Sunny days

Tags: Marcus Brigstocke

I’m going home in the morning. It’s been wonderful and exhilarating and beautiful but I’m ready to get back to my family now who are all of those things only much much louder.

The good news is that we’ve solved that whole pesky climate change fiasco. It turns out it was the sun. It’s heat from the sun that is causing global warming. The sunshine did it. It’s not surprising, I mean when you look at the sun you have admit it does look hot doesn’t it. In scientific terms what’s happened is that the sun has sent a lot of heat energy down to earth for many hundreds of thousands of years making what scientists refer to as ‘sunny days’ (forgive the jargon but it’s important to be accurate I think). Now plants and little creatures have absorbed these ‘sunny days’ and then, sadly but with some degree of inevitability, died with the ‘sunny day’, literally trapped within them, then they have sunk down into the earth in the form of ‘sunny day’ rich fossil fuels. These ‘sunny days’ have later been released as people have needed the ‘sunny day’ energy in the fuel in order to power all the stuff we like – hair dryers, Toyota Land Cruisers, Nintendo Wii’s, fridges, life support machines, jet boats, angle poise lamps, vibrators, DVD players, aeroplanes and whirlybirds, air-conditioning units to cool the effects of a ‘sunny day’, mobile phones, electric toothbrushes, motorised carving knifes, remote controlled cars, actual cars, car museums, Top Gear, cars and machines which can exactly replicate the browning effect of a ‘sunny day’.

I like a ‘sunny day’ as much as the next man, but it strikes me that if we force several ‘sunny days’ into one 24-hour period things are going to get… well warmer. We can’t control the actual sun – bad news, but we can easily and without too much discomfort control the amount of stored ‘sunny day’ energy we choose to release, good news. Obviously there are some people for whom it will be agony, but they are mostly old and stubborn and ridiculous and in any case they’ve had their turn, wrecked it, whinged, bellowed and accused, so now it’s up to us. Step aside you flat earth twats.

This morning we re-enacted a revised version of Milton’s Paradise Lost (he’d have been 400 this year had he lived… tragic). I was Satan. Make of that what you will. It’s a fun part and I greatly enjoyed doing it, especially tempting Eve (KT Tunstall) into eating the fruit of the forbidden tree. She’s a pushover – no wonder all humanity is bound to suffer for all eternity, banished from paradise forever if the likes Tunstall are left in charge. “Here Mrs, d’you fancy a bite of forbidden fruit?” “Yeah go on then, what’s the worst that could happen…”
Her Adam (Robyn Hitchcock) was inspired and I realised that in so many ways Adam and Eve were the Tom and Barbara (The Good Life) of the Old Testament. This observation was greatly aided by KT’s impression of Felicity Kendall.

Tonight, our last night on board, Shlomo will host a beatbox competition in which most of the passengers seem to be taking part in teams of 2. I’m with Hannah Bird, who will be making actual bird noises as I beatbox over the top. I hope we win. I like winning.

As supper wound down last night Laurie Anderson read some stories she has written. They seemed all to be based on her own meandering experiences, though I don’t care if they weren’t. You could have heard a pin drop as she was variously hilarious, sad, insightful, bright, acute, sincere, flippant and above all of these beautiful. She radiates a calm happiness and with eyes twinkling and full of amused wickedness she held us all, just for half an hour in the palm of her hand and it felt good.

Similarly Ryuichi Sakamoto played one of his compositions on the piano and the hush that gripped the room as everyone realised how much gentle, passionate control he has of his craft was incredibly uplifting. I’ve learned a fair bit about climate change since I’ve been here and exchanged some fascinating and empowering ideas and inevitably talked in alarming terms about how far we have to come but I’d be lying if I said we have not been truly spoilt by many of the people aboard who have given freely of their talent with grace and generosity. Put bluntly I like hanging out with my musical heroes.

A spontaneous and raucous disco (DJ’d by Shlomo and myself) erupted on Friday night and made the ships lounge throb and pulsate with many a floor filler until 2.30 in the morning when new visions of the Northern Lights streaking their mysterious way from the stars to somewhere just beyond the horizon meant the play list had to give way to Nick Drake singing ‘Northern Sky’ as we slid, shuffled and shivered on to the deck for one last look at what is obviously nothing less than the gateway to a parallel universe. I thought I saw Lyra and Pan at one point, but I was quite tired. The bioluminescent plankton had obviously heard the massive party classics Shlomo and I had been spinning as they were dancing with full vigour in wet psychedelic explosions of light behind the boat. The disco was excellent; I ached the next day from dancing and was floppy and useless all day, like I had no bones. Throwing shapes to various funk, soul and hip hop classics on a boat which is constantly lunging to one side or the other is as much fun as I’ve had in a while. In the right light of course it looks as if all the dancers have somehow come together in an organic act of spontaneous choreographed revelry. It’s only the fact that fewer than half are left standing that gives the game away to be honest.

In a moment I am hosting a session, which I have called ‘How to stay positive despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary’. I’m quite nervous, there are some clever people on this boat and I don’t wish to insult anyone. On top of which anyone who is familiar with my work or has shared accommodation with me for any length of time will know that of all adjectives to describe me – positive would not make the list. Hairy, grumpy, troubled, funny, cantankerous, pompous, opinionated, mouthy, malodorous, speccy and sarcastic would all be there but positive would rank down at the bottom end alongside perky and shy (and you should hear what people who don’t like me have to say about me!).

Positivity has become increasingly important for me since Cape Farewell last year. From when I finally stopped the three-week carnival of vomit and disembarked the Noorderlicht – October 2007 until well into the beginning of 2008 I was deeply, worryingly depressed. I had an itch that I was trying to scratch and no matter how loud I shouted, or how many shows I performed, interviews I did, things I wrote, people I spoke to, or personal changes I enacted I could not satisfy the itch. I had accidentally let the threat posed by climate change become something I was trying to solve alone and unrealistically fast. I cannot do it alone. No one of us is capable of saving or destroying the planet and thoughts that lead us to believe we can are as accurate as Fox News and as much use as a chocolate teapot. They are worthless delusions of grandeur on a scale with the ones that so trouble the annoying gitwizard David Blaine. That is not to say that we are not responsible or that we should not care, but letting yourself get depressed is worthless. It doesn’t help the cause either, how can you convince anyone of the pleasures the greener life can afford us if you sound like Morrissey having just stubbed his toe on his way back from burying a favourite pet in the rain, near Hull on a Tuesday in February? You can’t, and so positivity is the theme.

Now I must track down and then pack my things and head back to reality. For anyone who has followed this blog or any others on the Cape Farewell web site – thank you. The Arctic’s still really cold, warmer than before but still really bloody cold. Oh and we saw some Wales this afternoon – life’s good and every positive action is worthwhile.


  1. jon.plowman

    Posted Monday 6 Oct at 15:25 | Permalink

    So as you might imagine, I have been very taken with this and your blogs from Cape Farewell. It makes me think that when you get back we have to meetup and see what we can do here. As you know we tried a planet relief idea which then got mown down by news hounds but we shouldn’t give up on it cos one of the things I kept being told was that the comedy community had no connection to CC. Thanks for proving them wrong. jon

  2. Deanna J

    Posted Monday 6 Oct at 16:00 | Permalink

    the ‘thank you’ goes to you guys.

  3. Sophie de Albuquerque

    Posted Tuesday 7 Oct at 14:33 | Permalink

    Brilliant blog post.

    You reminded me of the Morrissey lyric:

    “And you go and you stand on your own, and you leave on your own, and you go home and you cry and you want to die.”

    Let’s *not* do that.