Natalies Newsletter May 2004
 
     
   
  Dear Friends

Late again! I am not promising dates any more as I always seem to get hung up on one item or another, the weeks pass, and then I am a couple of months out of date.

Before I get into the various Whittaker happenings, I am still unable to let all of you in England have dates for a tour. Just when we thought we were set, hiccoughs appeared on the horizon for available theatres, and this is still ongoing. So all I can say, is watch the forthcoming tours box and the details will be posted as soon as anything is set in stone. It is however looking less and less likely for 2004.

The same goes for the release of ‘MOMENTS IN MY LIFE’ as we will want to present this along with details of the tour.

As far as the signed programmes is concerned please look in the special order box for these and pay very careful attention to the instructions. Our biggest problem where these are concerned is the postage and money for these 40 Year Special programme. With our friends so far flung all over the world, it would be impossible to ask for payment in the currency of each country, so we have to ask for money orders in Euros. Hope you understand and can arrange this even if you are in India, Japan, Venezuelaor wherever., Our list now spans 116 countries!!!! You can imagine the bank’s problems and the tax man’s confusion if we got rupees, Yen etc..

Now back to the fun part of the letter. What wonderful letters! I kept printing them out for Roger to read . I would love to be able to answer them all, and I will try and find a way of posting short comments or answers to questions. I am not very good at all the new fangled computer stuff!

As you will have seen from all the guest book entries, Roger had a wonderful tour of Canada, and so did the band, who had never visited Canada before. Most of the traveling was done by a huge bus, which became a ‘club house’ of hilarity, not least of all by Martin Meyers’ our keyboard aficionado, filming of all the games of backgammon, scrabble and many stops to admire the views, the most spectacular of which was the two days of traveling through the Rockies. The weather was wonderful so none of the unbelievable scenery was obscured at any time.

I joined the tour for the last two weeks, and was delighted to meet some of the many people we have heard from over decades. And, of course, I was on the bus for the last trips across western Canada. I flew into Edmonton to meet up with Brett, his wife Cheryl and adorable 5 year old Dorian. For those of you who don’t know the story, Brett came to live with us just after we got married – 40 years ago- and became part of our extended family, and Roger and I are proud to be called "grandma and Grandpa" to the little lad, along with his other grandparents. Unfortunately Dorian fell asleep after the first half of the show, and like our own children at that age, and other grandchildren, didn’t really understand the connection between the man on stage, and the guy who reads stories or buys ice-cream on outings!

In Calgary, an amazing thing happened. For ages people have been saying they are related to the O’Brien clan, which is the second largest Irish family, all over the world.(I believe the Murphys are No. 1?) So it was intriguing to get a book entitled the ‘Saddlebag Surgeon" from a gentleman, Patrick J. Brooks. I had vaguely heard of this Murrough O’Brien, but never thought too much about it, but through this book, I find out he is my direct great uncle, who left the family ‘under a cloud’ in the 1890s but went on, in very diverse ways, to become the doctor he always wanted to be in the prairies of Canada, and whats more , to become internationally famous.

As Patrick says, Murrough seems to drop out of the family history books, after failing his initial medical exams, and seems to have been blacklisted by his peers in the family. Well, I am looking into this, and discovering more and more relatives I knew nothing about! You can get in touch with Patrick on his web site

Patrick-brooks@telusplanet.net

From Calgary we then continued over the incredible Rockies, and ended up in Victoria Island BC. for the Easter weekend. I have to say that I had never visited the west before, and Roger had repeatedly told me how beautiful Victoria was, but it was beyond my wildest expectations. It is a magnificent place, and both us and the band have vowed we will be back again and again, even if it is only for holidays. The band went out whale watching and came back like small boys, chattering with excitement and wonder not only with all the wildlife they had seen, but also the boat ride itself.

When we all parted company, Roger and I stayed on for a couple of days for a ‘breather’ before returning to Toronto, and Markdale where Roger had promised the surgeon Hamilton Hall, who has repeatedly operated on Roger’s knees and back (his two Achilles heels!) that he would do a fundraising show for the new hospital.

However before he did that he had a small operation to straighten a toe that was driving him crazy with pain, and completely ruined any hope of golfing relaxation for the last three years. Typical Roger, he was out of hospital the next day, into rehearsals with Michael Hagel, our Musical Director, who had kindly stayed on to accompany Roger for this Gala evening. So foot in plaster cast, Roger went on to give the folks the best he could – it was a great evening and managed to raise $80,000 from an audience of 300 – not bad! And a very worthy cause for Markdale as there will be no hospital facilities for miles eachway from Toronto unless they can rebuild.

