Sunday 29th December 2013

2014 has to be the year that I ease up a little, take stock – and reconfigure my lifestyle.

The immediate good news, of course, has to be that I am now ensconced in my mortgage-free house (as of last Monday, 23rd) and the initial signs are that it will be a comfortable house: sure, I’ve had to compromise on space, in comparison to my last Edinburgh property, with less – and smaller – rooms, but this only presents a problem in terms of wall space, with the amount of framed memorabilia that I now own. This “problem” was always coming!

With Alice not due back at work until 11th January, I’m going to attempt to massively “chill”, over the upcoming 10 days: stepping away from any activity approaching work, in favour of ordering my life, going forward, into some sort of prioritised schedule. With that in mind (but remembering that I take constructive criticism well), I’ve so far identified what I believe to be the three main areas of focus for me – again in prioritised order: Health, Work and House. I just need to find the discipline – and the time - to stick with the plan.

My dilemma has to be (precariously?) managed: sure, if the truth be known, I have about four years left before I render myself “unemployable”, based upon the fact that I will then possess – I do already – more knowledge of this business, than the younger Artist Managers. The smart Managers are secure in their relationship with their Artists – and therefore essentially see the service I have to offer as complimentary to the development of their clients. The insecure Managers, however, worry that I may have their jobs away.

On the basis of the above, I’m seriously considering moving into more of a consultancy role where – provided the more astute Artist Managers recognize the benefit of my early involvement in their touring plans – my expertise can be utilised to it’s maximum benefit. Given the opportunity to be “in on the ground” of (say) a high-profile worldwide touring operation, any reasonable up-front fee that I may charge will definitely be money well spent

Everyone’s in too much of a hurry to have their tour go on sale; to allow excessive amounts of money to be diverted towards “splash” advertising; to unwittingly release control of the distribution of concert tickets (and thereby fan the flames of secondary ticketing) and finally to allow certain “creative” individuals way too much control over arena-touring production elements. This latter are of expenditure often leads to considerable abuse.

All the above sounds pretty pro-active, yah? Impressively convincing, even? It is, if you can clear yourself a path to the decision makers (ultimately, the Artists – but they are never easy to access directly). My focus, in this respect, is to continue to build strong relationships with professional, forward-looking, Artist management.

So, as always, the fight goes on – and my readers have a (face value!) ringside seat from which to observe the proceedings. In closing this week, may I wish you all a belated Merry Xmas and a prosperous New Year. I have maybe four years left in this business to procure myself gainful employment. Once January is over, I will be out of the blocks at speed! BFN.

Sunday 22nd December 2013

Right now, you find me taking a short break, backstage at London’s iconic O2 Arena.

I’m here today, in the role of Tour Accountant, at the site of JLS’s final show of their career. As befits such an occasion, there is much pomp and circumstance – and, thankfully, much hilarity. The first of the O2 shows was last night: today we have a Matinee and the (final) evening show. Then we will all return to our separate homes, at the end of this era.

Certainly, it is easy for many – connected with this business, in one way or another – to predict some form of comeback in the years ahead: I’m not so sure, in the case of JLS. Time, of course, will tell. However these lads have always done things differently – and diligently – therefore I wouldn’t put my (new) house on them ever appearing together again.

There is much I observe now - connected directly to the fact that most Artists’ recording income is nowhere near what it used to be: the majority of those Artists therefore need to look at their touring operations, to remain financially afloat. Not content to earn from the face value of the concert tickets, which their devoted fans readily fork out for, certain high-profile acts are complicit in squeezing the financial life out of their fans by “scalping” concert tickets. I say this to those postulating Artists, who are perpetrating this outrage: is one house not enough? is one car not enough? As do the very people who afforded you that (temporary/undeserved?) exalted status – learn to live within your means.

Tonight, as I mentioned earlier, will see the JLS lads complete three shows this weekend at London’s O2 (as I write, they are halfway through the Matinee show today, Sunday). This week has also seen us undertake shows in Brighton (Monday); Bournemouth (Tuesday); Cardiff (Wednesday) – and the new Leeds “First Direct” Arena, two nights ago on Friday.

This evening after the final show – and intentionally avoiding the after-show party (where I always struggle to spot those attendees who actually contributed to the technical success of the tour, which the after-show party is meant to celebrate) Alice and I will climb aboard her Ka limo and strike north for Dunbar where, around breakfast time tomorrow, I shall set foot in the first mortgage free property of my long, and occasionally misguided, life. Whoa!

Having said that, I’m not exactly flush, furniture wise, having moved out of a furnished property. Currently, I have two beds, a dining table and six chairs – and the world’s largest collection of cardboard packing boxes. This is why I have made no positive effort to go seeking further work in the New Year; the sorting out of my life, now that I again have some form of “permanent” base, must take immediate priority over anything else right now.

My little “excursion” onto the south coast of England has (sadly, in some ways) now run it’s course – but that’s not to say that I won’t find my way back down there in maybe a few years from now, However, for the time being, I’m reasonably settled – and satisfyingly solvent. What’s the plan for the upcoming year? Watch this space, oh patient followers!

Sunday 15th December 2013

Well, good readers – this has been one of my busiest weeks in a long time!

I’ve spent the last seven days jumping between the “JLS” and “Big Reunion” tours, looking after a total of ten show “settlements”: some remotely and some on-site. As best as I can remember – as I frantically traversed the UK, this last week, it went something like this:

With JLS, I started the week at Liverpool’s Echo Arena, Monday past (9th), then travelled to Sheffield with them, the following day. While in Sheffield I rented a small car and ran over to visit the “Big Reunion” rehearsals in Wakefield – returning to Sheffield Motorpoint Arena, mid afternoon, to complete the JLS “settlement”, leaving there just after midnight.

I then drove from Sheffield to Nottingham, in preparation for the first of five “Big Reunion” shows, Wednesday, at Nottingham’s Capital-FM Arena. The line-up for this run of Big Reunion shows was identical to that of the May shows, with the exception of the band “Blue” (who are out supporting “Wet Wet Wet” on their current UK arena tour). Just to recap, the lineup of talent on the Big Reunion tour was as follows: “Atomic Kitten”; “Liberty X”; “911”; “The Honeyz”; “B*witched” and “Five” (although there’s only four of them now!).

Back to Wednesday, in Nottingham with the Big Reunion, where – during the day – I kept in touch with what was happening at the JLS show at Birmingham’s LG Arena: by the end of the day I had completed two show settlements: one “live” and the other “remotely”. Thursday morning (with JLS undertaking a show at Newcastle’s Metro Arena) I drove from Nottingham to the LG Arena, for the Big Reunion’s second show. Oddly enough – and this was obviously down to routing complications – JLS were back in the LG Arena on Friday as well (the day after the Big Reunion show) so I elected to bunk down on the couch in the Artists’ “green room” – to await the incoming JLS production, the following morning.

I subsequently spent three hours at the LG Arena Friday morning, catching up with the paperwork on JLS, with the tour promoter (SJM Concerts), after which I jumped into my trusty (Skoda!) rental car and headed back to the Sheffield Arena for the third show on the Big Reunion tour. Having collected the rental car three days ago in Sheffield, I decided it was prudent to hand it back at this point: A) there were two long drives coming up on the Big Reunion tour (Sheffield to London to Manchester) and B) it would avoid any “drop-off”.

Yesterday was our fourth city on the Big Reunion tour: no less the O2 Arena in London where we managed to squeeze in a Matinee show during the day – indeed, as we did here at Manchester “Phones4U” (formerly M.E.N.) Arena, making a total of seven shows in five days!

After the last “Big Reunion” show later tonight, my plan is to “hitch” a lift on one of the two BR crew buses, that will drop off next to Kings Cross station in London. From there, the plan is to make my way round to Victoria Station and catch a mid morning train to Brighton, to re-join the JLS tour! By the middle of next week, I will have amassed eleven shows in a row, between the two tours. One week of touring left – then “home” to a new house! BFN.

Sunday 1st December 2013

Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen – but we’ve not actually made it to the capital city yet!

However, as is always the case when I tour Denmark with Paul Potts, we have seen many towns and cities in the country (with their associated, smaller – more intimate – venues) than I’ve ever encountered on any rock ‘n roll tour of this territory, previously.

More detail to follow, below, in respect of this last week’s travels however – in summary – so far this week we have played Skive (Tuesday, 26th); Fredericia on Wednesday; Herning on Thursday; Ringsted last night – and to finish the week, today, Sunday – we are in Svendborg.

Round, round – get around – we get around (although I doubt the Beach Boys had Denmark in mind when they were composing that song – not too many “California girls” in these parts).

Monday past (25th) was the travel day into Copenhagen, from London Heathrow: however, an overbooked flight (our scheduled one!) meant taking the next available BA flight, and not arriving into Copenhagen airport until closer to 6.00 pm – to pick up our fairly “snazzy” Volkswagen Caravelle mini-bus, for the four-hour, northward, journey up to Skive. This all meant for a fairly hectic show day on Tuesday, being that we had lost the planned three- hour rehearsal in the venue on Monday night. As always, though, we managed through it.

I have to say: just the four of us (myself, Paul, Chris Taylor and Bob Willis) makes for a most compact little touring party – somewhat in contrast to some of the stadium tours I have been involved in, where there can be up to four crew buses alone (each a “14-berther”).

Wednesday morning’s trip down to Fredericia was a mere hop, skip and jump of 125 kilometres – and it was scheduled as a “hit and run” show (i.e., travel direct to the venue – and afterwards drive out of the town to the city of the next show, in this case Herning, only 105 kilometers distant) allowing us a “travel-free” day on the Thursday. Even of more convenience, is the fact that we then get to spend two nights in the same hotel. Result!

Friday, being a non-show day, enable the lads to enjoy a “lie-in” prior to departing the Herning hotel for the two-hour drive south to Ringsted where, in the evening, Paul kindly treated us to dinner at the “Ferdinand’s Bofhus” restaurant in the town’s main street.

After last night’s Ringsted show – and with only a distance of 112 kilometres to cover to reach today’s city of Svendborg, I elected to once again drive on ahead. As it was, an old friend of Pauls – Svend Baker (and his wife and her mother) - paid a visit to the Ringsted show last night, armed with a bottle of rather pleasant Cognac, as the basis for a few after show “drinkies”. Naturally, that excluded the driver (not that the driver’s much good with spirits anyway) who busied himself with transporting the hi-spirited “Cognac Club” down the E20 freeway, arriving here in Svendborg around 1.30 am this morning – in buoyant mood.

I’ll be genuinely sorry to miss the last two dates of this most enjoyable tour behind, however the equally enjoyable world of JLS’s final tour beckons. More of that next week!!

Sunday 24th November 2013

We are (almost) in the lap of luxury this evening: The Holiday Inn Express, Colnbrook!

Let’s hope this may not be seen as the pinnacle of my long and distinguished (?) career – but, no, it’s where I am “holing up” tonight, prior to a fairly early check-in for a flight tomorrow morning, from Heathrow en-route to Copenhagen, for the commencement of Paul Pott’s Scandinavian tour: if last year is anything to go by, an enjoyable little jaunt awaits us.

This last week, I have been gently gearing up for tomorrow morning’s departure as – the minute Paul’s Scandinavian tour comes to a close - I have to high-tail it back to the UK to make a start on JLS’s Final Tour, as their Tour Accountant, in Nottingham on 4th December.

In addition to the above Paul made a guest appearance last night – at London’s Savoy Hotel no less – for the most worthwhile children’s charity, “Rays of Sunshine”. Also appearing at the same event was Gary Barlow and “The Luminites”. However, as I had to be on site for 1.00 p.m. yesterday – to check things out, ahead of Paul’s arrival – and didn’t make it back to Alice’s place until just before 1.00 a.m., then it made for a particularly (typical?) long day.

The charity organizers asked if Paul would be good enough to remain behind after his performance and join one of the main sponsors’ tables for dinner. Naturally, Paul was only happy enough to oblige therefore I hung back with him for a while at the same dinner table and witnessed some very generous attendees make some astonishing bids for certain of the auction prizes on offer: one of the bids (a week’s rental of a luxury yacht) fetched a whopping £155,000.00. Who says the British economy is experiencing a serious downturn?

As you will have gleaned from last week’s diary entry, I spent most of the week before last, up in Scotland, dealing with various aspects of my new house purchase. This overlapped to the initial half of this past week, therefore I didn’t return south until Thursday – going directly to Guildford, as the apartment in Seaford is now just a collection of boxes. Friday saw me skip into London to hook up with a few different business associates with a view to a few possibilities of work projects for next year: one has to look ahead to the future, folks.

I have to say that my visit to London’s Savoy Hotel yesterday, in preparation for last night’s “Rays of Sunshine” event, was one of those once-in-a-while eye-openers as to how the other live (and spend the excesses of money that they have managed to accumulate). It was most kind of the charity to stand Paul and I a late lunch, once Paul had completed his mid-afternoon sound-check. It came as no surprise that one of the smallest club sandwiches I have ever encountered came at – unquestionably – the highest price (£19.00). As we all know in these situations, we’re paying for the name and the surroundings – as much for the food.

Sitting in that rather quaint afternoon-tea lounge (I don’t recall the exact name of that particular part of the hotel) I could almost smell the money. In the not-too-distant future, I will commit to print my underlying feelings on the glaring inequalities of this world that we all share. The gems of literary genius can’t fall onto the page every week folks. Loving y’all.

Sunday 17th November 2013

Who would have believed it? I’m coming to you today from Anglesey, in North Wales.

The Anglesey Agricultural Showgrounds, no less – “on the island” as the local people refer to it - approximately fifteen miles northwest of the town of Bangor – and all this came about within the last seventy-two hours, in the shape of a benefit concert (staged by the Welsh national TV station, S4C) to aid the victims of the recent devastation in the Philippines.

This necessitated me jumping on a train from Edinburgh (where I happened to be, “home” to sign papers connected with the purchase of the new house in Dunbar) at lunchtime yesterday. Sunday is not to be recommended for long distance rail travel in the UK, as this is the only practical day to attend to any work needing done on the tracks: which inevitably leads to delay. With the nature of the last-minute arrangement of the concert, it was as well that I showed up yesterday to be able to deal with the various technical considerations.

I’m back in the hotel now – an enchanting country house type abode (very popular for weddings in the area, I’m led to believe) called Tre-Ysgawen Hall, near Llangefni: sadly, I feel kinda bad about not having the time to enjoy their extensive facilities. The hotel staff very kindly offered to take an order for dinner over the phone, from the concert site, as Paul Potts (the Artist who was appearing as the special guest) was not off stage until just before the end of the live-transmitted show, and the hotel kitchen closed at 9.30 pm. However the great food was definitely worth waiting for – I can highly recommend it folks!

Backtracking a little over the past week’s developments, Alice arrived in Seaford Tuesday evening and ably assisted me to pack up the remainder of the apartment, in readiness for it’s collection, mid December (rumour has it that Alice’s middle name may be “Pickfords”!).

Early Wednesday morning (having collected a very impressive diesel Skoda Octavia estate car – 58 mpg! – from Gatwick Airport the night before) we set off north for Edinburgh once again. Avid readers of this regular literary masterpiece may be aware that the old Jaguar – whose years are sadly limited, I quietly fear – is already parked up at my sisters, as a result of a recent journey last month: it’s last “cross border” trip in its (almost) fifteen-year life.

All of the recent house-moving associated activity has left little time for me to be diverted by my (latent) first love of football – however, I can hear those around me, who have observed the time and money that has drained into that particular passion, nodding their considered approval that giving the football venture a brief rest, may not be a bad thing!

You know what? I have little grounds to contest the above view. In my defense, I can at least point to the fact that recent forays (indirectly geared towards finding the next “Ronaldo”!), in the world of football, have thankfully been noticeably more costly on the time – rather than the money – front. This enforced break from my lingering passion has given me the opportunity to possible re-assess my involvement in that part of my business, going forward. Can this (slower than usual) leopard change his spots? Only time will tell! BFN.

