WOMADic adventures

How organised are you? I like to think that my chaos makes perfect sense to me and when it fails and I lose something, I’ve developed a technique called ‘blame the object’, in which whatever is lost is personified and subjected to the most tremendous hate known to womankind.

It’s not my fault. It’s not my fault. It’s not my fault.

The bills, deadlines and decisions which any adult normally has to deal with are to mike like fantastical figures looming up at me in an enchanted wood which I have to battle with increasing urgency (take that, British Gas!). They are talking trees with ensnaring branches, bright eyed creature- lings, deceptively trusty elves. They encircle and come at me from nowhere, causing my heart to thump and adrenaline levels flicker as they approach with stealth and dedication.

this is no way for a thirty six year old woman to live, but it sure as hell makes keeping on top of things more interesting than usual.

Which is why I was so surprised that our trip to Womad festival ran so smoothly, a conflation of luck (mine) and planning (theirs). I’ve not been to many festivals but those that I have have had the opposite to the desired effect; I feel tense, like I need to survive something. The campsites resemble thunderdrome by the end of the weekend: an architect’s impression of dystopia; carriers blowing free like plastic drones; scorched or sodden earth; dazed looking toddlers in T-shirts gnawing on their entry bracelets for succour and rogue loose teens without centre, winding down and then alarmingly up as they stagger towards the exit in their vomit breastshields.

Don’t get me wrong; to paraphrase Russ Abbott, I love a festival with a happy atmosphere and once I’m in the main bit, I relax. But the other bit, the camping, leaves me feeling tense (tents, ha!)

EXCEPT FOR THIS TIME. THIS TIME MAKES ALL THE OTHERS NULL AND VOID. We were parked and camped up in 20 minutes, in the glorious Cotswolds countryside and heading off to hear sublime music within an hour. I showered and ebluted in the Womad spa (additianal fee for the VIPS) which even housed a sauna and hot tubs. My husband, the rough-houser slummed it in the normal showers and toilets and came back every time looking refreshed and surprised. Security were visible and thorough but cheerful and charming and there was always someone touring the site, checking that everything was as it should be. Shout out to the festival going teachers who formed an efficient second wave of unofficial, plain clothed enforcers, bollocking privileged teenagers (in Crips and Bloods bandanas, WTF?) who dared step out of line. It must be in the muscle memory.

Now I know some of you may be nostalgic for the festivals of old, where you had to hitchhike all the way there, share a sleeping bag and forage for scraps of bean burger before offering up your body as host nation for the universe’s bacterium by visiting a fetid toilet. That ain’t me – I love new style ‘everyone be happy and organic and Cath Kidston’ and Womad delivered. Bravo.

I also know what you’re thinking, middle-management style, I’ve just spent an age describing the route and not the destination, man. I am a product of the health and safety generation. I’m also quite possibly, very boring. But, in truth, the music at Womad was so exceptional that I’m nervous about unpicking it.

We saw Amjid Ali Khan and his sons Ayaan and Amaan one Saturday and the father put it best when he said; ‘nothign we perform is planned, it is all created in the moment, for you.’ That was WOMAD encapsulated; a group of select musicians from around the world, who were so skilled that they could forget their many hours of rehearsal and put themselves at our disposal, absorbing the relentless sun, atmosphere and joy of the crowd to tailor their sound and nourish our burgeoning happiness. The Khans play the sarod and I quickly gave up trying to impose what I know about rhythm and song structure. Eyes closed, I relaxed and let my eyes go through a frantic journey into my own headspace, like Luke Skywalker in a TIE fighter.

The Khans were probably my highlight, but it’s difficult to say. However incredible they may be, when you are listening to musicians who you are unfamiliar with, their sound starts to blend together, like different pieces of plasticine, into one exquisite harmonious experiential lumpt (an analogy that I feel Sledgehammer era Peter Gabriel would approve of).

