To Do lists

 

I do like a good to do list.

I have realised that I started this blog to document my first year after some major life changes – and taking a bit of a leap of faith with my music. It was a good year and I am so glad i blogged about it so that I have those memories there all neatly (or not so neatly) typed up with photos and video links.

It’s cool for me to have. It is even cooler when people read it, share it and get something from it.

After that first year (I started the blog November 2016) the blog became a general place for writing about musical ideas and adventures that were perhaps too big for a twitter, facebook etc post. I haven’t always been too good at keeping on top of it. I am pleased to say I have mostly  been too busy with the musical (and other) ideas and adventures to sit down and blog about them. The other reason it started to fall a little to the wayside is VLOGS. I started to vlog instead, filling up my youtube channel with tour diaries and self-interviews about album songs etc. I have enjoyed that, they seem to get lots more interaction from my followers too – so I guess I will be doing more of that.

So the blog is taking a new form. Yes I will probably drop in here occasionally with a think piece about football or prisons or hedgehogs or some other favourite subject of mine and yes I will also more than likely write about tour experiences etc as I have done before but I also want to make this my ultimate To Do list blog. 

 

Like many people – I have a long list of things I would like to achieve.

Like many people – I enjoy writing to do lists and ticking them off

Like many people – voicing out loud what I want to do to others gives me the social pressure I need to maybe crack on with whatever it is.

So I shall occasionally be taking a few things off of my epic to do list and posting them here. I will then update when they are done or blog about how they are going.

I hope it will make good reading for the few people who do read this blog – and maybe it will inspire you to crack on with your own To DO lists.

So without further ado. Here are the first three things on my list to be done and ticked off.

1) complete the re-validation of my Librarian Chartership with a view to moving on to Fellowship – this is the big mamma of Librarian qualifications and I’d love to have a go at it while I am still younger than I will be when I’m older, childfree (eg. more time!) and still working in libraries (I’m getting that exhausted, itchy, working too many hours, missing too many Musical opportunities feeling which makes me think my library days could be numbered – or at least the amount of days!)

2) Decorate my bedroom – I have a beautiful town house. I have lived here 7 nearly 8 years. I pulled up the carpet in my room because it has such lovely floorboards underneath and I’ve given it a lick of paint but it’s a room I always neglect to sort out properly – because being my bedroom it is the one least on show if people visit. I want to sort it out. There’s a bank holiday weekend starting right now. Perfect time for DIY and epic spring cleaning?

 

3) The dentist. My dentists know me very well. Very well indeed. I have spent an awful lot of time there! Teeth have been a bit of a pain in my backside for a long time. I have some outstanding dental work that I need to get done which I have been putting off because it is expensive and painful.  I really shouldn’t put it off any longer! So the dentist is on my list. I’d like to get everything finished so I am at the stage where all I need is a yearly check up rather than having this list of outstanding treatment hovering over me and my retainer!!! 🙂

 

OK  – so there you have them. The first three things on the list. I shall be making them a bit of a focus over the coming days and weeks. I look forward to dropping back in with an update on how things are going.

 

Ta-Ra for now xxxx

 

Advertisements
To Do lists

We want beans not goals

 

Spring should almost be springing (although I write this on a chilly Saturday, having had a radio show appearance cancelled due to snowy weather!) but spring is *almost* springing and with that comes plenty of lovely gigs. I have had a few magical ones to start the year already and am keen to get more. I have some lovely local ones and some really not local at all, need to take a plane to ones. I have some collaborative shows in the pipeline too and I am really excited to get things sorted so I can start promoting and badgering you to get a ticket and come along.

But in the meantime….

As some of you know (and i am guessing if you are a reader of my blog you may be one of those people) one of the projects I have up my sleeve is to release a record of Football songs – I am at the stage with that where it may  not seem like it’s happening, but it is. I am taking any opportunity – such as this weeks snowed in days off work to keep up the research and start nailing down the songs I want to rework/create/cover/pay tribute to on this record. I am SO excited about some of the ones I have discovered.

So here is a little update on things that are circling my head about this at the moment. 

