2022

Dad that’s not a bad sky at all”

It’s a grand one Son.

You always say GRAND these days”

It’s just a way of saying something is impressive. It’s a bit like you saying something is sick….

Dad I was thinking about school. What happens if I still can’t go out during next year as well. Maybe I’m not ready to go back until 2022. What happens then?”

Well we just carry on. We’ve coped for most of this year. We just do the same next year then. Although I might have a ZZ Top beard by 2022 .

I so want to see that.”

Make a change for you. Having a Dad who looks cool….

That’s never happening. As you would say Dad. You are a Grand Muppet.”

You never know. One day….

Dad is that your mobile Dad going off.”

Yes it is. A message. Oh look they have rescheduled our Ozzy concert. Was supposed to be next week but they have put it back to October 2022. Time for me to grow a proper beard.

Dad time for me to maybe venture out again…”

Desert Island

Last night a Red Sky. Need to change the saying. Red Sky at Night, REALLY big puddles next day….

There is a long running British radio show called Desert Island Discs. Guests talk about their life and then play songs that they would take on a desert island with them. In addition to the Bible and the Works of Shakespeares they get to take a luxury item.

Well we played our own version of that last night. A few tweaks to the shows rules. I’ve done mine while Hawklad is taking his time over his. So you will get three posts from the Desert Island. Mine is here and Hawklad’s will follow. There will also be a third post – can you summon up for inner Sherlock and figure out what’s its about.

So here’s mine. Starting with the 9 tracks.

Whitesnake – Here I Go Again

Iron Maiden – Fear of the Dark

Leonard Cohen – Suzanne

Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb

Lynyrd Skynyrd – That Smell

Shinedown – Get Up

Alter Bridge – Godspeed

Paul Gross – Ride Forever (from the TV Due South)

Foo Fighters – Walking After You

The Book I would take would be Terry Pratchett – Mort. The movie I would take would be End Game. The TV series would be the XFiles. Favourite food would be Apple Crumble and Custard. Favourite Drink would be full on Coffee. My favourite snack would be Cheese and Onion Crisps. And my luxury item would be a Telescope to look at the stars.

So that’s my list. If the desert island is anything like Yorkshire this afternoon then I would need a very thick jumper and the largest umbrella. Maybe not the most ideal desert island weather.

Kind

It’s autumn and the leaves are falling. Here when they fall they undertake a kind of heroic mass migration. They migrate to our front lawn. Has to be our lawn, never any of my neighbours. These fallen ones have just started their journey heading inevitably to just below our front window. Then they like to stay put. That’s so very kind of them.

I’ve been trying to be kind to myself as well. If I’m happy then I will be a better parent. Trying to find enjoyable things to do. Maybe discover some new hobbies. One of which is learning to play the piano. Finally making use of an electronic keyboard which has been basically just gathering dust. The piano tuition app I’m using is good. Quickly I can now start to read music. I can play a rustic version of Ode To Joy. But I couldn’t understand why the piano app kept talking about one key being middle C when with my careful marking out of the keys came up with a different answer. Then the penny dropped. Can you spot the deliberate mistake in the pink scrawls……

What a muppet. Ok the app might be right…..

The road ahead

The road ahead is probably not musical. Bit early to dream of being a concert pianist. Just completed my first free online piano lesson. I fired up our very dusty and unused electronic keyboard and was ready to become the new Rachmaninov or Jon Lord.

Suddenly I had a flash back memory. I was at a funeral and my brother was sat behind me. During the service someone played a piano piece. After a minute of the ivory tickling my brother learnt forward and whispered in my ear. “He’s no bloody Rick Wakeman….”. I’d forgotten about that. That comment very nearly made me laugh out loud. Not great in a crematorium.

Twenty minutes later and my musical career is just dust in the wind. Clearly I can only operate one finger at a time. What’s the point of having two hands? Especially when one section of the song I was supposed to be learning, apparently an easy starter song, required what appeared to be a person with 11 fingers. Let’s just say it went badly.

So yes I may have produced music which sounded something like Donald Trump when he’s forced to release his tax returns. But that’s not the point. I did something which distracted me for a while. Yes it was frustrating but ultimately something that I enjoyed doing. Importantly something I can do from home during our enforced family lockdown.

So yes the road ahead may not be particularly tuneful but at least it has another hobby to entertain me. That gives me hope.