Sunday 10th November 2013

Well folks, don’t spill your morning coffee, in shock, at the news – but I’ve bought a house!

Hard to believe, huh? After almost a year of intermittent house-hunting, I’ve finally found the type of property I was after, in the town I was after: Dunbar in East Lothian, Scotland.

This all happened very quickly, following an early alert I received, Monday past, that the property was about to officially come to the market. I actually managed to schedule a “pre-viewing” as I was already up in Scotland - and able to mobilise myself at very short notice.

Back on Wednesday for a second viewing and subsequently – realizing there was a healthy interest in the property, already by the middle of last week - I realised it was “now or never” (that lad Elvis knew what he was on about) – and made an offer Thursday morning.

The offer was accepted by lunchtime, and the property was taken off the market before close of business that very same day. The current owners must be very pleased with how quickly their sale has gone through – and I now have an entry date of 16th December. To say “I” have an entry date is not quite practically correct, as on that very date, I’ll be slap bang in the middle of JLS’s “Final” tour of the UK and Ireland. Alice and Sue to the rescue!

It is obviously something of a blessing that my old (young) friend Sue has been a native of Dunbar for several years now – and actually only lives a stone’s throw from my new property. It looks very much like Alice may supervise the loading up of the van here in Seaford, while Sue will keep a watchful eye on the off-loading up in Dunbar, a day later. Organised, huh?

Unfortunately, I won’t make it back up to Dunbar until the morning of 23rd December, the day after JLS’s final (final) show at London’s O2 Arena, so there’ll definitely be something of a scramble to have the place in some sort of “liveable” format for Santa’s imminent visit. Having said that, this particular house is without a chimney, so Santa may have to improvise.

On the flip side of the coin, it will be with some measure of sadness that I vacate this charming little apartment, down here in Seaford. Aside from being unable to turn the stereo up past “3” - and not having indulging my prference for having my bedroom on a different level, I’ve more than enjoyed my time spent here, overlooking the English channel.

With the move back north having looked like it may finally come to fruition over the past seven days, I have subsequently been fielding an almost abstract notion that I may yet one day return to this locale. Really, it’s far too early to say if that would realistically happen, but I would not rule it out entirely that one day, I may come back south in my twilight years.

I’m still pinching myself that I’ve actually pulled off the house move thing – and I now look forward, in the early part of next year, to unpacking several large boxes that have resided in David’s (Alice’s son’s) garage, back up in Scotland, for the best part of the last year. So, fittingly, this week’s track is a “Slade” songs from years ago: “Take Me Back ‘Ome”! BFN.

Sunday 3rd November 2013

10.54 pm on a cold Sunday evening, but – yes – this diary entry will be completed on time.

But from which worldly location, I hear you breathlessly enquire? Linlithgow, no less.

Linlithgow?? A small town in West Lothian in Scotland with, like myself, a little history.

However, folks, if you are ever down this neck of the woods (13 miles WNW of Edinburgh) then come visit Linlithgow Palace, where Mary Queen of Scots once resided. Cool, huh?

And what brings us to this locale, you may additionally be curious to know? The answer (in a roundabout way – to be expanded upon) is “”. As Alice has to be back at work – near Guilford, no less – by 3.30 pm tomorrow afternoon, she is on the first flight out tomorrow morning, London Gatwick bound. Therefore, we elected to find a small hotel, to the West of Edinburgh, within striking distance of the airport: hence, tonight in Linlithgow.

However, folks, the not-so-good side of this quaint country of mine, this evening: it’s bloody freezing! Having just returned from a firework display, staged by the Edinburgh fee-paying school George Watson’s on their neighbouring rugby grounds, in aid of the charity SLA (whose background I really have to bone up on) in the company of Alice, Stella and Jade.

All this on the eve of Jade’s 24th birthday. My “wee bairn” (Scottish speak for small child) has grown up far too quickly. However, I’ve probably only been around for twelve or thirteen of the previous twenty-three birthdays, which was half the reason – along with the opportunity to view a couple of houses – to make the trip up here late Friday afternoon. It was also good timing in respect of driving the old Jag up to Scotland, for the “last time”.

Allow me to explain: even though I’ve yet to close the deal for a property in Scotland, I have decided to vacate my rental property on the south coast by the 15th of November (I’m currently on a rolling monthly contract that “renews” on the 15th of each month) and return to Scotland, to continue my property search from there. As I am due to go back on the road from 24th November for a month, followed by a small vacation over Christmas and New Year, then that only leaves a “homeless gap” – until mid January anyway! – of around seven days. My sister has kindly agreed to me staying at her Edinburgh residence for that period.

It’ll be somewhat sad to depart Seaford, my “home” for the past thirteen months, however the time is right (he said, like he really knew what he was doing), particularly as I’ll save almost two months rent, where I wouldn’t have been at “home” anyway. Coincidentally, we viewed three houses today which all, in their own individual way, were realistic possibilities.

Maybe, finally, I am close to landing a property that I am comfortable with: a mortgage-free existence may be within reasonable touching distance. Wouldn’t that be something? By this time next week, hopefully I may have actually had an offer accepted on one of those properties. If you’re thinking “we’ll see about that”, I couldn’t blame you! Until next week …..

Sunday 27th October 2013

Welcome to the calm before the storm – and I mean that literally, good folks.

Every hourly radio bulletin that I overhear in the background, this Sunday evening (impressive huh – the diary being completed when it should be!), is warning of impending storm conditions in the South of England, within the next 48 hours, starting later tonight.

As a result of this evening’s forecast, I have decided to stay put at Alice’s swanky new apartment, on the outskirts of Guilford, as - apart from the imminent storm warnings themselves – news is also reaching us of a raft of train cancellations tomorrow morning.

I arrived back down in the south, off a flight from Edinburgh, on Thursday evening past: this to give me Friday to catch-up with the arrangements associated with my involvement, yesterday, with two Paul Potts engagements, namely the QVC Shopping Channel – during the middle of the day – followed by an appearance at the celebrations to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the formation of the English Football Association held, on this occasion, at London’s Grand Connaught Rooms, just off Covent Garden. No expense spared!

Oh yes, readers: great helpings of pomp and circumstance on show in that room last night, with such football luminaries as Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini & the FA Chairman, Greg Dyke.

As I was backstage at the event, awaiting Paul’s performance slot, I was witness to Sepp Blatter banging on about various aspects of world football, very few of which actually made any clear sense to me (and I wasn’t the only one present, who formed that view). That Mr Blatter – allegedly – knows nothing of the machinations behind Qatar being awarded the 2022 World Cup – in anticipated outdoor temperatures of 40+ degrees – is quite beyond me.

Sepp Blatter’s predecessor (João Havelange) did not relinquish his position at FIFA until the ripe old age of eighty-eight! Then, surprise of surprises, it transpires that Mr Havelange had been up to all sorts of no good, during the latter part of his tenure, with all sorts of dodgy dealings – and Sepp Blatter was once his young protégé! I rest my case!

And where does the countless amounts of money originate from, that allows those arrogant rascals to line their pockets, unchecked? You got that right – football’s (literally) poor fans.

How sad that the dedicated, paying, followers of the world’s most worshipped game know not what is actually going on behind the scenes, with the unofficial “laundering” of their hard earned contributions. Read Andrew Jennings books about FIFA, and be astounded.

So, as we draw this week’s diary entry to a close, the “Tracks of my Years” gives you a lovely song by the everlasting Bonnie Raitt, a woman I was most fortunate to briefly work for, way back then. This evening’s choice is “Dimming of the Day” – possibly a fitting tune, as the sun goes down on this pleasant Sunday evening, but with severely inclement weather incoming. Next week we shall up the tempo. Yes, next Sunday we rock. For now, I roll. XXX

Sunday 20th October 2013

Well, I kinda blew it there, did I not? Delaying the first diary edition on the new web site!

There were several mitigating factors, the most notable of which was a frantic week on my football project: when that passion gets a hold of me, sensible reason leaves for a vacation.

It just so happened I received a call from a trusted football contact down south, who had spotted a couple of young lads playing in a trial game in the Liverpool area, whom he thought might have “something about them”. Encouraging as such news is, when it reaches me, that’s only the first stage – of many stages – in trying to find an opportunity at a club for the lads.

To be honest, I know the time is fast approaching when I must review my relationship with the football side of my business: I cannot escape the fact that – quite a few years back, as has been well documented in the pages of several past diary entries, my misguided dalliance with the football side of things almost cost me everything. It still makes me shiver to think.

I’m aware, as time marches on, that one has less opportunity to rectify one’s mistakes – or to seek an alternative direction on life, if the indications are that the present direction is proving fruitless. Therefore the key must be to try to foresee the “after” about the time one is contemplating the “before”. Listen to he with the voice of pontificating wisdom (not).

Is this the reason that many people at this stage of their life turn to certain forms of alternative faiths? There’s no way that someone as fleetingly confused as I generally am (at this crucial stage of life) is going to knock anyone’s faith. It may just indeed be the answer.

Right now, the priority is to consolidate my living situation, location wise: I can now sense that once I have a comfortable base, I will A) know where I stand financially and B) be able to organise and effectively plan the next few years ahead. Therein lies a challenge, indeed.

A brief summary of the past week: arriving back in the UK early Monday morning, from the trip to Mexico with Paul Potts and – with Jade having a few days holiday due in the earlier part of this week – I booked a connecting flight directly up to Edinburgh on Monday afternoon. In actuality, there was a four-hour layover at Heathrow, therefore I opted to come “public” side again, grab some lunch with Alice not far from Heathrow (Tesco’s Café in Hounslow!) and then check back in for the Edinburgh-bound flight, later in the afternoon.

At this point, let me completely change the subject to announce a new addition to the weekly diary. Under the working title of “Tracks of my Years”, each week I will include what I believe to be a song worth a listen. Typically, it may reflect my mood at that present time!

So, to kick this off this week please give a listen to an iconic track (and a particular favourite also of Alice’s) from many, many, years ago: an early Fleetwood Mac track called “Man Of The World”. While the lyrics may not necessarily, accurately, depict my own situation, the guitar arrangements alone are both reflective and uplifting. Over to you …..

Sunday 13th October 2013

Well, of the all the places you expected to find me this fine morning – how about El Paso?

Interesting fact for you (unless you already live in El Paso): 70% of the city’s indigenous population are actually of Mexican descent – not too difficult to understand when you consider that, less than a couple of centuries back, El Paso was indeed located in Mexico.

Currently (1030 Sunday morning, Mountain time) we are sat in the departures area of El Paso airport, awaiting our American Airlines flight to Dallas Fort Worth and hence onward, overnight, on British Airways into London tomorrow morning (local time). Rock ‘n Roll, huh?

Last night Paul Potts played a commemorative performance for the University of Ciudad Juarez’s (UACJ) 40th year celebrations, at an outdoor “dome” not far from the main university campus. Not exactly the Hollywood Bowl, but a magical setting nevertheless.

We arrived in Juarez late Thursday evening having flown most of the day, and then transferred “surface” from El Paso airport, over to the “Lucerna” hotel in Ciudad Juarez, crossing the bridge over the Rio Grande river (El Paso airport to Juarez hotel: 16 miles!).

Friday was designated a rest (“jet lag cure”) day, however – while Chris and Bob were able to spend a few extra hours in bed that morning, Paul and I had to undertake a press conference at the executive offices of the University, at midday. The university has several location dotted in and around Juarez and – in total – caters for around 26,400 students.

Now, let’s not duck the issue here: one cannot really raise the subject of the city of Ciudad Juarez in Mexico without making mention of the city’s poor safety record. At one time dubbed the “murder capital of the world”, it has – within the last three years approximately, noticeably cleaned up its act. However, cognizant of the fact that “back then” there was an average of 10-12 murders daily (mostly as a result of the drug cartels’ activity) we weren’t about to start wandering around the streets of the city unaccompanied!

To evidence the fact that the city is still in the process of shaking off its past reputation, two armed guards shadowed our party of four, throughout our stay. Even our university interpreter (whose father just happened to be Chief of City Police), had her own bodyguard! It’s just a little unnerving to witness said bodyguards having breakfast, with holstered automatic pistols clearly visible. Just trying to imagine that in London’s Park Lane Hilton.

In closing today, I have to tell you that I was sorely tempted to enquire at the airline check-in desk this morning as to the possibility of the Dallas/London overnight BA flight being overbooked. That having been the case, I was fostering the notion of delaying my homeward trip by a few days, jumping into a rental care – and exploring the state of Texas.

Thankfully my professional responsibilities brought me back to my senses: but it was an engaging thought for a while there. I need to keep tabs on that side of me. Maybe one day!!

In honour of the trip to Mexico, here's some Beach Boys...

Sunday 6th October 2013

This week sees me reach a notable milestone in the penning of these weekly diary entries.

Almost ten years since I first started doing this, the gentleman who has overseen all my website design, amendments and maintenance to date – Scott Currie – has had to hand off that work to a new company, as a result of his other blossoming business interests. Do you know that in all the time I had a business association with Scott, I only met him twice! As is typical of this world of mine, constant travel has meant infrequent contact with friends.

Taking over from Scott will be none other than David Cummings (Alice’s son!) whose company is called “Caledonian Communication”. Prompted by the “handover” from Scott, I figured it would be an opportune time to freshen up the look of the website (Scott had suggested to me, on several previous occasions, that I really needed to update the site, but I had never managed to get around to it). However, I’ve now spent some time with David, in order to rectify that.

Let me know what you think of the new site, once it is up and running, within the next week. There are still a few final “tweeks” required – and I may look to add a “Tracks of my Years” page to the site – however we are almost there. Why did it take me so long to do this?

Most sadly, earlier this week, I had to bade goodbye to my son Bradley, at 05.00 am at Manchester airport last Tuesday morning – not knowing when I will actually see him again. Thankfully, he swung through the UK for a nine-day period, on his way back to Australia, from Canada. As a result, we managed to pack a fair amount of activity into those nine days.

Naturally, I was fairly “down” on the remainder of the drive south from Manchester, via Alice’s place of work in Guildford, then onwards to Seaford. Ah, the long road of parenting!

Of late, within only the last week or two, I may have stumbled upon the realisation that I’m now struggling to settle the Scottish house-purchasing issue before Christmas. Consequently, I may have to consider relocating to Scotland, on a rental basis, until I can secure a satisfactory property. Such a move will save me at least £200/month n rental fees – more significantly, I will be right on the “doorstep” of the locale in which I am looking to buy: on three or four occasions in the past eight months, I have been “pipped at the post” – being “stuck” down south while the sellers had accepted an early offer for their property.

If I decide to go with the above scenario, then I need to activate the plan within the next 7/10 days, in order that I can give my Seaford accommodation agency the requisite month’s notice, in this case by 15th October, which will determine that I have to move north by 15th November, latest. I only return from Mexico a week tomorrow (more about that in next week’s diary), Monday 14th, so how’s that for “tight”? It’s always been that way with me!

So, as a new website era now begins, hopefully it may coincide with an equally new era within the realms of my career. Who knows? I have managed to survive thus far, even taking into account a couple of spectacular “own goals”. Ah, it’s a great day to be alive, is it not?! BFN.

Sunday 29th September 2013

It’s a strange thing about my business: it can take “out of sight – out of mind” to a new level.

Let me explain: this last week, since his arrival back in the country one week ago today – and after a three year absence – I have spent a fair amount of time in the company of my one and only son. Off the back of that, I’m struggling to understand how I (apparently) managed to last those three years - without it having any noticeable, emotional, effect on me.

I believe the answer to be two-fold: firstly, unwittingly, there is my enforced “training” in having spent fairly long periods away from home, touring the world, when the children were growing up – particularly in a business whose 16-hour, manic, days leave precious little time for any personal thoughts or reflections. Secondly: you know what? I’ve just realised there is no “secondly” – or maybe I’ve just completely lost my original train of thought (worrying!).

