Victoria Station…

Saturday 29 May 2021

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport…”

Love Actually: Richard Curtis 2003

Well it’s not Heathrow for me today, it’s Manchester Victoria; my Eldest child is coming home for a week and I am planning, with great excitement, to pick her up

Victoria Station, a grand old 19 Century building and my favourite railway terminus in the city. Not all love it, as I do. In fact, in 2009, it was named the ‘Worst Station in the UK and has since been significantly renovated. But that cannot have been a vote about the architecture; the Victorian facade, the lovely domes, the charming tiles on the interior and,  for me, the very best feature –  those evocative destination signs posted on the station front, which seem to capture the excitement of travel and exploration in bygone centuries. Surely it was just an outcry about facilities and repair?

I like to think that it was. And, as I have stood watching the teens playing Christmas Carols with our local band over many years, I have certainly been grateful for the new roof. I am also a fan of the delightful Java Bar Expresso, deliciously tucked into a corner of the concourse and the perfect spot for bit of reading, dreaming or just people watching.  And that is the vision I have, as I hop out of bed to face the day. Arrive early, a fancy Italian coffee, me, my kindle and a hour of tranquility. Utter bliss after a really tough and stressful term at work.

Alas… it does not quite turn out that way. Around midday, as I, still rather sweaty from an early run, am catching up on some chores my phone pings. My daughter’s arrival time is a full hour and a half earlier than any of us were expecting! So it is ‘adios’ to hopeful Brief Encounter images of me in any coffee bar, enigmatically perusing my novel, and instead, a mad dash to shower, tame my hair and dive into the car. Prom-dress daughter further shatters the concept of sumptuous solitude by leaping into the seat beside me… but thank the Lord that she does. Mid-Manchester is an anarchy of traffic roadworks and…closed car parks. As the clock ticks down, I find myself, in growing panic careering round the city centre streets unable to find any spot to stop in and, in desperation, flaunting occasional ‘bus and taxi only’ zones!  But teens, at least my teens, don’t do hysteria. My middle child just taps into some ‘map-app’ on her phone and takes charge, calmly and commandingly steering me to the front of the station where her sister, plus friend are ready to jump in and head homeward.

We catch-up, we share funny stories, we talk through any worries and we head out for an evening meal.  Even if everything didn’t quite go to plan, this feels like a pretty good start to half term. Manchester Victoria – alas, it was not a day to stop and sit and drink in your charm and style but it is a day to thank you for bringing my girl home!

Smile?

Sunday 23 May 2021

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you
…”

Composer: Charlie Chaplin with lyrics by Turner and Parsons

I am sure that at one time or another, we’ve all tried to fake a brave smile in the face of adversity. But is that notion of cheerily ploughing on come what may, the quintessential ‘British stiff upper lip’, always good for you?

Well, ‘yes’ says Nabin Paudyal in Life Hack’s ‘10 reasons you should smile more often.‘ He argues that smiling not only reflects happiness but that it can also trick your brain into actually feeling happier. And countless other writers agree. Why to many, the seemingly simple smile is unrivalled in it powers. From making you more attractive and a better leader to claims that it can even prolong your life. Let’s get grinning right now everyone?

But ‘no’ counters Live Science’s Agate Blaszczak-Boxe in the article Why Smiling Too Much May Be Bad for You, where it it proposed that smiling too much when you are ‘faking it’ can actually make you feel worse. The conclusion here is that , “Whether a wide grin will hurt your emotional well-being depends on the motivation behind it,...”

So I really don’t know but I do think, as I look back as some old family photos that the false smile, for me and my teens, is pretty easy to spot. Here goes!

Holiday in Ireland – a year before the family break-up
First Communion for my Eldest – 2 months after family break-up
Our new life in the N West 3 years after family break-up
My confident squad on Holiday in 2019

It’s all about the second photo for me. First Communion for my Eldest, a few weeks after ex Hub left the family home. Gosh we look a tense and nervous quartet. Unsure, uncertain and uncomfortable. I recall that the children’s dad did not come and so we presented ourselves to the world, for the first time, in the most family-orientated of settings, as a lone parent unit. Which sounds as if it would have been very daunting. But I have to be honest… only ‘sounds as if’…. because, on a very startling note, I remember absolutely nothing else about any emotions on the day. Were we feeling sad and sacred? Were we worrying about the unknown future that lay ahead? I’d be lying if I claimed I knew!

