Long Hot Summers, Advertising and The Music of 1976

The year 1976 is certainly being bandied about a lot at the moment, because until this current heatwave hit us, there had been no year with a long hot summer that could compete with it. For those of us who remember it first hand however, it was a very different time. It was also the year I turned 16, and so much has changed for the average teenager since then….

I didn’t have to worry about applying high factor sunscreen…, because it didn’t exist yet. I didn’t have to worry about global warming…, because the ice caps were still fully intact and hadn’t begun to seep into the oceans yet. I didn’t have to worry about whether my hair extensions and lip fillers would cope with the heat…, because we simply had short blow-dried hair, and if we were really lucky, little pots of lip gloss. I didn’t have to worry about whether my boyfriend was “talking” to other girls via social media…, because the only social medium we had was the local youth club, so it would have been pretty obvious. Yes, simpler times indeed.

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A Jackie magazine cover from 1976

Back in my first year of blogging I wrote a post about the music of 1976, and as no-one saw it back then (except me), time for another airing I feel. A bit of lazy blogging I know, but as I’m still a bit preoccupied with home improvements, time ran out for me this week. Such is life but hopefully back to business as usual very soon. I give you:

Long Hot Summers, Advertising and The Music of 1976, Take 2
First published April 2016

Apparently a study has been carried out, and the findings are that any company wishing to target a particular demographic with their advertising, should use music from the time that group turned 16 – In my case that would be 1976. I can see how this would work. If like me you were lucky, and had a stable family background, your material needs were all catered for. You also had a tight regime to your day, with school and probably a Saturday job. You saw your best friends every single day because you went to school with them, and you had a reasonable level of independence as helicopter parenting wouldn’t start for a few decades yet. Top that off with a few short romances that didn’t cause too much distress when they were over, no social media to mess with your head and life was sweet.

We humans are essentially simple beings but as the years go by we accumulate baggage, make life complicated for ourselves and lose the people we love – These giant corporations know that, and home in on our weakness for a pop song that reminds us of simpler times. A really expensive car and some life assurance anyone? Yes by golly, I’ll have both.

1976 was indeed a memorable year and one which I have really fond memories of. It was of course the year of the “long hot summer” where a new government department had to be created – The Ministry for Drought (which then became the Ministry for Floods when summer turned into autumn).

The UK won the Eurovision Song Contest that year with Brotherhood of Man’s Save Your Kisses For Me. Girl/boy bands like BofM were very popular in 1976 and Abba really solidified their position as an international supergroup with hits like Mama Mia, FernandoDancing Queen and Money Money Money. Other home grown acts like Guys and Dolls even had a modicum of success.

Despite the fact that punk emerged that year, with Malcolm MacLaren’s Sex Pistols out to shock, they or their movement weren’t really making much of an impact on the UK Singles Chart yet – That was pretty much filled with the usual suspects. We had Disco (Tina Charles, Donna Summer), Soft Rock (Chicago, Dr Hook), Country (JJ Barrie, Pussycat and Billie Jo Spears), Novelty songs (The Wurzels), Rock (Queen with their amazing Bohemian Rhapsody), Pop classics (Elton John & Kiki Dee), Soul (The Stylistics, Barry White) and Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival acts (Showaddywaddy).

As for me, I was in my 4th year of secondary school which was the last year everyone my age would have to legally attend. In the May of that year we sat our first important exams, “O” Grades as they were called then (short for Ordinary although they didn’t feel very ordinary when you were having to revise for them). When you have big exams coming up, you do spend a lot of time in your bedroom studying, but of course you also need a bit of down time and the radio is probably switched on a fair bit more often than should be. I think I’m still familiar with just about every song that hit the charts in the spring of 1976 and could still tell you which position they reached. After the exams finished, a time of merriment commenced (as per the film Grease) and the two songs I remember clearly from that time are You To Me Are Everything by Liverpool band The Real Thing and Young Hearts Run Free by Candi Staton – If any company used either of those songs in an advert, I would be putty in their hands.

As it turned out the exams of 1976 went very well but later on that year many of our classmates left school for good as there were plenty of jobs waiting for 16-year-olds in those days. Those of us who went back to school enjoyed the big hit of the autumn, Chicago’s If You Leave Me Now, and then over Christmas we were treated to Johnny Mathis with his version of When A Child Is Born (one for the mums and dads).

