Songs from the Past: American Pie

For week 37 of his series ’51 Songs from the past in 51 weeks’ Hugh has asked us which song we would love to record ourselves, given the chance.

For me, it just has to be ‘American Pie’. The original from Don Maclean (in 1971) is an absolute classic for me, and gained a new lease of life when Madonna released her version in 2000. I don’t honestly know why I like it so much, but it brings back lots of memories of enjoyable nights out in the pub – sooner or later as the evening wore on, someone would put this on the jukebox and we’d all sing along with gusto… 🙂


Daily Prompt: Recite

There’s always a lovely familiarity in still being able to recite things learned in childhood through the regularity of repetition, a satisfactory comfort in the cadence and conscious flow of the words.

At school early on I learned the Lord’s Prayer, and of course my times tables up to twelve. And I also remember with fondness my Brownie Guide Promise:

‘I promise that I’ll do my best to do my duty to God, to serve the Queen and help other people, and to keep the Brownie Guide Law’.

In order to remember how many days were in each month we’d always recite:

‘Thirty days hath September, April June and November. All the rest have thirty-one except February alone which has twenty-eight days clear, and twenty-nine on each leap year.’

From maths class in my teens I particularly remember the Pythagoras Theorem, for some obscure reason:

‘The square of the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares on the opposite two sides’

And from English class, as well as being still able to recite simple rules of spelling like ‘i after e except after c’, snippets of Shakespeare’s ”Hamlet’ that resonated at the time and have stuck with me throughout the years:

‘To be, or not to be – that is the question? Whether tis nobler in mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them.’

Turned out to be the story of my life, that one! 🙂

Daily Prompt: Recite




Liquid Rainbows…

Liquid Rainbows…

A colour-wash of memories tint my brain

A million shades I’d love to recreate

I hold too tight, imagination reined

Convince myself I’m too old, it’s too late

‘Not good enough’, spits out its bitter pill

Expecting me to swallow down dream’s death

I challenge habit’s thinking – time stands still –

Anticipation waits with bated breath…

Yet once I start to paint, I find my flow

My brush an inked extension of my hand

My eyes begin to sparkle with warm glow

As liquid rainbows blend, soft strokes expand

Released in coloured undulating swirl

I sense my creativity unfurl…

Daily Prompt: Unfurl

Inspiration, Interpretation, Imagination…

Hmmm… I know so far I’ve only done one simple flower colour study so it’s very early days, but I’ve been reflecting ever since on how it felt this afternoon to be painting again after all these years. Physically I absolutely loved the feel of the brush in my hand, the steady flow of the paint, and the diluting wash of the water, however clumsy and awkward my technique may have been to begin with. I know that technically, patience and practice and perseverance (as with everything else in life) will help me improve in time.

But emotionally I can sense I’m still too tied up in how I feel something ‘should’ look when put to paper, as if the only criteria that mattered for judgement was to reproduce a near-photographic representation of my subject matter for scathing critique under extreme scrutiny. As if true-to-life matters more than true-to-me. Of course, if the purpose of my painting was indeed to achieve that level of accuracy (for example if I were painting someone’s portrait for them) I suppose then it really would matter?

But I think I simply want my subject matter to provide the baby-steps beginnings of my own creativity, be a spring-board point of inspiration that I can choose to interpret in my own way, letting my imagination decide what to do and where to run with it. After all I’m not 17 any more, I don’t have a set syllabus or class curriculum to follow, or for that matter a teacher or parent to please. Rather, I have the absolute freedom to please myself. I can be as abstract and off-beat and making-it-up-as-I-go-along as I want.

So why do I struggle so much with recognising and accepting that artistically creative adult reality? Maybe the question I need to be asking myself is – who am I actually painting for? Because maybe that’s partly what has been blocking me for all these years, maybe at heart I’m still that insecure little girl always yearning for approval from others, trying desperately to feel good enough but all the while knowing I will never be enough for some people no matter what I do…  🙂

Hatches, Matches, and Dispatches

Just a post about a random thought that seemingly came out of nowhere this morning… 🙂

When I was growing up, we had two newspapers delivered to our house – one regional paper that was printed daily, and one local paper that only came out twice a week. I remember my mum and dad regularly checking the Hatches, Matches, and Dispatches page (otherwise known as Birth, Marriage, and Death announcements) in both newspapers to see who had arrived, got hitched or shuffled off their mortal coil since the last deadline for a print run.

