Friday, September 07, 2007

I've finally got round to charging my mini handheld pc so that I can write my blogs on the train - so no excuses.

The last few weeks have been a bit of a whirl wind. Michael McDermott blew in and then blew out again. Work has been a bit like the English summer, on and off and then on again. One project has kept me tied up the last couple of months but the submission date is today so that will be that. I had hoped to have finished it earlier in the week but instead it has gone right to the wire meaning my plans to spend the day with John in my old college town of Hull have had to be cancelled.

So where to start. Greenbelt is probably the best place and by now most people I know who blog and go to Greenbelt have already said many wonderful things about the festival and so in many ways it's all been said. For me it was extra special as not only was Michael McDermott playing at the festival, but it was also the first time my god daughter had been. For her, the run up to going had been very negative as she didn't know any of the bands who would be playing. But she came away thinking what a cool place it had been. My only regret is that I was too busy looking after a crazy IrishAmerican to spend much time with her and her family - who were working the whole weekend running the Guild Shop on the site.

I have read so many kind comments about Michael from friends and people I don't know, saying how much they enjoyed his performances at the festival. I was emailed the other night by someone within the Greenbelt set up who had been listening to Cross Rhythms radio station (he hastily added this was not a normal occurrence) and they had been debating if it was OK to say the lyrics from the song Still Ain't Over You Yet where Michael refers to"Jesus Christ doesn't know the piss-pot shape that I'm in". The lyrics have already caused a few comments in the States so I was amazed to hear that CR gave it the OK. In addition the review of Michael at Greenbelt was very glowing and they have approached us to do a full interview. Like a lot of people at the festival, they saw through the external layer of Michael (which is enough to scare most people off) and found a frankness and openness that is very rarely found these days amongst people.

My one regret with Greenbelt was that it was all over too quickly - for me that meant going home Monday morning as I had a growing workload to deal with. But it was a good send off as I was up early (having just gone to bed) to see Michael off to the airport. We sat outside the front of the hotel as others slept, waiting for his lift, and he played me a new song that he had written on the flight over. A touch of the Waterboys in its sound, beautiful words and melody. He played it a few days later in New York as he finished a residency at The Living Room that he'd been doing for the last few weeks.

We sold a lot of CDs over the weekend - they kept flying off the shelf as fast as I could supply the music store. I think we must have been one of the best sellers - certainly for a fairly unknown artist - even though they had sold out Monday morning. So unusually for me when taking artists to Greenbelt, we made a profit! There's lots more I could say but won't.A big thanks goes to all those who befriended Michael and made him feel so welcome and the child labour gang who ensured Michael's face was everywhere to be seen on site. So many special moments - the complete silence in Centaur and the Performance Cafe as he sang Wounded, the playing of Grace of God on Greenbelt Radio-described by them as the special moment of their weekend, the realisation that Steve and Michael were separated at birth.

In another lifetime I would now be in Chicago for the official launch of the album Noise From Words, but instead my place is at home with Helen who has seen little of me the past few weeks.

The Thursday after Greenbelt we finally moved house so I was in London for a couple of days- first getting old house ready for new tennants, and then helping to start clean the new house. The old house looks great - newly decorated, nice carpets etc. The new house is OK but really needs to be redecorated and we have to install off-street parking (so far the council has lowered the kerb but now the raised concrete front garden has to be dug out). We also want the understairs cupboard converted into a cloakroom. All the sash windows are to be renovated and have double glazing inserted. The big jobs come later when we have managed to rob a bank.

Like all the best laid plans though we have hit a major problem. The decorator we use, who is a friend from Walsingham, has developed a problem and needs to be operated on mid September so it is now unclear if we will be able to get the decorating done as planned before returning to London. Not such a problem for me as I am out each day, but for Helen it would be no fun having to stare at the walls and cracks all day long. So if you fancy a holiday in London, combined with a bit of decorating let me know!

As for the new house itself, it is very different to the old one. It swallowed up all the packing boxes and the study quickly became the dumping ground, replacing the garage from the old house. They say location, location, location and I guess this is about as good as it gets for East Dulwich. Still close to the train station and 3 minutes walk to all the trendy bars on the high street. The house will swallow up a lot of money to get it exactly right and this will take a few years to do as we look to find the finances and have the main works done when staying in Norfolk. But at the end of it I hope we will have somewhere we can really call home.

The last few days have been tinged with sadness for us. Helen has a soul mate, someone who she is able to share the ups and downs of her life and via text they spend much time encouraging each other. We heard this week though the news we had half been expecting, that tests had shown she has a cancerous tumour that is too close to the heart to operate on. So it comes down to prayer and a decision whether to go for radiation or chemotherapy. E is such a lovely person and all prayers will be welcomed.

Next week we have a real holiday - no plans for any interruptions from the office. I may have to spend a day in London at the house doing some DIY but otherwise I hope the weather will be warm enough for a few afternoons out, preferably down the beach. I also need to do some exercise as the last 18 months of bidding work has left me carrying too much excess weight. If time I would like to go and see the geese which have started arriving for the winter up on the marshes. I would like to go power boating but the money is best spent on the house. And if the weather is fine, no doubt a few evenings will be spent sat outside the Bull, drinking Norfolk's finest ales. The perfect spot to think about future plans - the success of Michael at Greenbelt has to be maintained, just a question of how best to do it. And I am already thinking about next year and who I would like to see play at the festival. Michael would be great but it is an unofficial policy not to invite artists back 2 consecutive years. I have a few names in mind of others who might grace mainstage c/of Music Output Productions (aka Emmo Productions).

Dave - how on earth did we not manage to bump into each other at GB?

I guess Monday tends to be my quietest day, when I get more time to catch up with people, but sounds like you headed off early.

Really sorry to have missed you.

Heard great things about Michael, not least from his 'separated at birth' new friend. Are we sure the world is ready for two such forces of nature? ;-)
Liz - don't understand it either - I looked everywhere for you - the bar, local curry houses, all decent shoe shops in Cheltenham, but simply no sign. Nearly gate-crashed the Ops headquarters but didn't like the look of the bouncers! Scary stuff about S&M (the perfect abreviation!).
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