As the academic year went by and we all started to turn 17, the serious business of Higher Grade exams loomed which determined whether or not you would go to University. Like for our old classmates who had already entered the adult world of work, life had got just that little bit more serious and not as carefree as for our 16-year-old selves. The advertisers have therefore got it right I reckon – It’s not the same for everyone, but if you have to pick music from a year that will really boost sales, make it the year your target group turned 16. Works for me and my new really expensive car, and life assurance policy!

I shall leave you with Candi Staton and her June 1976 hit Young Hearts Run Free but it seems bizarre now that this was the track of choice for our end-of-term merriment. As I’ve said before however, I really don’t think we took too much heed of the lyrics at that age – I’d not had any big romances yet and all the mums and dads I knew seemed to be quite happy (or perhaps I was too young and naïve to think otherwise). I loved Candi’s voice though, the song seemed to be aimed at my generation and it was perfect for the school disco.

Young Hearts Run Free by Candi Staton:

Something has only come to light in the last few years however – Whenever she was mentioned on the radio or on TOTP, she was always called Candi “Staton” (made to sound like Staten Island) but it turns out it should have been pronounced “State-en”. Poor lady had her name mispronounced in the UK for over 40 years, but hopefully now put right. Tony Blackburn in the clip was obviously one of the main culprits, but of course he was also the DJ who badly mispronounced “Duran Duran” during a chart rundown in the ’80s, so not surprising really. As it turns out, I only discovered after his death that I had always mispronounced “Bowie” (as in David), so not always easy to get it right. And as for “Bono” – He always ends up sounding like a well-known dog food!

Until next time…

Young Hearts Run Free Lyrics
(Song by David Crawford)

What’s the sense in sharing this one and only life
Ending up just another lost and lonely wife
You count up the years and they will be filled with tears

Love only breaks up to start over again

You’ll get the babies but you won’t have your man
While he is busy loving every woman that he can  

Say I’m gonna leave a hundred times a day

It’s easier said than done
When you just can’t break away

Young hearts, run free
They’ll never be hung up, hung up like my man and me 
Young hearts, to yourself be true
Don’t be no fool when
Love really don’t love you 

It’s high time now just one crack at life
Who wants to live it in trouble and strife
My mind must be free to learn all I can about me

I’m gonna love me for the rest of my days

Encourage the babies every time they say
Self preservation is what’s really going on today

Say I’m gonna turn loose hundred times a day
How can I turn loose
When I just can’t break away

The Princess and the Pear: A (Tongue-in-cheek) Work of Fan Fiction

For the benefit of any new visitors to the blog, this post is not representative, but a few weeks ago I issued a challenge, asking followers to come up with ideas for future posts. One of these was from Deidra, who after reading my tribute to David Cassidy (link here), suggested I should write some fan fiction in fairytale form involving the man and his music. Anyway, this is a bit tongue-in-cheek, and probably not what Deidra was expecting at all, but always fun to take on a new challenge and run with it. You probably need to be of a certain age to “get” a lot of what is to follow, but if you do, hope you enjoy it.

david cassidyThe Princess and the Pear

Princess Deidra looked down from the castle window. The boy from the village had just arrived with baskets of pears from his family’s orchard, and was heading towards the entrance to the large kitchen where he would no doubt laugh and joke with the kitchen maids. Deidra felt sad, and jealous that she could no longer join in their fun, but her mother had deemed it no longer appropriate for her to spend time with Maryberry the cook, Baldrick the kitchen boy and the feisty but fun, Daphne and Celeste.

The boy was called Davyd and his family supplied the castle with much produce in the course of a year. They reared partridges at the back of their humble dwelling so inevitably came to be known as, The Partridge Family. He had a sister called Susan and a brother called Daniel, who also visited the castle from time to time with their mother, a pretty, petite woman, with light coloured hair. The four of them were accomplished musicians and came to entertain guests in the great hall whenever a banquet was being held. The mother and Susan both played the harpsichord whereas Daniel played that strange stringed instrument which looked a bit like a lute. As for Davyd, he was the singer within the group, and as far as Deidra was concerned, had the voice of an angel.

The reason for his arrival today, was because festivities were being planned in honour of a visiting prince. She knew this prince was being thought of as a possible suitor, but fortunately her mother and father, the King and Queen, were kind and loving parents who would never force her into an arranged marriage. The prince, she had learnt, was called Donald and he came from a far away land that had a great salt lake. She’d also heard he had many brothers who wore tabards of different colours so that their parents could tell them apart. Donald always wore purple, and although they denied it, his parents considered him the handsomest of them all, as he had a beautiful smile and dazzling white teeth. Even when his younger brother James arrived, despite his long hair and loving ways, Donald was still their favourite son and they hoped he would find a deserving princess, perhaps in Deidra.

