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Hard to say. This was triggered by Oona's mother being seriously ill. I remember sitting in the waiting area at the hospital writing it. What I was trying to say was that the medical profession isn't always very good at communicating about the condition of seriously ill people. I think I was still angry about one remark made by a nurse about my own father when he was seriously ill.

Endless days. This was written very shortly after hearing Einaudi's I Giorni (the days) on the radio. That piece was a piano instrumental lasting about six minutes. I wondered what on earth Einaudi was thinking about - not these days, those days, some day, just "the days". The lyric was an attempt to make sense of that title, although there is obviously something of me in it. The tune is of course my own that I wrote later, and not Einaudi's.

After Egypt I pondered on what musical direction I wanted to go in, influenced by which Egypt tracks had worked best. By this time some of the tracks had been listened to semi-professionally, and I had been given two pointers – the backings should blend together rather than being isolated instruments, and they should be synthesised better than ordinary midi sequencing achieved.

The Midlife sessions started in early August 2006, and while working on them I also worked with a vocal coach, both on my vocal technique and to go over the songs themselves. I poured huge amounts of time and effort into these songs, around 300 hours over six and a half months. Even after recording them I went over and over and over them, trying very hard to make them sound as good as I could. One of them went through four versions before I was happy with it. It's difficult to describe just how hard I tried to make these songs sound right. They were better orchestrated, better recorded, better performed. They sounded somehow ready in a way that Egypt didn't. The whole thing was on a completely different level.

The concept that took shape this time was the story of a (fictional) man's life, starting from when his father's health starts to fail, to near or at the end of his own life. It concentrated on themes related to middle life, because I was trying to use my age (42) as an advantage. Midlife was completed around early March 2007. I wouldn't want to say it was perfect. Although the vocals were steadily improving I was still capable of better, and they were buried under mountains of backing and bucketloads of special effects, to the point where it could be hard to make out some of the words. I was told it was “tenable” and I had done a “great job” but it wasn't “commercial”. Still, it was a huge leap forward.

Track listing: Me back's not so good 3:45, Well, I never did 3:05, Hard to say 3:21, Where do dreams go? 3:34, Stansted airport 4:11, Oh God (not God again) 4:44, Endless days 4:51, Oh doctor! 2:55, It doesn't matter now 3:24, What they say 3:22, There's the door, goodbye 3:43, Waiting 2:42, The life inside me 2:29, Time is strange 2:31.