The boys have lost things

This is the kind of house that just seems to encourage losing things. Lots of things. Which is remarkable when you consider it’s smallish bungalow. Including the garage and the loft, we only have 8 locations for stuff to mysteriously disappear. But it does. All the time.

The house is the home just to boys these days. That includes the pets. So we can definitely say that THE BOYS HAVE LOST THINGS.

Already today we couldn’t find

  • Hawklads FIFA 20 games disk,
  • The new pack of Weetabix,
  • My bank card to pay for something online,
  • My car key,
  • One of my socks – followed instantly by shouting at the dog,
  • A black pen. Can find loads of other colours but not a black pen which Hawklad needs to do a little homework,
  • My new pack of tea,
  • The laptop – how can you lose a laptop….
  • A pair of scissors,
  • My fitness band,
  • The WiFi passkey,
  • The new pack of batteries I bought on Thursday,
  • My mobile,
  • The book I’ve been trying to read for a couple of months now, frustratingly I only have 4 pages to go. It went missing while I was reading in bed. It has been lost for weeks. Ransacked the bedroom today, still no sign. It’s a rubbish crime story but I just want to find out who did it…..

That’s a typical day here. Boys will be boys….

But at least we found time to talk today. We ended up talking about our lockdown and the stuff that we miss. The things we have lost in our own little worlds. For me it was being around people.

Running in the countryside and walking in the mountains.

Going to see my team get beat. Spending time with the friend I meet up with.

We both agreed on missing concerts.

We also both agreed on missing going to Switzerland.

Hawklad talked about not going to zoos and falconries as much. Not being able to have a takeout or pop in for a real ice cream. Not being able to meet up with some of his friends. Missing out on not visiting the seaside.

Not going to wrestling shows.

And not being able to visit historical sites.

There was more but you get the point. Lockdown does have an impact on all our worlds. It means making sacrifices. But we do that all the time. The worry is that too many kids are losing out of key parts of their childhood. It’s about making the best of what we do have. Still trying to make memories. Remembering to keep living.

2020 the year music stopped

2020 has been some year. Is it really only August. Time seems to have so slowed down. Many things have just stopped. Live Music most definitely.

Looking back to the start of the year it all seemed a bit different. We were looking forward to a fantastic concert year. I had worked my socks off and secured a whole list of discounted tickets. It was on paper a great year of gigs and some top bands.

*********

The Who

Whitesnake

Foreigner

Europe

Aerosmith

Wayward Sons

Ozzy

Saxon

Deep Purple

Blue Oyster Cult

Hollywood Vampires

Killing Joke

**********

On paper that’s how it will remain for this year. All cancelled some pushed into 2021. So yes something potentially to look forward to. BUT…….

Has the concert zone closed for us. It was always a delicate balance for Hawklad. His enjoyment of the music, the spectacle, a chance to see the bands he loves to listen to. Balanced against his social anxieties. His fears of strangers and crowds. The positives just outweighing the negatives. As a result he could get himself to concerts. Yes it would need his hoody pulled up until the lights went out. But he was ok doing that as he felt that rock crowds were easy going and accepting of all kinds of looks. This was confirmed on our first concert trip. Dad wore the most embarrassing T-shirt he could find. Hawklad was reassured to see that I didn’t get one single strange look and was never asked to leave.

But now it’s a different world. Hawklad definitely sees it differently. Heightened fears and anxieties. The ‘is it ok to attend concerts’ calculation he would perform has got a different answer now. The negatives outweigh the positives. I know the medical advice is that this new world view could become a semi permanent switch in his Aspergers. A dynamic which won’t automatically switch off when the pandemic finally goes. It may take years. May never switch back. We just don’t know.

So maybe that’s it for our concerts. If so then it’s kinda fitting that three of the last bands he got to see just happened to be his favourites. Alter Bridge, Kiss and Alice Cooper.

So let’s enjoy the memories. It might be the year Live Music stopped for us but it doesn’t mean that music has stopped. Most certainly not.

Heartfelt songs

Roman berries

Small and a beautiful berry. Not great to taste raw but apparently you can make great marmalade from them. I will leave them for the birds.

These 6 weeks tend to be tough for me. Your probably bored of me saying this but here I go again – me, me, me – in 2016 I lost my mum at the end of July, the week after the funeral I found out that my partner was dying and she died at the end of 6 week period.

