31-Dec-2015 The Year That Was 2015

January  After a hectic and very full and busy December, January was comparatively restful – eight performances, two evening classes, one SWAP-NE songwriters group meeting, car MOT and servicing, three visits from friends, one dental check-up, two medical check-ups, new mattress delivered, visit out to friends to plan forthcoming event, committee meeting for arts week in our home town of Prudhoe, problems with a PC, a new piece of tech gear bought, a trip to the cinema and three restaurant meals… yep, that was pretty quiet for us!
February Eleven performances (including Dunblane Folk Club, our seventh Thank Folk It’s Friday at Woodhorn and two Scottish care homes) kept us busy clocking up a few miles in our trusty Honda Jazz. Add in two medical appointments, two optician’s appointments, three evenings at college, our quickest ever web commission (less than a week from initial enquiry to go live – phew!), day one of recording for a commissioned album project, a trip to the cinema, a SWAP-NE songwriters group meeting and a band reunion from Jimmy’s concept rock days, a bit of printer fixing for a friend, a new bed delivered as well as a new plush office chair for Jimmy in the ‘office/study’ and a whole weekend blanked out to fix Jimmy’s ailing PC… you can see, yet again, we’ve not exactly been idle.
March was a month of ups and downs – packing in nine performances, four visits to the GP doctor, three hospital visits for tests and scans and stuff, one optician’s appointment, a very special day out in Belfast to the Titanic museum and a trip north of the border so Doctor Digital Jimmy could weave his magic on an ailing PC.  It was also a month for cancellations, postponements and letting go of some things. Due to Jimmy’s health issues some gigs had to be postponed (not something we ever did lightly). We also decided to call it a day on the Singing and Vocal Coaching course we’d been attending – it wasn’t delivering what had been advertised in the course prospectus. And, sadly, we said goodbye to SWAP-NE (the Song Writers And Performers group that we’d been fronting) – it had obviously run its course and numbers had dwindled significantly.
April Was the longest month that we can remember – it was filled with things in the diary for most days and, on the days with nothing booked, we spent a lot of time waiting… waiting for appointments, waiting for results. We had nine performances (locally and in the north west), we visited friends and family on numerous occasions, had some guitar work done, attended an Arts Week committee meeting, sorted a few things with a firm of solicitors, watched a super performance by Cathryn Craig & Brian Willoughby, drafted artwork for a new album, had one doctor’s appointment and by the end of the month we’d had two hospital appointments. By now Jimmy’s health issues were a major cause for concern and we had to consider the impact this would have on our personal and performing life. It was the month when we were officially given the diagnosis that Jimmy had inoperable pancreatic cancer with only months left to live. We made the very difficult decision to cancel all current gigs and not pursue any new bookings. We felt it would be totally unfair to accept bookings in the knowledge that we might have to cancel, and we couldn’t bear the thought of letting people down.
Music, and the people we have met through music, have given us the most wonderful times anyone could ask for.
May – December The following months were taken up with the daily challenges of Jimmy’s cancer. His loss of appetite and weight loss meant he was allowed to eat anything and everything that is ‘bad’ for you in the hope of keeping his weight static (we managed this for the most part), dealing with pain management, visits from our Macmillan Nurse Angela, hospital appointments, decisions regarding whether to have chemotherapy or not and life expectancy discussions (we chose no chemo), dealing with the mini stroke and resultant loss of use of Jimmy’s right arm and hand, and then toward the end the jaundice which had set in and taken over his body. On 03 November his fight was over.

But in the middle of all that there were some wonderful times – and we had a super August. Jimmy had been put on steroids and he was like a new man! Appetite of a horse, mobility improvement and general well being all good. August is a busy month of celebrations, Jimmy’s birthday on the 2nd, our 6th wedding anniversary on the 12th and my birthday on the 25th. And we had fun!


Also we completed the DVD project with Anthony John Clarke which we started in April 2014 resulting in ‘One More Story To Be Told’.

Narration by Jimmy and I play a small part in it too!

This can be purchased from Anthony John’s website.

I promise you won’t be disappointed.


And another also was we were delighted to be asked by Brian Willoughby & Cathryn Craig to design a new website for them and this was completed and live by mid-October.

You might be forgiven for wondering why on earth we would want to be doing all this work – you would think we had enough on our plate with the cancer to deal with but, we both firmly believed that so far as we were able our lives should continue as normal as possible… busy busy busy is how we’ve always been and we enjoyed every moment. We also firmly believed that keeping busy and having a postive frame of mind kept Jimmy with me a little bit longer than any of the medical profession expected.

So that was 2015 and what of 2016? I plan on continuing with the music and getting out to the clubs and also getting back to performing at care homes. We had been sharing our music in care homes for 11 years and can honestly say we loved every moment. We met some wonderful people and it was an honour and a privilege to be able to do this and I have many happy memories. I have missed this.

I have now decided not to blog every week as we had done in the past. The jivacoustic site will remain where all our past blogs can be read.

Facebook – I will soon be changing the name of the jiva Jimmy Val profile on Facebook to my name – Val Monteith-Towler. The jivauk page will remain so anything jiva related can continue on there.

So all that remains is to say Happy New Year to you all and I thank you for your support, help and friendship through this difficult 2015.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.