Take it as given that every artist we heard was incredible and it becomes a matter of taste and experience. The only way to listen to Goran Bregovis and his Wedding and Funeral Orchestra is by going crazy and preferably wiping one’s bum on a goose, if you’ve seen Black Cat White Cat. Trombone Shorty were slick and multi-layered and along with Snarky Puppy delivered a big funk. Though not my thing, Stylo G and Afrikaan Boy provided high intensity sustenance for the Crips branch of Eton. Ukrainian band Dakha Brakha seemed surprised by how how popular they were and gave up an fast paced auditory mindbath akin to The Khans.

We rounded out our listening with Oliver Mutukundzi and the Black Spirits. Oliver wins my prize for most unforced impressive swagger of the entire festival. Your award is in the post, sir.

There was so much more, snatches of sounds as we strolled from tent to tent, stopping and dancing wherever and whenever I pleased. In fact, I now have full on festival feet and will instinctively start getting down to any sound, including doorbells or Huw Edwards reading the news on the BBC.

The costumes, the people watching, the sounds. I spent a weekend in the Quality Street tin, 7 years old again, stuffing myself with every treat on offer, till I lay down giddy, sated and truly happy.

Well done, WOMAD and thank you.

Inside Out

I’m playing fast and loose with the Daily Prompt today: although I’m only on day 7 of my blog-quest, perhaps a near week of work has led to the well of inspiration running dry.  But, just to be original I’m going to write about being on the inside, imagining the outside.

 

For a teacher, I’m an insubordinate old shrew.  I spend most of my day telling students what to do and expecting them to follow my orders.  A memorable dialogue from today went like this:

HIM: Miss, can I go to the toilet?

ME:  No.

HIM:  But I need to go!

ME:  Well, DON’T need to go!

Do I think I am King Canute, ordering back the tide?  No, I just know my students very well and the odds of this student felling nature call just as they are about to start an exam were highly unlikely.  And I’m bossy.

 

So I’m all for subversion outside of the classroom: a stickler for rules if I’m setting them, but following them?  Me, not so much.  For instance, I find the suggestion of someone telling me to relax utterly ridiculous.  How am I supposed to relax?  The mere implication that you need to tell me to do so infers that I am not relaxed, and probably with good reason!  Likewise, I find the process of meditating incredibly difficult: as soon as the voice intones that famous phrase ‘ connect with your breath, feel it’s natural rise and fall’, I find myself going through an artificial construct of breathing, forcing the air in and out of my lungs like a hand operated bellow, or, worse still, trying so hard to make my breathing natural that I ……eventually …stop ……breathing …altogether.  By this point, any thoughts of connectnig with breath, a genuinely natural occurence when I’m not thinking about it, are out of the window, and I sit up, scratch my head and open a book instead.

So, relaxation on command is not for me.  Particularly arduous are trips to the masseuse; as soon as I hear ambient music in a candle-lit chamber I know that it is an exercise in futility.  I spend the next 30 minutes urging myself to enjoy this indulgence but inevitably spend it worrying if I left the hob on or if the masseuse actually fancies me, because that last stroke was a little too friendly.  I often come out with more tension than I went in with, and have to feign gratitude at the end, barely making eye contact.

 

What a horrible person.  But how can I relax when you tell me to?

 

Fortunately I have found the antidote, and that is to seek out he opposite of relaxation for any therapeutic treatments.  I have had acupuncture on and off for years, with varying degrees of success.  Needless to say, the mesmeric, ‘ you will relax you will relax you will relax’ style does nothing for me, but my current practicioners is a minor miracle.  The sessions take place in an open fronted shop in Manchester’s Arndale Centre, which is a huge shopping mall, if you’ve never been there.  The Acupuncturists is between the sliding doors onto the High Street and a Milk Shake Bar.  Sessions take place in small cubicles with no noise insulation and everyone who works there is always shouting.  Always.  The noise of the traffic of gobby Mancunian shoppers (ususally kids screaming, laughter, someone having an argument on the phone) competes with the Techno music from next door and the shouting of the acupuncturists.  Did I mention that?  Because the cubicles aren’t insulated, you can hear the outline of everyone else’s ailments in consultation (one patient was requesting treatment to recover from a skipping injury, I kid you not).  The final harmony line is the clinic’s own choice of music, pumped in through a stereo; they tend to favour Mandarin versions of popular tunes, such as ‘Baby’ by Justin Beiber or ‘Poker Face’ by Lady Gaga. To complete the full sensory experience, I lay under what may or may not be someone’s beach towel for half an hour with pins stuck in my head.

