Newsletter October 2007
Roger has just returned from Germany where he has been recording, what we all consider, the best German album for many years. He also did two TV shows and met with some of the German fans. So much has happened since the fabulous tour, and many people have assumed that we have been sitting back and relaxing! Far from it, as the next pages will show you.
Firstly though, I must explain why the very last concert in Dresden never happened and apologise for the disappointment, especially those people who came from so far afield, including Vicky and Rory from Canada and many Scandinavian, Irish and English friends and family who were gathering for the Birthday concert . It was not only Roger’s concert that had to be cancelled but several other artists and orchestras.. Suddenly, a few days before, the authorities declared the venues as a ‘Fire Hazard’ (Not enough fire exits near the seating areas!) We hoped above hope that this would be lifted in time for the 22nd but to no avail and we had no way of contacting those of you who were travelling already. I am so sorry!
Despite it all, Semmels, and all the musicians, Sony BMG and the entire crew put on a wonderful birthday party for him, before we dashed off the next morning to meet our new granddaughter ISABELLA. She really is like her name….Bella – Italian for beautiful. Jessica had a bit of a rough time despite all the usual preparations! But within two weeks she was well enough to return to work doing voice-overs, with Bella in a papoose, and getting used to studio life calmly and professionally like her mother. Jessica is a superb mum and her calm attention to motherhood shows in Bella’s totally relaxed attitude to whatever is happening, and wherever she goes. James is totally besotted, and is a perfect hands-on Dad, his camera clicking at every moment recording her progress,( as per the photos I have ‘ posted ‘ with this newsletter)
Our visit was very short as Roger was already discussing the album for 2008 and wanted to get together the very best songs with SonyBMG. I had to dash to France for a 36 hour visit to try and get builders to get going on the ruin we are renovating there. ( Some hope – they finally started last week!!!)
In the meantime back in Ireland, we had had to move back out of the house and into the Granny flat while builders and decorators continued their work. At Christmas we had camped in the house with minimal furnishings in three rooms, but the only way for the work to carry on was for us and dogs to get out again! Now starts the sagas of incidents that happen every time I go to France and leave Roger on his own…it is like a jinx situation.
The first 36 hour trip to France, Roger agreed to babysit our housekeeper’s miniature Jack Russell puppy. Seemingly no problem as she and our dogs adore each other, and in fact Boris, who is extremely strong and energetic, will take her whole head in his mouth to calm her down if she gets too ‘bold’. Only one problem with Cilla, the Jack Russell – she can leap anywhere, on to sofas, from there to tables, and onto high window sills. I had warned Roger that she had a propensity to literally ‘eat’ TV controls, wallets, and most of all mobile phone. He really thought all the items were safe on a window sill. No way! The night I left, she ate his phone and one of the TV controls, followed the next day by several biro pens, covering the carpet with ink!......
The next time I had to go, 6 weeks later, for three days, Roger was still camping in the granny flat, minus Cilla, so potentially a much calmer time on his own! No such luck. This time the septic tank, about 200 years old and working perfectly till then, collapsed in flooding the garden with horrible stinking sewage…who finds it in the dark ?…Boris and Titch who bound joyfully into the sitting room, onto the sofa and roar into the bedroom covering everything in foul smelling YUCKS.
If this wasn’t bad enough, the next morning a decorator’s van exploded its oil tank onto the road immediately outside the front door, and when he left the carpenter managed to walk oil all over the only two carpets that had been laid. Roger was apoplectic …. My mobile phone was burning my ear!
I got home and start organising repairs and cleaning up…unfortunately some of the oil will never come out. Roger left for Hamburg a couple of weeks later to finalise the songs for the album, and all was calm….nothing happened. However, when he got back he had managed to contract a flu’virus and developed a high temperature and had to take to bed for several days. Emily Stewart and the boys, James and Milo were coming to spend a week for school ‘half term’ holidays, overlapping two days later with Guy and Mette.
I had finally moved all the furniture in store and ourselves back into the house (Mind you, there are still about 20 boxes to unpack) so the house and granny flat were full.
Roger was still recovering, but on the day Guy and Mette arrived, I went down with the virus – and really badly, with temperatures of 103 at one point, and what should have been a great family get together ended up a shambles, but with Mette, bless her, taking over the major kitchen role so everybody was fed brilliantly. I was in bed for 8 days, and felt like hell for a further six weeks, with no energy left….Doctor said that both of us were exhausted and run down after the move, the tour and everything else that was happening.
Roger agreed to a 5 day visit to France with me, to see the progress, or lack of it, there, but we had a lovely time, meeting with friends, playing bridge, and relaxing…until I had to pay a quick visit to the lawyers there, and managed to trip over a slight step in his office. Hospital again! I had broken that ankle and leg a few years ago and it always gives me pain, but the X-rays revealed no actual break this time, but endless small fractures in both ankles, feet and heels…the arthritis has weakened all the bones, but it is not, thank goodness, Osteoporosis, and now I am trying to summon up the courage for the surgery which I have been putting off for four years. I stayed on for another week, on crutches until the swelling went down and Roger had to go home on his own. This time nothing happened!!!! Maybe things were un-jinxed at last.
No more French visits, but a quick 5 days with Jessica to help out while James was away filming. Again my luck was really out of the window, and the second day, I had a sandwich at a well know Quick food place and….went down with the worst food poisoning I have ever had, so I was little or no help to Jessica and in fact, a complete hinderance as she was nursing me and worrying.
