Well, the daffodils are up and the sheep are looking heavy with lamb. There's no snow on the fells, but there's time yet. We've got the logs in for next winter, so we're finally getting the hang of the forward planning that ensures you don't have wet fuel at the coldest time of year.
I've just been filling out one of those 'celebrity' questionnaires that you see in newspapers. There's no way you can avoid sounding like a pretentious idiot, especially if you are one. The knack is to sound interesting, genuine and preferably funny. But what if you're not? What if, like most performers, you lead a dull and boring life off stage? I'd love to be like Paul Merton. That spontaneous sure-fire wit. There's no doubt that all the new heroes of the entertainment world are the comedians. The courage to say the unthinkable. The comedians themselves seem to be of one mind, and say that stand-up is the worst. And indeed it must be like being in the amphitheatre with the audience baying for blood. You have to be quick to survive. Dying on stage is actually no joke.
I did think recently that perhaps I should restrain myself in these epistles, and turn them into more usual fan/information services where others write the things I'd like to hear. But I decided, on reflection, that I enjoy doing this too much to step back, and I shall continue unabashed to discuss the most irrelevant, irrational and unlikely subjects that come to mind.
Talking of unlikely............ Nick, Troy and myself are out on tour in April/May, which, of course, is the main reason for this letter. The dates are enclosed. Also Troy has his first solo album (OOPS! C.D.) out at the beginning of May. it's called 'The Unseen Stream' and is an instrumental offering. I have heard it and it's beautiful. It has some traditional flavours but also leans to the Romantic English composers, with some interesting percussion from TurI. Altogether a delight.
Talking of..............a recent trip to the Gulf - just at the height of the invasion scare ('It's O.K., the British Council wouldn't send you if they thought it was dangerous duhh) with the Carnival Band - it was a perfect holiday. We met lots of locals (Arabs too - not just ex-pats), ate lots of local food..........well actually, mostly it was brilliant Indian food because there are massive numbers of inimigrant workers from there (only 18% of Doha, for instance, is native) and besides flying to and fro in aeroplanes, they also travel backwards and forwards to India in the exotic old dows (not so exotic if you're on them for a week perhaps). They litter the waterfront in Dubai, setting off the spanking brand-new, state-of-the-art skyscrapers a treat.
When one travels with the British Council one feels somehow diplomatic. One is introduced to Ministers and the like, and gets to meet one's government's representatives, which is rather enlightening. Not that you would know when you were out there that there was any sort of crisis. I generally find that there is a qualitative difference between the British media view of a trouble spot and one's own experience of it. It's true that I'm never in search of war zones, and my experience is minimal and peripheral, but I have always been surprised by how much the over-riding perception of these moments is of people getting on with their lives. The trouble seem to be as far removed from the man on the street as it is from me at home watching the T.V. Perhaps that's how they get the information too. Bouncing off satellites, distancing us all. I am deeply grateful that I get to travel and be entertained in such a generous way, and to share music with others around the world. We spent some time with musicians at various points, and it was always friendly and rewarding. And I think the Far East is in need of some 17th century songs of social awareness and imbibing......Is anybody listening.
Ah, wee. That's all folks........ See you on tour?