Archive for May, 2010

Pondering in my helmet

Today was a glorious sunny day in Queensland. It’s officially the first day of winter on June 1. But today was about 22 degrees C. I love the Queensland winter.

Anyway, I was starting to get withdrawal symptoms from going too long between trike rides, so today we had a long day out on the trike. First we rode to Redcliffe for coffee and a cake. In case you’re interested, I had a latte and a very tasty strawberry and custard tart. Chris had a cappuccino and a double chocolate chip muffin. Very bad for the cholesterol, but sometimes you just have to live a little. We sat in the sunshine and talked about family stuff, and watched the water; that is how morning teas should be, every weekend.

After our morning tea we watched the water for a bit longer, then we rode into the hinterland to Woodford where we stopped for a wee break and a potter around a collectables store, there we took a trip down memory lane in the LPs section, Howard Jones, Spandau Ballet, The Thompson Twins, and The Sweet. It was tempting, but we didn’t buy anything. Our next stop was Daybro. As luck would have it, there was a festival going on at Daybro. We stopped there for a wander around the stalls of pickles and porcelain, arty-farty stuff and hippy jewellery, pony rides and even helicopter rides. We resisted all the temptations and had a late lunch, then made our way back home.

What I love about being on the back of the trike is that I can just sit and ponder. Inside my helmet today, my thoughts ranged from passively admiring the scenery, to worrying whether my new job would extend past Christmas, to wondering if our daughter will pass her driving test next week, and if she does, should she be allowed to borrow my car? There were also some silly thoughts, like that it’s weird that I hate not knowing where I am when I’m driving, but I don’t care about being lost when I’m with Chris on the trike.

But what I thought about the most was that we really should make time for more days like today, before bad health decides for us. You see, over the past few weeks a couple of our friends have had health problems. I should add that these friends are not much older than us, and that I don’t feel old, but I know that I’m middle-aged; I’ve been to the hairdressers this week to hide the grey evidence.

Since turning forty I have made an effort to enjoy life and follow my interests. I re-found my old favourite band, Depeche Mode, I started visiting internet forums to talk to other fans of things that interest me. I started writing parodies on and off. Last year I wrote a novel in a month, which sadly, six months later is still in draft mode.  And two and a half years ago I found comedy, which is a bit like finding religion; but not. And I suppose I’ve become a bit obsessed with it, I didn’t think anything could surpass my love of music and my Depeche Mode fandom, but Tim Minchin was my gateway to a whole new world of comedic entertainment that kept me sane for the last two years of my old job.

I wonder what will keep me feeling young for the next few years? Will my DMOCD and TMOCD eventually wane? Will it be replaced with something or someone new? Do I need to have these interests to enjoy life? I think I do. As our friends are falling by the wayside with one illness or another, I’m reminded of my Mum once telling me that she purposely leaves news of people in her life being sick, and dying out of her letters because it’s so damn depressing, and I don’t know these people. She told me that when people around her are dropping like flies she’s so glad that she can still walk the dog and do her own decorating and stuff. Simple things.

My Ten Year Self Improvement Challenge also reminds me to keep striving to make things better for myself, but there’s nothing like the thought of my mortality to remind me to live while I still can.

Reading that back, I’m not sure if it sounds entirely positive. So to lighten the mood here’s an old parody I wrote of the DM song, Little Fifteen.

Little fishy

Oh, you must forget

The world outside

Because you must stay wet

You won’t stay alive

If you run away

To a happier plaice 😀

It will be your last day

Because you will find

It’s not your style

You cannot stay here

Not even for a while

Little fishy

Little fishy

I know that you’ve had it tough

I forget your food

Your tank is not clean enough

But you don’t mind

Thoughts are out of your league

Can’t make sense of the world

And it’s little intrigues

You can’t understand

‘Cos you don’t have the means

3 seconds go by

And you forget what you’ve seen

You dill

Little fishy

Little fishy

I think I’ll get you a friend

You’ve feelings inside

Why pretend

You’ll improve your life

With a wife to share kisses

Then soon there will be

More little fishes

They will have your fishy eyes

They will have your fishy smile

They will tell fishy lies

Every once in a while

Little fishy

The spelling of plaice is intentional. My little fishy joke. 😉


Once upon a time, well in the 80s actually, I had a favourite little black dress. I’ve kept it all these years because little black dresses aren’t supposed to go out of fashion, and because I am a cheap skate, and I thought that one day this particular style might be fashionable enough to wear again. To tell the truth it’s a bit tight on me now, so for the past couple of years it has been hiding in my daughter’s closet.

Well on Saturday I was out shopping with my daughter and I was feeling pretty good as I’d found some size two and three boots and shoes that looked quite nice for kids-section footwear. (I have a somewhat limited palate with such tiny feet). Feeling triumphant with my bag of shoeboxes, Sarah and I were walking past Ice, and on the rack at the front of the shop I saw an almost exact replica of my little black dress! The material was different but the design was almost exactly the same. The strapless fitted bodice, the criss-cross skirt, it was all there. Sarah vowed that she would now wear my vintage dress with pride.

Now on to other nostalgia, on Tuesday we (my husband, daughter and I) went to see the reformed Spandau Ballet and their support act Tears for Fears. I’d booked the tickets ages ago so we could get good seats. We had the first row of the second, centre section, so there were eleven rows and a gap in front of us.

