Testing, testing … 1…2…3

Don’t worry, it’s relatively safe.  I had a drumming lesson earlier today and the dopamine is still circulating – for now!  Can I put into words how much I love it?   It is somewhat satisfying to know that one of the things you always said you wanted to do turns out to be one of the things you should always have done.  Why did my parents never buy me a drum kit or send me for lessons?

To be fair, I think the fact that I spent hours in my room listening to – and swooning over – Donny Osmond may have thrown them off, being that the drums were never the attraction; however, piano lessons with Miss Reckless were never my forte – and, yes, that was the name of my piano teacher, latterly.  Then, of course, there were my guitar days …  Split into two chapters, the first saw me – age 13/14 – in my Marie Osmond phase.  Well, makes sense to emulate the sister, or so I thought.  So, explained the long dark hair – enhanced only by the purple eye shadow – and the purple, studded, flares finished off with some co-ordinating purple top, obviously!  Thing is, years on, Donny was to reveal that he never liked purple.  Instead, it was just the colour allocated to him.  Well, blow me!  My entire teenage years were seen through a purple haze …

Oh, the guitar lessons.  Yes, I thought it completed the look.  To be honest, I did love the acoustic guitar, having discovered the Eagles and John Denver in those heady days of the early/mid-Seventies.  That was before computers when music was music and songs had a melody.  Heaven.  Actually, these songs are regarded as classics now and will continue to live on for generations to come – proof is in the pudding, as the old saying goes.  The same could never be said of most of the mind-numbing beats Becca tries to subject me to on Radio One, when driving – short-lived as she cannot bear the complaining.  Result.  Sadly, my guitar playing did not enjoy the same success but I had obstacles (two of them) to overcome …  Still in my Donny phase, my mother persuaded one of her pupils at Elmwood – Yes, her name was Alison! – to give me lessons and she used to come to the house once a week.  She was really nice but, for some reason, insisted that I sing along to the songs she taught me – very folky: Blowin’ in the Wind and The Queen’s Four Maries proved two of my party pieces to the weekly hilarity of my brother and his sidekick, David, who would regularly hide in the drinks cupboard off the sitting room.  Not at all off-putting, my enthusiasm duly waned.

Chapter Two came many years later when the children were little.  Santa brought me another guitar and I answered an advert in the local paper for a teacher.  Jed appeared – far out – and charged me £10/lesson which entailed him sitting on the couch, chatting and drinking coffee while I tried to master Lyin’ Eyes!  I remember he called me Barnton – I think it was all he picked up from the message I had left him on his ansaphone.  BV: Before Voicemail.  I still have that old guitar.  It sits, gathering dust, as a reminder of a talent which was never honed.  Manny, meanwhile, had no difficulty teaching himself and can pick up most any tune.  Envious in the extreme, perhaps it skipped a generation – or he just has big hands!

It’s funny how, when I write, the memories come flooding back and it is like yesterday once more (thank you, Richard!). I was reminded of the passing years, however, when Donny appeared on television today, over here to appear in panto over Christmas.  Who would do that?  He can’t possibly need the money …  Anyway, inevitably, they brought out the old footage and, boy, that took me back.  I still get it, though.  I still see exactly what I saw then but … he is 64-years-old, now, and a grandfather!  Far too much fake tan and, strangely, his face has ballooned – or his features have got smaller – but he is still the nicest guy and, remember, I know!

Talking of turning back the clock, we watched another episode of Impeachment last night – the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal of 1998 – and it was gripping!  Remembering that Monica, herself, is a producer on the series, this particular episode depicted Linda Tripp’s ensnarement of her young, unsuspecting friend, delivering her into the hands of the FBI together with 20 hours of taped phone conversations confirming the affair.  The portrayal of the 24-year-old’s reaction and how she coped confronted by ten, armed, federal government agents in a hotel room on her own for twelve hours was superb.  The gravitas of the insurmountable charges she faced – let alone prison – if she didn’t agree to co-operate …

Once again, it became clear the historical significance of this scandal prompting me to dig out the old newspaper I kept containing a full-page spread on her book signing in Waterstones, Edinburgh, the following year.  Dated Tuesday, March 16, 1999, the caption is ‘Monica’s kiss and sell’.  The day marked Pop’s 72nd Birthday and, partly out of curiosity and partly because I thought he would find it amusing, I went along to get him a signed copy.  To this day, I’m glad I did – and, last night, I was reminded why.  It was exciting.  Here she was, the young woman who almost toppled Clinton only the year before, in the flesh!  Flanked by security, she sat behind a partition as, one by one, we were allowed forward and she signed her name.  No more.  We were told not to ask her anything.  It was surreal but I was immediately struck by how striking she was with her dark, dark, hair, porcelain skin and big smile enhanced by bright red lips.  There was something about her.  The newspaper is yellowed now and the photographs faded but I have the signed copy of Monica’s Story sitting in the book case.  Pop did find it amusing – and in-character for me – but I never asked him if he read it …  I suspect not.

That’s over a thousand words and no mention of the lovely world we’re living in.  Shall I?  Let me, at least, mention Michael Vaughan, the acclaimed cricketer accused by Azeem Rafiq of making a racist comment in 2009 which he, vehemently, denies.  Regardless, the BBC dropped his radio show, Tuffers and Vaughan, earlier this month and he has since been axed from covering the upcoming Ashes series in Australia by the impartial network.  All that at the hands of Azeem Rafiq; he, who should be hanging his head in shame after banking a six-figure sum in damages for single-handedly attempting to bring down Yorkshire County Cricket Club – in fact, English cricket – while sitting there guilty of the very racism of which he is accusing others – and more!  Propositioning young girls?  No, no comparison.  Not worth dwelling on.  New paragraph …

Meanwhile, interviewing Michael Vaughan for the BBC on Saturday, Dan Walker made no reference to Rafiq’s offensive anti-Semitic messages to another player in 2011 – nor his sleazy texts to a teenage girl which say oh, so much about his character.  Why was that?  Well, Rafiq has played the racist card – the victim card – and therefore, in today’s ‘woke’ climate, that means he is automatically excused of all wrongdoings!  Meghan Markle’s behaviour was exemplary, after all, her only problem being the colour of her skin …  Thank goodness, once more, for Piers Morgan tweeting the views of those without agenda:

So, let me get this straight.  The BBC has effectively found Michael Vaughan guilty of something he vehemently denies, but has no way to prove he didn’t do, after allegations from someone who spewed anti-Semitic slurs but hasn’t been banned by the BBC.  How is this fair?’

Not yet 1500 words – still with me? – I can just squeeze in Adele!  Of what is she guilty?  Seemingly nothing apart from master-minding the release of another stratospheric-selling album and losing a ton of weight.  However, the sob story is beginning to grate on me.  To hear her interviewed or listen to her lyrics, one would think she had sole claim on divorce and its ensuing trauma, rippling into every aspect of one’s life.  She was married for seven years, chose to leave because she had to put herself first, and is so financially secure she could single-handedly end famine in Ethiopia!  Well, you know what I mean.  Yes, of course it made her sad but, come on, get a grip and, as far as putting her 9-year-old son on the album …  In recordings of them, together, she can be heard saying to him: “Tell me you love me”, to which he replies, “I love you one million per cent.  I feel like you like me, too.”  Now, I haven’t heard the album, personally, but maybe I have been too harsh.  It seems she has plenty to worry about!

If I have learned anything, it is that you cannot run away from who you are or from how you’ve been shaped by your experiences.  Instead, you must integrate your past and present.’

Monica Lewinsky

This is Trish, signing off.