Tag Archives: friends

As Staycation 2016 draws to a close….time to reflect

BeFunky Collage 1

OK a bit of a cheat’s post but I’m sure you’ll forgive me.

The above collage sums up Staycation 2016 – bare feet, coffee, cinnamon bagels, writing, some typing (yes, I’ve begun the typing marathon that will become Bonded Souls …eventually!), a couple of cocktails, some photography, some great live music and , of course, several pairs of Converse!

 

Advertisements

My Secret Chaperone….meet Cherry

cherry

Anyone who’s followed my blog musings here or on my music blog, The525To Glasgow ( https://the525toglasgow.wordpress.com/ ), knows I’m prone to escaping “out to play” on occasion.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been chaperoned by a variety of close friends, Facebook son, Boy Child’s friends, Boy Child, Girl Child and, on one memorable occasion, The Big Green Gummi bear even came out to play.

There’s been many an incredible night and countless precious memories created!

Throughout it all there’s been “someone” who’s been by my side every time. Someone who until now has remained anonymous. Someone who will remain silent and never tell tales (what happens at a gig stays at a gig!) Not once have they complained that it’s too hot, too crowded, too loud or that we’ve been out too late.

So who is this mystery chaperone?

Her name is Cherry. (I’m sure she’s a Black Stone Cherry fan as she’s now seen them play live four times!)

Cherry is the Kipling monkey who hangs from my “gig bag”.

Yes, the same handbag comes to every show. It’s a veritable tardis! It’s small and compact and is my own version of a “Hermione bag”. The back pocket can hold up to three t-shirts from the merchandise stall. The main pocket safeguards my purse, keys, phone, contact lens case etc. The long narrow front pocket hides the Dextro tablets and,of course, the “rock’n’roll” polo mints! It is the perfect gig bag!

When I first decided to take this bag with me I was worried that Cherry might get pulled off in the crowd. I considered removing her from the ring on the side of the bag for safe keeping (She is quite cute and I’d hate to lose her) but something made me leave her where she was.

She’s a lucky monkey! She’s seen many a great band plus a few dodgy support acts. She’s been faithfully by my side as I’ve queued outside venues in the freezing cold or the pouring rain or both without a murmur of complaint. She’s been doused in water and beer in the crowd.

She’s been lucky enough to meet a few rock stars too! (there is a certain star struck look to her wee face)

But, for now, she’s hanging quietly in the wardrobe, patiently waiting for our next date.

My gig calendar is currently empty- a tragic state of affairs that I intend to rectify as soon as I can! Once the next show arrives then Cherry and I plus human chaperones will be off out to play once more!

Rock’n’roll polo mint anyone?

Cherry collage

Spring – a Festival of Colours

It’s no secret – I hate winter. I loathe being cold, detest snow and hate the long dark days. (OK I concede that a wild winter’s night can be cosy with the heating on, candles burning and the curtains drawn tight to shut out the weather)

Spring is finally here! Winter is over for another year!

For me, one of the first signs of spring is the arrival of that first day when I am able to drive home from work without having to put the car’s headlights on. That always feels like a small moral victory.

Seeing all the spring flowers appear makes the world a more colourful place. Who can resist daffodils, crocuses and tulips?

Hearing the birds singing in the trees and bushes, bursting with buds, is a beautiful sound (Perhaps with the exception of that wee bird that sits out the back of our house going Twee Twee Twee at the top if it’s voice!)

Spring truly is something to celebrate!

Whilst I’m not a religious person Easter too signals the arrival of spring.

This year however an alternative spring festival has come to my attention.

In the salt mine, where I work in my “real world”, we work closely with colleagues based in India. This week we helped them to celebrate the Hindu festival Holi, also known as the Festival of Colours. We were all asked to come into work in colourful clothes – yes, I do actually own some clothes that aren’t black!

Curious to learn more about Holi, I did a little research that I thought I’d share with you all.

Holi is one of India’s most popular festivals and is celebrated on the full moon of the month of Phalguna in the Hindu calendar. This year that fell on 23rd March. Holi celebrates the end of winter and the arrival of spring. It also traditionally celebrates the victory of good over evil.

