I love getting letters and the only way to get letters is to write them. I don’t enjoy emails so much, which is why I don’t send very many these days. . .

This week I received some very beautiful letters from friends – why do I like letters? Because unlike emails or the mailing list I am now writing, I am unable to do anything except give those handwritten missives my undivided attention.

While reading letters, I do not listen to music, nor have the radio on (I have no idea how to work a tv remote anyway and frankly am uninterested. . .). I hear the lines spoken in the voice of the sender and enjoy the myriad of news, senses and emotions that is being sent to me.

I’ve never truly considered it before but these days, when someone picks up a pen, a piece of paper and puts aside even 10 minutes to write; take an envelope and a stamp and walk to a post box, I am honestly moved.

It’s a lot of effort in these days of ‘quick-fix’, facebook, twitterings (neither of which I have time to do, again, very uninterested, I’m afraid) and I feel that the letter deserves my complete attention. . .sometimes I keep the letters to re read years later and last year, when a question prompted me to reply to a ‘If you could only keep 3 things, what would they be?’ my instant reply was a small pile of letters, a photo

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and an ink pen.
Not even an accordion!

Of the letters, one is a letter of love and I have a small pile of letters from my father when I moved to Sweden.

He is not a letter writer and finds writing tricky but resolved to write to me regularly when I moved to Sweden several years ago for a few months.

Some letters move me to tears. . .such as the letter, this week, from Emma Reid – a wonderful fiddler from Northumberland (who has joined me on the May Monday project several times) – about her mother, Magdelana you may remember I talked about recently because of her Fiddle Book publication.

I had heard recently that Magdelena had died; I knew she had been very ill but unaware of her death earlier this year (my moves make me rather tricky to find!) and Emma had written to tell me about the lead up
to Magdelna’s passing and the beauty of the funeral service.

Within weeks of the funeral, both Emma and her brother have had

children just as in the case of my late brother, Peter, his daughter bore Ffion just weeks after his death too.

Emma talked about life / birth being so intertwined. . . joy / sorrow and I wept.

It’s good to weep; it’s good to remember and celebrate and, where we can, learn and take perhaps a little more time. We all say we will, don’t we?

Another wonderful lady who passed away earlier this year was Shirley Nelson who I met through joining the Kathryn Tickell Band in the early 1990s. Mike, her husband, made Kathryn’s pipes and they hosted us many times and both were / are consummate craftspeople; generous, fun and so giving.

Neither Magdalena nor Shirley were very old; I marvel at the way they both touched my heart in the quietest way, inspired me and I hadn’t realised. That’s a lesson in itself. We hear, every day of great
peoples’ (such as Maya Angelou) deaths and it makes me stop and think about what they have achieved, which is great.

More recently (and probably my age) I’m realising more and more that the lesser knowns also achieve just as much but even though their way is quieter and gentler, it has just as much impact. Perhaps changing the world or attitudes is about the quieter, gentler approach?

Talking of celebrating women (hoorah!), two things. . . I was asked about a tune I wrote called ‘Ms Normanbong’ and my views on the ‘power’ of women.

The reasons for writing the tune is below. . .the other thought I had was once, after Kate Rusby had just joined the Poozies (having left the Equation , causing quite a storm) we were doing a little village hall touring scheme (my favourite). On entering this village (at the time there was a fun competition in the back of the Poozies car – who could spot the first Poozies poster?), a poster was spotted, attached to a telegraph pole. Where promoters usually post the details of the concert, it read, in big letters :

TONIGHT – GIRLS!!!!!

Anyway :
’Ms Normanbong’ – written as a schottische (I never know if these things

work properly as a dance; possibly the ‘folk dance police’ would debate that?)
To celebrate (a little late of course!) the 50th birthday of Carina Normansson of Sala, Sweden : one of the finest Fiddlers (of any country) I have been honoured to work with (we were in the band Swap for 12 years).

Pet names abound between friends and working colleagues (in my experience) and within SWAP, Ian Carr was known as ‘Khazi’ Ola Backstrom was ‘Bingbong’, I was ‘Tweedski’ on occasions but more often ‘Tweed’ and Carina was ‘Normanbong’. I can’t remember how it

started. . .
Carina is one of those beautiful women (and I mean beautiful in every sense) whose affinity and need to be close to nature is inspiring. She is fantastic at everything – art, music, textiles, ideas and had a super creativity in making up words / phrases as yet not invented in the English language. Her sense of humour and respect for others is second to none. She is very well read, hyper intelligent, possibly eccentric (it takes one to know one 😉 yet everything she does is from a place of love.

She is also one of the most underpraised, underrated creative musicians and creative people that I have been honoured to share time with, in the entire world. I mean that across all the genres I have listened to or experienced live, in my 51 years on this earth.

I have to say, Emma Reid comes close by. . . .

I also love the wind, always have. And I do love the BBC, despite observing worrying changes there over the last 20 years – I do hope it survives, not because it is ‘British’ but because I have so many memories of great tv and radio programmes – whether it was ‘Tomorrow’s World’ (hmmm. . . was that the BBC?) or ‘Morecambe and Wise’ (I’m showing my age here) or radio shows like PM or ‘Womans’ Hour’ or ‘Breakfast’ on Radio 4.

Yesterday morning I logged in – I listen these days to the radio via my pc, mainly because I have ‘decluttered’ (after house 28 moves) and got rid of my wireless (as my dad refers to his ‘radio’) and look what I learned from the front page about the weather in Doagh in Co Antrim where a Funnel Cloud was seen yesterday :

‘Funnel Clouds are often mistaken for a tornado, but this term only applies when it hits the ground. . . as a tornado, the clouds rotate, having extended downwards from the base of the thunderstorms, turning in a clock-wise direction which coin the term ‘twister’. If the cloud forms over water, it’s called a waterspout and all these ‘funnel clouds’ need a trigger

to lift the moist air they need from a mountain range, a cold weather front or a convergence of winds such as warm winds coming off land clashing with sea breezes coming onto the shore. Once the air begins to rise and becomes saturated, it continues rising several thousand feet to produce the thunderstorm cloud. This can only happen if the atmosphere is unstable and the temperature falls rapidly as the height increases above the ground.’

This Saturday, after we’ve all had a splendid time at the Old Gaffer’s Festival (have you seen the programme – Crikey!!!) www.yarmoutholdgaffersfestival.co.uk

is a great concert by Vaguely Sunny Promotions at the Quay Arts on Newport, Isle of Wight with Vasen Nyckelharper Olov Johansson and harper Catriona McKay. I could wax lyrical about how fantastically amazing these two are. Instead, Neil Hamer has saved the day and sent this link :

Reasons to be cheerful (about living here?). . . . AND knit and Natter is on at Ryde Library in June too!

The lovely Jo Freya phoned me the other day and suddenly, in the conversation asked, ‘Are we ever going to see you again?’ to which I replied, slightly shocked at my own speed and confidence, ‘Probably not. . . ‘

One day, if you ever venture across the Solent, you may find out why. . .

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Have a splendid weekend, xK