Shanti Bhavan and Gnarls Barkely.

I’ve just done the Rolling in the Deep/Crazy medley (below), for the Hearties 2021 events – I’m already halfway through the score too. I like this one – just a nice, bouncing, singalong jumble of two songs. I’m not sure Gnarls Barkely would be happy, but I can’t have the choir singing, craze-eh. We are much too English for all that overly American rubbish – we certainly aren’t gangster rappers. As expected my voice is going now, so I finished the missing parts and slotted them in like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, but it’s a very rough vocal. When I am arranging a song, I never just go straight through it. I work on different sections and go back and forth until it does what I want it to. There is lots of copying and pasting as sections are repeated – this isn’t a lazy way of doing it, it’s a safe way, to ensure I don’t sing a repeated section differently while eating a packet of Wotsits.

Here is Amigo III with his Lego house – he says it’s the one from the film, Up.

Shanti Bhavan. No, it’s not a spiced potato dish, it’s a truly amazing school. If you get a chance and have Netflix, this documentary series is SO good. The Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project is a charitable, US/Indian organisation based in Bangalore, India. Each year, they take 12 boys and 12 girls (aged 4) from the poorest of the poor families (known as ‘untouchables’), bring them to the school and basically, raise and educate them. The children then live at the school (except for a couple of short holidays home) and are beautifully looked after. They are basically being given the best childhood possible – from nutritious meals, to comfy beds, clothing, love and care and importantly, an amazing education. They are then funded, as they go off to the worlds best universities too! Most of these children come from areas with no running water or electricity and no chance of any kind of future. The plan is that the children will thrive at the school and go on to have brilliant careers and then, they are taught to ‘pass it on’ and go back to their family home and support them in many ways. These children are the first in their families to be given freedom – freedom to live the life they want and the ability to shape a better future for others less fortunate. If I was a person with no strings attached to me, I would want to go and work there in it’s music department or mini theatre. However, I’ve never fancied going to India because there are nine species of Tarantulas living there and heaps of gruesome bugs. Indian food is also something I’d rather give a miss – coriander, mango…

Everybody walk the dinosaur!

Took Amigo II swimming today. He has a weekly lesson. It’s VERY nerve-racking to watch him take his first strokes as he bobs about. Yesterday, I asked him what I liked to drink. He thought for a long time and said, “a cup potty.” A cup of tea! xx

Life rolls along so quickly! 11 weeks already.
Rolling Crazy 2021. © Arr. Max Wilson.

Grease, Apple Mac, Endoscopy.

I’m still pushing through with show songs and yesterday, I did a re-write of Hopelessly Devoted. This will be going in cabaret and Think Pink Girlie nights. Right now, this very minute, I’m doing Crazy (Gnarls Barkley). I am singing as much as possible as I had an endoscopy today and I know from experience, that tomorrow, I will have a very raspy voice that will last several days. Sarah and I sang Hearties songs en route while I am still in action. I think having an anaesthetic would cause less damage, as you would be fast asleep, but I always choose to do it without one. This is partly because I am stupid and always go for the tough option and partly because I can’t stand the thought of hanging around at the hospital for a minute longer than is essential. I honestly sound like the girl in The Exorcist as I lay there gagging and coughing. It’s a bit like childbirth – at the time it’s dreadful, but you quickly forget that and then have another baby two years later. The Barrett’s thingy is there, but seems ok and I now have a large hiatus hernia too. That sounds like a nice flower, so I’m not too disappointed about that. Other results are not in yet. I braved the local shops as my jeans are in holes (in all the wrong places). I keep putting off buying clothes until I lose weight, but this appears to be a lengthy process and I have basically run out of things to wear. I love fashion, but only on other people and I thoroughly enjoy a day spent in Canary Wharf’s boutique shops, just browsing – wondering how anyone over the age of six can fit in a size ‘4’. These days though, my own wardrobe is more inspired by Jane McDonald than Kate Blanchett, definitely a sign I am over the hill, haha. My feet will need a gradual reintroduction to proper shoes too…

The retro G3 – not much more intelligent than a toaster.

It turns out, that at 56, I am not too old to fall in love with something other than my close rabble, my offspring, their offspring…and cheese. I am very happy and very, very lucky to have such a nice little life. I have though, now seen the very handsome, hot off the press, brand new Apple iMac – jumping Jamelia! This is the most beautiful EVER computer and would make a perfect studio soulmate for me and lets face it, be a whole let less troublesome than a real, human *soulmate that snored, had ear hair and possibly a wife. First time in many years that iMacs have been coloured – I’d like the purple option, then I’d choose the super duper, very skinny, fast one (to match me, haha), twenty-four inches of pure pleasure (I was thinking to add something rude here, but thought better of it). I know not many of you would appreciate just how much I would love this work of Apple art, but I adore all things Apple and of course, spend half of my life on my iMac working. They are the instrument that I make all my music on. I’ve had my current one since early 2016, so it’s getting ready to be replaced – I am what’s classified as a very heavy user (to say the least). I actually have a couple of very old iMacs in the loft; a G3 from the late 90’s which is very retro and pink! It does very little, but is very cute. I may eventually open a Mac museum. New iMacs are very expensive, but I have come up with a cunning plan…

