Tao Be Or Not Tao Be…

That is the question.

It is many a SM fan’s holy grail, to go to Taormina for a stay at Villa Angela.

I was mulling over the idea again tonight. Looking at what’s available at the hotel and checking plane fares from Luton to Catania around my birthday.

The idea of spending my 49th birthday there is mildly alluring. I’d rather much go for my 49th than make a hoo-ha about my 50th.

OH MY GOD! I AM TURNING 50 next year! I can’t! I’ve wasted too much of my life being an absolute useless waste of oxygen! And now I am going to be 50. WHAT THE FUCK HAVE I DONE WITH MY LIFE?! Absolutely fuck all is the answer for the vast majority of it!

I dunno. I don’t know if the place really appeals. I mean…Sicily looks lovely. The views of Mount Etna from Tao in general look stunning. But as for VA itself? I don’t feel the pull to it that others do. I feel more like I am being coerced into the notion of it, you know?

“REAL FANS” go to Villa Angela. Well, Kerr can blow it out his arse if that is something he actually thinks. I’d actually rather visit Toryglen in all honesty. See the humble beginnings rather than what the success has bought Mr Basil Fawlty.

But would I? Am I rebelling for the sake of rebellion? Am I kidding myself I don’t want to go? I certainly don’t want to go in the hight of summer! I have no desire to go in July or August. I’m not even sure I’d want to see a SM gig at the Teatro Greco.

MY “holy grail” of places to see Simple Minds perform is in Oz. Sydney highest of all, but Melbourne and Adelaide also would be wonderful to see.

And probably still a pipe dream, for who knows when they’ll be out there next? Other that? The other place to see them play that I really wanted was Barras and that’s been ticked off the list 🙂

Maybe I’ll do VA next April. The only months that appeal to me for going there are either April or October.

We’ll see.

I was never sure I wanted to shatter the myth of the dream of meeting Jim and now…well, it’s been several encounters now (I bet he’s absolutely sick of the sight of me…stupid bint that I am). I kinda feel the same about VA.

Glasgow Weekender – Linda McCartney Retrospective – Part Two

After not a super long but very solid night’s sleep, I awoke to see…although an overcast sky, high clouds and dry conditions. It seemed promising. I looked at the forecast which seemed to say although it was dry now (around 8am), it wasn’t going to last and it would be a dodge of sunshine and showers for most of the day.

I had to check out of the hostel by 10am, so after some social media catching up, I got myself ready and out the room at 9.45. The weather was still dry at that point but had clouded over quite a bit more.

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I stopped in for breakfast at the Bucket List Cafe up on Cambridge Street. I had scrambled eggs served with toasted sourdough and a very strong but very nice latte (and a second). By the time I left the cafe the weather had turned decidedly “dreich” and only got heavier as I walked along. I stopped under some shop facades because although I was protected enough by my umbrella, my cloth backpack wasn’t and I was getting worried about how wet things inside of it would get. The rain eased after several minutes and I walked onwards to the Kelvingrove.

My plans had chopped and changed over the weeks prior to arriving in Glasgow. Initially I wanted to see the Linda McCartney Retrospective, take in the Clyde, go down to Barras and Merchant City, have something to eat at a Cafe/Bar called Mono (with a fully vegan menu), then go back up to the Cineworld to catch a film before getting on the red-eye coach back to London. Then I thought, maybe with it being summer and the potential for good weather, I could go to the cathedral and then necropolis instead of the exhibition.

It was all change again when the weather seemed uninterested in playing along. So on I went to the Kelvingrove. Along the way, as I was making my way along Sauchiehall Street, just as I am walking by Royal Crescent, along comes this man on a bike. He’s in full MAMIL regalia and helmet…but there was something in the eyes. As he rode past me, he looked at me. I was drawn to those eyes. There was something familiar about them. Wishful thinking, I am sure…for one hopes that every street corner they turn into that you’ll see a familiar face. One hopes the serendipity would allow such a thing. It did with Derek once. Up in Glasgow for the Walk Between Worlds album signing, me and the OH were making our way back into the city from up the West End. As we’re walking down Argyle Street, who should we see walking along in the opposite direction but Mr Forbes. Well, I spotted him anyway. The OH was none the wiser. Lol. Did I make myself known or say hello? Hell no!

