Update…

That was a bit of a strange week with a couple of less than great days but all’s well that ends well as they say!

I can’t quite believe it’s July and that half of 2019 is history. I truly can’t! The way time flashes by quickly is a little disturbing but we make the most of what we can in the best ways we can. One piece of sad news was learning of the demise of MAD magazine. I read it a fair bit during my youth and greatly enjoyed it. Them were the days when comics ruled! I took The Beano and The Dandy every week for many years and who remembers the anarchic OINK!? That really pushed the envelope being the missing link between The Beano and Viz… though I hasten to add I never really got into Viz, finding it over-reliant on bad language for cheap laughs. Yes, I remember the golden age of the comic industry fondly. Now, it’s in terminal decline and MAD is the latest casualty. What’s astonishing is the fact cartoonist Al Jaffee outlived it – he’s currently 98 years old and was the man who created those famous back page fold features which ensures that finding mint vintage copies is very hard… hardly surprising as those were works of absolute genius.

Monday… it was back to work on creating some new backing tracks. I now have 8 tracks completed, all awaiting the final ingredient – my vocals. I can’t deny feeling a little apprehensive about doing those sometime in the future when I’m ready and primed. Two new tracks were done this week. One of them is a vintage number of mine entitled “April Fool” which is an old Brian Prebble Experience stalwart which I always loved performing. I performed it on 32 occasions between March 22nd 1995 and February 12th 2001 and let’s just say EVERY performance was wholly unique due to the fact the song has a wildcard factor. The debut performance was in a college classroom to a bunch of drama students who sat there bewildered by what was going on as here was a genuinely catchy quirky song that suddenly went off on a bizarre tangent. When the song ended, they sat there in silence for longer than usual before they realised they could applaud. And if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you guessed right – I have recordings of all 32 performances and in February 2003, spent two or three days creating a unique version combining every single one of them.

It had a long shelf life and I would perform it many times during my early Liverpool era. The dodgy punk band I got conned into attempted to persuade me to let them have a bash at it but they were technically incapable and I refused. That wasn’t being nasty, it was fact as they had more than enough trouble playing basic three chord songs at a steady 4/4 tempo without having to deal with a crucial tempo change to 6/8 on the choruses. I did make a 4 track recording back in 1995 but pushed for time, it wasn’t done very well and technically the recording was too poor and worse, it was the only recording where the vocals could be removed. So, I’ve now created a brand new spiffy sounding backing track from scratch and I am looking most forward to springing that song upon a new generation who I’m sure will enjoy it. The only thing I can say about it that I haven’t mentioned is that “April Fool” is a song where ANYTHING can happen. You have been warned!

Tuesday was the latest choir rehearsal which thankfully was minus the disruptive element that was present the previous week. It went reasonably well considering, but still requires a lot of work though our leader Phil is excited and confident about us performing live in public. I do know when that is slated to happen but it’s not firmly concrete yet, so… all will be revealed when it is. The choir is proving useful for me getting back into the whole technique of singing and it’s great to know that my breathing technique is still in great shape… not so sure about the sounds I’m making but, hey…

Wednesday I met up with my friend Laura for one of our usual natters, pondering upon some of life’s mysteries and putting the world to rights which I enjoyed. Thursday on the other hand was one of those bad days that occasionally come along and that was mostly down to a neighbour and his dog. Throughout much of the day this dog loudly whined and pined. The evening was quiet until 11pm when it began barking nonstop. I was forced to dig out and wear earplugs… and during a toilet trip at 2:30am, I was able to hear THROUGH the earplugs that the dog was STILL barking at that time. I hope somebody has reported the culprit. Outrageously loud to the degree the whole street suffered as well with that senseless selfish noise. No, I’m not blaming the dog – it’s the owner at fault for being a complete asshole.

Friday was a bit of a jumbled day dealing with some bits of business and the necessary boredom of laundry and shopping. The evening was… unusual. I had been invited by some Drop In Drama chums to a gig at the Marton Institute by local band Ska Face. Covers bands are not my cup of tea, BUT the last time I’d ever been out to any kind of a local rock gig was back in 2007 and I thought “hey, why not? Makes a change…” I do often try and do things I wouldn’t normally do and this was one such attempt.

Note the word “attempt”.