 

Why do I want to do this? Well I am super fascinated with the oral tradition of folk tale – I did a whole masters degree in it – I am keen on that idea that some stories are somehow innate to us, I can’t remember being told Little Red Riding Hood, but I know it – maybe not the same version as you, but I know it, I love the way we twist them and change them and continue to share them and nobody takes credit for the original.  I like that the way we choose to talk about/kill off/forgive the wolf can say a lot about our society or us individually.

I’ve been increasingly more interested in Slave/Worker songs, I love to hear people reworking them in folk clubs, although ever growing in popularity it does still feel to me that these sort of musical moments are a niche, unique and special thing, sung by and listened to by, people who actively choose to engage in music and the tradition of shared stories through song.

Football Chants  seem to me to be one of the lasting oral traditions of our time that are not sought out by local historians or musicians but are sung almost religiously on the weekends by hundreds of thousands of people who do not consider themselves ‘folkys’ ‘musicians’ ‘social commentators’

If you know a football fan who attends matches, who says they aren’t into folk music, perhaps start singing the Wild Rover or something similar at them – I bet they’ll know how to join in. They aren’t likely to be singing the same lyrics. It’s much like Little Red Riding Hood in that way !

So football chants are pretty much designed to encourage your team on to a win, or discredit and distract the opposing team! Some of them are mean, angry, offensive, some of them are encouraging, social commentary, heartfelt, proud – just like the people who sing them-they have their light and their dark.  But where there is hate there is often social commentary – for example, the line of a chant
“I’d hate to be a Scouse, eating rats in a council house”

is pretty offensive – but a quick google search of poverty in liverpool in the early 90s and it gets you to realising that perhaps even these chants have something honest to say about our history in the UK.  I don’t know? but it’s something that interests me.

You’ll hear things you instantly recognise but wont necessarily know why. My favourite to hear is “Oh when the Saints Go Marching in” because it is a song I have heard my Grandad play and sing, and also a song my mum occasionally sings around the house.

There is something about familiar lyrics or even just melodies that feel like home. And I think when a lot of people all start singing something you instantly recognise then that feels really magical to me. I feel a surge of energy and excitement – much more than I do when any goal is scored! – The songs aren’t spontaneously written on the spot but they sort of feel it, they feel like we all know them by heart just like we know how to breathe! This is my favourite part of a live game,  I am perhaps a football fan for all the wrong reasons. I recall similar feelings when I have been in church and everyone sings together. I honestly think if we all stand on a picket line and sing with all our hearts we could change the whole world. 

In my ‘research’ so far, it has been hard to pin down who ‘owns’ a particular football chant or where they have originally come from. They beg and borrow from every genre known, from call and response work songs, hymns, pop, rock, music hall, nursery rhyme – it is all there. Many players have received the Seven Nation Army Treatment way before it became the unofficial anthem for Jeremy Corbyn.

Teams will happily take a chant from other fans if a player with a decent chant transfers to them – it is often just a case of singing a new colour, someone can easily be “Born to be Blue” one season and then “Born to be Red” another!
Club specific songs are hard to pin down – I have already had some great conversations with people who insist that a chant is “theirs” rather than someone elses – seems every single manager has at some point in their career had an “army” that was “barmy”

So far my conversations with Fans/Chanters have been casual but as part of this project I would like to document that too somehow? Maybe some vlogs?

Of course some of the chants are more complete songs you’d know and weren’t necessarily written with the team in mind but they nevertheless belong to that team and there is a football chanters unwritten code that you wouldn’t take it – I guess Liverpool’s ‘You’ll never walk alone’ would be the obvious example of that

It is SUCH an interesting ‘genre’ / way of sharing music with it’s own sort of unwritten rules, ways of being, crediting, sharing, performing. I am obsessed with it! 🙂

 

So I am working on ideas, plans, schemes to put a record together. I want to work with other people, hear from other people, create something wonderful as a tribute to my new favourite genre of what I see as some of the last standing oral tradition we have.
So please get in touch if you want to be involved in some way/any way or have any advice or guidance.

 

And yes, everybody has already recommended I do the John Barnes rap! 