The planned visit by Lauren and the children in August never happened, mainly because little Imogen, so shy normally, has found her voice…literally! She auditioned for a choir in Hereford and ended up singing at church for every service, weddings etc.,
Roger was by then rehearsing daily in his studio, and not enamoured of any distractions.
The dates for the recording were set , and the Television dates confirmed, so when I had a call from France that I had to go and approve the stonework, it was with fear and trepidation that I left, so I would be back in time to help Roger for the last two weeks before recording…he gets very nervous, still, and I tried to make sure that EVERYTHING was in order, and tried to premeditate any disaster. I filled the freezer with meals, and arranged for all the builders stuff etc., to go smoothly, leaving a list in the kitchen for day by day events in my absence.
First day – the jinx was back! A new large oil tank was filled, when the small one was empty, and the plumber changed over everything in the laundry/boiler room. Two hours later, our housekeeper said she could smell a strong oily smell. Roger rushed into the boiler room to find the pressure difference had blown the main valve and the oil was everywhere! Helping hands tried to get it all up, but the floor covering was wrecked and had to be torn up and dumped. On top of this, Boris, who never normally goes in that room, managed to get oil, (putting it politely) on his very sensitive ‘nether regions’ and was in great pain.. Roger managed to get most of it off, but the vet had to be called to really do the job.
At this point , I said to the friends I stay with, this is impossible, I am never coming over without Roger again! The next evening as I was packing to leave at dawn the next day, my mobile vibrates and rings like a demon…I almost didn’t answer it when I saw Roger’s number come up, but finally and cheerfully said “Don’t tell me, trouble comes in threes” Yes – he says – ‘I have just had a car accident, but don’t worry I just had a few cuts’ ‘How’s your car?’ says I – ‘Luckily not MY car – yours!’ he tells me.
It was actually a very minor bump with Roger and the other driver both trying to cross a narrow Irish bridge at the same time, with the window down, and the wing mirror glass and works flew in and cut his arm – no stitches, but he had to go to hospital for them to dig out the endless shards of glass.
Having read all this, and all the following GOOD news perhaps you understand why I haven’t had the energy or time to write to you all!
Good news is that the DVD of the Live show is (I think) fabulous and will be on sale soon. It is called “Dankeschon fur all die Jahre” Sony BMG Music Entertainment No:88697 097439 and it is a double DVD with loads of backstage interviews and showing just what it takes to even get a relatively small concert on the road.
Roger is getting an award for International Life Time Achievement in October from the Irish Music association, and that I will be working on a biography TV show.
Roger was away recording, I had a team of builders and soundproofing guys, followed by painter, completely re-doing Roger’s home studio, as it is right next door to my office, and he could hear everything I was doing, and it was really distracting. We finished mopping the floors and dusting one hour before he came home. I have to tell you it was well worth the military planning, and he was thrilled with his ‘bolt hole’ and creating more material. He has several of his own songs on the next CD due out next year, with great German lyrics.
I know that many of the English speaking fans have been very upset by the compilation CD of live shows. “Live um die Welt” - in other words “Live around the World” (88697 097 422) This was an executive decision by SonyBMG, I knew nothing about it until it was already in manufacture. However there are many second generation fans who never saw him in concert over the years, and who have not got the original albums - it is a really good selection. but I am also working on a Box CD selection of English only songs for distribution next year, which I think will appeal much more to you all. “The Lost Songs of Roger Whittaker” will feature many of the titles that were never released in many English speaking markets, due to the change of policy in the music industry in many countries where ‘middle of the road’ artists are concerned. I expect it will be mail order only due to the trend of rarely stocking older artists at retail and the difficulty of promoting such product. It will not include any of the old titles that you already have in so many compilations!
Only the family front, we are busy helping Jessica and James with their wedding plans for May next year – as James said they got things a bit back to front - but looking forward to a glorious day of celebrations, with Isabella probably taking center stage! She is already a real little performer.
The band FINK , Guy being the bass player continue to get concert dates all over Europe
And masses of increasing airplay…and the second album due out this week. I am waiting for some news from the USA, where they played a few dates earlier this year, but I don’t want to say anything until all is firmed up. Mette is putting on a brave face, which I so well understand, as he packs up and disappears on these trips.
Alex has got a post as Artist in Residence, at a college in Berkshire, as well as having had several commissions for his paintings this summer, and including for the first time a ‘seascape’ which was a challenge for him after his portraits and cartography. He is looking forward to the new challenge.
Emily and Stewart are trying to sell their house, and move to somewhere more rural and are going through what we went through last year.
The most happy news is that Lauren, with her partner of two years, Tony, is expecting baby No.4 at Christmas. The other children are thrilled to bits. Rebecca got really great exam results, and is now heading off for college.
Life sometimes goes full circle and the most unexpected circle came with Jessica becoming the English voice for JACOBS Café, in Germany, presumably on English speaking channels such as Euro news etc., all these many years after Roger used to sing the music for the same company….
So there you have it, folks, a real blow by blow account of what was supposed to be a quiet year! I am not going to promise when I will write again, as I never know nowadays what is going to be thrown at me. All I do know is that Roger and I are healthy and happy and the new house is nearly finished, so it is more peaceful.
Our love to you all, and if anything comes up that merits letting you know, I will post as announcement on the website…the guest book of which, incidentally , reached over a million in visitors a while back…Thank you all for your great support all the time.
P.S Look out for some new family pics. Especially the gorgeous Bella!
The Official Roger Whittaker
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