There are several legends associated with the Festival of Colours.

The story of Holika and Prahlad is one of the most important tales relating to the history of Holi. According to legend, there was a time when the entire world was ruled by a demon king, Hiranyakashyap. He was ruthless and expected everyone to worship him. Prahlad refused to. Instead Prahlad was devoted to Lord Naarayana, also known as Lord Vishnu. This was a huge issue for Hiranyakashyap because Prahlad was his son. On numerous occasions,  the demon king tried to murder his son, only to be thwarted every time by Lord Vishnu.

Hiranyakashyap enlisted some help to deal with Prahlad in the form of a demon called Holika. Holika was believed to be immune to the effects of fire. She enticed Prahlad into her clutches and, once he was within her reach, she grabbed him, sat him on her lap and sat them both in a pit of flames. Holika soon discovered to her cost that she was only immune to fire if she entered the flames alone. The fire consumed her. Prahlad emerged from the flames unharmed. He later learned the Lord Vishnu had granted him protection from the flames as a reward for his devotion.

A second legend associated with the Festival of Colours is the love story of Radha and Krishna.

When Lord Krishna was young, he was envious of the Radha’s fair skin. (Radha was a Hindu goddess). In an attempt to express his feelings of love and envy, Krishna rubbed colour onto Radha’s face. This act of “colouring” another person is now considered to be an expression of friendship and love.

So how is Holi celebrated?

On the eve of Holi, as midnight approaches, many people build large bonfires and gather round them to sing and dance and spend time with family and friends. The fire symbolises the death of Holika and the triumph of good over evil.

A tradition drink called Bhang is also prepared and enjoyed during Holi. Bhang is made from a cannabis paste…I’ll leave that thought there.

The next day, the Festival of Colours continues with the throwing of coloured powder or coloured water as people dash through the streets of the cities across India. This is a lively celebration of respect, love and devotion to the deities, friends and family.

Different areas of India celebrate in subtly different ways. There are so many diverse cultures across this vast country that many celebrate in their own unique way.

Jaipur, a popular destination for travellers, centres its festival around elephants and upbeat music.

Delhi adopts a more modern approach and hosts a vibrant festival of food and music, designed for family and friends to relax and have fun.

After the recent tragic events, carried out in the name of religion, that are dominating the world’s news, the idea of celebrating a triumph of good over evil around a bonfire, with a drink or two and in the company of family and friends sounds like a good idea to me.

Holika-DahanHoli_coloursholi-historyholi-festival-of-colors1Holi12cf4d6db5a7397816079ffbb8e7e7767elephant-festival-night-before-holi-jaipur

 credits to the owners of all photos – sourced form Google Images

Announcing A New Arrival – Impossible Depths

A Leap Day act of faith but Book Baby 2 aka Impossible Depths has made its debut on Amazon worldwide. EEK!

I still can’t quite believe it’s real. Can’t get me head round the fact that its done and out there for the world to see.

Like it’s predecessor, Impossible Depths was written long hand over many months. (I began writing it towards the end of 2013) It began “life” as four A4 notepads that have grown increasingly tatty over the months.

  IMAG3866 (1)

 

Painstakingly it was typed up – all 142 299 words of it -and re-drafted and tweaked and grammar checked and tweaked…..yes the OCD began to kick in big time!

Throughout this phase of its development I couldn’t have kept going without the love and support and encouragement of my “Infamous Five”. Seriously, I can’t thank those guys enough for putting up with me and for giving me so many hours of their own precious time.

 Then came the next challenge. I had my Book Baby 2 almost formed but it was naked! The cover went through several incarnations before I finally settled on the stock photography image that became the cover. The next hurdle to be overcome was Photoshop (it hates me) but under the patient guidance of my “fairy godmother”, I designed the cover and eventually pulled it together in both Kindle format and Create Space paperback format. Now that was a fiddly job!

 By this stage, I was in the final throes of preparation for Book Baby 2’s arrival into the world and it was passed to “the cavalry” to read through. My two beta readers who prefer the story as a whole instead of per “chunk”. Huge thanks to you both for your feedback and support.

