Monthly Archives: March 2015

Drookit But Still Smiling

Anyone who follows my activities can probably guess what’s coming next…..

Rock Mum was out to play again last night.

After a mad dash home from the Salt Mine, a quick change of clothes and a much needed bacon sandwich, I rushed off to catch the 5:25 train to Glasgow, ably chaperoned by Boy Child.

Our destination this time was the O2 Academy in Glasgow. (Boy Child’s favourite venue) We were off to see Rival Sons.

The only drawback – the weather. It was pouring with rain, there was an icy wind howling and it was Baltic! Just how far did we Spring forward when the clocks changed last weekend? To Winter? Brrr

For once even Boy Child had dressed for the elements – confirmation of just how awful it was if the teenager was feeling it!

As we stood outside the venue in the growing but shivering, damp queue (no coffee shops next to the venue so no caffeine fix- BOO!) I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of an evening we were in for.

We’d seen Rival Sons back in December and much as I’d loved their set, there was something not quite right about it. Don’t get me wrong, they were brilliant but that little je ne sais quoi was missing.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved to see a venue’s doors open so we could scurry in out of the rain.

Dripping, we stopped off at the merchandise stall to purchase the obligatory t-shirts. Moral victory- we managed to agree on two different designs so no mother/son t-shirt clash to mark this occasion. I also treated myself to a canvas tote bag. (Beats paying 5p a bag in the shops and it’s small enough to fold up and fit in the back pocket of my tardis-like handbag.) Result all round!

There is only one spot to stand at a Rival Sons show – especially if you are with Boy Child. Right in front of Scott Holiday. We found ourselves among the same group of die-hards that we had been beside back in December. See we’re not the only looney tunes happy to see these guys again so soon.

Much to my surprise there was only one support act lined up for the show, New York duo, The London Souls. I’ll be honest – I’d never heard of them. This two piece band, comprising of guitar and drums, transported the Glasgow crowd back in time by about forty five years and played a short but solid soulful set, heavily influence by 1960’s/70’s icons. Worth checking this band out when their debut album is released later this year.

The intro tape played the theme from The Good The Bad and The Ugly. As it rang out over the expectant fans, Rival Sons appeared out on stage.

Glasgow was in for a treat! The boys from California were all dressed in kilts. While frontman Jay Buchanan had gone for a more traditional look, guitarist Scott Holiday was rocking his pointed toe boots and leather jacket with his black kilt. Hot Hot Hot

Their set started with the incredible Electric Man and over the next ninety odd minutes they powered their way through a further seventeen songs, including a short five song acoustic set in the middle of proceedings.

Cue clothing issue as Scott Holiday realised the fans on the rail were seeing a bit more of him than usual when he sat down to play. Thank God he’s not a true Scot!

Highlight of the night for me was their performance of Where I’ve Been. I LOVE that song!

This time the whole set shone- sparkled even. I realised what had been missing from December – smiles.

All of them looked more relaxed and seemed to be genuinely enjoying playing this iconic art deco venue. There was even a hint of mischief from Jay Buchanan as he flicked up the back of Scott Holiday’s kilt during the encore.

It was a joy to see them having fun.

When we emerged into the dark, I  was relieved to find that the rain had eased up. After a short sprint towards the station, with a brief pit stop at KFC (Boy Child was hungry) we boarded the train home. Both of us tired but happy.

We may not have done the mother/son t-shirt thing but it was a cracking mother/son night out.

As Boy Child prepares to leave high school and move on to university, I can’t help but wonder how many more gigs will he will be content to enjoy with his Rock Mum?

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Still As A Statue

A few months ago I was walking up Sauchiehall St in Glasgow with Girl Child and took note of the number of buildings that have ornate figures carved on them, especially up around the O2 ABC area. It set me thinking….seldom a good thing.

The following short piece of fiction was inspired by those mad thoughts. Enjoy!

Still As A Statue

The soft light from the computer screen was the only illumination in the room. Staring intently at the screen, the young art student couldn’t comprehend what she was seeing. It was late and she knew she was tired however what she had just noticed made no logical sense at all.

For the past two weeks she had been focussed on her final photography project for her portfolio. She had a love/hate relationship with the camera but, after a lengthy lecture from her tutor, had conceded that she had no choice but to submit some photographic images as part of her overall degree portfolio. In an attempt to make things easier for herself, she had elected to centre the theme of her coursework on the stone statues that she walked past every day on her way to college.

