Email 16th July 2009

Fish 2009 - The Battle of Spittalrig

Dear FishHeads, Freaks, fans and the Company,

Well we are now 4 days into rehearsals and all is going well. The band are all smiling at each other and that is a very good sign!

We started on Monday at our new rehearsal space in the town which overlooks Neilson Park. The room is great and allows us to make as much noise as we need without disturbing the neighbours while giving us ample space to play in.
There's nothing worse that being stuck in a cramped, reflective box for two weeks fighting with the acoustics.
That always results in grumpy musicians with headaches and too many coffee breaks.

Yatta was up at the weekend helping with the load in and Gavin the Griffiths and Chris Johnson arrived on Sunday night. Foss, Frank and Gavin Dickie were at the farm on Monday and we had the gear up and running and first notes hitting the floor by midday.

We decided to go with a regimented approach, starting at 11 with a one hour lunch break and finishing at 6.
Monday I was in at 4 and sang on the tracks the guys had learned that day.
Tuesday I was in at 11 and rehearsed those songs again then I was back at the studio working on the other side of the convention and going to the gym and the steam room in the afternoon. I came back at 4.30 and sang on the songs they had put together that day.
We are trying to repeat this on a daily basis but I am wary of not having sung "properly" for a while and am building my voice up as we go along.
It's sounding good and I am surprised just how quickly my voice is responding.
However I'm not over-stretching and some mornings I take it easy and concentrate on the afternoon sessions once I have had my "steamie".
The difference since I had the cyst removed is noticeable and the all clear at a recent ENT appointment added to my confidence.

The key changes have helped a lot and to be honest some of the songs are sounding a lot "meatier" and more "ballsy" than in previous incarnations.
There are still a couple that are tricky and that I dread attacking too much. ;-)

So far in 4 days the guys have got the skeletons and the muscle on 14 songs and all of those are the ones we haven't played for ages.
We are well ahead of the game just now and I expect we will have the full sets together by the end of next week leaving us with close to two weeks to add the "colours" and tighten up the arrangements.
They have all done a fantastic job in preparing for theses rehearsals and I am genuinely proud of their approach and commitment.

On other convention news I have a couple of added events.

My good friend Fabio is bringing over the "Grendel" mask from Italy. He bought it in the memorabilia auction back in the '90s.
We have two ideas for the weekend.
First is to allow fans to have their photos taken wearing the mask for £2 a shot with all the money going to Emma's Sunshine charity pot.
We will set up a "booth" in the venue and hopefully will find a suitable black cloak and backdrop for anyone who wants to be a Nordic monster for a day!

The other idea is to have an on stage performance where we will have 10 or so "volunteers" to act out the "killing section" of the song and to be voted on by the audience.
A suitable prize will be provided!
Before anyone asks we will not be performing the song live and yours truly will not be participating. I have a bad back and my Mum gave me a note! :-D

Another idea I am working on is a "Grumpy Old Musicians" sketch where we can do a take on the TV show but with current and ex band and crew members nominating their favourite moans! ;-)
I just have to make sure that I get the mike back off Yatta or he will be up there for the entire afternoon! :-D

Everything is falling slowly but surely into place although I do wake up some mornings having a panic attack.

The Convention T-shirts are ordered and the designs are pretty nifty though I say it myself.
Sandy has put together convention mugs, and KT and Elspeth will be trawling through the garage to unearth some rarities and collectables.
It's all moving forward.

The garden is a battle zone though.

The Cabbage Whites are arriving in squadrons and only today I brought down 23 in a space of 15 x 9 m in a couple of hours! I got two on one swing and zapped one with a fabulous backhand over the kale bed.
Caterpillars are few and far between but I check regularly and despatch those I find with ruthless abandon!
I just hope that when I get to the Pearly Gates the big man (or woman ;-)) isn't a Buddhist!

The wasps are doing a great job on the follow up and between them and the bird population we seem to be containing the invasion.

With all the wet weather followed by hearty sunshine the slugs and snails are moving and munching.
There's nothing quite like the experience of treading on a Tiger slug in your bare feet on the way to the greenhouse for a late night tipple and smoke X;{

Apart from killing them by hand when you find them I am pretty limited in my available defences.
I do have a few allies as there are a couple of toads and frogs that skulk in the garden and who I try and point at the badly afflicted areas.

The recently planted French beans are surrounded by jam jars acting as slug traps and I've found the invertebrates seem to have a penchant for Stella Artois!

The beds around the garage with the peas and globe artichokes look like an overhead shot of the tank battles in the Kursk salient in WW2.
Snail carcasses and empty shells litter the area thanks to some good old-fashioned organic pellets.

The latest packet of slug nematodes is in the fridge awaiting dispersal and I just hope that none of the band mistakes it for nougat! :-D

It's a constant battle trying to protect our food crops but the results are most definitely worth it.
The Broccoli heads are immense and we sat down for the first time in years and feasted on the most incredibly tasty and crunchy florets from our garden the other day.

I can't explain how satisfying it is to grown and eat your own produce from seed and to know that no chemicals have been used in the process.

If only I could get the grape vine to produce something I could turn into a cheeky Chardonnay! :-D

I can but dream!

Until next time
Onkel Fish x

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