Sunny Side Up: ‘So much depends upon an (my Dad’s old grey) wheel barrow beside the three brown chickens’ (with apologies to William Carlos Williams)

 Cannot  help but be so happy i actually got my hens and i get up each day about 6am and get some joggers over my pyjamas and put a jumper on and hat and scarf and go into the garden and let them out of the coop into their space. I utterly love the smell of the fresh air and the sound of the early morning birds and the fresh garden smells and chatting to the hens and even walking in the mud around the coop – it’s been raining a lot and it is muddy.  I normally wake aound 4.30am and open the curtains and watch the sun come up which is lovely – my view has lots of huge high trees and i can see right through to Edinburgh’s landmark feature Arthur’s Seat.

Doctor Uttley my GP who comes every now and then –  mostly each week –   to check me out, told me on Friday he thought it was a miracle i am still here! kind of truth up front!  the cancers are like hard little buggers and you can feel them all across  the top of my chest just under my breast which is now like a football  – anyone who has been pregnant knows that feeling in final days when you just  feel you might burst as no more room –  it is like that so now when i eat there seems to be not much room and i get a lot of indigestion- thanks to pink peptic liquid i can now get rid of that  a bit … and i just got to keep up the prune juice and the movicol to keep everything moving inside … below the hard bit of my stomach which is all swollen is a daggy hangy bit like a floppy beer belly which is the cancer protein liquid bearing dowen – very attractive in profile folks!  everything pressing down on my organs so my ankles are swollen now kind of elephantisis style, huge and sore and i can only stay on my pins about 20 mins before  got to get them HIGH! got some good sprays yesterday from chemist to make them less painful. so still hanging in and coping. Still writing my book chapters. My innate tenacity – i have no idea where it comes from – may give me longer, is, i hope, the truth.

My eldest daughter Rachel is here now – her partner Dono and son Kabe were here and have gone back to London but will return as weekend. Rachel  is staying put up working her own business from here, which is a wonderful feeling,  so i now have two daughters in town, and son Tom and partner Bea and grandson Theo come today, so all three children will be near which is tremendous and i am so grateful to them.

So i am posting i picture  i did in april of the hennies when they first arrived; and the news that facebookers will know that one of then keeps laying double yoker,s which depending on which way you look at it, it  is either sign of fecundity (it happens  to 1 in a 1000 hens and is the result  of double ovulation usually when they first begin to lay), or even of death – God forbid! as my ex husband’s Jewish grandmnother would have said!

Am a bit disapointed in myself, as the material for my book is excellent, and i could have written it in 2005, but the confidence to carry it through escaped me.  I had a detailed plan, an interested publisher, lots of material, and just needed to get the interviews properly transcribed and get it written. I did some transcriptions and paid my Chilean friend Ruby to do some.  I gave seminar and conference  papers and have some excellent power points which i have turned now into chapters – and yet never got round to writing it- i did chapters for other people’s book;sand edited Popular Music;  and music journalism work; and generally just buried it – makes me mad at myself –  i have had three book contracts and some kind of fear has always prevented me from writing any one of them!  Now i am paying Ruby to do the interview transciptions i only took notes of,  as she is excellent at transcribing Spanish; but she is an archaelogist  and works full time so she can only do one or two a week … and i could do with them  now like yesterday etc … argh… you have to use the  machine, a mini disc high quality, they were recorded on – and i know no one else who could do it so well as Ruby -so  never mind! I   have sent off the so far completed  4 draft chapters to my three lovely editors – Helmi, Sara and Line – and they seem quite enthusiastic already   –  and i  today i will add in two more musicians to existing chapters – and think of a way to sculpt the missing chapters so material can be added if i kick the bucket  first which of course i will – do not leave til tomorrow what you can do today then Jan!

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Singing, singing singing: Music Mind Map for IPM, Liverpoool Uni.

My mate (Professor) the wonderful Sara Cohen asked me if i would like to do this for the webpage of IPM (Institute of Popuaar Music where i have been a fellow since the 1990s when David Horn was the first ever founder Director of such a place in Europe!)   – so i did yesterday – it’s a bit full on but there you go – so i thought i’d put it on my blog- i will try and see if i can get the mind map picture with it

Musical  Mind Map for Institute of Popular Music website, Liverpool University

Singing has been my life and at one point there was, I think, talk of me becoming a  a professional singer  but I did not have any formal training during my childhood. I can almost visually remember singing ‘Seven littler girls sitting in the backseat’, which I think was originally sung by the Beverley Sisters when I was 7 or 8, with my sister:  the picaresque nuances were lost on us and I can still sing it verbatim. I am like a juke box for songs I must know hundreds  of popular songs. I  remember my grandparents listening to a radio when grandpa was not glistening to the football results in Birkenhead = Tranmere Rovers 1 et … and it all stems from that.

