Another Serious Post: A Much-loved Cousin who was “Football Crazy”

I had a long and sad journey to make yesterday as my 56-year-old cousin, who was diagnosed with MND nearly four years ago, finally lost his battle with that horrible “locked-in” disease. Down to the excellent round-the-clock care given to him by his mum and sisters, he outlived most other victims post diagnosis, but everyone knew it was time for his suffering to end and his friends turned out in droves to his memorial service in Aberdeen. It was standing room only and I don’t think I’ve ever been to a service where quite so many middle-aged men found it impossible to control their emotions. The main reason for this outpouring of emotion – Football.

My cousin didn’t have a glittering career or ever earn vast sums of money but he worked hard, raised a family and was a loving father, son and brother. From an early age however, his passion was football, and for nearly 35 yrs he played in the many Junior and Amateur leagues run within The Granite City. Apparently he was still playing at age 50, just two years before his diagnosis. Facebook is awash with tributes to him and of his many exploits on the pitch. He had played with, and captained, many teams over the years so knew the entire footballing fraternity and they had nothing but good things to say about him – A legend, a true gent, a prankster, a great friend, and so it went on.

There is a dearth of quality football songs out there, so I’m just going to go with the obvious choice, Football Crazy, a song written back in the days of yore but made popular by Robin Hall and Jimmie Macgregor when they regularly performed their version of it on the Tonight programme back in the early 1960s. I don’t remember watching this show back then (just too young), but I must have recognised the theme tune as I always knew when “Ciff” (that would be Cliff Michelmore) came on the telly, it was time for bed (we didn’t climb the stairs to Bedfordshire where I came from).

Strangely enough, last Saturday I went to our football stadium for the first time in nearly 20 years to watch the local team. DD’s boyfriend, who looks after the team’s physical (and often mental) welfare, got us tickets for the section where the player’s wives, kids and mums sit. They probably go to every home match and build up that familiarity and camaraderie from spending so much time together. I watched friends meet up for their weekly fix of football; old men turning up in their scarves who have probably been fans since they were lads; and the staff who kept everything running like clockwork – A massive footballing family. It was nice.

This week we have had the freaky scenario where two English teams who were not expected to come back with a win on aggregate, did just that – Even fans of other teams, usually fierce rivals, have come out and congratulated them on those fantastic wins. Just at the time we were supposed to have left the EU, both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur are on their way to Madrid and the Champion’s League Final. There’s going to be an English winner now whatever the outcome.

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This time last week I wasn’t really thinking much about football at all, but as with my cousin, if it has played a large part in your life you could be one of the lucky ones as you are part of one big family. Many of the middle-aged men at yesterday’s service had walked, ran and climbed improbable distances and heights to raise money for a vehicle for their old team-mate. They called it the Stephen-Hawking-mobile and there were many great outings in it. There have also been fund-raising dinners for MND and the many other charities who supported him and his family over the last few years. I don’t know for sure, but I doubt very much if my old work-mates would do the same for me.

On a personal level, one of the player’s mums sitting behind me at last weeks match turned out to be a carer at my mum’s nursing home. I had thought she looked familiar but out of context I couldn’t place her. Having now met with her this week at the home, I realise my mum will now potentially be even better looked after, as I am now (somewhat loosely) attached to her son’s team.

So, a sad week for my family, but as ever at these events it was great to meet up with people whom I have been out of touch with for a long time. Plans are now being made for me to keep in touch with everyone and contact details have been exchanged. It seems unfair that people who are the healthiest, fittest, kindest and most generous can be dealt such a cruel blow, but no-one ever said life was fair.

Until next time…

Football Crazy Original Lyrics
(Song by James Curran)

I have a favourite brother
And his Christian name is Paul.
He’s lately joined a football club
For he’s mad about football.
He’s got two black eyes already
And teeth lost from his gob,
Since Paul became a member of
That terrible football club.

For he’s football crazy,
He’s football mad,
The football it has taken away
The little bit o’ sense he had,
And it would take a dozen servants
To wash his clothes and scrub,
Since Paul became a member of
That terrible football club.

In the middle of the field, one afternoon,
The captain says, “Now Paul,
Would you kindly take this place-kick
Since you’re mad about football?”
So he took forty paces backwards,
Shot off from the mark.
The ball went sailing over the bar
And landed in New York.

His wife, she says she’ll leave him
If Paulie doesn’t keep
Away from football kicking
At night-time in his sleep.
He calls out ‘Pass, McGinty!”
And other things so droll
Last night he kicked her out of bed
And swore it was a goal!

