Steve's Online Diary
Copyright Comeuppance Ltd. 2002 - 2012 This diary may not be reproduced in whole or part without permission.
A few random thoughts occur: Christmas has just passed, according to my head-clock. That’s weird. Weird, because soon after, on New Year’s Eve, we rolled into Holmfirth for a belter of a celebration. Was a great way to end a good year, and ring in a new one. Am sending thanks here to all who sent Christmas cards and gifts. More than I deserve surely. Somme guide will come in most handy when we visit Poperinge in August. Thank you, m’am.
This afternoon, on a battered old bird table on the edge of the wood, I saw great tits, blue tits, a robin and a coal tit, all in the space of ten minutes. They were nibbling fatballs and snatching nuts and seed. Dunnocks gorge themselves shamelessly below, scavenging scraps flung casually onto the leaf-sodden grass.
Was home from the EuroTour, where we took in five cities in Germany, three in Holland, and Ostend in Belgium, for three nights before rehearsing with Barry and James for a new set for the UK acoustic dates. The mind just switches, click, from one mode to the other. The original take on Make Me Smile came to me on stage in Tunbridge Wells, the other guys knowing nothing of it. They knew enough about me, though, to take it as part and parcel of my approach, and improvise, brilliantly I thought, without over-clouding the lyrics. Some of those dates were special, memorable. In the north they come with me, word for word, and further south – as a general rule – the rooms can be a little more restrained. I take it as it comes. The surprise package was in sleepy Suffolk, my home county. To Bury St Edmunds, to the new Apex Concert Hall. It’s a fabulous mini-Symphony Hall, seating 500 with the most perfect acoustics. This packed house was with me from the moment the lights came up. Not so sleepy Suffolk, after all! Those big, church rooms, Islington’s Union Chapel, and Bristol’s St George’s are the perfect spaces for acoustic shows. I could have sung all night at those too, as well as Bury, because for a singer the domed roofs and wood and stone surrounds give a natural resonance and are all-forgiving. Wouldn’t really want to play them with a drum kit and electric guitars, but in the acoustic setting, perfect!
Buzzing. It's all amazing, this life for me. How about this: In 1973, a young Jewish plugger took an new EMI single around the BBC, mainly banging on doors at Radio 1. He was Eric Hall, and Sebastian was not an easy sell for him. Eric got a more amenable response when he turned up several months later with Judy Teen. EMI had told him and myself that there was not another single on The Human Menagerie. I found that opinion incredible, and to this day both Eric and I despair at the lack of imagination shown by those responsible. Muriel The Actor, maybe? What Ruthy Said? Loretta's Tale? None of them suited Radio 1 according to EMI. Eric took Make Me Smile to the Beeb, too. I had Dave Most on the case, too. Dave was Mickie’s younger brother, and his company, RAK, had signed me as publishers. Together, they got a Noel Edmonds breakfast show Record Of The Week, and I think Kid Jensen gave it a massive boost on Radio Luxemburg.
Portmeirion was special, as we all hoped it would be. It’s a magical place, the Village. Mediterranean-style cottages in Mediterranean colours. They appear authentic, but it’s all an illusion. Even the damp look on the plaster is deliberately wiped on with a darker shade of paint applied to the lower parts of the walls, ageing the buildings and adding character. The town hall ceiling is magnificent. It’s a masterpiece of stucco and plaster-work. But Sir Clough reclaimed it. It came from another place, and he somehow got his craftsmen to re-establish it in the north-west of Wales, in his own village. All that stood there originally was the main house, looking at the river. There’s an element of illusion even about that building; it was burnt to the ground in 1981, two years after my own first visit, and re-built mostly in its own image.
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