Wednesday, 25 February 2009

When life gives you lemons

My sweetie and I have both been given lemons lately. In fact, today we were each given a whole bag, quite out of the blue. (You know I'm speaking metaphorically, right?)

They say that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. (Once again, who are "they"? They have a lot to say.) And so now we need to make lemonade. Lots of it. It's either that, or we'll end up totally bitter ingesting our lemons. It's not always easy, though, turning negative situations into something positive. Luckily we're here to support each other in the process.

We certainly have enough lemons to make lemonade. But what will our lemonade taste like? How will we make it? How do we get started? And when do we start planning to throw our lemonade party?

It's hard facing down the barrel of so much uncertainty. My work situation has been dodgy for a while, and another prospect closed for me today, but my sweetie's was always considered 'safe'; this has now changed. I usually try to make a conscious effort to put a positive spin on negative situations; it's not easy, but I've certainly improved in recent years. So, here I am trying to find a positive way through our current job situation. I know we'll get there, but it just might take a little time yet before we're ready to throw that lemonade party.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Top Gear Live

Finally, I have downloaded my photos from Top Gear Live. We went to see the show last weekend in Auckland; we were at the Saturday morning show. Here is a review from the first (Thursday night) show. This was my sweetie's Christmas present; it also coincided with Valentine's Day - not to be confused as they are separate events. ;-)

So, where to start? We saw the Top Gear exhibition on Friday afternoon; just as well, as it was really wet on the Saturday, incredibly busy, and we were very pressed for time. The live show featured Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and NZ driver Greg Murphy in place of James May. As Clarkson said in his introduction, the show is basically "a tour of all the countries we [Britain] used to own". The banter between Clarkson and Hammond is just like you see on tv; jokes about the world's smallest presenter, and the kiwi accent (did you know The Stug was part of the show?) were an opportunity too good to resist.

And so the fun began. Excellent lighting, sound, and pyrotechnics set the scene. Various stunts abound, and then the first challenge: a take on the world's smallest car episode. The challenge was to actually make a smaller car. Hammond came up with a trike that was run on two belt sanders, Murphy pulled something tiny out of a suitcase, but Clarkson topped the bill with his "car you can wear", complete with jeans, cowboy boots, and a shirt. They had to race three laps around the indoor track; as you can probably imagine, it didn't go entirely smoothly. Here is a tiny video snippet to give you an idea of what went on, taken from our seats near the back:

Some motorcycle stunts followed next and the collander of death was brought in. Unfortunately, my video turned out sideways, and until I can work out how to rotate it, this photo will have to do. Towards the end, there were four stunt riders zooming around inside the orb (which isn't as big as it looks!) all at once.

There was a lot of audience participation, including the cool wall, and then a local session drummer took to the stage on a drumkit made entirely of car parts. Everyone took part in the lap, 'driving' the car and turning it left and right by holding a green and red piece of cardboard up to the cameras, while making loud car noises to make it go faster! We did pretty badly, but weren't quite as slow as the other Auckland shows (so far).

The segment I enjoyed the most was car football, featuring two teams of Suzuki Swifts. This was really funny to see in real life. It was a NZ vs England match, captained by Murphy and Hammond respectively. The game wasn't without casualties; England's car #2 got 'injured' and had to go off to the sidelines to be replaced by #4! New Zealand won (just). Here's a quick video to give you a better idea:

I suppose if you're not a Top Gear fan, this post won't have made much sense to you at all. But if you are, or if you've been to the show, hopefully you'll have a better idea of what I've been on about. We're really keen to now see a show being recorded. The only problem with that is that we're unlikely to get to the UK any time soon. Oh well - something to aim for!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

The Pragmatic

The Pragmatic is described as a wry comedy about the routines, or 'ruts', in people's lives. Initially set in a bar, we meet Paul, a smart-ass barman with an indeterminate accent, Steve, a less-than-successful briefcase salesman with a fondness for whiskey and gin, and Sarah, who ends up pulling Steve out of his rut and setting him on his path to global domination.

Cleverly scripted and well acted, The Pragmatic is about making changes, breaking rules, over-inflated egos, and the consequences of combining these things. My favourite quote was "quitting something you hate is almost as good as doing something you like". Very wise words; after all, we have to start somewhere!

Carnival fever

Yesterday was a day of carnivals and festivals in town. The Petone Rotary Fair was in Jackson Street yesterday, just around the corner from us, so we meandered along during the day. A small version of the Martinborough Fair, around 300 stalls packed about 2km of Jackson Street, complete with live music and kids' rides. We came away with our fair fudge (of course) and some raspberry-chocolate liquorice; what else is there?