 

This, dear reader, produces the most relaxing half hour of my week – more often than not I fall into a blissful half sleep, and wake, dry mouthed and groggy only when my doctor is applying the cups.  I walk out as if on air.  I dance home.  Then I lie down again and fall to slumber.  The only time I relax is when the odds are against me; when fate and geography and other people and beachtowels conspire against what normal people would want in a fulfilling de-stress. But I think in order to relax, I need to feel close to life; in my cubicle I am protected yet so near to a lot of competing activity, and it’s here that I find the most satisfying repose.

 

But that’s just a theory.  Like I said, I’m an insubordinate old shrew.

 

An elegant ‘now’ monkey

Noises Off Experiment:  Completed!

This week has been pushing back the cuticle of noise and distraction to reveal some lovely healthy brand spanking new thoughts and sources of creativity underneath.  Like pushing back a cuticle, it has involved some commitment; not because I have particularly missed noise and distraction, but because, if you have read the rest of my blog posts, you will know that I have been preoccupied with my thoughts to the detriment of thinking about my body and ‘the moment’.

And this has been mighty frustrating at times …

Overall, I think I’ve made some headway. I’m proud to say that I don’t crave an episode of Mad Men or even John Humphreys in the morning and although  I’m a long way from ‘cured’ (which is completely the wrong phrase to use) I feel  more fulfilled and  excited by the prospect of living a quieter life.

So what have I found out from this week?

I can be more productive if I take the time to switch off external noise as far as possible and engage a little.  And my choice of words is deliberate – there is a big difference between swtiching off and blocking out, which would have required some effort on my part and would have meant that I was still having to account and repair for outside distraction.  Nope, best to cut it off at the source, which means no telly, radio or music.  Rip off the plaster!

My mind, as it turns out is not a lonely wanderer, but an amateur rockclimber.  It has all the kit, but by golly is it nervy! It clings to precipices of dark thoughts, refusing to budge for hours, dangling on the same phrase, riffing on the idea of ‘you can’t do this you can’t do this you can’t do this’, rather than loosely swinging from moment to moment like an elegant ‘now’ monkey.  How I long to be an elegant ‘now’ monkey!

But who knows? Awareness is half the battle and being forced to listen to my thoughts incessantly has made me take them less seriously than before. I feel that if I keep turning off that which I am not consciously listening to, I may be able to live more easily in the present.  A week is a starting point, and I will maintain an audio fast as a practice, maybe two days of the seven to begin with…. and take it from there.

But if you are interested in living mindfully I strongly recommend taking a break from outside noise  to foster your creativity and mental balance. One day we all might And move from the cliff-face of distraction to the treetops of fulfillment!

Stef

Creativity, good wishes and epiphanies

Noises Off: Experiment Day 4

Hello!  If you’ve just found me, you may need to read the last couple of posts to work out what I’m doing.  If you like intrigue and are short of time, let’s just say I’m audio-fasting (thanks Rhi x)

The power of the written word!  Something about contextualising my frustrations in print yesterday must have done me good, for I spent the rest of the evening with the attitude of a meditative android, calmly going about the business of making aubergine parmigiana and doing the  washing in an audio-free bubble, judiciously and easily avoiding eye contact with my mind (if that’s possible) for the duration.  No explanation as to why it was so easy to switch off after writing, but stranger things have happened.

