All of Me

I’m currently in the process of getting life insurance, because now I’m a lady of a certain age, it is sensible to provision for the kids should it all go BOOM unexpectedly. All those adverts which state ‘no medical needed, just a few questions’ have no chance of ever giving you a decent lump sum, so I had to do the entire ‘just fill in these 35 pages and don’t you dare lie’ application and when they sent me back the answers, it transpires I missed a fairly vital piece in my family puzzle. My father’s had Type 2 Diabetes for a while, and was diagnosed (I believe) before he was 50, but as to when, I don’t know (and to be honest I doubt he could tell me.) The fact I have no desire to ask is neither here nor there, but for honesty’s sake I declared this.

Then, on Friday, I got a text message: CALL US NOW. So I did, and a lovely lady took a load more questions (plus checked I’d not lied on my form by double-checking some other answers) and then informed me if there were any issues, I’d speak to someone else before the cover was finalised. On Monday a letter arrived stating that I’d admitted an issue and that I needed to call them, but if this had already happened I could ignore this waste of postage and trees that was legally required to confirm they’d contacted me in writing. I assumed I was done, until the lovely lady who’s helping to complete the cover phones me and stated she thought I needed to call the company as well.

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It is staggering, considering the world in which we now live, that it takes so long to get basic stuff done. It should not need two phone calls and a letter to confirm a simple change, but it does because all these people need to be employed doing something. If computers did all this with a 30 second algorithm there’d be cries of fowl and that you need the people in the equation for checks and balances, but that doesn’t happen. Nobody talks to anybody else, and if your computer system only updates once every 24 hours? WTF are you doing? That’s 23 hours of the day that everybody else ends up wasting and nothing happens. Woe betide you have to work out how to do stuff from scratch. You only have to look at the car-crash that is the Brexit ‘plan’ to understand what happens when you just decide to do something without organisation. The problem, of course, is that it’s either too much, or nothing at all. Middle ground, where everyone is helpful and happy, just doesn’t seem to exist.

It’s been two months and I’m still not covered. Maybe they’re hoping I die and then they won’t need to pay out. Perhaps nobody’s prepared to insure anything any more because of the volatile nature of society. All I know is that I’m getting fitter every day and this is becoming progressively more ridiculous, and I sure as fuck am very glad I didn’t leave this any later to sort out because honestly, what a fucking performance.

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Talking of performances, was dragged by husband to KT Tunstall at the local venue. No, that’s not fair, I went willingly, mostly because I’m a great fan of anyone who can singlehandedly sound like a complete band with minimal effort. Last night I’ll admit I enjoyed her angsty styff more than her ‘I’m over my breakup here’s my cheery stuff’ but the audience were all up by the end so really, my opinion’s just that. I’d kind of hoped she’d do ‘Default’ by Atoms for Peace because this, without doubt, was the highlight of her last gig for me, and I’m a sad woman who knows what she likes.

At the end, my husband began acting a bit oddly, and I couldn’t work out what was going on, until it became apparent that the Scottish songstress had hurled her guitar pick into the crowd and it had hit him on the hand. A lot of frantic scrabbling then resulted in him picking it up and proclaiming a victory. This of course had to be Tweeted about, because well why not.

To explain: KT explained how she’d hurled various items into the crowd at previous gigs (including a kazoo and a drumstick) and managed to hit people in the process, and that legal action was always a concern. My husband’s hand is uninjured, hence the assertion we won’t be contacting lawyers, because they’re even slower than the bloody insurance people. It took a while, but I’m glad to see that the good lady responded.

This yet again proves my assertion that if you talk to your heroes, you’re always in with a chance of a response.

The future isn’t instant communication or days waiting, it remains somewhere in between. If you can maintain that balance, then you’re doing it right.

Lemon Crush

You’ve seen the gags, I don’t need to repeat anything. The inevitability of being born is that you die. When it happens to someone you know and someone you respect in short order, that’s quite painful. My husband is in Pontefract, Yorkshire today for the funeral of one of my favourite great Aunts. I only met her once, but she was kind and generous to a fault. Then, yesterday, I saw a Twitter rumour I still haven’t grasped, despite the fact it’s clearly totally and utterly true.

