Thursday, 27 March 2014

JOY AND PAIN IN UNEQUAL MEASURES PART THREE: A HOMECOMING, A DISASTER, A TRAGEDY AND A TRIUMPH !!!





Get the weekend out of the way by working because I’m missing my wife and I might just as well for the overtime and take the following Wednesday off after Haddy's return flight.
The family are all ok.
They are all back safely in The Gambia with no major van hitches.
Obviously this is going to make a huge gap in the lives of Uncle Sebastian and his family.
It’s big enough in ours.
Aunt Rose or Ta’ Roz (Tante Rose) was always welcome and welcoming and I know Haddy is going to be very upset when she arrives back here on Tuesday night.
At least flights in from The Gambia are consistent.
Reckon on getting to the airport at about half-ten to eleven and then hang around for about two hours minimum.
At some time after midnight you should see the passenger you are waiting for.
Anybody waiting to get a passenger through the usual snarl-up in the second-class citizen queue going through immigration is going to be in for the longest wait…
And that, of course, is me.
You know when they’re starting to go through because all the tanned or lobster-like holidaymakers start appearing through the doors in the arrivals area.
And you wait…
And you wait…
And you wait…
And finally, at about ten minutes to one in the morning, two complete hours after the flight has landed, you finally get to see your wife.
Or I get to see my wife actually.
It now takes between two to three hours depending on traffic and roadworks to drive home, and I have to be honest, it’s exhausting.
But at least we’re both off work tomorrow.
Haddy had said she may go in for her evening job, but she’ll see how she feels first ?
She’s tired from having to wake early in the morning, say her farewells to the family and travel virtually all night.
She needs sleep, but I bet you the body clocks are fucked…
About four hours sleep and we’re awake again.
What can you say ?

The Rhythms gig has been slowly going pear-shaped whilst all this has been going on.
If it wasn’t enough to go through all this family stuff, the bureaucracy of the organisation is beginning to appall…
We have no gig flyers and so we cannot actually advertise the events and I’m beginning to tear out whatever hair is left and scream loudly.
There is a reason for this.
We have to advertise with a ‘corporate logo’.
Unfortunately they hadn’t been printed yet…
Two weeks before the actual event and nobody has seen a flyer.
So I fired off a few e-mails…
All I get back is corporate bullshit.
Hey !!!  Do you lot want a fucking gig or don’t you ?
I’m happy to put the thing on, but you people have to pull your weight and stop this crap or you won’t have a fucking gig at all over the whole weekend because nobody will know the bloody thing is on.  
Success.
We finally have flyers.
Unfortunately they don’t actually say where or when the events are taking place.


It’s a catch-all flyer that advertises all the events and all the venues without a single date or a line-up.
So I blot my copy-book by going apeshit on Facebook…
Ooooh, that got a reaction, didn't it ?
One side is telling me I shouldn’t do that and the other side is agreeing that these people are incompetent.
Doh !!!
Fuck it !
Do it yourself…
So I did.
I remade the flyers in forty eight hours and had them out on the street in fifty.
You can’t do that.




Gig flyer by Al Maceachern

Errr… Actually I can, and what’s more I just did and if you want people to come then you better learn that the best way is the way that actually works and has done for aeons…
And apparently I wasn't the only one...
One of the band's had done their own, too.
I guess I’m the bad guy again ?
Ah fuck ‘em !
All this ‘corporate’ bullshit.
All we’re doing is putting on a gig and since you asked me to do it, get the fuck out of the way and just let us get on with it.
This shit drives you nuts.
Is it any wonder that the industry is full of crazy people with attitude problems ?
And my wife has just returned to find all this crap going on…

NOOOOOO !!!
The news is on Facebook…

Jon Falconer: 2nd July 1970-7th July 2013 as I'll always remember him...

Jon Falconer died yesterday.
He was taking a short break with Martin on their boat and apparently had felt unwell and so they’d stopped the boat, Martin had got off and gone looking for a local Dr’s surgery, come back and found Jon dead at the tiller…
Christ !!!
Your heart just goes out to the poor guy…
The funeral won’t be until later because of the autopsy.
For those who don’t know about this stuff, it’s because Jon died outside of his own Dr’s jurisdiction.
What can you say in moments like these ?
Everything else in your life becomes immaterial.
This is like a never-ending bad dream.
It seems like everybody who knew him has left a tribute somewhere.
I’m gonna miss him.
As someone once said, ‘The revolution is gonna be harder to fight now, cos there’s one less of us…’
But he’ll still be with all of us on the barricades come the time.
Do I want to dedicate the Rhythms gig to him ?
It’s a nice thought, but we’ll see about that on the night ?

