Etched Behind Eyelids | August 2021
Leaving the city to head up to Sutton Park for an evening walk, we passed the Academy building, which has sat empty for the past eighteen months, the sign above the boarded up music venue charting the nation’s mood rather than the bands in town at the bottom of the hill in England’s second city.
From the saccharine “thank you NHS and key workers” to a defiant “the show will go on”, to the jubilation of “it’s coming home” which by the morning after Italy’s victory was missing key letters, hastily pulled down and scattered on the cracked concrete paving slabs below. The sight of the shuttered venue has pulled at my heart every time I go by, because one of the things I’ve missed the most has been live music, and it’s return has felt impossible. I wondered how long the industry could cling on for.
Academy is just a modern box venue, it’s not like the Institute which is a lovely building, but it’s been the backdrop to some of my favourite music memories over the years and I really worried it’d go under. But last night, a pre-pandemic scene made me smile. A crowd of music fans, waiting outside for doors. Academy has reopened, and live music is tentatively making a comeback. I haven’t missed the touts or the piles of vomit on Saturday and Sunday mornings, but I’ve missed live music and the buzz of the city at night.
Further along the A38 all the bars and venues had lights on above their doors, and a cherry picker was positioned over the Alexandra’s door as workers fixed the sign to display listings for their first performances since March 2020. It’s been such a long time. I can’t express how happy I am to see events given the green light again. This city has felt so strange with everything boarded up, and after dark it’s felt like a ghost town. I don’t know what my first gig back will be, Hell Is For Heroes and Hundred Reasons are double headlining in February, so there’s that to look forward to, though hopefully there’ll be other shows before then too.
Finally, just to confirm that Birmingham is alive again, we encountered the most Birmingham bit of driving; an impatient taxi driver who couldn’t be arsed to sit in traffic, performing a U turn on the A38M by the M6.
A couple of pieces I’m working on at the moment, some Telemann and Bach’s G major suite for cello, transposed for violin in D. I have octave strings on Johannes at the moment, so he sounds like a cello!
A walk with Maisie, Ed, and Ed’s mum.
After a more severe haircut than he’d hoped for, the barber was a little bit heavy handed with the grade!
As a family we finally held a memorial for Ed’s grandfather who died last May. It was a casual affair, and I spent a good chunk of time sat in the rabbit run at the bottom of the garden trying to make friends with Albus, Ed’s cousins’ family rabbit.
A visit to Winterbourne after swimming one weekday afternoon.
Another evening in Sutton Park.
My friend Miki who loves fungi thinks these are hairy curtain crust, which I think is a brilliant name for a mushroom!
An evening walk in the Lickeys.
The ponies, sleeping in the woods. People were creeping up on them from the other side and got so close that some of the ponies fled from the woods. It’s for this reason that I repeat myself so often – if you see the Sutton Park ponies, keep your distance from them and don’t crowd them. You should never follow these horses into the woods. If they have chosen to go into the woods it’s because they want to be left alone, otherwise they’d be out on the heath or in the open. These photos are taken with a long lens from outside of the wooded area on a main path, that’s why you can see so many branches in the foreground.
Fallen from the pine trees, abandoned on the woodland floor.