Giving Yourself A Break While Fighting The Black Dog

This evening I played the recording of Saturday’s practice back. And, okay, yep. I do think I am probably being incredibly hard on myself.

But… I need to be don’t I? Otherwise how the fuck am I ever going to get any better? Yes?

But… I am so thankful I took the advice of Emily Dolan Davies (click on her name to be taken to her fab website A Drummer’s Guide To) – otherwise I’d believe week after week that I am playing far worse than I am. It ebbs and flows, obviously. On Saturday I was SUPER down on myself. Just felt completely fucked up.

But I really wasn’t as bad as I thought.
YES! I still had my moments. I really did struggle with my hi hat timing and rhythm this week…but…I need to learn to give myself a break.

What makes it harder is when, at the point you are having your kit practice, not only are you questioning why you continue to do it, but you are questioning the much grander thought and perplexity of the existence of the entire human race.

Actually, this week was odd. For once I didn’t actually find myself questioning why I was there practicing. I suppose I felt I had much bigger fish to fry this week. What would be the point of me questioning why I was at drumming practice when I was more preoccupied with pondering why I am even here on the planet at all! Why we’re all here.

I feel the only why to fight the black dog is to suppress his bark. Engage a metaphorical mute button. Put earplugs in to drown him out. When he looks his most vicious…just smile at him. It’s hard. You have to just snap the brain (and this is just my own personal way around it…and thankfully it works most of the time – if it ever fails, I am going to be in BIIIIG trouble!) into that mindset. No matter how delusional it may feel. And it does to me. 100%! I feel I am absolutely deluding myself to put it at the back of my mind and smile and carry on.

The other way that also works is..acceptance. There is no rhyme and reason to us being here. We just…are. So…for whatever way you live your life…however way you live through it…just do it. And just…strive to be the best version of you that you can be.

So…no more about THAT “black dog”…let’s have THIS Black Dog instead!

In Dreams We Are Helpless

I have been sleeping-in lately. Demanding dreams from my subconscious. Every night before I fall asleep, I pray that I’ll dream. Good dreams. Dreams that once awake and I have even just a fraction of lucidity of the dream, that it’ll turn to fruition.

This morning I had dreams.
In the first I was with Jim and Charlie. And we were sitting around, chatting and laughing. I cannot tell you how much I wish for that to be real! Or to continue to dream it over and over again every night.

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The other is a VERY rare occurrence (dreams of Jim – with or without Charlie – are rare enough these days). My mum. I couldn’t tell you the last time I dreamed of her. But this one will haunt me.

It was loaded with metaphor and symbolism. I had been contacted by what appeared to be government authorities and/or health professionals. She was meant to be in care…but she wasn’t. She was on her own in this remote, desolate place completely unfamiliar to me.

She was roaming around outside. I’m not sure how I was seeing this as I was, but these people were showing me video footage of her. Like…CCTV footage…but this place was so remote. Maybe it was being recorded from a drone? I don’t know. Certain things in dreams make no sense.

I digress. She was roaming around outside. Working. Walking around finding weeds and rubbish. She was carrying some kind of tool. Not a light thing. And she look as she did when I left in 2016. Thinner than I have ever seen her in my entire life. When I went home in 2015…I hadn’t seen her for eight years and she had became a shell of herself. I had never, ever seen her so thin. I don’t think she had been that thin since she was a child. The shock of it stunned me for days. It took days for me to get my head around this woman who looked like my mum but was waaaaay thinner than my mum had ever been was indeed my mum!

I digress again. These two people – a man and a woman – showing me her on the monitor (I sensed I was watching live footage, or very recent recorded footage…mere hours old) were saying “She won’t rest. She’s doing too much. She just wanders and wanders.” And I am sitting there thinking “habit of a lifetime, guys. She’s been like this since time immemorial. All the years I have known her.”

Even in 2015/16. Up and down like a yo-yo. Endless retorts of frustration from me “PLEASE SIT DOWN! I’M HERE NOW. PLEASE LET ME GET THAT FOR YOU!” Over and over. Every day. A person too used to being alone. Too used to just having to get up and do it herself. No one else there.

I’m watching her on the screen…and she just looks lost. Really lost. I’d never seen her look lost before. Determined. Focussed. Busy. Pre-occupied. Happy, even. But never lost. Never confused. Never unsure. Somehow still happy though.

