Tue. May 17th, 2022

Isle of Wight Observer News

The Island's Free Newspaper

HOLMSEY: Parenting is tough!

3 min read

All parents worry, but when Anthony Minghella won his Oscar for The English Patient, I told my kids that growing up on the Island couldn’t be used as an excuse not to do something incredible.

I’m a firm believer in aiming high; if you don’t have big dreams, how do you make them come true? Island parents fret about the pros and cons of raising children here. Those with small ones tend to see it as idyllic, while those with teens soon realise they want to experience the real (mainland) world.

Last Friday, Island band Wet Leg achieved something remarkable; their first album became Number 1 in the official UK chart. The debut record outsold the rest of the top 5 combined; it’s quite a phenomenon. If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, go to YouTube, watch ‘Wet Leg – Live on The Porch’. It was filmed here, and they’re all great, but you can’t miss Henry, their powerhouse drummer. I can exclusively reveal that that drum-kit was purchased by me, before Henry was born! It was for his older brother, Laurence, and for over twenty years, it was permanently set up at home. Laurence put in hours of (loud) practice and got quite good at it; his band, ‘Creamer and the Warblers’ even recorded a few tracks that were played on local radio.

When his baby brother (Henry) was about four, inspired and unseen, he clambered onto the stool and played those drums even more loudly. This extra racket was a new worry; it could have pushed the neighbours over the edge. But our nearest – Roger and Doreen – claimed they loved hearing him practice; what a kindness that was. Sadly, Roger Dace died a few weeks ago, and when I heard the news about their Number 1 chart position, he was the first person I wished I could tell.

While working as a surf instructor and helping with the family business, Henry played drums all over the Island, including at the Garlic Festival (see above). Other musicians noticed his talent; the Island music scene is small. Henry knew Rhian and Hester but got closer (I think) while teaching them to surf. Their shared passion for music, surfing and skateboarding meant they began working on a few songs.

In 2020, while the rest of us were discovering Covid, Wet Leg started recording the material that eventually became their No1 album. When I first heard ‘Chaise Longue’ I knew it could be a hit, but such things are never guaranteed. Musicians need a lot of luck as well as talent, as well as a team of people behind them who know what they’re doing.

By 2021, they were being tipped as ‘the next big thing’ and hit the road playing gigs and festivals (including our own brilliant IW Festival). Last month they were back in the US, criss-crossing the continent in a huge tour bus, playing in larger venues and appearing on network TV.

In Los Angeles, James Corden was enthusiastic; he even told them he loves the Island, and spent a lot of time here as a kid. The band has been having great fun on the road, but it’s staggeringly hard work too. As parents, we worry, but we’re glad they are all together.

We’re incredibly proud of them, although we’re impressed by our other children too. Wet Leg are also number 1 in Australia, and that gives us a new worry. It won’t be long before they’re playing down there and, off duty, our boy will go surfing, and that means he’ll get eaten by a shark.

I should never have given him that advice!