Monday, 11 March 2019

Pants on fire

Oh shit.  Please - never ask me to lie for you.  Never ask me to embellish the truth for you, make something up on your behalf or give you an alibi; I will drop you right in it.  I’m just no good at it.

Confession time: I’m squirming inside right now because of exactly that and it was only a little white lie, honestly(!)  - only a little white one, nothing heinous - and I fucked up.  It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal but I have to get this off my chest.  Earlier today I was unexpectedly asked to answer Mr SDS’ mobile phone and give him a quick simple get-out so he didn’t have to speak to his caller right then, right at that moment.  You know what I mean, we all do it from time to time, I'm sure.  Sounds easy and harmless enough – just a delaying tactic.  It was the unexpectedness which threw me, I think;  the call was out of the blue and when asked to answer it quickly I hadn't prepared anything in advance and my mind was in another place.  “Oh sorry he’s not here at the moment, he’s on his way to his mum’s!” I explained brightly (as this was almost true – he was just getting ready to go, only he hadn’t left the house right at that moment).  “Oh” replied the person that Mr SDS didn’t want to speak to, “and he hasn’t taken his phone with him?  He’s left it at home?  He’s brave…”   

Aargh – a schoolboy(girl) error.  In some ridiculous panic to give this excuse I hadn’t even thought of that, what an idiot!  Caught out already, I just made a sort of non-committal “mm” sound in response.  

“….Or perhaps he has another phone that he takes with him...?”  the caller continued.  Bastard.  I felt like Basil Fawlty in that scene in the Fawlty Towers episode ‘The Anniversary’ where he’s trying to pretend to their old friends that Sybil is ill in bed when in fact she had walked out in a huff prior to their arrival.  The character Roger, played brilliantly by Ken Campbell, knows Basil is hiding the truth and keeps trying to trip him up, thinking one step ahead of every potential lie, revelling in Basil’s discomfort, gleeful at his inner agony.

So where does that leave me, fabricating some new story now about how and why Mr SDS hasn’t taken his phone with him ("oh no, he never takes it in on long journeys!"), or creating some fictional ‘other’ phone (“yes, it's one he only uses when he goes to his mum’s.  No he hasn’t given you the number.  No I can’t give the number to you now because …because... I don’t know it”?) 

Even in my panicky idiocy (a sort of blurry feeling, like a thick fog has come down inside my brain and obscured all rational thinking) I realised that adding any more detail and spinning an even more complex web was not a route to take so I just gave another evasive, non-specific response.   "Mm".    But then of course I couldn’t even continue a normal conversation with the guy, because I was  embarrassed and cringeing so much inside and all I could think was fuck fuck fuck, he thinks I’m just a crappy imbecilic pathetic little liar.  Indeed, I am all that, and the truth is that I am spectacularly bad at it too. 

The Castaways:  Liar Liar

Wednesday, 27 February 2019


Blimey, sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything.  Funnily enough it’s not due to too much work – pretty much the opposite really.  For the first time in years I’ve had some lovely time away from frantic deadlines and tight briefs (oo er missus) and as a result I’ve dropped into a lower gear.  A much lower gear in fact; I’m so chilled I’m practically going backwards. 

So I’ve been making the most of it while it lasts.  It’s given me the time and mental space to try to reprogramme myself creatively, somehow, and chance to revisit some of my own projects which had long been abandoned.   Trying to free myself up in this way has been a slow process - a sort of reboot - and not as easy as I thought, but I feel great for doing it.  Just look at all those "re"s in those last few lines: reprogramme/revisit/reboot - I think that says it all.  And I can’t stop walking, I’m walking miles.  Ever so slightly obsessed. Packing as much in as I can before work all kicks off again and I get rooted to the spot.

