Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Rediscovering My Music Mojo

I dropped my daughter off outside the Manchester Apollo last week and watched her, and her giddy friends, go on their way to see Katy Perry. It brought back memories, I wasn't much older than her when I went to see my first ever concert, The Teardrop Explodes, at the same venue.Up until then I was an avid watcher of Top of the Pops and looked forward to Sunday nights when my brother and I would listen to the Top Twenty Show on the radio and wait with increasing excitement to see what was number one. I made dozens of tapes, complete with sudden song endings to cut out the DJ's chat. Seeing a band live for the first time was utterly brilliant, I recall what I was wearing with clarity and how I thought Julien Cope was a genius ( forgive me, I was a child).
Not too long afterwards I heard the first few chords of "This Charming Man" by The Smiths and I fell in love instantly. I was almost incandescent with joy that this wonderful band were from my home town. I wrote "Meat Is Murder" on my bag and became a vegetarian. This lasted about two days. My friends and I travelled the country to see bands like REM and U2 and proudly spoke Mancunian with exaggerated accents. We made Liam Gallagher sound posh.
I saw The Smiths in Manchester in the mid 1980s and it was one of the best gigs ever. Entering my twenties, the Madchester scene was in full swing; New Order, the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays then Oasis, it was a great time to live in the city. I never really liked the Hacienda though, it was full of people trying too hard to be cool. We went next door, to The Venue, or usually The Continental. When the DJ played James, we sat down en masse, usually into puddles of cider.
And then...and then. The wilderness years. I settled down, got a job, bought a house, got married, had a child. Music wasn't the important force it once was. I still went to gigs occasionally, but to bands I would have once written off as hopelessly uncool.I listened mostly to singer songwriters like Joni Mitchell (or St Joni as she is known in this house), James Taylor and Nick Drake. I liked women artists such as Natalie Merchant, Alison Krauss and Stevie Nicks. I tended not to listen to much modern stuff anymore, nothing excited me.
Then, a couple of years ago, I was watching Jools Holland and a band came on. They were from Tennesse and had bad hair and bad beards. They played a song, I think it was "Fans" and call it a mid-life crisis if you like, but Kings of Leon awoke me from my musical torpor. I bought their albums and played them non-stop. I dragged my poor daughter to see them twice ( my husband had lost interest in music the day Hall and Oates split up).
Since then I have fallen in love with music all over again. Laura Marling, The Avett Brothers, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, The Decemberists and the list is growing.

My daughter shakes her head and calls it my "freaky music" but I don't care. What is great about getting older, is that you can like or dislike anything without worrying if it's cool or not.
To prove life always comes full circle, I now make compilations again. Not terribly edited tapes, but cds for the car. I have finally got my music mojo back.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

To Be Or Not To Be...

I love going to the theatre,ever since school trips to Stratford or the Royal Exchange, I have been enthusiastically transported to the worlds of tragedy, comedy, music and poetry. When my daughter came along, I was determined to take her and, hopefully, she would share my passion. We started out with productions aimed at toddlers and graduated to plays such as "Tom's Midnight Garden" (which I sobbed my heart out to, much to her bewilderment) and fantastic Roald Dahl adaptations. The Lowry Theatre opened in Salford and Bel's introduction to Shakespeare began with the wonderful Shakespeare For Kidz series. In the last year, I thought she was ready for Shakespeare-proper and started with the comedies, including "The Comedy Of Errors".
Bel is fifteen now and appears to have a permanent air of disdain regarding anything I enthuse about. My fashion sense is "tragic", my taste in music, "lame".Several times we have been to the theatre recently and she starts tutting, asking when the interval is, hoping she doesn't see anyone she knows.Eventually she settles and actually enjoys the play in most cases.
When I heard "King Lear" was coming to The Lowry starring Derek Jacobi, I immediately booked two tickets and excitedly told Bel. "Is he famous?" she asked. "Very" I replied."Is he in Harry Potter?" she retorted. Now I think Derek Jacobi is the only British thespian not to have appeared in Harry Potter."I don't think so". Oh dear.
As the day of the play grew closer, I attempted to explain the plot to Bel. After listening she said, "so they all die in the end?", I admitted most of them did."So I take it it's not one of his comedies", she deadpanned.This morning one of my friends text to say she wished she was going, Bel mumbled that she could have her ticket. We set off for The Lowry, she asked how long the play was, I made this mistake of saying three hours.She asked me to drop her off at the tram stop. On arrival, I let her loose in the sweet shop as a sweetener (literally) and tried not to blanch as the pick and mix cost more than a good bottle of wine.
We took our seats and I waited for the sighing, the soft tutting, the dramatic time watching. I waited and waited. However, she was entranced. There was no scenery to speak of, just acting of such a high calibre and the timeless poetry of a genius. When it was over, she said "that was AMAZING". All the way home she chattered about eyes being gouged out, the mesmirising acting of Derek Jacobi, the standing ovation.For a brief time, on a Saturday afternoon, we shared a passion for something timeless.
We got home, and she turned on the television to watch "You've Been Framed".

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Is blogging "..the last resort of the loser?"

Last week I decided what the world really needed right now was a blog written by me, a middle-aged housewife with no writing experience and a life that could hardly be described as exciting. So what prompted this decision? As I said in my last post, I have read some excellent blogs of a few people I follow on twitter and felt the need to jump in. I have kept diaries in the past, I have a record of so many of my Januarys, but time issues and inertia kick in around February and the acres of blank space stare out accusingly. I now keep a sort of scrapbook , where I keep theatre tickets, quotes from poems, newspaper articles I have liked and the such. But why? Is it the desire to put something down in black and white that I think will be read by my grandchildren?A desire to say " hey I exist, listen to me"?
When I read the blogs of others its like being party to their worlds, like little pieces of people's lives, small personal novellas. I find myself smiling, agreeing, sympathising. I want to be part of that too.
When some people are diagnosed with terminal illnesses, they feel the need to write letters, to create "memory boxes". Its to ensure they do not feel they will be forgotten, to express feelings for loved ones they want to echo down the years. I admit when I was diagnosed with a serious illness five years ago, I wrote letters to my husband and daughter. Then I re-read them and frankly, they were terrible, I ripped them up. My wonderful father-in-law had a very long illness, he never wrote a word, yet we all talk of him constantly four years after his death. He is remembered in so many ways, but I think of him every time I hear an Italian voice, hear an aria, cook one of his recipes or see his expressions on the face of my husband.
I guess what I am trying to say in a convoluted manner ( bear with me, it's my first proper post!) is that I am not in this for immortality, just to fill a need for self-expression I didn't know I had, until it was awoken by the power of Twitter!
I am reading "A Week In December" by Sebastian Faulks at the moment and the title of this post comes from a quote of one of the characters. I don't know if it is the view of Mr Faulks himself, but I don't care. He has his considerable skills as an author to express himself. For me, it appears to be blogging, and for the moment, it feels good!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Is There Anyone Out There?

Confession time, I am a virgin blogger. I came to twitter as I come to everything, late. However, as well as communicating with a wide circle of lovely people ( you KNOW who you are!), I have also been reading some excellent blogs. So I am joining in. Prepare to be underwhelmed and disinterested.