Notorious Farewells.

It was a sunny day in Worthing when we arrived for Uncle Pete’s funeral. I had no idea it was such a lovely town, far nicer than its neighbour, Brighton. Covid has buggered up Worthing’s very busy traffic system though, as stupidly, HALF the lanes have been designated for ‘Covid – pop up cycle lanes.’ How utterly ridiculous, the town in gridlock and not one bike in sight! Mum was panicking that we would be late. So, the funeral – it would have been absolutely packed (if it weren’t for Covid), as Uncle Pete was very popular in his town, and rightly so! A regular in all the pubs and clubs, he loved live music (as a teen, he was a drummer in a skiffle band, called The Ravens), especially jazz and blues, pub quizzes and ladies company, until he met his soulmate Gill about ten years ago. Well, Rockits, without realising it, you were all there at the funeral with me, as our version of ‘Hallelujah’ (that we recorded during lockdown), was chosen for the service and it accompanied a slideshow, full of smiles and fun times. It was as nice a funeral, as a funeral can be; short and sweet, nonreligious and no dwelling on sad stuff…just reflecting on a life very well lived. Funerals are such very odd things, because we go to say goodbye to someone who has already left. Uncle Pete was SO full of life and I guess that comes from jam packing his days with all sorts of experiences. “Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun…”

007 good looks. Uncle Pete. I hope you’ve found a lovely pub wherever you are. xxx

Sad to hear that the Notorious RBG died yesterday. I’ve blogged about Ruth Bader Ginsburg before; I watched a documentary about her last year and was so impressed that I researched her. She was a tiny woman, who achieved HUGE and wonderful things, while holding a family together too! She will forever be remembered as part of America’s (odd) history. She fought for women’s rights in the 70’s and become the Supreme Courts most prominent member. RIP RBG xxx

Mumsy with her brother, Peter Anthony Archer. xxx

I rejigged ‘Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina,’ as I didn’t like the harmonies I had made for the chorus…they were too jolly, out of context with the rest of the song, so I took out the higher ones and made them all lower than the main lines, which I find works much better! I never have problems with dumping entire songs if I don’t feel right about them, regardless of how long they took me to put together. I literally have hundreds and hundreds of arrangements that never see the light of day for various reasons – I take no prisoners. Dump and move on. That’s pretty much my rule for life. Be it objects, emotions or people, don’t hang on to whatever needs to go. On that note, I have decided that Peppa the cat is going to a new life, in a new home. I had very much hoped that she would fit in the hole left by Darcey (which Martha the sausage briefly filled), but she definitely doesn’t. A cat just isn’t the company a dog is. I just miss my little whippety pal I had for so many years – so, I have decided to slowly hunt for another just like her. For some weird reason, I was not allergic to Darcey and I hope thats a whippety thing in general. Watch this space.

And Dad with Uncle Pete.

From Argentina to Rye.

I have several things I envelop myself in, on grey/blue days. Basically, I’ve found that very few people feel good every day, so for starters, you’re not unique! Also, you may NEVER feel good EVERY day, but it’s something, like your hair falling out, or your leg falling off, that you can learn to live with. With these odd months of Covid, I reckon some of you feel a bit drab, so, take action! DON’T wallow, get some company, even if you don’t fancy it, because comfort can be found in friends (and scones). People (that’s us), need to feel secure and grounded; to do that, we need an anchor (family/friends)…and not just any old anchor. Our ‘yellows,’ the rare few that’ll hang on to us in the most dreadful weather and stop us floating off and being lost at sea. The ones that make us feel better, the loyal and trusted ones. Speaking of seas, take a trip to the beach, or to the shops – wherever you are most at home. I always try and work – lose myself in a lovely arrangement. Today was Argentina (want to add some more ah’s and ooh’s) – see below. I also change my bedding and tidy my bedroom on fed up days – unmade beds with crumbs in, are a surefire way to ensure a sleepless night and a family of mice may move in. I’ve also discovered that I’m more buoyant when lost in France, so I’ve been watching loads of French films, “c’est simple comme bonjour.” I always think that’s a nice French expression, “as simple as hello.” Hello though, isn’t simple in France… there’s salut, bonjour, bonne journee …there’s kisses, no kisses and so on. Another nice expression is, “pleut des cordes.” That’s what they say when it’s raining heavily – raining in ropes. I have actually been lost in France loads of times – once during the night for ten hours (pre google maps!). Great film found…‘Little White Lies,’ with Cotillard. I really can ramble on…

