Steve Harley

& Cockney Rebel

DIARY 30/12/11

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Mastermind was some experience. But Jaws - a whale? What possessed my mind at that moment?  Nothing, that’s what! Truth is, though, the inter-round interview John Humphreys  conducted with each contestant, while running for only an edited minute, actually lasted around five minutes in the “Live” recording. All the time, I was thinking “Can we get on with the General Knowledge? Can we get on? Can we? Please, John, I don’t  want to talk about myself, I am on a roll, keen to get on.“ But the producers would have seen the chat as a chance to plug the “celebrity” and they would have a good point, of course. Nevertheless, Simon Day and I certainly felt the edge going off, and because of all that, I blurted out “whale” for “shark” and may have some trouble living it down, if the wind-up-Steve messages from friends are anything to go by. Never cared about coming first. You compete only against yourself in a quiz like that. Just cared that I didn’t look too stupid. Fee for charity was £2,750, so two fine organisations did well, and that’s ultimately the main thing. Mine was split evenly between The Cancer & Polio Research Fund and The Mines Advisory Group, for whom I’m an Ambassador, and jolly proud of it too. Some terrific moments occurred on the UK tour: met the delightful Cheri from California, with her friend Kathy. Had fun introducing Cheri to the audience at The Stables, Wavendon. You never know how a person will react when you single them out. Thankfully, Cheri was good, and we had a hug and 450 people cheered her.  I like fun between songs, sometimes. I have to hope the audience has a sense of fun, too, and catches the glint in my eye, and the smile as I tease.  The Dutch couple who came to (I think) all the Belgian dates – I know them well, and any joshing between us in public is well-intentioned and they do have that sense of fun, and knew I was kidding when I asked something like (allegedly…I don’t actually remember) “when do you go to work?” Met them outside my hotel in Poperinge later in the Summer, and we laughed about it. They are not the type to take themselves too seriously. But that guy in Bilston – self-importance the like of which I’ve never witnessed at a show. Right in front of me, iPad machine alight, tapping away or else scribbling onto a paper pad, all this while leaning on the stage. Three songs in, it was clear he meant to remain in situ, in that self-promoting stance, for the duration. No chance. He could make his notes from further back, out of my sight. It was rude and it was a serious distraction, not only to me, but to several people around him. As for his pitiful stab on Facebook, rather than misrepresenting me, he ought to be sending grovelling apologies. No professional would ever act that way. I have never minded one bit the taking of snaps. I’m flattered anyone cares enough, to be honest. I don’t mind one bit if a YouTube film gets uploaded after being surreptitiously made from out-of-sight. But those dazzling white squares they aim at me – impossible to concentrate with that happening. Believe me, if you own a Blackberry (I have been told they are the culprits), take it into a dark room, start filming and aim at your own face. No singer can do their job properly with that distraction. I don’t rant. Not my style at all. I just like to ask, please don’t aim that light at my face in the dark while I’m concentrating.

Indigo2 might be the best rock venue in all the UK and Europe. Discovered The Ritz in Manchester, and I can imagine we’ll be back there one day. Splendid room, if a touch echo-y.  Planning starts in earnest now for the Orchestra & Choir date in November 2012.

A flock of Fieldfares has arrived and are gobbling the fallen apples. They seem to prefer the rosy eaters to the bigger, yellow cookers. Dozens of Blackbirds are in the clearing of the woodland, and often in the garden. They peck at dry leaves and must be finding worms or grubs. Goldfinches in their hordes are devouring the Niger seed and singing in their high-pitched squeak at tea-time, just before dusk. Someone’s pheasants are visiting for the birdseed. I scare them off regularly. They are greedy, and crapping machines. Luckily, they are also nervous and scaring them away takes little more than a physical presence within 20 metres. I’m hoping they get theirs on a shoot soon. And the Muntjacs are cute but voracious nibblers. I’ve noticed they quite like an apple and a peanut themselves. And they like our newly-planted foliage. While I was on tour, a few dozen hedgerow plants were dug up and replaced. They hadn’t taken since being planted two years ago. They hint it was due to being in the shade much of time, but I suspect Muntjac action myself. Dead weasel at the back door. One of the cats must have caught it early morning. It is a beautiful creature, slender and arched, elegant in fawn and white fur. Never seen one that close up before.

Happy New Year.