Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Inner Emotions of the Festive Season and Mother Nature

And breathe. And relax. Let go of all the stresses and emotions that surround the festive season.

Easier said than done!

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas but every year, for various reasons that rattle round and round in my head, another little bit of the magic dies. Maybe it’s to do with the kids growing up and the fact that there’s no more cookies and milk being left out for Santa, with a carrot on the side for Rudolph. More likely it’s to do with more complex relationships. Who knows!

For the last few years, regardless of the weather, I’ve taken time out on Christmas Eve to go for a walk along the beach. For those few brief moments, I can relax and attempt to put my “emotional” house in order before returning home to “do” Christmas.

This year was no different.

Camera in hand I set off for a chilly, bracing walk that was cut short by a torrential shower of icy rain. Suitably refreshed – well, blown away and soaked- I returned home.

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On Christmas Day, the Big Green Gummi Bear and I found ourselves with an hour or so to spare before the rest of the family arrived. In a vain attempt to prevent us from eating too many nibbles, we went for a walk back towards the beach. Again, as ever, my camera was to hand.

What a difference a day makes! It was gloriously peaceful as the sun went down.

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It struck me, as I uploaded the photos from both walks onto the laptop that Mother Nature had mirrored my own emotional state.

Christmas Eve in complete emotional turmoil; Christmas Day calm and considerably more relaxed.

On 27 December, Saturday, I wandered off in the direction of the beach for the third time in four days.

I stood on the sand and watched the sun set on another festive season with a sigh of relief and a smile on my lips.

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Pre Christmas Chaos – gotta love it!

Up to my eyes in lists, wrapping paper and general festive chaos. Why do we do this to ourselves every year?

On the plus side though, the house smells amazing as I’ve been burning my Christmas candles with zero complaint so far from the Big Green Gummi Bear! (He hates smelly candles)

Keeping things short and sweet this week – “complete blog post” was on the To Do list though so at least I can tick one thing off!

Here’s a short poem that I penned a few years back whilst in a similar state of pre-Christmas chaos.

Have a fabulous Christmas when it comes and thank you so much for all your support with my blog this year.

Festive Countdown

Turkey’s in the freezer

Wine’s in the rack

Veg is in the cupboard

And the cream’s in the fridge- almost forgot that!

Christmas is coming so fast

Presents in the wardrobe

Cards on the mantelshelf

Wreath’s on the door

The tree shines bright.

Christmas is coming way too fast!

Now where can I hide?……

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Musical Reflections on 2014

It’s been quite some year for gigs around here, especially over the last three months, as some of you may have noticed.

Last night marked the last gig in my 2014 calendar.

In an almost ritualistic manner, I boarded the train to Glasgow, chaperoned by Boy Child, to head off to the O2 ABC (yes- there again!) to see Rival Sons.

The mother in me scolded Boy Child for coming out without a jacket. Who in their right mind goes out in t-shirt and jeans in Scotland in December? Oh, that’ll be my son! Yes, I stood shaking my head in disbelief at his stupidity, as he stood shivering in the queue outside the venue. Muppet!

Rival Sons were fabulous. I had no pre-conceptions as to what they would be like live. I’d been warned that their front man’s voice was beginning to suffer a little as they are nearing the end of their tour. The extra huskiness was evident but, on occasion, seemed to enhance the performance. It was a fantastic show.

If you’ve never heard of this band from California check them out. If you listen to nothing else that they’ve done, look up “Where I’ve Been” and “Jordan” online. Stunning songs.

Like all good things, the show came to an end and we headed out of the venue into the cold and back towards the station, via KFC, in time to catch the last train home. And, yes, Boy Child was shivering again!

At the last count, I think, I’ve been to eleven gigs this year and seen about twenty five bands/artists. Not many by some die hard fans’ standards but no mean feat for me.

Highs and lows then of the 2014 Gig Year? …. Ask me an easy one!