The above main (only?) underlying reason has somehow “schooled” me into accepting – maybe too easily – the times that my children were unavailable to me: therefore, in the case of my son being away in Australia for the past three years, it has almost taken on the similarity of an elongated touring period. I can’t figure out any other way (right now) to explain this.

In respect of the past week, Bradley and I spent Monday in my neck of the woods, down in Seaford, before motoring up to Scotland early Tuesday morning. Travelling up there in the old Jag – thereby keeping down transportation costs for the week I was in Scotland – I once again took the opportunity to cram every spare cubic inch of space in the back of the car (surprised to know the back seats fold down in a Jaguar, folks?) with household items that are not “currently” required, in readiness for the eventual move back to the homeland.

Alice’s son, David (once again) has kindly allowed me to store said items in the garage of his house, on the outskirts of Edinburgh: I would probably have to admit that there is now more items in David’s garage that belong to me, than to David and his wife Katrina!

It is now almost a year since I moved into my current rented accommodation in Seaford, on the south coast of England. No way did I plan to rent for such an extended period – believing that I would, initially, find a property to purchase on the south coast and then, having now switched my emphasis back to Scotland, have yet to find something in Dunbar.

Being away on tour on four separate occasions this past year, so far, has not helped me to land a property - as yet - where I feel I would be at my ease. In the recent housing climate, homeowners are only moving because they have a valid need to do so: otherwise they are staying put. The considerable profit that could once be realised, by “upsizing” on the property ladder, during the middle of the last decade, is no longer on offer to house sellers.

However, I’m currently “homing in” on three prospective properties – in East Lothian in Scotland - that will hopefully see me re-located by the turn of the year. A mortgage (and rent) free existence beckons and – within reason, folks – it can’t come soon enough! BFN.

Sunday 22nd September 2013

Well, as predicted last week, the Prodigal son has returned (him, not me, that is).

No parent should be away from their child that long (three years) – especially, in my particular case, when all my travelling involved in my work Has kept me apart from my children longer than I would have liked: one has arguably spent little: however at this stage of life, what can you really do? Especially when one of them sees Australia as his future.

It is somewhat comforting to know that I am not alone, in experiencing these emotions.

So, I picked Bradley up from Heathrow airport earlier today: he actually “lucked out” as – with his original carrier from Boston (via Reykjavik) scheduled to be Icelandair, said airline managed to overbook the flight and therefore offered any passenger not bound solely for Iceland – in other words intending to connect through to London Gatwick – the opportunity to fly direct from Boston to London Heathrow with British Airways. Very convenient indeed!

There was me, all set just to jump the train from my little seaside town of Seaford, meet up with the boy in Gatwick, then return “home” by the same mode of transport - when I received a text message late last night, informing me of the enforced flight change. As it’s not the easiest of routes to travel from Heathrow to the south coast of England, I just jumped into the old Jag early this morning, and drove up to Heathrow, directly, to meet him.

From where I currently sit, penning this entry at the dining table in the apartment, I can hear him shift restlessly in the spare bedroom, as his system deals with the effects of the jet-lag. When we arrived back here earlier, from Heathrow, we had some late lunch then I took him for the royal tour of Seaford (was back in about ten minutes – no, not really!) by which time it was drawing close to the live screening of the Manchester “derby” soccer game, namely Manchester City versus Manchester United, the former winning 4-1. Ouch.

The general plan is to spend a couple of days down in this neck of the woods, and then motor up to Scotland, Tuesday morning, so that Bradley can spend the best part of a week up in Scotland, in the company of his mother and his sister: but also to catch up with some of his old buddies, from Edinburgh and Stirling (the latter, where he spent his University years).

Fortunately, our hometown football team, Heart of Midlothian (“Hearts”) have two scheduled games while he is home in Scotland and – as we spent many an enjoyable Saturday afternoon when he was growing up, following the fortunes of Hearts (including a memorable Scottish Cup win back in 1998) then it will be good to be able to relive those old times. Many a parent, reading this – and there had better be many! – is nodding, sagely, at this juncture.

I need to eke out every possible hour from the upcoming week – it may be a while before I see my son again, as Australia would appear to hold more promise for him than currently what is on offer in the UK. It’s certainly not a country where I would be averse to spending some time: I’ve just not quite where I need to be financially yet. But not terribly far away!!

Sunday 22nd September 2013

Well, as predicted last week, the Prodigal son has returned (him, not me, that is).

No parent should be away from their child that long (three years) – especially, in my particular case, when all my travelling involved in my work Has kept me apart from my children longer than I would have liked: one has arguably spent little: however at this stage of life, what can you really do? Especially when one of them sees Australia as his future.

It is somewhat comforting to know that I am not alone, in experiencing these emotions.

So, I picked Bradley up from Heathrow airport earlier today: he actually “lucked out” as – with his original carrier from Boston (via Reykjavik) scheduled to be Icelandair, said airline managed to overbook the flight and therefore offered any passenger not bound solely for Iceland – in other words intending to connect through to London Gatwick – the opportunity to fly direct from Boston to London Heathrow with British Airways. Very convenient indeed!

There was me, all set just to jump the train from my little seaside town of Seaford, meet up with the boy in Gatwick, then return “home” by the same mode of transport - when I received a text message late last night, informing me of the enforced flight change. As it’s not the easiest of routes to travel from Heathrow to the south coast of England, I just jumped into the old Jag early this morning, and drove up to Heathrow, directly, to meet him.

From where I currently sit, penning this entry at the dining table in the apartment, I can hear him shift restlessly in the spare bedroom, as his system deals with the effects of the jet-lag. When we arrived back here earlier, from Heathrow, we had some late lunch then I took him for the royal tour of Seaford (was back in about ten minutes – no, not really!) by which time it was drawing close to the live screening of the Manchester “derby” soccer game, namely Manchester City versus Manchester United, the former winning 4-1. Ouch.

The general plan is to spend a couple of days down in this neck of the woods, and then motor up to Scotland, Tuesday morning, so that Bradley can spend the best part of a week up in Scotland, in the company of his mother and his sister: but also to catch up with some of his old buddies, from Edinburgh and Stirling (the latter, where he spent his University years).

Fortunately, our hometown football team, Heart of Midlothian (“Hearts”) have two scheduled games while he is home in Scotland and – as we spent many an enjoyable Saturday afternoon when he was growing up, following the fortunes of Hearts (including a memorable Scottish Cup win back in 1998) then it will be good to be able to relive those old times. Many a parent, reading this – and there had better be many! – is nodding, sagely, at this juncture.

I need to eke out every possible hour from the upcoming week – it may be a while before I see my son again, as Australia would appear to hold more promise for him than currently what is on offer in the UK. It’s certainly not a country where I would be averse to spending some time: I’ve just not quite where I need to be financially yet. But not terribly far away!!

Sunday 15th September 2013

The climatic seasons are indeed a wondrous thing that happens within this world of ours.

As I look out of my Seaford apartment, this early Sunday evening (and, as you may know, I face directly out onto the English channel) I am witness to angry, stormy, seas – when only one week ago I was sitting out there on the promenade, at the little Café, enjoying a coffee.

We are possibly all guilty of not knowing nearly enough about this world that we “briefly” inhabit: I mean how is it that millions of inhabitants of the southern hemisphere, who are essentially “upside down” don’t just fall off the face of the earth? Sure, I’m aware of the principles of gravity, but it’s still hard to equate that – for instance – there’s probably a three hundred ton jet airliner sitting on the tarmac at Wellington airport in New Zealand right now that is also “upside down”. Mind blowing when you actually pause to think about it.

Tidal movements are something else I should really learn more about: again, I know the reasons behind the tides being controlled by the moon (am I right, there?) but it’s still hard to fathom how a planet could control that (is the moon a “planet”? – see how ignorant I am!).

So, what of the last week for me? Well, I continue to (I believe) use my “downtime” to best effect: mainly sifting through countless file archive boxes, slowly adopting a surprisingly, sensible, view of what I can actually manage without when it comes to moving house soon.

For example, I happened across a whole box of “Music Week” editions from almost ten years ago: I have enough trouble, on a busy schedule, reading through the regular subscription copy I receive each week – before suddenly the next edition is dropping onto the mat. Therefore, what leads me to even imagine I’m ever going to catch up with (or even need) ten-year-old back copies? Can you believe I hauled them all the way from Scotland?! So they are history folks. Hopefully such housekeeping will have an ongoing, positive, effect.

This is the first weekend I can recall – in the (now) almost a year since I have stayed here – that I actually spent the weekend on my own: either I’ve been away on tour or I’ve been over at Alice’s place - or alternatively she has travelled over to Seaford to visit me.

This departure from the norm has come about because Alice only left here Thursday past – and I am due to travel over to her place at some point in the middle of next week, therefore it seemed best for me to hang back here and busy myself with the “great tidy”.

Next weekend my son Bradley arrives from Canada, en-route to Australia - a country where he now feels more of a pull towards than his own one! He will be with us for around nine days therefore it’s important we make the most of it: it could be a while before we see him again.

Such is life when your children have flown the nest: not easy to take, however every parent has to pass this point on the road of life – therefore I know empathy is not in short supply. When I next pen the weekly edition of this diary, he’ll probably be looking over my shoulder!

Sunday 25 August, 2013

Good afternoon from Basingstoke Canal Centre – yes, “I’m messing about on the river”!

While Alice slaves away, at the start of her evening shift, I am sat a few miles away – in this idyllic location – with the laptop and the Sunday papers; I believe I have lucked out.

Since arriving back in Seaford, on Tuesday (from Scotland) I have attempted something of a re-organisation of my ever-reducing filing system. I reckon I once had over twenty-five archive boxes stuffed with a mass of touring records from the previous thirty years involvement in the music business: I can now report that is down to under ten!

I also have to report, however, that I have spent a fair few hours – on odd afternoons of this past week sat in a deckchair, on the Seaford beach. And why not? Life is too short.

Did I actually say that? Yes I did – and it heralds what I perceive to be the possible dawn of realisation within myself (having finally reached a stage in my life when I don’t have to tour, like my life depends upon it) that there’s no need to feel guilty about easing up a little.

Of course, I won’t be fully relaxed until I’m over the door of my new mortgage free property, with a set of keys in my hand (although I still haven’t found one to make an offer on yet!). At that exact point, will begin a new thought process: I’ll know what (little!) money I have then - however that can be tempered with the calming realisation that I will then have reduced my cost-of-living expenses to a very manageable level. An open mind beckons!

So, yes, on a few occasions this past week, while at “home” in Seaford, I’ve just disciplined myself to “down tools”, stick my shorts on – and wander over to the little seaside café on the esplanade for a cappuccino. I’m not sure I ever want to be “retired”, but being able to just please oneself as to what one does during the day – maybe that’s actually what it’s like.

Anyway, there’s much work to be done – and much work to be had, hopefully – before I can consider myself to be anywhere near such a situation. I’m off up to Scotland in the middle of next week, via Manchester and Leeds – for meetings on Wednesday and Thursday – ultimately to take a look at another couple of possible properties in the Dunbar area.

Work always finds its way to me, however on the majority of occasions in the past, I have to subtly solicit for it. Relatively risky as it is, I’ve just decided to chill for a few weeks; see if I can manage to fix up a couple of young players before the end of the month; soak up the summer sunshine – and surprise myself at my apparent ability to hold my nerve, in doing so!

I also recognise the need to pay attention to my health. It’s fairly good when measured against the health of the average 61-year-old male, but I know there’s room for improvement. Again, I would quote that rising star of stage and screen, Mr Nicky Byrne, who said: “Your Health is Your Wealth”. Couldn’t have put it better myself, son. When we speak again next week, you will be conversing with a healthier Jake Duncan. Excited? No?

Sunday 18 August, 2013

Tell me I’m not the only one who returns from vacation, saddened that it’s come to an end.

I’m actually quite surprised I felt so relaxed when I was out there in Bulgaria (Alice may say otherwise!) being that I have yet to decide on a new property; the old Jaguar is on it’s last legs – and my football business, for an honest operator, becomes harder by the day.

Our second week ended up being slightly more enjoyable than the first, only really because Alice sussed out the bicycle rental shop – and off we went, cycling everywhere for the last three days, most notably to the old seaport of Nessabar, six kilometres from Sunny Beach.

One of the first things I will definitely do once I am relocated back up here in Scotland is buy a bike (and a smaller one for Alice!) to enable us to go explore East Lothian: I really do find the cycling most therapeutic – can’t exactly put my finger on why, but it absolutely is.

We actually arrived back mid-morning Friday, from Varna, collected Alice’s car from where she had left it at her daughter’s house and then spent the evening with Alice’s son, David, and his wife Katrina, as their guest for dinner (and that boy David can cook, let me tell you!)

>As a result of Alice having to be back to work, down south, on Friday afternoon – but me having to wait back to view a few houses – she caught the train south on Saturday afternoon. I hope to be in a position to drive her car back from Scotland, by Wednesday morning. I am slowly short-listing the properties, which I feel comfortable with - common sense telling me that a three-bedroomed property will really suffice for my needs.

I do honestly feel that the property market in the UK has “grounded out” and – while current values are not exactly going to start accelerating as they were doing pre-2009 – I would like to think that prices will now edge up by a couple of per cent each year, from here on in. It therefore follows that one should look to invest as much as one reasonably can, into the purchase of any property – where one’s monies will accrue more than it will in the bank!

On the work side, it’s time to get my backside into gear. It’s been a long time coming, but I am now find myself in the position to be able to be a touch selective regarding future offers. I am just about to place a full-page advertisement into the recognised weekly trade paper for the music business – as I would like to offer my expertise to some of the new artist coming into the business, to set them on the right tracks, for the years to come.

My fellow Tour Managers/Tour Accountants would generally not take such an approach, however many of those guys didn’t take a five year sabbatical - attempting to save the world of football – and therefore they were able to hold on to the majority of their clients.

To call me a Tour Manager is to call Brian Laudraup a winger: I believe I have several strings to my bow – I just need somewhere to fire those arrows of knowledge. Deep, huh? Mmmm…

Sunday 11 August, 2013

A (very) warm welcome – 32 degrees centigrade in fact – from Golden Sands in Bulgaria.

Being that we received such a cheap deal to fly from Edinburgh to Sunny Beach, here in Bulgaria, we decided to re-locate sixty miles up the Black Sea “coast” to Bulgaria’s other notable beach-side resort, for a few days: which now finds us here in “Golden Sands”.

Come next week, once I’m back in Scotland (we arrive back there next Friday, 16th) I should be able to reflect upon our two weeks spent out here in Bulgaria, and make what I believe will be a fair comparison between the two main beach-resort areas. However, I should possibly pause here for a moment, as there may be a third area that comes into contention.

While taking the local bus back from here at Golden Sands, into the nearby city of Varna (with the intention of purchasing our return bus tickets to Sunny Beach) we noted the very number 409 bus threading it’s way through another little coastal town called – as best we could ascertain – “Sunny Day”. While certainly, apparently, a lot “quieter” than Golden Sands, there was a definite trend towards some form of tourist activity in the locality.

>Upon enquiring at the front desk of our hotel here in Golden Sands (The Helios Hotel), the reception staff advised that Sunny Day was certainly not “walkable”, therefore we jumped back on the number 409 bus – paying all of 1.60 Lev (75p!) and took the fifteen minute journey to Sunny Day. Having wandered around the small resort until the early evening – and convincing ourselves that surely Golden Sands was not much further up the coast (the bus had taken a very circuitous road to get there) – we set off on foot keeping the coastline on our right and – whadya know? – within twenty minutes we had Golden Sands in our sights.

Mental note for next possible visit to Bulgaria: take up residence in delightful Sunny Day and – if one feels the need – just walk up the coast to visit the more lively Golden Sands.

