Dear Camel Fans,
At long last, our return to England is complete. As with most things, it has taken far longer than we had anticipated, but most things do it seems. It was more than worth the effort. We are both so happy to be back home.
This eBeast is more of a personal message. We would like to share some personal news with you:
Back in 1992, when Camel had well and truly returned to the forefront of their musical niche, Andrew began to display some unusual physical symptoms that necessitated a visit to the doctor. After some tests, he was diagnosed with a little-known blood disorder called Polycythaemia Vera (PV). It’s rather like an upside-down leukaemia where there are too many red blood cells as opposed to too many white blood cells. For most, fortunately, PV is a slow-moving disorder and it hasn’t had a tremendous impact on our daily lives. In fact, it has been quite cooperative. However, it is a progressive disorder, and has a very specific course that it runs if the patient responds well to treatment. Andrew has responded very well to all the treatments, at each stage, and seems to have been on a very ‘normal’ course. As time has passed, his health has gradually become less robust as it once was. Many of you know that he lost his voice on the past two tours, and a couple of shows had to be cancelled due to illness (Camel’s only performance in Ireland). His immune system has to work harder than normal, and being exposed to such a demanding tour schedule with so many different environments, it has been taxed considerably. He has had to deal with more than his fair share of colds, chest and/or throat infections. Nothing terribly serious, but it’s not conducive to intensive touring. Ultimately, we were forced to announce the Farewell Tour, though Andrew was already thinking about the ‘Retirement Sucks’ tour.
We have now come to the latter stage of PV, and a condition known as Myelofibrosis (MF) is taking its place. Once again, this isn’t necessarily a fast-moving disorder. It can be for some, but Andrew is a strong-willed person and has virtually followed the medical text-book to date. I feel he will continue on this positive route. His physical symptoms have changed thought, and they’re having a more direct effect on our lives than the PV symptoms. Fatigue is the most common symptom, and with the recent move, we have both been considerably more tired than usual, so it’s not surprising. Andrew would be the first to tell you that he isn’t exactly speedy when it comes to writing music that satisfies his heart. MF is having a direct effect on this, so he’s slower than he has been in the past. But he’s still thinking/writing/playing. The spirit is willing, the flesh is a little under the weather at times.
There are a couple of reasons we have elected to tell you about this. The first is, of course, that he hasn’t been in the limelight of musical output of late. Rather than continue the roaring sound of silence, we wanted to let you all know why. The other reason is a bit more down to earth. You have all been much like an extended family to us, and we feel you should know. Your support, both emotional and financial, has accorded us a life of musical freedom, and we have said many times in the past that we are eternally grateful. We say it again.
That, in a nutshell, is how things are with us. We have thought that some of you may want to write to Andrew. Since he needs to conserve his energy to focus on musical pursuits and his general health, he won’t be able to receive nor reply to emails. Instead, we have set up a special Guest Book where you can post words of encouragement. That way, Andrew can easily read them when he has the opportunity, and take strength from your words. Remember, just because there has been a medical diagnosis, life is not therefore cast in stone. The power of our determination is the only thing that can impress a stone.
We see this glass as more than half full, and not empty in any way. Presently, we are looking for a home to buy, where we can build a new studio and get on with the business we both love. It’s easy to look at the darker side of life, but I was certainly never one to take the easy path. There are so many blessings in our lives that deserve far more acknowledgement, from the simple song of the blackbird, to the strong relationship we have shared for nearly 30 years now. One of the beautiful things about this stage of life is gaining the understanding that it’s really all about the little details, things that happen in the unexpected swiftness of a breeze. They are moments that make up the true quality of our lives. Everything in life is only as significant as we make it. That is the wonder of choice, where we think we have none.
Our choice is to keep our eyes on the prize. We were given this life to live, not to stand idly by and watch what falls upon us. We are planning a new studio album and we are looking at the feasibility of some brief, mini-tours, as it were, as opposed to a 3 month odyssey of consecutive rehearsal and performance dates, with nothing but travel in between. Not only do we know that isn’t good for Andrew’s health, we just don’t want to do it any more. Once Upon a Time, it was incredibly exciting to go from city to city, crammed on a bus, playing cards, watching the horizon change and fall behind with ever new horizons to chase. We think we’d like to stroll through it all now, taking a bit more time to savour those horizons and expand the pleasure of more intimate performances.
Life isn’t easy, nor fair. No one ever said it would be. But we can take life easier, and that’s the special give of life for us right now. Yesterday, 17th May, was Andrew’s birthday. For me, it was the best day that ever happened in the Universe.
With our fondest regards to each and everyone of you,