Archive for February, 2011

Practising Eb on the Guitar

So it is done – I have been practising the guitar today-as I need to every day and trying to learn ‘It’s my Life’ and ‘Summer Breeze’ on the guitar with my eyes closed. If only I was dedicated about practice as I was about blogging.  I have no short term memory and a muscle memory of a shellfish. I don’t play any instruments well enough to warrant mentioning it when anyone asks. I am a ‘plonker ‘ on the piano…can play any chord you throw at me in a fairly funky rhythmic accompanying way..I can play the recorder as long as you don’t put more that 8 notes in a bar. I can play the fiddle well enough to accompany anyone if they just want simple drones . And the guitar. When I got my first music teaching job in a secondary school the woman in charge said, ‘you do play the guitar, as it is such a useful instrument to play as you can still see all the kids’  -she was right as well – you just can’t eyeball kids in the same way, if there is a piano in the way! ‘oh yes , I said’  ha ha ha…oh no what have I done!!!

Up to that point, Steve Carter had taught me to play  ‘Michelle , My Belle…’ at college to get through a module on something about music…and that was about it!

So that summer holiday, I played every day until my fingers nearly fell off. Played  three chord tricks with my eyes closed, for …minutes at a time.

I wish it had looked like this!

We went caravanning with Mr P.’s family and I made them sing-a -long while I played really ghastly versions of ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane ‘ and  ‘Where have all the Flowers Gone’ and all sorts of other songs with 3 chords. ( thank god they all drink a lot) By the time I got to the start of school in September I had got almost presentable in the key of  A, and D. Just as well as almost everything I used to sing was in the key of D…don’t ask me why!

So why I am singing something with an Eb in it…well there is the question. I am really trying to get better, have spent so many years being a singer who does not play an instrument…and any singers out there( especially female) will know …it is tough…almost as tough as being a drummer ha ha ha …but they still don’t have a ‘singer machine’.

SONG OF THE DAY well two actually…Sylvia and Hocus Pocus – by Focus a band from Holland…if you do nothing go to 3 minutes 39′ and hear the keyboard player Thijst, yodelling! AMAZING!

Focus comprised keyboardist and flautist  Thijst van Leer, guitarist Jan Akkerman, bassist  Martin Dresden and drummer Han Cleuver …also amazing to think in this video they are only in their mid-twenties as they look very mature!(old). Young men …beware of long hair and beards..they are very ageing.

The Desk is Clean…for a Moment!

SO the desk is clean…I am sharing this triumph as it has taken me a whole week to  get round to it, and it will probably stay like this for no more than a moment.

Before and after….. I would love it to look like this all the time but just seem destined to live between the extremes of empty clear ( well as clear as I can do) and completely bogged down with STUFF! After yesterday’s marathon blog I am gonna be short and sweet today and just spend a bit of time wallowing in the amount of space I have acquired by hiding all my paperwork so it cannot be seen ( but is still there) ha ha ha ha .

SONG OF THE DAY

Talk Talk -It’s My Life- Great chords and am learning to play this on the guitar with the help of Mickey B. who plays magnificent guitar, so no one actually notices I am miming the guitar, when we actually get to play with any audience, as I forget everything I have learned. What ever key I transpose it into, it always ends up being in a key where there is one chord I have not learned yet, as it moves all round the place. Beautiful bit of songwriting

A little quote form Wiki I like about the singer from Talk talk, ‘Despite Mark Hollis’s absence from the public eye, he (as well as Talk Talk) continue to be mentioned in the press, inside Britain and outside, often as an example of an artist who refused to sacrifice his artistic ambition to commercial success and as a yardstick for current artists.

Love Paul Webb’s bass playing.I  absolutely love this video  – bits shot in London Zoo when they still had Elephants, and would recommend you all sit down and take a few minutes out of your busy lives to wallow in its loveliness while I go and practice C sharp on the guitar .


