Category Archives: Annals of a rock chick

What I’ve been listening to.

After the funeral, the fun.

What to say? The funeral went well, with nearly 100 people there, but I think we are all still recovering (especially The Grouch who had to plan the whole thing). Since then we have had our last church lunch at the London Mennonite Centre before it closes, which was painful; I have preached again on Bible characters facing change (Lot and Hagar this time); I have had several downs but always managed to get up again (cue Chumbawamba…); we have failed to procure home tuition for Genius Brat but we have got local authority transport to get him to school, which is a great relief as otherwise it would be two buses and two walks. And we have managed to get him at least twice a week to his voluntary work by dint of paying him for it (he is saving up for a new computer since his last one exploded, projecting ball bearings everywhere).

My sleep has been all over the place but this is largely due to my being a dirty stopout – I had three interesting musical experiences in as many weeks:

First was an Elvis impersonator who was quite good but very loud – we left at the interval. I’m not into Elvis anyway but it was a fundraiser for the local autism group and I thought I’d see people I knew there, which I didn’t (the audience seemed to be entirely made up of the Elvis impersonator’s fans, all women of a certain age…)

Second up was an evening listening to Botown, a group who do ‘Bollywood soul’ and who are mates of my Pakistani friend’s husband. Bollywood soul seems to consist of a soul-style backing with lots of brass, and Bollywood style Indian singing on top. Actually it was a surprisingly fun evening, though I was in a very small white minority in the audience! And it was too loud as well, though not as loud as Elvis.

Third (and best) was the opening night of the Meltdown Festival at the South Bank, this year curated by Ray Davies (he of the Kinks and the lovely legs). So of course it had to open with Ray and his current band doing all the old Kinks singles (and fining himself 5p for charity every time he said ‘Kinks’). Also too loud, but fabulous fun especially as he encouraged us all to sing along (which also happened at the Botown gig but I couldn’t oblige as all the songs were in some Indian language). Of course I knew all the words…

Why do all these events have to be so loud? They are all attended by a distinctly middle aged audience, and I doubt if any of them want it so loud. The music is so much better when you don’t have to stick your fingers in your ears… My friend had £150 ear defenders – I think if I continue to relive my youth at this rate, I will need some too.


I just can’t believe how utterly my mood is dependent on the weather. This morning it was sunny – and I felt good and got some things done. This afternoon it was grey again (like most days for the last – oh, about a year) and I messed about playing Solitaire (which I still call Patience – surely Solitaire is a peg game not a card one?) on the computer and listening to my iTunes collection. Even if I remember to put my lightbox on, it doesn’t make as much difference as proper sunshine, and since my lightbox is on my desk and you have to sit in front of it for at least 90 mins, it is yet another temptation to mess about on the computer all day.

Yesterday was a good day though, with lots of things at church seeming to be addressed directly to me (which has happened a lot lately), This was followed by two hours watching a series of ‘Dad rock’ programmes for Fathers’ Day on BBC4 – first archive material of Eric Clapton from the Yardbirds days on, and then a great programme on 40 years of Glastonbury (though I started to flag two thirds of the way through that and had to go to bed). The Dad in our family was bemused by all this since his interest in and knowledge of music is almost zero – it’s entirely ‘Mum rock’ in our house. Did I mention I have a fantasy of being in a band called ‘Mumrock’ and bringing out an album called ‘Girls Play Air Guitar’. I probably did.

Yay for me!

I finally did it! Yes, I matched Steve Tomkins’ score of 185 in Word Twist on Facebook, and am now joint first on my friends’ ladder. Oh frabjous day!

Secondly, is it just me, or does anyone else ever listen to Cream’s ‘Tales of Brave Ulysses’ and when it gets to the line ‘Her name is Aphrodite’, feel an uncontrollable urge to sing ‘And she wears a flannel nightie’? No? Just me, then.

Thirdly, the daily headache has shifted to the other side of my head. I am not sure this is an improvement.


I spend a lot of time at the moment listening to iTunes and playing Solitaire, which when I was young was a game with pegs and a hole in the middle, but is now what we used to call Patience (clearly the Americans, from whom this new nomenclature comes, have no Patience).