Not for the first time however, Deidra wished she had been lowly born and could simply marry the boy from the village who was now leaving the castle grounds, his baskets empty. He would return home to his family, checking the partridges on the way, no doubt perched on the many pear trees in the orchard. Prince Donald may well be someone she could fall in love with, but right now, all she could think of was Davyd, and the songs she imagined he sang just for her. “Yes, I think I love you too”, she thought to herself, remembering the words of the last song he had performed in the great hall, at the same time knowing full well nothing could come of it.

I Think I Love You:

But the day was warm, and it was time for an afternoon nap ahead of the evening’s banquet and entertainment. She removed her headdress and lay down on her counterpane, but before she could drift off to sleep Daphne appeared, having run up the stairs from the kitchen. The pair had been friends since they were young but of late Deidra had been unable to spend much time with her at all, her mother insisting that she fill her days with needlework, scripture and music lessons.

“‘Scuse me Princess, but I just had to let yee know that Prince Donald is on his way.”

“I know Daphne, but what will he be like I wonder. Will he be as handsome as Davyd from the village? I see he has just been to the kitchen. Did you speak with him?”

“Why o’ course Princess. He be asking after yee but that Celeste had to push in and act all brazen in front of him as usual. Ooh, that girl has no shame but we all knows he only has eyes for yee so stick you Celeste. He also be telling us he has some turtle doves for the princess. Real beauties they are.”

The kitchen maids Daphne and Celeste

“Oh, how kind”, said Deidra feeling wistful that she would not be allowed to accept them in person. “Is he coming up to the castle with his family tonight, to sing and play for us?”

“He is”, replied Daphne excitedly, “and they have a new song he wants to sing just fer you. He knows ’bout Prince Donald and told me to let yee know, it’s a magical song that can transport you through time. Time and… relertive dumension in… sound, he called it. Means nuthin’ to me but he said yee would understand”.

Daphne then headed off, to return to her duties in the kitchen but Deidra was left feeling confused. As a young princess she had been allowed to spend time with the village children, and when playing their games had often told Davyd she believed we would one day travel through time. Had he remembered those conversations she wondered, and had he found a way of really making it happen? It was all very baffling, but time for a quick nap now as Trinny and Susannah, her ladies maids, would soon be along to help her choose the perfect costume for tonight’s banquet, and the inevitable introduction to Prince Donald.

The ladies maids Trinny and Susannah

By the time the sun went down, Deidra was ready for the evening of festivities. Trinny and Susannah had picked out the perfect gown and headdress for her and after much pushing, prodding and pulling had secured the bodice into place. They had also brought with them an undergarment called majicnikkers which although made of a very strange fabric that was new to her, had the effect of making her waist appear very small indeed. This was going to be quite an evening, and although she was curious about the meeting with Prince Donald, it was the idea of Davyd’s magical song that truly excited her.

At the banquet Deidra was seated next to Prince Donald. He was indeed very handsome, his dark hair framing his smiling face. His party’s journey to the castle had been an eventful one however, as something had caused their horses to start acting crazily. Something in the air perhaps, an air very different to what they were used to by the great salt lake, over there on the morning side of the mountain. But Deidra could already tell that this was not her prince. He was too young, and for him it would just be a puppy love.

Jacques, Jules et Henri

At the end of the table was a cage with the turtle doves that Davyd had sent up to the castle earlier in the day as a gift. He had also presented the cook, Maryberry, with three hens which had curiously been given the names Jacques, Jules and Henri. All we need now she thought to herself, would be some birds that could sing, and we would have quite the menagerie. Just at that moment, The Partridge Family appeared on the minstrel gallery, ready to play for them. Davyd gave her a knowing look, and once his brother tightened the strings on the lute-shaped instrument, the song began. “Could it be forever, or is my mind just rambling on…… .”

Suddenly Deidra’s head started to spin and she had to look down to gather her composure. The words in Davyd’s song were ringing in her ears. “Could it be forever?”, she thought regretfully. “No, not in my world, where princesses just don’t marry commoners.”

Princess Deidra

The spinning stopped and Deidra looked up. It took a few moments for her to work out where she was. It was still Windsmoor Castle but everything looked different. Her family and Prince Donald still sat next to her but they were all dressed in strange clothes and her flaming red hair was no longer covered by a headdress. The plate, and glassware, was finely crafted and large drapes covered the table. The Partridge Family were no longer up in the minstrel gallery but stood on a low, nearby platform surrounded by large boxes from which the sound seemed to come. Soon the song ended, and instead of retreating to the chambers behind the banquet hall as was usual, the family descended from the stage and came to converse with the guests. Just then, she remembered that Davyd had not just said it was to be a magical song, but that it was perhaps made up of sounds that could transport them through time. “What was it again?”, she frantically tried to remember. “Time and relative dimension in sound. TARDIS for short.”