A Week Is A Long Time In Blogging – The Eclectic Mix of Bernard Cribbins and Nancy Wilson

Just over a month ago I wrote seven posts in seven days, and it was actually remarkably easy. Now that I’m back to one post per week, it’s somehow become a bit more difficult. Partly down to the fine weather and the fact Mr WIAA is on holiday from his paid employment (as opposed to the wonderful world of self-employment which must still continue over the summer months), but mainly because there seems to be just so much going on at the moment, both in the wider world and domestically. Every time I think I have an idea for the following week’s post, and start working on it, by the time I’ve gathered my thoughts we’ve moved on to something else.

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Melania – “How did I get here?”

Since pressing the publish button last week we’ve had two high profile resignations from the cabinet, our government seems to be in total disarray with regards to what our future relationship with Europe will be and the POTUS and FLOTUS flew across for a visit. As expected the POTUS made a few monumental gaffes, whilst the ever-elegant FLOTUS just looks like a trophy wife who still can’t quite believe what has happened to her.

On a happier note we saw the miraculous rescue of 12 Thai boys and their football coach from flooded underground caves. I am in awe of what the divers went through in order to facilitate that rescue. Sporting-wise, we’ve had the closing stages of the World Cup where England nearly made it to the final, but fell at the hands of Croatia, a country with a population of 4 million. The Men’s Wimbledon Final took place on Sunday where the Serbian with the haircut that never changes recaptured his tennis mojo, and took the big prize.

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In the more frivolous sections of the media we found out lots about the goings on in the Love Island villa (they do like to “crack on”, discuss their “connections” and parade around in barely there swimsuits). It also seems that the youngest of the Kardashian clan, aged only 20, is likely to become a billionaire in the very near future courtesy of a make-up range that the Love Island girls would no doubt approve of – Lots of products aimed at plumping the lips to cartoonish proportions.

So, that’s the wider world taken care of in three paragraphs, what’s been happening domestically? Well, DD has landed herself a new job which she is really pleased about and with Mr WIAA on holiday, we finally got the bit between our teeth and started doing all those jobs round the house that have been staring us down for months. Sadly there is nothing more likely to cause marital strife in our house than a spot of DIY, so needless to say tempers are frayed. Much moving around of furniture has had to be done, but if punctuated by frequent stops for a cuppa, it’s all bearable. Cue Bernard Cribbins and that great wee ditty from the early ’60s, Right Said Fred.

Today I finally finished “the kitchen project” which started a long, long… six months ago. The reliable, skilled tradespersons we had always hoped to commandeer never materialised, so a lesser tradesperson called Alyson did the lion’s share of the tiling, decorating and up-cycling of furniture. Back in January it only took 8 days to rip out the old kitchen and install a new one, complete with appliances, but it’s just taken me 14 days to sand down the old table and chairs, then re-varnish and paint them in another colour. Blame all the false starts for the length of time taken, but now that it’s finished, I’m really chuffed with myself.

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Finally finished!

One condition I have when decorating is that Mr WIAA does all the cleaning of brushes, especially if white spirit is involved. Such a messy business and really hard nowadays to dispose of all that cloudy solvent when you’re finished. Other than that however I am more than happy to spend my days up a stepladder, or crouched at skirting board level, transforming tired rooms into freshly painted ones. The best bit about decorating is being able to listen to the radio, totally guilt-free, for hours on end. I say guilt-free because I am incapable of doing anything that requires any modicum of concentration (computer stuff generally) and listen to the radio at the same time, so I have to limit my listening pleasure.

The kind of mainstream stations I tend to listen to don’t often play songs I’m unfamiliar with, but every now and again they surprise me, and this week I have a few new songs to add to the ever-growing database that constitutes the tracks of my years. This next song, like Right Said Fred, is from the early ’60s but a very different animal indeed. I don’t know if this is unusual for someone of my vintage but I was unaware of American artist Nancy Wilson until this week. Once I got past the idea that she sounded a little like our own Shirley Bassey I really warmed to her, and loved this little gem of a song that popped up on one of the radio playlists. Yes, it gets the prize for earworm of the week, and you don’t know, you don’t know, you don’t know, you don’t know… how glad I am, about that

(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am by Nancy Wilson:

(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am was a hit in the US for Nancy Wilson in the summer of 1964. It also received the Grammy Award in the R&B category the following year. Someone I had been unaware of until this week but someone I might like to investigate a little further once some semblance of a normal routine returns.