Now we are back home, and Roger has had a much deserved break of four weeks, the only problem being , he seems to have managed to break the plate in his toe and is back in plaster again. If that doesn’t work, he will have to have the surgery again, so no golf again this summer. It is also really busy now, with the new recordings starting next week and continuing through till the end of July. The new German album will heavily feature Roger’s own songs with German lyrics. He is obviously thrilled with the project and broken foot or not, he is doggedly preparing in his home studio.

The new English album, MOMENTS IN MY LIFE is out in Canada but I do not have final release dates for other markets. I have, however, been told it is available for order through Amazon.com.

Back to family life. The summer is rushing at us full tilt. Guy and Mette’s wedding is taking place at the end of July, and they are over this weekend, to make final plans, and hopefully approve ‘mother’s outfit’ I think it is almost more frightening being the mother of the groom, and planning long distance with the other mother-in-law, so that outfits don’t clash! A silly preoccupation, but vital for family peace. We are all so excited though, but the machinations of trying to get all the tribe together, to arrive at a similar time in Denmark is hysterical, with everybody starting off from different airports! I hope I will be able to post at least one picture on the website later this year.

Unfortunately Jessica ‘s wedding is no longer on the cards, and she is immersing herself in writing her first novel, while rushing around doing TV, voice-overs and writing a couple of TV shows herself. So she is more than busy, but vowed she will spend one weekend a month with us here, for her sanity! But as she says she is a ‘very happy bunny’ at the moment, with full career moves and a frenetic social life.

Alex will be back with us in a couple of weeks, tired out, having just completed even more exams towards his Masters of Fine Arts degree, and being asked to exhibit some more of his paintings in Los Angeles. His biggest concern at the moment, apart from salivating at the thought of home cooking again,(he has given me a menu list!) is his Best Man’s speech, at his big brother’s wedding! He gets very nervous at public speaking.

Emily, Stewart and the boys are in wonderful form. Would you believe that Milo is nearly 2. and still posting bananas into the DVD player! Jamie is really doing well at school and with golf! They will all be with us for the big 40 Anniversary party in August, and I will have to watch out for his practicing his ‘driving’ so that the greenhouses, and house windows, remain intact, such is his enthusiasm.

Lauren, Doc and the three children are also all doing well, although Doc wont be able to make it for the big ‘getogether’, as he will be working. Imogen was highly indignant when, seeing the TV advertisements for Grandpa Roger’s album, told her mother.."You never told me Grandpa was a Pop singer!...he’s cool!" Roger said that was the best compliment he has had all year.

Rebecca is now much taller than me and forging ahead in school, but suffering from the usual bugbears of being 13. As for Alistair, he is just totally ‘munchable’, with a wicked smile, and hell bent on escaping from the confines of the house and garden, giving his parents nervous breakdowns at his frequent attempts to explore the big wide world. You cant take your eyes off him, and Roger and I are already assessing the potential danger points here in Ireland for the forthcoming family gathering!

When you think of it, both Alistair and Milo represent a formidable headache for us all, and we will form teams of ‘watchers’ as they connive in their adventurous escapades that are bound to occur. Any advice anybody?

As for me, I am up around 6.0 a.m every day, working non-stop on the garden, until the office work starts at 10.0a.m then back to the garden in the afternoon. My greenhouse and vegetable garden supply all the salads, herbs, and vegetable of every description, and the Vine house is packed with peaches, apricots and figs, and I have enough tomato plants this year to start my own sauce making factory. I have already made up 6 lbs. of Arugola pesto and it is still growing faster than I can crop. Next will be the basil pesto, and - no – I don’t make my own pasta! Sorry, too fiddly for the amount I have to cook when all the family are in residence. I have also plants 30 new hardwood trees and three specimen trees as a birthday present for Roger, including a 20 foot Ginko Biloba. A mass of new climbing roses, clematis and honeysuckle keep me busy, winding and twisting the rapidly growing new growth. In a couple more years, the old walls will hopefully be a kaleidoscope of colour from May till October, and the arches covered in roses intertwined with wisteria. As you may gather, I am in my element with this new house and garden. Roger cannot believe what has been developed from what were literally sheep meadows three years ago. He always knows that if it is a dreary wet day, and I am not in the house, he can find me in the greenhouse, listening and singing along to the radio, happily fiddling around with seed trays! They say that plants like music, but my renditions of opera should be enough to wilt the strongest flower, but maybe they are not all critics – and take my age into consideration!

Well that is all the news for the moment. I will not promise when the next letter will go out, but I will try to give you an update on the wedding and our anniversary, any news of tours and records, as soon as I am able.

Our love to you all, and thanks again for all your wonderful letters.

Natalie and Roger

© copyright 2004, Tembo Productions North America, Inc. all rights reserved

 
     
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