Thursday, May 29, 2014

Professional Ranter

Okay, so A said I shouldn't rant about this because I'm a professional, but I feel that's exactly why I do have to rant about it. I'm a professional ranter!

So to clue you all in, the new term for one of the schools where I teach restarts next week and I've been chasing up parents to see if they are still partaking of the old music classes. Well, I've had lots of replies and they are all very nice and what not, and then I get one that makes me want to scream. 

Okay, so I'm not going to include the whole email in here, just snippets of the most enraging bits. So they start off all nice, thanking me for the emails and stuff and saying that they enjoy the class. Then I get the first question which still baffles me now. 

"Is there a reason why your classes focuses on unusual instruments kids are unlikely to encounter in their daily lives."

Okay, let's break it down. I teach 18 months to 5 years. What instruments are they likely to encounter in their daily lives? And what is unusual about shakers, tambourines, triangles, cymbals and Guiros?

They follow up with this gem:
"I wondered if there would be as much or more benefit and enjoyment hearing instruments like the flute, glockenspiel, the recorder, the clarinet, drums and the regular percussion instruments."

Okay. I say again, they are all under 5. How much money do they think I have? I have to carry everything myself. And what the hell is a 'regular' percussion instrument? Besides, you can't just presume every music teacher - especially one working with Early Years - plays a clarinet or a flute. They are lucky - or not so lucky - in that I do own and play a flute, albeit very badly, and I also own a glockenspiel which I will take in when I teach them about pitch. But really, you can't just presume a self-employed music teacher has access to these kinds of instruments and/or the money to buy them. Besides, I want to introduce the children to instruments they can play themselves, rather than having to sit and listen to me play. Because where is the benefit in that?

"It would be great to have the children be able to listen to music they hear at home and perhaps consciously or subconsciously start to pick out instruments they can hear in that music or better still ignite an interest in a particular instrument from an young age?"

Erm, I'm not there to teach them an instrument. If you want a private lesson, it's a lot more than you're paying me for this. I don't know what they want from me. I have a class of 9 kids that their child is in, and the ages range from 2 and a half to 4 and a half. I am there to get them involved and to get them excited about music, to maybe in the future learn an instrument, but come on. I do enough for my pay per session, including weekly emails after the lessons and progress reports and certificates. Not many extra curricular activities do that. And I've just had badges made up for when they leave for big school. And also, what music are they likely to hear at home? I play them music from all over the world and classical stuff too. But I'm not playing bob the freakin' builder or anything like that. 
Then I get the ultimate slap in the face:
"Can rhythm and timing also be taught using well known instruments such as a miniature glockenspiel (easy to transport), the triangle, tambourine etc?"

If they had read any of the emails I sent them, they would know that the triangle and tambourines have already been used. They would also know that we have been working with the metronome - beautifully named Melvin - to keep a steady beat and to explore changing speeds. *Bashing my head against a brick wall*

 They finish with:
"Just a thought.."

Really? Well it was a very lengthy thought and quite ridiculous for the most part. And it made me feel as if my weekly emails have been ignored. I literally don't know what more I can do, but I can tell you right now, I will not be bringing in my flute, that really will put them off music, for life. 

There's always one and it always annoys to buggery. What's even more irritating is the fact that this particular child has very little language but was able to say 'Guiro' by the end of the term. An achievement and an unusual percussion instrument......And he loves me to bits. I get hugs and kisses every week. He sits next to me every class and he calls me Mummy. Don't worry, I didn't put that in the return email. 

Annoyed and hungry. Bad combination. 

That's all for now.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Longest Sentence?

Have you ever had one of those days when.......

It's 9.45am, you've got a deodorant mark on your top, but it's too hot to keep your cardigan on, you've just left the EE shop with your malfunctioning SIM card, still malfunctioning because they don't have any Orange pay as you go SIM cards left, and you can't even call or text anyone to vent that anger and annoyance due to the malfunctioning SIM, and you just found out one of your parents have swindled 6 free music lessons out of you by denying that they wanted their daughter to keep the lessons going, despite 7 or 8 emails direct to them enquiring about fees but also giving weekly updates of the lessons, and you want to cry but you're out in public and you know you're supposed to go and buy food for lunch but all you want to do is go straight home and continue reading American Psycho, but you know you really should be doing some writing?

