Things I’m Too Old For – Music Gigs

This post is the first in a new series called “Things I’m Too Old for;” an idea I came up with the other night when we went into the city to watch a gig roughly two nights before we moved house – cos that’s what you do when you’re about to experience one of the most stressful events of your life. restroom-99225_1280

 

I know, I know… I can already hear you mumbling about how ‘you’re never too old,’ or ‘you’re only as old as you feel,’ but frankly, there are a few things I’d rather not do anymore.

 

Skiing, festivals, camping, menstruation and… live music gigs, as it turns out.

 

For those as stubbornly entrenched in the Victorian era as I am when it comes to their approach to modern living, the definition of a “gig” is a live performance – something we used to call a “concert” – and it is more usually of the “popular” genre of music. We went to see an Australian band called Angus and Julia Stone, an “indie” band – according to Kurt – whose repertoire has a “sitting on the beach with a spliff and can of VB” vibe to it, somewhat along the lines of Jack Johnson.

 

The old man and I have a special connection to brother and sister, Angus and Julia, because they went to Kurt’s school and their father was his music teacher. However, that is as far as the depth of the relationship stretches – in other words, not far enough to guarantee us good seats, hence we found ourselves positioned once again in our favored spot at the top of Everest.

 

When you find yourself in row U without your oxygen mask and no clear access to toilets, it’s best not to think about your plan of escape in the event of a fire, especially in a concert hall that’s so old, the staff breathes heavily on you for air conditioning. I realize that the location of the toilets should not be a dealbreaker when it comes to having a good time, but it is, especially after the five glasses of wine and all-you-can-eat Thai I’d swilled down beforehand. So it was with some concern that I found myself in the middle of our row and nowhere near toilets, fire escape or the Maltesers, although I needn’t have worried about my bladder showing me up, because it turns out that Millennials can’t hold down more than a few beers either without needing to piss and at one point our row looked like it was doing the Mexican wave. All this, before the band had even bothered to show up – around 9pm – which is usually my bedtime.

 

As Kurt refused to let me take my binoculars, I had to imagine what Angus and Julia looked like in the flesh from our great height and through the haze of smoke and moody darkness in which they performed. I hate to admit it, but it did cross my mind several times that it would have been easier and a darn sight cheaper to watch them on the tv, but I realize how old that makes me sound.

 

Fortunately, by the third song the old neck began to move rhythmically to its beat, in and out in ostrich fashion, and I began to feel the return of my groove, and somehow, I managed to convince myself I was enjoying myself in spite of the old man’s snores and the Millennial texting beside me. It took every ounce of my strength not to ask her to turn down the glare on her phone.

 

Dare I admit to being a little bummed when Angus and Julia came back for their encore? Nevertheless, I dug my nails into the old man’s arms stoically – he’d been biting at the bit for thirty minutes so he could be first out to the car park – and we both yawned our way through the dying throes of those last few songs, while all my brain could think about was my bed.

 

Why Glastonbury Is Not On My Bucket List

One thing that won’t make my bucket list – and I can say this with a certainty – is going to an outdoor music festival again. While I have the utmost respect for those fifty-somethings that decide that outdoor music festivals such as Glastonbury will make them feel young again, the idea that trawling through mud and the great unwashed (for even a couple of days) is fun, is completely unfathomable to me. audience-868074_1920

 

Looking through the photos of the fashionistas at Glastonbury and Coachella and the Australian equivalent, Splendor, I rather see myself as Sienna Miller, colored gum boots, cut-off shorts and cowboy hat, swilling my beer from a bottle as I watch bands that I have only a vague chance of recognizing – and I’ll admit that I’ve been tempted.

 

And then I remember the toilet situation.

 

To be honest, the only time I’ve come close to venturing anywhere close to an outdoor music event in the past ten years was at Opera in the Domain last year – the only reasons being the toilets at the local pub and its duration of only two hours. No sinking in mud, so crowd-surfing, no old man on my shoulders so that he could see, while I sniffed the armpits of the tall guy in front of me, and as we sat in the semi-comfort of our beach chairs, gourmet picnic spread in front of us, not an aging hippie in sight, I could relax in the knowledge that we were going home to our own beds that night.

 

The mosh pit idea is an interesting concept, whereby you pay the same money to stand amongst the crazies forced into the public by government cuts, and unless you give up your pre-drinks, there is no guarantee that you will be any closer to the band. I run a risk assessment before I buy tickets to any gig these days and my strict rules include a capacity no larger than two thousand and ample seating with clear exits to bathrooms. After a horrendous experience in the Coldplay mosh pit a few years ago, where the tallest man in Australia, (who happened to be visiting Sydney at the time), stood in front of me for the duration of Chris’ singing, thereby blocking my exit to the bathroom and the bar and pushing me in front of the path of a giant out-of-control balloon, there’s no going back.

 

We are not a family that roughs it or camps. You might think that from a financial perspective, the idea would be the old man’s idea of heaven, but even before children, the concept of communal bathrooms, roaming wildlife, having to cook for ourselves on holiday and eating off plastic crockery seemed very unappealing.

 

I am still scarred from Brownie camps with latrines and my therapist continues to work with me on long-term issues relating to a school biology field trip to the Lake District, that my brain has completely blocked out.

 

The one and only time we did go camping, I was awoken by the old man on the first morning, the tent and children already packed away in the car, as he released the valve on my airbed.

 

‘We can tick off camping,’ he said through gritted teeth. The tent and hundreds of dollars of equipment were on Gumtree that same week.

 

You can “glamp” at Glastonbury now, and there is even a pop-up hotel…OR… you can watch the festival on television from the comfort of your sofa. If anyone has seen the movie, “Bridget Jones Baby”, don’t  think that her stay in a safari tent had anything to do with fun or recapturing her youth: what it had, was everything to do with McDreamy in the vicinity, and even I might camp for a piece of that. Kind of reminds me of how much golf I used to play when the old man and I were courting…  Starting at around $1400, the tents are hardly competitively priced when you consider the four solid walls to be found in hotels to segregate you from the hippie riff raff, the offer of WIFI and the kettle and tea bags in your room.

 

No, Glastonbury will not be on my bucket list. It will be added to my ‘I’d rather fucking die right now’ list, along with skydiving, ice bars and swimming with sharks.

The Story Of Amy Winehouse: Mental Health, Misjudgment And An Immortal Talent

Amy Winehouse performing in Berlin in 2007
Amy Winehouse performing in Berlin in 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A movie must be truly outstanding for me to engage in it these days. Like everyone else, I am time poor, tired and intolerant most of the time, and there are just too many other distractions.