Since then, this part of the year is tough. Best not make it any tougher.

I love music. It’s always been a special part of my life. Some would question my musical taste. I do like a bit of Leonard Cohen. Partial to a bit of classical music. Enjoy traditional Scottish music. But mainly it’s Rock. Often heavy Rock. Even some Mongolian Metal. But during these 6 weeks I have to be careful. It’s a fine line between smiles and tears. Let’s not have too many tears. With me music has the power to send me both ways. So for the next few weeks it’s a filtered playlist. No sad songs. Absolutely no sad songs. Zero heartfelt songs. No songs about death, dying young and lost love. Queens – ‘Who wants to live forever’ is just a big fat NO. The soundtrack to ‘Love Story’ is an even bigger, fatter NO. Don’t even start me on Terry Jacks – ‘Seasons in the sun’.

So it’s time for those songs about dragons, monsters, cars, highways, parties, card games, fun and high spirits. Yes love sounds but they have to be happy ones. That’s my playlist. Absolutely NO heartfelt songs.

Remember

Sadly I won’t be able to visit here today. Its 50 miles away and currently just so out of reach. My mind will wander there today. Not for too long as my mother would give me a stern talking-to for fussing too much. So I will make myself a cup of tea and take a few moments to remember some mum memories.

  • Her famous meat and two vegetables Sunday lunches. She even amended that to Quorn and two vegetables for an awkward son. Followed by the best ever apple crumble and custard.
  • How she would call everyone (including the pets) Pidge so that she never forgot a name. You knew you were in trouble when she called you by your real name,
  • Going to her house and hearing Sinatra or Cash singing as you went through the door,
  • Walking into her living room and her first words being, Do you want a cup of tea and a biscuit,
  • Sat on a plane at Heathrow Airport with her and she started eating toffees to stop her ears popping. She finished all three packets of sweets before the plane had even started taxiing. And yes her ears popped,
  • The day she went into a small shop for a paper and she ended up being smiled at by one of Europe’s best footballers, who had come in for a prematch chocolate bar,
  • Every year asking me to put a 10p bet on the big horse race. I never told her that I always made the bet up to a £1,
  • Her refusing to be called Granny or Great Granny, so she became little Nan,
  • Every time I would take Hawklad round to see Little Nan on a Sunday and she would somehow have managed to find another Mr Men book which he had never read,
  • Mum with my oldest sister running out of the Dracula museum in a fit of giggles when a man dressed up as the Prince of Darkness had unexpectedly appeared behind them,
  • On a morning finding various little garden birds stood patiently in her kitchen waiting to be fed.

And so many more memories from a truly wonderful mum. So it’s time for a cup of tea and a biscuit. Time to remember. Days like this that photographs from so many years ago become treasures.

Bit battered

Poor thing has been a bit battered in the recent bad weather. Well I still think it deserves a moment to shine.

I was having a chat with our son last night about how life has changed recently. It’s only really now that some of the implications are starting to feed through. I will only focus on one small part of the conversation as this post could have ended up as long as the extended Directors Cut version of War and Peace.

Son struggles with social settings. It’s a well established element of Aspergers. He will actively pull away from crowds and groups. One of the only exceptions to that has been Rock Concerts. He still feels uncomfortable there but for a variety of reasons he can cope. He can put his hood over his head and no one will notice. He likes the fact that rock crowds seem very welcoming of any person, any look, any characteristic. With the noise no one is likely to talk to him. When the lights go out, no one can see him. You are just one hidden person in a sea of people. Plus he really loves the music.

So far he has seen Iron Maiden, Hollywood Vampires (with Johnny Depp), Alice Cooper, Kiss, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Thunder, Shinedown, Status Quo, The Darkness, The Damned, The Stranglers and Status Quo. He’s also seen his favourite band – Alter Bridge.

Before the pandemic kicked in he was hoping to see more. The likes of Whitesnake, Foreigner, Europe, Ozzy, Aerosmith and The Who. But the pandemic changed the world. Most of these have been postponed or cancelled.

When concerts restart what will they look like. Will the days of standing shoulder to shoulder return. Will people have to wear masks. What number of fans will be allowed in. How close will you be able to get to the band. Will you need to be vaccinated before you attend. Will certain fans be excluded (age, health factors). Will all the fans want to return. Will it just be open air concerts. Will it be the new idea of drive in concerts. Will some bands just give up. Who knows.

