You win some, you lose some… isn’t that the way the saying goes? Well the one we ‘won’ this week was a performance at a care home new to us, and the one we ‘lost’ was a care home performance that we had to cancel due to Jimmy being unwell through severe lack of sleep over three consecutive days. By the time the week-end came things had improved to the extent that we were able to make a brief sojourn to the north west to play two booked gigs. The first was an evening of music organised by Anthony John Clarke in the wonderful St Laurence Church, Frodsham. It was a smashing night with an eclectic mix of styles and genres, and an attentive and appreciative audience. The following day we played at one of our favourite regular care homes – it was lovely to meet the ladies again, swap some news, play some music, and everyone had a good time, so gentle and relaxing. We said our goodbyes then pointed the car towards home and headed off at a very gentle and reflective pace.
There comes a time when you realise what’s important in life and what is, in the big scheme of things, less important. To us, music continues to be a mainstay in who we are and what we do – but recently we’ve been reminded how fortunate we are to have good friends and family, people we care about and people who care about us.
After numerous doctor visits, tests, scans and consultant appointments we’ve had confirmation that Jimmy’s health issues are more serious than was first thought. To put that in plain English, Jimmy has cancer – we don’t yet know how serious or how far advanced it is – there are more tests to be done in the next few weeks. This is a huge blow and we’re fearing the worst while hoping for the best. Through our initial shock at the news friends and family have been very supportive and we cannot adequately express our gratitude for the phone calls and messages that have helped us to get through so far.
After sharing the news with friends and family we decided another priority should be to flag up potential issues to people whose websites we design and maintain and also current recording projects. Not scare-mongering, just alerting them to the likelihood that we may not be in a position to give the timely service, advice and full attention that has been the hallmark of jiva design and jiva media.
We’re continuing with our scheduled performances as far as possible but, for now, we’re not actively pursuing new bookings – we cannot in all honesty accept new bookings until we have an idea of what tests and treatment may be necessary and when that may be.
Now we just have to wait… wait for appointments to be made… wait for tests to be done… wait for the results… wait for consultations regarding treatment… wait for whatever treatment is agreed to be done… wait for the outcome… and waiting is not easy.
One thing is for sure, there will be no going back to exactly how things were before.
Future blogs may well provide brief updates on the medical issues, but it won’t be the main thrust… such updates will appear towards the end of the blog, so the faint hearted or squeamish need not read right to the bottom.
Life is good, but in slow motion at the moment.
Jimmy & Val (jiva)
You may remember from our blog two weeks ago that we took a day trip to the Belfast Titanic Experience to celebrate the fact that we re-met (after 30 years apart) on 26th March 2002.
Well, today, 12th April 2015 is the 13th Anniversary of actually getting back together – Jimmy driving to Huntingdon, packing Val’s few belongings in the van (more of a truck really), then driving north to Newcastle and our new life together. Val brought the sunshine with her – literally! – the weather for the next few weeks was glorious, unlike today when it’s overcast and trying to rain (oops… it’s pouring down now). If it brightens up a little we’ll take a nostalgic drive out to Marie Curie Drive in the West End of Newcastle where we set up our first home together.
It’s at times like this that we remember what’s important in life and how we should concentrate more on what makes our lives so special. Jimmy’s ongoing health issues have given us cause to reflect on how much time we spend concerning ourselves with things which, in the grand scheme of things, are of no consequence… Who cares how many CDs get sold and whether we break even or make a profit on an album? Who cares what position we are in the Reverbnation charts? Who cares how many Facebook ‘friends’ or Twitter followers or Soundcloud listeners we have? Who really cares whether we or someone else gets that small festival spot, or folk club booking?
OK, we are not full-time professionals who depend on such things for their livelihood… We are in a very fortunate position and the reality of it is that we care about the music, we love writing, we love recording, we love performing wherever and whenever we can, and we love sharing our music and our story. We are blessed that people enjoy what we do, and are privileged to witness how a song or a smile or friendly word can touch someone. We are thrilled when others choose to perform our songs and some even record them on their albums. Life does not get much better than that.
To celebrate our re-awakened appreciation of the ‘music’ rather than the ‘business’ we’ve decided to make all jiva tracks FREE to play and download (high quality 320 kbps, better quality than the vast majority of streaming sites… many of whom charge too!). Head on over to www.jiva.co.uk/music.htm to play and download full tracks – no catch, no strings attached, totally free.
There may be some difficulties along the way, but life is good… so get on with it!
Jimmy & Val (jiva)
After the excitement of the Belfast/Titanic day out this week has been somewhat quieter – a hospital visit for an ultrasound scan, a GP visit, one care home performance and a curry with good friends Mike and Hazel. There was also some web updating to do and also the first mix of a potential radio podcast.
But, but, but… We took the opportunity to knuckle down to looking at some of our songs that have sat untouched for months (years even). It’s odd how one forgets how enjoyable it can be to play and sing and write and record – we’re as guilty as anyone (probably more than most people) at taking the muse for granted and taking things easy and not just getting down to getting on and being creative and enjoying the creative flow.
The first thing we did was record our newest song “Another Time” (written September 29th/30th 2014)… it’s a 3/4 Americana/Country-ish kind of feel, a sad story if you like or a positive message shining through if you prefer that interpretation.
It’s posted on our website at www.jiva.co.uk/songs/anothertime.htm – and there’s a link in the right hand Info panel where you can play and download it for free.
