Email 1st April 2010

Fish 2010 - The Big Yin, no April Fool!

Dear FishHeads, Freaks, fans and the Company,

My stress levels were peaking and close to overload yesterday as I sat in the chair in an otherwise empty corridor in the ENT building at Lauriston place in Edinburgh.

This was my appointment to determine whether I would be capable of singing this year or forced into another 12 month sabbatical.
I had been dreading this for weeks and knew that if the scar tissue had grown I was in deep trouble on every level.

Dr Macdougall has been looking after me and her concern on the last visit was very evident.

Since then I had given up smoking, been using regular steam rooms sessions, taking ibuprofen and homeopathic pills my wife had sent up from London as well as generally upping my fitness levels.

Her first comment was reassuring as she said I sounded great.
There was no need to check volumes or quality with the recording equipment and she went straight for the endoscopic examination down through my left nostril! :-\

A strange and uncomfortable sensation added to when I had to pitch the notes for the camera delivering pictures to the computer screen behind me which was being watched by the 4 students and the speech therapist sitting in the room.

I rolled the notes out relatively smoothly and waited on the doctor's pronunciation.
Nervous wasn't even close to describing the mood.

Dr Macdougall smiled and said it was better than even she had hoped for. The lesion had halved and was obviously healing properly.
I was told I could start serious vocal exercises straight away and that I would be fine for the shows in the Summer and beyond.
I had my voice back and could work again.
My relief was palpable and I couldn't stop smiling all the way back to the car and on the journey home to the studio.

I phoned Yatta and told him "thunderbirds are go!" He was as pleased as I was. We were back in business.

I shelved the gym idea for the night as well as the Hibs Dundee United game, and decided to celebrate in the pub and phone my friends and band mates to give them the news.

That was after heading to Clark's fish shop in Musselburgh to pick up a shoal of sea food for Tara as she had offered to make a stew and tonight was the night.

Clark's is my favourite sea food "emporium" and is down by the harbour which had been battered by the previous night's storms to such an extent it looked like Dubrovnik during the Balkan war.

North Berwick harbour had come off even worse and a number of boats had been badly damaged when mountainous waves threw debris and boulders over the sea wall and into the fleet of yachts and other craft sheltering from the storm.
Even sadder was the discovery of a body washed up on a beach by Dirleton.

It had been a hard night on the East Coast.

Clarks was brimming with all sorts of delicacies and I emerged with scallops, John Dory, mussels, squid rings and tiger prawns for the stew, some sea bass and tuna and of course kippers!
Clarks also stock a lot of Thai products as the owners wife is from there, so I picked up tins of coconut milk, industrial size bottles of fish sauce and a stunning garlic/chilli sauce.

I was in the best mood I had been for a long time. ;-)

I dropped the fish off at the house to a smiling Tara and headed to the Tyneside for some 70 shilling and early doors at the 6 o'clock club.

As the word spread the calls came in and it was great to give out some good news for a change.
I left the car and headed home around 8 to a wonderful fish stew prepared by my talented daughter. :-)

More calls, a bottle of wine, the Arsenal game on telly and then the best sleep I have had for a while.
One major problem dealt with and a more positive result I couldn't have wished for.

Today was cycling down to the pub to pick up the Volvo.
I'd had a bad trip the day before when I decided to cycle down in the wind and rain, avoiding my usual circuitous route by Liberty hall that adds on an extra 15-20 mins, and electing to go for the straight road down by the Oak Tree roundabout.

I was glad I did as I noticed I had a puncture about 500 metres from the house and decided to nurse it into town to the repair shop. About 5 minutes later it all went Pete Tong and the inner tube spilled out of the front wheel and wrapped itself around the forks. Luckily I wasn't going fast and slewed into the side of the road.

I was 2 miles from town and it was raining horizontally from the Arctic North. =-O

I couldn't wheel the mountain bike so I had to carry it all the way into town and to the bike shop where Mike Lennon was pissing himself with laughter as I walked in, wringing wet from the storm carrying the dead bike.
He said I was the only guy out cycling in this weather and that he'd been resigned to selling aircraft and tank models all day to punters hiding away at home.

I got the same reception from Trish at the Tyneside as I stood steaming in front of the fire nursing a bowl of coffee.
TBH I was quite proud as a few months back I would never have been able to walk all the way into town carrying a bike on my shoulder! :-D

My fitness levels have gone up and I feel a lot more confident about taking things on.

I did however decide to knock the Brazilian Ju Jitsu on the head and substitute it with a normal workout at the gym.

I am examining getting some laser surgery done on my eyes and as a consequence I would have to take at least 6-8 weeks away from any kind of physical contact sport after the operation. It didn't make sense to commit to learning moves and more so taking up an instructor's time when I would have to pull out after only a few lessons. I had other reasons as I was by far the oldest there and if I picked up an injury, which was highly likely, all my other activities would be affected. I already have a calf strain, which is niggling me, and a slightly damaged heel (where's a physio when you need one? :-|) I didn't need a heavy debilitating injury now.

If I go for the eye surgery, which I would really like to as glasses are really annoying me these days, I will have to curtail all my scuba and pool work for a month and stay out the gym for a fortnight. Tai Chi is about the only activity I will be able to concentrate on but I think that may be a good thing as it's pretty demanding.

As I said I feel a lot more confident and after being approached by Jim Mitchell from the "Another Way Around" charity. I have signed on to walk the West Highland way for cancer research this May.

I met Jim a couple of years ago at a Marillion show in Glasgow and he got me involved in the auctioning of a motorbike and a charity auction night.
He got in touch a few weeks ago and asked me if I would be interested in joining him and some others on the walk and of course I agreed! :-D

You can find out a lot more about the West Highland way by logging onto this site

The reason I am pointing you there is that we are looking for anyone who would be interested in joining us on the 96 mile 7 day hike up the West coast of Scotland! 8-)

We plan to leave Glasgow on the 22nd of May and end up in Fort William on the 28th and there are a few places for anyone who wants to join us. As you can see from the site it's not for the faint-hearted but it's not SAS requirements.
One of our fellow walkers is a doctor and a few of the team have walked the way before and are experienced hill walkers.
The trip will be well planned and supported and we will be taking every precaution to ensure a safe journey.

We are planning to have our camping gear and food etc transported by van to pre determined locations on the route where we will spend the nights before walking the way every day with basic gear we need. That will take a lot of the stress and strain from us so we can concentrate on arriving at destinations before the pub shuts at the camping sites! :-D

It should be a lot of fun and a chance to see an incredibly beautiful area of Scotland for those of you who, like me, have never been there before. It will also be something to throw in the story box and to tell the kids about! ;-)

If anyone is interested please contact either myself or Jim and we will get in touch with more details.

I am already attempting to entice a certain Norwegian poet away from his wine cellar! ;-)

With the fantastic news about my voice I can start preparing gigs and can confirm that I will be singing with Chris Thomson and Leo Sayer on the 8th July in Frankfurt and the 9th in Berlin.

I don't have any more details as yet but will let you know as soon as I get them.

There are a few other shows still waiting confirmation and I hope to have more news at the beginning of next week.

The sun shines on Spittalrig :-)

Have a great Easter weekend and enjoy the holidays

love
Onkel Fish xx

Mo says: Sponsorship forms for the West Highland way walk will be available soon, and a link will be added to this web site as well as "Another Way Around". Even if you can't join the walk, you could help by collecting sponsorship money or by visiting the "Just Giving" pages that Jim has set up. Every penny collected goes directly to cancer research.
 

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