I sang leads in lots of the Gilbert and Sullivan at School,  from  Yum Yum in the Mikado to Patience and Rose Maybud etc  in other shows. I sang for the Cheshire Youth Choir – it’s all here in the list!  An unsual highlight was when I was in Chile in 1971-3 teaching  and in Temuco I joined the local choir of the UTE the Universidad  Tecnica del Estado, when because I was directosinging from Europe I had to sing the solo Habba Nagila (an Israeli song…!).  In the 1980s my mates and i started out own acapella group Witches Tuesday ‘cos we met on Tuesdays abns our opening song was ‘Who are the Witches?’; and we did lots of performances for social workers and parties throughout Edinburgh for a few years with a big Sweet Honey in the Rock repertoire.  I later also  sang with Sedenka the acapella singing dancing group started by Scottish American ‘Mouth Music’  singer friend Talitha Mackenzie.

My mind map has turned into a list of things that are almost chronological on the right hand side.  Chile changed my life: being there in the Allende period 1971-3 when ‘new song’  showed that music and politics could be all about the ideals and struggle for one thing, which was building a ‘new’ socialist society for every person in Chile, until the USA and their lackeys staged a brutal military coup on 11 September 1973; with many were arrested, tortured, and ‘disappeared’ with singer songwriter/ theatre director Víctor Jara murdered. The key groups Inti Illimani (whom I knew) and Quilapayún were travelling in Europe as Popular Unity Ambassadors at the time. So my kind map just becomes a story real to things that happen to my in my life that changed who I was as person. I did my MPhil and  PhD on Chilean ‘new song; and the resistance  music of the group Karaxú

I first  got into world music in 1967 when I went to Ibiza hitching from Bolton with my Ellesmere Port mate Anne. We got to  Barcelonan where we got an overnight ship to Ibiza. I remember  people unfurled pink and green crepe toilet rolls sold at the dockside as the ship went outn making like a maypole of long tissues which then broke symbolically. We sat on the deck and chatted to people and when we got there we stayed in a local house where the number of beds increased in the bedroom, with the number of people who turned up. I got badly burnt lying on the rocks trying to get brown with oil on my skin! We heard South African anti-apartheid star Miriam Makeba singing Pata Pata in a club and that was IT! From then on I was into ‘other’ musician and later after turning myself into becoming an ethnomusiologist  somehow for my PhD, I got into radio and journalism (NUJ) all around world music and become a pioneer with a Radio Scotland world music  programme for 4 and a half years called Earthbea;t and I made lots of music radio features  for Radio 3 and Radio 4 and World Service and Radio Scotland, formally as a BBC freelance for about 13 years.

I met the Mambo Inn DJs at the Edinburgh Festival in the 1980s, and Sue Steward’s Latin DJing made me decide I had to become  a DJ, so I did and started turning the decks for Club Sandino as the music and politics bag was always then in  my life , and it was for Nicaragua. I DJd monthly at  Club Sandino for a long time (thank you babysitters)  above  Edinburgh Playhouse and then my mate musician Chick MEdley got me totally into Cuba Norte club as a one of the only few only!  female DJ Latin style for a few years.  And by then I had been to Cuba lots of times since 1978 and had amazing LP and Latin collection.  I Djd with my Mexican veterinary mate Enrique who DJd at Cellar Bar.  Gosh we had fun

Cos I am ill and not going to be here a lot  now – not much time left – and I find after spending over 20 years as a journalist,  music critic and music writer (Songlines , fRoots, The Guardian, The List, Scotland) that as I have written and reviewed weekly so many many world music discs right until this month, that now I crave all the  jazz I listened  to in the late 1960s. Then I was at Essex University and Tony Platt, the brother of my then boyfriend later  husband (later  divorced), who lived in  the USA,   used to send  us jazz jazz jazz and that was and education from Miles Davis to John Coltrane to John Handy  to Betty Carter to Herbie Hancock etc. I  have all these old LPS and I play them as I love vinyl and have always kept my decks viable.

Every day now I listen to  an crazy Italian disc from Napoli from the  1950s called  Renato Carosone which I bought at the street market  in Carrara in Italy while on my Italian-Chilean mates 30th wedding anniversary there a few years back.  It covers Italian and lots of  songs from the 1950s.