The highs have to be the two Slash shows. After waiting for twenty seven years to see him play live, to now have seen him play twice within a month is a dream come true (as I’ve blogged previously). You just can’t beat standing in that confetti shower while “Paradise City” plays!

The lows came at the first Slash show at the O2 Academy. Being swept off my feet and feeling flung about like a rag doll during the opening three numbers of Biffy Clyro’s set that night was far from enjoyable. Yes, I’ll admit to being too old for that carry on! Getting doused in a cup full of piss later on in the evening was simply disgusting. I get that folk need to pee during a gig, especially after a few beers. I get that some guys are too lazy to make it to the men’s room and choose to relieve themselves into their empty beer cups but what lowlifes then feel the need to fling the full cup into the crowd? It’s beyond revolting. (rant over)

A major high point of the year was taking my baby girl to her first gig. Watching her lap it all up and seeing the look on her face as Halestorm took to the stage was a beautiful sight.(Yes, it was the O2 ABC again) Precious memories. Move on a few months, and seeing her relaxed, happy and smiling in the company of The Conspirators back stage at the Hydro made my heart sing. In fact, seeing both my munchkins (and FB Son) behave impeccably while meeting The Conspirators and Myles Kennedy made me feel very proud to be their mum.

A few friends have shared this year’s musical journey with me and there are numerous memories from these shows that are special. I have to say though that the look on one particular friend’s face after seeing Airbourne play live, and their immediate reaction, was priceless and the memory of it still makes me giggle.

I’ve met some wonderful people through music this year. I’ve made a few friends along the way and yes, been fortunate enough to meet a few very talented musicians. Again, more memories that are oh so very special!

So, when does Rock Mum come back out to play? Not until mid-February next year – and, yes, it’s at the O2 ABC again! Oh, it seems a very LONG way away right now!

Before then though another persona is set to emerge at the end of January – Rock Wife.

The Big Green Gummi Bear’s going to a gig! It will be his first this century. In fact, the first this millennium!

The venue this time? Where else but the O2 ABC!

I can’t wait to see how that one pans out!

A Green Triangle To Paradise City – dreams do come true!

I’ve sat down several times over the past few days to pen this blog. The end result has been the same every time. As soon as I start to write, a smile creeps across my lips and all coherent thoughts vanish in a cloud of twinkly stars.

For several months, Thursday 4 Dec has been marked on my calendar- Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators (aka SMK&C) at the Hydro Glasgow. When the tickets were purchased, this show was scheduled to make the dream of finally seeing Slash play live come true. That dream magically became a reality on Nov 7th as I’ve blogged previously. Last Thursday, however, turned into a completely magical “once-in-a lifetime” experience.

Through the wonders of rock music and social media interaction, I’ve become friends with a lady from Indiana, USA. Over the past few months, we’ve chatted online and the friendship has grown. To cut a very long story, that is her’s to tell, short- HINT HINT about that journal, young lady!- the final stop on her European Tour 2014 was also to be the Hydro on Dec 4th. Finally, I was going to get the opportunity to meet my FB friend face-to-face!

There had been whispers of promises of great things for the evening that I hadn’t dared to get my hopes up about. Mid-afternoon, she confirmed she had a treat in store for us.

Chaperoned by my usual teenage minders – Boy Child, Girl Child and FB Son (Boy Child’s friend) – plus one of my Rock Chick friends, this Rock Mum headed out to play.

One minor issue – how do you find someone that you’ve never met in a crowd of circa 10 000? Easily as it turns out!

As we queued to gain entry to the arena’s bowl, I spotted her coming through the main door, looking all round her. Waving and calling out her name, I caught her attention and she came rushing over to greet us. With the hugs and introductions complete, she opened an envelope and passed me five green triangular stickers – one for each of us. Clearly written across the sticker it said   “Slash Aftershow TDK”!