Generally, during my time out here – and away from my “workplace” – I’ve tried to re-order my thoughts, in gradual preparation for my return to the real world: there are essentially, currently three facets to the business side of my life: the house purchase, ongoing work opportunities and - any future involvement with the Football side of my company business.

Conclusively, fixing the first one (the house purchase) will markedly increase my ability to focus on the other two. Being on the brink of a mortgage-free existence promises much head-clearing space: and with a clear head – and a creative focus – there’s no telling what I may be able to achieve. Hence, there’s more house viewing to be done upon my return to Scotland next weekend: however, the “possibles” are now being (sensibly) narrowed down.

Can you believe that within the next three months I could actually be penning a diary entry from the comfort of my new home? (“comfort” may not quite be the word, as I will initially have no furniture in the space – but, at that point, lying on bare wooden floors will do it for me!). So, hang in there trusty readers – one day soon we will all be vindicated in our own way!


Sunday 4 August, 2013

This week’s diary entry comes to you “Al Fresco”, outdoors at a Bulgarian restaurant!

To be specific, I’m in the Bulgarian resort of Sunny Beach, on the Black Sea – two days into my annual holiday, as I touched upon when I penned last week’s entry. So far, our impressions of this place are favourable: the weather is excellent - and the beachfront extends for about two miles in total, with one end certainly more family orientated, while the other end would appear to host a very vibrant nightlife, for all the “youngsters” in town.

Also notable is the inexpensive cost of food and drink – with the food being of good quality: many restaurants at this end of the beach (the family end) offering – for example - barbecued chicken, salad and a small beer for around £5.00. Those prices rise by around 40%, when one meanders towards the “vibrant” end of the beachfront. Only to be expected.

We actually flew out from Edinburgh, having discovered a package deal with a company called Balkan Holidays. We were originally planning on flying out from Luton airport, after which the idea was to sneak up to Edinburgh for a few days. However, discovering a better deal – with the same company – which departed from Edinburgh, we “reversed” our plans and decided to drive to Edinburgh, Thursday past, and then spend a couple of days there, upon our return (this also allowed me to view a couple of houses before we flew out of Edinburgh)

Actually, it all worked out rather conveniently on Thursday afternoon: Alice was able to leave Guildford a few hours earlier than originally anticipated, which put us into Dunbar at around 4.30 pm on Thursday afternoon, with a total of six houses to check out: four from the outside and two from the inside - a mix of three and four bedroom properties. As I again touched upon last week, common sense has started to prevail in house buying world.

On closing the entry last week, I mentioned that I felt this year could signal a time of change for me. This view is definitely linked to the imminent purchase of a property and my consequent “membership” of mortgage-free world. It cannot come too soon, believe me.

It is never terribly far from my thoughts that at age fifty (“only” twelve years ago) I regained a foot on the property ladder, having rented for several years prior to that, following the loss of my original Edinburgh property through the failure of my business. Each to his own, but I need to put this state of affairs to rest, wipe my slate clean and take a completely fresh view of things. Soon I move from administrative mode to creative mode!

Over the next twelve days, I hope to slow down enough to stand back from the generally frantic nature of my lifestyle and plan how to forge a more rewarding (in every way) direction. I have to believe I have already laid the foundations for what lies ahead for me: I sense a turning point, a shaft of light breaking clear of the cloud cover, which will hopefully point the way forward for me. I know I’m not articulating this particularly well, but I’ll bet I’ll be a whole lot more lucid and clear, come this time next week. Stick with me gang – we shall hail – and celebrate – this new dawn together. Until this time next week, from Bulgaria.


Sunday 28 July, 2013

Well gang, here I sit: living proof that – indeed – there “is no fool like an old fool”.The reason? I’ve just lost out on the best property I’ve viewed, since my house hunting began, only to be too slow to table an offer – subsequently losing out to another buyer!

In my defense, I could cite an unfortunate combination of circumstances surrounding that particular house: however, the situation was ultimately under my control. I basically blew it.

So, we’re often told, everything happens for a reason? We shall see in this case. Having lost out on said houseTuesday past when I was still in Scotland, I returned south that same evening (to lick my wounds?) convinced that I need to revise my house-buying approach.

The thing is: this will not be my last house in life (I can see myself back on the south coast in a few years, when both my children have finally “flown the coop” from Scotland). Nevertheless, with the embittering experience of my last house yet – if ever – to be scotched from the memory banks, I can’t help proceeding with extreme caution. Armed with the lessons from my hurried purchase of the last house in Edinburgh - although at that time the market was “flying” at 12.5% appreciation per annum - I now find myself probably over analysing each important aspect that I’ve identified as key elements of the property.

While I welcome the idea of once again owning a four bedroom house (three of which will definitely be regularly utilised), the average “cost” of the extra bedroom could be as much as £30K, so – as both Alice and Sue (my eyes and ears in the Dunbar area) and Jane, my sister, have firmly reminded me, “what’s the point of the additional cost, if it sits unused?”

Enough of the house-hunting saga for this week: it can wait until I’m back from holiday.

Work-wise, I’ve not pro-actively gone chasing anything, mainly because we’re away on that holiday from the 4th of August, for ten days, most likely to Bulgaria (a first for both Alice and I – it rarely happens that we fly to a “new” destination together). Sofia so good. I have been known to venture further afield at holiday time, however there were certain unforeseen staff changes at Alice’s place of work (MI6!) which disrupted our original plans.

On the football front, the backlash of the past few years downturn in the general economy continues to bite, evidenced by four clubs having all found themselves in “administration” within the past three years (Glasgow Rangers; Dundee; Dunfermline and – worst of all for me – my beloved “Hearts”). It becomes increasingly harder to place young, hopeful, players.

My only saving grace is my excellent working relationship with several of the Scottish clubs, built up over many years, that occasionally enables me to squeeze a trial player into their set-ups – whereas many of the “newer” agents’ cell phones will just be going unanswered.

All in all, I feel this to a year of change for me: this I will expand upon next week! BFN.

Sunday 21 July, 2013

Greetings from Edinburgh once again, back on the house-hunting trail, down ol’ Dunbar way.

I’ve firmly decided to apply some quality time to finding a property on which I can make an offer. Once I’ve purchased the proposed property, I can ease back a little, take stock of my (then) current situation – but at least find myself in a position where my living expenses are almost negligible. There’s an increasingly nagging realisation that the most important thing is for me to find some reasonably suitable property – which may not be totally ideal – just so that I can finalise the purchase and – at last – find myself in a mortgage free situation.

The problem I’m encountering is that – not living “locally” in Scotland at this present time – some houses are coming on to the market, and then inviting offers for their sale, before I am able to jump on a train and undertake a viewing. So, I’m advocating a return to “Plan A”.

Plan A: identify the particular streets in Dunbar that feel “comfortable” and appear to have the size of houses that will have the sort of asking prices which fit into my budget. From there, just send a simple ten-line letter to each house in the “chosen” streets, enquiring as to whether they were contemplating a house move in the not-too-distant future.

The clear advantage of the above system is that one is not competing against other prospective bidders for the same house as, obviously, the property has not come to market yet. That way, I can’t be “beaten to the punch” on an offer situation, if I’m down south. In fact, it was this method that I utilised to identify four prospective house sellers in the street in Dunbar, that first took my fancy. Therefore, it’s time to go that route again.

I’m still registered with the three main estate agents in the locality therefore, I believe – in conjunction with the  “mailout plan” - I’m covering all bases to secure the ideal property.

Over the next two days, I’ll be looking at several properties in and around Dunbar in the hope that I may narrow it down to one or two that I could consider offering on. Sure, there’s a need to put this property issue to bed, so that I can concentrate on moving on (and moving in!). Every day I think of sitting in the garden of my “new” home, in the evening sun, pinching myself in the disbelief that I’ve actually pulled it off – yes, I’m mortgage free!

On the work side (what work?) I delivered the Who’s completed tour accounts to their London management company, on Friday past, on the way to Kings Cross station to catch the train up here to Edinburgh – sadly, signaling the end to a most enjoyable tour.

As we are off on holiday from 4th to 18th August, there is little point in “over-marketing” myself at the moment - as I’m not really in a position to take up any work offers until towards the end of August. Hopefully, I will be involved with JLS’s final tour, come the end of this year which – for me – would make it two “farewell” tours in two years, having also been involved in Westlife’s final tour last year. So, onwards and upwards: no doubt I’ll be penning this diary next week, with news of my next project. We can but hope! Until then…

Sunday 14 July, 2013

I should have shares in “East Coast” rail services, the amount of times I’ve travelled on it!

Once again, here I am, threading my way down the East coast of the UK, however I’ve spoilt myself this Sunday afternoon, by upgrading to the “Weekend First” service on the train. I may have mentioned this at some point in the past: although, when it first started, it once cost £5.00, it is now the princely sum of £25.00. Having said that, it includes free coffee, free water, free pre-packaged sandwiches, free biscuits and – best of all – free Wi-fi!

Therefore, over the course of the (almost) five-hour train journey, one can nearly re-coup the cost of one’s investment – and, in my case, have a full sized table to work at. Result!

The plan, from Thursday past, onwards, was too run up to Scotland, view a few more prospective houses, catch a pre-season football game or two – while at the same time hopefully help a couple of young players to find clubs. Before I knew it, I had allowed the latter purpose to run away with itself and take up most of the last four days in Scotland!

Well, it is something of a “hobby” – and I have had my nose to the grindstone in work mode those past five weeks, therefore I thought I might just indulge myself in something that I particularly enjoy. It has just slipped my mind how time consuming the whole process was.

House wise, there was nothing of note tat had come to market in the area (Dunbar/East Lothian) to where I particularly want to relocate. At times like these a small voice says in my head that maybe I need to reconsider my area of choice – and possibly widen the search!

However, I’m going to run back up to Scotland next week, with the above thought very much to the forefront of my mind. It has been eight months now since I departed for England’s southern shores, fairly sure at the time that I should take up residence in England again. Having reversed that decision within three months of arriving in Seaford, I then set about looking back up in Scotland: however three (almost) successive tours have got in the way.

Consequently, with this Who tour all but put to bed, I’ve made the conscious decision not to go energetically on the hunt for my next project. Apart from anything else, I have booked a holiday in early August, therefore it makes sense to use the intervening time to (literally) get my house in order and – where’s the harm – enjoy this current period of fabulous weather.

I mean, really: coming from the guy who only sat in the garden of his last house about five or six times in seven years, I need to plan on a little more relaxation time for myself. I should of course have been in this frame of mind several years ago however the ever-growing realisation of my need to divest myself of my last, high-maintenance, property continually preyed upon my mind and prohibited me from easing back a little, over the last few years.

Thankfully, that is all behind me now and - once the new house purchase is complete – I will soon be in the position to consider having a little down-time. Loyal readers – I just can’t wait!!

Sunday 7 July, 2013

Sadly, it is so much the way with this life that I lead: I must have done upwards of thirty shows in Amsterdam (many times “based” there in respect of the – then – only large auditorium in Holland, the infamous Rotterdam “Ahoy”) and yet I have seen more of this city in the last two days, with young Alice in tow, than in all the rest of the times I’ve been there.
The fact that the weather was glorious only served to further enhance the experience of one of the most relaxed weekends I can recall in a long time. Sure, by night, the city is a cauldron of seething, partying, humanity: however there’s a form of entertainment to suit every palette, whether you just wish to linger and observe – or completely tear the place up. We were probably leaning towards the former, but always aware of any reasonable opportunity to become involved in a touch of the latter. Flexibility is the key to fun, my dear readers.

Amsterdam also boasts a fair mash-up of nationalities and cultures – all, in our experience, very amiable, very engaging and very happy to mix with everyone in the same environment. One very gregarious South American lady (hailing from Brazil, I believe), with whom we fell into conversation, became most animated upon discovering Alice was from Scotland – why not so with me?!  - after which the pair of them became very engaged – almost forgetting me!

Back to the show: finally, Amsterdam has a venue to match (nay, surpass) their Rotterdam neighbour: “The Ziggo Dome”. Excellent facilities; very efficient load-in dock; plenty of power; large, bright, production offices – and a capacity of anywhere between twelve and seventeen thousand, depending upon which seating/standing format one chooses to utilise.

There I was, sat in my accounting office, looking out the window approximately in a north north west direction which – around 9.30 in the evening – afforded me a wondrous spectacle of the sun going down and bathing my office in floods of warm orange and yellow colours. On nights like that, one is prone to wonder how we manage, on so many other occasions, to deal with cold, window-less, “breezeblock” offices for sixteen hours a day at a time. Let’s take the windows while they’re going, shall we? The latter gives us cause to appreciate the former.

I’m off back to London on a BA flight later this evening, out of Amsterdam (in fact I’m currently sitting “airside” in Holland’s Schipol airport –nice and early – awaiting my flight: this is by far one of the best “distraction-less” times/locations to pen a weekly diary entry). Quite apart from the fact it is also a Sunday – so I’m doing exactly what it says on the tin!

One final show tomorrow on this fourteen-date Who tour and then a few days of clean-up, before facing my next project (but, at this time I don’t yet know what that is!). Once I have submitted the final tour accounts to the Who’s management offices, I’m going to dive up to Scotland for a few days and hopefully kick-start my house hunting efforts.

Pretty relaxed huh, for a guy technically out of work? I just feel that I need a little time to myself – especially where finding a place to purchase is concerned – to bring my personal affairs into order and to start to concentrate on looking after myself a little better. Hoorah!


Sunday 30 June, 2013

This evening saw my last show in the UK (for the time being anyway – more about that later) with The Who, before I depart for the European mainland tomorrow, Paris first off.

This continues to be a most enjoyable outing: one day all tours may be like this. In fairness, there’s very little touring I have done over the years that has been “un-enjoyable” and – upon reflecting on things for a minute there – it now may be less to do with the touring, and more to do with me, that I have happened upon the realisation of certain personal factors.

Now – sure - I’m known as something of a stickler for detail with my tour accounting and - being in the company of the many seasoned professionals on this tour – I have continued that work ethic in my current position. However, every few days I’m struck by the thought of how I managed to accomplish both jobs (Tour Management and Tour Accounting) while out on Westlife for almost six months last year. Little wonder I was completely drained by the end of July last year – and needed almost a month to recover from that strength-sapping ordeal.

Before going any further, let me just say that I wouldn’t have missed that last Westlife tour for the world: it just brought into sharp focus what it takes to pull off both jobs at once.

Back to the current tour: at the beginning of this week’s entry I mentioned this evening’s show at Liverpool’s Echo arena being our “last” show in the UK. Not quite true: once we have played next week’s two mainland-Europe shows (Paris on Wednesday and Amsterdam on Friday) then we return to England for the last show of the tour, full stop, at Wembley Arena.

Ah, Wembley Arena: every band, who is any band, have at some point done a show there. I’m concentrating very hard here, but I seem to recall my first show there being with Deep Purple, back in 1976, when they hired some specialist sound equipment that belonged to “Jethro Tull” (whom I was working for at the time) – and I was sent to “babysit” the gear.

The history of Wembley Arena makes for interesting reading. I don’t claim to be an expert on it, but I do believe the building was erected in 1938, originally as an Olympic-sized swimming pool, when the Olympics were then held in London. I could be way off here, therefore if you are curious to know more, feel free to set me straight, history-wise.

I should mention that (and this will undoubtedly be hi-lited if one were to read up on it) back when I did that first Deep Purple show the stage was at the East end of the rectangular building. Now, following an extensive refurbishment to the venue around 2005, the stage is located at the opposite end. One day I’m gonna check why they went to so much trouble – and related expense to “move the stage to the other end”. Safety undoubtedly played some part.

Anyway, lest I find myself trying to keep my balance on the slippery slope of nostalgia, back to the present, with a relatively relaxing five days coming up in Paris and Amsterdam and a three-hour train ride between both cities to look forward to. As one of the Who’s technical crew said yesterday: “I would be happy to do another couple of months of this”. Me too. BFN.

