Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gein' it Laldy

I always find it therapeutic to join in when Tina Turner appears on the telly, and thus I’ve just greeted Sunday morning with a full belt version accompanying Ms Turner singing River Deep Mountain High. Thanks goodness we have tolerant neighbours.

Singing, though, it’s a great thing, eh?

After singing at the top of your lungs, whether it’s in the shower or on the stage at Radio City Music Hall, it’s such a cathartic experience and leaves you feeling great. I hope it’s the same for everyone. Singing’s become very commodified and it’s felt amongst some people that unless you’ve spent amounts of time studying music or paid your dues on the stage that you rank lower in the singing pecking order than others.

Stuff and nonsense, I say.

I grew up in a family where the gatherings and parties centred on people doing their ‘turn’. Everybody had a song that was theirs and after a few drinks were taken in smoky living rooms, the first person would, after much persuasion and (false) modesty start up the singing.

I can remember my cousin George Burns gein’ in laldy (tr. giving it everything/big licks) with The Donkey Serenade, Auntie Mary would sing On Mother Kelly’s Doorstep or ‘Always’, my dad would – very occasionally – sing Chattanooga Choo Choo. Auntie Jean would sometimes sing ‘When You and I Were Young, Maggie’ and go all teary as she looked at my mum. Uncle Pat would sing ‘I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen’ to my cousin Kathleen, and after heaps of cajoling Auntie Mona would sing ‘Ave Maria’ in her warbly soprano. Oh and cousin Lily would sing ‘Ten Guitars’ and somebody would always have a go at 'The Crystal Chandelier' and the superbly maudlin ‘Nobody’s Child’.

My early attempts were well received, and I usually was rolled out to sing the top of the day’s hit parade ‘Two Little Boys’.

To us, singing was as natural as speaking. It didn’t really matter how good or bad you were, and if you were challenged tonally, you usually managed to develop a style that got you through. There were no stars, no divas, and if anyone tried to do one they were soon cut off at the knees.

These days, we don’t sing so much, which is sad. I love getting the gals in the office to join in a chorus – everyone always smiles afterwards and it adds a zing to the atmosphere. Maybe it’s the making of the noise as much as anything.
I remember the first time I heard a women’s drumming group – sure after five minutes it got a bit samey, but in those first few minutes there was sheer pleasure in the noise itself and I couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear.

Acknowledgement and kudos have to go to some people who are already working to remove the exclusiveness of singing today. In particular I’m thinking of Sidonie Henbest, Nikki Aitken, and Matthew Carey who organise the superb Cabaret Live that welcomes everyone who wants to get up on stage and have a bit of a sing. It’s on the first Sunday of the month at La Boheme in Adelaide and it’s a fantastic night of entertainment, always packed.

Luckily a lot of my friends are all involved in theatre or comedy or music which is fantastic because we probably sing more for pleasure than most other segments of the population. Some of them haven’t been able to do shows for some time due to work and family commitments, and it’s a shame to lose that joy that singing either by oneself or together with friends brings.

That’s why I’ve been talking to some of them about an idea for singing circles. It’s a bit like a book club, but instead of talking books we get together, have a few wines and have a bit of a sing. We could sing together or do a solo. We could sing songs about where we’re from, or from the latest releases, it doesn’t really matter. It’s not that there would be no stars amongst us – we’d all be stars. All ability levels welcome, and perhaps stories and poems too. It’s just a gathering and a chance to spread the joy.

Who’s in?