Hopefully by next week it’ll be back to business as usual but not always easy at this time of year to keep the pot boiling as my mum would say. I still have another post idea to tackle as a result of having thrown down the gauntlet a few weeks ago. Not going to be easy however, so to the person who suggested it, still on the back burner at the moment but will definitely appear in due course. In the meantime I’ll just “crack on” (as the Love Islanders would say) with all these decorating jobs and if it looks as if tempers are starting to fray, I’ll take advice from good old Bernard Cribbins and ‘ave a cuppa tea. Unlike Nancy Wilson, I don’t think my love (for Mr WIAA) at the moment has no beginning, end, front or back but fortunately it’s all just temporary!

Until next time….

(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am Lyrics
(Song by Jimmy Williams/Larry Harrison)

My love has no beginning, my love has no end
No front or back and my love won’t bend
I’m in the middle, lost in a spin loving you
And you don’t know, you don’t know
You don’t know, you don’t know how glad I am

My love has no bottom, my love has no top
My love won’t rise and my love won’t drop
I’m in the middle and I can’t stop loving you
And you don’t know, you don’t know
You don’t know, you don’t know how glad I am

I wish I were a poet so I could express
What I’d, what I’d like to say yeah
I wish I were an artist so I could paint a picture
Of how I feel, of how I feel today

My love has no walls on either side
That makes my love wider than wide
I’m in the middle and I can’t hide loving you

And you don’t know, you don’t know
You don’t know, you don’t know how glad I am

Seven in Seven #3: Car Share, Kayleigh and “Back For Good”?

Day Three of my annual challenge to write seven posts in seven days. No pressure on regular visitors to leave comments though, and these are going to have to be shorter posts than usual, but I have a bit of a backlog of blog ideas building up so here’s a chance to play catch up. Fell at the first hurdle last year so lets hope I fare better this year.

Yesterday I had to issue a warning that you might not want to read any further if you were a vegetarian, as the post involved a butcher’s shop (complete with images). Today I should point out that if you haven’t yet watched the supposedly final ever episode of Peter Kay’s Car Share, I might be about to spoil things for you. Having aired a good couple of weeks ago now, I will assume however that everyone who wanted to watch it will have done so by now.

car share 2

Back in May last year, I wrote about the final episode of Series 2 (link here). There was that  wonderful scene where Billy Ocean’s Red Light Spells Danger came on the radio, and as ever, our supermarket colleagues who had that whole “unspoken thing” going on, burst into song – One of the real high points of the whole series but it also led to the end of the unspoken thing, as it finally became a “spoken about thing”, so could only go one of two ways. Kayleigh was accused of living in a fairy-tale world and the cautious John, who came from a background and part of the country where such things were most definitely not spoken about, did not come up with the correct responses. Kayleigh stormed out of the car and – we were led to believe – out of his life for good.

Peter-Kays-Car-Share-Kayleigh-920734But of course life is never that simple and the viewing public were not happy. Another final…, final episode was required. At the time however I was fully in support of Kayleigh’s actions – She was a lady of a certain age and had “no time to waste”. She chose to invoke what I used to call the three-month rule. Fun and laughter can be had with the most unlikely of partners for a few months, but then the rose-coloured spectacles come off, and things about them can really start to grate. If however all is still going well, it is wise to find out where things are “going”, as before you know it the years have rolled by and you find yourself with someone who is unwilling to commit (not that I know of anyone who has had that happen to them of course).

Not everyone wanted a sugar-coated ending to Car Share as realistically life just doesn’t always work out that way, but with these two characters they had come too far to throw it all away, and John was at last forced into taking action. As with his botched attempt at telling Kayleigh how he felt at the end of Series 2, he again went about it via the medium of song. He pulled an all-nighter (despite having work the next day) and dropped off the fruits of his labours at Kayleigh’s house in the early hours of the morning. She was not to be trusted with a digital copy of his self-penned love song, so a Walkman and cassette tape it had to be. I give you Come Back My Car Share Buddy by John Redmond (aka Peter Kay). It is no secret that Peter Kay is a massive Take That fan, so it was perfect that they made him an honorary member of the band for this potentially life-changing three-minute declaration. (Sadly the clip of the Back For Good spoof with Take That has disappeared from YouTube but I’m sure you will remember it.)

