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Newsletter February 2001

After a great English Christmas and New Year the Patron Devil of technology came calling and, being currently homeless, has since taken to squatting in any equipment of mine suffering from a dodgy karma. I'd never realized so many of my possessions were unenlightened.

The first thing I discovered on returning to Germany in January was that, having accidentally left my palmtop in my Exeter bank, and reclaimed it the following day, some bird-wit had meanwhile stored it next to an electro-magnetic source, thus effectively wiping all the information it contained. This included over three-hundred addresses, account numbers, security codes etc., etc. Thank you, nameless-bank-employee-of-miniscule-cranial-capacity! I've just finished typing most of the lost details back in and, surprise, surprise, will be more punctilious about back-ups in future. (Thanks to everyone who responded to my desperate e-mails.)

Next, inspecting the van which had been parked outside the house since December, I saw that some dear citizen had reversed into it, cracked the number plate, leaned it against the windscreen, and then taken effective steps to preserve their anonymity.

"Ah, well," said Gabriele, "Never mind. Let's drive to Ikea and finally buy those bookshelves we've been talking about for the last eight or nine months."

Ikea's parking area is of awesome dimensions, and I located an isolated corner where no-one would need to come anywhere near the van. Sure enough, when we returned, laden with cheap wood and corrugated cardboard, we saw a tasteful streak of blue paint down one side, terminating in a buckled wheel arch and naked metal. Once again the artist had neglected to sign their masterpiece. What next? Well, we've just become born-again 'Apple Mac' owners, with enough accompanying bells and whistles to make me feel like the proverbial ox with a musket. It is, of course, a blesséd miracle in every respect, apart from the niggling fact that, so far, we can't persuade the damned thing to so much as dip a condescending toe into the internet, let alone 'hang ten'. But having received a raft of mutually contradictory explanations from every available specialist we are now confident that this will, in its own good time, mysteriously resolve itself. I'm told stranger things happen at sea.

I've firmly served notice on the diabolical little squatter, but so far he seems undecided about moving. If anyone has any technical equipment in need of a resident fiend, just let me know.

In order to stabilize the sort of inflation brought on by seasonal roast dinners, mince pies and christmas cakes and puddings, Gabriele and I decided on a 'clean-up' diet during the early part of January. Consequently we spent ten days sloping about feeling very scoured and self-righteous, consuming barrow loads of 'happy' fruit, drinking whey and agreeing, with suspicious vehemence, that striped nougat, chocolate biscuits, pizzas and such iniquities were quite unecessary for a civilized, meaningful existence. When the appointed time was fulfilled we were delighted to have shed several of the sort of pounds it's always good to lose, were dangerously fit, and felt capable of dealing effortlessly with any amount of striped nougat, chocolate biscuits etc. However, just because you can, it doesn't mean you must. So we are still enjoying the benefits of our heroic restraint. There are rumours the Vatican is giving, not very serious, thought to our beatification, but as they have an unfortunate habit of burning some of their saints as a preliminary to canonization we're not pushing for a decision.

On to more heartening topics. Musical contributions for the new CD are beginning to trickle in and everything should be ready for the final mix by mid-March. Everything; but not everybody. It just so happens that, from early March until late May I'm due to be scrabbling about like a one-leggéd cat in a sandbox, and it's difficult to see when I'll be able to get down to Switzerland for the master-mix and graphics. The Frankfurt Music Fair runs from March 7th - 11th; Kilve Court, Somerset from 12th - 16th; schools in the north of England some time between 19th and 28th. Then London, Oxford and surroundings from March 29th to April 10th; followed by Holland (April 11th to 21st). Followed by Denmark (April 26th to May 4th). There's a Frankfurt school in the offing for May 9th, and a local concert on 12th. I'm in Austria from 14th to 26th, and possibly in Slovenia and Croatia for the week after that. I will then be tiptoeing into my fifty-first year and hoping the Recording Angel's attention has been distracted by Ljubo's studio technology. (Please consult the touring list for performance details.)

Abnormal services will, however, be resumed as soon as possible, and 'VIDEO TRIPS', which has every chance of being out before the sun finally gets its act together, will be my seventh album. Make sure you snap it up for your collection. (The first two, 'The Lady' and 'Living the Life', were ye olde LPs, but will shortly be available on CD).

The legendary guitar Klaus built for my fiftieth birthday has inspired me to multiple tunings, and lyrics ranging from suicide bombers and flying pensioners to 'Big Brother' and high winds in the Adriatic. I'm impatient for the album's final release.

Poetry and Performance continue to advance modestly, and I'm very much looking forward to presenting a programme of combined song and verse in Oxford this April. The event is masterminded (or should that be 'mistressminded') by Laura King (21st Century Poets), laura.king@lincoln.ox.ac.uk the power behind many an Oxford or London poetry happening - including Hyde Park's 'Poetry in the Park' - and I'll be sharing the stage with Project Adorno, www.ProjectAdorno.com (and 'Openhaus' for more details about 'Poetry in the Park'), a dynamic, innovative duo I've very much enjoyed hearing and working with on previous occasions.

At the Oxford performance we're also planning to give 'Stages' its first public airing. It's a seven-part, long poem which I wrote some while ago, in which voices from seven historical periods provide a brief focus on themselves and their preoccupations. (Please consult the touring list for performance details.)

I hope to see you somewhere out on the road.