Something in the water

5 Jun

We have a Hungarian engraver work with us, he is partially deaf, and when he joined 2 years ago he spoke no English, he still only speaks a little English, I think learning a new language must be that much harder when you are deaf.

He seems to operate in his own little bubble, today he got a text message to say his Father in Hungary had died overnight – His father is also an engraver and was only discovered this morning by his apprentice – we’re not sure but it seems he had a heart attack – I think there can be few things worse than a sudden unexpected death, especially if you find out about it when you are in a different country.

Of course it has brought all of the feelings of loss back for me, not sure they ever went away, but it instantly brings them back to the surface, I tell myself I was lucky, I was able to be there when I lost my mum and my dad, holding my dad’s hand, stroking my mum’s hair as they left this world, but I don’t feel particularly lucky, it’s a strange feeling of being alone, I feel like an abandoned child, in adult form.

But it also brings out a defiant streak in me, I will not be publicly emotionally blackmailed into buying a book I do not wish to purchase, on principle I will refuse to buy it now, it isn’t the £4.75, it’s the fact you don’t know me at all if you think you can shame or embarrass me into making a purchase – would a purchase have any meaning if you glare publicly at someone until they buy it?

I also do not want to be invited to a show, 48 hours before the event when I was told two weeks ago that a group of friends had booked the show and they hadn’t thought to include me – I didn’t want to see the show in the first place and I don’t want to be added in at the last minute like an after-thought – it might sound ungrateful but if I wasn’t in the original plans I’m happy to stay outside of them, especially when one of the crowd has taken to filling his Twitter timeline with pictures of himself in crotchless underwear – I want to un-follow but I’m worried about causing offence or seeming rude, how English is that?

Hit and Run Part II

4 Jun

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I have seen Prince live at least 20 times, I first saw him live in 1988, I saw his 1990 Nude Tour 8 times, the last time I saw him was 6 years ago as part of his 21 Night Stand at London’s O2.

This year Prince has been doing Hit and Run shows, as the title suggests they’re often very last minute.

I checked into FaceBook yesterday at 10am (tea-break) to a message from Steve from The Beatles Shop, he informed me that Prince was doing two shows in one night at London’s Camden Roundhouse, that Ticketmaster were the only sellers and the tickets were on sale at noon that day (yesterday) oh, yeah and the concerts were for today.

I think Camden holds a special place in Prince’s heart, he had a shop there in the early 90s, and Part I of his Hit and Run shows at the start of the year kicked off up the road at Camden’s Electric Ballroom.

It was like Kate Bush all over again, so midday came and there I was nervously tapping my debit card details in as a clock in the bottom right of the screen counted down.

I had intended to get two tickets, but the short notice of the date and the fact that standing tickets were £82.50 each meant I just got the one ticket.

I worked late last night so that I could leave early today, as the doors opened at 5.30pm.

The tickets required Photo ID, it felt like a trial run for Kate Bush’s Autumn shows, The Roundhouse is bigger than The Hammersmith Odeon and with venue staff working the queue to check the photo ID, they stamped the tickets with an Approved stamp like you’d get in the library.

Quick purchase of a souvenir t-shirt and I’d got my place about 8 people deep from the stage, trying to avoid any giants in my eye lines.

At 7pm Prince’s band 3rdEyeGirl (who look stunning, and as I later find out play loud and fierce) come on to introduce Prince and also make it very clear that they want phones, cameras and video recorders to stay in our pockets and bags “We want to see your eyes, not your iPhones” and the audience seems to obey

I have to say it was tempting when there was a particularly good pose to want to capture the moment, almost as an instinct but I’m now writing this as a permanent record of the night 🙂
It was actually really great to be at a concert without the sea of phones, I had a great view for most of the night, and concert etiquette seems to be rapidly fading so I’m all for more phone-free gigs.

Prince started the night wearing a gold and purple frock coat but that was removed after the first few songs and he spent the rest of the night in a black hooded 3rdEyeGirl vest

It was practically a greatest hits show, and he looks so happy playing his old songs – some artists might begrudge playing songs from 30 years ago, but he has a big grin on his face all night and is constantly making eyes at the audience.

He started with a funked up version of Let’s Go Crazy, followed by Take Me With U, Raspberry Beret, and U Got the Look – for most people these would be the big hitters to end a show with, but Prince just knocks them out to get things started and everyone warmed up.
In the next hour we get 1999, Little Red Corvette, When Doves Cry, Sign O the Times, and Nothing Compares 2 U … Prince asks if we’ve had enough hits yet… then launches into the sublime Kiss, Diamonds & Pearls, I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man and a blistering extended romp through Purple Rain – it’s at the end of this song that Prince suddenly looks serious ” the future is yours, younger generation”.

This is Prince so we also get a 10 minute guitar and drum work-out during Guitar (I love u London, but not like I love my Guitar) he finishes with the B-Side She’s Always in My Hair … we’ve had 2 hours in the presence of genius … and he is doing it all again now while I type this up.

 

The Lambada

30 Aug

At work the Polish girls were talking about pop music they heard on the radio in the mid-eighties, Modern Talking’s Brother Louie, the big hair and camp Euro-pop, then Monika mentioned The Lambada, the mere mention of the song title send a shudder through me.

 

I would have been 17 I think when the Lambada song and dance craze took off, so it would have been Christmas night 1987 and the whole family were down the local pub, The British Lion ( to my knowledge lions are not native to Britain but that’s another blog).

 

Towards the end of the night my mum’s friend, Gladys who must’ve been 50 if she was a day and to put it politely was pretty well oiled by 11pm, determinedly made her way over to me through the busy pub,

As the music started up she was hacking at the drunken revelers like a soldier in the jungle with a big knife to get to me.

