johnny9fingers: (Default)
In the midst of life...

My mother's neighbour, whom I had driven to the Royal Marsden every day for more than a month last year

had her six month check-up last week. Last Saturday my mother 'phoned and told me the cancer has returned. Steph is being given the option of the complete removal of her tongue and upper oesophagus, or her allotted six feet. Steph is a few months younger than me. She has been a stalwart friend to my mum since dad died, and prior to that was a good friend to the old man. She and her partner Ericka have been family friends for more than twenty years.

My guess is she'll opt for a managed end to it all. Being fed through a tube, unable to speak, and in constant pain may be unbearable.

I don't suppose it can get much worse for her, or for Ericka.

The rest of you, know yourselves lucky that this is not your fate: though ultimately we must all face the matter of our death, we may be fortunate in that our suffering will not be comparable to those who will die in great agony.

Go well and do good things.
johnny9fingers: (Default)

An old chum got a two-page spread, complete with photo, in the latest issue of 'Total Guitar'.

Page 46 sees Barrie Cadogan get 'bigged up' as is proper. Kudos to him.

It's nice when you see the chaps do well. I on the other hand haven't picked up a guitar in two months. Oh well.

johnny9fingers: (Default)

Felix went to court yesterday.

The CPS barrister had evidently not had time to read the psychiatrist's report (which had only been delivered to him the day before) having been overwhelmed by his case load. Felix's barrister actually managed to apprise the CPS's chap of the essentials of the case, before the court session began.

Ergo, when it came to court, the charge was read out, Felix pleaded (not guilty, obviously), and the prosecution offered no evidence, and Felix was discharged without a blot on his escutcheon.

It was a bit of a waste of everyone's time and a deal of public money, and, I guess, it really didn't need to go as far as it did.

I'd managed to drop SWMBO at King's College Hospital at 9.00 and got to the Crown Court at 10.00: booted, suited, and ready to testify if required. Thankfully it wasn't required.

Steph just about managed the journey to the Royal Marsden without assistance, and doesn't have to return until September.

The parent's-in-law picked up the keys from a neighbour and busied themselves painting the nursery.

All in all, a set of wins for everyone.

Later last evening Marcus Malone sent me an email with an attachment of the song 'Would it Matter', which I wrote some twenty years ago, and which he has just recorded. It sounds pretty good, actually, though he called it 'Could it Matter'. What's a consonant between old chums, hey? Fortune favour him.

Go well and do good things.


Mar. 3rd, 2011 05:54 pm
johnny9fingers: (Default)
Tomorrow Poor Mad Felix goes to court at 10.00.

I shall be in the gallery, like Rose and Valerie, as the song says: but in the dock, poor Felix will stand alone.

This means I can't go with my six-month-pregnant wife when she gets her blood test at King's at 9.30. Nor can I take Steph to the Royal Marsden, for her cancer check-up after her chemotherapy at 10.00. Nor can I be at home to let my parents-in-law in when they come to paint the nursery, as they have promised, at 11.00.

I hate conflicting responsibilities, and hope I've got my priorities right. Bugger and damn. I wish I could bilocate or trilocate like some of the saints were reputedly able to do. Alas, I'm not able, and even if I were, I'd probably find some justification for bunking off all of my responsibilities and enjoying myself in all sorts of different ways simultaneously. Well, you would, wouldn't you?
johnny9fingers: (Default)
Yesterday I got a message from a musical chum, Marcus Malone, with whom I wrote an album some fifteen years ago, which was never released. The band broke up in the recording studio before finishing the album. Marcus wants to re-record a song I'd written. Unusually it was the only song on that album that I'd written entirely alone: most were collaborations between myself and Marcus with varying inputs from the other guys in the band.
He's a great singer and guitarist, and I hope he does well with 'Would it Matter?', though I can't for the life of me see it making any money in the music biz as it is now. But when he originally asked me to record as a solo artist it after the band had broken up I demurred for reason of it being a somewhat personal song. Time changes things, and what was once a personal expression no longer seems quite as close to ones heart, or revelatory in some confessional fashion.
Nevertheless, Marcus is a good chap, and may fortune favour him.