“I am watching you VERY closely…”

I think I may have to jump ship and go and work for THE Rock Choir (haha). An advert on one of my choir forums just popped up for a choir leader. “£1000+ per week for a talented and inspiring Rock Choir Leader in…”. It says applicants need to play some piano and sing to a “reasonable” level, have a car and a PA system. Having those commodities makes you a good choir leader? It doesn’t mention a love of singing and people, a drive to pull communities together, or a necessity to help out where we can. I am so pleased to see many well known, independent, choirs are thriving now and growing enormously. Everything has it’s day and in our country, there are thousands of wonderful (affordable!) choirs, just waiting for theirs. The Independents all offer their own unique styles, as unique as their MD’s, teachers and members and because of that, there is one to suit everyone! xxxx

If it fits a tiny dog, it will fit a hairless cat.
Hopelessly Devoted – simple arrangement for Think Pink. © Arr. Max Wilson.

*I don’t really believe in soulmates.

And the winner is…

The Rockits new website! It’s still under construction, but now we are (fingers crossed) returning to some form of normality, I felt it was time to give the Rockits online home a very good spring clean! It is a bit like our shops getting ready to welcome customers back, painting walls, cleaning floors, stocking shelves. Websites are tricky things, because you have to get to whatever it is you need to convey, quickly. A website must be simple to navigate and uncluttered. If I was a potential newbie, what would I want to know? I would want to know who we are, what type of music we sing, where we do it, how much commitment is required and how much it costs. So, we had to work out how to show that in a series of a few photos and a couple of paragraphs. We are friendly, fun, a bit chaotic, drinking buddies, super social, cake baking, fundraising, festival loving folk. We don’t take ourselves seriously and above all, we are such a welcoming group. There is still some work to be done on the website. Take a ramble over to Rockitchoir.co.uk

As lockdown lifts, a visit to the Rare Breeds Centre.

Agnetha Faltskog (ABBA), singing The Winner Takes it All. It popped up on tv and my word, what a bloody brilliant vocal. Actually a really brilliant song. I remember the very hot summer of 1976, when I sat in our cherry trees and munched my way through pounds and pounds of black cherries. It was the year my parents turned our bungalow into a big house and we had no roof for quite some time, so it was VERY lucky it didn’t rain for ages. I was 12 that July and I remember Dancing Queen being released; ABBA’s dip into disco, which turned out to be one of the biggest ever disco hits and a guaranteed dance floor filler. I always disliked ABBA’s cheesy Europop, but they’ve written some lovely stuff as well. I always felt sorry Agnetha, as I think she was always sad and didn’t enjoy much of ABBA’s success. The Winner Takes it All, is about her marriage ending.

Amigo III – hiding in a canvas bag.

Helen McRory, the remarkable actress and wonderful whirlwind of a woman, died on Friday at just 52. I’ve loved so many things she was in, especially her role as Polly, in Peaky Blinders. Another life stolen by the monster that is cancer. When a life is good and long, it should be celebrated, and yes, so should Helen’s, but how heartbreaking for a mother to be taken from her children. Saturday was Prince Philips funeral. The Queen certainly backed the right horse, despite initial concerns when she chose Prince Philip, it was sad to see her as a wife saying goodbye to her beloved husband of 73 years. Covid meant a very small funeral for Prince Philip, which was held at Windsor Castle. I feel his life was lived so fully and so well, and how fitting that he took his final journey in a Land Rover hearse (his idea), he had helped design. There was a one minute silence at 3pm for the country to pay its respects. I hear Prince Charles may have shiny, new, consort (to the Queen) shoes!

Amigo IV is worried that his brother is holding him, haha.

Covid update. Deaths here are down 98%, BUT the rest of the world is not fairing so well. Variants are popping up which of course are hugely worrying. The latest is the highly infectious Indian variant which has emerged over here. Cases of the virus in India have skyrocketed – they recorded 1.6 million cases last week. Travel has been stopped between several countries and India now joins the list. I also notice people here are getting far too complacent now many of us are vaccinated – the lockdown has been the main reason Covid figures have fallen so dramatically. I am recommending our lot get a stash of rapid home tests for use before meeting up. On the whole, things here are looking positive. On a negative note – I wish Greta Thunberg would shut up, haha. I do agree about the climate crisis…but not her way of dealing with it. I prefer to listen to David Attenborough.

I will survive without a furry cat.

I always think it odd that I so love being a part of the choirs. Before them, I disliked the thought of any kind of group activity, of clubs, or anything that felt in the least enforced. I would have chosen being stuck in a lift for an hour ahead of joining a club of some kind. How absolutely stupid of me. I imagined community groups to be made of a certain type of person too. Oh, no, no, no! There are ALL sorts, from all walks of life. The quiet, the hilarious, the crazy, the sombre – all there. The ones that end up being lifetime buddies and the ones who you just say hello to when you pass in the town. It’s ALL good. We do need to belong, to support each other, to smile and to chat. At the centre of groups like ours, there is a heart and soul (and a lot of cake and alcohol). Community matters! I’ve sung with lots of the Hearties pods this week – bloody freezing, but also SO wonderful.