By storming off, out of his life, Kayleigh in effect threw down the gauntlet and this time John came up with the correct response. Whether the course of true love runs smoothly for our couple is another story altogether, but they had come too far for it all to end on a busy motorway at rush hour. There are rumours that the door might have been left open for a Christmas Special, but if this truly was the final ever episode, I think I can live with that.

Come Back My Care Share Buddy Lyrics
(Song by Peter Kay – With a little help from Gary Barlow?) 

Hiding from the past and locked up inside
I thought my heart was safe and then you arrived
I never knew I needed someone like you
To lift the grey away and turn my skies blue
You changed my world to colour
Turned off the black and white
You changed my life
You opened up my eyes so…

Come back my car share buddy
I don’t think life is fair
Come back my car share buddy
I’m lost now you’re not there
The road is oh so lonely
It feels like someone’s died
I’m so lost you’re not with me
Please won’t you let me be your ride

I didn’t understand that love could be true
But then you told me how much I mean to you
And never thinking that we’d end up apart
I sat and watched you walk away with my heart
Now I don’t wanna lose you
But I just need some time to do what’s right
To figure out my life so…

Come back my car share buddy
I’m empty now you’re gone
Come back my car share buddy
The journey seems so long
I find it hard to say it
But I’m feeling it inside
I’m so lost you’re not with me
Please won’t you let me be your ride

Postscript:

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think the bit of visual humour (at 0:45) in this clip is the funniest thing I’ve seen on telly all year. Wasn’t expecting it at all, so real laugh-out-loud stuff.

Also, it’s been quite a while since I’d watched the original Back For Good video made by Take That in 1995, but it’s still a great wee pop song, apparently dashed off by Gary Barlow in only 15 minutes. It was their 6th UK No. 1 and reached No. 7 on the US Billboard chart. It was also the last video to include Robbie Williams, whom I must admit does look a bit disgruntled in this one – He’d had enough of boy bands by this time and was soon off to try out solo ventures, which he did with aplomb. A fortuitous partnership was formed with songwriter Guy Chambers and the rest, as they say, is history. But getting back to the video – I bet it took ages for their coats to dry out!

Seven in Seven #1: A Gothenburg Great and A Truly Awful but Much-loved Football Song

As I had a birthday this week, and I am a full two and a half years older than I was when I first picked up this blogging mantle, I’m going to set myself the challenge of posting every day for a week. I know there are quite a few daily bloggers in my little circle, and I am full of admiration for what they do, but in my case it’ll just be a little experiment. Not expecting regular visitors to leave comments, and these are going to have to be much shorter posts than usual, but I have a bit of a backlog of ideas building up so here’s a chance to play catch up.

First of all, I am truly amazed that I have not yet written a tribute this year for anyone whom we’ve lost from the world of music. In January 2016, the month I first started blogging, I’d written three in my first 10 days. We’ve lost a few high profile comedians/all-round entertainers in 2018 and a few from the world of music who have meant a lot to others, but not necessarily to me. Last week however we lost someone from the world of sport who will not be known to many of you who visit this place, but who is partly responsible for one of the worst songs ever to find their way into my record collection. If this blog’s tagline is A Nostalgic Journey Through the Tracks of My Years, then this one has to be in there.

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Back in May 1983, Aberdeen FC won the European Cup Winners Cup and so began one of the best weeks of my life. My dad had been a life-long fan of the team, as was the boyfriend-of-the-time (the BOTT), so inevitably I got caught up in all the excitement that befalls your city when the local team is riding high. Sir Alex Ferguson worked his magic at Manchester United, as we all know, but I think some people forget he cut his teeth at Aberdeen.

One of the Gothenburg Greats, as they came to be known, was a young player called Neale Cooper and being a bit shallow at that age, we girls kind of all fell for his blonde hair and good looks. A couple of years down the line however I got to know his sister and she became part of our social circle – We in turn got to know Neale the man, as opposed to Neale the football player. He was a comedian and entertainer of the highest order and his impressions of Sir Alex were legendary. By a strange coincidence, not long after I left Aberdeen to move to the Highlands, Neale also moved north to take up football management so our paths crossed again. His kids, when they came along, were all around the same age as my daughter so their paths also crossed. It came as a massive shock last week to hear that he had died suddenly at the incredibly young age of 54. I know how close he was to his family, so know they will be bereft, but I really don’t think I’d realised just how well-loved he was by so many. The tributes have been flooding in from the world of football and from his many friends – The youngest of the Gothenburg Greats and sadly the first to leave us.