However, day 4 arrives and i’m frustrated at not having attained a plateau of peace.  This morning, my internal radio accompanied me with a Doors medley and ‘Sometimes it Snows in April’ by Prince, both of which swelled in my brain and burst through my mouth in intermittent melody blurts, forcing me to randomly sing half lines here and there, unconnected to anything else that was going on.  How odd!  On the way to the train I pre-empted several conversations that I may or may not have today (update:  I didn’t have any of them) and mentally tried out a few lines from each one.  This may of course make me insane, but this morning I preferred to see my current state as akin to the island infested by rats that Agent Silva reminisces about in Skyfall.  Mentally, I’m letting my thoughts over-run me (and sometimes it does feel like a swarm of movement and unstoppable tessellations).  I’m observing this, waiting for the poison to be ministered and the hubbub to subdue.  All weaker thoughts will die out till we’re down to just two giant mega thoughts who must fight to the death.

But this is a pretty nasty metaphor and inaccurate.  I don’t wish to kill my brain-chatter, just find a way of disengaging.  Thoughts bring creativity, good wishes, epiphanies.  Frankly, thoughts are what I’m writing to you right now.  And, more practically, it’s impossible to kill them off.  Like creativity, good wishes and epiphanies, they are endless and spontaneous.  Just not always relevant or helpful.  So I’ll turn my attention to the present again.  These critters have had free rein for long enough.

Outside the sky is a block of grey white, and the trees all shades of green and in between.  It’s about to rain …

3 days to go.

 

 

Loving Kindness

Noises Off Experiment:  Day 3

Ah.

Like Jon Snow, I’ve hit a bit of a wall (as has that probably now-overused metaphor).  Audio fast day two did not end well, and in the most surprising way.  I went to meditation class at the local Buddhist Centre, a wonderful and benevolent resource in the middle of Manchester, a class that I often attend and in the normal run of things, something that provides an oasis in the week.  But my current detox seems to have turned everything on its head.

“Tonight we’re going to go through the Loving Kindness, or Metta Bhavana meditation” said Kevin (admittedly not a superficially Buddhist-y title, but I’m sure he has another one that he’s too modest to use  during seminars).  I’ve done this meditation before and it’s lovely; you focus on a different person for each of the five stages and wish them happiness and health.  The challenge is that the penultimate stage you must send out good wishes to someone you find difficult.  Well, it was a barfight in my mind!  The silence and concentration around me magnified  my thoughts, turning them into a polyphony of sounds stretching back to the start of the day to the chiropractors appointment that I had cancelled and forwards all the way to weighing up potential problems with my summer holiday.  The more I turned attention to my breathing, the harder my mind distracted me, the mental equivalent of this:

 

I know a song that can get on your nerves

Get on your nerves,

Get on your nerves,

Get on your nerves,

I know a song that can get on your nerves

And this is how it goes:

I know a song etc etc till you fall down screaming.

 

Loving Kindness turned into Ire and Spite:  I failed to think a singularly nice thought about anyone and although Kevin has said that this happens and it’s okay, just observe the thoughts and let them go, I couldn’t!   Which was the aim of this week.  Ay me.

 

Subsequently, my ears are now craving a ditty, a jingle, a tune to give me respite from my thoughts and allow me to vacate the old headspace.  Meditation class last night showed me how frustrating and fraught living in my head is and how difficult simple can be.

 

4 to go ….

In the Co-Op with Bobby Womack

Noises Off: Day 2 of living without extraneous sound (or audio-fast as a wise and brilliant friend described it)

The morning silence is the best bit, I find.  It gives me the space to let out all the random fragments of song that have collected over the night (this morning: Native New Yorker) without weaving them in with all the other thoughts that have accumulated over the course of the day, the Breakfast news, alarm sounds and 6 Music.  To be honest, it’s rather like singing flat out in a sparsely populated concert hall and therefore quite awkward.  I hear the song, I try to offer it lodging, but ultimately it just peters out of its own accord.

Subsequently, all songs sound strange and ridiculous to me. In the Co-Op, Bobby Womack and Damon Albarn seem a mightily dramatic accompaniment to buying vinegar and tampons.  If I genuinely stop and listen, it is absurd.