Welcome to my Thursday.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dealing With Rejection, Flies, A Dodgy Fly, Fees And Cheek.

Today's blog is all about dealing with stuff, everything from your regular taunting flies to people that haven't paid you, to failing once more at your chosen path. So it's gonna be a regular cheer fest.

Tauting Flies
Come on, you know the type. They're the type that zoom in through your open window/balcony door, which you can finally open due to the soaring temperatures and thunder storm-type pressure, and then have a deep refusal to leave. They enjoy the repeated loop of bedroom, bathroom, living room, kitchen, and back again. And no amount of coaxing will lure them out. They are the type that actually fly towards you on purpose, buzzing nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, with their teeny tongues out. Massive disrespect! And they are the type that outrun every implement used in the attempt to flatten them. Even when shown the door or window, they resist the charms of the open air and continue to fly around your head.

Perhaps they just want to be a pet. Maybe they enjoy taunting humans. But one thing's for sure, they will come to a particularly squished end if they don't get the fook out. Yesterday, Mr Taunt himself eventually took the hint after A chased him with a few things and I coaxed him with my voice and persuasive movements of the curtains. But he'll be back, I have no doubt and maybe this time he'll bring his friends......

Open Fly
Now to a very different type of fly, the fly on my jeans which keeps unzipping itself. I did think at first that I had forgotten to fasten it, but I've realised that, no, it actually has a mind of its own and it is increasingly trying to embarrass me. Another taunting fly. Hmmmm. Every few hours or maybe less, it works its way free and I'm not sure how, but it's always roughly 20 minutes after I've checked it's closed and then the next time I check, it's open. But that's usually after I've been on a bus, or train, you know somewhere crowded with people.

Stop it fly! I live in a world of three pairs of jeans, I can't have one malfunctioning on me. Just stop it!

Keeping it F, let's move onto fees. If you don't know, I am a mobile music teacher for early years, so I travel around on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to different schools and private homes to teach. I am also self employed and thus have to organise and chase up payments myself. Oh yeah, and one more thing, I am soft!

So, I was thinking about fees owed and I just started quickly cobbling together a figure, and at first I worked out almost £200 and I thought, bloody hell that's a lot. Then I realised I'd missed off some and then I realised I'd missed off some more and then the grand total was £348. That's what I'm owed in fees. Now to some people that's back pocket change, but to me that is my half of the rent/bills for the month; it's not much less than the flights we just bought to Chicago and back; and it's also a lot of food, presents, holiday spends and travel around London.

Needless to say, the emails have gone out and I am expecting at least some payments today and then others spread throughout the next week. But one thing I also forgot to mention was the fact that this is the 6th week of the term. The 6th week! Still, once the payments come in, it will be time for payments from my other school whose terms are all askew from the others and so for a few weeks at least, I'll feel like I'm loaded.

Go on, I'll slip the most depressive one in now, rather than finish on a low note, especially as my low range - vocally - is weak beyond a point. Anyhoo, I've made two submissions in the last week, which is something I've been building towards for the last year and a half really. I was glad to get it out there again and of course - the ultimate pessimist - I expected rejection.

When it came in the form of an email - somehow worse than the more traditional, and when I say traditional I mean old fashioned, letter of rejection. I don't know, there's something vaguely more comforting from paper in your hand, rather than an email that will linger in your inbox, grinning at you every time you log in - I actually thought it was a rejection from the agent I had sent it to 50 minutes ago. It wasn't in fact, it was from the agent I submitted to a week ago, which made it slightly better. But who am I kidding, nothing makes it better.

There is a way of dealing with rejection, or at least 5 stages of dealing. Mine go like this:
1. Initial reaction. Ah well, I knew it would be rejection. Laugh it off electronically with a few ha has. Get people to share in the pain, though of course I'm pretending there is no pain.

2. Think about it for the rest of the day, non stop, until eventually you're thinking you'll never be published because you can't even get an agent. Your writing is pants, you shouldn't even bother. (I think you can see where I'm going here.)

3. Then you have the hope of the other submission you sent, though of course in the back of your mind you know that will only end the same way this one did.