But occasionally you watch a movie that leaves you staggering in the gulf of an emotional meltdown. Think Sophie’s Choice, Terms of Endearment, Saving Private Ryan – just a few movies that have wreaked havoc on my self-composure, caused me to snivel embarrassingly loudly in a public place and yanked at my heart-strings over the years.

This week I will add the movie ‘Amy’ to that list.

This is not a review of the movie, but for those who haven’t heard of it, or who don’t know who Amy Winehouse was, the movie is a biography of British singer Amy Winehouse. The movie is in her own words a chronological recording of her brief ascendency to stardom, before being tragically and prematurely taken away from us at the age of 25, due to the long-term abuse of drugs and alcohol.

The movie’s rawness, the singer’s incomparable talent, made all the more poignant by her mental instability, the sad yet blatant message conveyed about drugs and the vulnerability caused by inherent mental health issues struck a painful chord with me. I would recommend that all parents of older teens force their kids to watch this movie with them as a duty, even if their kids have never heard of the singer.

Amy Winehouse will be remembered not only for her voice, but sadly for her place in the 27 club; a group of famous young musicians who all died at the age of 27 and who shared the incredible talent that sadly too often goes hand in hand with self-abuse and mental illness.

With her death in 2011, she joined the ranks of Kurt Cobain, Jimmy Hendrix and Jim Morrison.

Yes, Amy Winehouse was a drug addict, who towards the end of her life was publicly derided for her dependency and the behaviours it provoked, by many who should have known better. But it wasn’t just the excesses of fame that damaged Amy, for she had been a victim of the tricks of the mind from an early age. She admits in the movie that she was taking antidepressants from the age of fourteen, and I imagine that drugs became an extension of the help she needed to ‘live’ a normal life – a form of self-medication to soften the edges of those feelings of isolation that we now know all addicts share, as they become sucked into the vortex of drug abuse.

Like many successful people in the public eye, Amy loved to use and explore her creativity, yet feared and deplored the ‘celebrity’ that her success exacerbated, and became anxious and petrified of the 24-hour attention from an unrelenting British press.

That side to her vulnerability is difficult to watch in the film.

Even when she tried to get well and disappear from the media circus, she was to became the innocent victim of a father so hell-bent on maximizing what he saw as their joint celebrity, he became blinded to her needs and forgot his prime responsibilities as a parent – to create a safe zone for his daughter.

I have witnessed that dependency as a form of release, sought by people who feel they don’t fit into society’s limited scope of acceptance. ‘Amy’ made me feel a mix of emotions: sadness for the loss of such an innocent, talented spirit; anger at the misjudgment and mistreatment she received, (not only at the hands of the public but at the hands of the allies she should have been able to depend on); and a sense of loss for the woman-child who sought a simple life, a great love and acceptance in her life, yet whose talent projected her into a world of corruption and unfair criticism.

I also understand how impossible it is to help people in the grip of addiction who are not ready to be helped; and the waiting game for them to crash and burn so they are ready to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

The hope is that the crash is not the final one.

As a society, we are quick to judge those who make what we determine as ‘bad life decisions’, and it is only with the wisdom of age that we understand that people are not all created equal, given the same opportunities or the same shot at happiness.

In spite of what may appear to be a tough exterior, many people are more fragile spirits than we realise because they haven’t been given those same opportunities or a measure of the love needed to develop properly; to grow the armour they need to protect them through adulthood.

That is why they need our support, not our condemnation.

The Healing Power of Barbra

I had a spectacularly AWFUL day at work yesterday. It was one of those days where relief only came from curling up in a ball under the doona with the heating on, chocolate, the dog and several bottles of wine.

 

English: Screenshot of Barbra Streisand from t...
English: Screenshot of Barbra Streisand from the trailer for the film Hello, Dolly! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

It didn’t help that I’d run out of my anxiety meds and so was ill-equipped to deal with Kurt, who was already drawing on all my inner strength not to lose the fucking parenting plot well before 7.30am. And as the day progressed, so the problems compounded until my blood pressure began to seriously escalate.

 

 

 

Sometimes I think I’m too old to deal with this shit.

 

 

 

Around 3pm, about the same time I decided I was on the verge of a stress-induced heart attack and had seriously considered turning my car towards the airport, Smooth FM pulled out its magic and played some Barbra.

 

 

 

And for three life-saving minutes, all was suddenly forgotten and forgiven.

 

 

 

I realize that it ages me horribly to admit to being a Barbra Streisand fan – but if it helps my cause, I’m also quite partial to a bit of Greenday when I’ve had a drink or two.

 

 

 

I’ve loved Barbra Streisand since I was a teenager. While all my mates were going through their eighties Brit Pop phase and pretending to be super-cool, I was slow-dancing with my hairbrush to “Memories” and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”, surreptitiously in my bedroom.

 

 

 

‘Guilty’, the album that Babs made with the Bee Gees, holds so many mixed memories for me of the period just after my mum passed when I was a crazy, mixed-up and seriously emotionally retarded teenager, in search of the answers to life and love.

 

 

 

As soon as my dad went out in the evening, I’d crank Barb up on the stereo and swan around the sitting room using the tv remote as my microphone and pretend I could identify with the emotions Barbra crooned about so beautifully, even though I hadn’t experienced anything yet.

 

 

 

When Barbra came on in my car yesterday, my body relaxed instinctively, and I was transported back to a better place, when I didn’t have to work and help pay for bills and nothing mattered because I was young, naïve, immortal and still desperate to fall in love.

 

 

 

Music has the power to heal. To this day I have a very eclectic taste in music and different tunes transport me to different places in my life, but bizarrely sad songs resonate and uplift me.

 

On a truly shit day like yesterday, those tunes remind me that things aren’t really that bad, that life is short, tomorrow is another day and all those other inspirational cliches, but most importantly, that it won’t be my work colleagues around my death bed.

 

How To Screw Up Your Kids: Parenting Faux Pas Number 839

Warner Bros. publicity poster for the Sex Pist...
Warner Bros. publicity poster for the Sex Pistols’ album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. The poster text is composed of selected lyrics from the band’s song “God Save the Queen”. On the left: Johnny Rotten. Inset, left to right: Paul Cook, Sid Vicious, Rotten, Steve Jones. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s a fantastic strategy that Kurt has been taught to curb the impulsiveness of his ADHD which is called the ‘traffic light strategy’.

 

What it boils down to is being able to stop and think before you act.

 

It’s something I need to employ myself. It certainly might have prevented the awkwardness of last night.

 

Yes, folks, I’m nominating myself for another perfect parenting award. NOT!