 

Likewise, the man opposite me on the train plugged in and closed his eyes, as if dozing off at the start of a long flight.  Which in a way he is. If we’re unhappy with our predicament, music is a means of escape or at least a distancing and if we’re feeling good, it simply highlights our mood.  But for me, music is a conduit – how much do I really hear on the way to the mindset  where I want to be?  Not much, it would appear, as I’m beginning to appreciate the other soundtrack a lot more; the whine of the train engine, the clink the wheels make over parts of the track which seem less secure, this reminds me where I am.  Which is not too bad a place, in fact, certainly no worse than in the Co-Op with Bobby Womack.  

The Big Silence

Noises Off: Day 1

And so it begins.

 

As I wrote yesterday, I am taking a week-long leave of absence from extraneous sound (TV, radio, music) to see what happens to my brain and ears.  This has been on my mind for a while; I regularly wince at adverts and yell ‘turn it off’ at my husband or the remote control; I feel the glum coming on if I’m forced to deal with two different noise sources at once (i.e unexpected pop up advert from a ‘work from home’ housewife and the CSI theme tune).  And then, when you add the chatter from my own mind ….sheesh, wadda you godda do to get some peace around here?

 

So I’m on an audio detox and much like any other fasting/cleansing/purging programme, I started out this morning feeling great, only for this to subside and quickly replaced by a gnawing sense of abandonement and regret by mid-afternoon.  Seriously, the morning was great, without breakfast television or radio I felt almost serene and was up and ready in record time.

 

But it would appear that nature truly truly abhors a vacuum because by the time I was out of the house and on the way to work, my mind had decided to cover the break in transmission with some of its top drawer chatter.  I had to remind myself to observe the babble and let it drift out of its own accord – easier said than done.

The biggest challenge so far has been dealing with other people’s music.  No tune sounds good when you’re on the wrong end of the earphone and the train was replete with several mini sound stages, competing for the title of ‘tinniest musical experience that you are not invited to but must endure from across the carriage’. Of course, previously I would have recourse to my i-pod, but today, alas, no.  For the duration I sat with my hands pressed to my ears, not even trying to cover my minor meltdown with an act of public pretending, just blocking. Out. That. Sound.  Ye Gods!  The most unlikely people listen to the most unlikely things and at the most unlikely volume at the most unlikely hours (feel free to substitute the word ‘unlikely’ with the word ‘horrific’.)

 

Still, the positives are that living in a state of relative silence, one feels a real sense of preparedness, a constructive tension as if ready to ‘go on’, like a boxer before a fight or an actor in the wings.  If you can tune out from the random thoughts that your brain relays, you feel genuinely sharp and sort of …..excited?  I can’t think of a better word for it, but the feeling is akin to genuinely listening, waiting for something, feeling the potential of a moment.  I can’t really describe it any better than this, but underneath the withdrawal pangs, there is something lovely about the silence.  Let’s see how it goes.

 

“The life of sensation is the life of greed: it requires more and more.  The life of the spirit requires less and less'”

(Annie Dillard)

Exercising my rights

Hands up if you love the gym! Yeah, gym!  Other people’s sweat on handlebars!  Bum wobbles! Mysterious pubes on the floor! Orcs bearing dumb bells!  Euro house!  Yeah!  The gym!

 

In fairness, I don’t really mind the place.  But that’s because I live in an apartment block with its own gym so I am duty bound to drag my ass up there as often as possible.  And it genuinely helps me switch off my mind, with its snarky affectations and deep unfathomable pools of bitterness.  Running on a circular belt with my mouth open really shows my shitty synapses who’s boss.  In truth, I am now on nodding terms with a few people, which is as close to neighbourly love as it gets in my building.  And I can block out most sounds thanks to a well placed podcast on a well inserted earphone (I lodged the bud in so hard yesterday that it was only when I took it out that I found the earring back which was attached to it.  I tried to pretend in my head that it was a metallic depth charger, sent in to to locate tiny spies in my ear canal, but I think I’ve been watching too many terrible films recently.)

