Beautiful and Woking ……………….

Beautiful the musical in Woking – the story of Carole King: As a line in the show uttered by her character says ‘I’m just a normal person, who wants to hear a normal person sing?’ Clearly the packed theatre confirmed they did and were interested to hear the story of one of the most successful songwriters of the 20th Century woven around the songs that made her so famous first as a writing partner with her then husband Gerry Goffin and later as a solo writer and performer.

Jukebox musicals are always popular. Whilst telling their story they allow the audience to add their own memories associated to the songs they share. As a vehicle to encompass, especially for those who may not know and assign the credit to performer rather than writers, the vast catalogue and contribution King made to modern music it serves so well.

The story centres at first around her relationship with Gerry Goffin (Kane Oliver Parry) and as part of the songwriting stable of impresario Donnie Kirshner (Adam Howden) they compete with friends Cynthia Weil (Amy Ellen Richardson) and Barry Mann (Matthew Gonsalves), as to who can produce the most hits. Including their work which was often then taken up by Phil Spector’s artists gave an added, welcome dimension to the piece – hearing the basic versions of songs pre Spector orchestration allowed the imagination to add that in and remember The Ronettes, Darlene Love, The Crystals, Righteous Brothers and the finished songs.

The friendships between King, Kirshner, Weil and Mann seemed to sustain her through troubled times with Goffin. His frustration at feeling inadequate in the wake of the new artists playing their own work and poets such as Dylan coming on the scene as well as his behaviour in the marriage finally contributed to its end and in a heartening scene her mother reminds her that she did write lyrics once and could again.

Her success in her own right came quickly after and the show tracks her reticence at being a performer to her concert at Carnegie Hall.

I admit to being still at odds with some of the songwriters I like getting the big musical treatment, though on the other hand happy to see people get deserved recognition I haven’t yet seen how ‘musical walking’ fits in – a style of sashaying across the stage that is so prevalent. Let’s face it though, if we don’t see it in real life that is only because we are all doing it in our heads going up the bread aisle at Asda and down the escalators in the Peacocks centre. It’s not just me…everyone does it, definitely.

I liked that it celebrated a diffident success “I’m just a normal person’ a person who had such a talent that she couldn’t not do it and who wrote regardless of fame, whose songs have provided a soundtrack to more than one generation even if they were flashbacks – The Locomotion- I remember jumping up on stage with the band at my sister’s wedding shouting that out, loudly, out of tune for three minutes – whatever- people danced and next day they did a whip round for singing lessons for me – never looked back- ha doubters! Anyway back in the room, Take Good Care of My Baby – sending that via private messenger to a teenage daughter’s boyfriend because I am so hilarious, a view not shared by her – philistines to my comedy. I Feel The Earth Move – doing an aerobics class, leg warmers (remember them) doing a grapevine in the wrong direction and knocking the rest of my line down like dominos, my sister (different sister, I keep spares) rolling her eyes and pretending she didn’t know me Around the theatre people were happily engaged in their own reminiscence.

As a vehicle to celebrate her work it, for those who know of it, and to present just how much she did for all those who didn’t realise, it is excellent. The early pop tunes to the later more introspective work and (ahem..) darker indictments of surburbia like Pleasant Valley Sunday and her release of an updated version of One Small Voice in 2017 on Donald Trump’s inauguration track her career. The cast were dynamic, especially Bronte Barbe in the lead role who reprised her poignantly, you really felt for innocent Carole who wanted to do the best for everyone. At times when the ensembles were singing the sound was very bright and as it only occurred when it was groups on the stage in big numbers – it seemed as if the performers couldn’t hear themselves over the music or the frequency was high, perhaps something only from the first night.

If it were to be said to be a musical about Carole King that centred more around her marriage than her work it wouldn’t be true, the King/Goffin collaboration was a success, it is also a celebration of friendship, You’ve Got A Friend seemed to sum up what her songs have done for people; been there in all aspects of their lives, and her attitude to her work and talent. I went with a friend, felt very friendy when that came on then I accidentally burped and looked at her in disgust so she would get the blame – as I said, friendship.

