Bellini Bliss

This time last week we were checking into the gorgeous Hotel Du Vin in Newcastle, sitting on a private outdoor terrace drinking wine and contemplating much cake-age and gig fun to come. I don’t think I’ve recovered from that one night of excess yet. Afternoon tea at Du Vin was as always lovely – some reviews I’ve read complain about the ‘sparseness’ of the portions. Really? We had sandwiches, a scone each and 3 cakes, tea and a complimentary cocktail.

Bellini Bliss & chocolate eclair heaven

Bellini Bliss & chocolate eclair heaven

For us the portion sizes were perfect; indeed we couldn’t finish our 3rd cake each.  This was my first ever Bellini cocktail, and boy was it delightful?! I don’t generally drink cocktails but this was bliss. Him Underfoot meanwhile had something called a ‘Stormy Weather’…hmmmm!

There were photos taken of me, but I had basically been eaten by the corner of a squishy leather settee and look like a munchkin woman so I am preserving my dignity by deleting the evidence for all eternity!  We stayed overnight at the hotel, and I had to be pried out of bed for breakfast – it was like sleeping on a cloud.

Cloud Bed

Cloud Bed

We trundled off to the gig at 6ish – doors opened at 6pm, so they told us. They lied. Doors opened after 7. I have to say, goths form a generally very orderly and non whiney queue. There was a little bit of glitter throwing at one another but it was all very civilised. On entering the bar / venue / low ceiling’d hovel the barkeep fastened ‘age verified’ bracelets to us – the place had just been raided for underaged drinking, Turns out parents are taking their kids to gigs and plying them with beer so we were also not allowed to buy more than one beer at at time. Given it’s horrifically inflated price this was not an issue.

So. On stage trundles Acoustic Boy (I’m sorry, can’t remember the poor lad’s name). Played like Ed Sheeran with his balls in a vice. Then got progressively shriller. Think he’d been electrocuted, again in the gonadal area.  Hats off to him for the entertainment though.

Then the lovely Bad Pollyanna. Sigh. If you read this blog you’ll already know I love them. Well, they were better than ever and I got a great big girl hug off Olivia. So now I can die happy. Well, perhaps after Whitby where I get to see them again.

Followed by AshestoAngels. Bloody hell! On record they sound a bit like Green Day. In person they are quite extraordinary. The lead singer Crilly appears to be on a rocket powered pogo stick. Except it’s just his legs. So much fun and energy – I so want to see them again. And again and again. I laughed and smiled through the entire set. And found my own bit of pogo power.

So, William Control. I had no real expectations for his set. I noticed there were many teenage girls getting rather excited at his presence. Then he came suaving up on stage and they all started screaming….dear gods! I’d forgotten how shrill adulation could get. There was this rather beautiful man singing like the bastard child of Depeche Mode and New Order….if I’d been 15 years younger I suspect I’d have been screamaging along with the youth. I confess myself both a little shaken AND stirred. And that doesn’t happen to these crusty old bones very often these days (well, unless I’m watching Gannicus in Spartacus…IGNITION!).

William Con - uh, ok gratuitous Gannicus picture

William Con – uh, ok gratuitous Gannicus picture

I was utterly foot sore and just a little bit merry as we walked back to the hotel (feather bed…aaahhhhh!). Him Underfoot proposed a pint in the bar where I ordered possibly the most expensive glass of Pinot Noir I’ve ever drank. Who cares? It was awesome. And the sofa ate me again. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….

Read the small print

Ice bucket challenge. All for charity, right? Nope – originally it was created to get out of donating to ALS, a bloody awful disease that deserves every penny it raises for research and support for people with this awful disease. Now ice buckets are being dumped from high on the great and good. Has the message been lost? I suspect so. Macmillan have rather naughtily suggested it was their idea in the first place. I’m not getting into the politics; what I will say is that I worked with some brilliant charities, and the ones that I choose to donate to are not the ones that give me the highest social media status.