She was still reeling from this revelation when Davyd came to speak to her. He had done it, he really had. Found a way of traversing through time until they came to an age when red-haired princesses could marry dark-haired, common born entertainers. Without further ado, Davyd got down on one knee and presented Deidra with a pear, from the orchard behind the castle of olden days. When she looked at it quizzically, he just said, “bite into it and see what you find.” Inside was a gold ring, which to everyone’s delight found its way onto her finger. “I started off with five pears and five gold rings”, he said, “but only this final one made it through the sound vortex. It wasn’t until then I knew the time was right to sing my magical song.”

And that my friends, is where the story ends. Davyd and Princess Deidra married in the chapel at Windsmoor Castle a few weeks later and many of their friends came to join in the celebrations. Sir Idris of Elba, Sir George of Clooney and of course Lady Victoria of Beckingham. Prince Donald returned to the land of the great salt lake, married, and had many, many children. Will they all live happily ever after though? Why of course they will, because as we all know, breaking up is hard to do!

 

The End


Could It Be Forever Lyrics
(Song by Wes Farrell/Danny Janssen)

Could it be forever or is my mind just rambling on
[No, it can be forever Davyd, thanks to TARDIS – Time and relative dimension in sound!]
Well I touched you once and I kissed you once
And I feel like you’re mine
Well I feel like you’re mine and I see in your face
I’m not wrong to have these feelings
Well I feel like you’re mine and I’ve never known a time before
That’s had so many meanings

Could it be forever or is my mind just wasting time
Well I don’t think so because you let me know
You make me feel like you’re mine
Well I feel like you’re mine and I can’t remember
When the feelings have been stronger
And all I know is I can’t let go of you
Or be with you just a little while longer

All my feelings come together
All of me is here
Never known when I felt better
Cause I know this won’t disappear

But could it be forever
Or is my mind just rambling on
Maybe it is, if it is
Then I’ll be moving on
Well, I feel like you’re mine
And I see in your face
I’m not wrong to have these feelings
Well, I feel like you’re mine
I’ve never known a time before
That’s had so many meanings

“Rollermania” and Me – A Tribute to Alan Longmuir RIP

A couple of months ago, I was finally coerced into writing about my teenage relationship with the Bay City Rollers, and had a fond couple of days revisiting some of the memorabilia (unbelievably) still in my possession. When looking back, it became apparent there would have been no BCRs had founder member Alan Longmuir, along with his brother Derek, not persevered and pestered until they found success. He was definitely the shyest of the bunch however, and at times found it tough being the oldest member of what we now would call a “boy band”. I was sad therefore to hear it announced today that Alan has died in hospital aged only 70 – The first of the Rollers to leave us.

They were ill-equipped in the early ’70s to cope with the kind of international success they achieved and it is well known they ended up with little of the vast riches that must have accrued from the tours and sale of albums. As for Alan, that didn’t seem to faze him, and humble until the end he used to tell friends and family – “I was just a plumber from Edinburgh who got lucky.” RIP Alan Longmuir.

What's It All About?

Welcome 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 back in the 1970s that they would find their way onto such a thing as a “blog”, courtesy of that as yet unthought of invention, the world wide web!

I’ve been threatening to write this post for a while, and it seems the time is right, coming at the end of a trilogy of posts inspired by my recent trip to Edinburgh. On our last day there we met some friends in an area of the city called The Meadows, a large green space near the Old Town. Bordering the Meadows is a large building which I discovered was Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary, however in days gone by it was called Simpson’s Hospital. And why…

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Seven in Seven #5: Eddy Amoo, The Real Thing and “You To Me Are Everything”

Day Five of my challenge to write seven posts in seven days….

I’m seriously starting to flag now and noticed that I’d pressed the publish button last night without changing the tags, or finishing the post title. All sorted now but it seems my kind of blogging is not short and snappy enough for a daily post, and however hard I try I can’t seem to make them any shorter.

There is a reason for this self-imposed madness however – I have applied for a course at our local college and have the interview next week. I am unsure whether I have enough spare time on my hands to take up the mantle of being the Highlands’ oldest undergraduate, so needed to test the water. Will no doubt keep you all informed on progress however, as I do love to “over-share”.