So if this is you, currently finding the strength to face a conventional world as a slightly different version of the norm, take heart! Try not to worry. It probably is going to be alright, by which I mean, as alright as anyone else. For life is an ever-changing , up and down experience for us all. I actually love the fact that we have a picture from one of the tough times along the way because it makes me feel proud of the progress we have made since as a family. As you see, just 3 short years later, in a picture taken to mark the move into our new house in the NorthWest, we look far more relaxed and together. And by 2019, on a wonderful holiday in the Sun, happier and stronger together.

So I plan to smile…or not smile as the mood takes me. But I will keep taking the pictures and will not shy away from the ones that show the trickier times in life, when the grins are a little more strained and those beams heart-breakingly brave. Because they will remind me that, if we stick together and face the challenges with those we love, more often than not, there will be better times around the corner…

Running Alone…

Saturday 15 May 2021

Can I start by saying, “I miss my run buddies”. There is simply nothing to beat camaraderie, laughter and a good old chin-wag for making you keep to the challenge of weekly exercise. But as, for various reasons, I currently find myself running solo, I have to say that it does offer some benefits…

Firstly it is precious time by yourself and a brilliant space for your brain to think… or not. Active.com actually advocate unplugging yourself completely on a solo-run

Take a deep breath, take in the natural world, or just take an hour off from thinking about anything at all

Well that is their advice and it does sound luxurious, but I probably do the exact opposite. My run is very much a time when I do think through any worries or problems that are keeping me up at night and it always brings some fresh perspective. Be it, kids, money or, as has been the case in recent weeks, work… work is a stressful place at the moment… by the end of an hour of fresh air and exercise, I always have a new plan. And I love this, for whilst I am one of life’s thinkers, my world is a crowded and noisy place where my aging brain cells can find it difficult to function. So I am more in tune with Amanda Brooks, who, writing in Run to the Finish , on the ‘9 Powerful Benefits of Running Alone’, cites that

Many runners {myself included} do some of their best thinking while on the run

Secondly it is glorious just to be yourself in any shape or form. Now I would be lying if I claimed that I ever spent much time on my appearance but, like most of us, I do brush my hair, apply a dash of make-up and run the iron over my clothes for work or meeting friends and even commit to a swift mirror check before heading out for the weekly shop. But on my Saturday run.. there is none of that. As seen in my pictures of today’s 10k dash, it’s hair scraped away, slightly torn leggings, old pink running shoes and a raincoat knotted around waist. I might splash a bit of water over my face, but that is the extent of my pre-run beauty routine. And it it liberating and joyous not to care a jot what anyone, not even a run buddy, thinks for an hour or more.

And finally, you can just please yourself on the run itself. So, do I channel my inner Phoebe Buffay and,

“… run like I did when I was a kid because that’s the only way it’s fun”

Phoebe Buffay: The One Where Phoebe Runs 1999

If only! Maybe I will try it one of these mornings? But already I run as fast or slow as I want. On a sunny day, if I espy a nice bench, I will happily choose to sit and catch few rays if the mood takes me. In the recent run of amazing snowy Spring-time days, when the beauty of our local county-side was simply breathtaking, I often paused just to gaze and take it all in. If I am tired, I walk up the steepest hills. And if I see a friend … I just stop and chat for as long as a blinking well like. In many ways it is the most self-indulgent time of the week.

So in a nutshell it is, space to think, time to be yourself and time to please yourself. Of course it doesn’t have to be running. It could be a walk. It could be sitting in a beautiful church. It could be a long car drive. But I do think it is a little bit of weekly luxury that we all deserve…

Teenagers and battles …

Tuesday 5 May 2021

“Miss!! Turn the board down ! It is so bright… it’s like Jesus has come into the room!”

And so, with a lot of laughter, my working week begins! Teenagers – I live with them, I work with them. They can test my patience and sanity to the absolute limit but at their best, their feisty, funny, outspoken best they can brighten up the day like nobody else. And, it is true in the classroom, that a lesson that begins with a smile, usually goes better than one that starts with a rant. But sometimes a rant also has its place. And this is equally true in the home…

Source: anniegetyourgum

Our house has been a whirl of school and college exams of late. High stakes for Prom-dress daughter who grinds stoically through a testing ordeal of assessments designed to support her Teacher Assessed Grades for A’levels this Summer. For Small Boy too, after a crazy 12 months of school closures and online lessons, come Year 10 Mocks. He also works well to prepare for his tests in most subjects. I say most, because there is one notable exception. The night before his maths exam, over tea, I offer to help him with some revision,