Personally I’m not a great newspaper fan these days; what with internet and 24 hour news channels for ‘big’ news items being reported live I find there’s really no need for me to read it all again in print the following day. And when it comes to replacing the old ‘personal’ columns, I simply check FaceBook to see who’s been up to what – status updates tend to be far more immediate, far more informal, and often include photographs too. We can let the world of our aquaintance know about all our special occasions, anniversaries, and memorials off the cuff  and on the hoof, thanks to our smartphones.

Hmmm… I don’t even know if people even make such announcements in newspapers any more – I suppose I’ll have to wait until I next visit my parents so I can read their local paper to find out… 🙂

Songs from the Past: Darius – Colourblind

This week Hugh’s theme for his series ‘51 Songs from the Past in 51 Weeks‘ is to share a favourite song by someone from a reality show, so I’ve chosen Darius (originally known as Darius Danesh but he now goes by Darius Campbell) who reached the finals of UK TV talent show Pop Idol in 2002.

Darius had an immediate hit with his single ‘Colourblind’ released in 2002, which I happily sang along to, but the main reason I remember him so clearly is neither from his Pop Idol nor pop star days but from his run playing Billy Flynn in the West End musical ‘Chicago’ – for me he excelled in that role, he completely owned the character and I was really impressed with his entire stage performance – bravo Darius!  🙂

Hidden History

History is often all around us, hidden beneath our feet, if only we know where to look…

Walking around the beautifully kept memorial rose gardens in the City of London Cemetery, you may come across a small circular plaque set in concrete in the grass verge by an access road. Around the edge it reads ‘City of London Cemetery Heritage Trail’ and in the middle ‘Mary Ann Nichols, Died 31st August 1888’. A little further along on the opposite side of the road lies an almost identical plaque, this time bearing the name ‘Catherine Eddowes, Died  30th September 1888’


Catherine Eddowes


And if you were to wander around St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Leytonstone you may find a small and rather plain grave with an almost constant supply of flowers. The current headstone reads ‘In loving memory of Marie Jeanette Kelly – None but the lonely hearts can know my sadness, love lives forever.’

None of these grave markers are original, and after all these years the actual grave sites are approximate, but all three of these unlucky women were murdered in Whitechapel in London’s East End by Jack the Ripper – Polly Nichols at the end of August, Catherine Eddowes at the end of September, and Mary Jane Kelly on 9th November 1888.

Jack the Ripper’s two other known victims were Annie Chapman (buried in Manor Park Cemetery) who was killed on 8th September 1888, and Liz Stride (buried in East London Cemetery) who like Catherine Eddowes was murdered on 30th September.

With all the myths and legends and conspiracy theories surrounding the mysterious identity of Jack the Ripper (who was never caught), it is all too easy to forget that the basic story is factually true. Almost 130 years ago in the space of a few short weeks five real living-and-breathing women were brutally murdered, and it is important that they are remembered with respect as more than just incidental bit-part-player prostitutes in some misogynist madman’s murder-fest…

Daily Prompt: History

Songs from the Past: Advertising

I’ve not been feeling very musical lately, life has been hitting a bit of a flat note recently so I’ve missed the last few weeks of joining in with Hugh’s series of posts ‘51 Songs from the Past in 51 weeks‘. However, today’s theme of old songs used in new-ish adverts immediately conjured up Cadbury’s 2007 drum-playing gorilla putting his heart and soul into Phil Collins’ 1981 hit ‘In the Air Tonight’ – I’ve always been partial to a bit of Phil Collins even from his Genesis days, so here’s both an actual and extended version of the 2007 ad  🙂

PS I just love the way he cricks his neck from side to side before beginning! 🙂


Daily Prompt: Tailor

Beatrix Potter features heavily in my memories of childhood – I loved not only her stories but also the delicate watercolour illustrations sitting alongside the words on each page. The little hardback books I remember so fondly still sit in the bookcase of children’s books at my parents house, grubby and worn but oh-so-well-loved through the generations in our family. The Tailor of Gloucester, Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny and the Flopsy Bunnies were always my favourites – for  some reason Mrs Tiggywinkle and Squirrel Nutkin just didn’t resonate with me in the same way… 🙂

Daily Prompt: Tailor