4. If you see friends or have a partner, you tend to go a bit pathetic and start asking if they still love you, due to being a failed author. (I never do this....honest.) Then you ask them if they'll still love you if you never get an agent. Don't worry, this bit is probably the shortest stage, or it is for me, I can't stand all that soppy stuff.

5. Then somewhere along the line - this could be hours, days, months, years - the fighter in you surfaces. And you think, well who the hell are they to make me feel this small? And the determination soars through you and you start to work on the book again, and you start working towards another submission and maybe even another book.

I think I'm already at 5, though of course still hovering back to 3 until I hear back. Another lovely email to sit in the box and taunt me. What is it with taunting in this blog? An unintentional theme. Now I know you think I could just delete said emails, but actually I prefer to keep them. Somehow seeing that repeatedly, beats number 5 into you even harder. I know, it's sort of sadistic isn't it. But it gives you somewhere to focus that anger and doubt, leaving you free to write, amend and happily plot the next submission.

The Cheek of 6 Years Old Boys
So I'm teaching my private music class yesterday, to a six year old boy who I've known 4 years already. We go way back. But he has the cheek to say to me that 'Voice is not an instrument.' Err, excuse me.
I hit back with a tasty: 'Well it better be because that's what my Masters is in, vocal performance.' Which of course confused him a little. 'What a Masters? Who is your Master?' I said, 'I'm my own master.' He he. I quite like that as a comeback.

But then of course we got into an argument over voice as an instrument. I mean, he can read my friggin' dissertations if he'd like. And I wouldn't mind, but he's been having music classes with me for about 2 and a half years and I've always taught the kids that voice is their most important instrument because they all have one and it's a part of them and completely unique and special.

Well, me thinks he's going to get a crash course in voice as an instrument, big time! And eventually he will come round, or there is going to be a severe falling out.

Voice not an instrument. Ha! Who does he think he is?

Well that's all for today - thank god, you sigh. I'll be back with more rants when they hit me. Cheers.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Eurovision 2014

Well, here it is at last. I've made you wait and I didn't even get to see the scoring myself. But here it is: Rants on Eurovision 2014.

Just so you know, I am writing this on a 6 hour train from Glasgow to London, after taking a 9 hour overnight bus to Glasgow and running the Bupa Women's 10km. Please forgive me if it's not my best work.

So we started off with a little film of the jumpy men taking lots of different modes of transport in order to reach the venue. Then we are treated to some flag acrobatics, with leaping and waving and weirdness.

Now I actually quite liked the walk on announcement thing, where they read out each act in the order they were performing, it allowed you to sift through and pick out the twats and morons. And the ice queens and She-ra. Plus there's nothing like a bit of Eurovision time wasting and prolonging.

I was just thinking to myself earlier in the day, wouldn't it be amazing if the lady from Borgen was presenting. Not that they would get a statesminister to do that, but still it would've been cool. And then who walks out? Kasper from Borgen, - Whoop! - a twiglet wearing a dress, and a lanky dude with glasses.

So without further ado, let's delve into the 26 acts.

Ukraine - Tick Tock.
Shoulda been called Hamster Wheel, surely? What made me laugh more was that A was sat at the side of me saying, "Oh, I didn't know you could get one of those. How cool would that be to run on if you had one in your house." Really? I thought it just made her look like some crazy dominatrix that was clearly in charge of her man. You get on that wheel and spin it, until I say you can stop. Evil woman.
She used the stroking your own boob move. A classic.
I have to say I was more intrigued by the hamster man and his moves than her shitty voice.
That was one violent wind machine, it practically blew her dress away.
When she got on the outside of the wheel towards the latter half of the song, I couldn't help but think: 'Go on, let go of the wheel. Make her fall off. Please.'

Belarus - Cheesecake
All those men appeared from one person. Freaky.
Manhattan skyline in lights.
Dad dancing, to the extreme!
I wish I had some cheesecake to throw at them.
They're not even trying. The choreographer should be shot, though to be fair so should the lyricist and any other writers that created this monstrosity.
And slide to the side. Step forward, step back.
Oh no, did he really do a fake kick the camera thing. Oh dear.

