Email 11th March 2010

Fish 2010 - Green Time in the Wendy House

Dear FishHeads, Freaks, fans and the Company,

It's quite scary that we are already nearly a quarter of the way through the year and I am looking back and realising I have wasted a great deal of time and energy accomplishing very little.

But as the sun comes out and the soil warms and I begin to get a new vision of where my life should be going there's an air of positivism after a bleak last two months.

The Costa Rican experience was the most valuable experience and through that I have learned that my health is precious and that I need to get out into the world a lot more in the time I have on this planet.

I stopped smoking nearly a month ago thanks to Michael Carroll and his Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques and despite the serious stress that surrounds me just now I am still smoke free and feeling far the better for it.

(I will write more on the NLP Academy in another blog that will follow this)

As well as stopping all smoking I also started heading down to the gym at least three times a week and am enrolling in a Tai Chi class and hopefully a martial arts circuit training evening in the next few weeks.
Between all that and biking I am already down to the waistline that I had in Vietnam and am finding muscles I never even knew I had. :-D

The fitness regime is all tied into the NLP and I am finding myself really looking forward to my gym, pool and steam room fix, even on a Saturday night when I head there after the Hibs matches and get the place practically to myself.
Don't worry I'm not crazed or obsessional but it is a very different vibe. ;-)

I also decided after my Costa Rican trip that another language would be a great asset so I bought a 10 level course in Spanish and start my lessons next week.
I intend to go to Cuba sometime in the year and depending on commitments I also want to travel the Inca trail to Machu Picchu either late in the Autumn or early next year when the trail opens again.
Having a good grasp of Spanish would definitely make the journey and the experience a lot more valuable and fun.

Not only that but to be able to sing in Spanish would be really useful and could open up a whole new bag. ;-)

My trusty Nikon goes in for servicing this week and when it comes back I am enrolling in a local camera club so I can learn how to use it "properly". I was disappointed with a lot of the CR shots as I just didn't have enough fundamental knowledge to take advantage of the great opportunities I was presented with.
If I can get more experience and a better understanding of the SLR then it should stand me in good stead when I head back to South America.

On top of all that I am getting my scuba diving certificate sorted out with the local dive club.
I qualified in '88 in Bequia in the Caribbean but my diving history is erratic. My card is an American NAUI qualification for Open Water 1 but most centres are PADI certified and I have had to, as I did in Costa Rica, go through evaluations before they let me dive.
If I go through a new accreditation here I can move my card over and that will free me up for when I go to Cuba.
The prospect of diving in dry suits in the freezing Scottish waters I find a wee bit disconcerting though :-D
Saying that, we have some great diving just down the road from me at St Abbs Head and everyone I know who dives in Scotland has recommended Scapa Flow in the Orkneys as a dive site.

The garden will be the main draw of my time outside the writing project.

The ponds are all fully functioning and there were no casualties over the big freezes. The main Peter Pan pond is bustling with life and I just fed the fish for the first time yesterday.
It was worth all the fight with the ice and snow over the winter and the oxygenator that pumped air through the hole I carved in the frozen mass - that I admit to putting in later than I should have - was a saviour for the new arrivals.
My "denizens of the deep" seem quite healthy and the water, although slightly greening up as the algae gathers before the filters kick in, is relatively clear.

I fixed the Japanese Garden pond and repaired the leaks so it is ready to become the secondary fish pond and I have to admit with the planting I put in before Xmas and the new Luytens bench I got this year it's become a wonderful tranquil sanctuary and working on the PC listening to the tumbling water is idyllic.

The only drama came when I was moving the three surviving feral goldfish from the "Roman pond". (There are three ponds, the Roman being the smallest and so named because it looks like an ancient round well in the stone wall that runs from outside the kitchen to the greenhouse)
I found two with the net and added them to their new Olympic sized pool in the Japanese Garden but couldn't discover the last one in the murky, muddy waters and poking about with the net amongst the slime and weeds was getting me nowhere. I started to empty the pond with a bucket and pouring the contents over the wall into the hosta beds five feet below on the other side.

