January 2011


Whilst browsing the internet for musical goodies yesterday, I came across a band called The Twilight Sad. The name immediately conjured up images of a large gathering of Twilight fans, a collection of Twihards if you will, and it amused me greatly. The only logical thing to do, was tweet my amusement to the world.

Of course, The Twilight Sad are on Twitter, they (or whoever runs their account) picked up on my tweet and re-tweeted it, much to the non-amusement of their fans it would appear. I woke up this morning to a torrent (well 4) of abuse (well, pointed suggestions that I should maybe listen to the music) from their avid following.

I have to say of all the possible repercussions of my tweet I could imagine (1) this was not it.

So, to appease their fans, I went off to listen to some of their music.

I’ll start with their name, which is what got me into trouble in the first place. Apart from conjuring up images of Twihards, which to be fair, not their fault, The Twilight Sad is a poignant, beautiful, dark and sad (in the correct sense of the word) name, it’s just unfortunate that Twilight will forever mean something else to a whole horde of tweeners and housewives; admittedly probably not the band’s target audience.

The Twilight Sad are on the dark side of indie, with dirty guitars, darkly melodic keyboards and a heavy-accented Scottish singer that puts me in mind of Glasvegas. Their music would fit nicely alongside the goth era of the late 70s/early 80s, bands such as Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Sisters of Mercy, early Cure and Fields of The Nephilim are surely influences. Very much in the vein of White Lies, but not quite as melodramatic and over produced and, unlike White Lies, they have not added anything new (other than the Scottish accent) to make the music unique to them.

Overall I did enjoy their music, but after a while it became rather samey, and kind of depressing, which is probably why, with the exception of The Cure, I could never listen to those other bands for more than a song or two at a time.

You can check them out for yourselves at www.myspace.com/thetwilightsad.

I dropped out of college because I didn’t have any money for gig tickets, clothes, CDs, going out with friends. I had to sit by and turn down invitations to parties because I had no money. I had to watch all my friends doing all the things I wanted to do but couldn’t, because I had no money. There was no EMA then. Maybe if I had had EMA I would have stayed in college. Instead I dropped out. I got a job.I went to parties and gigs, I bought CDs and clothes.

Now I am 40 and being made redundant, my experience relates only to an industry that is no longer hiring people. I have no qualifications to fall back on. So I will sign on the dole (or whatever you cool kids are calling it these days) and join the ranks of the unemployed, while all you guys who are glad to see the back of EMA will be paying my benefits (a lot more than £30.00 a week). Thanks.

Yes it was my choice to drop out of college, I didn’t have to, I could have stuck it out, but imagine just for a minute how lonely it is in a room full of people chatting about parties or gigs you haven’t been to, CDs or clothes you couldn’t buy.

I don’t know much about EMA, it has come and gone after my time, but I know if I had £30.00 a week when I was in college, my life would be very very different right now.

Disclaimer: This is just my story, my point of view. There are many people to whom EMA is essential to just get to college, buy books and other essentials, whilst there are others who will spend it on one lipstick alone.

Browsing through some of my old blogs, I came across, Retrospective, where I talk about often Good Things often rise from the ashes of The Worst Thing Ever, how I had yet to find the Good Thing that would come out of my Worst Thing Ever” and actually could not even see a time where that would be the case.

Whilst reading that blog, I came to the realisation that now, almost seven months later, I can at last see a future where one day, not now, but one day, if it comes off, I will be able to look back and say, ‘Gee, having ME was the worst period of my life, but, you know, if that hadn’t happened to me, I wouldn’t be at this point in my life now.’

As I may have mentioned, I find myself being made redundant, the fact that I have been “selected for redundancy” as work will have it, is directly related to my ill health. And here’s the thing:

If I hadn’t got ill, I would still be working full time, I would have continued being a trainer, I would in all likelihood be “acting up” as a supervisor, if I wasn’t actually a supervisor, and as such I would have lots and lots of extra shiny points on the “selection matrix” and not nearly so many naughty sick days. So today, I would not be facing redundancy and an uncertain future. I would not be looking at alternative careers, I would not have stumbled across Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and I would not be excitedly planning a future where I travel the world. For a living.

Of course, there are lots of hurdles between now and getting to that point, I have yet to take (and pass) the course, and then there’s the pesky business of actually gaining employment in my chosen new career. Mere trivialities. The point is, in seven months I have gone from bleak and despondent, to having a glimmer of hope.

I am never going to look back fondly on my time as a grumpy, whiny, depressed, sick person, but maybe one day I will view those awful years as just a blip in an otherwise fulfilling life. Just maybe.

Sleep: very uninteresting until you don’t have it, and then suddenly it’s all you can think about and the less chance you seem to have of getting any.

