• Keiron Farrow

Twenty months ago when earlier that day I had just tested positive for Covid 19, I sat down to eat a pizza for tea and I had a glass of blackcurrant squash. It was the last time I fully experienced the full taste and smell of not only food, but every other flavour, fragrance, odour, aroma, balm, bouquet, emanation and breath possible. For nine of those months I woke up feeling hung over everyday. The oils recommended for smell training only prolonged the to quote Withnail & I 'bastard behind the eyes' headache.

Unlike many, I wasn't hospitalised - although it was touch and go at one point. I didn't lose anyone close and it gave it me an opportunity to start a new way of living far removed from the pre pandemic normal we all used to know. This is how I would keep myself going on really bad days, days when I would perhaps be out for dinner and couldn't enjoy the experience fully. I stopped cooking as I couldn't enjoy the satisfaction of bringing ingredients together and relishing the anticipation of sitting down to eat. Walks in the woods near my home, whilst rejuvenating, lack the wafts on pine. And during the eight weeks of constantly smelling burning onions and excruciating nasal pain.

It still wasn't enough to overcome the despair that comes with being reminded endlessly of what I could no longer experience. Exacerbated by the fleeting moments when I actually do get a whiff of my love's hair after she's washed it or walk past a rose bush; taste ice cream or a burger. Not only did the virus destroy my olfactory membrane it destroyed my hope of it ever returning.

Hence why I am writing this piece. Outside of those close to me I haven't really talked about how it feels to be nose and tongue blind. Talking about and saying out loud is helping me to reach greater acceptance and focus on finding ways to feel connected to the outer world again. Also, now that I am speaking up about my experience it's as if my creative antennae are constantly sparking.

Here is a poem about it all and for anyone who is feeling it too.

Yersinia Pestis

You turned up in twenty twenty,

Third of November, I recall it, exactly.

Since that day you've never left me.

Most mornings I still spit blood.

You appear everywhere there's food.

You followed me into the woods

once; it seemed I'd lost you,

only to hear gibbering through

the hollow of a Sycamore.

Prattling about the benefits;

how your actions tipped

greater things into my grasp.

You reminded me how

my even being alive right now,

meant that Hugo

Farrer must have survived

your greatest and most creative

endeavour, circa thirteen

forty eight: he got to craft

metal for more. Graft

which helped wipe the shit

from existence for even

the shortest time. Even

until that wanker in

Windsor dreamt up the Ordinance

of Labourers...

There's always a chance

that things will swing

round, unfurl their wings,

make all your senses tingle

exultant once more…

Your most in depth lecture.

'And for what it's worth'

you whispered as you brushed

me aside,

'You are no longer a serf'.

  • Keiron Farrow

Updated: Jul 9

I've been listening to The Beatles for thirty years, this year and I'm still learning from them all the time. I'd heard of them and knew some of their tunes but it wasn't til I came home to find a copy of Sgt Pepper on my bed (my aunt put it there), that I actually 'heard' them. They made me want to play guitar. They still do...

It was a shock and a revelation to find out that their roles in the band weren't fixed. They all did different things in the studio, and that the guitar styles of John, Paul & George were as distinctive as their signing voices. You can really hear this in the two bar solos they each take on 'The End' from Abbey Road.

So, because I'm a nerdy type and because of 'High Fidelity' here are my top ten guitar solos of The Beatles. I'm sure some will disagree - come at me with yours if you please

1. Taxman - Paul

2. Something - George

3. All My Loving -George

4. Til There Was You - George

5. Back In The USSR - Paul

6. Fixing A Hole - George

7. Good Morning Good Morning - Paul

8. Get Back -John

9. Sweet Little Sixteen - George

10. You Can't Do That - John

  • Keiron Farrow

Before the Fab Four turned on my aspirations to play guitar, my instrument of choice was always the saxophone. To my ears, in any tune that utilises it, the sax always appears to be breaking free from the rest of the band. Yet at the same time, lifting the other musicians and of course the listener to somewhere transcendent. John Coltrane wasn’t canonised for the fun of it!

My folks were big fans of Jr Walker & The All Stars, so the sound of sax made sense very early on. When my sister and I occasionally slept the night at my Aunt’s house, we were allowed to stay up and watch Cagney & Lacey. The solo sax break at the start of the theme tune, made my head spin! Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford for me to have a gleaming tenor of my own and the schools I went to didn't offer lessons on the curriculum.

It’s occurred to me a few times to perhaps look at what’s going on Marketplace, pick one up and maybe start learning. I could find a bridge and rekindle the myth of Sonny Rollins for Northamptonshire....In the meantime here’s some of my fav tracks with sax to indulge and immerse yourself in.

Spotify link.

Sonny Rollins - Strode Rode

Ray Warleigh - At The Chime Of A City Clock (Nick Drake)

Jr Walker & The All Stars - Shotgun

Ben Webster - Sophisticated Lady (Billie Holiday)

Brian Travers - Food For Thought (UB40)

Nubya Garcia - The Message Continues

Lester Young - Ad Lib Blues

Tommy McCook - Silver Dollar (The Skatalites)

Kamasi Washington - Leroy & Lanisha

Chelsea Carmichael - Want Me (Puma Blue)