Scattered and Swinging

As the first snow hit Freiburg, I felt that Pegasus was feeling the pinch. In a valiant effort to take a tight corner, a lack of grip saw Pegasus and his owner take their first tumble.

A couple of days later, he had lost the ability to stop. There were a few scary times getting to that point but he was all the better after some new break pads.

Sometimes, I wish life was as simple as putting on some new breaks. But then I think I would miss all the prevailing chaos. And that wouldn’t be much fun at all.

My last three weeks in Freiburg has been full of joyful skittishness
, which all started with four wonderful days in Napoli. There was a city only an hour away by plane but a completely different world to the order of Germany. A city that celebrates it’s people, food (even if I did eat two pizzas a day) and with a love of life.

I was struck by the embrace of of curly hair, the streets filled at 2AM and the healthy disregard for sleep. With the best possible company – life was abuzz in the city of Pompeii Red.

Within an hour of being back in Freiburg it was full throttle by my normal standards. There was a band practice, a great evening of Swing dancing and an Irish jig and pub dinner to follow.

In this musical window, I’ve bee free range and life has been frenetic. Despite some gloomy weather and a soul destroying trip to IKEA – days have been full of improvisation. With my good friend Lucy in Freiburg for the second week, a world of pizza eating and mini adventures opened up.

A massive highlight was doing a border run to Strasbourg which ended at 3AM with a phenomenal dance and band.

Amidst all of this and for the first time in a good stint, I managed to be a stereotypical student. My normal methodical and long ranging approach was replaced with hyperdermic study to fit everything in.

In these last few weeks, even exams were fun. The joys of sample size calculations happily cohabitated with the melody of Mack the Knife. I may have started whistling during the exam.

Music was everywhere. Within a week of Strasbourg – it was my turn to hit the stage. The first gig was with the Swing-Glorious Mustards. Donned in our yellow bow ties, we pumped out a cracking set. Playing Bei Mir Bist Du Schön – this time in its home country, never felt so right. I managed a few growls on the liquorice stick with ‘Beginning to See the Light’ and I was buzzing along.

Within the week that followed, my Mum arrived which meant Glühwein, home cooked meals and all round good times. It was fun playing tour guide in my new city.

All of this was motoring at a full head of steam as our little group with a big heart ’42 Songs’ was gearing up for a night of 14 super tunes at Corosol. With no microphone, we rode the energy coming from the floor to play with a punch that was new to all of us. By the time I had crossed the Sunny Side of the Street I was drenched in sweat. That was a musical first from playing.

There were late night pastas, early morning exams and even a day of ‘skiing’ thrown into the mix. It all culminated in the biggest gig I’ve ever played in (and 42 songs) 100 people for an end of year Christmas swing event!

Whether it was being the single horn or having to MC in German it was surreal, scintillating and scary.

After playing Benny Goodman’s a Smooth One as a beautiful loosener, the first set flew by in a blur which couldn’t be blamed on the gin and tonic. The gig was probably the closest I’ve come to the feeling of surfing.

It was just a matter of riding each solo, each melody and just letting the music carry you. Even if you got dumped by a wave every now and then.

There are parts of that second set I can’t remember. We just had to give it everything. For every song it was a massive lift to create a danceable space where people could swing out. It was intense, rising and there was no space for respite with the need to play two solos and sing.

When we stepped off stage, I barely knew where I was. Speaking my dodgy German and happily wrecked.

My run of weeks took me into a musical world that I didn’t know I would have the privilege of entering. A world that only opened up when structure was torn down. Or at least, a new one created.

Life can be scattered and swinging and that’s a good place to finish the year and start the next.

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