So there is good news and bad news. I was just reading about a new national radio station, Radio X, which is being launched dedicated to new music and particularly guitar-based bands. Great, but surely there has to be a catch. Of course there is and that catch is that spearheading the programing will be not only Vernon “absolutely amazing” Kaye but also Chris “let’s just talk about me rather than play any music “ Moyles. So if you like the idea of twenty-minute ramblings about his celebrity mates at an award show before the indulgence is broken by the latest attempt by Kasabian to sound like a Primal Scream studio outtake, then this is the station for you.
But if you really are looking for emerging, guitar-based bands then look no further than The Victoria tonight as Yves play with Coco Esq in support. Both bands represent the frontline…
Sooo, this is how I make a living nowadays… it is so difficult getting paid work as a singer songwriter – most people/venues only want to hear what they already know (they forget that even the best known covers began as original songs) – so I’ve diversified by teaming up with an awesome vocalist/percussionist, Claire Gilchrist, to form ‘JuicyacoustiC‘… and it’s turning out to be more fun than I ever imagined it would be…
I’ve done cover acts before over the years (which have been fun in their way), but this outfit is like nothing I’ve ever done before. For starters, Claire and I are so in tune with each other (pun not intended) it’s like having a telepathic team mate. We’ve become best mates since we started this project…
Secondly, we make each cover our own… we’re not out to emulate the artists we’re covering – we’re not a tribute act – we slap our own stamp on each and every cover we perform so that it feels like it’s a new song… Thirdly, we push each other to be better. I’ve become a better musician as a result of working with Claire – when I say “but I’m just not capable of playing like that”, she says, “You’re far more capable than you realise… do it!” …so, to my surprise, I do it. When we started out, we were just your typical acoustic/vocal cover act but when I suggested that we needed to make more of an impact Claire went straight out and bought a kick drum and a whole bunch of percussion dooberywotzits that I didn’t even know existed in the world – and before I knew it, our combination of loop pedal, kick, percussion, acoustic guitar and awesome harmonies meant that we were suddenly able to compete with any full band set up… I think we’ve surprised not only ourselves, but anyone that hears us live for the first time.
Whenever one of us feels dejected and frustrated by ignored emails and uninterested (and downright rude!) venues, the other makes a joke about it until we’re both smiling and ready to go at it again.
Things are going well much sooner than we expected too – already, the diary is filling up and we’ve only just begun!
I’ll admit that when we began this endeavour into the business of being a cover act, I saw it as selling my soul; becoming a musical prostitute to pay the bills. It turned out I was wrong… I found my soul as well as a partner in crime, so now my ‘job’ is actually the BEST FRICKIN’ JOB EVER!!… and I still get to do my own stuff:)
Man, I love being a muso!..
Come to one of our gigs and you’ll see what I mean…
Nick Tann tests the waters of grassroots promoting and returns with some interesting conclusions. Find and follow his work at –nicktann.co.uk and @nick_tann on twitter.
In May 2012 I played a gig at The Railway. I was supporting an artist and was expected to not only bring an audience but to sell and collect money from advanced tickets. For some artists this is the norm but for me with a very small “audience” it was pretty discouraging. I can’t remember how many or IF I sold any tickets. I do remember thinking that must be a better way to promote live music.
A few weeks later I came up with a plan: create a special night, hire a venue, get great artists to play (including me!) sell tickets and put on a great show. Simple eh? The idea was to create a regular show – a brand if you like –…
The funny thing about songs is that often, at the time of writing, you think you know what it is you’re writing about… it is only later, however, that you finally understand what it was you were trying to say….
‘Peachy’ is one of those songs.
When I began seriously applying my passion for wordplay into a songwriting context, I found myself trying to write lyrics that were in some way profound, clever, haunting. The end result however was usually a disappointing one – a slightly pretentious song that sounded nice but seemed somehow flat as though there were something missing. It was a while before I understood just what that missing element was: there was no emotional involvement – nothing for the listener to really relate to. Sure, a nice lyric can resonate on the ear but it wasn’t long before I realised that it wasn’t the ear I should be aiming for, it was the heart…
To my mind, it doesn’t matter what you write, just so long as you are writing the truth. By ‘truth’, I mean an honest interpretation of what you truly feel in your heart – an honest, (sometimes brutally so), reflection of your innermost thoughts and feelings. Anything less and the words are just words on a page with nothing substantial to back them up – nothing to drive them home with impact. A fantasy author can create a vast world, rich in vibrant detail, and people it with colourful characters of all shapes and sizes, but if it isn’t written from the heart the reader will find no purchase in this fictional world – they will have no emotional footholds with which to relate to their own personal experiences. In other words, if the writer is not moved by their own words, how can they expect somebody else to be? If the writer does not believe that what they write is true, you can sure that no one else will either.
