Culture, Covid, Carol, Keane.

I laughed my socks off! First thing, I got this message from Carol, “Sterling K. Brown. The master of the single tear down cheek.” Haha. He’s the guy from,‘This is us,’ and Carol and I LOVE it. It’s true too, this actor can produce grape sized tears at the drop of a hat. It’s all so bloody cheesy and American, but we end up snivelling too, haha. We will soon need to get a therapist (even dogs in America have therapy), only eat egg whites in our omelettes, say ‘erbs instead of herbs and get PTSD. I remember when I first met Carol; she came for singing lessons many years ago and I instantly liked her. She’s a trusted friend and a real team player, never gossips, swears just enough, works hard, is kind hearted, great at stringing up bunting, is equally happy at the opera or in the pub, rarely grumbles, is a spiffing speller AND she will wear a beard when required. A perfect human! If I was computer dating (which I’m not – I am waiting for the correct time to get a rescue dog), I would say that these are the qualities I would need in a man, although of course, he could grow his own beard. I’ve really enjoyed this weeks Zoom sessions although not sure if the choir have, haha. What’s lovely is seeing familiar faces, saying hello, smiling – oh I miss a good laugh and smile! We need some jolly times and our mates around us now, more than ever. I’ve been revisiting ‘somewhere only we know’ by Keane. We recorded this many, many years ago with the choir. I think we should do it again. I’m also fiddling with Tom Odell’s, ‘can’t pretend’ in between doing the very long score for the La La Land medley.

Carol (left) and Vicky – Oom Pah Pahing.

I am always full of grand ideas about reading books – but honestly, I couldn’t get through a book unless I was on holiday and had absolutely nothing else to do. I do try, but I read a few lines and then my mind has wandered off somewhere entirely different. I love selecting a good film or documentary instead. Lockdown watches are surprisingly cultured this week: ‘Maria, by Callas’ (BBC iPlayer), is very good. It’s entirely her own words. Unseen footage and interviews. She’s so much more, err…human than I had expected. Very warm, open and honest. An amazing talent and a gentle soul. Another great film, about another great talent – The White Crow, tells the story of Rudolf Nureyev’s early years. It was a good watch and the actor/dancer playing Nureyev did a fantastic job, BUT for me, the scenes where he was dancing were so mediocre (but who could play Nureyev convincingly?), that it was a bit of a let down – I wished somehow they had merged real footage of Nureyev dancing (with the lookalike), as he was breathtaking. The Great (Channel 4), is an odd series, very near the mark and a bit too juvenile even for me. It gets slightly better (although Nicholas Hoult’s acting doesn’t) but I gave up despite the gorgeous sets and lavish costumes.

Amigo III with his beautiful nutty red hair and dark brown eyes. xxx

Amazing! The U.K. have vaccinated 3.6 million in such a short time. I don’t hear the keyboard warriors celebrating, although they have gone a little quieter, haha. I’m sure they are busy pushing their grandmas to the front of the queue for her jab. Today, I rolled my eyes, as I read some FB comments about ‘scaremongering’ after news about temporary mortuaries in the U.K. That’s just a simple fact, as we approach 90,000 deaths from Covid. They rant that government figures for Covid deaths include those that died of other things, while being Covid + and frankly, why does this matter? How many deaths would they feel happy to be reported? If someone with a bad heart/lungs/cancer etc., gets Covid, it WILL contribute to their death anyway. If they die with a broken arm and Covid, then I expect the latter was the cause of death. Simple. However grotty it is being stuck at home, we really have to stay put if we want to stay safe. The Government have introduced new, tougher penalties for those not sticking to the rules.

Amigo I – Jigsaw Boy xxx

Living in La La Land.

It feels like everything is a bit surreal at the moment. A bit wonky. It’s a strange start to the new year and surely what none of us expected. I’m not liking it much if I’m honest – groundhog days at the moment. The best place to be, is in La La Land, so that is where I have been staying for the last few days. Woohoo – finished it and it’s at the bottom of this blog. So, I have used the three main songs (the only three I really like) from the film. I’ve started with City of Stars and then played the piano theme as a link, to join the last song, The Fools who Dream. The whole thing has some rather clashy harmonies, but I think it suits it – it needed a little grit. For the Hearties – it’s a tough one, but will be their terms song challenge. There is a bit where I want our (real men) to slide down a whole octave to a low gravely note. I tried and tried and no matter how many cigars I smoked, I couldn’t get there, so I asked Caroline for “one low note please,” hahaha. I sent recordings of my attempts (sounded like a death rattle) and somehow she understood what I wanted! Yay. You can hear her low note at the end of City of Stars.

