The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


Happy May Day …
July 19, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Birthday, Childhood, Comment, Queen

Today is Brian May of Queen’s birthday.

He will be 74.

SEVENTY FOUR.

Given he recently had a heart attack, it’s amazing he’s alive.

But what’s even more amazing is that he is still touring … still playing massive venues all around the World and still has a career in contemporary culture.

I love Brian May.

Specifically his guitar playing.

In many ways, he was the inspiration for me picking up a guitar in the first place. He’s also the reason I desperately wanted a Gordon Smith guitar one Christmas because it sort-of resembled his Red Special.

When I was in my teens, I was sort-of obsessed with Mr May.

His songs.
His softly spoken voice.
His curly hair and curly guitar lead.
Even the way he held his guitar, let alone played it.

He was my favourite member of Queen – not just because he was the guitarist, but because he was the only one in the band that kept writing rock songs – and while the years have helped me pull back from full stalker status, I still felt a ridiculous thrill when I finally bought a copy of his own handmade guitar.

He is one of the few guitarists out there who truly has a distinctive sound.

And in his youth, he was also one of the most inventive guitar players that ever lived.

He remains ridiculously humble … which is why one of my favourite videos of him is from 1991 – 6 months before Freddie died – where he finds himself in a very small club in New York with the infamous Les Paul [inventor of the guitar that shares his name] playing the blues.

Here he is – one of the world’s most successful, well known and highly regarded guitarists – slightly overwhelmed to be playing with Les and his band.

It’s nice thing to witness, especially knowing that at the time, he was not only facing the challenges of seeing his friend and band mate die, he was entering a bout of depression that he said made him contemplate taking his own life.

Mr May is one of those souls who appears to be quite vulnerable. Having read so much about him, it seems his childhood – while happy – was also one where he was expected to conform to the expectations of the times. Or more specifically, to the times his parents grew up in. His father in particular had very strong views of how his son should behave and was apparently mortified when he heard he had given up the chance to have a career in science to become a rock star.

Fortunately, in the end, he got it.

Apparently it took seeing Queen perform at Madison Square Gardens – after being flown on Concorde – but he got it. Bizarrely, I would imagine that was better for Brian than the fact he was playing Madison Square Gardens in the first place.

So happy birthday Mr May. I hope you have a special day.

You will forever be a special person in my life.



The Worst Days Are Sometimes The Best Days …
July 13, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Childhood, Comment, Culture

Back in 1988, there was a charity concert in Sheffield called Sport Aid.

Like many charitable causes of the time, it was an attempt to recreate the phenomenon of Live Aid … even though none ever did.

Anyway, due to Queen being rumoured to play, me, Paul and a guy called Chris decided we would catch the coach up to the city of steels so we could camp outside the stadium and ensure we were right at the front of the crowd for the concert.

Like many plans, it all went to shit.

It started off when we got off the bus and met a soldier who told us he has absconded from his army base and wanted to get away. He was obviously a bit spooked about the situation he found himself in but soon the conversation took on a menacing air and we felt very, very uncomfortable.

While I can’t remember all the facts about how we got rid of him, I’m pretty sure it involved going into a pub with him, buying him a drink and then – when he went to the loo – running for our lives.

Ahem.

Then there was the fact we got to the stadium and instead of finding thousands following our plan, we found no one. Not one.

Worse, it got so cold that at about 4am – after playing games of seeing how many times we could run back and forth across the road to keep ourselves warm – a passing police car forced a newsagent to open up so we could buy food and matches to get some heat.

And then, at around 8am – when we were feeling very confused that no one had joined us – we realised we were at the wrong fucking gate and all entrances were literally on the other side of the stadium.

By the time we got there, it was heaving and we discovered we were about as far from the front as we could possibly get. If that wasn’t enough of a disaster, we then discovered Queen were not going to play – nor were Def Leppard – but Five Star, Sister Sledge and Mica Paris.

No offence to all those artists, but it’s the equivalent of going to a concert to see the incredible blues guitarist Bo Diddley in concert only to learn you are actually seeing Bo Derek. And not in her prime.

