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Wednesday, January 31, 2001

Back On Line

Been off-line for a while due to telephone trouble (a euphemism for nonpayment of the bill - again).

In the last couple of weeks I've had contact from Adrian Belew about fixing up an interview time, a chat with David Enthoven, Gordon Haskell has rung to give me an update on his forthcoming burst of activity. David Cross has been in touch about fixing up an interview and Greg Lake has agreed to talk about his time with Crimson.

At the moment I'm absolutely loaded with cold though so I'm going to try and fix up times to talk to people in the near future.

Tuesday, January 16, 2001

They Might Be Catching


They Might Be Giants now booms through the house thanks to John Dubya Smallwood. The track Minimum Wage with its Rawhide wild west optimism, Doris Day whip-cracking and cheesy travelogue soundtrack has been adopted as the official anthem here at Victoria Avenue. The kids all came home from school complaining that the opening clarion call (see above) had bounced around their bonces all day. Mine too. And Debbie.

Also listening to the sublime Harmony Row by Jack Bruce. What a potent talent that man is. Fluid but punchy shifting bass lines all over the place as well as a voice which can sound as pure as the driven snow and as wise as eternity all in one line. This particular album still moves me to extraordinary places. . .that subtle movement in time. This is not about nostalgia by the way.

Monday, January 15, 2001

Review: Passengers

Blimey, it took a while but last night I downloaded a whole load of paintings sent to me by the great Kimbrini of leafy Highgate. Instant impression was that they showed a vista of a glistening city in the depth of night.

Then some poems by DM Thomas sprang to mind, one train of thought shunted into another. Sent off some instant reactions to the dude himself. Kimber seems to be on a role at the moment. Also in the post, some thought provoking e-mails from Robert about motivations and the various interactions within Crimson over the years.

Sean Hewitt sent me a tape of the U2 / Brian Eno collaboration - Passengers. Varyingly soft focus and self-referentially gauche in places, I found it just a little too smug for its own good. Despite some decent moments, its almost impossible to get past the remorseless cool of Bono's drawl. Between his Brando-esque mumbling and coy white soul boy cooing it, there's little in it beyond a bunch of chums engaging in a bit of in-joke spoofing. It's all a bit too post-modern, a bit too ironic to contain much in the way of substance or engagement - which of course might be the point. Still they obviously had great fun recording and writing the sleeve notes, though I have to say I found the notes a good deal more witty than the music on offer. However, I was pleased to hear the album at last, so big thanks to Sean for filling in this gap in my musical education.

Caught up with Ian McDonald who was in good fettle as we say round these parts. Saddened to hear that a prospective tour with John Wetton isn't now happening. Ian mentioned he'd also done an interview for the forthcoming programme on prog rock which will be screened on channel 4 in the not too distant.

Saturday, January 13, 2001

Choices Under Pressure

The post brings a couple of goodies in the shape of the Nashville Rehearsals courtesy of the good folk at DGM and Peter Blegvad's new acoustic retrospective entitled Choices Under Pressure, via the album's producer Jakko Jakszyk.

The Blegvad album contains 12 crisp, witty and incisive songs which span the length of his career. I really think of him as one of the great undiscovered satirists of his generation. Jakko's production is warm and intimate, allowing the listener to snuggle up and enjoy Blegvad's Dylanesque drawl and quirky view of the world. It also features the generous talents of Danny Thomson on acoustic bass and John Greaves on electric. For those unfamiliar with Blegvad, he's one third of Slapp Happy and one-time collaborator with Henry Cow. He's also a talented artist and his oblique cartoon Leviathan has recently been collected in a sumptuous book called . . .er The Book Of Leviathan. Well worth it if you ever see a copy.

The Nashville sessions get a play and the first thing I notice is the digital noise toward the end of the penultimate track. This has been widely discussed on the guest book and ET but the only thing I'd add to the debate is that the noise is totally absent on my listening copy which DGM sent me three months ago.

