Jon & Jasmine's Story
For about a month the song I wrote for Kim was absolutely everything. It let so many emotions out. I talked to people I wouldn’t normally have spoken to about it because now you’re talking about the song and not Kim going.
I was working in a shop back in Sussex. Kim came in as a customer and I got her to come back in by selling her some stuff she didn’t need, she ticked all my boxes. When I met her she had horses, horses absolutely ruled her life. At that point her Mum and Dad had a little small holding and were moving out to a place with no land and everything had to go, and Kim just drew a line underneath it and she never looked back. She was someone who always looked to tomorrow. She never looked back over her shoulder and was never sad about anything. She was the most practical person, she’d knock up by hand, through a hand mixer, six or seven tons of concrete in a day then she’d put her smart togs on in the evening and look a million dollars. A really, really great person to be with. We fitted together well.
Kim went downhill really quickly and she went in to the hospice originally, just for pain relief. The hospice went from being the scariest word you could hear in the world, to being something that was just safe. Safe is the word that you most feel.
Kim’s cancer went to her brain and she ended up in the hospital for a while. It never stops there, all night and all day, it just never stops. When we went back to the hospice it was like getting back to the safest and most peaceful place you can imagine.
The other big thing for me was that Jasmine could go to the hospice so we could be a family in Kim’s room, and having the dog there makes such a tremendous amount of difference.
Now Jasmine gets me out and about. It seems a pain because you do have to get up in the morning and you do have to let her out. I didn’t want to but it’s really strange, gradually you go down to the beach and there comes a day when you’re chucking a ball for her and your chuckling a little bit because of something she’s doing or something somebody else has said. Then the day comes when you’re actually laughing quite a lot and then the day arrives when you go down there and you come back and think you’ve had a bloomin’ good day today and you’ve smiled all the time. It doesn’t stick, you go backwards and forwards all the time, but Jasmine is always there.
On the 16th of November 2014 I woke in the middle of the night from a dream about a poem. My dreams are normally vague and go the same way as most peoples, forgotten by the morning, but for some reason that night, while still half asleep, I picked up my phone and recited it to the recorder app. In the morning I wasn’t sure if I’d dreamt the whole thing but there it was, recorded at 3.12am. Apart from one or two words that didn’t quite work it was exactly as it reads on the poem page of my website at www.songforkim.co.uk
It was such a strange and moving thing to happen that it got me wondering how I might put it to some use. My first thoughts were that perhaps I might raise a few pounds for Mount Edgcumbe Hospice who cared so wonderfully for Kim during her last days, maybe by framing it up and selling a copy or two. I’d been pondering on this for a while when I woke on the morning of the 22nd vaguely remembering that I’d recorded another dream during the night and there it was, 3.15am, two verses of a song!
Over the next few days I was visiting friends in Sussex (I live in North Cornwall) and the whole time I was away I was mulling over what I was meant do with a two verse song and a poem. I’d never had anything like it happen before. During the long drive back, I was listening to Ed Sheeran’s Afire Love and realised that the rhythm to that song worked perfectly with both the verses and most lines of the poem, so from then on they became one and by the time I got home I had Kim’s song in my head.
Like a lot of blokes of a certain age, I’ve fancied myself as a bit of a singer guitarist from time to time and at one point years ago, went as far as buying a microphone and a few bits and bobs which had been gathering dust since about five minutes after coming out of the Amazon box. That afternoon it seemed really important to get the whole thing recorded as best I could while it was clear in my mind so I dug everything out, battled with the software, and by half past two in the morning I had a rough and ready recording. I even copied it to a CD, I think just to see if I could remember how. I’d done what I wanted, at least now if the song went from my mind I had a record of it. But I went to bed that night thinking that the next day I would see if I could find a local studio where I could get a more polished version that might sell a few copies for the hospice. I’ve often chuckled at “artists” saying the creative process is exhausting; ‘try laying concrete blocks all day’ I’d think. That night I was as emotionally shattered as I’ve ever been. Sobbing listening to something you’ve just sung is a very strange experience. It seemed to release something in me.
My house had been on the market for a couple of weeks and I had a viewing later that day so my plan was to get up and go for a swim, find a studio and then tidy up. I slept clean through the alarm and therefore my swim, and woke to a phone call from the Estate Agents asking if my viewers could come a couple of hours earlier, so the search for a studio didn’t happen either. While I was tidying, I got to the bedroom with all my recording clutter still out and thought; ‘what the heck, I’ll leave it’. Odd, as normally for a viewing I’d have the place just so.
My couple arrived and introduced themselves as Jacquie and Jo, and as I’d done on the previous couple of viewings, to save any awkward moments, I told them right away that the reason the house was on the market was because Kim had passed away and as I wasn’t going to carry on with the B and B we’d been running, I was looking for something smaller. While they were looking round Jo noticed an ancient and unplayable old twelve string guitar in one of the rooms. That got us chatting about music in general and he mentioned he did a bit of session work and that Jacquie was “an average backing singer” at which point she pretended to thump him! I think we hit it off pretty well straight away.
When we got to the room with the signs of the previous night’s endeavours, they got curious about what I’d been doing, so I told them about the dreams and the song. I’m quite shy when it comes to my efforts on the guitar and pretty much only sing in the shower or car, but I heard myself saying, “I’ve put it on CD if you’d like to hear it?” I still don’t understand why but I know immediately I regretted it. Oh well, perhaps they’d forget.
But they didn’t. While we had a coffee Jo said how about playing your recording for us. I’d gathered from chatting that Jo’s playing was almost certainly in a different league to mine, but I’d offered so we went into the living room and they listened. All of a sudden it sounded so very amateurish, but when it had finished they were quiet for moment. It was all quite surreal. I think Jacquie was crying and Jo said something along the lines that it really resonated and if someone came into his recording studio with that he’d be thrilled.
To say they were enthusiastic about the whole song, story, fundraising thing, would be an understatement and while we finished looking round we talked about virtually nothing else. It gave me a big confidence boost. As they were leaving they said if there was anything whatsoever they could do to help get Kim’s song out there, they would be only too happy to help, just look up Jo Meacham on the web to get in contact.
Which is what I did the minute they’d gone. Not just any old session musician and definitely not an average backing singer! I know it’s a cliché but I was blown away. Here were two people who definitely knew more than a thing or two about music who really liked Kim’s song. When the estate agent rang a few days later to say that although the Meacham’s wouldn’t be buying the house, they had really enjoyed their visit and loved my music and would like to be involved, I knew they’d meant what they’d said.
Over the next few days I persevered at home trying to get a recording I was happy with, but I was struggling, it’s a bit of a steep learning curve in the digital age so I rang Jo for some advice on finding a local studio. He said it was a shame I was such a long way away as it would be great to record it at his studio and that’s how I ended up driving to Newbury to sing and play in a proper studio. It was a totally new experience and Jacquie and Jo were kindness itself. I will be for ever grateful for their generosity and enthusiasm but as it turned out, the recording we did there wasn’t to be the final one. I was so intent on singing and playing accurately that day that, although it’s a beautiful clear recording, the emotion seemed to have gone. So I set to at home to try to learn how to use all this gear I’d bought years before and the results are on my download page. It’s far from perfect but I guess there comes a time when you have to say, that’s as good as I can do at the moment. I hope you like it.
To download a copy and support Cornwall Hospice Care please visit www.songforkim.co.uk