And then it was the big one: the biennial Cuba St Carnival. Several streets in downtown Wellington were closed to make way for stalls, temporary bars, more than 80 bands, and other entertainment. This is topped off by the mardi gras style parade at 9pm. It's hard to describe the parade; the weirdest and most wonderful floats wander past you and the costumes and effects get better every year. We had friends dancing with a couple of the salsa floats. It's the kind of event that just makes you want to get up and shake something.

Whoever decided to plan both of these events must have missed a visit by the logic fairy. It's unfathomable that two large-scale events like these could take place in the same town at the same time and on the same day. What were they thinking?? Both were well-attended, and my friend's band, Shenanigans, managed to play at both events, but stall holders wouldn't have been so lucky. It will be interesting to see what happens in future years.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Improv - The Secondary School Musical

We have just got back from another hilarious Fringe show. Improv - The Secondary School Musical was our second date with The Improvisors this month. This time, it's a take on Disney's High School Musical (2006). Our 'tour guides' from our walking tour of Jackson Street were back - back in their prime as school students, that is.

The audience were asked for four key components, around which the show would be built. We were asked for a group which exists in schools; librarians was the decision. The 'thing' became risoni, the ambition was to run the cross country, and the theme was world domination. The scene was set and the story, complete with unrequited love, mobile phone humour, and very recent current events, developed.

Accompanied by an improvising musical trio, the cast of seven gave their best impersonations of singing teenagers. A range of characters evolved, including the hapless 'Alessandro', son of an Italian diplomat (while his real students were sitting in the audience behind us). The head librarian, who harboured dreams of being a cross country runner, was ousted from his role by his doppelganger, another boy who became corrupted by his new found power and in turn schemed a sinister plot to dominate the [library] world while regaining the friendship of a certain girl. What a fantastic way to escape the world for an hour or so with laughter. We'll look forward to their next show.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Relaxation massage course

I am a tactile person (not a kinesthetic learner), meaning that I like to touch and my senses are stimulated by touch. As a result, I love massage, both giving and receiving them. Mmmm.

A while ago I changed one of my goals to take a course in relaxation massage. (I find it hard enough to make it to my usual Ceroc classes each week, let alone a structured course in ballroom dancing, hence the change.) Massage something I've always been interesting in learning more about, after having years or remedial and relaxation massages myself. I'm not looking to set up my own business although, quite scarily, I'm now qualified to do so, as massage is an unregulated industry in New Zealand. I already have a willing line of friends along with my sweetie to practise on.

I spent Monday and Tuesday on a two-day 15 hour course in relaxation massage. We learned basic sequences for massaging the whole body, including a range of techniques which could be adapted and used on different parts of the body and for various effects. This includes both effleurage and petrissage strokes. It is incredibly important to be aware of your own posture as you give a massage; your body tells you very quickly when you're using your back/forearms etc to follow through with movements instead of bending your knees and using your whole body for support. I came home from both days physically exhausted and needing more massage myself ...

I was surprised at how much we managed to cover in two days. Each sequence involved watching a demonstration, then giving and receiving ourselves. Some parts were quite challenging; personal space goes entirely out the window, along with any inhibitions you may have!

My sweetie gave me a voucher for a relaxation massage on Valentine's Day. I'm now really looking forward to using it (well, I was looking forward to it anyway) but will no doubt experience this massage in a different way to how I have in the past. I might try and book in an appointment sometime next week. It's another goal for me, as was the course: #62 - Take a course in relaxation massage.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Desperate Housewives returns

Desperate Housewives is back on for series 5. Come Monday nights at 8:30, you know where I'll be. Ahhh.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Strike Soundsystem

I've seen Strike in action a few times now and really enjoyed each experience. When they're playing well, the group is on fire (sometimes literally!) with tight rhythms and a great creative flow. We enjoyed Strike Elemental last year and looked forward to Strike Soundsystem as part of the Fringe Festival.

The first half of tonight's show started really well, with some new takes on older Strike pieces. As always, it's great to experience the artistic brilliance of Murray Hickman, a founding member of Strike. You can see he not only loves what he does (and does it well), but he lives and breathes it in every beat. Tom Pierard has come a long way in his drumming, and has obviously developed a great rapport with Leni Sulusi, who creative flair is always enjoyable. Takumi Motokawa's quirkiness has developed into a reasonably solid sound, although I missed the dependable rhythms from Tim Whitta.