I went to the Don Letts gig on the Friday.
Don was ok, and his son’s a good mixer but he didn’t really ‘come over’ to the audience.
It was like he’d submerged his personality which always comes through on the radio show.
Bit disappointing if truth be told, and apparently I was not the only one who felt like that.
I left Fort Hope on the Saturday.
To be honest I’d sooner rest before the Sunday.
Haddy’s got a few things to do on the Sunday so she’s going to join me later.
Me ?  I’m there early for the soundchecks.
Because it’s a Sunday night we can’t go on until midnight so we’ve worked it so that we finish between ten-thirty and eleven.


Unfortunately this means that The Astronauts have to actually start their set at about seven-fifteen.
It’s a bit early but it can’t be helped.
All three bands will be playing their normal sets.
Which they do, admirably.
The Astronauts storm it, setting a bench-mark that Blyth Power and Scum of Toytown are going to have to match to even be considered contenders.









Give Mark and the guys a bit of adversity and they usually rise above it.








I know they usually get labelled ‘folk-punk’ but there is nothing folky about The Astronauts.
Alternative is as The Astronauts does, and they are definitely alternative.
The Astronauts: Photo by Grant Meaby

 

The lyrics make sense and stay relevant even if they were written twenty years ago and that is one of the marks of a really intelligent mind.


Mark old mate, you’ve done it again.

Here's a snippet I found on youtube... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESW5hbq92GU
 

On any other night Blyth Power would have topped the bill.


Tonight however they were up against Scum of Toytown and so we’d asked them to play second giving the hometown crowd their own to end the evening.


And Blyth stormed it.
Unfortunately, it would seem nobody thought to film it ?


The mosh-pit went ballistic in the last twenty minutes and gave a foretaste of things to come.
Talking to Joseph after the event, he reckoned it was one of the most relaxed and enjoyable Blyth gigs ever.
Easily in their ten best in his opinion, and certainly ‘up there with a shout’ in Annie’s.
Must have done something right, then ?
Which leaves us the’ headliners’.
‘Allo Hitchin…’ said Jon, and away they went.


Many more new songs than the last time I’d seen them.


The older ones that everybody knew mixed in with the new ones to complete a whole new set and it was absolutely majestic.



The mosh-pit started up on the second track and never stopped, even for the new ones.


There ya go, peep's... Something to watch... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXreHOGLOHc

Ska-punk, when done as well as this, just gets everybody up and dancing.
Give me the stage and some able musicians and I’ll put the gig on for you.
Just keep the extraneous bullshit to a minimum because it serves no real purpose apart from massaging egos, and I really have no time for that.
It seems like those that came enjoyed themselves ?
The strangest fact of all came after the event.
Scum, as is their wont, always want a large ‘pest-list’ to get as many of their friends in for free and
I’d kept them down to eight on the night.
If you added those eight to those paying then it would have equalled those that paid for Fort Hope on the Saturday, which also exactly equalled the amount paying to see Don Letts on the Friday.
That’s today’s bit of true but useless information.
Strange, but true.
Arcadeclectic keeps it’s end up.
Now I’m finally going home to sleep.
Last out as usual…
Much to Haddy’s disgust !!!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

THE AFRO MANDING BAND (AFRO WOLOF) WEDNESDAY PRACTICE - MARCH 2012 FIVE DAYS LATER


Five days later we did it all again, but in the meantime tragedy had struck...
Hadim's Father had died and he'd got the 'phone call to tell him as we were loading the car with the equipment on the Friday night.
Now he was with his family for forty days so he would not be at the second practice.

The practice itself was going to be held at a small cafe used by the market traders just at the rear of Banjul's Craft Market and right on the beach.
Mariama and Jalika would still be at school when we left to go and so they would be missing this one also.
When we arrived, Macumba told us that their balofon player had to work and so he wouldn't be there either.
It never rains but it pours...

But, we got it down, and finally here it is...
If you've seen the first one with all drums then you will find out what a kora can do over the drummers rhythms.
It's Gambian music and these guys are proud of it, and what is more they have every right to be...

Enjoy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-PbKGx4wTc



Monday, 10 March 2014

THE AFRO MANDING BAND (AFRO WOLOF) FRIDAY PRACTICE SESSION MARCH 2012

So... Having finally managed to extricate the film from 'Camera Hell', this post SHOULD have been part of the posts for Sainabou's Wedding.
The fact that it wasn't was an absolute pain in the arse at the time.
However, with the advent of more brains and the help of my friend Marcus who makes films for a living, we've managed to save it and finally 'Get it out there...'

