Music that means something to me, day 2 – Wake Up by Arcade Fire

I’ve managed to mess this up already by posting my first song just after midnight today, instead of last night like I was meant to, so it’s turned into “seven songs in six days, because I can’t count or tell the time.”  What a divvy.

I could’ve gone for any one of loads of Arcade Fire songs.  Neighbourhood #2 (Laika) makes me think of our Maria.  Rebellion (Lies) reminds me of an ex (one of the sound ones.)  Reflektor brings to mind its glorious release day, and the realisation that it only bloody featured David friggin’ Bowie.  However,  I’ve chosen Wake Up because it reminds me of epic closing stages to many a brilliant night in Le Bateau (R.I.P); seeing them at, yes, you’ve guessed it, Glasto, which will probably be mentioned in every single one of these posts, and when I went with our Maria to see them at the Carling Academy in town (now the O2) over ten years ago now.  Which makes me feel old.  We thought we were wildly extravagant because we bought tickets off touts for nearly £50 each, when they’d only cost £9 at face value, but it was worth every penny; it remains, to this day, one of the best gigs I have ever been to. 

It also reminds me of my dear friend Erin, one of my fave girls, and screaming the lyrics to each other at most of the aforementioned venues.  “I guess we’ll just have to adjust…” Love you, prin!

I wasn’t at Reading to see this performance, but I love this video – take care of each other indeed.

Music that means something to me, day 1 – Shiver by Coldplay

I’ve been nominated on Facebook to post a piece of music or a song that means something to me for seven consecutive days.  I’m also supposed to suggest someone else each day to do the same but hate doing things like that for fear of REJECTION, so if you’re reading this and fancy giving it a whirl, consider yourself nominated.

First up are Coldplay.  This will probably be met with much derision, but I really couldn’t care less.  I remember watching their Glastonbury set on the telly in 2000; I must have been 14 at the time and was blown away.  It was just before Parachutes was released and was the first time I’d properly taken notice of Glasto and I remember thinking to myself “this is something that I must attend one day!”  When Parachutes came out, I was obsessed with it and listened to it multiple times a day for months.  My best mates, Jenny and Jane, loved them too and Jane used to send me interviews with the band as we didnt have proper Internet that I read via the jarg email scenario that we had on the telly (did anyone else have that?!) Sidenote – I was and still am technologically inept, and thought that Jane spent hours painstakingly typing out each interview word for word for me.  I wasn’t aware of the copy and paste function at this stage.  Bless.

I finally got to see Coldplay live in the Manchester Apollo in 2001 – to this day, one of my favourite venues, with so many fond memories – after counting down the days for weeks in our homework diaries.  The next time I saw them was their Glastonbury warm-up gig in Mountford Hall – utterly glorious – and the time after that was their headline slot at Glastonbury.  I’d probably never have gone to Glasto that year if they hadn’t headlined – I was a bit shy and thought I wasn’t cool enough to go to such a place – but I’m so glad I did. I’m still not cool, and my love for the band may have faded slightly over the years but Coldplay, that first trip to Worthy Farm and this song in particular will always have a special place in my heart.

I can’t get no sleep

Many thanks to Faithless and their poor grammar for today’s blog title, which is essentially a lengthy account of how I was unable to sleep last night.  AT ALL.  I bet you’re all thrilled I’ve resurrected my blog now, aren’t you?  Enthralling stuff.

It happens every Christmas.  It’s as festive as pigs in blankets, the obligatory slight hangover at Christmas Eve mass and being the first person awake Chez Crilly on Christmas morning – I manage to become more or less nocturnal and completely destroy my sleeping pattern.

So imagine how smug I felt yesterday morning, when I’d set seventeen alarms to wake me up early, thus ensuring I’d be shattered enough to have a decent sleep before going back to work today.

Of course, I then made the fatal error of watching the footy, which, as everyone knows, has an instantly soporific effect on a Sunday afternoon.  Therein lies my error.

As soon as I went to bed, yawning my head off, I began to berate myself for my ill-advised nap.  At 1 o’clock in the morning I was reading, hoping it’d make me drowsy enough to drop off.  Nope.  Around the 3 o’clock mark I took to reading the entire Internet on my phone  (apparently Mark Zuckerberg’s personal challenge for the year is to build “a simple AI” to help him around the house, which puts my resolution to learn to drive somewhat in the shade.  HE’S BUILDING AN ACTUAL ROBOT FOR GOD’S SAKE.) By 5 I was completing complicated mental arithmetic about how much sleep I’d get if I fell asleep at exactly that second. An hour later, I was still wide awake, crying my eyes out and raging against grave injustices from years ago, such as when I was perpetually cast as Joseph in the church nativity plays, and that time when our Helen hid the leftover Chinese takeaway from me and made out like there was none left for my tea.

