Posts Tagged ‘music’

My talented friends

Do you remember me telling you all a little while ago, about having talented friends? Well, I’m going to tell you again because my fabulous friend, Will, is about to take over the music world with his band, My Good Man William. I thought it’d be good for us to listen to some of his music so that when he’s doing gigs at the Queen’s house, we can all be like, “I was totally listening to him before he was famous.”

This one is my favourite a) because it’s brilliant and b) because they’re playing it on the District line on the London Underground.

Aren’t they great? Yeh, I knew you’d think so.

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I is for…

It’s over to my guest  blogger today for the letter I. Here goes…

 

INTERESTING!

Now I wonder what you expected after you read the title to this, especially with the question mark after it? – Something interesting to read or ponder?

Maybe, but perhaps before we can start we need a definition of “interesting” otherwise how will we know if what follows is interesting or not?

Let’s start with the definition from my trusty Chambers: engaging or apt to engage the attention or regard; also exciting passion or emotion. Did you find the definition interesting?

What would make you describe a person you met as “interesting”? Would it be their physical appearance, their clothes, their accent, their conversation, their reaction to you (friendly, angry, puzzled)? You can see there are many ways you might find another person interesting but I suppose one of the most obvious ways is how different they are to you. Supposing you’ve not travelled much and they have. You could find their stories of places where they have been “interesting”; if they’ve met important or famous people that might also make them interesting; if they’ve lived in different places, again that may spark an interest from our side.

Is something interesting because it’s something you never knew before? Or is it interesting because you are amazed at the information or the achievement of a person or an animal in the story? I heard an interview on the radio last week-end with a guy, Jason Lewis, who with a friend who left the trip in Hawaii, travelled round the world using nothing but human power. It took him 13 years, 2 months, 23 days and 11 hours travelling west around the globe until he arrived back at the point he first started. So human power only even across seas and oceans! (They pedalled a kind of boat – 26ft x 4.5ft – across the Atlantic from Portugal to Miami in 111 days – 5,500 miles!) We were also told of a lady who had moved house using a barge. Do you think that’s interesting? When actress Imogen Stubbs was being interviewed she said that in her life she just wanted to have a go at being more interesting. Are you “trying” to be interesting in your life? The same prog has a weekly feature called Inheritance Tracks in which they ask someone (usually a celebrity type in the arts/music/literature world) to say which track or piece of music they have inherited from someone else and which one would they pass on. This week it was Mick Fleetwood (founder member of Fleetwood Mac and one-time brother-in-law to George Harrison: Mick’s 1st marriage was to Jenny Boyd sister of Patti Boyd who was married to George Harrison at the time). His inherited track may surprise you: Clap Hands Here Comes Charlie by Charlie Kunz. Interestingly the light-hearted drinking song was first performed by the California Ramblers in 1925 and became Kunz’s theme tune in the 1930s. Here’s a version by The Merrymakers with lyrics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItjoO1cEG10 Mick’s connection to the song is that it is his mother’s favourite track so he’s inherited it from her. The one he would pass on is Imagine by John Lennon. Interesting?

I am reading a number of books at the moment one of which is The Love & Wars of Lina Prokofiev by Simon Morrison. (She was the wife of Russian composer Serge Prokofiev.) In it there is a sentence which speaks of Vera Danchakoff (a scientist) and Olga (Lina’s mother) not liking the “new music” but thinking it might be “interesting” to go and hear a Bolshevik musician who, it was said, was a mad genius.

I saw Marty Cooper interviewed recently on a news prog. Are you wondering who is he? If I tell you he is considered to be the inventor of the cellular/mobile phone do you find that interesting? Certainly what he had to say about the way technology is now enabling medical smart patches worn next to the skin to send info to a mobile phone to give an early warning of a possible threat to a person’s health was very interesting.

If I tell you that the highest inhabited place in England is a village called Flash (in the county of Staffordshire) do you find that interesting? I can tell you that the Ordnance Survey map people have confirmed it using their very accurate measurement methods. Perhaps if I give you some more info and tell you it’s 463 metres (1518 ft) above sea level you might find that interesting. You might ask whether living in the highest place in England has any particular advantages. Does it mean loads of tourists who all want to take have their picture taken there? Does it bring commerce to local area?

Now if I told you that in the highest place in the UK stakes, Flash also claims for itself the no.1 spot are you interested? Its rival, Wanlockhead in Scotland, has claimed to be 13ft higher at 1531ft. Some time ago a BBC TV programme apparently used the very latest satellite technology and measured the height of the highest house in each village – 1558ft in Flash but 1456ft in Wanlockhead. That’s settled then. Apparently not, as after the show aired some years ago, the Scots then disputed the way the measurements were taken and still say their village is the highest. Oh well…. Does that make the situation interesting? It certainly excites the passions & emotions of the inhabitants on both sides of the debate but for the rest of us……

I’ve just listened to a radio programme about Jeff Bezos. You may be thinking, WHO? Or you may know he is the founder of Amazon, a multi-billion dollar company selling everything you could possibly ever want from its 30 different departments in the drop down menu. I found the programme interesting, hearing about some of his family history and how he began the whole Amazon thing.