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical runs from Tues 27 February to Sat 3 March 2018 for tickets contact http://www.atgtickets.com/woking 08448717645

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Christmas Scenarios

Scenario One:

Christmas Eve/Morning

‘I’ll just shove this stuff here in this drawer/cupboard/room/under the stairs/dungeon of oblivion where nothing returns, people will be here soon. I’ll sort it out Boxing Day’

Ordinary day a bit/lot later

‘Have you seen my ‘really important thing’?’ (One of the things you put away)

‘Yes it errr…. Oh.. erm Oh for God’s sake if anyone actually helped around here but no it is always me!’ (Frantically pulling at a drawer stuck because an old kazoo has got wedged in which then explodes onto the floor, ‘essential thing’ lying on top…..

‘See I told you I filed it and indexed it exquisitely’

Scenario Two

Someone posts a jolly picture on Facebook of them at Christmas with a family/friends/cardboard cutout and says ‘spending a few days with these crazy guys’ and checks in to a location

queue many comments from Facebook friends they have never actually met ‘hey you’re just round the corner from me let’s have that catch up that we keep talking about I’ll PM you my mobile number!’

No more Facebook from original poster until 2nd Jan

‘Hey just saw your comment ! Signal was terrible maybe catch up soon!’

wipes forehead ‘phew saw that one off!’

Survival with a teenage ‘gathering’ what we used to call having a few mates around or, the pathetic number of people my parents said was a party and that was because they wanted their friends round too

I’m sending texts to my daughter from the front room. She’s outside with 9 friends. I told her she could have six round. Her GCSE results come out in two weeks, I’m awaiting the Maths one with trepidation but it might be ok. Maybe they don’t do just basic counting up anymore.

If Child A wants friends round and her Mum says 6 how many can Child A actually have round?

(there’s two answers depending on whether you’re the Mum or, the child like the ones at my school in Biology about how to control population)

Mum: 6

Child A: If I ask 9 but tell them to move around alot and tell my Mum she’s just too old to keep up she’ll never know. So it is 9.

They never know that we watch them file in and count every single one in and out. I wish we could have clocking in machines in houses, like old factories, like Baldwin’s Casuals had in Coronation Street; maybe I could get some nylon knickers run up at the same time.

The texts I am sending are in block capitals now

STOP SHOUTING!!!!!

I’m shouting by text.

Actually the texts started nicely

‘Shut up Shouting!’

‘How about singing a dose of shut the eff up!’

STOP SHOUTING!!!

SHUT UP!!!!!!

They were singing earlier, I thought it was punishment enough. It was really loud. It was Robbie Williams Angels song. They sounded like fecking angle grinders.

I’m in a punk band for fecks sake, I thought I was supposed to ruin their street cred.

I’ve decided to write a survival manual, based on this and the fact a couple I know announced a pregnancy today and might need it in 16 years.

WAYS TO DEAL WITH TEENAGERS SHORT OF USING A BORDER COLLIE AND A CATTLE PROD.

ALWAYS SAY NO ALCOHOL do that nice parent thing of ‘oh well I thought they could have a few cans of low alcohol lager*’ and you have opened up a GREY AREA. NEVER open up a GREY AREA. (unless in extreme circumstances and all else fails allowing a bathrobe to fall open to watch them running to the edges of your estate (council not country) in demented disgust – job done though) * bear in mind low alcohol anything these days is what Buster Bloodvessel was singing about in the early 80’s. You also don’t want to open up the possibility that you might share some of yours

Then:

1. When their friends arrive keep walking around looking balefully at them like Mrs Danvers.  Everytime they go upstairs to ‘put their sleepover stuff away’ (hide their alcohol) go upstairs and fold something on the landing. Try and master a gliding motion so it seems you have no legs (this bit is not entry level and should only be attempted by people who either work from home and have to slide about the kitchen in socks to kill time or work in really boring jobs in places with shiny floors and a boss with an uncontrollable sphincter who needs many toilet breaks, or who were schooled by nuns and had many years to watch people at the pinnacle of inexplicable hovering and sliding do it)

At this stage DO NOT BE FRIENDLY AT ALL.

