And the days dwindle down

It’s over 17 years now since I gave up my day job. And in all these years the only thing I’ve continued to miss from having a job is the lunch hours. Some days when you’re self-employed you can get so engrossed in something that lunch time passes by unobserved. Other days Sarah and I will make a special effort to go out somewhere for lunch, because it feels good to be in a warm convivial place with other people for a while, especially when someone else will do the cooking.

Today is one of these latter sort of days, but as Sarah is busy elsewhere I decide to take myself out to lunch. I also want to be outside in some daylight for a while, now we’re in these dwindling down days where it’s only light for seven hours in every twenty four.

But though it's been sunny earlier on, by the time I leave the house the sun's pretty much given up for the day.

But though it’s been sunny earlier on, by the time I leave the house the sun’s pretty much given up for the day.

It’s cold too, bitingly cold. Which I like. Cold days in the wintertime being the natural order of things before we messed up the climate.

A cold wind whistles under the West Coast line in Stalbridge Avenue.

A cold wind whistles under the West Coast line in Stalbridge Avenue.

And my hands are cold on the camera as I walk along. Given the amount of walking and photography I do it’s surprising how infrequently my hands get cold in this warming world.

In Geenbank Park all the leaves have gone now.

In Geenbank Park all the leaves have gone now.

It’s very quiet in here. One dog walker on the far side of the lake and one mother and child in the swing-park.

Colours all neutral under the weak winter sun.

Colours all neutral under the weak winter sun.

While I’m walking along part of me is in New Orleans with Daniel Lanois, making his records with the Neville Brothers and Bob Dylan. I’m reading his book ‘Soul Mining’ at the moment, where he has this wonderful rant about taming and categorisation:

“The truth of the matter is that I don’t care very much about ‘record production.’ I always thought ‘producer’ was a stupid title that I had been given, like I was a dog or something, wearing a collar that says producer, or some tag-wearing, obedient subservient member of a convention, or a disposable and replaceable serviceman at a parts counter…when I am a child of dedication and possibilities, of experimental sonics that want to fly…”

And I’m so glad I left my own job before all that demeaning tag-wearing came in. So I can take hold of my life and time on days like this and walk around freezing cold parks if I happen to feel like it.

As always, I say hello to Eleanor Rathbone as I pass her old house.

As always, I say hello to Eleanor Rathbone as I pass her old house.

Walking under the winter trees on Greenbank Lane.

Walking under the winter trees on Greenbank Lane.

In two days time we’ll be back here to light a bonfire on Sarah’s allotment on the shortest day, the Winter Solstice. After that each day will be a little bit longer, the light will be returning.

Into Sefton Park now.

Into Sefton Park now.

Still walking with Daniel Lanois. He’s back in New Orleans working experimentally with the great Emmylou Harris, when Neil Young turns up at the rambling old house they’ve set up as a studio to see how they’re getting on with his song ‘Wrecking Ball.’ Neil listens quizzically for a minute and they don’t know what he thinks. Then he reaches out his arms to his wife Pegi, they rise to their feet, and slow dance round the room. The experiment has worked.

And even a dull day can't leech all the colour out of Sefton Park.

And even a dull day can’t leech all the colour out of Sefton Park.

I arrive at Lark Lane.

I arrive at Lark Lane.

Where I was preparing for a bit of a laugh.

Each year the traders in Lark Lane string their Christmas lights across the street and each year a few more of the bulbs have gone. To the point, last year, when some of the strings of lights had no working bulbs at all. Magnificent in its way, and I was preparing to share this magnificence on here.

But when I arrive, people are up ladders –

Putting up the new Lark Lane Christmas lights. Just look at that, all working!

Putting up the new Lark Lane Christmas lights. Just look at that, all working!

One o'clock now, and the brightest things on Aigburth Road are the headlights.

One o’clock now, and the brightest things on Aigburth Road are the headlights.

It’s raining now too. Time to get inside for a while.

Somewhere warm....

Somewhere warm….

And welcoming.

And welcoming. (Welcoming to Independent Liverpool Cards too, don’t forget.)

I order my lunch and a cup of tea and settle down in Onion to finish Daniel’s book, where he’s riffing on creativity:

“It’s like baking – you mix invitation with preparation, and like magic you get a big fat cherry pie. Somebody eats the cherry pie and they ask for more, and you can honestly look them in the eye and say, there’s plenty more where that came from.”

I don’t get a cherry pie, but I do get a pakora wrap and a mixed salad. Perfectly created as always.

On the way home later, it’s raining even harder. Cold rain on the edge of sleet.

The Park is empty.

The Park is empty.

Penny Lane is quiet.

Penny Lane is quiet.

Over the hill children are being walked home from Dovedale school.

Over the hill children are being walked home from Dovedale school, beginning their holidays.

Many of them are carrying boxes with their games in. They’re still doing that. Taking in games on the last day of term.

And soon I'm home.

And soon I’m home.

Just after two, and the weak light fading on the dwindling down day. Thinking of Frank Sinatra now, on one of my favourite LPs. His song for this week, glorious orchestration by Gordon Jenkins and of course the great singer at the peak of his artistry:

“And the days dwindle down to a precious few, November, December.
And these few precious days I’ll spend with you, these precious days I’ll spend with you.”

And I’m nearly ready now, ready to work again. Filled with ideas and possibilities, from the walk and the lunch and the book. So in a few minutes, after I’ve pressed ‘Publish’ on this, I’ll open up Final Cut Pro and start making a film – with Daniel Lanois, the Neville Brothers, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris and Neil Young looking over my shoulder and helping me out. I’ll work into the evening now it’s dark.

It may, by the way, be one of the last films I’ll make. But that’s another story.

‘Soul mining; a musical life’ by Daniel Lanois will be back in Liverpool Central Library some day soon.

4 thoughts on “And the days dwindle down

  1. Dave

    That’s a real good read Ronnie. Nice to have choices on a Thursday afternoon.

    Daniel worked with Neil on a song called Walk with Me amongst a lot of other stuff. I had the song in my head as I read about your day and your thoughts. Nice to have time to think. This is a cool acoustic version of the song with Pearl Jam and Neil. I think the words may help shine a light when making your film too.

    Reply
  2. Ronnie Hughes Post author

    Thanks Dave, and for the link. I love the Le Noise album they made together. It was a stretch the first couple of times through, but that’s how unusual things are isn’t it?

    I’ve stopped film making for the night now. But the ‘bed’ of it’s done – the words, the story. Now it’s just a matter of colouring it in. The interesting part.

    Reply
  3. Dave

    Yes Ronnie unpredictable and unusual is what makes so good. Lots of Sonic Booms like thunder! Started as an acoustic set of songs until Daniel worked his magic on Neil and the sound. They only recorded on full moons. You sound like The Painter putting your work together. Enjoy your creativity….

    Reply

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