Email 12th November 2009

Fish 2009 - Jenny World

Dear FishHeads, freaks, fans and the Company,

I know I have been quiet for a while but between the book writing and other concerns, time flew by.

The main reason for my lack of communication was that I was waiting until after I had an Ear, Nose and Throat appointment and had more information.

My last appointment had been just before the convention and I had been given an all clear to sing but my attention was drawn to the growth of some scar tissue on the site of the operation I had last year.

As many of you now my voice was on pretty good form over the Summer but as the months went by I noticed I was experiencing a great deal of hoarseness and thickening of my chords. I had an idea of what it was and I asked for an earlier appointment than my scheduled one as I was beginning to get concerned.

On examination it was discovered that the growth on my chord had got a lot bigger and it was decided that I required another surgical operation to have it removed.

The growth is definitely benign and my doctor has told me that once this operation is carried out I will have no more problems and be fully fit by next summer.

It's disappointing as I have to miss out on the SAS Christmas shows and I had been hoping to put together some weekend acoustic gigs in the early part of next year just to keep my hand in.

I am just glad there are no dark complications as I had been worrying in the last couple of months that I may have done permanent damage by coming back to the stage too early and overdoing it with the long sets in the Summer.

Although the recovery period wipes out any singing for 6 months I can get on with the book and prepare for writing the album in the early summer for touring activities next Autumn together with the knowledge that I will have a fine set of vocal chords to work with.

It'll be another quiet Christmas then and I have the excuse note for not joining the carol singers :-D

The book, "Adrift on the Perfume River", or "Jenny World" as we call it just now, is moving along nicely and the "difficult second chapter" almost complete. It's been a long hard slog as I had to deal with family history and some basic foundation building before jumping off into Vietnam and the threads that are all attached to the second chapter which is called "Lovers, Warriors, Magicians and Kings".

It revolves a lot around my paternal Grandmother Jenny and in particular her marriage to my Granddad Wullie Dick in 1926.
The main reference is the wedding photo taken on the steps of a Glasgow hotel and the threads from all the guests to their pasts and to our old family house in Christmas 1963, 3 months after Jenny died. It sounds straightforward but it isn't. ;-)

As anyone who has investigated genealogical trees knows full well it can be a very addictive and obsessional occupation and I was finding myself pursuing endless detail which was inconsequential or irrelevant to the book.
I was getting wrapped up in family history and allowed myself to become seriously sidetracked, spending hours on the computer chasing ghosts. I got back on track last week and surged forward.

It was strange as Fellini entered the equation on a number of occasions and sent a couple of shivers up my spine.
One in particular was when one afternoon I was writing about Jenny's days in Newmilns and working in the lace mills there and my dad phoned me up. He told me to switch on the TV and lo and behold there was a programme about Newmilns and the mills with photos from my Jenny's time there.

Yesterday at Brian Fleming's funeral, where I was to read a eulogy that I'd spent the previous day writing and was particularly nervous about reciting, his coffin was piped in to the crematorium.
The lone piper played "Scottish Soldier" and it was the song that plays on a small musical box my Grannie gave to me when she died.
It was the first time I had heard it for a while.
I had spent a couple of pages writing about the episode in the chapter and to hear it played at the service was an emotional moment on both counts.

There have been many more incidences of synchronicity and I started to get the feeling that Jenny was present and influencing me on more than one occasion.

It's a good feeling.

A few people have read what is down so far and their reviews so far have been helping my confidence as I take on this entirely new medium.
I try and write for at least three hours a day just now and when I go through to my office I just tell KT I am going to visit "Jenny World" for a while! :-)

There are still too many distractions just now on the business front which have to be dealt with. I get annoyed at having to place so much energy into sorting out those issues which mostly involve endless bureaucratic drivel and the wrong sort of book work.

At least the Nearfest DVD is coming on line and I am waiting on the finished masters from the US to review and ok for production.
I will be putting it up for pre order in the shop next week.

Mark Wilkinson's finished artwork and a full track listing will be available soon on the web site.
The DVD will be a two disc set of the concert programme and an interview disc which will be exclusive to our mail order catalogue.
It will be on sale for £15.99 plus vat and postage. More details will follow next week.

On the garden front it's been pretty messy out there.

The raised beds look great as the overwintering onions, garlic and shallots are already moving upward.
I stuck in 200 onions and 300 assorted types of garlic this year and have Winter and Spring cabbages, turnips, calabrese, Russian kale and a bunch of other greens to see us through until next year.

The Brussel sprouts took their first frost the other day and are tasting wonderful! :-)

Only bad news is that I have a bad attack of eelworm in the BB bed (big bas###d - so named because of the digging over it takes :-) )
I lost all the main crop tatties that have been tunnelled and galleried by these ugly pests.
It was a nasty surprise to cut them in half and see the damage and the colonies of worm.
They are nearly impossible to shift and can take 4 years to get rid of if the area is left fallow.

One way to get rid of them is to dig over the bed 3 or 4 times in the winter and expose the creatures to the birds and elements while using "tattie traps" to encourage them to set up "nests". Once they burrow into the placed tubers you remove and burn.

I found out the reason I probably have them is that the BB Bed was once grassed and I should have put in a weed membrane under the soil when it was created. Eelworm tends to be found in areas under sod and is the larvae of the Click beetle who take 4 years to move to adult form.
Whoopee!! :-|

It's amazing what you can pick up on the gardening learning curve! :-D

The new fishpond is underway with Yatta delivering the preformed plastic shell last weekend.
The builder is fighting against the weather but I hope to have it in place in the next two weeks.
It's a biggie, around 3 x 2 metres and will take a lot of managing in the early days.
I would have liked to have had it in place earlier but I just have to take care when setting it up and moving the 14 or so fish into their new environment.

It's been strange with no tours on the horizon and nothing really in place on the musical front.
The forthcoming operation has defined the organisation of my time next year and for that I am glad for a number of reasons.

At least there is structure to hang a cunning plan upon now ;-)

For now I am off to Jenny World again as the Scottish darkness descends and the firelight from the wood burning stove keeps away the polar bears :-D

until next time
take care and stay alive
Onkel Fish x

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