Inverness-College.jpgI mentioned earlier this week that I’d not written a single tribute this year for anyone from the world of music. I usually rely on Mark over at So It Goes… to keep me updated on who has indeed passed away, as he is usually first off the mark (pun intended). Today he has written about Eunice Gayson, the first Bond girl, who apparently died yesterday at the age of 90. Back in February, Mark announced the passing of Eddy Amoo from the group The Real Thing. I jotted this down in my “blogging notebook”, as they were definitely a group whose songs feature heavily in the tracks of my years.

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Eddie Amoo

If like me you turned 16 in 1976, you will remember that it was dubbed the Long Hot Summer, and for teenagers it was a great time to be alive. We had far more freedom in those days and I don’t think sunscreen had even been invented yet. We lived in blissful ignorance of the damage the sun could wreak on our future middle-aged skin, so just kept topping it up with cooking oil to ensure we turned a “healthy” golden brown. I spent a lot of time that summer with friends at the local youth club. This was the last year we were deemed age-appropriate to attend, as once you turned 17 you were cast out into the world of pubs and “discotheques” – All very grown up, and not at first as comforting as our old youth club, so we made the most of that last summer where it was our fellow school chums who chose and spun the discs.

But I digress – The reason I mention the legendary summer of ’76 is because one of the songs we loved to dance to at the aforementioned youth club was this one, You To Me Are Everything by The Real Thing. It reached the No. 1 spot in July and stayed there for three weeks. It still makes me smile, for in my subconscious it will always be linked to that long, hot summer, when being a teenager was a lot less stressful than it is today. Perhaps it was because of those trousers we used to wear – Who could get hot and bothered with all that fabric flapping about?

You To Me Are Everything by The Real Thing:

The Real Thing were from Liverpool and became the most successful black British group of the 1970s. Although they prided themselves on writing their own material, brothers Chris and Eddy Amoo decided they needed to be more commercial in order to get radio play. With this pop/soul classic, penned by Ken Gold and Michael Denne, they did just that, with bells on. Their follow up record, Can’t Get By Without You made it to the No. 2 spot later on that year.

What I hadn’t realised however was that Eddy Amoo had been in a group called The Chants back in the 1960s. They played the Cavern Club and once had the privilege of having the Beatles act as their backing band (much to the chagrin of Brian Epstein I should add).

chants
The Chants

After the commercial success of the mid ’70s started to wane, Eddy Amoo returned to the “message songs” he had always wanted to write. “I started to feel that I wanted to really project what had happened to me and the people that I’d grown up with in my songs,” he said. The Real Thing released “4 From 8”, an album exploring the four band members’ experiences of living in Liverpool 8, which covered the troubled Toxteth area. The album included Children of the Ghetto which has become a Liverpool favourite. Eventually it would be covered by Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind and Fire and Mary J Blige, making it a popular protest song.

RIP Eddy Amoo

You To Me Are Everything Lyrics
(Song by Ken Gold/Michael Denne)

I would take the stars out of the sky for you
Stop the rain from falling if you asked me to
I’d do anything for you your wish is my command
I could move a mountain when your hand is in my hand

Words cannot express how much you mean to me
There must be some other way to make you see
If it takes my heart and soul you know I’d pay the price
Everything that I possess I‘d gladly sacrifice

Oh you to me are everything
The sweetest song that I could sing
Oh baby, oh baby

To you I guess I’m just a clown
Who picks you up each time you’re down
Oh baby, oh baby

You give me just a taste of love to
Build my hopes upon
You know you got the power boy
To keep me holding on
So now you got the best of me
Come on and take the rest of me
Oh baby

Though you’re close to me we seem so far apart
Maybe given time you’ll have a change of heart
If it takes forever boy then I’m prepared to wait
The day you give your love to me won’t be a day too late

Postscript:

Don’t think it’s just me, but the set in that Real Thing clip looked very odd. Also, I felt there was something familiar about it. Back in my first year of blogging I wrote another Summer of ’76 post (link here) and one of the featured songs was this one, Get Up And Boogie by Silver Convention. I think they’ve been somewhat rearranged, but those “things” that litter the set are most definitely the same. Very odd indeed. Does anyone recognise the show these two 1976 acts might have appeared on?

Seven in Seven #4: Capercaillie, “Caledonia” and Letters From America

Day Four of my annual challenge to write seven posts in seven days. No pressure on regular visitors to leave comments though and these….. Oh what the heck, you know the score by now, I’ll just get on with it.