Her daily route took her across a small square in the city centre, slightly off the beaten track, but filled with stone statues. It had caught her attention in her first year and she had done some research at that time into its history. All the sandstone buildings around the perimeter of the square had been designed by a Victorian architect who was renowned for adding Gothic touches to his work. He had met up with an aspiring French sculptor and together they had collaborated on the architecture of the square. Every building had at least one carved stone image on display, some having several. There were gargoyles leering down from every angle. In the centre of the quadrangle there was a small public garden containing more samples of the sculptor’s work.Her research had come to an abrupt halt. Both the architect and the sculptor had mysteriously disappeared shortly before the last house was completed, leaving one home with an empty plinth within the archway above the front entrance. As the sculptor hadn’t left any instructions or partially finished pieces, no one knew which statue had been destined to fill the space.

The following day she had scoured the area and finally found the house with the missing statue. It may have been her imagination but the air temperature had seemed to drop  a few degrees as she stood gazing up at the empty arch.

Now almost three years later she used these statues as  the models for her photography project. They had proved to be the perfect subjects. Always still. Facial expressions fixed. No risk of them twitching and ruining the shot. She had photographed them over several days, taking hundreds of shots from every conceivable angle. In different light they looked subtly altered so she repeated her photographic session by the light of the dawn and by the light of the moon. The variable Scottish weather had aided her project too, allowing her the opportunity to capture images of the stone figures bathed in bright sunshine and lashed by driving rain.

As she had edited the photographs she had felt pleased with the results. Her camera had captured the texture of the stone, the emotions carved into the faces and she had even picked out a few smaller carvings that she previously missed.

Now though, as she sat preparing the final images for printing off in college in the morning, she couldn’t make sense of the scenes before her.

Crazy as it sounded, the statues weren’t always in the same location.

Scrutinising   the hundreds of photographs she concentrated on four statues who appeared to move about the most. Within the four folders she had saved out she had photographic proof that she had shot them in at least half a dozen different locations around the square. One, a tall slender striking male had even managed to appear in the park on a short column instead of his usual position beside the door of number seven. The statue of a young woman with long tumbling curls also moved from house to house. In one image she was crouching down above a doorway, almost as if she were trying to squeeze into a space too small for her, instead of standing on a wide base in a corner of the gardens.

A cold chill ran down her spine as she copied the pictures onto a flash drive. She would take them into college and show her tutor what she had uncovered.

With the images saved and the flash drive removed, she shut down the laptop and headed for bed.

Outside on the window sill, a tall slender male was crouched down watching her. He had been there all evening, as he had every other evening for a week. In the moonlight his alabaster white skin glistened.

He had repeatedly warned the others to take more care. Cautioned them against their reckless behaviour. Now, from what he had just witnessed, he knew they were all at risk. The art student had discovered their secret…or at least she thought she had. Little did she truly know.

A Labour of Love

Hopes and plans and dreams (some of them nightmares) for Book Baby are dominating my creative mind just now so apologies if blog posts are short and sweet over the next few weeks.

Although affectionately known as Book Baby (among a few other choice names on occasion) this whole process has in some respects been a bit like deciding to have a child and then going through a lengthy pregnancy.

Should I? Shouldn’t I? When’s a good time? Can I actually do this?

There’s a lot of “foreplay” as you work out what fits where and then the creative juices find their natural rhythm and flow freely.

Since creating my KDP account a few weeks back and being in the throes of getting Book Baby ready to face the world, I’m rapidly realising that writing the original draft of the story was the fun bit and the easy part ….. a bit like making a baby 😉

For the last few months, with the support of my wonderful alpha and beta readers, I’ve been nurturing Book Baby, preparing it for its arrival into the world of Kindle rock romance fiction.

We are now almost exactly a month from my anticipated publication date and, to compare it again to a baby bump, I have a large unwieldy word document that is dominating my world, draining my dwindling energy reserves and keeping me awake at night.

Book Baby’s due date is fast approaching and I don’t mind confessing to being more than a little scared here. I’m excited too and feeling just a little bit proud of myself for getting so far.

Irrational fears of “what if’s” are torturing me in the wee small hours as I lie awake.

“What if KDP reject it for some obscure reason?”

“What if people think Book Baby is ugly?”

“What if I can’t cope with this once it’s unleashed on the world?”

“What if I’m not cut out to be a Book Baby mummy?”