Oh, I don’t need to revise for that one – all the topics on the list are really easy”

is his casual response. It is like a red rag to a bull, not just because maths happens to be my subject, but also because ‘trying your best’ is our household motto. So this feels like a betrayal and I am unable to stop my hackles starting to rise. Predictably preachy and rather more acidly than I might have hoped, I point out that in our household we ‘always prepare’, that he does need to ‘look at some questions‘ and that I do expect him to ‘aim a bit higher’. Something about my tone clearly lights the touch paper of teen indignation because within moments, I am under fire,

You are putting too much pressure on me!”

“Its my life mum, not yours!”

Angry, self-righteous cries fly across the kitchen table. I am quite weary and for a split second toy with the idea of just giving in. It would be a lot easier. I could shrug and sniff ” Oh have it your way” and put my feet up with a nice cuppa. But it feels like a dereliction of parental duty so I dig in. But in an increasingly toxic atmosphere, I compromise and allow Small Boy to organise his own revision. Eyeballing me with disdain, this turns out to be my son swiping his phone on, watching a 3 minute maths video, before sauntering out of the room announcing ‘Revision done mother!” over his shoulder. It feels very much like a ‘lose , lose‘ situation and I grit my teeth for a tense week.

Happily however, I manage to avoid further confrontation and the ensuing days are harmonious ones. I do forget to wash Small Boy’s PE kit and have to rush it through a hurried 30-minute wash on PE morning itself. But I just apologise and my son really couldn’t be any more reasonable about heading to school in a distinctly damp set of joggers. As a reward for much improved communication and reliability when meeting his friends, Small Boy and I also negotiate a slightly pushed back ‘home time’ for his next social outing. All is well, all is calm, all is pleasant. Perhaps a battle really is never worth it, I ponder. But there is another page to turn on this tale.

Towards the end of the week, his teachers start to hand back test results and Small Boy is thrilled by his scores… with one notable exception. On Thursday, I arrive home to a cup of tea and a sheepish looking boy clutching a mathematics book,

“Er mum…I have to resit my maths test tomorrow…can you give me a bit of help ?”

Oh perhaps that really was the Lord in my White board at school, because this feels like divine redemption! It takes under 20 minutes, a couple of revision cards and a review of the salient features of the probability tree, before he is pretty much ready for anything ! I have to confess that I am unable to resit a bit of a raised eyebrow but my son holds up both hands muttering, “I know mum“, so I magnanimously leave it there and hope it is a lesson learned.

So can we ever completely avoid clashing with our offspring? Probably not. Look, I could have handled this week’s conflict far better, but I defy any parent to beatifically beam their way through the daily battery of teenage-rearing challenges. Not just because we’re human. Not just because our kids can be the most exasperating creatures on the planet. But because sometimes, it matters. The trusty old adage to ‘choose your battles’ is essential advice for any parent, but battle you sometimes must. Yes, occasionally to be a good parent (or a good teacher) you have to roll up your sleeves and face the flak, because its worth it and…they may even thank you in the end!

Lockdown week 10: That’s life…

Sunday 31 May 2020

My parents may have been member of the Elgar Society, but they were also huge fans of iconic Rat Pack singer Frank Sinatra. He was the soundtrack to my Dad’s wake and this week, as I hear Small Boy jazz-handing his way through the intro to ‘That’s Life’ it starts to lift my mood…

I am in need of a small morale boost because Week 10 of lockdown does not start well. I get turned down for a job. An exciting, challenging new role, featuring travel, data and lots of writing is dangled before my eyes and then snatched away. I think I’d be pretty good at it, but I do accept that, in an online interview from my kitchen, I struggled to sparkle.

Rejection! Always such a blow. And so I resolve to set aside a little time to indulge in disappointment before picking myself up again.

