Email June 26th 2007

Fish 2007 - Bedknobs and rain sticks!

Dear Fishheads, Freaks, fans and the Company,

"13th Star" is coming at us at the speed of light! Drums, percussion (Dave Haswell), keyboards, lead and rhythm guitars and of course the bass parts are all down on tape and yours truly is about to begin his fifth vocal today. Already completed with lead vocals are "Miles De Besos", "Square Go", "Circle Line" and "Dark Star". I was being put through the paces on "Manchmal" and "Zoe 25" (formerly "Micklegate") today. Toughest ones so far! Calum is making me work and really concentrate on performances. He has been a brilliant addition to the team and with Steve Vantsis really doing his homework in the early stages of demos and paying attention to sounds and parts in advance it has meant we are still ahead of the game despite the obvious traumas in my life which affected us all here.
I fell behind a bit on the last two lyrics as my head was totally fragged last week but I am now pulling it together and should have "Arc of the Curve" and "Where in the World" in place by mid week and the principal lead vocals finished by next Sunday when the band start rehearsals at the Scout Hall in preparation for the first gig in Germany on the 13th. We will be flying by the skin of our pants that night as there is no time for warm up gigs. Bit of an edge makes it more fun :-)
I am still putting the set list together and I think the first few festivals will have experimental sets as we will be obviously trying out the new material within the older songs and the "Clutching" numbers. I am considering a couple of hefty re arrangements on "Just For the Record" and "Tux on" but all will become more clear as we hit the rehearsal rooms.
The recordings we have made are phenomenal and anyone who heard the "Fish on Friday" show last week will have heard the huge leap forward on "Arc of the Curve". It is an exceptionally strong body of work and I think my best album to date. (My final "Fish on Friday" is this week with the repeat "Another Fish Supper" on Sunday between 7 and 9pm! I am really going to miss the shows!)
Calum will be recording backing vocals and end takes on lead vocals during the first week of rehearsals. He expects to have the album mixed and mastered by the end of July and that means a release on mail order in mid August, all things going well.

The "Fish TV" film crew has been paying us visits. The last one I wasn't particularly talkative as it was only two days after the domestic explosion. I let Steve and Calum do the talking!
The crew are up tomorrow shooting the vocal session and getting updates. I have been told the programmes are ready to roll and should get an idea of content and slots etc when I see them. That's if they get up from Yorkshire in their canoes!
It's dreadful watching the scenes on TV. My sister lives in Pocklington near York but luckily bought a house on the hill. They have their town center three feet deep in water and sewage from burst mains. We have had it bad up here over the last few weeks but our systems managed to cope and weren't overloaded in most cases. My heart goes out to those families staring at rising waters and livelihoods and possessions literally going down the drain. Who could have envisaged helicopter crews rescuing hundreds of people from rooftops and trees in Sheffield in June? I hope this becomes a wake up call for environmentalists and politicians alike.

Not much consolation for those living in the flood plains of Humberside and South Yorks but the growth in the gardens and fields up here has been phenomenal. The downpours and intermittent heat waves have meant that the greenery has erupted. The new lawn I had sown just a month or so ago is now completely established and the vegetables form a solid lush mass in the raised beds. But the cold snaps took their toll as well. I lost a lot of tender plants when we had a run of around a week of temperatures barely skimming 10 degrees and the pond fish submerged for days on end. But it's not right!

We all know why this is happening and I find it disgusting and frustrating that some politicians and scientists are still denying the obvious reasons for these severe climactic disruptions. When do we realise that economies should come second to the natural wealth of the Planet we live on?

