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A Cold Birthday


Frozen pond

The weather has turned very cold. A freezing easterly wind has brought snow and ice across much of the country. It’s really weather for hunkering down and staying inside, which is fine if you don’t want to see anyone outside your house, but to keep sane people are wrapping up warm and meeting outdoors. It was my birthday last week, so I spent some very chilly minutes meeting my mum and her partner in Finsbury Park. For anyone this might be a bit of a challenge but they are both in their 80’s. They brought a flask of coffee, and we were briefly graced by a bit of winter sunshine as I was given birthday gifts and we chatted.

Cold coffee

On the day of my birthday I replaced what would normally have been a social gathering in a pub with zoom socials with friends and family.

Family zoom social

I spent an afternoon writing out more arrangements for my double bass duo with vocals. We had been asked to perform last week in a care home with this highly unconventional line-up, so to make it work I needed to do some preparation. When the gig came, later in the week, it was decided by the organisers that I should my trombone (with a mute and material cover over the bell). My arrangements could be binned – I can’t imagine any other occasion when they might be useful. We played around the care home, trying to choose songs that would appeal to the various people there, from an improvised Scottish reel for a proud Scot, to a classical song by Mendelsohn, to a Mardi Gras song (given Mardi Gras is approaching), to a bit of rock and roll, in between the swing jazz numbers I’m more at home with.


There was another gig performing for a funeral – for a nearby Caribbean Funeral undertakers. This involved driving to the deceased person’s house in East London, playing outside, leading the hearse (horse drawn) down the road, jumping into our cars and heading to the huge City of London cemetery to meet the hearse again. With snow on the roads this was a bit of a concern, but the snow didn’t turn out to be a problem and it was a real pleasure to be playing as part of a band and providing a service.


In the meantime I’m continuing to compose, arrange and record my latest tune, using harmonicas, trombones, sousaphone, vocals and a friend providing drums. I hope to release it to the world soon and see what people think. I have other friends creating very contemporary sounds, but my music is exploring what I can create using more conventional harmonies, melodies and rhythms, albeit with less conventional instrumentations. The creative process is keeping me positive even if nothing comes of the finished products.


A booking came in for another funeral next week, in Sussex this time, so I fixed the band for that.

And I continue to wait for the recruitment process of becoming a Covid vaccinator to be completed so I can start that.

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