The Birthing Plan

In 2006 I finished recording my album Spirit of Albion. It seems that it was only a day after I received them that the first song from what was to become The Cauldron Born was written. That song was Green and Grey. The tune for The Cauldron Born had been written while I was recording Albion, but no words would come at that time.

The next songs were Immrama and Only Human, both written on the same day, and using a very different writing technique – I usually write the tune first, then the lyrics, but with these songs I decided to try writing the lyrics first, and then finding the tune. I guess whatever comes second is the hardest part. With these two songs I found the lyric writing much easier, but the tunes were difficult to find, but they both finally came.

And still no words for The Cauldron Born tune…

It was about this time that the tune for Land, Sky and Sea arrived, and I just couldn’t find the words to go with it. So that made two tunes, with no lyrics.

It was in September 2007 that the first chords were struck and recorded for the new album. I had 6 songs written and I gave myself the deadline of 8th March 2008 to write the rest of the songs, and finish the recording. But I came up against a problem straight away.

Cue the boring techie bit! – I had recorded my previous three CDs on a Dell computer on Logic 4 (if you know sequencer programs you’ll currently be going Logic 4!!) Apple computers bought Logic and there hadn’t been a new version for PCs since Logic 5 – the lovely Apple people had just launched Logic 8! My beloved Dell had had enough of my music and flew off to the computer Summerlands. I didn’t want to have to learn how to use a new sequencer, so tried to record my album on my Apple iBook G4 with Logic 7, but it just wasn’t up to it, so in the end I had to get a new iMac, with Logic 8. It arrived at the end of October, and this was when the recording began in earnest.

I had by this time found some words for both The Cauldron Born, and Land, Sky and Sea, but wasn’t completely happy with them. There was something missing from the first, and a line I just couldn’t get in the second. I had written Pagan Ways after my enconter at the Long Man of Wilmington with the Trinny and Suzanna Show (see this post for details of that!), and things were taking shape nicely.

The last song I wrote was On Midwinter’s Day, a song that came out of nowhere after a particularly wonderful Winter Solstice ceremony at the Long Man with the Anderida Gorsedd, but still these other two songs wouldn’t complete. I cannot tell you how many times I had sat with my guitar searching for the missing words!

But then, in a sudden flash, just as I was beginning to think they just might not want to be written, the words came. The missing verse from The Cauldron Born was the very first one, as it invited the listener to come with me as I showed them other spiritual people just like themselves. And the missing line from Land, Sky and Sea came and is one of the favourite lines I have ever written – Oh, this town is so cold, Neon Magicians they offer the Fools their Gold.

These were the last words I sang, and the album’s recording was complete.

It had taken over two years to find the lyrics for The Cauldron Born song, and just over a year for Land, Sky and Sea. They are always there, some songs just need longer incubation!

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Trinny and Susannah show – What really happened

I watched the Trinny and Susannah show last week that showed the 100+ people walking all over the Long Man of Wilmington for a stunt to turn him into different shaped women. The show was incredibly cleverly edited to show the Pagan protesters as spoilsports with no point to make. In fact one woman interviewed implied that they thought we had ‘more right to the hill figure than anyone else’. After being there as one of the protesters on the day, I really wanted the whole thing to just finish now, as it was a very stressful time. However, it seems that the editing of the show presented us in quite a negative light (no surprise really!). So here is a few facts that didn’t make it into the show:

1) Our point was to protect the Long Man from erosion. There are signs on the fence beneath the hill figure asking that people don’t walk on him due to the dangers of soil erosion. We felt that showing 100+ people walking all over him to 7,000,000 viewers for a TV show stunt would encourage more people to do the same, and therefore threaten the very existence of the Long Man for future generations. Almost every year the figure suffers from some kind of vandalism. We feel that as people who love this Sussex figure, he should be protected. We at no point said that we, as Druids, had more right to the hill than anyone else.

2) During the interview in the car park area there were many women protesters who argued their point with Trinny and Suzanna. At no point during the show were these women shown. Only men were shown arguing, backing up their claim that they were empowering women, yet at the same time they were ignoring the views, in fact the very existence, of the female protesters present.

3) Off the record, after the encounter in the car park, Suzanna approached myself and another protester and said that she ‘had not idea that this would have been a problem, and that if it was up to her alone, she would call it off, but she couldn’t because so much money had gone into it.’

4) As the 100+ people walked up to the hill figure we had printed A5 leaflets explaining our case clearly so that they could be fully informed about the fragility of the site. They had all been instructed not to take our leaflets. Another point not presented in the show.

5) Only two people present were members of Woden’s Folk, and it was these people who were shown shouting abuse at the women. The Druid protesters were on the hill in the distance.

6) As the day came to a close both myself and another protester were asked to sign a form allowing ITV to show us on the program. We both refused, saying that this had not been about getting on the TV. However, after the Woden’s folk had signed, we felt that we should also sign the release form so that another approach to protest could be aired on the show.

7) After the show, the Sussex Past, who own the Long Man and had given permission for the stunt to go ahead issued this apology:

‘The Sussex Archaeological Society would like to apologise to representatives of the Pagan Community, or any other individual or groups, who might have been offended by recent television filming on the Long Man of Wilmington. It was not the Society’s intention to cause offence. The Society is proud of its curation of the Long Man. In future the Society will consult representatives of the Pagan Community and other interested parties before sanctioning any significant activities.
John Manley, CEO, Sussex Archaeological Society
July 16th 2007.’

Another point not mentioned on the show.

8 ) The Secretary of State gave this reply to one of the Druid protesters:

“Following my letter to you of 22 August, English Heritage wrote to (name) concerning the potential impact on the monument of the filming and associated activities. English Heritage also set out why it believes that there are insufficient grounds for a prosecution to take place under the terms of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. I enclose a copy of this letter for your information.

I understand that the production team involved in the making of the programme have already been informed that they should have obtained prior Scheduled Monument Consent. However, I agree that all concerned should be left in no doubt about their responsibilities in respect of our archaeological heritage. I have therefore asked English Heritage to write to ITV to help avoid a repetition of these events in the future.

Ensuring that the heritage protection system is accessible and inclusive, while providing an appropriate degree of protection to sites such as The Long Man of Wilmington and the Cerne Abbas Giant, is one of the core themes of the reform programme set out by Government earlier this year in Heritage Protection for the 21st Century. We are currently considering responses to this paper with the aim of publishing a draft Bill in the next session.”

This can only be seen as a successful result in the fight to protect our ancient monuments.

Here is the video we made on the day:

And another showing events on day one:

It’s my hope that we are wrong, and that the hill figure will not suffer more erosion due to the showing of this program, but already we have seen an increase in the people crossing the fence. Only time will tell. But I, for one, now want the whole sorry mess finished with.