A pod of soprano peas xxxxx

I am soldering on with my set of unusual (for me and the choirs) power ballads and girlie club favourites, for our Think Pink events (which will be held at the Little Silver Hotel in Tenterden) and this years Tractorfest festival. I am hoping for some drunken singing along from the audience, although it’s more likely to be the choir wobbling and swaying (oh dear). Today, I am painstakingly piecing together a track for the Ruby Sisterz, aptly named, ‘I will survive.’ It’s a swing version. The original track has a single guitar chord in each very slow bar, making it very tough for five singers to sync their vocal harmonies nicely. So, I cut up the guitar track and made single strums throughout. Can’t wait to see the Ruby Sisterz performing again – they have a wonderful new wardrobe. That reminds me – If you fancy an usual watch (I love it), try, The Dressmaker, with Kate Winslet. It starts like a western, but instead of Clint Eastwood arriving to sort out a troubled town, it starts with a dressmaker returning home with her Singer sewing machine. It reminds me of an Aussie version of Chocolat – with chocolate being swapped for beautiful dresses. It’s not Oscar winning good, but it’s simple and light and the dresses are fabulous.

Here he is. SO many wrinkles and actual hands. His skin is rather like mine.

I have ordered a cat with no hair. I thought he would come with no allergens, but time will tell. He isn’t old enough to come and stay with me just yet, so I am getting his clothes, shower cap and bathrobe ready in anticipation. He is called, Hugo. He looks like an uncooked chicken.

Here is our little Hungry Caterpillar – now a 10 week old giggler.

I am SO amazed at Prince Philip. Since he died recently, there have been loads of documentaries on TV about him and I didn’t realise just what a brilliant man he was. I think that our current queen is probably the best monarch this country has ever had, but seeing their early lives, I think that’s largely down to Prince Philip. He may have walked behind her at official engagements, but he certainly wasn’t a weak man. He definitely wore the trousers (and kilts!). The end of an era.

For the Ruby Sisterz. I Will Survive. © Arr. Max Wilson.

A Duke, Amigos and Madonna.

Can’t believe I finally managed to see all of my little ones within a week! Had a wonderful visit from my eldest and his family today. SO lovely to see them. Amigo III has shot up and turned into a little boy over the last ten months. He has lovely manners and a mop of curly, auburn hair. The little ones squealed with delight as they ran around the garden for hours on end. So lovely that we are coming out of this dreadful lockdown. Our shops are opening tomorrow and as I walked along the high street, I could see all the shopkeepers inside, stocking and painting. Sadly on Friday, 9th April – Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh died. A great Briton and colourful character, who often put his foot in it, but was always dutiful to Queen and country. He had such a twinkle in his (roving) eye and a passion for life; brilliant man. He almost made a century too – so a long life, well lived.

RIP Prince Philip.

April is here. I love this month although it can be freezing or frazzling! I am doing well with my monthly goals but no real weight is going. This month I am going to : 1. Start exercising and walking much more. 2. Complete rough running orders for 2021 events. I finished my Think Pink Girl’s Medley today (it’s at the bottom and has a chunk of instrumental at the end as I am thinking to have a voice over here) and the score for, Courage. 3. Clear, clear, CLEAR more of my house. 4. Drop all sugar, although I still have some lovely Easter treats. 5. Attempt to ignore all stress intentionally caused by one certain individual. Just like in the fish world, there are those that live at the bottom of the tank and thrive on a diet of dirt.

A first visit from Amigo III in many months. With Nona and Pop xxxxx

In writing my monthly goals, I thought about my diet again and I do stick to a Mediterranean style diet most of the time, sort of. I am not in favour of fashionable vegan diets (if not chosen for health reasons), because I do worry about our health and our poor farmers! I get why some choose a vegetarian diet, but vegan? No eggs or dairy produce? Hens lay eggs without being harmed and surely cows aren’t too reluctant to provide us with milk? TV is full of ads encouraging us to ‘save our planet’ (CO2 emissions) and switch to plant-based fake milk – what about our dairy farmers? There was a vegan lady on tv who has 106 dogs, seriously! They live in semidetached stinking squalor. Poor dogs. Poor neighbours.

An armful of Amigos.

Saturday, was a day spent having my MOT at the hospital. No fun. Waiting for results will be even less so. I couldn’t even stop off at the shops or take anyone with me. Never mind – I consoled myself with online browsing during the long wait. I was also horrified to look down and notice a huge dollop of dried lasagne on the front of my trainer. Oh dear.

Amigo’s I and III met up in a sunny park in Benenden.
I definitely am not a fan of, I wanna dance with somebody…but this medley is for a girls night. xxx