Space to be gloomy, however, in a socially distanced world? Well it’s tricky! There’s no pub to retreat to. No rehearsal to take my mind off things. No long drive – well unless I masquerade as a senior government aide! Nowhere in the house to escape from my children and their volley of teen-centric demands. My only option is to go out for a run. So I do. I am out for over an hour. And as my feet pound the pavement, round and round in my head, Frank cheers me on,

But I don’t let it, let it get me down
‘Cause this fine ol’ world, it keeps spinning around
…”

And do you know what, Ol’ Blue Eyes, you are right! The uplifting anthem seems to chase away the cloud of negative thoughts and clear my brain for recharge. Is it the familiar, easy melody? Is it the fit of the lyrics ? Is it merely an overdose of exercise endorphins? Is it simply the joy that comes from a precious 70 minutes to myself? I cannot say. What I an certain about however, as I eventually sink in sweaty relief onto my sofa, is that I feel better. Not just about the job but also better about the the last 10 weeks, the scary prospect of the next chapter of Covid and careering on through life itself.

The ups and downs, and let’s be honest the last couple of months have dealt up plenty of both, will keep coming. But, mirroring my run, for every uphill struggle, eventually there will be a glorious downhill. All around, living, loving, time itself; they play on, inviting us to join them and add to the tune. It feels suddenly reassuring to be just a little part of something much bigger.

Tomorrow the calendar page announces that 2020 has made it to June. Here’s hoping that when it comes to the first month of Summer that Frank is singing for us all…

That’s life
That’s what all the people say
You’re riding high in April
You’re shot down in May
I know I’m gonna change that tune
When I’m back on top in June
..”

(That’s Life : Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon circa 1963)

Lockdown week 9: Rules…

Saturday 23 May 2020

Dominic Cummings, should he stay or should he go? It’s a no-brainer for me.

Who cares about good looks? It’s a question of doing the right thing. It’s not about what you guys think.” Dominic Cummings (Senior Advisor to PM)

The story is headline news. Dominic Cummings, Senior Advisor to Boris Johnson, is found to have travelled over 200 miles, to his parents’ home in County Durham. Why? His wife was displaying Covid-19 symptoms, and he feared so would he. In consequence, they planned to use the support of their North East family to help with childcare. On the face of it, a very reasonable and sensible plan. The issue? This all took place in the first week of the UK Lockdown and flaunts key directives in the Government’s Covid code.

The phone-ins, the opinion polls and the columnists have not stopped on this one. The Cabinet rally around, their aide. Michael Gove argues that, “caring for your wife and family is not a crime” and indeed it is not. Some callers to the radio debate shows challenge me to think about “what I would do in the same situation”. And I actually do not know. But I do know, that others did not follow Mr Cummings, in allowing their instinct to override Government guidelines. Instead, to support our national effort, they made huge and heartbreaking sacrifices when faced with similar situations. What I think, moreover, is that whatever I did choose to do is entirely irrelevant on this occasion because Cummings and I are not comparable, even as parents. I am a key worker, a mum and a daughter trying my best to follow the spirit of the Government rules. Mr Cummings is the senior advisor to the Prime Minister, a member of SAGE, integral to strategy decisions at the highest level of Government. He may not be an elected representative, but, as Boris’ right hand man, he must accept the level of accountability that comes with a role of such privilege and power. It is imperative that he ‘walks the walk’ as opposed to merely, ‘talking the talk ‘of the administration he serves and influences.

So, Mr Cummings, you may quip that appearances do not matter. For you, I would argue, they absolutely do. In accepting such a pivotal job within Number 10, you gave up the luxury of opinion to interpret and stretch the government guidelines to suit your own circumstances. In its place you accepted the weight of responsibility that accompanies this highest level of public office. And, for me, even if with genuine oversight rather then arrogance, you have fallen far short of these expectations. In so doing, you undermine the very messages you have shaped and sold to us as those that will ‘Save Lives and Protect the NHS’.

Others, including Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, have accepted their lapses and resigned, with honour, for similar actions Is it time for you to go as well? Undoubtedly yes.

Lockdown week 8: A moment of magic

Sunday 17 May 2010

Cleaning the blinds! Have I reached a whole new lock down low?

We have now completed eight long weeks of socially distanced living. This week restrictions were eased a little and we moved from ‘Stay Home’ to ‘Stay Alert’. In an attempt to kick-start the economy, many more people were encouraged to return to the workplace. The Teaching Unions and the Government locked horns over the proposed re-opening of primary schools. Golfing, tennis and ‘going fishing’ were all given the green light and we were allowed to meet up with a family member, at a 2 metre distance, on a park bench. Not many of these changes do much to fill up my calendar however and so ….

