Never in my wildest dreams, last year, did I ever imagine that I'd go from this... to this. Seán has strengthened me. ARM Circle has changed me. My friends have given me hope. And for all this and more, I am eternally grateful. Deo gratias. Thank you all.
I'd been scared during the run-up to the results because, in my mind, so many of the tracks were strong contenders for the top spots. I think it shows how far we've come in this competition, since its inception.
To me, back in 2017, the remake of MioHomu was what I considered my magnum opus. I was so proud of it that I never thought I'd surpass it. Finishing this made me feel that I'd surpassed MioHomu, and even if I didn't place, I'd at least draw comfort from having baffled myself and proven myself wrong.
Thanks for all the support and votes of confidence you've given me. All of you. Thank you.
I want to talk about a fair few different settings.
The first picture was at an open mic at The Ferret, a pub in Preston known for its music scene, during the Preston Jazz Festival that took place over the course of a month. The image is a month old, and here, I posed for a photo with my favourite drum before playing a couple numbers with my friend and bandmate Greg Slater, out of our band The Just Numbers. I also had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Aziz Ibrahim, out of Simply Red and the Stone Roses, to name a few. I drummed to his guitar.
The second image was during intermission time, shortly before we at The Just Numbers were to start playing again. I don't take good photos.
The third was at Soundskills; I'd periodically shared images from there but this took place in the middle of a jam.
The fourth, the most recent one, was of me reprising organ duty. After six years of not having played the organ at nearly any Mass, I now do this on a regular basis. This was at a Confirmation, with the bishop of Lancaster in attendance.
Now why am I sharing these disparate images, you ask? This is a cross-section of my life these days. While I still am constrained, due to circumstances on which I won't elaborate, to do things strictly nonprofit, I still insist on playing with and for people, and it often brings me joy, helps lift up my soul, and keeps my head out of otherwise dark places. The people listening to and singing with me seem to derive joy from it, and I'm glad about that.
Composition still hasn't taken a back seat, as there are ideas coursing through my veins, but I do a little less of it just to be sure I'm not tired from it all. Stormfall took a lot out of me and I still feel like I'm trying to recover. But even with all this, I want to — I shall — keep pressing on.