Even if they’re really polite do look at them in a ‘I’ve got your numbaaa’ way and do that thing where you point to them and your eyes a few times to show you have your eye on them. Again, anyone who works from home will have the advantage here as there is often time spent in the mirror doing Robert De Niro Taxi Driver or Harvey Keitel Goodfellas impressions during the working day. You can also feel good about yourself for doing it – time not wasted but committed to parenting skills (work/life balance)

Walking into the middle of any gathering and leaving a packet of Tena Lady on the breakfast bar is always a good conversations stopper. It is an age thing – after kids or with very funny friends this would be seen as being a good hostess, teenagers somehow don’t get this.

Walking out in a bath robe with hands on hips and just standing there staring activates their Oh Shit that Mother is Fucked Off! trigger hopefully. If not mouth ‘SHUT UP’ through the window.

Finally, if the noise is too much, the music is loud just remember, the fusebox is inside and most back doors lock. Pull the electricity and lock the feckers out.

Running In Clothes

It’s a lovely day.

I’ve decided to take up running again.

The above two sentences could lead you to believe;

a) that the good weather has motivated me to look back to a time of fitness and health, trainers pounding, and talks of best times, wearing a fleece tied around my waist, pre-tena lady days and detox juices and

b) that running was an activity I regularly took part in for fitness, getting through ‘the wall’ and am now resurrecting this in a ‘Run Fat Boy Run’ thing so I can go around pinging my elasticated waist at every opportunity to prove that I could now fit a small chamber orchestra in there because of running, so, no need to charge the ipod.

Both of these assumptions are wrong.

I practised this with my sister at Christmas along the beach front at Exmouth (on the promenade no less) and enjoyed it. I have decided to just start running about places, like when as a kid you ran for no reason whatsoever or to get home in time for afternoon telly. In normal clothes my sister and I said ‘Race you to that lamp post’ and just did. Both families of children (hers are grown adults, mine teenagers) were proud and it brought the families together in a new way of bonding (we felt). So overwhelmingly proud of us were they that they felt unable to show their pride in their mothers and pretended sharp disapproval by walking away shaking their heads and muttering ‘Oh for God’s sake’. One of my nieces even got her boyfriend to quickly get the car and when we came back they’d gone – we thought, to make a start on our Mother’s Day cards and Pride of Britain Entry forms. Yes definitely that.

When I was a child I had no running shoes or lycra – it was all bri-nylon bell bottoms and tank tops. Running was limited by chafe/fire ratios building up as we got faster. In the 1970’s, stories abounded of spontaneous combustion (‘and all they found was one smoking slipper and a greasy patch’ – Ireland’s Own circa 1975) often they blamed people drinking brandy but no one has investigated that these incidences were greatly reduced after Brentford Nylons went into liquidation – Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman has alot to answer for. My sister and I ran up and down a few times (I won – she won’t read this so just bear that in mind I will always say I won) I had my sensible blue district nurse coat (Nerys Hughes/Nurse Gladys Emmanuel) and that served me fine, a sturdy coat where no one can see you bounce.

So I’m just going to run about places, start off walking and then just start running making full use of the space around my arms and legs (‘use the whole page’). I might vary it a bit – do some grown up 1970’s woman running for a bus – all arms and handbags, gather speed into my bionic woman impression, I might intersperse a skip as well and if it’s a really good day some pretend horseriding. I haven’t done that for a good while though so I’m a bit wary, because when I was young you could also pretend to whip the horse as you rode, what if I do that now? Will I get reported to the ‘pretend’ RSPCA? If nice people think I’m late for trains or buses and stop to give me a lift, I might accept (using my axe murderer antennae) and get lifts to bus stops and confound them by getting out and running back the other way. For my cool down I will tiptoe behind doorways and large municipal bins a la Pink Panther.

Will this start a trend? Will there be a TV Programme on the Discovery Channel starring Robson Green called Running in Clothes? Will there be little feature slots on The One Show in the lead up to next Sport Relief? Comedians taking it up? Surely David Walliams would rather do some running about flapping his hands along The Broadway in Woking next time outside the Diamond Kebab shop? Really this could go global, boot camps and everything (I invented them – did some walking about a lot in Clarks once my Mum made me demonstrate my narrow feet)

I think so, but if it does, remember it was my idea because when I invented ‘Being all Bendy’ someone else got the credit for it and people started calling it ‘Yoga’, and after that – “Going up The Rec On Your Bike”? – apparently called ‘Mountain Biking’ now.