When I did one of my regular weekly washes in my machine I noticed within the rubber seal a lot of fluff and bits collecting in the fold. It’s quite a deep fold really so needs all the stuff scooping out. In it I found bits of fluff, couple of pieces of plastic and wait for this £4.20 ($6.43) in coins! Now is that interesting? It certainly was for me as I was £4.20 ($6.43) richer.

So are we any closer to finding out what makes something interesting? Can an article about being interesting actually itself be interesting? Or are we faced with the conclusion that interesting though the discussion may be it is all very subjective? That interesting means just that – that I think something is interesting. And what I find interesting you may not and vice versa. Oh well……..I wonder do any readers have any interesting comments to make on the subject?

Showering and shopping

Yesterday, I was having a working-from-home day. There’s a lot to be said for staying at home in your jarmies to work. But I also had my instructions from Simon Gear to follow. He had asked two things from me in his book, Going Greener.

Eat fresh fruit in season to avoid the air miles, flying things across the globe so I can eat it all year round.

Shower rather than bath to save on water.

I adapted the first one slightly, given that I was looking for vegetables, not fruit. But the message was the same. Buy as locally as possible to avoid the air miles, one of the most environmentally-damaging things I probably take part in, on a day to day basis.

I decided that, actually, I would shop entirely British for eveything I needed for my planned cottage pie. So I approached the vegetable section. I needed tomatoes, carrots, potatoes and herbs.

Well, I almost gave up on the tomatoes and the herbs! All the tomatoes were from Portugal and Spain. After searching all through the different varieties, I found one variety of vine tomatoes that was grown in Britain. Phew! The cottage pie could make a start.

The herbs were from everywhere but Britain. Jordan, Egypt, Spain, Morocco, Mexico… Nothing. As I wandered off, I saw pots of herbs with little British flags printed on their labels! Hurrah! My cottage pie could have flavour! I got myself some thyme and some chives and suddenly, the world of reducing my air miles and shopping British smelled fabulous!

Next was potatoes and these weren’t hard to find. The carrots were also British, not too much trouble there.

I didn’t need mushrooms but in my excitement that so many of them were British, I got some anyway.

I learned, at this point, that lots of vegetables are from Israel. The other British ones I saw were chicory and lettuce, neither of which I needed but will keep in mind.

The beef mince was easy enough because the nice stuff in Waitrose happens to be British beef so no compromises needed there.

Getting cereal bars was fine because I know Jordans is a British company but a surprising amount were from America.

I wanted to pick up some tupperware to keep left over cottage pie in (another instruction from Simon Gear is to freeze down individual portions for emergencies then you never end up eating rubbish takeaway or bowls of icecream for dinner) but the tupperware was made in Vietnam so that was out.

I must say, it was a bit of a faff checking the small print on everything I bought but I felt sooo much better leaving the shop and knowing I’d made the effort to reduce my personal environmental impact. I also didn’t wrap my vegetables in plastic and I brought my own bags to pack my shopping in.

And now for the second challenge. This one, I knew, would be more of a mental hurdle than anything else, due to the simple fact that when it is cold and wintery, I like to have a hot bath and listen to an audiobook and pretend I am a lady of leisure.

As Simon rightly points out in his book however, when taking a bath, you use more than twice the water of a shower and, disgustingly, all the dirt that was on your feet ends up in your hair, and vice versa. Now I know this, of course I know it. But I like to pretend I don’t, due to the lady of leisure thing already mentioned.

Yesterday, despite the current cold snap and flurries of snow, I resolved to stop being a water-hog (one who hogs water, not a pig who lives in a river) and get a shower instead.

I put the plug in, to test the theory about how much less water it uses, turned it on hot and danced around a bit to some music to stay warm. After a few minutes, I could stop dancing and just enjoy it because it was quite nice actually. The cold from outside was like a test of strength. If I was tough enough to handle the cold, I could do anything!

At the end of my shower, which took 5 minutes instead of the requisite 30 for my lounging around bath sessions, the water was only just approaching my ankles. It was barely a tenth of what I use for a bath. I felt great, tinged with guilt for all the other times when I had bathed instead of showering.

And that was that! Two more boxes ticked on my quest to become more useful!