My musical mind map is full people I have met and talked to and made music with. I listen to Ry Cooder and V.M Bhatt A Meeting By the River a lot these days as it’s meditative and quietens the soul. I listen to Leyenda, my Chilean oldest  mates Inti illiamni disc with John Williams and and Paco Peňa a lot – I was at their first gigs together. I have written about flamenco for over twenty years having written key chapters in the world music bible The Rough Guide to World Music and followed flamenco like a hawk since the 1980s  and have done a number of  compilations for different indie companies and I just  did a thrilling  3CD one for Nascente which has got a lot of air time and reviews and I am very happy with it, selling in the supermarkets and shops still. A lovely swan song. I have loved over the years doing discs and disc  notes  for TUMI – Yusa, David Alvarez and others (thank you M0 Fini) and for Rough Guides (Flamenco)  and Estrella Morente and Creole Choir of Cyuba for Real World (even if they forgot to say i had actually written the CCC notes…!)

And I sing still now, every Sunday with my friends Italian Giovanna and her  partner Carlos the Chilean singer songwriter, and Chilean   mate  Ruby,  and her brother brilliant guitarist Galo, and my British  friend  Sue (Witches Tuesday and gold award winning barber shop chorus Forth Valley Chorus); and we just sing, sing, sing, folk, traditional, Spanish Civil War, Chilean, Latin,  lots of sentimental songs. Harriet Tubman is oft my solo, the a song about helping black slaves escape to freedom in the US, a  Civil Rights song.

Missed out my teenage years lying in bed on Sunday night listening  to Radio Caroline – Roy Orbison was  huge fave then and I can still sang every note of In Dreams and It’s Over with him. I might mention I lurked around Merseyside Wirral in the mid 1960s and  saw The Beatles in a hotel on a Sunday night before they were famous somewhere over Rock Ferry or Neston way. I met The Who at Essex, as mate Geoff Posner, was Entertainments man. Pink Floyd came and did a lights show there in the Lecture theatre.

I have always had a parallel classical existence working for a decade or more so as a music critic for The Scotsman for classical and world.  The  last few years I have been to every one of the MET Operas beamed into cinemas throughout the UK in the winter into Spring – a joy. Thank you my close friends and companions Judy, Dave and Clive (who always queued got the tickets for me!)

Music has been my life – will always be – and dancing too – my extended Grandfathe’rs Fairley family are Scottish from  Edinburgh and they owned a  dance hall called Fairley’s Ballroom notorious for the popularity with sailor’s into the Port of Leith; and for fights too,  although they had a award wining ballroom dancing team! We have all been generations of dancers in my family – my Grandad’s generation numbered award winning champions: I dance tango and  salsa and ballroom and  so it goes on.

So this  is a huge mind map of a mind full of music and dance and song:  I hope to make it as a member of one of  the bands in the sky as a soloist, as well as a backing singer with percussion on the side I reckon! Viva la música!

Jan Fairley, 12 May 2012Fellow IPM

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Pyromania and rats who have now nested below the Yemaya house

Where there are hens there are rats and wow quite a lot been frolicking in the hen coop and trying to burrow in at night to get hen food – not helped by the fact that i live on the wonderful Edinburgh goods railway line which we have always loved- – we race to watch trains pass the end of the garden wall and have done all the 37 years have lived here –  or is it 35… but embankment is obviously popular home for rats to nest in too.

Over the years i have lopped bits of trees off  on embankment which overshadow garden and also thrown brush over from other trees etc and this built up as high as wall  which meant easy access for rats who kind of frolick over and then jump in compst heaps which since hens arrived i have had to slowly empty… . Called in rat catcher enviromental services but difficult to put  down poison with hens and neighbours cats. Phoned Network Rail a few weeks back and they promised to ‘action’ rats and clear brush etc from embankment  wall but clear after several follow up calls to find out when, given number of rats running around at 4pm in the afternoon (only when it is sunny they never appeared when it was raining), which meant garden no go area for any children really  – so  that 20 days to ‘action’ might mean still long time to do anything, as not a priority, and rats expected  on train embankments …

so serendipitously yestrrday as i decided to take matters into my own hands and burn the brush (safely…) round comes my lovely Glasgow filmaker mate Barbara, an allotment woman and familiar with bonfires… we devised a way to drop petrol soaked rags held tightly in safe containers  inside bags into the holes we dug in brush and lit them and they burnt well with us controlling flames so they did not go too mad with long garden hose – it was such fun- how i love fire !! – Barbara too-  the hens largely ignored it getting under our feet all the time! the rats suddenly appeared running over wall and back when it got very hot – not uure if they have moved on or if so how far but no evidence last night of them trying to burrow into coop to steal hen food which they have been doing each night (it gets moved into shed but they have still been trying to get in and may indeed get in as bits of slate and brick under wire do not seem to deter them). Anyway we did not let fire really go fully so there are still large pieces of wood that could burn but the height of wood brush behind wall is down to about half way up and mostly ashes on top of wood so  great success.