Those of you who tune in to this blog from time to time will know that I tend to go on about this group of musicians in The Gambia who play drums and who help out my daughter by letting her practice with them.
Well, here they are...

This will be the first post of two.
The other will be posted when and if ?
If everything was working as it should be, then this wouldn't be as late as it is, but sometimes things don't always go according to plan...

Anyway, enjoy the practice session.
All narration and filming by the Missus.
Oh yeah, one final thing.
Any actual musicians reading this, then just think 'soundcheck' with one crucial member missing (kora/vocalist) No change there, then...
Enjoy the guys.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzfDPYWvl_c



Sunday, 2 February 2014

JOY AND PAIN IN UNEQUAL MEASURES PART TWO: PENCIL DIN







Haddy called at about six-thirty.
She’d arrived, changed and along with the rest of the family had gone straight off to catch the ferry.
Apparently a few of the guys are making the crossing with her and have got a van they can all fit
into ?
Well they got over the river ok and then the van decides to break down just before going through Senegalese customs.
That’s not good.
Apparently they were stuck there all night as the part they needed to fix it would not be there until morning.
They finally got it fixed just after daybreak and drove straight to her Uncle’s house in Dakar.
As you can imagine, it was a very sad occasion.
Apparently they are staying until Friday and then making the return trip back to The Gambia, so it’s quite likely that she’ll be ‘on the road’ when I head off to do the gig ?

So, it’s Friday night and I’m off to the Leisure Centre or The Gordon Craig Theatre or whatever you want to call it ?
At least it gives me something else to think about rather than just hoping that the wife and kids are ok, not that I could do anything stuck here, but if you’ve ever had to go through that sort of enforced separation then you’ll know approximately how I was feeling ?
When I arrived, the P.A. was already erected and ready for testing so all I now need do is get a vocal level on the two mic’s and drop slightly on the guitar, then plug in the cd player for Francesca June’s backing tracks.

Setting up. photo courtesy of Grant Meaby
As soon as somebody else turns up I can get them to test to the back of the room and we’re ready to go.
Thankfully, it’s Grant who’s the next to arrive so we’re all done and dusted in five minutes.
As soon as Nick arrives we can soundcheck his guitar and we’re ready to go with forty minutes spare.
Well we would be if he’d remembered his guitar lead…
I cannot believe he’s not put one in because he forgot at the last one as well ?
Oh well, he’ll just have to cope if nothing can be found.

I’ve brought along one of my minidisk recorders, none of which are actually working properly at present, which I’m going to test later by recording the second half of the gig.
None of the damn things are working properly at the moment and the one I’d brought with me I’d unscrewed and rescrewed a couple of nights earlier and apparently I’d got it recording again ?
The way things are set up it’ll be Grant’s introductory poem then Joy T. and then me.
I’m not prepared to keep switching it on and off because the truth is I just want a recording of my long piece so that I can edit and mess about with it afterwards.
I’ve cut it from fifteen verses to nine but it’s still going to be about four minutes of non-stop verbal and sometimes it’s fair to say that the audience has the attention span of a gnat…
Oh well, whatever ? 

Everybody is beginning to appear.
All the artists are here, Jackie, who most of us meet for the first time.
Seems ok ?
She’ll fit in to the madness without too much tweaking which can only be a good thing.
The Mayor, and his wife the Lady Mayoress.
He’s an old friend of Parnassus.
It was his late wife Margaret who founded us with Tom Hulley but that was a while before I bought my ticket.
The Lady Mayoress is named Margaret also…
I hope she enjoys it.
I also hope Jack (The Mayor) has warned her ?
It’s just one of those things.
We can sometimes be a bit…
Abrasive.


Oh well, whatever ?
We seem to have a small audience too.



Grant’s up for the opening poem and then he introduces Graeme.
Graeme’s set is ok.

Graeme Lloyd. Photo courtesy of Grant Meaby
I wish sometimes he’d vary the tempo and style a bit ?
Don’t get me wrong, he’s damn good at what he does but sometimes I wish he’d try a different style.
But it’s very ‘likeable’ and he’s a lot better with an audience now.

Francesca June is singing show tunes and standards’ tonight.
The backing cd she’s brought along has some reasonable backing on it.
A small group playing in a more jazz style rather than orchestrations, which can only be a good thing.
I have to say that she sounds good.