Anyway, enough of all that, that was just to explain why I’ve not been very productive here lately, as being elsewhere in my head with all those "re" things means I haven’t felt quite so much of a need, if that makes sense.  However, I felt I had to write something quickly this afternoon because this blog is celebrating a birthday today!   It’s 8 years old, which I find kind of shocking; it means I’ve been blogging for more years than I was in secondary education!  Quite a scary thought, but nice too.  I’ve loved being able to come here for a multitude of reasons, mainly to have a personal place away from everything else, a platform to indulge in whatever takes my fancy. Being able to rabbit on about things that might not necessarily crop up in a general conversation, and not worry that I’m going to be met with weird looks (well, at least I can’t see them).  I always wanted it to be an undefined place with no confines, never knowing or planning what I'm going to write about next, so it's very freeing.  Plus  I’ve been really lucky to find myself among the loveliest fellow bloggers and commenters who just seem to get it and how brilliant is that? - honestly, I couldn’t wish for more here in this online world.  So, huge thanks to you!

Help yourself to cake! x

Sunday, 3 February 2019


I could not believe the colour of the sky today...

I mean, just look at that!

The snow of last week has melted and even though the cold air was cutting and I was wrapped in a thick fluffy coat, the overly long sleeves of my jumper pulled down to envelop the cuffs of my gloves, that feeling of soaking up the warm sunshine on my face seemed like an act of defiance.

I strode briskly up to the church, through the graveyard and then along to my favourite place, this long avenue of lime trees.   I love the way the huge clusters of mistletoe adorn the trees’ branches like giant green pom-poms.

When I walk like this, I drift into a sort of autopilot mode; my mind goes into freefall; I'm sure most people find the same when walking alone.  I love these moments of solitude in my head. 

I started thinking about all sorts of things – about WWI soldiers (we’d watched the incredibly poignant film ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ last night) and about Henry Moore’s sheep drawings and about the blister on the back of my ankle and what it might look like when I take off my sock.  (Not good, as it happens.  Raw!)  But then all those thoughts trickled away, just trickled away…. they had been too busy…  and I started to notice only how heightened my senses had become, out here, in the cold, in the sun, in the moment.   Everything so vivid. I could hear a bluetit up in the branches, then a mistle thrush.  I could smell the manure from the fields, hear the crunch of gravel beneath my boots and the squeaky wheel of a tricycle ahead in the distance as a small child navigated his way between potholes, I could see the rooks on the gate, their plumage illuminated by the sunlight. 

I just went with it, feeling in every sense totally, dazzlingly, alive.  (Sorry to be so corny.)

Inevitable then, anyway, that this song should come into my head!

Saturday, 26 January 2019

The first singles you ever loved

It was just a little box of second-hand singles, but I reckon that’s where it all began, the moment that music took on a lifelong meaning.  I can’t even recall quite how they came into our possession - something to do with my teenage sister; she’d either bought them for a few pence, been given them or swapped them, I think.  But I do remember that there was much excitement about their addition to the family’s music collection.

I would’ve been about 8 or 9 I think.  My personal record collection at that point comprised a 7” EP of children’s songs on yellow vinyl (‘How Much Is That Doggy In The Window’ being my fave track), some Pinky & Perky, something from the Nutcracker Suite, and a concerto by Handel, or was it Mozart, on 45 in a shiny picture sleeve.  I wasn’t able to discern between Pinky & Perky and Mozart - but how free you are at that age, totally lacking any self-consciousness about genre; as far as I was concerned each had their own merits.

Downstairs in the very modern Danish style G Plan cabinet where the hi-fi, books and my mum's pottery were housed there were a few other records, but nothing that was of much interest to me: some jazz, opera and classical, one or two Reader’s Digest freebie flexi-discs, Glen Miller I think.   So this box of singles made quite a statement; they were pop records.

Childhood memories are funny – the things that can seem quite unremarkable to an adult can be so vibrantly sensual to a child and imbued with the most vivid associations and feelings.  Those old singles do just that to me.  I can clearly remember the ones I really liked, their B-sides too.  They were about more than just the tunes, they were about the weight and the shine of the vinyl, the touch of the creased paper sleeves, and about the room and the rugs and the cats and the curtains.   Their labels are indelibly imprinted in my psyche too - the colours, the logos, the type style.  My mind drifts now to the way this is so perfectly expressed in the words to 'Over The Border' by St Etienne: 

 “…. green and yellow harvests, pink pies, silver bells…”   

We know what they mean!