Not into sad songs? Want something a bit happier? Well you’re in luck – Val uncovered some lyrics that we wrote back in 2011 that never made it into song. We left our study/office behind and headed downstairs to the Blue Room (lounge) where we tinkled about for a while with tenor ukulele and uBass (bass ukulele)… the result pleasantly surprised us, so we recorded it!
And here it is – www.jiva.co.uk/songs/xfactor.htm. Like “Another Time” there’s a link in the right hand Info panel where you can also play and download it for free.
We’re heading off to Prudhoe to catch up on some long overdue stuff and popping in to discuss old band reunion and new recordings (or not as the case may be).
And so another week has flown by… catch you soon.
Jimmy & Val (jiva)
Would you believe it’s 13 years since we re-met (26th March 2002 at Doncaster railway station), having been apart for 30 years… March 26th has since then been a special anniversary date for us and, if we can, we like to take some time out of our busy schedule and occasionally have what we refer to as an ‘us day’ where we head off somewhere and leave behind the troubles and pressures that are a constant part of everyday life. So what better date to plan as an us day than that very special anniversary.
You may be aware that Jimmy has been a little under the weather recently (feeling better, but it’s slow going), but we had planned this ‘us day’ months ago and were determined to go ahead with it.
The day started with the alarm going off at 04:45 – yep, it was going to be a long day – and by 05:30 we were in the car heading for Newcastle Airport (it’s amazing how many people are out and about at that time of day, and we’re very thankful that we left the 9 to 5 behind when we were both made redundant in 2008). After clearing security (divesting ourselves of coats, shoes, cameras, mobile phones, money, keys, etc) we headed off to the Departures area where we killed time by mooching around the shops before boarding the plane. After an uneventful flight we touched down early at Belfast International where we headed off to pick up our hire car.
By the time we got to our destination (10:30) we were feeling somewhat peckish, having last eaten at 05:00 – so we headed for one of the café/restaurants there and were tempted by an all day breakfast from the menu on the wall outside… nope, they didn’t open until 11:00 am (what kind of time is that to START serving breakfast?).
So we leisurely strolled along Queen’s Road to Titanic’s Dock and Pump House where we settled for a toastie and a coffee before taking in a tour of the facility. No glitzy computer generated interactive exhibits here, just genuine almost untouched history – almost cathedral like inside from certain angles – the original pumps and machinery used to drain and refill the dry dock, some very old world machinery with levers and wheels and dials that nowadays could be controlled by a smartwatch on the operator’s wrist. Then on – and into – the dry dock itself… the weather was very changeable and just a few minutes prior to our visit there had been a downpour, we had the whole thing to ourselves. Mind-bogglingly huge, this cavernous space once filled to overflowing with 46,000 tons of steel as Titanic rested on the keel blocks running the length of the dry dock.
After saying our thank yous to the staff we walked back (in between downpours) to the purpose built Titanic Belfast visitor experience centre – the sleek, modern, angular lines of steel, wood and glass in stark contrast to where we had been. Courtesy of Donal, a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide, we were treated to a tour of the site taking in the drawing offices, the site of the slipway and some of the interior of the exhibition itself. This set us up perfectly for our own self-guided meander through the history of industry in Belfast, the dream of the Titanic, the realisation in building the largest and most luxurious ship in the world, launch day, the sea trials, through to the fateful maiden voyage across the Atlantic, and the legacy of the disaster. When we were through we took a walk outside to the windswept site of the slipway for a respectful walk around the line which marked the outline of where Titanic had been built and launched 103 years previously.
By now we were starting to feel hungry again, so checked the online guide for places to eat and headed off down Queen’s Road again, this time in the opposite direction – the first place was closed (probably opening too late for us to eat and have plenty of time to drive back to the airport), the second place was a Bohemian/studenty kind of place where you brought your own food, ground your coffee beans (or whatever) and paid via an honesty box… all very cool and trendy, but no good for a 60+ couple who were looking to purchase meals rather than bring our own. So, back to the exhibition centre – we’d just have to make do with something there. Nope… the centre was closing soon and the eateries were shutting up shop too.
And that’s how we came to be driving back to the airport and returning the car well ahead of our departure time. After Val almost being run over by one of the boy-racer hire car returns staff we walked back to the departures area, submitting ourselves to the security clearance again (why does Jimmy always get stopped and searched?) we trudged wearily through the shopping mall and eventually found somewhere to sit down and have a bite to eat with red wine for Val and non-alcoholic lager for Jimmy. The soda bread pizza was surprisingly nice too, which is more than could be said for the two guys who came and sat opposite us (seems all they wanted was a particular seat where they could plug in and charge their mobile phones). Once charged, they set about having separate loud conversations (at that volume they didn’t really need the phones). So, refreshed from the food and drink but weary from the incessant noise we went back out to mooch the shops again until it was time to board our flight back to Newcastle and home. By the time our heads touched the pillows we had been up and about for 20 hours… zzz… zzz… a perfect end to a very special day.
But wait, there’s more.
The following morning we were heading off to Scotland so Digital Jimmy could do some investigative and resuscitative work on a laptop. Before setting off we received a phone call with the potential for a recording commission, a website commission and the possibility of re-forming a band from 35 years ago!
Life is good, even (or especially) after all these years.
Jimmy & Val (jiva)