Francesca June. Photo courtesy of Grant Meaby
She’s definitely got a voice for this sort of stuff even if she does happen to be Grant’s daughter.


Besides which, she’s been coming along to Parnassus shows for nearly twenty years to support the old man so it’s about time she got her own spot again, and it’s a few years since she appeared for us.
Parnassus is definitely a family thing.
Ok, it’s more a mixture of The Munsters or The Addams Family or even the Corleones or The Sopranos at certain times, but it’s a family nevertheless.
Nice applause from the cheap seats.

Nick’s up next.
Well, I for one was disappointed.
It’s not that he can’t be good, he can.

Nick Brown. Photo courtesy of Grant Meaby
But his set was totally puerile and vulgar without any comedy.
Material that might just have made a twelve year old laugh or possibly a drunk or two and the sad thing was, we didn’t have too many of those in the audience.
And the tragedy is, he’s capable of so much more.
It's like he turned up but couldn't be arsed.
Bummer !

Ok, let’s take a break.
Without Murray, Sarah and Jon this year the sets have got longer.
We’ve all got our fifteen minutes of fame tonight.
Usually it’s a cram job for six to seven minutes but tonight we can actually stretch out a bit.
Oh, the Mayor and Lady Mayoress are leaving…
Shame, but that’s the way it goes.
I wonder how much that decision was influenced by Nick’s set ?
At least the rest of the audience seems to have elected to stay for part two.
Blimey ! Jon’s here, I never even saw him come in.
‘Hey mate, how are you ?’
We hadn’t heard from Jon Falconer in a few weeks because of his health problems so it was great to see him up and about.
He’s looking a bit tired but then so would you if you’d been in and out of hospital with infections.
It’s like two steps forward and one step back followed by one step forward and two steps back and it’s been going on for about a year, but he’s still Jon, the spark is still there and that’s the main thing.

Grant’s going up to start part two, so ‘scuse me while I switch a couple of things on.
First things first… Switch on the minidisk recorder. 



Grant does the intro’ and finally his ‘Old Folks Home for Rockers and Freaks’ gets another airing.
I like that poem.
It has just the right amount of reality and just the right amount of humour.
And then he introduces Joy T…

Joy T. Chance.  Photo courtesy of Grant Meaby

Whose set goes off like a rocket and there is welcome applause when she’s done.
Ok, she went ten minutes overtime but who cares about time when you’re having fun ?
An excellent set and I’m going to have to push it if I’m even going to come close to that one.
Get the corny introduction out of the way and I’m up…

Me.  Photo courtesy of Grant Meaby
Start with a little bit of hard and sarcastic humour, bring in a bit of observance of people, keep the humour but keep it hard and then hit politics where it hurts, preferably in the soft underbelly of hypocrisy and by Christ there’s a lot of that over here right now.
Shame our M.P. wasn’t here.
There were rumours that he would be but never mind…
There’s always a next time.
And end with Africa.
I actually managed to keep the long one going.
I finished with it and got fifteen seconds of applause at the end.
Wow !
They were actually listening.
And I feel drained…
Usually if it goes off reasonably then I’m on an adrenalin high, but not tonight.
Tonight I feel absolutely drained.

Another song from Francesca June...

But it’s not over yet, Jackie’s up next.
I don’t think any of us have seen Jackie perform yet so it’s going to be a first for most of us, but she’s been doing it in her own patch for a little while and she seems quite confident so here’s hoping ?
Jackie actually performs and is published as J. S. Watts so that’s the name on the posters.



If by chance you get a chance to buy any of her stuff or go to see her then I seriously advise you to do just that.
She’s good and she has the confidence to hold an audience.
Nice set.
I’m impressed.

Francesca June. Photo courtesy of Grant Meaby
Which leaves one more song from Francesca June and we’re done for another year.
We just about finished on time too.
Now I can go home and worry about my wife.
I know it’s this that’s dragging me down and I wish I was with her right now.
Jon’s off as soon as it ends.
He says he feels tired but it’s been a good night out for him and he’s glad he came along.
Say all the rest of the goodbyes and then pack up and offer Grant a lift.
I think we did alright over the whole event but I’m sure we’ll find out if we haven’t  ?
And the Rhythms of the World gig will be upon us before we know it.


