Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Converted at last

For many years I have disdained the harmonica - mostly because of asthma-attack impersonators with a harmonica strapped around their necks on a frame that looks like it is a leftover from either a Hammer horror or a particularly vindictive orthodontist.

Tim and Brendan - sorry couldn't find photographer credit
Seriously, there's nothing that grates my teeth more than that wheezy, tuneless, in-out-in-out attempt at accompanying guitar playing by puffing aimlessly and tunelessly into a strip of tin reeds...

OK, that's perhaps a bit harsh, but you can sense my strong definition between the above and, say, the playing of Stevie Wonder or Rick Davies (Supertramp). Well, Brendan Power definitely falls in the category of Stevie and Rick - playing his gob harp as an instrument of delight, not of torture. He was playing with Tim Edey at the Hitchin Folk Club, where I have been resident for many a year.

They came hotfoot from the BBC Folk Awards where they did indeed acquire an accolade or two I was host and support. So I got up there with my guitar and sang a few of my songs - which seemed to go down OK with the audience (nobody threw anything at me, in fact I even got three compliments).

It's unusual for me to be 'converted' by anyone, but hearing folk-beatbox-harmonica and guitar and squeezebox playing that just longs for a car door was wonderful. Yes - folk-beatbox (see Wriggle and Writhe link below if you don't believe me). A sneaky bit of loop technology as well and, with a couple of songs thrown in for good measure too, a thoroughly enjoyable evening. They deserved the Folk Awards, so do try and catch them if you can.


Tim Edey and Brendan Power's website
Listen to Wriggle & Writhe

Friday, February 03, 2012

The single life

I don't think I've ever been single before. Does that sound mad? Well, let me explain ... I married my first boyfriend.  From 16, I only ever had one man in my life. So from leaving home, I went straight to living with him (well, his parents actually); I've never lived on my own.

And until now, I'd never been single.

A heron at Fowlmere
So, what has being single brought me? Well, the usual things I guess. A lot more bed space for one, and the freedom to choose my meals, go birdwatching for a whole afternoon, and decide when I go out and when I stay in. I am still not living alone though, I have my beautiful daughter with me, and my son too when he's home from University. But neither of them need me around to feed and sort themselves out, so it's still the single life, even when they are around.

OK, the above are the advantages. What are the disadvantages? Well, no one to discuss important matters with for one. I mean - should I have painted that fourth wall cream instead of green? And no shoulder to cry on that you can then fall into bed with afterwards. Plenty of shoulders, plenty of hugs available, but I'm a little picky about who I flop into bed with.

Is that a disadvantage? Well, I've not been single that long, so right now, no. At the moment I am learning what it's like to have quite a lot of my own company. I did 'enjoy' that status for a while when I wasn't separated, but even so, this is different.

The main difference for me is I am out of the horrendous debt we were in. That was not nice. I don't own a house any more, but I do not lie awake at night worrying and fretting and getting depressed about financial issues. Oh no, plenty of other things to do that about now.

But, it doesn't matter. I actually feel more like myself than I have in a long time. And one thing I have started doing is so small, yet very important to me. I am now a Kiva donor. No, I'm not leaving some minuscule portion of my anatomy to medical research, I am supporting worthy causes throughout the world by making micro-loans. I've loaned a whole $75 so far!

Try it. It doesn't cost a lot, but it makes a huge difference. And if you want, you get your money back too.

Some nights I come home and I think 'oh, what shall I do now?' and I, like AA Milne's old sailor, have so many things that I want to do, I don't know where to begin. Other nights I set to with a determination of purpose - like painting the walls (three green, one cream), or ironing. Yeah, can't get away from ironing.

There's more to this single life, but I'll save some of my anecdotes for another post. Sloe gin and public houses, folk music and moving house. It's amazing how you can socialise...