 

So I can block it out and that’s good, but here’s the thing.  Very often I’m the only woman up there.  Now I believe that the gym is as much the natural home of a man as the tupperware party is for a woman, (i.e they are not), but more times than not I am distinctly outnumbered.  And it doesn’t worry me.  Either there are an inordinate number of gay musclemen in my block or I am even less attractive than I think i am, but I don’t get hit on, or feel remotely perved at.  Which is great, right?  So I shouldn’t complain, no?  It’s just … no it’s petty of me to say anything …it’s just, well it’s the music.  It offends me.  It doesn’t aesthetically displease me.  It’s just wrong.

 

There’s a sound system in the corner, tuned to either banal local radio or one a little portfolio of CDs.  Mostly rave type stuff which is okay to run to.  But today it was just me and some guy and gym etiquette dictates that whoever is first in is the DJ.  Which in this case meant him.  He puts a disc on.  At first it’s just a nice beat and I’m like, okay, fine and then there’s some rapping.  It’s that heavy low stuff where it sounds like they’re on anti depressants, so I put my ipod on and get on the treadmill.  I can see in the mirror the guy (who hasn’t exactly done much gym-ing to warrant being DJ in my opinion), nod his head, sidle over to the CD player and turn up the volume.  This is roughly what I hear:

‘split the bitch in half’.  I wince.

‘fuck the ho in the ass like she do it for cash’.  I roll my eyes at my gym ‘buddy’ in an astounding act of British passive aggression.

There was more, but I really don’t want to write it down.  Eventually the troglodyte went to examine his button mushroom in the gents, so I yanked the wires out of the back of the stereo (not sure why) and left the gym.  That sort of music really does inspire violence; what I really wanted to do was jam a 4kg handweight up his urethra, but hey, that’s not how I roll, dawg.

 

Obviously this was an extreme situation, because Notorious P. I. G had chosen to turn the music up, showing a blatant disregard for the sensory welfare of his neighbours, but even so, who the hell writes that stuff?  I don’t wish to be all Tipper Gore about this, but how is it okay to write lyrics like that?  Not just okay, but lauded in some circles?  If I wrote a song about anally penetrating a man causing him physical pain and ultimately bisecting him, I would expect approbation.  I certainly wouldn’t expect it to be such a mainstream choice as to be played out loud and with gusto in a unisex gym.

 

This isn’t a new issue,  I know.  What next, will I be complaining about those pesky Beastie Boys and the theft of VW badges?  That I once saw, with horror,  Ellen Terry’s ankle on stage? But sometimes, when you least expect it,  things like today happen and the inequality gap seems as wide and accepted as ever.  Now, where’s that 4kg weight?

Unsung hero

Rod - Back in the day

Friday night, Pier 39 Disco, Cleethorpes seafront, 1996.  At around 2 am in the morning,  one unlucky reveller’s head will meet the murky sand far below with an umitigated thump.  Or at least it seemed that way to me growing up. ‘Man (18 )falls off Pier’ was a headline so common in Saturday’s edition of the local paper that it was relegated to the nethers of page 5, as regular and as comforting as the crossword.

We never pretended to be glamorous.  And even now, should you ever take a trip along the seafront, you’ll soon realise that the image we Friday night partygoers adhere to is sturdy chic.  Cleethorpes is next to Grimsby and Grimsby (contrary to popular belief) was named after the Viking settler Grim.  Is it possible that the Nordic King lives on in his descendant’s predilections?  Friday night’s ladies on tour offer up a fixed expression, defiant of the bitter cold wind, standing proud in their too short skirts, oblivious to their corned-beef legs.  There’s more than a whiff of the stoic about it …..

So we’d drink too much, fall over, snog, fall over, cry, snog, fall over.  A harsh and punishing regime of ‘entertainment’.  But we endured it.  And that’s just outside the clubs that dot the seafront like a worn out piece of tinsel on last year’s tree.   At least inside it was warm and you were less likely to get hit by a boy racer.