When I began to write Peachy, I already had a chord progression and a rough melody in my head and I knew that I wanted to write a song with a story about someone who has lost in love and how he would cope by putting on a brave face the next time they met. I wanted to experiment with lyrics that said one thing, but meant something else.
I’ve always liked telling stories. When I was a boy, I’d make up all kinds of ridiculous tales – the kind of tall stories that made me feel as though my life was somehow more interesting and exciting than the dull, ordinary existence I inhabited. I’m pretty embarrassed when I recall this now – back then, I foolishly believed that others actually believed my stories of murdered best friends, kung-fu vengeance, evil drug barons and UFO sightings – it is only now that I see that they were all just humouring me and that, in all probability, they would have caught each others eye and made ‘here he goes again’ faces whenever I told them about my ESP abilities or my concerns that I may actually be a werewolf…
As foolish as I feel about this now though, there is a positive – I still like to tell stories. Only, now I apply my stories in their proper context instead of trying to somehow incorporate them into my own reality (which really isn’t all that dull or ordinary after all, I now realise).
When I write a song, I often try to present it in a traditional storyboard format – with a beginning, a middle and an end. I like to see some character development or a twist of some sort that transforms the lyrical hook or chorus so that by the end of the song it means something entirely different. Even my most depressing songs usually have some kind of positive slant towards the end.
When I wrote Peachy, I was happy enough in life – or at least, I thought I was. This was almost three years before my eventual marriage breakdown but in retrospect, I suppose even then some part of me already knew what was on the cards. Deep down I was unknowingly writing about what I secretly feared the most – that I would find myself in a situation where I was all alone in life nursing a huge, heart shaped hole.
Perhaps that was why it wasn’t so difficult to imagine how it would feel to have lost my love and then to suddenly bump into her by chance after some time had elapsed. I imagined how shocked I would feel and how that person would seem somehow, even more beautiful to me and how the hole they had left behind would suddenly feel like a yawning chasm once more. This would be magnified by the fact that they would have found someone new and had truly moved on, while I was still trudging along and getting nowhere… I felt the ache as though it was really happening to me. At the time it didn’t really register on a conscious level, but I suppose I was really writing about what I feared was already beginning to happen. I understand now that, for me, writing the truth requires absolute honesty with myself and, as much as this is often a painful process, it makes for a more compelling tale (and sometimes, I understand myself a little better too).
Having said all this, I still wanted the story to have a feel good factor – the melody and chord work was all very jolly and so the story needed to be fairly upbeat also. I asked myself, how can I turn this story around and give it a happy ending?
I briefly considered the other person having a sudden change of heart and come running back with open arms, but that just didn’t seem true somehow. It felt like too much of an easy way out.
I read a lot of fiction and, for me, the best stories have character driven plots – there needs to be character development so that, by the end of the story, the character has evolved to the point where they are often hardly recognisable from the person we met in the first chapter. This felt like the best direction to take with Peachy. The change of heart had to come from the main protagonist. I considered having him suddenly realise that his lost love was not quite as awesome as he’d remembered then concluding that he was better off without her – but this didn’t ring true either. This sounded like he was simply trying to convince himself which, of course, is not a development of character at all, nor is it a happy ending – he would be in exactly the same boat when they parted again.
Then it occurred to me that maybe what I was writing about was not loss or love, but about acceptance. With acceptance comes a sense of peace. By finding true acceptance the character would undergo a change deep in the very core of his being and he would finally be able to move forward instead of just treading water. He would find peace.
As it was a story of personal growth set in a social context I figured that, lyrically, the tone should be an informal, conversational one – and so this is where I started:
“Well, hello there. I’m just Peachy, thanks for asking.”
I liked the fact that this opening statement was just so typically British – when someone inquires as to our general well being, our instinctive reply is often: “I’m fine thanks”, even if we’ve just lost three of our fingers to a rabid squirrel…
What was more, this informal approach felt natural and in keeping with the upbeat feel I was going for. The rest just seemed to fall into place…
“It’s more than I care to admit,
but seven months and twenty days, not that I’m counting,
And seeing you still smarts a bit”
I wrote this song back in 2008, almost three years before my marriage fell apart. At the time it meant something different to me – it was just a story I’d made up and put to a catchy tune. Then eighteen months ago, I became friends with Marta – a lovely person who, at that time, was struggling with the breakdown of her own long-term relationship.