So, why the second half then? From the sloppy changes on stage in between pieces, to an unnecessary MC (where did she go to during the second half - and why was she replaced by that terrible rapper?), it went downhill quickly. Most of the guest performers were very talented in their own right and would normally be a pleasure to hear; give them their own shows, I say. If 'collaboration' involves random jamming with all and sundry, some appropriate and others definitely not, then keep it for a Sunday afternoon in your studio or a nightclub somewhere. I know the guy balancing on chairs was impressive; I just see don't see what he had to contribute to a Strike performance. A few people walked out; I just felt like the group had let themselves down. I caught up with a drummer friend on the way out, and I can say that he was also less than impressed.

Will I see Strike again? Yes, but I will be carefully checking what they're planning on performing; if it's another 'collaboration', then count me out.

Sorry, guys, but stick to what you do best: being yourself, by yourself. As my sweetie said (and even said I could use this line in my blog - lucky me!), "are they trying to be Strike or a cheap rap band?". Good point.

Round the Bays

I am really proud of goal #5. This morning, I completed the Wellington Round the Bays 7km walk. I wasn't as prepared as I could have been, so was a little anxious about how I'd do. I was aiming for 10 minutes per kilometre, and was pleased to find that at each marker point that I was exactly on target. I finished the whole race in 1 hour and 6 minutes. I was thrilled!

Wellington turned on a picture-perfect day for more than 18,000 people to amble around the coastline; the sun was shining without a cloud in the sky. It was quite a sight to see literally thousands of people either running or walking along the streets. A half-marathon left about an hour before the main races began. There was entertainment, spot prizes, massages, as well as free bananas and water bottles for those at the finish point. Round the Bays is a fantastic community event.

There is another 8km walk not far from where I am in two weeks' time, and I'd like to get out and try it again for the women's Start Me Up Challenge. I've already txted a friend and she's keen; let's hope the good weather continues and inspires me to keep up training.

Friday, 13 February 2009

A day in Auckland

We spent Friday in Auckland, the City of Sails and badly behaved weather. It went from being the hottest day in 137 years yesterday to a cooler, overcast day today. We arrived late last night in humid rain. Out came the umbrellas.

We're in Auckland for my sweetie's Christmas present; I had got him tickets to see Top Gear Live. Our time frame for Saturday is really quite tight, so we decided to see the Top Gear Exhibition a day before the show instead of at the same time. A very wise decision. Being a Friday afternoon, most of Auckland were still at work, school, or stuck in traffic, so we had open access to almost everything and very little waiting.

There were cars and cars and cars on display. Funny that! As expected, there were lots of car-related products and car enthusiast sales persons ... and then, something for me: competitions! Yes, I entered about eight competitions for a whole range of prizes; some I wouldn't mind winning and others I have no idea what they are, but that's not the point, really. Just the fact that I could win something is enough to draw me in. (It also got me a free sample of some miracle car cleaning product. Apparently it also does your shower; I wonder if he would have brought that up if he was trying to sell it to a guy?)

My sweetie had a go at driving a few laps of Bathurst on an advanced motion stimulator. And then a hyper stimulator. He took photos of the car he thinks he wants me to buy him. (I'm surprised by his choice; it was clunky, and not purple!)

Another highlight of this trip was being able to spend some time with my closest friend (goal #4). I don't get up to Auckland very often and she very rarely makes it down to Wellington, so this goal is a real treat for me. It was also the first time she got to meet my sweetie. (If you're a girl, you'll know how important this is.)

I met my best friend during our first week at teacher's college in 1993. She was studying in Wellington for two years, then spent the next few years following her partner around various towns and cities the North Island before settling in Auckland. 14 years, a husband and two children later (hers, not mine!), our friendship has largely developed over the phone. (She's only just recently managed to join the 2oth century and get Internet access at home - even though it's now the 21st century!) Dinner at her house tonight was the usual chaos of family and food; I love knowing that things don't change with us. Every time we meet up or talk, it picks up where we left off. I could go on, but let's just say that I feel really lucky to have such a long, enduring friendship.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Coffee tales

I met a friend for lunch today. Having worked together for a while, we will often stop by a café on the way to a meeting and pick up some takeaway coffees. We know each others' regular orders, along with some others from our team, so it's a reasonably simple process. Reasonably simple. You see, she orders her coffee in a particular way, one I've never come across before.