More than ten years on I go back to my old haunt and am amazed by the transformation.  Latterly it smelt of smoke – now it smells of body odour!  Otherwise….plus ca change.  There’s the same mix of Euro sounds and always the floorfillers, the floorfillers never change.  In a club that more than a little resembles any club in any town , there’s nothing finer than the sight of my former PE teacher break abruptly from conversation to take to the floor for YMCA.  We’re not cutting edge in Cleethorpes.  Once innovation realised there was no where further to go beyond this outpost of the estuary, it stopped calling.

Then it happens.  I was hoping it would.  Straight after Barbie Girl, the DJ drops a fat one – Don’t Stop (Till You Get Enough).  Glittering funk reverie flushed with M J’s sublime falsetto vocals.  The floor fills.  Suddenly I want to jump behind the decks, seize the mic and scream the truth at the top of my lungs – ROD TEMPERTON WROTE THIS SONG AND HE CAME FROM CLEETHORPES!

Not ready to form Saturday’s page 5 byline however, I asked fellow clubbers if they knew the identity and origins of the guy behind the record.  Apart from killing what little buzz is left, I’m met with general indifference – I assume it’s because they can’t hear me over the tune.  Maybe they just want to hear the tune and not my wisdom and who can blame them?

But for me, the knowledge that Rod Temperton son of  Cleethorpes, wrote great songs fills me with immense pride.

You see, the only time that Cleethorpes comes up in conversation is at the butt end of a joke on a Jim Davidson tour video.  Eternally aligned with the crap, the shit and the generally fucking awful.  Of course, we’ve had our fair share of celebrities from the area – Norman Lamont’s mum, and Mrs Mangle from Neighbours  – but for someone as close to the glamour, the very Studio 54-ness of it all as Rod Temperton, well, that strikes me as something worth shouting about.

Quincy Jones described him as the finest songwriter of his generation and a ‘real bad brother’.  Having seen footage of how Quincy and his crew rolled in the studio back in the day, I would imagine that Rod would have to have the capacity and aptitude of 20 men to garner such admiration.  Meanwhile, Temperton, R. would become a credit on the backsleeve of albums for artists such as Aretha, Mariah, Boyz to Men and Donna Summer.

Forgive me for not mentioning beforehand that Temperton co- wrote the uber seminal (if that’s possible) Thriller.  Thriller!  I only didn’t mention this earlier, as I felt sure, dear reader, that you would have collapsed in a dead faint.  May I also mention at this juncture that Rod has won a Grammy and been nominated for an Oscar for best original song for Miss Celies Blues from the Color Purple? Lyrics by Rod and Lionel Ritchie.  And he continues to work – most recently contributing to Carey’s comeback.

Quincy, Michael, Aretha, Herbie, Mariah and Rod.  Our Rod.   The mixing desk is a powerful position in the recording industry and he was Quincy’s right hand man!  This man worked at Ross seafood Inc and we know next to nothing about him?  Cleethorpes, you are missing one serious trick.

Why should we  hide such a fine and aspirational light under its bushel?  I believe this may have something to do with Rod himself, who is still writing and presumably finds it difficult to get from any one of his homes in Switzerland, LA or…., to open a school fete or cut a ribbon in a car park.  On the other hand, maybe it’s something in the local water.  It seems to me that Cleethorpes suffers from a grave lack of self esteem and is happy to be allied with ANY form of recognition.  Like a middle age divorcee, being the derogatory punchline is better than nothing at all and maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t know how to maximise its assets.

So I am calling for a local campaign – a tribute to Rod – undoubtedly Cleethorpes’ ultimate unsung hero, and one to unite generations and musical tastes.  Local council, I want a statue erecting on the seafront – I think he’d like it there – and I demand that you find in your budget the funds to fly over Mariah or Quincy or Aretha to unveil it.  Then a slap up fish dinner in Steeles’chippy afterwards.  Its what Rod, and Cleethorpes, deserve.

For Mrs Mangel, however,  I think we should go with something smaller on Freeman Street.……

If you’re feeling sad and lonely

Watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XboAeIjcs2E

It’s rare that I’m positive. About anything really.  But this is immense, especially if it’s dark and grizzly and colder than coaldigger’s ass where you are.  Bear with it (around the 3 minute mark)

 

Enjoy.