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.
Extraordinary how easy it is to waste an entire day (and quite a lot of money) downloading songs from iTunes and listening to them. All in the cause of locating my lost youth, of course (now where did I leave him?).
More unrefusable offers from Freecycle:
Wanted: Traditional Wood Hat Stand. Presumably for the use of those who wear traditional wood hats.
Offered: Exercise bile. If exercise makes them that bitter I think they are right to give it up.
And finally, Offered: Friends. I have some already, thank you.
To change the subject, last weekend I went on retreat to my favourite retreat house (the one where there is nothing organized, you can just relax). I had plenty of time sitting in the sun in the garden with a good book, but my favourite moment was when what I thought was lemon meringue pie, which is a food abomination (how can you contaminate meringue, the food of the gods, with lemon curd, the food of Satan?), turned out to be Queen of Puddings, which is almost the best pudding ever barring syllabub and Eton Mess. Shallow, moi? But really, the food is one of the very best things about this particular retreat house.
I have returned with my youth renewed like The Eagles (didn’t they have a reunion tour recently?), but no lighter.
Have spent the day (rather unexpectedly, as I wasn’t originally planning to go) at a ‘day retreat’ run by a music therapist friend, in which she got us to express various emotions, hopes etc by using simple musical instruments – mostly percussion but of many kinds and even a few you could blow into. It was great fun and very relaxing (though the church it was in was cold), and it was remarkable how a bunch of people who arrived quite wound up and initially made very noisy and aggressive music, gradually calmed down into gentle, happy sounds. And the gluten-free brownies were pretty nice too. A pity there were only six attenders* as it was planned for 15.
*this is the proper word for someone who attends. An ‘attendee’, if it existed, would be someone who was attended. Nah, nah, nah nah nah.
After my ‘ladies’ lunch’ today I did a bit of Christmas shopping in Woolworth’s and Tesco (yes, I’ve got class, me). For son’s best friend I picked up a promising contemporary compilation CD engagingly entitled ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’. This is entirely so that I can tell his parents that I have bought their 15 year old son cigarettes and alcohol for Christmas…:-)
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.
1. There is a natural low after Christmas due to the festive season being over and January weather, owing to global warming, being damp and grey rather than white, crisp and sparkling.
2. A general feeling of uselessness can be alleviated by large doses of 60s and 70s pop and rock, even on a rather crummy MP3 player (The Grouch got me a cheap one for Christmas, promising to get a better one if I ‘get into it’).
3. Listening on crappy earphones can be got used to.
4. A supplementary dose of the ‘Pop Britannia’ season on BBC-4 will enhance the cheering effect.
5. Jimi Hendrix is not, however, the greatest choice to play when one has a headache.
A select few friends, lots of Marks and Spencer food, mulled wine, Scrabble and fairtrade champagne at midnight – all adds up to a recipe for a moderately merry and generally enjoyable New Year celebration. Followed this morning (after a necessary lie-in) by watching the whole of the New Year’s Concert live from Vienna, with the usual mix of lots of Strauss, ballet and gorgeous shots of gorgeous Viennese buildings.
My parents did their courting in the Musikvereinsaal, where the concert is broadcast from, and every year while my Dad was still alive, they would turn on the New Year’s concert and waltz round the living room to the strains of ‘An den schönen blauen Donau’. I didn’t attempt to emulate the waltzing bit with The Grouch, but he did come and listen to the encores with me. I ate my last Thornton’s Continental chocolate to the accompaniment of the Vienna Philharmonic, which seemed appropriate.
Just to demonstrate how catholic my musical tastes are, have spent afternoon putting hits of the 60s – Beatles, Kinks, Stones etc – on my new MP3 player which Grouch gave me for Christmas (that and some new Bible software were the main presents).
Just as the Queen has two birthdays, as a Jewish Christian I am entitled to two new years! (in addition to the double Christmas we always celebrate, Austrian style on Christmas Eve and British style on Christmas Day. Greedy, moi?)
I did it! Yesterday I finally had the last appointment with my therapist. Rolling Stones’ ‘Rolled Gold’ is still playing in my car, and the track before I went in was ‘Get off of my cloud’ while when I came out it was ‘I’m free’. Seems apposite.
Today when The Grouch and I came back from visiting Child and Adolescent Mental Health, the cat had filed himself in the bottom tray of our son’s schoolwork filing trays. Pictures to follow when I’ve asked The Grouch how to do it (I’m not quite up to speed on images yet).
When listening to the Rolling Stones in your car, do not attempt to beat time with your right foot on the accelerator. No, really. Just don’t.
A strange experience, listening to practically the whole Stones back catalogue back to… er… back. I’d forgotten all about that psychedelic phase they went through from around ‘She’s a Rainbow’* till they got back on the good old hard rock track with Jack Flash. And yes, I know Lennon accused Jagger of nicking all the Beatles’ ideas, with ‘We Love You’ after ‘All you need is love’ and ‘Let it Bleed’ after ‘Let it Be’, but honestly, isn’t ‘We Love You’ a big bad beautiful song, in fact rather better than ‘All you need’? You can’t say Jagger and Richards didn’t make something new out of what they nicked.
Well that’s enough of the rock memories. I’m not at all sure what my nineteen year old passenger thought of it all, but she wisely kept quiet as I belted out the chorus of Honky Tonk Women (which, IMO, is a much better song than Brown Sugar which gets played all the time).
*actually on listening again, I think it started with the rather fey ‘Dandelion’ which was obviously an attempt to do early Pink Floyd.