Naturally, we compared our stories and talked about how hard it is to let go of all that history and how we sometimes felt as though we were broken in some way – that we’d never be able to move on. As we talked, something Marta said reminded me of Peachy. I’d not thought of, or played the song for years. It had become one of my ‘old songs’ – a song that I’d cut my songwriting teeth on but would probably never be used for anything. But now, suddenly, it blazed brightly in my mind and I couldn’t wait to get home and dig it out to find out why it was tugging at me so…
When I played it for the first time after all those years, I cried. It wasn’t so much that it reminded me of all that I had lost since writing it. It was more because I felt as though the sun was finally rising after an eternity of darkness. I was experiencing an earth-shaking, honest-to-God epiphany – a character development of my very own. Everything I’d written way back then was suddenly, irrefutably relevant. It was almost as though I’d somehow reached across the fabric of space and time with a gift for my future self…
“And if fate can set you free, Then I guess we’re never meant to be.
Now the sun is in my eyes, And I begin to realise,
That there’s a little bit of hope for me”
I had taken my first step towards true acceptance – I had found a way to Peace.
I was suddenly gripped with the urge to share my vision of self-realisation with the world, and especially with Marta, so I hurriedly recorded a Youtube version and uploaded it with a dedication to her – if it hadn’t been for Marta, Peachy would still be just an ‘old song’, covered in cobwebs and dust, and I may never have had my epiphany…
Jamie R Hawkins is an Award Winning Singer Songwriter whose songs have won him critical acclaim in the UK and around the world. He has been described as “a powerful mixture of storyteller, philosopher and poet”, his lyrics as “poignant and witty’ and his performances, “emotive and captivating”.
Jamie can usually be found in the studio scribbling away in his dog-eared note book and both he and his acoustic are available for events.
“I’m angry!”,said The Apple, “To the centre of my core!
I tumbled from the highest branch and landed on the floor.
They put me in a basket then they dumped me here with you.
I’m bumped and bruised, a bit confused and now I’m fuming too.”
* * * * *
“Stop moaning”, said The Melon, “You are not the only one.
I was minding my own business, sitting, dozing in the sun.
They came along and squeezed me, then they took me from my bed.
Don’t focus on the negatives, Be positive instead.”
* * * * *
“Suspicious,” said The Orange, “There’s conspiracy afoot!
We’re all here for a reason, and I fear it’s nothing good.
I’ve heard the horror stories, how they like to drink my blood.
I should be planning my escape, not sitting on my butt”
* * * * *
They all looked at Banana who was drooling in his sleep.
Of all of them, he was the one who didn’t make a peep.
He was suffering from jet lag having come from far away,
And snoring was the only thing he was prepared to say.
* * * * *
“We’re not worried in the slightest,” said a pair of Loved Up Pears,
“As long as we’re together, we don’t really have a care.
There’s nothing like a cuddle when your worries get to you.
You really should all try it, maybe you’ll feel better too.”
* * * * *
An ancient voice said “Silence!”, and they turned toward the noise.
There, Old Man Walnut glared at them – he clearly was annoyed.
“The trouble with you youngsters is, you think you know it all!
But I’ve been here since last Christmas and I’ve seen what lies in store.”
* * * * *
Then lights came on, affording them a glance around the room.
They saw a block of gleaming knives and registered their doom.
So, screaming, they were forced to watch as, one by one they met,
A gruesome, nasty, slicing, dicing, slow and painful death.
Then once again, in silence, Old Man Walnut closed his eyes,
And waited in the fruit bowl for the next batch to arrive…..
* * * * * * * * * *
Moral: 5-A-Day isn’t for everyone…
* * * * * * * * * *
I’ve entered this at DudeWrite, the place where real Dudes Write …feel free to visit their man cave (even if you’re a girl!), read the other guys posts and vote for your favourites. It’d be cool if you’d Tweet or Share the ones you like too…maybe even this one…
Jamie R Hawkins is an Award Winning Singer Songwriter whose songs have won him critical acclaim in the UK and around the world. He has been described as “a powerful mixture of storyteller, philosopher and poet”, his lyrics as “poignant and witty’ and his performances, “emotive and captivating”.
Jamie R Hawkins can usually be found in the studio scribbling away in his dog-eared note book and both he and his acoustic are available for events.