I’ve been averaging about 4 hours a night for at least the last two weeks, and it’s not fun. By Saturday I had to use precious annual leave from work and come home as I could barely stand or focus anymore, and still I somehow could not manage to stay asleep for more than 4 hours at a time. By Tuesday I was so desperate I took an old (and probably out of date) sleeping pill I found even though I knew that the reason they were still lying at the bottom of a drawer was that they make me feel like a zombie the next day. At that point, zombie was a step up from how I was feeling.

I think I managed about 6 hours and felt gross for the next two days. I am just hoping that the doctor will give me some of the good stuff when I see her on Monday, and then my blogs will become much more interesting than this one. Until then I am going to stare distractedly at a gif someone sent me of Brandon Flowers and his delicious hands for the rest of my mealbreak.

From an early age Emma was interested in music, her walls plastered with pictures of pop stars for as long as anyone could remember. As she grew into a teen, her early experiences on the stage with her dance group gave her a taste for acting and she performed in various youth theatres until real life took over.

She led an unextaordinary life, working in administrative and customer service positions for Yorkshire Water for 9 years and then moving on to a more exciting career with West Yorkshire Police. During this time she met and married her husband, Carl, and settled into home life and indulged in her passion for travelling with extended trips to Thailand and Sri Lanka among others. In 2004 her life was turned upside when she became ill with ME/CFS, and although she beat this once debilitating disease, it left it’s scars. At the age of 40, Emma found herself facing unemployment when the infamous government cut backs of 2010 left her redundant from the job she had made her career. This was the real turning point in her life.

Seeking new adventure and a new career, Emma spent time in several countries teaching English, her experiences led to the publication of her first novel, Cider’s Adventures, which was widely acclaimed and quickly became a best seller.

Emma found inspiration in the few remaining remote places of the world, often disappearing for months on end, emerging with a manuscript in hand, she always kept her hideouts secret for fear public interest would ruin them. Her success as a writer eventually led to her own travel programme, Emma’s Adventures, on iChannel 483, and she even appeared as a guest star on several cult TV shows of the time.

The list of her achievements and awards is long and well documented, what is not so well known is the record company she formed, Cider’s Sounds, dedicated solely to young upcoming bands, some of whom became the sounds of the 20s and 30s and are fondly remembered even today.

Aged 75, Emma finally retired to her dream home in Thailand, where she resumed teaching, founding her own school for the hill tribes teaching them the skills to keep up with the ever changing technological world they had previously had no use for.

Emma was discovered dead last night age 125, in her beach villa in Thailand where she had lived for the last 50 years. Her iChip7 revealed she had been dancing to the popular old noughties band, The Killers, when she apparently slipped and fell.

She leaves no loved ones behind.

The first part of this little tale can be found here. You don’t need to read it before reading this, but I’d kinda like it if you did, I’m quite proud of it.

Her stomach fluttered as she fingered the slinky material of the camisole lying on top of her open case. She tried to imagine her lover’s face, the feel of their hands on her skin through the silk, she blushed at her own thoughts. It probably wouldn’t even come to that. The creak of the door shook her from her reverie and she hastily shoved the camisole back into the case as her mother’s head peaked around the door. She blushed again as she saw the knowing smile on her mother’s face indicating she had been caught. She suppressed a sigh, expecting the words even before her mother opened her mouth.

“Is there someone special?” hope and concern flitted across her mother’s features as she stopped before uttering the final words “at last.” She knew they had been there, on the edge of her mother’s lips. She was right. Twenty four seemed old to have never had a serious relationship, but was it so wrong to wait for the right person to come along? Besides, what chance did she have of meeting anyone stuck here, in the deepest, darkest, loneliest spot in the corner of the country?

She took a deep breath, looked her mother straight in the eye and opened her mouth to speak, again she saw the shadow of concern, maybe fear, cross her mother’s face, and she faltered, stammering out a “No, no, no one special. Just the gang. You know.”

Her mother’s face relaxed and she threw an arm around her daughter comfortingly, “Well, maybe you’ll meet a nice boy this time, put this little fad behind you, huh?” She opened her mouth to speak again, but stopped, what was the point? She’d explained how she felt, what she knew in every fibre of her being to be the truth, her mother had tried to understand, she knew it, but it was too much for her to grasp. She’d been brought up in different times, with different beliefs, different values. She’d told herself it was a passing phase, and stuck to that, clammed up or changed the subject every time she had tried to talk to her since. Only with time would could acceptance. She could feel that. Her thoughts ran again to the weekend ahead, it would be so different there, she smiled again.