Please note Photo Credits. All photos not credited are mine.
If anybody wants to compare notes, CIA, MI5 and all the rest, then you can always read Grant's take on the events here http://grantsmusings.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/pencil-din-part-2-show.html


Sunday, 22 December 2013

JOY AND PAIN IN UNEQUAL MEASURES. PART ONE






Work was coming on apace.
After eleven years of being a minion I’d finally managed to get myself on a management course which should have happened four years earlier but unfortunately I was in Africa when they held it.
Now with one of the two people who always rejected any application I made having left, I was finally on one.
Unfortunately, I was working for the other one at the time and he made it abundantly clear he didn’t want me on it.
So what do you do ?
You know that expression ‘When the going gets tough… ’
I didn’t get tough, I got downright hard.
Since it was being made impossible for me to actually do the damn course by not giving me a team to lead, the tutor had to intervene…
And somebody got TOLD that I was on it and was going to complete it.
My tutor actually asked me if, bearing in mind the problems I was having, I'd wanted to complete it ?
I said yes.
So he’d asked me why ?
‘Pure spite’.
‘That’s not the best reason, you know that don’t you ?’
‘Of course, but right now it’s as good as any other… I’m not walking away and I’m not backing down, I’m going to finish it despite anything or anyone standing in the way.  If I’m no good then that will come out, but if I am then any damn reason will do…’
‘Ok, you’re in…’
Of course the problems just became bigger, time was running out and I still hadn’t got a team to lead so I was asked if I’d ever led a team ?
‘Yeah, Rhythms of the World… It’s a music festival and I run one of the stages…’
‘Ok, write what you do and provide evidence and I’ll submit it…’
Christ !
You could have knocked me down with a feather…
THAT I can do.
So I did.
Apparently it was so good my tutor wanted to keep it as a ‘demonstration model', including the bits when I went off on one about not actually having a stage and when that arsehole Ross tried to shut us down which included the odd swear word or ten...
Gobsmacked !!!
I’d passed.
Stress, stress, stress… Who needs it ?
It’s actually called ‘Bullying in the workplace’ and it shouldn’t occur at all, but try telling that to management and they’ll shy away from you as if you’re poison.
Still, it was done and I’d passed.
The strange thing about it was that we’d got a new management structure and they were advocating a system which I’d managed to advocate ten years ago and still believed was the best way to go.
Maybe I was ten years too soon ?
Ok, because of needing to save money they had been sort of forced into it, but I was going to be one of the few who didn’t have a problem with it.
All those who had been building their own little 'fiefdoms' and doing as little as humanly possible were now going to have to work, and that was going to hurt them somewhat.
I couldn’t help laughing inside.
What goes around, comes around… 

Wow !!!
Within a week of Haddy finally getting her Biometric Passport she has had three companies ask her if she wants a full time job ?
Yes please, and thanks very much.
(About bloody time)
So she took the first two that came in because they don't clash with each other, time-wise.
It means that the school is going to have to pay the 'transfer fee' to the agency, but the other one is early evening and so the agency don't need to be told.
Finally... Something to celebrate.
It will make her feel a bit happier anyway.
At least now she can compete on level terms and not feel as if the powers that be are treating her as useless or second-class.

I had realised a few years ago that writing stuff for performing on stage was becoming more difficult.
If you’ve dissed one political party and it fits with another one then you can either keep the original if you’re happy with it, or write something else which usually turns out inferior to the original one anyway.
I’d shied away from doing any repeating and usually kept the originals unless I’d got a suitable ‘hook’ to hang it on.
Besides, I wanted to see what the kids made of what I was doing, so I’d concentrated on writing about how I felt and what I saw in Africa.
One country isn’t a continent and all the countries had their own problems it seemed ?
So I’d written a monster.
Sixteen verses long, and I knew it needed tidying and editing but there had been no real chance to test it in a live situation, mainly because I couldn’t be arsed what with all the rest of the shit that was going on in our lives.
Now I was going to have a chance to try it out.
Stevenage Arts Festival was rolling around again and I’m told the Mayor and Lady Mayoress are coming to our little show.
Oh bollocks !!!
Best behaviour again.
We’d entitled the show ‘Pencil Din’.
Clever eh ?
Actually we can’t take the credit for it as it came from one of the Arts Guild, who had sent us an
e-mail to say we had been ‘pencilled in’ for a particular date.
For some reason everybody at Parnassus had the same idea when they read the e-mail.
Ok, Grant’s doing the sorting out and I’m doing the back-up for him.
We’re probably going to be a little short this year as we’ve got three off sick.
Murray is failing fast and although she doesn’t want to appear she does want to be there.
Sarah is having problems so getting some of the schools involved has gone on the back-burner for this year and Jon is in and out of hospital.
Jackie has joined us and it’ll be her first one with us as a performer.