It’s not as big a wrench as Bowie, because he was my generation. Prince was the guy I never really understood because he was an American. However I’d be totally belittling myself if I didn’t admit how influential he was in areas of my life. The Batman soundtrack still sticks in the memory, Let’s go Crazy is probably the song that I’d pick as my seminal reminder of his influence, but mostly I’d have to respect someone who never gave a rats ass about what anybody thought and just did his own thing. That alone’s worth the column inches and remembrances.

You can brand yourself successfully, people. You can be whatever the fuck you want to be if you have enough strength of character, and are prepared to push the envelopes of creativity. Mostly, you live your life as it comes, a day at a time, and make the most of every one.

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The most EPIC of side eyes will be sorely missed.

The End

Some things are required watching, listening or reading. Those moments that define what a generation stood for, or encompassed. For many, the Beatles were that for music, and that means the passing of George Martin is extremely significant. If four lads from Liverpool made the music, Martin was the way that sound evolved. His production is legendary and frankly amazing considering the time he was in and what was at his disposal to use. If you’ve never listened to anything he’s been involved in? Think again.

Martin produced a lot of people, including Shirley Bassey : he’s credited with the production on this Bond theme, but Wikipedia would like to dispute that.  Mostly, Martin was a genius for the fact he thought outside a box that became increasingly restrictive for the Beatles during a period of quite obvious experimentation. I’m not a big fan of the Fab Four, I’m a Rolling Stones girl when all is said and done, but there are moments where I’d be lying I didn’t get influenced. Ironically, the animated ‘Yellow Submarine’ is a key point in my life at 16, especially the sequence that accompanies ‘Eleanor Rigby’. You can see it here, and those images became an obsession of mine. The strings alone are a work of genius.

Mostly we’re now at a point where a lot of the seminal influencers of modern life for the older generation are going to leave us, purely due to the ravages of time. As they do, it gives us an opportunity to reflect on how influential a number of these people remain. Martin’s legacy to production will never be undersold, and should never be understated. It doesn’t matter how great a band you are live, when it comes to being remembered for eternity, production matters.

This guy was like it or not, an utter genius.

Alphabet Street

I’m three pounds short of 160. We’re getting there.

Days like the one above have been a bit thin on the ground of late, but I intend to shove some exercise in every day this week. Mostly I need to spend an hour making compilations of music that work for my increased work rate, so I don’t end up listening to the same some on autorepeat about twelve times. As the weather is rapidly improving it will be time to get the stompy walk boots out and to put some hours in on pavements as opposed to treadmills. Part of me actually enjoys drawing pictures using GPS, and it occurs to me that with a bit of rudimentary planning, I could do something clever. Leave that with me while I consider the possibilities.

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Walking to and from the Gym has now become the best way to get the extra steps in. This is of course largely impractical at night when time becomes the bigger issue. As long as I can exercise in daylight? Job’s a good ‘un, and that means getting better organised than I am right now. I’m also doing other stuff for the next couple of weeks on top of all this, which means honestly what am I doing here I should be outside now.

WTB [Better Organisation] PST.

The Next Day

So, I woke up this morning and walked into the kitchen, and everything just feels different. It is odd, looking back on the last 24 hours, on just how amazing a day it was, not just for the bad feelings. I learnt an awful lot about how my online ‘friends’ dealt with grief, because most of them are not my age or indeed as immersed in music as I am. There was the inevitable ‘how can you grieve the loss of a stranger’ crap from certain quarters but that’s going to be inevitable from anyone without a soul who doesn’t grasp the significance Dave Bowie had on an entire generation of souls who never fitted in to begin with. For those of us who lived and breathed his work? This is gonna be a tough couple of weeks, but there’s a path to follow.

Mostly, a lot of people will be living in the past without any real desire to leave.