Just as I thought I should be careful in case I dredged the last survivor out with the bucket out he slid, across the wall and over the edge onto the slate mulch, a Grand Canyon fall in goldfish terms, below.
I rushed round and he looked dead. I picked him up, threw him evidently lifeless into the bucket and rushed him round to the Japanese Garden pond where his two mates were swimming around perfectly happy in their new relatively crystal clear universe.
I lifted him into the pond and held him under the stream falling from the girder above the pool. The oxygenated water seemed to bring him round a bit and he was swept around, upside down by the current from the waterfall. He was carried off to the other side of the pond, lying on his side and I brought him back into the foaming water until he started to swim in his own right. 5 minutes of swimming upside down, tail to the surface and nose to the bottom, seemingly dazed and confused had me concerned but after a while he was back with his mates exploring their new home. I was quite proud I'd managed to save him and maintain my 100% record with the fish stock. :-)

The garlic overwintered well and together with the onions will make for a fine harvest later in the Summer. Some of the winter veg looks pretty straggly but it will recover. There's enough to keep me going although the broad beans took a battering under the snows.
The crows nabbed quite a few onion sets but they are easily replaced.
The early/early potatoes, Pentland Javelins and Arran Pilots, are chitting and the beds are ready and waiting.

All focus is on the greenhouse. It's time for seed trays and preparing everything for the main beds.
Tara and her boyfriend are helping me out with the beds and the digging over etc and my parents are helping out with the sowing and the light work. Cloches and coverings take precedent as I try to gain some advantage over and protection from the weather that is still unsettled.

It is a full on assault just now and I really appreciate their help as it is only now I realise just how big a growing space was created last year when I added all the raised beds in the front garden. It's too much for me on my own.

It will take quite a few weeks to set everything up and tend it through the early stages. After that it's "green time".

I love it when everything starts to sprout and buds begin to burst. When all the bulbs we planted last Autumn erupt in colour.

The orchard is also looking really healthy and it won't take much pruning this year to get it into shape. This Autumn I will receive the first proper harvest from the trees.

There is nothing like it when the garden starts to move into Spring. It always takes my breath away and fills me with a wonder.

And everything I have mentioned fills in my time around the book writing.

I have to be honest and say I have done virtually nothing on it since the beginning of December.
The stress of the oncoming throat operation and my wife's decision to move to work in London soon after, with all its attendant problems and consequences, meant that my head was quite honestly full of "chocolate frogs", and has been since she left.

I did however make some major inroads into the overall book idea in Costa Rica and this week have taken on an agent who will be representing me at the publishing houses when I deliver a synopsis and outline details to her next week.
She sees no major problems in securing a deal and we have a very "cunning plan" as to the set up, delivery and lay outs of the projects. Yes. Projects. ;-)

What I need to inspire me now is a deadline for delivery and for someone with a bit of vision to get behind me for what is really a two year ongoing project.

The cobwebs are blowing away in the Spring breeze and the inspiration and direction are being fuelled by new energies as I face another new beginning.

My voice has been recovering and, as I mentioned on the forum, is better than it has been for quite a while.
As another example of my new attitude to health matters I recently purchased, for the first time ever, a set of vocal warm up/exercise CDs! 8-)

The problem isn't quite over as I do have some residual scarring on the site of the last operation but hopefully this will disappear before my next check up at the end of March.
Kate sent me up some homeopathic remedies that I have been taking and together with regular "steaming" after the gym workouts, and of course the smoke free lifestyle, it should be under control. I can only hope it heals quickly and that I can start committing to dates sooner rather than later.

I have committed to some dates in August but as yet they are all still awaiting full confirmation.

I have two dates with a classical orchestra, one in Antwerp Belgium, the other at the Spanwoudde Festival in Holland, and a potential 4 shows in Germany, one in Denmark and one in Finland with the SAS band, with Roger Daltrey (The Who), Roger Taylor (Queen), Chris Thomson (Manfred Mann), Steve Lukather (Toto) and Midge Ure (Ultravox).

They are all still to be confirmed but my fingers are very crossed that we get the go ahead as the dressing room "story boxes" alone would be worth any fee I was paid! ;-)

Even if I am told I have an ongoing problem with the scar tissue on my chord these gigs would be easily do able as would an album in the Summer.
Remember I recorded the "13th Star" album and performed an entire world tour with an undiscovered major cyst on my vocal chords!

I don't however think I have a major problem as my voice and throat are sounding the best they have for a while.
Careful nurturing and some TLC should sort it all out.

