The C Word, Simon & Garfunkel and “Bridge Over Troubled Water”

The first time I mentioned the “C Word” around here was on the 14th of March as that was the week when it suddenly became real for us here in the UK and it wasn’t just something happening elsewhere. Since then I’ve vacillated between trying to remain upbeat (sharing old photos & recipes) and getting down and dirty, having a bit of a rant about certain behaviours.

It’s Saturday morning, which is my usual time for a weekly blogging session, but I’m not really in the mood for upbeat today. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I’ve had to back-pedal a fair few times of late, apologising to some friends and neighbours for having been a bit too honest regarding my predictions for the near future. I was apparently spoiling things, as it seems my neck of the woods is loving lockdown life. The weather is fine, the garden beckons and come Thursday evening there is a carnival atmosphere in my street as we Clap for Carers, complete with the dreaded vuvuzela, the scourge of the 2010 South Africa World Cup.

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Having watched footage on telly, it seems the NHS frontline staff do appreciate the support of the nation and in the absence of us being able to come in and help intubate critically ill patients, not much more many of us can do. We are all patting ourselves on the back for staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives but it just doesn’t sit well with me at all. At some point the narrative will have to change, and we will have to leave home, but by then everyone will have become so acclimatised to the risks that could bring, they won’t want to.

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The Castle in the centre of town

It has always horrified me how much as a nation we spend on defence and nuclear weaponry, and all because we apparently need a place at some Top Table or other. Not in my name. I really don’t want a place anywhere near that table, and as it’s turned out, we’ve been spending money on the wrong kind of defence. The enemy in this war is an invisible virus and no amount of nuclear missiles could defeat it. Our frontline warriors are doctors, nurses, care workers, cleaners and porters who never signed up for this and whose places of work have been criminally underfunded for years. How much PPE could that new aircraft carrier have bought. Here is a quote from the Defence pages of the Government’s website.

The future flagships for the UK are the 2 new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers and are the largest British warships ever built.

They, along with the F35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and Merlin Mk2 helicopters will help keep the UK armed forces modern, flexible and powerful.

The combination of the carrier, its aircraft and personnel will enable the UK to protect the nation.

As I said, we’ve been spending the money from our coffers on the wrong kind of defence. I sincerely hope all the frontline workers dealing with this pandemic get the support they are going to need when we move onto the second phase of the “new normal”. It’s an obvious quote to choose I know, but Churchill’s, “Never was so much owed by so many to so few” springs to mind.

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One of the upsides of the lockdown is that many of us are making full use of our one hour of daily exercise. Mr WIAA and I have covered most of the routes radiating from base camp over the last five weeks and taken a fair amount of pictures. Another upside of course is that we are heading into summer and not winter which would have been awful (but of course only for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere). Here are a few of those pictures:

At the start of this year I had decided to revisit the UK Singles Chart of 1970. It contained music from 50 years ago and reflected simpler and happier times I thought (how prescient). I only got as far as Lee Marvin’s Wandrin’ Star (link here) when things started to go horribly wrong and my blog posts changed tack. Picking up where I left off, the record that made it to the No. 1 spot after Lee’s song from the film Paint Your Wagon, was this one by Simon & Garfunkel.

Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel:

Somehow this is the 5th time I’ll have featured a song by Simon & Garfunkel around here and they even have their very own category on my sidebar. I don’t think I would have envisioned that happening when I started the blog. They’ve made their way into my adult hippocampus by stealth and are now firmly going to remain there.

I remember Bridge Over Troubled Water well from 1970 as it stayed at the top spot in the charts for many weeks. I also remember that it was one of those situations when the artists never appeared on telly and a very basic little film was shown on TOTP to accompany the song instead. I would be lying if I said it was a favourite of mine from their vast back catalogue having now become a bit over-familiar, but as well as tying in with my revisitation of the Singles Chart of 1970, it is also apt for the times and fits in with one of my pictures above. We are lucky to live within walking distance of the Caledonian Canal, the River Ness and the Beauly Firth, so there are many bridges around here. Hopefully the waters won’t be troubled for too much longer.

I will end with a funny story I remember from one of the many film star biographies I read when I was young. I mentioned the “C Word” in my opening line, but of course that is usually a euphemism for another upsetting ailment, and one used by John Wayne when he called his sons together to break the bad news. They were quite young at the time, but still old enough to misinterpret what he meant. Eldest son quickly replied with the words, “Jeez Dad, you’ve got the clap”.