So far so good with this challenge but as I was away last weekend, today the garden beckoned. Lots of plants to be bedded in and pots to be filled. I am seriously cream-crackered so this will definitely have to be a shorter post.

One of the gardening pressures I have, is that I am custodian of the “family begonias”. Some people inherit money and some inherit good genes. After my dad’s death I inherited begonia corms! These corms have passed down the generations and can’t be purchased in garden centres nowadays but continually reproduce every year. I usually have around ten tubs of beautiful red flowers in my garden every summer but as the only child, of an only child, of an only child, I feel the pressure not to render them extinct. Darling daughter is sadly disinterested in gardening at the moment, but then again so was I at her age, so all is not yet lost – Down the line these knobby corms will become hers, and hopefully she will rise to the challenge of keeping them going for another generation.

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The family begonias!

These begonias have been mentioned in this blog before, when I wrote about The Proclaimers’ song Letter From America (link here). The lyrics reminded me that although my family in Scotland is really small, if I included all those who left for America at the turn of the last century to find work, and perhaps their fortunes, it would be enormous. My grandad’s aunts and uncles all left the family croft and made the brave journey across the Atlantic to the New World. To track down their offspring would be an enormous task, and one that might have to be a retirement project, but at this time of the year I often wonder if any of them took a few begonia corms with them, as a reminder of home. If they did, there could well be gardens all over America with pots of red flowers just like mine.

emigration

Letter From America by The Proclaimers:

The Scottish diaspora is said to be around five times the size of our native population, and often far more fervently Scottish. Caledonian Societies abound and many bands from Scotland are probably far more widely known in “The Colonies” than south of the border. The folk band Capercaillie was founded in the 1980s, and is fronted by singer Karen Matheson. The group adapt traditional Gaelic music and lyrics with modern instruments such as electric guitar or bass and are probably one of our most successful exports. Here they are performing Cape Breton Song at Aberdeen’s Capitol Theatre in 1992.

But I always include the lyrics in my posts and although I laboured over Peter Kay’s Car Share Buddy song yesterday (which I couldn’t find anywhere), this time the lyrics are in Gaelic, so I have no chance. Time to think of another song that seems to go down well in those parts of the world where the residents often have a surname with the the prefix Mac. The song Caledonia was written in 1977 by Dougie MacLean – He was on a beach in France, feeling homesick, and wrote it in less than ten minutes. The song has became something of an anthem for Scotland and has been covered by many artists. The version I have in my collection is by Frankie Miller, so the audio clip will be that one, but for the video clip I think it will have to be the man himself. I wonder if he is also custodian of the family begonia corms?

Caledonia by Frankie Miller:

Caledonia Lyrics
(Song by Dougie MacLean)

I don’t know if you can see
The changes that have come over me
In these last few days I’ve been afraid
That I might drift away
I’ve been telling old stories, singing songs
That make me think about where I’ve come from
That’s the reason why I seem
So far away today

Let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia, you’re calling me, now I’m going home
But if I should become a stranger
Know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had

Now I have moved and I’ve kept on moving
Proved the points that I needed proving
Lost the friends that I needed losing
Found others on the way

I have kissed the fellas and left them crying
Stolen dreams, yes, there’s no denying
I have travelled hard, sometimes with conscience flying
Somewhere with the wind

Let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia, you’re calling me, now I’m going home
But if I should become a stranger
Know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had

Now I’m sitting here before the fire
The empty room, the forest choir
The flames have cooled, don’t get any higher
They’ve withered, now they’ve gone
But I’m steady thinking, my way is clear
And I know what I will do tomorrow
When hands have shaken, the kisses float
Then I will disappear

Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had
Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had
Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had

Postscript:

Just in case anyone doesn’t know what I’m talking about when I mention the word “corm” – This is what they look like.

5483147

Not very attractive granted, but once buried in some soil they start to perform their annual magic.

The scene of our “End of the Summer” get-together.

An Awfully Serious Post, Boz Scaggs and “We’re All Alone”

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week. Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, this year’s focus was on stress. Research has shown that two thirds of us experience a mental health problem in our lifetimes, and stress is a key factor in this.

MHF

Here in the Highlands we have had an epidemic of young men taking their own lives – In one case two best friends committed suicide within days of each other, and in response one of their uncles set up a local helpline, hoping to reach out to other young men who may also be vulnerable. Darling daughter has many friends who have suffered from mental health problems over the years, and even today, because of chronic stress at her workplace, she is going to hand in a letter of resignation. Something has gone horribly wrong along the way. The government tell us that more people are in work than ever before, but these jobs do not offer the security and support that we used to associate with the world of employment.