With arrangements made as to where to meet after the show, we all headed into the arena. It was the rock show to end all rock shows! Despite sound quality issues the first support act, Twenty Two Hundred, did a stellar job in front of quite a small crowd for such a big room. As the rock fans piled in, the second band of the evening took to the stage. This was Glenn Hughes’ new band California Breed. He may be over sixty now but boy can that guy sing! Fabulous set! With the crowd roused to the brink of ecstasy, California Breed left the stage.

Shortly before nine, the house lights dimmed and the creepy clown freak show music began to filter out signalling the imminent arrival of SMK&C. For two hours, SMK&C ruled the stage and commanded the Glasgow crowd. The set ran to some twenty one songs and was a fantastic mix of new and old SMK&C material, classic Guns N Roses and a sprinkling of Velvet Revolver. They played almost all of my personal favourites. Throughout the entire set, I drank in every note, watched every movement and, to be honest, was completely and utterly mesmerised.

The band had a treat in store for the Scottish fans. At the start of their encore, they welcomed Glenn Hughes and Andrew Watt out on stage and played a fantastic rendition of the Deep Purple classic “Burn.” An incredible sight to behold!

As the confetti rained down (guess who forgot to close over her handbag- oops!) during the show closer “Paradise City”, I could feel my nervous excitement mounting.

If watching these guys rule the stage wasn’t enough of a dream-come-true moment, part two was about to commence.

As the rest of the audience trooped happily towards the exits, with trembling hands, we applied our magical “green triangles” to our shirts. Along with a couple of dozen other lucky fans, we were ushered through a door beside the stage and along a maze of backstage corridors into a very basic room, littered with tables and chairs and instructed to wait. While we waited, we all began to chat, introducing ourselves and forming friendships. After about an hour, the door opened and The Conspirators came quietly into the room. Well, two of them did. One definitely failed to slip in unnoticed! It was bassist Todd Dammit Kerns’ birthday and his arrival was met with a loud chorus of “Happy Birthday” that he lapped up with a huge grin.

The next forty five minutes were magically surreal. Even now, five days later, I have to pinch myself and look at the photos (any excuse!) to remind myself it actually happened. The content of our conversations will remain private as these few moments are treasured memories. I became a very proud Rock Mum as Boy Child and Girl Child politely chatted with these rock stars, neither of them the least bit fazed. Much to my great surprise, it was Rock Chick friend who was a tad shy and star struck – meeting Todd Kerns left her completely tongue tied!

I surprised myself, if I’m being honest. I joked and chatted to Todd Kerns, then with Frank Sidoris, who was particularly sweet with the kids, then Brent Fitz, who laughed when I confessed to having zero sense of rhythm. In some respects, it felt like the most natural thing in the world to be doing late on a Thursday night/early Friday morning. In others, it was the most unbelievable few minutes.

The icing on the cake was still to come.

The door opened and a fourth rock star crept quietly into the room, all bundled up in hat, scarf and jacket in readiness for the cold December night air that awaited them all.

It was Myles Kennedy.

Yes, I met Myles! Yes, I spoke to Myles and even managed a brief but sensible conversation with him. Yes, I got my photo taken with him and got a hug into the bargain. Yes, it actually happened! Dream come true!

As the guys were ushered out to the waiting tour bus, I watched them depart, already thinking – did I just dream that?

There’s photos to prove that I didn’t!

I can’t find words to describe how grateful I am for the kindness and friendship shown to us by one wonderful lady from Indiana. If ever there was someone who truly lives the “pay-it-forward” ethos, it is this larger than life rock fan. She is an inspiration!

Thanks to her, many of us around the world have memories to treasure for a lifetime.

I’ve teased her relentlessly on FB over her dedication and devotion to SMK&C, particularly Todd Kerns, calling her their “Rock Mama”.

Last Thursday night, she was everyone’s Rock Mama and, I’m pretty sure I speak for all of us who were given the gift of a magical “green triangle”, when I say a HUGE thank you to the one and only, Janette Martin.

Rock Mama, you took us all to Paradise City!

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What A Difference A Year Can Make

It’s December again – how did that happen? Wasn’t Christmas just the other week? Scary how fast this year has gone.