Exhausting but worth it. Barbara and  i celebrated with tea and welsh cakes  in the  Yemaya hosue, mugs of tea out of new mugs brought back from Chile last week by friend guitarist Galo who has just spent 6 months there with his  father José Ceron in Antofaghasta – where José  has been recuperating  from being very ill – he  sent me present of white mugs with faces of Presdent  Salvador Allende and CP heroine Gladys Marin – the tea  tasted delicious  out of them!   Thanks Barbara for entering fully 100% into the pyromaniac ‘kill some rats if you can or at at least move them on’  spirit- pictures posted on Facebook!

STOP PRESS
Cheeky rats have merely re-located to undernetht ny garden hut known as the Yemaya Hosse- they brazenly come out and charge around still – even when friend Malcolm came last night to put down somedown rat poison- let’s hope they eat it! they watched him!  –

AND guess what the man from Network Rail came yesterday – must have been tipped of about the fire? thankfully he came a day after the fire… he noticed there had been one and was  a bit perturbed but my neighbour assured him it had been well controlled with water hose… – he is promising to put down rat poison on the embankment and Edinburgh Council envirnomental  services  will come friday morning  to put their special strong poison down under the hut… hoping a many pronged rat attack may work …and that it will not affect the hens or any cats in the vicinity… argh!

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Cuban women musicians talk to Jan Fairley: ‘Saliendo del cuarto de Tula’; Camino de Santiago and ‘Old ladies’ exhibition photos up on Facebook.

Hey i’ve gone youtube folk! In the early 2000+ i interviewed many  Cuban women musicians in preparation for a book on’ Women and Music in Cub’a (which as usual, having been tardy over it, despite having  given many conference and seminar papers on different aspects of the book and different women – i am working on it at the moment – thanks to typist friend  Kate Maxwell).

Thanks to Edinburgh  based  Colombian webperson Juliana González, I have put up fragments on youtube – the link is below. They are in Spanish of course; and  they are quite focused  and worth a look i reckon!  http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqvra0ZSXivBqM3SWUtnSgQ?feature=mhee

Its called ‘Saliendo del cuarto de Tula’,  as that is an ‘oldish’ rather gorgeous Cuban son which Buena Vista Social Club made famous, which tells the story of a woman in her bedroom whose ‘fire’ cannot be quenched, i.e likening a woman to a prostitute and insinuating she is a  nymphomaniac into the bargain – all good fun etc but hey –  I am a woman, so it gets slightly tiresome to listen to that mesage a lot even when dancing.  I got research  grant in 2000 (!) (long time ago) to interview women in Cuba and i began by giving a paper at a Cubadisco seminar (thank you Cary Diez)  asking what we women musicians –  we Tulas – where really  to be found doing behind our bedroom doors? Writing? Composing? doing IT? practising?  singing? making msuic? making art? creating? So that is why the book will be called ‘Coming out of Tulas bedroom’ and why the series of clips –  which are just that – clips- only a few examples – have the same name. I got a good reaction at Cubadisco and the cluips juist touch on small aspect of what making music actually  means to some of  these women.

I have also put up on Facebook most of the photographs that are in the exhibition ‘Old Ladies and some old Men’, which i mounted on 4 December 2011 in memory of my mother Edith May Fairley  (it was her birthday anniversary) and which hangs permanently down  my staircase.  We had  a lovely party that day at home – i think i blogged about it – with about 40 of us singing a serenade to our mothers to the ‘Mother’s Song’ of musician friend Dougie Hudson with some of his mates from the group Baobab Tree (Andy Cooke) and Chimp (Capercaillie).

Anyway now it is possible to see the photos on my Facebook page (thank you ladies and old men – trust this is not too exploitative of you). Plus the photo diary I took when i walked to Santiago de Comppstela l to arrive on my birthday 16 March 2007 (although for some reason it reverses so it begins at Finisterer and and there are a lot of photos).

Today the firm Bishops Move came and packed up the archive boxes and shoeboxes of tapes and LPs and CDs of my archive collection – boies and boxes-  took 6 hours… and most of it was prepacked: going to AMPUC (Archive Catholic University – poetic as i first taught in Chile for the Cstholic University in Temuco in the south), Chile; Canada and Cardiff – coincidentally the three Cs. Felt good to get it all out the house which is lighter of course as a result! All idinsyncratic, of non-commerical educational value only – some cultural value though!

One of my old friends Stan Rijven came from Amsterdam today with his partner Sonja and among other things we found IASPM photos from  conferences in 1983 in Reggio Emilia Italy and 1985 Montréal, Canada.  We played a board game called Barricade Stan brought for my children in the mid 1980s. Stan won-  glad he did not ‘let me’ win, even though without him Sonja and i would have been stymied. One to grow on you – fab game. We listened to jazz: Ella and Louis, a disc from the 1950s, and John Handy.