Anyway…Jim in lycra? Jim riding around the city on a bike? Naaaah! Doubt it.

The weather was still pretty dreich by the time I got to the museum, so the right choice was made. I left my bag in the cloak room and wanted to sit and have a coffee before going into the exhibition, but both cafes in the museum were heaving – it had just gone midday. The exhibition itself seemed relatively quiet and had no queue to go in so I decided to get straight on with it.

As you enter, you’re greeted with photos of a young Linda before her photographic career takes off. One or two self-portraits and then very early work of her capturing the Rolling Stones in New York on the Hudson in 1966 and some images of The Doors taken in 1967. To my surprise there were two wonderful photos of Linda that had been taken by Jim Morrison on display. I have to say, based on those two photos alone, Morrison himself wasn’t too shabby behind the lens!

Obligatory as it would be, there were several of her earliest photos taken of The Beatles and of Paul on his own. And there were also some absolutely stunning photos that Paul had taken of Linda.

The next room focussed more on later Beatles photos, mostly ones taken at Abbey Road, one of when Paul and Linda got together. And there were early family photos of Paul and Linda together and of Paul with Heather, Mary and Stella.

Elsewhere there were two sets of displays of polaroids showing intimate family life. Wonderful colourful images of the family on holiday and of local life in the places they went to. Life on the road, touring.

In the final room was a display of work dedicated to Scotland, incorporating family life on the farm as well as everyday life for the locals.

It was a really extensive retrospective with a lot to see. I really enjoyed it. I grabbed myself a few postcards from the gift shop on the way out.

As I left the museum I thought “Oh well, I’m down this way, might as well have a doughnut.” I walked over to the store on Old Dumbarton Road but it was quite full and still quite warm from the heat of the previous few days. I decided against it and headed on down towards the Clyde.

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What’s better than a jamboree? ….

By the time I got down to the Clyde, the clouds were parting and the sun was making a full appearance. And by the time I got myself down to King Street and to Mono, the clouds were high and distant and the sun was glorious. It was quite warm inside Mono, so I thought I’d indulge in an alcoholic drink. I looked at the specials on the board and saw among the options a kumquat margarita. I knew kumquats are citrus so I thought it would be a rather refreshing thing to have on a sunny Sunday afternoon. It was delicious. I could have easily had another had they not been expensive and had I not feared getting tipsy. For my main I had the Schnitzel – served with roast potatoes (they didn’t seem roasted rather than boiled, with skins on) miso mustard cream, salad and beetroot chutney. It was really nice. And I indulged in a dessert of apple cake, served with a scoop of ice cream on top. It was all really delicious and the decor inside is nice. I’d definitely go there again. And there’s a music store within called Monorail. I had a look around, but nothing took my eye.

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The Kumquat Margarita

After leaving Mono, I headed for Gallowgate and to Barrowland. It was the only point I had to get my phone out and refer to Google Maps. I knew I wasn’t far from there but I couldn’t quite get my bearings. I wanted to go to Barras so I could see the “Oor Ziggy” statute. There is a bucket trail on again this year. Last year it was penguin statutes and this year it is various decorated versions of Oor Wullie. The weather being as it was, I didn’t get to see as many Wullies (pun absolutely intended!) as I’d have liked. Lol. But I did see some. And I now realise, I missed seeing the one with Jim’s name on it. Damn! But I did get to see “Oor Ziggy”. Below are the Wullies I spied while I was up there.

I walked back through Merchant City and the market and had a quick perusal. I didn’t really see anything I fancied. Well, I saw one thing. A little plaque that said “Hame Sweet Hame” that I was tempted to buy to hang in the house that will be our hame that I hope we’ll buy within the next 12 months or so.