The occupant of a certain house in leafy Highgate tells me that the Nashville CD is one his favourites, due in large part to the profound propulsion caused by Bruford's drumming.

On a completely different tangent, Kimber e-mails me his views on Birdman Suite from McDonald & Giles. I'd wanted a second opinion on things when I read through my own musings on the track. Too dry and analytical, trying to see to much in between the music. Bottom line - is it any good ? Does it, ahem fly ? If not why not ? If it does what gets it going ?

Friday, January 12, 2001

Mellotrons & Mortality

Another grim night of not sleeping. As dawn sneaked a cautious vein across the black - blue sky, I found myself profoundly relived to get up and writhe my way into the morning. Mornings are grim at the moment.

Sean Hewitt rang and we got into a discussion about the relative merits of Crimson being produced by someone other than Robert. As various arguments and counter-propositions were traded and tackled, I suddenly became aware that six people were all staring at me waiting to start eating the Friday Feast. When I could no longer take the burning beady eyes and their psychic ill-will, I made my excuses and curtailed the conversation.

The meal was then set upon by the kids and the adults with equal vigour and within about 15 minutes the table looked as if it had been cleared by a column of locusts.

My mother looks tired and under the weather. She's had a string of bereavements lately and I think these reminders of her own mortality have left her weary, despite her own strong Christian beliefs. At 74 however she's active, sprightly and if you were to ring her house somewhere between 10.00 - 12.00 on any night of the week, the chances are that she'd be out with friends at some social gathering or another. It's fair to say she has a wider and more lively social life than I do.

Also on the blower was Mike Dickson who's handling the sidebar content on the mellotron section of the book. Somebody needs to write a book on the Tron such is it's cult status. I can think of nobody better qualified than Mike. His irreverent but affectionate attitude takes a perfect off-beam view of this true hybrid of the world musical universe. Mike reveals he might be able to put his hands on some photographs of the first Mellotron on the production line in the factory. Which gets my juices going.

After my mother launched off to get her bus home I took a few moments out to ring John Kimber down in leafy Highgate to catch up with his news and views. Good news is he's sold another painting. I'm a fan of the Kimbrini-daub and he tells me he's doing great things with cans of gold spray paint. All of which makes me hanker to get back to doing some painting myself. A combination of the back and book ensure that the brushes have been well neglected of late.

Thursday, January 11, 2001

Work In Progress

Time for a weekly round up on the current status of the labours of the Victoria Street Irregulars. . . From its base in Boston the American Guitar Heroes Department has had an extension on the time needed to weedle commentary from AGH's regarding KC's standing in their personal pantheon. . .News from the Wild Leads department confirms that another blank has been drawn on a lead leading to a lead on the YPGTKC cover artist Fergus Hall. The Wild Lead Department should be located in Leeds but resides in the environs of Bradford. . .The BBC Trivia Retrieval Unit(in Orwellianspeak known as BeebTru) have had another stunning success in ferreting out an item of terrific RF triv from around the mixing of Red. . .The Buddhist Archive (Percussion Division) has forwarded photographic evidence of a very dodgy moustache belonging to Mel Collins circa 1970 with a hot lead on other unrelated but sonically intriguing items. . .The West Acton Bureau of Eclectic Contacts has established dialogue with rock photographer Jill Furmanovsky. . .Mellotronic Sidebar Office has just opened for business in Edinburgh. . .Pesky KC factoids under active scrutiny and consideration by the Office for Pesky KC Factoid (or OffpesKc as we call it) in its numerous branches. . .Faxes to Japanese publishing houses requesting various copyright permissions courtesy of the Tokyo TxT Team. . .the Nottingham outlet of the Original Biographical Sidebar Section (or NOBBS as we call it) continues to trade industriously. . .whilst regular cyber defibrillation of the Victoria Avenue vibe has been administered by the Leafy Highgate branch of . .

That's it for now . . .

Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Still Wonderful After All These Years

Last night was a lunar eclipse. For the most part it was fairly obscured by low fast-moving cloud but those scudding glimpses were quite dramatic. It was gradually gnawed until it took on the colour of milk and orange juice. Debbie wondered what music would be appropriate for such an occasion. Well it had to be Pink Moon by Nick Drake.

The song has an extra resonance for Debbie. She used to call her children Pink (Alys) and Moon (Sam) and once or twice when they were younger she would gather all there various drawings and paintings and invite people round to the living room, then temporarily named The Pink Moon Gallery. She had never heard of Nick Drake until six years ago and was thrilled and delighted to learn of the song.

Delving into the wonderful world of John Cale via the double set Seducing Down The Door. Some truly wonderful songs - especially Hedda Gaabler. The rich, stricken aspect to his voice is never less than captivating. More today.

Other moments of revelation came when listening to Vaughan Williams and his Sea Symphony - a definite visit to the goosebumps-R-us department. And then again when playing Poulenc's Exultate Deo. A small choral work I was gobsmacked to discover that Tony Banks and possibly other members of Genesis had listened to it very closely indeed. If in doubt play Frankie P's piece in question and then play the grand Mellotronic opening of Watcher Of The Skies for the full effect.

Nipping and tucking around Poseidon last night with the aid of a few timely e-mails from Robert to nudge the thing along. Also last night, news that one of the readers of this diary has managed to track down a minor but long-missing piece of Crim trivia somewhere in the bowels of the BBC. Jonathan is just one of several people who at varying times has spent hours of his life rummaging around the metaphorical trash cans of the world's trivia, searching out hitherto hidden beauties and beasts.

In a moment of vast conceit I have dubbed these good people collectively as The Victoria Avenue Irregulars, such is their capacity to tease out the trivia where no anorak has trivved before. Ayethangyew. . .

In recent days there's been a flurry of mail back and forth between Peter Sinfield, Jon Green, Neil Ingram and more recently Andrew Keeling concerning Sinfield's classic album Still . Whilst I can only stand back in awe at the level of explication which Jon and Neil bat back and forth, it has prompted me to play the album again (and again).

When I was a spelk of a lad with shoulder length hair and wispy waist, Still was like being admitted into an endless secret summer. Vast blue skies, rolling blue seas, silver sand dunes, wheeling birds and on and on and on.

For me it was the fragility of the album which was its strength. Hours upon hours dreaming away lost in these delicate, eggshell sound-paintings, those words…that voice… There was something so wonderfully warm about being consumed by the world which Still conjured - The Big Friend ?

The album spoke to me in such an intimate way, playing it endlessly, each time whispering something new. Nuances revealed for the first time just when you thought you'd mined the thing dry. Bought the pink copy then bought the blue copy (sunrise and sunset we called them). We tried to hear the difference !

We used to pour / paw over Envelopes Of Yesterday trying to decipher the references to Crimson and Fripp like a bunch of adolescent voyeurs, thrilling to what we perceived as devastating barbs and truths.

At the Epitaph playback I waited in the long line and when it came to getting my cover signed by Sinfield, I said "I've always wanted to ask you if….er…that track ….oh this is embarrassing…the track that goes….er…I can't remember its name now ….was about the split in Crimson" my brain having gone blank, reducing me to a stuttering fan boy. Sinfield just signed my stuff said "Don't worry happens to me all the time " and then I was nudged out the way by some blokey with a Venezuelan limited edition re-mix of Still - the one in the lurid day-glo black.

Whatever interpretation you care to put on it, we all knew what he meant when he sang "It fills the air ! it fills the air ! The song of the Sea goat shaking in the domes".

Tuesday, January 09, 2001

More From The Bad Backlands

Unable to get much sleep due to back pain. If you share your bed with someone, you'll know how grim it is when they are fast asleep and you're tossing and turning - but trying to do it in a non-obtrusive way so that the other person doesn't wake up is murder.