Cue more tweaking!

 Then came the day to upload the files onto Create Space and to order the first “real” proof copy. (Having an actual physical copy is so much easier to proof than using the online previewer. Invaluable advice given to me by my “fairy godmother”)

Cue more tweaking and a pile of post it corrections! And an alteration to the resolution of the front cover. A fuzzy cover just wouldn’t do!

IMAG3861

  And now, many, many months down the line, my Book Baby 2 has flown the nest and is making its way in the world of rock romance fiction.

Like any proud mother, I am now sitting back and watching my baby continue on its journey. (Well, to be honest, I’m fretting about how it will do in the big bad world just like any new mother would do.) Some of you may love it; some of you may loathe it. It’s a fiction genre that’s not for everyone but to me these characters are a huge part of my life and very close to my heart.

So I guess it’s time to crack open the champagne and wet the baby’s head.

 IMAG2022_1_2

 

If you want to check it out, here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01C0GS30K?keywords=impossible%20depths&qid=1456764709&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

The Opening Night of Gig Season 2016 – the Carnival of Madness pt 1

 

 

Well it had to happen at some point soon – gig season  has begun and I headed out to play once more!

No train to Glasgow this time though. I got to enjoy the luxury of being chauffeured and chaperoned by a friend, who for the purposes of this tale, we’ll call Four.

Our destination for the evening?

 We were heading for the Carnival of Madness at the SSE Hydro.

The plan was that we would drive to Glasgow’s Science Centre, meet up with Boy Child and Facebook Son then walk over to the venue.

Despite Mother Nature’s best efforts as Storm Henry battered Scotland, we made it to the Science Centre on time, found the two boys, who had made a mad dash across Glasgow from uni, and headed across the footbridge towards the Hydro.

The wind whistling up the River Clyde would’ve cut you in two and it was a chilly few minutes as we queued to get in. Colder for the two boys who were out in t-shirts! Weans!

It was a relief to finally get inside and out of the icy wind.

Cue a whirlwind search for “dinner” for Four (I’m not convinced a bag of Kettle chips qualifies as dinner) and a quick trip to the merchandise stall for me.( Yes I know I didn’t need another shirt) Boy Child and Facebook Son prepared to abandon us once more as they went off  in search of two of their friends (Bread Boy and his long suffering girlfriend). With a rendezvous point agreed for later, we left them to it and headed into the bowl.

Opening band Highly Suspect were already on stage. I had really been looking forward to hearing them as I love their debut album. (I’ve already reviewed this show on my music blog https://the525toglasgow.wordpress.com  but perhaps can be a little more candid here among friends) We’d missed two out of Highly Suspect’s six songs but, from what I heard, I was bitterly disappointed. They looked and sounded way out of their depth. I enjoyed their performance of Lydia but it fell flat with the small crowd. A Glasgow audience is a tough gig in itself. During their final song, the lead singer “gobbed” on stage. My stomach heaved! That’s a pet hate of mine and is quite simply a disgusting thing to do, especially on stage. Totally anti-social!

During the interval, I spotted Boy Child over to my right and the “mummy” in me relaxed a bit. (He’s not got a good track record of coming out of shows intact) Four and I were safely positioned to the left hand side as you looked up at the stage and were about three rows off the barrier. Perfect.

As ever though, my record for being beside the extra wide or extra tall rock fans remained intact. Before Halestorm took to the stage Mr Short and Wide moved out, heading for the bar, and never to return, much to the annoyance of the two girls who were waiting for the drink he had promised to bring back. I wasn’t complaining.

Halestorm are one of my favourite live bands and this was the fifth time that I’d been fortunate enough to see them live. They delivered a fantastic forty-five minute set, cramming in nine songs plus Arejay’s shortened acrobatic drum solo. The sound wasn’t perfect and it blighted a couple of songs but, as ever, Lzzy owned the stage and had the swelling crowd hanging on her every note.

