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.


Bacon Butty and a Cup of Tea with my Grandad

Blog task for the day– If you could have anything to eat right now, what would it be? If you could eat this food with anyone alive or who has ever lived, who would it be? 3) Find and share a photo of what you’d like to eat or the person from.

My Grandad, Robert died on the 22nd April 1960, the day before my 1st birthday. He was living in a home for sick coal miners in Blackpool, and coughed his lungs up, from epysema. His birthday was the 24th April-the day after mine. He was 59 years and 364 days older than me, and found out I was ‘on the way’ he was living in the home for miners as he was too sick to live at home, Grandma went to visit him and called him Grandad. He got to hold me, but I wish he had been around long enough to share a bacon sandwich and a brew with me.

I have a gluten intolerance, so sandwiches of all kinds are just so not good. Though like all food intolerances, it becomes the food you crave or can become fairly addicted to. So I want thick white crusty bread that is really soft, with unsalted butter, good free range organic bacon,  strong English Mustard, and a good steaming, mug of tea with whole milk in it.

I should like to meet my Grandad in a real old workers cafe and just have a good old chin wag with him. He and my Grandma were both born in the Chinese year of the pig ( same year as Fred Astaire)  1899 and me and Mr P. are both born in the year of the Pig. I hear that my grandad was very funny, but apart from that I know so little about him, possibly because my Dad spent most of his childhood in a tuberculosis santitorium and only saw his Dad for two hours once a month – on strict orders from the powers that where the powers that be, as they thought it would upset children to see their parents more than that. My Dad tells me that every month his Dad would tell him he was going to smuggle him out of the hospital in his pocket…sadly he never did.

So a bacon butty and a cuppa with Robert, though we may have to stay for a few!

Today my blog has been a complete nightmare -I think Apple mac have put a curse on my computers for dissing their  rubbish headphones, so everything has taken about 5 times as long to do…so all my valiant efforts to clean my office are once again thwarted. Also it has been like Grand Junction station round here with people running up and down the stairs of the house outside my flat….eek…so much for a bit of peace.

SONG OF THE DAY -Peg STEELYDAN

If I had my choice of backing vocalists I would choose Michael McDonald too -yes he is there in this glorious track…another reason why AJA completely rocks!


PET HATE! Apple Speakers Charading as Headphones

A gripe about Apple coming from someone who lives for her Mac –which would probably be the thing I would clutch as I ran from a burning building (apart from Mr P of course). But I have a PET HATE which is on my mind…again. Any time I am in a public space and I can hear someone else’s music blaring through the airways, I could bet you, almost, and I am clearly saying almost, every time, the owner of the ‘name that tune’ ‘ if I turn my music up loud enough I can pretend that all the people in this carriage are not here’- ‘but we are here and boy do we know that you are there!’ is wearing cheap, or should I SAY FREE nasty, Apple headphones-which are in fact SPEAKERS charading as headphones. I  am about ready to get up in a crowded carriage on the tube and start doing a middle aged  pole dance in my chorderoys – which today I cannot spell correctly- and sensible shoes to the beat of the  next person listening to their death metal or dub step through SMALL APPLE SPEAKERS.  THEY BLEED. AND THEY BLEED BAD. I can usually hear them over my good  Shure headphones that don’t bleed at all as they were designed to be headphones, not speakers.

They should have  a warning on the pack when you get them free with your shiny new iphone or ipod  ‘YOU GOT THESE HEADPHONES FREE BUT THEY BLEED  BAD AND IF YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC IN PUBLIC PLACES AT A HIGH VOLUME YOU ARE GOING TO P***S EVERY ONE OFF IN A 25 FOOT VICINITY. And you can get a lot of people in a  25 foot vicinity in a train, bus or tube. I have done a lot of tapping feet and drummer impersonations,’parradiddle parradiddle’ staring straight at the offending ‘music-lover’ -possibly they don’t even realise I am kicking to the beat of their music, but funnily people who are listening to music at a decibel that will mean they will be deaf in 10 years anyway seem to have very little going on between their ears…ha ha ha ha! I find it amazing that they don’t realise. Every one is looking at them with the death stare.  I could go on and on but my life is ticking away in front of my very eyes- so lets dance!

So a good dance track to cheer us up on a very grey Wednesday. mmmm.

SONG OF THE DAY Booty Luv did a nice little cover of this song…but tributes to Luther Vandross , may he rest in peace…what a voice and feel.  The song  uses the main riff from Chic ‘My Forbidden Lover’ SHINE -nice sentiment too on such a grey day. It is your time to shine!

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How long do you think you could go without a shower?

The question was mooted by Scott Berkun one of our Daily POST MENTORS. I am not being impolite, I assure you, but I am, possibly quite wrongly assuming that this question is being asked by an American.Let me now give you a bit of insight into many Brit’s relationship to a shower -particularly if you have reached a certain age. We never had a shower in our house when we grew up. We had  a rubber hose you could attach to the bath taps if things got desperate for a quick hair wash, and desperate you would have to be to use it, as it was a recipe for disaster. You held the hose in one hand, so always ended up getting water everywhere that you did not want. You would have to turn the hose off while you got shampoo and the conditioner out of the bottle, then the water would go cold, or you would try to open the shampoo bottle while holding the hose and get water everywhere!

So , repeating myself for effect, we never had a shower in our house when I was a kid…lucky to have a bathroom. I remember my Grandma having her bathroom put in, under her stairs in the 1970’s. So when I was a kid we had  A BATH A WEEK  and the rest of the week we washed. FLANNELS ARE BIG IN BRITAIN…MANY OF US OWN MANY. And in case you do not know what a flannel is, it is a small square of towel that you wet under very hot water to help you with the soap when washing…

As an adult I never lived in a house with any heating, poor musician, until I was 35, and the last thing you want to do is strip off in a freezing cold bathroom to get under a cold shower! We bathe, not to get clean, but to keep warm.

At present my flat has a shower! Really, the first house I have ever had that does, but  you cannot get under it, or jump into it, as it is attached to a wall of the bath, so you stand in the bath, risking life and limb. It is attached to the far wall behind the taps and so you can shower one side of your body at a time…very uncomfortable.

I have friends who will not move into a flat unless the shower is good. Having never in my life had a good shower, I prefer to bathe. I love big deep hot bubbly baths, with a couple of drops of the essential oil of the day. Always deeply disappointed if I stay anywhere and they do not have a big bath.  Many people find the idea of soaking in hot water up to your chin revolting, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

I go stay in a place 8 miles from the nearest pub, shop that has no bathroom, just a hot tap. Blinking luxury! When I am there after about a week of washing  in a bowl, I start to miss the bath. But the shower…well I suppose it’s about not missing it if you really have never had it.

SONG OF THE DAY

One of my lovely bloggers ordinary-miracles has introduced me to Seals and Croft. I mentioned my love of  ‘Summer Breeze’ and she sent me a link to the original song writers who I had never heard before…another thing that maybe did not make it across the Atlantic with the Power Showers in the 1970’s. Thanks