Well here we go into 2014, and I shall put my best foot forward. Mind you, I have never been totally sure as to which of my feet is the best one. I have always tried to treat them equally. If you were a centipede, how long would it take to decide which is your best foot to put forward? Enough of this upwards and onwards into 2014. It is worth noting that we have never been here before, and as with each day it will be a mystery and can only be better than 2013. Not that 2013 was all gloom; there were some bright moments. But with the loss of so many influential and inspirational people departing for pastures anew, we can reflect on what they have left behind for us to enjoy and nurture, and in their own way each has left something for generations to feed on.
I shall start this New Year with my having to cancel a major tour in Australia from early January to the end of March, and this start to the year is certainly not putting my best foot forward. I felt devastated at having to do this, as Sandy Merrigan of Merrigoround Music had put so much work into the organising of this tour, and I also felt very bad at letting so many people down. But at the end of November I had a major problem with my left eye, something which I must be honest in saying that I never saw coming, and the eye specialist and doctors said that I would be unable to fly for a couple of months, which collided with my leaving on January 5th in time for the start at The Cygnet Festival in sunny Tasmania. I will not carry on with this, but suffice it to say that there is light at the end of the tunnel – that is if I close my left eye and observe this light with my right eye – and Sandy Merrigan will be organising another tour along the same lines in 2015. And the way that time is racing by, 2015 will be here as soon as it can. There are by my reckoning at this time of writing on New Year’s Eve only three hundred and fifty six more shopping days till Christmas. My thanks go to so many people who have sent messages of goodwill and good health, and my grateful thanks go to Sandy for her understanding and care over my eye problem.
From the end of November I was unable to drive, due to the gas bubble that had been inserted in my eye, and of course there were all the events leading up to Christmas in the way of Maypoles to Mistletoe, and as well as the performances in The Hawth Crawley and the Electric Theatre Guildford, we had a special performance down in Roche Bodmin Cornwall with the local singers as well as The Saffron Maids and Trigg Morris Men It was so good to perform Maypoles to Mistletoe with local performers and using local songs and traditions. Carolyn Robson, Jim Farr, Iris Bishop, my wife Dan and I all went down to be part of this performance, and Iris boldly took on the job of driving Dan and I, along with all the props, down to Bodmin, and once again our grateful thanks go to her. Suffice to say it was well worth the journey there and back on the Sunday as we all had rehearsals for the Hawth on the Monday.
At this point I would also like to thank our family for everything that they have done and are doing, and I will single them out. Our eldest daughter Lucy www.lwrfitness.com for organising various eye surgeons’ visits, Jess our next daughter for her unswerving help in driving or anything else, and also the best son-in-law anyone could want for, Jonny, of Hawthorns Garage in Farnham. www.hawthorns.co.uk It also goes without saying how much I appreciate all that Dan has been doing in her usual supportive manner.
I would just like to mention one particular concert that Iris and I were at in November. Sadly at the end of March Graeme Miles passed away and to honour his song writing and contributing to the continuing tradition of music there were to be two concerts held, firstly in Saltburn on the Friday November 22nd, which I was unable to attend due to a prior booking at Ted and Ivy Pool’s long-running folk club in Swindon, and the other at Cecil Sharp House in London on Saturday November 23rd. Obviously there were people lining up to take part in these concerts and each person gave of their time freely and performed just for expenses. At the London concert there were The Unthanks, The Wilson Family, Robin Dale, The Young’Uns, Mike Nicholson, Iris Bishop and myself. I would like to mention Kevin Hall who did such a tremendous job not only in MCing but in singing as well. The money from each concert was to go to the Hospice in Middlesborough where Graeme spent his last days and also as a bursary to a young singer-songwriter to continue the song writing that Graeme had been so successful at. I can tell you that this concert was just terrific and such a privilege to be part of. I did have this idea that a concert in Graeme’s memory should be performed each year, maybe in different parts of the country and with different performers, one of whom should be the songwriter that received the bursary for that year, and he or she could them perform the songs that they have written, we will see and I do so hope that someone will take up this idea, watch this space.