 

We want beans not goals

Germany and Luxembourg October 2017

I say to people “this tour has really snuck up on me. Where does the time go?” But that’s not entirely true. I’ve been all to aware that this tour was just around the corner and that I hadn’t really finalised plans and sorted things out for it. Somewhere between starting a new job, planning an album launch and all the other usual life things I was just running out of time. But I made it! Rushing around like a mad person last minute to get my guitar set up, pants packed and some rehearsals for the gigs done. I arrived at Zoe Konez’s place in London late on Monday night. I’m already 20 minutes late. She’s running later and zips round the corner on her scooter. Some instructions around where the bathroom is and which cat can’t be let out and then we sleep.

An early start to head to Germany awaits and we are both already tired! The comfiest nights sleep at Zoe’s house is followed by a smooth drive to Folkestone to meet Will and then we are on the train and headed on our adventure! -after picking up some snacks in the misleadingly named “99p max” Store.

First gig was for sound garden concerts. It was a great experience. I love

House concerts. I love the whole concept and old fashioned community feel of them.

Our host has made pumpkin soup and it is so wonderful! I feel like any attempts the germs have been making to attack me for this tour have been put in their place by this soup. Followed by a small glass of Mirabelle from the Black Forest.

It was lovely to meet everyone that night! We had such a great time, there were people from all over the place (Netherlands, USA) and of course the wonderful and supportive Ralf who did a 150km round trip to come and see me! Thank you!!!

Before leaving Duisburg we have a look at the Turtle and tiger sculpture 🙂

On to Cowhide concert! A place I’ve visited twice before and am so excited to get back to. The usual warm welcome from Dietmar, Karin and their family greets us.

We learn they’ve had quite a tricky time lately, many people may have thought to cancel but not these two. House concerts is what they do and they do it so well.

It’s always such a pleasure to be in their company. I hope to be back

One day soon

the adventures continued and it was probably one of my favourite tours! Düsseldorf via koblenz, a stop off with the Polizei, dinner in the amazing Soul food, lucky cents being given to us at a gig some exploring of Düsseldorf.

We then headed to a gig at Spirit of music, a one night stop and only a few hours to explore but this was my first trip to Luxembourg and it was so so beautiful. Maybe I can go back one day and explore a little more 🙂

Then a trip to cafe lichtung in Cologne with a wonderful audience who made us not want to leave, I’m sure we will be back again soon.

Such a lovely time with Zoe and Will. Until the next tour 🙂 xx

Germany and Luxembourg October 2017

August 2017 

My blogging hasn’t been as on it as 2016! Due to mixture of being too busy with the stuff to write about the stuff but also not having wifi at home, or my own pc or laptop. You get an hour a day free wifi in my local library and I can use the laptop and my parents place and my wonderful friend DiDi lent me her old gaming laptop for a while but generally I’ve struggled a bit to keep up with emails and blogs and things which aren’t just in a handy little app. 

I was feeling pretty excited about getting a new computer as I’d managed to save a bit of money but then I’m leaving work on Monday evening, the brakes lock on my car, one trip to the garage later and all my savings are gone! 

Back to square one! 
So this months blog is another vlog made on a handy phone app! 
Hope you enjoy it!!!

Here be the link…..

Studio vlog!

August 2017 

F is for Football


“You’ve got time” 

“Don’t panic”

“Take your time” 

“Trust your feet”


Lessons for (football) life that were told to me by women who helped me to see the (flood)lights in the dark.

 

 

 
Primary School 

Football, in primary school, was an everybody thing. And it was mostly played out in PE sessions with a big yellow squidgy foam ball and seemed like fun.

Football in the playground however was already dominated by the boys -myself and the other girls were fully engaged in playing “horses” – this basically involved pretending to ride around on an imaginary horse?!

So yeh, I guess football was a “guy thing” even then, but we did play some football and we collected panini stickers and several of us had our own football…though mine was purple with a smiley face on it and smelt of grapes!