I seem to have gone full circle in this one from one kind of clap to another, and also from one kind of bridge to another, but often just the way it turns out.

Until next time….

Bridge Over Troubled Water Lyrics
(Song by Paul Simon) 

When you’re weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all
I’m on your side
Oh when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I’ll take your part
Oh when darkness comes
And pain is all around

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on, silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
Oh if you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

Lockdown Recipes, Gerry Rafferty and “Baker Street”

Here’s a little present for you. Two in fact.

I think I’ve mentioned around here before that I have another blog set up as an homage to my favourite Scottish author, Jane Duncan. I’ve not updated it for a while but today decided to check if anyone had visited recently. Turns out they had, and all because I’d included a recipe for Girdle Scones a fair while back. In these days of staying at home, it seems more and more of us are trying our hands at baking, and girdle scones couldn’t be easier to make. Just to be clear, I’ve not made a typo there, I do mean girdle and not griddle, as that’s just what it’s called around here.

I had included that recipe after paying a visit to MacDonald’s Hardware in Dingwall (click on the link to see what their very Scottish best-selling item is), where I’d spotted a girdle just like the one my granny used to have. Most mornings, especially during the long summer holidays when her grandchildren were around, she would mix together a few ingredients and make some pancakes or scones. I absolutely had to buy one for myself, and soon found the perfect recipe, ironically on a website set up by a lady in Dunedin, New Zealand. Considering Dunedin (Dùn Èideann) is the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, and considering the fact that New Zealand is awash with the offspring of former Scottish immigrants, I thought it was quite fitting.

In case you want to try them out for yourself (a heavy frying pan can be substituted for a girdle), here is that recipe. Very easy indeed, and quick to make. I took some pictures last time I made some and you must admit, they do look tasty, especially if spread with homemade strawberry jam.

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Girdle Scones

Ingredients:

1 cup plain flour
2 tspns baking powder
1/2 oz butter
pinch of salt
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup milk

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl.

Rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Stir in the currants (or sultanas if you prefer) and then add just enough milk to make a soft dough. Don’t add all the milk at once though, in case you don’t need all of it. If your dough looks a little sticky don’t be afraid to add a little more flour.

Roll out to roughly 1/2 an inch thick and cut into six wedges.

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Grease the girdle then place on a hob until hot. Carefully transfer the “snuggled up” wedges onto the girdle and wait until golden brown and cooked in the middle. Takes roughly 5 minutes on either side. When turning your wedges, be careful to place them gently on the hot surface, and try to turn them only once.

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Transfer to a cooling rack and enjoy.

But of course this is supposed to be a music blog, so where’s the song? At first I was a bit stumped, as not many songs about baking out there and I’ve already exhausted my stash of kitchen songs for an earlier post. All seemed lost, then a light bulb moment, and I was reminded of this classic from 1978, Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty.

Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty:

Named after a street in London which had no doubt housed bakeries centuries earlier, the song was included on Gerry’s album, City to City. It came along during my last year at senior school and although it didn’t make it to the No.1 spot, it certainly did hang around the charts for an awful long time. The song had apparently been written when he was commuting between his home in Glasgow and his lawyers in London, trying to disentangle himself from the contract he’d had with his previous band Stealers Wheel. “I knew a guy who lived in a little flat off Baker Street,” he said. “We’d sit and chat or play guitar there through the night.” Of course for most of us, the most memorable part of the song is the prominent eight-bar saxophone riff played as a break between verses.

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So, “What’s It All About?” – It’s a funny old business being on lockdown isn’t it, and although I’ve been on a real roller-coaster of emotions over the last few weeks (as can be seem from the material in my blog posts), today I think I just let it go. It’s been lovely and sunny, so our morning walk (for exercise) took in a really picturesque part of town and I made a little film when I came home with the shots taken on my phone. In the afternoon I rearranged the furniture to create a comforting little nook in the now redundant dining room that overlooks the garden. No-one will be coming to visit for some time, so we can live just how we want at the moment. I think we are all appreciating our food a lot more, and valuing where it comes from, so spending time in the kitchen is less of a chore and more of a joy.

Having said all that, if you are a frontline or key worker, or indeed trying to work from home whilst home-schooling children, I know your experience of lockdown will be a totally different one. I do feel guilty that the way things have landed, neither Mr WIAA or myself are currently of much use to anyone, but hopefully our time will come. Tomorrow I might fall to pieces again, but until then, I will enjoy Gerry and enjoy my scones. Should you choose to accept the mission of making them, you will not be disappointed.