May. 31st, 2010 12:26 pm
johnny9fingers: (Default)

Thursday was interesting. Due to my asthma and hayfever, I'd never been to Chelsea Flower Show. My Old Man had attended without fail when alive, so I half expected to meet his shade, Hamlet's father like, somewhere in the undergrowth.

Fra and Cressy were in good form. We wandered about the show for some three or four hours, sipping champagne or Pimm's, and generally bantering on about this and that, while oohing and aahing at the plants, furniture, and statuary on show. F & C left to relieve the nanny at about 6ish, so SWMBO and I killed time until cocktails at Linley's. Some of the furniture there is pretty astonishing. I'm rather fond of the humidors myself. As and when we move, I'll consider one for the library. Linley's work is both idiosyncratic and excellent; though hugely expensive.

After cocktails, Madame and colleagues, with me in tow, ended up at the Ebury, where we ate and drank yet more, whilst exchanging our favourite Princess Margaret stories. By now, despite bottles of alcohol (or maybe because of) I was starting to wheeze somewhat.

Friday, SWMBO left early in the morn to meet her sister-in-law, in darkest Surrey, for lunch and shopping. By the time I caught up with them, my hayfever had hit me thwack across the side of my head, and, to put it bluntly, I was a seething mass of snot and mucus, with severe projectile potential.

Given that, it may come as no surprise that sleep evaded me on Friday night, especially when one takes into account the degree of concentration I needed to monitor my breathing. Such bliss.

So I pretty well lost all of Saturday to sleep-drunkeness coupled with anti-histamine stupidity. As an aside, anti-histamines, for me, divide into two broad groups: the ones that send me to sleep, and the ones that give me migraines. As is, I have been prescribed one that only makes me slightly sleepy, and only with small headaches: which could be considered the smallest negative result in an always-less-than-zero-sum game.

I've been playing catch-up for the rest of the weekend.

I may just avoid Chelsea next year. For the past twenty years or so, I've spent June, and a few days either side, sequestered in a darkened room, with a guitar, my books, and a big bag of weed, with which I would self-medicate. Now I am a married man this is not possible, and flaming June seems to have taken on a nightmare quality wherein I have nested dreams of my lungs being on fire. Today though they merely smoulder.

May your breath come easy to you.
Do good things and go well.
johnny9fingers: (Default)
SWMBO and I were booked into an hotel on the waterfront in Abingdon. Felix stayed at Juan and Janet's. Felix is becoming increasingly non-linear. No conversation one has with him doesn't include mention of his time travel; his many doctorates; his position as very senior policeman; his status as a consultant psychiatrist; or how many times he has been martyred and resurrected.
Janet and Juan's kids noticed how badly he has deteriorated in this past year. Their eldest, Michael, has just gone into big school from the prep, where he was either put into or moved from the scholarship group: I wasn't paying complete attention as I was concerned about Felix, poor lad.
Anyway it's quite scary to see how academics' children grow up now in Middle England. Juan is an academic at the Rutherford lab, Janet is SCR at Hilda's: they have four kids, the eldest 13, then respectively 9,7,and 5. All of the children have their own computers in a central downstairs room; though they are limited to the amount of use daily. Gordon Bennett.
Felix is as mad as a March hare: he barely scrapes reality. [Sadness.]
Sarah was brilliant, as usual, but when isn't she?
Janet and Juan were brilliant and welcoming, as always.
And despite the computers, the kids are grounded and excelling academically, so J & J must be doing something right.

Go well and do good things.
johnny9fingers: (Default)
Things have been moving pretty fast.
Both she and I have decided that it doesn't get any better than this. However, prudence upon both our parts would stop us doing anything precipitate.

Logistical decisions will no doubt have to be made. I shall have to find some way of looking after the Mother too.
Anyway, she's met the mother. I have to meet her people, which may be more of an ordeal.

Nick and Em like her very much too. We went to supper at Nick's on Saturday, and drank Champagne and Margaritas. Stephen couldn't get away from his disabled mother and so didn't show, poor lad.

As for She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed....we haven't set a date yet, so don't put out more flags.

