Scary Monsters and Super Creeps

I can’t speak for any other writer as to how their creative minds operate, but mine is VERY particular when it comes to inspiration. As should be abundantly apparent by all these #Blogmas posts, music is an indivisible part of existence. How that manifests has altered significantly in my 50 plus years on the planet, and is worth examining in more detail.

The first song I remember as a kid was this one, part of a cassette tape that got played until it broke… Disney songs, words to which I knew before being able to either read or write. My grandfather gave me a Glenn Miller cassette. I found a Simon and Garfunkel album and my father never asked to have it back. Then, he offered a copy of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John and my journey into music began in earnest.

When Punk happened in the 70’s, I listened to Ultravox and Duran Duran as a New Romantic, but loved Madness and the Specials as Ska. Anarchy frightened me, but The Damned’s New Rose remains one of my all-time favourites from that era… and so the exploration continued, taking in Indy, Jazz, Classical and Electronic along the way. I’ll listen to anything once. For it to stick? There needs to be something special.

Emerging from the very depths of depression, this song has huge significance: originally used to advertise a certain computer game, it was the first time that my brain and music engaged in a collaboration which has now become indispensable during the creative process. From music, pictures spring forth that never previously existed, and these visual aids then send me back to the page to record them.

It has now become a case of learning how to transcribe these visual clues onto the page. If I’m honest, that’s taken nearly two decades to perfect, but now we have utterly cracked it, there is no holding the creativity back. If a plot falters or won’t move forward, finding the right tune to fit action before and after is often a great way of easing the transition. Music isn’t just for writing however, it can also unfreeze my consciousness.

Music and exercise have become an indivisible and potent combination.

We’ll tackle that on Wednesday.

Rain

Today is the first of four general history posts. I could begin with some words on my love of Madge (up until 1992 when it all went a bit introverted, with a brief Ray of Light back in 1998) or perhaps it would be better focusing on an interest in Japanese culture this video gives a nod to. However, reason why this song starts our sequence has everything to do with the piece of writing it inspired and nothing at all to do with anything else.

This happens an awful lot in my life, and if there’s to be a proper history of what got me to this point, then music must be acknowledged for its part within that process.

It is 1983. I’m part of the ABC Fan club, and get invited to be an extra in Mantrap, a film that involves the band and that woman who starred in the video for Poison Arrow. A love of cinema and TV had secured me a place at college reading Media Studies and English, and to be an extra in what was basically a glorified music video was, let’s be honest, the pinnacle of a New Romantic lifestyle. However, it was music that mattered most of all.

That entire period of my life had been peppered with odd musical experiences: growing up with heavy metal, AoR, folk, jazz, big bands and comedy records. If I’m honest it was the comedy which had the most lasting affect, but everything else fell together into a massive, varied backdrop to my existence. Music ties itself to old boyfriends, significant milestones, even the worst parts of my life. For everything, there was a soundtrack, recalled in far greater detail than anything else.

This song, for instance, played in a car on the way to a wedding. I don’t remember who it was getting hitched, or why I was in the car with the person for whom this song is now forever associated, but they are and it still is. The smell of the rapeseed outside the car, the car itself (Blue Peugeot 205 with a Lemming graphic on the back) and the fact that someone independently confirmed I could sing. Literally everything else is lost to time.

If you claim to know me, you will grasp the significance of music in my life. Lyrics are remembered long after names and places have been forgotten. How that shapes my writing is a complex and often amazing process, which we’ll talk about further down the line. For now, understand and appreciate the significance all forms of the craft have in my life, from Classical to Thrash Metal and back again.

Music is almost as much a part of me as blood and bones.

Pictures at an Exhibition: Three

Having pinned up my plans for October, it is time to go into a little more detail.

Symphony

The idea is simple: tell a story using haiku, pictures and with a musical background. It is a love story, because of the running joke that this is all I’m really good at. The #Soundtracking2018 Playlist will be the music that daily accompanies each haiku and picture selection. I’m still debating how to pull the #Narrating2018 selection into this, but there’s an idea… and so next week will be when all the disparate threads are stitched together. It helps that there’s almost 2000 pictures in my Flickr account to use as a basis, but that’s only half the plan.

October is when there will be new pictures too.

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I’ve missed setting a challenge for myself that involves more outdoor work. That’s what this is about, pushing comfort boundaries and putting my various skills to better use. Once I have the final details sorted, it will be time to pick suitable ‘locations’ for my pictures, and the format they’ll take. To mix things up a bit there’ll be composites like the graphic above, separate photos and haiku, and… well, I learnt a lot of good lessons from last year. Plenty of audio and visual media can be utilised for storytelling.

sellers

I’m genuinely excited for October. There’s also other stuff to do, plus a couple of deadlines which need consideration, but there’s enough everything can all be fitted in.