Sunday 23 June, 2013

I have witnessed a weekend of nightlife in Manchester. It should be renamed “Madchester”.

In accordance with the likes of Liverpool, Glasgow and Newcastle – the people of this town appear to miss no opportunity of a weekend, to go out and absolutely let rip. Next week is next week: tonight is tonight. Best to take the view that tomorrow is a fair way off as well!

These people are the salt of the earth: by weekday they apply themselves, by weekend they abandon themselves. We, reasonably paid, road-dogs just don’t know how lucky we are. 

Anyway, a little background as to how we come to be here this (relatively chilled – well definitely compared to Friday & Saturday) Sunday evening. As it happens, we just finished a show – here in Manchester with the Who, just under two hours ago. As we “speak”, I am sat here in the lobby of the Portland Thistle hotel – in no hurry to retire to my postage stamp of a room – determined to maintain my recent good form (in the penning of timely diary entries).

Another rousing performance from the band tonight, in front of almost thirteen thousand appreciative fans, in a city that has endured a veritable musical feast of entertainment over this past weekend, with both Robbie Williams and The Kings of Leon playing here in town.

As I have stated more than once, in the past, I just don’t know where most of those kids find the money to repeatedly (apparently) attend a variety of live concert performances. I suspect their “flexible friend” engagingly comes to their rescue. Still, those credit card bills have all got to be paid for at some point, folks. Debt – like death – catches up with all of us.

Prior to tonight’s Manchester show, we spent two downtime days based here in this city-centre location. Now, it’s not often that I am able enjoy two consecutive days off on the road, let alone those days being a Friday and a Saturday! I’ve way too much time on my hands.

Tonight’s show was also only the third of this current week, following Tuesday at Sheffield Arena and Thursday at Newcastle’s Metro Arena: all the same venues as I played last month with “The Big Reunion” tour, but on that occasion jamming fourteen arenas into fifteen days!

I was just reflecting there, for a minute, upon when I first received the call about the vacancy as Tour Accountant with The Who and - knowing it to be a touring operation vastly removed from the majority of what I have been involved with, over the last few years – wondering how I might fit into a set-up where I had personally worked with very few of the touring personnel during the last thirty years (although, obviously, very much aware of some of the stellar names on the staff listing I received, prior to commencement of the tour).

As it turns out, such concerns were unfounded, as I have been welcomed to the fold by a good, solid, bunch of touring professionals - more than a few of which are my senior, if only by a year or two (it’s great to feel young again!!). Tomorrow we have a travel day to Cardiff, prior to our show there, at the CIA. We’re halfway through the tour already. Until next week...

Sunday 16 June, 2013

Another week goes by on this Who tour and, I have to say, it continues to be most enjoyable.

Naturally, undertaking only the Tour Accountancy – in contrast to several of my recent tours where I have been the Tour manager as well – certainly frees up some personal time for me.

After walking away from the music business for several elongated spells over the last twenty years – to (foolishly?) follow my passion for an involvement with football (and throwing a fair amount of money at it “to boot”) I had little choice of late to move to maximise my income.

Hence the reason that I’ve convinced the various Artist managers to whom I’ve contracted, to give me a crack at both jobs. With the likes of Westlife’s final tour last year, I almost bit off more than I could chew and – about this time last year – I was a mere shadow of myself. Oddly enough, tough as it was to the reach it, I’m now at the point where I’m able to run both jobs in tandem – experience having assisted me to identity how to effectively apportion my time.

On the other side of that coin – certainly assisted by the “relaxed” itinerary on this current Who tour - I have recently found time to myself that, hitherto, was unprecedented. So: I find myself, not for the first time in the last few years, at something of a crossroads. Do I continue to seek out the touring work, marketing myself in the dual role – or do I (having finally reached the point where I am mortgage free) just kickback somewhat and just do the one job at a time?

Enough of the introspective reflection: what of the past week I (hope) I hear you enquire?

Well, as alluded to earlier (in respect of how relaxed this outing is) with only one instance on this tour of “back to back” shows – this past week at London’s O2 being that instance – I’ve only actually undertaken four shows since last week’s diary entry: Belfast Odyssey on Monday past; Glasgow’s SECC on Wednesday and the two shows in London, on Saturday and earlier tonight.

At first it was quite disconcerting to always return to a hotel after the show when, normally (because, as you well know by now, I prefer to travel with the crew) I would just slither into my bank on the crew bus, and consequently rock up outside the next venue, six hours later. Now, I’m into the swing of things however I realise that – enjoyable as this tour has become – I probably need to be doing around an average of five and a half shows a week, to keep me focused.

As this tour is due to draw to a close with a final show in Wembley,  on Monday 8th July, I should really be concentrating on drumming up some future work prospects. I’ve certainly fired of a bunch of e-mails to make my various contacts aware of my availability, from mid July onwards, although I really feel I must apply some quality time to the matter of the house purchase. This, of course, is not so easy when one is in touring mode – and also when one is particularly concerned not to jump into the same situation as last time, when I overlooked a poorly maintained property.

So, that was the week that was  (does anyone recall the 70’s TV show of the same name?) and the next one curiously beckons me from the fading horizon. Time to run out to meet it! BFN.

Sunday 9 June, 2013

Warm greetings (this week, once again) - but this time from atop the Belfast Hilton Hotel.

When I say “atop”, I refer to the 11th floor lounge, which is accessible to “Hilton Honors” members of which – after rummaging around in the depths of my wallet – I realised I was one!

The hotel lounge appears to face south-west as – at the current time of 6.40 pm (and in great contrast – weather wise – to the last time I was here) the setting sun is streaming in through the windows. One can have little to complain about on days (and evenings) such as this - particularly the day after the first Who show on the tour, performed last night at Dublin’s O2 Arena.

In contrast to much of what I have done in the last three or four years, the most obvious difference is the demographic of the majority of the audience – many in my own age group. To be honest, I spent little time out front last night - with it being the first show, and its attendant “bedding in” procedures. As anticipated, it is refreshing to be around my contemporaries, a few of whom I have not worked with since way back in 1976 – two of whom can still remember me!

The vibe is very chilled – everyone knows what they are doing and are typically going about it in the expected, professional, manner. The management has been around more than thirty years and calmly oversees the whole operation with a weathered eye and a knowing countenance.

Therefore, the signs are already there, that point to a most enjoyable and relaxed outing: both Rex King (Tour Manager) and Roy Lamb (Production Manager) – highly experienced and respected operators in my business – have gone out of their way to assist with my introduction to the Who’s touring operation. The crew consists of a few different nationalities: just over half are “Brits”, followed by a clutch of US guys – with the video department crewed almost exclusively by French-Canadians. Yes, a fair few accents can be heard in the production corridor.

As a result of this tour not encountering any “back-to-back” shows, save the two London O2 appearances, there is no need for the crew to be travelling through the night as would normally be the case. Consequently, the crew travelled up from Dublin today courtesy of a “local” coach company. From here (Belfast) we will fly to Glasgow, followed by another flight to London – after which we will utilize the services of a “day” coach, for the remaining seven UK shows. Cool, huh?

I only managed to catch the last five minutes of the show last night – two hours and ten minutes long! - as (and you may recall me making mention of this in the past) the O2 in Dublin is not the easiest venue in which to agree and settle all the attendant costs: the PRS alone is computed on a sliding-scale percentage basis, rather than the standard UK 3%. In fairness to them, I have a template Dublin settlement sheet that already has the cell formulas in place to cover the likes of the above. It may not be a bad thing, but the pace in Ireland is not as frantic as that of the UK.

All in all, I suspect a very enjoyable month lies ahead of me as we wind our way around the UK, then take in two European shows (Paris and Amsterdam) before finishing up, one month today, with a final UK show at London’s Wembley arena. This is no less than I deserve. Until next week.

Sunday 2 June, 2013

Warm (literally) greetings from Pirbright in Surrey, from the location of Alice’s latest posting!

Now, before we go much further folks - I have to share with you the experience of an old village that Alice and I stumbled upon this afternoon, a mere ten miles distant from here, called Shere.

Guys, there is something captivating about this place, just off the A25 in Surrey, not terribly far from either Woking or Guildford: a magical little village, with an incredible vibe to it. At some point in your lives (see, I’m confidently assuming I have more than one regular reader) please go check the place out and then drop me a note to tell me if you were similarly enthralled.

Otherwise, what of the last week? Well, while it is most welcome to have a Monday “off” – this as part of last weekend’s “Bank Holiday” weekend - one has to be careful of being caught by what essentially ends up as a short week (this being my final preparation for the upcoming Who tour).

 I did make mention of my recent appointment as Tour Accountant on the “Who” tour, did I not? The tour consists of fourteen shows in total, kicking off in Dublin (where we will rehearse for two days – hence my imminent departure this coming Tuesday) and from where we move onto Belfast, then back onto to the UK mainland for nine shows, then onto Paris and Amsterdam – finishing off back in the UK with a London Wembley show on 7th July. What a great little tour!

I agreed with Alice to travel down to here at Pirbright yesterday morning – and in fact (once again anticipating a fair amount of “tour start” luggage) Alice was good enough to volunteer to drive down to Seaford, on Friday after work, stay the night, and then drive me back to Pirbright early Saturday morning - the reason being that she was due to start her shift at noon yesterday.

With the above plan in place (conceived with Alice before she left Seaford on Tuesday past – but that’s all we conceived!!) I left myself with a fairly hectic four days in which to complete all the pre-tour tasks associated with the commencement of the Who tour: I also had to visit London for most of the day on Friday there, both for an ITV de-brief in respect of the “Big Reunion” tour – in addition to one final visit to the London HQ of the Who’s operation, for a tour meeting.

I was most pleased to find that Alice’s new quarters feature rather a large, accommodating, workspace and therefore – as I am wont to do – I have set up shop, in full pre-tour mode: just as Alice was starting to get a handle on her new premises (but I’ll be gone by Tuesday afternoon).

In contrast to Alice’s last military establishment, I am now “behind the wire” in that the staff accommodations are within the secure area of the camp (at Middle Wallop, where Alice was last stationed, the officers accommodation was on the other side of the A303 road, from the main training base), therefore I don’t have the freedom to wander – and drive – about, as I once did.

Not to worry: from tomorrow onwards, until my Heathrow departure on Tuesday afternoon, I have plenty to keep me busy in preparation for the upcoming tour, so being “confined to barracks” works out just fine for me for the moment. Until next weekend in Ireland. Love you all.


Sunday 26 May, 2013

Another week running around hither and thither (is that still an expression that’s used?) - mainly driven by my requirement to settle on a choice of house purchase, within the near future.

I have to continue to believe that I am “catching up” in my life, to where I comfortably require to be. As a simple indication (yardstick?) of that, I need to be penning these diary entries topically, each Sunday. When I reach that point, I’ll know I’m definitely making progress.

This last week I travelled to Leeds, from Belfast (Alice flew “the other way” to Gatwick to start her afternoon shift at the Army Training Centre to where she has been posted, in Pirbright in Surrey) where I spent Tuesday and Wednesday making a start, clearing up all accounting matters related to “The Big Reunion” tour. Late Wednesday afternoon – labouring under the weight of my “tour luggage”, I struggled onto the Leeds to Edinburgh train, thankful to the gentleman manning the desk at Europcar at Edinburgh’s Waverley station for making allowance for said train’s delay.

I have successfully been making the last year’s car rental bookings with an online company called “”, essentially a car-rental broker who come up with fairly incredible deals. Last time in Edinburgh, they pointed me in the direction of Hertz (£56.00 – including VAT – for a Peugeot 306 for two days) however this time Europcar seemed to be the preferred choice, which was perfect for me arriving at the station, overloaded with luggage. There is a car-rental God.

Typical of me, I neglected to alert my older (of the two) sister that I was looking for some “Room at the Inn” until almost the point when the train was pulling into Edinburgh: it therefore served me right to discover that she was actually about two hundred miles distant, on a cycling mini-break with some of her school pupils. “Only managed 22 miles today” she texted me. Jeez.

Nevertheless, onto “Laterooms” I marauded and tried to find something reasonable on the East side of town from where, early morning, I could strike out towards Dunbar to view those houses.

At breakfast the following morning at the Promenade Hotel, not a stone’s throw from Portobello Beach (ah, such memories!) I received a text, bang on nine o’clock in the morning, to inform me, painfully, that one of the two properties I was intending to check out had received – and accepted – an offer, at 8.30 am that same morning. Go on – tell me it was meant to be. Damn.

Not much one can do about that – other than climb into Europcar’s finest and head on down the east coast to take a gander at the one remaining property, which was meeting my criteria. Before doing so, there was the minor task of completing two hours work on the “Big Reunion’s” road accounts and hopefully, subsequently mailing them all back south – with the additional benefit of lightening my luggage load by a good couple of kilos, keeping in mind all supporting documentation.

In closing, the house viewing went well (need to take a second look – but sooner this time!) and on Friday past I boarded the train back to Seaford, via London, where Alice arrived that evening after work, and where we enjoyed an idyllic “Bank Holiday” weekend two days, not doing very much at all, other than lazing around. You see – maybe I’m actually learning to slow down. Maybe.

Sunday 19 May, 2013

Almost caught up with the diary entries – although I’ve hardly looked out the train window today.

The final (but only the “third”) week of the “Big Reunion” tour encompassed four shows: Brighton Centre (Monday past); London O2 (Tuesday 14th) and then, finally – after a long bus and ferry journey, via Holyhead - Dublin O2 on Thursday, followed by the final show of the tour, at Belfast’s Odyssey Arena, Friday past. Talk about a whirlwind tour – it all happened so fast.

Today (Sunday 19th), I’m still in Belfast, having taken advantage of some excellent weekend fares on Aer Lingus to enable Alice to travel out here for two days. Tomorrow, I head back to Leeds/Bradford airport and onwards into the city centre (Leeds) where I will spend two days at the offices of “Production North”, clearing up all financial aspects of the recent “BR” tour.

The Dublin show (Thursday past) was surprisingly well attended, considering the “Big Reunion” TV show was not broadcast in the Republic of Ireland. Conversely, Belfast was Belfast, where this type of show is concerned: wildly enthusiastic audience, enhanced by a Friday night “party vibe”.

Although there was a big after-show bash (laid on, by ITV, at Belfast’s El Divino club) I needed to maximise every available minute in the venue, on the last show, to tie up the inevitable loose ends, associated with the tour drawing to a close – but no complaints from me, missing the party.

The last of the talent flew out yesterday afternoon, with the tour bus having left for the Dublin ferry at 11.00 am yesterday morning, due to sail from Dublin Port at 2.30 pm. Vectoring in the driver’s mandatory breaks – and the ferry crossing itself – deemed that the tour bus did not make it into Kings Cross until around 10.30 pm last night. However – particularly with a few of the Artists (most notably “Atomic Kitten”) having arranged to be collected from certain service areas on the M6, there were only about ten passengers left on the bus when it reached London.

So, there we are – an intense fifteen-day touring period, the likes of which I may not undertake again, for a long time to come. In the main, it has been a most enjoyable affair. Over the range of individual Artists (twenty-six in total, on the nights that “Blue” were on the show) there were those that were impeccably professional – and those that were anything but. However, like many things alluded to, in these pages, any further revelations will have to await my autobiography!

Once I have completed the financial processes, on Tuesday and Wednesday next in Leeds, I am planning once again to slip up to Scotland for a few days to view another couple of properties. If the truth be known, I may quietly be regretting possibly not submitting an offer on one of the houses in Bruntsfield Crescent in Dunbar. I just couldn’t bring myself to commit to that particular property, having only spent less than twenty minutes inside the house - cool as it was.

I return to Seaford next Friday afternoon (there are, currently, only two properties to view in Dunbar however – particularly as, I’ve found, these properties turn around quickly when they come onto the market – I have no choice but to go and take a look). How much longer before I am a resident of Dunbar I wonder? Not too long now. I may have a better idea by this weekend!!