My ‘Not So Beautiful’ Launderette


They are about to close the local laundrette!  Well, so they keep saying. The area I live in used to be a bit of a hole. I’ve lived in ‘social housing’ around here for 30 years, but as London gets fuller and fuller it has got more and more, what is that word? oh yes, desirable. My grubby street of badly built Victorian Terraces is a real mixture of  social housing, hostels, very nice whole houses, astronomically rented flats, and flats people have bought, some 25 years ago for £15,000, and some last week -the same size for £350,000. The houses at the back, in the side streets go for £1000,000. Some long-time owners  live anywhere but London – and live off the ridiculous amount of rent they can charge for a shoe boxes with a shower, cos it’s Norf London near the tube innit! Many people come and go, a few stay and get involved locally -many do not.

So across the road is a laundrette. Used to be a very nice launderette, bit of a social epicentre for the classes to mingle. If your flat was too small to have a washing machine, or you wanted to get your King-sized Siberian goose duvet washed, or your dry cleaning taken in, this was the place to go. For just a couple of quid more than it cost you to wash your own stuff, a lovely lady would do it and fold it all up!

But the row of shops with the laundrette has gone a bit up market-ish. We are now inundated with gorgeous yummy mummy’s and they’re even better looking nannys, the ‘shouty in-crowd’ (who talk very loud in the cafe, so they know they exist, who are too posh to give you eye contact, especially if you are not living in  the correct dress-size and age range), pop stars who dress in hoodies so we think they have always lived here, and  ‘hactors-dun good’ who can’t look anyone in the face, in case we recognise them from ‘Lark Rise’ or equivalent fodder,

What was an old grocer that only seemed to sell tinned tomatoes turned into a nice little deli about 4 years ago and now the empty shops have turned into a cafe – not a caff, a very nace ( yes I spelled it correctly) fancy kids clothes shop,  a hairdresser. There use to be another local  family run corner  shop that  was the size of a small garage, but has now expanded and sells organic alphalpha sprouts, goats cheese and 7 different types of granola (other things too!)

The local pub  has even turned  all ‘gastro’, much  to the relief of the residents society. When I first moved here 17 years ago from the even muckier side of the borough, the pub was like something out of the old wild west, a definate advert for not drinking, with a line of pasty old drinkers propping up the bar …waiting to die – now most of them are. It has had many metamorphisations ( not a real word) and did become a ravers paradise for a couple of years…some of the residents on my street had to get much therapy, as undesirables were creating sewage and  having sex in their front gardens at 4am in the morning and behaving very very badly!

So what to do? The lauderette is being run into the ground, and the man says a couple of months, and it will be gone, as the organic/corner shop is going to get even bigger. I hear washing machines are  very expensive to get repaired these days and 75% of launderettes have closed in the last 25 years. I only have room in my kitchen for either a dishwasher or a washing machine.  When my last washing machine filled up with the upstairs neighbour’s sewage because of a blocked pipe, and yes it is completely legal, so they tell me, to have a sewage down pipe attached to my pipes – I got my first ever  John Lewis dishwasher. It has been a blissful 4 years  – I hate washing up -did it for a living for too long when I was a struggling musician, except it has now broken …again -and is out of warranty so will cost me to get mended. So do I mend it and hope the laundrette will continue to lurch on with about  3 working washers and 2 big dryers that the whole neighbourhood are fighting over ( yes I had a fight with a woman when she brought in 4 bin liners of washing from home  and pushed in. Not in a fisty cuff-fight, just lots of blustery feathers)

I loved the laundrette…we used to wait about 10 days  and take over the biggest bag, wash and dry all in one go, nothing hanging round the flat. There are going to be loads of people who will miss it……obviously a bigger food shop is a  better money spinner than a laundrette in an area where many people are better off, and often  have more money than sense ( the corner shop is not cheap) and have their  nanny’s to do their laundry. But surely a launderette is an important part of a community? There are  still a lot of older people, single men, students living in the big halls of residence nearby ( maybe they have their own) people who live in very small places,  young people with not so much cash (and soon there will be more) the local football teams, who  still need it. Of course if it is all broken they won’t. I am seriously gutted, and feel the necessity to do a bit of banner throwing and foot stamping…but it would not get me anywhere, as it is all about profit, not community. Am going to have to find a stream nearby.  Ah well!

SONG OF THE DAY

We had a song with a Chic sample yesterday so feel we need to pay homage to the to the world of Chic, as there is still time to dance around the kitchen table! Another R.I.P to Bernard Edwards the kicking bass player and homage to Nile Rogers the alive and kicking  guitar man.