It was a very good year

A video worth checking out is a music session with Frank Sinatra. He’s singing live with drink and fags in front of a small studio audience; ‘It was a very good year’.

Age is a strange thing and seems to go beyond the simple pacifying phrase of ‘It’s only a number’. I’ve found it a confusing and often disturbing companion.

In my early years, I learnt the piano. I begrudgingly attended weekly lessons becoming reasonably proficient at renditions of Für Elise and The Boy Scout’s March so I could perform them when requested to various Aunts and Uncles.

It was only when my dad, a very good jazz clarinetist, opened the door to those marvellous and eternally rewarding twelve bars did I start to appreciate the magical and enticing eighty-eight notes.

In my early teens, I taught myself the guitar, took string bass lessons so I could get by in the school orchestra with a little Pomp and Circumstance, and enjoyed the heady days of learning blues harmonica and jazz drums in a local church band.

In my early twenties, I decided that I would become a professional musician finally declining the opportunities of bakery and the fire service both of which were offered by my school’s career officer some years earlier.

In that decade I enjoyed my first commissions writing for TV and film, almost got onto Top of The Pops and got married.

In my thirties I started touring and managed to fill almost the whole decade travelling to exotic places, getting my laundry done, wondering who I was and how many children I actually had.

My accountant said that your forties were potentially your best time for earning and that I should reach my capacity in that department. Fortunately, this seemed to coincide with very large school fees and even larger interest rates payable on everything from cars, overdrafts and mortgages.

The fifties came and I decided that I would try my hand again at touring. Having done it twenty years before I wanted to see if it was as much fun as it used to be. Sadly, it wasn’t. I was prepared to have the fun but it appeared that everyone else was too preoccupied by petty jealousies and when the next tour would be happening.

So, in a blink I entered the sixties in a car travelling from Berlin to Frankfurt touring with our Jem. We’d done one tour with the curmudgeonly effervescent Bob Geldof and another with Naturally seven who’d just returned from touring with Michael Bublé. We were now doing gigs on our own and the entire happy 60th day was taken up speeding down several autobahns to perform at an Arts Centre just outside Frankfurt. Thankfully it was a sell out and as we walked cautiously down the center aisle, as there was no backstage, they all stood and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. Shocked surprised and humbled, my only thought was:” We’d better be good after that!”

Two weddings and four grandchildren later I entered the foreboding three score years and ten. You realise that there’s now more behind than in front. Unless of course my plan to live to 140 pays off.

But it is very weird how age plays quite a significant part in whatever decade you find yourself. Sometimes people are amazed when someone very young plays virtuoso piano or performs in an extraordinary way. Equally, eye brows are raised when a seventy, eighty or even ninety-year-old performer can do more than simply stand on his own two feet and insert the false teeth.

I am presently feeling a strange ‘nothingness’. Having travelled along this road now for a significant period, I still feel there’s so much more to do.

I love writing, playing and producing music. Nowhere does it say that you have to give this up when approaching retirement age. In fact, what is retirement? I personally think I’m better now than when I was younger.

So many live their lives doing stuff they hate in order to reach ‘retirement’ only to find they have no idea what to do. There is no vision, no hope, no passion (unless of course you can discover the muse decorating the third bedroom?)

If age is a number, then I’m going backwards. I won’t be defined by it. I don’t know how long I have but I’d love to write about the seventies, eighties and further with landmark memories and proud moments.

No to mention, I’ve already booked the ‘Centenary-Plus’ tour with anyone that’s left who can see, hear and knows where they live!