Summertime Blues

On the day I was born THIS was number one in the Top 40.

“Have a drink, have a drive”

Have a crash?

Side-burns and demijohn as a percussion instrument aside, it is a catchy tune, but I’d rather have hung on in there for a few more weeks and slithered out to Elvis Presley’s The Wonder of You. Then again, it could have been Tom Jones’ Daughter of Darkness, which some light say, would have been more apt.

It was summer. The days were long. The jeans were flared and summers seemed to go on FOREVER, as happens when you’re on child-time because child-time is different to real time. Everyone knows that, right?

The skies were bluer. The clouds puffier and the sun cracked the pavements EVERY SINGLE DAY!

Then there were family holidays..

I’m fairly sure we went away most years but I only remember a few holidays and judging by sulky chops on most of the photographs, i.e. me, I can only imagine that I was my usual shit self during each and every one of them. I can only apologise to my parents who no doubt sacrificed all year in order to give us a nice holiday. If they were alive today, my autism diagnosis would maybe go some way to explain my behaviour…

I tried hard to enjoy holidays but being in unfamiliar places (and sleeping in strange beds) sent my anxiety orbital. The beds often smelled funny and had, er, unidentifiable stains, and at that time my olfactory sensitivities were monumental. Also, I couldn’t verbalise my problems so this reflected in my behaviour. I was either ‘showing off’, ‘naughty’ or ‘moody’. Moody, I’ll hold my hand up to but I wasn’t ever intentionally naughty and I was too introverted to ‘show off’. What I was, was overwhelmed…

It also pissed me off how flies used to do that circles round the light fittings. Why do they do that? Daddy Long Legs were much bigger when I was a child. They. Were. HUGE. Spiders were the size of COWS and the world was against me in general. Despite all this, I was supposed to enjoy myself?

Sometimes we stayed in B & B’s. I HATED that. It was bad enough being in a strange place with my own family without having to cope with being around strange people too? Strange sociable people who really annoyed me with their constant, “Are you going to give me a smile?’

No. Eff off.

I didn’t say the F word, obvs, as Mum would have ended my life, but I certainly thought it. Why couldn’t they understand that I looked miserable because I FELT miserable?

Then there were the days out..

If I was lucky there would be a plan and I’d know where I was going (sort of) but more often than not Mum and Dad did the ‘spontaneous thing’ which cremated my brain. The result?

This.

Beach days were the worst.

What child doesn’t like the beach?

Me.

I like it now (when it’s empty) but not then. Never then..

I considered it a breach of my human rights to be made to take my clothes off on a beach in front of strangers.

“Who do you think’s looking at you?!”

Well, I don’t know, Mother, perverts perhaps?

To be fair, most children stripped off without a care in the world but I wasn’t like them was I? I was a self-aware misfit. I refused to remove so much as a sock without Mum standing in front of me with the biggest bath towel we had and even then I tried to keep my knickers on under my bikini bottoms. Yes, I was that girl.

One bikini in particular stands out in my memory. I was about 4 or 5 but it was way too big for me. In those days, you had to grow into stuff so nothing fitted. The top was more like a scarf and the bottoms were saggy-arsed which was dead amusing, apparently. The relief when I was upgraded to a swimsuit was IMMENSE!

The whole beach experience was an onslaught to the senses. The smells. The noise. The stimuli..

We had a little Calour Gas stove and I liked the smell of the gas. Possibly inhaled more than what was healthy for me, though. Then there was Ambre Solaire which Mum and Dad slavered over themselves. They’d sit and sizzle in their deck-chairs, havin’ a smoke and drinking countless cups of tea and be in some kind of heaven while me and my brother whinged like buggery – him because he was stuck with his moody little sister and me because I wanted to be sand free and back HOME with my Enid Blyton’s.

I feel guilty about it now because Mum and Dad worked hard to keep us fed, clothed and living in a nice clean home. They deserved a nice holiday but I always managed to spoil it for them, not that it was EVER deliberate.

When it comes to weather – THAT summer of 76 overrules all other summers in my entire memory.

In the Summer of 76, the average house cost £12,704. Wages were about £72 p/w (in those days they came home via a brown envelope) and a loaf of bread cost 19 pence. 19p!!! You could get a huge bag of sweets for like 5p. Imagine that, Kids?!

It was, like, SOOOOOOOO hot, the tarmac on the roads melted. Google it!

Chopper bikes, Space Hoppers, Quosh (warm), water shortages, IRA bombings, unemployment, flares, platform shoes, white dog poo, really great music, really shite music, melty roads and deviant DJs. The 70’s had the lot. I don’t remember the serious stuff because I was just a kid. What I do remember is how uncomfortable I felt in general. Summer is supposed to be fun but it’s not that simple for sensitive souls is it? Plus, I have to remove my cardi, which is like asking an NT to remove a kidney.

Dare I say, roll on Autumn?

“Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.”~ George R.R Martin ~ Game of Thrones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Love

Two weeks ago, a suicide bomber targeted the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. He chose to detonate his bomb as people were leaving the arena. 22 people were killed, many of whom were young. 116 people were injured. Manchester mourned its dead and the rest of the world mourned with them.