Azerbijan - Start a Fire
Well if she had - started a fire - it would have been much less dull.
The fake skin dress? Really? Closet ice dancer?
What a pointless trapeze artist. It would have been so much better if they collided, again, much less dull.
She really attempted to make it epic, but what she didn't take into account was her abundance of shitty notes and the fact that the audience had no clue what the song was about and didn't give a shit either.

Iceland - No Prejudice
Love the colours, the lyrics, everything.
Love the backing vocalists in their onesies.
bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb etc.
Dance routine as well. Fuck, this is gold!
WINNER (in my eyes).

Norway - Silent Storm
I wish it had been a silent storm, then I wouldn't have had to sit through that. 
There was nothing going on behind his eyes.
He really doesn't look like he wants to be there.
And I feel the song would have sounded better if sung by a woman.

Romania - Miracle
That's some receding hairline..
She looks like a cardboard cut-out. Oh, she sort of was, or some weird projection, as she then appeared at the other end of the stage. Creepy.
She's got a hand and arm dance routine, but he hasn't got a clue what he's attempting to play on the circular piano. What a twat.
Key change.
I have to say the chorus was pretty catchy and they were committed, or should that be rephrased to say, they should be committed? It's a fine line.

Armenia - Not Alone
'You're all alone.' Yeah, so what, look at you on the stage all alone, loser.
Another boring fuckin' ballad. Blah, blah, blah.
Boring costume, boring song, boring voice, boring staging, boring performance.
Are they the only words he knows in English?
Tried to make it interesting by shouting and the addition of fire. Still didn't help.

Montenegro - Moj Svijet
Ice skating lady, does that imply he's gonna slip? He's only got normal shoes on.
Pan out to find the ice skating lady asleep on the floor. I know how she feels.
Then she gets up and there's fire later. End of.

Poland - We are Slavic
This is so offensive. I'm not sure what is happening.
How many Polish people are wishing they weren't Polish right now? Just have a guess.
Sort of weird, screamy, rap thing.
Sluts are us, but it's alright: "This is our hot Slavic blood." Right.
Oh dear, the porno milk maids/butter churners are obscene.

Greece - Rise Up
Yeah, yeah, uh, come on, yeah.
It's embarrassing really.
Rise, rise, rise up etc, Just keep repeating the phrase, that'll win it for you.
Youth. I just don't get it.
Unnecessary trampolining, it's turned into a kids party.

Austria - Rise like a Pheonix
Drag act. Bearded lady/man.
Like it. Good voice, nice dress, nice staging, but the beard did freak me out a little bit. Sorry.
Incredible voice!
It's a bit Shirley Bassey.
Inevitable winner.

Germany - Is it right?
Well no, it's quite clearly not, is it?
And I think that's all we need to say about that.

Interlude. Erm, why did they stop after 12? There are 26 acts, surely it makes more sense to stop half way through at 13? No?

Lots of pricks in the audience tonight! Say what, Graham? I genuinely thought that's what he said. But it was actually, "Lots of Brits in the audience tonight." Eh, potato, potata.

I loved the shots of the audience as well, they were all completely wankered. They had no idea which act they were watching.


Sweden - Undo
She is in a tee pee of lights. I think she's been taken hostage, it's like some sort of prison. It's an illuminated prison. She'll be electrocuted if she tries to get out.
Or maybe not......
Oh, she's back in.
She can sing, though I hate that undo vocal lick she does. Deranged duck?

France - Moustache
Dr Suess haircuts and some 90's Bermuda shorts. I feel violated.
'I wanna have a moustache.' Well chop some of that hair off your head and stick it on, you've got plenty.
It's the Wiggles on speed.

Russia - Shine
See-saw. Holding a tube of perspex and joined by hair. I've always said twins are weird.
It's very abba.
Weeeeeee! You know they're dying to say, weeeeeeeeeeee! as they slowly move the see saw.
They had good voices and sang well, but it was a bit, meh.

Italy - La Mia Citta
She-ra. It's fuckin' She-ra. Man she's aged, and not in a good way. Where's He-man?
She's going for a along walk in those heels? Man that stage is large.
Now she's crawling on her hands and knees, giving more knicker sighting opportunities.
She did a lot of shouting. I feel like I should be in the naughty corner.