Beelzebob – or Bob as he likes to be called – is the little devil who sits on your left shoulder and whispers advice in your ear. He’s the one who told you that it would be a good idea to pee in the plant pot and blame it on the cat. He may also have convinced you that consuming copious amounts of alcohol at your partners grandparents 50th wedding anniversary party and Cossack dancing on the kitchen table wearing only a strategically placed sock would liven things up a bit…
It would be fair to say that Bob has gotten you into trouble on a number of occasions…
His counterpart and sworn enemy is the little Angel who sits on your right shoulder, Godfrey. Godfrey is a pious creature by nature who tries to live up to the high moral standards of the divine being he professes to emulate. Do not be fooled – he is not a divine being, merely a one-sided extension of the human conscience. Some (Bob) would call him pretentious and self-righteous but the truth is, Godfrey only wants you to do the right thing – counteracting Beelzebobs nefarious advice is the sole purpose of his existence . Godfrey is the one who suggests that you offer your seat on the bus to the elderly lady. He will also encourage you to return the fat wallet to the gentleman who is completely oblivious to the fact that he has dropped it in the first place…
It would also be fair to say that Godfrey has gotten you into trouble on the odd occasion too….
The following is a shining example of one such occasion:
It was the day before Christmas Eve and Bob and Godfrey were perched on the shoulders of Working Man on his way back from his annual trip to the city dump. Working Man was in a good mood. He was right on schedule with regard to the pre-Christmas organisations – Presents wrapped; decorations hung; groceries purchased and now, old and unused toys recycled. He had also received a generous bonus from his employers and was on his way home to enjoy this twelve day work-free stretch for the holiday season. Life was good.
Working Man was shaken from his good-natured reverie when, without warning, a white van suddenly swerved into his lane. He slammed on the brakes just in time to narrowly avoid a collision and was about to follow Bob’s advice by sounding the horn and yelling a string of obscenities when he was distracted by the object that the white van had swerved to avoid.
It was a wheelchair trundling along at 5 miles an hour in the outside lane of a busy two lane stretch. Working Man sped past the wheelchair and then watched in his rear view mirror as vehicle after vehicle swerved to avoid hitting it.
Godfrey saw an opportunity and was quick to exploit it – ‘That physically challenged person is going to be killed if someone doesn’t do something…if you don’t do something…’
Bob saw this coming though and promptly interjected with: ‘Aww, the cripple will be okay… it ain’t your problem… let somebody else deal with it’… not the most original of arguments, true, but it was one that had served him well numerous times in the past.
And so the ancient battle between good and bad resumed once more…
Godfrey was on form today – he retaliated with: ‘But it’s Christmas!… a time of charity and goodwill to all men… there is no better time to help someone than at Christmas time…’ Godfrey likedChristmas – it filled people with a temporary (if somewhat misguided) sense of goodwill toward their fellow beings and made things much easier for him.
Bob also liked Christmas but mostly because alcohol was often heavily featured throughout the holiday season, and this made things easier for him – especially at office parties….boy, he’d had some fun at those! But Bob knew that, for the moment, he’d lost this bout and decided to keep his mouth shut. Let’s just see how it plays out, he thought as Working Man doubled back on himself at the next roundabout. Bob had won many a battle simply by sitting back and picking his moment carefully…
When Working Man eventually ended up back at the place of the near accident he looked ahead and saw that the wheelchair had pulled into a gravel lay-by at the side of the road so he turned in there. He got out of the car and walked around to where the wheelchair was situated. Bob began to rub his hands together with undisguised glee when the wheelchair occupant immediately began to hurl verbal abuse at Working Man who all but rocked back on his heels under the onslaught. Maybe Bob would have something to work with after all…
Godfrey showed no sign of concern however, and merely uttered one word in Working Man’s right ear: ‘Compassion’.
Working Man gauged The Wheelchair Man to be somewhere in the region of mid to late thirties. He was hunched over in a bulky electric wheelchair, clutching a plastic carrier bag to his chest with gnarled, misshapen hands. He glared out from a twisted, angry face with eyes that rolled around in their sockets reminding Working Man of a panicked horse. ‘He is obviously very frightened, poor, poor man,‘ said Godfrey, ‘You did the right thing, stopping to help him’. Bob thought he detected a note of smugness in Godfrey’s tone but of course, angels don’t express smugness – they express righteousness…which, in Bob’s view, is pretty much one and the same thing.
Working Man held out his hands, palms out, in the universal gesture of peace, and in even tones said, “Friend, I only want to help you. You seem as though you need it. You almost got killed back there”.
“I don’t need your f**king help!” screeched Wheelchair Man, spittle flying from his lips, “F**k off!”
‘You heard the cripple’, said Bob, ‘He doesn’t need your help… let’s just be on our merry way.’ He then filled Working Man’s head with an image of his warm, cosy family home and the cold beer that was just waiting for Working Man to christen the beginning of his holiday.
‘This man is in a bad way,’ said Godfrey, ‘imagine how frustrated he must feel being trapped in a broken body and unable to get about as easily as everybody else… it’s no wonder he is so upset…’ Each time Godfrey spoke, he would fill Working Mans head with images of Christmas goodwill and of Jesus Christ feeding the hungry, healing the sick and other such goodwill gestures. He threw an image of Ebeneezer Scrooge into the mix too, just for good measure…
Working Man kept his voice measured and calm. “Friend, whether you think you want my help or not, I cannot in good conscience leave you here. You could be killed on this road, or, if that doesn’t bother you, someone else could be hurt too.”