Well, I hope I've managed to convey the shape of things in a few sentences. 

Hellish few days ahead.
Pete's Stag night on Thursday, Gig in Cheshire (300 odd miles away) on Saturday evening and on Sunday afternoon I have Pete and Sancha's wedding to attend. Milady is of course busy when I'm not, and vice-versa, but that's just par for the course.
johnny9fingers: (Default)
Last night was Paddy's Night, and yet again I didn't go out with a guitar in my hand to play with some chums in some bar, and drink a pint of the black stuff, and sing 'The Fields of Athenrye' and 'Fairy-Tale of New York', amongst others. This hasn't happened for two or three years but previously had been a ritual. For an Englishman of the Bastard Mongrel variety (which to my great delight I am) I still have a lot of time for the mother's side. I dislike the Catholic Church in a way only those brought up within the Church can ever appreciate: which is I suppose the culture of apostasy.
But no singing and no Guinness is not a good Paddy's.

I've got to do something about this withdrawing from the world. I should see my chums occasionally; I should go out and have a laugh from time to time; and it shouldn't be about me being off the leash in a foreign country in some ad hoc Bacchanalia, fun though that sort of thing is.
johnny9fingers: (Default)

Gigging tonight with the wedding band. They've put 'Beat It' into the set. Oh bliss. I haven't done any of that two-handed twiddling for almost twenty years, and the few hours practice I've had trying to get the solo right have only gone to show me how far I've fallen from the paths of righteousness. Will fake it when the time comes, but it's not the same.
The punishing practice regime of my younger days seems pitifully far away. I don't have that much of a life, but it is still more than allows me the time to practice such esoterica.
Soundcheck at 3pm, on stage at 10 or thereabouts. In the intervening time, and given that I will be about 10 miles from [profile] shoarthing, I'll call on him for a cup of coffee and a chin-wag.


A civilised afternoon awaits.

johnny9fingers: (Default)
It seems my chum Stephen has set up an LJ account [profile] shoarthing . 
He writes well and normally has an opinion or two (or more), but we are not of quite the same political leaning, so some of you chaps might actually like him. (But do be careful - you enrage the old lion at your own peril.)
Lyndon from Songdog is also putting an LJ page together. He's been reading my posts and looking at various of the forums, and is setting it up as I write.
Will have to wait until the Songdog tracks are mastered before I can post one here.
But that's alright, I suppose, as it goes.
johnny9fingers: (Default)
Halfway through cooking for the parent. Will leave to see Glam Ex straight after supper. She's located a couple of Mic's for me. Dash it all, I feel a bit of a heel borrowing anything from her but...beggars can't be choosers, as I believe the phrase is. Anyway, I'll look after them and at least they'll get some use.
I've seen Nick and Em since coming back, which was nice. They're both in good fettle and amused - keep pushing this 'escort' idea on me. The idea of becoming a walker to ladies of a certain age hasn't really crossed my mind, even in fantasy, since my teens. Amusing it might be, but is this what I've come to? Well no, obviously: if I were to do such a thing it would have to be both trashier and higher art, dammit, or there's just no point.
johnny9fingers: (Default)

The New Year.
Hackness has been beautiful. The storm winds ceased this morning and I went for a walk around the immediate grounds, the garden, if you like. I didn't quite make it to the chuch at the bottom of the meadow, but slunk around the fountain having a fag (cigarette to Americans, misinterpretation being what it is, and my own deficiencies in such matters (interpretation, that is) being common knowledge).
Travelling back to town tomorrow am. Hope to get home before evening (Ha Ha).
Hope N & M and Hazel & Neil had a good NY. Hope Stephen did also. And everyone else.
Am on LJ courtesy of Fra and his laptop.
Took Glam ex's 12 string, which has been a big hit with one and all. Cressy has decided that life is incomplete without one, and I know just how she feels.
On my list of things to buy.
There were however one or two 'Withnail' moments, but that's down to yours truly, and his appaling behaviour.

johnny9fingers: (Default)
Third day at Hackness.
Lord and Lady D. the soul of kindness as usual. I have unwound and relaxed more than I thought possible.
At present in Lord D's office typing out LJ entry.
Trip into Scarborough in an hour. Will buy Fra and Cressy lunch. Grace being babysat by v trusted lady of village.
Almost no-one does house parties like this anymore. Will be back from Scarborough and dressed for New Year's dinner by 7pm.

