Here I am in Kent with everyone else asleep. Everyone else in this case is my entire family, who I drove down here today. We're staying in a cottage run by two lovely people who have done a great job of renovating it. They left us tea, coffee, milk and cakes. Cakes! Homemade too.

From the kitchen table I can see the lights of ships in the Channel. As ever, I felt a distinct sense of being home as we drove into Kent. I don't come from here, neither do my parents, but it's where my family originated from and it's always had a special pull for me.

Last night I did one of the oddest things I've ever done. I opened the container which held my dad's ashes and spooned some of them into a small tin. That tin has stayed at home while the rest of it/him has come south with us. One day this week we're going to scatter his ashes in a place that meant a lot to him. Later in the year I'm taking the small amount in the tin, to London, to the place he had his happiest and most carefree days. It's all symbolic nonsense of course. But at the moment this feel like the right thing to do.

For tonight though, I'm going to have a glass of the local wine and get some sleep.


Last parts

Last night I recorded my vocals on a track from the upcoming Eclipse Trio album. The song was originally sung my Russ, the guitarist and songwriter, but he wasn't happy with his performance. Luckily, my vocal range fitted the song and so (after one take was ruined by a mobile phone going off) I put my part down. Then, on Russ's bidding, I put a harmony part on and we completed the recording with a few well placed words from Russ.

When I say 'we completed the recording' I really mean it. Those vocal  parts were the very last things to go on the album (assuming we don't discover something hideous during the listening party).

Mixing is underway and we'll soon be listening back, making notes and sorting out any final tweaks. Then it's off to be mastered and pressed. Do you press CDs? Probably not.

There will be a release show, almost certainly in a really good pub. I will post details.

This album has had an interesting life and I can't wait to hear the final version.

Man with Bass (again)

IMG_3551 by WJCruttenden
IMG_3551, a photo by WJCruttenden on Flickr.

Here I am, all cheerful, about to play some wonderful rock/jazz/funk music. A few people have asked about this bass, which I've been using a lot. It's an Ibanez GWB35, designed by Gary Willis and an incredibly great bass for the price if you're into five stringed fretless basses. Mine came from Manson's Guitar Shop in Exeter, which I would highly recommend to anyone.


Eurovision - a serious point

While I love the cheese and glitz (if not the musical quality) of Eurovision as much as anyone, it's worth remembering some what went on around last year's competition. Have a read of this article from Amnesty International.


The Young Person's Guide to Songs

My daughter has a fondess for travelling on the Park and Ride bus. I don't know why exactly but later this morning we'll be on it as we travel to Oxford. What she doesn't know is that we're going to her first gig.

In our house (and in the car) we listen to a wide range of music. As she's grown up Freya has expressed interest in everything from King Crimson to The Beatles to Richard Stauss. But she's also keen on more straightforward children's songs. An awful lot of these can sound cloying and annoying after a few listens but, one man has managed to produce albums of songs that work for her, her younger brother and the rest of us.

Nick Cope, once of Oxford band The Candyskins (and possibly someone I went to school with) is that man. We love his songs. Freya's first independant CD purchase was one of his albums (My Socks) and even Jude, at two, can be heard singing what he thinks the lyrics are while he's playing with his alarmingly large collection of toy tractors.

Of course, we haven't left yet. So the next post could well be all about how we nearly saw and heard Nick Cope. We'd better get going.



Trainee by WJCruttenden
Trainee, a photo by WJCruttenden on Flickr.

We took a trip out to the local park where they have a tiny steam railway. Jude and I took a ride on it and then, as we walked away, he kept going back to the fence and waving to the people on the trains. Or possibly he was waving to the trains.

Taking it in

After my dad came back from hospital with his terminal diagnosis he took to his bed. After a few days it dawned on me that, since he wasn’t thinking clearly, he might not have understood that he had only a few months to live. So I went to see him and asked, “did you understand the diagnosis?” He told me, no. So I told him the surgeon had suggested he had, maybe a few months left, at most.

“A few months till I’m better?” He asked. Which, of course, broke my heart. But I still had to find the words to explain the truth. “Should we tell your mum?” He said. And then I knew she hadn’t taken it all in either.



We’re planning to scatter my dad’s ashes later this month.

Last weekend we had a pub lunch in honour of his birthday. I have a nasty feeling that was a far more suitable and meaningful tribute than pouring a container of ash into a field. Deeply symbolic or not.

Symbolic ceremonies aren’t really my thing. The practical horrors of, say, a sudden change in wind direction are though. I attended one similar ceremony where the ashes had been carefully thrown into the air so that they covered a large part of a beautiful garden. Then, as if in slow motion, a group of Women’s Institute members walked through the middle of the scattering, presumably picking up parts of the departed as they went in search of a teashop.

Maybe I should do some research.