Like all new “mothers” I’ve deliberated long and hard over what “outfit” my baby will wear when it first ventures out in the world. I still have a few options but I think I’ve finally settled on a cover design. Thanks to another wonderfully supportive artistic friend my Book Baby won’t enter the Kindle world naked!

So now it’s time to allow the last few pages of the final draft to develop, for the little vital add-ons (author’s note, legal disclaimers and the like) to be finalised and then, with one final labour of love, to deliver it safely onto the Kindle platform.

Book Baby was conceived while sitting in the early evening sun on my front doorstep at the beginning of May 2013. Now after a labour of love lasting almost two years, the end is in sight.

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Can You Take A Loaf Into A Gig?

Five twenty five and I’m on a train. It can only mean one thing. Rock Mum aka Rock Friend was off out to play.

Little did I realise……

After a few last minute changes of plans due to illness, I was accompanied by Boy Child, Girl Child. FB Son, Rock Chick Friend and a new addition to the posse, who will be christened later in this tale.

Our destination was the legendary Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow where the American rock band Halestorm were headlining for the night.

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As the train pulled into Glasgow’s Central Station, FB Son and the as yet un-named member of our group declared that they needed to grab something to eat. While I darted off to the loo, the two boys headed off in search of some food. FB Son duly returned with a sensible healthy sandwich and some fruit juice. His friend returned with a loaf of bread. Not just any old loaf – an M&S loaf!

Cue every bread joke imaginable!

Bread Boy, no longer nameless, promptly began to munch his way through said loaf slice by slice.

On the taxi ride out to the venue, the loaf was securely tucked into the seat belt just to ensure it arrived safely at the gig.

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It queued patiently with us for forty minutes without a murmur of complaint, although it was now reduced to less than half a dozen slices.

I bumped into my fellow rock chick writer friend and her husband in the queue and they too were duly introduced to Loaf and Bread Boy.

“Are you allowed to take a loaf into a gig?” was a question I never thought I would ponder.

The loaf made it through security and was escorted upstairs via the merchandise stall into the ballroom.

At this point our tale splits – or should that be slices?

The three boys, having dumped their hoodies and assorted t-shirts with Rock Chick Friend and I, disappeared off with Loaf in search of some moshing and crowd surfing. It had already been pointed out that a baguette would’ve been a smarter choice for crowd surfing.

Us girls took ourselves across the hall and secured a spot fairly far forward with a clear view of the stage.

The first support act, Wilson, took the stage by storm and played a blistering half hour set. In front of us, two “females” had pushed their way in and stood drinking throughout the entire set.

Second support band, the amazing Nothing More, followed Wilson and held the audience captivated with their performance. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more athletic display of drumming. Awesome set! Check both these bands out if you haven’t done so already.

The two “females” still stood in front of us downing pint after pint.

As the hall filled up, it was getting to be more tightly packed around us and it was getting hotter (not helped by the fact I had three hoodies tied round my waist and at least three t-shirts stuffed down the various sleeves).

Halestorm took to the stage, opening their set with Mz Hyde. Love that song!

The two, now very drunk, “females” launched straight into full on dance mode. Both of them were completely oblivious to the carnage they were causing with their drunken gyrations. One had also by now soaked Girl Child down one side as she had thoughtlessly discarded the remains of her beer. After too long watching my baby girl getting bodily thumped and smacked in the face with hair, I stepped in between her and the gyrating drunk.

Now I’m not a large person and I am most certainly not a violent person but I will not stand back and watch my kids getting hassled.

Bracing myself, I let the “female” bounce off me a few times, barely able to retain my own balance. At least Girl Child was out of the firing line.

The crowd was tightly packed around us and there was no visible alternative spot to relocate to. If we wanted to see the stage, we had to stay where we were.

At the end of the number, the “female” turned round to face me and hurled a foul mouthed rant at me about what did I think I was doing. Cue angry rant back about what did she think she was playing at and did she realise that she had repeatedly battered into my daughter. She spat a mouthful of abuse back at me. It was clear to see she was too drunk and too ignorant to care!

To our left, another mother was having a similar conversation with the drunken friend to the same effect.

Despite our best efforts neither of us could attract the attention of the security staff at the front of the crowd. We were stuck with them. I silently prayed that the beer would take over entirely and that they would run out of steam.

