My father used to cycle 5 miles through the busy London streets every day to work and during the 35 years he made this journey he was never able to pass any object that he thought might one day come in handy. It might be a nut and bolt, a piece of rope or even just an old piece of twisted metal. When we were young my brother and I used to laugh at him and call him “the squirrel” but during the never ending battle of keeping my first car on the road there were countless occasions when I would be desperate for some small part needed to help me with the job and I would always find exactly what I needed in what my father called his “magic cellar.” Even now, 40 years later when I am doing repairs in his house his cellar often gets me out of trouble when I am stuck for the lack of a short piece of pipe, an outdated bolt or as happened recently the metal frame from an old rucksack hanging unused on a wall for the last 30 years.

It occurs to me that life is a process of us picking up bits and pieces as we go along and sometimes call on the most obscure experience to get us out of trouble. The only snag is as with my father’s magic cellar we collect so much that we forgot what we have and so often miss the opportunity to solve a problem unaware that the part we so desperately need is there waiting to be used.

Most surprising of all to me is how sometimes things happen to us which at the time appear to be disastrous or insignificant but later become invaluable. Never was this more clear to me recently when having been advised that the best thing to promote myself and my new book was with Youtube videos. The problem was despite working for 30 years in the music business I didn’t have a single video of me playing live.

In 1972 I had just released my first album “Touch The Moon” with my record company assuring me they would back it with “full promotion.” Because of my past connection to Derby the local radio station had asked me to do a radio interview and so a concert was organised on the back of it. The interview was cancelled at the last minute and the “full promotion” turned out to be one poster in the entrance of the concert hall. The result was that in a hall that held around 350 people I managed to draw an audience of seven,  five of whom were my friends and family.

My brother David and his wife were in the audience and as always they were very supportive and made the two hour drive after work not only to watch the concert but to make a video recording of it. Despite the lack of an audience I played my heart out and finished to the kind of rapturous applause only an audience of seven can give. It was difficult to see how such a disastrous event could ever have a positive effect on my life and so when David sent me the video I took a quick look at it but found it too depressing to watch and so threw it into a box and forgot about it.

So I updated my website and created a blog but was still no nearer to a presence on Youtube. I cursed myself for not having made videos of me playing my songs and in particular my acoustic guitar solos as I believe they are a unique blend of ragtime and classical guitar and not having picked up a guitar in ten years there was no chance of me playing them now without months of practice. The only video I could think of was the one David made in Derby but apart from having no idea where it was I assumed that being recorded on a basic domestic machine it would be worthless. After searching every inch of our large house and giving up three times I eventually found the video in a box full of old tools and general rubbish. I suppose you could say it was my own magic cellar although as I love to throw stuff away it is a very small cellar. I took a look at the video and was surprised to see that although it was far from professional quality it was at least acceptable and so went to work splitting up the songs and uploading them to Youtube. Since then the response and positive comments on my youtube channell  have been overwhelming and one video production company liked my song The Poet so much they produced a video of it which I am delighted with. They are now working towards producing a DVD of my music.

So maybe Voltaire was right after all:  everything does happen for the best in the best of all possible worlds and it seems to me every object and experience has it’s place in that world.

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