At this point, I gave up and started to feel a tad hysterical, which was worsened by switching the radio on after my shower, hoping that the first song I’d hear would spur me on for the day ahead.  Alas, it was Search for the Hero by M People, which I found absolutely hilarious for no reason whatsoever.  I had better luck with 6 Music – Date with the Night by my beloved Yeah Yeah Yeahs.  What would Karen O do in this situation?  She’d just get on with it, wouldn’t she?!

Please remind me of this when it’s lunchtime and I’m approaching 24 hours without sleep and burst into tears when someone in work wishes me happy new year.

The blog is back…

…Probably temporarily. 

I’m in a contemplative mood today and was going to write a rambling, self-indulgent Facebook status about it, but then realised that it was too long for Facebook so I’d write a rambling, self-indulgent blog post about it instead.  Thanks for your patience in advance.

Last year was a brilliant one in many ways, but my platelet probs kept rearing their ugly head and I haven’t been well the past few weeks either so had been feeling a tad glum.  (Get the violins out, will ya?!)  However, today I left the house for the first time since Tuesday and spent the evening at my nan’s.  She told a few stories that made me realise that, really, I’ve got nothing to whinge about at all, and made me look forward to the year ahead with renewed relish.

She talked about her brother who died at the age of 18 – he died of pneumonia a few days after going swimming in a freezing cold lake on a roasting hot day; he had a tumour on his lung that nobody knew about.  She mentioned that her “school” days mainly consisted of going to a neighbour’s house one day a week to learn the basics.  And she spoke of her sister and brother being evacuated during the war – “Did you miss them Nan?” “Dunno.”  HOWLING.

I’ve heard these stories before, but only today did I realise that all of the above are things that we almost certainly will never ever have to experience.  Her brother’s lung problems would probably have already been detected and treated if it was happening in 2016 and not in the 1930s.  Going to school is something that we have all just taken for granted.  And imagine kids being evacuated anywhere now?! “OH I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE WITHOUT ME MUM/ME PHONE/SKY PLUS/A DECENT JUST EAT DELIVERY CHOICE.”  (Or is that just me?)

I left my nan’s feeling all inspired and like I should be cartwheeling down the road screaming “SEIZE THE DAY!” to anyone and everyone I met.  I settled for making a list instead (and oh, how we love a list) of how I am going to spend my time wisely this year.  (Also I can’t cartwheel so that would never have been an option anyway.)  (Also I turn 30 this year AND LIFE IS TOO SHORT.)

1.  Go to more gigs.  I used to go to loads but the past few years this has tailed off.  Why?  Not entirely sure.  But so far I’ve secured tickets to Father John Misty, Little Mix (YEAH YOU ‘EARD) and Sound City.  So I am doing quite well with this one already.  WELL DONE ME.

2.  Learn to drive.  Me and the 10 bus…it’s been emotional, it’s not me, it’s most definitely you.

3.  Resurrect my blog.  Again, this appears to be going well so far.

4.  Travel.  The furthest I’ve been is Cyprus, for God’s sake.  There’s a whole world out there and I’ve seen approximately 0.00064% of it.  MUST.  ADDRESS.

5.  Lose weight.  I put on two stone over the summer and now everything beautiful in Zara and Topshop is off limits. (Granted, the issue may also be that the aforementioned shops only stock clothes for tiny people, but still.)

6. Win a gold medal in Rio.  But that’s been a work in progress for four years, so definitely won’t be a problem. 

Standing on the shoulders of giants!

As someone who is fiercely proud of my Liverpudlian roots, with a terrible weakness for events which unite the city on a grand scale, it’s safe to say I’ve had a pretty good weekend. I’m still smiling now.

On the face of it, thousands of people lining the streets in the searing heat to witness three giant puppets – a nan, a little girl and a dog named Xolo – meandering along does seem a bit strange. But, just like in 2012, Royal De Luxe, the French street theatre company behind the Giant Spectacular which this time was commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, put on an incredible show.

Hi there Xolo!  Photo by Helen Crilly.

Hi there Xolo! Photo by Helen Crilly.

Giant Nan wondering what she wants from Lobster Pot on Whitechapel

Giant Nan wondering what she wants from Lobster Pot on Whitechapel

Of course, there were a small number amongst us who found something to complain about. “I don’t ‘get’ the giants.” What’s not to ‘get’ about the city smiling for a whole weekend solid, whilst basking in glorious sunshine? “I got stuck in traffic for hours.” Plan your route better – you can’t say Merseytravel (for once!) didn’t warn you. “Why are our cash-strapped council spending thousands on this event?” Because it will generate millions. Glad we cleared all of that up.