I have four anchors…that’s not a euphemism.

I was listening to Beyoncé, talking about getting ready for a tour. Months and months of gruelling daily rehearsals and workouts, but worse than that, her gig-fit diet! “No sugar, bread, wheat, dairy, carbs, meat, fish, alcohol.” What is left? Lettuce. And that is why so many fail. I have to say though, that choirs, like our choral performance group, work bloody hard, pre one-off shows and I am sure few people would realise the huge effort we put in! We often rehearse for about nine months for just one performance…a whole pregnancy. This years, is going to take Rockits Video Productions (Caroline, me and John) a very long time, but hopefully will be complete before I’ve stuck my turkey in the oven. xxx

Amigo II LOVES a Seaside Rendez-vous

Had a couple of rather nice jaunts this week The weather is very lovely again. Took Rufus for a quick visit to Camber Sands, early this week, which he really, REALLY loved (me too) and yesterday, I popped down to The Globe at Rye, for a very good lunch and lots of chat. We do live in a beautiful part of the world, twenty minutes from the beach (one of the few sandy ones around – shingle just isn’t the same!) and surrounded by such lovely towns and villages. Camber is best avoided at busy times, but midweek, it’s lovely. I’ve also done lots of small group sessions this week as I have a cunning plan…

Aperol for lunch. xx
Don’t cry for me Argentina – no really, dont! © arr. Max Wilson. 2020.

Amigo 1 is 3! Trifle and Skyfall.

Our biggest, little one, is a whopping THREE! Life whizzes on, doesn’t it? I’m not quite sure how I feel about school fast approaching for them! We had a lovely little birthday party, with all the traditional ingredients, including balloons and trifle. I remember a time when Amigo I’s dad (Rhubarb) was just a little boy and we were in a restaurant in Florida. He had spent ages trying to read the dessert menu and when the waitress returned for our order, he said proudly, “I would like the fluffy mouse please.” We had to try not to laugh. Mousse, mouse…easy mistake to make and both fluffy xxx

Toy Story and fire engines for Amigo I on his 3rd birthday xxx

Lockdown has had a very negative impact on some people. Mental and physical health can really slip, especially if you locked yourself away and laid in bed for five months, eating crips and profiteroles. Tut tut. Now is the time to treasure our friends (no more than six at a time though, haha). On Saturday evening, we had our little soirée on Rosina’s football pitch, saw our mates in the half light, watched Grease, sang a little, had some chips – and all safe and socially distanced. To hear chatter and laughter, is such a good tonic for the soul, something we took for granted before lockdown. It’ll be an odd Christmas with no knees up in the pub, but we have booked Benenden Village Hall for a Rockits Christmas cabaret evening and get together, on December 5th. I’ve been making good headway with cabaret! Today I did a new version of the James Bond theme, (Adele) ‘Skyfall,’ for a small group of sixteen; I don’t fanny around with mixes for the small group songs, as my rough vocal guide is just done for them to work with at home (so remember that if you listen to the clip below!). I merged my piano into a second track, which slides in, along with a rather meaty loop, which drives it through to the end. I imagine an explosion of some kind as the tracks meet… I can feel some pyrotechnics coming on, although I think I’d be pushing it a bit if I asked the ladies to wear those slinky Bond girl leotards AND we definitely aren’t bendy enough for slinky dancing. I am currently doing another small group song, ‘She Used To Be Mine,’ for our next video. It’s definitely gonna be a largely virtual Christmas – bloody Covid. Bugger off!

