November is almost closed and it’s time for a quick update.

My dad is still able to talk and have lucid conversations about pretty much anything. However, the cancer has now spread and is causing more pain. The logical outcome of this is more powerful pain killers and so, less of my dad’s personality to interact with. The other possibility is that his heart is going to feel it’s had enough and stop.

On my last visit he was sleeping, which he’s doing a lot more of, so the conversation was a little one-sided. In our family we have always tried not to let the sun go down on an argument. Now, I find myself thinking I had better not leave without saying a real goodbye.

But, of course, people can surprise you. It’s not impossible I will still be writing maudlin posts like this next year. We’ll see.

As far as music goes, everything is still on hold, although I have managed some practise and even a demo, of sorts. There is a writing project that is fourteen pages from completion though. If I get any time later tonight I’ll write like fury then find a way to make it available.


Uh-oh, more poetry

Today the view from my window has been: darkness, rain, darkness. But I love the rain, so you find me in a better mood than the last time I was writing.

Despite what I said previously about being busy, there has been time to do a little writing. I’m one of those people who believe poems can be crafted and that you don’t have to sit around and wait for the muse to stick her head in the room and give you a good opening line. I’ve set myself a target to write a fresh book of poems that aren’t rubbish or too self referential, Picking up on an idea from the hugely successful American poet, Billy Collins, I’ve also tried to make the main thrust of the poems fairly obvious. “Is this poem about the writer’s love of rain or is it a yearning plea for world peace and more biscuits?” is not a question you should have to ask. If I don’t think it’s clear I’ll make the title more obvious (Poem about the Scarcity of Biscuits) but hopefully there will be enough vagueness to make the poem interesting.

As with music, I don’t expect anyone to like what I do, but like music, this is in area where I’m being driven to do something, rather than doing it to fulfil a plan or [bangs head on wall] meet a target.

Today I wrote a poem on friendship and trust which did not work. I was ready to write a second version, or to scrub what I had and start again. But I found by adding the phrase “inappropriate vegetables” I could change the poem's meaning, mood and tone.

This is why I love poetry.



I was going to write “everything is on hold” but if that were true I wouldn’t be so tired.

My dad is still slipping away and, if I’m lucky, I’ve probably got a few more weeks left to talk to him. Time to ask questions, hear some new stories and maybe re-visit some old stories. Mum is in better health but there are problems with her too.

If everything were on hold then there wouldn’t be the many phone calls and letters to deal with, or indeed the seemingly random ability of a person or persons to change so much in 24 hours.

As ever, I am just part of the whirlwind of helpful people and services. But, since this is my blog I can come clean and tell you... I’m sad and tired. And let’s not forget frustrated. There’s an expanding head full of musical ideas that isn’t getting emptied and hardly enough time to get the oud out of it’s case.

But it isn’t all bleak. One of Freya’s well meaning friends asked me how I was.
Me: “I’ve just been to see my dad.”
Freya’s friend: “Oh, he’s not well is he?”
Me: “No.”
FF: “I think he’s going to die soon.”
Me: “I hope not!” Freya’s friend looks disappointed. “You wouldn’t want your daddy to dies, would you?”
FF: “Well... he is 40.”


Music (or not)

4th November 2012 by WJCruttenden
4th November 2012, a photo by WJCruttenden on Flickr.
I have reached one of those very rare times where, despite my best intentions, I can't get out and play music. The situation with my parents has become so complex that there just aren't enough hours in the day to spare for anything other then keeping them afloat while trying to do the same with my owqn family. J has been working ridiculously hard to help and has been doing the majority of the work while I'm away at the dayjob. In an ideal world I would take a few weeks off and sort things out myself, but that just isn't possible.
So, one of the most exciting and potentially rewarding musical projects I have ever been involved with will have to stand idle, possibly at the risk of never restarting. This might sound trivial, but this particular musical adventure had felt like the thing I should have been doing my whole life.
But somethings have to have priority. Giving my dad a respectful end of life, making sure my mum is safe, these things have to come first. With luck, I can do both of these and get the music back on track.


Tilt-Shift and Instagram - a gripe

Regular readers, or anyone who’s looked on this page, will know I’m fond of photography. I’m not one for buying enough accessories to fill a garage, I just like a good camera with a good lens and capable software to tidy up the image.

What I did get into, briefly, was the tilt-shift effect. It came as a preset on a point and shoot camera and creates the effect of making things in the centre of the frame appear in miniature by blurring other parts of the frame. In other words it does this:


So I’ve done it myself and occasionally I might do it again. My gripe though is that it is being overused. In last night’s episode of ‘Amazing Spaces’ on the UK’s Channel 4 I counted 47 uses of tilt-shift in a sixty minute programme. I didn’t really count them, that was just a guess. But it certainly felt like a minute of screen time couldn’t go by without seeing masses of blurring.

And while I’m ranting, can we please have a moratorium on Instagram pictures? At first these faked versions of pictures taken on a dodgy, light-leaking camera were charming and different. There is now an almost fascistic quality to their use. Every picture that pops up on Facebook or Twitter has a raggedy black border, strong colours and odd halos. Yes, it does make the mundane look cool, but do we have to have so much of it.

Many people I like and admire are keen users of Instagram but none of them took bad pictures before the bug took hold of them.

Stop it. Stop it now, before it’s too late.