We didn’t let the naysayers bring us down though. There was a tangible air of anticipation and excitement across the city, the type that for some reason always seems to be extra special in Liverpool. I loved that people queued for hours on Wednesday and Thursday just to see the giant nan asleep in St. George’s Hall. I loved how Jean-Luc Courcoult, the founder of Royal De Luxe, basically spent three days dancing on a truck having an absolute ball. I loved it when the nan’s head nearly fell off at one point – “OH MY GOD ME ‘EAD’S FELL OFF!” I loved singing along to Imagine with thousands of others in Newsham Park on Friday evening, against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset as the giants were tucked in for the night.

Newsham Park looking spectacular

Newsham Park looking spectacular

Most of all I loved the fact that the giants’ route took them through some of the most deprived areas in the entire country and showed that, despite the poverty and depressing statistics and negative reputations, they are rich in community spirit in ways that other, more affluent places can only dream of. I love Sefton Park as much as the next staunch Scouser, but I’m glad they chose to put the giants to bed in Newsham Park instead. And I spent Saturday morning in Kensington eagerly waiting the little girl’s arrival, and it looked vibrant and alive, rather than shabby and disadvantaged, such is the magical effect of the giants. I’ve never been so proud to be from Liverpool.

Little Girl Giant having a wander through Kensington

Little Girl Giant having a wander through Kensington

I can’t imagine another city taking the giants to their hearts in quite the same way as Liverpool did. Indeed, Royal de Luxe seem to have a special affinity with us too; after all, the last time they were here was only two years ago. Let’s hope they return very soon.

http://www.giantspectacular.com

http://www.royal-de-luxe.com/fr/

Flying Ant Day 2014 – they’re back with a vengeance

I look back on 2013 very fondly. Our Maria got married. We went to Abersoch and it was glorious. I didn’t cry on my birthday for once. But, best of all, I only saw about two flying ants all summer.

NOT SO THIS YEAR.

I thought that we’d escaped the worst for a second year running. On Saturday, I saw two. Jenny killed them with her windscreen wiper and I believed we were safe. Oh, how naïve I am.

My first alert came courtesy of Louise, who informed me that “millions of the bastards” had hit Aintree. I whimpered at my desk, but told myself that Aintree is miles away from the dark side so I would be alright. Alas, my optimism was short-lived. Allan spoke of a “flying ant apocalypse in the L5 and surrounding area.” Lauren encountered a thousand of them on Renshaw Street and cheerily stated that she “thinks it’ll be worse tomozza.” (Thanks babe.)

At this point I was seriously considering sleeping under my desk at work to avoid the issue, but then the dread of turning into a wool if I stayed the night in Birkenshed overcame my fear of the dreaded winged beasts. I wish, with all my heart, that I had stayed put.

One hit me on the forehead on the way to the train station. Another nearly fell into my bag (I’ll have to throw said bag away.) I then had to endure standing in a swarm of them on Victoria Street while I waited for the bus, which (again naïvely) I thought would be a safe haven, but was in fact worse than being outside, as there was NO ESCAPE.

I spent the entire journey watching them crawl all over the windows, trying not to make eye contact with them in case they attacked, slapping my arms whenever one flew near, scratching my head incessantly and quietly moaning with fright. (To the credit of all my fellow passengers, no one batted an eyelid; they probably thought I was just the obligatory 15 bus crank.) We drove past beer gardens packed full of sun-seeking revellers. I was agog. Are these lunatics unaware of the plague currently upon us?

Thankfully, I’m now safely ensconced in the flying ant-free Crilly abode. Naturally all doors and windows will remain shut until I say otherwise. I am ignoring the fact that by doing this we may run the risk of slowly roasting to death due to the furnace-esque temperature in the house.

I’m off for a shower because I can still feel them crawling on me. It will have to be a sit-down shower, as I am WEAK FROM TERROR.

Let me know when it rains and they’re all dead.

All Shook Up at the Unity Theatre, Liverpool – review!

Many people state that they “don’t like” musical theatre. It’s not “their thing.” This is, more often than not, despite the fact that they’ve never been to see this type of show before. Well, I would challenge any one of these people to go and see the likes of All Shook Up, and not be converted to the wonderful ways of the musical.

Based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, All Shook Up is a tale of love, crossed wires and mistaken identity, all underpinned by Elvis Presley’s timeless classics. It’s the first endeavour by Power3 Productions, three second year students at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. The intimate setting of the beautiful Unity theatre was perfect for the imaginative production, with a sterling cast and a band as tight as some of the jeans being sported all combining to create a brilliantly entertaining few hours. Highlights included Inge Bremnes as the roguish, smooth-talking Chad; the stunning company rendition of Can’t Help Falling In Love (which I’ll admit left me sniffling well into the interval); and the character chorus girls, who never missed a beat and were compelling (but never distracting) to watch. A special mention also has to go to Erin Rowlands playing Sylvia – you could have heard a pin drop during her emotional version of There’s Always Me. It’s fair to say that the future’s bright for everyone involved.

Indeed, as I overheard on more than one occasion, “I’ve always said I don’t like musicals, but that was brilliant.” I think that sums it up perfectly.