Slovenia - Round and Round
There's no way she's playing that flute.
Wicked Witch of the West? With a flute instead of a Broomstick? Wicked flashbacks. Oh god no!
That floor would seriously mess with your head.
Pointless flute interludes. She just wanted everyone to know she plays a flute. Okay, we get it.

Finland - Something Better
Quite like it. Sounds like something that would be in the UK charts, you know, like a normal song that could actually exist beyond the twisted insanity of Eurovision.
Like his voice, though I know it sounds like lots of other songs. Still, they're all playing their own instruments. Nice!

Spain - Dancing in the Rain
Get her an umbrella or a mac or something. She'll catch her death out there.
Her teeth scare me.
The chorus is shite!
Well, it didn't take long to get her hair done. Just wet it, it'll look like it's really raining.
Yeah I can see why you only came fifth in the X-factor.
The only lyrics are Dancing in the Rain, which coincidentally is the title of the song. Clever that isn't it.

Switzerland - Hunter of Stars
Now if that's not a book title, I don't know what is. Mine! I claimed it.
Creepy whistler.
Would you buy a used car from any of these men?
The banjo guy has an insane beard/moustache combo.
What a bunch of hillbillies.
"Tonight I'm gonna eat you up." Cannibals! Ahhhh! Run!
"Roar like a lion." "I am so wet and dirty."
I'm not sure where he's going with this..........
Beating the shit out of those drums. careful, you'll put someone's eye out.

Hungary - Running
He doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who would wear a cardigan. 
Those are some bushy eyebrows.
Oh, I get it, he ran on stage and the song's called Running. Man that's some clever symbolism.
It's a bit serious subject matter for Eurovision. Presumably the woman is trying to escape the abusive dance partner/daddy figure. Let her go for fuck's sake.

Malta - Coming Home
It's all a bit wholesome and nice.
I'm not sure what this is, but I don't think they do either. Still, at least they're all smiling.

Denmark - Ciche Love Song
I wanna punch him in the face.
The dancer guy has weird legs that flip around everywhere, independent of the rest of his body.
I can't deal with this.
What is it with tuxes this Eurovision? Though he needs to get some trousers that fit.
There's a lot of hair on that stage.

The Netherlands - Calm After the Storm
Cute. The outfits, the staging, their voices. I like it.
Feels a tad out of place, but a real stand alone song. Sweet.

San Marino - Maybe
May-be. It's all one word love.
Aww bless her, she's really trying. And she can sing. It's just not very interesting.
Oh no, now she's talking at me, and now she's gone all musical theatre on me.

United Kingdom - Children of the Universe
I'd never heard this before. But go Molly.
Eek, I hope this gets better.
She's got a lovely voice but that first bit was too low.
Lovin' the drummer and the backing vocalists are awesome.
That was pretty good, well done UK.

Yeah, back to skinny, wooden woman. I'm scared of her arms, they're like Madonnas.
Awww, I can't believe they actually thanked Graham and completely embarrassed him. He was proper flummoxed.

Now I didn't get to see a great deal of the middle bit or the scoring, due to a pressing urge to take a long overnight coach journey to Glasgow for a 10km run. So it's probably best I leave it there. I hope you enjoyed Eurovision. It really is a feast for the eyes and ears. *cough cough*
But as a special treat, I will leave you with some bonus material: a review of 7 acts that didn't get into the Grand Final. Check them out on youtube, there are some absolute stinkers.

The Best of the Worst:
Man or woman?
You're not an ice dancer, so why are you wearing the fake skin dress, which coincidentally does nothing for you. Nothing about this works. A was conviced; Transvestite.

Trying to be a bit metal/alternative and wearing a PVC Tutu thing. Looks like they'd just taken a trip to Cyberdog.
Completely irrelevant dancer who kept sticking his hands, and all sorts of body parts, between her legs.

Mummy issues.
Fat dude with girl voice.
Boring and possibly disturbing......though the irrelevant dancer in the background almost made me wet myself.
Psychologists may want to study the lyrics of this one. Jeez.

Vikings/Game of Thrones/Horizontal man. Another very low song for a woman.
Don't mess with her, she will gut you.
Let's face it, she's no Daenerys. (GOT reference.)
I've noticed how much they pull a Katy Perry - theatrics to distract from the awful song/lyrics.
I pull my bobble out for the last chorus. Don't miss that.

