January 31, 2023


London mornings...

Photo by Rowan Freeman / Unsplash

From Here:

Photo by Samuel Regan-Asante / Unsplash

To Here:


I think the penny finally dropped, when I sat drinking tea in my 'Auntie' Mary's maisonette in Gospel Oak, London. The conversation moved on to politics, and she asked me who I was going to vote for and I said, that I was going to vote for that nice Margaret Thatcher. I nearly caused a trip to the Royal Free Hospital, up the road. When I said that she gasped for breath. That conversation was one that changed my thoughts in a moment. From then I decided that I could never follow an ideology that wanted to mould society in a way that would be good for the lucky, the blessed ones.

I, thinking back, was blessed in that I lived in the East End of London, in a terrace where it was bohemian, interesting and full of all sorts. I used to mooch about, wearing out my shoe leather walking my dog, and being happy in my world, sucking up the world around me like a sponge. I used to spend time in the Whitechapel Art Gallery, and anywhere where it was free to gander beautiful art. I don't know if it was the fumes from the leaded petrol that I inhaled back then but I decided that I needed to move away, far from the maddening crowd. I left, I burnt my bridges, I did it. Looking back it was complete. An intentional irrevocable step. Leaving those I loved, and friends who made me what I am today. I had left my soul mate, she was clever and enigmatic. It was a relationship that I never realised quite how strong it was. Never quick on the uptake me. Military tactics say that you should never burn your bridges. I still blame the lead fumes.

Not so long ago I spoke to 'Ribbon' one of the myriad (but special) members of my family, and she said I was made in Hackney. She was right I was not made in Chelsea after all. I was wrong, and I remembered that conversation with her mother Mary, in Gospel Oak. I realise that humility and the ability to say that you are wrong is acquired with age. And I realise that now.

However, one positive thing I got from my time living in Kensington and Chelsea is that I had a teacher, a person who realised that I was slightly imperfect, a moniker that I still used today. My teacher was an inspiration, and he was Ivor Cutler. Mr. Cutler to you. I have acquired a book called: Ivor Cutler, A Life Outside the Sitting Room, by Bruce Lindsay. I will enjoy reading about one of the only performers to appear on BBC Radio One to Radio Four. I managed only to perform on Radio Four. A man who famously recorded more John Peel sessions than any other act except the Fall. An inspiration he most certainly was. But inspirations do not need to be 'famous' or beautiful. Inspiration is all around us, you just need to look for it. Indeed inspiration is sometimes here in Salcombe. But often as the years fade away I realise that inspiration sometimes pays a high price? My years here have flown by, and I have memories, and far, far too many books. A mad professors study certainly...

BBC Radio 4 - Great Lives, KT Tunstall on Ivor Cutler
Singer-songwriter KT Tunstall nominates Scottish humorist Ivor Cutler
Ivor Cutler - Wikipedia