Next up were Shinedown, another band close to my heart. I’ve seen them twice before and have been listening to them for the better part of ten years. If there’s one band that re-ignited my love of rock music, it was these guys. Through them I discovered Alter Bridge and Myles Kennedy and the rest, as they say, is history…..

Shinedown’s stage crew set up the stage as though they were to headline the show. Also cue the most bizarre PA tape being played between sets that I’ve ever heard- fifteen minutes of a meditation tape. It killed the energy in the room that’s for sure!

To my immediate right, I now had possibly the tallest guy in the entire venue. I kid you not, the top of my head barely reached his shoulders and my nose was level with his elbow.  No, I’m not a total midget. I’m 5’ 3” but this guy had to be at least 6’ 6” or taller!

Finally, the lights dimmed and Shinedown were in the room. Like Halestorm, they too had forty five minutes or thereabouts to entertain and woo the fans. There is no doubting that Brent Smith is a charismatic front man and an incredible vocalist but something was just a bit “off”.  There’s been criticism online that he’s resorting to auto tune to support his live performances and open accusations of miming. I’ll refrain from commenting and reserve judgement but something didn’t feel quite right. Perhaps it was the “new look” with the baseball cap and shades. That cap never left his head and his face was constantly shielded by it. Oh, I can’t put my finger on it but it’s bugging me!

They played a fantastic set. I love watching bass player, Eric Bass. That guy’s insane! Zach Myers is cute and adorable and talented but he spent most of his time on the far side of the stage from where we were standing. Barry Kerch on drums was presiding from on high, dreads flowing freely.

Mid-set Brent instructed the crowd to part in the middle, creating a path for him and Zach Myers to walk through. The crowd split to our right but all I actually saw was the tops of their heads as they made their way front to back, shaking hands. A nice gesture if you’re the headliners; a waste of precious time if you only have less than an hour to shine.

For me the crowd shuffle resulted in Mr 6’ 6” moving in front of me. My view of the stage diminished for the remainder of the set. Typical!

All in all, I love Shinedown, really enjoyed their performance and would be front of the queue to see them headline a show. As a support act, they frustrate the hell out of me! They played Simple Man, one of my all-time favourite songs and somewhat redeemed themselves …..until next time.

By now it was about 8:50pm. Headliners Black Stone Cherry were due out at 9:25pm. Plenty of time for a comfort break…or so I thought! Four darted off, promising to return shortly and he assured me before he left that he knew where we were standing. The minutes ticked by…

Like most of the other folk around me I checked my phone for messages and updates.

Randomly Girl Child was messaging me wanting me to make her a cup of tea….strange child!

Time ticked on… No sign of Four returning. Hmmmm…..

Suddenly, in front of me, Mr 6’ 6” began to wobble then collapsed, out cold, in a heap on the floor. He’d fainted! Security staff and the surrounding fans swiftly lifted him over the barrier and he was carried off for medical attention. I hope the guy was ok but his sudden departure meant I could actually see the stage again. Then it dawned on me…if Four had been using him as a landmark he was now somewhat stuffed.

Eventually I messaged him to see if he’d got lost. I was relieved when he replied, explaining though that he was stuck some ten feet behind me. He couldn’t find a way through and, in fairness, the standing arena was tightly packed near the front. At least I knew he was ok so I could relax a bit. (Yes, I’m a serial worrier and the “mummy” in me feels responsible for the entire group when we are out, regardless of their age.)

Right on time, the lights dimmed, the curtain fell and Black Stone Cherry were live on stage. They delivered an incredible set! This was the fourth time I’d seen them and I think it was best I’ve seen them play so far. Ben Wells is an incredibly energetic guitarist, barely staying still for a second. This energy is rubbing off on bassist Jon Lawhorn, who was also covering a lot of ground on stage.

About twenty minutes in, a white spotlight was trained on the crowd about ten feet directly behind me. Something had happened in the crowd. I’m not sure if it was another fainter or if it was a scuffle. Chris Robertson commented from the stage that he hoped the guy was ok.