Wheelchair Man just glared at him and clutched his carrier bag tighter to his chest.
‘Screw him,’ said Bob, ‘He doesn’t want to be helped’… ‘
Help him’, said Godfrey, ‘He doesn’t want to be screwed’…
“I’ll tell you what I’m going to do”, said Working Man, “I’ll call the police so that they can come and help you”.
An expression of panic swept across Wheelchair Man’s face for a moment but was gone before Working Man was even sure that it had been there at all. Bob produced an alarm bell and began clanging it in Working Man’s left ear. ‘That’s a great idea! Call the cops! They’ll look after the cripple…it is their job after all…’Wheelchair Man’s expression became almost sly for a moment and then he said, “Can you fit my wheelchair in the back of your car and take me to the services on the motorway? My own car is parked there, you see.”
Bob laughed uproariously at this. ‘A car?…a likely story!… This guy can barely drive a wheelchair, let alone drive a car!’…
A note of irritation crept into Godfrey’s voice. ‘I think you’ll find, Beelzebob, that people with physical limitations can do all sorts of things, driving cars is but one of them…’
‘Well, if that’s the case,’ said Bob, ‘how come he left his car at the services instead of driving it straight to where he wanted to go? How come he’s stranded here in a lay-by with his car miles away?…Doesn’t that strike you as ever so slightly… odd?’
‘I am sure that there is a perfectly plausible explanation.’ replied Godfrey, although he sounded somewhat less convinced than before. Godfrey pondered for a moment and then made the decision that would result in his downfall. ‘You have offered this man assistance – it would be wrong to take that offer back now that he has finally agreed to let you help him…’
The problem with two opposing sides is that, by their very nature, they are incapable of agreeing even if their enemy’s logic does make sense. Not even angels are perfect when it comes to admitting their own faults because they simply do not have any – Devils, on the other hand, will happily admit to their own faults – are proud of them in fact – and will often include extensive lists of them on their C.V.s to impress prospective clients.
Working Man reluctantly agreed to give Wheelchair Man a lift, although by now he was beginning to regret having stopped in the first place and, to be honest, just wanted to get this whole sorry business out of the way – Wheelchair Man had turned out to be rather unfriendly, not to mention ungrateful. Godfrey gently chided him for this last thought – ‘An act of kindness is not a truly selfless act if one expects gratitude for it…’
‘Shut up, you pompous idiot,’ said Bob. His instincts were telling him that Godfrey was painting himself into a corner with his ridiculous restrictive rules of behaviour… now it was only a matter of time.
Wheelchair Man manoeuvred his chair as close to the passenger seat of Working Man’s car as he could and proceeded to unfasten his seatbelt. Working Man leaned in and slipped his arms around under Wheelchair Mans armpits and around his back and lifted. Wheelchair Man was heavy. Working man grunted under the exertion. Halfway through the process, he felt a flash of pain as something in his back gave out.
Somehow or other though, he finally succeeded in lifting Wheelchair Man onto the passenger seat. During the manoeuvre he caught a whiff of Wheelchair Man’s foetid breath and almost retched. ‘Phewee!’ said Bob holding his nose in disgust, ‘Would it kill you to brush your damned teeth once in a while?… I’ve known festering cancer demons with better personal hygiene!’…
Godfrey said nothing – he was too busy losing his corn flakes – Angels have no stomach for foul stenches that could very well have been belched from the depths of Hell itself.
Then, straightening up and rubbing the aching part of his back, Working Man turned his attention back to the electric wheelchair to figure out how he was going to fit it into the back of his car and almost blew his groceries. In the seat of the wheelchair was a puddle of nasty, sickly yellow-brown excrement. Working Man looked from the puddle in the wheelchair to the Wheelchair Man himself who was sat glaring at him from the passenger seat of Working Mans car.
Both Bob and Godfrey stared at the puddle in stunned silence for a moment. Then Bob screamed with laughter, holding onto his sides with tears streaming from his eyes. Godfrey threw up again. Working Man just stood there looking from the puddle, to the Wheelchair Man, to the puddle, to the Wheelchair Man.
The Wheelchair Man glared up at Working Man and said, “So, are you just going to stand there all day or what?” Working Man felt his blood begin to boil – Wheelchair Man must have known that he had soiled himself and yet he had said nothing! And there he was, sat in his car!
