ALAN FREW

Musician. Author. Speaker.

Dear Canada Blog #5 February 28th 2018.

Hello Dear Canada. I am afraid I am feeling a tiny bit “under the weather “ today. A little achy and “chesty.” I have taken some remedies including oregano oil ( a magic potion) and vitamin C and I went down for an early morning steam.

 

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Now, how many times in all of my years of doing this have I dragged my ass up there unwell and still kicked it? Most likely hundreds. Let’s face it though, I know my voice is strong, always has been. I trust it. I also trust that the only thing that can ever knock me out the game is phlegm stuck to my vocal cords. No headache, tummy ache, back-ache or Patriots’-losing-the-Super-Bowl-ache, will EVER keep me off the stage but sticky guck on my cords can. Soooooo positive thinking and remedies, water and resting as best I can ( although this was a travel day to Nanaimo), these are the things that will get me through.

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The drive to Nanaimo was pretty miserable, filled with heavy rain and high winds. How can I best describe it? Oh yes, “ Like summer In Glasgow!”

I have started the Netflix Series “Peaky Blinders” about a violent criminal gang based in Birmingham, England,during the Victorian era. Unfortunately I can relate all to well to the trials and hardships of such a life, for I was born and raised in ‘Coatbridge,’ Scotland.😳😱😱

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Now Glasgow’s reputation for being “tough” is well-known throughout the world and rightly so, for it is indeed a rough-and-tumble place. But along with its metal, Glasgow has within it, a heart. It has humour and sense of culture and artistry. Coatbridge on the other hand is an entirely different beast. Coatbridge was so rampantly wild when I was a lad, people from Glasgow, tough as they are, just didn’t come in. To give you a perspective, I often tell Canadians who are familiar with the city of Kingston, Ontario, “If Glasgow was Kingston, then Coatbridge would be the penitentiary .....with all the cells wide open!!! Now for those of you who no nothing about Kingston or the old infamous,Kingston, “Pen,” look at it another way.

If Glasgow were a giant ass........then Coatbridge would be the red hot, itchy, hemorrhoid that the rest of the ass wants nothing to do with.

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The town of Coatbridge was vividly described by Robert Baird in 1845 thusly; “There is no worse place out of hell than that neighbourhood.”

George Orwell’s book ‘The Road To Wigan Pier’ was illustrated by a photograph of homes in the Rosehall area of Coatbridge, shedding light on the massive unemployment, appalling housing conditions and some of the worst overcrowding in Scotland. In recent years the town has been dubbed the 'most dismal in Scotland. The violence level, looking back on it, was nothing short of horrific. Coming to Canada as a 16yr old, undoubtedly saved my life and I am ever grateful for that Dear Canada. 

But despite all its failings, Coatbridge helped mould me. It helped create my character. It created my drive and my passion to fight and to succeed. I learned another very valuable lesson in that scary, little, hell-hole. Not only did I learn to fight for myself and all I believe in, I learned also, early on, that there were always going to be those who for whatever the reason may be, are unable or incapable of fighting back for themselves and they are in need of our help. And so it is incumbent upon us to fight along side them or indeed, for them, and THAT is something that being raised in a town known pretty much as “hell” taught me.

Meanwhile back in the car ride from Sidney to Nanaimo, I got my iPad out, got my headphones on, set up the next episode of Peaky Blinders and immediately ........fell asleep.

Upon arrival I spent the next few hours resting in my room while also filling my bathroom with steam and standing in there and warming my voice up ( a ritual I have had for years). I do indeed have phlegm building up in my chest and throat and I am now writing this to you in real time just prior to going on. It’s strange that even I do not know what the outcome is going to be.🤞🤞

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Here we are in the dressing room and I am ready as I will ever be to find out if this voice is gonna belt it out. Johnny is now singing the song we wrote together, ‘Fire It Up,’ which is our cue to get side stage.

 ”YEAH BABY!!!"

Well, we pulled it off. The voice came through for me. By my own personal standards I felt rough and not 100%. I made a little glitch mistake in Animal Heart but recovered fast. Of course no one is harder on me than I am on myself, so with that in mind, I will give myself a pass mark, a pat on the back, and get to bed.

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Since we are on a different and independent travel schedule from Johnny and his gang, we have decided to stay in this hotel in Nanaimo and just travel the hour to Duncan tomorrow and hour back tomorrow night after the show, as opposed to switching hotels.

So there you have it. Another one down. I am In bed now.

Goodnight Dear Canada.

See you tomorrow

 

                                                      ~Alan