Wednesday 31 May 2023

I feel alive, I feel the love

 “Enjoy the rest of your day,” the young woman said cheerily as she put her belongings back in her little crossbody bag and walked, in a faintly zig zag pattern, away from our table on the parched grass.  She had the sweetest, warmest smile.

My friend and I had just been giggling with her, giggling in that helpless way like we did when we were kids.  We'd spotted her walking in our direction, catching our eyes as she provided us with an unintentionally comedic scene: she was taking two or three steps at a time, then pausing to bend forward, hunching over to root around in her bag, but each time she did so the plastic beaker of wine in her other hand tipped forward too, spilling it on the ground.   She’d straighten up, take a few more steps, then repeat the bend and the rummage, totally oblivious to yet more spillage.  And again – more steps, another fruitless fiddle about in the bag and, oops, there goes the wine ...and she still hadn't noticed.

Wordlessly we motioned to her to use the table where we were sitting and she gratefully emptied her bag onto it, treating us to a running commentary on its contents, punctuated by infectious laughter.  It’s hard to find a lipstick in a deceptively deep bag when you’re a little worse for wear.  Bless her, she found it eventually, after the phone and the sunglasses and tissues and the hairbrush and TicTacs and a blister pack of paracetamol…  after which we provided her with the services of a talking mirror (“Yep, that’s fine! No, it’s not all over your cheeks!”) while she applied it blindly, trusting us not to let her walk away looking like Robert Smith.  Well, I felt a little flutter of  love for this girl in that brief moment, for her sweetness and her laughter and her tipsy candour, I glimpsed a little of my young self in her too.  Or perhaps it was just that I was feeling very mellow and just glad to be alive in the laidback, loved-up way that being outdoors surrounded by the sound of guitars and the smell of doughnuts can inspire.  The sun was shining too, at last.

The small music festival on my doorstep had started that day and, honestly, it was a proper tonic just to go and soak it all up. I’m so lucky, I’m sitting in my garden now as I draft this post out on a scrap of paper the following afternoon, and I can hear it from here: the bass a constant, some vocals drifting in and out as the breeze carries them to me, probably not even half a mile as the crow flies, across the green, the graveyard and a few rooftops. But on Saturday, to be right there (in a field very familiar to me for being populated by sheep and jackdaws the rest of the time) and just to “do” the whole festival thing was still special.  And even though the artists we saw were not ones I would have chosen to see in other circumstances, they were perfect for this moment; I let go of any pre-conceptions completely and just enjoyed what was on offer.

It was especially good too to witness three headline acts all featuring more "mature" women; very heartwarming when you are one yourself.   So yes, Katrina Leskanich is 63, Carol Decker is 65 and Natalie Imbruglia is 48.  They were all in fine voice, classy and energetic, and looked fab - and I felt kind of proud to have them on my home turf too.  Katrina & The Waves performing 'Going Down To Liverpool' was a highlight.  What's that you say?  Why yes, of course they did 'Walking On Sunshine'!  And whilst I can't think of any T'Pau songs I would actively decide to listen to, Carol Decker had some great between-song banter and I couldn't fault their performance.  Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night for me was Natalie... I've never really given her any thought; 'Torn' was one of those ubiquitous songs of the late '90s and that was about all I could think of but, you know, she really rocked out at times and I was far more impressed than I could ever have imagined; I got a bit of a Bangles / Susanna Hoffs vibe.  Good on her, because she turned me around completely! 

I could only make it to the festival on the Saturday night, but late on Sunday night we did at least get to hear Shaun Ryder's unmistakeable lilt drifting over to our windows and down the chimney on the northerly breeze.   Black Grape were playing and I hope he was suitably sweary, it wouldn't be Shaun without a few expletives surely?  

I'll be thinking about that, plus the girl with the giggle and the spilt wine, next time I walk through that field with the sheep and the jackdaws. They will still be just as much of a tonic.  

Any festivals happening for you this Summer?

Friday 19 May 2023

Checking into the Chelsea, fanzine style


Welcome to an experimental 'fanzine format'  blog post!

Inspired by some comments on the previous post, and also influenced by my much younger fanzine creating self, I took to paper, pen, Pritt Stick and scissors to make this one.  I can honestly say, I've really enjoyed working like this, away from the computer screen.  I can also honestly say, it took bloody ages.  Still, it was fun and the only other downside is that there's no chance to edit it now, but I'm a long-time fan of the DIY ethos and the charm of imperfection.  As for the silly amount of time it took, well, sometimes don't you just wish that everything did anyway, and then we could all slow down a bit?

I hope that wasn't too hard-going to read...

Here's the link to the documentary:

and that great clip of Nico performing 'Chelsea Girls':

Thursday 11 May 2023

Screened out

 Argh - my hand aches.  I've been doing that thing I used to do a lot of when I was younger - you know, when you hold a plastic tube with ink in it and move it around to form alphabet letters in different combinations across a piece of paper: some actual, physical, manual, how-we-used-to-do-it-in-the-olden-dayes writing.

I started, but haven't yet finished, hand-writing a new blog post but before I go back to that one I wanted to precede it with an explanation (also hand-written and to be transposed to what you see here).  I haven't posted on here for ages and feel I've been regretfully neglectful towards my lovely fellow bloggers too - I'm so sorry! Thing is, I've developed a bit of a problem with spending much time in front of my computer screen; I'm sure this must be due to the round-the-clock tinnitus and unfortunately it's just my brain's way of coping for now.  Reading and writing at any length on screen has become extra tiring and I'm finding it hard to concentrate comfortably, and then that effect has placed a kind of psychological barrier in the way too - sort of associating computer time with having that feeling and thus just wanting to be far away from it...  

Hopefully this will pass as it's still early days but in the meantime I decided to embrace the analogue instead.  And how good it is!  I always knew I was an analogue girl but when I'm immersed in all the things I already enjoy - like drawing, walking, reading a (physical) book and putting my hands in the worm bin (that's a bit niche, I know) I barely notice the noise either.  In fact, drawing is amazingly therapeutic and I'm sure there are some credible scientific reasons behind this to do with the parts of the brain that it engages and exercies - a subject I'd love to read up on more, apart from the fact that I'd probably have to do most of that online.

Anyway, after scribbling these words on paper and just typing up quickly here my brain feels so much less cluttered and fatigued in the process.  I think I'll try this method for a while to see where it goes - hopefully it will help me to revive this blog a little but, if all else fails - well, can I post you a letter?!

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