Yes, wonky. That’s it.

I’ve so far stuck to my January challenges (which I started on 27 Dec) and look slightly less like Charlie Dimmock. 1. It’s a bloody hard time to diet as there is nothing to do except work, cook, clean and watch tv. The first couple of weeks of dieting are always easy and then it gets boring and I get increasingly hungry. However, I haven’t cheated once even though lockdown is dull. 2. I have been moaning slightly, but I don’t suffer fools well and just want the world back to normal. I am much less ranty. 3. I have taken all of my meds, every day. 4. I haven’t hunted for a Whippet. 5. Sibelius is cracked! Woohoo.

Amigo III pondering some quantum physics. xxx

CP recommended I watch a documentary about the last five years of Bowie’s life. I did. I’m never quite sure how I feel about Bowie as he’s done as much complete and utter rubbish, as he has good stuff. It’s ‘The Emperors New Clothes Syndrome.’ I would have told him when he came up with a complete din or was dressed like a nutter. However, he did create some amazing music and was quite a trailblazer and a nice man. There are so few good pop stars around, and most of ours are ancient. A plus though is that they’ve all been vaccinated in the first round and can at least go on tour! Covid deaths have reached 80,000 in the U.K. It’s absolutely tragic. Imagine an entire stadium full of people – that’s how many.

Amigo I, about to go out bear hunting. xxx
La La Land Medley. © Arr Max Wilson.

Sweet peas, Sarah and cookies.

It’s dangerous leaving me here in my safe little bubble for so long, because I have too much time to dream things up. Now I have cracked Sibelius, I am ready for a new challenge and am attempting a La La Land Medley. There aren’t many usable songs in it, but there a couple that I do like (very good lyrically) and they are perfect songs for helping us get better at navigating between notes – lots of jumping around (the music, not us!). Another thing we are working on, is a new-look Ruby Sisterz. They are now called The Sweet Peas and are going for a whole new vibe and putting together a show. This is fully exciting and is going to be just lovely – it would have been PERFECT for Sarah’s birthday celebrations yesterday, which due to lockdown couldn’t be properly celebrated. I am hoping our Sweet Peas can sing in her garden in the summer, next to her real sweet peas. What a VERY lovely thought! Sarah shares her birthday with my Uncle Jimmy, my dads eldest brother. You can see him in the photo lower down. Due to lockdown he couldn’t celebrate reaching the grand age of 80 with all of family! Postponed.

Here we all are after singing at a wedding. It must have been late summer 2018 as I have post chemo hair and Amigo II is titchy.

Covid. On Friday, 1,325 tragic deaths, the highest daily toll since the pandemic began. Some are saying, “it’s a hoax/we shouldn’t be in lockdown/Boris has ruined our economy.” What rubbish. I would LOVE these people to spend a day helping in one of our inner city ICU’s, without being given PPE. The government has pumped all the money they can into keeping us going. We have vaccinated more people than the rest of Europe combined. We are a densely populated country and sadly, a large proportion of our population have thrown fuel on the fire and everything has exploded – I am not saying the government always get it right, but let’s do as Paul McCartney said, and ‘all stand together.’ Social media unfortunately allows the irresponsible to spread nonsense which affects people’s safety. I am trying to remain calm and not rant, but this is history and I hope my Amigos read this in thirty years time and never encounter it again in the future.

4/5 of the Day siblings. Vera, Dad, Kenny and Jimmy.

Twiddling your thumbs at home? Get baking! We are doing some fun Rockits cookery challenges. The current one is, DECORATED COOKIES. The guys from the choir are going to judge it, with our star judge – the Cookie Monster. My cookies are baked and I will ice them tomorrow. What to watch on TV – over the past week I’ve got through a few series, during my endless, sleepless nights. If you are bored you may like to try (BBC), ‘The Serpent’ and/or ‘A Teacher’. Both good in their own ways. Then, ‘Succession’ series 1 & 2 on Now TV (lots of drugs and swearing, so not good for granny!) and for peaceful viewing, lots of Rick Stein in Cornwall. I love Rick – he reminds me of my dad, who also likes eating sea creatures and drinking lots of wine.

New look Rockits website. Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to bake we go!

Sibelius and the Antichrist.

I would never have thought it possible, but I’m rather in love with Sibelius. Quite unusual, as I rarely use the ‘l’ word. Oh my! I think I’ll give tutorials on how to use it now I have done three complete scores, haha. That’s funny if you know me even just a little bit, as I always want to create something massive, from its first, tiniest, little beginnings (and we often do!). I can’t seem to think about the massive bit in the middle. I don’t just want to run before I can walk, I want to win any Olympic medal as I set a new world record for the 100m. I have something wrong with my brain. It convinces me that I can do pretty much anything that anyone else can, or that I dream up. This obviously isn’t always the case. I’m rambling – Sibelius is my very new best friend! I’ve cracked it and now there’s no stopping me.

