Monday, 30 November 2015

NaNoWriMo and me

It's not the winning, it's the taking part that counts.

Yeah, right.

Yet again, my NaNoWriMo has fallen by the wayside. And you can read why here.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Betcha by golly wow: a trip down memory lane

The Stylistics were never my favourite band, although I liked them. They were just there, always there. Part of a soundtrack to a life.

Who can forget this?
They seemed to be on top of that skyscraper roof for weeks in the summer of 1975. I was coming up to fourteen and probably blackcurrant picking at the time, the sun on my back and fingers weary and stained purple, just to earn thirty five pence a bucket.

There was a radio playing in the next row of bushes and Rod Stewart's Sailing was poised to take over the top spot in the Top Ten with Roger Whittaker and The Last Farewell not far behind. The high seas were a popular subject back then, with The Onedin Line a weekly treat on the telly.

I can't say I was struck with either of those songs. There was a load of rubbish in the charts, including The Bay City Rollers. I shudder at the thought of how I made my mother sew tartan inserts into my half-mast trousers.

Still, there were some corkers in the UK top ten of 24 August 1975. Remember these?
Fast forward a few years and I was still crazy about music, of all genres, dipping into Punk, New Wave and Electronica along the way.

I remember seeing my favourite band of all time, The Four Tops, at the late-lamented Cornwall Coliseum in the early 1980s when acquaintances were into Bauhaus, Japan and other pretentious tosh.
I was a trainee journalist at Plymouth with my own pop page (I'm flinching, thinking it might have been called something naff like Teen Scene. Ugh). In my review of the Four Tops I said something along the lines that this was a band which would be remembered long after the latest crop of fashion victims were forgotten.

It wasn't my smartest move but at least my flatmate stood by me.

"Darling, just look over your shoulder. Reach out, I'll be there."
Anyway, I digress. Back to The Stylistics. About seventeen years ago, Mr Grigg and I went on a soul weekender at Butlins. It was epic. I've been trying to organise a Lush Places trip there ever since, but I've yet to convince my friends and neighbours that they'll enjoy it, they really will.

In amongst a star-studded line up which included The Real Thing and Heatwave, topping the bill were The Stylistics. I remember watching them from the back of a vast room, three white suits shining like beacons of soul-tastic joy in a room full of strangers.

They belted out hit after hit. I'd forgotten The Stylistics had had so many brilliant singles.

So when I saw they were coming to Weymouth Pavilion, I wasn't slow in booking tickets, which is just as well because last night's gig was a sell-out. I told my friends on Facebook that I didn't care if the band members were sitting in wing-backed chairs and being administered multiple drips by a nurse, as long as they could sing while they were receiving their medication.

They're a four-piece these days, with only two original members of the group strutting their stuff, although one of them, Airrion Love, had a stool to rest on every now and then because he'd just discovered the chronic pain he's suffering is the result of a kidney stone.

There were ladies on girls' nights out, retired police inspectors, HR managers, the lot. All had one thing in common, they were out for a good time. And a good time they had too, with all the old favourites on the set list. And of course, they left the best until last, sadly without the presence of Love who failed to come back for the encore, the pain probably too much.

I can't give you anything but this grainy photo from my phone. In this picture, Love is singing Only You but struggling to hit the notes.
Despite this, it was £25 well spent for a wonderful, nostalgic and magical night out. Let's hope Love makes a full recovery.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Halloween comes and goes in Lush Places, complete with spooky soundtrack

With November comes the fog and Lush Places becomes Slush Places once more.
It's muddy underfoot and the dog has a field day gobbling up all the sheep's poo and getting filthy on harvested ground.
But that's the way I like it.

Halloween is the day of days; bright, cheerful and sunny. Yet my portal into another world - the mirror in the village square where the ley lines cross - foretells of darker days ahead: red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning.
October, a rare month for boys. And for girls, too, Mr Bradbury.


Imbibed with the power of the sisterhood and Samhain, I ponder on what to wear for the Halloween party in the pub, at which Ding Dong Daddy and I are doing the disco. I plump for an old favourite, a dark wig entwined with plastic snakes which transforms me instantly into Medusa. When I'm wearing this little number, just don't look into my eyes.
In the pub now and Ding Dong Daddy is doing a great impression of Uncle Fester without even putting on fancy dress. There's a pumpkin being sick on the doorstep, spiders and bats on the windows, ghouls and ghosts, slain schoolchildren, characters from horror films, my sister-in-law doing her chicken dance and then General Custer - he of the face carved out of Mount Rushmore - sporting a long black coat and an Edvard Munch Scream mask.

The Monster Mash is playing on the decks and then we break into a completely 0ff-the-cuff segue of Kid Rock and All Summer Long, the original and best Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd and then merging into Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon.

So proud of ourselves for this stroke of DJ genius, Ding Dong Daddy (shattered after a long Afro Celt Sound System recording session) and I give each other a high-five but our audience hasn't even noticed our musical magic, although they're quick to snigger loudly when we crash into Michael Jackson's Thriller too soon after Gene Pitney's and Marc Almond's Something Gotten Hold of My Heart.

Still, nothing prepares me for the sight of Mr Grigg, last seen back at base moaning he had nothing to wear. He emerges through the door clutching a pint and looking like the love child of The Grinch and Papa Lazarou from The League of Gentlemen.
 
The music flows, as does the wine and beer, until it's November 1st and All Souls Day. Unlike Halloween, it's misty, miserable and wet.

So, all the greetings of the season to you. I will leave you with this...
That's about it.

Love Maddie x

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