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Sunday, 5 October 2014

Sadness and Joy

It’s been a very busy week. You may remember in my last post I mentioned my late husband’s father, Ralph was very ill? Unfortunately, he passed away last Saturday evening. His family were with him at the end. I was able to say goodbye to him when I visited on Saturday afternoon and helped make him comfortable by giving him sips of tea, adjusting his pillow etc. The funeral is next Friday.

So.... I’ve spent a fair bit of time this week discussing funeral arrangements and running little errands for the family while my ex-sister-in-law was at work. I also had to take my mother-in-law to the hospital to register the death. A great new pilot scheme is in operation there where the registrar comes in to the hospital once a week so that relatives don’t have to go elsewhere. I even found out that registrars use ink specially made for the Registry Office. There’s possibly a good story there.

Our downstairs bathroom still isn’t finished and there’s dust everywhere! The workman has been cutting the tiles in the room itself, so it’s gone all through the house. I am resisting doing the housework until he’s finished. Again, it’s not very conducive to writing, as my office is right next door! However, I have achieved a few writerly things this week. I submitted two Flash pieces to Flash 500 on Tuesday and sent off an entry to the Henshaw Prize. These were older pieces that needed work, so a fair bit of tweaking took place at the eleventh hour on Tuesday. I managed to submit a story to Take A Break Fiction Feast on Thursday. I haven’t had any success with them for a long time, so fingers crossed. Again, it was a story that has been out before, but needed work. I like to think I’ve improved it now. I also submitted two pieces to Firewords for their autumn themed third issue. I don’t hold out much hope, as I think the pieces may be a little too ‘distasteful’ for their tastes. 

I think the highlight of my week was going to see Andy Kershaw at the Bridge Theatre in Warwick. My friend, Sarah, treated me to the ticket as a belated birthday present and even volunteered to drive. We had a fantastic night. I first came across Andy when he was the Ents Sec at Leeds University. I was a First Year Student and he gave us all a talk about how brilliant the Ents Soc was and how we should join. If only I had! During the 70s and 80s Leeds Uni Ents Soc booked some of the best bands in the world, including The Who (Live at Leeds), The Rolling Stones, The Pink Floyd, U2, The Clash, and Ian Drury and the Blockheads). I was lucky enough to see a few famous bands in the refectory at Leeds, including The Boomtown Rats, featuring Bob Geldof with his flies undone throughout the first half of the set. Andy was asked by Harvey Goldsmith, no less, to organise the UK concert for the Rolling Stones ‘come back’ tour in 1982 at Roundhay Park, Leeds. He wanted Andy and his stage crew, made up of Leeds Uni students, to be involved. The stage was the biggest ever built for a rock concert in the world at the time. You have to read Andy’s autobiography No Off Switch for the full account of this particular adventure. I just want to say, ‘I was there!’. I actually went on my own and at the age of just nineteen, it was a very heady experience and the biggest concert I’d ever been to. How I didn’t get lost, I don’t know. I just remember having to walk miles to find my car at the end of the gig.

Andy brought his gorgeous Schnauzer dog, Buster onto the stage with him. Buster roamed around the audience for treats and took the odd nap throughout the evening. Andy, too, did a fair bit of roaming around the stage, never keeping still for a second and taking time out only to sip from a bottle of Coke or tear off a piece of loo roll on which to blow his nose. Classy. Or should I say ‘rock n’ roll’?

I must say Andy was thoroughly entertaining. He’s a great raconteur and some of my favourite bits were when he talked about sharing an office with Radio 1 producer John Walters and DJ John Peel. He said they were ‘a radio station within a radio station’. His impressions of the great John Walters were brilliant and I wish the two Johns were still alive to regale us with stories in a similar manner on an arts centre stage in the middle of Warwickshire.

The wow factor of this show for me was the music. Andy chose some of his all time favourite songs (including those he wishes he’d have chosen for his Desert Island Discs) and with the aid of Richard, the technician, blasted them out for the audience’s enjoyment. Did you know Chuck Berry wrote Promised Land in prison? He asked the guards for a map of the Southern States of the USA, chose a route and wrote about it. Andy recited all the lyrics to the song before playing it to us. Certainly had my foot tapping and it was joyous. Oh, and Andy pointed out that Chuck Berry is a despicable man, but can write great songs. I was also blown away by James Carr’s voice. He was a little known soul singer (considered to be better than Otis Redding) who made a few records in the 1960s, but died destitute. Very sad. 

Andy Kershaw truly does have ‘No Off Switch’ and the show overran by an hour! He was still good enough to sign everyone’s books at the end, despite the fact he had to drive all the way down to Portsmouth afterwards. If you get chance to see him at a venue near you, I highly recommend the show. 

1 comment:

  1. Andy Kershaw - Wow, that's a blast from the past! I remember seeing Madness, Selector and The Specials at Uni (they'd just made it big).