I thought he was a gypsy… but I am told he is a pirate. Amigo III has set sail!

The terrible family problems we had last year are pretty much over, but there is always a constant trickle of hassle going on. I did write to Santa and ask for a certain someone to receive an exorcism for Christmas but alas, my request was overlooked. Thank God for all the wonderful things, like the little ones. I haven’t seen Amigos I and III for ages because of the Covid lockdown, but I get daily photos and updates. I am SO lucky to be able to see Amigo II – Today, he asked me for his usual snack – seedy toast with Philadelphia cream cheese on. He doesn’t like anything sweet and will always ask for toast, crispies or fruit. I made his toast and found I only had Waitrose own brand cream cheese, which I thought was fine. Nope! As he ate it, he looked suspiciously at me and kept examining his toast and saying, “hhhhhmmmm,” like Sherlock Holmes does when he’s on to something. I later found a few chewed up bits under the sofa. It reminded me of the time I put arsenic in my late husbands tea, haha.

Our NHS are doing an amazing job – poor things. I have no idea how they keep going and going.

As it’s going to be another term with no actual full rehearsals, we are starting up a cookery challenge club for the Rockits to keep them amused. I can tell we are in full lockdown again because I received a lovely fruit box from C.P. today. He very kindly sends me and Butsy these when times are hard and delivery slots non-existent. We cannot leave our homes. We are being SO careful, because the new strain of Covid is passing easily to expectant mums AND their newborn babies. I am SO thankful that we have our lovely Pippa to advise us through these times. She has delivered so many Rockits babies too!

I have eaten too much of this already. Thank you xxxx

Cookies, cakes and wild targets.

I am SO pleased that I am in Butsys family group – we count as one household. With the new baby due, I’ll be taking over the care of Amigo II when required – and fingers crossed that Baby Whatman II will arrive via a more direct route than his/her brother! Today, we baked basic sugar cookies. They are ideal for parties of any kind and perfect for icing. Unsurprisingly, we made Dino cookies. I make mine with 200g soft butter, which I mix with 100g caster sugar and 100g icing sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla flavouring. When that’s combined in your mixer (don’t add loads of air or your cookies will spread in the oven), mix in one beaten egg and then 400g plain flour. That’s it! Roll out on a floured worktop, cut out your cookies and bake for about 10 mins at 170 degrees. Don’t let them burn – they need to be light, golden brown on the edges. Decorate with royal icing and loads and loads of sprinkles…I have stocked up on baking ingredients so that I can keep Amigo II occupied. I expect everyone is back to baking to alleviate lockdown boredom and enter into the spirit of things. I have noticed though, that the country isn’t as united as it was during the first lockdown. The novelty of pottering around at home soon wears off and the weather was also gorgeous then. It’s far easier when you can sit in a sunny garden with your mates and drink Pimms! I am wondering if us Rockits and Ramblers should have a cookie baking contest? What do you think? This reminds me of the time we did our own version of “Bake Off.” I am on target with my January resolutions and have not eaten any baked goods. All five of this months challenges still possible!

Here is an entire herd of dinosaur cookies…

I am enjoying a short Netflix film, Wild Target. Its full of things I love – London, French accordion music (reminds me of Paris), Bill Nighy. It’s quirky, dark, humorous and British. A light and very easy watch that won’t tax your lockdown brain one single bit.

My apprentice cookie maker has eaten most of the sprinkles…

I have switched from E.ON to Octopus energy. E.ON are complete rubbish. Their website is ALWAYS down, they appear more expensive than other energy suppliers (I rarely check this kind of thing and rely on CP to tell me) and most importantly, they are like the Gestapo – if you have forgotten to pay your bill for a week or so, they will turn up on your doorstep and phone you non-stop. It is lucky I answer my phone using different accents. I also just filled in a survey sent by the BBC. They have gone downhill in my opinion. What a complete load of rubbish – and New Years Eve with Alicia Keys, was the most awful choice possible as our viewing entertainment after a year of lockdown. Mrs Browns Boys! Seriously? We pay a TV license for that? I never watch regular TV – there isn’t enough watchable stuff on it to actually watch. ITV’s, The Voice, was actually rather good this weekend – three ok singers!

She may be 31, but here is Butsy’s birthday cake from Saturday. I didn’t eat my slice. xxx