Wednesday, 30 May 2018

March and April and May 2018 - books and music in brief

Oh, time - you got away from me again.  Spring arrived later than ever; winter seemingly endless with freezing temperatures and April snowfall.  Hibernation appealed as I recognised the tell-tale signs of anxiety making an unwanted comeback, but I forced myself to push on.  I came close to my breaking point and I've taken some time away from writing to ease the load, but it's really, really hard to switch off from the alternate realities in my head. 

When my head's in a bad place I find it hard to focus.  As a reader that's as much of a sucker-punch as the other symptoms of my anxiety.  That said, I have managed to read a few cracking books. 

I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman was just fabulous.  It had boy bands, mental health representation and an LGBT+ lead character, which along with a fast-paced storyline made for a great read. 

I also fell head-over-heels in love with Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman, which I became aware of when the book was relaunched to tie in with the film release.  It was the painfully beautiful love story I needed, beautifully executed.  I haven't read anything since because nothing could compare. 

Those are without doubt my two stand-out reads of the spring, but I also read Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro (which had a great premise - focussing on a couple who were having a long-distance affair - but which didn't quite hit the spot for me), Spinning, a graphic memoir by Tillie Walden about ice skating, relationships and sexuality and my mother's day gift, a Penguin Little Black Book - Suffragettes.

I've been fortunate to go to some great gigs with some of my favourite people in the past three months and music has given me sprinklings of happiness when I've been low. 

Back in March me and my friend Sally saw Charlie Barnes at West Street Live in Sheffield (I blogged about that here), and I ended the month at Carrie Hope Fletcher's Cadogan Hall show which was so cathartic it's untrue - I spent most of the first half in tears. 

April brought Bastille's Reorchestrated tour to my home city, and what a line-up that was!  Charlie Barnes opened (and played The Weather, which I ADORE), followed by my first time seeing To Kill a King before the main event - Bastille with an orchestra.  My tiny mind was blown.  As if that wasn't enough excitement for one day, I made a really great friend who I'm going to be seeing again soon - hi, Chloe!  I decided to head to Record Junkie on Record Store Day to see High Hazels play an acoustic set, and on April 24th headed to the Sheffield O2 for another brilliant gig with one of my favourites - Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls.  After queuing with friends to get a spot on the barrier we were treated to support acts from Homeless Gospel Choir and Arkells (check out Leather Jacket in particular, it's a tune) before Frank took to the stage for an amazing, amazing gig which culminated in me going home with his guitar pick.

With some of the Frank Turner Army at the Roundhouse

May brought more music - Gary Barlow in Manchester (cheesy fun which had me dancing like a loon, even though I must admit it wasn't the same as a Take That gig), Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls (again) for the Love, Ire and Song night of Lost Evenings 2 at the Camden Roundhouse (Jet Lag on poor heart) and a charity gig for Music Support featuring Monty Taft, Charlie Barnes and To Kill a King at Omeara in London, which was possibly the stickiest, sweatiest gig I've ever been to in my life.  By the end of the night when Dan Smith joined them on stage for Annie Oakley Hanging everyone went bananas shouting along to 13 Steps.

Thanks so much, Dan

By chance I'd bumped into Dan when I was browsing the shops earlier in the day (although I was so overcome with shyness that I didn't even tell him I was a fan, let alone that I thanked Bastille in the acknowledgements of Joe and Clara's Christmas Countdown because I wrote most of it listening to the Wild World album.  Fun fact - a line from a Bastille song is the working title of my current project, too). I also had a chat with Charlie after his set which was nice - they are both so stupidly talented and work so hard.  It gave me the kick I needed to get back on the writing horse.

Charlie Barnes - I've seen him three times in as many months and he never disappoints.

Reading this back makes me realise how fortunate I've been to be able to see so many of my favourites multiple times lately and the only one I've not seen (Johnny Marr) I've managed to snag tickets to see in November.

Every so often I wonder what life would be like without books and music.  Then I wipe that thought from my mind, because it doesn't bear thinking about.

I'll do another post about other places and the theatre I've been to over the past few months soon, and I'm going to try really hard to put something on the blog regularly, even if it's not that exciting.  What have you been reading lately?  And have you been to any gigs?  Who do I need to be listening to?

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