European_Cup_Winners_Cup_Final_1983But of course this is a music blog and the song that was very hastily put together for release ahead of the big final was this one – Simply called the European Song. Having just looked it up, it seems Neale wasn’t one of the players who turned singer for a day on the record, but the current Scotland manager Alex McLeish was, along with Willie Miller, Gordon Strachan, Eric Black, John Hewitt, Jim Leighton and Mark McGhee – All players who have gone on to great things in the world of football.

It truly is an awful song but as the lyrics said, “We’re gonna do it for you”, and they did, with bells on. There was gridlock on Union Street (the city’s main thoroughfare) that night, as everyone felt the need to come out and celebrate. In those pre-mobile phone days I lost track of the BOTT, but he emerged a day later on the cover of the Aberdeen Press and Journal, having scaled one of the city’s many statues, scarf in hand. When the team arrived back with the cup, we headed down to Pittodrie Stadium to greet them, and of course there was the obligatory tour of the city in an open top bus. A party was held in a local hostelry where we all had to wear red and white, and of course listen to the European Song, on repeat – Argh…, painful on the ears, but happy times indeed.

There was a reunion on the 11th May of all the Gothenburg Greats to celebrate the 35th anniversary of their big win. Neale had apparently been on good form that night but sadly, only two weeks later, there was one less Northern Light in Old Aberdeen.

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RIP Neale Cooper

European Song Lyrics
(Song by Harry Barry)

We are the Dons from Aberdeen
And we’re the finest that’s ever been
And we’re gonna do it for you
And we’re gonna do it for you

McLeish and Miller and Strachan too
They’ll lead us forward and take us through
And we’re gonna do it
We’re gonna do it
We’re gonna do it for you!

We’ve taken our team into Europe
Yes we have, Ooooh yes we have
All the way every night and day,
Singing a European song
Ooooh all the way every night and day,
Singing a European song

We can sing, and we can play
And Alex Ferguson, he knows the way
And we’re gonna do it
We’re gonna do it
We’re gonna do it for you!

Spotlight Dances, The Marcels and “Blue Moon”

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.

Well, we had a Blue Moon at the end of January, and now coinciding with Easter, we’re going to have another one at the end of March – All down to timing, as the cycle between full moons is 29 and a half days. The short month February had no full moon at all but both months on either side have had one at the beginning and at the end. This time however there are no complications with it being a Super Blue Blood Moon – Oh no, this time a run-of-the-mill Blue Moon, that name of course also used to describe something that “doesn’t come along very often” (although I beg to differ, as here we are already with two blue moons in the first quarter of the year, but highly unusual granted).

The Rodgers and Hart song Blue Moon is one I have been aware of for most of my life as it has been recorded by just about everyone (Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Billy Eckstine, Mel Tormé, The Supremes, Bing Crosby, Rod Stewart….), and also appeared in many of the old movies I watched on Sunday afternoons as a youngster.

The Dance Contest

The movie I now associate it with most however is Grease, as it was the song used for the “Spotlight Dance” when Danny Zuko and the brash usurper Cha-Cha DiGregorio take to the floor after winning the dance contest which is being broadcast live to an unsuspecting nation (who didn’t realise that a group of so-called “mooners” would gate-crash this bit of poetry in motion).

The Spotlight Dance

Blue Moon by Sha Na Na (aka Johnny Casino and the Gamblers):

And here is where I confused myself earlier in the year – Because this next version of Blue Moon is just so dissimilar from the original, I had convinced myself that it was actually a different song, which meant I would have had one to coincide with each of the blue moons we have had in our skies so far this year. But no, it is of course the same song, it’s just that back in 1961 the Marcels (named after the “marcel waved” hairstyles worn by some of the group) added an infectious, nonsensical introduction performed by bass singer Fred Johnson – Dang-a-dang-dang, ding-a-dong-ding and so on…..

The Marcels novelty version of Blue Moon was an instant hit and topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. They followed it with a series of less successful novelty versions of standards and then disbanded in the mid ’60s. Their version of Blue Moon, along with several other moon songs, featured in the John Landis film An American Werewolf in London (one of Mr WIAA’s favourites as he had a bit of a crush on Jenny Agutter as a young man – a common affliction it seems). Having just watched some of the clips that feature the song, all quite unpleasant, so I’ll spare you the gore and just add a picture of the delectable Nurse Alex Price, who until she met backpacker David Kessler was “without a dream in her heart, or a love of her own” (shame he turned out to be a werewolf).

