I was doing one of those random Google searches the other day, you know the kind, when you find yourself wondering what happened to the girl you lost your virginity to, or some kid you did awful things with after Sunday School, those moments when you feel, well, curious about stuff. I mean that’s what the internet is for right? Anyway, a few weeks ago now I typed the name David Ditchfield into my search engine as I was having some of those aforesaid whatever happened to thoughts and hey presto. I hadn’t really expected anything as most of these vanity searches seem futile [probably because the girl I lost my virginity to has changed her sir name ha ha, but I digress…] this time, unlike Bono, I found what I was looking for.
David and I played in a band called Salamanders in the early eighties and shared a house together; we were in each others pockets for a good few years and our respective parents were Church buddies, we grew up in the same village without ever going to the same schools. I did my first ever gig in a band playing Wishbone Ash covers with his brother Ian. Dave fronted Birmingham’s Mood Elevators who some people might well remember; I certainly do, and with some affection. They supported The Beat on a few tours and released a couple of singles on the legendary Go-Feet label. Dave and I went to gigs together, watched the Tube and The Prisoner together, saw the odd French Film at The Triangle together and drank in the Midland Hotel together. He was there on the day we bought our brand new baby girl Leah home from hospital for the first time, we even recorded a cheesy version of the Peters and Lee classic [sic] ‘Welcome Home’ for the occasion. I have many an affectionate memory from the Selly Oak days. CND gigs and leaflets and the endless nuclear paranoid blues thinking…, Bliss Cymbals gigs, Saleems Curry House [the greatest Curry House this world has ever seen], Space Invaders at 3am [played whilst sleepwalking in the said Curry House], The Au Pairs at The Mermaid, Ruby Turner at The Fighting Cocks and the beautifully spoken barmaids of The Station Pub. I’m going overboard a bit here on recovered memories but you get the picture. It’s a nostalgia trip man…We sadly lost touch around 1985, but here we are, once again in 2008, talking again and catching up on each others lives and it feels right, like it was meant to be. Fate oh fatal fate…it can play hidious tricks on your best mate [OK so it was fame but who cares]…

All this retro spectating brings me on to David’s new project which is best summarised in the following press release, I’ve had a listen to bits of it, and it’s a truly imaginative modern classical work, one that has been cathartic in David’s own personal regeneration, which I know sounds a tad dramatic but it’s quite a story it really is. Here’s the press release… + link to David’s myspace, do investigate do.

‘Near-death experience’ inspires musician to reach new musical heights’

A ‘near-death experience’ has inspired a Cambridgeshire musician who’s opened tours for the Beach Boys and Fine Young Cannibals to compose a symphony, which he says has been instrumental in helping him to recover mentally and physically from a horrific train accident two years ago.

“The Divine Light”, written by David Ditchfield will be premiered this summer on 12th July 2008 by The Chamber Orchestra of St Ives, at The Free Church in the 16th Century town of St Ives, Cambridgeshire. According to its composer it is a very personal piece that reflects his ‘mystical’, ‘spiritual’ and finally ‘euphoric’ journey through his ‘near-death experience’.

David’s move into classical music is a departure from his pop roots and the symphony is his first major project since the accident. In the past he has co-written songs for influential artists such Dexy’s Midnight Runners and been signed to several major music companies. Although his injuries from his accident have left him unable to play the guitar, his love of music and performance has not diminished.

He said.
“I’m very excited about this project and moving from the world of pop into classical music. This symphony has helped me develop in many ways – as a musician, as a man and hopefully as an artist. I can only compose what I feel, and what I feel to be real. The night of my accident was the most ‘real’ and profound experience of my life.”

“I was on the brink of death and yet I could see another life in front of me – a good, peaceful, beautiful life somewhere else. Colours, and light surrounded me, I felt euphoric. I was surrounded by an overwhelming feeling of love and a part of me wanted to stay, but I didn’t. I can not put into words the huge debt of gratitude I owe the paramedics and staff at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, who brought me back.”

Chris Hiscock, Conductor of The Chamber Orchestra of St. Ives commented:

“After David’s accident in 2006, the community of musicians in St Ives were shocked by the extent of his injuries and the implications they would have on his career. He is however a very positive person and channelled his spiritual and creative energies into his music.

“Julian Merson, renowned baritone soloist, will be performing a moving solo piece written by David and personally, I think the lyrics are poignant.

‘And so my soul sings, my body broken feels no pain, Lord of all you embrace me, Son of God I have found’

He continued:

“We, the members of the Chamber Orchestra of St Ives, are delighted and moved to have been asked to perform the piece. This symphony is accessible, lyrical and understated. It speaks directly to the listener with a true depth of emotion, rather like David himself.”

Notes To Editors…

1 Two years ago David Ditchfield had a serious accident when his coat became trapped in the doors of a departing train at Huntingdon station. He was pulled onto the railway track and under the wheels of the train. Paramedics saved his life at the scene and he was also resuscitated later at Addenbrooke’s hospital. The accident was reported widely in the national and regional media.

2 He sustained severe injuries to his left arm and lost the little finger to his left hand. He underwent 3 major operations in order to save his arm and is still recovering his injuries.

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