The pandemic also changed son’s life. It has sent his social and health fears into overdrive. Changed the balance and how he sees the world. Things which were acceptable have been tipped into the no go area. Those changes might be temporary or they could be permanent. Only time will tell. But certainly his concert days are at best on long term hold. That’s the thing about Aspergers, changes in external factors can have a huge internal impact. Lasting impacts.

Regardless of any more virus related developments, I just can’t see son wanting to go to a concert this year, probably next as well. Maybe that fragile corridor that allowed him to venture into a concert crowd has been broken on a much more permanent basis. We just have to wait and see. Maybe going forward our own music festivals are the way forward. Buy a concert dvd and hold the event in our living room or garden. We can still put the T-shirts on, have the snacks, drinks and a burger. We can even turn the lights out and crank up the speakers. Best thing – no masks required. No queues for toilets as well….

That doesn’t help the concert industry. I just hope they and the bands find a way through this mess.

So maybe that’s no concerts for Dad as well for sometime. But it is what it is. I’ve been so lucky to see so much music over the years. So as I move into a barren concert period let’s pause and see what my memory is like. Lets see how many of the artists I have seen over the years, I can actually remember. The good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve set myself 10 minutes (so I might miss a few). Here goes….

Whitesnake x4, Motörhead, Deep Purple x3, Black Sabbath, Ozzy, Dio, Rory Gallagher, Tin Machine (David Bowie), Scorpions, UFO, Meatloaf x3, Blackfoot, Mountain, Alaska, Saxon, Magnum, The Firm, Eric Clapton, Tom Jones, Ronan Keating (x2) my partner to blame for that…. Blue Oyster Cult, Alice Cooper x3, Gary Moore, Deacon Blue, The Kinks, Kirsty MacColl, Pink Floyd, Nils Lofgren, Killswitch Engage, Birdland, Bernie Torme, Roy Harper, Suzy Quatro, Paul Rodgers, Chris Rea, Marillion, Runrig, Asia, Al Stewart, Neil Young, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman, Terence Trent D’arby, Simple Minds, Lou Reed, Bonnie Riatt, Chrissie Hynde, Jackson Brown, Little Steven, Bryan Adams, Squeeze, Tina Turner, Extreme, Was Not Was, Lyle Lovett, plus those with son.

Ten minutes up….

Random memories

Today’s mobile phone, out of focus, wildlife photo. Another bird flying.

Another night and another bizarre dream. An LP (yes vinyl) was being released and I wanted to make sure I got a copy. So I camped out overnight outside a small record shop. During the increasingly wet and cold night the public telephone (just a few paces away) kept ringing. When I picked it up I could hear my partner at the other end, but she couldn’t hear me. Finally the record store opened and I walked in to find that what was the towns only music shop had been turned into a hairdressers…..

The record store in my dream was one from my past. I lived in a small seaside town which had few record store options. We had a Woolworths which was great for a few compilation records and those bizarre records that had the hit songs on but always performed by not the real artists. We had a Boots the chemist which sold a few records but only those from the likes of Sinatra or Shirley Bassey. Boots never allowed you to return records if they were scratched. Thankfully the town also had a little record store. A small ground floor, with an even more cramped first floor attic. The store was next to the towns Bus Station. Tony’s Records was my Saturday Mecca. I would spend hours pouring over album covers, carefully working out which record to buy.

Got so many memories from Tony’s. That time I bought a Mountain Live double LP. It was reduced due to a few minor scratches. Basically every song was unplayable accept one. Thankfully that one song, Nantucket Sleighride lasted 24 minutes. For those of a certain age in the UK, that song was the theme tune to the Sunday political show – Weekend World. I did get to see Mountain play that song live at my first ever music festival at Knebworth.

I remember Peter Cook and Dudley Moore bringing out the Derek and Clive records. Painfully funny but shocking. That bad you had to be over 18 to buy it. Tony’s wouldn’t sell it to me so I asked my mum. Nine the wiser she strolled into the store. The look my mum must have got when she asked if they had a copy of Ad Nauseum.

I bought my first cd from Tony’s. It was Rory Gallagher. Bizarrely I didn’t actually buy my first CD player for another year. I just couldn’t afford one. I just wanted to have one of those circular works of high magic.

That little shop closed down many years ago, but clearly it’s still going in my dreams