Friday, 10 March 2017

De La Soul and The Joy of Getting Old

It’s been a while since I wrote on this blog so I thought I’d write a post about the joy of getting old.  Yeah, that’s right.  I said the joy of getting old.  I didn’t realise that this was an actual thing until a couple of nights ago.  I mean, who could possibly feel chuffed about a situation as depressingly inevitable as that?  Me, that’s who.  And my friend McG.  And several hundred other greying ‘teenagers’ who were in the UEA’s Lower Common Room last Wednesday night. And it was the legendary hip hop trio De La Soul who enlightened us all to the pure joy of it.
De La Soul.  That’s them in the picture above.  Please excuse the awful image quality.  There is a good reason for this:
1.      1. The camera on my phone is worse than the Kodak 110 I had in 1989.
2.      2. Spoken like a true Generation X’er, Plug 1 – or was it Plug 2 – was most insistent that we ‘put the ******* phones away.  You wanna party with us or watch a ******* movie?  Come on, you guys; I want you to enjoy yourselves now not later on when you watch the whole ******* thing at home.’  It was a fair point and one I respect.  So I took my dirty snap in a guilty hurry.
Speaking of Generation X, I am very definitely am part of it.  I was a sixth-former when ‘Me, Myself and I’ was on the radio.  Just... um... let me do the maths... 28 years ago. 
But that song and the album it came from - ‘3 Feet High and Rising’ - still sounds as fresh as the D.A.I.S.Y age* it came from.  So fast-forward 28 years and there I was at the UEA with my friend McG and with a venue full of very happy people.  The De La Soul men were up on the stage illustrating how three is the magic number, everyone else’s hands were up in the air and the bass was so loud it was making my jeans vibrate.  Then the bass calmed down a bit.  And then it stopped altogether.  Time for some interaction with the audience.
Plug 1 – or was it Plug 2 – said, ‘OK, let’s see who’s in the house.  Let me hear some noise if you’re aged 18 to 25.’
There was a big happy cheer from loads of people who didn’t exist when I was doing my A levels.  I smiled at the joyful sound of their youth.  
The men on stage were impressed.  Then one of them – the same bloke as before who I think was calling himself Plug 1 but who is actually called Kelvin – said, ‘OK, so who in here is aged 26 to 35?’
Another big cheer.  But I didn’t smile this time.  I was starting to feel the early beginnings of anxiety.  Where was this all leading?    
‘Let me hear it from all the 36 to 40 year olds.’
Oh God.  The age bands were getting narrower.  I looked at my friend McG and she looked back at me with an expression of panic that must have mirrored my own.  But whatever concerns she was having, mine were worse.  I’d been on the planet two whole years longer than her.  As far as De La Soul were concerned, we might not even be in the same demographic.
Plug 1 – aka Kelvin - said, ‘And now we come to my FAVOURITE people.  The 41s and over.  I totally LOVE you guys.  And WELL DONE on STILL BEING HERE and STILL PARTYING.  LET ME HEAR YOU MAKE SOME NOOOOOOOIIIIIIISE!
The roof of the LCR nearly lifted off.  It was the loudest, happiest and most beautiful roar I have ever heard.  It reduced the previous cheers to half-arsed pitiful squeaks.  I think I was actually crying with laughter and relief.  When I looked at McG, I think she was too.  I haven't laughed so hard in ages.  God, I love De La Soul.  That night of hip-hop in ‘Hull - **** sorry - I mean Nor-wich,’ was one of the most fun nights ever.  And those three blokes from the Bronx were better than any anti-ageing cream I have ever wasted money on.  Better even than Boots Time Delay.  Never been so chuffed and proud and delighted to be forty-five in my life. 