Got up at just after five a.m. and started doing my back exercises. Fifteen minutes of stretches and holds and I felt a little better so I went down to the front door. Pitch black. The sound of the sea crashing up against the promenade wall. Moving along the garden path I looked down toward the sea. The black line of the horizon stood out against the grey blues of the sky and dotted at regular intervals were the lights of fishing boats and other commercial vessels. Nine in total. Little blobs of silver gold glinting across the miles.

A cool but insistent wind blew me back indoors and eventually it was time to make a pot of tea for Debbie getting up. Last night was her first day back at school (she's a teacher) so I had a Gin & Tonic ready and waiting by the door for when she came in. This morning it's a pot of Earl Grey that does the trick. She leaves the house around 7.20 a.m. and I see her out. A glance toward the sea shows the boats are still there, glinting and bobbing on the charcoal black line.

I open my mail and find there's a note forwarded to me by John Smallwood containing an hilarious message from Ian Wallace about living in the South. I laughed out loud and so long. This was surely the better than back stretches and pain killers. I haven't checked his diary today but he should post that sucker up if he hasn't already. Or he'll get his ass kicked.

Speaking of diaries, a belated big hello to the various Rosenbergs who came onto the site just before Christmas. Welcome aboard chaps. Haven't heard a note of the band but I hope the new thing with DGM works out.

The sky is now the colour of slate and a long jagged gash of light orange has opened up along the length of the horizon. Quite stunning.

Sunday, January 07, 2001

A Mindless Act of Kindness

In a mindless act of kindness, Debbie returned home with a copy of the soundtrack to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. It comes complete with lavish sleeve notes, screen shots and some extra tracks which are really very groovy.

My mum bought me the album back in 1969 a year or so after the movie was out and I have to say I was thrilled to hear the thing again today. I've always thought some of Robert's darker soundscapes were reminiscent of Ligeti's Atmospheres which was used in the movie. In more recent times I saw the film at Hotel Akimbo in leafy Highgate and thoroughly enjoyed it. Heard a prof-type person on the radio a week ago saying how wrong Kubrick had got the future which seemed to me to miss the whole point of the movie.

Heard from Jakko Jakszyk who's been tracking down a piece of Crim-related archive material on behalf of the book. Nothing definite yet but the wheels are in motion and he's expecting to hear something in the week.

Saturday, January 06, 2001

Preternatural Goings On

Beautiful bright breezy day and a wonderful rainbow at the end of the street and the kids go into excitement overdrive. Beethoven blows away the morning cobwebs - the six and the ninth. If Beethoven were alive today he'd be at the clap clinic having just come straight from the hairdressers to get a lead rinse.

Talked to Chris Burrows, the drummer with Circus who provided me with quite a bit of back-ground information about that period and is going to send me some blurb that didn't make it onto the sleevenotes for the re-issued Circus album. Chris also mentioned that he has a mint vinyl copy of the Circus album which he wants to sell. E-mail me for details if you're interested and I'll pass you on his address.

Sean 'Wildcat' Hewitt managed to track down a copy of the Circus CD and is popping it in the post over the next couple of days. My secretary, a buxom redhead by the name of Ms. Balustrade, is already unlocking the company chequebook to reimburse our correspondent from Nottingham.

I see in his diary Robert has mentioned something of our recent dealings over via e-mail and some of our other not so obvious methods of communication. Strange but true and as real as pricking your thumb with a pin. He's right when he says I did try and rationalise the experience and the sense of it subtly evaporated and became more distanced as a result.

I don't feel equipped to go any further with this kind of thing in public, lest I come across even more like a rabid fan-boy than I already do. I encountered something that was momentarily pungent and substantial and the experience of it is still with me.

Perhaps all these preternatural goings on will stand me in good stead over the next couple weeks when John "Dubya" Smallwood puts something in the post for me. Best to let him explain it really.

I'm going to try an experiment with you. I'm going to send a CD of music with no track titles, only numbers. You listen to the music and then rate the tracks, 1-10. Afterward I'll tell you which is whom. Quite often I'll hear something I like, but when I find that it is an artist I don't rate highly for some reason I like the track imperceptibly less, and I hate that. Let's call this the Swotty Sid Experiment. Soon we'll be in major psychological journals and widely admired for our pioneering spirit of experimentation.