Girl Child had had enough. She bailed out to sit at the side of the room. I offered to go with her but she said to stay and enjoy myself. Awash with guilt at my baby girl missing out due to the thoughtless actions of the two drunks, I opted to stay put.

OK, there’s a stubborn streak in me- I wasn’t moving for anyone least of all an ignorant foul-mouthed drunk.

Rock Chick Friend had wandered off to the side to get some air so I hoped Girl Child would find her and not be entirely on her own. (Sadly she didn’t)

Out on stage Halestorm were playing a blinder of a set that included three of the songs from their forthcoming album Into the Wild Life. The main set ended with a fabulous rendition of I Miss The Misery.

And during that who did I spot?

FB Son crowd surfing!

The two drunks had thankfully long since run out of bounce and were at long last not disturbing those around them. Hallelujah!

During Halestorm’s encore someone threw a Scottish Saltire flag up on stage which Lzzy duly held up before tying it round her neck. Wearing it like a super hero cape, Lzzy and the rest of the band ended the show with Here’s To Us.

As the lights went up, I quickly located Girl Child and greeted her with a huge hug. I still felt like I’d failed her.

As the crowd dispersed we waited for the boys and Rock Chick Friend to reappear. The boys turned up first, minus Loaf. The loaf had enjoyed Wilson and Nothing More but after a bit of crowd surfing (humble apologies to Halestorm – those naughty boys lobbed a slice on stage!), the loaf failed to survive the moshing and was trampled underfoot in the mosh pit.

R.I.P. Loaf!

If only the two females in front of us had used their “loaves”. If they had had a little – ok a lot- less to drink and actually been aware of their surroundings then perhaps all of us could have enjoyed a memorable gig.

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Aftermath – due to adverse weather conditions the trains had been disrupted while we were at the gig. Shortly before midnight, tired, wet and weary, the six of us boarded the last train out of Glasgow. It was jam packed. There’s nothing worse than being stone cold sober on the “Piss Head Express”. The train service terminated five stops from home and we were all herded back out into the wind and rain and onto coaches to complete the journey. The six of us ended up on a bus filled with folk who had been to see Lionel Ritchie at the SSE Hydro and who insisted on serenading us with “All Night Long”.

A long night it had been. A long surreal night!

How The Hell Did That Happen?

Some of you may find this hard to believe but sometimes I do have to act like a grown up.

It goes against the grain and is bad for your mental health but it has to be done.

Last week I reached VERY grown up milestone.

One that pulled me up short.

One that made me think “How the hell did that happen?”

I celebrated twenty five years of service with my employer.

Quarter of a century! GULP!!

I recall at the time thinking I’d work there until I decided what to do with my life -what to do when I grew up. College hadn’t gone to plan (Never was any good at Physiology) A brief stint as a management trainee for a well-known burger chain had ended in disaster. (Great way to lose weight- 20lbs lighter after six weeks and two days. Perhaps I should go back?….)

I was at a crossroads.

So my employer opened their door at an opportune moment and welcomed me in.

And I’ve stayed.

In this day and age I wholly appreciate how fortunate I am to have secured a job that has allowed me to stay safely employed over the years. An opportunity that’s sadly denied to too many.

So what else was going on in the world in 1990?

-Saddam Hussein ordered the Iraq invasion of Kuwait

-A formal ban on the trade of ivory was introduced world wide

-Nelson Mandela was released from prison

-Margaret Thatcher resigned

-The Leaning Tower of Pisa was closed to the public due to safety concerns that it was falling down.

-The Berlin Wall came down.

On TV we enjoyed The Simpsons and Twin Peaks for the first time.

In the cinema we watched Ghost, Pretty Woman and Edward Scissorhands, among many other now classic films.

We were listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jon Bon Jovi, Aerosmith and, in the Big Green Gummi Bear’s case, Erasure. (Yes, the Big Green Gummi Bear was around then too)

On the technology front, a 16 MB chip was shown to the world for the first time and the Hubble Space Telescope was placed into orbit.

When you read that list, suddenly it all feels a very long time ago.

So in twenty five years have I made up my mind about what I want to do when I grow up?

No. I’ve long since decided that growing up is bad for you!

I was fortunate enough to be given some vouchers as a thank you and in recognition of surviving all this time in the salt mine.

I’ve kind of done a grown up thing with most of them. I have finally invested in a decent “adult” watch. The Big Green Gummi Bear will be pleased.

 And with the change? New  red Bose earphones!

Can’t go acting like a grown up for too long!