Lovely day- two hens eggs –  still rats in the hen run but working on it Network Rail will come clear bank of railway line behind house soon. Bedraggeld hens after lots rain today turned their run into a mud bath really.  But they still clucking as am I.

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Critiquing Paul Simon and Graceland revival: could Simon not be taken for a ‘rip off” merchant?

CRITIQUE OF ‘GRACE UNDER PRESSURE’ PIECE IN MUSIC GUARDIAN FRIDAY 20th April 2012 by ROBIN DENSELOW pp 14/ 15

Robin Denselow, I loved your Guardian piece, but feel it omitted something quite significant which is the way that Simon took almost all copyright for all pieces for Graceland, despite the fact that apart from a few songs, they were all learnt from people he invited to be involved. Look at the record sleeve. The late Charles Hamm in USA wrote a lot about this. Ladysmith told me that they had no choice; yes on the back of it they became world famous although they did not know that would happen at the time. Other like Los Lobos when they protested were sent along the ‘heavies’, either by Simon, or the record company (so they told me). Others had no choice but to share and take whatever the contract they were offered. So Simon took credit for material that did not belong to him and saw ‘arrangements’ as his ownership of music, a clear case of ripping off others ‘cultural capital’. Indeed given the fact that he learnt the English folk song which brought him to initial fame with Art Garfunkel, that is ‘Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme’, from UK singer Martin Carthy, could Simon not be called one of the biggest rip off merchants in the music business long term?

He clearly took advantage of the South African Zeitgeist; he was canny, shrewd and also exploitative. He claimed as (US) ‘white man’ all the credibility, openly breaking anti-apartheid culture with not really any qualms or conscience – that came post-hoc… in defencs as you suggest of attack – when as you say he was taken to task – and you were not the only one to do that worldwide. Yet Simon has created little original work of his own. Later projects on the ‘Graceland’ model, like the Brazilian one, were at best conceived as paternalist; and did not work, as part of it he failed to acknowledge that the people he worked with were brilliant and he was just a copyist, jumping on their bandwagon. He has often, if not always, attached his career like a limpet on the rock to those of others and taken the glory. What overweaning ego and ambition he displays and combines successfully with his slight figure and slighter personality.

Yikes! People like the great Hugh Masekela were and are pragmatists – they’ve been successful and worked their asses off for years and years; and kicked around the world; as well as being lauded and know the value of compromise. And are ‘real’ musicians who compose and carry on doing so. They are in a different class to Simon. To talk of them in the same breath offends at times. They are people of conscience full time all their lives. As we saw the with the recent World Cup in South Africa opening concerts, (probably paid for by) record companies promoting Back Eyed Peas and Shakira: they got their artists more time than an artist like Masekela, who got one song (I asked him why and he said ‘you are the journalist you find out…’)

So back to Simon. My view would be how dare he be so arrogant as to sound off about ‘left’ and ‘right’ and singers being screwed in the middle when he actually knows nothing about either ‘left’ or ‘right’ save in how to exploit a situation to his own advantage. The heroes were always Miriam Makeba (yes… where where the women on the disc? nowhere…) Hugh Masekela and others (not really Ladysmith Black Mambazo who were never anti-apartheid anyway, if you look closely at their history within South Africa, and happy to be exploited if it brought them fame; and also intrinsically ‘male’ ‘macho’ South Africans too with clear hierarchical structures that persist today); no, the heroes were Jerry Dammers the Special AKA and others (I vividly remember the first time they sang ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ on TV Friday night on The Tube out of Newcastle introduced by Jules Holland and Paul Yates); and Bragg to a certain extent; and those who boycotted the first London concert.

The man has an intrinsically, consummately, Paul Simon corporate mentality: ‘out for himself’ always I would say; powerful, unavoidable, and yet again in 2012 hiking his carer rejuvenation 25 years on to the exploiting yet again of South African music.

Having said that of course I loved Graceland (I still play my vinyl LP) and his earlier discs with Garfunkel. Yet I reserve the right to ‘dislike’ and ‘dis-respect’ Simon personally – hard to respect him – for what I would call endemic mean spiritedness, and a sad sheer inability to appreciate or acknowledge fully what he owes to others without whom he would be a ‘nobody’ really.

 

 

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Camino serendipities; and introducing my ‘killer’ 45 track compilation flamenco album on Nascente label – The Beginner’s Guide to Flamenco

Serendipities; and  introducing my  ‘killer’ 45 track compilation flamenco album on Nascente label –  The Beginner’s Guide to Flamenco

Good karma is around me in a huge way: I am sticking images in books that I have gleaned over the years and that merely seem to present themselves to the pritt stick and it is giving me such a buzz I can’t tell you. All my review tickets from 2000 plus cinema and other rrips all in art books now and another book of fave cards and photos and lttile letters and things. And I have boxed up all the letters I wrote to my parents from Chile in 1971-3… (argh very emotional and so intense…line after tight line of typing must have been crazy to try and read them).

