Natalies Newsletter October 2002
  Dear Friends:

Again and again I am late with the news! This time, I really have an excuse-- moving into the new 'old' house still full of builders and in July, in a monsoon with water and mud everywhere. But all the agro is counter-balanced with the sheer excitement of this glorious new home. More about that later.

In the meantime, the best news for all of you out there is that Roger, totally rested and 'restless' started writing. After talking to the folks at BMG, it was decided to record another album in German, with a short tour of Germany and Austria in 2003. There have been so many inquiries and requests that he couldn't refuse. He has promised he won't say the word "retired" or "retiring" again -- "just cutting back." He was completely exhausted at the end of the last tour, and did not shake off the influenza he contracted in January for nearly ten weeks, but like all really creative people, as soon as he started to get better he was storming around, but instead of on-stage it was in the new house. Now he wants to get back to see all of you again -- as he said-- that was first real rest he has had in 40 years.

40 years! In July this year, he realized it was all those years ago, in 1962, that he first did a "summer season" in Portrush, Northern Ireland after completing his degree studies at BangorUniveristy. There are a wealth of memories, and it really made me think of doing a follow-up to Roger's book (So Far, So Good) and up-date what has happened since 1982. This year alone has been packed with personal joy - Emily and Stewart had a beautiful bouncing baby boy on the 4th of July (not a date we are likely to forget!). He is named Miles Henry (already he is known as MILO!) and his brother Jamie is thrilled. We were all a little worried that after seven years of being an only child h e would be a bit jealous, but not after all.

So that brings the grandchildren tally to 5 - Rebecca, 12, Jamie, 7, Imogene, 3, Alistar, 10 months. And now little Milo, 3 months. To add to that Guy and Mette got officially engaged! With a wedding planned in Jutland sometime in the summer of 2004 when she has qualified as a Forensic psychologist. We will have a big party here in Ireland as well, particularly as that August will see our 40th Anniversary -- so we think we had better have a quiet 2003 to conserve our engergies! Guy and Mette's engagement was truly romantic. They has come over for the summer holidays, with Lauren, Doc and the children, especially for the Brian Boru Millennium Festival (He was the O'Brien illustrious ancestor who became King of all Ireland -- a thousand years ago--good reason to celebrate). So there was a clan gathering around Limerick and other sites in Clare where "deeds" where done, his birthplace etc. We had arranged for Guy and Mette to spend one night at Dromoland Castle (in my youth, a family home to my cousins, but now a fabulous hotel). It was a belated Birthday gift and congratulations for her degree results. Guy, a real conservative and traditionalist in matters of love, had already asked father's permission, got down on one knee and held out a ring -- she couldn't believe it! Although, so many of the young, their basic outlook is very free thinking, she and Guy really believe in the idea and importance of marriage. Gosh, that sounds so old fashioned --shows my age! Anyway, we are delighted and Mette and all the other members of the family get on so well.

However, before all these mid-summer celebrations came into being, there was one superb celebration in Savannah, Georgia, U.S. of A., when Alex quietly called us in the middle of May, just while we were planning our trip out there for his graduation for his B.A. degree. Very quietly, he has told us he had been awarded Salutatorian with straight As in every subject from Art history to Maths, but most especially his actual painting. He was also awarded a scholarship for his Master's degree. We were completely knocked out -- we knew he was working extremely hard and that his marks were good but unlike regular school, parents don't get semester reports, so it came as a complete surprise and I am ashamed to say, a huge amount of parental pride.

SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) is a fantastic college, in a beautiful city, Alex did all the research into their courses, before he applied, and as he said, it was the best decision of his life. The major painting he did for the exhibition, was later accepted for a show in a London art gallery in August, which was an extra credit for his achievements. That painting is now hanging in pride of place on Guy's little house (when I tell you that the painting measures something like 7 feet by 5 feet you will understand that is takes up much of one whole wall.).