Cue another few moments of irrational panic as I fretted whether it was Boy Child, Facebook Son or Four who had been involved. (I know, several thousand folk to choose from etc etc…it’s the mummy in me!) A wave of calm washed over me as I reasoned there was nothing I could about it as I was well and truly stuck where I was.

Every time I’ve seen these boys from Kentucky, Chris Robertson has sung straight from the heart. This show was no exception.

After John Fred’s amazingly mind blowing drum solo (he is probably my favourite drummer), Chris stepped out on stage alone to perform a solo acoustic version of Things My Father Said. He openly confessed to being scared. The audience took him to their hearts and sang proudly along with him. A beautiful, raw, honest and powerful performance. Love love loved it!

A second acoustic song, The Rambler, followed with Ben Wells joining Chris on stage. Stunning song that has stirred my excitement about their forthcoming album, Kentucky.

The fabulous Lzzy Hale joined them for Peace Is free a few minutes later. It was great to see the band all looking as though they were enjoying themselves as much as the fans.

 Blame It On The Boom Boom rounded off the main body of the set and Black Stone Cherry left the stage.

Within seconds, the capacity crowd was begging for “one more f*%king song”

The boys from Kentucky didn’t disappoint. They played two!

A Black Stone Cherry show always ends with Lonely Train. The fans lapped it up! This was followed by a colossal version of Ace of Spades, a touching tribute to the late great Lemmy.

And that was it. Ninety minutes gone in the blink of an eye. Picks were flicked out into the crowd. John Fred hurled a handful of sticks to the fans. The lights came up and the fans began to troop out of the arena.

I was extremely relieved to locate the AWOL Four within a minute or two. One down, two to go.

As arranged we met Boy Child and Facebook Son at the door (and I finally got that comfort break!) then as a group we headed back to the car.

The storm hadn’t abated so “blown back to the car” may be more appropriate but at least it wasn’t raining…yet. After the heat of the venue the cool air was most welcome for the first minute or two.

By the time we were driving out of the car park the heavens had opened.

Judging by the buzz and hilarity during the blustery journey home, I guess the night had been a success all round. There’s a whole other story that could be told here about that journey back but I’ll save it to spare any blushes….but I really didn’t fancy a late night detour via Kilmarnock!

Me – I was tired and happy. Happy to see the others happy but also happy that it had been a fantastic night. Gig season 2016 has certainly opened in style.

And inwardly, I was smiling that I get to do it all again in a few days, in another city, with Girl Child…..but that’s a tale for next week.

HS1H5H1S1S3BSC2BSC4BSC1BSC6

“Yep, I like this one!”

07bc08c777cb4508dcb751159aaade31

Last night I enjoyed a complete nostalgia trip to the cinema with one of my oldest (as in I’ve known for the longest not her actual age!) and closest friends. We went to see The Peanuts movie. No kids. No excuses. Just us.(ok and half a dozen other folk who were in the theatre with us)

As a kid the Charlie Brown cartoons reminded me of school holidays. It was the only time I remember them being on TV. If they form part of your childhood memories then the movie is well worth seeing for the nostalgia value alone!

I had already started to think about this blog post earlier in the day so the film’s underlying theme was quite appropriate

Friendship

Like Charlie Brown, I too remember that flurry of excitement when a new kid turned up in the street or in school. Maybe “this one” would be a forever friend…hmmm ghosts for another day and another blog.

I’d already been thinking about friendships of the past few days after seeing the above quote on Facebook. It struck a chord with me.

I’m going to be totally honest here, I don’t make friends very easily. Perhaps that relates back to the past and those seemingly endless years of being bullied in school. Perhaps its because, being an only child, I’m quite content in my own company. Perhaps it relates to being quite shy, quiet and nervous among strangers. Perhaps I’m just a weirdo! The truth is that it’s most likely a mix of all of the above factors and a  few more besides.

The more I thought about my various close friends, friends, acquaintances etc the more I began to over analyse things ( as is my usual want).

We refer to having a circle of friends. I have many circles, almost like a target with me as the bullseye.

I have a very tight circle of close friends. People I’d totally trust with my life. Friends I interact with on a more or less daily basis.

Then there’s a slightly larger circle of good friends that I see on a regular basis.

This is followed by a wider circle of friends that I engage with occasionally.

Finally there’s a fairly large circle of acquaintances.

Through time people jump from one circle to another, both in and out. It’s only natural as we all make our way through life. However that inner sanctum remains intact. There are friends that I’ve known almost all of my life in there plus one or two that I’ve known for only a few years.

What makes the difference?

There’s been endless articles written on why one person is attracted to another; endless theories about common physical appearance, common interests, day to day proximity. You get the picture.

When I look round and see who’s standing beside me in that inner sanctum of friendship, it throws most of these theories out of the window. It’s quite a diverse, small group of very special individuals.

Then there’s online friends as opposed to face to face friends. That adds a whole  new modern dimension to circles of friendship! It opens the question – are these real friends or virtual friends? I’ll leave that thought there…….

At the end of the day though…f0c768d11ce54a46a9d8e63828f36a5e

 

Friendship – finding time for it

friends

I’m sitting on the train on the way to Glasgow as I write this. No, I’m not off to another concert (that’s Friday night!) I’m off to meet a friend for lunch and maybe a little retail therapy and caffeine.

Spookily enough, Facebook reminded me this morning that it is exactly one year to the very day that we met up for last year’s pre-Christmas catch up. Apt considering that’s how we met.

It got me thinking about friendship. How we make new friends. How we keep in touch with old ones.

This fellow crazy rock chick and I met online through the mutual admiration of a certain rock star. We became “friends” online, “chatted” online and discovered many similar interests (she’s got to take some of the credit for being the inspiration that led to this blog page being born), likes and dislikes and finally, a few months down the line, we arranged to meet up face to face. The rest, as they say, is history.

Around the same time, I also became “friends” online with another crazy rock chick from Europe. Again online friendship blossomed and, very long story cut short, we both now co-admin a fan page on Facebook for said rock star and “chat” every day. A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting her and her husband  face-to-face when they honeymooned in Scotland. Again, we hit it off immediately.

Social media has made the world a smaller place and has extended my circle of friends around the globe.

I guess it’s one of the many “modern” ways of meeting people and forging new friendships.

I’m fortunate enough to still have three close childhood friends. Three friends I’ve known for forty some years- EEK that sounds scary!!

A couple of them I see regularly face-to-face, as we live near to each other. The third I see less frequently as she lives a couple of hundred miles away. Every time we catch up, whether it’s been 24 hours or 24 weeks, we pick up where we left off. However, social media has its part to play here too.

If we want to arrange to meet up for coffee or to pass on some news, we message each other.  And we’re not alone here. Some 10 billion Facebook messages are sent every day! Gone are the days of spending hours on the phone. Life has moved on. The pace has quickened and social media is at times way too handy. I’ll be honest there are times  when I really miss those long phone calls. Times when I’d like to hear my friends’ voices and not just read their swiftly typed message.

Naturally we gather friends as we travel through life. Friends made through the munchkins and their activities or school. Friends made by meeting the wives and girlfriends of the Big Green Gummi Bear’s friends. Friends made through working in the salt mine. That one for me is a tricky one, as I don’t generally as a rule allow myself to become close friends with the people I work alongside. It can complicate the working relationship and shift the work-life balance. I keep my “work self” and my “real self” quite separate deliberately. That said, over the years, I’ve met a few very special people through work that have become friends I couldn’t live without. And again, we are also friends on social media.

A definite theme is emerging here!

I’m sure some of what I’ve just said is resonating with you.

What would happen to all of these friendships now if social media was banned or simply ceased to exist?

In this modern world, where so many social interactions are online, how would friendships survive?

Would we return to spending hours on the phone to one another? Would we make more of an effort to meet face-to-face for a coffee or lunch? Would we return to writing letters to overseas penfriends?

It’s a thought, isn’t it?

Reflecting on the various friendships that are precious to me, I’m fairly confident that most of them would survive but I’m not about to put that to the test!

Now this train’s almost reached its destination. I’m off to meet my online friends face-to-face!