Haven't seen the news or the papers until this morning.
They've executed Saddam, which I think is a mistake, and of the same sort of dodgy morality as the war in the first place, but I also recognise I may be alone in these views.
I hope the Christians pray for Saddam's soul as they are meant to.

Phoned mother: she's ok.

Happy New Year to one and all. May the coming year be full of happiness and contentment.
johnny9fingers: (Default)

Spoke to Louis today.
He called me back. I'd left a message of commiseration on his answerphone. Told him about Dad, which he hadn't known about.
Will call him again in the New Year. We have lots to talk about.
Chris and Carol's for lunch. 
As usual, C & C very hospitable and kind. Chris promised me footage of Dad's 80th birthday, which he videod - he'll burn a dvd for me, from which I can make further copies for any who so wish. Good lad that.
I'd like everyone to have a happy New Year.

Fingers crossed.

johnny9fingers: (window)

More bad news.

My poetic mentor, and the father of one of my dearest schoolfriends has died.
Kenneth Robin Caron Buss (Robin or Buss to those that knew him) Was one of the nicest and most warm-hearted people I ever met. His was one of the most brilliant minds that I ever encountered, and was modest and unassuming to boot.
My condolences go to Louis and Claudia (whom I knew), and his new family (which alas, I didn't). Condolences also to Pat, Buss's ex-wife, who must be equally upset.

I copy the obituary from 'The Independent':

Robin Buss

Francophile writer and critic

Published: 21 December 2006

Kenneth Robin Caron Buss, writer and translator: born London 10 May 1939; married 1963 Patricia Lams (one son, one daughter; marriage dissolved), 1995 Natasha Filatova (one stepdaughter); died London 16 December 2006.

When he was a schoolboy, Robin Buss would sit in a café in Soho and fantasise about being French. After half a century of devotion to French language and culture, the fantasy became unnecessary. As a translator, he tackled Zola, Sartre and Dumas with a strong sense of the weft of their prose. As a film critic, he championed the pleasures of the French film noir. As a journalist, he handled any subject with lightly worn scholarship and generous good-humour - Ealing comedy, Albert Camus, Minder, the search for the perfect blini - but he was never more at home than when introducing British readers to subjects from French culture and history.

This Francophilia was only the most obvious characteristic of an omnivorous literary and cultural life. Buss's expertise extended to Roman history, medieval art, Swedish poetry and Italian films. He never boasted of his knowledge. He never boasted about anything. If he ever had a malicious thought, he was too decent to express it - that's probably why they called him "Dormouse" at school. It would have been wrong to mistake this gentleness for passivity - though he could sometimes exhibit a donnish absent-mindedness: he once left for a holiday in the country leaving his week-old baby daughter behind in the house.

Robin Buss's father was a pilot in the First World War who had converted to Islam while on diplomatic service in the Middle East; his mother staffed the information bureau at Selfridges. For most of his childhood the family home was at Tilford in Surrey, where he watched birds and galloped after foxes. He hated his prep school in Twyford, but was happier on holiday in Wales, where he learned to love choral music and speak Welsh. He would eventually become fluent in Russian, Italian, Swedish and Spanish.

"Each language," he wrote, "opened the way to a cultural realm and each, perhaps, had an effect on the way that my mind perceives and processes reality." This was, perhaps, the secret of his mild and generous nature: though he held strong opinions of his own, he had a great facility for empathising with the views of others.

At 15, while he was a pupil at Westminster School, his father pulled strings to allow him to attend a course at the University of Lausanne. In 1958 he began a degree at the Sorbonne. Poverty obliged him to forage for cigarette butts on the pavement, but he loved the city: "When I was there I had no wish to be anywhere else. If I was not there, I thought chiefly of when or how I should return." He stayed to work on a doctoral thesis, and spent the 1960s shuttling between France and England. In February 1963 he married Patricia Lams, a local girl from Tilford. The marriage produced two children, Louis and Claudia.