This is my first attempt at writing things up on this laptop and so far things seem to be going O^%^%$£”5 K , I think.
October and November were spent mostly “on the road”, with a fortnight’s tour in America, just the east coast, and then back for a night in sunny Faversham, before heading off to Holland where I was well looked after by our good friends Marianne and Kees Kwant both of whom had been at our courses that we held in La Jeusseliniere in France, and also attended our reunion weeks up in Borwick Hall, Lancashire, so well organised by Stan Graham and Julie. More of that later on as it happened earlier on, if you get my drift.
August and September saw Iris and I at first of all the Saltburn Festival, which was a real joy to be at and meeting up with Ray and his son Ben, who gave us such good hospitality, and also the many other friends, both singers and audience as well. Needless to say, The Wilson Family were just superb. After that we had the joy of being up at the Whitby Folk Week, and as always it was just great to be there with so many good friends and Mollie Grove who is such a delight to be with.
June and July happened as usual, with Dan and I spending some time back in France visiting friends and neighbours, and as usual it was good to catch up with them, and then there was a further bit of time spent here and there. We all went up to London on July 14th to be with Lucy when she was organising and warming up all the thousands of women who were taking part in the Race for Life in Regents Park, a wonderful day.
April and May saw our La Jeuss reunion up in Borwick Hall, and such a good time was had by all. The coming together of so many friends for the mutual enjoyment of music and song, put together by Stan and Julie, who now have been voted to wear the mantle of organisers for this event. The particular joy that we experience from this is in hearing the songs and music that is produced by each person, well nearly each person, as some come along just to be there. The next one is going to be in the middle of August of 2014, and what is so good about these reunions is that they are not confined just to those who attended weeks at La Jeusseliniere but it is open to all comers, based on a first come first served basis, and if you are thinking of maybe attending in 2014 please make contact with Stan www.stangraham.co.uk . From Borwick I went on up to be at the Girvan Festival on the West Coast of Scotland, and what an excellent festival it was.
January, February and March are always the traditional way to start the year. Dan and I had a week’s sun-seeking in Portugal which we enjoyed, especially the oranges. February started and ended, with things happening in between, which brought us into March with a fairly hectic schedule of my being “on the road “, up and around. The Studio at the Hawth Theatre, Crawley, was the venue to launch the new CD, ‘Starlit Skies’, and this concert involved Iris Bishop, Gary Holder, Jon Wigg, Marilyn Bennet, Joy Lewis and Derrick Hughes, and it was just great to be with these marvellous musicians and singers. Joy and Derrick joined us up at the Whitby Folk Week later on in August.
Dartford Folk Club was the venue for a performance of ‘Down The Lawson Track’ our show about the Australian Poet Henry Lawson with Shirley Collins, Pip Barnes along with Iris, Jon, Gary and myself. It is always such a delight for us to go down this particular track with Shirley and Pip.
So with all this backtracking here we are at the start of the year 2013, and wondering where each and every one of those three hundred and sixty five days have gone; writing this all up at the end of the year, I do wonder whether with all the so-called cuts that the government have implemented there have been a few hours cut from each day, as this year has passed so swiftly. But as the New Year beckons, with just a few more hours to go, both Dan and I would like to wish each and every single one of you “All the Very Best for this Coming 2014 year”, and we thank you so much for making this such a memorable year through your friendship and support. And, as we always end our Maypoles to Mistletoe performance with:
So, good people, we are done, we hope we’ve pleased you everyone,
So by the pint pot and by the dish, we wishes you the old old wish:
To you and all who you hold dear, Good Luck, Good Health throughout the year
I know that I have not mentioned each and every booking but suffice to say each one has been a joy, and for this I thank you.
Martyn and Danni