Email 28th November 2002

Subject: Fish 2002 - The Roaring Silence

Dear Fishheads, Freaks, fans and the Company,
Been a while since the last flurry of posts and thought as the newsletter is due that I should fill you all in on what's happening and what's been happening.

Firstly my sincere condolences go out to Wes and his family after the loss of his father to cancer. His Dad was a great man and I have fond memories of him during the candlelight tour in the States when I went across to Wes and Beckies wedding. His openness, humour and grace fulfilled every expectation on meeting him after Wes had spoken so highly of him during our time together. I am sure he will be sadly missed by many but he can rest in knowing that Wes will carry on his legacy and his ideals in the strong traditions that he was raised and was brought up to respect. My heart goes out to Wes in what must be an incredibly difficult time and I wish him all the strength of character that I know he has to deal with the loss of a major influence on his Life.

Wes and I had drifted since the last tour and our contact returned in recent weeks. We both felt a strong desire to get back in touch and our e mails virtually crossed as his Father was nearing the end and my Father was undergoing skin grafts on a cancer that had been developing on his head. The growth was removed and thankfully this week the biopsy report came back as a non malignant tumour. He is recovering well and the graft taken from his arm has knitted and is healing slowly. Like me he has now accumulated a fine collection of hats! :-)

I am recovered from a serious ear infection that had imbedded itself in the lining of my ear. It has taken 3 months to fight the bug and for a long period I lost nearly all the "top end" of my hearing. The return of a full stereo picture was wonderful and at last I can bear to listen to music again! :-)

This affected writing and I had to let Elliot deal with the Enschede mixes while I spent much needed time on working on the Studio's domestic qualities as well as clearing attics and emptying the remainder of the boxes from the house move just over a year ago this week. Applying myself to paperwork and "flow charts" has meant that the foundations for my new Life are more secure than at any time in the last 10 years and that The Studio is far more recognisable as a home.
There are still some major things to be sorted out and one major element has meant a further delay to the "Field of Crows" project. I can't envisage starting recording until February as it appears that I will be attending court in Berlin early next year to deal with my divorce. The situation is not conducive to creative activities. I have already put Elliot on hold (he is back in South Africa) and everyone involved is in agreement that it would be detrimental to the album to deal with an emotional and time consuming legal case while trying to focus on an important juncture in my career. This will obviously affect the touring schedules and I cannot at this time commit to anything when the results of the divorce could have far reaching implications. The situation is extremely complicated and I would prefer not to discuss this in a public forum.

I am pleased to say that Tara is doing well and has become an avid reader like her Dad. She was over with me for a couple of weeks during the recent holidays and we had a great time together. I am proud of the way she is handling an awkward situation and is developing in to a wonderful and caring person. She will be with me for Xmas and New Year and we are both looking forward to spending more time together over the holidays.

I have been writing and have been discussing ideas with Irvin Duguid and his co-writer, guitarist "Morph" who is a talented guitarist based in Glasgow. There are a number of titles moving into working order. "Zoo Class" - a "groovy" up tempo swinger based around heavy duty word play: "gorillas in the doorway, lizards in the lounge offering out Camels, Moscow Mules are going down, it's a long way to the dance floor, even longer getting back, even as the crow flies", "Empty Coffins" - heavy duty slow piece about missing persons, "Innocent Party" - mid tempo arabic feel about the dangers of growing up too fast, "Still Time" - ballad based on piano about wanting things to last and savouring moments, "The Field" - planned opening number spinning around an atmospheric intro and moving into a powerful centre built around various styles and sections with the subject matter of conflict with nature and globalised TV, "Making up the Numbers" - a jaunty/heavy piece, again solid wordplay around numbers declared like Bingo calling, "As The Crow Flies" - dramatic piano build and epic curve, probable outro and "Old Crow"- bluesy up tempo swinger with heavy rhythmic feel about a drunk dancing in a private world. These are all in some sort of progress and perhaps the enforced pause on the album may be for the better as it gives us all more time to get it on the button. I am deliberately avoiding trawling my personal circumstances and looking around and outward rather than within for inspiration.
More insights will be provided as time shapes the direction. I am so pleased to be covering paper and forming skeletons.