On a lighter note at least I will sleep soundly tonight for the first time in months! My "new" bed arrived today!
When I bought my first wee house in Aylesbury way back in 84 the first thing I wanted was a bed where my feet remained on the mattress and under the duvet when I lay fully stretched out. Having been subjected to single beds which were like sleeping on soft planks or in double beds where sleeping diagonally was the only answer to the problem of my 6 foot 5 inch frame (and the problem of being brutally woken by evil cats with a penchant for Scottish toes!) I invested in a 7 foot by 6 foot bespoke bed for my terraced house. I kept it for years. It followed me to Gerrards Cross and then up to Haddington where a new mattress was acquired around 93 after the first one collapsed after years of wear, tear and abuse.
That bed moved to the Studio in 2001 and over the years the mattress collapsed, compacted and lost any shape and support. It was time for a new bed. It was suggested by some of my "mates" that with it's "colourful history" I should sell the bed on E Bay as it had as one wag reported "enough genetic material to populate a small planet". An easy temptation to resist and eventually the nice men from the Council picked it up in a van and whisked it away to the bed cemetery. I was actually glad to see it go.
The final prompting for the change was of course my engagement in February. The bed's history and decayed state combined with the romance of a new beginning (and the refusal of my then fiance to sleep in it anymore!) to make the decision. I went into Bed Depot in Leith a week before getting engaged and found exactly what I wanted. 7 x 6 foot with a comfort mattress for extra support! Perfect! The only problem was the delivery time and it wouldn't be with us for 6 weeks. As the lady refused to sleep in the bed and didn't want it in the house when she arrived I had to bin it and we brought her bed up from York. A king size bed with soft mattress and framed ends! It meant my feet stuck out the end through the steel spars! Turning over was a military operation or a gymnastic manoeuvre. My back was killing me!
A call from Bed Depot after two weeks announced not only a delay in delivery but also that they couldn't give me the bed that I wanted and that they could only supply a 7 x 6 foot bed with a softer mattress and also only as a "zipped" double.
The bed and mattress arrived at the end of March and sure enough it was two 7 x 3 foot mattresses held together with a zip to make a 7 x 6 foot area which collapsed in the middle to form a hollow with a narrow trench that the unlucky one fell into in the night. If you move too far to the other side you fell out of bed as the edges were so soft! It wasn't good! We tried to live with it but to no avail. I phoned the Bed Depot who sent up a "bed technician" who burst out laughing when he saw our predicament. All parties were fully clothed at the time. Technically there was nothing wrong with the bed but it wasn't what I ordered. Letters went back and forth and everyone was very understanding but nothing happened or was resolved. My back was crippling me and sleep for both of us was to say the least problematic and restless. It certainly didn't help our domestic atmosphere and everyday it took me an hour to get myself upright, pain free and fully mobile. Mornings were kind of like the "dawn of man" scenario where the ape ascends to the vertical posture!
Finally I managed to get through to Millbrook the manufacturers via the customer relations staff at Bed Depot and things started to move forward. They agreed to change the bed and for this I have to thank a lovely lady called Michelle who was a big Marillion fan in the 80's and who took it on board to get things moving. Bed Depot and Millbrook really got it together and sorted out the problem. The mattress was put into manufacture and as we expected took a few weeks to arrive as it was bespoke. But as you all know between then and now my domestic bliss vaporized and the wedding went to the wall. I don't think I need to point out the irony of the two single zipped together mattresses. A felliniesque metaphor for all that has occurred in recent months!
And tonight I sleep alone in my new bed. My big, brand new, virginal, 6 x 7 foot bed with comfort foam mattress and clean white Egyptian cotton sheets where I will dream of the thirteenth star and listen to the rain in the Japanese garden pool as the bamboo rustles in the wind outside the window.

But before I leave you I will give you another lyric from the album!
My good mate Hutch read this last night after arriving with his customary bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for consumption in the green house of a Sunday where we listen to Planet Rock. He raised an eyebrow and said "this was from the heart!" being well aware of what went on during the last month or so. Some people will read this and react with fundamentalist knee jerk reactions and some of those will be people who think "Animal Farm" is a book about farmyard animals. The chorus was written on a ferry crossing on Lake Windermere as I wasted a day exploring while Heather was rehearsing. We had just met up again for the first time in over three months the previous day and I was making my plea for reconciliation. That was in January. The verses were written recently and the parts in 'quotes' are an answering vocal - male or female! All characters are inter changeable! Its a song about collisions!

 

Dark Star


A naked man, across the lawn, ghosts of morning walk a carpet of tears,
Croquet balls, scattered moons, drowning sorrows on a sea of green.

The fairy falls with broken wings; I hold it close to me and then let it fly,
Another dream, another you, shattered splintered shards explode in the blue.

An open door, an empty drive; no kitchen drama, no final goodbye.
You're making out, it's all my fault; you left to go in search of sympathy.
You thrive on grief, on tragedy;
You paint the pictures you want them to see.

I'm just a dark star, inhabiting a silent void,
Spinning in the darkness, orbiting a universe,
I want to be a meteor, want to travel at the speed of light,
Another dead star, silhouette against a pale moon,
I want to crash into another world.

That's how it was, 'or how you saw it,'
You never talked, 'you never listened,'
I beg to differ, 'I choose to disagree,'

You wanted out, 'I couldn't take it,'
You got no balls, 'don't you know it,'
That's my opinion 'you're making that clear'

It's at an end, 'this thing is over,'
You led me on, 'tin pot poet,'
I write the words down that you don't want to see.

I'm just a dark star, inhabiting a silent void,
Spinning in the darkness, orbiting a universe,
I want to be a meteor, want to travel at the speed of light,
Another dead star, silhouette against a pale moon,
I'm in another world.


It ain't easy, it was never going to be, it ain't no free ride, you don't get my sympathy,
You should have realised you had to compromise, it ain't easy, was never going to be easy.

You let my world explode into stars.


C Derek Dick 2007

 

Sleep tight ma wee munchkins and fairy people! Big Bear is alive and kicking!

lots of love

Onkel Fish xx

 

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