In this particular box the pies/Pyes were blue, and a faithful terrier listening to an old wind-up  gramophone was silver on black.

Within this small collection was one of my favourite songs of all-time – one of my bestest, most favouritest songs ever ever in fact - so it deserves a post of its own some day but I can’t write about the rest without mentioning it here.  I was totally hooked on this song and still am.  I could play it over and over and never tire of it (and I did, probably driving my parents and sister mad). I wonder what it is that makes it so special and enduring, and what was it about it that appealed to me so much, even as a child?

The Kinks: Days
(eternal perfection)

But the others in the box all had their own unique appeal, here's what they were:

I loved the catchy soulfulness of ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ by the Foundations and was intrigued, and slightly unnerved by its contrasting B Side, ‘New Direction’ - a strangely doomy, jazzy/psychy number.

The Foundations: New Direction

'Do Wah Diddy Diddy' by Manfred Mann had obvious singalong appeal to a child of my age.  ‘What You Gonna Do?’ on the B-side was far less commercial – a classic example of raw ‘60s R’n’B.

Manfred Mann: What You Gonna Do?

'I’ll Be There' by the  Jackson Five - well,  a little later I had some pictures of the Jackson Five on my wall (next to the Osmonds), of course I liked it!

'Love Child' by Diana Ross & The Supremes - a song I still hear in my head with pops and crackles.  What a fine example of classy soul, not that I would have understood that word then.  

There were a couple of singles I was less keen on, one of them was '(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice' by  Amen Corner – I didn’t like the voice, I still don't.

And then there was also 'I Can’t Let Maggie Go' by the Honeybus – famous for its use in the Nimble advert and anyone as old as me will remember the girl in the balloon who "flew like a bird in the sky".  However, I much preferred the fabulous B side, ‘Tender Are The Ashes’ and I still really love this song with its uptempo groovy Northern Soul vibe.

The Honeybus: Tender Are The Ashes

Finally there was a record that always sounded a bit more grown-up to me.  I think it was because of the harmonica combined with the fact that it was an instrumental - it was 'Groovin’ With Mr Bloe' by Mr Bloe.  You know it, of course you do!

I don’t know what happened to them in the end - they weren't mine! -  but I continued to dig them out and play them in the interim years and even after I started buying my own brand new singles.  By the time Abba, then Buzzcocks, etc. each arrived on the scene for me, records from the previous 10 years seemed bloody ancient.  But there was something about this small selection that made them immune to my teenage prejudice against the past and all things out-of-date. The feelings, those first far-reaching feelings, endured.  I think it must simply be because that’s where my love of music all began.

How about you?

Pinky & Perky
(and a very scary duck)

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Pretty pretty vacant

A cringe moment:

I was Johnny Rotten.
Singing 'Pretty Vacant'.
On an open air stage.
In front of a hundred people...
...Maybe more.
Without a mic.

I wasn't alone - my friend accompanied me.
Pretending to be Sid Vicious.
With curly hair.
And no bass.

We snarled and swaggered and posed our way through our chosen song and won third prize in the Miming Competition.  Maybe there were only three acts.  I think we got away with it; we must have been pretty... convincing?

Despite being a bit drunk.
And fourteen.
And, you know...


Thank god there was no YouTube in '78. No camera-phones. It must have been horrendous.  But perhaps that's why we were so uninhibited too?  It was a moment in time, spontaneous, never to be recorded or viewed again. A moment, that's all.  Here today, gone tomorrow.  Whatever happened to that?!