So, “What’s It All About?” – It’s amazing how a single song can be covered just so many times over the years (it was first recorded in 1934), that it can end up barely recognisable compared to the original. Lots of examples out there, and although this time Blue Moon was given the full doo-wop treatment, other songs have been transformed into three minute ska, reggae, or disco triumphs. CC over at Charity Chic Music has run some excellent series over the last year asking us to compare and contrast cover versions to the originals, and I have also written a few posts that do just that (here and here). One of my most surprising discoveries was that the Blondie hit record Denis was actually a cover of a song called “Denise” by American doo-wop band Randy and the Rainbows.

But this is supposed to be a post about tomorrow night’s full moon, so just in case there is cloud cover and we don’t actually get to see it, here is another picture courtesy of my friend with the all singing, all dancing camera. It was taken at the end of January and was cleverly made into a bona fide Blue Moon using a special filter lens. I’m still hoping for a shot at some point that includes the moon alongside some of the amazing scenery we have up here, but not apparently always easy to capture. Only six posts into this series however, and seven to go, so still plenty of time!

Blue Moon highlands
The Blue Moon: Picture courtesy of R.J. and his favourite Nikon filter lens (it’s football related!)

Until next time, have a great Easter and look out for that Blue Moon on Saturday night.

Blue Moon Lyrics
(Song by Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart)

Blue Moon, you saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

Blue Moon, you knew just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for

And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will ever hold
I heard somebody whisper, ‘Please adore me’
And when I looked, the moon had turned to gold

Blue Moon, now I’m no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

Postscript:

One last thing – In case you haven’t heard of The Marcel Wave before, it looked like this…..

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…..and was invented by a Frenchman, who looked like this. Every day’s a school day!

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The RAH Band, “Clouds Across the Moon” and The Sap Is Rising!

Another month seems to have whizzed by so we are approaching our next possible sighting of a full moon (cloud cover permitting). Since discovering at the end of last year 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 the:

Beaver Moon – November
Cold Moon – December
Wolf Moon and Blue Moon – January

There were two full moons in January because the cycle between them is 29 and a half days, so just the way it landed, one at the beginning of the month and one at the end. A slight quirk this time is that there will no full moon at all in February (although there should have been a Snow Moon) but skip to the night of the 1st/2nd of March and we should witness the Worm Moon. I don’t know about where you live, but here in the North of Scotland it has been feeling quite springlike of late with lighter nights, crocuses appearing in the garden and a general feeling that mother nature will soon wake up from her winter slumber. (Ok, so there is also a weather front called the Beast from the East giving us a bit of trouble at the moment but freakish for the time of year.)

As for the Native Americans, this spring full moon was given the moniker Worm Moon because the ground was beginning to soften and earthworm casts reappeared inviting the return of robins. It is also however known as the Sap Moon, as it marks the time when maple sap begins to flow and the annual tapping of maple trees begins. Not many maple trees where I live but yes, it seems the sap is indeed rising!

But this is a music blog and I always include one of the many songs that refer to moons in their titles. Right at the start of this series of what will end up being 13 posts, I picked out all the songs I was likely to use to accompany each full moon, but as is wont to happen such worthy choices can often be replaced along the way with new discoveries. This is to be one of those occasions and most definitely not something I had remotely considered at the outset.

Last Saturday night, before heading to bed, Mr WIAA and myself stumbled upon an old episode of TOTP. Always a bit of nostalgia there and can be a bit of a laugh as we witness some of the acts we had long forgotten about, dressed in what now seems ridiculous looking clothing. The episode we watched was from 1985 and although there were quite a few great songs that have stood the test of time (we loved watching Godley and Creme’s Cry), there were also an awful lot of men dressed in oversized suits, jackets and bizarre trousers. The decade that fashion forgot I think.

In amongst all of these highly colourful acts was one I had totally forgotten about but their song has the word moon in the title and because it’s led to a pesky earworm this week, I’m going to include it in this series. Who said all the picks had to be critically acclaimed anyway and always a place in the world for what might now be construed as a bit of a novelty song. I used to like it when there was a bit of spoken word dialogue in a song and this one has it in bucketloads. Yes, not one many of us will remember, but in March 1985 the RAH Band reached No. 6 in the UK Singles Chart with Clouds Across The Moon. A common feature of songs from that era was the (one-way) “telephone conversation” however in this case it is highly unlikely that the futuristic exchange would be carried out via a bulky handset. But hey, the days of the compact mobile phone had not even remotely begun, and people did on the whole still speak to each other rather than simply text or Snapchat, so probably seemed apt at the time.