I am talking with Frank and Foss just now and I have an idea to get out in the Summer before the possible SAS gigs etc and perform some small acoustic shows which will be an "evening with Fish" rather than a full blown acoustic gig.
The shows would be small audiences and very intimate and would get me back into the mind set of touring as well as a live rehearsal of any new songs that would be arriving on the scene as the Summer develops.

They would be low key and very casual and I am discussing these with Yatta at the moment as to feasibility and execution.
I'd like to get through my next vocal check up at the end of March before I fully commit but at the moment it looks like there is a good chance of it coming together.

We have been offered a few festivals this year but I am reluctant to commit at the moment as I need a run of dates to qualify activating the full band. Discussions are underway and I am fully aware that we still have full working American visas until next Summer.
Larry, my agent over there, is still very positive about a "Return to Childhood" tour for North America as we never performed there with that set. With the Leamington Spa material there is quite a stunning show we could pull together but as always everything is dependent on finances and availabilities.

I haven't heard much good news from "the Front" regarding audience figures across the board and promoters are batting very carefully when it comes to bookings and guarantees. I think a small scale acoustic set up with low costs would be an ideal start point as I am well aware I have been out of the public eye and ear for quite a while now.

The recession is hitting everyone as we are all aware and I admit to being disappointed with the sales of the "Nearfest" DVD considering the great reviews and the high expectations of a lot of people particularly in the States.
I am hoping sales will pick up in the coming months as at the moment I haven't even covered the production costs.

With the Snapper Records deal now concluded I have received a load of digipak stock across the catalogue which is now going up on the web site mail order service. The entire Fish solo catalogue is now back under my control (with the exception of "Vigil" which I license from EMI Records) and I am now in a position to explore a number of options, the favourite being to set up a major re release and superior repackaging next year within the book projects.

I am trying to find the VHS masters for the Duisburg '98 show and the Rheinberg '93 gig which if they are discovered I'd like to get them out on DVD as a low price release to fill the current gap. Mario and Jurgen were the producers in Germany and I hope the tapes are still in existence.

At the moment I am totally dependent on the mail order service to provide me with an income while my voice recovers and the book fills the gap in my creative activities.

I am missing gigging just now and I can't remember the last time I had such a long enforced break from music.

The only other surprise in the near future is that I have volunteered my services to a small amateur production of Nikolai Gogol's play "The Government Inspector" which is being performed at the Netherbow Theatre in Edinburgh over 3 days at the end of April.
It's only a very small role but looks like a bit of fun while helping out the local dramatic society.
I have always wanted to be in the theatre and now I have the chance. Who knows? It may lead to something else. ;-)

Tara and her boyfriend have been good company recently while they are still looking for their own flat somewhere. It's been stressful for them as they struggle to get work and a place of their own. They have been staying in the spare room which had been KT's clinic when she was here. I am not looking forward to the electric bill as Taz has a bearded lizard as a pet which requires desert conditions which are simulated by heat bulbs and powerful lights. The other side effect is that we have the constant sound of crickets in the house as they are Buddha's main food source. I wasn't sure of it at first but have gotten used to him and can now see the attraction.
The cats are nonplussed.

Having my daughter around the house and garden makes up for the only dark cloud in an otherwise blue sky just now.

My wife is still working and living in London and in all honesty I don't really feel as if I am married as I have only seen her for two days this year so far.

I haven't had any reason to go down for work related meetings or anything else recently and with the expense of flying or going by train combined with hotel costs and finding any spaces in Katie's never-ending schedule, it's a tough call just now. I openly admit it's not a situation I am particularly happy about.

Integrating our schedules at the moment is extremely difficult but as my workload starts to come on board in the early summer it will become even harder to get quality time together.

It's rather sad watching all the bulbs that Kate planted in the kitchen garden nudging their way out of the soil and ready to burst into a dazzling display in the coming weeks and knowing that she won't get the chance to appreciate them.

As I said I hope we can find some sort of solution to this current separation as I miss her company up here.

What will be, will be.

And now I close the window in my office on the tumbling waters of the Japanese Garden and get my kit ready for my trek to the gym.

Scottish Cup quarter final against Ross County this weekend and I can't forget Mother's Day! :-D

Until next time
Onkel Fish xx

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