Saturday, 31 January 2009

Thoughts on John Martyn 1948-2009

The Scene: The Apollo Victoria, 2 November 1980.
The time: 11 pm.

I’m standing offstage having just photographed two hours of the John Martyn Band in concert.
Martyn walks triumphantly off stage, nods perfunctorily at me and walks backstage.
The rest of the band follow him off.
The final member, drummer Phil Collins, bounds off and beams a smile at me and stops to talk.
COLLINS: Whaddya think then?
ME: Bloody amazing!
COLLINS: Get any good shots?
ME: Hope so.
COLLINS: D’ya wanna join us for a drink?
ME: Umm......I have to get these rolls to Melody Maker.
COLLINS: Beats standing on a street corner.
MARTYN: ‘Ere, Phil.
And Collins walks away to join Martyn , leaving me feeling...... (missed opportunity) bloody stupid!

I photographed many concerts, over a four-year period – some concerts I worked for the money; some concerts I worked, because I liked the artists; and this concert was one of those most rare concerts where I would’ve crawled to it. In fact, I recall that I did something I rarely did whilst snapping....I stopped numerous times during the gig just to look at/listen to Martyn’s extraordinary guitar work.

Fast forward to sometime in 1987.
The Scene: Chelsea Arts Club.

I walk in with my friend Charlie to meet our mutual mate Laurie, an Arts Club member.
I walk over to the bar to order drinks – standing there is John Martyn.
We get chatting and I recall the Apollo gig and how I missed the opportunity to have a post-gig evening with him and Phil Collins. He roars that fag-and-drink laden laugh of his and buys me a drink. And the same again on the next couple of occasions that I visit as well. A delight to know.

There are certain artists who mesmerise you with their brilliance – Richard Thompson, Jimi Hendrix, Nick Drake and Sandy Denny – and Martyn, from that first time I saw him in 1970 in Brighton with erstwhile wife Beverley, is in that hallowed band.
He was totally unique, a true visionary and the music resonates with amazing power.

(As I don’t have any prints of that show available I’ve had to use my contact strips to 'blow up' a couple of prints - apologies for the poor quality)

Friday, 30 January 2009

Chapter Twenty-Six – A devilish plan is hatched

Chapter 26

Nick has a 5-day photo-shoot in Scotland after which the rest of the Joshuas will go up to join him for a week’s holiday.

Meanwhile, Moriarty plots with Herman to......

4 pages : 1175 words

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Chapter Twenty-Five – Archie has his job back

Chapter 25

Scarlett is upset at losing Murphy’s photo and preoccupied with trying to find it, but she doesn’t tell anyone. Archie arrives at the Joshua House to thank Nick.

3 pages : 910 words

Friday, 23 January 2009

Chapter Twenty-Four – The Village Fete

Chapter 24

It is a glorious summer’s day and the Village Fete, which is held on Moriarty’s land - is opened by guest of honour Janet Street-Porter. Archie is helping Nick with his photo stall/auction and Kate and Sandy are looking after the organic fruit and veg stall. Sarah and Bella are walking Murphy round the show and stop at Herman’s ferret-racing stall.

The fete is doing incredibly well with record numbers of visitors. Nick’s photo auction is going well but the climax is a stunning photo of Moriarty’s land: Moriarty believes he will get this photo at a knock-down price but...he doesn’t count on a surprise bidder. Moriarty storms off.

Meanwhile, one of Herman’s ferrets has escaped and causes untold damage after a chase through numerous stalls. The ferret ends up in the children’s fancy dress parade. Scarlett is knocked over and loses her photo of Herman. The chapter ends with a confrontation between Nick and Moriarty at which Nick is delighted to gain the upper hand.

10 pages : 2640 words

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Happy Obama Day

A most welcome day. I enjoyed watching every heart-uplifting minute of it and in particular Bush’s cringed face when Obama tacitly punctured every Bushism of the previous regime. There may troubles ahead but there should be confidence that there is now a President of intelligence, integrity, passion and charisma. And to top it all, after 8 years, we have a President who can speak English.

Well, Barack, YES you can!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Chapters Twenty-Three – Kate’s mum arrives, Archie is sacked

Chapter 23

Kate’s mum, Ruth, arrives for a week and Nick ensconces himself in his darkroom printing photos for the Fete. When Nick goes for a break along to the village store he finds Archie looking disconsolate: he’s been sacked by Moriarty. Nick feels both responsible and furious.