 

But before I tell you about my latest attempt to screw up my kids life and you judge me, please allow me to point out in my defence, that when I make these decisions I make them with my son’s best interests at heart.

 

The reason I may be guilty of not thinking things through properly is because like any loving short-sighted mother, I believe that my children are super-talented.

 

But due to a lack of drive, (that has obviously come from his father), and in fairness is an issue that is shared by many seventeen year old boys I believe, Kurt sometimes needs a little extra help push from his mother.

 

He likes to call it ‘interference.’

 

But as I’ve explained to him many times, you don’t get to dance like Jagger when you lie on the sofa watching Foxtel all day.

 

English: LED traffic light in Forest Hill, New...
English: LED traffic light in Forest Hill, New South Wales. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course I DO KNOW that I shouldn’t still be manipulating organizing my son’s life, but the boy has a few issues in that department and frankly he is doing well just coping with school at the moment, which is why I’ve been forced to raise my game in the ‘manager/helicopter parent’ department.

 

Since I’ve lived in Australia, I’ve heard a lot about these Eisteddfod competitions, which are for kids with an interest in the performing arts. And because I have so far been excluded from this excuse to show off my children’s talents, (and thus denied another parental right to live vicariously through them), although I do remember NC dabbling in some drama section that I missed when I went to get coffee at exactly the same time she trounced on stage as one of Cinderella’s ugly sisters, I decided that this year my time had come.

 

So a few months back, when the traffic light system had obviously slipped my mind, I decided to enrol Kurt into the vocal and songwriter comps.

 

If you imagine a combination of the Sex Pistols and Radiohead, you might get an inkling of the type of music Kurt is influenced by and when we looked briefly at the lyrics of the two songs he had finally practiced around 11pm the night before (!), we decided that some of the material might be a little inappropriate and made a few edits. The words ‘tits’ and ‘arse’ came straight out, but foolishly (in hindsight) we decided that ‘dickhead’ was acceptable.

 

What I hadn’t truly appreciated was that these Eisteddfods are a showcase for all the Mariah Careys and Beyonces in the State…for the Marilyn Mansons, not so much.

 

And the talent is impressive; but it is a very different type of talent to Kurt’s …rawness.

 

There were also very few male vocalists, and those that were there were all enrolled in the musical theatre section too (!) and crooned songs like Michael Buble’s ‘Home’ and Robbie Williams ‘Angels’, so I suspected from early in the proceedings when Kurt threw me his first death stare that his songs might seem quite innovative to the adjudicator.

 

The car journey home was as bad as when I shouted out ‘Bunny’ to him in front of his mates last year.

 

There are days when silence from your teenager is blissfully welcome, days when it is upsetting and others when you know that he will be cutting you out of all the family photos by the end of the evening and packing his rucksack and bong.

 

I still believe he was robbed in the vocals section, but then I may be biased.

 

Driven Insane By Kurt Cobain.

So I got a new motor this week.

 

kurt cobain
kurt cobain (Photo credit: seattlewhat)

I can’t say it was a purchase that the old man took lightly – as many of you know, there is very little manoeuvrability within the old man’s pockets – but after fifteen years of nagging and providing him with several very valid reasons as to why I was stealing his golf membership money, (that include the safety of our children and having a GPS that can actually direct me from A to B), he finally caved in.

 

And I’ve surprised myself by becoming very precious about this new car.

 

Which is funny, because I consider myself to be a normal woman when it comes to cars and aside from the colour, I really don’t give a fuck about or understand a damn thing about engine size, petrol consumption or those other minor specifications that men masturbate over.

 

But one particular male in our household has been particularly excited by our new purchase – he, (who along with ‘The Medicinal Benefits of Cannabis’) who is studying Top Gear as one of his electives for his HSC and who refers to Jeremy Clarkson as Dad.

 

Which has caused some personal distress for me in my new motor because he just keeps touching things.

 

Normally our car journeys together are a time where Kurt and I reconnect, albeit to the background noise of some god-awful music that he has recently discovered so that I can’t even hear the GPS let alone her wonderful mispronunciations of Australian street names, and I turn into my mother.

 

‘TURN THAT MUSIC DOWN!’

 

When the old man got a new car a few years ago, Kurt and the Spoodle Princess were forbidden entry, but because my car has been categorised as the ‘family’ car (aka The Pit), I have to share it with the parasites and pretend to be tolerant.

 

There is tolerance and then there is being a fucking saint of a parent, which as you’ve probably realized by now, I’m not.

 

I took Kurt to his drumming lesson yesterday. Ordinarily, this is a ‘happy’ journey together because he is excited at the prospect of beating the fuck out of a drum set and pretending it’s his parents, and I get a useless hour to wander around Leichhardt in search of a decent coffee from one of those lovely Italian restaurants that are never open when I am there.

 

Generally, on the way back home we catch up on what Kurt has been doing that he shouldn’t be doing, while we sit in rush hour traffic.

 

But yesterday was different because the new car has changed the usual dynamics of my one chance per week to be a good parent. I admit to feeling on edge about Kurt touching my new toy and playing aggressively with the controls within my first twenty-four hours of ownership. ADHD kids like touching, taking apart and sometimes destroying as a mode of learning and I wasn’t ready to sacrifice my car, yet. Horrible memories of a similar situation came flooding back of when the old man and I bought our first sofa together some twenty years ago from this posh shop in London. On the first night, while we were sleeping and I was dreaming of its beautiful latte upholstery, one of our cats decided that the sofas arms were better than any scratching post she’d ever seen and clawed the fuck out of both them and my precious sofa was completely ruined.

Veteran Car Dashboard
Veteran Car Dashboard (Photo credit: photographia magnetica)

 

I felt really sad and a little bit sick every time I sat on that sofa over the next ten years and the experience cost the old man five years of therapy as well the re-upholstery costs.

 

Kurt knows that when he pushes the electric window buttons and the automatic door lock button constantly that I become agitated, and this new car has a veritable smorgasbord of interesting buttons to push. He then proceeded to yank at the fragile-looking stick-thing (that I give one month max) that controls the GPS and radio (that’s if you know how to use it) and I remember thinking at that point, ‘thank fuck, we didn’t get the sunroof.’

 

And as we sat on the Harbour Bridge, bumper to bumper, I began to hyperventilate so loudly that I couldn’t even hear Barbie’s frantic commands of ‘turn around where possible’ on the GPS, took the wrong turn and began heading back to Parramatta, which provoked Kurt to roar in rage that even with a GPS I could still get fucking lost.

 

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when he turned Nirvana up so loudly and proceeded to drum in time with his drum sticks on my new, perfect dashboard. I stopped the car and told him calmly that unless he could behave like a sixteen year old rather than a three year old, he would have to walk home.