Wherever we are, she will order a "large cappuccino with two sugars in a 'to go' cup but to have here". It's quite a mouthful, but I've memorised the speech word for word. It is always immediately followed by a confused look from the barista, then the same clarifying question: "oh, you want to take your coffee away. Shall I have it ready for you when you leave?" No, she wants to have it there and at the same time as the rest of our order.

However, when I order coffee, I want a real cup, not a cardboard or styrofoam one. And, yes, I also want to have it there. Except mine will be a trim cappuccino with one sugar (in the morning), or a long black with two sugars (in the afternoon), or a trim latte with one sugar (for the times in between). Between the two of us, we seem to have been served every possible combination of crockery, milk and sugar. Some places even get it right!

She is the total opposite to another friend of mine. If we pick up takeaway coffees somewhere, she will wait until she gets back to the office and then pour it into her coffee mug; apparently she can't stand hot drinks unless she is drinking them from porcelain, china, or, as a last resort, glass.

I've yet to take these two out for coffee together. I'm sure they would get on well, but I have no idea how our coffee orders would turn out. One day, I might be brave enough to try it, but in the meantime I think I'll just meet them separately. ;-)

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Lies and Other Stories Before Bed

"Oh, Fringe, lay thee Drama on with a trowel."
I love the Fringe Festival. As I have said before, what you get on the night is a mixed bag. Tonight's show, Lies and Other Stories Before Bed, featured a talented cast of six (plus one), a complex script, as well as a few head-scratching moments. The four-piece band provided great background atmosphere; it's great to hear live music and theatre come together so well.

So, what was the play about? Good question. Here's the bio from the website:
Long ago, in a land far away, Brian and Alice had once been happy. But for many months they had not made love. When Alice became enchanted by a American seductress, Brian started talking to the children he kept locked up in his head...
An uproarious, risky and rousing threesome of theatre, film and animation.
This is a clever show, mixing live theatre with small film snippets illustrating scenes which happen away from the main sets. I couldn't quite work out whether the children Brian hallucinated were supposed to be his, either in the future or kids who never came to be. (I don't think they were, but ... ) They had an intense love-hate big brother-little sister relationship and appeared at all the worst moments, which certainly didn't help Brian and Alice's ailing marriage. (Of course, she couldn't see them.) Or Brian's job, for that matter.

At 1 hour 45 mins, the play went on a bit and a few scenes could have been trimmed here and there. The American seductress who tempted dear Alice away from poor old Brian was drama laid on with a trowel, as were some of the scenes involving the kids. The ending was nothing short of bizarre, but I suppose that's what Fringe drama is all about. An enjoyable show, with just the right degree of unconvention. (Is that a word?)

Monday, 9 February 2009

Musical meme

Here's a musical meme with a slight difference. It's doing the rounds in Facebook, but I thought some of the results were really funny (but hopefully not all true!), and I like to copy and paste. ;-)

  1. Put your iPod or iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc on shuffle.
  2. For each question, press the 'next' button to get your answer.
  3. You must write that song name down - no matter how silly it sounds!
  4. Tag people ... you know how it works.

If someone says "are you ok", what do you say?
And She Was - Talking Heads

How would you describe yourself?
Don't Worry, Be Happy - Bobby McFerrin

What do you like in a guy/girl?
Gett Off - Prince

How do you feel today?
It's Raining Men - Weather Girls

What is your life's purpose?
Working For The Man - Roy Orbison

What's your motto?
Sorrow - David Bowie

What do your friends think of you?
Shining Star - Earth, Wind & Fire

What do your parents think of you?
Keep On Running - Spencer Davis Group

What do you think about very often?
Big City Life - Mattafix

What is 2 + 2?
Highway Chile - Jimi Hendrix Experience

What do you think of your best friend?
Listen - Herbs

What is your life story?
Please Mr Postman - The Marvelettes

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Walking On The Moon - The Police

What do you think when you see the person you like?
My Guy - Mary Wells

What will you dance to at your wedding?
Closer Than Close - The Bee Gees

What will they play at your funeral?
I Second That Emotion - Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

What is your hobby/interest?
Escape (Pina Colada Song) - Rupert Holme

What is your biggest fear?
Love Theme - St Elmo's Fire

What is your biggest secret?
Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa - The Commitments

What do you want to do right now?
King For A Day - The Thompson Twins

What do you think of your friends?
I Can't Go For That - Hall & Oates

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Jackson Street - The Short and Incomplete History of a Very Long Street

We went to our first proper Fringe 09 event this morning. By 'proper', I should point out that we went to the Wellington Comedy Club on Thursday night. It's supported by the Fringe Festival (ie two-for-one tickets with a Fringe addict card), but Fringe officially started on Friday. The headline comedian, Benjamin Crellin, was funny; the other two comedians first up and the MC were average at best.