Please don’t judge me

There are many things about me that are slightly embarrassing. I have embraced those things. Things such as my inexplicable love of lists and my joy at a new filing project. Things like how I used to spend hours compiling colour coded diagrams of who was going to get what Christmas card in my class at school. Things like how I have to put on or try out things as soon as I have bought them and am leaving the shop. Things like how I secretly love dieting because I like control and restrictions (it’s mental, I know, dieting is supposed to be awful). Things like how I know all the words to The Lion King film. And to The Sound of Music. Things like how I almost tried out for the school talent show by playing Jingle Bells on my violin (badly). Things like how I supported Manchester United because I fancied Ryan Giggs. Things like how I had a thing for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Things like how Gremlins scared me so much I had nightmares about them. Things like how I once burped unexpectedly in the middle of an exam.

But there is one thing about myself that I cannot reconcile with the person I imagine I am. With the things I usually like and do. With the music and films and books I usually like. With the people I associate myself with or imagine I would like if I ever met.

This one thing is currently beyond comprehension to me as it came like a bolt of lightning from nowhere. I was as shocked as you will be.

And that is because I have the most awful thing to admit.

I like Taylor Swift’s latest song!

Shit. O god o god o god. I’m so sorry, don’t leave! I know she’s an idiot. I know it! And I know she goes out with anyone and everyone then writes entire albums about it. I know her first song about Romeo take me somewhere we can be alone was awful. It was offensive to my ears and I couldn’t stand it or her. I know her music is cheesy and unbearable. I know all these things.

But that doesn’t stop the fact that when I heard Trouble on the TV, I liked it. Ok? I just liked it. Please don’t judge me.

Are we still friends?

Hobbies I will take up in my old age

Got a slight emergency this morning as Danda’s got a gammy elbow so we’re off to A&E to see what’s wrong with it. So I shall just give you a little post today about something I’ve been debating over the past few days – the hobbies I will take up in my old age.

Music
I’ve always played piano. It’s in the family. My mother and grandmother both played. I got lessons from my grandmother for a while. And then from the music teacher in school. I can still play everything I learned from memory. I don’t have a piano now and there’s no space even if I did want one. But when I am older and can give myself over to things of fun and jollity, I will forgo my dining table, my sofa and my television so that I can fit in a grand piano and I shall become the most talented 90 year old piano player the world has ever seen. Just you wait. Perhaps I’ll play piano at the assemblies in the local primary school and they’ll all call me Grandma Laura.

Gardening
Not really proper gardening actually, as that requires skill and dedication and I shall probably forget what to water and when. Something quite straight forward. Maybe a vegetable patch. Carrots and onions and broad beans and the like. I think tomatoes aren’t too hard but they take over a bit. Anyway, I mainly want things I can either eat, or sit and look at on long summer days.

A regular contributor to Chat magazine
This speaks for itself. I will dedicate myself wholeheartedly to falling in love with inanimate objects, contracting odd diseases and photographing myself doing nothing at all and sending it in.

Knitting
When I lived in Namibia, the sun would set at 5pm and we had no TV and we had read all the books in the apartment and had run out of evening activities. Lucy had learned to knit years ago so we got some wool and knitting needles and took up knitting. In quite a serious way. In fact, we had so many scarves by the time we left that we had to give them to people as presents because we couldn’t fit them in our bags to take home! I loved getting into The Zone and just knitting the hours away. When I am older and work less or not at all, I would like to take it up again as I will have more time to learn patterns as all I can make is a scarf. I might even make some fingerless gloves!

Wordsearching
I used to be a master wordsearcher when I was younger. I never went anywhere without a wordsearch book on me. I could take it up again in my old age and maybe attend the Wordsearching World Championships?! I’d definitely win if I did so maybe I shouldn’t go, you know, give the others a chance.

On the other hand, I might just jack it all in and run off to India, a la The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel….

It’s about my aura

A little while ago, a friend at work asked me cover part of a shift for her. It was quite important so she was really grateful when I said I could cover it. She asked what she could do in return and I said I’d like her to write me a song and perform it. Which she did.

Here is that song. I thought you might like to hear it.

Oh Laura

Thank you so much for covering part of my shift,
It really means a lot, if you catch my drift.

Oh Laura, it’s something about your aura,
Yeah, your aura, mmm, mmm, yeah.

I hope it doesn’t ruin your evening,
Or give you a peculiar feeling,

Yeah, it’s your aura. Oh Laura.

Now I will owe you a favour,
As you have been my saviour.

Yeah Laura, it’s your aura…

Do you like it? I have also just remembered a song my brother made up when we were little. It wasn’t really to do with me but it was to do with something I loved dearly and his intention with the song was to poke fun and try to annoy me.

It went as follows.

“My little pony,
Skinny and bony,
Looked in the mirror,
And saw a gorilla.”

So, as you can tell, I am surrounded by musical genius. No wonder I almost became a world famous pop star.