Having seen the recent news about events in Baltimore, last year in Ferguson and in other areas across the United States, this song keeps popping into my head.
People say that rioting doesn’t solve anything, but perhaps this is the only way people feel they can be heard at the moment. The American Civil Rights movement didn’t end in the 1960s and 70s, it’s ongoing, as are the struggles for LGBTQ people and other minority groups who are marginalised and sidelined and are refused equal rights.
This song comes from ‘Hairspray’ the musical, this version was performed in Glee to support a character who was transitioning from female to male.
In the last few years I’ve had help and support from a number of different people. My younger* brother, Richard, and his girlfriend, Liz, let me live in their attic when I came back from Tanzania. My sister, Alex, and her family let me live with them for a few weeks when I came back from travelling. My poor niece was put out of her room and I don’t think she complained. Well, if she did then they didn’t tell me and she’s so ridiculously cute she’d get away with it. I’m very grateful to them for helping me out when my world was slowly disintegrating and we had all lost a father.
When I was in Fiji, with about £30 left to my name I was really panicking. I think I knew I was a bit depressed again, I was annoyed with myself because I didn’t have enough to get across America and was having to face the fact that I was going to have to go back early. I really couldn’t face going to live back in Northamptonshire.
Now I want to clarify, my home town is lovely place. It’s relatively small, it’s got good schools, it’s a short walk to the countryside. It’s pretty safe to bring up a family in, but for me it’s suffocating. I can’t be there at this stage of my life, and actually, I don’t know if I can ever go back permanently. When I’ve been back to my old school to talk to the 6th form I ask them to put their hands up if they want to stay there for all their lives. I then ask who thinks that their soul would be sapped away, second by second, if they stayed there forever. I’ll let you guess which option is voted for the most often. Obviously it’s a bit of a joke, but I feel trapped there, partially by my own inability to drive.
So sitting by the beach in Fiji last May I was talking to my friend Ruby about how I could manage to move to Sheffield in my self-imposed impoverished state. She suggested contacting musicians to see if they happened to need a house sitter or babysitter over the summer. Which is how I messaged Nancy Kerr and James Fagan and ended up living in their attic for 6 months or so. (Or, as their infinitely wise eldest son said ‘You live in the whole house, not just in the attic!)**
I first heard this song as part of the London Cast Recording of ‘Blues in the Night’, where it’s performed by a group of women and a lot more upbeat. I’ve chosen it as song of the week because I think it fits with the sentiment of my last post.
Bessie Smith is an amazing blues singer that I’ve been listening to a lot recently, and I just love her version of the song. She had an interesting life, she was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s. Smith became the highest paid black entertainer of the day, heading her own shows, which sometimes featured as many as 40 troupers, and touring in her own railroad car.
As regular readers may know, at the moment I am looking for work. I’m doing volunteering and applying for loads of jobs but no luck yet. It’s only a matter of time.
What this does mean, however, is that I have to regularly go to the job centre so they can see how I’m getting on and I can get a small amount of money to live on.
About a month ago I had an interview at Sheffield Uni and then had to go in later than usual to the job centre. Everyone was on their lunch, but I had to go and pick up a little boy I was babysitting, so the supervisor agreed to see me and was lovely and very helpful. She was going to head downstairs with me to find some extra forms that might be useful for me, but just had to deal with something else, so asked me to wait a second.
Now since I had been to the interview, I was a little dressed up – a 1930s style green dress, cardi, heels and even had foundation and mascara on. I got up from my seat, started putting on my coat and one of the security guards came over to keep an eye on one of the other visitors and started talking to me. He said I looked nice, I said thanks, I’ve been to an interview. He didn’t ask how it went but asked me if I had a boyfriend.
The sun has been shining, I’ve been filing in applications and getting some bunting made, so what better to do than make some biscuits? Recently I’ve been baking chocolate cookies, but I’m a bit bored of them, so had a little trawl through the cupboard and decided to get going with some oats and golden syrup.
I got a bit hooked on Chai Latte in Australia last year and have been looking for some over here for ages. I managed to get Chai tea bags in M&S but have just found the latte powder in Sainsburys – it’s the Drink Me Chai.
Well I like to experiment with my cooking and so I thought I’d adapt a cake recipe to add it in.
Two pictures taken at one of the Saturday night sessions, 4th April 2015. Matt Nelson playing his mandolin. I love taking photos of musicians, but there’s almost always a blur, a hand or a bow, for example. I like how clear some aspects of this picture have come out, despite being half he room away and in a dark room!