So, how it was is this: my friend and I had tipsily convinced ourselves we could enter a competition (part of a free live music event in a local park)  just as it was happening, with no real forethought and certainly no preparation.  Oh, the bravado!  I would never do something like that in all the years since. I suppose it was like a forerunner to Karaoke (we're talking 40+ years ago, after all) although without the live vocals, just the posturing.  I do remember standing there and not really being able to see the crowd, just looking out in a cider-induced daze, imagining myself as Johnny - a silly, inebriated, normally shy schoolgirl doing her best to mimic a fully-grown man.  There are two key things about that which I was just never going to pull off:  fully-grown and man (if you'll please excuse the double entendre).  And glancing across at my dear mate, who was doing the same. I think we 'won' some record tokens.

When we came off the stage we were both immediately chatted up by a pair of young lads who perhaps saw our bluster as a sign that we were a couple of goers. I don't remember a lot about what happened next but suffice it to say I became vaguely acquainted with a skinhead boy who told me he was on holiday (?!) from Borstal.  Class!  Actually I seem to recall he was quite nice but I only got to see him in the dark so who can say?

Pretty vacant sums it all up....

Aren't you glad sometimes that, like me, you're all grown-up and sensible now?!

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Vermicular love

They excite me so much, I can’t resist telling people.  Anyone who’ll listen: my hairdresser, the neighbours, the guy who works down the chip shop (swears he’s Elvis), you….   

I’m generally met with a look of complete indifference and the feeling that nobody really cares.   I understand.  Maybe it’s hard to get how anyone can be this excited by worms.  But I have fallen head-over-heels in love with my little herd ( to use the correct term) of Tiger Worms and European Nightcrawlers  - as introduced here.

They’re tucked away in the shed for the Winter now, their Wormery home wrapped in paper and bubble wrap to keep them warm, and every day I trudge down there first thing, before I’ve even had a wash or a cup of tea, to check on them.  Lift the lid and have a little peek, careful not to expose them to prolonged bright light, as their skin is ultra-sensitive to it and too much will cause them harm.  Check the thermometer on the wall and if it’s below 10 degrees, tuck them up again.

There’s something incredibly soothing about checking out your worms - it should be prescribed as a form of therapy.  Unlike the common earthworm which likes to burrow deep, composting worms spend more time on the surface so it’s possible to see them just by lifting their bedding.  Watch them slowly eating their way through their food, or occasionally one may climb up the inside of the worm bin for a little wander and a change of scene, especially if they sense it’s raining outside, which they can  - even from inside a bin, inside a shed.  Who knows what else they know that we can't even begin to understand?

Occasionally I’ll find a pair mating – side by side, pressed up to each other tightly for a couple of hours (!), hermaphrodites with multiple hearts (three more than a Time Lord!) - am I selling them to you yet?

If not, just one more thing....   It struck me as I was walking yesterday that worms truly are the gentlest and worthiest of creatures.  They don’t fight or kill each other or any other being over food, territory, or mates. They co-exist harmoniously with other species and are undemanding of each other.  If there’s not enough food for them all in one place, older worms will move on to seek it elsewhere to let the younger ones feed more easily.  And they self-regulate their population – too many baby worms starting to hatch in a confined space? – they’ll simply stop breeding until their numbers level out again. Maybe we could learn a thing or two from them.

I ♥ my worms

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Mystery lovechild 3: the results

I know, I know!  I put out a quiz and then take over a week to post the answers, terrible.  My excuse is that I've been distracted and frazzled by a work project which has had me labouring on through to late evening all week followed by some sleepless nights worrying about it.  This morning I finally decided it just wasn't worth it and have made the choice to pull out before it gets too far down the line to be salvaged.  The first time I've ever had to do that and to walk away from the biggest fee I've ever been offered, so it feels pretty bad, but I know I just can't risk making myself ill over illustrating a children's book...  Decision made and (a very carefully worded) email sent, now it's like a weight's been lifted and I can get back to more important things for a while... like the Mystery Lovechild results!

So - without further ado...

