Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Eric Clapton, Robert Raymond, Rachel Carns, and Hannah Scott

If we'd sussed when we booked tickets for Clapton in Nottingham that he would be playing five days later in Hyde Park, it'd have saved a long drive. It was a good gig though, especially as Uncle John had arranged a prime-sited executive box - not very rock and roll, but nice to be able to stretch one's legs, sup cold beer or wine, and have well-found loos all to ourselves.

The openers, Robert Raymond and the Family Band, were electric, putting heart and soul into their set (K reckoned they stole the show). Their Voodoo Child (Slight Return) was magic.

Clapton, on his magic carpet, was worth going for, inevitably. And long overdue - I last saw him with Cream at Wembley in April 1967, along with the Troggs, the Move, the Kinks, the New Vaudeville Band and Geno Washington (some gig, eh? Well, it should have been, except I couldn't hear a thing for teenage girls screaming). But there was something minimal and lacklustre about him and his band. There was no spark, no sign of enjoyment, no interaction with the audience. Except perhaps Abe Laboriel Jnr who drummed his big cotton socks off. The single encore (for which the punters had to work too hard), 'Got My Mojo Working' was enriched by the return of a bouncing, leg-waving Robert Raymond on his pedal guitar.

We were intrigued by Eric's rhythm guitarist who, K pointed out, was playing his guitar upside down. It looked like a left-handed guitar, being played left-handed, but strung right-handed. A quick Google showed that this was Doyle Bramhall II, who has toured before with Clapton with his own band, Smokestack. There must be a story behind his strange technique.

By way of contrast, my ordered debut album from Hannah Scott, 'Till Angels Fall', arrived today. With a personal note of thanks and good wishes from Hannah, and a kiss. Bless! I love it when artists are that approachable and appreciative. I had a similar response from Rachel Carns of Twin (King Cobra), who is fĂȘted enough not to bother.

If you haven't come across Hannah, visit her MySpace here, then order her CD; it's really good and she's destined for great things.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

A Literary Streak

The thing is, K was staying with a friend last night, and Bob was down the hill watching a DVD and drinking ale with a neighbour, so it was only the SS and I.

So when, just as I was climbing into bed, I discovered I'd left my book on the stairs ('The History of Love' by Nicole Krauss. Have you read it? You really should; it's hauntingly good), it seemed pretty safe to sprint smartly down to get it. Naked.

Bob really must have come back very quietly. Why he chose that moment to emerge from the sitting-room is beyond me. The sight of his father retreating up the stairs trying to create the illusion of underwear with his bare hands seems to have been a bit of a shock. He was unusually quiet this morning, and seemed almost eager to get to school.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

New Craigs

Once, just for a few weeks, illness stole her reason. The professionally caring authorities took her away to a white-walled place with doors that locked.

One day he rang as usual, and she asked who he was. It's Don. Your son. At the end of the long cord, in the corridor with the cheery pictures, she picked her words with the care of someone who may be quoted. "I have a son named Don," she said, "but you are not him." And at once he was cut loose, adrift in a world without identity.

Later, when she had returned, she asked how it had been. He told her of this and she replied, "Oh I said that, did I?" as if denial of a child was a regrettable but not unusual hazard, like incontinence or a persistent cough.

"Yes. And one time you..."

"I don't want to talk about it," she interrupted, and he saw he had overstepped a boundary between her impuissance and his. He sealed up the memories that he had hoped to set free, and felt a prescient desolation.