*Da Inner Sound Y’all.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

My Seven Reasons to be Cheerful about 2016

2016.  What a year.  There have been times during the last twelve months when I’ve felt like shoving the whole of 2016 into the Chamber of Horrors and throwing away the key.  But three hundred and sixty-five days are a lot of days.  Not all of them made me want to scream.  In order not to let the shit things overshadow everything else, I’ve made myself sit down and think about the bits I liked.
1.  The Comeback Kids
In 2016, my cousin Julie and my friend Helen totally owned the words SPEEDY RECOVERY.  They both bounced back from major operations on giant space-hoppers.  Phew.  Hooray :) 
2.  The Olympics and the Paralympics
Ellie Robinson - totally rhyming small with cool.
This summer, I learned that nothing helps a frazzled head more than sitting in front of the telly and watching people win stuff.  I watched Max Whitlock do roly-polys.  I watched nice smiley Nicola Adams thump people in the face.  I watched divers in skimpy speedos stand under a shower and then dry themselves with a tea-towel.  I watched the two Ellies walk around the edges of swimming pools in massive coats.  The only bit I didn’t watch was the Tae Kwondo.  It’s that thing where two people shuffle about on a mat and then kick each other in the head.  I couldn’t watch that.  Maybe it’s one of those sports that are much more fun if you are actually doing it. 
3.  Belly at Norwich Waterfront
I can't remember if I took this photo or my friend Jayne did.
In 1993, the American indie-pop band Belly released the album ‘Star’.  I loved that album then and I still love it now.  And Tanya Donelly - Belly’s singer and founder – has been one of my favourite all-time Americans ever since.  So when she announced that she was putting her band back together again and doing a UK tour, I was quick to get my ticket.  It was a night of pure joy.  Tanya D is probably the coolest woman in the world.  And if she isn’t, it’s because Gail Greenwood is. [She is Belly’s bass player.] 


4.  Wales at Euro 2016
Wales v England?  My loyalties were always going to be torn.  Or so I thought.  Actually, there was no conflict of emotion at all.  When Gareth Bale scored against England from a free-kick, I jumped in the air and cheered.  What a team!  And it wasn’t just ninja-assassin Gareth, was it?  There was also the bloke who looked like Edward VII and the bloke who looked like the actor Toby Jones and the bloke who looked like Jesus.  I was sad when Wales didn’t get to the final - but didn’t they do brilliantly anyway!
Joe Allen - a Welsh footballer who looks like Jesus
5.  Hahaha!  But what’s the point?
I completed my MA in American Literature by writing 20,000 words on comedy and nihilism and got a distinction.  Hooray!  :)
6.  Yet more Telly
The year began with ‘War and Peace’ which was EPIC and TREMENDOUS and it ended with ‘To Walk Invisible’ which was two uninterrupted hours about the Brontës.  Total bliss.  In the middle was the final series of ‘Hinterland’ – finest Welsh noir.  Can you pass the peanuts, please?
7.  This Planet is Capable of Being Lush
This summer, I went to Sark.  What a beautiful place!  Sark has got no cars, no phone signal, no light pollution, no noise pollution, nothing much to spend your money on - and it’s where I’d be living RIGHT NOW if I could convince my husband that selling everything we have and becoming artists is a good idea.  But I can’t.
Never mind. 
A little after this, I went to Birmingham to visit my friends Jayne and Sue who live on a canal boat.  I thought I knew what Birmingham was all about but it turns out that I know nothing.  Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice apparently.  And these canals are a blissed-out world of total peace and quiet that are ignored by almost everyone.  What a life my friends have!  While I was there, I was treated to a glimpse of it.  We travelled really, really slowly.  We saw a kingfisher.  We went through a tunnel that was nearly two and a half miles long and was freezing cold, pitch dark and shit scary.  I beat everyone at Backgammon.  I barely washed.  I loved every second of my canal boat adventure.
A very happy dog who lives on a boat.  Jayne Morgan took this picture.
So then - taking all this into account - what do I think of 2016 now? 
I think my 2016 has been better than I realised.  In places, it’s even been great.  And writing this has made me appreciate just how very lucky I am.  For lots of people, 2016 hasn’t been anything close to alright and that isn’t OK.  I’m clinging to the hope that 2017 will be better.  Come on, 2017!  My fingers are crossed.