Saturday, 12 December 2009

Let He Who Is Without Sin . . .

Friday 4th December. The Maltings, Farnham, Surrey.
Accommodation: The Mercure Bush Hotel, Farnham.
I’m compelled to ponder for a while on the subject of Tiger Woods - only because my golfing comparisons made yesterday caused a drawing of attention, initially, in his direction. Of course, once the attention had finished being drawn, there were, and are, a number of details to observe that make up the drama that ‘is’ Tiger’s life at present. 

This isn’t so much about golf, it’s more about life. And it’s not wholly about Tiger Woods, but more an observation of just how polarised those members of the public appear to be that respond and react to subject matter such as this. And not just the public, it's even his colleagues.

I read that the Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik was the one responsible for introducing friend, Elin Nordegren to Woods, and she subsequently went on to become Tiger’s wife.
Parnevik now says he misjudged the character of Tiger Woods, and said, amongst other things, “We probably thought he was a better guy than he is”, and “When you’re the world’s top athlete you should think before you do stuff”.

We can probably all understand any sympathy, or sense of responsibility he might be feeling, but there’s an air of self-righteousness in his words that I struggle to embrace. 

I’m only using this guy as an example.

It appears there are those who can understand some of what I’d describe as a behaviour known to have existed in humankind since the beginning of time. By that, I don’t mean a complete understanding of the behaviour, but an understanding that we are prone, as (imperfect) human beings, to all manner of injudiciousness, indiscretion, unwiseness, folly–call it what you will–very often just in thought, but sometimes also in deed.

We are driven to such things; we don’t make it up. I’ll go as far as to say we are meant to act like this; it’s part of what nature wants. 
Obviously though, in the same breath, it cannot be expected that those who are nearest and dearest to us should even come close to endorsing any of it; so pragmatically speaking, if you want to keep your life on a more even keel, it might be very wise to channel some of that primal energy in a way that doesn’t consequently screw it up.

I neither condone or condemn. What I do know is that a great many of us struggle in some form with all of this - being tugged one way and then another; and trying to work out exactly what feelings to act on and which ones to leave well alone. 

And while we’re trying to make some sense of it all, I can't help but become curious as to what goes on in the minds of those who spout so many ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’; those whose words would portray a world without any shade of grey - as many seem to when a story such as Woods’ hits the headlines; it’s as though somehow, uniquely, they were all borne with not a errant, wanton, devious or desirous bone their body.
And I don’t believe that, not for one minute.

To conclude: the next time these two professionals play golf together (if ever), I have a feeling there’ll be adjectives such as ‘self-righteous’ and ‘sanctimonious’ flash through my mind as I look at Parnevik; then I’ll watch Tiger Woods and just think, ‘what a fantastic golfer’.

Saturday 5th December. Day off in Chichester. 

Accommodation: The Park Hotel, Chichester.

Sunday 6th December. The Festival Theatre, Chichester. 
Accommodation: As yesterday.

Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick turned up at the hotel early afternoon. Tonight’s going to be something like a dress rehearsal for tomorrow’s show at the Barbican. 

Both Martin and John will join us on stage at the front of the second set, for the songs: The King, Four Nights Drunk, Lark In The Morning, All Things Are Quite Silent, and a carol that John’s introduced us to called The Boar’s Head.

After all that, we proceed with the second set pretty much as normal, before the two of them come back onto the stage for the encores: All Around My Hat and Hard Times Of Old England.
As would be expected, the show had one or two rough edges, but taking everything into consideration it went remarkably well. 
It was ‘sold out’ tonight with around 1200 in attendance. 

Monday 7th December. The Barbican Centre, London.
Accommodation: Travelodge, Old Street, London.


A successful night on all counts. The hall was virtually full; the atmosphere - expectant, accepting and appreciative. 

This is ‘the’ big showcase gig, as was the London Palladium five years ago during our thirty fifth anniversary tour; and as you can imagine, there’s a great sense of occasion at these shows, one that everyone seemed to rise to on the night. 

There is something quite special about walking out onto a stage as big–physically and figuratively–such as this. You can tighten up a little, or you can let go. It’s like taking certain elements from both festival and concert settings and amalgamating the two.
I’m trying to think how best to describe those elements; it’s probably about ‘formality’ more than anything, the formality that comes with having an audience sat before you on rows of theatre seating in a perceived (from my point of view) state of attentive scrutiny and thought; then you have the festival audience that is often standing, looser, and usually more vocally expressive and ‘up for it’ from the word go.

So this was a pleasant mixture of the two.

It was a great pleasure to be on stage with Martin and John; what they added to the overall sound, instrumentally and vocally, was awesome. With Pete Zorn it meant there were up to eight of us onstage at times which gave a real fullness and power to the material.

I need to mention the hotel we stayed at, and how disgustingly awful it was. I used to be quite a fan of Travelodges, but I’m having to reconsider after this and the one we stayed at in Reading. We even had squatters here - on the fifth floor - the one on which my room was situated. I got out of the lift, and there they were sitting around, with their belongings in carrier bags.

The rooms were about as basic and austere as you can get; there wasn’t even any soap - just as well I carry my own. 
I could go on, but never mind. I’ll just say - stay well clear. 

Tuesday 8th December. The Grand Theatre, Swansea.

Accommodation: Express by Holiday Inn, Neath Road, Llandarcy.


And what a ‘grand’ theatre this is; the maze - there’s no other word to describe it - of corridors around and behind the theatre is about as Spinal Tap-esque as you can get. 
Just as well I had a ball of string with me!
But, as I said, the performance hall is quite majestic - not at all unlike the Buxton Opera House with its two circle/balcony areas and very high ceiling.

Friend, Richard Ellin turned up tonight; we go back quite a long way I suppose - but I only appreciate that when I deliberately count the years, otherwise I think of him as a very recent acquaintance.
Richard runs a company called Fairplay Replication; they’ve manufactured pretty much all of my CDs. He also owns Rock And Reel magazine, and has his own independent label.

Back in 1994 we entered into a short-lived business arrangement when another friend of mine - John St Ryan landed a major role on the soap opera Coronation Street. As well as acting, John sang and played guitar, so we formed a little duo, released a single and hit the TV circuit. It was an interesting exercise that didn’t really work out.
To some extent it exposed my naivety; John was too big - probably in the wrong way - for it to work as a twosome. Honestly, I was taken aback by the attention he received; I didn’t appreciate the power of mainstream television; nowadays, as a result of everything, I might appreciate it, but I still don’t understand it.

It appeared it was impossible to present ourselves in the way we intended originally - we wanted to be taken somewhat seriously, and because he acted the part of ‘Charlie the trucker’ on the TV show, that’s what the public wanted.
See what I mean when I say ‘naive’?

It’s a bit like wanting to have your cake and eat it too; it’s one thing to think you can take advantage of a seemingly easy opportunity when instant exposure is handed to you on a plate; but there’s always a catch, always a sting in its tail.
The truth is that very little, if anything, that’s really worth something, comes easily. 

I’m glad the single didn’t take off, it could’ve been a darn site more complicated than it turned out to be.

And it was a painful experience, financially speaking, for just about all involved, including Richard. I was the only one not to lose money in the project, and that was only because of song royalties.

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