Amigo’s I and II just love a helium balloon. xxx

I love the names Dickens comes up with for his characters. I wonder what names he would give you and I? I’ll be Mrs Scratchit or Spinster Bramley haha. Horace Sprocket the watchmaker. Mrs Tripe the pie maker. Detective Pith (get it? I am so good at amusing myself). If you missed the truly brilliant BBC series, ‘Dickensian’ a few years back, you really should give it a go, especially as the winter months approach. It’s EXACTLY my cup of (English breakfast) tea (served in a tiny bone china teacup and saucer). Ol regularly teaches ‘A Christmas Carol,’ and knows it off by heart as a result.

Amigo I. Happy 3rd Birthday. 13/09/2020
A new version of Skyfall for Cabaret 2020. ROUGH GUIDE! © Arr. Max Wilson.

Into oblivion and beyond with Annie

Charities have really struggled through these months of Covid, it’s wreaked havoc absolutely everywhere. We will still be (virtually) supporting Think Pink Breast Cancer Events in October and holding our Christmas cabarets – this year, in aid of Brain Tumour Research. We’ve had to rethink all of our grand productions, to ensure everything is safe, while still being highly entertaining. We’ve got more inventive with things, like our Grease mini movie – our thank you to our NHS and key workers. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! For cabaret, we’ve hired in smaller round tables (for bubbles of four) and will add extra performances, as there will be less guests per show – it will be compered by our lovely all singing, all dancing, Wayne Bridle and have live soloists, accompanied by a virtual choir on a screen… ooh, very lovely, but also very time consuming for the video squad (apologies in advance to John and Caroline). I’m working away on loads of ideas for it now and we start rehearsals for the songs next week too. Today, though, I did, Annie’s Song, for The Rockits. As we will return with smaller groups, I am putting together some simple two-part songs which will sound just lovely even if there only a dozen of us. I’ve also used some more unusual harmonies…

Into the woods for Amigo III xxx

I am going to stop saving things for ‘best,’ because every day should be best! Unless you’re Tutankhamen, saving all your good stuff to travel with you to your next life, then what is the point in saving stuff? TBH, half of my clothes don’t fit me, but I’m going to wear the new knickers I keep avoiding. I’m going to light that very expensive Diptyque candle. I’m going to open the beautiful jar of honey I got in Biarritz. I will wear my Bvlgari glasses when I watch tv, even though I’ll probably doze off and lay on them. I’m going to use all my special handbags (a decades worth of gifts) and throw away their dust bags. Very brave. I may even write on my very best stationery and open my giant Darcey Bussell book fully, without worrying about injury to its spine. So, if you see me in Waitrose wearing a gold sequinned dress, with a nice handbag dangling from my shoulder, I’m not on my way to a show…

Into TLC swimming pool for our little duckling, Amigo II xx

I heard something, “addiction is now our default setting.’ Perhaps, to a degree – binge watching series after series on Netflix (haha); we’ve definitely become a nation of food addicts …it’s the land of plenty. My default setting is melancholy and/or hungry. My BIG 3’s dad has serious problems with drink. His relationship with his family, displaced by vodka. Our little Amigos are sprouting up like weeds, yet he never bothers to see them, despite living close by; their first steps, first words, birthdays, smiles…all missed. He ignores his daughters messages – she still hasn’t given up, but I have. He was once a good man, fit and strong and very family orientated. He blames everyone but himself for his addiction – that is why he will never overcome it. He says alcohol makes life disappear and as he chooses to push his support network away, he continues on his journey of self-annihilation. Last year I moved him in here to try and help him back on his feet, but it quickly became a battle I didn’t want to fight. Alcoholics are brilliant liars; going to doctors/AA meetings and then drinking all the way home (from the bottle I realised was always hidden under his car seat). I came home from work one evening, to find him sat on the sofa, visibly very drunk. I told him it was a sad sight to come home to, and he instantly became nasty and defensive, saying he was sober. By his foot, was an empty litre bottle of vodka he had forgotten to hide.