First try out for the publicity poster

Joy and Grant between them had just come up with an idea for the poster when we heard the news from Percy her husband, that Murray had died.
She’d managed to get to her eighties but her body had finally given up the fight.
She was the gamest out of all of us and I’m going to miss her.

Murray Weston in full flow back in the 1990's
She had a great imagination and when she ‘went for it’ you went with her, carried along inexorably on a roller coaster ride of words, passion and emotion.
I think it fair to say that we’re all going to miss that chirpy little spirit who managed to keep all of us on our toes.
It did put a damper on what we were doing, but her attitude would have been one of ‘get up and get on with it…’
So, a little bit saddened and a little bit chastened, we carried on with getting it together.
I suppose we all look upon Parnassus as a family of sorts and losing Murray really was like a death in the family.
  
While all this is going on, the ‘Rhythms’ team has been in touch…
We’re doing three nights at Club 85 over the traditional Rhythms weekend in July so do I want the Sunday night for an ‘Arcadeclectic’ bash ?
Is the Pope Catholic ?
Don’t be a pillock, YES I want the Sunday.
Friday or Saturday would have been better, but Sunday will do nicely if that’s what’s on offer ?
There will be other things going on in the town square, but only the three nights of what is traditionally ‘Festival fodder’, ie artists and bands.
So… What’s happening ?
I’d previously asked Blyth Power if they’d be up for returning to Rhythms if we had a site and they had assured me they would, but to get them there from all points North was going to cost us a bit.
It all depended on whether I could get a balanced bill of three because I reckoned that if I got my ‘dream ticket’ gig then we SHOULD be alright ?
Oh well, you can only ask…
Three yesses and we’re away.
So the bill for Sunday will be Scum of Toytown, Blyth Power and The Astronauts.
Something for everyone providing you don’t mind dancing, moshing and watching three of the best bands around.
Budget wise, we were on the limit.
Anybody wanting or needing any other expenses was going to come up short.
But… All three bands knew each other from times past AND they all respected what the others did so there shouldn’t be any ego problems.
Everything was going along quite happily until Steve, our program director, told me he’d quit.
Apparently his vision of where we were going wasn’t the same as the Rhythms trustees ?
For fuck’s sake !!!
This was going to end in tears…
Anything that starts with a vision and ends up ‘political’ always does.
But at least we could start advertising the events.
Oh… We can’t ?
Apparently we need a ‘Corporate flyer’ with all the information on ?
Ok, well get your arses in gear and get one sorted then.

One week before ‘Pencil Din’ Haddy’s Aunt Rose died.
I’ve now got a heartbroken wife who is making plans to get to Senegal for her funeral.
There’s no way I can go with her because we can’t afford two tickets, but at least Haddy can go.
She’ll be away for a week which will include the gig but honestly that doesn’t matter.
The twins hadn’t managed to get their Mum because she couldn’t have her phone on at work, but they had got hold of Fatou up in Glasgow.
So when Fatou rang and told me after not being able to get in touch with her Mum, I’d told work and said I needed to be with my wife when I told her.
Thankfully they’d understood and I was now on the way, but Haddy had about ten missed calls on her phone so I kept calling, hoping to get to her before she made a call.
I did, but it didn’t go well.
Thankfully the school staff looked after her until I’d got there.
It was not a good day.

Aunt Rose was one of the nicest people I’d ever met and also one of the best cooks.
We’d spent our honeymoon with her and her husband in Senegal and she’d pronounced my Chicken Jalfrezi that I’d made on charcoal at Sainabou’s wedding as ‘Tres Bon’ and that was good enough for me.
She’d been to the hospital a couple of days earlier with a splitting headache that wouldn’t go away, they’d got it under control and so she’d gone home.
The next day she’d rung Haddy to let her know and the following day she had gone.
To say my wife was upset was the understatement of the year.
If it had upset me the way it had then how do you think my wife felt ?
The following Tuesday I was seeing her off at Gatwick at six-thirty in the morning after staying up all night to get her there, three hours before check-in.
That really is one soul-destroying place at that time in the morning and it meant I hit all the work traffic when I drove home.
Knackered and totally wrung out.
All I could do now was await her call to say she’d arrived safely…
First Murray from our ‘poetry family’ and now Aunt Rose from our own family…
The omens were not exactly auspicious.