Clouds Across the Moon by the RAH band:

What I hadn’t realised until revisiting this song was that the RAH Band was in effect one person, Richard Anthony Hewson, an English producer, arranger, conductor and multi-instrumentalist. After graduating from The Guildhall School of Music in the late ’60s, Richard met Peter Asher whose sister Jane was going out with Paul McCartney. Through that contact he was hired as an orchestral arranger and worked with musicians such as The Beatles, The Bee Gees, James Taylor, Supertramp, Carly Simon, Art Garfunkel, Fleetwood Mac and Chris Rea, so quite a pedigree. Apart from his own RAH Band project, he was a producer in the 1980s for Toyah Willcox (makes sense) and in recent years has written music for television shows and advertising slots.

Hewson founded The RAH Band (which obviously took its name from his initials) in 1977 to release an instrumental called The Crunch. This record I do remember as I was chart-obsessed throughout the ’70s – Funnily enough it also reached No. 6 in the UK Singles Chart. As for Clouds Across the Moon, the vocals were provided by his wife Liz, also known as “Dizzy Lizzy”! In an interview at the time, Richard said that the song took place in the future where there was a 100-year-long war going on with Mars. Telephone calls were very expensive due to the privatisation of British Telecom (bit of politics, love it) thus the premature disconnection of the “valuable deep space communication link”.

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Richard Anthony Hewson’s RAH Band

So, an unusual song to have picked for this series but one that fell into my lap last weekend, so had to run with it. I wonder what the Native Americans who named the full moons that we see in our skies would have thought of it? Lets hope on the 1st March there will indeed be no clouds across the moon!

Until Next time….

Clouds Across the Moon Lyrics
(Song by Richard Anthony Hewson)

Good evening
This is the intergalactic operator
Can I help you?”

“Yes. I’m trying to reach flight commander P.R. Johnson, on Mars, flight 2-4-7”
“Very well, hold on please (beeping) you’re through!”
“Thank you operator!”

Hi darling!
How are you doing?
Hey baby, where’re you sleeping?
Oh I’m sorry, but I’ve been really missing you!

Hi darling!
How’s the weather?
Say baby, is that cold better now?
Oh I’m sorry, is there someone there with you?

Ooooh… since you went away, there’s nothing going right!
I just can’t sleep alone at night…
I’m not ashamed to say I badly need a friend…
or it’s the end.

Now, when I look at the clouds across the moon
Here in the night I just hope and pray that soon
Oh baby, you’ll hurry home to me.

Hi darling!
The kids say they love you
Hey baby, is everything fine with you?
Please forgive me, but I’m trying not to cry…

Ooooh… I’ve had a million different lovers on the phone
But I just stayed right here at home
I don’t think that I can take it anymore this crazy war

Now, when I look at the cloud’s across the moon
Here in the night I just hope and pray that soon
Oh darling, you’ll hurry home to me

“I’m sorry to interrupt your conversation,
but we are experiencing violent storm conditions in the asteriod belt at this time
We may lose this valuable deep space communication link
Please, be as brief as possible
Thank you”

Ooooh… since you went away, there’s nothing going right!
I just can’t sleep alone at night…
I’m not ashamed to say I badly need a friend…
or it’s… it’s…

“Hello?”
“Hello operator?”
” Yes, we’ve lost the connection!
Could you try again please?”
“I’m sorry, but I’m afraid we’ve lost contact with Mars 2-4-7 at this time”

“Ok. Thank you very much…
I’ll… I’ll try again next year…
next year…
next year…
next year…”

Postscript:

I have a friend with an all singing, all dancing camera who has been roped in to provide pictures for this series but as yet we’ve not been able to come up with anything that captures the full moon alongside some our unique Highland scenery. Hopefully in due course. In the meantime here are a few shots he took from outside his house last night – The moon still a waxing gibbous one at this stage (more than half full and always illuminated from the right) but pretty impressive how you can get such detail with the right equipment.

Pictures courtesy of R.J.

Björk, “It’s Oh So Quiet” and It Turns Out It’s Good To Be Busy!

Well, that old adage, “If you want something done, ask a busy person” turns out to be correct! My old life, which incorporated the heady world of secure employment as well as blogging, acting as Mr WIAA’s unpaid secretary, caring for my mum and filling the role of chief cook and bottle-washer is now a full eight weeks behind me, but I don’t seem to be getting any more done in the course of a week than before – Very strange.