 

Or maybe…. I did an emergency stop, (destroying my new brake pads), stormed out of the car and tried to yank him out of the passenger seat like a crazy woman, bellowing expletives that even I didn’t know I knew.

 

I haven’t played the ‘get out of the car right now’ parenting card for at least five years but at least this time it wasn’t dark and he was wearing trousers.

 

I know that one shouldn’t get prissy about material things and that relationships are more important, (thank you Pinterest), but sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of what is important.

 

Mr Cobain has been warned that next time I will leave him there.

 

 

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The Secret To Life When You’re Middle-Aged and Married

Suggestion 1. Outdoor music events.

Cat Stevens

The old man and I are road testing things we can do together once we’re REALLY wrinkly and completely fucking bored of each other. We’ve decided that watching back to back episodes of American tv series that we missed the first time around may not sustain our interest in each other by then.

We do have napping, drinking wine and taking the piss out of each to fall back on, but both of us agree that an odd trip out of the retirement village may provide some light entertainment from moaning with our fellow wrinklies.

So, last night we trialed an outdoor music event.

marriage, middle age, humor
Not exactly Big Day Out

I’d love to lie to you and pretend it was a really hip festival, with lots of cool people that look like Kate Moss, hanging around in their trendy wellies and smoking joints, but it was actually a Twilight at Taronga summer concert featuring a Cat Stevens tribute band.

In other words – very civilised. There were even toilets with toilet paper.

Morning Has Broken is probably my first memory of going into church at a primary school selected by my parents to provide me with some guidance in terms of religion, as I obviously wasn’t getting any at home. So Cat Stevens holds a special place in my heart.

Sydney, concert, music, middle age, humor
Cheers!

I also love the story of his rise to fame and metamorphosis into Yusuf Islam. Islam has had a bad press and I am the last person to discuss the merits of different religions, but I have always been intrigued by them. I am open-minded enough to believe that even though some of their more extreme beliefs may appear unacceptable to those of us on the outside, there are many appealing aspects to those religions that offer a sense of community and security to their believers.

I like the idea of living in moderation too and giving up material wealth for a simpler life that focuses on people being equal in wealth and stature – once I can give up the shoes, handbags and wine, I’m right there. You have to admire someone like Cat Stevens who can walk away from fame, the use of his talents and material gain for something much ‘more’ organic.

The start of our evening, however, did not bode well when it began to pour with rain an hour before we left and I might have behaved like a bit of a prima donna in response. You see, it had taken a painful number of sexual favours for me to persuade the old man to give up Breaking Bad for a picnic in the rain. And as the black clouds and thunder began to roll in over the house and the kids began to wind me up with google maps of frenzied cloud movement over Mosman, I could sense his disbelief that we were still going.

festival, humor, marriage
Brown Owl taught me to ‘be prepared’.

But we soldiered on and went prepared (as Brown Owl taught me so many years ago), and as only Brits who have been peed on by rain for more days than they care to remember, can.

Fortunately just before we left the house, God or Allah took pity on us and the rain suddenly stopped and I found that I could breathe again, and packed the last pieces of my carefully crafted gourmet hamper in my Woollies cool bag (because I’m dead classy like that) and we set off.

We found a spot in between the bar and the toilets and as far away as possible from the nearest child under the age of ten – the three main requisites for a successful evening these days – and the evening began to look up. And to my surprise I noted that we weren’t the youngest at the event either. There were lots of young families, who obviously limited with what they can do with their spawn on a Saturday night without having to pay their annual salary to a babysitter, had decided that a picnic, alcohol and live music are a great way to drown out squabbles and tantrums.

marriage, music, festival, humor, Sydney
The key to a good hamper is presentation!

The mid-lifers were reassuringly in abundance too, all seeking ‘the secret to life after life’ like us, and who were just as keen to road test their new beach chairs with added lumbar support sold at a local shop that likes to take advantage of the older generations.

And it was a very pleasant evening.

The atmosphere was relaxed, the sparkling wine slipped easily down the throat and my gourmet picnic of chips, a slab of duck and orange pate and French bread followed by an equally calorific slab of chocolate was effortless.

Getting out of a beach chair after two hours of quaffing wine becomes more and more tricky when you’re middle-aged, and having to drag a dead leg all the way up a long hill to the car park when you need to pee is particularly unpleasant.

But one of the highlights of the evening for the old man was that we were back in our safety zone by 10pm, and ready to watch the next instalment of Breaking Bad with a comforting Baileys.

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The Importance Of Chasing Your Dreams

This is a short story about fate or luck – you decide.

There was once a boy who was seen by society as ‘different’. He was a lovely little boy but as he grew up his parents soon realised that his executive functioning wasn’t quite the same as other children his age – he was very impulsive, got himself into trouble easily and found it difficult to communicate on the same level as his peers.

Barber Shop
Barber Shop (Photo credit: brandoncripps)

Which meant that his experience of school was very different to the other kids. He spent a lot of time sitting outside the classroom for poor behaviour, detention became an after-school activity and his mother had to have a minimum of two bottles of wine before every parents evening.

He was rarely invited on play dates, sleepovers or birthday parties and although he concealed his disappointment, his ostracization made his mother fucking livid at times.

But with every cloud there is a silver lining and luckily the little boy discovered a passion for music from a very early age and somehow it communicated to him, where his peers had refused. So much so, that music became his best friend and with its support, the boy was able to block out the judgmental looks lobbed his way daily at school.

ADHD makes you different, not defective.’ (Wendy Davis)

That boy grew up into a young man and although he faced more challenges than many kids his own age, and oftentimes caused his parents to throw their hands in the air and call upon their God in frustration, and to gnash their teeth VERY loudly, he coped the best way he could.

As he grew older the boy went through many obsessions, and lived vicariously through many of his musical idols, from Michael Jackson to Axl Rose – both worrying times for his parents.

Michael Jackson

But his obsession with music became his raison d’etre. His memory was perfect when it came to the names of bands and although he could never remember his times tables, he could recite the lyrics to all his favourite songs. He sang more often than he talked and when he was a toddler and finally spoken his first word, he spoke in lyrics (before anything identifiably logical) to his parents.

They were the words to AC/DC’s Back in Black, which was again, a worrying time for his parents.

His dream was to be a rock star and up until the age of thirteen his parents went along with that goal. Who were they to crush his dreams? He showed talent for singing and guitar and certainly conveyed the passion required, and his parents tried to support him as much as they could.

