Just in case you are worried that I’m going all biblical on your asses here – no, that’s a paraphrased quote from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” .Magenta actually says “I ask for nothing” and that had sort of described my approach to well, approaching. Let me explain – two weeks ago I went to see the beautiful and wonderfully talented Icelandic singer Hafdis Huld. After the show, she sat at a wee table, signing CDs and chatting. Did I go up and talk to her? No. I wanted to, I really wanted to but I was feart. And I have this funny thing where I feel that once an artist, be they singer, writer, comedian or whatever, has finished their show, they deserve to chill out and not have me hanging about bothering them. It’s daft, I know – in my brief stints as a stand-up comedian and actor, I have always enjoyed chatting to people and getting feedback but I have felt anxious and somehow unworthy when the boots on the other foot.
However, this great book by Amanda, for whom there is in my opinion no superlative quite worthy to truly describe her, has made me change my mind. So much so that, while reading early on about her adventures in couchsurfing and encounters with her fanbase, that, when I saw a tweet from Billy Pettinger (who I was due to see for the first time supporting Against Me!) asking if there was anyone willing to offer a couch for her and her driver. I hummed and hawed for a bit, okayed it with my lover and teenchild and posted a reply in the affirmative. The next day, Billy messaged me back to say that she was going to stay with the band on their tour bus instead, which was cool. But at least I did it – I offered (and the offer is always there Billy). And I did go and have a wee chat with her after the show – she was lovely and not at all scary. However, much to my regret I wimped out of hanging around to see Laura Jane Grace – baby steps, baby steps.
I would possibly have girded my ample loins when I had the privilege of seeing Amanda play in Edinburgh last summer and stayed post-show to chat but I genuinely had to leave for the last train home and didn’t relish the prospect of wandering about all night with my then 16 year old in tow! But having read this book, it was like the hug I never sought out, never asked for but still received. And in abundance – thank you Amanda.
I was going to review the book wasn’t I? – well I’m not going to say much beyond it’s bloody marvellous and go and read the fuck out of it! It’s everything – and nothing – that you’d expect from such a generous and open artist, and now writer, such as Amanda. Its foreword by the fabtastic Brené Brown (whose book “Daring Greatly” helped me so much last year) is a huge bonus.
I am so lucky to live in this rock on the same rotation as such beautiful, powerful and amazingly talented women like Amanda, Hafdis, Laura and Billy. Bless you all and thank you for bringing what you do to my wee life. But prepare yourselves because next time you come to Glasgow, there will be hugs. And cake. Oh yes, definitely cake.
What were you doing on Saturday night there? Any sensible 47 year old with the immune system of a wet paper bag like me should be cosied up at home with a wee bottle of vino and a box set. But no – instead having read a Buzzfeed article back in September about a beautifuly brave young woman called Laura (http://www.buzzfeed.com/reggieugwu/which-bathroom-do-you-use) you then seek out the music of her band, found out that they are playing in your town in 2 months and bought a ticket, even though you know you will probably be the oldest gal there (which I pretty much was – one dear soul in the queue thought I was chaperoning the bouncy group of young women ahead of me!) and then you go. On your own.
My almost-eighteen year old daughter (who has been to more gigs in her young life than I have been in my longer one – but I am catching up!) advised me to go early to make sure I got a good view, I turned up at The Garage 105 minutes before the doors opened to find myself with only 5 other very friendly and sweet young women there (one of whom complimented me on my “Women For Indepedence” badge). Slowly other people rocked up and although there was some confusion over which side to queue on, we waited patiently. Fortunately it was dry and not too cold for November and I chatted to a very lovely couple from Bridge of Allen. At 7pm the doors opened and we were in. I hurried up the stairs and nabbed my space at the barrier, just to the left of centrestage. I didn’t move for the next 3 hours.
First on at 7.30 on the dot was the wonderful Billy Pettinger aka Billy the Kid, a singer/ songwriter from Canada. Billy and I had been chatting messaging on Twitter as she had previously put out a request for a couch to crash on (and as I was reading Amanda Palmer’s excellent book “The Art Of Asking” at the time, I offered but since the band then offered her a space on their tour bus it wasn’t needed) so I was keen to see and hear her. She did not disappoint – it was just her and her big guitar on that stage but she owned it. I had a wee tear in my eye as she sang “This Sure As Hell Ain’t Me” and loved her cover of “16 Tons”. All too soon she was finished. A bugbear of mine at gigs is when folks have obviously come to see the main draw but don’t give the support a proper listen. Two guys behind me chatted loudly all the way through Billy’s set and it took a lot not to turn round and tell them to shut the fuck up, but I didn’t!
