It’s the little things

On this, the bank holiday that precedes my birthday me and my partner Sarah have enjoyed a flurry of activity in the entertainment arena.

On Thursday last week we ventured over the hills and far away to the teeming metropolis that is Manchester. The venue was The Bridgewater Hall, the artist was the mighty Bonnie Raitt and her band ably supported by Jarrod Dickenson.

Bonnie Raitt has been on the music scene for many decades but only came on to my radar when my partner Sarah introduced me to her via her Jazz and Blues show. Her rendition of Feels Lke Home has become part of the soundtrack of our relationship and has made it to the top of the ‘songs we must have at our wedding’ list.

Having scoured you tube for Bonnie Raitt recordings and listened to new and old tracks I can safely say that Bonnie is one artist you will want to see live. With an energy and a sassiness that makes a mockery of her 66 years and the powerhouse of a voice that xplodes from her tiny flame haired frame Bonnie Raitt owned that stage that evening. This lady sure gets better with age. Like a fine wine she is rich and seductive, as she effortlessly rides over the band with stunning vocals. But she can also sing ballads. And can she sing them? Hell yeah. The effortless range and the emotion in the singing can make you believe that she’s singing from experience as she conveys the heart of the song with pure simplicity. Her live version of I Can’t Make You Love Me was mesmerising as she pulled the song about in rituendos and rubato that only a skilled musician can do.Bonnie made me love her that evening, for being herself in a world of fakery. She is the real deal.

Some artists disappoint live, but not Bonnie Raitt, she thrived in the live atmosphere and I for one will treasure the memory for a long time.

 

 

 

 

 

Power To The People

Last night it was my privelige to go to a fundraiser for refugee support arranged by a friend in the lovely rural community of Cwm Penmachno in North Wales. There was good food and good company. Nestled in the hills and dramatic landscape of a former quarrying village musicians poets and stand up comedians gathered together to have a good time and raise money to help others.

We decided to attend this event on a whim. Our plans to attend a comedy night in nearby Ruthin had changed and we were interested to go exploring in a place we hadn’t really been before.

We set off in Bridget our little car with a full tank of petrol and pointed her in the general direction of the hills. We drove across wild country in dramatic weather heading higher and higher up on to the desolate Denbigh moors with only sheep and Radio2 for company. The road was deserted, the landscape desolate as we pushed forward towards our evenings entertainment. We dropped down from the dramatic landscape of the Denbigh moors and joined the A5 at Penterfoels. This was announced by a brown heritage sign to be a historic route. I couldn’t help but imagine the myriad stage coaches of old that travelled this road in the past.

We pushed on along the road towards Betws Y Coed. We turned off the A5 and ventured again up into the hills. The road was narrow and we suddenly came across a small village seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The road became peppered with buildings in dark imposing stone. A village that had obviously been very busy in the past now almost asleep. This was Penmachno. We had not, however, reached our destination as our goal lay three miles to the west in Cwm Penmachno.

As I was driving I was reminded of a former visit to this area in another time. I remembered the geography, half remembered my former visit. After what seemed like an age we found our goal. A converted chapel which had now become a community centre.

Parking was at a premium and we nestled our little car next to a hedge. We walked over to the community centre and sat outside surveying the scene in front of us. Facing the chapel was a great big hill dotted with sheep and lambs. The wind spoke to us as it poured over the mountains and we watched as the lambs held wacky races on the hillside. It was beautiful. Desolate beautiful and like stepping back in time. This was what the North Wales heartlands looked and sounded like.

We  then went in. We were met with the smells of barbecue and hot dogs with onions as above us we could hear the faint sounds of the night entertainment. There was a brass band, a ukulele choir a story teller and a dulcimer player. The audience was kind and generous. Children played in the centre and adults enjoyed the food and the alcoholic beverages the had brought with them to enhance the night.

It felt like being at an exclusive house party with small gaggles of people chatting and enjoying the evening. Right here in this small rural ex quarrying community they came together to raise money for the Syrian Refugees a small community reaching out to another community a world away. It was an honour to be there and reminded me so much of village life when I was growing up when the community would come together in the Village Hall to entertain each other. Heck we even had our own sound engineer when I was growing up a farmer whe as a sideline provided pa equipment and microphones for all the village events.

i am proud to say over £700 was raised in Cwm Penmachno last night from this event. Real people doing their bit for other people. It was a perfect antidote to the insular nature of current society blaming refugees for our problems. The people of North Wales did their bit and I was so proud to be a part of it. In the words of Wolfie Smith POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!!! because it’s the people who know best…….those in charge are so corrupt the can never be trusted

 

 

Finding your way home

Today, despite a paltry three hours of sleep, I volunteered at Abandoned Animals in Prestatyn, a short drive from my home. Because of the disturbed sleep and mixed up meds I was emotional (I had been in floods of tears most of the morning) As I drove my mind wandered, what would I find today? Would any of the cats have found new homes or yet again would it be a matter of loving them a while as they continued to wait patiently for someone to pick them.

i arrived at the gates and beeped my horn to be let in and parked my car and looked over to the cat enclosure. The five little souls looked out from their pen over the desolate car park. Hugo a nine month old tabby with attitude. Nyla and Tash White and black affectionate cats about four years old. In the corner my favourite boy Chop an enormous bundle of fur and his sister Tuna. It had been a fortnight since I was last there and they were still waiting. Naturally I was pleased to see my feeling friends but my heart broke that they were still waiting.

