Yesterday was my birthday. I am 65.
When I was growing up, 65 was the sunset of one’s career and the onset of blissful retirement. Nowadays people are living longer and coupled with a declining birth rate, there are fewer working people to financially support the old and state pensions are being relentlessly pushed back to age 67 and beyond. Final salary pension schemes are now almost exclusively confined to the public sector and private pensions are usually not sufficient to maintain a lifestyle of any quality. People keep on working.
I have neither the funds nor the inclination to retire - I love what I do - and begs the question, can you ever retire as an artist?
This perhaps will be the subject of a future article, but last week Suzy (my wife, musical partner and co-author of this publication) and I decided that we should look at going down to working four days a week - when I am 95.
Before we continue to the core of the article, we need to take a sidestep and talk about lists…
Lists are my friend
I love lists.
We have all been there. Waking up at three in the morning, bolt upright with an idea, song, or something that you have forgotten to do and have two alternatives: lie there, restless, thinking that if you go back to sleep it will be forgotten forever, or write it down and get it out of your head.
The Moleskin notebook I used to keep on the bedside table has been replaced by an iPhone and regardless of the technology, the ability to reach over and record the thought releases me from the fear of forgetting and allows me to sleep.
Lists clear my brain. Lists are my friend.
But of course, lists are a two-edged sword and can - in my case, always - result in a nasty build-up of stuff that you really don’t want to do.
Some are quick to complete but horrible to do and some require more thought and take forever.
As my birthday is so early in January, for me the festive season is always elongated and during the periods not dominated by gluttony and stupor, I usually tackle all the shit that has been piling up in my ToDoButNeedToPutOffForAsLongAsPossible list. This year has been no exception.
Grasping the nettle
The advent of Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, with its subsequent fallout, precipitated action on some of the list entries which centred around abandoning BigTech and reestablishing control of our own Intellectual Property.
Suzy and I have been very successful in retaining the copyright and publishing of our music, but social media is a totally different ballgame.
We have accounts everywhere and most artists like us, feel the need to pump out the PR, but as we all know in the algorithmic world of Facebook and Twitter et al, only a tiny fraction of content is seen by the people to whom it is directed.
Goodbye, Zuckerberg and Musk. Hello Mastodon and Substack!
It’s a major decision to stop feeding the monster, but we embraced the concept of realigning our public profiles by moving our microblogs to our own Mastodon instance, beefing up our website, growing our mailing list and publishing our thoughts here.
Of course, this shift impacts upon the distribution of our music, physical artwork and video, but I will deal with this huge can of very wriggly worms in the next article.
Moving individual website blogs to a joint publication was always going to be a nightmare but we managed to mellifluously migrate some of our archive material into this publication, but there is one issue that has been around for some time.
I have been writing articles for twenty years and most are archived in various historic Content Management Systems which will be a pain in the arse to restore.
The question is, do I delve back and restore the past and if so, why?
Is it just a self-aggrandisement to maintain a legacy or is there important stuff in there that would be of interest and benefit to others?
I do remember writing a piece on the Pope at the time - Benedict XVI aka Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger - called ‘Smiling Killer’, citing him as a murdering bastard for condemning the use of condoms in Africa at the height of the AIDS epidemic.
This one certainly needs to be resurrected and in doing so have perhaps answered my own question. I will have a quick look under the cyber bed to see if there are any pearls of wisdom to unearth. Of course, if I do, you will be the first to know.