Bob somehow managed to regain some control of himself but could not refrain from jumping up and down on the spot with glee – this one was in the bag!… ‘Okay, here’s what I suggest… drag him out by his hair and rub his face in his own excrement, then drive over him on the way out… actually, you’d better reverse over him too just to be sure…’
Godfrey weakly protested between bouts of dry retching, ‘Compassion… blurgh…’
‘Nuts to compassion!’ shouted Bob, ‘There’s cripple crap on your frickin’ passenger seat!’
‘Well, don’t do anything hasty at least,’ replied Godfrey straightening his halo and wiping his mouth on the sleeve of his tunic, ‘You don’t want to spend Christmas in prison… think of your loved ones…’
Working Man levelled a cold gaze at Wheelchair Man. “You know what? Thinking about it, I’m not entirely sure that I can fit your wheelchair in my car after all.”
Wheelchair Man rolled his eyes, “Oh for f**k sake! Well, you’d better put me back in my f**king chair then.”
Working Man reached down, and with much less care than previously, picked up Wheelchair Man by the front of his jacket and dragged him back to his chair, dumping him unceremoniously back into his own puddle with a sickening squelch. He looked at his passenger seat and at the disgusting brown smear that was rapidly soaking into the upholstery and, without wasting another word on Wheelchair Man, made his way around to the driver’s seat. Just before he climbed in he heard Wheelchair Man shout, “Don’t call the police! Ya’hear me? Don’t.. Call.. The.. POLICE!”
Working Man slammed his door shut, wound the electric windows down as far as they would go, gunned the engine and screeched out of the gravel lay-by. He glanced in his rear view mirror and felt a grim satisfaction to see Wheelchair Man waving and spluttering furiously at the cloud of dust and dirt that his spinning wheels had kicked up. The stench in the car was gut wrenching and the biting chill of the December air blasting through the open windows froze his hands stiff as they gripped the steering wheel in anger.
‘I still think you should’ve reversed over him.’ said Bob.
Godfrey was strangely silent. He knew when he’d been beaten…
As soon as Working Man got home, he called the police who told him that there were officers already on the scene and that Wheelchair Man was already well-known to them having escaped from his carers on a number of occasions. ‘That’s why he didn’t want you to call the police!’said Bob who was thoroughly enjoying the full employment of his gloating skills – he has an A-level certificate in Gloating.
The rest of Working Man’s day was spent calling around, desperately trying to find a car valet who had not yet closed for the holidays. All the while, Godfrey kept his own counsel while Bob climbed onto his soapbox and did his level best to convince Working Man that No Good Deed Goes Unpunishedand that helping others isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. After about the eighth phone call, Working Man got lucky.
As the valet, dressed in what appeared to be a full radiation suit, worked on the seat with a powered suction cleaner, Working Man recounted his tale of misfortune. Bob made sure that Working Man punctuated the tale with the odd swear word. Godfrey remained silent in the wake of his own defeat.
An hour later, once the valet had finished removing the offending brown stain, Working Man dug out the agreed fee and handed it over. The valet looked at Working Man and said. “You know what? Just give me half. You were only trying to help somebody in need and it bit you in the ass. Besides,” he added with a smile, “it’s Christmas.”
Godfrey perked his ears up and Bob stopped doing his little jig for a moment…
Working Man returned the smile, shook his head and pressed the full amount, plus a little extra, into the valeter’s hand. “I appreciate that friend,” he said, “but I only did what seemed right to me at the time… despite all this, I’d do it again….Happy Christmas to you and yours”.
Godfrey placed his palms together, raised his eyes heavenward and smiled serenely….
Bob clenched his fists and stamped his foot. ‘Oh, Cripple Crap!’he said…
SOooo, after breaking my leg on a playground swing, being admitted to hospital, getting force-fed copious amounts of morphine and suffering from sleep deprivation, I was beginning to show signs of cracking up…
As with Part 2 of this story, I have had to rely mostly on tweets to try and reconstruct most of what happened during my five night stay in hospital as my poor, already wonky brain has struggled to remember most of it….
Hector The Pee Pot and How To Urinate From A Vertical Position…
Although I received visitors everyday, much of my time was spent alone…
To begin with, this was fine – I am a very private individual who enjoys his own company, even if I do fall out with myself from time to time. After a while, however, I began to crave company….a friendly face to talk to….so much so, that I even tried holding a shouted conversation with the Angry Old Lady in the room adjacent to mine but I think she died – either that or she pretended to die so as to avoid conversing with me.
Desperate times called for desperate measures, so I did the only thing I could do in these circumstances – I anthropomorphised inanimate objects.