Another pit stop for an ice coffee and then up to the Cineworld for a film. I was hoping that, to tie in with seeing the exhibition earlier in the day, I’d get to see Yesterday. I got to Cineworld at 6.45 and the next screening of Yesterday was on at 7.50. It wasn’t due to finish until 10.15 which would have cut it fine for getting over to the station for my coach at 10.30. I thought it best not to chance it. With few other options and with at least 3 hours to waste, I decided on seeing The Lion King instead. I know! Lol. And I am sad to say I really did enjoy it. It has been really well done.

I grabbed a bottle of water for the journey home (and was armed with sesame snaps and a bag of marshmallows that I had bought earlier in the day) and was over at Buchanan Station at 9.40.

It was a long journey home…but it was a wonderful weekend.

Glasgow Weekender – Trevor Horn Gig – Saturday, July 27th – Part One

It was going to be a long day. I had set out from home at the ungodly time of 4.30am. Plenty of time to get myself to Luton station for the 5.08 train to St Pancras. That was the theory. The practice was different!

I arrived at Luton station around 4.45am. I looked to the screen for the timetable and see which platform my train was leaving from. In a rather tired state from such an early start it took a moment or two to register what I was seeing on the screen. All the trains going to London up til 5.40am (all that the screen was showing at that point) were cancelled. I stood there rather dumbstruck initially. And then the panic set in! It’s ticking towards 5.00am and I had to be at Euston station by 6.30 at the latest for my 6.36am train to Glasgow Central. WHAT THE HELL WAS I GOING TO DO?! It flashed through my mind “Well, short of getting a taxi into London that may or may not even get me there in time – AND cost me a small fortune – I’m pretty screwed. In fact, I’m probably not going!” I wanted to cry!

The thought of that…the thought of not going was breaking my heart. The only thing I could feasibly think of doing was getting in a taxi…but I knew it wouldn’t be cheap. I rang my partner and told her what was happening. “What do I do?” “Well…there isn’t much choice left. Take a taxi.” The first cab couldn’t take me as he wasn’t able to take card payments but thankfully the second driver could. “We will make it, won’t we?”, I say to him. “I’m sure we will. I will do my best.” As I’m settled in and we’re making our way to the M1 motorway he says to me “You know, you could have just flown to Glasgow.” Lol. I could have throttled him at that point. But I went on to explain that I booked the train because my passport had expired and although Luton to Glasgow is an internal domestic flight, I believed that a passport was still required. I subsequently learned that only photo ID is required and that even an expired passport (up to five years from expiration) is sufficient for internal domestic travel. Damn!

To my huge relief the motorway was largely clear of traffic and the rain wasn’t too heavy so the driver was able to go as fast as his traditional Hackney cab would allow. He dropped me at Euston at 5.49am. We made it in under an hour. I was stunned and relieved – and rather sad to be paying a £90 taxi fare! BUT…I had made it to Euston and in plenty of time before the train was due to depart.

The rest of the journey was relaxing and I arrived at Glasgow Central right on schedule at 11.59am. Approximately 10 minutes later, I found myself in Tantrum Doughnuts ordering two of them – a limited edition hazelnut blondie and the signature pistachio and hibiscus one. I also had a reviving latte.

The weather was a bit miserable when I arrived – dreich, as the locals are known to describe it. I wandered about a bit. Tried to keep dry. Then eventually made my way up to my accommodation for the night, hoping I’d be able to check in a little early and maybe get an hour’s sleep before the gig later on.

I head back down to the city centre at around 6pm, stopped in for a coffee at a cafe nearby the RCH, then went into the venue around 7pm.

I was starting to get quite excited by then. I know Mick had told me on FB that, of the Minds, only he would be there…but I couldn’t help but hope that maybe Jim had wanted to surprise even Mick by showing up at the last minute…either on his own or with Charlie.

I had a great view from my seat and the stage looked quite full so there was going to be quite a few people on the stage performing! The show started promptly at 7.45. Trevor arrives on stage to a warm and rousing round of applause. Once at the mic he says, “I’m 70 years old and this is my first solo headline tour.”