They kept the local music shops in business, funded guitar and drum lessons and were roadie parents as their evening jobs, breaking their backs as they lugged ridiculously heavy amps around some of the most unfriendly-looking pubs in Sydney, whilst trying to deflect the rages of their performer son – who unfortunately also suffered from lead-singer disorder and could be a real fucking prima donna at times.

When he reached the age of sixteen, the inevitable teenage physical changes kicked in and it proved to be a very big year for him in other ways too. Another school, a new set of potential friends, and there were definitive signs that he was catching up with his peers.

And his parents dared to breathe again.

He will look back on that year as a great year; his parents will remember it as the year they sought medication. During that year, (catalogued in the family archives as the ‘year of experimentation’ or ‘year from hell’, depending on whose entry you read), he was introduced to all sorts of terrible vices that his parents couldn’t shield him from – habits that are particularly dangerous when combined with ADHD.

But luckily, music never left his soul.

Then one day, (this week), the boy went to the local barber shop for his two-weekly scalping (even though his mum insisted the cut made him look like a hooligan) and was chatting away with the barber about his music.

When in walked another customer.

The barber introduced the boy to the old man (he must have been at least 35!) who had come into his shop and the two of them began to talk about music. And they found that they shared the same passion for British music and many other genres. Suddenly the man threw into the conversation, (all casual like), that he used to run EMI records and he asked the boy to send him some vocal tracks that he would take a listen to, with a view to collaborating in the future. And he gave the boy his email address.

The boy nearly pissed his pants, such was his excitement, but pretended to be cool. He must have jumped from cloud 9 to 8 and 7 and 6…..and back again all in the space of one minute.

He wasn’t naïve enough to think that this would make him the next Justin Bieber, (nor would he want to be), but he experienced a high that was better than any of the illicit drugs he had experimented with relied upon as a temporary coping strategy over the previous year.

And as the boy paid for his hooligan haircut, the barber leant down to him and whispered into his ear, ‘funny who you can meet in the barber shop,’ and the boy smiled knowingly.

Chase your dreams because they can come true. Carpe Diem.

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What Really Happens On A Girls Night Out?

The following video is an educational film about the degenerative effects of alcohol on the brains of middle-aged and teenage women.

Karaoke Chicks
Oh Dear, oh dear, oh dear…

We understand if you feel the need to turn off your screen if your preconceived ideas about women and how they should behave in public areas are compromised, or if you judge women on how much they drink or how they handle themselves when they drink.

You may exit this post if you find the production of Gloria Gaynor‘s ‘I Will Survive’ amateur or in any way offensive, or if you are at all sensitive to bright lights, strange sounds, high pitched squealing and mum-dancing.

Look away if you thought that Karaoke was limited to:

The Asian community

Young people

People who can sing

But please watch this video if you need reminding that sometimes it’s ok to let your hair down and make a fool of yourself to have a good time, even if you are middle-aged and should possibly know better.

Please ignore the dud notes, awkwardness of the more mature women and the youthful charisma of the teenagers who still enjoy the sight of their own faces (in something called ‘selfies’), the sound of their voices and seeing themselves on camera….all the time.

Believe me when I assure you that the huge cylinder of beer on tap was there for medicinal purposes only, to massage the vocal chords.

Please appreciate that it was harder to work that bloody Chinese Karaoke system than it looks, and that not only did we have to master a remote control, (a technique many of us had forgotten a long time ago), we also had to select ‘foreign’ music to find the top 40 (!). That fucking machine required navigational skills that are not endemic to the female physiology.

Embrace the fact that you can look ridiculous with your teens as long as it on their terms ie. they choose the songs.

That if you too decide to brave a girls Karaoke night, no amount of practice makes it easier to sing a perfect rendition of ‘I Will Survive’ after three hours of drinking.

And before you judge our vocal talent, you should know that during Karaoke you cannot hear the sound of your own voice.

‘So what did you take away from this experience?’ I can hear my therapist ask.

1. For a Karaoke group to be effectual, it needs the following key members:

The surprise performer – the quiet one, who suddenly jumps up and launches into a perfect and heart-rendering rendition of Celine Dion’s Titanic.

The Leader – every serious Karaoke group needs a leader to motivate the troops and we had one who supervised us expertly from fear to fame. It was kind of tricky getting the mike and camera away from her most of the time, though.

The Bar Tender, who takes control of the drinks and understands the importance of lubricating the vocal chords and lungs at all times.

The Technician, who can work out the Karaoke machine – a degree in Chinese helps to first read the instructions and then flirt with the staff.

The DJ, who knows his audience and selects exactly the right blend of music to fit into that precious hour – not easy when the age range is between 19 and 50. She taught us that Adele is not good Karaoke music and Cee Lo Green‘s ‘Fuck You‘ was a masterpiece.

English: Single sleeve of "F**k You!"...
English: Single sleeve of “F**k You!” by Cee Lo Green (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Backing group, which is made up of those who don’t really want to be there and have come out either out of some sort of sense of loyalty or threat. In as much as they are terrified of being centre-stage, they prove to be surprisingly talented at providing a self-conscious background hum that aids the overall volume and makes the pushy performers amongst you shine.

2. You still have the potential to wet your knickers laughing in middle-age.

At 11pm the middle-aged songsters went home (with a private sigh of relief) – back to the soothing consolation of a ginger and lemon tea. The teen songsters, meanwhile, had only just started their evening, and headed off to the nearest club for some vodka chasers and real stimulation.

At first, I was afraid, I was petrified…..but I’ve got all my life to live’.

When Are You Too Old To Dance In Public?

Film screenshot from the trailer to Flying Dow...
Film screenshot from the trailer to Flying Down to Rio (1933) announcing the screen partnership of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those inspirational memes about the joys of ‘dancing in the rain’ are getting on my t*ts.

When you dance in the rain you get wet, blisters and risk breaking a limb or two.

And after what I saw this week, if you’re over sixty, I strongly suggest you stop dancing in public altogether.

I’m talking about you, disco queen pensioner in the seat next to me at the Roger Hodgson concert on Tuesday.

Now I do realise that the suggestion that there should be an age at which you should stop dancing in public will be a contentious issue, (not unlike the question of when it is pertinent to stop wearing a bikini publicly), but it needs to be raised. There’s a reason retailers don’t sell many bikinis over a size 12.

So in the words of George Michael, if those ‘guilty feet ain’t got no rhythm,’ it might be time to stop dancing publicly.

The last time the old man and I had a public boogie was at the school Trivia Night a few months ago, when even my own dancing embarrassed me as I spotted the pained expressions of the thirty-something younger parents out of the corner of my eye as we strutted our best tango to Bon Jovi .