Right John - you're on. I do love a challenge.

Got an e-mail from World Leader David Symes this morning telling me about the Opus 20 version of Red. I think he liked it.

"Red" was the first piece after the interval and when I saw how they'd rearranged the music stands on stage you knew how the piece would be structured sonically (stay with me on this one!!)

The stage was set up with violin sections on the left and the right hand side (facing each other). In the centre (at the back) were the double bass and two violas, seated in front of them - two cellos.

So Opus 20 almost recreated the soundstage of the original recorded piece i.e.

violins/violas = the guitars (left/right)
double bass/cellos = bass guitar. (centre)

The ascending riff at the start of this piece is even more dramatic, because of the dynamic range of Opus 20, as it rose from silence and you got a "call and response" effect from the two sets of violins which sounded like they were duelling with each other!!

Indeed, I think one of the violinists has been listening to the versions with Adrian Belew as it sounded like he was trying to replicate high pitched feedback!!

The arrangement of the piece was very similar to the original, but whereas the King Crimson version has the bass and the drums keeping the tune moving, with the guitars riffing over the top and making it sound more like a "collective" piece, there were a few moments were the Opus 20/Keeling piece seemed to stop for a split second before starting again.

The middle eight section sounded great with double bass, violas and cellos combining to give this part real richness of tone ( at least there's a credited cello part on this one!!)

Overall, I thought it was very well played and arranged although for pure menace I think that the KC versions take the edge. I will certainly going to see Opus 20 again, and it was a shame that Andrew Keeling could not be there himself on the night.

over and out
World Leader Symes

Friday, January 05, 2001

The Handyside Arcade

A colleague from work called in to see me yesterday in some pain and distress as the relationship with his partner continues to self-destruct and shatter about him. Caught between regret for the loss of his old world and the brilliant discomfort of the new, he's understandably confused. The most I could do was to listen, nod my head in the right places and empathise. Somebody once said "Maybe the most that you can expect from a relationship that goes bad is to come out of it with a few good songs". Well, it’s a little too bleak for my liking but I guess we've all picked up some along the way.

A couple of days ago I mentioned I needed some background information on Circus (and not Cirkus - more of which later). Well over the last couple of days I've had numerous offers from people all over the globe and last night an e-mail from Chris Burrows the drummer from the group indicating that he'd be happy to provide a personal perspective. More of which later.

The Circus quest prompted me into two areas of reminiscence yesterday. The first one came about from an e-mail from Richard Maughan who sent me the following.

hello sid,
saw your request for information on Cirkus the band Mel Collins played for before KC. I found a web site who have prog rock section called tapestry of delights with information.

It appears to say that Mel played with Circus and Cirkus was a "geordie prog rock with mellotrons". I checked the Gibraltar encyclopedia but that appeared to confuse the spelling. Unfortunately there is no track listing but there is talk of a reissue on Castle. Hope this helps things. Just time to wish you a happy new year and looking forward to the book.

In the late seventies I was involved in some political activism which included a sit-in at what was then called the University Theatre (now Newcastle Playhouse) which was threatened with closure. The sit-in was organised by a conglomeration of various Left Wing factions the RCP, the SWP, CPGB, the IMG and the IOHFTBP of which I was at one time a leading light. *

The sit-in demanded and remarkably got, meetings with the head honcho of the Actors union Equity (then a blokey with a dodgy moustache and a florrid face called Peter Plouvier), representatives of the University and the leader of Newcastle City Council, Sir Jeremy Beecham. Even more remarkably, a financial package was cobbled together and the theatre re-opened but not before the entire contents of the bar had been drunk dry by the Interim Committee Of Workers Solidarity With The Arts (otherwise known as me, Mary Graham and a bloke called Dennis) in a three day victory celebration.

