Subject: Fish 2004 - Misplaced Summer
Before anyone decided to put my face on milk cartons or contact Interpol's missing persons bureau, I am alive and well although a tad frustrated at the moment. Apologies for my lack of communication but it's been a strange summer and to be honest I wasn't really in the mood to spout witticisms into the ether.
The gigs and festivals I'll deal with in detail in following posts and the rest I'll try and fill you in with now.
The Summer started off well with my role in "Ugly One Morning", recently shown on ITV. However I would be a wee bit disappointed as, due to time restrictions on broadcast length and the fact that the film was "overshot", some elements and scenes had to be cut. I was sent a polite letter from the producer informing me of the case and that it had nothing to do with my performance which the director and himself were more than happy with. It's always a drag watching the finished article and missing certain scenes you enjoyed performing. I learned a long time ago not to be precious about my acting roles, however losing a couple of scenes drastically limited my on screen time which had been relatively minor in the first place. A slightly higher profile would have been more beneficial at this moment in time.
Since then I have been up for three other auditions. Two have been comedy roles, one in Glasgow for an independent company/Channel Four production where I was down to the last two actors considered, and the other for MTV which was a non starter really. The Scottish based series I was particularly up for as I had seen the pilot programme last year. The third audition I am still waiting on a decision from. It's a major Hollywood movie and involves four months work starting in October. It is incredibly frustrating as everything else is on hold as I await either a green or red light on a role which could be a major door opener for my film career.
This comes soon after another long period of intense frustration which began soon after the last tour. A small medical problem had started to worsen and I was referred to a specialist for further examination. I had to wait for over six weeks on an appointment and was told that, should there be complications, I would have to undergo surgery which had a three month waiting list and a minimum of three weeks recovery. This came at me before Malta and suddenly I found myself in the position of having to place the entire remainder of the year on hold until I saw the specialist at the end of August. Thankfully the examination didn't reveal any major problems and I am undergoing a treatment that hopefully will eliminate the need for any surgery. The problem had nothing to do with my voice and was minor but extremely irritating. Obviously the waiting had more impact psychologically than anything else as some of you know from your own experiences with the medical world. Having only being given the all clear in the last two weeks everything else had been put on hold until then including the South American tour scheduled for October. I now find myself in a further predicament with the potential movie role.
Malta was not as relaxing as I had hoped for. I had a great time there but arrived with a head full of medical thoughts and a mobile phone that was locked in to Berlin numbers. My daughter Tara and her friend came in from Germany a few days after my girlfriend and I touched down from Glasgow. We all stayed with Pat Goodwin for the three weeks we were there in her villa in Mellieha. The first week was spent promoting the gig in between sweating out the heat wave pool side at Pat's place. All was going well until two days before the gig when my girlfriend "Tonks" dived into the water and emerged clutching her face which was streaming with blood. She had misjudged the length of the pool and led with her nose into the opposite wall. It was a serious injury. Four hours later she walked out of a private hospital in Sliema with ten internal and ten external stitches after a consultation and small operation by a private surgeon who happened to be a big fan. My blood had chilled when I first saw the damage done but some brilliant work by the doctors in St James Hospital meant that in less than two weeks time there was hardly any visible evidence of a wound.
Problems in Berlin also demanded attention and at one point there was the high probability that Tara would have to return to Scotland with me after the holiday. As much as I would welcome her permanent return I am very aware that her schooling is of paramount importance just now and that she has settled in Berlin. Again thankfully this was also resolved but together with the other subterfuge it meant that my mind was churning away while my body developed a deep tan.
The gig went down brilliantly and we were judged by most people in the media to be the best act of the weekend, no mean feat working with legends such as Jethro Tull, Roger Hodgson and Steve Hackett who also put on great shows. I don't think I have had so much press coverage for a gig in my entire career (more on this in later posts).
A long trip to Italy followed the holiday almost immediately and within another week I was traipsing through London toward film auditions and legal meetings following the closing down of Hit and Run Publishing who had been handling my songs since I first started writing. This has created a storm of paperwork and has tied me up in a succession of meetings regarding the new registrations of my song catalogue. More journeys South.
