A new challenge

Whenever people hear that I can’t do something-or-other because I have a rehearsal, they usually ask what sort of a choir I’m in; do we sing sacred or secular music? I love to see the look on their faces when I explain that actually it’s a rock band. It’s not at all what they expect of an otherwise quite ordinary grannie.

There’d been some tension in the band for a while,  between Adrian, the lead guitar, and Mika, the bass player. I’m not sure that Mika was even aware of it, but the rest of us certainly were. The problem was that Mika is a very good bass player, but not a great team player; he just cannot play simply, even when that’s what’s required. He was playing everything as if it was his solo, his fingers flying over the frets, which really upset Adrian, whose solos couldn’t be heard properly. He tried dropping hints, but they went straight over Mika’s head.

Then we encountered another problem, a fundamental difference in attitude between Mika and the rest of us – he would only play paid gigs. The rest of us are quite happy to play if we’re fed and watered, though a contribution towards petrol costs is always welcome. Mika informed us that he loved playing with us and would continue to do so, but only if and when we’re paid, which obviously leaves us in the lurch, with no bass,  for free gigs. The discussion got quite heated, with Mika shouting down anyone else who tried to speak and laying down the law to the rest of us. He sent us a message later in the week to let us know he was quitting, but then turned up to the next rehearsal as if nothing had happened!

I was very confused, not having been able to follow the conversation very well at the end of practice, but it seems that he sent his quitting message to shock us into realising how much we’d miss him – his plan was to stay and thought we’d be so grateful that we’d be cowed into abiding by his rules!

Well, he could think again. We gave him his marching orders.

So….. what to do next?

Find another bass player and start again? No, Adrian, Jean Michel and Jean Marc, who’ve played together for years, didn’t think much of that one.

Play without a bass? No, it just doesn’t work.

Adrian and Jean Michel can both play bass as well as guitar, so suggested that if I play a bit of rhythm guitar occasionally, that can free up one of them. I mentioned that for years I’ve fancied having a go at playing bass, but had never had the chance.

So when I got to rehearsal today, there was Ade’s beautiful bass hung on the wall. I was amazed at how heavy it is! Our song, “L’amour germinale” can have a very simple bass line, so they thought I could try that first. I made notes of the notes and we started, but bear in mind that I still had to sing my harmonies, yes, in French, while trying to play. It wasn’t easy, and I made plenty of mistakes, but they seemed to think it was ok for a first attempt. I’ve brought the bass home to practice on, along with instructions to find the tabs online for “knockin’ on heaven’s door” and learn that too.

It’s all good for the little grey cells, but is it normal behaviour for a 68 year old grannie? Well, it is for this one!

Back in the day…..

When I was pregnant with Kieran  and Princess Diana was expecting Harry, Nick’s brother’s wife’s sister, who was a journalist on Woman’s Own, phoned me to say the magazine was running a feature on fashion in pregnancy; they’d got a real model who was pregnant, but were looking for a pregnant “reader” with a child of about two. Would I be interested in going to London with Gemma for a photoshoot? It’s not the sort of offer that comes along twice in a lifetime, so I jumped at the chance.

My doctor suggested that, as Kieran was due only two weeks later, I shouldn’t do the double journey in one day and that I have someone with me to help look after Gemma, to which they agreed. Nick came with us as we took the train to London and were put up in a swanky hotel for the night, then the following day we went for the shoot.

It was an all female team, hairdresser, make up artist and photographer, who were all lovely and put me at my ease. They cut my hair, did my make up and chose suitable clothes from a huge selection lent to them by various fashion shops. We had a lovely day and got home exhausted that Friday evening. When Kieran arrived the following Monday, I received a huge bouquet of flowers from Woman’s Own.

It’s taken me a mere forty years, but, at last, in the week that marks Kieran’s 40th birthday, I’ve got round to having a print made and framing the photos Gemma and I modelled for, just days before Kieran was born.

In the original article there were photos of the professional model, too, but I used some of the prints I was given at the end of the shoot, to replace her pictures.

Original magazine article

The printers have made a lovely job of it, even down to reproducing the pastel borders around each photo.

I brought it home and put it in the frame I had ready, then decided to take a photo of it. Easier said than done; no matter where I put it, there were always reflections.

I messaged my photographer brother for advice. “Black drape behind you and wear a black top” was his reply; I dug out all the black fabric I could find and taped it to the walls and doors, but there wasn’t enough, there were still reflections. A black tee shirt came in handy. Then I put on a black, long sleeved top, a black hat and black, fingerless cycling mitts. The corridor was now rather gloomy, so I added an extra light, covered in some net curtain fabric as a diffuser.

My hallway, more Halloween set than photographic studio

The whole place was beginning to look like a set for a Halloween play, but it worked – a reflection-free photo.

Final product