Canal Boat song: unexpected gifts and the search for Will Power

Tomorrow i am going on my first ever canal boat trip. Liza Coates (who i have never met) is taking me out in her boat. It’s one of my ‘things to do’ and so i am excited. Also i need to calm down. I have not written this blog for about ten days as i have had wall to wall visitors and have been so busy having a good time with them that i have not found time for much else.  Edinburgh in August is Carnival time – everyone goes out to lots of shows and spends a lot of money and  stays out late and i am sure there is some cross dressing going on too  not just Simon Callow!

I loved everything i did and as i was not reviewing really  (only 3 shows) I actually bought my own tickets and chose my own shows  which is unusual for me.  This meant instead of press seats in the grand circle or  stalls  i sat in the gods at the Festival Theatre which is terrifying if you get vertigo like i do!  I had to lean far back in my seat!!  Went with my sister Mary to see Rossini’s rarely performed Seramide which was intriguing and at times beautiful but basically a  really prententious (post-modernist, ‘everything goes’ i.e.  too many  diffuse and often silly ideas)  production,  that missed so many golden opportunities to infer something meaningful about the middle east today, and was at 4 hours 20 mins far far too long (best left unperformed really although some good arias). And  to Lyceum to see 1001 nights which was convincing, fun yet again lacked that pzazz that blows you away.

Fringe highlights were the ever gorgeous Antonio Forcione with Sekou Keita and Adrian Adelwaya; the gob-smacking  Circocolombia – unbelievable courage and beauty;  Soy de Cuba – brillaint dancing; and the crazy Beowulf (edgy, iconoclastic ‘down and out’  interpretation by a crack group of NY musicians)  at Assembly. And at the Book Festival Guatemalan-US writer Francisco Goldman( his book about the death of his young wife Aura in a freak beach accident  is unique in the way it conjures up every detail of their relationship so vividly it hurts  yet is celebratory of the love and life  they shared  together). I had not seen him since I invited him to the BG  in 1996 and  actually he told me he has  not been back in the meantime!  I saw two women whose work i love –  Maggie O’Farrell and Wendy Cope;  and yesterday the amazing Ingrid Betancourt  the Colombian green-eco Presidential candidate who was abducted and  held in the jungle  for six years by FARC guerrilla fighters.

Kirsty Wark chaired Betancort’s session magnificently opening it up to the public after 20 minutes to a really good and wide ranging discusison with various Colo,bians contributing from the audience.   I asked Betancourt  if she thought the FARC had any ideals left anywhere in any form – they are one of the oldest guerilla groups on the continent- and she said that they were mostly poor peasants whose desire seemed to revolve around money and consumer goods  to get the same  ipods, computers, nikes  etc that many people of their age want, a definition of ‘happiness’ … I bought the book and cannot put it down.. i got it signed and could not resist asking her if she had enjoyed working with Colombian singer Juanes as i interviewed  him once (and then went to Cuba to see him and Silvio Rodríguez and Van Van and Carlos Varela and many others when Juanes organised the Peace Concert there in 2009); and he told me he had done a concert with Beatancourt   when she was freed etc.  She was one of those people that when she talks to you, you really do feel the full power of her attention.  She asked me where i learnt Spanish and i told her a little about Chile and Pinochet etc In short a woman i would love to interview!

Are my interviewing days over I wonder? Well  i am due to do a few this autumn like Pink Martini who will come to Usher Hall etc … I did 3 reviews for Scotsman. Ravi Shankar who i was too genereous  to – i gave him 4 stars when really i think it was in retrospect a 3 star gig  (that is what happens to me sometimes when I have only 40 mins to do the 200 words after gig and send them in to meet first editions – i feel too generous). He was over dominant not letting his group really play much at all and while it was compllling at times he  really did create any mesmerising beautiful music either. Still he is 90 and he was unmistakeably on his marks and into being Shankar  and that in itself – to a full house – was riveting.

I reviewed  the great sarod player Amjad Ali Khan at Queens  Hall and three groups of Rajasthani musicians  at the Museum.  Well you can read the revwies in line at the Scotsman  site – they weer all good espcially Khan. The Rajasthani’s would have been even better if they had not been somehow trapped in a presentation that was PC yet still  unintentionally somehow  got itself trapped in a post-colonial, patronising, class-based  patronage game.   The programme notes for all three concerts were totally unfocused, inappropriate, and  mostly bollocks (even if i know who wrote them, sorry) they simply told us nothing useful  like names of pieces, why the music  sounded like it did, what each piece was about,  and such like – too much pretentious background academic speak that is not at all user-friendly or informative  – and i am an ethnomusicologist…

time for bed- i have been trying to find out more about alternative cancer treatment: coffee enemas –  i am about to buy equipment tomorow; i spoke to cancer coach Ginny Fraser – she was helpful and told me about a man called Etienne Callebout who I hope  will give me a ten minute (!) telephone consultation in about ten days. My enzymes have arrived from the USA and i must know work out how to take them. I am juicing  but not sure if i should buy a Gersen recomended £1000 juicer (will try borrow)… as apparently an ordinary super magimix juicer is not adequate … for lots of reasons.  I am going to try a to become vegan with a bit of fish on the side for protein  (it is hard i keep eating bits of chocolate and worse and i just made a banana bread with old bananas – i need to find WILL POWER  – as one has to give up lots of obvious sugars and i realise i eat a lot of of them – biscuits, cake etc).  I hgve an appointement  with herbalist  Jan de Vries on Thursday morning see what he has to say. I am trying everything and everything  at moment as i am off all pills and all chemo at present cos of side effects (sore feet – little cuts – and neuropathy i.e. numbness  in toes and fingers).

I am hoping to work out a good  plan and schedule – Ginny Fraser says it is dangerous  to self-medicate    – but who will give me  a plan? no one i have found so far will commit to that… i have had two sessions of tremendous energy healing form Sara Trevelyan

Most amazingly a whole  group of friends co-ordinated by Su-a Lee  have clubbed together and made a kitty for me so i can have some more reflexolology and  indian head nassages and stuff. It was so overwhelming when i got the card and letter telling me i did not readt for almost 5 days – i just kept reading it – it was so unexpected – i am more used  to organising that for others not having it done for me –  it is so generous and  so loving – one is not alone  – it often feels so but it’s simply not true!well i know from cards and flowers and phone calls people are thinking of me and from visits and soup and food people bring me  – people are also praying for me which is wonderful –  but that card was  … made me happy and weepy at same time!!

THANK you all who contributed! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


About Jan Fairley

I am an experienced and passionate ethnomusicologist working as an arts and music journalist and broadcaster, writer and editor as well as researcher, lecturer, radio presenter and producer. I have a breadth of organising experience at home and abroad. I am a fluent Spanish speaker. I love travelling and have worked abroad (notably Chile 1971-3 and again in 1994) and researched in Cuba, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Finland.
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