Until Next time….

Baker Street Lyrics
(Song by Gerry Rafferty)

Winding your way down on Baker Street
Light in your head and dead on your feet
Well, another crazy day
You’ll drink the night away
And forget about everything
This city desert makes you feel so cold
It’s got so many people, but it’s got no soul
And it’s taken you so long
To find out you were wrong
When you thought it held everything

You used to think that it was so easy
You used to say that it was so easy
But you’re trying, you’re trying now
Another year and then you’d be happy
Just one more year and then you’d be happy
But you’re crying, you’re crying now

Way down the street there’s a light in his place
He opens the door, he’s got that look on his face
And he asks you where you’ve been
You tell him who you’ve seen
And you talk about anything
He’s got this dream about buying some land
He’s gonna give up the booze and the one-night stands
And then he’ll settle down
In some quiet little town
And forget about everything

But you know he’ll always keep moving
You know he’s never gonna stop moving
‘Cause he’s rolling, he’s the rolling stone
And when you wake up, it’s a new morning
The sun is shining, it’s a new morning
And you’re going, you’re going home

Division, Extremes and “Pinball” by Brian Protheroe

I can’t be alone in noticing that this crisis is throwing up the most awful contrasts in the lives of our citizens. I also can’t be alone in cringing when I see “celebrities” (the more pointless of them thankfully now redundant) sharing pictures from their luxury mansions, bemoaning the fact that lockdown is like being in jail. No it’s not – You have five bedrooms, a pool, and access to a stash of cash. If ever there was a time for them to leave social media behind, it would be now.

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Ignore the missing apostrophe, not my doing

But even closer to home, I find myself getting a bit fratchety with some friends and neighbours who just don’t seem to be showing any empathy at all for what certain groups of people are currently going through. How can you live in 21st century Britain without realising this is not all just a bit of an inconvenience but something really, really far-reaching for the future. The division between rich and poor has never been so marked and during a global pandemic it turns out that in the main, it is those who earn the least that are the most valuable. Every day they are putting their lives at risk, for which I am truly grateful, and tell them so at every opportunity.

Poverty-Line

As for our many friends who also work in the craft industries (one of whom always told us his ambition was to one day reach the poverty line), I not only worry about their ability to tick over during this lockdown, but also their mental health. Being a creative type does tend to go hand in hand with a heightened sensitivity to bloody everything, and the NaPoWriMo poems coming in from my writer friends is bearing that out.

But hey, rant over, this is a music blog and I heard a wonderful song from 1974 on the car radio last week as I headed out to forage for provisions. It was all about that feeling of ennui, which makes you hole up at home, not bothering to go out. Ironically we are nearly all now holed up at home, but not from the feeling of ennui, but because we are frankly terrified of going out both for health reasons and for fear of falling foul of fast-changing lockdown rules (unintentional but lively alliteration there).

Brian Protheroe still is and was primarily an actor back in 1974, but he also wrote a few fine songs and released some albums on the Chrysalis label. His most successful single was Pinball and I have become quite smitten by it.

Pinball by Brian Protheroe:

Brian had been out of work and was living in a flea ridden room in Covent Garden. The song came out of the mundane things he saw over the course of the weekend. There is a sax solo but other than that it’s a very simple song, just folky verses and no chorus. It also references the Beatles split from a few years before and all of Brian’s songs are noted for their use of wordplay, some nonsensical, in the vein of John Lennon.

So, “What’s It All About?” – Funny how we are happy to go with the flow when life is normal (and not “the new normal”), but at times of crisis, the glittering lives of those we have elevated to celebrity status are suddenly unimportant. Also, those many acquaintances and Facebook “friends” we are happy to engage with when times are good, are now showing their true colours. I have been really touched by some of the offers of help old friends have given to DD, as her situation is really difficult at the moment. Not needed as yet but I will remember them. I will also remember those who have laughed at me and told me I’m just overthinking things as everything will soon be back to how it was. I know we have to remain positive, but deliberately burying your head in the sand when so many are going to suffer, is just crass. Post-coronavirus all bets are off and only time will tell what “the new, new normal” will really look like.

Until next time, take care as ever, and feel free to leave a comment. I need to know I am not just another music geek, who overthinks things.

