The Lockdown Interview

As we prepare to resume our social lives after an 18-months enforced absence, Ralph offered a few thoughts on the COVID-19 lockdown and his preparations to get back on the road this autumn.

How’ve you been keeping generally, Ralph?

Over all I feel lucky but that is not to say that I haven’t experienced difficulty in the last two years. Aside from personal and family health issues, I am absolutely convinced that we have one of the worst governments I have ever experienced. Their cronyism and self seeking ambitions, along with a complete demagnetising of any moral compass, is disgraceful and shameful. After the heroism and stress demonstrated by the noble NHS workers, to offer them a 1% pay rise is derisory, and only demonstrates that these privileged elite regard any or all in the caring professions as an alien life form. The fact that they were elected by such an overwhelming majority makes me feel at odds with my fellow countrymen, and I am unhappy about my feeling of alienation. It would be easy to blame the Labour Party - and we all know there is much to do there to set matters right internally - but it's as if the poison seeds of the Thatcher years have blossomed into a country whose attitudes bewilder me and make me angry and frustrated.

How have you coped with the lockdown?

I have coped well with the lockdown in the main. My London family are close by. I have never been bored, ever. I have played piano until it frustrates me. Then I pick up the guitar. I am writing, but not songs. I am investigating all my songs, and explaining motivation and intentions of their origins, which may one day be published. I am watching TV, almost entirely news programmes. Lately I have become a regular again at a local pub where I read late night emails and observe others, as often I am the oldest bloke in there. I am in touch with my long distance family by smart phone, and two of my grandsons have turned 21 already!

Have you managed to stay ‘in tune’?

I have recently discovered the almost forgotten joys of my 'Harmony Sovereign' guitar. My original was lost but I have replaced it with one of a similar age. This model guitar fed me and inspired me on my journey through Europe in the '60s, and I used one to busk in Paris where I met Nanna. I recorded with my original on ‘Louise' and 'Sleepy Time Blues' on Eight Frames a Second. I used my 'new' Harmony on 'Riptide' with Wizz Jones.

A glance backwards - will the 'Loyal' Albert Hall and 75th birthday Festival Hall recordings be released?

No plans to release RAH and RFH recordings at present.

Looking forwards - preparing for being on the road again.

I am currently in rehearsal for my autumn dates. I plan to be seated for some of the shows. One is in much more control when nursing the guitar as opposed to standing where the instrument is inclined to slip and wander. I am looking so much forward to my Autumn Day Returns. I am ticking off the days until my first date at Cadogan Hall, Chelsea - and Fulham are top of their league as I write!

See you somewhere down the road…

Thanks Ralph. Good luck with the road. Take it easy.

John Beresford
September 2021

With thanks to Ralph for sharing his time and his thoughts.
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