It's a typical summer's day here in England, bit of sun; a few showers to dodge. After the horrors of the riots last weekend, many things, like the weather, seem to be getting back to normality. In the last few days we have spent too many hours glued to the news channels watching scenes of mayhem (and also of solidarity and dignity) unfold. Whilst the political and social commentators are still, understandably, doing their stuff in the Sunday papers, I've found that it's time to come up for air and do the things I like to do. So, this weekend, I've been writing lyrics for the new album and watching a bit of sport.
Both of my kids are keen badminton players and, as a family, we spend much of the winter at tournaments as they compete. For those who aren't in the know, badminton has a bit of a reputation as a relaxed and gentle game played by young and old alike. However, at the highest levels, it's a ferocious sport requiring astonishing levels of fitness and agility.
This weekend it's the finals of the badminton world championships which are being held in London. An English pair has reached the final of the mixed doubles and I'm looking forward to watching that later today. The most prestigious events, however, are the singles finals and today's mens' final, featuring the best singles players of all time (Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei) turned out to be perhaps the greatest badminton game ever seen. There was something primeval about the winning moment, as Lin Dan addressed the crowd looking like King Leonidas before the Spartans at Thermopylae, or Stuart Pearce after scoring that penalty.
Sport is great. And so is music.
Inbetween the badminton games, I've been finishing off the lyrics to The First Rebreather, one of the songs on the new album. The idea for The First Rebreather was given to me by Dave Gregory who, after listening to Winchester Diver from The Underfall Yard, remarked that it reminded him of another historic diving story; this time about Alexander Lambert who dived heroically into the flooded Severn Tunnel in 1880.
I'd not heard of the story before and, on the basis that you can never have too many progressive rock tunnel-diving songs, started reading up about Lambert. One particular online article caught my eye and gave me the title of the song. After that, it was a question of finding some angles that interested me so that it wasn't just a story about a diver and a tunnel.
As a young child I was fascinated by the tale of Beowulf descending into the mere to slay the beast and this added a mythical backdrop to Lambert's journey into the dark. Of course, I also had to include one or two references to the Divine Comedy, as I did in Winchester Diver.
So, for me, at least, it's been a good weekend; a set of lyrics completed and a great sporting contest witnessed.