Reelin’ In The Years….

The Steely Dan song that provides the title for today’s post is one of my favourites, not least because of the exceptional lead guitar work of Elliot Randel. But, that’s not why I used it in the title of this post. Having had two weeks off my feet due to my cellulitis, I had plenty of time to think and reflect. So, I want to share some of those thoughts and reflections with you, my dear reader.

Five years ago today, I and my wife Cate were preparing ourselves for becoming a family of three, and becoming parents. We were into our final week as just a couple. My life, which had already changed beyond my wildest dreams, when I met and married Cate, was about to change again. Radically. Questions were flying through my head at a zillion miles an hour: “Can I really be a good Dad?”; “Can I handle all the requirements of a new born baby?”; “Can I give her all she needs for life and happiness?” It all seemed so daunting.

Then, on November 19th 2009, my daughter Anna was born. When she came out into the world, suddenly all those questions and doubts melted away with a huge, “YES!” the moment I saw her. Over the course of these five (almost) years, I have learned so much more of the depth of those questions, and have occasionally returned to them. It has been an extraordinary experience watching her grow up and develop. And now, suddenly, my baby girl is a school girl!

She has settled into her formal education fantastically well, and is learning loads every week. It’s just so delightful to see her skipping joyfully to school and then skipping home with the same joy, and then burying her head in her homework when she gets home. She loves to learn, and she is having lots of fun doing it. I hope and pray that this delight remains with her her whole life through.

As we approach her birthday, I regularly find myself amazed that the little baby I held in my arms five years ago has become this amazing little girl…….who already has complete mastery of sarcasm and has a bullet-fast wit.

I wonder what the next five years hold for her – and for Cate, her brother Sam and myself?? Who knows? – God does! I am very thankful the journey of parenting He has brought me on so far, and totally excited as the journey with Him, and Him with us, continues.

Happy birthday (for Wednesday), Anna! Here’s to many more Father-daughter adventures!

Weighting and Waiting

One of my favourite emotions – among many – is anticipation. Waiting for something to arrive, or something to happen, that you know is going to be GOOD. I get all excited. It becomes mostly all I talk about – which irritates my poor beloved wife NO end – until the event happens, or the thing arrives. I count down the days. I am probably very annoying.

I have another one. It’s not really a favourite exactly, but it usually follows anticipation that is not fulfilled: FRUSTRATION.

I am eagerly anticipating the completion of the studio makeover project. It has been all I talk about! However, there have been some rather annoying and frustrating hold-ups to the project, caused by new gear not being correctly delivered or not even arriving at all!

When I get frustrated, like anticipation, it becomes all I talk about and it spills over in a variety of ways, including this blog. So, if that is not your bag, can I suggest eagerly anticipating my next post in a week or so’s time?

So, my big frustration has been with anticipated deliveries not arriving on time, or even arriving at all. After LOTS of phone calls and emails – oh, and a wee rant to Royal Mail on Twitter – I have no gear, one re-send and one refund. Annoying!

So here is the low down on frustrations:

  • First frustration: I have had to order my new DAW (Digital Audio Workstation AKA music production software) via another vendor. This is the biggest frustration, because this is the one piece of gear that has NEVER actually arrived. Royal Mail LOST IT! It is the most expensive, and – for the audio geeks – after 20 years or so of using Steinberg’s Cubase, in its various incarnations, I have decided to switch to PreSonus’ Studio One. I have a full refund on this, so I will be buying it elsewhere.
  • Second frustration: I have taken delivery of new acoustic treatment (to tame the acoustics in the studio), which arrived PERFECTLY on time (NOT via Royal Mail), but I do not have the stuff ordered by which I will be mounting the foam panels and bass traps on the walls. That got returned to sender by Royal Mail! So, that part of the project is on hold.
  • Third frustration: Royal Mail v Yodel. Score line there? 1-0 to Yodel, with two RM sending offs.

So, there you have it. I am frustrated and anticipating the arrival of the mounting stuff next week and then, hopefully, Studio One by the end of that week. In between that, I have a computer to overhaul with my good friend Jonathan Simpson.

Rant over. It was cathartic. Next time, you will hear joy-filled news of the project moving forward, and I’ll post some pics.

So…..what was the “weighting” bit of the title all about? I’m attempting to lose weight.

Inspiring Discoveries

I LOVE discovering musicians and songwriters I have never heard of before. It inspires me to be creative and write new songs when I have those periods, as a songwriter myself, of struggle to get the creative juices flowing. In recent years, this methodology has been my go-to option when I struggle – go and listen to some great songs written and performed by great musicians and songwriters, which are well recorded, mixed and mastered. I almost never end up envious and saying, “why are my songs and recordings not as good as that?!” Rather, I end up inspired to go and write the best songs I can and capture the very best recordings I can.

Today, thanks to my friend Joe Gilder and his fabulous Home Studio Corner Podcast, I happened upon an artist whose music thoroughly inspired me. What was even more inspiring was that his fantastic new album “Death In Reverse” was 90% recorded and mixed in a home studio like mine! The artist is called Jeremy Casella. I very happily commend his music to you. You can go and check him out HERE.

I hope you enjoy his music as much as I have, and I hope it inspires YOUR creative juices as much as it has mine.

Until next time……See you!

Birthday Hobbles

October 9th saw me enter my final year of my Thirties. I had a really great day, full of blessings and surprises and a wonderful evening out with my wonderful wife, Cate, for a very delicious and filling dinner. The only down side of the day, and the days leading up to it has been a rather nasty and extremely painful infection in my left calf that flared up out of nowhere on the Friday before my birthday. It rendered me practically immobile and had the serious concern of a number of medics, including our GP. I was quickly prescribed some very aggressive antibiotics and hefty pain relief. These meds pretty much kept me in bed for most of the week leading up to my birthday.

By the grace of God, Cate happened to be off work on annual leave, which has helped speed up my recovery massively. As I write this, I am now able to hobble about for short periods, which is a good thing now that Cate is back at work. The antibiotics are working well and the pain meds are enabling me to hobble about keeping the kids occupied. I am still quite sore, especially at the ends of the days, but I am slowly recovering.

In other news, my studio computer is misbehaving quite annoyingly, rebooting inexplicably quite regularly, which makes working practically impossible. My good friend Jonathan Simpson has been helping me develop the website for the studio (www.jonnylipshamstudios.co.uk) and has been hard at work trying to solve the computer issues. Hopefully, in the next week or two we will have it back up and running, hopefully, and I hope it will run problem free for at least another 18 months, as I cannot afford to replace it just yet.

The studio itself is undergoing a wee makeover. I will have some pics of the finished studio up here in the next week or two. I am excited about the studio business, and am confident that, once we have solved the computer problems, it will be a successful enterprise and will afford my very hardworking wife some time away from work to be with the kids and explore some adventures God has put in her heart. That’s the plan, anyway!

Those of you who pray, please pray for my studio business – that I get plenty of clients, students and session work – enough regular work that I can release Cate into some of the things God is calling her into. Those who don’t please do encourage us with your thoughts for us.

Can I please encourage all of you to visit the studio website – www.jonnylipshamstudios.co.uk – and spread the word!

Until next time……..see ya!

Settling The Dust

So, September 18th was a MASSIVE day in British history. Scotland went to the polls to answer the question on whether we should be an independent country or not. Turnout was the highest ever recorded in Scottish electoral history, at close to 90%. It is the first time in my own personal electoral history that I have witness queues and votes being registered every 15 seconds at the polling station I attended. From a democratic point of view, it was simply glorious. I wish all elections and referendums in Britain were like this! It was something I will never forget.

In the evening, I attended another polling station to represent the No Thanks campaign. It was there that I encountered the dark side of politics, and specifically, of nationalism. In all my years of campaigning for the Labour Party, I have never once been verbally or physically abused, but that night, representing a cross-party campaign, all that changed. I received a large number of verbal abuses, from the laughably stupid to the highly offensive and racist kind.

Later on, that night, I was subjected to worse. I was surrounded by a group of young Yes Scotland (the pro-independence campaign) supporters, who not only attempted to intimidate me, but also physically attacked me, and then destroyed signage, which they threatened to injure me with. I stood my ground and refused to be intimidated. I did not fight back, but defended myself sufficiently to cause them to flee! The police were involved, but sadly, finding these young men has proved extremely difficult.

In the early hours of the following morning, the result was in: Scotland voted NO to independence.

What happens next? Well, somehow, the people of this great country have to figure out a way to heal a great rift within our people wrought by the last two years of referendum campaigning. We have to figure out what is right for us. 55% of us said NO to independence, which has proved to have come as a huge shock to the other 45%. That needs dealt with. We need to figure out the way forward for Scotland within the Union – the right place for us to be, in my opinion – and the way forward for the whole Union.

The United Kingdom has forever changed. It MUST modernise. Whether federalism is the answer or not, I am not completely certain of yet. We must settle the dust stirred up by the last two years. It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. It will require the people of all four Home Nations, all political parties, all community groups, ALL of us,  working together for the future of our Great Union.

And……we must defeat nationalism. It is incompatible with the 21st Century, and it MUST be destroyed, and honest, humble patriotism – pride in our heritage, history, people and potential – must be restored.

Now that this referendum is over, normal service on this blog will resume as of next post!

Just Four More Days…….

In Four days time, the people of Scotland, the country within the UK where I live, will vote in the most important poll in British polling history. We will have to answer the serious question that will, regardless of the outcome, change Scotland and the United Kingdom for ever; should Scotland be an independent country?

The answer that the people of Scotland give to this question will very likely bring about an end to the 308 year long Union as we know it today. It will do one of two things: it will either, strengthen the bonds between the Four Home Nations, while at the same time leading to greater governmental powers to them; or it will lead to the formal dissolution of this mighty Union forever.

Either way, the Union as we know it today WILL change.

Over the years since devolution began within the UK, there has been a growing voice for modernisation of our Union, perhaps into something far more modern, like a Federal Union – The Four Home Nations self-governed with regional assemblies within them, within the strength, security and skeletal structure of an overseeing central Government that provides a strong framework constitutionally, acts as a final check & balance fiscally, and provides the political Union required to support a formal currency union. This political union is what we have now fundamentally.

Independence for Scotland would not provide any political union that would provide full access to the British institutions like the £ with the Bank of England as central Bank and Lender of Last Resort. Scotland could use the Pound with no central band or lender of last resort.

Panama is an example of a country where this happens with the US Dollar. The Nationalists would like to see this happen. What they conveniently overlook, however, is that Panama has been bailed out 17 times since 1973 and had 9 cash injections by the US Federal Reserve. Clearly, this currency arrangement does not work and is FAR too risky. But this is the option favoured by the Nationalists, because they know, as evidenced by the Eurozone crisis, a currency union without political union and an agreed economic policy universally is as flawed as the Panama option. Their final option is to join the Euro. This is flawed as well. The EU regulations clearly state that a new joining member must have a central bank and have it’s own healthy currency, with a track record of at least two years.

With all the banks and major businesses, in the event of a Yes vote, either vowing to leave Scotland or be forced to raise their prices due to the loss of being able to spread costs across the whole UK, the vision for Independence is looking daily more and more like it did at the start – like building a new house on the sand. When the storms, high winds and high tides come in, without these vital foundations in place, the house will be destroyed.

For me, these are the reasons that I am voting NO to the Question of independence. I feel very confident and certain that the vast majority of Scots, and Scottish residents will do the same.

In conclusion, the Union MUST change and MUST modernise, in my opinion. This Referendum has forced the issue, and forced the pace for the beginnings of a new age of our Union. I do not want to see our Union, that we have built over the last 308 years, and defended with our blood, sweat, tears and our lives, destroyed for ever. But I do believe, that if we are to prevent that from happening, we, the people of this Great United Kingdom, unique in the world, must come together as ONE to modernise it and bring about a fairer, more balanced Union.

A new Union where the dark tones of Nationalism are never again given the chance to be heard again.

I apologise that this post is WAAAAY more serious and weighty than any previous post. But this is my expression of my passion for our Union. Once the NO vote has been secured, normal service will be resumed!

See you all on the flip side…….

New Season…..New Hair

In recent days, the weather in Edinburgh has turned much colder and much wetter. A fabulous staycation summer has come to a crashing halt. With that, many new changes have come.

Our daughter Anna has settled in to Primary 1 fantastically well, reconnecting with old nursery friends and making some new friends as well. Each night she raves about her day and is eager to share her learning and homework tasks with us. Long may this enthusiasm last!

Our son Samuel is beginning to get used to not having his big sister around to play with, and so is wanting to play with Daddy a wee bit more. So, out come the drums and the drumsticks and we play! Then on goes the Electric Piano, and we play some more! Out comes a mini Cricket bat and ball and we play some cricket, or we go to the park. Fun times! Somewhere, in the midst of all this play I find time to get domestic stuff done (says he, smiling at wife….she needs further convinced!)

So….I guess you’re wondering about the new hair. Well, I am now of that age where I can no longer hide my balding and receding hairline under a mass of curls, and so I did something which is, for me anyway, pretty radical: I went and had it all chopped off!

Here’s to the future of kids in education, less hair and far more…..FFFFFFUN!

Until next time……

 

Oh….almost forgot. Here’s a pic of me in my studio…..less hair. Enjoy!

 

Nae hair!

Nae hair!