So Mine and Him Underfoot’s current status to anyone even remotely considering “nominating” us for the ice bucket challenge? The House of No Seasons and it’s grumpy gothic residents are saying ‘BUGGER OFF’.
Computer Says No

Computer Says No

It’s great that social media can raise awareness. It’s great that it raises money. But the cynic in me watches people strip to their soggy short and curlies with no intention of donating, just to flex those perfect pecs, and thinks, no thanks. This mass produced self gratification just ain’t for me. 

 

The Professor’s Monthly Homework Assignment: Vintage Heavy Metal Music

So this is the first of these assignments I’ve carried out, and a great place to start because I can’t imagine my life without it being filled with music.  Beware the nostalgia wallow to follow…! My father loved Neil Diamond, my mum Cliff Richard (this apple fell quite far from that particular tree!). Before they split they ran a pub in which there was a solitary turntable that cranked out late 70s singles, including the phenomenal Gordon is a Moron by Jilted John, and Ian Drury’s Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick.

Aged 17, post Jesus & Mary Chain gig

Aged 17, post Jesus & Mary Chain gig

At the same time my big brother was falling in love with metal. AC/DC, Led Zep, Iron Maiden, Rainbow, Slayer, Black Sabbath, The Scorpions – the first posters on my otherwise pink bedroom walls were his discarded Rainbow pics (‘it’s been only an hour, since they locked her in the TOWER!’ – 20th Century Greensleeves). I was designated his personal slave at this point of our relationship and every Saturday after the night before he’d lie stinking in bed and I would have to change his records for him (he cringes when I remind him of this now!). He also loved the theatrical – Meatloaf, ELO and Queen. Through him I had a solid metal education which stood me in good stead with the long haired boys of my clubbing years – whilst my personal tastes were decidedly goth, I could talk Ozzy with the best of them.

House Party Era: Oh Dear!

House Party Era: Oh Dear!

As I am the only person left in the family with a turntable I have now inherited his entire vinyl collection. At Christmas last year Big Bro turned up with several boxes, and his lovely wife also gifted me her alternative 80’s (including most of the Smiths back catalogue). Christmas Day 2013 then became an epic sing off in the dining room, much to my mum’s horror. All was going well until my brother and I decided to have a duel to ‘Whole Lotta Rosie‘…

During the late 1980s and early 1990s I spent time in my bedroom wearing black, fingerless gloves indoors in summer and listening to the Cure, All About Eve, Jesus and the Mary Chain, The Mission etc etc like a proper baby bat. These years didn’t have a great deal to offer for the local goth in Newcastle, so we all mushed in with the metallers in Trillians rock bar and then the Mayfair nightclub. My best friend Heather was – and still is – an uber-rock babe. I’d be swathed in black cotton or velvet, she’d be strutting about on podiums in faux leather hot pants and bustier. All the boys in sixth form were into Guns and Roses, Anthrax, WASP and the Kings of Hair Metal – Motley Crue. It was as if the 1990’s grunge era bypassed Newcastle – like me it was stuck firmly in the 80s though I did an impressively bad dance floor stomp to Smells Like Teen Spirit.

I still love this music. It reminds me of a time when life wasn’t so complicated.  It was light in world that was otherwise swathed in shades of black. It was my openly guilty pleasure. It brings my family and friends together, bonded under a common thread of nostalgia.

Pre-clubbing photo: several ozone layers were damaged in the taking of this picture

Pre-clubbing photo: several ozone layers were damaged in the taking of this picture

This music has also wound it’s way into my writing. Each book I’ve written, or story I’m plotting, has a playlist. The metal era informs my 1980’s coming of age novel, Poison Prince, where every chapter heading is a song from the 1980s. I have I-Pod playlists set up accordingly – for novels each one has a total of 31 tracks for no reason that I have yet fathomed. I’m currently researching music of the Great War which is taking me into completely uncharted territory – hymns, classical music, war ballads etc. The playlist isn’t complete yet but it begins with Vaughan Williams Lark Ascending, which was written on the eve of war.

Tonight I’m off to an alt / goth gig. Right now I’m off to crank up my old turntable again, and shake my ass to a Queen crescendo. Have a great weekend, people.

