Blogpost February 2022
I walk my mum’s dog, Sweep, every morning anytime between 6am and 7am. I have to admit that in January it was closer to 7am most days. One of the gifts of this delightful commitment is being aware of the change of light over a relatively short space of time. In December I needed a torch … but now in the middle of February I don’t. It’s a beautiful revelation each morning as I don my hat and wellies before heading out the door. No matter the state of the weather (and we had plenty of storms last month) even the merest extra smidgeon of light is a treat. And with the light the gathering dawn chorus, quite mute at the beginning of January, is now fully mellifluous. Hear for yourself:
Towards the end of January I had a bona fide old fashioned honest to goodness head cold. What a relief … the first in almost 2 years. There’s something rather enjoyable about a head cold. Permission is granted to rest, stay warm, snuggle down under the duvet, watch a bit of daft tv. It was also delightful to be fully taken care of. Bob was awesome. I also started, and completed, a jumper for a friend who turns 60 in April. I wanted her to have it while the weather warrants such an item of clothing :-) x she loves it!
My cold however has put paid to my daily dips. In fact I hadn’t indulged in my favourite pastime in nearly 3 weeks until today - Friday Feb 11th. I have so missed the cold sea. A sneaky Friday afternoon dip is always appealing especially when the sun is glinting on those frothy green wavelets. I feel so alive!
A promise I made during last month’s blogpost was to share any progress I make around creating new songs for my recording project inspired by Manx Folklore (and a sense of - magical - place) the working title for which is: “Children Of The Sea”. I have a few ditties ruminating in my musical brain and this week I began the lyric writing process. However there is nothing I feel confident about sharing at the moment but I’m encouraged by the progress so far and hope to have a wee bit of something to share next month. I realise this sounds like a cop-out but really... I will share once there’s something worth taking a peak at.
I can tell you that I’ll probably end up writing a number of short stories myself in order to break into the themes I’ve uncovered. Whether they’ll be a part of the CD is yet to be seen but perhaps I’ll find an ethereal (digital) space, for anyone interested, to read? They will definitely form the backdrop to some of the songs.
For instance, I’m excited to reveal the backstory to the unknown singer of “No One Knows His Name” from Daphne’s Flight’s “Knows Time Knows Change”. And also looking at another song about the sea goddess (for that read mermaid!) Fand - Goddess Of Mann. She is left to defend the Island when Manannan leaves (we don’t know where but it was something he was fond of doing) when news comes of a planned attack by the formidable Fomarions (Giants of the Under World). Unable to physically fight these marauders Fand sends to Ulster a message of help to a well known warrior hero of the day Cu Chullainn. He agrees to do so only if she marries him (he’s already married to a beautiful woman called Emer). Fand agrees (sight unseen!) But when they meet for the first time they both fall instantly, madly in love. There’s a whole lot going on in this tale which forms part of the well know “Ulster Cycle” of Irish mythology but the upshot is that they can never truly be together as Fand is an immortal being of the fairy Kingdom and Cu Chullainn is not. His presence in the Other World would break it. Fand decides, though it breaks her heart, to walk away. When Manannan finds out the whole sorry tale this is what he does:
“Manannán shakes his cloak between Cú Chulainn and Fand, ensuring the two will never meet again, and Cú Chulainn and Emer drink a potion to wipe the whole affair from their memories.”
My song starts where this takes off and is based on Fand’s heart break and a visit from her beautiful twin sister Liban (described as an actual mermaid) who comes to help her sister heal. I have Fand also forgetting what happened but being plagued by this unknown yearning which Liban tries to assuage.
Anyway that’s where I’m at.
I want to acknowledge with love and respect, the very sad passing this month of Norma Waterson. I met her on a number of occasions over the years and she was always warm hearted, compassionate, fierce in her love of Folk music and generous in her encouragement to connect with it. I was honoured to sing with Waterson Carthy at Topic Records’ 70th anniversary celebration at the Barbican Theatre 2009. I was really unsure about taking part as I rarely sing traditional songs and didn’t want to let Norma, Martin and Eliza (or Topic Records immense catalogue) down in any way. I voiced this worry the day we rehearsed and they each reassured me that interpretation was a necessity for the music to not only survive but to thrive. Norma said with such kindness and passion: “It’s a living tradition … it needs genuine interpretation in order to change and grow, for it to remain vital!” Thank you Norma … you were an amazing human, a wonderful and iconic singer who will be loved and remembered for many years to come. Bless you!
I will leave you this month with the delightful news that Bob and I will be celebrating our twelfth wedding anniversary … today! Sunday February 13th. To that end I ‘ll leave this little reminder of that wonderfully hilarious and perfect day. Married 12 years been together 22! Hurrah for love. What a trip it is.
Take care and keep rising above the turbulence!
See you for a FB Live in March :-) x that’s a promise x