And so, I find myself actually parting with hard earned cash to order an astonishing, tri-pronged, duster-socked blind cleaner. Buffing my blinds back to glory is the mission of the day! Now, even the most modestly house-proud amongst you probably needs to cover your ears as I make a confession. In the eight years I’ve lived in this house, never once have I cleaned, dusted or given a second thought to those poor blinds. Happily, however, my slovenly ways do now offer several advantages. One, as a blind-cleaning novice, I can be forgiven for any idiotic purchases of cleaning products or devices. Two, as I toil and sweat over many years worth of grime and grease, the impact is incredible.

Yellow? Why no! Those Venetians in kitchen are actually white!

But three, I can now thank the good Lord that today aside, I have never wasted a single other minute of my precious life on jobs like this! A WhatsApp from my lovely Mum pings in and I take the cue to stop for a very welcome coffee break.

My Dad – in the Museum directory!

The caffeine is wonderful but the message brings a moment of sheer delight. Whilst I have been scrubbing away with my plastic trident and anti-static spray, Mum has been busy with internet research. Buried on an directory of cinema organists, at a museum in Essex, she has found an entry for Dad. It is unbelievable. I phone immediately to hear the full, triumphant details of her sleuthing. It is an epic tale but, believe it or not, the trail began with a Covid-drawer clear out!

So, maybe it is wrong to scoff at all the corona cleaning and declutterng. A little time, out of our usually frantic lives, to rediscover old treasures and revisit past memories is definitely an opportunity we should cherish. Who knows what gems we may uncover? Blind cleaning however – just don’t do it …

Lockdown week 7: VE Day

VE Day Anniversary 8 May 2020

Many years ago, a friend bought me a box of fortune cookies so that I could start each day with a crunch of biscuit and, of course, a wise inspirational motto! This was my favourite,

“Hope is like food, without it we die

And where better to start lighting Lock Down with a ray of hope, than on the 75th Anniversary of VE Day itself.

Some parallels with our current situation are evident, but the chasms of difference far more striking. World War 2 – 6 long years. World War 2 – 75 million lost lives. Conditions on the fronts, unthinkable. At home, families battling the Blitz, evacuation, rationing, separation and loss. Lock Down really does not compare. But with everyone staying at home, it is true that we do find more time than usual to reflect upon and mark this notable date in the diary. Street parties are the order of the day! Ours is scheduled for 4pm, and it turns out to be a more stylish event than I had planned for….

The 75th Anniversary is marked with a Bank Holiday, so I am not working (much) and, instead, am already having a lovely day. One of my friends Zooms in for a long and leisurely coffee in the morning. Another whisks me off to Dublin on a virtual tour of the Guiness Brewery, in the early afternoon. This is a taste of life as I used to know it. Sociable, lively, boozy and fun. I am drinking in the buzz of Temple Bar when my eye drifts to the road outside and I am jolted back into reality. Houses on our street are festooned with bunting. Driveways proudly showcase elegant table and chair sets, table cloths, wine coolers, flowers, and cake stands. I realise that the old rug in my car boot, purchased at a music festival in the mid 90s, is simply not going to cut it. I hastily bid farewell to Ireland’s capital and re- focus on my own front lawn!

We just about make it. I dig out an old, batik cloth, from a trip to Indonesia in 1989, to hastily cover the piano stool, which is carried out, masquerading as a table. My iced buns, scattered on a plastic picnic plate, already look dangerously close to melting. Small Boy is swigging his second Koppaberg before we’ve even ventured out of the front door. But, just after 4, gripping two bottles of Cava, we scramble onto our weather-worn garden chairs ready to party.

And it is terrific. All our neighbours are out. There is 1940s music on the play list. There is sunshine and smiles and lots of sparkling wine. We meet people we lived beside but, in the busyness of 21st century life, never found time to speak to before. And all this from the social distance of our front gardens.

“It feels like we’re on holiday!” slurs one of the Cava crew.

And they are right. It does. It feels different. It feels special. It feels amazing, however high the hedges, to be in the presence of other people. A 7-week break certainly makes you appreciate what is important in life. On Sunday, we will all gather as a nation to hear if the current Lock Down restrictions are to be relaxed a little. Whether or not conditions ease, this brief glimpse of life back in society, in public, in company has given me a the boost of strength I’ve been lacking in recent weeks. I know I can see this through with more drive and determination from now on. Hope for the future, it makes it all worth fighting for…

Lockdown week 6: May

Sunday 3 May 2020

May! Oh my goodness. Was there an April ? How many weeks since I last saw a pub? Did I dream it, or was there once world where we used to eat somewhere other than the kitchen? Was I ever challenged by goals greater than clearing out the garage? Will life ever get back to normal?

