I drove down memory lane yesterday: Martin was producing some tracks by Jill Hepburn in the Cluny studios, so I went over to Hexham in Northumberland, where the family spent Saturday mornings when I was a child (when we weren't watching news reels in the Tatler in the Haymarket in Newcastle).
There was the theatre where I was a rat in The Pied Piper, aged about six; now it's called The Forum, and it's a cinema.
The Abbey seems smaller: I was one of a series of monks there, clad in a cowl and habit made from a sheet by McMum, along with all the other Girl Guides. We filed through, singing a chant in our hootling teenage voices.
I went to Wylam, and felt sad, sensing the tracks of McDad's life and my childhood echoing there somewhere...It was cold and rainy, and there weren't many people about. I'd been overtaken on the way there by the Geordie Chapter of the Harley Davidson Appreciation Society, and I sang a mini-song about that in the shadow of the Abbey. I am going to sing a song every Sunday for 31 days (a month of Sundays) as a diary of what I'm doing.
When I got back to Newcastle I thought I should have done my song there instead- it was the Newcastle/Durham Boat Race and the Quayside was packed: an excitable man with a barking voice sang-sung the latest about who was winning, losing, won last year, the year before and the year before that; there were stalls, including a German one blasting out Go West (Village People) sung in German, and selling Bratwurst with about a million different sauces.
I sat on the Millenium Bridge in the chilly sunshine, watching the Kittiwakes bullying each other and reading the Curious Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stephenson (trying to understand marriage passim).
Before me, bridges arc-ed over like Russian nesting dolls: the Swing Bridge, the High Level Bridge and the Tyne Bridge.
It is a very dramatic city.
This morning, it was my turn in the studio: I re-sang Little England and Summer Days and re-did The Song of the Unsung Heroine. I had time to record New Year's Eve and The House on the Hill, so they will go on the album too, in their very simple form.
I like the Cluny Studios and I've enjoyed working there a lot. The engineer, Sean, is great and it's lovely looking out at the Ouse Burn, even when it's sleet you are looking out at! Three cheers for Martin, who has produced it!
I drove home through stripes of different weather, cloud, rain and sun. Rich people's hedges were so dense with spring growth that they looked like slices of green fudge. The Tories had left their roadside posters up, all of them. The A1 was smooth, quick and quiet, so my soundtrack of the blues and Motown helped me home.
And so to bed.