Amigo IV. Not due until January and already singing into a microphone! xxxx
Annies Song – not as you know it haha. © Max Wilson.

Ze French films, Zometa, zebras.

The Rockits (all being well) start singing again on October 5th! Zip-a-dee-doo-dah. Other countries are having further Covid waves, so fingers crossed, we will be ok to return then. I genuinely think we need to continue with our lives now, of course, taking extra care where necessary. I will half the number at rehearsals to ensure it’s nice and roomy and airy – just two masked vocal groups per rehearsal, instead of four. That will mean quieter, calmer rehearsals, in which I hope we can really master some very lovely songs. I had a meeting with Rockits Choral group leaders this week and it was so lovely to hear the chatter and laughter…blimey, we are a noisy bunch and I have missed that so much. Choral rehearsals start again next week in tiny, home bubbles, and just a few weeks later, The Rockits are BACK in rehearsal halls. Woohoo!

It’s nearly impossible to tell the original Sandy and Danny from Vicky and Wayne!

I do love a good French film! I wonder why? On the whole, I think they reflect real life better. I also dislike commercial, big budget trash; many French films are so simple and less ambitious, but all the better for it. They are often very funny too, with less plot, but more emphasis on the characters. Give it a go! I’ll think of a few good ones to get you started. ‘La Vie en Rose’ (Marion Cotillard is amazing and she did an incredible job miming to the songs). ‘Coco before Chanel’ (beautiful) – Tautou in anything really, try, ‘Hors de Prix’ and ‘a very long engagement.’ ‘Les Choristes’ is sure to satisfy your soul. ‘Un homme a la hauteur’ (very sweet and what a soundtrack) – the star of this, Jean Dujardin is actually a full-sized man and not 4′ 5″. ‘Populaire’ was a fun watch too. If you don’t fancy an actual French film, how about one just set in France, that feels like a French film? Chocolat. Oh, yes! What a great autumn watch! Stick on your fuzzy socks, get a mug of hot chocolate, snuggle on the sofa and enjoy. I of course, never drink hot chocolate…

I just so love the colours of anemones. One day, I would like to have the choir wear them… so pretty.

Had my last hit of Zometa on Wednesday at the Celia Blakey (cancer/chemo) Centre in Ashford. Phew! I’ve always been a problem patient, as my veins got so peed off with being pricked and prodded, that they went into hiding. This means that no one can ever find one without giving me an ultrasound scan. The poor young lady next to me was painfully thin and feeling so unwell. She told me she had lost 39kg!!!! Oh my God. It made me want to scream and then it made me want to cry for her, but I couldn’t, so we chatted about all manner of nonsense instead. There are only 12 (blue faux leather) armchairs in the centre, which makes you realise that out of all of us unlucky souls who get cancer, thankfully, only a small percentage need the chemo centre. It’s also rare to see every chair taken. I never worry about my cancer returning but deep down, I am not confident that it will stay away. For one thing, the totally unnecessary stress we have been through recently can only have exasperated it. What does worry me though, is a life without me. I play quite a pivotal role within my family and also, there is supposed to be a natural order of loss for our loved ones; if that isn’t the case, it seems an ever harder pill to swallow. I don’t think my family would function too well without me, not just because we are very close, but because I am bossy and assertive haha. For starters, who would make the birthday cakes?

After three years of visits, I know all the lovely nurses and I have sat in every chair. xxx

I would like to apologise for ruining the way the Amigos say, ‘zebra.’ I have no idea why I can’t get it right, but after saying it as I do for 56 years, I really can’t reform. I say Ze bra (as in, ze bra and ze pants) and I wonder if we picked it in Vancouver?