Recovery

Recovery…has been slow. This chest infection was a great deal harder to fight off than normal. I suspect this is a sign of my overall lack of self care recently, and my generally low mood. Well, today I need to snap out of it.  I haven’t posted any Bat Fit updates, because frankly I haven’t moved either an inch or a pound from my original position!  Even a short walk has been outside my capabilities for the past 2 weeks. The good thing about this is that I have generally been inhaling badness (sugar, alcohol, dairy) whilst unable to exercise at all and haven’t actually gained any weight – though next week I need my ‘sense’ chip to kick back in before the creep begins..

The joys of my throat infection, neatly illustrated by Dave McKean

The joys of my throat infection, neatly illustrated by Dave McKean

However, this has now passed, and whilst (*my constant use of the word ‘whilst‘ really irritated my tutors in Scotland!) I am very much on the mend, I look dreadful! Him Underfoot and I have decided to pick ourselves up this weekend, and have booked the dog in with her grandparents for a night, whilst we swank off to a deluxe suite in Newcastle’s Hotel Du Vin, with afternoon tea booked for 4pm tomorrow. This coincides with the William Control ‘Punishment’ tour being in town, so we are off to see him, Bad Pollyanna and Ashes to Angels whooo!

This may seem like a major indulgence (actually it is!), and it comes courtesy of my lovely brother & his wide who gifted us a Du Vin voucher for Christmas. We were supposed to use it in February for Him Underfoot’s birthday, but sadly that was the week my Dad died, so everything was cancelled and we’ve not had the inclination to use it until now.

So I’m planning a mega self pampering session this afternoon. I’m awaiting an Illamasqua delivery (scheduled rather precisely between 12:17 and 13:17) – they are having an epic sale and I really needed to update my precision ink, lip glosses and satin primer (sadly the one thing not in the sale). Cue spending frenzy and much anticipation, plus a real clear out of stagnant make up.

Also, I never quite know what to wear for gigs. I’m staying in a posh hotel, fancy wearing a frock for tea – but it’s not suitable for the gig. So I will no doubt look like a pack donkey when I troll up at the hotel as I will be unable to leave home without 3 dresses and several pairs of boots. I know the venue, skinny black jeans are by far the most appropriate attire (though there was a fairy there when I went to see Ayria). I do suspect we will be the oldest swingers in town at this particular gig, but never mind!

A face full of blueberry goodness

A face full of blueberry goodness

WHOO! Delivery goodies just arrived, so now time to go soak, shape eyebrows, slaver on Lush’s blueberry catastrophe face mask and then have a major wardrobe argument when I pack for tomorrow. Things can only get better!

 

Slump

Call it post holiday blues.

I’ve got major slumpage going on. The respiratory infection I’ve picked up along the way isn’t helping much.  Add to this the fact I have asthma which is often affected by weather and the wind outside is 50-60mph, then my cup is definitely less than half full. I can’t leave the house because I find it hard to breathe, and if I don’t get a daily walk I get majorly crabby.

Time to crank up the music and re-energise whilst house cleaning. There’s much to look forward to next week – goth gig on Friday (Bad Pollyanna + Ashes to Angels + William Control), followed by a free local music festival on Sunday headlined by the amazing Bridie Jackson & the Arbour. Him Underfoot invariably cries when he sees Bridie, I invariably cry when BP play Invincible Girl. Oooh that’ll cheer us up!

I suspect part of the downward mood is caused by my recent research for my current writing project based in World War 1. There are nights when what I’ve been reading renders me incapable of sleep. I’ve had to put all research to one side after 6pm and switch to innocuous urban fantasy (currently reading Anne Rice’s Blood and Gold). I’ve also been visiting various WW1 exhibitions which are leaving me an emotional wreck. I’ve scheduled a year’s work for this project, and if this is how it leaves me in month one, then heaven help me by the end. Still, I believe in the story I’m crafting; when the bones of something you’ve written make people cry then you know you are onto a story that deserves to be told.

There’s something quite soothing about blogging these thoughts out of my system (though the reader may not agree!). It’s been a bugger of a year, and emotionally I’m only just beginning to deal with some of the fallout. Scotland helped me to see a way forward; I think I underestimated just how much of an emotional journey it would take me on.

Take care, gentle folk.