Saturday, 21 January 2017


Preface: Shockingly, I've not posted anything up here since 11th December, aside from today's photo from out on the water. Typically, I started writing what follows at the beginning of the year, got distracted, never found the time to go back and finish it and couldn't bring myself to post anything else until I did.

I have an irrational fear of leaving things undone.

A friend nudged me, mentioned my silence and said had it not been for the usual emails back and forth between us, he'd have been worried. I found that oddly touching, the Internet is a wonderful thing and I both keep in touch with old friends and have made a few new where, a mere couple of decades ago, there would've just been silence.

I have no fear of silence, but only so long as it's on my own terms.

We live in fantastic times, despite the odd scary bit.


Had a pretty bug-ridden Christmas and New Year. Stuffed up, feverish, throat-sore and wracking coughs, but no more than any two symptoms at any time, hitting me in progression, recycling and hitting me again.

I suspect the warm winter hasn't helped. Not enough ice in the air to kill off the germs.

I watched family, friends and work colleagues all succumbing to it in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and picked a path of paranoid seclusion between them, avoiding everybody like the plague. I had a gig booked for the 23rd, and I was terrified of picking up a chest infection and losing my voice. I can generally sing through congestion, a sore throat or fever, but the second it goes to your chest and you start coughing that's generally it.

Though it has to be said, since I gave up smoking some many years ago now (think it's more than ten) I usually avoid coughs, and when they do catch me, they rarely last for long anymore.

Anyway. There was nothing special about this particular gig to make it stand out from any other, other than it was the last of the year, and other than the fact that it was the first time we'd played a venue close to home in years and years, a lovely, cosy canal-side pub called The Pilot Inn in a cosy suburb of Gloucester called Hardwicke, so close to home we could've walked. So lots of old friends and family and fans of the band (we allegedly have one or two, I understand) that hadn't seen us play live for years had made lots of various noises to suggest they'd be coming.

Losing my voice in time for it would've been a disaster on many levels, most of them personal.

I had it in my head that if I made it to the 23rd uninfected, it wouldn't matter what happened after that, I'd have all of Christmas to get over it.

I woke up on the morning of the 23rd feeling grotty, feverish and all blocked up, but that was fine. Nothing that a dose of paracetamol and a box of Kleenex wouldn't handle. We did the gig, my voice held fine.

I don't generally rate gigs one against the other. I learned a long time ago it's a bit akin to rating women; it might seem funny and clever at the time, but is an inappropriate, misguided venture that can only come back to bite you in the face later.

So suffice to say the Pilot gig was one of the good ones. A house-packed, crowd-thumping, jumping, screaming kind of good. The best way to end the year's run.

The following morning I felt like I'd been hit by the metaphorical truck. But I didn't mind in the slightest.

Christmas was good. The morning spent walking the dogs with Nikki and the kids, then over to Dad's for dinner. The following gap between there and New Year was like one long Sunday, or at least the kind of Sunday I imagine most people are used to.

Mine usually involve sailing, but other than the usual Boxing Day race, which was a bit of a drift around the lake with Ben, most of the air movement provided my my coughing in the direction of the sails, any other sailing was otherwise thwarted by a ill-fortuned combination of inclement weather and awkward tide.

Still, it was good to spend some lazy time with Nikki and the dogs.

For the first time in living memory, I spent New Year's Eve at home with Nik in front of the telly with a bottle of wine and a Chinese takeaway. The kids had all gone out to parties of their own. The band was this year mostly hungry to play but were fending off offers of gigs midnight gigs from numerous directions, as we'd been vexed by the lack of a drummer. Can't blame him; heavily pregnant wife, family commitments, I can understand his desire to stay at home this time.

So I saw in the New Year with Nikki, watched the London fireworks on the telly, a Robbie Williams concert (not my call, I long ago ceded any control of the TV remote in my house) and then a bit of Jools Holland before taking Lilly out for a walk in the early hours where I intercepted my by then somewhat inebriated youngest son (18, and to clarify, he's legally allowed to be inebriated) walking his somewhat less inebriated girlfriend home from their party, and accompanied them for the distance to make sure they didn't get lost.

Up early the following morning, I picked up my hung-over eldest son from his sister's place on the other side of town and we headed to the lake for the New Year's Day "True Grit" race. Seven boats in total. The conditions started light, but as forecast, escalated dramatically over the course of the morning, so by the end we had big, screaming gusts blowing through that saw us both hiked out and tearing along in a plume of spray.

photo: ken elsey
So good to be hanging over the side of the boat again rather than scrunched up in the bilges or hunched over on the leeward side in order to keep her balanced.

Three boats finished, the rest were forced to retire by the conditions, one Laser with a  broken mast. We finished second. A tactical error, as it means we draw committee boat duties when the race is held again next year.


Postscript: And that's as far as I got. Needed to proof-read and illustrate, and that led to an inexcusable silence. But I'm back. And fit and well once more.

More or less.

No comments: