Steve Harley

& Cockney Rebel

Diary 20/05/20

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These days, the mind wanders.

As Dickens put it, these are the best of times and the worst of times. The best because I’ve never known a more perfect Spring.  The lanes around the Suffolk/Essex border are alive with May blossom, hawthorn, blackthorn and now apple. Our overgrown but still fertile orchard is giving signs of a bumper crop of apples. The cherry plums too are in bud by the thousand. The ash and sycamore trees are thick with fresh growth and the hazel and walnut look like an abundant crop of their own fruit will bring pleasure to the ruddy grey squirrels. We never get them.

And the worst because the diary is bare and people are falling sick from the awful, invasive virus. For some, it must be a living hell. I won’t complain. How could I with what we have here? But it’s hurting. So many shows postponed. No travel. I’m playing lots of guitar, trying new tunings and various new shapes, singing new melodies every night into the iPhone. Maybe I’ll get another album out of this. Listened to “Uncovered” last night – loud, a bottle of decent Chardonnay on ice beside me. I know they are mostly not my own songs, but I promise you, I’ve never been prouder of an album than I am of this. Something magical happened with those new faces down at Rockfield.

We are getting a delivery from the warehouse on Monday of Vinyl copies. I can sign the sleeves. It sounds historically brilliant on vinyl. Matt Butler – some engineer! I had to buy a turntable to test the initial pressing. I’m glad I did.
I’m wandering aimlessly in the woods. I spot, in the bosky shadows behind a walnut tree, muntjacs who are probably planning a raid on the flower beds in the garden, a full 75 metres away.

How do they know? Out there in the overgrown orchard and ancient woods is plenty enough of green growth at this time of year to feed their families to complete satisfaction, surely. Why hit the poppies and the nascent peony in the garden?
Muntjacs are voracious herbivores, timid creatures but aggressive green-hunters. They treat our garden like a salad bar. And yet there is all that growth in the woods. My stealth cameras pick them up picking at bird seed on the lawn throughout the night. They are obviously awake for so many hours, I’m not sure they sleep at all.

Anyway, I leave ‘em be. I keep on, ambling at my own pace, and across a cluster of gormless stinging-nettles I find an ancient hornbeam, sixty feet high, hunkered down (like us), twisted at its roots, Angkor Wat in embryo. Knotted, tangled and beautifully sculpted by nature. Wood. I touch. I can’t help myself. I talk to myself like an idiot, but nobody hears, so I smile at the idiocy of it. Nature.

Viruses burn out, don’t they? The boffins are at it in their PPE kit in their bustling labs. They will find an answer, won’t they? I can dream, can’t I? I’ve got a lot of miles in me yet – the road beckons. I don’t cancel, I postpone. Nobody is entitled, but everybody needs hope, and belief.

Hold on to adolescent dreams; stay free and open. Life’s hand is seldom what it seems, so don’t let it bring you heart ache – I said that. Didn’t I? yep, the mind wanders.

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