Thursday, 15 October 2015

Of Pride Before A Fall

I have started a few posts since the last entry, but haven't got round to finishing anything.  I have been too busy being virtuous (see the previous post).  I have managed mostly to keep up with my personal rehearsal schedule.  My eight minute spot at Dan Donovan's cd pre-launch last month allowed me seven minutes and twenty seconds for "Circumcision" (the song, not the surgical procedure) and forty seconds for talking.  I think I overdid the talking.  Nonetheless, I was reasonably happy with my performance (given that there are always going to be opportunities for improvement) and going on first allowed me to enjoy the rest of the evening, which turned out to be excellent.  Sharing music with such a bunch of clever people is a real buzz and a privilege.  Dan, I am finding out, really is a cult figure and quite a legend. Let's face it, if he is still going strong with twelve CDs under his belt, he must have something going on.  If you are not familiar with his work as either a solo artist or with King Kool you might enjoy exploring his You Tube channel.  If you are interested in photography or the video arts Dan's work is also worth tracking down.  The latest rumour is that he is looking into some kind of reunion with his band from twenty-five years ago, Tribe of Dan.

My come-uppance, after obviously misplaced pride in being able to meet my self-defined rehearsal programme was to catch a cold.  I'm fairly robust.  At my age, I've probably encountered most of the cold viruses anyway, so a cold is pretty rare for me.  I also do my very best to avoid them where I can. For the past few years I have rarely had more than one bout of illness over each two-year period.  Even so, I have rarely had to cancel any work and I don't think I have ever had to pull out of a performance due to an illness (well, not an illness of mine anyway).  The cold was last week.  I thought it had disappeared after a couple of days.  It came back as a minor chest infection.  Neither of those prevented me practising.  Nor did they prevent me calling an evening of dances at a ceilidh club in Norwich. The reappearance of the cold's temperature during the evening was a little distracting and I attempted to call a dance (in hindsight, not such a brilliant move) that really wasn't "there".  As a consequence I, along with sixty or more dancers, came unstuck. Oh pride! Now, just as the chest infection seemed to have run its course a couple of days ago, I have been hit with laryngitis.  This has always been the aspect of a cold that worries me the most.  It doesn't always go this route, but this time it did.  Next week I have for the first time been booked to play solo for a whole evening with no safety net, no other performers and now, possibly, no voice.  I have been rehearsing my two fifty-minute sets and building up the stamina required for doing the gig.  My fingers and feet are working and the memory glitches that plague me are becoming fewer.  I was so going to be on top of this gig.  Laryngitis, though, is a nasty house guest.  For a start, one can never predict how long it will stay.  Try to ignore it and it will get worse.  Staying hydrated and keeping up with medicating the self with honey, lemon, ginger, thyme or whatever traditional remedies seem appropriate for whatever phase the illness seems to be in does nothing to get away from the fact that talking or singing makes things worse and prolongs the problem. This affects the personal practice regime and coming back into singing after an ailment that affects the voice means that any gains made until that point may have been lost.  It is definitely a case of "Return to "Go" and, whilst collecting £200 was never going to be on the cards, collecting anything at all for an under-rehearsed performance feels like an act of fraud.

I have to assume that I shall have a voice in seven days' time, but what sort of voice will it be?  I realise that a "sore throat" is not the same as the multiple heart attacks experienced by a fellow local performer.  He actually died on the operating table during his bypass operation, but was revived and is now singing and performing more confidently than I have seen him do for years. However, laryngitis is debilitating in that it interrupts the preparation, undermines the physical competence and leaves a stain on the confidence, something that, for many performers, is fragile enough at the best of times.

I was looking forward to spending the weekend at the Rainbow Film Festival in Shrewsbury, but I have cancelled all work and social engagements for the next few days and am keeping up with the medication.  My fingers ache with each lemon I squeeze and are scented with the ginger root I have peeled as I make yet another flask of the healing elixir. I'm off to make a tissane of thyme.

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