The Island of the Day Before

How taking a moment to appreciate Umberto Eco. I’ve read almost all his novels (apart from his most popular story, The name of the Rose, oddly) and I’m currently a fifth of the way through ‘The Island of the Day Before’. In theory this writing is too rich and dense. There are so many ideas both literary and philosophical, that you shouldn’t have room to breath. Also, it’s in translation, which with anything more complex than Ladybird Book 1a can cause problems.

But despite all this I’m having a wonderful time reading and imagining along with Eco’s framed story of a man seemingly castaway at sea and then cast up on an abandoned ship. In the first hundred pages I’ve witnessed a metaphor machine, inspired speeches, battles, loss and mystery.

All I need now is more time to sit and read.

No more telly (well...)

One of the side-effects of my son’s arrival last month is that I’ve watched almost no television. Even Freya seems to be getting bored with children’s programming, switching off after an average of two shows to paint or play games. I’ve managed to watch two episodes of the excellent Wallander (original Swedish version, series one) and some Proms on the BBC.

I love the Proms and for the last couple of years have subscribed to the BBC’s text message reminders. Each day I get a message telling me what’s being played, by whom and at what time. Even with this to help I’ve still been too busy doing dad things, or my own music (or sleeping) to listen to everything.

The other night, after a note from an online friend I found I had almost missed something very special indeed. I’m a big fan of the music of Arvo Part (along with, I suspect, millions of others) but I’d missed the UK premier of his 4th Symphony. This has started life as a commission for a “ten minute string piece” but came back as Part’s first symphony in over thirty years. I used the BBC’s iPlayer to watch the performance and sat back in awe of this beautiful, aching music.

As an extra bonus Part was briefly interviewed (which doesn’t happen often) and appeared at the end of the concert to take some of the applause. I haven’t been to a Prom in a few years but I could sense the emotion in the air. This humble looking 75 year old man acknowledging nothing short of love – and lots of it.

The BBC regularly takes a knocking from the UK’s increasingly partisan press but just look at what it gave us here. A staggering series of concerts, played by some of the finest musicians alive, with no annoying advertising. And what’s more we get a device (the iPlayer) which allows to keep up with the things missed because our new son managed to pee dramatically over himself, myself and the cat.



There was a time when I thought I wouldn't be a dad. When Freya came along I felt my whole world change. Let's face it, I've done some stupid and hurtful things in my time and probably wasted many years doing not very much of anything. But Freya made me slowly wake up to some of the better things I was capable of. I say slowly because it wasn't obvious straight away. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself and being busy with a whole range of ideas and ways of keeping occupied. Eventually though she brought me around.

There was a time when I thought I wouldn't be a dad again. But, this last year has been quite the most amazing, challenging and ultimately rewarding time ever. Now, I have a son and the stresses and blessings that go with that. I'm happy, at last, although nowhere near finished with my crazy ideas and grand plans.

Musical projects are having a brief break while the insanity of dealing with a baby and a three year old is worked out. However, the long gestating voice/music project is getting completed, Bridge Street will be back gigging in the not too distant future, the Eclipse Trio is ready to go (again) and a new Spingere album should be complete by the end of the year. It's going to feature some dedicated photographs (one for each song) and some new ideas (for me) in the use of instrumentation and arrangements.


Zzzzz, oh and another thing...

A little sleep deprivation has allowed me to do two things:

1. Feel full of love and to see that, despite being an idiot, I can sometimes do the right thing for the right reason and for good to come out of it.

2. Suddenly snap at people who are pissing me off. Being a good natured soul I don't usually do this, but my current state is opening up a whole new world of instant therapy.