Musically, the show started with the biggest bang – an amazing version of Two Tribes, sung by “Roberto” (as Trevor kept introducing him through the night as) aka Kalon Rae. I don’t really watch TV these days so was unaware of him and his appearance on The Voice UK last year. He certainly nailed it! It was one heck of an opener that’s for sure and it set a standard for the rest of the night. Second song in was Trevor’s own Buggles composition of Video Killed The Radio Star. The next song – a Godley & Creme composition, Cry, came with the dawning realisation that the short man on guitar standing next to Trevor on his right was indeed Lol Creme himself! Kalon sang Cry but Lol himself sang the next number, a fab version of 10CC’s Rubber Bullets (Lol having written and performed it as part of the 10CC lineup, of course).

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And the hits just kept on a-coming. A photo of the setlist above. The wonderful Steve Hogarth sang It’s Different For Girls and Ashes To Ashes. A pair of wonderful female singers sang the “t.a.T.u” number All The Things She Said. One of them took the lead on Slave To The Rhythm.

It was back to Kalon for another Frankie tune – The Power Of Love, then Trevor himself sang the lead for Living In The Plastic Age, and Steve Hogarth again for I’m Not In Love – Lol Creme on piano for it – and Everybody Wants To Rule The World.

There was an interval of 15 minutes.

When the gig resumes, Trevor is delayed in his return. It becomes immediately obvious as to what the delay was when he comes striding back out in a sparkly jacket and A KILT. He is welcomed back out to cheers and a number of wolf whistles. Lol. He places his hands on the sporran at the centre of the kilt and says, “I have always wondered what these things were for…but now I know.” He opens it up and reaches in then holds his hand aloft. “Picks!”, he says, with a pick between his thumb and fingers. On we go into a fab version of Owner Of A Lonely Heart sung by Trevor.

Then the moment arrives. “While we are on a Scottish theme”, says Trevor, “I started visiting Scotland more in 1988. That’s when I started working with Simple Minds. I’d already been working with so many bands and artists by that point but I can say that working with Simple Minds, it was the first time I felt like I wasn’t working with a bunch of arseholes. They are great guys.” And then it becomes a little bit of a blur what else he said because I know Mick is about to appear on the stage, but I still remained hopeful that at the very last minute that Jim and Charlie would be there too. Sadly that didn’t happen, but I gave the loudest cheer as Mick walked on stage. To be there to see him play was all I needed to make my night.

I feel terrible that I didn’t catch the singer’s name but he was very good. And seeing Mick play was so very special. I recorded Brothers In Arms live on FB but stopped filming when Rhythm Of My Heart started. I just wanted to take it in properly and enjoy watching Mick perform. Kalon provided the vocals this time, and he was wonderful again.

A lovely understated female vocal ballad version of Dancing In The Dark was next. Not before Trevor relayed the story of his dealings with The Boss and how he’d asked permission to do Born To Run…bossa nova style. Lol

Another major guest performer in the shape of Argent’s Russ Ballard. Crowd sing-a-longs to Since You’ve Been Gone and God Gave Rock N Roll To You left the hordes on a high.

Great renditions of Girls On Film by the female vocalists, then it was Steve Hogarth again for Kiss From A Rose and Blue Monday, before a final Kalon led amazing crowd up-off-our-seats, clapping and dancing version of Relax.

A final encore of Money For Nothing and that was it. An amazing night was had by the vast majority of patrons in attendance. I certainly enjoyed it! It is a strong contender for “gig of the year” for me. Perhaps only being slightly pipped by Massive Attack at The Hydro back in January and Stewart Copeland at the Festival Hall in March.

As soon as I was back out on the street, I propped myself up by the stage doors. The only person waiting there initially. But then Phil Palmer and the man providing the vocals on Brothers In Arms and Money For Nothing came out for a cigarette and that got one or two people stopping, congratulating and thanking them for the gig. After about 15 mins, there was six other people waiting with me. About 45 minutes of waiting and Mick walks out through the stage doors. I get his attention “Hi, Mick.” When it registers with him who I am he says to me “THERE YOU ARE! I’ve been looking for you all night.” Aaww! What an utterly sweet thing to say! “So, you made it then?” A bag of nerves, I just said “Yes I did.” But in hindsight I’d say “Of course I did! I wouldn’t have missed this for the world!” We chatted briefly and then I asked him if he would be so kind as to sign my Life In A Day 7” picture sleeve and an original vintage print I have of Mick taken in Brussels in 1983 by Stefan De Batselier. He signed them both for me. We hugged and then he was on his way.

