Go on, give us a smile

8 February, 2016 (21:14) | All articles | By: Stuart Fraser

DO I know my zeitgeist or what? Last week I wrote about storms and this week? Storms. Big, wet, windy storms.

I still quite like them. Backed into the bank beneath a chunky, wide-girthed oak this morning, as it bent to the gales and rain lashed horizontally past me and the dog, I rather enjoyed peeking out of my waterproofs at the primal scene.

Let’s not be angry this week, then. What’s been good about this week? What can make us smile?

Well, all the good brothers and sisters of this place who helped raise money to fight cancer at the Church House Pub Olympics on Friday. We do it each year in memory of Nigel Payne, my friend, who fell victim to the big ‘c’ an unimaginable 11 years ago. He was just two years older than I am now. I find it very moving that everybody comes together for him every year in this way.

My sons. It is good to watch them enjoying themselves with maturity, manners and smiles on their faces. It is good to have a moment to be proud of them.

Michael Wood’s The Story of China on BBC2: public service broadcasting at its peerless, shimmering best, fascinating television stunningly shot, a story told with enthusiasm and featuring lovely people no different, at base, to us. Television that brings people together, television that amazes.

My new discovery: Elliott Murphy is an American singer and songwriter in his 60s now, who’s lived in France for many years. I found him by accident on Spotify and am conflicted: on the one hand, chagrin – how can a self-professed music-lover like me who can discuss the most arcane of performers from Mongolia to Manchester possibly have been so ignorant as to miss Elliott Murphy? On the other hand, sheer joy at the wit, melody and attack of the man and his pared-down music. Go try him. At once.

Philip Marsden’s fine book The Levelling Sea, a history of the golden age of sail told through the prism of the rise and fall of the port of Falmouth. Superb history: entertaining, warm, humane and full of great stories.

Seeing Brother Bigfoot’s early drafts of illustrations for our book project, working titled The Prince and The Witchfinder: they reminded me powerfully of books I have loved.

Waving off Brother Fiddle on his way to the big city for the launch of his fine record The Hallicombe Sessions in London on Wednesday, where he will be joined by the comforting presence of his producer, our Brother Utah. How we all wish them well. This is music that deserves to be heard. I know that Old Father Cullingham’s family are on their way to support Mr Hazzard; such is friendship, Cornish-style.

The birds on my bird feeders, the very definition of strength in adversity, of keeping going when all is against you. I love their gallant colours.

Now clearly there are things absent from this list, and clearly there are things a gentleman will not discuss in public; not that I’m much of a gentleman. But no matter. These are all things that have brought me joy and though it may be boring to you, I thought maybe for a change, just this week, I would not rant. If I can get through this evening’s news, you are safe.

However. In a world containing George fucking Osborne, the chances of me getting through next week without stratospheric rage are minimal.


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