Jackson Street - The Short and Incomplete History of a Very Long Street is a walking tour taken by two members of The Improvisors, an improv comedy/theatresports group based in Wellington. Being literally around the corner from here and, even better, entry by donation, we would have been silly to miss it.

Nearly 50 people followed 'Ross' and 'Matthew', our walking tour guides, up and down Jackson Street, the main road in Petone. We were entertained and informed by little known facts about the area and various streets and landmarks along the way. The facts are little known because, largely, they have been completely made up, or the tiny bit of truth in them is has been somewhat stretched and therefore is hard to find. These were interspersed by various theatresport games, like Word at a Time, Emotional Rollercoaster, and Alphabet (using the Maori alphabet).

As always, The Improvisors put on an great show. Their type of improvised humour, interchanged among the cast and reacting to audience participation, always makes for hilarity and entertainment. We are looking forward to their next show in a couple of weeks' time, Improv - The Secondary School Musical.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Martinborough Fair

The Martinborough Fair is held on the first Saturday of February and March each year. Martinborough is a cute little wine growing town in South Wairarapa, about an hour north-east of Wellington. The town centre is set out in the shape of a union jack and is named after an Irish immigrant who, in the 1800s, purchased a large sheep station and subdivided it into enough plots to make a town. Streets are named after various places he travelled to on the way to New Zealand; I always find it hilarious to drive up New York Street in such a tiny town.

We usually go to the Main St Deli in Greytown for brunch, or at least a coffee, on the way. It makes for a good day out and means that you can miss the worst of the traffic. (Well, only just.)

Anyway, the fair is a huge event, bringing thousands of people and 450+ stallholders to this little town. After you've been once or twice, it's easy to become familiar with the positioning of each stall, and they remain largely the same from year to year. I knew exactly what I was after today and quickly found most of it: fair fudge (cos you can't go to a fair without buying homemade fudge), a straw hat, a merino wrap for my friend who is about to have her second baby, and some earrings (I always buy a pair of earrings somewhere). I didn't manage to find anything for my nephew's first birthday next weekend, so I guess that means another shopping trip. I picked up a lovely printed wooden block of two daffodils on a blue background for just $5 - gorgeous. I also found some relatively cheap sheepskin slippers, even though it is sooooo not the right weather to be trying them on. (It was scorching hot in Martinborough, with just the tiniest breeze.)

Hmm, I can't believe I went out of town on an incredibly hot day and bought sheepskin slippers. Oh well, we had a great day and it's another thing done that I wanted to do: #51 - Go to the Martinborough Fair.

Friday, 6 February 2009

The Tea House on Mulberry Street - Sharon Owens

Today is Waitangi Day, a holiday in New Zealand. Instead of doing anything productive, I have spent most of it relaxing with a book - one of my favourite ways to indulge. I have devoured Sharon Owens' novel The Tea House on Mulberry Street (2003). Being a fan of Irish novels, I was loaned The Tea House, my first introduction to Sharon Owens. It's a wonderful character-driven story, very much like Maeve Binchy in style, and a delightful way to relax on a holiday.

The plot revolves around Muldoon's Tea House on Mulberry Street in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A chain of characters is introduced, each one seemingly unconnected save for their habit of visiting the tired and shabby tea rooms. It turns out that more are connected than they ever would have thought, and some of the plot twists are hilarious. Heartwarming, humorous, and incredibly 'feel good' by nature, this is an enjoyable summer read.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Sevens parade

The Wellington leg of the International Sevens is on tomorrow and Saturday. This is always a huge party; some people even watch the rugby! The question everyone is asking is "are you going to the sevens?", followed by "what are you going as?" (if the answer is "yes"). You see, it's not the done thing to go as yourself. Oh no. Check out the pics of us from last year's sevens.

Wellington is very much a party city. Everyone gets into the spirit of something or another, and February is a bumper month for events and activities, including many that are free (or very affordable). Alas, we weren't able to get tickets for the sevens this year. We were going to throw a non-sevens party and have everyone dress up, but it never eventuated.