Pinball Lyrics
(Song by Brian Protheroe)

And I’ve run out of pale ale
And I feel like I’m in jail
And my music bores me once again
And I’ve been on the pinball
And I know longer know it all
And they say that you never know when you’re insane

Got fleas in my bedroom
Got flies in my bathroom
And the cat just finished off the bread
So I walk over Soho
And I read about Monroe
And I wonder was she really what they said

Got a call from a good friend
Come on down for the weekend
Didn’t know if I could spare the time
I knew a woman who was crazy
About a boy who was lazy
But it didn’t work out ‘cos they just couldn’t make it rhyme

Hey Jude you were alright
I could have grooved with you all night
But you turned your back on the part again
Mama if i keep my head clean
Will I really have a good dream
Or will I wake up in confusion just the same

And I’ve run out of pale ale
And I feel like I’m in jail
Got fleas in the bedroom
Got flies in the bathroom
Got a call from a good friend
Come on down for the weekend
Hey Jude you were alright
I could have grooved with you all night

And I’ve been on the pale ale
And I feel like a pinball

Postscript:

When doing a modicum of research for this post I discovered that Brian Protheroe has been the narrator for the Channel 4 dating show First Dates since 2013. When I travelled south to meet up with the lovely C from Sun Dried Sparrows last summer, we had lunch in that very location.

The Night Sky, Nick Drake and A Super “Pink Moon”

We may be living through the rigours of a global pandemic, but the moon knows nothing about it, and we are about to witness a Super Pink Moon on Tuesday night – Super because it’s at that point in its elliptical orbit when it comes nearest to Earth, so looks larger than usual. I’ve written about the Pink Moon before so time to revisit that post and the song of the same name I think. Looking up at the sky tonight, it’s easy to forget that all is not as it should be in the world right now, but even in lockdown, we should still be able to enjoy this celestial spectacle on Tuesday night.

What's It All About?

Since discovering that all full moons have a name (given to them by the Native Americans who kept track of the months by the lunar calendar), I have written about each one as they appear in our skies. To accompany the post I always include one of the numerous songs that have been written about the moon and its many foibles.

It passes in a flash doesn’t it? Ever since following the full moon cycle for this blog, the lunar months seem to have rocketed by. This calendar month, on the 30th April, we are to have a Pink Moon appear in our skies. This time the name comes from one of the spring flowers the ancient Native Americans would have seen covering the ground around April’s full moon – The pink Moss Phlox.

Well I can’t say I have such a flower in my garden, but I can…

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NaPoWriMo, The Crusaders and “Street Life” (Or Rather The Lack Of It)

Well, how are we all doing? A whole new collection of words and phrases has entered our vocabulary (self-isolation, social distancing, on furlough et al) and it somehow feels as if they’ve always been with us, but they really haven’t, it’s just that everyone seems to have adapted overnight to “the new normal”.

I’ve already been for my daily walk and fortunately timed it just right, as yesterday we did not, and ended up striding along the banks of the Caledonian Canal in sheet rain. I was wearing one of those coats with a complicated hood full of channels for cords and toggles. By the time we’d worked out how they kept sheet rain out it was too late, but no matter, I certainly wasn’t going anywhere important where I had to look smart and coiffed, just back home.

Home.

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I spend a lot of time at home in my normal life, so not a big change for me. The big change is that economically I now have no purpose, as my purpose was to help Mr WIAA run his business and to prepare for guests coming to stay in the holiday hideaway. Neither of these businesses can operate in this strange new world of staying at home and social distancing, so all a tad disconcerting. I know we have to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives, but my goodness, the fallout will be with us all for many, many years to come and I fear for the younger generation whose job it will be to navigate this brave new world.

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Spread your wings, but not for a while it seems

A very pleasant distraction that came along yesterday was the start of NaPoWriMo – National Poetry Writing Month. Although I am currently a lapsed student, I am still part of a NaPoWriMo FaceBook group, and a fair few efforts have already come in. I shared some of my fellow students’ work last year (link here) as I was really blown away by their poems, having quickly realised it was not a discipline I had any talent for at all. Whenever I did post something it tended to be a comedic tum-ti-tum kind of affair, and true to form, my first contribution this year seems to have gone along the same lines.

A Loo Roll Dystopia

Handed in a story once upon a time
Up for an assessment, thought it would be fine
Looked forward to the outcome, but ’twas a massive fail!
“Too far-fetched… , dystopian” was deemed to be my tale

But that was then, and this is now
And I find myself with furrowed brow
I had foretold what might come to pass
But missed the obsession we’d have with our ass

Paper products stripped from the shelves
Even those in a pack of twelve
When the threat recedes of what came from Hubei
We’ll be trapped inside, by Triple Velvet 3-ply

(I’ll get my coat!)