Sunday 12 May, 2013

So, get this: – it’s ten days since the tour started and tonight (in Birmingham) was our tenth show! When the tour bus makes its way from city to city at this point, you’ll be hard pushed to find any of the talent awake, within thirty minutes of leaving that day’s hotel. Tiredness reigns.

So what of the past ten days, an absolute touring whirlwind of activity? Here’s the run down ….

Initially, apart from the fact that the majority of UK arena tours rarely play any more than four shows in a row (most Artists’ voices cannot deal with such rigorous demands), this tour exhibited certain aspects that further set it apart from most of the touring projects I’m involved with.

For starters, there was no time available to undertake “Production” rehearsals, normally a 3/4 day period that enables the Artist and – just a s importantly – his technical crew to familiarise themselves with all of the key production elements associated with the presentation of the show.

In the case of the “Big Reunion” tour the “rehearsals” – as already alluded to – were confined to dance rehearsals only: meaning we hit the ground running, with a 5.00 am load-in call at the first tour show in Sheffield (Friday 3rd May). That made for a sixteen-hour day for me, typical of what was to lie ahead in the days to come. I was soon to discover that attempting to undertake Tour Management and Tour Accounting, together on this tour, was indeed to prove a tall order.

For my part, I quickly identified that for me to roll off the bus at 4.00 pm on showdays, when the talent arrived at the venue, was too late to have any effective influence on the financial side of things. Consequently, when many of our (not so) youthful charges were sleeping off their first hangover of the tour – a few more of those were to follow – I was slipping out of the Sheffield Novotel, master bill paid – and heading for the local train station and onwards to Manchester.

I employed the same method the following day (Sunday 5th) when I managed to book an inexpensive Manchester-Newcastle train fare, which landed me into the north-east city by 1300.

By this time, I was toying with the idea of self-driving myself for the remainder of the tour and subsequently put that plan into action from Aberdeen onwards, with my “final” train journey from Newcastle to Aberdeen enjoyed within the confines of first class, thanks to a great ticket deal.

To further maximise my available time within each venue, I made the tough decision to drive on to each “next” city, immediately after finishing my settlement, commencing with the Aberdeen to Glasgow “overnight” trip – checking into the Glasgow hotel at the god-awful hour of 3.30 am. That pretty much set the pattern for the following five shows (Glasgow to Liverpool to Nottingham to Bournemouth to Cardiff and – finally, for the purposes of this week’s diary entry – Birmingham, played last tonight, Sunday 12th May). As you can well imagine, I’m not looking my best at the moment, having averaged around five hours of sleep, over the past six days (nights).

So, ten down – four to go (two remaining UK shows in Brighton and London – followed by a travel day, then consecutive shows in Dublin and Belfast). I’m holding up – but not terribly well! BFN.

Sunday 5 May, 2013

OK, cards on the table, folks. Far from being the 5th May, it’s actually now the 24th May!

How did I manage to fall so far behind with my diary entries? It as happened previously, during a few, similarly busy touring periods, a few times in the past - for maybe two weeks at a time. This may however be a first, having found myself over three weeks adrift. While it’s a long time since this happened, it’s equally a long time since I undertook fourteen arena shows in fifteen days!

Consequently, as I sit here on the southbound train from Edinburgh – having only just tidied up the 28th April edition! – I’ve set myself the target of having the diary entries bang up to date before the rain reaches Kings Cross. Thankfully, I have the “Big Reunion” tour itinerary as a guideline, to prompt my not-so-reliable-as-it-once-was memory. So here goes for “this” week….

Thursday past (2nd May), we could not have picked a worse night to try and maneuver a forty-two foot tour bus into – and out of - Fulham, to collect our 34-strong entourage, and whisk them up to Sheffield for tomorrow night’s first performance of the tour: the night, indeed, that Chelsea FC are playing (at “home”, less than half a mile from the dance studios) in the Champions League!

Well, that was a whole bunch of fun but – thankfully – we managed to extricate ourselves from the heart of Fulham – and strike North for the Sheffield Novotel. However, no sooner had we cleared the outer radius of the M25 motorway, than the toilet on the tour-bus ceased to work.

Now, had we left the dance studios at the pre-arranged time then that would have prevented the various bands wandering off in search of fast-food and drink outlets, and taking their fill. I’m sure there’s no need to expand upon the importance of the toilet facilities in such circumstances.

I may have omitted to mention that – with this tour having been launched off the back of a very successful TV programme – we were saddled with the close attentions of a an eight-man film crew, every step of the way and – naturally – the tour bus environment represents rich pickings!

Sadly, for me, we now find ourselves prey to the camera lens at every turn. TV finds little solace in streamlined efficiency and finite organization: that’s way too sterile for their liking. No – TV craves mishap, mild calamity and – even – personal distress. The public (bless them, the unassuming and unwitting public) are fed one or two morsels of insight into the private lives of celebrity and – before you know it – they have developed a voracious appetite for “scuttlebutt”.

Equally sadly, the same pattern has emerged in the reporting, and punditry, of professional Football, in the UK: if it’s a toss up to instruct camera four – on game day – to focus on the promising young seventeen year old, warming up pre-match or the two opposing managers frostily making their way to their respective dug-outs, you can easily guess which opportunity wins out.

Anyway, I have shot off at a tangent this week therefore: I’ll concentrate on the opening (and next weeks’) shows on the tour and give you the lowdown on life on the road with the “Big Reunion” tour!! I’ll hint at this much – it couldn’t be further removed from my previous tour! BFN.


Sunday 28 April, 2013

It’s my last weekend visit to Alice, here at Middle Wallop, as she’s being posted on Tuesday. The problem is, I just don’t know how she’s going to fit through that narrow letter-box opening!

This past week, I’ve been taking care of various “day-long” tasks, which need to be dealt with before I take off on tour with “The Big Reunion”, later next week. Therefore, over the last seven days, I decided to pop up to visit my friend Loraine in Cambridgeshire (Monday); take in an AFA (Association of Football Agents) meeting in central London; attend a production meeting for the Big Reunion tour, in Leeds and – finally – run up to Scotland to check out a couple of houses.

On the subject of the latter, I definitely saw a house where I could comfortably live – located in a relatively new development in Dunbar where I have, in recent months, viewed three or four houses. Sometimes you just know as soon as you walk in – and maybe this was one of those times.

That said, one should really have a second viewing and – with me having to be in Leeds the next morning for the production meeting, I’m not going to have that opportunity over the next three weeks: remember my experience of the last house, where I rushed in foolishly and (literally) paid dearly for it. That has certainly shone a light of caution on the current house hunting. Yet, it will sure be good to sit in whichever house I buy – on the floor will be just fine – and allow myself to be immersed in the “no mortgage” experience, for the first time in my life. Boy, I can’t wait.

Having said all of the above, I can have no complaints about the weather, down here on the south coast: there is a certain period of the day (approximately 2.00pm to 4.00pm) where – if I am working from the apartment – I relocate to the small table at the window, with my laptop, and just allow the afternoon warmth to suffuse through me (and close my eyes and think of Thailand)

Of course, in an ideal world, I would own a property in both locations, however that’s only within the realms of a lottery win, therefore, at the moment – with family concerns foremost – it’s back to the east coast of Scotland for the foreseeable future (as soon as I find a place that suits).

So, the fun starts for real, from the middle of next week onwards, when I head into London to attend the dance rehearsals (at Dance Attic in Fulham) for this upcoming “Big Reunion” Tour: fourteen shows in fifteen days is a strenuous test of any experienced touring professional therefore one could argue that the (reasonably) youthful talent should find it less of a problem than many of the old timers might. However, the old timers know it’s all about pacing themselves.

As thankful as I am to have the work, I continue to nose around for something where I can make a difference, something more long-term – something where I’m allowed a few weeks lead-in time.

This particular tour follows on from the successful TV show (also named “The Big Reunion”), recently broadcast on ITV2 here in the UK, which focused on re-uniting disparate band members from several, prominent, “teeny-type” acts - that enjoyed notable success in the mid nineties. I personally feel it has the makings of a strong and sustainable brand, however time – as always – will tell. By this time next week, we’ll have played three shows – so watch this space. Luv y’all!

Sunday 14 April, 2013

Two months to the exact day, I retuned to my apartment in Seaford, this evening. It’s just as I left it. I have to say that this lifestyle works wonders for keeping one’s domestic bills down!

House-wise, I am very close to the point where, at long last, I will be mortgage free: it has been a long time coming, however it puts me in a situation that – worst case – I would only have to work, on average, one week each month to cover my, by then, reduced household costs. Oh, joy.

Co-incidentally, I spent Wednesday and Thursday of this past week up in Scotland, visiting various properties in East Lothian, hoping to find something that floats my boat. Alas – although there are a couple of houses that are close to what I’m looking for – there are few new properties on the market since my last visit there, in mid March, during Olly Murs’s tour.

On the one hand, there is the gnawing temptation to want to make things happen sooner rather than later - to become an outright owner of one’s property, for the first time in one’s life. That approach is tempered however, by bitter experience, when I rushed headlong into buying the last house in Edinburgh (albeit, the housing market was in a much healthier state then, than it is now).

Within ten future entries of this diary, I hope to be able to inform you that I’m sitting in my new property (with no furniture, probably!) all paid up. Alcohol will not be far from me, that night!

I have to say I will miss this little apartment in Seaford, to some degree: I will be most fortunate to ever have the sort of unencumbered view that I currently enjoy, out over the English Channel. There is plenty of light flooding into the rooms during the day, therefore I’m determined that light is a major consideration, when ultimately deciding on the next property.

With light, reasonable warmth and great music, I believe that I can accomplish almost anything: it matters little that, in reality, most of what I dream may be unreachable. Belief is everything.

I can surely now reveal that my next project is the “Big Reunion” tour, consisting of 6/7 acts (around 31 “Artist personnel” in total) that enjoyed a fair degree of success in the 90’s and 00’s, now all on the same arena touring bill. That kicks off on May 3rd and – although it only goes out for three weeks in total – the tour includes a run of twelve “back-to-back” shows (last time I did that was with Jethro Tull, back in 1976!). Still – it’s a good test of this old man’s stamina!

Naturally, I’m scouring around for a longer-term project that will put me back in the driving seat: I have much to offer a major touring operation, maybe one – ideally – that has become overburdened cost-wise (then, more likely to be a US-based Artist!) where some judicious financial pruning, without diluting the Artist’s production values, will bring things back on track.

Until then, I will carefully prepare for the “Big Reunion” tour, while marketing my availability for June onwards. Also, I realise the importance of “looking sideways”, in the coming years, to develop other projects in associated fields of entertainment. Confidence is everything. I’m so lucky to still be around, in a world where many have been unable to make it half as far. Love Y’all!

Sunday 7 April, 2013

Well, well – coincidentally, today is also the day of my 61st birthday. You know, I look at that number and still struggle to believe I have reached that age (“not mentally, definitely”, I hear Alice chide). Any chance I could rewind, please? There’s a couple of things I’d sure like to fix.

OK, reality check: here I am and, save a typical end-of-tour bug (until now, kept at bay by a wall of adrenaline) that I feel coming on, I would argue I’m in reasonably good – improvable –health.

It was somewhat sad to see such an enjoyable tour as Ollys, draw to a close on Thursday past, with the second of two jam-packed shows at Belfast’s Odyssey. Such a great bunch of people to have spent the last seven weeks with, like being on a working holiday with a bunch of mates. Not to belittle the long hours and the daily deadlines – but it never actually felt like “work”, you know.

So, here I am back in Andover, at Alice’s pied d’ tierre  (I took German at school!) nursing (that’s Alice again) what feels like an incoming cold/flu type of bug. As I mentioned - not unexpected.

There are a couple of tentative projects in the wings, but nothing concrete I would have to say – however, as I have made mention of several times in the past, the phone can go at any minute. The key is to use one’s “downtime” as effectively and practically as possible, rather than mope around the place, awaiting confirmation of one’s next venture. Life is (increasingly) way too short.

On Tuesday, I’m off on a 3-day, whistle-stop, tour to Scotland, essentially to check out a few more prospective properties: I need to put this property thing to bed in the coming weeks, which will see me finally become mortgage free - for the first time in (exactly) sixty-one years. I hope to be back in London for Friday afternoon, and back home in Seaford by Sunday evening, having swung by Alice’s place to collect the old Jaguar - from it’s resting place, for the last two months.

Undoubtedly, the weather is much better down south (on average, daily 4 or 5 degrees higher) but it’s important to me to spend some time with my daughter and my sister, during my “downtime” periods. While I am up in Edinburgh next week, I will again spend some time driving around the Dunbar area, to re-assure myself it’s a location where I could comfortably stay.

In the coming weeks, I will obviously keep a weather eye on job prospects, however I need to re-prioritise my personal life so that I am best prepared when the work opportunities present themselves. I know the standard of work I can deliver, in particular my ability to increase the touring bottom line of any Artist with whom I am associated. Alas, I may somewhat overqualified.

I’m relatively close to where I want to be financially (a busy two years would see that fixed) however – and today’s birthday has definitely coloured this view – I know that I must start to enjoy this life of mine on a more personal basis. Both approaches need some careful thought. To Scotland with me tomorrow, to attempt to step up the property search a couple of notches, without succumbing to any knee-jerk reactions (I’ve been to that movie before, as they say). Yet, I have the oddest feeling that a flash of inspiration may soon come to me, and point me towards the path of resolution. Until then, I’ll just have to “keep on, keeping on”. Stick with me! Love Y’all.


Sunday 31 March 2013

Fare thee well, sweet England (not as graciously as many of my fellow countrymen may put it!).

To clarify: a warm – literally – good evening from Dublin’s fair city (as the famous song starts).

We have now completed the UK-mainland stage of the tour (24 shows in total), culminating in two sold-out shows at the iconic O2 Arena in London, last night and Friday night past. Olly has enjoyed a fantastic reaction from the afore-mentioned shows, averaging 97.6% of sellout, overall (effectively “sold out” – as is the case with the majority of “sold out” shows). This is very impressive business, in anyone’s book. The boy has done well. The boy has progressed admirably.

The two London shows are the fourth and fifth of five shows we have played this past week; we started off in Cardiff (Monday and Tuesday), then up to Liverpool (Wednesday) – followed by a travel day on Thursday, before loading in to the O2, at the crack of dawn, on Friday morning.

How’s my energy level? Well, I’m still here, still spending a minimum of twelve hours in the venues, on show days. Of course, it would have to be said, if one refrained from taking up the occasional invitation – Friday night being a prime example – to partake of a few libations with the technical crew (as they had no load-out that night) then one’s energy levels might even be better!

However, I could argue, all work and no play makes Jake a dull boy. Having said that, I definitely have noted – over the past few years – that my recovery time is noticeably slower than it used to be. Add to the fact that I was only ever a moderate drinker, then there’s even more reason for me to heed the need to pace myself. Alas, I’m a graduate of the work hard/play hard school.

In the next couple of days, here in Dublin, I’m hoping to hook up with Nicky Byrne from Westlife (so to speak) to see what he’s up to nowadays, and to see how family life is coming along for him. With only a relatively small break, two-thirds of the way through, he is spinning off a, fourteen-year, frenetic promotional/recording/touring career. The change in pace must be staggering.

This final week in Ireland (or, correctly, Eire, for the next two days) with another four shows – two Dublin and two Belfast  - completely sold to the wall, is a fitting closure to a mega-successful tour, for an Artist with a most interesting demographic appeal: all age groups at this show, folks.

I re-iterate what I have laid claim to before, in respect of Olly Murs: this lad will endure – I can feel it in my old water. There are, surely, many reasons for this – not the least of which are some very cleverly constructed, catchy, pop songs. As you’ve heard me bang on abut before, those tunes are given an excellent live treatment by a most competent ten-piece band.  To compliment all of the afore-mentioned, Olly’s stage persona and audience interaction continues to go from strength to strength. My mum and dad would have branded the lad as an “all-round entertainer”!

