Monday, 2 June 2014


 So as I said in my last blog

 Mr P and I have had some major criticism thrown our way lately in the lines of doing our job and trying to entertain. It’s been tough, and last week I had a point where I felt very sorry for myself. I felt like no matter how hard I tried I was doomed to fail, I felt alone and unsupported and utterly low.

So, as you often do, I went on facebook!

And at the top of my news feed I found this woman.

Her name is Jodie Barden. She has a daughter called Ella who was diagnosed with Cockayne syndrome. Cockayne syndrome is a rare genetic syndrome characterised by poor growth, premature ageing and learning delays among others.

Cockayne syndrome is fatal, the average life expectancy of a child with this syndrome is 12 years old.

After having Ella, Jodie fell pregnant with another little girl, called Chloe. Chloe has also been born with this condition and was diagnosed in the womb at 27 weeks.

I have never felt so humbled. There was I feeling sorry for myself because I’d had a couple of bad reviews on the internet while doing a job I love in a sunny country with my amazing husband. At the same time Jodie Barden was waking up each morning with the worst knowledge a mother can have, and every day she comes out fighting.

While I was moping that people didn’t like me, Jodie Barden was literally dragging herself through the mud for her little girls.

So I’d just like to say thank you to Jodie for giving me some much needed perspective. Because if Jodie can get up every morning and face the day with strength and determination then how the hell can I ever feel sorry for myself.

Mrs P

X x x x x x x x

P.S. If you would like to donate any money towards research into Cockayne syndrome you can sponsor Jodie at for running the Maldon Mud Race.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Bravery and the Red Lipstick Girl

You have to brave in this job.

Working as a musician/entertainer/performer you invariably put yourself in the line of fire for a lot of criticism. Sooner or later everyone in this line of work will experience it, if you are lucky it will be mild – and maybe even help you to improve once the initial hurt has died down. But sometimes you encounter the kind of criticism that is sadly becoming more and more common, deeply personal and hurtful criticism with no basis in anything remotely constructive.

Unfortunately there are people out there that seem to think that it is their life’s mission to inform people that they are not as good as they think they are. Personally I blame X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, The Voice and every other show like them out there at the moment. Audiences are being taught to attack performers – often young performers – in ever more hurtful and cruel ways, just for the crime of thinking they might have a talent.

It’s not just X Factor either, magazines and newspapers are also to blame. Somehow it has become socially acceptable to say the harshest cruelest things about a person just because of their job.

In life, sooner or later, we all face criticism. This comes doubly if you are the kind of person who throws yourself into life, grabbing at each and every opportunity (especially if you are the kind of person to always be wearing your red lipstick)

Imagine that every single day when you go into work you run the risk of being heavily criticised. Imagine that every time you try and do your job to the highest possible standard you run the risk of incurring deeply personal attacks on everything about you, from your tastes to your appearance. Imagine it being acceptable for people to label you “terrible” “boring” or even “ugly” just because of your job…

It’s tough.

We do this work because we love it, because we enjoy sharing our music with other people, and – yes – because we do believe that we’re actually quite good at it. At least we must be doing OK otherwise we wouldn’t have reached the level we have.

So as you’ve probably guessed, Mr P and I have been coming under fire lately. Who knows the reason – chances are it’s a whole host of reasons culminating in one big attack. But it’s not been fun, it does hurt when you try and work as hard as you possibly can and get nothing back. The worst one is when you think you’ve done a good job – people have seemed to enjoy what you’ve done and even come to compliment you – but then as soon as they get a chance to put pen to paper (or hand to keyboard) they write nothing but hurtful comments.

But we are not going to let it drag us down.

I refuse to give up on being me because some people took it unto themselves to tell me how terrible they think I am. I will keep on smiling and performing and laughing and enjoying every single second of every single opportunity I get until the time it all comes to an end. And when it does come to an end – which I’m sure it will one day for whatever reason – I will be nothing but grateful for the chances I’ve had in life.

So I’m being brave. I will not hide away because I’m being criticised, instead I am going to put on my red lipstick and my most fabulous dress and I am going to walk back into the firing line with my head held high. Because at least if it does all goes tits up at least I know I had the balls to try.

And that’s what really counts.

Mrs P xxxxx

P.S. So I’ve been feeling rubbish for a few weeks now, went to the doctors and it turns out I have bronchitis! The plus side? Antibiotics are amazing! Nothing can stop me now….

P.P.S If you are ever feeling down or undermined then take one tip from me. Lock yourself away in your bedroom, put on a bit of Aretha Franklin and Etta James as loud as you can go, have a good cry if you need one, then take a good long look in the mirror and make yourself look as fabulous as you can. It might not cure your problems but I guarantee you will feel ready for anything.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

What a difference a year makes

So.... How do you pick up on the story of a life after over a year has passed?

Back in 2012 I was newly married, newly unemployed and struggling to figure out who I was, what I wanted from my life and where I was going to go. Simply put I was lost, spending most of my time in a washed out grey state of mind. I had too much time on my hands and no clue how I was going to fill it.

So I gave myself a task, just one. I was going to get up each morning and wear red lipstick. That was all. From then on every day I would get up and put on my lipstick.

Suddenly things started changing, I started to get involved with the vintage scene in Essex. I started gigging and managed to land a regular gig as Connie Francis. I landed my own retro radio show. Slowly my days filled and the sense of purpose that had been eluding me became in reach.

Then one day, the day that changed everything, Mr Player and I drove to Brighton to audition for a company promising an amazing summer. I was sceptical, we had been knocked so many times I found it hard to believe that our fortunes could change that easily.

I was wrong.

