​Help!  In no fit state to write this at all, expect a lot more trash than ​Trish!  Having taken great pride in my propensity for calm in the line of fire over the last decade, I fear this final ambush is taking its toll.  My mind resembles a battleground with each thought, pressing task, vying for supremacy from which there would seem no respite.  Overwhelming?  Certainly …  but only if one lets it be so!  The trick is to never stop looking outward; to focus only on oneself serves merely to magnify every problem however trivial.  Look around.  In the great scheme of things …  one’s health and one’s family are all that matter.  Being forced to sell the family home of 25 years because a philandering husband has no morals – a doddle! 
So, forgetting the estate agent – and assistant, the photographer, the floor planner, the brochure writer, the surveyor and the solicitor – how many people does it take to change a light bulb?!  Once upon a time, there was a conveyancing solicitor and they all lived happily ever after …  Did I ever mention the world has gone mad?  Thankfully, there have been interludes of sanity and escapism and last Wednesday I went to see Beth Nielsen Chapman at the Queen’s Hall.  A world renowned singer songwriter, I liken her to Carole King.  Living in Nashville, one could be forgiven for labelling her as country but her talent is boundless.  A favourite of the late Terry Wogan, it was he who introduced her to me and for that I am very grateful. 
I smiled, as we took our seats, to see the stage set-up – devoid of any fuss or show, just a piano, keyboard, guitar stand and a few speakers.  Said it all, really.  Organic (love all things organic, of course, as documented by the legal service!) and dependent on sheer talent.  Beth Nielsen Chapman did not disappoint.  The Queen’s Hall is an intimate venue and was perfect for her as she shared her life in lyric and song linking each with the story of its muse.  Poetry rooted in emotion, conveyed with intelligence and a voice as effortless as a songbird.  Two hours of pure escapism, although my friend did comment that the set list might have been tailored to me as she sang her way through heartache, trauma and angst – still smiling, though, and deservedly so as the royalties pour in.  There’s the rub!  A form of exorcism I intend to emulate with aplomb.
Once again, I couldn’t help but compare the beautiful melodic songs of this talented musician with much that one is subjected to today: computerised and techno-driven, there is no individuality, each track sounding just like the one before and that to follow.  Mind-numbing and vacuous, shelf life zero.  If music provides the soundtrack to one’s life – and it does – then the generation of today has been largely short-changed.  Concerts in massive arenas for maximum profitability and technology enabling talentless beings to charge vast amounts for ‘mixing’ – and the point is?  Still waiting for the lobotomy.  In the meantime, as though oxygen, those of taste may cling to the likes of Tom Odell, Passenger, Ed Sheeran and the ageing Coldplay in the quest for a score to remember.
The weather has changed, the local schools are back and the Festival is in full swing.  The city is swarming with tourists and the traffic even worse than usual as people endeavour to go about their daily lives.  Little time to take stock, I haven’t even looked at any of the programmes this year although I do have tickets for Once on Blue Peter, an hour of reminiscing courtesy of a host of former presenters including the legendary Peter Purves!  Looking forward to wallowing in nostalgia once more – my favourite hobby – and guaranteed to make me feel old.  The thing is, when asked my age now – for ID purposes, obviously – I seem unable to garner any precise number and find myself seeking confirmation from those around me.  Whatever.  ‘A woman in her fifties with no skills’, that’s me!
I’m rather at a loss as to what to write about this evening and that is unusual to say the least.  Besides adhering to the meticulous strategy seemingly now required for any house sale, I have spent some time as a sympathetic ear to one of my oldest and dearest friends who is being forced to endure ‘the slings and arrows’ of her siblings; beings from the same gene pool and who have shared one’s childhood yet – as is, sadly, often the case – might as well be strangers.  No matter.  Blood is thicker than water and that invisible bond forever has the greatest power to wound.
It is a subject which interests me greatly.  How can siblings who share so much grow up to be so different?  Take twins Mark and Carol Thatcher about whom I wrote last week.  Twins!  One idolizing his famous mother, the other, in effect, selling her memory down the Swanee for monetary gain.  Parents gone.  Rift remains.  Guarantee, bond unbroken!  
One need look no further than King Lear to appreciate that a shared moral compass is far from a given.  Would that it were thus disabling the most potent of weapons.  Siblings possess the ultimate power: that of one’s formative years; shared memories; one’s Achilles’ heel.  Wounding ammunition in the hands of jealousy, greed and low self-esteem.  Sadly, as in King Lear, there are no winners.
Currently reading a book on Princess Diana by Tina Brown – former Editor-in-Chief of Tatler -I have reached the part where, following separation from Prince Charles, Diana sought weekend refuge in the form of a cottage on the Althorp estate; her childhood home.  The story goes that her brother, Charles, denied her wish.  However, apparently he feared for her security and that of his young family, thus offering her an alternative.  Unopened letters followed and a rift ensued which I believe – haven’t got that far and didn’t ask him when we met! – was not resolved before her untimely death.  Regardless, his pain was there for all to hear in the words of his eulogy.  He had lost a big sister who meant the world to him, with whom he had shared so much.  Bereft of his mother, Diana had taken on that role and left an indelible imprint on his life; a life capable of burying the only thing truly important beneath trivialities – family. 
Last Christmas, we came across a wooden sign in a little café in St Wolfgang, Austria.  On it are the letters spelling ‘Family’, each lit by an effusion of little bulbs.  I had to have it.  Unbroken, it shall take pride of place in our new home …
‘Family is not an important thing.  It’s everything.    Michael J. Fox
I suspect he knows.  Meanwhile, I shall leave you with the best quote of the week – and beyond:
‘The highlight of my day is phoning you – that’s how bad it is!’    Pop to me.
How I laughed, as he knew I would.
This is Trish, signing off.