16. On being a rubbish blogger!

Hello! My blogging has been somewhat amiss of late due mostly to recovery from a dislocated hip. As I said on FB, even I will admit that this latest act of clumsiness was more than a bit ouch. In a nutshell life literally ground to a halt for several weeks. Not to worry and more whitterings tomorrow! x

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15. Glasgow Studio Orchestra & embracing disability.

I wanted to write a little about this marvellous new pro-am orchestra which I am very pleased and proud to be a part of. Glasgow Studio Orchestra and the conductor (Iain Massey) gave me an initial step back into the more practical side of music after a long battle with ill health and too much time spent in the living room with books and a laptop getting a PhD! And now 5 months later I cannot quite believe where this initial step has led me so far … to 2 concerts, a commission through Drake Music and a successful audition with the British Paraorchestra.

I used to play the clarinet … a lot …. to the extent that it felt like an extension of myself. I thought myself to be an able player with strengths more in the expressive side of my playing rather than a fantastic technique but at any rate not really of the caliber to make a living as a performing musician. I played some chamber music in the years following graduation from the BA (Hons) Applied Music at Strathclyde and then came the big changes and I found I couldn’t play at all for several years. This led to a loss of identity somehow ….. does that sound very dramatic!? Sorry about that! I imagine it’s akin to someone not being able to drive a car any more, something like that (but perhaps a bit more personally devastating if you see what I mean!? Although if you are an F1 driver or something similar then it would obviously be equally devastating to a person and no offence intended!? ).

And so passed the years and the cerebral side of music came to the fore. I studied and wrote music but I stopped playing any musical instrument or singing completely. The switch had been turned off …. for good I thought. But there was definitely something missing. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a tendency towards the more melancholy side of the emotional spectrum and in those years when I didn’t play (or, interestingly, listen to much music except for study purposes) I was more often than not somewhat down of mouth (to put it mildly). Those of you dear readers who know me well will also know how stubborn I can be (thrawn is probably a better description!?). And I cheered a little when I found I could do a PhD and then cheered a little more when I was accepted for music therapy training. Everything took me a bit longer than it used to, I had the energy and stamina of a used tea bag, a distinctly fuzzy brain and a pair of Elvis legs. I always have this thought in mind though, “It could be worse, right”!?. However I was still living a life predominantly at home and more specifically from the (very comfy & safe) sofa.

In September of last year I chanced upon a book of the Faces post about a new orchestra being formed in Glasgow looking for players (it being conducted by Mr Iain and having generations of Applied Music bods made the prospect more appealing). My furtive little mind jumped upon the tiniest possibility that I could actually leave the house and be part of something…… And to cut a long waffle short I did but with a bassoon and wheels! The frankly splendid Mr Massey gave me a chance and a bassoon and I was away (with the fairies mostly!). On 31st October 2012 I found myself solo on a train for the first time in 7 years and then in a rehearsal for the first time in a decade!? Completely mad but brilliant! I swear that the moment I said bollocks to disability and decided to have a go anyway life got better and it started with this orchestral adventure. If I may explain a little, my left arm is unreliable and prone to misbehave …. half of my face is permanently numb …. in a nutshell this makes playing the clarinet very difficult. For some reason I have found myself able to play the bassoon (I played a bit in Strathclyde Uni days) because the reed/ mouthpiece is smaller and the instrument doesn’t have to be supported completely by your own arms. Classic! In that moment I reconnected with the past and found a new musical way forward. I’m now also playing Eb clarinet and Alto sax too just for variety (?!).

I cannot begin to describe the ways I was terrified on 31st October last year but it all went surprisingly smoothly and the disabled musician travelled in wheelie to Glasgow and back without mishap (wheelies are prone to mischief don’t you know!?). By far the most terrifying aspect of it all was finding myself sitting within the ranks of an orchestra again. I felt so completely rusty and out of my depth! My brain took longer to process the notes and get the rhythms, to watch the conductor, to count the bars rest and mostly not to parp in the wrong place at an inopportune moment with a half-functioning bassoon….. it hasn’t been easy and I’ve taken a while to get back up to speed but with a newly over-hauled instrument and new neural pathways developing (brain plasticity if you will!) it’s improving all of the time. I should like to take this chance to thank everyone who has supported me during the past few months both logistically and empathically ….. Thanks also to Mr Iain and my fellow players at the orchestra for their great understanding, welcome and patience while I get used to being a performing musician again! I love the bassoon and I’m getting better every day …… honestly!

For your ears here is a recordings from the concert “Tearjerkers” taken a few weeks ago. There are other recordings available of the orchestra too on Soundcloud so have a gander. Enjoy x

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14 – General musings & London trip…

Still stuck at home with broken wheelie….. humph and grumble! I was going to change the header photo of Suki in the snow but as it’s still current (i.e. snow still features daily here in Gorebridge at the moment!) it remains in place! I’m imagining this coming week will be pretty static in comparison with the previous few but ebb and flow and a moment to ponder all of the happenings is most welcome.

And so to London trip 1 … which has been encapsulated by Danny Braverman from Drake on Storify. Have a look: sfy.co/fGsQ

There were 3 of us who have been given a platform by Drake Music where we have the opportunity to create a cross-arts collaborative work with an experienced arts professional. In my case I’ve been introduced to Sheron Wray and I’ve waffled on about the work being a re-imagining of Viv’s 4 Seasons in more detail in post 10 if you want a reminder (or to have your eyes glaze over for a second time!!!). The “lab” day was a coming together for us 3 (myself, John Kelly (@rockinpaddy) and Lady MJ Warrior (@LadyMJwarrior)) and our collaborative partners in creative crime. Ideas and visions for future works were shared and discussed and followed by a raucous jam in the afternoon. Marvellous! I met some really genuine kindred souls and it will be interesting to see how this all pans out for us. I have some video and more photos from the day itself so will endeavour to put something together myself very soon probably in post 16. More here soon! x

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13. It’s been a while …..