Two amazing things have happened  which are serendipitous that have made my soul sing: for each of my children I did a birth book of all the cards, telegrams (yes back in the day), messages,  letters and drawings their siblings made at the time (not for Rachel she was the first) and other such stuff, and the newspaper Guardian delivered on the day of their birth. I have masses of photograph albums I stuck photos into for years I am that way inclined. Anyway for my third child Frances Amy born September 16th 1982 in the bedroom downstairs  I mislaid all her memorabilia and it has dogged me as a sadness that she has no such book.

Then the other morning I went downstairs to search for a book in the archive boxes in my cellar, and it was silly to do it alone, and my legs were trembling, and I sat down to take my breath  and I spied a box with a clutch of brown envelopes from my Ph.D feedback from audience research on which songs they remembered  most in the performance (never published that either but it was the songs the group wanted them most ot rmember…).  And I saw this folded newspaper behind it and hey presto there was Fran’s borth day memorabilia, safe and sound, just completely in the wrong place. Such a fantastic treasure trove and thing to happen.  Fran and I sat on the couch last night and read it all through: last letters from my Great Uncle Jim, aged 78, and my Great Aunt Agnes aged similar, both in Birkenhead (although Jim a train driver was born in Leith Walk Edinburgh, like most of my Grandad’s family (his father lost his job in the depression and taking  the family down to Southampton to find work stopped in Birkenhead on the way, where family story has it he broke his leg, and ended up working for Cammell Laird’s Shipyards like my Grandad Arthur did after him). The cards include other voices of the family; and the medical cards of the  the midwives who delivered Fran:  I was only covered for home birth ten days each side of my due date, and it was eleven days when I went into labour. So the midwives, when we rang them, joked and said, ‘cross your legs for 24 hours’. Fran was born in the bedroom  downstairs and the only  doctor I could get them to agree do a home birth at that time (my own Dr Johnston would do it like Tom as hospital delivery and then cover me at home, which indeed he did for Fran i.e came afterwards) .Anyway the Dr who did it told me to have her in the middle of the night as he would be able to get across town in tim eas he was based Blackhall which is good 40 mins away  … so I obliged! and Fran  was born by an early breakfast (I remember wholemeal toast, raspberrry jam and tea) and then Tom and Rachel woke up to a baby in the bedroom!

The other serendipity is that I was cleaning and organising  papers and  photographs on shelf outside living room where I keep such things and re-organising art books, and I came across a thick  brown envelope marked Platt family (which is my ex husband family) and there was note from his Dad for him on his birthday must have been just as he left here  in 1989 around his birthday in the February or similar. And it has all the photos of the Platt family who fled pogroms in Poland and ended up in Salford owning factories:  so another amazing treasure trove find for the family.

Musician Nuala Kennedy just sent me the most gorgeous piece of music called Camino by her mate Oliver in which she achieves the  most sonorous beauty I can imagine, the arch of the violin soars.  I walked the Camino to Santiago de Compostela in 2007 and the names of the music evokes those days on the road in Galicia and other parts and meeting old people in hamlets and villages out for their daily constitutional stroll often with sticks – we had snow then sunshine all the way. I took a photo diary of the  journey and will try and get some of the photos up on my Facebook pages. – I organised my own photographic exhibition called ‘Old Women and some Old Men’, last December in my house –  it is hanging on my stairs today – and it has many of these photos there. My mate Nick Bowry is walking the Camino at the moment on his own: he will meet many folk it is his second time and he is hoping to mend his broken heart – sure he will and have adventures too hopefully.

Oh God glorious music Nuala makes me weep it touches the sky and deep into the earth

henny pennies has wings clipped to stop the flying around garden but one is still managing – such spirit!

Killer flamenco album: Finally I did this thrilling 45 track flamenco compilation for Nascent which has just come out called The Beginner’s Guide to Flamenco. I did one for them about ten yeasr ago same name (but did not like some of the tracks the guy in charge inveigled in); and have done 2 in between for World Music  Network. The notes are always good and the choice excellent even if I say it myself. This last one is stunning- I was ill when asked so I just went for it in a different way and have pulled together a selection that is i think attractive and maybe unbeatable . I think as it has much material never available really, save via Internet Spain before and mixes young and cutting edge with family Jerez flamenco and older pieces and all in all I am very happy with it. Mary Anne Kennedy has been playing it on her BC Radio Scot,and and radio 3 programmes and now Lucy Duran will review it with a group of pundits in the studio for World Routes this Sunday evening: Jane Cornwell, Robin dense low and Lucy. I am so pleased about that. I am giving copies to firens as they come ( got a box or too thank you Lewis Robinson of Nacsnete a wonderful man to work with) and if you fancy it why not ! buy  it on line or pop by and if I have one I will give you one!! it is distributed through major shops and supermarkets I believe. It is dedicated to four key  flamenco people who died in recent years: pioneering  Nuevos Medios record company boss and friend Mario Pacheco; singers Enrique Morente and El Terremoto and guitarist Moraíto.