I finally managed to secure an endorsement with Jeep who will be getting more involved with promo activities next year as the tour and album come together. I'm the envy of the farm as the Grand Cherokee Limited rolls up the shell-holed drive in a manner smooth enough not to spill a vodka martini (passenger side only btw). The old number plate F1 SHS is back on the road and quite an eye opener for those who thought I was dead and buried 2 years ago! :-) I'll let them think that I bought it! :-))))))))
I am driving down to Colchester tomorrow for Mark Wilkinson's 50th Birthday party and popping in to the studio in Retford that is dealing with the Enschede and Sunsets DVD's. All is coming on well and those that have seen and heard the projects are extremely happy. I won't offer dates for availability as I am sticking to the promise that nothing will be offered until I have copies here in the Studio. I do have fingers crossed that Sunsets will be in production next week and that Enschede should be mastered soon after.
Mo and Pete's work on the website is brilliant and the new merchandise set up is obviously proving well worth it. The T-shirts in particular have benefited from the new photos as fans can now see the designs we have available. The new Zippo lighters have arrived and are now on sale. The Company and Fish logo in white on matt black are stunning and are selling fast.
Mark Wilkinson's cover designs for the DVD's "Sunsets on Empire - live in Poland 97", "Fool's Company - live in Enschede" and the cd "Mixed Company" are brilliant and I'll be sending images to Mo for the web site this week. "Fool's Company" is being considered as a T-shirt design. Comments please to the forum!
Many of you have commented on how great the new site design looks and with the new ordering system far more professionally set out and easier to understand I feel we have turned a major corner in providing you with a service you deserve. The postal services are still a headache and with the Xmas period providing extra stress on an already strained system I would appreciate if you could be a little more patient than normal on deliveries. We are honestly doing our best and turning orders around as fast as we can so people can get intended presents in time.
With all this in mind and to avoid getting lost in the morass of the holiday period unless the Enschede DVD arrives very soon I may decide to hold this back until after the New Year. I'll keep you informed. BTW Enschede will be available in PAL and NTSC and Sunsets will have disc 1 (the gig) in PAL and NTSC with disc 2 (the documentary and interview) in "all areas". This gives us the extra 100 lines on the PAL formats thus providing extra quality yet still providing those of you with NTSC machines the chance to see the programmes. The efforts that have been put into creating these DVD's I am sure you will find are well worth it. I am actually excited about the response when it arrives! :-)

Everything else is under control and I am looking forward to getting back on stage with the SAS band again. "Sweet Home Alabama" is being added to my repertoire along with my usual numbers and over the 5 gigs (Southampton Brook 4th and 5th, Chiddingfold 6th, 7th and 8th) I'll be singing different sets each night. Combined with business meetings in London and catching up with old friends it should be quite an exciting time down South with Mark's party looking like quite an occasion! :-)

My girlfriend Louise is also looking forward to me spending a week in her neck of the woods rather than her traipsing up North. Once again she has designed the Company Xmas card which is back from the printers next week. I think you'll like it! :-))))))
I can also announce that the next fanzine will be replaced by a numbered limited edition calendar that has been put together by the Company Holland. This will only be sent out to current fanzine subscribers and is not for sale through the merchandise service. I am still waiting to see the finished product but the designs I have seen so far are great and I think a great collectors item for those of you who have been supporting the fanzine service and keeping it alive. Many people including myself thought that in these days of electronic media that the fanzine would become a redundant format but the numbers are still there to make the editing and compiling and all the hard work that so many individuals put into producing the issues worthwhile and retaining the fanzine as a valued service in communicating with fans worldwide.

And so I finish and begin packing the Jeep for the road trip. One new item in my luggage will be my reading glasses that have become a necessity these days. Too much time on the computer rather than any other sordid reason that may cross your mind about a relatively young guy living on his own in a remote studio near Haddington.
It does mean that I'll have to spend a bit more time learning lyrics for the next tour or adopt that rather suave intellectual look beloved by Sting! :-)

till next time
Onkel Fish

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