Hello people who may read my waffle! And thank you for reading by the way! So the past 2 weeks have been COMPLETELY MAD but here I am at the other side of it all feeling very happy, utterly cream-crackered and with a broken wheelie! But no grumbles from me for I have had adventures … This is a catch-up post and I’ll bore you with a few more over the next few days to fill you in on events and happenings.

London trip 1 was brilliant with a slightly nervous twang as we got used to being and moving about in the sprawling metropolis. I wore my composer hat at Drake Music UK and also played drum & bass style on the Eb clarinet! I also found myself tipped up beetle-like on London Bridge in front of a bus … how do these things happen!? Quite easily as it turns out!? Next came the Glasgow interlude involving a number of rehearsals and a concert with Glasgow Studio Orchestra where I tried to play my notes in the right places and was slightly more successful at this than my last attempt in December. Finally came London trip 2 involving an audition with the British Paraorchestra.

There is lots more to say but I can hardly keep my eyes open and a major snooze with Sukidog is calling! x

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12. Sock wars, s’now joke & the red peril!

The blasted snow is back and while the white winter wonderland it creates is truly beautiful I cannot now look upon it without my brow furrowing and the slow feeling of the creeping grumpies. It’s not unprecedented to have snow in March (or April and I believe we had sleet in June one memorable year!?) so no real point in grumbling but it’s fun though!? I take my pleasures while I may and from a practical point of view I’m stuck indoors. Snow + Elvis legs + a wheelie do make for an unfortunately high level of calamitous incident (with comedic value certainly).

Time seems to be doing that zooming blurring together thing again. I wonder sometimes if this is partly a state of mind? When you are somewhat down of mouth and not wholly living in the present…. something to ponder. Personally I’m not quite sure where the last week has gone. I think this has something to do with big scary trip to London on Thursday where composer hat must be worn and brain engaged. Gulp!

Doodles is currently shovelling the snow. Begone pesky white stuff! We have been inadvertently waging an unspoken battle during the past week. It was a sneaky pattern of warfare involving an innocent party (a pair of argyle socks) and different sides of a battle ground (the bedroom). During last week the innocent party has mysteriously been appearing upon my side of the battle lines ….. I have turfed them over to the other side on numerous occasions …. only for them to appear again on my side of the lines several hours later. This was indeed most puzzling until this morning when battle cries roared and victory was drawing near. “Where do these bloody socks keep appearing from!?” … “Err I thought they were yours so I put them on your side” … “They’re yours you great gherkin, your mum gave them to you!” … “Oh”. Battle began ……. war raged for 7 days with poor innocent socks regularly taking flight over the battle lines… battle fizzled to a stop rather pathetically. Epic stuff to be sure!?

The time must surely be ripe for the introduction of the Red Peril. Who!? This is a red garment wearing neighbour of kindly intentions and nosiness of such gargantuan proportions as I have never before experienced. Encounter 1 – 6 included greetings, can I come inside, can I come inside a bit further, can I tell you the splendid details of the previous deceased former occupant of your house, can I tell you about various neighbours intimate business and murderous intentions on the doorstep, can I sell you a time share ……..encounter 7 involved me fumbling about the front garden looking at the emerging spring flowers when a voice queried “where are you going?” … “Err nowhere!?”. Don’t worry I’m not being rude – just cautious! I’m a rubbish neighbour probably.

Going to shuffle quietly off now x

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11. On NOT being a domestic goddess (sorry Nigella!), making cunning plans and worrying generally!

Hello again. Twice in the same week! Poor you! Having a catch-up day…. you know the sort of day I mean where there are many things outstanding and you don’t know where to begin … one of those! Before I go any further I have a confession to make! Here goes … I am totally, completely and utterly useless at all things domestic (except for cooking!). I’ve been living in an adapted house for 3 months now and there are still boxes lying around from when we moved in. This is more than a little bit rubbish. What’s worse is that we have started to hoover around those boxes! That’s not good. Anyway, this weekend has been relegated to being “the one where we sort out our clobber, tidy up and generally get a grip of our undergarments” ! Let’s see what happens!?

The second GP turned out to be a lot better than the first contender … she was rather brusque but we muddled through the list I brought in at a fair old rate with not even a raising of an eyebrow (hers or mine!?). I think this might mean more medical appointments in future …. but this would be a good thing if health and movement and outlook improves. I even plucked up the courage to ask about a powered wheelchair. The main problem is that I can’t even wheel to the bus stop so actually getting out of the house currently involves my bothering other people. Getting out of the house and going anywhere is a bit of a military campaign …. only able to go to places with parking nearby etc. but I suppose any of my friends with squiggles must have the same difficulties with prams and getting about? I’m hatching a cunning plan to try driving lessons again towards the end of April. I’m eligible for Motability …. yet another wait and see! I’ve never taken to driving even before the Elvis legs but the thought of even a little more independence is more than a little appealing. Hedgepigs beware!

I was catching up with some TV on the iplayer earlier today (I know! I should have been trying out the domestic goddess hat?!) and came upon the recent documentary showing how poverty is affecting kids in America. It was narrated through the eyes of the children themselves and it┬ámade for┬ábleak viewing. Did anyone else watch it? It made me think about the current situation for children in Scotland living with poverty. Then I thought about how little I know about the social situation in the UK and even more that I’m not really clued up regarding basic politics nationally and within the wider world. I have a rough idea I suppose. I just wonder (a lot!!) if I should be getting more involved? I’m not even sure what I could do? So I put it out there …. what do you do?

On a somewhat lighter note I had a tweet from former Eastender Hev! Tee hee! x

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