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Now is the time to perform solo

Derek Allan (Photograph by David Gerrard)
Derek Allan (Photograph by David Gerrard)

Northumberland musician Derek Allan continues his weekly diary.

December 14

The test match being on means I sleep for five hours whenever the day’s play ends. Today, it was around 10am. It makes no difference to the life we live as I work nights anyway.

I started reading Chimes by Charles Dickens and I cannot help imagining him in the days of old, having nothing to do other than write.

I would out-write most writers if I were not a musician and running so much of my life in the music business. I would love to write every day again, but as we all know, life is quick.

It was great at Northumberland County trials in Newcastle. Ellie has loved it and we have an email to join the team in the final trial in January so we will see what we have to do next.

The Bar Loco gig was right after the trials. Vintage played and The Tinny Bennett band. It was another nice night and there are six more bookings there for next year. I will play one for sure.

December 15

I love being at The Barrels Ale House in Berwick. It’s always a great night for We Steal Flyers, seeing our friends, Mr and Mrs Pitcher again, Ian and so on.

Nice gigs in nice places with nice people, the best days.

December 16

Here it is, finally, my first proper solo gig since the birth of We Steal Flyers.

I played almost 150 solo gigs before I was in the duo. I loved it then, but hated playing guitar as I had no time to learn it.

We got there early to set up, as always, Ellie and Rebecca on the door, with Melanie doing the sound. We are a great team and here for music and people.

Hassle started off, then I followed, and I loved every second of it.

By the time midnight came and people had seen on social media that I was playing solo I had seven different countries and many venues asking me to play. I am always asked to play on my own, but knew it wasn’t the time – it is now.

Matt Dunbar and Melissa Rose followed. It was a great night of music and friendship at The Chillingham Arms in Heaton.

December 17

It was the last WSFlyers’ gig before Santa, a 3pm start.

Shaggy has been ill for some time now and is struggling to sing, but this was made harder when my voice went too and the illness finally took over us on the last gig for a while.

It’s always a great feeling knowing there are days off.

Back home and I can feel my head calming down. I have had another year of secretly suffering from anxiety and sadness attacks, or whatever they are called.

I will never give up, but the warmth inside is not quite right.

The future needs us, it is important to us all. The future is the past for so many people.

December 18

It is sad that the schools keep our children right up until to Christmas.

We wanted to do even more, but the hours are taken up at school.

We have to get to as many village shops as we can and feel the December magic.

We like to support these magical, wonderful places and buy nice things.

We went to see my sister Emma for her birthday.

Then we went to see Roy Wood at The Sage. It was an amazing gig.

I have played three shows with Roy. He turns 70 next year and is still an amazing performer.

I wish everyone that loved I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day went to see him too. It really is an amazing night.

And Ellie and Rebecca loved him too.