I have been dancing flamenco (rather basically but how I adore my black suede flamenco shoes with their tiny metal nails on toe and heel) since the 1990s: first with Tracey then with María ‘Tote’ Conte  then latterly with Saliha at El Alba / El Bar in Edinburgh. And I went to Seville Bienal and to Jerez festivals for various years, latterly Jerez 2008  2009 2010 2011 (indeed was taken off plane to hosoital  there ill in 2011, which when I got back home was colon cancer operation time, yet I still managed to dance at clasess and go to flamenco every night for a good week!). Jerez  is the crucible of flamenco today,  where it all happens and where the Santiago neighbourhood is still  very gypsy. And  I met many flamencos over the years (thank you Manuel Macías for taking me on the Andaluz Flamenco Routes).  And I interviewed many of them, even Enrique Morente whose home I visited in Granada having met him at WOMAD –  and including man of the moment Miguel Poveda; and wrote about them for Songlines and fRoots and The Guardian (thank you Imogen Tilden even if I had to fight to get it on the website for all sorts of silly reasons);   also the programme notes for the Sadler’s Wells Flamenco festival one year (although the girl in charge of programme notes rather young hated the fact that I took a feminist slant as all the new choreographers and women in charge of encouraging flamenco in Spain where women!).

I have to thank Mark Ellingham and Simon Broughton of the Rough Guides for asking me to write about flamenco for the Rough Guide to World Music, the world music bible back in the 90s and 2000+, as they made me get to grips with flamenco  through reading everything I could find and I got better and more knowledge as time passed and like to think I am a bit of an expert now. Thanks to everyone at the Villamarta Theatre Festival de Jerez; to Estela Zatania; and to all the flamencos I have met! Viva! What a lucky woman I have been! Wahta  thrilling life I have had what amzing people I have met what extraordinary music I have experienced- ayeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

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‘The gigging girl’: Archives Ahoy gifting; music from friends and 2 eggs from the hennies yesterday

Am sitting here after a bowl of cornflakes and banana listening to Nuala Kennedy playing Love at the Swimming Pool ( i love swimming so the title is super attractive). Nuala is a super-talented, young, intrepid, gorgeous Irish musician based in Edinburgh (mostly) who leads her own band and involves herself  lots of fantastic and imaginative music projects and also often plays at my mate Douglas Robertson’s House concerts.  Another  music mate from Australia who has lived in Edinburgh for years Dougie Hudson sent me lovely piece the other day: he is  founder member  of the group Baobab Tree  and teaches African dance at Dancebase.

One of the things i have amassed over the years since i worked  in Chile in 1971-3 is an archive of books on ‘la nueva canción Chilena’ (on which i wrote  my Oxford M.Phil thesis on and also my PhD Edinburgh on the group Karaxú) and  in other parts of América Latina – Nicaragua, Argentina, Uruguay, El Salvador; LPs; recordings; documents; interviews with leading musicains etc.  Plus i have the same for Cuba, even more enhanced really, as it has all the interviews for my as yet but ‘working hard at it’ unfinished book on Women and Music in Cuba, which i am at the moment attempting to get typed up from power points and presentation notes into something which might be publishable (with the help of a local friend Kate who is a whizz typist). I also have several thousand, maybe 5000+ CDs (and some LPs)  from radio and reviewing work and collected on world music from the 1980s with extensive Brazilian, flamenco, Spanish, Portuguese, Latin, Africa , Scandinavian, Euroepan sections and more. Plus i have all my BBC Radio Scotland Earthbeat radio programes (4 + years! ) on cassettes stored in  shoe boxes and numerous other radio programnmes and small radio series made for BBC World Service, Radio Scotland, Radio 3 and Radio 4 over the years including feature documentaries. Plus interviews with world music  musicians. Some of it is bound to be idiosyncratic even embarrassing but some of it is thrilling as people have died who are in interview etc or first time a song was recorded in Chile material case etc.

I am gifting the Chile material to the AMPUC archive at the Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago. This  is poetic justice as i first taught in Chile at Escuelas Universitarias de la Frontera in my beloved Temuco otherwise known as there as the Universidad Catolica.  AMPUC have already made contact with the Culture Ministry  in Santiago and they have made contact with Cristián León, the cultural attaché of the Chilean Embassy in London, who has been in otuch by phone to say he will ensure safe passage through diplomatic means; so everything is moving apace just got to get it all sorted within the archive boxes which is already more than half done  and estimated and packed by local company  Bishop’s Move.