My favourite was Hector the Pee Pot. Hector was a good listener and became rather popular within my small Twitter circles – if I had opened a Twitter account for Hector, he would have probably gained more followers than me within a very short space of time. It didn’t do much for my ego to know that a cardboard pot – specifically designed for the sole purpose of being urinated into – had more sex appeal than me… but then it didn’t come as much of a surprise either.
Naming my pee pot turned out to be not one of my better ideas – when it came time for me to answer the call of nature, I found that I simply could not use Hector – for one thing, Hector was a male pee pot and so, naturally, the thought of putting my tackle in his mouth filled me with reservations. I tried making him female but this presented a new problem of different proportions so I had to call the nurse and ask for another pee pot…
……It was a bit embarrassing having to explain why I couldn’t use the one she had given to me earlier. After shooting me a peculiar look, she gave me a new, faceless one.
And here I found myself presented with yet another problem… due to my injury, and the fact that my bones were still unfixed and floating around in the swollen and bruised mass of flesh that used to be my leg, I was confined to my hospital bed in a horizontal position.
My bladder was bursting, yet when I tried to pee, it simply refused to come. For a good half hour, I lay there with my bits stuffed inside a cardboard receptacle thinking about running taps and waterfalls but to no avail… Not a drop… No siree… It was time for a change of strategy. I figured that I would have to trick my brain into thinking that I was stood up in order to achieve results so, I shuffled carefully to the side of the bed, put my good foot flat on the floor and used the beds remote control to elevate myself into an approximation of a sitting position. By closing my eyes and focusing all my concentration on the fact that my left foot was kind of ‘standing’ on the floor, I was finally able to release…AAAAHH! ….Unfortunately, the capacity of my bladder seems to be several cubic centimetres larger than that of your average pee pot so I ended up with a slightly different problem which I won’t go into right now. Suffice it to say, a bed bath was required…
Nil-By-Mouth and How To Survive Hospital Food
When I arrived in my hospital room on the first day, a nurse informed me that I was due to be operated on that afternoon so I was forbidden to drink any water or eat anything. Nil by mouth became a much despised expression to me as the week wore on. Later, at around 5 in the evening, I was told that, due to traumas of a more urgent nature, I would be operated on the next day. I didn’t mind so much at that time as this meant I could at least have a drink of water – my first in around 6 hours – and eat a tuna sandwich which I am convinced was actually a fish based glue product smeared between two pieces of cardboard. For the next four days I would be put on Nil-by-Mouth status from around 2am until whenever they decided to tell me that my operation had been postponed again – usually around 5pm. I am fairly certain that this is an NHS tactic to make patients so hungry that, by the time they are presented with their slop, they are too desperate for food to complain and too weak to throw the plate at whoever has been unfortunate enough to have presented it. I quickly learned to order Jacket Potato every day as this most basic of meals seemed impossible for even NHS chefs to screw up. Before this valuable lesson had been learned however, I foolishly selected ‘Pasta, Mushroom and Leek Mornay’ from a multiple choice menu that contained only one choice.
My ex-wife, Heidi, visited with my daughter, Millie. It was nice to be talking to her again. It was strange having her there, laughing at all my jokes and plumping up my pillows for me. I thanked her – for what was probably the thousandth time – for being there for me when I’d needed her the most. She smiled and said that she was glad to have been. It was nice…
The Dinner Lady arrived and plonked my Pasta, Mushroom and Leek Mornay down on my table – it looked like somebody else had already eaten it. As hungry as I was, I decided that fruit pastilles would be less traumatic on my rumbling stomach. I told myself that they counted towards my five a day…
The next day, My little sister, Siân, came to visit me. She brought me a selection of sweets – Maltesers and Wine Gums – and some flavoured water, none of which I could touch, unfortunately.
There was a pay-per-view TV next to my bed but I had no money with which to purchase any credit. Siân offered to pay for me but I declined as I would be having my operation that day and then I would be able to go home.
Five minutes after Siân left, I was informed that my operation had been postponed until the next day – again…..yay….
How To Keep Yourself Amused with The Lack Of TV
Boredom was my worst enemy during my hospital stay. I began to look forward to the hourly ranting episodes from the Angry Old Lady in the adjacent room to me. Now there was a lady who knew how to amuse herself…
I was regretting declining Siâns offer of putting credit on my TV as I was beginning to suffer withdrawal symptoms from a lack of Spongebob Squarepants. I stared at its blank screen for hours until my imagination – assisted by the wonderful hallucinogenic properties of morphine – began to populate it with TV programs:
…When I first turned on my Imaginary TV, there was some rubbish UK soap opera on…
…I don’t like soaps so I used my Imaginary Remote Control to change the channel on my Imaginary TV and was delighted to discover that Finding Nemo was on…Yay!…
..Then, when that had finished, I just surfed imaginary channels until I found some imaginary porn….