The giddiness that marked the start of Lockdown now seems like a very distant memory. Whereas my eldest dyed her hair pink 6 weeks ago, this weekend, I have to confess to my slight relief, she purchased the chemicals to turn it back to a glorious, chestnut brown.

Prom dress Daughter redecorated her room and it looks terrific! The lime-green and peach colour scheme she chose 5 years ago is gone and in its place, we have clean, crisp, white walls and one feature splash of lilac. However her shopping list for new furniture, fixtures and fittings , a carefully, crafted creation as long as … lockdown itself has been put on hold and with it her motivation for each day ! (Cruel Covid means that none of our tips are operational and I have forbidden the dismantling of old beds and desks until they open their gates once more.)

Home schooling – what a roller coaster! More late marks for Small Boy this half term than in his previous 10 years of schooling, as I battle daily to get him our of bed. Prom dress daughter is sinking, under a sea of essays on complex , self-taught topics, and anxiety over the impact of all of this on UCAS predictions. My eldest, powerless to do anything about her exam grades and future now, does all the work sent, but without any of her signature drive and enthusiasm.

Gosh 6 weeks is a long time and they are struggling. No friends. No going out. No escape from each other. No break from me! I know that it is my job to fix them and I do try. I am trounced at basket ball most afternoons. I am there for Boris the Gecko’s bathtime. I turn my hand to homework. I try to be a counsellor, careers advisor, cocktail mixer and confidante… But the truth is that I am not good enough. No-one is. To quote the wisest of cultures,

“It takes a village to raise a child

And I am only one. One definitely stretched and certainly stressed single mum, who is finding the going very tough…

Who’s Bruce Hornsby Mum?

Sunday 26 May 2019

Tips for different generations working together…

One of the things that is brilliant about families has to be the mix of generations. The ‘elders’ are often naturally assigned the role of ‘teacher’, and I do owe a lifetime of debt to the inspiration, spirit and sheer joyous times my parents and grandparents gave me. But, additionally, I learn tons from my kids about life, love, tolerance … and this week music!

This morning I am driving two of the teens to Wales, to spend some time with my mum. Small Boy and I rise early, to wrestle his bike into the car, alongside conventional cases, basketballs … and a set of weights! By 8:30 am, we are all done and just waiting for my eldest to complete her packing. I opt for a second cuppa. Small Boy heads for the piano and soon the lyrical runs and melodies of Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’ fill the house. Wow – that is sounding amazing after only a few days. My talented son then moves onto Elton John (‘My Song’) and Bruce Hornsby and the Range (‘Just the way it is’). Spluttering into my tea, I realise, with a glow of pride, that this is a catalogue of many of my favourite songs. I have inspired my child to appreciate great songs of the 20th Century. I am passing on my wisdom and emotional depths to the next generation. I hurry to the piano room to share this thought, but am quickly knocked off my perch,

Who is Bruce Hornsby Mum? I am playing ‘Changes’ by Tupac

Ha ha ha … that’s me told!

Tupac (stage name 2pac) produced a rap version , featuring the Hornsby classic, in the 1990s. Small Boy plugs me into his phone to listen …. and I love it. The rap adds an angry relevance and urgency to Hornsby’s original track about poverty and racial division in the US. Here’s a mash up if you want a listen … the language on Small Boy’s version was a little too fruity for my blog… and I prefer the rap over piano, as opposed to key board!

And this is my second musical mash-up of the weekend. Had a great night listening to the Black Sheikhs in a Northern Quarter pub, as part of the Manchester Jazz Festival. I can really struggle with jazz , so was surprised at how much I enjoyed this gig. The quest of the Black Sheikhs is to jazz/swing-up a full range of pop tunes..anything from Bowie to Bieber; Adele to AHA. Some worked better than others; Bieber unexpectedly good, Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ a bit of a low point for me, but the whole set, and the whole bar, was jumping with energy and humour from start to very late finish. Top night!

My eldest now appears with a plethora of bags for her short stay in Wales, so I only have time to say, let’s make the most of the range of ages in our households. Let’s rejoice in mixing old with young, mashing-up and mixing up…it can only make ideas grow and strengthen and build communication and respect across the generational divide. Rap or jazz on the car radio anyone?

Black Sheikhs