Email 18th December 2005

Subject: The Company Europe Newsletter December 2005

Dear Company Members,
I am writing this after a blur of publicity and "happenings" most of which thankfully have been very positive. In fact, apart from a couple of dramas and disappointments, it's been a pretty good year overall. My appearance on BBC1's "Weakest Link" programme was an obvious high especially after winning and avoiding the embarrassing prospect of forever leaving the Tyneside Tavern to the inevitable chorus of "You are the weakest link... goodbye!". Winning £9k for the Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland put my Mum, who works in the North Berwick charity shop, on a real high and even Tara has school friends acknowledge me as a legend these days! :) Making the programme was a real hoot and it was great to bump into old mate Rick Wakeman as well as making some new muso buddies, in particular Eggsie from "Goldie Looking Chain" who I split the £18k winnings with. Eggsie and I had been on neighbouring podiums and joking throughout the shoot. Being Welsh meant that there was a powerful Celtic element and in the end game when it was three contestants with one to go, he backed me against young rapper Kenzie to put us head to head in the final. I felt it was only fair to split the large sum we'd made and his nominated charity was Motor Neuron Disease Research, something I had become very aware of especially through former Celtic player Jimmy "Jinky" Johnstone who has done a lot to make people aware of the disease through his own illness. So thirty minutes of prime time TV and suddenly all of Tesco's Haddington are in awe! :) Added to that I picked up a "25 years" achievement award from the Classic Rock Society in Rotherham after presenting their awards night on the same day as the BBC transmission.
It was a genuine honour and I gave the award to Tara on stage as an acknowledgement of her patience and understanding of having a father who has spent long periods of her life on the road and away from home. She was totally chuffed and it was her first time on stage with me for such an occasion. Coming on the back of the most successful touring I have had for a long time, particularly in the UK where we all put a solid shift in across the regions, the award was a particularly welcome "cherry".
"Bouillabaisse" has done really well and reviews have been fantastic across the board. Classic Rock magazine has been outstandingly supportive and expect to see a glowing review of the recent Paradiso show in Amsterdam from old fan and friend Jon Hotten. It was the first show he had seen for quite a while and after show he was highly complimentary.
I had conducted an in depth interview with him on the canal bank at the rear of the venue in the afternoon and this was also filmed for inclusion as one of the extras on the DVD which is scheduled for release on Snapper Music in April/May 2006. The director Mike Cockayne has told me the footage is excellent and I couldn't have wished for a more enthusiastic audience or a more professional performance from my band. I think this will be a special project!
The live recordings were made at Tilburg 013 club, Koln E Werk and of course Amdam. The audio recordings scheduled for the live double CD due in April will be taken primarily from Koln which Calum Malcolm my mixing maestro and producer considers a great recording. There will be no overdubs and I am keeping the live album as honest as I can. I have to hold my hand up on a couple of occasions as my mind wandered on the lyrics a couple of times and a monitor mix from drum central meant that "Credo" in Amsterdam has a very "safe" vocal approach. But that is the essence of "live" and, as Calum said, the visuals are so good that no-one will notice! :) Mark Wilkinson is obviously in charge of the cover artwork and I have a huge selection of photos to choose from for the inner sleeve artwork. Mark's exhibitions on the tour went down really well and there was huge interest in the prints he was selling on the night.
All in all the touring this year contained a couple of gigs that went straight into the "Hall of Fame", namely Glasgow Garage and the Paradiso and possible Koln! The crowd responses on the gigs have been fantastic and there have been some sincerely moving moments on stage. The "replacement" gig at Cirencester, the last of this year's band performances was an amazing night, despite the absence of backing vocalist Deborah Ffrench due to work commitments. Yatta and I are already booking next year's touring patterns and gigs are soon to be confirmed for the end of April. I plan to spend the first three months of next year on other projects including getting off my backside and getting to grips with writing the novel. If some filming comes along then all well and good but I want to spend time here with my daughter and my garden and just being "real" for a while. Taz is doing great at school and fitting in well. We have become a great team and I am enjoying being a Dad again.
It is said that "there is no such thing as bad press and that any press is good press". In that case I will be having the best profile for a long time in the tabloids as the summer's nightmare concludes.
For those who don't already know I discovered shortly after Kim Waring's resignation in June this year that things weren't quite how they appeared and after further investigation it became obvious that severe financial irregularities had occurred. The full detail is on my web site in one of my e-mails in November and far too complicated to disclose here in this short newsletter. For those of you without web access and in a nutshell I found out that Waring had not only taken £17.5k in cash that she had been given to bank but had also taken money from my personal account of around £10k since September 2004 and worse of all she had embezzled funds and goods from the fan club merchandise of around £40k. The "missing orders" that were accredited to "postal problems" now appear to be credited to a far more cynical ploy and I discovered a discrepancy of around 1700 "Field of Crows" albums in stock checks amongst other substantial numbers of other items sold through our system. I feel particularly foolish after the revelations and would like to apologise for my unreserved and misplaced support for that woman in e mails and letters to the fans. I was totally fooled by someone I placed my utmost trust in and someone who I not only considered a valued employee but also a close friend.
I was shocked, dismayed and deeply hurt by this realisation and now understand why so many of you deserted our mail order service in 2004. Since Elspeth Laidlaw took over the entire system has been revamped and according to the reaction from fans we are now replacing the trust and confidence that Waring systematically destroyed during her tenure here at the Studio. I successfully sued her at Haddington Sheriff Court after she decided not to defend the action and the civil law suit resulted in me being granted £100k in damages, a demand for the return of missing merchandise and money to the value of £68k. I am now pursuing her for those monies in England. That was the only real blight on an otherwise highly successful year. I am wiser for the experience and the new systems and operations are significantly better as many of you who have ordered recently have experienced. This is another new era and one I am hungry to embrace. It's still special and exciting for me and I hope it is for you! Until next year have a great Christmas and an ecstatic New Year, until then, take care and stay alive! Thanks for being out there for me!

Lots of love Onkel Fish xx

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