My heart ached with sadness that a human being could deliberately set out to do this. That he could stand next to people throughout those hours just waiting for his moment to devastate lives. It’s beyond comprehension..

I know I should avoid the news. It affects me long after it’s no longer ‘news’. It sends my anxiety spiralling and is bad for my health but sometimes I get caught up in things and I got caught up in this.

Whatever life has thrown at me.. music has been there to comfort me in a way that nobody ever can because music speaks where words fail. Having gone to concerts myself, I understand the feeling of euphoria that comes with seeing your idols perform live and I take comfort in the knowledge that those kids got themselves some happy in their last hours on this earth. That means something to me.

As a parent, my heart broke. So many lives cut short and for what? Ariana Grande was also in my thoughts. Most artists live for what they do and making people feel good is a huge part of why they do it. They want people to leave their concerts feeling happy with memories that will last a lifetime. Imagine being Ariana, knowing that children died in the worst way after seeing her perform? That must have been incredibly hard to cope with. Lets not forget that she is only 23 years old herself.

When the attack happened, I’d never heard of Ariana. I love my music but I am out of touch with what’s in the charts. To look at her, you’d think a decent gust of wind would pick her up and carry her off but last night she proved just what she’d made of as just TWO weeks after the attack she came back to Manchester to play a benefit concert for the 50,000 people with anybody who could prove they were at the original concert getting free tickets.

I watched it via live stream on Twitter. I was an emotional wreck watching it this way. I can only imagine how emotionally charged the atmosphere was at Old Trafford. It wasn’t your average concert, you see. It was special. It was about musicians and people coming together and sticking the Vs up to the terrorists. It took guts to be there. Ariana would have been forgiven if she’d have disappeared off the radar for a while. Not this lady. Not only did she come back, she also brought people with her.

The likes of Katy Perry (who I thought was Annie Lennox until I shoved my specs on), Little Mix and Miley Cyrus may not be my cup of tea but they all showed courage last night, especially as London had been attacked the day before. Even though I don’t connect with their particular style of music, I enjoyed watching the faces of those who do. The infinity you feel to someone who speaks to you via music is something I can definitely identify with.

The highlights for me were Robbie Williams, Coldplay and most of all, Liam Gallagher –  Mr Rock and Roll star himself – who flew in from Germany to support his city. The music changed to a distinct ‘rock like feel’ and my first thought was, ‘OMG, Oasis?’ Just as I was about to reach for my Beta-Blockers, Liam strolled on stage wearing his orange cagoule. No Noel, but we got to see Chris Martin perform with him on Live Forever which I thought was kind of cool given that Liam once compared him with a geography teacher but I guess even rock and roll stars grow up, eh?

Tweet of the night had to be this by Dean Lane about LG.

Daughter: Who’s that in the big coat, daddy?

Dad: That’s an absolute fucking legend, sweetie.

There’s been a lot of flack for Noel about him not reuniting with his brother for this concert. Personally, I feel it wasn’t the right time for an Oasis reunion. Why? Because they are one of the biggest and most iconic rock bands, ever. For Liam and Noel to share the same stage again would have overshadowed everything else. It was Ariana’s night, not theirs. It was right that a concert in support of Manchester should have Mancunian artists on the set list. Chris Martin, singing part of James’ ‘Sit Down’ wasn’t lost on me as James are a Manchester band. Take That were formed in Manchester..

Seeing Ariana sing with the Parrs Wood school choir gave me proper panda eyes. She held a girls hand and when she started to lose her composure, Ariana held her closely. Not a dry in the place. It was an act of love from one human to another but the night was all about love. People connected by a love of music and a determination that no arseholes will dictate their lives for them. The point of terrorism is to strike fear into people, divide them, and to stop them from living their lives. The One Love concert was proof that they have failed to accomplish it. Manchester’s response to terrorism was to sing it’s heart out.

What Ariana accomplished is nothing short of amazing. Any concert takes time and planning but when it involves numerous artists it’s a huge undertaking but she pulled it together in a week. Ariana has my utmost respect. Respect for how she’s found the courage to come back after what must have been a tremendously traumatic time for her, but also her ability to stay vertical in her eight inch heels- an amazing feat in itself.

Her song, ‘One Last Time’ is beautiful in it’s own right but after May 22nd the lyrics took on a different meaning as it was one of the last songs (if not THE last song) those kids ever heard before they went ‘home’.

So one last time
I need to be the one who takes you home
One more time
I promise after that, I’ll let you go

A good thing happened in Manchester yesterday. In the space of two weeks we’ve seen humanity at its worst with the bomber and at its very best in the aftermath. Music has united us in the way that only music can and from my little corner of the world, I was part of it.

Blessings to Ariana and everybody who took part in the One Love concert, including the policeman who was filmed skipping with some children. You Sir, are a legend. This is what the world needs to combat the evil. Love will beat evil, every time.

I’ll leave the last word with Liam, the voice of my generation and one of Manchester’s own.