The tech came on to set up for Against Me! As I am the lover of someone who works in events crew and setting up gigs, I watched with geeky interest and yes, building excitement.
At 8.30, Against Me! took to the stage and the previoulsy spread out crowd surged forward. Fortunately I had my quilted jacket draped over the barrier in front of me otherwise I would have had it imprinted on me! I am a big lass and I pushed back somewhat and really felt for some of the smaller and slighter women next to me. I almost turned round to the guy behind me and suggested that he should maybe buy me dinner first, he was so close – but hey ho, the fun of the mosh-pit. I was delighted that the first song was “FuckMyLife666” which I love and was rocking my wee decrepit body to that. Then straight into “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong” and “Cliche Guevera”, 2 of the many songs I am not so familiar with yet. A couple more again that I don’t know so well yet before “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” which I DO know and got right into, followed by “Black Me Out” which I love for its lyric “I want to piss on the walls of your house” – how many people have you ever wanted to yell that at? (No? Just me then?) Another couple of great but new-to-me songs then a superb “Transgender Dysphoria Blues”, another two I must get to love and then “True Trans Soul Rebel” which had the whole place shaking. Another song I didn’t know then the lovely Billy Pettinger came on to do a duet with Laura on “Borne On The FM Waves Of The Heart” which was just superb, both women rocking it out and Billy crowdsurfing.
There isn’t much chat during the songs (they played 21 in total!) and what there was was to me inaudible, sadly due to sound mixing I guess, which was a shame as Laura was speaking and I would have liked to have heard her. But she did come down into the crowd and yes, I will never wash my right hand again as she grabbed it and gave it a mighty squeeze. Jings, does that woman work for her money – I gave her a friendly pat on the back and she was wringing!
Two more songs and they were off. Lots of shouting from the crowd of “One more tune, one more tune” which the feisty blonde lass next to me and I turned into “Loads more tunes” and we bantered good naturedly about what they should encore with – I told her I’d be happy to hear them sing anything,including fucking “Merry Christmas”. Of course they did return and bashed out 3 more songs, ending with “We Laugh At Danger (And Break All The Rules), which pretty much summed up the show and the experience! Guitar picks, drumsticks and setlists were tossed into the crowd, all passing me by. However, being a polite soul, I called out to the tech guy as he cleared up to thank him for his efforts (always thank the tech – there’s no show without them) and he picked up a pick and threw it in my direction, where it landed right in my cleavage. That fella’s done that before, methinks!
I asked the security woman where the merch stall was as I had promised to pop down and say hi to Billy (I also thanked her – keep on good terms with all crew) so headed downstairs. I had a wee brief chat with Billy and bought her latest CD, which she was kind enough to sign for me. I knew I had no chance of seeing any of the band, so tired, dehydrated and happy, I left.
Obviously, Laura Jane Grace, the frontwoman, was the main focus. Not as tall as I had expected, still she bestrode the stage of the Garage like Boudicca reborn, her beautiful long locks often hiding her equally beautiful face like a waterfall. It would be lazy to compare her with other women singers but to me she had all the energy and fire of Janis Joplin while still being someone all of her own making, in a class all of her very own.
Against Me! are a four-piece band and it would be remiss not to mention the uber cool guitarist (does that man sweat?) and to me, rock and anchor of the band, James Bowman; the amazing energetic percussion of drummer Atom Willard and the magnificent firecracker of a bass player that is Inge Johansson, whose smiling face and acrobatic playing opposite me will stay with me for a long time, along with his plectrum which I treasure. Thank you all – you were just spectacular.
Against Me! and Billy the Kid, The Garage Glasgow Saturday November 15th 2014.
Set list with thanks to http://www.setlist.fm
Photos by me.
Fox Spirit books have been kind enough to post a wee piece I wrote for them on cult TV and how it influenced me. Find it here http://www.foxspirit.co.uk/what-i-learned-from-cult-tv-jay-andrew/
Having completed NaNoWriMo in good order, which I was chuffed to bits about, I have been mostly editing and formatting Waste Of Space into a novella suitable for publication. That is now completed and I am going to look at outlets for trying to publish it.
After the disappointment of it’s origin short story Luminate being lost in the ether and sadly not making it into Glasgow Women’s Library’s Dragon’s Pen competition, I have submitted it for the online science fiction magazine Lightspeed http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/ and it’s “Women Destroy Science Fiction” issue. Having created a wee universe I know I will be returning to the adventures of Jude, Hennessey, Alta and Rodriguez.