He returned from Paris just before the tumultuous events of 1968 and took a job as a clerk at the British Museum. His real pleasures were extra-curricular - studying and copying medieval manuscripts, writing poetry, losing himself in the dark at the cinema. These passions sustained him through his work at the Foreign Office, collating data from the Soviet press and studying socialist groups in Arab countries.

After separating amicably from Patricia in 1984, he moved to a flat overlooking Greenwich Park, from where he transformed his private passions into a way of earning a living. Over the next decades he built up a monstrously thick portfolio of cultural journalism, which allowed him to leave his job teaching English at Woolwich College in south London. He was deputy film critic of The Independent on Sunday and television critic of the Times Educational Supplement. He wrote for the Encyclopaedia Britannica, published critical studies of works by Vigny and Cocteau and three books on European cinema, The French Through Their Films (1988), Italian Films (1989) and French Film Noir (1994).

A press trip in 1992 to an animation studio in Moscow wrought an unlooked-for transformation upon his life. He kept in touch with his Russian translator, Natasha Filatova, and two years later she and her young daughter Kotya moved to Greenwich to be with him. The couple married in 1995, by which time he had become fluent in Russian. Relationships between stepfathers and stepdaughters are sometimes problematic, but every morning Robin made breakfast for Kotya, took her for an 8 o'clock swim and waved her off at the bus stop on the way to school. They were inseparable.

In 2000, a routine medical check revealed the presence of a cancerous tumour in one of his kidneys. The kidney was removed and the cancer did not recur - and his last six years of translations, reviews, essays and interviews read like the work of a man whose brush with death had increased his appetite for life and literature. He suffered a brain haemorrhage on Saturday morning, and died later that day. "If we have to die," he once wrote, " at least we can be helped to take charge of dying." In the end, he was unburdened of that responsibility.

For the next few months, his writing will appear almost as regularly as when he was alive: book recommendations in The Independent on Sunday, an essay on Josephine Baker for Sight and Sound, a translation of Alain-Fournier's Le Grand Meaulnes (1913) for Penguin Classics. After that, there will be silence - as if he had been cut off in mid-sentence.

But his film books will remain essential reading for students of European cinema, his translations will ensure that anyone with a taste for Dumas or Zola or Balzac will be reading his work for years to come, and those that knew him will not forget him as a kind, quiet and authoritative presence in a professional world that tends to reward pushier characters.

Matthew Sweet

Robin Buss neither planned nor expected to become our leading translator of classic French fiction, writes Michael Church, nor was it his intention to become an authority on French film who was highly respected in France.

As the editor responsible for luring him out of teaching and into the precarious and underpaid life of a writer, I did not expect those things either, and was astonished to see how rapidly the shelf of his books lengthened. Cruelly, he died as he was reaching his productive prime. When we now read Cocteau, Camus, Balzac, Dumas and Zola in English, it is his voice we hear.

Le style c'est l'homme. There was never anything meretricious about Robin's style: his clean and supple prose - which scrupulously served its purpose, whether the work of the writer he was translating, or the film he was reviewing - expressed a distinctive authorial voice. That was pre-eminently the voice of an old-fashioned Utopian socialist, a fish out of water in Blair's Britain, but persisting in the struggle to make the world a better place. His amused horror at the rising tide of media trash was balanced by serious attendance at political demonstrations he believed might have an effect.

As one got to know Robin better, there were other surprises: Christmas cards from the Buss family were miniatures painted by him with Japanese grace; he discreetly designed book covers, and wrote poems. It seemed perfectly appropriate that the Greenwich flat he occupied with Natasha and Kotya should be more than a bit reminiscent of the apartment in the Garbo film Ninotchka, if a lot more comfortable.

It was also entirely in character that, when he was struck down by a virulent form of cancer, his overriding concern was for his family. The flip-side of the self-effacingness which could at time render him almost invisible was an acute sensitivity to the feelings of others: one could not imagine a sweeter or more supportive friend. 