Happy. But tired. And lost.
I awoke feeling further away from her than ever.

Limbo is hell.

Drum Practice – June 2nd

Hadn’t been feeling the best the past few days and suffered a mild vasovagal syncope near miss in London on Thursday in the queue to get into Broadcasting House for a recording of The News Quiz. Sadly, Miles Jupp’s last one. Didn’t know that when I got the tickets.

I could feel the wave. Sat down on the pavement. Controlled my breathing. After several moments, it passed.

I also had…let’s say “an unexpected visitor” on Wednesday…so, yeah. Hadn’t been feeling great. Ended up flaming knackered from London on Thursday. Always do the walk from St Pancras to Broadcasting House and back via Euston and Great Portland Road which is the same distance I have doing my walking for the drum practice – 10km.

So, I’ve walked a half marathon within the space of three days…no wonder I’m knackered!

ANYWAY. Despite feeling very not in the mood for going, I dragged my sorry arse out today. I had already booked my 2 hour session and already paid for my train ticket. So, I know that isn’t a lot of money for most people, but under my current circumstance – £16 is a lot of money for me to squander. I wasn’t having it!

And, you know…certain other factors help keep me driven. A little nagging voice that says “no one likes a quitter!” was nattering away. Even though I was backchatting to it, saying, “I don’t care what you fucking think. Sometimes…there are just…circumstances. Shut the fuck up! And anyway….just for YOU, I ain’t quitting! Not this week. So, button it. Arsehole!” Lol. Yes…I have those kind of ridiculous internal monologues.

Ultimately I just thought, “What is there to lose?” I’d booked my time and my train. I had lots of walking to do, yes. That was the thing that I was least in the mood for, to be honest. But…I did it.

Electrical failures meant trains were delayed and cancelled. Mercifully not MY train. It was delayed by several minutes, but not cancelled. I arrived 10 minutes late and I needed to leave 10 mins early to make a train home that would allow me to get a bus back nearer to home…just for this week, so I had a break from all the walking.

The session went good. There were some things hindering me, as usual. Adjustments to the kit that I successfully made. So that was good. I couldn’t get sound from my iPod out of the amp/monitor thingy. It seemed wired up right…but I just couldn’t hear anything. So I just practiced beats. And I worked on integrating some hi hat pedal play. I felt it was time I needed to work on that, so I gave it a go.

So, yep…the session felt pretty good. Here are a couple of audio snippets of what I was working on…

Lol. That end bit is my “Fuck this – I’m shit!” wail of exasperation.

I’m very, VERY tired. The trains coming back were delayed and cancelled still. So my 2.10pm train to get me back in time for the bus to get me closer to home was delayed and meant I’d miss the bus. So…I did all the walking I’d usually do and I was KNACKERED. AM knackered. But feel kinda good. Feel good in that the session felt like it went well.

Listening back to some of what I recorded today, I sound…okay. Never gonna set the world on fire at this point…but at least I sounded kind of adept today.

Baby steps.

Drumming Practice – May 26th

I don’t know if this will be a weekly thing or what. I’m not sure I’ll be brave enough to share much.

I think I’ve been doing this a month now. Well, I’ve had four sessions now. Two hours each time. With varying levels of “success”. It’s still early days, of course. I’ve only had three lessons with Cherisse, spaced about three weeks apart and it’s been about 5 weeks since my last lesson.

Today felt kinda good. I’m accepting I am shit. It’s just how it is. How can I be anything else? I had my first lesson with Cherisse in March. I mean…not quite three months in with a total of three hours of lessons and eight hours of kit practice.

I’ll give it time. But I really don’t sense any natural ability in myself. I feel like I have atrocious rhythm and my hi hat playing is just awful! But today, I came up with my own little rhythm to practice. Below is a little sample of it.

Oh, I do wish I could turn back the clock…

Laughing In The Face Of Adversity

I try to limit the personal content on here. I try to keep it much more about Simple Minds, music in general, my art and my own musical journey.

But this…this just made me laugh so much and just…what a woman she is! No…not the Queen or Kate (though…you know…hmmm), but the tit-grab offender. That’s my niece, Madeline. And she’s doing it real tough and having to face things that no 25 year old woman should.

And she’s beautiful. And I love her to the moon and back. So, that laughter thing? Oh, yeah. She does it in spades.

My family. We’re all class!

P.S. Tit obsessions run in the family…