I am also currently working on a short story for Fox Spirit’s Drag Noir collection , which I hope to submit by the end of February at the latest and I also want to develop my idea for a sort of Game Of Thrones/ Dollhouse/ Better Than Life story that has been rattling around in my head for a wee while now.
From January I’ll be attending a creative writing group at Glasgow Women’s Library and I’ll also be involved in Endurance, telling the stories of women Commonwealth athletes, primarily as a performer but I’d also like to write for that too and have a few ideas.
I know this is my writing blog but it’s my only blog at the mo’ and I do want to share these with you. I see most of my movies on DVD these days, only venturing out for what I’m sure will be a big blockbuster and therefore worth the extortionate ticket price. The movies I did see at the pictures this past year were Les Miserables, which had me in tears all the way through (I started sobbing when Fantine popped her sabots and didn’t stop!) and Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, which I enjoyed immensely, no doubt on account of Messrs. Downey and Hiddleston.
If I could pick two movies that, on reflection, I should have gone to see on the big screen, it would have been Beasts of The Southern Wild, which was just wonderful and Cloud Atlas – I had read the book and was overjoyed to see it brought to life by the Wachowskis and am looking forward to Jupiter Ascending next year, even though it’s protagonist is a toilet cleaner like my own Jude.
The best of the rest –
Your Sister’s Sister – quirky and a bit unsure of itself but stick with it as it turns out well. Emily Blunt is excellent.
California Solo – nice to see Bobby Carlyle in a great wee film about a down-on-his-luck musician.
Melancholia – I know Lars Von Trier is a tool but this was a really well crafted film with great performances by Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Rust And Bone – A gritty and topical story with the always excellent Marion Cotillard as an injured orca trainer.
The Sessions – one of my favourite films of the year with the fantastic Helen Hunt as a sexual surrogate for the also tremendous John Hawkes. A really lovely piece of film-making.
Sightseers – The funniest and most outrageous film imaginable about the misadventures of a couple in their caravan. If you haven’t seen it, treat yourself. I promise – you will laugh out loud.
Searching For Sugarman – just brilliant – a documentary but don’t let that put you off. And the music is sublime.
Skyfall – I have never been a Bond fan but this was very good and I went back and watched the other two. Daniel Craig IS James Bond.
There were a few films that I had wanted to see but were ultimately disappointing – Looper (couldn’t get past Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s face made up to resemble Bruce Willis and the ending was a bit meh), Flight (again, not as good as I had hoped – my notes said “he was a c*nt”) and A Royal Affair (very well done and nice to look at but far too worthy for its own good).
Three films I would advise you to avoid like the plague are Berberian Sound Studio (unless you are into Italian Horror of the 70s, this will make no sense to you whatsoever), Killer Joe (an interesting turn from Matthew McConaughey but ultimately horrible) and The Hobbit (I gave up after 15 minutes – too many dwarves!).
And my absolute DO NOT SEE is the slimy,misogynistic Seven Psychopaths, which was just nasty.
My festive viewing includes Now You See Me, Robot and Frank, World War Z and Joss Whedon’s take on Much Ado About Nothing, all of which I am looking forward to.
In 2014 I’m keen to see Only Lovers Left Alive (for obvious Hiddleston-ey reasons), Nymphomaniac (another Lars Von Triers), The Dallas Buyers Club, Prisoners, The Mortal instruments; City of Bones (for Robert Sheeran reasons and also I am reading the books, which are very good), Camille Claudel 1915 (I cannot resist Juliette Binoche), The Way Way Back, Pacific Rim, Blue Is The Warmest Colour, Nebraska, The Past and Inside Llewyn Davies. And that’s just for starters.
Now, back to my writing…
The ship forged on ahead and the Lintons approached the Rochester airship slowly but surely. Of course they were not as heavily laden as their opponent’s craft was, but there was more to it than that.
Or so Edgar was convinced. They had the superior ship and now that they had addressed that minor design flaw, they would be able to demonstrate that fact with ease. It was simply a matter of scientific knowledge and the advancement of industry and commerce.
Certainly the fact that those advances came at the expense of putting the lovely nose of Miss Helen Rochester out of joint did not exactly disappoint him either. It’s not as if he had actually asked for her hand. Considering the madness of her father—oh, all right, not necessarily madness as he had known ran rather distantly in his mother’s family blood, as the story went—it was…
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