Oh no! I didn’t even get a photo with him! Mercifully one of the other people waiting had stopped him and asked if they could have their photo with him so that gave me the opportunity to ask. I tried to be Miss Appalling Selfie Taker (and was succeeding!) when the man with Mick said “I can take it if you like?” YES PLEASE! Lol. Save me from my selfie doom. Lol. And he really couldn’t have taken a more wonderful photo. It is just so, so lovely.

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It was a wonderful night.

I will discuss Sunday’s day of exploration tomorrow.

Can You Hear Me, Major Tom? Fifty Years On.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the release of Space Oddity.

I’m trying to have some recollection of when I first heard it. Obviously not when it was released, is it came out some 15 months before I was born. I don’t have any clear recollection when I did finally hear it but I know I’d have been very young and it would have been on the radio.

I have a clearer memory of hearing Sorrow on the radio quite a bit. And probably at the time of its release as it would have been 1973 and I know I was very young when I first recall hearing it. I remember it being a Bowie song (well, actually a cover) that I really liked.

As for Space Oddity…how can you not be drawn in by the song’s theme and its opening? The countdown sequence. It’s a magical thing. And pretty far removed from anything else on the eponymous 1969 album – alternatively titled “Man Of Words/Man Of Music” when released in the USA.

It was a very timely…and I am sure in fact, deliberately canny, release with Apollo 11 heading off for the Moon less than a week later. It made it to number 5 in the UK charts due largely on the strength that the BBC used it during coverage of the return journey by the Apollo 11 astronauts to Earth.

Happy Anniversary Space Oddity. Fifty years young, and a timeless classic.

A Walkman?

I never had one. Not a genuine Sony Walkman anyway. And when I finally got a generic “portable cassette player” I just used it at home, for listening to music on the quiet.

I never really went anywhere much. There was no need for me to want to listen to music “on the go”. Where the hell was I going? I never went anywhere! And for me, music was a private listening experience to be enjoyed at home, not while travelling out and about. Music getting polluted by external noises. Traffic, people talking, dogs barking. All noise and chaos disturbing the music.

And I hated the sound of cassettes. I much preferred vinyl. And playing music LOUD!

I was that lonely teen girl. No friends. No boyfriend. When I got my own music equipment, it was hi-fi equipment for my bedroom.

So, Jim talks about listening to Autobahn on German freeways and hearing “Heroes” by the Berlin Wall. Well I was in my bedroom, going nowhere, listening to Low. “You’re just a little girl with grey eyes…deep in your room / you never leave your room”.

History is beginning to repeat itself. No passport. No money…guess where I am right now?

But the thing that allowed me to travel. My escape…was the music itself. I might have been in my bedroom listening…but in a way, I was in Berlin too. At Hansa Studios, eavesdropping in on Bowie and Iggy singing What In The World.

I could travel anywhere from the comfort of my bedroom just using my ears and my imagination…

Drum Lesson And Practice – June 29th, 2019

Yesterday was the first tuition I’ve had in two months. Gareth was great. Started me back right from scratch, really. We went right back to basics. We worked on stick grip, rudiments, grooves and fills.

I can’t really talk a lot about it…not really going into much detail. And it felt a lot to take in yesterday because I was so apprehensive about it, but really excited too. There was a lot to take in. Well, it felt a lot yesterday and because I’m so anxious about it all, not everything sinks in immediately.

I checked with Gareth that he wouldn’t mind me recording the lesson. He was fine with that. I won’t be sharing any of that, but I will still share a bit of my own practice here and there.

I’m really thankful that he’s okay with me recording because as it was with Cherisse, upon playback, things register better. My brain absorbs the information better and I always have it to reference it.