Anyway, one of the new productions which went on was a stage version of Alvin Toffler's book on sociological mores called Future Shock and the band who did all the music for the show was - Cirkus. Not to be confused with the Mel Collins variety. I'd completely forgotten about that until prompted by Richard's e-mail. I think the group appeared on stage dressed as various items of fruit although that could have been the alcohol.

Staying with the Circus quest, another e-mail came in from Martin Morris who came up with this;

I thoroughly enjoy your diary postings on the DGM site. Although I have lived in Indianapolis since 1977, I am an ex-patriot Geordie. My Mum lives in Wardley, one brother in Hebburn and another in Low Fell. The family is mystified about how I know what the local weather is like when I 'phone home. Simple--I read your diary entries!

(By the way, Dad proposed marriage to Mum on the Promenade at Whitley Bay, just down the road from your house, in 1941. They had 48 years together before he died in 1990.)

In response to your diary posting from January 3rd, I have a copy of the album by Mel Collins' old band. The band name was "Circus" not "Cirkus" as you listed it. I picked it up in a second-hand shop in the old Handyside Arcade in Newcastle approximately 25 years ago. I'll be happy to provide musician names, track listings and composing credits, if you haven't already received the information.

Martin's post had me reeling back the years. The Handyside Arcade was a fabulous three story Victorian built covered arcade with a glass roof and paving stones. It housed a variety of shops which were essential to week-end hippies like myself. These included The Kard Bar where I purchased one of those crappy three colour dayglo posters featuring the Fripp physiog smiling beatifically (it’s the pic three pages in on the Jacksonville Collectors Club booklet).

Also a shop called Frendz (I think ) where joss sticks and industrial sized jars of patchouli could be purchased and a hippie book shop called Ultima Thule. This was managed by a local beat poet called Tony Jackson and it was here that you could leaf through copies of Oz and figure out whether you could make it out the door with a half-inched pack of Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot pack stuffed into your capacious afghan coat.

Of course working in a occult book shop is not without its perks, and the only conversation I ever had with Tony Jackson was when he bellowed across the crowded shop "I'll cut your fookin' 'ands off by the wrist" at me on a day when my shifty intent must have been written all about my aura.

Quick as a flash I hurled a witty retort back at him, to which everyone in the shop laughed with me and took me round the pub and bought me drinks all day. (Well actually I just said "sorry", went very red in face and slid out of the door in disgrace and made sure I never visited the place when he was on duty).

The sad and tedious post-script to this even sadder tale of prospective teenage indiscretions and pink loon trousers (often accompanied by a strategically placed rolled-up handkerchief), was that Sir Jeremy Beecham (see above) give the orders to have this Victorian relic demolished to make way for a car park. Criminal really.

Listening to. . .

Music For 18 Musicians by Steve Reich
First two albums by Isotope
Mustard Gas And Roses by Jakko
Music From Spartacus by Khachaturianstarandputitinyourpocket

*IOHFTBP = I'm Only Here For The Beer Party

Wednesday, January 03, 2001

Red Faces

A terrible night's sleep saw me up at 5.00 a.m. watching a cool amber glow seep out from between two great slabs of grey cloud. My sleep was broken partly by Tom having a bad asthma attack and a series of locking spasms brought about by the bad back. Later in the morning Tom picked up a bit and they went out to play in the street with their chums from next door.

A particularly busy e-mail box and one from Gered Mankowitz regarding the usage of the portraits he did for the cover of Red. There are many different shots of the band which I'd love to include as an alternative Red cover but at the price Gered wants, I'm afraid they'll have to languish unseen in his archives a while longer.

Mankowitz is quite rightly regarded as one of the best in his field and I don't think what he's asking is unreasonable, it's just that I don't have the kind of budget which will secure the photographs. Just to remind readers of this diary, in keeping with standard contracts, the author is expected to present the publisher with finished photographs, all paid for and copyright cleared.

DGM forwarded me an enquiry from a small, independent bookshop who is interested in hosting a book launch when that great day comes upon us. Wrote back and indicated that I'd be interested depending on the usual considerations of time and other commitments.