She wanted me, a very shy and rather sober 17 year old (shocking, I know but I didn’t really drink then) to dance the Lambada with her.

I turned in horror to my mum, who handed me over to her like a sacrificial lamb.

 

“Have a dance with her, it’s Christmas”

 

For those that may not know, the Lambada was a Latin American dance of seduction that required very loose hips and hopefully a passion for the person you were dancing with, I had neither.

 

She thrust one of her legs between my legs grabbed me around the waist, to steady herself as much as anything I think, and then threw the top half of her body back, shimmying her shoulders and proceeded to writhe around bringing herself up to me and away from me, all the while wriggling her leg further between my legs until her mini-moo was wedged on my crotch – all the while I stood there rigid, horrified and praying for the song to be over, and trying to keep her tongue away from my ear.

 

Remember I was 17, she was at least 50, when after what felt like an eternity the song was finally over, she handed me back to my mum with the words I’ve never forgotten.

 

“it was like dancing with an ironing board”.

David the First

11 Aug

My first proper boyfriend, as opposed to drunken fumbles on club stairs was David Hulse.

David the first, we met on Friday March 1st 1996, in the upper bar of Central Station in Kings Cross, our relationship, such as it was, lasted for a full four weeks, as he phoned me on the Friday night of the 29th March to say that he thought we should just be friends … I don’t think either of us was particularly heartbroken by this news

I’d only actually physically spent two nights with David during our 28 days, most of our communication was done via the telephone, I remember late night calls from a phone-box, him telling me that just the sound of my voice had made him feel better.

He called from a phone-box because he wasn’t out to his housemates, and early 1996 was still pre-mobile phones for most people. Usually just as I was getting ready to go to bed he’d phone and talk for an hour. I think British Telecoms probably mourned the end or our relationship more than either of us did.

I was upset as I liked him, he was a sweet boy, at 23 he was 3 years younger than me, although I have a feeling that I told him I was 25 at the time as I thought a 2 year age gap made me less of a cradle snatcher.

Our first night was naturally enough the night I’d met him, I’m a good girl I am, well not a prick tease anyway.

When we went downstairs at Central Station is seemed to be full of old men, so we headed off into town, long drunken snogs in 79CXR, coming up for air and David telling an older queen looking at us that we’d just met that night, the older queen pursed his lips and said, “You don’t say”.

Our second date we went to the cinema to see Withnail & I, it was one of his favourite films.

We didn’t do a great deal – we were both quite naive and innocent, I remember wanking him off, he came loads, cum everywhere, he looked horrified that it had happened in front of someone else and he apologised, me being me I’m sure I reassured him with “s’alright” and a shrug of my shoulders.

After David I decided I just wanted to make friends and enjoy being on the gay scene, which I did.

 I had made a conscious decision not to date anyone for 6 months, in September, 5 months later I was ready to met someone so decided I wouldn’t go looking for someone but I would say yes to the next person that asked for my number or asked me on a date – showing my age again – pre-Internet days.

The first person to ask to swap numbers was another David,  David Clarke (the second). We phoned and arranged to meet in the Black Cap on the Wednesday, I chose the pub as he lived in North London and I thought it was an equal distance for both of us (considerate me) but he’d never been there before and from the name of the pub he had fears it may be a leather/fetish bar.

 I was quite drunk the night we swapped numbers, as I sat in the Black Cap bar hoping I’d recognise him when he appeared.

David Clarke was a Vet, when friends would phone me at work, I used to refer to him as the Vet, but still colleagues ears were flapping so he soon became Evette (the Vet).

An unfortunate side effect of his profession was that his fingers seemed to have a natural tendency for worming their way into bottoms – I was not a fan.

 

Don’t Get MDNA, Get Even

11 Apr

I am aware that this might sound like a moany old man blog, but it has a happy ending so bear with …

I pre-ordered Madonna’s new album MDNA back in January and because I’m a rather sad music fan with not enough happening in my life I was counting down the days by mid-March until it’s release on March 26th.

I had toyed with the idea of staying up until midnight to download it but I realised I’m no longer 14 (I know, shocked me too) and decided to content myself with the knowledge I could download it at 6am in the morning and have the new album on my phone as I left for work at 7.30am-ish.

However when I checked iTunes at 6am for awaiting downloads nothing was there – I fired off a quick email asking what was up and had to leave for work MDNA-less.

Throughout the day people were posting on Twitter and updating on Facebook about their favourite songs, whether they loved the album (most in my timeline did) and which songs they were skipping – before I’d even heard them.

I checked my email just before I finished work at 5pm and still no reply from iTunes – in my experience they are quite good with customer service but like a great ocean liner they can’t always re-act swiftly enough.

I determined that my contract with iTunes was now null and void as the album had been available for download since midnight to all and sundry and here was I 17 hours into the day and still without a go ahead to download the album .. so I went to HMV and got the physical CD – at £13 it was £5 more than iTunes but at last I had the album in my hands.

I finally got an email from iTunes saying my pre-ordered album was now ready for download at 6.50pm – almost 19 hours into the day and they took the £7.99 out of my account too.

It’s obvious from comments on iTunes that I wasn’t the only one that this happened to – some fans have left 1star reviews for the album based not upon the songs (which on the whole are I think rather good) but because they had to wait until almost 7pm to download the pre-ordered album.

I think giving the album a bad review because iTunes f**ked up the download is insane – they should have done as I did and explain to iTunes the importance of having downloads instantly – instant downloads is their business after-all, not only did I get a full refund on the album, I got 5 song credits – worth £4.95 to my account and I kept the iTunes exclusive track – Love Spent (Acoustic).

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