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CANCER, LIFES LEECH, HELP STEM ITS REACH: (All proceeds to Cancer Research UK)

When my colleague at Mudkiss, Andy, suggested that we might want to write an article about Chris Stocks single, both because of the moving music and cause, I was, at first, grateful he asked me. Engaging with cancer research is something I feel is really important, but I have long been a coward, not wanting to come so starkly face to face with utter despair this devastating disease brings, not been brave enough to stare once more, at its desolate shadow, reflected  in luminous eyes of  loved ones afflicted. But, now I come to write, the only resource I have to contribute, words, start to fail me, so I apologise for any injustice I do to the cause, the song and those I knew or know, who have faced, are facing or have fallen into cancer’s chill embrace.

There are some images that are burnt on my brain, will remain on my retinas, resonate the rest of my life; ravages of a rapacious disease, raping, pillaging fabric of a sentient being, voraciously consuming healthy bone, blood and flesh, relentlessly reducing bodies to hollow bag, repelled, returned, tracking, trapping, cornering hope in diminishing corridors of breaking mind, voice stifled, eyes only window, burning bright with pain, fast forwarding life’s clock as it turns it back, extinguishing its light way before its time.

Statistics show cancer is less prevalent but as we become more aware it seems to stare us in the face and statistics being relative, it is frighteningly obvious how high the chances are, of developing cancer. It is true treatments have progressed but still they are crude, bombing both friend and foe, knocking out transport links, but this is a guerrilla army which can hide, regroup. It fights dirty, without logic or wit, regressing into primordial ooze as it sheds genetic markers in rapid proliferation, camouflage and numbers its often unassailable weapon. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the complex code which creates and controls our marvellous machine should sometimes run amok in replication, small misprints wreaking havoc in finely tuned regime; pristine, precise unable to renew, clogged, overrun by chaotic spew. What I don’t understand is, why the immune system does not press reset on this duplicator of life, why renegade culprits are not shredded, ejected, why such catastrophic mutations take hold, rebels running riot, shedding sense as they go, why chemicals which control our bodies let it be eaten alive.

However, there are people who devote their lives to understanding why, who can now decode our genetic blueprint, unravel mysteries of how our cells work, how we construct and repair ourselves, who can travel to the core of our being, who will one day be able to construct crafts carrying targeted missiles to infiltrate inner assailants and knock them out. This is not science fiction, it is power of humankind, to combine brains into a whole bigger than sum of its parts and those brains do not have to be scientific, part of the wonder of our survival is our lateral thinking, the cure is in every one of us combining in some way or other to contribute to this effort, to trap this thief of life, leave it no place to hide.

Watching someone's dignity being stripped, their bodies cut away, by treatment or aggressive progression, there is almost nothing that you wouldn't do to make them whole again, take away the pain. While endeavours, like this song and video can't do that, they and the people who buy it, are essential ingredients in evolving the medicine which will rid mankind of cancer’s curse, so lend your brain to the pot, put your penny in the slot and in return get to listen to some really moving music.


Chris Stocks- ‘Our Time’, Single and Video, starring former Coronation Street star actor Bill Ward and shot by IGUN Pictures: All proceeds to Cancer Research UK

In harnessing his musical talent to make a difference, Chris Stocks, who ironically was in the group ‘The Good Die Young’, until it split, after which he pursued a solo career,  has used experiences of his own ill health to inspire and instigate various projects.

This particular production, in collaboration with Cancer Research UK and IGUN involves many well known actors and people within the music industry, including:

Bill Ward (Coronation Street, Million Dollar Quartet)
Laura Carter (Red Riding, The Syndicate)
Sam Cunningham (Hollyoaks, Fat Friends)
Pete Maher (Mastered music for U2, The Killers, Damien Rice)
Chris Lewis (X Factor, Britain's Got Talent)
Matthew Lewis (Harry Potter)

In addition IGUN and its associates, have contributed financial resources to bring this video; directed by Anthony Lewis, a regular face on television, including a stint with Emmerdale, to fruition, as well as the slogan which accompanies the overall project, ‘Everyone Knows Someone...’ and it is their words which sum up better than my poor attempt, the heartbreak of cancer and rationale driving this project:

Everybody has been affected by Cancer at some point in their lives, whether it is battling the illness itself or having to watch a loved one go through the struggle. Cancer has touched everyone involved in this production, and for some of the crew the suffering is very recent. As a group we wanted to raise money for something that has the biggest impact on the largest group of people and we are proud to contribute to the already sterling work done by Cancer Research UK.’

The song itself is mastered by world renowned sound engineer Peter Maher, with a radio edit mastered by Robyn Robins, who has an equally illustrious client list. The track itself also features many notable contributors, Paul Young and Jo Jo amongst them. As for the music and video themselves, conjoined as one committed piece, it cuts close to  emotional bone, almost unbearably sad, opening dam which held back tears, it certainly made me weep. Though either music or video alone could tell the story, together they make a bigger whole, in total sympathy with each other, seamlessly interlocked, they amplify emotion. A video so powerful, so succinct, it haunts the music, once seen, spectral ghost wandering my mind still:

Despondent droplets drip, ominous shiver turns tap to full flow, welter of tears, which eyes cannot cry, can't wash away grief, etched on temples ragged and creased, eyes dilated long for relief, to once again let in light of his life, the woman who sits unseen on cold bed, uncomprehending, invisible, bowing her head, back to back, mouths downcast in tremulous loss , their gaze and dimensions to never again cross but whose ghost still scents the air he treads, whose touch he craves to soothe his head. Weaving heaving harmonies, guitar, 'cello and violin weep, piano and drums trickle tears, drowned in mournful, instantly memorable, irresistibly moving melody, vocal wafting wistful, melancholic, bass dejected, heart break deep, tells tragic tale of time we take to be our right, to spin together on this mortal coil, snatched away, leaving behind empty space which cannot be filled.

Both music and video are drenched with despair, oppressed with unrelenting loss which clearly speaks of the hurt which cancer carries, indelible scars inflicted on both the sufferer, observer and those left behind, it offers no release, except as reminder to live life to the full, and symbol of hope that there are things we can do, to help humankind find a way to make the distress less and as the song says:

'...this is our time... got to live for today... you're thinking things are over... so come shine your light ...and we'll dance all night....'

So dance through the tears and extend your helping hands to cancer research.

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