The pre-support act was only on for half an hour and we walked in a few minutes late missing the start. There were three guys sat on stools, two had acoustic guitars, and the completely bald man in the middle was singing and talking to the audience. They played like they were completely at home, and home was a country pub somewhere, not a 10,000+seat entertainment centre. The act, according to the program was Jack Jones, and not knowing what he’d released, I didn’t realise that it was not Jack Jones at all until the last song. Some of the songs along the way did seem familiar, but it wasn’t until they played Onion Skin that I twigged that this was in fact an acoustic set of Boom Crash Opera! The last time I saw them was the very late 80s or perhaps early 1990? They were support act to 1927 and I’d seen them at this very same venue. Back then the lead singer had very long curly hair that he flung around a lot. Now he looked more like Yul Brynner, and although the music was more folksy than the old raucous rock ‘n’ roll, it was still very good. When they finished, we had a short interval and it was Tears For Fears turn to take the stage.

To be honest, I was as much there to see Roland and Curt as I was there to see Spandau Ballet. I constantly played The Hurting in my teenage years, along with music by Depeche Mode, Jean-Michel Jarre, Howard Jones, Madness and a few other artists and bands. In fact, Tears for Fears and Madness were two bands I thought I’d never see live having missed out on them the first time around for the usual reasons; too young, no money, no transport, etc. Well, I’ve made up for lost time in my 40s. Last year I went to see Madness and The Human League at the V Festival and now this year I also have Tears For Fears on my “I’ve seen them live” list.

Tears For Fears did not disappoint. Curt started with a slow version of Mad World; then they launched straight into Everybody Wants To Rule The World. The crowd loved them and I could not believe how lucky I was to have this chance to see them perform. Roland has a few relatives living here so he gave them a shout-out during the performance, which was nice. One of my favourites, Woman In Chains was amazing! Their extra backing singer is very special in this particular song. Their set was quite short, only 50 minutes, but of course they had to play Shout, which they saved for last, leaving on a high note. Then the roadies got the stage ready for Spandau Ballet. Usually I like to watch this hive of activity in between acts, but this time I spent most of the time queuing for the ladies loos. Well, Spandau was due to play for two whole hours and four hours is a long time with no loo break!

Spandau Ballet did the whole heightened-anticipation thing of having a slightly see-through white sheet hanging in front of the stage; At first it had projections on it, old footage of the band, that kind of thing, I felt the tension in the room build. The music got louder, the sheet was back-lit and you could see them through the sheet, which dramatically dropped for the big reveal: The crowd of course went wild.

The last time I saw Spandau Ballet I was about the same age as my daughter is now, it was around 1983 I think, and back then I thought that Steve Norman the sax/percussion/guitar player was the bee’s knees. I’m happy to report that he has still got it. My daughter even remarked, “He’s pretty hot…. For an old man” Praise indeed. Guitarist and songwriter Gary Kemp looked pretty serious throughout a lot of the concert but even he flashed frequent big smiles. Brother and guitarist, Martin Kemp looked happy and self-assured throughout the night, in what suspiciously looked like leather trousers. John Keebles thrashed the drums all night long; he was a machine! Except we all know real drummers and drum machines are very different. I’ll leave the drummer jokes alone.

And Tony, well, what can I say? What a voice! Strong, emotive, he’s still got it in spades. He is not as svelte as the others, but he was racing around that stage and jumping up and down all over the place. By the end of the night there was a big sweat patch on the back of his jacket, (that he NEVER took off). He was always smiling and having a genuinely good time, like everybody’s favourite uncle on the dance floor at a wedding reception. And I mean that in a nice way, not a ‘point and laugh’ way. Although, I had to laugh when he tentatively stepped on the front speakers before standing on them properly. It’s all very well being rock ‘n’ roll, but Tony’s making sure he does it safely.

I couldn’t possibly list my highlights, as there were so many. But I have to say that the stripped down Pride, with just Gary and Tony is fantastic, and Round And Round with the 80s projections on the big screen behind them, was brilliant for nostalgia value. Even they were turning around to have a look!

Most of the rest of the time the on-stage camera crew were doing a grand job of capturing the performance for the big screen. A classic moment was a lovely shot of Steve’s rear end, until Steve stepped backwards and the screen turned to black. 😀

After a couple of encores, Spandau Ballet finally took their beers and left the stage, and we left the venue to join the other 10,000+ people trying to get out of the car park. We turned on the radio and 97.3 were playing Tears For Fears and Spandau Ballet for most of our trip home. Lovely.

Since then we have found a few YouTube videos of the Brisbane performance. This guy has some videos and a link to his Flickr account, which has some great photos of the night.

We took some photos but they weren’t great. These are about the best of the blurry bunch.

I hope I have as much energy as these guys when I’m their age, which to be honest is not that far away. (They are all between 49 and 51) it’s good news for us that they have left their bad feelings behind and moved on. Life’s too short to bear grudges, if they did that then thousands of fans would miss out on a real treat. After all, who wouldn’t want to sing along to True with Spandau Ballet? Some songs, like some little black dresses, just don’t go out of fashion.