Finally, wish me luck as I step into this building (Dublin’s O2 – formerly The Point) tomorrow morning – one of the most expensive of it’s kind in mainland Europe. I trust the audience will have a great time over the next two nights – which is more than I will, when I have to pay the rent!

Sunday 24 March, 2013

Just arrived into Cardiff, having driven down from Newcastle, where I stayed last night (and where – as no doubt I’ve made mention of, in the distant past – I could probably live!).

I know I need to calm myself over this secondary ticketing issue that has been eating away at me for weeks now - but I’m seriously starting to think that if someone with my intricate knowledge of the system doesn’t try to put the poor public wise on this, then who’s actually going to do it?

The severe caution that needs to be exercised is the realisation that if I jump into this with both feet (let’s not forget the fallout of what happened when I did that with the football, seventeen years ago!) it will surely have a seriously debilitating effect on future work prospects!

Organisationally – and administrationally – I have the skills to drive such a project, however that doesn’t change the fact that it would be a major undertaking. There’s a small part of me (the sensible part?) that quietly hopes a major tour will happen for me in the near future – necessitating that I have to concentrate and focus all my energies into the (paid) work arena.

Ideally (and my mind is wandering here, somewhat) do we all want to be remembered for something most worthy that we accomplished, in the short time we spend on this planet? I suspect we do. In my case, I’m driven, in the main, by the gross unfairness of the current system

I’m going to leave the above subject alone for the time being, as I can’t afford to become too carried away while I’m involved with this Olly Murs project - lest my concentration slips.

Therefore, what of the past week? Well, as mentioned at the opening of this week’s entry, we played a great show in Newcastle last night (the first to go on sale, of the two shows played in the city) and folks – I have to tell you – there’s few better places to be on a Saturday night.

Yes, there was no way Alice (who flew into Newcastle on Friday evening – you’d be surprised at the things she can do) was being allowed to return to the hotel after last night’s show, to catch up on her needlepoint. No – off out we were, once all the work was completed at the venue – and Newcastle did not disappoint. For a man with admiration for heeled shoes, I was beside myself.

This past week our redoubtable crew has excelled themselves in loading this monster of a show into four different venues, for a total of five shows (specifically: Monday in Aberdeen; Wednesday in Birmingham; two shows at the MEN Arena, Thursday and Friday – and then last night’s show in Newcastle). Anyone would need a rewarding libation after such a concerted run!

However, as we are now well into the second half of this tour, I must concentrate my energies on what is next for me, job wise, on this long and winding road. Right now, that comprises very little! I’m buoyed by the fact the phone can go at any minute and then suddenly I’m on my way halfway across the world to jump onto a tour at short notice, in an attempt to keep it rolling. Far not – I rise to such challenges, mainly because I’ve been “dropped” into similar situations, at several key points, don through the years. Many thanks, as always, for being with me this week. See y’all soon!

Sunday 17 March, 2013

Can you believe that I’ve attended two Hearts cup finals, within two years? Well I have.

Admittedly, today’s final was the Scottish Communities Cup Final and therefore not quite of the gravity of last years and – very unfortunately – we were beaten today by the better team!!

I’ve just reached Aberdeen, having driven up from Glasgow after today’s game. Hey – you can’t win them all, and there was absolutely no grounds today to claim that St. Mirren (the opposition to my team, Hearts) were unworthy of their win. They were the more clinical in front of the goal.

This last week has seen us undertake four shows: last night and Friday night past at Glasgow’s SECC, where typically Olly received a rousing Scottish reception at both performances. Earlier in the week, we played Birmingham’s LG Arena (Tuesday) and Liverpool’s Echo Arena (Wednesday).

That’s us exactly half way through this tour, which consists of a total of twenty-eight shows. That first show in Newcastle certainly seems like a long long way back, although it’s exactly only three weeks ago: such is the way with touring. Naturally, the energy reserves with which one started the tour will be eaten away at, as the weeks progress – the key, as with most strength-sapping vocations, is to pace oneself. Continual 16-hour days will tire even the most resourceful.

Let me give you some sort of example of the above: arriving here at around 9.00 pm this evening – and having not eaten since before the football game earlier today (a cheese and macaroni pie no less – football’s own take on vegetarian!) I thought I might spoil myself with some fish ‘n chips. As I walked the hundred yards from the hotel to the fish and chip shop, I passed one of our carpenters coming the other way, from that very same location, who informed me that a couple of our lads were next door in the Irish bar, having “one for the road”.

Popping in to enjoy a quick nightcap with them, it had slipped my mind (being Scottish of course) that today is St. Patrick’s Day: what greeted me as I entered that bar was full-on mayhem with – it would appear – most of the locals having been in there for most of the day. However, I have to say, it was rocking – a great live band only enhancing the vibrant atmosphere. I was so tempted to return there after I had devoured my “fish supper” but sense prevailed in two ways: A) I knew our lads would be back in the hotel by that point, with an early load-in the next day and B) I may have found it difficult not to become immersed in the joviality of the occasion. Professional huh?

The moral of the story is don’t rip it up on the eve off a show day: save yourself for those nights when you can sneak a few extra hours of sleep the following day – especially when, as I’ve had to admit in the last few years, one’s recovery rate is not what it used to be! The truth dawns?

After tomorrow’s show, I’m off overnight from Aberdeen, to check into a Dunbar hotel (as Tuesday is a non-show day) to take a quick look at a couple of prospective properties – and also possibly to grab a coffee with young Sue (hello Sue) before motoring on to Birmingham, in preparation for Wednesday’s show, this time at the NIA.  It’s most fortunate to have worked out that I can actually accomplish the above. Gotta find somewhere to live! Until next week...

Sunday 10 March, 2013

Well, that’s the first of three London shows played this evening: two more to go, in three weeks!

I can report that this tour is coming along very nicely, thank you: the combination of a professional artist, a killer band and - of prime importance to me – a great bunch of guys on the crew, makes for a most enjoyable working environment. One day, maybe all tours will be like this.

This past week, since I signed off after the second Nottingham show last Sunday, we played only three cities, yet five shows – two each in Brighton and Bournemouth and, tonight, one in London.

I have a soft spot for Brighton (well, I only live thirteen miles away from there now!) as it’s beside the seaside and – as I’m sure I’ve made mention of in one or two diary entries in the past – I spent a good few holiday summers there, as a youngster – when my granny stayed in Hove.

Now, what might be increasingly bothering me, as this tour progresses? I thought you would never ask, but I’ll tell you anyway. In a nutshell, it’s this terrible practice of secondary ticketing. I’m sure – being as “savvy” as, you, my regular readers are – you are well aware of what I make reference to here: this worryingly, growing, trend for concert tickets being priced on the internet at several times their face value - with a few notable companies apparently coining it in.

I need to choose my words carefully here, as one or two of those companies who are leading the field in this particular “business” are very litigious – as was shown when the (arguably) leading company in the field attempted to serve an injunction, around this time last year, on the Channel Four programme “Dispatches” - who were about to transmit “The Great British Ticket Scandal”.

Thankfully, the move to prevent the programme from airing was unsuccessful, allowing “Dispatches” to lay bare the details of the (legal) outrage being perpetrated on the “unknowing” British concert going public. Sadly, the problem is even more widespread now, than a year ago.

Is there some way to combat the practice of marking concert tickets up to (in many cases) four or four times their face value, on several prominent internet sites? There is, but it won’t be easy – therefore I trust you’ll understand (and forgive) my reticence to go into any specific detail as to how this might – over time – be accomplished. It needs the involvement, and detraction, of the two bodies of people on whom these companies rely on, to survive. I’m going to be tough now.

This whole secondary ticketing system will fail if both the greedy performers and the (sorry, but it has to be said) gullible public stop supporting the practice: the former by taking a share of the additional, inflated, ticket income (yes, it does go on) and the latter by refusing to be seduced into buying concert tickets that are priced way beyond their original face value. Simple, huh?

Not so I’m afraid. These secondary ticketing companies are collectively enjoying multi-million turnovers – so it therefore follows that they will rigorously defend their positions, more than likely in the form of funding their legal advisors to contest anyone trying to spoil their party. I’m personally most saddened by it all, however – as yet – I have no plan to contest it. As yet, that is.

Sunday 3 March, 2013

Once again, I am hit by that age-old dilemma, when a concert tour has been underway for only a matter of days: one has not even completed the first full week of the tour, and yet the first show seems a long way back. It’s an odd phenomenon - but any touring “regular” will confirm it.

So, what of the last week, on this most enjoyable Olly Murs tour? Read on, oh avid followers.

This time, last week, we were still in production rehearsals, with the final run-through day on Monday past. Refreshingly, Olly finished his second run-through, pretty much on schedule (I have to tell you that it’s not always the way with some acts, who suddenly realise – on the last day of production rehearsals – that they want to change things around - generally the set list!).

Loading out of production rehearsals, when the trucks (9 x forty-five foot trailers in our case) are being correctly packed for the first time, is a painstaking business for the technical crew. Our lads had hoped to squeeze the equipment into eight trailers - however it just refused to go.

The first show, on Tuesday night, 26th, kicked off at Newcastle’s Metro Arena, in an area of the country for which I have a fond affection: the north-east, “Geordie land”, as we say in the UK. I have long admired the spirit and the vibrancy of the people of Newcastle: there are fewer places in the UK, where you will have a better time of an evening out - raucous indeed, but memorable!

As far as the UK arena-touring circus is concerned, you will find “easier” venues to load in the first night of a 9-truck tour. However, the audience reaction you can expect in return for your efforts makes it all worthwhile. Economic austerity does little to dampen those folks’ characters.

Back-to-back from Newcastle, we played Nottingham Capital-FM Arena (Nottingham Ice Arena in it’s former, non-sponsored, guise), on the first of two occasions this week: in fact I started to pen the initial lines of this week’s diary entry from backstage at the Nottingham arena, last night (it’s now Monday morning – are you still managing to follow me here?!). The plan – with me facing a four-hour run “overnight” to Brighton, was to skip away from the Nottingham show, just before the show finished. However, that was not to be, therefore I made a start to this.

To amplify the above: it’s currently just after 09.30 on Monday morning where I’m sat in the sun lounge of the crew’s seafront hotel, this being a day off prior to the first of two Brighton shows.

However, in meandering slightly there, I omitted to make mention of the two shows we also played this week, back-to-back, Friday and Saturday at the Sheffield Arena. Another fabulous venue for “the big rock show”, witnessed by the sold-out attendance that Olly enjoyed over both nights (11,000+ each night). The venue, thankfully, is also “easy” on our technical crew.

All in all, a most enjoyable first week of the tour: hard going, yes, but very professionally satisfying. I’ve always said that the Artist’s demeanor defines the tour. If the Artist is slack and unprofessional - that can soon permeate down through the ranks. In the case of this tour, Olly Murs is personable, yet knowingly professional. Such is everyone else on the tour, it follows!


Sunday 24 February, 2013

Good evening from Olly Murs production rehearsals: on our third out of four (long) days.

Deeply ensconced as we are, in a hideaway soundstage facility in the backwoods of Lincolnshire - preparing to move out of here tomorrow night - there is nevertheless much activity at play.

First off, I can’t tell you how good the live band sounds: this, coming from a guy whose formative years were spent in loud, thumping, live music venues, with the disco still to make an appearance.

As well you may know, I’ve spent most of the last five years with three acts: Paul Potts (with a live orchestra); JLS (a great bunch of lads, but who don’t employ the services of live musicians) and – most recently – Westlife, with a small 4-piece band who sounded excellent.

Olly, in contrast, utilizes the services of a ten-piece band, including three brass players and two backing singers and so – to coin a phrase from “across the pond” – the whole thing kicks ass! I’m sitting in the production office, right now, only feet away from the soundstage, where the second run-through of the day is well underway. Can’t hear myself think, but how I’m loving it!

You know there was a time – many moons ago - when I allowed Artist management to pay me half salary, during rehearsal periods, because the serious touring hadn’t yet started by that point. However, especially in recent years, with the technical complexities associated with modern arena show productions, rehearsals days are now just as arduous as the actual touring show days.

Take the first day in here, Friday past: arrived on site at 07.00 am in the morning with the first two of eight trailers awaiting unloading – and then didn’t leave here until gone midnight. There wasn’t much change out of sixteen hours yesterday, either. As I clambered onto the bus to head back to the hotel, about 11.30 pm last night, there wasn’t a whole lot of “glamour” on offer, folks.

Still – one final day to go, tomorrow, after which it all starts in earnest on Tuesday night, where a bunch of “Geordies” (north-easterners, for my foreign readers) will no doubt make us most welcome at the first show of the tour. They know how to party in Newcastle – trust me on that.

Actually, just as I was finishing the last paragraph, the band completed today’s final run-through as a result of which an eerie silence has just descended upon the soundstage, punctuated only by the ever-increasing hubbub of crew chatter, as they look to make some changes to the stage set.

It is at this point that I hook up my small extension speakers to my laptop and select some iconic tunes, as many of the technical crew – several, shall we say, of a similar demographic to myself - gather in the adjoining production office waiting the return bus to the hotel. A few select tracks, indeed, to beckon the close of the day – but also to remind one of raucous days gone by.

Yes, I’m back where I belong – out on the road. As alluded to in the earlier paragraphs, Olly’s music is most listenable – and therein may lie the rub: if it strikes a chord with the “mature” set like myself, yet retains its appeal to all those young things, the lad may have just knocked it off!

Sunday 17 February, 2013

Well, thankfully, this time next week I’ll be well and truly ensconced in Olly Murs rehearsals.

This past week, I’ve probably apportioned the equivalent of two days to “number crunching”, in entering up all the relevant data relating to the upcoming tour (ticket prices; current sales; projected show expenses; etc) - into my super-duper show-settlement spreadsheet. Bordering on tedium, I have to say, it is nevertheless a necessary administrative function to allow me to account, accurately, to the Artist management, regarding all fiscal aspects of the tour. Let the creative side of my work now commence. Let not a free (unrestricted) seat be left in the house!

Tuesday and Wednesday, just gone, were put to good use, visiting several London-based contacts (to remind them I’m looking for work from mid-April onwards, as much as anything else). Once I have lined up my next project – ideally for the summer months – then I can “take a breather” for a while, and go in search of a reasonably “long-term” project, not dissimilar to my Westlife work.

Undoubtedly – as I’ve alluded to, on several previous occasions over recent years – I should have reached my present position in life a good ten years ago (that being - having paid my mortgage up, and having some reasonable savings in the bank). On the contrary, time is now of the essence for me to capitalize, work-wise, on all opportunities, over the coming five years. A measure of luck will have to come my way in pairing me with a suitably challenging project. Bring it on!

As always, I remain quietly confident of achieving the above, as I look – in the years ahead - to become involved with acts who can demonstrate a determination for longevity (into that category, unquestionably, goes Olly Murs). I thrive in being involved with an Artist’s development.

On the personal front, I have yet to settle on any of the properties that I have been viewing in the East Lothian area of Scotland, content to await an increase of available houses coming to the market. Several estate agents I have registered with have assured me this will soon be the case.

The chances are that I will spend at least five years in my next property, therefore I obviously need to find something that I feel eminently comfortable with: however, with the onset of Olly’s tour, it’s looking very much like I’m going to have to extend the rental agreement in Seaford, on a month-to-month basis (current agreement finishes on 14th April) while I continue to housesearch.

Once the house purchase is completed, I will need to concentrate on building a renewed head of steam, financially, in order that I can then, in turn, hopefully assist the children to raise a deposit on a small property for each of them. Who would want to be trying to clamber on to the property market in these, ravaged, economic times? It’s a tough process to initiate nowadays.