Despite the wave of panic that is rising at the thought of Christmas being just over three weeks away, I took a moment or two to reflect this week.

In 2012, I sat myself down, did a lot of soul searching and gave myself a stern talking to. It was time to find something to do just for me; something to restore my self-belief. (It had taken a bit of a pounding.) It was time to find a creative outlet. After a lot of thought, I chose to complete a photographic challenge. During 2013, I took one photo for every day of the year, trying to ensure that it reflected something pertinent about the day. The photos were posted in an album on my Facebook wall and I was blown away by the number of friends who commented on and liked the results. Completing it gave me a tremendous sense of achievement and went some ways to restoring my self-confidence.

For 2014’s challenge, I deliberated long and hard. In the back of my mind there was a longer term goal beginning to form. I decided to use 2014 to overcome a major hurdle that lay in the way of that goal.

I had to overcome the fear of letting people read what I write.

As an aspiring writer, it is a crippling fear to have.

Starting this blog, as a means to overcome my fears, seemed like the logical creative challenge for the year ahead. The exact challenge I set myself was to complete and publish one blog post per week. (This will be blog post number fifty nine so I’ve exceeded my target.)

Little did I know how things would turn out.

During January and into February, I felt physically sick with nerves every time I hit “publish” on the screen. Gradually, however, it got easier. I began to add some poems onto my blog page, some as part of that week’s post.

While sitting in the car, in the dark, outside the high school, waiting for Boy Child to finish band practice, I wrote a short story called “The Imp” and posted it to my blog. Originally it was meant to be one short story but the interest it sparked among friends amazed me and The Imp’s tale was spun out to nine parts (and isn’t finished yet – I promise he will be back next year.)

In April, I answered a friend’s plea for assistance and wrote my first music review. I’ve just counted and, to date, I’ve written thirty one reviews for http://www.phoenixmusiconline.org  including reviews of five live shows, with more in the pipeline.

Music has played an enormous part in my life this year –much to the despair of The Big Green Gummi Bear, who doesn’t share my musical tastes. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to several gigs, with another two still to go before Christmas, that have inspired blog posts and reviews. Through the music review bit, I’ve also been lucky enough to befriend two up-and-coming bands – one from the USA and one from Australia. I’m looking forward to following both bands’ careers as they continue towards mega-stardom and headline appearances and to reviewing their future releases and shows.

Mid-year, music, or my love of one particular artist, led to another opportunity to exercise my creative side when I was asked to help admin a Facebook fan page for a couple of weeks while the two regular admins took a holiday. For one reason or another, six months down the line, I’m still happily helping out and loving every minute of it. This has also led me to make several new “FB friends” from around the world, some of whom I hope to meet later this week.

So, here we are, almost at the end of 2014, and looking forward to 2015’s challenge.

I hinted earlier that there was a longer term goal in mind when I began this blog and 2015’s challenge will be to turn that dream into reality.

In May 2013, I began the first draft of what will become my first novel. (There, I’ve finally said it!) I’m a bit old-fashioned and prefer to write long-hand for my first drafts then type the piece up as a first re-draft. So, while I’ve been doing all the other things I’ve just told you about (plus the normal day-to-day things like going to work and running the household) I’ve typed up the first draft and am part way through the re-drafting and editing process, with the help of several wonderful, dedicated friends. Without these guys, I would’ve long since lost the will to live over the enormity of the whole project. (From the bottom of my heart, I thank each of you for all the support, encouragement and feedback you’ve given me so far.)

The challenge for 2015, with the help of these beautiful people, and a couple of others, who are still to be drafted in and don’t know it yet, is to get my book published.

I think, I might have finally conquered my fear of letting people read what I write so 2014’s challenge can be deemed a success on that score. The blog and reviews and all the other mischief, including the occasional photography foray, will keep going  into next year and beyond, I hope.

Now Christmas beckons…guess I’d better turn my attention to that for a short while. Time to write a list!