It's actually called Cake to Bake.
Two guys with guitars who just want to be your friends.
Now there are four and they have shakers and there's a chubby lass wearing a stripy dress.
We're all jolly and nice and colourful.
"We've got a cake to bake. I got no clue at all." Clearly not.
Oh my god, it's a musical recipe for retards.
Watch out for the genius backing vocals: Piece of cake.
(Apologies for the R word, I don't like it anymore than you do, but if you see this performance, you'll understand why there was no other possible word to describe it.)

Lying on the floor holding hands. You can see my knickers if you like?
"Do you hear me screaming?" Yes, unfortunately, we all do.
More about their ability to dance than anything else. You'll yawn through this one.

Constipated expression.
A said: "A fat Lilly Allen who sings like Shakira."
Constricted. Everything vocal is happening in a tiny space.
Leanne Rhimes flashback. Late 90s/early 00s female ballads.
Guitar solo in an attempt to claim cool points. Failed.
A weird looking Christina Ricci?

Okay, so that was your bonus material. Ha ha. Hope you enjoyed this year's coverage. Better late than never, I'm hoping. I have no idea of the scoring, other than the bearded lady won, of course.

Thanks for reading. Until next year's Eurovision.........

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Conglomerate of Rants

Happy Birthday to Rants. Happy Birthday to Rants. Happy Birthday to Rants....of a Bitter Northerner. Happy Birthday to Rants.

Can you believe that three years ago on a couch in Kentish Town, the first Rant was born. And three years later, not far from the couch - I'm sat at the table which backs onto the couch - it's time for the173rd Rant of this still bitter Northerner.

I've been storing up a few treats for you and so it will be a completely random composition of anything that decides to fall out of my head, or tumble off the pages of my trusty notebook. Prepare yourselves.......

Interval training is a bitch! 
With my first charity run looming, it was time to step up the training regime - good word that, regime - and try my legs at some intervals. So it was a case of running 2km to the track and then sprinting - I use the word loosely - 100metres, followed by a minute rest, and repeating this 8 times. Then running 2km home.

Lucky me, when I got there, there was a group of high schoolers using the grass in the middle of the track for some sort of team game, though I couldn't figure out what it was. I guess it was their PE lesson. So great, I would have a teenage audience for my 'sprinting'. A dream come true. So I start off well, but of course after the third 'sprint' the old thighs are beginning to groan and the minute rests become a little longer, the breathing louder and laboured.
As I start my fourth, I hear some of the lads saying, 'Go on girl.' I think, I'm technically old enough to be your mother, so shut it. And by number 6, it's more of a fast jog. By the final sprint, I think I'm just about jogging, but I still did it and I did it with those pointy hands and swooshing arms, like they do it on the Tele, so presumably I still looked good, right?

No, no. I was out of breath with exploding cheeks and very tired legs, and I was ready to leave at the same time the school group was. Disaster! So I dawdled whilst they got on their bus and then jogged pretty slowly all the way back with thighs screaming the whole way.

The pain lasted the next two days though I think it was topped up on Wednesday from my day of 6 music classes and hours of carting around heavy bags full of instruments. My arms and everything were in pain and I think I even worked my abs. So maybe this will become a weekly thing and then I can ache every week. Whoop! Something to look forward to.

You're not in my class. 
So there's a particular kid who I see every week but she's not in the music class. She refuses to go outside and her teachers never make her, so instead she stands right on the edge of the carpet - where I teach the lessons - and watches. Creepy!

This week, she stood there shouting how she didn't like the music. 'I don't like this song.'
I said, 'Well it's not for you, so it doesn't matter.'
May seem a tad harsh but I've been teaching there 9 weeks, she knows the drill.
A little later she says it again, as another child comes into the room. 'I don't like this music. It's not nice this song.'
It is of course a wonderful song and story and the rest of the children were thoroughly enjoying it. I ignored her this time until I noticed her dancing along to it. Ha. So you don't like it? Stop dancing then, I dare you.
Then again, she shouted at me that she didn't like the music. I said, 'Well you were dancing to it a minute ago.' And what I didn't say, because I'm well versed in containing what I want to say when around children, was: 'Next time go outside like everyone else does and stop watching us you creepy three year old. You are not in the music class, yet every week you try to get a freebie. I don't offer freebies. You pay for the class or kindly toddle off and I don't really care whether you like the music or not, it is not for you!

