Monday 22 August 2022

Happy Birthday to me - The big 6-0 arrives

 So I woke up this morning to find myself in a new decade of existence. How do I feel? Pretty much the same as I did yesterday. But such events do stir a bit of reflection as we go as we get older. What have we achieved? What are our regrets? What could we have done better? I've never really been one for looking back, but seeing many old friends and family on Friday night, many for the first time since lockdown at our Bohemia gig has made me far more nostalgic than I can remember. 

I thought of my Dad. He was 60 in 1977. He lasted another ten years. In 1977, he was pretty much still at the top of his game. He was a very larger than life character in every way. I was 15. It didn't occur to me that he was mortal and my time with him was limited. I have few regrets, but a big one is that I didn't really appreciate him at the time and I fought and rowed with him non stop. I see his perspective on this now, as I have kids of my own. Here's a video I made a few years ago to commemorate him.

I also thought of my Mum. She was 60 in 1985. Like Dad she was on very good form. She'd overcome a serious encounter with cancer that blighted  most of the 1970's, but she'd had the all clear for ten years. In 1985, as best I recall my parents had four holidays. My mum was very young for her age until she was 75 and had a stroke, when she aged 20 years in a second. I think that like her I've worn well. If I had the choice between her fate, living until 83 but with seven years of a miserable decline and my fathers, going bang aged 69, I know which I'd choose although I suspect my kids may (or may not disagree). My Dad made few concessions to life, only stopping smoking 18 months before he passed away. He had a gall bladder operation and couldn't smoke for two weeks. He realised that he didn't miss the 60 a day he'd been puffing. Sadly the damage was done to his heart, unbeknown to us. 

I also have been thinking of friends who haven't made it. On Friday, I thought long and hard about Paul Hircombe, long time bass player in the False Dots. Paul's life spiralled out of control in his 40's ending up in prison. The period of reflection made him reset his priorities, but he developed cancer and died more or less straight away on his release. It was tragic. I don't think I'd ever have persisted with the band or music without his support. Paul was a brilliant musician and in the ealry years, I sometimes felt (incorrectly as it has turned out) that he was the only musician who believed in me. When the False Dots had a split in 1983, Paul stayed with me, rather than joining a project the rest of the band wanted to set up. When we had the 'big meeting', the other members were amazed when Paul chose to stay in the Dots. I was even more so as they were amazing musicians. A few years later, I plucked up the courage to ask Paul why he made the choice. His response amazed me. He said "It was never in doubt, they never had a decent song between the lot of them and they were a bunch of boring ******". Within six months we had a new and better than ever line up, so he saw something I didn't know was there. It was a great lesson, stick by your friends and don't be tempted by two faced people's lies. 

Then there was Ernie Ferebee, my partner at the studio from 1984 to 2001. Ernie was ten years older than me and a force of nature. We took the studio from a ramshackle setup, serving our own needs to a proper commercial set up that made money. That was only a tiny bit of the picture. Ernie was our tour manager when we toured Belgium, he was a co-conspirator in many shenanigans. He'd formerly driven coaches overland to India from the UK. It is fair to say that without Ernie and Paul, I couldn't have acheived anything in music. 

Being surrounded by my friends, I realised my blessings. We've lost great people, but I have such a great group of people around me. The current members of the band Graham and Fil have been amazing, we've all supported each other through many things. I get a real kick out of playing with them. My mate Paul who lent me his van, and all the friends who turned up.

Then there is my family, How lucky am I with my wife and kids? Luckier than I deserve. My only real fear in life is that bad things may happen to them. As regular readers will know, two of my closest friends have lost children to suicide. This would destroy me. I've done my best to support them, but the thought fills me with terror. My brothers and sisters also deserve a shout out. Without there support the studio would not have survived. I'm proud at how we stick together.

But as I said, I'm not overly prone to nostalgia. This morning, I applied for an over 60's Oyster card. This opens up a whole new set of opportunities. I go out a lot, so it may even go some way to offsetting the costs of the energy crisis. Then there is the blog. It has changed over the last 15 years. My primary reasons for writing it, to end the Capita outsourcing project seems to have been completed. Sadly I failed to stop the disasterous scheme at the start, but by constantly highlighting the failings, I believe I've played a role in making local people see sense. The blog will continue as long as I have something to say.

I also have plans for the band. We've got a whole new set and we want to play it to people. Watch this space. I also have a stack of music recorded previously that we'll be releasing. There are several projects that are in hand. Of all our new songs, this one has been attracting the most attention at recent gigs. This is the Burnt Oak Boogie. This is a little sneak preview. We hope you like it



Fraser said...

When you're young you attend weddings, (incl your own), and when you're old, you attend funerals, eventually your own.

John sullivan said...

Happy birthday Roger