We already had popular kids even at that age,  and they were made up of the boy who was best at football (James) and his “girlfriend” at the time (Carly) I mean with hindsight it feels a shame that at a young age we sort of chose the popular girls based on the fact they were dating a “cool” guy – but outside of this she just was actually really quite cool and funny and would get a colourful hair braid over the summer holidays and had a great house we could all go and play in and she’s remained “cool” in to grown up life, so she’d still win any popularity contest in my eyes. She’s a thoroughly good human. We chose a good one to look up to.
(With regard to primary school dating I didn’t “date” until secondary school and depending on how you “validate” these things I can’t really say I had a “proper” boyfriend until AFTER I left university!! Slow burner! Anyways, moving on…)

So in primary school, football existed for us all but for whatever reason it didn’t dawn on my friendship group of girls to play it in the same way the boys did. We’d go to Evergreen Football club on Friday nights when we were in year 6/7 somewhere in that summer transition between primary and secondary school. We’d hang about hoping to talk to one of the boys who played there? (I mean, again, not really me. I was there. I was aware that I felt funny emotions when I saw James’ older brother in a football kit, but essentially at this stage I was still riding imaginary horses and playing with Sylvianian families….but don’t worry Christmas of that year I get my first guitar and start to get a little Cooler) now Evergreen must have had a ladies team back then? They certainly have one now (actually I hear they have two?!) but I don’t remember seeing them? Or ever really meeting girls who played or being asked if we wanted to play.
I can’t  quite recall how old I was but my parents took me to my first football game. I can’t even remember the teams but our family friend John was playing.

It was exciting

It was noisy

There were snacks

I felt part of something

It took a long time to get started

I was wiggly

I was moany

It started

It was exciting

John unfortunately went for a header at the same time as another player and came off…in a stretcher if I remember right?! It was all rather traumatic!

We hated the other player

We were united in our desire to see him lose.

That was fun

We chanted louder for John’s team because he’d been injured and couldn’t play so surely it was only fair they’d win?

But they were losing

We chanted louder

They weren’t actually as good as the other team

We chanted louder.

Nothing feels sweeter than a goal by a team you have started to think won’t do a goal.

We chanted even louder.
I discovered that day. My desire to always support the underdog. That hasn’t gone away yet.
As a kid I did sit next to my Dad on the sofa and watch football occasionally. I found it slightly less mind numbing than watching the F1 with him.

I was there just to be near him and bug him probably, Almost everyone I’ve asked cites “watching football with Dad” as the reason they love football, but watching sports on telly with my Dad was rare and doesn’t really form a part of my football relationship – he rarely watched sport or anything on the telly. My Dad, in my memory, was either at work or playing with us. He was constantly playing with us. Building go karts, spray painting bmxs, taking us to building sites to play in the “trenches” (foundations) – and other such parenting activities that were allowed in the 80s and 90s that probably seem really unsafe now. He was (and still is) the best, so nope I don’t have many memories of watching football with my Dad because he was far too busy being my Dad for any of that stuff 🙂

Secondary school

We weren’t allowed to kick footballs about at school. I guess maybe they would be more likely to break a window?

But the boys (and it was mostly boys) of Kings Langley secondary school weren’t to be disheartened or discouraged by this rule so they used to play football every morning and break time with a tennis ball.

They played right across the main “quad” which, wherever you were coming from or going to, you had to pass at some point. It was a gauntlet of fear -I am not sure if you’ve ever been hit full whack on the back of the legs by a tennis ball kicked full pelt by a year 9 boy but it hurts! But accidents like these would happen with the tennis balls.

Accidents happen.

They seem to happen more often to unpopular annoying kids who wear nirvana tshirts and spend their breaks in the music department? Funny that?!
There was one guy, used to trap the tennis ball under his foot, give you a little nod of reassurance and keep it trapped until you safely crossed. Possibly he was my first crush. Possibly he has no recollection of doing that. From some detective work (Facebook stalking) I think he’s a happily married police officer now. I don’t think he plays anymore, not even 5 a side, but Facebook can’t tell you everything can it? So I like to think he still has a kick about and is the kind of gent who makes sure he doesn’t kick a ball at someone?! any way I digress. Again!

 
The girls don’t do football in PE .

The boys don’t do netball.

The girls don’t do cricket.

The boys don’t do hockey.

It’s weird isn’t it?

We ALL do cross country – but in reality only a handful of the good and sporty kids do that -the rest of them go smoke in the woods for a bit and then headback to school pretending they just did the run – this kind of cool rebellion was beyond me and I actually ran it with my other band camp mates!
Schools weird isn’t it!? But also great at the same time.

