I'll be honest - the week did not start well. On Sunday morning as is my usual practice, I came downstairs to make tea for Mrs Voltarol and me. We usually drink this in bed whilst reading our books so I was clad only in my dressing gown and my feet were bare. As I opened the fridge door and reached in for the milk jug I managed to dislodge a piece of Parmesan cheese, which fell and landed on my big toe, immediately behind the nail. Who would of thought that a piece of cheese could have caused so much pain. I currently have a small but spectacularly coloured bruise and a slight limp that I am somewhat reluctant to talk about. This was a portent of things to come.
We use our oil-fired central heating system to heat water all the year round because, up until recently at any rate, it still works out cheaper than using the immersion heater. We have it set to come on for an hour, twice a day. On Monday evening it occurred to me that I hadn't checked the oil level in the tank recently, so I popped outside for a quick glance at the sight tube. There were a couple of inches showing, so I pulled the little doohickey that bleeds the air out and there was a faint burping sound as the last of the oil disappeared from view. "Oh dear" I said (or words to that effect), "I'd better go and turn the system off before it fires up again and locks out". I stepped back into the kitchen at the precise moment that the boiler fired up and of course, locked out as per prediction. "Oh dear" I said again (or words to that effect). This meant that the system would now need bleeding after the oil had been delivered and before we could use it again. Another job for Dave, the People's Plumber. (For those of you crying "Wimp! Fool! Do it yourself! etc. I should point out that I have slightly less DIY competence than my pet hamster - and I don't have a pet hamster.)
All was not lost. I went up stairs and switched on the immersion heater. There was a faint 'popping' sound and every electrical appliance in the house went dead. "Oh dear" I said and then (departing from the euphemistic because it simply can't do it justice), "double-buggering shit arse BOLLOCKS to it!" (and even here I rein myself in for the benefit of the more genteel amongst my readership). I went downstairs and reset the trip, went back upstairs to the airing cupboard, checked for loose connections, replaced the fuse and tried again with the same result, except that this time the lights went out as well, because by now dusk was upon us. Having reached the end of my expertise and with no hamster available to consult, I turned the immersion heater off again, went back down stairs, reset the trip once more and resigned myself to a temporary absence of hot water and a bigger bill from Dave, the People's Plumber. "Ah well" I thought, "at least tomorrow I'm going to interview Neil Davey and Hilary Coleman from the Cornish music group Dalla for the blog. I do have something to look forward to". Ha!
I usually use my trusty MD Walkman to record interviews but it's seen a lot of service over the last eight years and I had been lent a new, state of the art, digital sound recorder, so I packed both as I set out yesterday morning - belt and braces - just to be on the safe side. I arrived at their house on time and started to set up my equipment, only to find that I had brought the wrong power adaptor for the Mini disc and that it's battery was practically flat. No matter. I set up the borrowed machine, did a quick level test and started recording. I have known Neil and Hilary for quite a while and we get on very well, so the interview was a pleasure. I seem to have found the right questions to get them going and they disgorged a wealth of material about the evolution of their own musicality, their musical philosophy, direction and ambitions. I couldn't wait to get home and start transcribing it for these pages...
I might have known. Despite the fact that everything had seemed to be performing correctly, the gremlins that had so far dogged my week were now resident in the recorder. The entire sound file of the interview consisted of seven seconds of me saying "Testing...no...that's fine...excellent. OK folks, first que". And that was that. I phoned Hilary and somewhat shamefacedly explained what had happened and said that I could probably put some sort of article together from memory but she very gallantly agreed to do the interview again at a later date. So - watch this space.
In the meantime I was short a scheduled posting for this blog. During the course of our conversation, Neil and Hilary had made much of the value of being able to identify with the music of your heritage and your place of birth. Somewhat flippantly I had replied "Are you familiar with the Folk Songs of Middlesex?" - which is where I was born and spent the first forty-odd years of my life. Confronted by a sudden lack of intended blog material I decided to do a quick Google search and see if I couldn't just save the day with a posting about traditional Middlesex music. That it wasn't successful is clearly evinced by the actual subject matter of this piece. There were references to one or two folk clubs in Middlesex, a website for a Morris Dancing team who perform dances from the Cotswolds in Middlesex U.S.A. and quite a lot of material about trans sexuality. And that, dear readers, is why you are reading this catalogue of disasters...and the week's not over yet.