I’m about halfway through listening to yesterday’s lesson…and I just lost it. Gareth had me playing along to (rather ironically) No Woman No Cry…and I just started blubbing like a fool. I could just feel it and I could see him in the room with me, helping me keep to the beat, dancing around the room to it and it was just lovely thinking about it…and I just lost it, I feel like an idiot! (I’m crying all over again typing this out! I’m such an oversensitive idiot.)

I’ve just wanted this for so, so long. It was like the 8 year old me was in that room yesterday, learning.

As you get older…once you get to adulthood, you just think all this stuff is just too late. That it’s too late and you’ve missed your chance and it’s all gone. “Don’t bother now. It’s too late. You’re too old. You can’t afford it. And you’ll never learn. You’ll never pick it up. Your mind is young enough. You won’t be as much of a sponge.”

I still feel like that. The adult me says…”You’re 48! Why bother now? Where’s the money gonna come from? How will anything sink in?”

And then I was listening to the lesson and how it was all sinking in and just listening to the playing. Hearing myself play to Bob Marley…and it’s joyous and liberating and wonderful and that 8 year old is there inside saying “Wow. This is cool. I’m getting this. And my teacher is cool. And we’re having fun. And I’m learning and playing…”

And now my face is an absolute mess!

Such a silly cow.

So yesterday was wonderful. And I still want this. More than ever.

But how I continue to do? Who knows…

We’ll see.

Drum Practice – June 23rd, 2019

Woke up mega tired. Didn’t sleep that well. Had silly trivial things (in the context of things) on my mind. Set out early today and got to Mill Hill in plenty o’ time.

I walk past the entrance to a park on my way to the rehearsal rooms each week. So with a bit of time to spare this week, I thought I’d take a quick detour. It’s an ordinary looking park. A decent size for play, etc. A few dog walkers were about. A lady passed me with her cute little Pomeranian in tow. I sat on a park bench for a few mins, setting the world to rights. Lol

I try and hit the studio each week without any overriding feelings of anything. Nothing too positive or negative. Just trying to stay balanced. It obviously doesn’t always work!

I’m getting used to the little routine I have when I enter the room to set up. Get the little recording device out and get that going. Grab the iPod Touch, over-ear headphones and ear protectors, to alternate between them as and when. Adjust the kit. It still drives me nuts (adjusting the kit), but it just has to be done. The day I have my own kit, and it is just ready for me every day….I’ll be kissing my drum kit with a greeting! Lol

I had two goes with my mix of songs. I tentatively tried to play along with fills and things. Really not as easy as it seems it will be doing the stick practice at home.

I also tried playing the backbeats to Glittering Prize. OMG! If Mel Gaynor was no longer with us, he’d have been rolling in his grave today! Lol. If he ever hears my attempt, he WILL die! Lol. 😂😂😂😂

But instead of just getting frustrated and angry, or despondent and disillusioned…I just tried to make it fun today. Just resign myself to it – in a positive way. Just accept there’s a way to go…but just relax. Just try to enjoy the time more. It’ll make the learning easier in the end. I spoke over the top of what I was “playing” and just took the piss out of myself.

One drumming session at a time. Tiny smatterings of progress MAY just happen that I don’t detect. I dunno. I’ve just got to get into the habit of embracing the frustrations and accepting them happening and see them as fun too. What I am doing is fun! I get to make a racket and hit and bash things for two hours.

This week I just tried to play along as confidently as my lack of actual musicality and expertise will allow. Just to loosen up and just have fun. I’ll even share a bit of my stuff on here, just because I think they’ll be funny. Just me waffling and playing and giving “critiques” to myself on the fly.

Next week, I am very, VERY excited about. AT LAST! I get tuition again! Not with Cherisse, as she is still on the road with Kelly Jones at the mo…and I think will have a few other things after the tour ends. So next week, Gareth will be my tutor. I really am overdue some tuition time. There is stuff I want to get moving onto and implementing. I need some routine with this. If I am serious.

I just feel like…I started the commitment, so I need to give it a good old stab for a while, you know?

Anyway. Appalling but funny snippets to come…and YAY to next week!