4½ pages : 1240 words

Friday, 16 January 2009

Chapters Twenty-Two – Nick shoots, with Archie to the rescue

Chapter 22

Nick returns from a photo-shoot to find that he has only 3 days to provide a portfolio of photos for the Village Fete. So, early one Sunday morning Nick ventures out, with Murphy in tow, to take a series of local landscapes.

The photography is going well and he meets up with Archie who is out jogging. They walk on for a while until they come across...Herman, using illegal traps on a bird of prey near Moriarty’s massed pheasant pens. By now Blackie has become enamoured with Murphy and they go to greet one another but there is danger and Murphy saves Blackie from a hidden trap. Herman sees this and thinks that Murphy has attacked Blackie and is about to shoot Murphy. Archie barrels Herman to the ground distracting his shot and he is left with Herman's threat resounding in his ears.

3 pages : 1780 words

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Chapters Twenty & Twenty-One – School wraps up, The village Fete

Chapter 20

The following 3 weeks of the summer involves the end of the school term, work away for Nick and occasional visits to the coast where Murphy is in his element. School is out and the next big event is...The Village Fete.

Chapter 21

The end of term is marked by a family visit to the coast and everyone in the Joshua family goes into the sea to swim – except Bella. Not even Murphy’s exhortations towards Bella will overcome her fear of water.
The Rev Julia visits Kate and asks for her input with the Village Fete. Kate suggests a fruit and veg stall of her own garden produce; and she volunteers (an absent) Nick will provide some of his photos for a stall. Julia of course is delighted.

7½ pages : 2345 words

Monday, 12 January 2009

Chapter Nineteen (cont’d) – Meeting with a previous acquaintance...

Chapter 19 (continued)

After resting, Murphy tucks into some vegetarian lunch and there to greet the Joshuas is the kindly and prescient old Irishman, Francis, who happens to be beachcombing. This enhances the mystery behind Murphy and they leave Horseshoe Cove with a great deal to think about.

4 pages : 1220 words

Friday, 9 January 2009

Chapter Nineteen – More revelations at Horseshoe Cove

Chapter 19

The Joshuas head to the coast. Murphy indicates, by barking furiously, that Nick should head down a dirt track road. The car ends up on a high cliff which leads down to an isolated cove in the shape of a horseshoe. There is a treacherous clamber down to the beach and Murphy delights in diving into the sea.
There are further revelations in this chapter.

5½ pages : 1520 words

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Chapter Eighteen – The Joshuas settle as summer rolls on...

Chapter 18

Life settles into a routine as the summer rolls on.......
School appears to be going well.
Even though the house is in an awful state, the Joshuas are delighted with the Hardstaffs work.
Murphy is well integrated in his new life.
Kate begins a new project.
Nick has days away, on the various photo-assignments.
Finally, the Joshuas decide to take Murphy to the coast.

3 pages : 880 words

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Chapter Seventeen – Life returns to ‘normal’

Chapter 17

Life returns to ‘normal’ for the Joshuas, except that, out of the blue, the Hardstaff brothers phone to say they are able to work on the house ... starting tomorrow! The Joshuas are stunned but are also delighted that their house will soon be in a more habitable state. The next day the Hardstaffs turn up and begin to demolish the inside of the house.
Chaos soon reigns!

2 pages : 600 words

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Chapter Sixteen – The Revelation

Chapter 16

The Joshuas transfer the film of Murphy swimming onto the computer and watch it back with some delight. Just then, Moriarty arrives with an apology for Kate – he is condescending and Nick becomes annoyed. At the same time, there is a revelation as the film plays in the background. Nick humbles Moriarty out of the house, and they watched the film back one small – they are all stunned at what they see. Murphy is not what he appears to be. Now they must decide whether they should keep Murphy!?

3½ pages : 1120 words

Monday, 5 January 2009

Chapters Fifteen – Murphy swims

Chapter 15

Hughesy arrives with the post one morning and is introduced to Murphy; only Hughesy has already seen Murphy at Boggle Lake (on Moriarty’s land). Kay says that that’s impossible as it's 8 miles away, but Hughesy says that Murphy is unmistakable.

The new video camera is used for the first time, and Murphy is the favourite subject to film. Julia and Archie visit to meet the new family member, but he’s missing. Scarlett thought that she saw him heading down to the Beck behind the house and they go on a Murphy-hunt. Sarah is filming when they find Murphy, swimming like an otter in the beck. Naturally, the family is surprised.

5 pages : 1500 words