I am gifting my similarly amazing  Cuban archive as a personal legacy  to my French-Canadian colleague Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier.  Ali and I met in Santiago de Cuba when i was doing part of my Cuban women and music researching there and she too (on hip-hop) when she was PhD student of my Mancheter Professor mate Pete Wade.  We hit it off and have kept in touch and have since co-written a killer chapter ‘Recording the Revolution’ for a book being edited by Simon Frith and Simon Zagorski Thomas  called The Art of the Recording Studo (forthcoming Ashgate 2012).  what a great experience that was as Ali wrote brillaint half of it and really’ planned’ the structure (I just wrote its flow) and kept us to word count (I kept addding in) and  kept  me focused; kept my verbosity down – wish i’d done more co-writing!

The rest of my archive – over 5000 CDs and a beautiful Brazilian, flamenco, Spanish, Portuguese, Latin, African, European, Scandinavian and more; plus my radio archive;  may go to Cardiff,  or Syracu, USA;  or elsewhere – I wrote asking for advice to the IASPM list which responded with extremely interesting, helpful, good exchange.

I think i have been so ‘anal’ as a collector out of the fact that when i left Chile after the 11 September 1973 coup d’état i left everything behind at the time; escaping from the atttempted brutal clutches of men from  the right-wing Patria y Libertad party, maniacs who scarily and terrifyingly  took things into their own hands post-coup  who decided to look for me as some’ foreign agent’, sent as a local teacher to ‘spread Marxism’ (copurses on poetry of War And Peace; Jesus Christ Super Star… James Joyce’s Dubliners; Family and Society in the UK and also ther USA: etc);   me going ‘underground’ at my friennd’s Teresa and Manuel’s flat (with partner Steve –  escaping  in other people’s clothes and with different ‘look’ hair do etc  Steve shaved his beard off. Another story, another day, folks….

Well we left almost everything behind, although actually a few months before we had packed quite a lot up and sent it home courtesy of a Brittsh guy who had a large allowance going back to the UK going by shipping freight). Still i became attached to collecting material objects as part of my work and have archived everything (roughly) –  i can always find things!  I have also spent a lot of money on buying books and discs over the years…anyway i hope it all finds a good homes and gets used and is made accesible.

Raining today just let the henny pennies into their run and they were clucking madly at me – they have apple and banana and greens from yesterday to peck at as well as their feed which is now in new feeders and water feeder. Thanks to my mate Lucy Richardson’ who got them for me and which hopefully stops them making such a mess as they tend to toss everything around willy nilly.  They gave me two eggs 2 yesterday! It was  a lovely sunny day and my friends  Simon (Mr Songlines) and Kate (Ms BBC radio) and their son Max (Mr Football Goalie) were here for 24 hours  and we lit the Mexican chimenea and cooked delicious little sausages and potaoes in foil and had lunch in the garden. Simon and i were able to check a lovely piece i have just completed for Songlines (which Simon edited beautifully as only so much energy a day)  on Venezuela’s El Sistema music social project, which is partnered in Scotland by Big Noise at Raplock, and to which Gustavo Dudamel and the Símon Bolívar Orchestra will come to play live with founder Abreu in June 21st midsummer 2012. Hope i am still here for that…

Last night my Australian journalist and music writer friend Jane Cornwell arrived for two days and we had delicious fish pie Kate had cooked and left for us and sticky toffee puding and lots of chat. Jane is writing an intrepid  a book! needs a place to go and write so maybe a Writer’s Retreat near Aberdeen friend and writer  Jenny Harper told me about once…

Meanwhile i have stuck all my review, cinema and other tickets since about 1999/2000 intoten  art books in date order – saved tickets over years them in shoe boxes too-  what a wonderful experience  doing that – i call the books ‘the gigging girl’ or ‘An Edinburgh Woman’s Life ‘ or ‘Just some of the culture i have enjoyed’ …

My mates Simon Frith and Ian Christie are co-editing my published work: chapters for books, articles and journals in newspapers  and such like, into an edited volume –  feels slightly egocentric but also good!

Have much enjoyed reading Guernsey Potato Pie and Potato Peelers Book Club; Secret Life of Bees; and the late  Antonio Tabucchi’s Pereira Maintains – a poetic masterpiece – in recent weeks. Tabucchi just died – hope i meet him in heaven. Listening to Cooder and Bhatt Meeting by the River again now just sublime. A desert island disc. Oh yes that could be next project deciding on my ten discs for the island to take with me!

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