Vixen Of The Violin: The Anna Phoebe Column (No. 23)
After three months of silence, our fave violinist is back! This time Anna Phoebe deals with being illegally in Berlin and frozen pipes in Ireland. And also looks forward to a packed year of music. Check out all Anna’s past columns here.
Happy New Year!
I have emerged from my months of hibernation rejuvenated, re-vitalised and ready for 2011!
This is going to be a good year. Like everyone else I know, I’ve made the necessary and unattainable New Year’s resolutions, like daily scale practising to a metronome, watching less CSI, at least three trips a week to the gym and at least one day a week with no alcohol consumption. But already two weeks into the new year and my expectations have slipped. Nevertheless, it promises to be a good year!
It is the first year since I was 22 years old where I haven’t started the year with a nice pot of gold in my bank account courtesy of Father Christmas (i.e. Paul O’Neill and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra). It is also the first year since I was 22 where I have started the year without the chronic back/neck/knee pain, which I associate with January after three months of hardcore touring.
This will be the first year where I realise exactly what it truly means to be self-employed without the security blanket of guaranteed work – which is a rather daunting prospect. It is like splitting up from a six-year relationship, and realising that suddenly you are on your own! You can acknowledge all the things about that other person which made you into who you are, but you realise that they no longer define you and suddenly all the decisions in your life take on a new depth of gravitas. Suddenly my list-of-things-to-do is important!
This Christmas was the first year I spent it with my family in Ireland. I almost didn’t quite make it after being caught in the winter freeze chaos. I got stuck in Berlin for an extra few days after my flight was cancelled. This in itself was not such a big deal because I was able to stay in my own apartment, but I had been mugged the day before and had no cash or cards!
My last five euros had been spent on a sandwich during the six-hour wait at Berlin airport, where the flicker-timetable screens teased passengers with incremental delays of an hour at a time before telling us the flight was cancelled. I was then an official ‘Schwarz-fahrer’ (illegal traveller?), as I smuggled myself on the night bus back to my flat without a valid ticket.
Luckily, neighbourly spirit still exists in the Berlin quarter of Friedenau, and for the next couple of days the lovely Sonja, who lives in the apartment below, fed and watered me and even accompanied me to the airport a couple of days later. It wasn’t quite Orwell’s Down And Out In Paris And London, but 72 hours with no money was almost enough to poetry and songwriting. Almost.
Instead, I opted for a rural retreat in southern Ireland. My parents live down a country lane in a converted barn. After a month of freezing temperatures it looked like one of those ultra-kitsch winter wonderland Christmas cards – beautiful blue skies, icicles hanging off everything and the entire countryside covered in white frost. A real getaway – especially since they have no internet and no television – where days are spent walking through the countryside, sleeping, reading books, playing music and drinking wine. Bliss!
However, it was made slightly more rural than expected, as two hours after my siblings and I arrived, the water pipes all froze and we had no running water for six days. Now, you really have no idea how much a household depends on running water, until you don’t have the luxury of all those simple things associated with modern living – like flushing the toilet, taking a shower, brushing your teeth, filling the kettle, etc.
The first day we went through about 40 litres of bottled water, supplemented with tankards filled up from the nearest neighbours, and broken up chunks of ice from the frozen stream at the bottom of the garden which we melted down into buckets. Indoor camping at its best. To top it all off, a friendly neighbour came on the third day and helped my dad cut one of the trees in the garden for firewood, and after a triumphant call of ‘TIMBER!’, they realised the falling tree had snapped the telephone line! The first thing I did when I returned home to London was take a long, hot bath, check my emails and spend the evening in front of the TV.
So, that was my Christmas period and now 2011 has begun! I’m looking forward to a year of music making.
Right now I’m on a train heading to the countryside to visit Jon Lord for an afternoon of tea and music. I’m also finishing a bunch of songs written with Nic Rizzi from Jurojin which we’ll be turning into an EP before the summer! Actually, if you haven’t seen Jurojin live yet, they’ll be touring the UK as part of a Classic Rock Presents Prog tour. I’ll be joining them for the Sheffield and London dates.
Until next week!
Inspiration Track for the Week
Deep Purple – Concerto for Group & Orchestra’ Movement I