Time to crack on with organisation

Feeling Good

There is much excitement in the house, for tomorrow is Elbow at Hammersmith Day. I’ve managed to not see this band for far too long, and tomorrow this will change in a deliberately intimate gig that is already making me vibrate silently with excitement. Considering the shit weekend I’ve just had, the next five days is already looking rather awesome. I’d been ready for a fight this morning over the washing machine but instead I have an assessor coming on Wednesday and the promise of a new machine. The week’s traumas have all sorted themselves out almost mechanically and to top it all, I now have two days next week booked and planned for getting my health looked at, securing some new spectacles and finishing off my Podcast gubbins once and for all.

It is almost as if this hard work is finally paying dividends.

If you’re a regular reader of the Other Blog, you’ll also notice I’ve gone up to two posts a day. Some of them will be new but others will be reposts of notable stuff from ‘times past’ because with over 2000 articles in the back catalogue, I’d now be seriously stupid not to occasionally repeat myself. What it does mean is that parts of the gaming site will get revamped and updated, and posts like today’s ‘How to Start Blogging’ will be repackaged from time to time to remain current with changing trends. it’s not like this isn’t done on the Internet anyway by the entire rest of the population to begin with. I’m also going to get in the habit of writing two posts a week here and scheduling them if necessary. You can expect regular content therefore as follows:

  • Monday: FICTION DAY 😀
  • Wednesday: General Discussion Topic FTW.
  • Sunday: Week in Review.
This is part of my long-term commitment to Getting Shit Done. 

On that front, there is a piece of Fiction ready for upload, so let’s get to it 😀

White Knight

I tend to bang on a bit about how great I think Twitter is, and how people shouldn’t treat it with the contempt so many have of late. It is a fantastic tool for communication, especially adept at making shared experiences even more intimate. You only need to have been in our house during the 2012 Olympics, for instance, to understand how it can make significant events even more vivid and engaging. Yes, it’s full of trolls and wankers and misguided people who think it’s just an exercise in being seen in the right lists by the correct people. What most fail to understand is that there are moments when the utter brilliance of the platform just comes into its own, if you grasp that most people in the world, even the famous ones, are pretty much just like you.

So it was this morning that I saw via Twitter that Mr David Arnold, the man who wrote that amazing piece of music up there at the start of this post, is going to do some concerts in April next year in Liverpool and Manchester. I saw him in July, at the Royal Festival Hall, and my mind was pretty much destroyed at the utter genius of a bloke who, I have to say was likeable, honest and incredibly normal. He has a singing voice that is beyond impressive and his musical CV aligns pretty much in tandom with most of my favourite movies since Stargate. Most importantly, he wrote the scores for four Bond Movies that are my undoubted personal favourites: Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Only Goldfinger and The Living Daylights rank higher or equally, and a great deal of that love is down to soundtracks that are utterly perfect, tip their hat to the classic John Barry scores of the Connery era and act as aural scenery in the best visual moments. I therefore had no qualms in posting the following:

It might read like hyperbole, but I was on a high for a week afterwards. When he started the second half of the concert with ‘White Knight’ (which is the background for the pre-title sequence in Tomorrow Never Dies) I did actually squee out loud and was given that disapproving look by my husband only reserved for the most serious of transgressions. That piece is on my most played iTunes compilation, and gets listened to at least weekly. It’s not a lie, this was the best night I’d had out in 14 years. However, in three days I get to see Kate Bush at the Eventim Apollo, and if I believe half the hype I’ve read, David might have a serious challenger for his title. I mentioned this in a subsequent tweet and went back to my work, with a piece of Arnold playing in the background as accompaniment (Caviar Factory, for what its worth.)

Four minutes later, this happened:

I squealed, alone at the PC, in utter amazement. The fact that he’d GONE AND READ MY FEED and knew I’d mentioned Kate Bush before he came and responded was one thing to begin with, but the fact he’d done that at all just frankly blew my mind. Here’s a guy I know will be up to his arse in alligators with the stage version of Made in Dagenham being prepped for a West End Run. But there he was, talking to a 47 year old mother of two in Essex. I had to try and make a conversation of it, because I’d kick myself if I didn’t, and I was determined not to be all gushy. I know David likes to talk biscuits, it is even in his Twitter bio. This was common ground, however slim. So, I took a deep breath and made my pitch.

Three minutes later, it was over. One of the men I’ve respected for decades because he’s done things to Bond music that utterly captivates me, had taken a moment and changed my entire day, fuck my whole week. He didn’t need to, but he did, and I’m sitting here grinning like a loon even now at the thought I got to realise a dream I never realised I had. I told him how happy he’d made me, and he responded with all the grace and brilliance I was sure he was capable of giving.

The moral of this story? Sometimes, just stop and make the most of the moment, because you never know where that might take you, albeit briefly. David Arnold made my week in three and a bit minutes. Who knows what might happen to you if you stop and take the time.