Not having been in this position before I had no idea how it would pan out – I think I had this romantic notion that I would finally get round to writing that opus which would earn me millions, I would sweep through the house like Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen creating a tranquil “haven in the Highlands” and home-cooked meals would await the family every evening….. The list goes on.

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But no, it turns out that you just get a little more sleep (which is good as I didn’t get enough before, sometimes blogging until well after midnight), you spend a bit more time on housework (but no-one even notices unless for some reason it stops being done, so a bit of a thankless task really), faff about on the computer far too much and watch a bit more telly (quite a bit more actually down to the curse of the boxset). So, a life outside the home awaits me in the new year I’ve decided, although I’m a tad sceptical about how easy it will be for someone of my vintage to actually acquire paid employment in today’s job market – Time will tell I suppose and should make for some interesting blog posts.

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The myth of the jolly housewife!

But although this blog does tend to become a place for me to offload my thoughts, it’s supposed to be about music and this morning that quirky Icelandic songstress Björk was to be heard on the radio promoting a show she is to take part in later on tonight. They don’t get much more bonkers than Bjork in the world of performance but I have always had a soft spot for her right from the days when she fronted The Sugarcubes. What I remember from her little slot on the radio earlier today was something about how she believes you just have to create work based on how you are feeling at the time and that is probably the case for bloggers too, which is why I’ve gone down this route today.

A song by Bjork that immediately springs to mind is this one, It’s Oh So Quiet, which was a big hit for her in November 1995 and reached the No. 4 spot in the UK Singles Chart. I remember it well because that was the month darling daughter made an appearance in the world (yes, we’ve just celebrated her 22nd birthday). It seemed to get blanket airplay right at the time we, as new parents, were navigating that tightrope between trying to be “oh so quiet” and coping with a “riot of crying”, so all very timely. Ironically that was also the last time I was a stay-at-home person, but as anyone who has had children knows, those first few weeks and months are no picnic and unlike now there was never enough time for anything, especially sleep. Different times.

It’s Oh So Quiet by Björk:

Appropriate that Björk Guðmundsdóttir should feature in this post as my last one (link here) featured music by a Greenlander band called Nanook. She is pretty unique in the world of music and has gone on to have a career spanning four decades having developed an eclectic musical style that draws on a wide range of influences. She has also won numerous awards including five BRITs. As for the song It’s Oh So Quiet it was originally recorded by the American singer Betty Hutton in 1951 as a cover of the German song Und Jetzt Ist Es Still. As I often say around here, every day’s a school day.

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So, “What’s It All About?” – It turns out that unless you are officially retired with an income to match and have no responsibilties to speak of, after a couple of months of enjoying the luxury of being at home when all your old colleagues are still beavering away on the 9 to 5, you start to hanker after a life out in the real world. Back in the days of DD’s “gap year” when she was pondering over what she wanted to do with her life, I kept labouring the point that everyone needs something to get up for, a purpose. Time to heed my own advice I think but will just make sure I finish decluttering the loft first!

Until next time….

It’s Oh So Quiet Lyrics
(Song by Hans Lang/Bert Reisfeld)

It’s. Oh. So quiet
It’s. Oh. So still
You’re all alone
And so peaceful until…

You fall in love
Zing boom
The sky up above
Zing boom
Is caving in
Wow bam
You’ve never been so nuts about a guy
You wanna laugh you wanna cry
You cross your heart and hope to die

‘Til it’s over and then
It’s nice and quiet
But soon again
Starts another big riot

You blow a fuse
Zing boom
The devil cuts loose
Zing boom
So what’s the use
Wow bam
Of falling in love

It’s. Oh. So quiet
It’s. Oh. So still
You’re all alone
And so peaceful until…

You ring the bell
Bim bam
You shout and you yell
Hi ho ho
You broke the spell
Gee. This is swell you almost have a fit
This guy is “gorge” and i got hit
There’s no mistake this is it

‘Til it’s over and then
It’s nice and quiet
But soon again
Starts another big riot

You blow a fuse
Zing boom
The devil cuts loose
Zing boom
So what’s the use
Wow bam
Of falling in love

The sky caves in
The devil cuts loose
You blow blow blow blow blow your fuse
When you’ve fallen in love

Ssshhhhhh…

Postscript:

Having just watched that video clip of Bjork singing It’s Oh So Quiet, I am reminded of the film La La Land which did so well earlier this year at the Oscars. What with the yellow dress, and the street scenes where everyone somehow spontaneously joins together in a well-choreographed dance, it is another wonderful homage to those great musical films of yesteryear.