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It didn’t go at all well for me personally as being surrounded by a few hundred people talking loudly, it was impossible to hear or engage at all well with my colleagues. Even they thought the band were a bit late getting onstage and when they did… they opened with The Specials’ classic “Gangsters” – last time I heard that played live was by a punk band called DMS back in January 1994. I remember it well because I filmed it and the footage is in my archive. Unfortunately that 1994 gig was extremely loud to the degree the video soundtrack is literally a distorted roar as the videocamera microphone was overloaded. So, here was Ska Face and we were near the PA speakers and within one minute, my ears and brain began screaming in pain. Did you know I suffer bad Tinnitus? That’s flared up by LOUD noise and sad to say, Ska Face were too much for my ears to handle so I fled before the song even ended. I felt disappointed and not too thrilled about making one of my sneaky swift exits but it was all I could do. What I find bizarre and curious is I have seen King Crimson 4 times in recent years and if you know how HEAVY they can get, onstage it’s HEAVIER. Each gig was politely loud – I left all of them minus tinnitus… and the last time I saw them, at the Liverpool Empire last November was a 2 hour 50 minute onslaught. Ska Face destroyed my ears in just one minute.

Sure enough once home, my ears were ringing away and continued to do so finally subsiding around 11am Saturday morning by which time…

Saturday was the Wordpool Festival in Stanley Park where I had the opportunity to indulge in a lengthy photo session which I enjoyed. Very well attended, blessed with good weather (well, many love hot and sunny weather whereas I’m not exactly a fan) and a host of odd quirky acts to enjoy ranging from storyteller Sue Dyde, who knew how to rouse and captivate a young audience to the very kitsch and campy “Babs and Stella’s Intergalactic Adventure” by the aptly named Kitsch and Sync which I greatly enjoyed as it hit upon a host of old TV shows and performed in a fun camp manner which made me smile. A long time since I’d heard the theme from “Captain Scarlet” and great to be reminded what a great tune that is… they sure don’t write ’em like that anymore!

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Then there was “Space Rebel Princess” by the Fully Booked Theatre company featuring the extraordinary talents of dancer Jennifer Essex sporting a blue paper dress for the first half and indulging in some glorious eyewatering acrobatics that made for some excellent photos. Was great to connect online with Sue Dyde and Jennifer Essex after the shows and they truly are passionate and tireless in their efforts and belief in engaging youngsters with the Arts and Creativity and I look forward to hopefully encountering them again sometime in the future. I also thank Sue and Jennifer for their lovely comments and praise for the photos I took and shared of them.

It was nice to chat with fellow photographer Elizabeth “Libby” Gomm during the day. I’d only met her once at the same event last year – she has an exhibition in Shaw’s coming up in August and Libby is an excellent wildlife photographer mostly taken in and around Stanley Park. Really enjoyed our chats and I look forward to her exhibition as she is spoilt for choice for great photos.

Finally, that brings us to today where with the Electric Sunshine Project Drop In Drama group we had a six and a half hour rehearsal for the short show we’re performing three times next Saturday on North Pier. The rehearsal was slated to be (and booked for) eight hours! A wonderful spirit amongst good company, many laughs to be had as we moulded and shaped our show entitled “Postcards From The Past” into it’s final form. It’s an amusing sometimes whimsical little caper based upon the adventures of a charabanc trip to Blackpool… in 1956! We really have gone all out with costumes and attention to historic detail as during rehearsals (which began during the final three weeks of the recently concluded Drop In Drama sessions) we had much discussion as to what was really relevant for that era. For example, the Twist was mentioned but I pointed out that didn’t emerge until 1960 so that idea was immediately dropped. Melanie Whitehead researched news stories and fads for that year, what was relevant for the average ordinary person and so forth for us to work from and refer to. It’s been great fun to work on it.

We’ll be performing it inside the Carousel Bar at the end of North Pier on Saturday July 13th at 11am, 12pm and 2pm. It should be fun! I’m also looking forward to seeing Linda Hampton’s premiere of her latest show “Wish You Were Here – Seaside Stories” and it all promises to be a lively and busy event so if you’re in Blackpool, do make sure to pop along.

And the week just about to begin? More activity! An interview, a meeting, choir practice, the Dead Good Poets and of course the North Pier event. Life is busy and when life is busy, it means life is good.

Catch you next week at the same time, same place…

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