She fastened the case, checked again for tickets, the little present she was carrying, threw her arms around her mother in a tight embrace. “I have to leave, I’ll see you on Monday.” She heaved the case off the bed, dragging it behind her to the car, and placing it in the boot. She took the time to have one last glance at the camisole, the familiar flutter starting again. She couldn’t hide her smile as she got into the drivers seat, soon she would be certain, she would know for sure that this wasn’t just a fling, just like she’d known for so long, deep down, it wasn’t just a fad. She wouldn’t see concern or fear or judgement in the faces of anyone there, no one would give them a second glance, except maybe to smile at a couple in the first flush of their love.

**********

Her eyes scanned the car park as she arrived at the hotel, searching for that smile, those welcoming eyes, they locked, and the fluttering intensified. Barely pausing to lock the car she ran to her lover’s arms, their lips pressed together for the briefest of moments, the promise of things to come, relief washed over her, she was glad she brought that camisole. Hands wandered, found each other and fell together naturally as they made their way to reception to check in. Waiting in the queue, flirting with their eyes, drinking each other in, they barely noticed those around them, the lady in the fabulous costume, the ordinary looking girl with the huge smile on her face, and the man in a mini skirt with the most fantastic legs who waved at them as he passed them by.

There was no concern or fear or judgement in their faces, they barely gave them a second glance, except maybe to smile at two girls in the first flush of their love. She was home.

Today I finally found some time when my brain was not in a sleep-deprived addled mess to watch a couple of TV shows I’d been looking forward to for a while. Both shows feature Whedon alumni leading ladies, both are superhero tales, my very favourite kind of tale.

The first, NBC’s The Cape, stars Summer Glau (River Tam on Firefly, Cameron on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and most recently as Bennett Halverson on Dollhouse, all much missed shows) and tells the story of a cop who is framed for a number of crimes and believed dead, only to rise again as a caped crusader from the comic books he used to read to his son.

The second, No Ordinary Family, stars Julie Benz (Darla on Buffy and Angel, and more recently Rita on Dexter), as the workaholic mother of a family who find themselves endowed with superpowers after being involved with in a plane crash.

I have to admit that I was most looking forward to The Cape, both because the story appealed to me more; a Batman-like figure, a superhero without superpowers, avenging the wrongs that have been done him and putting his city to rights, and because; Summer Glau. I feel like I have watched her blossom before my eyes from her first brief appearance on Angel, to the her brilliant performances as River and Cameron, from her first shy appearance at a convention hardly speaking a word, to the much more confident and talkative woman she is now. Have watched the pilot episode, I am disappointed. The story is there, and is all that it promised to be, but the storytelling leaves much to be desired. There seemed to be a lot of faces there, but not much substance. Out of the woodwork comes Vinnie Jones as Scales, the muscle with the snakeskin face, and James Frain as Evil English Bad Guy (most recently to be seen on True Blood as Evil English Vampire Bad Guy) and to my delight, and my delight only Izabella Miko. Who? Yes, that’s right, the pretty blonde stealing the hearts of Brandon Flowers and Eric Roberts in the video for The Killers’ Mr. Brightside. No? Told you it was just me.

The main character, played by David Lyons, is engaging and scenes are better for having him in them, otherwise, in trying to strike a bargain with humour and drama they’ve come up terribly camp and not in that good, Angel kind of a way. It was frustrating watching Summer’s, albeit infrequent appearances, as I know she can be so much better than this. I’m willing to give it a chance though, and I will watch a couple more episodes, if only for Summer’s sake.

Moving on to ABC’s No Ordinary Family, this didn’t appeal to me as much as The Cape, but I’ll watch almost anything that has Julie Benz in it, which has paid off in the past. One word: Dexter. I found myself really enjoying this, maybe because my expectations had been low. It is light hearted and fun and not really trying hard to be anything else. The family of four are clearly dysfunctional even before their little life-changing plane trip, which is always a bonus, and it explored each of them discovering their new found abilities in a way comparable to the beginning of Heroes. Each has been given superpowers which relate to their own perceived failings, the father who feels himself inferior to his high-flying wife becoming near invincible, the mother with no time to fit her family around her career gains superspeed, the insecure teen can finally hear everything people are thinking about her and the underachiever can suddenly solve complex math problems just by looking at them. To top it all, guilty pleasure fan girl squee at recognising the adorable Autumn Reeser (Taylor Townsend on The OC) as superspeed mom’s assistant, Katie.

If No Ordinary Family continues in the vein it has started, I’m going to thoroughly enjoy being entertained by this, I only hope that The Cape becomes all that it could be or is cancelled quickly so Summer can move on to bigger and better things and gets the chance to shine as she deserves to.

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