Heads Will Roll
Happy Bastille Day
Bonjour et bienvenue à ma petite summer newsletter.
Je m’appelle Nerina et j’ai quarante-sept ans et j’ai deux chats et une chienne et j’habite avec ma famille et je voudrais un billet pour aller à Paris except je can’t go to Paris parce-que I was given the ‘wrong’ vaccine - along with five million other people - and the Frenchies won’t let me in. But who am I to bear a grudge? I will forgive you, French people, and honour my Gallic ancestry and wish my distantly related countrymen a happy day of freedom, except if you are an aristocrat, in which case I shall passez-vous les bandaids.
Today I am casting my mind back thirty-three years ago to my first ever cigarette, smoked on the weathered balcony of a hotel in St Malo after a school day trip to Mont St Michel went awry. It was a Marlboro Red and I hated every minute of it, but mostly the minute where my friend and I had chosen exactly the same moment to stand on this balcony to smoke for the first time just as one of our teachers - fag in hand - looked up from below. Irony had not yet been invented in 1988, and so when we returned home the next day, the headmistress’s office awaited.
My father was very good about it.
‘You didn’t nick them, did you?’ He asked.
‘Of course not, Dad. I don’t shoplift anymore. Not after the thimble incident in primary.’
‘Well that’s fine then. As long as you didn't nick them. When I was your age, I was getting done for nicking my fags, not for actually smoking them.’
I did not take up smoking as my full time hobby until I got to university but I always felt it was paternally sanctioned somehow. As a proud Jerseyman, he would be loathe to admit it, but my father is très French sometimes and his laissez-faire approach to life is one I rather admire. He has ultimate faith in his children. He let us do stupid shit (as long as it wasn’t immediately life threatening) with a wry smile of admiration and a ‘don’t tell your Mother!’, knowing that the novelty of stupid shit soon wears off. It took me a while with the smoking, but I got there in the end.
I must confess to thinking a lot about my father at the moment. I know some of you reading are in the same boat (or not, more’s the pity, what wouldn’t we give to be in an actual boat in this instance?) and are indefinitely separated from our loved ones for as long as certain Antipodean borders remain closed. Three years it has been for my father, mother, sister and I. Three very long years. Another to follow? Another two? Who knows. I pine also for Europe - our separation now both existential and physical. So much world out there, that I took for granted; so much world that I shall never take for granted again.
On a more positive note, the band and I played our first show in two years in front of a human audience this weekend gone and it was glorious - atrocious weather notwithstanding. This coming week sees me return to my beloved RAK studios in London to continue work on my next album with a host of amazingly gifted musicians and engineers. Then at the end of this month I return to Brasserie Zedel in London to play a live show with a real audience; in September a new show added as part of the Secret Garden Concert series; more Pub in the Park shows, the start of my UK tour - I feel uncommonly lucky having so much to look forward to.
But first, the summer. As I write, the sun is beating down on my corner of Berkshire, the bees are out bobbing from flower to flower, and I can hear the hum of mowers and the hissing of summer lawns everywhere around me. And in my freezer, a family size box of FABs which means breakfast, lunch and dinner is sorted.
I wish you all a wonderful summer,