The benefits of a poky London flat.
You probably don't realise how beneficial it is to have a tiny London flat, with no stairs and a minuscule floor plan, but if you watch a lot of 90's slashers/horrors, like I have been recently, then you will know beyond a doubt that you are one step ahead of that psycho killer.

Okay, so you've no garden. No acres of outdoor hiding spaces. Good. You've probably got an open plan living room/kitchen, eliminating doors and rooms. And you don't have any stairs. Good. These will all come in handy.

So when the psycho killer on the phone asks you: "Which door am I at?"
You're pretty much limited. Er, the front door, because the living room and bedroom doors are propped open; I can see through the glass on the balcony door and if you've climbed up five storeys to get here, well done to you. And finally there's the bathroom door, but that would imply you were on the toilet when you answered, or that he had let himself (or herself) in and shut themselves in your windowless bathroom. A bit pointless really. So yeah I would say, front door.

When the psycho killer says: "What's your name? I want to know who I'm looking at."
Don't panic, if your flat is anything like mine, then there are floor to ceiling windows in the bedroom and living room. People can see us and we can see them. A lot of people don't even have curtains nowadays. So there's no reason to freak out and start screaming. Just wave to your neighbours.

When the heroine of your slasher film says that people are, 'always going up the stairs when they should be going out the front door,' you can feel smug.
If you live in a flat you are less likely to have a set of stairs, meaning you would of course go out of the front door, or just stay inside. If your flat is open plan you'd see said slasher a mile off, and could just get out. Lack of rooms, doors, floor space and garden mean less places for them to hide.
(Scary Movie flashback: 'Where am I?' 'You're behind the couch.')

So by living in a tiny apartment you are already outwitting the slasher in a 90's horror, eliminating his choices and also your own. Making decisions in stressful situations is not conducive to good decision making, so therefore if you have less choices, you are less likely to do something stupid.

I would say the only downfall of a flat is that if your psycho does get in, then you are unlikely to get out, but the odds of them bothering with a block of flats with hundreds of residents is unlikely. Come on, you know the drill: big houses in the middle of nowhere, with basements and attics and twenty five rooms, and a pool and a corn field out the back. Cityscapes, not so much.

I have been enjoying the splattering of 90's movies making their way onto netflix recently. Brings back a few memories. And wow, some interesting fashion choices too. .......

I have recently hit on an analogy for the editing process. It is akin to sieving. But each time you edit you need to use a sieve with smaller holes, to syphon off even the smallest crap.

The only thing I'm not sure of, is when you stop sieving. I'll get back to you on that.

Katie Bush Box
My parents came to visit last weekend and I asked them to bring my Kate Bush Boxes. What are these? I hear you ask. Well, they are full to the brim with articles, magazines, books, VHS and lots of rare Kate Bush items that I collected during the Uni years. My dissertation was on the way she infused narrative throughout the Hounds of Love album. Having it all at the flat now is awesome. I have some incredible stuff and most of it is really rare and probably, mostly forgotten.

I also found an essay I did for my A-level Music, based on the way narrative is infused within The Creation by Haydn. Hmmm, I'm sensing a theme. Narrative and Music. How weird that I didn't realise that until now. Narrative, storytelling, it's always been there even when I thought I'd put it on the back burner to study music. But it's always been one huge story for me. Writing songs and lyrics, was giving a song a plot. There was always a beginning, a middle and an end for me, that was just how I wrote. Perhaps that was why they didn't particularly like my songs? Maybe there were too straight forward, too linear, too fairy-tale? Or of course, they could have just been crap.

I just thought it was quite interesting to realise how storytelling and narrative never left me, and I used music as a way to explore story, plot, characters and how you could exploit these in music, enhancing them with vocals, lyrics, a guitar lick, a drum beat, a piano phrase. I presume it was some sort of weird destiny that in the end I would go back to writing books, leaving the lyrics behind as my singing voice retreated back inside me and the words flowed out of my fingers instead of my mouth.

