Monday, 21 September 2015


The year I almost made the festival

Ten long years

Jazz festivals
 My friends and readers of this blog will tell that I had longed to visit my home county of Yorkshire for more years than I recall. My family moved to the Bristol area in the winter of 1963, when I was seven.

Alan Ayckbourn 
 One of my wishes was to see an Alan Ayckbourn play at the Stephen Joseph Theatre; a wish I later attributed to seeing Brian Rix on TV in farces. This wish almost came true in 2010, on my last visit to Scarborough I could have seen Liza Goddard performing. The choice was to see the play or have a meal. My wife did ask if I had taken enough money on the trip when I departed. I replied that as the trip was a working holiday, and I had no intention of going in the arcades, I had enough for my needs. I would have had enough if I'd put the correct batteries in my camera. The batteries I installed were too weak, and I went through two batteries every day; this was the reason my cash ran out. 

Another reason I wanted to return was I wanted to watch the Scarborough Jazz Festival.  In 2005, I almost did see the festival. I had everything set and paid in advance; this would have been a great year with Stan Tracey, Bobby Wellins, and Clare Teal topping the bill. Sadly, I missed out, my stepson caused a row in the street and I had to cancel my trip. Apart from missing the chance of a lifetime, with the late cancellation I lost the price of the room. My stepson's actions that month cost me about £100, with the loss of train fare and the price of tickets for the festival. 

The following year I tried to book again, but as the festival is the largest UK only jazz festival the tickets were sold out well in advance. In 20006, the headliners were Mornington Lockett and Andrea Viccari.

Two years later I went to the first of my two visits to the Cheltenham International Jazz Festival. The Cheltenham Festival is the largest in Europe. On my first visit, I had the pleasure of listening to Ornette Coleman, Ingrid Laubruch, and the late Steve Lacy in what must have been one of his last performances before he died of cancer.
My second festival was less enjoyable than the first. The theme was Norwegian jazz and included Silje Nergaard - who was delightful - and a group called Speeq who were so awful, halfway through their set there were more performers than listeners. Another disappointment was I was looking forward to hearing Jane Monheit sing and all she did was two duets with Curtis Stigers. Even at that time I was unable to stand, the only available spot was right at the back - standing.

My homeland return 
 In 2010, I did make the journey to Scarborough. This trip was a voyage undertaken for many reasons, not the least was a farewell to my lovely friend Faye Dupre' who had died the winter before. I was never able to return to to Lac La Biche, Alberta, Canada to say my farewell as I wanted. Going to Scarborough, and being by the sea was as close as I could get to going back to Lac La Biche. To this day, I haven't forgiven myself for not being able to say my final farewell. The weekend Faye died I wasn't able to get online - another incident caused by my stepson's actions. Faye's family and friends said I had no reason to punish myself I did all I could, but that did nothing to ease my guilt.

I never got to see the play or go to the festival, but the trip wasn't wasted. The peace that I got gave me time to write my two earliest ghost stories, The Ghost of St. Mary's and The Rocking Lantern, both stories are set in Scarborough. I also started my award-winning story Chronicles of Mark Johnson.

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