And after that night I swore (to my kids) that I was ‘never gonna dance again’ in public. I can’t allow myself to turn into one of those old people who fall all over the dance floor flashing their Bridget Jones undies and are satirized on home video shows. I obviously need to retire my ‘dad dancing’ partner at the same time.

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, we’re not. Nor, unfortunately, was the disco queen.

As soon as Rog walked on the stage on Tuesday, the disco queen pensioner began strutting her stuff. (I’m assuming you know Roger from Supertramp? Maybe not. To be honest, my reaction as the old man handed me the tickets was, ‘who the fuck is Roger Hodgson?’).

Even I was initially a teensy bit reluctant about going to see Rog. I mean, I loved Supertramp twenty-five years ago, but could I actually be f*cked to see him now when I could just as easily listen to him on my iPod? Not so much. Especially on a week night when ‘The Good Wife’ was on, there was a full bottle of wine in the fridge begging to be opened and it was raining.

The old man and I were the youngest in the audience by at least ten years. In fact I was pretty much the only spring chicken amongst a yard of old chooks for the first time in a very long time, (relatively speaking), and it felt good. (I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many bald heads and blue rinses in one theatre).

So there I was, seated next to this hyperactive ageing disco queen, (because I always have to sit next to the stranger in the theatre due to the old man’s social anxiety) and she began behaving like some love-struck teenager from the minute ‘Rog’ walked out on stage. There’s something quite embarrassing about a woman in her sixties fawning over a celebrity, hanging on to his every word, taking photo after photo, knowing all the words to his songs. Even Rog looked decidedly uncomfortable as she waved and whistled at him on the stage.

I can’t decide whether she was doing some sort of chair-dance, was having an epileptic fit or simply had a bad case of Thrush as she bounced around in her seat. Whichever it was, it was f*cking awkward and hard to ignore, sitting in her immediate vicinity, and I spent most of the evening trying to remember the steps of the resuscitation process (and had to lock my finger on the emergency button of my phone). When she accidentally knocked the bald patch of the gentleman in front of her as she was trying to pull off some armchair Gangham move, I shuffled along to the next seat and hid.

The Maltesers calmed me. As did the three glasses of sparkling wine. But it did make me question when is the right time to stop dancing in public?

Nevertheless, Roger was a master. Who doesn’t remember Fool’s Overture, The Logical Song or Breakfast in America?

And when he finally played Give A Little Bit, which he had been teasing us wrinkydink die-hard Supertramp fans with all evening, I was hoping that thought the woman next to me might actually self-combust.


I suppose it’s vaguely reassuring to know that you can still let your hair down in your sixties.

Time to put those dancing shoes away in public though, methinks.

When do you think that you are too old to dance in public?

Trigger Songs, Goose Bumps and the Power of Music

Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin (Photo credit: MusMs)

 

I had one of those goose bump moments yesterday.

One of those fuzzy moments, like the ones you occasionally experience when friends post those schmaltzy videos on Facebook, of people or fugly animals doing something uber-amazing or inspiring, and you are guilted into watching it, or worst, having to ‘like’ it.

And of course you are overwhelmed and awed by their achievement, (although that feeling often turns into one of inadequacy, when you remember that you have nothing vaguely comparable to offer in the realm of the spectacularly impressive or altruistic from your own existence).

Or is that just me?

Music has the power to create those goose bump moments too.

Yesterday morning had not been a good one, so maybe I was due a special moment, or at least a moment to remind me to smell the f*cking roses, which I’m not particularly good at.

But music often provides those moments for me.  A particular song can take me back instantly to remind me of the good stuff that has happened in my life; you know, before the shite stuff kicked in, forcing me to fall into my bed in a mass of self-loathing.

Doesn’t everyone have ‘trigger songs’? Songs that make the hairs on their arms stand up on end, as they evoke a memory, a defining moment in their subconscious from the past.

For example, Stevie Wonder’s ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ reminds me (along with millions of other parents of little girls around the globe) of the birth of Nerd Child. ‘My Cherie Amour’ was the trigger song in Silver Linings Playbook for the protagonist, Pat, evoking the painful association between his wife and her infidelity.

Trigger Songs.

So yesterday, while I was swearing at the traffic somewhere between Palm Beach and North Sydney, flicking impatiently between 2Day Fm and Smooth, (because although I like to think I’m cool enough to cope with hip hop and rap, ‘Smooth FM’, with its injection of Buble schmaltz and cheesy DJs, just about always hits the spot), this song came suddenly filtered in:

‘A world so hateful, some would rather die than become who they are….’

And it was undoubtedly one of those goose bump moments from the first notes on the piano; although this is not the post to air my opinions regarding gay rights and equality. Listen to the lyrics. It’s one of the reasons music exists.

It was like the first time I heard ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’, ‘Imagine’ or ‘My Way’, or when I watched Coldplay play ‘Fix You’ live, or all those other hundreds of moments where I have experienced my legs turn to jelly and my heart become a melancholic mess.

And it made me reflect on some of the other significant trigger songs in my life; songs that symbolise a moment in my life, trigger a mood or a feeling:

Donny Osmond’s ‘Puppy Love’ was my first introduction to hot men music. That wholesome American beauty, those large and perfectly aligned set of gnashers, (even before the days of ‘whitening’); the handy set of cloned, white-teethed, back up brothers; just in case I couldn’t have him…..

And while I remained staunchly loyal to Donny, my peers were switching their Osmond loyalty to the Scottish band, the Bay City Rollers. I defy anyone to NOT break down and ball their eyes out in that moment in ‘Love Actually’ when Liam Neeson plays his wife’s posthumous video to the tune of ‘Bye Bye Baby?

Stevie Wonder’s Hotter Than July was my first cassette, given to me on my sixteenth. It was my last summer of innocence; a time when English summers were still hot, and I was hot for boys.

And that need for a relationship became paramount to my existence at sixteen, when ‘Guilty’ by Barbara Streisand and the Bee Gees was released. I was that femme fatale. I WAS Barbara. I knew every word of that album by heart and terrified the kids I babysat, swanning around their living rooms with my hairbrush microphone in hand, adamant that one day soon, I too, would become that ‘Woman in Love’.

And I did.

‘And Then There Were Three’ by Genesis, became the background mantra to those early, frantic mating explorations with my first true love. (His choice, not mine).

Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, The Doors, the Beatles and Janis Joplin, I apologise for so belatedly allowing you entry into my musical conscious during my university years, when I finally appreciated the musical arrogance of my parents’ generation. Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet couldn’t truly compare. And my understanding of the power of music to feed the soul truly developed; along with a new attitude, opinions, an understanding of equality and…. some learning, (and a few other things too, that weren’t quite as holistic).

