Quite a day: it had been far too long since I'd last seen my step-daughter Claire. Far too long; we vowed not leave it so long again. Also, I got to meet Jessica, Claire's youngest, for the first time - and was totally smitten.
And I gave my new whistle its first outing. You think I would have smiled; maybe it looked better on the hanger.
I can’t really tell you why it’s taken me so long to visit a proper Turkish barber and have a full hot towel shave. But that’s precisely what I did yesterday afternoon. And my skin is still singing, can I just tell you (let’s hear it for lemon balm). What a fabulous experience. Even when they set fire to my tabs to remove all unwanted ear hair I enjoyed every minute of the full hour I was in the chair - a full haircut, face-line with blade, cut throat shave and eyebrow trim. I’ll be back.
Taking photographs in Madrid is like shooting fish in a barrel - everything (and nearly everybody) practically begs you to point your camera at them. Five days away and my Canon's memory card was reaching capacity: from the Royal Palace and Puerta del Sol to the Plaza Mayor and Gran Via I've snapped it all. I've even got an offbeat bunch of themed shots of shop & bar fronts which I may put up here sometime in the future.
But, my favourite photo of the whole week comes courtesy of a respectable business man waiting patiently for his bus. I saw him directly opposite the little tapas bar where we were having breakfast.
Carl Hetherington has presided over all my recordings since 2012. Pickering Place and Chip Off The Old Block were both recorded at the congenial Oakwood Studios - on the outskirts of York - with Carl at the helm. Not only is he a fabulous producer (his knob-twiddling skills are legendary in this part of the world) but also a fine piano player.
We recorded three songs just before I went to Madrid – Hey Hey Hey, Days Like This and Fool. Fool is one of the saddest songs I’ve ever written. And that’s saying something, by the way. I asked Carl to tinkle the ivories on this one and in so doing I think we’ve succeeded in really swathing it in melancholia.
My head's a shed at the moment: it's full. I need to get away for a few days and uninstall some stuff. My flight to Madrid leaves in a little while.
Last time I was there I saw Nick Lowe at La Riviera and I bought a loud shirt. This time round I'll settle for keeping my sanity.
Clive Gregson & Christine Collister in happier times
My admiration of Clive Gregson and his fabulous songs is well documented on this blog. And when a couple of years ago he was throwing songwriting titbits from the top table I made sure I filled my boots (don't you just love mixed metaphors?).
He wrote the haunting I Could Be Happy for the very last Gregson and Collister album and selflessly gave the lead vocal to Christine Collister. Clive recently resurrected a lot of the Gregson and Colllister songs he'd not sung for twenty odd years - since he and Christine split up - and took them on the road with Liz Simcock; unfortunately when the tour came to my local town I had to body serve it as it clashed with another gig on the same night. But Clive's back on tour so I'm sure I'll make up for it.