Man I am reading some incredible stuff at the moment, courtesy of Kentish Town Library, Easter presents from A and The Owl Bookshop Sale. The piles of books to be read is growing faster than I can read them, though it doesn't help when I go to the library to return a book and then come back with three more. Oops.

This year I decided to keep a log of all the books I read, in months, and these will be going on my website. I also have a book where I log and briefly review the books from the library. I have definitely had an explosion of all things literary, which I'd like to say is helping my writing, but most of the time I just want to sit in the chair and read, I don't want to be sieving.

Here are a few quotes from books I have read recently. I'm not one to quote from books but I always envy those who can. So I also keep a book entitled: Interesting Words and Quotes, because let's face it, I can't remember stuff like I used to. So instead, it is all written down, some of it on brightly coloured post it notes, shoved in there for further remembrance down the road.

"Sanity is a valuable possession; I hoard it the way people once hoarded money. I save it, so I will have enough when the time comes." Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid's Tale.

If only sanity was tangible, I would store it up in an envelope and hide it in a drawer. I have a feeling I'll need some soon.
I just had to mention this book. It is incredible! A dystopian future that feels far too realistic, it actually scares the bejeezers out of you. Women are simply wombs, empty spaces to fill with life, and this is just for the dwindling few that aren't known to be barren. Women are forbidden to read and write. (Erm... Hell!) Any money and property is seized from them, and they are palmed off on men whose wives cannot reproduce, essentially becoming open houses, prime real estate for men to fill.

Yes it is harrowing and as a woman it especially makes you angry, to even think that something like this could happen, and we could be bargained off as nothing more than an oven to cook up the next generation. But it's not all doom and gloom and anger and hatred, there are moments, beautiful moments and fragments of light and laughter, pinches of humour and flashbacks that will make you smile. This is survival and it ain't pretty but it certainly captivates and burrows in deep. Everyone should read this book and then kill anyone who ever suggests anything like it in real life!

"That is what you have to do before you kill, I thought. You have to create an it, where none was before. You do that first, in your head, and then you make it real." Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid's Tale.

Oh and just one more quote from the fabulous: The Humans by Matt Haig:

"Maybe you are a road, not a destination. That is fine. Be a road. But make sure it's one with something to look at out of the window."

That's not all.....
Finally, I would like to thank you, the readers of Rants. Without you I would be ranting to myself and losing my marbles at a much faster rate. Thank you for your comments and encouragements, it's nice to know I make you laugh sometimes. 

Maybe I'll toast myself later, with a Birthday drink and a cake of some kind. And please feel free to toast yourselves on my behalf, as long as you find something to rant about afterwards.

Here's to the next three years!


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Be the next..........

E, I'm riled this morning. Can't put my finger on the exact reason but that twitter email about 'being the next J.K Rowling', may have had something to do with it.

I hope the people entering the competition realise that they could never be the next J.K Rowling, no matter how good their writing is, because there can't be another J.K Rowling. You can't be her, you won't be her unless maybe you decided to do a complete rip off of the HP series and just plagiarise to buggery.

Man I hate things that just name drop to attract people in.

It's like any dystopian future book, even if it was written and published before the Hunger Games, can only ever be 'The next Hunger Games.' No, we've had the next Hunger Games, it was called Catching Fire and then there was another one called Mokingjay. I don't think we need anymore.

A said, 'Yes but it's a similar-ish concept.' True. So maybe they should put that on the front of the book instead: A similar-ish concept to the Hunger Games. All dystopian futures are going to have something in common, at the very least that they are dystopian and in the future, and for the most part shitty for some of the people within them. But comparing them all to one, is just bloody annoying.

I would like to clarify, right now, that I love the Harry Potter books and The Hunger Games, but I don't want every book series in the future to be one or the other. Just because you like a thing once, doesn't mean you necessarily want to read another fifty of the same. So, I guess what I'm trying to say, in my slightly ticked off way, is just, write something that is yours and be compared to yourself and don't try and be the next anything, except maybe the next super successful debut author. That would be nice.

Okay, maybe the rant is over for now. Maybe......


Side note: Dystopian came up as a spelling mistake and when I clicked on options to change it to, it gave me these: