Warmest greetings to all of you, wherever you may be. I am currently sitting on my trusty fold-up chair in the only available patch of shade, enjoying the twitterings of birds and (mercifully) a gentle breeze through the long grasses. It is 11am and it has become well and truly too hot to do any more digging. Even raking brings the brain almost to the boil, so I have hosed myself down from top to toe and thought I’d try a little communication.
I’ve been almost totally incommunicado for quite some time, as we have almost no access to internet or indeed phone reception at our new abode, and I have been waiting, for what seems like an age, to hear some sense out of Boris Johnson before I can really have any idea what my plans may be, so I’m sure you can understand my problem. What I do now know is that The Djukella Orchestra will NOT be playing at Festival in the Forest on July 10th, as since Bojo’s latest podium jobby it has been postponed to September 11th, so if you are in or around Lewisham, or were planning to come along, see you in September.
To be quite honest, with the travel rules as they are, I don’t think I would necessarily be allowed back into the country by July 10th, which poses another problem in that our beautiful new album is officially being released on July 16th, and I’m a thousand miles away.
As you can see, if I were an organised and media-savvy musical entrepreneur, I might have opened with a big banner headline about our new album, but I’m currently a penniless gardener/scourge of nettle-roots, and may be slightly out of practice at the old marketing business.
I had planned to reconvene with the members of the orchestra to bring you some kind of live/online extravaganza to launch the album, but that will now have to wait until later in the summer.
The Fruitful Fells is, however, still officially being released on Friday July 16th, and any help spreading the word will be deeply appreciated. Irish Music Magazine have said some wonderfully complementary things about it already, but sending a quick email/post/tweet/letter to your favourite radio show, asking to hear it, or to your favourite publication, telling them to listen to it will really help.
If you’ve yet to hear it, it’s all available in various formats (or to listen to for free - if you can’t afford luxuries right now) at the new website, www.jezhellard.net and I would really love you to hear it. It’s taken a huge amount of work to get it realised in these peculiar times with no income at all, and I really think the songs will speak to you, and offer a bit of encouragement in the face of so much woe. Also, I have so very nearly paid off all the bills (only £1534 left to pay!) but still have absolutely no prospect of income until travel and concerts are once more permitted, so every sale counts.
If you’ve a friend who likes music or poetry, or a family member in need of a birthday present, or any excuse at all, why not buy them a CD, or send them a download? If you can’t afford gifts at the moment, you can just send them a link to jezhellard.net or suggest they join the mailing list. Tell your facebook friends about The Djukella Orchestra or tweet your twits (tweeters/tweetees), or whatever they are called. I know it’s a bit of a palaver, but the music “industry” was already in such a parlous state before it was made totally illegal, that every tiny bit of (anti)social media you can muster really make a difference, and paying off the bills and finally being able to make some wages will be absolutely marvellous.
So I remain in the Ariège, fomenting plans for a return to the road and furiously tilling the ground until it’s time to hose myself down again. I am very glad that I have finally started receiving my subscription to Private Eye, and after nine months or so without it, it is deeply refreshing to once more be able to read articles written by people who seem to pay attention to detail, rather than the endless culture-wars and posturing of most of the publications I’ve been able to access online.
For those of you outside the UK, or with no knowledge of Private Eye, it is a small and unassuming bi-weekly combination of investigative journalism and satire, and remains one of the only papers in the world to continue paying people - writers/comedians/cartoonists - fairly for their work. It is also, small and light enough to read in the bath, if only I had a bath.
So I remain in the Ariège, fomenting plans for a return to the road and furiously tilling the ground until it’s time to hose myself down again. I am very glad that I have finally started receiving my subscription to Private Eye, and after nine months or so without it, it is deeply refreshing to once more be able to read articles written by people who seem to pay attention to detail, rather than the endless culture-wars and posturing of most of the publications I’ve been able to access online. For those of you outside the UK, or with no knowledge of Private Eye, it is a small and unassuming bi-weekly combination of investigative journalism and satire, and remains one of the only papers in the world to continue paying people - writers/comedians/cartoonists - fairly for their work. It is also, small and light enough to read in the bath, if only I had a bath.
So it seems “Freedom Day” has gone the way of the Garden Bridge, Boris Island, Home By Christmas and so many more hare-brained schemes, and all the malarky about Mr Spaffings and his ground-shaking “bombshells” designed to destroy Bojo and the astonishingly inept, (yet even more astonishingly resilient) Matt Hancock amounted, surprisingly enough, to nought. It was fascinating to hear that the exact same people who worked themselves into a frenzy of anger about Cummings’ Eye Test last year, were the only ones who seemed to have missed the point that when someone has discredited themselves so thoroughly in the eyes of the public that they will likely require “Personal Protection Officers” for decades longer than anyone is willing to pay for them, they may not be the most trusted messenger, even if they are saying something nasty about someone you detest.
In fact, Johnson’s approval ratings seem to be locked in a rather perverse inverse ratio to his competence, and indeed his actions, which certainly poses some interesting questions about our education system, at the very least. Only this morning, on reading a short piece about his superlative reverse-ferret over the new “Royal Yacht”, after the palace released a swift press-release expressing her extreme displeasure at having anything to do with the hugely expensive project, having read about it in the press before anyone thought to mention it to her, I realised that in this, and in all matters, Bojo is simply a busker. The Busker’s Credo is “It’s often easier to ask for forgiveness than permission”, something that both Herr Drumpf and our own blonde beast clearly live by, and now, on recounting any of Boris’ exploits, it explains every one. “Please forgive me, I seem to have impregnated…………….”.
Talking of the blonde beast across the pond, or perhaps swamp, and wanting to end things on a positive note; even though Ol’ Uncle Joe, despite appearing considerably more progressive than predicted, seems to have immediately swung into trying to rekindle sabre-rattling with Russia and China, isn’t it delightful, on a daily basis, not to hear from, or even about that orange wind-bag!
With much love from the back of the van,