The actual Degree celebrations started with a Cabaret dinner hosted by College President Wallace, the whole driving force behind so much of the college's exciting and ongoing developments. The theatre studies students entertained us with a superb precise rendition of the musical "Cabaret". The following day the formal ceremony for the top student awards and those award winners' individual speeches took place. Alex was beside himself with nerves at having to make a speech -- unlike Roger and Jessica he takes after me, in as much as he hates being in the "limelight" but I have to tell you I wept with pride after he finished -- he was so eloquent and charming ( I know-- we are just a little biased!).

The following day, with great Graduation ceremony took place. Roger and I had never been to an American Graduation so it was quite an eye-opener -- unbelievable planning, co-ordination and choreography-- beautiful -- and a just celebration for all the hard work the students put into their achievements. Also for all the teachers and staff in all ways of helping the young people towards their goals and dreams. Roger and I send our thanks and congratulations to all at SCAD for how they have helped our son in finding his way towards his ambitions and aiding him in finding his artistic direction.

That evening we had a marvelous dinner with Jen's parents, grandparents (it was their 50th Wedding anniversary -- another truly solid reason for celebration) and all her brothers. There will be further celebrations this Autumn as Jen gets her degree in Fine Arts as well. Unfortunately she cannot find the Masters courses she wants in Savannah so she may well have to continue her studies in Gainsville Florida. They are the only members of the family who not seen this new house yet, but in a few weeks they will be here with us.

So this Christmas, we will number 17 around the table in the new house, which, I am sure you will all agree, is the greatest blessing we could wish for. Hopefully the last of the teething problems will be sorted and the house will be fully habitable, at the moment there are still piles of boxes and furniture being moved around from room to room as the decoration is finally finished or re-done -- when they find they have papered over the electric points etc., or wired up the thermostats back to front for the heating! We have has quite a few hiccoughs, but when we consider just how much has gone into the rebuilding, it is amazing how "together" it actually is. Let's hope I am saying that after the Christmas holidays, with all the family here.

Luckily we have had six weeks of dry weather so that the mud hole that surrounded the house like an ancient moat, is now neatly harrowed and seeded, and paving stones marking the boundaries of the planned gardens. Even my old Victorian greenhouse is well on the way to being rebuild, but with the modern addition of "daylight" lighting to enable us to grow salads and herbs all year long. Next year I definitely will be spending most of my time on my hands and knees, grubbing around, planting hundreds of bulbs and young trees. The first item that was completed in the old orchard was a large fun treehouse for the little ones, which was a source of enormous activity during the August visits. I will probably have to put in heating for it, for the Christmas visits!

Well enough of the family and house news -- apart from the fact that Jessica is now radio and presenting, as well as TV, and we hope, working hard on her book. She is coming over in late October at the same time as Emily, Stewart and the little lads come to visit, and after Roger gets back from Germany where he will be doing several Television shows for our German speaking friends to hear the new German album called "MEHR DENN JE" which will be released on the 21st of October.

The Television shows that are already planned are "Herbstfest der Volksmusik" on the 19th of October -- "Musik zim Gluck" on November 11th, and "Melodien fur Millionen" of the 24th November. There will be masses of radio and press promotion. The tour is planned for April - May 2003, and all this information will be listed on the website as of October 20, 2002.

Unfortunately as far as the English language albums are concerned, there are no plans for a new album in the foreseeable future, but I know that "TIME LIFE" are planning a re-compilation of tracks on a double album, which may contain many of your missing or worn out tracks! If I get the information of release etc. I will get it posted too, on the website. Your letters are so great and Roger and I sit and read them, wishing we could reply to each individually, but it would be a physical and logical impossibility. So many of you are searching for old albums and old titles. We can't help you, I'm afraid. Many of the titles will be found on BMG and Polygram compilations, but you will have to search their websites. Lyrics or permissions to use lyrics, written by Roger will have to come from BMG Publishing in London.

In the meantime Roger is writing even more material and hopefully we will manage to get a new album out in the not too distant future. The workman are banging and crashing (and creating even more dust) in what will be Roger's studio, as I write. However, with any luck, by the time he comes home from Germany, will have made his "space" warm and welcoming, and, hopefully, inspired for new and even better Roger songs! Our love to you all, and thank you for your wonderful support.

Regards, Natalie and Roger

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