December 2008 NEWSLETTER
Thank you for all your patience over the last few months of silence. This year has not been easy . !
Remember I was rabbiting on about the biographical DVD, the TV advertised album etc.,
Possible English tour…well the best laid plans, and all the enormous amount of work, travelling back and forward to the UK, all went out of the window.
First the filming was cancelled on the day of starting, due to a sick cameraman, with no time the rest of the summer to put it into place,. Then the TV advertised album was postponed until January 2009, so the English tour was put on hold as well. It is now scheduled for release on January 12th.
It is entitled The Golden Age - 50 Years of Classic Hits and apart from all the old favourites, there are songs not heard for years such as "Steel Men, Jenny’s Gone , San Miguel and You’ve got a Friend" that truly go back to the near start of his 50 years in the business. "Jennys’ Gone" hold a particular poignancy for me, as that was recorded when I first joined Fontana in l962, first met Roger and participated in my first real recording session, with the charming young man who was to become my husband! Unfortunately the very earliest recordings are long lost.
Fortunately the Danish tour went ahead as planned and as many of our friends have said, it was wonderful. I hate to ‘fly in the face of the wind’ as the saying goes, but there are already mutterings of more Scandinavian shows in 2009.
While all these set backs were going on, Roger finished writing 18 new English songs, and will be going to the UK, between German TV appearances, to talk to various companies about recording and releasing these next year.
It is nearly impossible to get back catalogue albums, such as The Kenya Musical Safari, The Magical World (childrens album – so often requested) re-released onto the market. I will keep trying , I promise.
Enough negativity! In a few weeks time, Roger will be with our old friend Florian Silbereisen on the 29th November, and also Carmen Nebel early December for their Christmas shows, and SonyBMG are releasing a special edition with bonus DVD of "Liebe Endet Nie’ on November 28.
So you can imagine, that in between the travelling, Roger is busy rehearsing for the German tour starting on the 22nd of January, whilst I try and catch up on a million things that need attending to, and planning to go over to the UK ladened down with Christmas presents for all the family.
My year has been a bit rough to say the least. In the middle of the business things going haywire, I was trying, not very successfully I might add, to help Jessica and James with the preparations for their truly wonderful wedding.. Jessica and James organised 90% of it brilliantly which was just as well, as about 8 weeks before the happy event I started to feel very unwell, and was due to go into a clinic for a minor op. It was cancelled two weeks before the wedding, so I struggled through all the proceedings feeling like a ‘dead duck’ and terribly upset that I couldn’t really give my ‘all’ to my daughter’s dream wedding.
We can all laugh about it now, but the real hiccough came when the entire battle plan to get us all to the church in military precision went completely awry! Roger had already left to collect Jessica, Isabella, Thandie Newton (her Maid of honour), and back at the hotel, all the rest of us, trying to keep the smaller children, running around like lunatics with excitement, looking somewhat respectable, waiting for a coach to take 22 of us to the Church. James and his best man left, saying the coach was just behind their car and would pick us up in 10 minutes….the minutes ticked past, and Guy and Alex, both groomsmen, kept calling to see where it was. We had left an hour to get to the church , normally 15 minutes away, but due to a Football Cup Final, crowds and traffic we had to cross extra time was allowed.
More .phone calls….now nearly 40 minutes late… phone calls…panic beginning to set in…all the guests sitting patiently in the church, with the poor priest, the choir and most of all the bell ringer all doing their bit! I told Roger to get Jessica to the Church, where they arranged to have them ‘hidden’ behind a wall in a courtyard opposite the church.
I can only imagine what they, and James and the congregation were going through, but I was nearly hysterical! Finally a raggetty red coach appears, , but despite the hotel manager’s advice, the equally bedraggled driver refused to try and reverse into the hotel car park. We were on Wimbledon Common, with tiny lanes everywhere. By now to add to the misery, it was pouring with rain, and we all had to dash in our finery to the coach 150 years away. I kept praying that we might make it in time, until the driver, still refusing to listen to anybody, turns down a lane with a NO COACHES, NO LORRIES sign. Round a corner, and we are well and truly stuck! I cannot repeat my language or that of my sons! Then came the tears, and I rang Roger and James to say ‘Go ahead without us’, and boys and all the rest of the guests, started to walk back to the hotel, nearly half a mile away. To our immense joy and relief, James had phoned the hotel to get a team of mini-cabs and we had only gone a short way to the next lane when the first appeared..and a phone call from James to say that the Priest was not worried and that they would hold on.
15 minutes later our sons, and 2 guests and I arrived. There was a general roar of joy and clapping from all our friends and family, but the priest really had to start, despite all the other siblings and children were not yet there, and the poor little elderly female bell ringer who had be tolling out for nearly an hour and half, and was exhausted. I sat in our empty pew in the front, and the organ started .. I could hardly look behind me, but when I did, the stunning apparition of our daughter on her father’s arm almost started the tears again. Behind her came Thandie’s two darling daughters, and James’ half sister little Bridget with Thandie carrying a wiggling Isabella.
