More adventures from land of leg

29th June 2012 by WJCruttenden
29th June 2012, a photo by WJCruttenden on Flickr.

It's been almost a week since my operation. The knee gets better by the day but I still can't drive, run, tap dance or do the splits.
Yesterday, after walking (well hobbling) back from the local school I bumped into a man who asked what I'd had done (while I'm on crutches this question takes over from "Aren't you Freya's dad?"). It turned out he was a veteran of the hospital I went to since he had an artificial leg and goes there for regular check ups. He had lost his wife to cancer a few years ago but still had a bright outlook. I felt like a fraud for letting my silly little knee op get me down and walked home with a more purposeful stride.
This turned out to be a mistake. Purposeful strides are for people who haven't had keyhole surgery, it seems. More painkillers and a rest followed.


Post post op

I have been told by the physio to find a balance between keeping mobile and resting my leg (see the post below). Since the operation I've been doing quite well, but I've obviously got the balance wrong since my knee has started complaining about all the movement.
Today, just as I put my leg up to rest it the 'phone rang and I had to get up and hobble over to answer it.
Person on phone: Hello, is that Mr Cruttenden
Me: Who is this?
PoP: How are you today?
Me: (Sensing a huge waste of time): I've just had an operation on my knee and getting to the phone has been quite painful, so this had better be an interesting call.
PoP: My name is Carla Lopez, and today's my birthday!
Me: Happy birthday. (Put phone down)

Who are these people? And why do they only call when you're cooking a meal or trying to rest your aching leg?

Anyway, more rest tomorrow.



This morning Team Crutt set off for a hospital in Oxford where I was dropped off for my knee operation. I got there for seven and spent a good hour and a half reading, writing and trying not to doze off.

Then things moved along a pace as I put on a rather fetching gown and was wheeled along a corridor, taken up in a lift and wheeled a bit further to a room outside the operating theatre. The general anesthetic was injected and I began to wonder just exactly how it would feel to suddenly fall alseep in the morning. The nurse knew I was a musician and asked what instrument I played. There was a funny taste in my mouth but instead of asking about what it might signify I replied, "bass guitar."


I opened my eyes and discovered I was in the recovery room, feeling cosy and warm. I had an electric blanket arrangement on my chest and a friendly nurse approached to take it off and offer me a cup of water, with a straw. I felt really good. Once someone told me the time (an hour and half after lights out) I presumed the short but deep sleep had let me rest well. My knee, well, both knees were pain free too. Great. Then the consultant arrived and explained I wasn't feeling pain because of the drugs I had been given. I could, it seemed, expect quite a bit of pain later.

Then I was wheeled back to the regular ward where some wonderful nurses brought me biscuits, toast, yoghurt and coffee. Before long I was dressed again and chatting with the physio about exercises. J picked me up in the early afternoon and here I am, home and a bit groggy. A restorative game of Coppit with Freya proved to be a bit much though, since her brother insisted on grabbing the playing pieces and throwing them around the kitchen. I know my limits.

Thanks to a health service that works, some highly trained and caring staff, some thoughtful text messages from my pals, my fab family and the right attitude  - I can now go to bed. That is, if I can stop falling over my crutches. Oh, and so far no one has noticed the surgical stocking mismatch.


Unity Band - Pat Metheny doesn't let us down

When Pat Metheny releases an album there is always a risk. Are you going to get searing, goose bump raising jazz licks, or something not unlike lift music? Are you going to get one man and his guitar, alone, creating amazing musical journeys out of a single tune, or one man and a large pile of machinery sucking the life out of what could have been great tunes?

Over the years I’ve enjoyed some Pat Metheny releases a lot more than others. ‘Bright Size Life’ from 1975 is a masterclass in trio playing, whether you like jazz or not (or indeed whether you give a monkey’s about the term). The ‘One Quiet Night’ album on solo, baritone guitar is quite mellow but so inventive you wallow in the sounds he creates. It’s a beautiful album. The Pat Metheny Group album ‘Up’ was a feast of ideas and the live shows left you gasping at the way a group could keep your interest in such complex music without tiring you out.

But then invention can also let you down. The Orchestrion album took great tunes and left them sounding, unsurprisingly, mechanical. Even the Grammy Award winning ‘What’s it all About’ solo CD was only sporadically great. Not a let down as such but missing a certain spark.

So, a few days ago I listened, with trepidation to the new Unity Band album. This, I soon discovered, is an album that burns. Guitar, bass, drums and, rare for PM, sax playing together as a band with no added guest spots. Even the dread Orchestrion machine doesn’t diminish the power of the album. Actually the track (Signals) that features the Orchestrion is stunningly good, probably because it’s integrated with ‘real’ musicians.

This is a wonderful, lively, brilliantly refreshing album that made me cheer, literally. As soon as it was over I put it on again. Forty years in the music business has not found Metheny losing his touch it seems. Now all I’m wondering is, will we get more from this band. Where can they go from here?


Bass player has birthday

Virtually all my life one particular singer, songwriter has had a big impact. That would be Sir Paul McCartney. I spent my youngest years entranced by Beatles songs, ear against the radio's speaker, trying to work out what I was listening to in terms of instruments, and lyrics. I couldn't always make sense of songs like Elenor Rigby but I knew I loved it. As I got older these songs became entwined with my own experiences until, as a bass player, they began to mean even more. How could I not be effected by someone you could sing, write and play so well.

So thank you and happy 70th  birthday Paul.


Sweet and sour

Yesterday was a day of two halves. One part I can’t write about in detail but it involved me having to watch a good person being treated very badly. To anyone older the twelve it will be no surprise to hear this but some companies have no ethical foundation whatsoever. I watched a company acting within its rights but completely without respect or regard for human feelings. It made me sick.

In the evening I played music with a thoughtful and interesting (and loud) group of musicians. Within a short space of time new music appeared and even some lyrical ideas connected with corporate greed and the unethical practises of such folk. It felt timely and helped heal  some of the earlier nastiness.

Next week I return to the Eclipse trio’s recording sessions, which are coming along well.

When I find a bit more time I’ll post about a gig I went to last week which saw me meet my all-time great bass playing hero.



I had a pre-op appointment at hospital today. This meant a day off the dayjob and a lot of sitting around waiting for tests, doctors and questions to answer. This could have been a tedious way to spend a day and the staff were quick to apologies for the gaps between one set of tests and another. But funnily enough I enjoyed it all.
First of all I was lucky enough to have picked the right book to read (Confession of a Buddhist Atheist by Stephen Batchelor) as well as my notebook for thoughtful scribblings. Then there was the strangely positive effect of being asked a ton of questions about by health which reminded me how, generally, I'm in good shape. This has extra resonance for me at a time when members of my family have some quite serious problems to deal with.
Then there was the opportunity for some solitude (of sorts) in a protective and caring environment. The hospital I was at doesn't have an A&E department so there was no whooshing about of bleeding drunks on gurneys.
Finally there were the staff. Each from a different country, each with their own take on hospital life.

As well as this I had access to the 'League of Friends' cafe with its tasty cakes and proper mugs of coffee. All this supplied by a team of cheery, older ladies. After eating too many cakes and drinking too much coffee I was able to tick off all the swabs and samples and talks I needed form my list. The next step is the operation.