Losing someone you care about inevitably brings up memories that you shared, even if the person you’re grieving never actually met you. That’s why people end up as affected as they clearly are over Bowie’s passing: he touched millions upon millions of people’s lives with his music, his art, just by being a metaphor for rebellion. As a result many people will remember the first time they heard Album X or Song Y because it associates with a crucial part of their own evolutionary process. As a result, you become indivisible not simply from the man, but the music too. As friends to sad sacks grievers like me the trick is to listen to the stories and then nudge me past it. Because you don’t live in the past any more, it is dead and gone and to survive and flourish? You need to move forward.

To do that, it’s probably time to distract myself more than usual.

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I made this. Well, mostly.

I am reminded of Bond this morning; the modern incarnation’s life is wrapped quite significantly around death, and returns to original canon with the loss of his parents as a child as an indicator of 007’s modus operandi. Because bereavement is such a significant and unavoidable part of existence’s due process, it is amazing to think how so many people aren’t really prepared to deal with mortality better, but part of the point of living is not to concern yourself with anything but that process itself. One of Bowie’s undeniable strengths, right up until the moment he passed away, was understanding what he was, how everything worked around him, and that to be a great artist all you ever needed to do was embrace yourself, both good and bad. There were mutterings yesterday, disapproving noises from those who would argue that a habitual drug taker and bisexual performer will never be a role model. Yeah, we all got that, and we weren’t in love with him because we knew that was right. This man represented all the glorious that was possible when you were bad and wrong sometimes: even he, in the end, could not cheat death. He lived enough for a thousand lifetimes though, and what this just goes to prove is that if you want to taste the real highs, sometimes you have to sink very low to find the true path to redemption.

In that regard, the number of lives he touched is amazing and significant, and should never be underestimated as a result.

Mostly, today I get my house back in order, both physically and metaphorically. Once that’s done I’m going to try my hand at at least one new thing, and make sure that my step count stays as high as it has been to maintain the health momentum for the month. After that? Who knows. We’ll see how things pan out. Things aren’t worse today than they were yesterday, far from it, and the future’s different, interesting without a true innovator within it. Let’s see if anyone is man/woman enough to step up and fill the breach, though I guarantee they won’t ever be an exact fit. It might sound like hyperbole, but to say we’ll never see the like of Bowie again? Perfectly acceptable. They don’t make performers like him any more, because the world in which he was fashioned is dead and gone.

In the future, the challenge is different, and undeniably exciting to anticipate.

Let’s Dance

The last time I cried in a kitchen over someone I’d never met, the world lost Iain Banks, and I grasped just how much my life had been influenced by the Scotsman with a heart often as black as mine. This morning, at about 7.50am, Life on Mars played on 6Music and I just lost the plot completely.

Some people define what a generation became, and I suppose that’s what the London boy did. All those people who didn’t know where they fitted in, felt dispossessed or somehow *different*… that’s what he gave them all. He defined musical output for every one of the 69 years he lived, and the fact his last album released on Friday? He knew the end was coming, but because David was a showman, he never stopped until the last breath, and for that he garners the most respect of all. Because life is about living, the first moment until the last, and that’s what the man did.

So, ask me how David defined my life, and here’s what you get.

Everyone will look to Space Oddity, but this is the song that defines me, without fail. The lyrical beauty if it is incomparable, and the relevance even at this moment? Take a look at the lawman/beating up the wrong guy and it’s last week, last year: this song is timeless, eloquent regardless of context.

But really, you need to go to 1977 and Low to realise where this man completely changed everything. This is his collaboration with Brian Eno which pretty much began my love affair with ambient electronica, the same year ELO gave me instrumental rock. I went though Scary Monsters and Super Creeps with an almost joyful enthusiasm and that was it, I was utterly hooked. I’ll freely admit, early Bowie has pretty much escaped my notice because this was when I began my love affair with the man’s brilliance, and there’s going to be quite a lot of catching up this week. Also, anyone who does summat like this is a fucking genius.

Of everything I’ve read thus far today? A random Tweet sums it up better than I ever will. If there was ever a metaphor for current life?

This is probably it.