So, last year I threw in the towel, and this year it is to be DD. Unlike me she does have a plan however so I am hopeful all will turn out well for her in the end. Until my ongoing parental care situation is resolved (after four months we are still on a waiting list to get the official diagnosis) I am in limbo, unable to commit to anything other than helping out with our online business and boring old domestic stuff. It’s a lonely life, especially as the other half isn’t around much any more, having had to pick up on the bread-winning side of things.

By my own admission I spend far too much time in a day sitting in front of a computer screen and too many hours can slip by, falling down that rabbit hole – The Web was essentially designed to function in this way because of how the hyperlinks work, but boy can it steal your time to no purposeful end. Facebook was something I had all but abandoned after discovering blogging, but of late I have taken to carrying out a daily browse, finding out what my friends and family are up to. The other week, the awful news came through that Scott Hutchison of the Scottish Indie band Frightened Rabbit, who had been missing for several days, had been found dead. He had taken his own life. Despite having helped so many others through dark times, telling them “they were not alone”, when it came down to it, he was indeed alone.

Many of my Facebook “Friends” offered condolences – They had been big fans of Scott’s music so were understandably saddened by this news. Many added the hashtag, #youarenotalone which I took to be the offer of a helping hand to those who might be in need. An opportunity to test the water I thought, so I put together a short post along these lines: “Like most of us, I am constantly in awe of the dazzling lives my Facebook friends seem to lead. I am also fully aware that life is not quite as dazzling as portrayed, all the time. As someone who is currently working from home/looking after a parent with dementia, I miss the buzz of meeting lots of people every day – If any of my FB friends are in a similar position please feel free to PM me as you might have a few ideas on how to both fit everything in, but still have “real life” people to connect with. A First World problem I know, and not complaining, but just thought I’d throw it out there!”

Needless to say, this post led to a tumbleweed moment. A few acquaintances “liked” it but I don’t think they had actually read the words, and were just liking the pretty picture of some cherry blossom I had added to take the edge off the sombreness of the post. I had suspected however that this would be the case, as at the end of the day, most of us don’t want to be “brought down” by other people’s troubles. I myself have been very wary over the years of DD getting too involved with kids who have mental health issues – It’s not contagious but it can impact on their lives, spectacularly so, like the two best friends mentioned in my opening paragraph. Sad but true.

Another water-testing moment came along last week when a family get-together was organised – Mr WIAA’s side of the family all lead the kind of dazzling lives I mentioned in my FB post, but when we get together, it inevitably crops up that our lives are perhaps not quite as dazzling at the moment – Somehow it always causes a bit of an argument because of what I perceive as being unhelpful advice being given on what we “should be doing”. But, difficult for those not in the same position, to really understand how it feels. This time I decided we would turn in the performance of a lifetime – We would be bubbly, joyful and interested in all their adventures. No mention would be made of parents with health issues, offspring with career dilemmas or money worries, and of course it worked a treat. There were no arguments for once and invitations flowed freely to spend time in their various holiday homes (which is impossible at the moment anyway). But of course it was all an act, and the next day I went back to being a bit sad and lonely….

Was Mental Health Awareness Week a success? I’m not sure, but I do know that my little experiments did confirm what I have long suspected – At times of crisis, those who have previously maintained they would always be there if we needed them, were suddenly found wanting. People are busy, and have their own troubles. Fortunately for me, my situation is a cause and effect one, and once things start happening in terms of getting professional help, life should get a bit less lonely.

But this is supposed to be a music blog, and so far not much music around here today. I had a lot I wanted to say however and sometimes our blogs provide the perfect forum, us being essentially anonymous after all. Not looking for comments here, but just glad I got my thoughts down – I wish it wasn’t the case, but at the end of the day I think We’re All Alone, (courtesy of Mr Boz Scaggs).

We’re All Alone by Boz Scaggs:

We’re All Alone Lyrics
(Song by Boz Scaggs)

Outside the rain begins
And it may never end
So cry no more
On the shore of dreams
Will take us out to sea
Forever more, forever more

Close your eyes and dream
And you can be with me
‘Neath the waves
Through the caves of hours
Long forgotten now
We’re all alone
We’re all alone

Close the window
Come alive
Honey, we’ll be alright
No need to bother now
Let it out
Let it all begin
Learn how to pretend

Once the story’s told
You can’t help but grow old
Roses do
Lovers too
So cast your seasons to the winds
And hold me dear
Oh, hold me dear

