Tony Penultimate


In the land where the sea is forever breaking on deserted rocks
Where the moon shines with a warmer radiance, in the delightful hour of evening twilight
Where the Musullman spends his days revelling in the pleasures of the harem
There, an enchantress, caressing me, handed me a talisman.

And as she caressed me, she said - "Take care of my talisman,
In it there is a mysterious power, it is the gift of love.
My talisman will not save you my beloved, from sickness or death,
Nor storm or fearful tempest

Nor will my talisman, bestow you with the riches of the Orient,
Nor subdue the votaries of the Prophet to your will,
Nor will it carry you to a friends bosom,
From the south to the north.

But when perfidious eyes bewitch you, or lips kiss you without love
In the dead of night. My beloved, my talisman will protect you
from fresh wounds of the heart,
from betrayal, from oblivion."

This is a rough translation of one of the most celebrated poems of Alexander Pushkin, the father of Russian poetry (he died in a duel in 1837). I learned this poem 20 years ago in the original Russian (I don’t speak Russian) but my Dad did, and he wrote me a phonetic rendering and made me a recording by which I committed it to memory.

2017 has been a pretty rotten year for me in terms of my health, I nearly died in March (from meningitis) and I’m still pondering over what it all means as the year comes to an end. While all the doctors, surgeons and medical professionals who attended me, and checked me over, have given me a clean bill of health (apart from a dent in my skull where they drained the fluid and a couple of grommets in my ears). Technically, I’m good to go, as they say, to carry on living my life.
But I’m not convinced………..

I still have an uneasy feeling, deep in the pit of my stomach, that somewhere, out there on the higher planes, there are beings or entities who still wish me harm….

(if you’re not into spiritual bollocks Campers, just skip over the next few paragraphs).

As I contemplate a full year of touring next year with the Ukes, it struck me that what I should do is protect myself against the wrath of those demons, salamanders and gargoyles that do dwell on the lower astral planes, that might seek to once again, to invoke the terrible Curse of the Brooke Turners

Reading up on anthropology online, and studying in particular the cultures of Africa and Asia, I found it was not unusual in these societies, to make some sort of votive offering to the souls of ones forebears in order to seek protection.

So, I decided to look through some family belongings, particularly relating to my paternal grandfather Arthur, the one legged lawyer from Birmingham, who fell under the curse and died of a heart attack running (or hopping) for a train on the platform of Waterloo Station in 1953.

Arthur Brooke Turner in the '30's with his watch peeping out of his sleeve

I never met him, but I do have a few pictures and personal effects of his which I treasure: his desk, a silver oar which he was awarded for rowing at university (he was a keen sportsman in his youth and according to family lore, once boxed against the poet Rupert Brooke) and a knackered old watch which I made up my mind to restore - at least it would be practical!

The watch before repair

I already have a perfectly good watch (a supermarket special which cost me £6) and keeps immaculate time, but the thought of having a protective item, that I could wear while I was travelling was compelling and intriguing. So after some research, I took it along to the long established Antique Watch Company in London (for which this blog is a shameless plug).

Jon at the Antique Watch Company

They had a look at it and told me me the following:

  • The watch is a Rolex Oyster, probably late ’20s….. definitely not a 'knock off' (Yay!)
  • But the hour hand is broken and the watch had a probate value of only a few hundred pounds. (Boo!)

  • The chrome on the back is corroded with 30 years of the old geezers sweat. (Boo!)

So I left it there for a while and they got to work on it, matching a new hand to replace the old one and cleaning it up and making it run again.

The restored watch

So now I’ve got my new ‘old’ watch back, which will protect me through my travels next year, however, back on the physical plane there are still several problems with the timepiece.
    •    The watch is not ‘anti magnetic’ - this is very important - any kind of magnetism e.g. from mobile phones, computers etc has to be avoided.
    •    The watch is not 'shock proof' - i.e. don’t drop it, you clumsy idiot!.
    •    The watch has to be wound!  Every morning! Unbelievable, I'm a busy guy ffs!
    •    The appearance of the watch on my wrist is small, and to be quite frank - a bit girly: as a Weinstein-style alpha male, feared throughout showbiz, I'll just have to deal with it, tugging down my sleeve during power meetings and assaults in elevators.

So here I am on the concourse of Waterloo station, consecrating the talisman, by checking the time, probably not far where the old guy died (he had retired to Bournemouth) a town which I passed through on the way to a recent gig in Poole.

Roll on 2018...........................  



Hi Peter, I wish you happy and healthy new year 2018! We are all living now and here, so leave the rotten 2017 (which surely also had great moments) and go on! I'm looking forward to read a lot herer also in 2018, I really appreciate your blog and ATTC (I really contemplate to become a patron...) I hope to see you in Düsseldorf in february! Cheers, Jürgen
Peter, I loved reading this and feel strongly that the carefully-restored wristwatch will keep you safe. Put last year’s scare down to random bad luck and enjoy 2018 to the full. You deserve to.
Thank you Karin, thank you Phredd! A Happy New Year to you both xx
Have a protected completely healthy and successful New Year 2018, we- your audience- wish you with heartful greetings
Happy New Year Peter! I love you blog. This one is even more enlightening than most. I laughed out loud several times. You have such a sense of humor. I love the idea of a guardian watch talisman riding with you into 2018. I love how you make your family history a part of your every day present life. It's beautiful, really. Here's to good health and a happy 2018. I hope to see you in the U.S. in April.

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