Anyways. Football becomes the realm of a thing my brother does and also starts to represent a lot of things I think of as rubbish, corrupt and sexist – well done several premier league players of the 90s and 00s for making the beautiful game so utterly unappealing to young women! And there seemingly ends my interest in football.
School goes on. I live without football.
Life, friends weddings, university, nephews and nieces are born, travel, laughter, tears. All these things happen without football. It rears its head occasionally, after all World cup bets and celebrations are for everyone to get excited about right? My brothers still rolling home muddy or watching a game as I roll my eyes with the age old

“I could get that ball in the back of the net for the amount of money he is on”
( little do I know at this point that I couldn’t have been more wrong! One day I discover that I couldn’t get a ball in the back of the net if i joined a five aside league that was so badly attended you actually played rush goalie and one of the four women on the other team has never played football before -but cocky me of the past thinks it looks quite easy this football malarkey)
So yeh. I had a life without football in it.
Fast forward a bit
My friend Holly asks me to sing at Watford ladies as the half time entertainment. I’ve never been to see them play and that strikes me as weird, I mean at this stage I’m not even a football fan but I’ve seen watford men’s team twice? Why is that? Why haven’t I seen the ladies?

Anyways I’m excited! that’s a cool ground to play on!

Oh, they don’t play on that ground?

Of course they don’t?

They’re “just” the women’s team?

Clearly, I have a lot to learn.
It turns out to be the best afternoon I have had in a while. I’m inspired and excited and totally addicted to this game now. I start paying attention to football.

I slowly begin to see all the good bits about it that I hadn’t appreciate before. To the blindingly in my face obvious link between the game and music which never really crossed my mind before.

The addiction isn’t too strong at this point. I take a vague interest. I see two more Watford ladies games. Cos it’s close. Cos it’s cheap.Cos my boyfriend is away for four months and my grown up friends have lives. So I end up back at Watford ladies. Something to do.
My long term relationship starts to end. Before it finally does I actually googled “how to save your relationship”

One of the suggestions was “alphabet dating” basically it’s attempting to go on a series of dates with your partner but each has to begin with the letter of the  alphabet, the idea being it’ll help you try new things, rekindle the romance, that sort of thing and so we began….
A was for Aeroplanes and as he was a solider a trip to the RAF Museum was actually something he would like to do…super information gathering geek that he was it was like having a private tour of the museum with the curator themselves. We had fun on those dates. He liked them. But he stopped liking me.

So it was only five letters in to the alphabet that I was left with tickets to something he would never come to.

… and that’s where it really begins.
Because as you may have guessed .…F was for football. 
I’m not sure what he would have made of an arsenal game but I loved it. And back on google again this time with “how to get over a broken heart” it advised me to take up a new sport. Feeling inspired by arsenal ladies I found a local team that would be willing to take a fully grown, penguin footed, heartbroken, music geek and let them join them. The first team I try -Bedmond- welcome me. They, without knowing it, help build me back to something that resembles the me before he left. They are my floodlights in the dark and it isn’t until that team dispands and I try out for others and start playing 5 aside that I truly appreciate the chances of finding a team like that was actually unbelievably rare – don’t get me wrong, women’s football has the same ever lasting friendship bonds as any five a side or Sunday league or any sport at all for that matter- but these guys were something special. One player in particular – and she knows who she is – met me on those cold nights with supportive inappropriate banter that brought me back to life.

She talked to me the whole time we played, she passed me the ball, she encouraged me, she remembered to invite me to the Christmas meal.
She definitely knew something was amiss. She didn’t know what exactly but she must have just thought to herself. You don’t just all of a sudden discover football as a fully grown adult – this weird folk musician is here because she’s not quite sure where else to go!?

Either she thought that or she saw some sort of excellent potential in my future career as a right back and wanted to nurture it?!

I mean, it’s possible!?

So I’m kind of ending this story of my love of football where it began, and I’ll probably update one day from that moment to this current one where I’m planning a football EP but for now this blog is a long way of saying…..
I fell in love with football

For the simple reason that

F was for football.

And I doubt anyone would have but if you’d kept a keen eye on my life for the last couple of years you’d have maybe noticed a growing collection of seemingly random experiences….they aren’t so random if you put them in order and look at their first letter.

How to get over a broken heart?

Carry on dating yourself….all the way to Z xxx

F is for Football