As I look forward to next week, I welcome the opportunity to return to the “touring fold”, to the environment in which I am most comfortable. I firmly believe that there are few of my ilk, who can – fairly – maximise the Artist income available on a UK arena, headlining, tour. I must therefore continue to preach the word, regarding my availability in this specialist field. Where are those who would seek to capitaise on that expertise? I’m off to find them! Until next week…

Sunday 10 February, 2013

Happy New Year to all my readers: the Chinese New Year, that is – The Year of the Snake.

How would I actually happen to know of the above, you may enquire? Only because I was involved with their celebrations today, in London’s Trafalgar Square – with the Paul Potts featuring.

In spite of the fairly inclement weather conditions, it turned out to be a memorable day, with a variety of performers - mainly of a Chinese nature - entertaining a very enthusiastic crowd that braved the conditions for most of the afternoon. Paul’s set consisted of seven songs, one of which was undertaken with Natasha Marsh, who has toured with us extensively in the past.

But, boy, that was one of the busiest back-stage areas I’ve encountered for a long while, on a multi-act show. Such events are always a challenge to one’s patience, mainly because – as it’s not your Artist’s own headlining show – you are working to someone else’s plan. On the contrary, when your Artist in the main act of the day/night, then you’re calling the shots. No such luck today.

However, it was certainly good to be back in the thick of the action! No doubt about that.

Being that my call time was 08.15 this morning, in order to prepare for Paul’s early sound-check, forty-five minutes later, I elected to travel up to London last night and Alice and I duly made our way to one of the better, inexpensive (well, for London anyway!) hotels I’ve stayed in the city for quite a while, namely the Portland Hotel in Bedford Place just along from the British museum.

Actually, guys, I’m going to call a halt to the above thread, for time being, to tell you that – currently – it’s exactly 01.11 very early on Monday morning (you may view that as very late on Sunday night!) as I was wholly compelled to finishing my diary entry on that day I’m meant to. To me personally, it’s something of a yardstick as to how organised I am, on a weekly basis: hence, in an odd sort of way, if my week starts with my weekly diary entry put to bed, then it starts well.

However, the idea is not to be sitting here at (now) 1.27 am in the morning, attempting to rectify this situation: but, yet, here I am. Burning the candle at both ends - just to stay on track - does not render oneself at their most articulate. So, let me think about how to alleviate this. I’m definitely in the process (borne of the realisation of spreading myself too thin, with my combined business and domestic workload) of streamlining my day-to-day life (as we know it Jim).

I really want to find an hour on a Sunday (maybe it’s just about rising an hour earlier, no matter where I am that day, or what I have been involved with the night before) to pen this diary, while I am at ease. While I have something to offer: thoughtful, meaningful, reflections of the week gone by – in conjunction with the opportunity to share my thoughts and concerns and intentions.

Oh, to write what is truly on my mind! I will certainly look more to be as upfront as I can. Regular readers will be in no doubt as to my unease with certain aspects of the business that I love – but I’m sure I, and my profession, are not in isolation with such a dilemma. Let all of us morally driven souls remind ourselves that we still have to put bread on the table. 02.29 but I’ve finished! BFN.

Sunday 3 February, 2013

What is it about the sea (in my case, the English Channel) that brings such a sense of peace?

I’m just sitting here at the window of my Seaford apartment looking out over the water, with the promise of the sun breaking through the clouds thinking, yes, it’s good to be alive.

Nicky Byrne once questioned of me “What’s ten times one hundred, and then twenty times that, then another ten times that?”. Even my fairly adept numerical brain was struggling to compute, therefore I had to beg of him the point of his enquiry. “That” he answered “is how long you are dead – so make the best of it while you are alive”. Good on you, Nicky boy! You’ve a bright future.

I’m not sure that when I occasionally (“only occasionally?” I hear a few readers say) descend towards the depths of melancholy that this forum makes for all that interesting reading. Who wants to plod around in the mire of someone else’s meandering, questioning, thought processes?

Unfortunately you’re here now so, as on several previous occasions, you’re stuck with me!

Let me give you an example that relates to the business from which I derive my living. A case in point, in my opinion: the new David Bowie single. First let me say that the man has recorded some iconic tracks and albums in his time – however, this latest single, for me, is not one of them. I grapple enough with the onset of age, without having to listen to David Bowie banging on about it.

Trust me: every Artist drops their standards at least two or three times during the extent of a successful career. Elton John, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder (even my hero, Otis Redding!) – they’ve all done it (and they know it). Of course, it’s only natural that we forgive them on the basis that at least 80% of what they have turned out in their time, has been quality. Thank God.

So what of this last week of my life, in the fast lane? Nothing too glamorous to report, folks -just days of number crunching, in setting up the accounting processes prior to Olly Murs’s tour.

Rehearsals start later this month, then we’re off on our way to Newcastle for Olly’s show at The Metro Radio Arena, the first of twenty-four UK mainland shows, the tour then being rounded off with two shows in Dublin (O2) and two in Belfast (Odyssey), finishing up Thursday 4th April.

I’m very much looking forward to hooking up with a few familiar faces (usual suspects?!) on Olly’s crew. Truth be known, those guys are my second family – and I’ve been missing them somewhat.

The road is actually something of an “escape”: the day-to-day minutia of domestic life is left well behind you, as you usher in sixteen hours of organized chaos within a highly charged, adrenalin-fuelled existence. One day I will have to call a halt – the further away that day, the better.

Until then, it’s up and at ‘em! I’m off to London tomorrow to try and line up my next tour after this upcoming Olly project. Something else on the back of Olly will allow me the breathing space to take my foot of the gas – and maybe even consider a little time to myself. One day, one day…


Sunday 27 January, 2013

Just returned from another weekend “house-viewing”, whistle-stop, trip to Scotland.

Having collected Alice from her place of work, on Friday last, as soon as she was finished at 3.00 pm, we sped off directly northwards, hoping to pull into Edinburgh around 10.00 pm (in Alice’s car, I have to say – which over the near 1000 mile round trip, returned average gas mileage of 48 miles to the gallon: the old Jaguar would only have managed half of that!). Must think of the cost!

Alice had strenuously alerted me, from the middle of the week onwards, that the weather forecast for the weekend – especially in the northern half of England – was predicting fairly heavy snowfalls. Of course, an old road dog like me never heeds such sterling advice: having driven in some fairly treacherous road conditions in my time – and knowing that broadcasted travel warnings always err on the side of caution – I was quietly confident of making the journey.

As it turned out, we ran into mild blizzard conditions on two particular stretches: the infamous “Shap” area on the M6 (between Kendal and Carlisle) and then – not much further north – the southern stretch of the M74, once you have crossed the border into God’s country (Scotland).

As a result of the above, we must have spent a good 2/3 hours, able to accomplish little more than 40 mph: during those times most of the traffic just snaked along in the inside lane, with no drivers – spare the odd lunatic - willing to negotiate the other two snow-carpeted lanes.

However, with the excellent gas mileage that Alice’s little car returns – and being that I had topped up prior to departure – we were well into Scotland by the time we needed to fill up. Now, I’m definitely known for being able to climb behind the wheel and go for hours without having to make a stop: even by my standards a seven-hour, non-stop, stretch was a fair accomplishment.

On the house front, we have certainly seen a couple of “probables”. However, my head tells me to hang on for a bit and allow more properties find their way onto the market, from March onwards. Of course, my heart just wants to push on and re-locate at the earliest opportunity, to finish it.

I steady myself, in this situation, by reassuring myself that the last thing I need is to rush into a property that, months further down the line, feels unappealing. Typically, the two particular houses I have seen, that have a pleasing and functional interior layout, have no exterior character. I know I shouldn’t be so fussy about such things, but it does make a difference to me.

Conversely, the two properties that “look” like houses from the outside are either A) above my budget or B) have particularly smaller bedrooms. Patience is the key here: listen to one’s head.

Sorry I’ve rambled on a bit today: little to do with the “real” road. On that front, I can finally (exclusively?) reveal that I’ve now been confirmed as the Tour Accountant on Olly Murs UK Arena tour, which kicks off in Newcastle on 26th February (preceded by four days rehearsals). Great to be back on the road of course - with such a pleasant bunch of people. With that tour in the bag, it’s time to push on and find the next one, from April onwards. Wish me luck! BFN.

Sunday 20 January, 2013

The week’s diary entry comes to you from the snow-covered regions of Andover, Hampshire.

Well – let’s face it – most of the UK is in the same situation currently: brought on by heavy snowfalls in the latter half of this week – and it may now be a while before we are “snow-free”.

I haven’t been at home much, this past week: another trip up to Scotland to view property.

However, on this particular occasion, it wasn’t just a straight “up and down” visit, as I had to make a stop in Leeds on Tuesday, attend a football agents’ conference in Nottingham on Wednesday and then – early Thursday morning – take off for Scotland (returning Friday night).

It very much looks as if I’ll be starting a touring project on 22nd February, which will run through until early April (the meeting, to finalise the project, is scheduled to take place in London tomorrow morning, 21st January, therefore I’m still not at liberty to divulge who the Artist is!).

When you then relate the above period of work to my current situation, in respect of my house-hunting endeavors, and then vector in the fact that my current rental agreement – on the apartment in Seaford – is due to finish on 15th April then, if I don’t make an offer on a property prior to 22nd February, then I may have no choice but to extend my current rental arrangement.

On Thursday and Friday past – on my afore-mentioned whistle stop trip to Scotland – I viewed four prospective properties, however – be it for reasons of price, location, layout, etc – I can’t say that any of the four gave me any initial cause for excitement. One of the four, while quaintly nestled in the foothills within 3/4 miles of Dunbar, was just a little too far off the beaten track for me. Of the remaining three, one of them is substantially lower-priced than the other two, albeit with slightly smaller rooms and – in contrast to the other two – no additional conservatory.

So, at the crossroads of decision I still find myself quizzically rooted. It may be that I just have to “bide my time” until further properties start to find their way on to the market, traditionally from the start of February onwards: I just need to be very careful purchasing, this time around.

Again, following on from the above, it may just be that Alice finds herself being unwittingly “dragged” to Scotland next weekend to give her valued opinion on my shortlist of prospective properties. If I was to honestly convey my current gut feeling, it would be that I’m going to be pushed to find a suitable property before I’m committed to that touring project, next month.

Even if I found myself in the situation of having to part with another two months rent (thereby unable to vacate the apartment in Seaford until mid June) it has to be the preferable option, rather than indecisively jumping into a property that I am not fully comfortable with.

Bear with me, guys: I need to get this right – and there (as always) has been much to consider, relating to this house move. This much I can definitely tell you: come the diary entry exactly one year from now, I will have been in the new property a good six months. I’m focusing on that!! BFN

Sunday 13 January, 2013

A pretty mixed week, these last seven days – if the truth be known: but progress, nevertheless.

On the house purchase front, I feel myself being drawn to returning to Scotland. Like I said before: it matters little where my residential base is, when I’m somewhere around the world, on tour. It’s the “downtime” periods that are of concern to me. During those inactive times, surely I will be able to make more worthwhile use of my time, if I am in the vicinity of my family, no? That, folks, is my current train of thought. The dark nights are there, wherever I choose to live.

This apartment I currently rent in Seaford, is not uncomfortable in any way – the main drawback being (trivial as it may sound to some) that I can’t play my music at any reasonable level: I don’t need to shake the foundations – I just need it at a volume where it sounds dynamic (that “dynamic”, however, is somewhat intrusive to fellow dwellers in a modern apartment block). Yes, they just don’t build separating floors and ceilings as thick as they once did. More’s the pity.

Maybe you question why the music has to be particularly loud? Well, we are all aware of how uplifting music can be to the soul (no pun intended) – and I’m no different in that respect. However, possibly like a few (the few!) of my readers, it’s possibly the only thing that “lifts” me sufficiently, when the occasional shadow of darkness descends upon me. So, there -now you know.

Save a lottery win, I will probably never experience such a panoramic view of the sea, as is afforded me this fine Sunday afternoon, from the windows of the Seaford apartment. It’s odd that such a vision of “nothingness” has such an inspirational benefit – and I’m not entirely sure why. It must be something communicated from the eyes to the brain because, surely, if I walked into this same room with a blindfold on, I would sense no such experience as described above.

I don’t even have my regular stereo system set up in the rented apartment (a stereo system, by the way, which I’ve owned for over fifteen years I might add!). Like it’s owner, it’s old, a wee bit battered, a little loud – and well travelled: but, in the same vein, it still delivers excellent quality!

Looks like I’ll be heading back out on the road in late February (hopefully I can divulge with who, by this time next week) which now allows me the requisite time to nail this house-move situation. I’m on a flying visit back up to Scotland next week, to view several “new” properties. If the afore mentioned tour comes off, I’ll finish up in early April, with only until the 15th of that month (the culmination of my six-month lease on the rented apartment) to undertake the re-location.

I’m quietly confident that once this year picks up some speed, touring wise, then I should be able to propel myself on a roll, throughout the rest of the year. At this point, I’m going to tell you that I probably – fairly – take more money out of the UK Arena circuit than the majority of Tour Accountant’s in this business, on behalf of the fortunate(!) acts that give me the reins to do so!

There’s much going on in the music business that is not entirely fair (similar to many, lucrative, major industries): however, it is from this business that I derive my living, therefore that information may just accompany me six feet under, when the time comes – but that’s not soon!!

Sunday 6 January 2013

Greetings this mild Scottish evening, from Edinburgh’s own Costa Brava: yes, it’s Portobello!

Ah, 2013 – and the first day of the rest of my life: in which direction will it head this year

I flew here to Scotland from Prague, by way of London Gatwick, late Thursday night. In the body of last week’s entry, I touched upon a palpable “wavering” of where I now might want to purchase my property (this all brought about by a recent visit from my daughter Jade, when we spent a couple of days together, towards the end of last year). This “uneasiness” has continued to grow - to the point that I felt the need to travel back here to Scotland for a few days and just cast my eye over a few available properties, on this occasion in the vicinity of the coastal town of Dunbar.

Consequently, over the past three days, I’ve methodically cast my eye over what’s available in my budgetary bracket. It’s not the easiest of exercises to accomplish (trying to compare “apples with apples”, property wise, that is) because every city/town is – of course – geographically different. However, region wise, taking the central belt of Scotland versus the South East of England, there is little doubt that, on the one hand, one gets more for one’s money up in Scotland but – not to be dismissed easily – on the other hand, the appreciation will be greater down here.

Dunbar has much going for it, as a prospective place to live. It is close to the water; it has a cool “villagey” type of feel and – the aspect which currently has most sway for me – some of my family are still in and around Edinburgh (Dunbar is only a 20-minute train ride into town).

Sure, my reasons for renting down here for six months – and scouring around for a suitable property in this neck of the woods – was my belief that my proximity to London may increase my work prospects, particularly as I further believed my age may be starting to count against me. There is also the fact that my house in Scotland sold quicker than initially anticipated, therefore I had to lay my hands on some form of rental property at short notice. I guess my frame of mind at that time centered around the realisation that I may be facing another cold, dark, winter in that house – and I just wanted to get as far away from there as possible (and here I am!).

Additionally, I’m not sure how I will fare – even down in Seaford, facing the tranquility of the English Channel - when it comes to coping with the “downtime” periods, in contrast to (probably the best example) when I’m fully active in the middle of a, typically manic, full-blown arena tour. I have to give much careful thought, as to how I deal with future “domestic inactivity” although said domestic inactivity takes on differing guises, based upon whether one is waiting around for more work to materialise – or whether one, at that point, already knows their next project (and therefore can relax a little). Never hesitate to forward me your views! (

Tomorrow, I’m flying back down south, which will allow me to make a fairly “current” comparison as to the two different locations. I have a couple of days of office-type admin to deal with, after which I will look to walk away from my desk and concentrate in solving this living issue. Then it’s back on the work trail, which I’m fairly confident will fall into place, come the end of this month. I trust the New Year has started promisingly for you. Onwards and upwards. BFN.

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Site Design Caledonian Communications 2013