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Sarah stands on the brink, arms open wide as if to let the wind carry her away. She’s come to the high cliffs to be alone, to face the truth about her life, to work out what to do. Her lover is searching, desperate to find her before it is too late. But Sarah doesn’t want to be found. Not yet. Not by him.

And someone else is also seeking answers up here where the seabirds soar – a man known only as the Keeper, living in an old lighthouse right on the cusp of a four-hundred-foot drop. He is all too aware that sometimes love takes you to the edge . . .

This is the blurb for my debut novel The Light Keeper, just published by Marylebone House. More details at www.thelightkeeper.org. Sign up now for exclusive preview chapters and the chance to win a night at the Belle Tout lighthouse.

Now there’s an album …

I’ve been banging on about The Light Keeper novel for a while – and obviously I would still very much like you to get a copy, spend time in that world where the seabirds soar and fall in love with the characters – but now I’d like to mention something else. There’s an album. A collection of songs, written by myself and the musician David Perry in response to the story and the characters of Sarah, Jack and Gabe, the Keeper. This summer we slipped into the Saffron Lounge studio, run by our mighty friend and producer Bruce Pont within walking distance of the cliffs where the story happens, to record the songs as live, playing and singing together. Bruce added voice, drums and keys and Phoene Cave, a very fine singer, gave us backing vocals. Then I recorded extracts from the novel to set up each song. The result is The Light Keeper by The Light Keepers (see what we did there?) and it’s available now on iTunes, Spotify and all the usual streaming services as well as for direct download here. What does it sound like? The best way to tell you is to play you something, so here below is Holding Out For More, a song about the love between the Keeper and his partner Rí in their early days. Hope you like it. Let me know. We’ll be launching the album in the cinema of the Towner, a world class gallery, on Thursday December 5 at 7.30pm. Tickets are available here. The performance will feature readings, the stories behind the novel and the songs as well as images from visual artists who have responded to the same stunning landscape. See you there, if you can make it. If not, settle down, choose your player and have a listen to The Light Keeper. Thanks.

Holding Out For More by The Light Keepers
The Light Keepers performing in the Lantern Room of the Belle Tout lighthouse.

Singing in the room where it happens …

This isn’t a tribute to Hamilton, although that is an astonishing piece of work. Wonderful. No, this is about the privilege of telling a story in the room where the action takes place, and singing songs inspired by that story there too. The video is below, have a watch. When I started out writing The Light Keeper a long time ago, I was living in a new town by the sea, trying to get used to it all and looking for friends. I walked the landscape around Belle Tout, Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters with an open mind and heart, looking for a way to respond to it as I had the landscape of the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry for the book Hungry for Home. I was hungry for home when we came to live here; hungry for a place to settle, raise kids and belong. So what a joy to be able to go up into the Lantern Room of the Belle Tout lighthouse and tell stories and sing songs from The Light Keeper, which opens and closes with scenes in that very room. The views are breathtaking, genuinely, as you will see during this performance filmed by Neil MacInnes. The song is Come Way, written by myself and David Perry, who is on guitar and vocals, with Bruce Pont and Phoene Cave also singing. Thank you to David Shaw, the lighthouse owner, for making it possible and for the manager Ian Noall for hosting us with a small audience. The great news is that we are hoping to do it again in the Spring, and there will be another chance to win tickets. In the meantime, you can come and hear the stories and songs at the National Trust Cafe at Birling Gap this Saturday at 5pm. This will also be very special, as it is another place where the action of the story happens and it too is right on the edge of the cliff. Tickets are available here. Get yours now because there aren’t many left. But also have a look at this, for a taste of what you will hear.

“Beneath the sheets of paper lies my truth …”

Seven songs found or re-found in the last seven days, just for fun and the sake of it. This latest weekly list is a little more mellow than the last, or melancholy if you prefer. I do. The lonesome note. A wonderful song about Samson; the aching and longing of a tune you may have heard on Wallander; Luke Sital-Singh’s brand new cover of a Travis banger; Michael Stipe and 1 Giant Leap listening to the silence; Cornershop in a new light; Buddy Rich’s 12-year-old daughter stepping up to the mic for the first time and Sheila Chandra’s chilling take on a very old song. Love is a killing thing, indeed. (That’s Hedy Lamarr in Samson and Delilah by the way. She was also a brilliant inventor who helped create the technology behind mobile phones. Fact.)

Have a listen …

My friend George Luke has a show on Chiltern Voice, playing music from around the world on a Sunday night. It’s really fantastic. You can listen to it here. Inspired by that, for the love of music and the fun of it, I’ve started putting together a weekly playlist of seven songs I’ve found (or re-found) in the last seven days. Here’s this week’s playlist featuring a bit of Doors at the disco, a Welsh language singer making a samba record with musicians in Rio, Afrobeat master Tony Allen going all James Bond followed by a track he made with Fela Kuti and the great drummer Ginger Baker, who died today; then there’s a song about love making you want to blow up like an atom bomb, followed by a real (as far as I know) recording of a radio advertisement from the Fifties, telling American kids what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. Duck and cover. That one’s pretty disturbing. Anyway, here it is. Any suggestions for next week? Please do comment and share.

Should the water be up to the windows?

No, of course not. But there I was, singing a song on board a boat on the Thames when I saw the water was undoubtedly, unnervingly, half way up the glass. People were looking worried. They were looking for the exits. I was worried. Wouldn’t you have been? Look at it …

Thanks to Helen Daniels for the picture. This was an alarmingly literal response by the river to the words of the song: “Let your love roll down, like the wave turn.”

We were on the Tamesis Dock, a barge venue moored opposite the House of Parliament, on the day of one of those big crisis votes. No metaphors there about a sinking ship, oh no. All I could think of was to keep singing, with The Light Keepers, the band we formed after David Perry and I wrote a set of songs in response to the novel. Anyway, we didn’t drown. The windows held fast. Stories were told, drink was taken. Fun was had.

There are more events coming up, could you get to one of them? It would be good to see you there.

I promised free stuff, so I’m giving away a pair of tickets to each one, to anyone who can show they have reviewed the book on Amazon, GoodReads or anywhere else. I’ll pick the winners in a week’s time, so you’ve got until then to stick something up somewhere and get in touch. With a bit of luck we’ll stay dry …

Retford, Saturday October 12: Pies Peas and Performance with Paul Cookson

Preston, Friday October 18: The Larder

Salford, October 19: Sacred Trinity

Birling Gap, Saturday November 9: National Trust centre at one of the actual locations of the story.

Eastbourne, Thursday December 5: performance in collaboration with visual artists and album launch at the Towner gallery.

See you there!