Any road up, iTunes classifies songs as Pop, Rock, Country etc, and I often disagree with their choice and change it myself (for instance, that lovely ballad ‘Never my Love’ by The Association is classed for some reason as rock). So I was listening to Serge Gainsbourgh and Jane Birkin’s breathy offering ‘Je t’aime – moi non plus’, which for some reason always sends me into gales of laughter, when I noticed that the iTunes classification for it was neither rock nor pop but simply ‘French’ – which sent me into even more laughter. Clearly French music is a law unto itself!

The third great Christian festival

OK, so I didn’t sew the buttons on or do the ironing – I watched TV with The Grouch and Genius Brat instead. How did you guess?

I did however manage to find enough clean clothes without buttons missing, to pack for the wonderful Greenbelt Festival which is where I spent the Bank Holiday weekend, wandering happily through crowds of people and stalls with gorgeous clothes and edible food, and stopping every few minutes to talk to someone I knew. As I remarked to Genius Brat, ‘There are twenty thousand people at Greenbelt and I know all but six of them’. I even had a lovely cup of tea and chat with people I had been at university with, and another chat with the curate and his wife from my old church in Waterloo. I also saw two parents from GB’s school and had a good talk with one about how bad the school now is on special needs! The Grouch says: ‘There are three great Christian festivals in the church year: Christmas, Easter and Greenbelt’.

I also managed to take in a few talks, exhibitions and a fair amount of music, including a talk on my hero Thomas Traherne (they have discovered new manuscripts, woo-hoo!), a set by Royksopp who were amazing, the film Man on Wire and a concert of music by Taverner, beautifully played and sung. It was good to see some Wibloggers there as well – it’s extraordinary how my different internet lives cross over.

Being on duty on the Mennonite church stand was fun as well, even though Health and Safety had cracked down on our usual gorgeous homebaked cookies, and so we had pipecleaners to make things out of instead (there was a secret stash of cookies for stand workers and close friends…)

Close shave of the weekend was when The Grouch drove to our Travel Inn (we don’t camp) which he had booked on the last day of the festival last year, and they had lost our booking. Fortunately he hadn’t left it till late at night, and they found us probably the last room in Gloucester, which wasn’t too far away. Otherwise we might have found ourselves camping without a tent, which ought to be left to our gay friends…

Now shattered and shaky because of the sheer amount of walking and talking I did over the weekend, but I don’t think I am going to go into another post-holiday depression. I actually thought the other day that God was speaking to me through Bible reading notes (a rare occurrence) and saying, as was said to Bartimaeus: ‘Take heart, get up, he is calling you’. Might be a good verse to get me out of bed, actually…

Band (or banned) names

Driving home from singing tonight with the Stranglers* on the CD, my passenger remarked what good names some bands have. This led to a mention of the Killers, and speculation on whether there is a band called the Murderers. At which point I observed that there are never bands called things like the Parking Infringers, or the Tax Evaders. Anyone know if there’s a band called the Jaywalkers? There’s something about minor offences that just doesn’t have the same cachet. Although a band called the Minor Offences does actually sound quite possible…

Back on Freecycle, I note that one desperate offerer has sunk to offering ‘yet more stuff’ and ‘even more stuff’. At least it’s an honest description.

*I don’t mean that I was singing with the Stranglers, I mean I went singing and then listened to the Stranglers afterwards. Although I’d be perfectly happy to sing with the Stranglers, should they invite me.

Annals of a rock nerd #1

In support of my ongoing quest to find obscure 60s tracks for my mp3 player, my helpful hubby has actually succeeded in digging up ‘Back Street Luv’ by Curved Air. Which isn’t as good as I remember it, except for the rather compulsive electronic keyboard (or synth?) riff.

He hasn’t however succeeded in finding that wonderful track ‘Dismal Swamp’ by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, engagingly described on their website as ‘progressive bluegrass’. The compilation album on which I have it on vinyl (the immortal ‘Gutbucket) quotes it as being from an album called ‘Pure Dirt’ but no such album seems to exist in their discography. However it is listed on their eponymous debut album, which sadly is out of print. There is a track called ‘Return to Dismal Swamp II’ on both their 20th anniversary and 30th anniversary albums but I fear it’s not my beloved original version.

Such are the frustrations of a not very well informed lover of some seriously esoteric tracks.