That journey was unfortunately thwarted in my early thirties by the appearance of my offspring. Trigger songs in that period of my life included Noddy, Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder. And on the rare occasions when I managed to stay up later than 9pm, Norah Jones and Celine Dion kept me sane.

Yet the same child who hyper-focused on Noddy throughout his early years, has reignited my love of music in my forties, and introduced me to albums I believed I was far too senior to enjoy. How did I miss Guns N’Roses,  the Arctic Monkeys, Eminem and the Libertines? Who would of thought I would go to my first Greenday concert at the age of forty-four and get all hot and bothered over Billie-Joe Armstrong singing ‘Time of My Life’?

A few of the trigger songs of my life so far.

What are your trigger songs?

Middle-Aged Dad Dancing Gangnam Style

As we’re on the cusp of middle-age and empty-nesting, (and the teenagers are FINALLY showing some signs of severing the umbilical chord), we’ve decided it’s time to re-ignite some of the passions we enjoyed in our previous life, the one we shared before the kids took over. Not all of the passions, obviously but we’re thinking about music. Maybe going to some gigs together again.

The only hesitation I have about getting back into the swing of music and gigs is that the old man is never just content to stand in the crowd and appreciate the music; he always feels has to physically express his enjoyment, and strut his stuff. Embarassingly

To Dad dance.

We were given a reminder of those ‘special’ moves this week, when he unfortunately discovered Psy and his Gangnam Style of dancing. Believe me, I am trying not to be cynical, but it is kind of embarrassing when you’ve tried to cultivate a reputation among your peers for being serious musos, and the old man trivialises it with his obvious delight in something like Gangham Style.

For although music and dance share an obvious (and dangerously close) relationship, it is one which I believe does not need to be fully re-explored in middle age. Because very few middle-aged men can and should dance.

Blame it on their physiology, but the male dance mojo seems to disappear along with key hormones, hair and libido. Approaching late forties, around the same time that women start to consider style changes to accommodate their maturity, men should stop dancing publicly.

Unfortunately, the old man doesn’t seem to have grasped this concept yet. And his Gangnam Style is not a pretty sight. (And there was I thinking  that he might have gleaned something from the teens reaction of abject horror to his dad moves in the Arctic Monkeys moshpit a few months ago).

I hadn’t heard of Psy and his Gangnam Style until this week, but his horse riding dance moves do appear to me to be nothing more than a contemporary form of dad-dancing.

I can’t dance either. I am that toe-curlingly bad, handbag shuffling 80s dancer, who only struts her stuff ‘under the influence’ or through unremitting peer pressure. I sway a bit here, shuffle a bit there, I’m always just ever so slightly off the beat, and my physical demeanour on the dance floor oozes of an awkwardness suggesting that a tax investigation would be infinitely more fun. But I KNOW I can’t dance. Can’t dance, won’t dance.

Why is it that so many men seem to rediscover their mojo on the dance floor?

And particularly men who have difficulties expressing themselves in normal everyday life? With the first few beats of a favourite song, their hips start swaying and any inhibitions are dumped. It’s like some dance chemical in the biological makeup of these men is suddenly released, (often aided by that lethal grape and grain combination), and it unleashes their inner Travolta. Communicative and co-ordinated are not the two C words that I would ordinarily choose to describe the old man, but put him on a dance floor under strobe lights and (he thinks) he makes Psy look like an amateur.

His discovery of Gangnam Style has taken his dad-dancing to a new level. But unfortunately, there are some things that a marriage cannot survive, no matter how solid the emotional foundations, and the sight of the old man breaking out unexpectedly Gangnam style in the kitchen is creating an awkward tension in the house. The teens have been privy to his developing Gangnam moves all week, and are frankly appalled.  A secret family crisis meeting was held on Wednesday night. XFactor has a lot to answer for.

I do want to be a supportive wife and celebrate this new form of stress release and self-expression but if I’m honest, the sight of a middle-aged man in a suit, thrusting his hips provocatively and jumping like a Duracell bunny around the kitchen is embarrassing and hardly endearing.

The kids are terrified that he might decide to bring his Gangnam style to the family Christmas in Europe, and whilst all our middle-aged male relations are discussing football and the state of the world economy and dragging on Cuban cigars, he might suddenly break out in the kitchen.

Dancing is an innate talent, rather like sporting talent; not something you can learn. In my opinion, it is something that should be left to the professionals and black people. The rest of us have a duty not to disclose.

The Secret To Getting Through Monday

I Don't Like Mondays - JohannakiSir Bob’s words, “Tell me why, I don’t like Mondays’, were the first words to assault my  mind yesterday.  A sign. Not good. I rolled heavily out of bed and slithered into a mass of hormonal dourness on the floor.

Music has that ability to capture those special moments.

Some days just start badly, particularly Mondays. No milk in the fridge (in fact no food), belly the size of a five-month gestation and a large angry pimple on my chin (I’m in my forties for Christ’s sake) – not the best way to start a week. Even the fearful look on the dog’s face couldn’t salvage my mood, even though I usually take such perverse pleasure from my domineering status as her ‘master’. Having to love unconditionally must really suck.

There were a million things I could have blamed my Mondayitis on, other than the old man, who fortunately had to earn our living and so was unavailable for target practice:

  • the beginning of school holiday hell with no concrete plans
  • PMT (you think?);
  • the frustrating incapability of the scales to lie
  • the fact that the newish car, (four wheel drive, ugly as f..k, but SAFE, in the right hands) only purchased for reliability, blatantly refused to power into life when I most needed it to. (My conjugation of the verb ‘to walk’, which I thought was funny, was met with stony stares and contempt from the FML teenagers).
  • the fact that no car = no food

By 9am the dog looked depressed.

Flat battery, apparently – the car that is! Something to do with teenagers + car reading lights + lack of common sense. Of course it was my fault, for not explaining to them the intricacies of ‘circuits’ (that I think they cover every year in the science syllabus from the time they can draw a light bulb). Scientific Fact: leaving car lights on for 48 hours does affects battery performance (don’t ask me why). As I now owe $55 worth in unpaid Top Gear DVD rentals, was it so wrong of me to assume that Jeremy Clarkson has some educational responsibility? Just saying.

The roadside assistance ‘gods’ fixed the car, proving a point to the old man (again), that insurance is not a rip-off (when you need it).

Picture of Jeremy Clarkson, on the set of Top ...
Picture of Jeremy Clarkson, on the set of Top Gear (current format) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But who’s going to fix me?

Can I really blame the day, or the hormones for that matter – maybe it is just general ‘disillusion’? I knew that furtive chapter of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey‘ was dangerous territory, that it might lead to a sense of disatisfaction; I’d been warned at Bookclub.