I went to the staff room to sign myself in and then let myself into their little world otherwise known as the cat enclosure. I greeted them all by name and stroked them and I swear they understood that their friend was back again. And then I saw him…….my special boy Chop. Now Chop is very big but he has the softest fur and the loudest purr. I picked him up and held him in my arms, he wasn’t sure at first, but then he relaxed and sang me a beautiful song. I nuzzled my face into his soft fur and chatted to him quietly.  He looked me right in the eye with soft pleading eyes that seemed to ask why? But then something amazing happened. Carol the Manager came over and told me Chop and his Sister Tuna had found a new home. I was glad, I held him a little closer and told him he was such a good boy. Maybe his eyes would stop asking me why? I cried with relief for Tuna and Chop had endured nearly two years at the rescue without any interest. I buried my face in his soft fur once more as tears streamed down my face. I put Chop down as my arms had begun to ache and went to find Tuna. Tuna had always been more stand offish than Chop but today she sang for me and rubbed her head against mine. I told her I was pleased she would have a new home and that she was a good girl.

All this got me thinking. How many people are there out there that need a home, a place to be, a place to cling to. I am lucky my mum is still alive and still lives in the family home where I lived from five yrs old till I was 36. I visited her recently and spent some time in my old bedroom. It is now a store room for my brothers children but some of the furniture is the same and the bed. The walls have been repainted but I could still see the faint marks of sellotape and blue tack that held my pictures and posters when I was a teenager. There was an old wooden letter rack on the window ledge and looking insid I found a couple of letters from Zoos in reply to my letters about becoming a Zookeeper…..from the dates on.the letters I was only sixteen an entire lifetime away. I stayed a while but then headed back to my Mum downstairs having briefly glimpsed the past.

How things have changed. The letters had been typed on a typewriter, today they would be emails. Back then I had ambitions of a very different kind to now. Back then my mum was my rock. Now I am facing loosing her far too soon to pulmonary hypertension and for a moment I wished it was not so. This had been my home for so many years and I wondered for how much longer.

I have a new home. A home I have built with my partner Sarah our seven cats and a budgie. We have guitars on the walls, saxophones in the bedroom and bikes in the living room. We have a memory wall adorned with tickets and photographs of our various experiences. It is here I now call home with Sarah and the cats and I thank the Lord for such luxury. If we spend too much time in the past we will be consumed with regret. Visit it sometimes but always live in the present.

Mwddrwg

 

The power of words

You probably won’t know but I have suffered from recurring depression for most of my adult life. I have been lucky enough to meet amazing people on my journey to recovery. My GP who first diagnosed me was an amazing lady and unlike any Doctor I had ever met. Nothing was too much trouble for her and we tackled my treatment together. Dr Laura Jones I have a lot to thank you for. Sadly Laura left the medical profession due to the increasing paperwork taking priority over helping people and listening to them which was a loss both to me personally and to the medical profession as a whole.

Through Dr Laura I was introduced to Pippa the practice Counsellor. I refused to see her for a long time but when I did her skill helped me open up.  I couldn’t talk to her at first and then told her that I had been writing poetry. She asked me to bring some along to our sessions and we used them to unlock my feelings. For in poetry, the rhyming verses that came to me like somebody else’s words, were my true feelings. I did not have a chance to edit my feelings with my mind…….they came straight from the heart like a purging of grief and regret.  When I felt upset I wrote and wrote and wrote on anything and everything and at each therapy session we would use the poems as a basis for that day’s session. I now know that Pippa was a skilled counsellor who was very adept as using whatever that was given to her as a way in. I saw Pippa on and off for about eight years and I will be forever grateful to her that my first experience of counselling was such a positive one.

My first poems were personal and raw and dealt with strong emotions. As I gained control of the Depression with drugs and counselling my poems became rude, sometimes funny and a tirade about Tories and what is wrong in society. As time moved on I wrote further and ventured into performance poetry and I loved it . Time and again people would remark that my poems resonated with them and that was a great thrill to me.

When I first started writing poetry they were kept for me and my counsellor. I kept the scraps of paper in a book but often would find them too difficult to read again as they were painful and hurt.

Now my poems usually get written directly as a Facebook status so  can share them with people.

When I had no voice, my poems spoke for me. My poems are now my voice, a way to tell people how  feel and what I think. I shall be sharing some here on my blog over the coming weeks and hope they will help you or entertain you, hopefully both.

Words can cause so much harm but words can also heal.