Close the window
Come alive
And it will be alright
No need to bother now
Let it out
Let it all begin
All’s forgotten now
We’re all alone
We’re all alone

A Right Royal Affair, Barry White and “Just The Way You Are”

Well, it was a bit busy around here yesterday as we had to get our outfits organised for heading to a wedding…. down south…. near Windsor!! No, sadly it wasn’t that wedding but a bit of a coincidence that our young friends are to tie the knot amongst those very iconic surroundings so soon after the Right Royal Affair. No big crowds for them though, and no long carriage rides (I don’t think anyway) but looking forward to it all very much. I’ve mentioned here before that we live in a very sociable street, and as the bride-to-be is one of our own, having been brought up in the house next-door to us, all the neighbours are going. Even Albert, who celebrated his 90th birthday last year with a party in one of our gardens, is going to make the long trip south in his capacity as honorary granddad.

windsor

But I do also love a Royal Wedding and I will admit to having spent much of yesterday watching the build-up to it all and then the actual service itself. I know these events are not for everyone, and the family in question does come in for much criticism at times, but not from me. Luck was on Harry and Meghan’s side though, and the deep blue skies shining above Windsor Castle yesterday made that little corner of England look absolutely stunning – So much history, and just so scenic. Considering there was to be an estimated 2 billion people watching the event on television, I would guess that tourist numbers are going to be well up for the foreseeable future. In view of all the “exiting” that’s been going on around here of late, a bit of a relief that at least one aspect of the economy might have been given a fortuitous boost.

Who-Performed-Prince-Harry-Meghan-Markle-Reception

The actual wedding itself was certainly like no other royal wedding any of us have watched before, and despite the bride having had to contend with family difficulties in the build up to her big day, her mother, Doria Ragland, presented a highly dignified figure as the sole representative on the Markle side. A million miles away from her comfort zone no doubt, but how cool that for once, the mother of the bride sported dreadlocks and a nose stud. But of course for most of us who watched it, the unexpected star was the Reverend Michael Curry who treated the congregation to an evangelical-style sermon which to be fair did go on a bit, and caused several members of the royal family to exude nervous giggles (Camilla?), but even for non-believers this was rousing stuff. We had the usual musical offerings from the St George’s Chapel choristers, but lo and behold we also had Stand By Me from The Kingdom Choir. Who would have thought a generation ago, that the works of Ben E. King would feature so prominently at such an event.

Stand By Me by Ben E. King:

But the featured song today is going to be something else. I used to like the flow of it all when I linked each post in this blog to the one before – Last time I wrote about Billy Joel and his album “The Stranger”, so what better song to include here than another one written for it, Just The Way You Are. This time it won’t be Billy doing the honours however, but a man who recorded the song in 1978 and reached No. 12 in the UK Singles Chart, Mr Barry White – I do love a bass-baritone voice, and I also love the languid and sensual delivery he gave to all his songs, but also a very appropriate song for this post. Turns out that had he still been alive, he could have made the perfect contribution to yesterday’s very romantic royal wedding.

Just The Way You Are by Barry White:

“So, What’s It All About?” – Harry, unlike so many royal princes that have gone before him, has been allowed to choose his own bride and in Miss Markle he seems to have found the perfect match. If there was ever an actual form, complete with tick boxes, of the traits a potential royal bride should possess (and I suspect there will have been), Meghan would have failed spectacularly, but that form seems to have been quite rightly now torn to shreds. From a first date to the wedding day itself has been quite a speedy process, so they also seem to still exhibit the touchy-feeliness that comes with that first flush of romance. As a slightly more mature bride, Meghan has not been railroaded into having to adapt and change to fit in with the very unique family that are “The Windsors”. At some point Harry must have said to her, “Don’t go changing, to try and please me,” before adding, “I love you just the way you are”!

Until next time….

Just The Way You Are Lyrics
(Song by Billy Joel)

I never take anything for granted
Only a fool maybe takes things for granted
Just because it’s here today
It can be gone tomorrow
And that’s one thing that you
Never in your life ever have to worry about me
If I’ll ever change towards you because
Baby I love you
Yeah I love you
Just the way… You are…

Don’t go changing, trying to please me
You never let me down before
I don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore
I would not leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are

Don’t go trying some new fashion
Don’t change the color of your hair
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care

I don’t want clever conversation
I don’t want to work that hard
I just want some someone to talk to
I want you just the way you are

I need to know that you will always be
The same old someone that I knew
What will it take till you believe in me
The way that I believe in you.

I said I love you and that’s forever
And this I promise from my heart
I could not love you any better
I love you just the way you are