I did go to the sevens parade today, though. This has become something of an annual event for me and a friend (aside from the fact that it happens once a year). I used to work near Parliament, where the parade starts from, we would meet up to watch it each year. It's a great celebration of culture from the sixteen teams in the event, and an exciting way to start off the weekend, even if you're not into rugby. Although the floats seem to be scaled down each year, it's still an event I enjoy and make a point of trying to see. Here are a couple of pics from today's parade:

As you can see, there were various forms of transportation:

And here's a small snippet of drumming by the Kenyan team's supporters:

Tomorrow also happens to be a holiday for us (Waitangi Day), so I'm looking forward to a relaxing day (starting with a sleep-in!) and maybe checking out some of the entertainment on offer on Wellington's waterfront. The weather is perfect tonight; let's hope it lasts until (at least) Monday!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Fringe 09

The Fringe Festival is about to start in Wellington. Until the end of February, I am going to be a Fringe addict, indulging in the mixed bag of music, the arts, theatre, drama, and comedy that Fringe offers each year. Almost anything goes at Fringe. Events and shows range from those performed by newcomers, recent drama school graduates, one person dramas, whole cast ensembles, amateurs, professionals, and everyone in between. This results in extremes; I have been to some embarrassingly bad performances, but also some of the best (and funniest) shows I've ever seen during previous Fringe Festivals.

There are about six shows I like the look of, so that makes a Fringe addict card ($15) incredibly worthwhile, as it brings the costs of most events down to $10-12. Even acts by The Improvisors are heavily discounted. I am really looking forward to their show Improv - Secondary School Musical, an improvised comedic take on High School Musical (2006). We also hope to join them on their walking tour, Jackson Street - The Short and Incomplete History of a Very Long Street. I'm also hoping to catch my third Strike Percussion show, Strike Soundsystem, a one-off performance. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The day the music died

50 years ago today, 3 February 1959, was the day the music died. I was alerted to the significance of today's date via this blog post. Put aside the drunken karaoke warblings of Don McLean's American Pie; this was the real event.

I was at just the right age when La Bamba (1987) was a big hit. I knew little of Ritchie Valens at the time, but Mum liked The Big Bopper and Dad was a Buddy Holly fan. Mum was also a big Dion fan (my brother is a living reminder of that). Watching the movie repeatedly over the next few years contributed to some of the musical history I was steadily acquiring. I guess the reason why many people could relate to the Ritchie Valens story was because he was living the life so many envied (a superstar at age 17) while still being a regular nice guy.

Buddy Holly's influence on music as we know it was phenomenal for someone so young (he died aged 22). Perhaps this was a contributing factor; the world loves a tragedy. Where some of his playing and singing lacked polish and finesse, it reeked of promising songwriting talent. Maybe it's less of the music itself that catapulted Holly into rock and roll history, but equally due to what his music represented at the time: a fresh, promising new sound (without being over rebellious), along with its accompanying image. This was unheard of in the late 1950s; nothing quite like Holly had come along before. Hank Marvin (The Shadows) played candy apple red Fender Stratocasters because Buddy Holly did, and a whole generation of guitarists followed suit (my father included).

Has the music ever really died? It hasn't for me, and I hope it never will. There are endless interpretations of what this phrase means for people, just as there are different understandings of what actually happened on that day. Regardless, today marks the anniversary of a signifant day in musical history. I'm off to play my Buddy Holly CD now.

Image used without permission. Source:

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Dear Fatty - Dawn French

I have spent the past couple of weeks getting to know Dawn French (of French and Saunders and The Vicar of Dibley fame, among others). She is the sort of character we all think we know in real life, so endearing are her on-screen persona. As I read through her memoirs, Dear Fatty (2008), I'm sure I could hear her voice narrating each story. Dear Fatty is a series of letters written to family, friends, and celebrities recalling and retelling events, situations, incidents, or snippets from Dawn's life. Often humorous, always warm, it's easy to be drawn in each story. It wasn't until part-way through that we discover who 'Fatty' is (spoiler alert - it's actually her comedy partner, the stick-thin Jennifer Saunders). Great title, though.

Some points touched a nerve; I cried as I read the letter to her dad about his suicide when she was just 19. (I was 18 when my high-school boyfriend committed suicide.) The chain of events she described, and the endless questions she threw at him, were astonishingly accurate for me.

Determined to keep on making every moment in her life count, even in the face of challenges, I came away from reading this book feeling inspired to 'do stuff' ... I'm not entirely sure what, but it certainly leaves the reader with the impression that anything is possible. (And I hope so - I need to find a job this month!)