Lots of Love

Mwddrwgimage

 

 

 

Turning Right instead of Left

 

image

Today me and my partner Sarah visited the beautiful town of Llangollen in North Wales. This has become a Sunday ritual for us. After searching for parking which is a feat in itself we decanted to the Buttered Crust, a lovely little cafe opposite the car park to have some sustinence. Suitably refreshed, we walked along the high street and visited our favourite shop, Jacaranda, to peruse the bargains.

Jacaranda has featured in many of our visits to Llangollen as we love the variety of gifts and cards available there from Pagan to Rock and Roll t shirts. Sadly Jacaranda is soon to close as the owner recently passed away and there is a 50% Closing Down Sale there. Every time we visit, we fear we will find it closed, but it is still open. We dread the day when the shop will close its doors for good.

After the shops we walked over the bridge, pausing briefly to look at the river Dee below and at the steam trains at the station. We crossed the road and started our steep climb up to the canal where the horse drawn boat are. The path is steep but worth the breathlessness to sit n the glorious sunshine looking at the canal with ducks and their little ones. Then the ice cream is bought and we survey the scene.  We come here to meet the horses and the odd dog and generally appreciate the tranquil peace of this magical place.

After the ice cream it’s time to explore the canal further. We usually take a turn to the left and walk down the towpath as far as the pavilion but today we turned right. What a revaluation. We walked down a well maintained towpath and marvelled at the buildings on the canal path. Soon the edge of the canal was dotted with several moored canal boats. We stopped and talked to some people and soaked up the sun. Several cyclists rang their bells to warn us of their presence. It was peaceful and beautiful as we walked hand in hand on our new adventure. Then we came across a moored canal boat with a difference kitted out o provide fresh coffee barista style and ice creams and various trinkets and foodstuffs.  We walked past marvelling at the ingenuity of this watery mobile shop.

We continued to walk in the sunshine as ducks held their wacky races on the canal. We met cyclists, heard people talking in foreign languages, sat on their boats with wine in their hands. We decided to turn back. When we came across the coffee boat we stopped and I bought a Cappuccino expertly made by the boat owner. The couple from Lancashire told us they were on their holidays and just around for a few days and we felt lucky we had found them today like a Brigadoon type experience of the canal coffee boat kind. The boat owners told us they resided in Tenerife in the winter and spent the summer on the canals in the UK. They were living their dream, taking their boat to numerous canal festivals throughout the country.  We agreed that no one knew what the future held and that the time to do things was now. We met two adorable whippets and their parents and a couple of lovely border Collies.

When we returned home we were struck by that chance we had taken in turning right rather than left today which meant we found our amazing floating coffee shop and how we must be open to spontiniatey and liv on the momen and to go where our instincts take us for we never know when a special moment will be waiting for us. We shall return to Llangollen next week……….our choice is right or left……..who knows what we might find!!!!!!

 

 

There is something of God in all of usqu

Just spent a morning remembering my good friend Tina at her funeral. She had been my friend for 16years and I asked if I could make a tribute to her at her funeral.

Tina’s family are religious in fact her father used to be a Pentecostal Pastor and he and her Mother both attended bible college.

I am a Christian myself, having found God with the help of a Salvation Army Officer back in 2010. As far as organised religion goes however I have a problem.  The lifestyle I choose as a gay woman is not acceptable to most churches. I have been questioned about my sexual preferences, what I do in bed and my ‘sinning’. I have been judged, in fact according to some churches I am an abomination.

They judge me for having a sex life before marriage and even when I did he ‘married’ to my former partner because they did not recognise my marriage the only thing that would be acceptable to them was celibacy.

Now I can take this from individuals who practice celibacy themselves but when heterosexual people who are married and probably having sex tell me I can’t I feel that is totally unfair.

It is true that the bible says one man and one woman and that same sex couples should not sleep together but this has to be taken in context. When the bible was written it was about procreation and increasing the numbers of the state of Israel and as same sex couples could not procreate it was banned.

So taken to its logical conclusion any couple should only have sex if they are going to make babies it is for procreation not enjoyment whether your heterosexual or gay. But if I started telling the heterosexual married couples this there would be uproar……quite rightly so!!! So please all you straight people don’t think you have a God given right to comment on my sexual orientation or who I decide to sleep with or not!!!

At the funeral I spoke about God, my God. The God who brought my beautiful Sarah into my life. The God in who’s image I am created. Taken to its logical conclusion God must have some gay in him too. Are the straights now going to condemn God?

As Christians we need to show that we are Christians through our actions. It’s not about who you do or do not sleep with. It is about your personal relationship with God and the way you incorporate it into your daily living. Religion is devisive and this is because it involves human beings. As humans we are all flawed. That’s why we need God in our lives.

I am lucky I have found a church I can be a part of just as I am. The Quakers accept me as I am and the quiet contemplative meeting for worship suits my needs both personally and spiritually. The Quakers believe that there is something of God in everyone and each person has a role to play and this inclusivity helps me feel happier in my faith.

I try to live my life in a positive Christian way as I believe that by your actions you shall be known. I will not let small minded individuals lead me down a path of living without love……..it’s really got nothing to do with you. I answer to no one except God and God and I are good……….image