In fact the whole thing was a certifiable disaster except for 3 things.

1. Paul yawned the biggest yawn ever seen in the history of mankind. Just as the BBC decided to zoom in on his face during their live broadcast. While Heaven 17 were playing on stage … resulting in the most passive aggressive ‘concert review’ ever written without words.

2. I got to hang out with the beautiful and wonderful Jenny Powell. She wasn’t well known then – and I didn’t know her at all – but she was epic and made the disaster of the day much better.

3. This.

Yes, that is what you think it is.

Proof that even desperation can’t counter the British need to queue for everything.

Regardless of the situation or the implication.

Which highlights two wonderful things to remember whenever you’re having an utterly horrific or just plain terrible day …

1. Someone, somewhere is having something far worse than you.

2. If you’re lucky, that someone having a worse day than you is actually in front of you because you will suddenly find your day is much better.

I know … I know … what a psychopathic bastard eh?

I must admit, I often wonder who that young man was?

What was thinking at the moment of explosion?

Does he still hear the laughter and jeers from the people behind him?

Has he ever worn light coloured trousers ever again?

The only thing I do know is that while my day at Sport Aid went from terrible to good, I’m pretty certain his opinion of the worst concert in the history of concerts goes the other way around.

And for that I thank him, because his humiliation was my jubilation.

Now that’s the true definition of human generosity.

Or bastardness.



Happy Birthday To The Best Thing I’ve Ever Had A Little Bit To Do With …
December 11, 2020, 7:30 am
Filed under: Childhood, Dad, Daddyhood, Family, Fatherhood, Jill, Love, My Fatherhood, Otis, Parents

My dearest Otis.

I loved you before I even met you.

I love you more than you will ever comprehend.

And while you can get a teensy-bit exasperated with me, when I tell you that every single day, the fact remains I will continue to tell you. Every single day.

I can't help it.

I couldn't stop even if I tried.

But I don't want to try, I love every single thing about you.

Your kindness. Your cheekiness. Your ideas. Your laughter. Your mischief. Your curiosity. Your heart. Your emotions. Your love.

It’s breath taking for me to see and I am so proud of the boy you are and the boy you will be.

Actually it’s more than that.

I’m proud I’m your dad, full-stop.

So to my wonderful boy, happy 6th birthday.

I know it is a strange one this year with all that has happened in the past months, but I want you to know that spending so much time with you has been one of the greatest experiences in my whole life.

Keep being exactly as you are.

To your Mum and me, you are perfect.

Love you,

Rx



Christmas Countdown …

Contrary to retailers attempts, the official Christmas countdown starts now.

Of course, for some of you out there – including my wife and I – a loved one may also be having a birthday during this month as well, which just adds to the stress of what to get them.

Well I am here to help with a handy Christmas/Birthday guide …

Now just ‘any guide’ but something that will ensure you can give a gift that is tailor made for whoever you are buying it for.

All you have to do, is invest the time in knowing who they are, what they’re really interested in or what they wish eo explore.

Here it is.

You’re welcome.



One Of My Favourite Pictures …

Yep that’s Jill playing Otis’ Ben 10 game.

Yes, that’s a Macca’s breakfast on the table.

And yes, that’s Rosie and our rocking-horse sheep watching on.

In fact, the only person not in this photo is Otis … who is a bit miffed his Mum has taken over his game.

Of course, Jill claims she’s just wanting to help him past a difficult bit.

But I know that face of concentration.

She’s in deep competition mode … determined to win at all costs … resistant to surrender regardless what she faces.

And right here, is a moment of my family I love.

Doing something [kinda] together and enjoying the ridiculousness of it all.

I love this.

I love that COVID has enabled me to have more of this with my family.

Which is why while I acknowledge the devastating impact it has had – and continues to have – on so many, what it has given to me is an opportunity to embrace and celebrate how precious my family are and how much I love being with them.

Even if Otis feels he’s being ‘game denied’ by his Mum.