….but then I fell asleep for a while and when I woke up again there were only (slightly scary) imaginary kids programs on…
…so I turned off my Imaginary TV and rocked back and forth for a while thinking about cigarettes…
The Cigarette Lectures, The Operation and My Magic Morphine Machine…
Finally, after four days of waiting, I was told that my operation was definitely going to happen today. In fact, at around 6am I was told that I was first on the list… Later, I was informed that the list had been re-arranged but that I was still on it… Later still, I was told that they had drawn up a new ‘evening list’ and that I was on that…
An anesthetist visited me to explain to me what they would be doing to ensure that I would be unconscious during the operation although I suspected that she was actually sizing me up and working out what size hammer she would need in order to knock me out…
My brother, Lee, came to visit – he had already been through the same operation as me and recounted his own experiences. This wasn’t as helpful as he probably thought, bless him – I’m a ‘just do it but don’t tell me’ kind of chap. He wheeled me outside for a pre-op cigarette despite the protests of the nurse…
Once a day, I would ask whoever was visiting at that time, to wheel me outside for a smoke and each time I would receive a lecture from a nurse about how smoking can slow down the bone healing process. I was quick to point out each time that, not only had I gone from smoking 20 a day to just one a day, the very fact that they kept postponing my bone fixing operation wasn’t doing much for my bone healing processes either. To be honest, it became more of an act of rebellion for me than anything else. Although each cigarette, combined with the effects of the morphine, made me feel dizzy and slightly sick, it was a brief moment of freedom. I would sit and enjoy the cool breeze on my cheek, inhale the smoke with closed eyes and let the sunshine turn my eyelids orange.
Not long after I got back, I was wheeled down to theatre. Lee followed me as far as he was allowed and wished me luck. I was terrified, having never had an operation before and having him there – my big brother who was always looking out for me – was more reassuring than he will probably ever know.
The anesthetists, sensed my fear – probably because I was sweating and gripping the bed rail with white knuckles – and did their best to reassure me by taking the piss out of me for breaking my leg in such a ridiculous fashion – and the next thing I knew…..
…..I was waking up and cursing at the top of my lungs. I’d been dreaming that I was late for a gig and that I had rather inconveniently broken my leg. It turned out that only the second part of the dream was true. A disembodied voice spoke gently to me as if from far away; “It’s okay Mr. Hawkins, you’ve had an operation but you’ll have to stop swearing because there are other people recovering too.”
I opened my eyes and found myself in a large ward. Two other beds had patients in – both of them male and just as confused as I was. I became aware of a throbbing pain in my throat and, after croaking an apology for my outburst, I asked the nurse if I’d had a tube down my throat during the operation to which she replied yes. I felt sick and my legs were completely numb. It was almost like the drunken waking-up-on-a-roundabout-hugging-a-traffic-cone incident all over again, only this time, I knew how I had got here and that I’d certainly not been having any fun.
Eventually, I was wheeled back to my room. I had been told, prior to my operation, that I would be hooked up to the Magical Morphine Machine I mentioned in Part 2 of this story. This machine was nowhere in sight. I asked the nurse where my Magical Morphine Machine was to which she replied that there was nothing in my notes about it so I wasn’t having one and that was that. An hour later, the feeling began to return to my legs – the pain became unbearable – somebody had, after all, been hammering a metal rod down the inside of my shin bone and then screwing it into place with what I imagined to be a Black and Decker screwdriver. I called the nurse who still refused to call the doctor to question why My Magical Morphine Machine had not been added to her list of instructions. Eventually, my sobbing and wailing woke the Angry Old Lady who, seeing me as competition, immediately began to counter my pathetic moans by screaming at the top of her lungs with an impressively imaginative vocabulary of swear words. Eventually, the nurse relented and, after another hour of excruciatingly pain filled minutes, a doctor entered the room and exclaimed, “Good God! Why is this poor man not on a morphine drip?”…
An hour later I was in a much better place…
How I gained Super Powers…
Okay… so I didn’t really get superpowers….I was kind of hoping that having a piece of metal inserted into my leg would leave me with super powers akin to those of Wolverine from the X-Men – the ability to produce, at will, a set of deadly, razor-sharp blades from the spaces between my toes. So far, these powers have failed to manifest which, although disappointing, has probably saved me a small fortune in shoes…
…So I have decided to settle for the ability to stick fridge magnets to my leg instead………..
Thanks for visiting my blog – If you enjoyed this post, you may want to read Part 1 and Part 2 also…
Jamie R Hawkins is an Award Winning Singer/Songwriter whose songs have won him critical acclaim around the world – visit www.JamieRHawkins.comto find out more…