As you can see, over the last few days I've been giving this blog a bit of a facelift. Previously I was blogging music related posts over at Telling the Bees and keeping this site for my writing and academic work.
But it must be conceded that the life of a writer is not that exciting - I spend hours with my face screwed up in front of the computer, my nose in a book, or plodding about with my eyes fixed upon the middle distance. Apart from advertising my periodic public or festival appearances, I've struggled to think of what I could possibly blog about that might be of interest. And after a day of squeezing out words onto the page, the last thing I've wanted to do was write more. My word pile was getting dangerously low.
While considering opening up the focus I remembered that Renaissance magicians thought scholars (and I suppose, by extension, writers) to be ruled by the planet Saturn (grayscale planet of restriction, dessication and death, in astrological terms at least) and hence prone to melancholy. Certainly, writing requires a Saturn-like narrowing of focus, a kind of self-absorption or looking inwards, too much of which leads to a gloomy outlook, a subtle pessimism that I think has been reflected here. It's all been a bit austere.
So in a new spirit of Jupiter-like expansiveness, of reaching out into the world, I've decided to make this blog about my life as a writer and as a musician, and, especially, as someone who plays the little known but very much alive English bagpipes. Music remains a large and indispensible part of my life and I'd like to share that here.
The new header photo shows me performing in a 2009 dance piece called Common Dance, choreographed by Rosemary Lee and with an exquisite and specially composed score by Terry Mann. A site-specific work for fifty dancers of mixed ethnicity, age and formal ability, it took place in Greenwich Borough Hall. You can see more photos here - I understand a DVD is in the making. It was as beautiful and extraordinary as it looks.
My role was small but significant - 'the piper' shamanistically marking the transition between the three acts (birth, life and death), starting my journey in the bowels of the building and ending it right up in the gods.
Let's just say that it was a role that suited me well.