I could blame my despondency on any number of events: the blog post that failed to ignite a ‘like’; the obstinacy of a teenage son who refuses to do anything I want him to do, in particular washing of the nest he calls a hairstyle; the dull, yet persistent back ache or even the persistent (and irritating) dog who is perpetually under my feet, eager for a walk that I feel no enthusiasm for; or just another bad hair day.

Did I mention I’m pre-menstrual?

‘Tell me why!’ I growl to myself, distractedly, as I swill porridge made with water, (without gagging) and try to reorganize the day – minus car, ‘joie de vivre’, and energy.

That heady ‘potential’ of last Friday night now seems a lifetime away, when we opened the first of several bottles of expensive wine to celebrate surviving the week. Five days of simply ‘existing’ loom ahead.

It’s not that I need affirmation of the good in my life; there is an abundance of greatness. I do, however, need to stop ‘sweating the small stuff’. And I definitely need to control the existentialist demon within me from materialising, on a monthly basis. Sometimes I feel insignificant, embarrassed by my pathetic contribution to life’s grand scheme, and I forget the importance of my responsibility on the home front. The old man reminds me that I will contribute one day….. financially.

The hormones are definitely to blame.

The dog makes a final desperate stand, bleating like a lamb by the front door. Somewhere, in the stony recesses of my heart, I discover some benevolence. It’s not her fault I can be such a cow!

And later, as I focus on the big issues while scraping dog-poo into a bag, ‘Roll Away Your Stone’ (Mumford and Sons) comes onto my iPod, and I have an epiphany.

I rush back home to my precious ‘unit’, to start the day again, because ‘time waits for no man’.

‘Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.’ (Berthold Auerbach)

Top Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com – ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ by Johannaki

Midlife Mayhem – I Want To Be A Rockstar

Remember those exploratory mind games you used to play with your kids when they were about five years old, when, with some careful prodding, they confided in you what they wanted to be when they (finally) ‘grew up’? You were of course holding out for ‘doctor’, or ‘accountant’ at a push, so when they said ‘dustman’, you feigned encouragement like the supportive parent that you pretend to be, while secretly thinking ‘over my dead body’.

Our son always wanted to be a rock star.

And he was very persistent. By the age of six, he had already coerced the old man (he of the tight pocket) and I, who have the combined musical talents of a deaf mute between us, to acquire some ropey old guitar from EBay, and the Nike soccer boots and Chelsea kit were shoved to the back of a cupboard.

Nine years and seven guitars later, our son has resurrected our musical education, and taken us on a journey that has introduced us to the profane language of Greenday, the titillating body thrusts of Michael Jackson and the dextrously challenging chords of Mayer.

And in all that time our son’s dream has never waned (like we secretly assumed it would), but gathered in momentum, bringing us to the hiatus we face now, where in his mid-teens, we believe he seriously needs to start weighing up his life options. With pressures regarding HSC choices and the ‘real world’ beckoning, we’re thinking it may be time to gently burst the ‘rock star’ bubble, while he still has time for a back up plan?

If I’m honest, the ‘gentle’ approach is not one of my stronger traits, and neither is his ability to listen. We are both still pretty traumatized from the awkward moment when I thought I was confirming his suspicions about Father Christmas, rather than informing, ‘intuitive parent’ never being my strong suit. In my defense, I saw it as an act of mercy at the time, a way of protecting him from the ridicule of friends already ‘in the know’; he has defined my interference as destroying the very fabric of his childhood.

It’s not that he isn’t talented, and there’s obviously a no better all-inclusive lifestyle for debauchery/making a living, if you ‘make it’ in the music industry. But we all know that it takes more than an overflowing cup to fulfill your dreams and someone needs to be the realist here. It’s obviously not going to be his father, who is waiting in the wings, spliff roller packed, in readiness for life on the road.

And if I’m honest, this rock‘n’roll ‘thang’ just isn’t that glamorous.

Your average band parent leads a pretty sleazy, nocturnal existence. Lugging all kinds of music paraphernalia from one seedy joint to the next, and being forced to endure calibres of music usually reserved to elevators, XBox soundtracks or the early rounds of Eurovision, is not my idea of fun.

And as for the venues for ‘undiscovered’ talent, they fall into two distinct categories: murky, caverns of general seediness or mud-sodden outdoor events without proper toilet facilities and a maximum audience of three (parents that is). If there’s a youth rock band playing, you can guarantee that the motley throng of over-age groupies lurking outside will be the mums, secretly desperate for a bit of Buble, hot chocolate and a warm bed.

My progeny also happens to be the lead singer, personality type ESFP, world class prima donna in the making. It’s impossible to gyrate your stuff in front of a mass of strangers and still be categorized as ‘normal’, and he is no exception. There are times when I truly question whether those moments of stage glory fully compensate for the mood swings exacerbated by pre-stage nerves and the post-performance hyperactivity from ‘the rush’.

Probably, although only just. The level of abuse aimed at me in my recent ‘Roadie-Parent’ review was scathing. The accusation of shooting shoddy video hurt, especially as I’m still nursing a ‘video-elbow’ style injury provoked by having to hold the camera two feet above my head for nearly an hour, in a mosh pit of two hundred sweaty, strutting fifteen year olds.  Apparently the resulting video looked like I had a bad case of the DTs, with the bonus sound effect of me cackling like a hyena in the background, and was therefore considered unprofessional by the rest of the band.

But my ‘rock’ experiences have provided me with a plethora of new vocabulary. I can now distinguish between output and input, know a wah-wah from a whammy pedal, and I have acquired a personal understanding of ‘bulging disc’, ‘tinnitus’ and ‘cephalgia’ (headache).

So the question is, do we try to persuade him to ‘get a proper job’ or do we let him follow his dream? We’ve been told he has that ‘tone’ so sought after by the judges on ‘Idol’ and he can certainly pen a catchy tune, but whether he will ever have the earning capacity to fund a mortgage remains to be seen.

He has Glastonbury in his sights, not Sydney uni like most of his peers. The fear is, of course, that he could end up another music casualty, exhausted by rejection, with no other feasible direction in later life, and we’ll still be doling out twenty dollar notes just to get him out of the house.

The old man’s take on it the other night (as he was looking up ‘piercing’ on the Internet) was – “one person working towards a dream is worth 99 people just working” (Lani Kraus, Writer) – which he apparently picked up (in between naps) at some motivational conference. It was his way of telling me to leave well alone.

Rock Star courtesy of Colin Parker at www. Flickr.com

Rock Star courtesy of Jon Osborne 1 at www.Flickr.com