Working through the Mel Collins stuff I realise that I've got nothing about his band Cirkus. Does anybody out there have a copy of this album ? I don't need to hear it (although I wouldn't say no) but I wouldn't mind a track listing, writing credits and personnel and production details. Can anybody help me with this ?

Drew another blank in trying to track down the artist Fergus Hall who did the cover for TYPGTKC. I've been e-mailing various galleries and publishing houses (including numerous purveyors of Tarot packs) but to no avail. The copyright isn't such a problem as I think Virgin own it but I was keen to talk to the artist himself about his influences and background.

Thanks also go to Darren Woolsey, Sean Hewitt, David Kirkdorffer, Nishimoto Kazuo, Chris Wilson and Mike Dickson who are even as I speak, tirelessly leaving no stone unturned in getting copyright clearance, teasing out thorny facts and generally beetling away to make this thing fly. Blimey, chaps I hope its worth all your hard work. I need to keep a running tally of all the folks who helped out in some way or another otherwise I'm bound top leave somebody out.

Tuesday, January 02, 2001

Nipping & Tucking

Grey rain drizzling down all day. The sea invisible in a shroud of mist yet it can be heard swelling against the lower promenade.

E-mails from as far away as Tokyo, Indonesia, Italy, Germany and Forest Hall which is five miles up the road from the house. Also contact with a variety of Hell Boys, KC re-mix engineers and a couple of ex and current Crims.

Listening to lots of Islands era Crim and going over the Mel Collins and Ian Wallace material I collected last year, nipping and tucking it into shape. Just when I thought all that stuff was out of the way.

Also came across a nice quote from Stephanie Ruben;
Put all these five guys together and they all seemed to have part of the puzzle in the making of this band which made it untenable but glorious too.

Stephanie Ruben, April 2000 talking about what made and lost the original King Crimson

Monday, January 01, 2001

A Special Moment After Midnight

It's a glorious morning with a light rosy mist coming in over the sea. The snow has all but gone apart from a few refusenik patches which now look grubby and forlorn.

Last night went off with a bang. We all had a fondue feast (or a fondle as Joe called it much to everyone's amusement) and a marathon game of monopoly and received several visitors of varying ages and various states of high spirits and inebriation.

Around midnight, we set our fireworks off and what it lacked in timing and choreography, it more than made up for in gusto and enthusiasm. The catherine wheels were voted best of all by the huge gang of kids and parents who were in attendance.

Tom and Joe were allowed to stay up and we visited our neighbour's houses in random and mindless acts of kindness and bonhomie. I stayed off drink of any kind but was happy to watch people in differing stages of emotional and physical meltdown. I think the boys were somewhat bemused at the antics of the wild eyed and gregarious goings on and ultimately found it a bit unsettling seeing grown-ups doing silly things and talking strangely.

Sometime after midnight I rang John Kimber of leafy Highgate and wished him a happy new year. Typically, Kimber was in wild animal mode and from what I could tell of the brief bit of shouting which I wont dignify by calling it conversation, he seemed to be wildly gyrating with two young bimbettes at some scurrilous celebratory bash.

I got the boys bedded down a little after one a.m. and despite their tiredness had to read them the next thrilling chapter from our current reading material The Blobheads and Talking Toasters. My mother and I had a cup of tea and reflected on what had been quite a year all things considered. For a moment, the two of sat in silence at the kitchen table. The noise of parties and music and singing percolated its way into the house. The emotional and spiritual bond I feel toward Doreen was somehow manifest and tangible - a special moment.

Debbie got in a little after three and as we lay cuddling in the darkness, we realised that we'd not wished each other a happy new year in all the excitement of the fireworks. Her verdict was that the whole thing had gone off marvellously well and I have to say I agree.

The first piece of music I played in 2001 was Gustav Holst's A Somerset Rhapsody. It's luscious, weaving themes, so evocative of swaying corn fields in the depths of Summer seemed like it was made for sitting in a house by the sea, with snow still on the ground. Err… I guess you had to be there


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