The free time I have had has been spent in the garden where I find I can switch off my mind and divert my thoughts into more creative aspects far removed from the music or film business. Much needed therapy. The design I had put together months back was gradually taking shape, raised beds forming in a network of pathways leading to and from the future store rooms that we badly need for the stock and touring kit. Circular herb beds made out of field drains, a barbecue and a water feature built out of the sand and lime stone from the old barns Yatta and I knocked down a couple of years ago and the dream was becoming a reality. In recent weeks I cut down a hedge of 14 giant Leylandii trees that had been blocking the sun from the western edge of the garden and started the construction of the greenhouse. The building is beyond me but I have taken up the post of painter. It's actually a "Bluehouse" as this week I have mostly been painting things blue. Pacific blue to be precise and it does do exactly what it says on the tin. It turns everything blue including the two new cats "Harley" and "Spike". We got them a few weeks before we left for Malta and as expected they have turned the place over. Having material on the walls - the studio soundproofing - is providing a few laughs and curses as the kittens turn into spiders. Spike in particular loves the rafters in the live room and has now learned to sky dive into the sofa. With old "Lucky" now over 16 years old and harvesting happening it's a good idea to have a couple of active mousers at hand. I admit sometimes I did have second thoughts especially after moving the piano a couple of times to clean up a major movement in kitten minor. Watching them mugging each other in the kitchen garden does bring a smile on stressful days and after the decimation of the Spittalrig pet community in recent years it's good to have some new furry faces around.
I had to check Tara's suitcases when she went back to Berlin after spending most of the Summer with me between Scotland and Malta. She fell in love with them and it was a warm feeling watching a thirteen year old teenager turn back into a child if only for a moment!
The Studio has definitely become a home in the last couple of years and with the garden growing season by season it's always tough leaving for whatever reason.
The gigs that were dotted throughout the summer went really well although the travelling I have come to loath these days. Endless security checks, heavy fines for excess baggage, two hours hanging around with early morning hangovers waiting on connecting flights in chaotic terminals is not my idea of fun. Quasimodo position and warm white wine at 3 quid a bottle while gnawing on chicken composite shredded with a white plastic knife - Jeez the endless glamour of international travel, zoo class!
I missed most of the Edinburgh festival apart from a couple of stand up acts and the firework display. The comedy I saw was dreadful and the firework display was held on a night with very low cloud cover. A similar experience would be watching a basketball match and catching all the court work with the hoops hidden by a low curtain. All the cute fireworks bubbled and burst around Edinburgh castle but the big macho planet-busting stuff disappeared into the heavens and glowed loudly! It's amazing they got them lit as the firework guys must have been crying their eyes out at the weather.
Earlier that day I was through in Glasgow at the book launch of the "SAHB" story, the new biography of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. First time for a long time I asked for autographs and snatched the signatures of Zal, Ted, Hugh and Chris while they were all together. I'd seen Chris Glenn and Ted McKenna at a recent brilliant Stevie Winwood gig at the Academy in Glasgow and they'd asked me to come along. As always a great time and loads of stories over a pint or three. I was supposed to be joining the band on stage in Dunfermline this weekend at a charity event but it's been put back to November.
Which brings me back to the waiting. I will know middle of next week if I have passed the audition and got the role. If I have the part then I allegedly start shooting in October and will be on call for the next four months. If I don't then I have to attempt to resurrect the South American tour (which is extremely doubtful), sort out a SAS schedule for Norway (which I have another three days to confirm), check band availability for some other dates on offer and scramble a tour operation and begin the advancing process for early 2005.
If the touring withers away then it's onto the book project. After much thought this summer, it makes more sense to follow a novel route rather than a screenplay attempt at this stage. I'll relay more info as it starts to form on paper because, as with all things in my life at present, it's very much in the air.
In recent months I have become very aware of the need for change in my life and this crossover process is, as I have mentioned at the beginning of this post, extremely frustrating. My personal life is relatively settled and my girlfriend "Tonks" has spent most of the summer with me on trips or here at the farm. Her vegetarian pursuits have meant a healthy diet and a comfortable weight loss which, combined with the gardening exuberances, have lent me a certain degree of fitness. Still smoking, much to her consternation, and trips to the Tyneside are still on my timetable so it's not exactly a rebirth!
We'll be looking good when we attend Spike Edney's wedding next week. Our first big social occasion since we started going out together last December, it will be rather daunting and tremendous fun methinks!
But for now it's "time to paint my greenhouse blue" (sung to Linda Ronstadt number :-) ) and waiting. ......... the endless bloody waiting on a decision and a phone call. Read this space.
Until next time, which will be sooner rather than later,
Email 10th September 2004