James and Jessica had organised a truly magical and uplifting service, and Roger and I sat there enchanted and absolutely overcome with emotion . All too quickly it was over and as we all paraded down the aisle the friends and family’s faces told us it was all worth it.
Outside the church while photos were being taken, everybody was laughing and joking that it could only happened at a Whittaker wedding! I found out that the rest of our children and grandchildren, arrived just as the service started and had to stand at the back.
As footnote the Limo company, extremely well known, had completely messed up the bookings.
The reception, dinner, speeches, dancing and all the rest went exactly as Jessica and James had planned….and all in all it was the most memorable and joyful wedding. We keep re-living it every time we see the photos. James had planned a special surprise for Roger and in his speech he said that , as Roger came from Africa, it was tradition for the groom to pay a ‘Bride Price’ at which point, he produced a photo of an enormous African bull, a traditional Maasai robe and spear, and announced that Roger was now the proud owner of the bull, cows and many calves back in Kenya!
We didn’t get to bed until 2.0am after sitting and talking to everybody back at the hotel.
Roger and I had to leave to drive back to Ireland the next day, as I had to have the previously cancelled op. on the Wednesday. Before I left Bruce Lahti said to me, if they cancel again, come over to the USA. Guess what at 6.0pm. the night before, they cancelled again, and within a week I was in the Mayo clinic, where after exhaustive tests, the docs all agreed the surgery was not needed yet and in fact could do more harm than good, and put me on medication for the time being. It is being monitored, and although I feel a lot better, I still dont have my usual energy or oomph!
After Roger finished the Danish dates, he flew down to join me in France and he and I spent two weeks in the nearly completed French house, still covered in dust and rubble in some rooms, but it was so relaxing that we didn’t notice the mess. Then we drove back some 900 miles, visiting places we never had the time to see. Firstly the Abbaye.. de Fontevraux where Eleanor of Aquitaine, King Henry 2nd, King Richard 1 (the Lionheart) and Isabella Lackland are all buried, and then on to Bayeux to see the tapestries and explore the Cathedral and museums . It was a great break, and fascinating in the rich history, of which we thought we knew a lot , until we were actually there and read so much more. Within two days of our return, the realities of life rushed up and said ‘no more idling around – work, work , work’ which is what we are now doing!
The children are all in wonderful form. Emily and Stewart just moved house, and they and the children are thrilled with their new home. Lauren, Tony and the little ones are also seriously happy and Nathaniel is causing mayhem as his mobility gets faster. Rebecca, just turned 18, doing really well with her career and has had a new promotion, learning to drive, and a very self-contained young lady. Guy and the Trio FINK going from strength to strength and touring all over the place including South Africa, and Mette understanding even more what being a ‘stay at home showbiz’ wife is. But she is so busy with her work that she says, like me, that sometimes, not having to cook and catching up with ones own things needs time alone.
Alex is still teaching in Berkshire, but also painting for himself, and the college gave him an exhibition, which when he finds photos of, I will download to the web!!!!
Jessica, James and Isabella – what can I say apart from delightfully happy and - hang on to your hats – expecting baby No. 2 in March !
But all their various commitments and visiting other in-laws this Christmas means it will be a quiet one for us, with just Guy, Mette and Alex, but it has been such a roller-coaster year, I think it will be perfect, although the cooking will be the same, and the usual teasing that I endure from my sons, who have perfected the art of "winding mother up" as hunger for the goodies gets the better of them. Even at their age I chase them round the kitchen with a wooden spoon!
Before I end I just want to tell you all the fantastic news that at the Auction of the large figurine, held by Hummel (which we unfortunately couldn’t attend) raised the fantastic sum of Euros. 10,000 for the Kenyan Childrens home that the Isabella fund supports.
It will mean a wonderful Christmas and 2009 for the wonderful children and their very special, dedicated careers who make their lives as happy as they can. So please, please help swell the sales of the smaller figurines as Christmas presents, to bring the total even higher, and think of the smiles on those little faces.
Almost immediately after Christmas Roger will be in England to promote the new TV album in the UK… and then it is off to Germany for rehearsals and 28 concerts and visiting so many friends there, and also now in Vienna and Munich (see update) I look forward to joining him on some of the dates and seeing all the old ‘crowd’ at the stage door.
My thanks as usual to Jesse Waggoner for keeping such a good web site for us, and of course, Vicky, Rory, Anthony Mann and of course Rocco Meier (who does such a great job for our German speaking friends) for all their research and information for all of you who try and trace old albums.
Have a wonderful, happy, healthy and peaceful Christmas holiday and we wish you all the very best for the new year of 2009.
All our love and best wishes,
The Official Roger Whittaker
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