Message me!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Two Metres Short

Isn’t it weird how the pursuit of things turns you into a stalker?
Or is it just me?
Exciting Saturday afternoon spent in Spotlight (a craft and material store) in town, chasing after a particularly patterned piece of material.
I saw what I needed, picked it up and admired it, but put the bolt of cloth down to go see if there was something else that might fit my purpose even more. Alas, when we went back to where I’d put it, it was gone! Arrgghh!
I spied it – a group of young girls were up at the counter with it. Double aarrgghh – there wasn’t that much material left on the bolt and I needed four metres. For now it was gone. We (patient hubby and I) decided to visit a nearby store of a similar vein to see if they had any. Alas they didn’t and we headed back to Spotlight. The group of young girls were now at the counter getting a length of MY cloth cut. We hovered around the side and back of the counter.
“Its gonna be all gone!” I whined.
“Its ok,” said hubby as he exerted his radar hearing, “she only wants two metres.”
Hope rose in my heart.
We made another circuit of the very large counter island and glanced downwards as the gaggle of girls walked past us with their cut of my cloth.
Where was the bolt? Where was it?
Not on the near part of the counter, so we shuffled through the queue towards the far side, and not there either.
Oh panic! What to do!
And then I saw it peeking out of the pile of previously purchased bolts and whipped it out.
Clutching it to my chest (yes I over reacted) I grabbed a number, got in line and glared at anyone who even glanced at my precious cloth.
Our number was eventually called and I asked for four metres. The lady measured out the cloth remaining on the bolt. Exactly two metres. Blast!
Hubby helpfully muttered “That girl got your two metres dear” and I cursed her under my breath.
But it wasn’t her fault. It was my fault for not trusting that what I requested had been delivered. That’s what happens when you second guess the universe – you end up two metres short!
If I was a church of Scotland Minister on the famed TV program ‘Late Call’ I’d now say the words “And life’s like that..” and then go on to give a really cheesy analogy from real life to illustrate the principle.
I’m not a Church of Scotland Minister but I will go on to say that so many people expressed a wish that they’d seen our show Three Stuffed Mums at the Adelaide Fringe but didn’t have the chance. Well the good news is that the Universe is throwing you a second opportunity because we’re at the Cabaret Fringe on the 3, 4 & 5 June at The Maid once more and we’d love to see your there. Book at BASS on 131 246 or go to Please.
Cheesy hard sell over.
Have a wonderful weekend and week!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Colour and Fairytales

Had a fantastic week off work.

Its the first time in over a year I've had more than a few days, no shows, not being ill, just good quality time to do stuff, and do stuff I have! There have been a few things that I'll go into in later blogs that took up time, I got to have some great family time with hubby and sons, and all in all just get my act together a little bit more. One of the things I haven't done is clean the house so its in as much of a shambles as it was this time last week. Oh well, lah de da.

Did you watch the Royal Wedding? I wasn't going to but there was nothing else on the telly! And boy do you get sucked in by all that pageantry. The bride was lovely in her Grace Kelly-ish dress and the groom looked handsome in his uniform. Plenty of swords there amongst the uniformed guests' posessions. Could have been interesting if a rammy broke oot at the purvey (tr. "If a fight had broken out at the reception).

The whole thing was worth it for the laugh when we got to see the two York gels dribble out of their limo dressed as the ugly sisters for the panto. Why didn't anybody say anything to them? Costumes by Central Casting, mascara and eyeliner by A Clockwork Orange. Jeez.

I could never have attended. Three hours in church without a toilet break? My idea of hell. Funny also to see the priests all dressed like peacocks in their finery and the two nuns looking miserable in their greys.

I once knew an apprentice nun who was lovely and who's order wore navy blue. After she'd been to her first massed meeting of nuns she exclaimed that she'd never seen so many shades of navy blue in her life. A feeling I later reflected on when I was asked to attend the reception of a Glasgow footballer's wedding and I realised I'd never seen so many shades of blonde and spray tan in my life. And as for the ladies... boom tish.

Anyway, it seems that the theory of the purpose of these royal weddings is to distract the people from what's really going on. It had its work to do here in sleepy Adelaide, as about 2km down the road from us, on the same day as the wedding, there was had a triple shooting and seige. A man opened fire on his neighbours, three people were killed, one injured and then a policeman was shot and his colleague injured. The shooter then holed up in a neighbouring house and didn't come out for nearly 12 hours. All very horrible stuff.

It was very weird, because that part of the main road was blocked off for almost 24 hours and the three things I had to get to that day were on the other side of the blockade. The whole situation felt very wrong and absurd. I had to get the dog to its clipping appointment, yet three people had been killed. What was horrifying was that I could consider this dilemma quite rationally. Part of my head is yelling "PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KILLED FOR GODS SAKE!" and the other side is going "Yeh but how do I get to the poodle parlour?". I'm not trying to minimalise or trivialise what happened here - the ability of our minds to rationalise the situation is quite scary, and by the looks of the number of vehicles who still tried to get through the blockade (while the seige was still going on) I wasn't the only one. Businesses were carrying on, walkers and joggers stood at the borderline of police cars to have a look, and the media hovered there as well in search of the latest updates.

Have we been desensitised to others' tragedy? What pushes us forward with the routine when things like this happen? Is it our safety zone, that if we keep on doing as normal then it's proof to ourselves that it hasn't happened to us? Those poor families tied up in this, losing loved ones to bullets and, it seems, mental illness, is too much to comprehend - especially when it happens on our safe, Adelaide suburban streets. Where do you go when something so horrible happens within coo-ee distance of home?

Apparently, we retreat to the safe, to the known, and we sit down and lose ourselves in a pageant of colour and fairytales on the other side of the world.