No mention of music yet in this post, but I am inclined to share a song I heard on the radio last night before heading to bed. When Randy Crawford started to sing Street Life, the song she recorded with American jazz band The Crusaders, it really hit home that street life as we know it has all but gone, and we miss it. The song reached No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart in 1979 and represented the peak of the band’s commercial popularity. Randy has appeared around here before, a couple of times, as I have always had a great fondness for her voice.

I usually share an audio clip of the featured song but it seems I don’t have The Crusader’s Street Life in my library. What I do have however is another Street Life by Roxy Music, this time from 1973. He certainly was a very dapper chap that Bryan Ferry wasn’t he? Again the lyrics about a world I now know nothing of, bar the suburban streets that run adjacent to the place we call home.

Street Life by Roxy Music:

I hope you and those you love stay safe and well. It hasn’t really hit home what we are up against yet here in the North of Scotland, but for any of you who are key workers caught up in the eye of the storm, you have my immense admiration and gratitude for what you are doing.

Until next time….

Street Life Lyrics
(Song by Will Jennings/Joe Sample)

I play the street life
Because there’s no place I can go
Street life
It’s the only life I know
Street life
And there’s a thousand cards to play
Street life
Until you play your life away

You let the people see

Just who you wanna be
And every night you shine
Just like a superstar
The type of life that’s played
A temptin’ masquerade
You dress you walk you talk
You’re who you think you are

Street life

You can run away from time
Street life
For a nickel or a dime
Street life
But you better not get old
Street life
Or you’re gonna feel the cold

There’s always love for sale

A grown up fairy tale
Prince charming always smiles
Behind a silver spoon
And if you keep it young
Your song is always sung
Your love will pay your way
Beneath the silver moon

Street life

Street life
Street life
Oh street life

I play the street life

Because there’s no place I can go
Street life
It’s the only life I know

Street life

And there’s a thousand cards to play
Street life
Until you play your life away – oh
Street life
Street life
Street life
Oh street life

More Local Hero-Related Pictures and Music

 

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Last time I included another of the little films I made a couple of years ago around the time of the Spring Equinox. It featured the Mark Knopfler instrumental Going Home from the film Local Hero and regular commenter Lynchie jumped in and regaled us with his tale of having been the first journalist to meet with David Puttnam and Bill Forsyth to hear about their planned production (link here). The village of Pennan on the Aberdeenshire coast had been chosen as the setting for the fictitious village of Ferness which was to be the site for a new oil refinery. The hot-shot executive sent to close the deal gradually adapts to the slower-paced life however and gets to know the eccentric residents. As time goes by he becomes conflicted, as he knows the deal will mark the end of the quaint little village he has come to love. Unbeknownst to him however, the villagers are tired of their hard life and are more than eager to sell, although they feign indifference to induce a larger offer. This all leads to some great comedic moments.

A couple of years ago we decided to take an Australian visitor along the coast to visit Pennan and I managed to get my picture taken outside the iconic red telephone box. I’m pretty sure everyone must do that but only if they successfully navigate the steep single track road down into the village. At one point we had to reverse backwards up the hill to let someone past and I was pretty alarmed by the burning smell coming from under the bonnet. Anyway, the car survived, and we had a really pleasant afternoon in a village that feels as if time forgot.

I only have one other piece of music on this device by Mark Knopfler and it’s called If This Is Goodbye, a duet he recorded with Emmylou Harris. Very beautiful but not the most positive of sounding songs, so to end this post I’ll just share another clip of Mr Knopfler playing a different version of his instrumental from the film.

Until next time….  Take care and keep well.

A Shower Room Update, Appreciating the Little Things and “Going Home”

I have absolutely no idea how to pitch my blog posts at the moment as in the few days between writing something new, the world has yet again been transformed into a place none of us would have recognised only a couple of weeks ago. I admit to having had a rather large wobble over the last 24 hours (too much social media), but after the massive treat of going to the local supermarket for a basketful of basics, and having just met some of my neighbours (at a distance) for the mass round of applause for the NHS, I think I’ve just swung the other way – What a roller-coaster of emotions. Still haven’t spoken to my mum or had any communication from the care home and DD is at the other end of Scotland with her boyfriend in their one bedroom flat (true test of a relationship), so tough.

Last time I wrote about how I had eventually treated myself to a new shower room after 20 years of making do with the previous owner’s version. Although last week the plumber was confident it was a CV-19 Free Build, by late Monday it was obvious he wouldn’t be able to come back. I paid him in full, as he is one of the many self-employed tradesmen who now have no work. A plan came through to help the self-employed this afternoon but many will fall through the cracks, including ourselves – Not complaining as any help should go to those most in need, but I do worry about a lot of the locals who depend on tourism and the service sector for their livelihoods.

Last time I also shared one of the little films I made at the 2018 Spring Equinox after taking a few classes at the Apple Store. Here is the second one, this time featuring a piece of music by Mark Knopfler, which seemed to suit the particular scenes around here really well. I give you Going Home from the excellent 1983 film Local Hero. Watching it now, I cannot believe how quickly something like going for a leisurely drive has turned into a pipe dream. At the moment, I feel as if I will never take anything for granted again.

Until next time, I hope you and your loved ones stay safe and well.

If you are a frontline worker, we are so grateful for all that you are doing. At times like this it becomes obvious which jobs are worthy and necessary, but sometimes poorly paid, and which are very well paid but not necessarily worthy. The Cult of Celebrity has been seen for what it is and for that I am grateful.

ELO, “Mr Blue Sky” and I Won’t Be Hoarding Toilet Paper As I Have No Toilet!

Tough knowing how to pitch our blog posts at the moment, as yet again things have moved on apace, and we can barely keep up with what is unfolding day by day. After finding a new positive side to my personality this year after a couple of whingey and moany years, I have struggled this week. The virus itself has not really made too much of an impact up here yet on our health services (although I know it will), but of course the measures to contain it have, so it just takes a while to adjust and regroup.

I can’t see my mum at the moment but I have put cards offering help through all the doors of our immediate neighbours, and those others we know who are over 70. Our estate was built just over 40 years ago so many of the original residents still live here and are obviously now in the age group we need to shield, by asking them to self-isolate. A livelier bunch of septuagenarians you would be hard pressed to find, so it’s gonna be tough – We will endeavour to do what we can for them.

DD lost her job this week but hopefully will be joining the ranks of the NHS 111 teams very soon so trying to do her bit. Myself and Mr WIAA certainly have skills that could be invaluable at this time, so we too are ready and willing.

We watched The Last Leg on telly last night which did provide a bit of light relief, however the show ended on a serious note and it definitely struck home. The team made the point that at this difficult time we will be sorely tested – We should endeavour not to behave like the lawyer in Jurassic Park who runs off to hide in the toilet, but try to behave responsibly and help others in whatever way we can, directly or indirectly.

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Gennaro the Jurassic Park lawyer.

And here is a moment of levity in this sombre post. There is no chance of me running off to my toilet anyway, as this week, of all weeks, was the one we were scheduled to have a new shower room put in. Here is a picture of what my bedroom looks like at the moment! It is due to be finished next week but with things changing at such a pace, starting to wonder if that will be possible.

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Where has the toilet gone?

Believe it or not there is a very close connection between the current state of my shower room and this blog, specifically my Full Moon Calendar In Song series. 25 years ago I worked for the NHS myself, although not on the frontline. For 5 years I shared an office with RJ who has provided me with so many great pictures of the moon for my series. We both left our jobs at around the same time – I gave birth to DD and became a full-time mum, whilst RJ went on to try his hand at an array of new professions. Somehow, he ended up becoming the installer of fabulous kitchens and bathrooms and our paths have now crossed again at this most unusual and uncertain of times.

I am at a loss to know what to share musically, but as yesterday was the Spring Equinox I am reminded of the little film we made a couple of years ago on the dashcam. I’m sleeping in DD’s school bedroom at the moment whilst the work is going on, and as her bed is situated right by the window, I woke up yesterday to beautiful blue skies and birdsong. For a few seconds I forgot that life as we know it has totally changed at the moment and might never quite return to what it was ever again. Nature is having a well-earned break from the worst effects of what we as a race have been throwing at it. If you can, I urge you to go out and enjoy a brisk walk. Really listen to the birds and check out what Mother Nature gives us at this time of year.

Until next time…. Hope you and your loved ones stay safe and well.

Mr. Blue Sky Lyrics
(Song by Jeff Lynne)

Morning! Today’s forecast calls for blue skies

Sun is shining in the sky

There ain’t a cloud in sight
It’s stopped raining
Everybody’s in a play
And don’t you know
It’s a beautiful new day
Hey ay ay!

Runnin’ down the avenue

See how the sun shines brightly
In the city
On the streets where once was pity
Mr. Blue
Sky is living here today
Hey ay ay!

Mr. Blue Sky

Please tell us why
You had to hide away
For so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Hey you with the pretty face

Welcome to the human race
A celebration
Mr. Blue Sky’s up there waitin’
And today
Is the day we’ve waited for
Ooorrr

Oh, Mr. Blue Sky

Please tell us why
You had to hide away
For so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Hey there Mr. Blue

We’re so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Everybody smiles at you

Alyson’s Archive #7 – 10cc, “I’m Not In Love”

Things are a bit grim, so we need a bit of a distraction. Welcome back to this occasional series where I share the contents of my archive box of teenage memorabilia. I always knew these random bits and pieces would come in handy some day, but little did I think it would be because 2020 is turning out to be the year when everything changed. Let’s hark back to simpler times.

We’re journeying back to March 1976 when I picked up my monthly copy of Words Magazine. On the cover of that edition were 10cc, and on page 3, we get to hear a little more about our cover stars.

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I do sometimes (always?) ramble on a bit around here, but no need for that this time as I recognise some people actually drop by for the tunes. One of my favourite films is Guardians of the Galaxy and it was on telly on Saturday night as a replacement for the rugby which didn’t go ahead. One of the “stars” of that film is the mixtape made for our hero by his mother, full of her favourite songs from the 1970s. The opening scene shows the young Peter listening to his Walkman, and the song playing is I’m Not In Love.

I’m Not In Love by 10cc:

There is a half hour documentary in the BBC iPlayer archives about the making of this one song, so I urge you to seek it out. Written by band members Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman, it has a really distinctive backing track, composed mostly of the band’s multitracked vocals. Released in May 1975, it became the second of the group’s three number-one singles in the UK and was our smooching song of choice at my local youth club disco. Written mostly by Stewart as a reply to his wife’s declaration that he did not tell her often enough that he loved her (he really did), it was originally played on guitars, but the other two members of the band, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, disliked the track and it was abandoned. Stewart persuaded the group to give the song another chance and they ending up creating a new version using just voices.

Until next time….

I’m Not In Love Lyrics
(Song by Eric Stewart/Graham Gouldman)

I’m not in love
So don’t forget it
It’s just a silly phase I’m going through
And just because
I call you up
Don’t get me wrong, don’t think you’ve got it made
I’m not in love, no no, it’s because..

I like to see you
But then again
That doesn’t mean you mean that much to me
So if I call you
Don’t make a fuss
Don’t tell your friends about the two of us
I’m not in love, no no, it’s because..

I keep your picture
Upon the wall
It hides a nasty stain that’s lying there
So don’t you ask me
To give it back
I know you know it doesn’t mean that much to me
I’m not in love, no no, it’s because..

Ooh you’ll wait a long time for me
Ooh you’ll wait a long time
Ooh you’ll wait a long time for me
Ooh you’ll wait a long time

I’m not in love
So don’t forget it
It’s just a silly phase I’m going through
And just because I call you up
Don’t get me wrong, don’t think you’ve got it made
I’m not in love
I’m not in love

Bon Iver, “Blindsided” and What A Difference A Week Makes

Well, what a difference a week makes. Last Saturday marked the publication of my 300th post and it has become a habit for me to write something to mark the achievement of reaching that nice round number (Post 101 and Post 201), but understandably not finding much inspiration. I am still amazed I bounced back in February after a month’s hiatus as I had found myself writing negative, self-pitying posts for quite some time which just weren’t particularly entertaining, but I did, and I’ve been quite enjoying revisiting the tracks of my years of late.

But here we are, and although I desperately want to avoid any talk of coronavirus around here this is my web diary as well as a music blog, so it really can’t be avoided. I am reminded of a conversation I had with a girl at work many years ago – It was about how we both spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about restructurings at work, issues with our kids, house prices and the rest, whereas in reality the really worrying things will come out of nowhere, and we’ll be blind-sided on a Tuesday afternoon. The following Tuesday afternoon, after a visit to her GP, she was diagnosed as having cancer. Fortunately it was caught early and after treatment she made a return to full health but it made me realise we really shouldn’t sweat the small stuff.

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But, old habits die hard, and over the last couple of years I have been sweating the small stuff (suddenly the whole Brexit debacle seems like small stuff). I am one of those people however who is a bit rubbish at dealing with minor problems and dilemmas but when something really big comes along I rise to the challenge. The way things are currently playing out, this year is going to be one helluva challenge and I’m not talking about the virus itself (which as the PM has even said himself will lead to loved ones being taken before their time), but the fallout from it.

Mr WIAA and I have a mantra for life which is, “It’s All About The Balance” – It has served us well over the years and it’s only when the balance becomes skewed that we struggle. But that just relates to our family dynamic (and the balance in the last few days has been severely skewed). Applied to the country as a whole it’s not going to be pretty, but there really is no way of avoiding it. This virus is new, there is no vaccine as yet and we’re pretty much all going to have to get it in order to build up immunity (assuming “the science” is correct). I totally get why the government want to delay the banning of large scale gatherings but events seem to have overtaken them and in domino-effect style one large “gathering” after another is being cancelled or postponed by its organising body.

Many small businesses will go to the wall, especially in the hospitality and entertainment sectors (I include football in this one, DD’s other half’s industry). My home town derives a massive amount of its income from tourism and that’s just not going to happen this year (my industry). Dedicated health professionals will be tested to their limits and those who lose their jobs and livelihoods will suffer greatly (doubt if DD’s workplace will weather the storm). The old folk with dementia in care homes (I include my mum in this group) can no longer be visited by their families and they won’t understand why they’ve been abandoned. Should the worst come to the worst, they will be alone.

But again, here we are, and although the experts and scientists tell us to self-isolate if we have symptoms (and not go on cruises !?), many of us in the real world who may well not be paid if we don’t turn up for work will carry on regardless – It’s just human nature as navigating the Universal Credit system for urgent replacement funding would be nigh impossible. Likewise, there is an army of unpaid carers out there who look after their elderly relatives. They have been told to give them a phonecall and tell them they won’t see them for a few weeks! Again, not going to happen. I know from personal experience I had to visit my mum three times a day when she was poorly otherwise she would not have been fed or given her medication.

Last Saturday my first guest of the year to the holiday hideaway left for home, after having spent an excellent week in the area where he and his family were blessed with great weather. He knew about Alyson’s Highland Adventures from my blog and decided to give me a whirl. This Saturday it’s increasingly looking like he might be my first and only guest of 2020. Yes, this year the town is going to look less like the picture on the left and more like the one on the right.

I have just asked Mr WIAA if he had any song suggestions for this post and he came up with It’s The End Of The World As We Know It by REM. Although I think he’s kinda right (in the short-term), that all sounds a bit too dystopian. Instead I’ll include this offering from Bon Iver who are new to me, but the song Blindsided from their 2008 album For Emma, Forever Ago suddenly seems appropriate to how we’ve all been hit this week. The majority of that album was recorded whilst lead singer Justin Vernon spent three months in (self?) isolatation in a cabin in north-western Wisconsin. Most interestingly for me however is that their name comes from the French phrase “bon hiver” (good winter) taken from a greeting heard on the excellent ’90s telly show Northern Exposure. We watched that show religiously but with the passage of time I seem to have forgotten they ever said that.

Blindsided by Bon Iver:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I seem to have returned with another negative post but I’m just bracing myself for all the changes we’re going to have to get used to over the next few weeks and months. I really want all my loved ones to stay well (and of course all you lovely followers too) but being realistic this thing has to run its course so that we can get to the other side. Strange times indeed.

Until next time….

Blindsided Lyrics
(Song by Justin Vernon)

Back down, down to the downtown
Down to the lockdown…
Boards, nails lie around

I crouch like a crow
Contrast in the snow
For the agony I’d rather know

‘Cause blinded
I am blindsided

Peek in
Into the peer in
I’m not really like this
I’m probably plightless

I come through the window
I’m crippled and slow
For the agony I’d rather know

‘Cause blinded
I am blindsided

Would you really rush out?
Would you really rush out?
Would you really rush out for me now?
Would you really rush out
Would you really rush out for me now?
Would you really rush out for me now?
Would you really rush out for me now?
Would you really rush out
For me now?

Ooh, for me now
Ooh, for me now
Ooh, for me now

Taut line
Down to the shoreline
The end of a blood line
The moon is a cold light

There’s a pull to the flow
My feet melt the snow
For the irony I’d rather know

‘Cause blinded
I was blindsided
Blinded
I was blindsided
Blinded
I was blindsided

Postscript:

Lest we stray into negative blogging territory too soon, here is a clip a friend has just sent me. Most of us will remember Nigel Hawthorne’s portrayal of Sir Humphrey Appleby, the Permanent Secretary for the Department of Administrative Affairs in the telly show Yes Minister. Very funny, but also very apt for our times.