicals some of the older women that come to swim seem to feel the need to wear perfume between home and the leisure centre. The problem with that is that as soon as they get in the water some kind of chemical reaction happens. You can almost see the fumes. The perfume aroma becomes so exaggerated it’s an instant headache if you breathe it in. Another thing that the older ladies do is keep their heads above water, never getting their hair wet. That would drive me mad, getting in the pool and not getting my head under the water, it’s one of the best things about it. I suppose I don’t have a ‘hairdo’. Not anymore, anyway.
Although the terrible situation in Italy is most serious right now I must share with you a moment when I was trying to find out about swimming in an Italian pool whilst being on tour in Italy. I think it was Milan, the ex band was doing some shows there and swimming on tour was the flavour of the day. Putting the effort in to stay fit whilst travelling (even harder work than trying to stay fit whilst at home). I found a pool, really nice place, one of those 100 year old pools with dark green tiles. There was no time to swim before soundcheck or at anytime on arrival day into the city, so knowing that the bus would be leaving early the next morning I asked the woman what time they opened as I’d like to get there between 8AM and 9AM. She looked at me with a confused look and said “Italians don’t swim in the morning, we open at midday”. Am I imagining this? Did this really happen? It sounds absurd.
Jonas arrived from Trier today. We met him on our German tour. Trier is the birthplace of Karl Marx and is also famous for the Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate). It is a Roman city gate, built sometime after 170AD. Jonas is one of the people that runs the venue that we played at in Trier. Small but lovely gig, we slept upstairs and when we awoke and looked out of the window, the Porta Nigra was right there, massive and dominating in the street. Consequently, this is a big tourist town in the summer, there were even tourists there in January. Anyway Jonas was telling us about his frustrations with the universe and we told him he should come and visit us at the Archive, see the lovely Cornish coast, breathe in some fresh sea air, so he did. AND he brought me an album, Marc Ribot and friends, Songs Of Resistance 1942 – 2018. Very cool.
I ran into Steve, the in-house soundman from local venue The Acorn (twice) today. I played there with All About Eve two or three times. It is actually where we recorded most of Fairy Light Nights, I think? Derek, is this true? So Steve and I were discussing if the booked shows at the venue were going ahead (Dom Joly, Boo Hewerdine). It’s the wrong time to be on tour for ticket sales. Us musician types are going to be finding other incomes if we can’t play live and can no longer sell records. Thank the lord for the sessions and the sessioneers. We put a cheeky donate button up for the blog on the website, no pressure. Although for many musicians and people generally out there, this is a nightmare. I heard today that Canada is closing its borders. Does that mean our May gigs in Quebec City with Anekdoten are off? Which means the Olivia and I gigs will be off. I guess we just have to wait and see.
Dare and I are in the studio tomorrow, Tuesday, for more Noctorum sessions. All this is certainly giving us more time to work on this, our fifth album, but I hope they keep the electricity on. Today we took down some recycling to the beach recycling bins. The supermarket is opposite, we went in and for the first time saw the results of the panic buying. I’ve never seen so many empty shelves. The supermarkets here are rationing toilet paper and pasta. It’s probably worse in the big cities. It’s like being in one of those end of the world movies…as long as we finish the album before it all goes South.
Music today has been an investigation into some records I bought at the behest of Steve Slimm who used to have the archive room before I did. He knew about the collection coming in and asked me if I had records by two bands, Marsupilami and 9.30 Fly. I’d never heard of either of them. They are progressive, folkey, flutey, guitary, too, great. I bought reissues of their records ages ago and I’m listening to them tonight. The Marsupilami album I have is from 1970 and the 9.30 Fly is from 1972. These are the times when it really matters having a good stereo.
Next came Gnidrolog, Lady Lake, odd Progressive band that released two albums in 1972 and broke up due to lack of any commercial success. They were formed by the Goldring brothers who named their band after rearranging the letters of their name and adding an ‘o’. Later in the decade they formed a controversial Punk band called the Pork Dukes that enraged the feminists, it’s all quite unexpected. The band also included Nigel Pegrum who joined Steeleye Span and Peter Cowling who joined Pat Travers. Next was Gryphon, described as Progressive Rock and Medieval Folk. They are allegedly famous for being on Radio 1,2,3 and 4 in the same week. BBC stations that feature different styles, catering for all age groups. Gryphon somehow managed to qualify for all of them. Interestingly, like Gnidrolog, two members of Gryphon, Richard Harvey and Jonathan Davie, formed the Punk band The Banned in 1977.
From Prog to Punk, a leap no-one could predict until perhaps you consider one peculiar connection between Prog and Punk…the Rickenbacker bass.