Friday, 9 December 2016

First Gig

I remember my first gig. I was 15 and my dad took me to see Billy Bragg. Not a bad starter for ten.

So who would be the first for my beautiful daughters? My two daughters who love music, are learning instruments and never stop singing.

They had the very first taster of live music a few months ago when they watched our brilliant talented friend with his band  - Cold Norton. After a weekend with him my eldest wanted nothing more in life than to be a guitarist/singer songwriter and builder. Which would be a very useful combination. It must be quite something to be inspirational.

But who to choose for the first big gig? I wanted someone else who might inspire them. A female sing songwriter with serious talent. Someone who wouldn't require P to wear her fetching green ear defenders throughout.

So, as a Christmas treat, I took them to see Kate Rusby, an artist we all love. They squealed when I told them, like I imagine Justin Bieber fans might. Seems we are doing something right.

It was a late school night, they were tired and they still enjoyed every second. It was fascinating to hear what they thought. My eldest plays guitar and marvelled at the band not needing any music to play their instruments - she was agog from the start. My youngest's first comment was "Mummy she's so pretty".

From the moment she started to sing they smiled, I occasionally looked at the kids soppily and we all joined in with vigour (possibly at points a bit too much vigour judging from the looks from the man behind us).

T now wants to carry on writing songs, and to take up the trumpet. "Do you think when I'm older I could play guitar with her?"

Neither of them will stop singing "Bill Brave Bill" at the tops of their voices and I haven't stopped playing the album in the kitchen.

Did I choose well?

As she closed her eyes after the long tiring night T said "Mum, that was amazing".

So I guess I did.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Positive News

In the light of the latest fresh hell I have decided to put together a regular post listing 5 positive things. They vary from the not important at all really to the really very important, in no particular order. You may or may not be surprised how hard it is to actually find positive news anywhere (don't bother looking at the BBC website).

1. Jackie Chan has won an Oscar. I know, I know, there are dark things  in the film industry but let's focus on the positive. Jackie Chan is wonderful. He has made me laugh for 30 years and even managed to make Owen Wilson funny. What's more he is quite possibly the smiliest person ever. I flipping loved Rush Hour.

2. There was a super moon. I mean, I know it was cloudy, but here the clouds moving across it made glimpsing it at its brightest more lovely. We stood in the garden and took a few minutes to marvel...before telling T it was far too late to be awake and to go to bed.

3. This is still here and it's free:
Peak District

4. Ilhan Omar. Great things are possible.

5. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is out on Friday. This will make my daughters very happy.

Any other positive suggestions gratefully received!

Monday, 31 October 2016


Well we are overrun with pumpkins and yet still haven't managed to salvage any to actually eat.

Of course this is the time of year for pumpkins. Plus biscuits, dressing up, craft, candles and lots and lots of sweets.

Corpse Bride
These are just a few things we have made, this time and in previous years. The witch was made by my mum - I can't knit much more than a scarf and even then I have to google how to cast off.
Death Eater - Probably Lucius Malfoy

I hope these pictures make you smile, or terrify you, whichever you prefer.


Well the Imaginarium event run by the University of Sheffield on Saturday was great. Umpteen engineering experiments engaged us for well over 2 hours and it was lovely to meet so many enthusiastic talented students. T was fascinated and inspired, quite full of sweets and rather wet.

The most successful experiment was friction testing T's fingers to trigger a spiderman climbing upwards. The marshmallow and strawberry lace DNA making, candyfloss eating, Skittle colour merging and chocolate breaking experiments meant she did pretty well on this one. And there was I about to get her to wash her hands first.

Once again we are so lucky to have these resources on our doorstep. A totally free event for kids demonstrating fascinating and fun engineering and showcasing the university. We even got to play with virtual reality building blocks and very expensive robots.

I'd recommend you keep your eyes peeled for another event - we certainly will be.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Divine Comedy

Sometimes you wonder whether a band you always loved will still be as good when you see them 20 years later.

Sometimes you shouldn't have worried.

Blissful voice, brilliant lyrics, bonkers costume changes, bizarre instruments, beautiful music. Plus extremely funny, but I can't think of word that means funny that begins with b.

The Divine Comedy were just wonderful on Saturday. Best gig in ages. Tragically I didn't get a photo of the admiral outfit.

Blimey the Foundry was hot though. Plus, I would like to see an enforced hat removal for audience members though because there was a point where a titfer made viewing a little tricky. Not Neil though, he can leave his hat on.

Friday, 14 October 2016


Sometimes to struggle not to get distracted at home. So far today, for example, I have made myself multiple cups of tea, surfed the internet, tidied up a bit and I even fell asleep on the sofa for an hour (in my defence I have a banging headache and am quite tired).

In order to focus my mind I thought I'd have yet another cup of tea, but this time in a cafe while reading my new book about poetry and making notes (so I look like I'm doing something important). The nearest cafe to me is Seraphins' on Abbeydale Road so I popped in and sat down with my cuppa.

For the next hour I drank tea, ate the most delicious salted caramel brownie probably in the world ever and pretended to read my book. I also had a chat with the owner about how to help the lady behind me remove a stuck ring and watched a video on You Tube.  I posted a photo of the delicious cake to Instagram and Twitter. A little boy arrived and distracted me further by being flipping cute and having a garbled toddler chat with me.

On the way out I was requested to give the little boy a fist bump which I did, with panache frankly.

The whole thing was extremely lovely. But not very conducive to me concentrating. I've decided if I want lovely food and drink I'll go to Seraphin's, but if I want to write poetry I may have to find a cafe with worse food, less customers and miserable staff.

Lady Chatterley's Lover

Wow. Well it's taken me three days to come round after Lady Chatterley's Lover at the Crucible. I've been to the theatre hundreds of times on my life and, while there was a very early play which memorably involved a brief bare bottom, I can't remember ever having seen much bare flesh on show before. I supposed I should have expected it knowing the plot, but, well, blimey.

About half way through the first act Lady Chatterley got naked. 'That's brave', I thought. Then the feminist in me started to grumble. Maybe this was going to be the sort of production where the leading lady gets her total kit off and the lovely Mellors just strides around with his top off looking rugged. Be careful what you wish for I'd say.

You know the plot of course and it was inevitably going to involve some sex. In fact several times before the characters actually introduced themselves to each other. Nothing says raw magnetism like a grubby gamekeeper hammering a chicken coup. It's no wonder she couldn't stop herself.

The first half ended and I think it's safe to say the audience, many of which were quite elderly ladies, had coped with the nudity and bonking exactly as you'd expect us to. With slightly nervous giggling and sideways glances at our friends. I had to have a second glass of wine.

The second half was when it became evident that I needn't have worried about naked inequality. Not only did we get to see both main characters totally starkers for a good half an hour but at one point they ran around the stage in a wide circle so every angle was covered, so to speak. It reminded me ever so slightly of the cartoon in the year 6 sex video, only without the peacock feather and quite a bit more jiggling.

At one point the couple sat on the floor (did I mention they were naked?) and placed a small flower in each other's pubic hair. Mellor's referred to his 'John Thomas' a few times and I quite lost all perspective and started to become fascinated with the minimal set instead.

I haven't read the book. This may have been the issue. Had I read it maybe I would have seen the flowers in pubic hair coming.

After the show I left a bit confused. The actors could clearly act. If they could act like that naked I'd quite like to see them in something wearing a duffle coat.

Unbelievably brave too. I can't imagine many roles call for unbridled naked passion on a Tuesday night in front of octogenarians. Surely there must be some kind of theatrical award they could get. Or maybe just the relief of being able to act with clothes on next time will be enough.