Oh good bloody god, I didn't think the year could get any worse. First Dad, now Robin. And Robin was as good a man as my Dad, and that's saying something.

johnny9fingers: (Sri Yantra)
All this being single lark's not much fun really. I should have gotten used to it by now, but somehow, one's frustration at the attempts to pursue life, love, and pleasure, with dignity and grace, inevitably boil over into ill humour and bad temper. I should self medicate more.

As is, I can be quite cutting and cruel when irritated, which is not good: and especially not good when sole remaining parent, probably through grief, winds a chap's spring just that bit too tight. It is not a good thing to bark at one's mother, no matter the provocation.

Am feeling a trifle deficient in virtue at present, and need to find a place to hang my head in shame. I'm meant to be better than that, dammit, and apologies aren't enough, really.

I can see that on a personal level, life may become significantly less interesting.

Last of the Christmas shopping to do.

Hazel's for supper party. Em & Nick have offered to put me up if I want to drink (yes please, but...perhaps not: parent to consider).

Dad did all the practical things for mum. Cooking, shopping, finance etc. Mum took charge of their laundery, and generally oversaw everything else, being disabled but still unable to keep her fingers from every pie within reach. Born to rule, which is unusual in an Yeoman family of the Irish Republican kind. But there you go.

Wonder what my dining companions will be like?
johnny9fingers: (window)
Constant stream of visitors. Will not allow them to stay by him talking for more than 5 minutes or so, as will exhaust him.
Fielding 'phone calls all day. Mike leaves leaves for his home late tonight. Pretty much everthing sorted out now apart from the brave face during the waiting.
Tried to get in touch with Glamorous Ex but both times I've called no-one's answered - ergo, she has things to complete before she flies out on Tuesday.
Might not get a chance to say toodle-pip, but that's the way the cookie crumbles, as the cliche has it.
Cancelled Birthday party as supremely inappropriate in circumstances. Steve K (an old, old chum) suggests rescheduling when things are better. Sweet lad he is - must remember books for P & J - Oxford companion to Classical Literature (Harvey).
With luck J will follow P to Christ's Hospital, but J still taking entrance exams to St Paul's and Westminster, etc. Will help the girls build their libraries by donating books as and when they need 'em, as long as S keeps me informed of requirements.
Same with Hazel's youngest, mind you E has Hazel's library to run through, which is not insignificant nor deficient in any major respect - and let's face it, neither of us owns a first folio, and only one person I know has a first of Ulysses (Shakespeare and Co, Paris, 1922).
Speaking of which, 'Posh' Stephen (not Steve K) has been an absolute brick of the solid foundational sort. Don't know what I'd've done without his good sense and good nature. Keep meaning to drive down to Sussex and buy him a pint or two, but somehow or other, I never seem to get the time. Pray his Mother is comfortable as well: 82, emphysema, which is why, I suppose, he understands better than most.
At an age now when chums' parents are going through it - difficult times for one and all, if not yet, then soon.
Am determined when my time comes I shall do like Petronius, and open veins in bathtub whilst drinking Margeaux or Latour, and conversing wittily with surviving chums. Blushful hippocrene indeed. Don't think I'm prepared to emulate any of the Satyrica, though.
Does anyone else out there think that Fagles' translations have been somewhat influenced by Logue? or is it just me? or is it merely the way late C20th Homer had to be, contextually speaking? Should read Harold Bloom on Homer, but haven't got around to it yet. Q. liked 'Genius' however, though his 'Shakespeare' I had some arguments with, as I see elements of the modern human in both Chaucer and especially Thom Wyatt, never mind various Greeks longer dead, or characters in Upanishads/Vedas. But Bloom is a greater man than me by orders of magnitude, so carping seems the yapping of a dog at the heels of a lion, or it could be I'm not a modern man, and am guilty of a category mistake.

Probably. But in all that what truth
will there be? He’ll know nothing. He’ll tell me about the
blows he received and I’ll give him a carrot.
Astride of a grave and a difficult birth. Down in the
hole, lingeringly, the grave-digger puts on the forceps.
We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries.
But habit is a great deadener. At me too someone is looking,
of me too someone is saying, he is sleeping, he knows
nothing, let him sleep on.


johnny9fingers: (Default)

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