Firstly, thanks so much to all who had a go at these.  It's a complicated business trying to add up points (well it is for me), let alone giving an individual breakdown, so I'll see what I can work out later, but in the meantime here's the evidence of the guilty parties responsible for our freaky hybrids.


Kate Bush and Barry Manilow produced someone who is "strangely alluring" (to quote Rol, who guessed correctly).  Surprisingly she turned out less Hammer Horror and more Mandy.  It was just Barry's eyes, brows and nose here.


Yes, it's BeyoncĂ© and Kanye West.  Eagle-eyed Yve warns me that "their other 'alves will not be 'appy" so we won't linger too long, but Kanye's distinctive nose and jaw make all the difference to BeyoncĂ© here.  Well, she did sing 'If I Were A Boy'...



The name Dolly Dylan has such a ring to it; I just wish she didn't look quite so much like someone I used to work with.  Indeed, it's Dolly Parton's eyes and hair, with the bottom half of Bob Dylan's face.  No matter how much he might protest with his "It Ain't Me Babe" line, it clearly is...


I was quite shocked at how easily these two blended.  The eyebrows are pretty much interchangeable, their noses and mouths and placement of features very similar. It's only Paul McCartney's eyes and nose (and his right eyebrow) but I think they're still pretty recognisable on Sinead O'Connor's head, as did Yve and Chris


Recognising the 'big-nosed bard from Barking' here proved quite tricky (it's only his mouth, big nose and chin) but Alyson correctly identified Billy Bragg with a little hint!  Alison Moyet is more obvious - well, that hair of course...


Ian Brown meets Miki Berenyi and the result is a single girl who may wanna be adored.   Definitely one for Swiss Adam who quickly spotted Ian, and I think Miki was on the tip of his tongue...


Possibly the result of too much dancing in the dark, this bearded beauty is the progeny of Bruce Springsteen and Cher.  As you all knew.  Bet she wishes she could turn back time.


So it seems Rod Stewart's genes were easy to spot (but he doesn't want to talk about it). Less obvious was Stevie Nicks, who only contributed her eyes, nose and fringe.


This year's model is the result of endless love between Mariah Carey and Elvis Costello...


Perhaps the last one was hardest of all.   A blend of Art Garfunkel (hair, mouth, face shape) with Dusty Springfield (eyes, brows, fringe and nose). Yve correctly spotted them after some clues, but I can see where Chris was coming from with his suggestion of Taylor Swift.  

And that's the lot.  The clear winner was Yve, with a massive 17 points out of a possible 20, and then she was kind enough to create some wonderful mystery love children of her own (if you see what I mean) so that I could play along too, which was great fun for me.  Do go and have a look!  As we are both artists we have concluded that there is definitely something about the way we view people that helps us. But beware if you ever find yourself travelling on the same train as either of us, you may notice us drawing you with our eyes (not just staring in a scary, stalkery way, honest...)

Big thanks to Chris, Rol, Alyson and Swiss Adam for their answers too - lots of correct suggestions there and every mystery solved, pretty quickly too.  Far more quickly than I could get around to posting this, that's for sure.

Friday, 28 December 2018

The mystery lovechild is back...

It's all over for another year, the days are short and dark and my mind has been wandering again, as have my hands, all over the Photoshop effects menu.  Time for something pointless and ridiculous to fill the late gloomy hours when there is little else of value to be achieved apart from eating another chocolate liqueur and instantly regretting it.

If you've been here for a couple of past 'mystery lovechild' posts you'll know the premise:  What might the secret offspring, born to a famous but unlikely set of musical parents, look like?

Previously we've had, for instance, John Lydon and Joni Mitchell, whose curious 'lovechild' turned out like this:

I gather that DNA testing kits were given as Christmas presents by millions of people this year.   But why go to all the trouble of spitting into a test tube when you can see the evidence of the genes right here in black and white?

I'd love to know who you suspect might be responsible for the conception of the characters below.  No rush - the results will be confirmed some time next year (i.e. next week!)











Sweet dreams, now!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...