We passed the audition and landed a contract. Three weeks later we flew to Madeira to start a new life in the sun. Since then we have done some amazing things, too many to count so I'll try and be brief:

- watched award winning fireworks on a hotel roof with champagne at New Years
- seen dolphins, seals and whales
- swam with sea turtles older than our grandparents
- seen the northern lights
- drunk with comedians, musicians, west end singers and more

This is just a taster list, one we're hoping to add to! Long story short, life has been - and still is - amazing. And truthfully? I put it all down to that one tiny decision to put on red lipstick. One thing I have learnt, and am continuing to learn every day, is the power we can have over our own lives. I've met a lot of people in the past year, most of whom I will never meet again but some of them will stay with me forever. The most inspirational people are the ones who keep on going no matter what, and some of them have dealt with some serious sh*t!

People are amazing, that's one thing I'm learning more and more. Especially women (sorry guys!), we are strong and powerful and in control. Long story short - we got this.

So I'm back. A bit older, hopefully a bit wiser, simultaneously surer and less certain about everything. We're currently beginning a new season in Turkey, we've survived our first year as full time musicians. Now it's time to face a whole new set of challenges.

I've still got my lipstick on, and I am ready for anything!

Mrs P xxx

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Counting Down to Flying Out!

Getting ready to leave the country when you only have three weeks to get sorted is no joke!

The last week or so we have been working incredibly hard to get everything straight so we can fly out to Madeira on the 25th of March.

I say we, I’ve been doing a lot of paperwork and Mr P has reacted the way he usually does when we have a lot to do on a tight schedule... ebay has seen a lot of action over the past few days!

But I think we’re slowly getting there. The worst part of all of this has been cancelling gigs that we already had in our diary. When your job is entertaining people the last thing you want to do is let them down. Luckily most people have been very understanding, while they’re disappointed they also understand that we need to think about our future and we can’t turn down this opportunity.

Unfortunately not everyone reacts in this way. One agent in particular was very rude to me when I rang them (never mind I was giving them plenty of notice of cancellation...). Apparently I should just be grateful that this particular agent had managed to find me a whole two gigs in the space of a year and had only charged me a 20% commission for the privilege (!). There are a lot of people out there willing to take the mick, luckily experience is starting to teach us who to trust.

I’m very excited to have this opportunity to take the thing I love and turn it into a viable career. It’s a chance that not many people get and I know how lucky I am. We’ve worked extremely hard for this opportunity grabbing at every chance we’ve had. We’ve taken on work that’s cost us money, we’ve travelled for miles to perform in strange little places and we’ve put our all into every single gig whether we’ve played to 20 or 200 people.

I would never pretend to really know what I’m doing and there has been a lot of luck in trying to make something like this work but I do have a few tips for anybody trying to do their own thing whether it’s music or anything else.

#1 Stay Professional

That means smiling, talking to everybody, no swearing, be on time, no drinking (unless it’s offered – then no going over the top). Always remember that you are representing yourself and your reputation. A good reputation is hard to come by and insanely easy to lose, don’t underestimate how important it is. Just because you have no boss to answer to doesn’t mean you can behave however you want.

#2 Perform

It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, whether you’re in a top class theatre or playing in a pub to 5 people, every person in the audience deserves a good show. You never ever know who’s watching.

#3 Greet everybody with a smile and a handshake... and be sure to say goodbye

This is something I learnt from my Mr P. When we were first together I admit it drove me insane (and still often does!), every time we tried to leave a venue it always took him at least half an hour. But over time I have learnt how important this gesture is. I’ve often complained about how musicians (particularly men) often ignore me in favour of Mr P. Greeting everybody with a handshake and a smile is a fantastic way to break the ice and make a brilliant first impression. This simple gesture can do you a lot of good.

#4 Be prepared to do a lot of hours.

Doing anything off your own back is always hard. It takes a lot of work and there is no one to delegate to. It’s not 9 till 5 hours. It will be on your mind constantly, you’ll dream about it, weekends will cease to have any meaning, holidays will only be times when you could be working. But, if you’re lucky, it’ll all turn into something good.

#5 Grab every opportunity.

Someone needs a keyboard player and you can only play campdown races? Agree to do it... There’s an open mic night and someone doesn’t really know the song? Get up and steal the mic off them... Everything is an experience and everything will help you on your way. If you feel self conscious or nervous then get over it... that may sound harsh but you don’t get anywhere by shaking on the sidelines. My first ever big gig as Connie Francis I agreed to do with only 5 days notice, I only knew half the songs, I didn’t have a dress and I had to buy a wig on my way to the theatre. It was terrifying, my wig almost fell off and the first song I sang was with mostly nonsense words... but I did it. After that performing as Connie didn’t feel so scary any more. Agree to do anything, you’re never going to get anywhere sat at home.

Finally... remember that it’s worth it.

That’s what I’m telling myself as I try to figure out how I’m going to pack everything up, sort all the paperwork and learn a silly amount of songs in the space of less than three weeks...

Mrs P

X x x x x x x x

Monday, 4 March 2013

We Made It

Once upon a time there was a girl named Kyla.

She lived an ordinary life with good friends and a happy – if occasionally slightly unusual – family. She went to University and met a boy; she studied Psychology and Deaf Studies and dreamt of becoming a teacher.

But life rarely works out according to plan.

While at University Kyla’s stepdad Dave died unexpectedly after a short, but brutal, illness. It was a huge shock and life-changing moment even if she wasn’t fully aware of it at the time. Her hard-working step-dad had been a huge part of forming Kyla’s character - always working to instil motivation and a considerable work ethic.  His sudden death at an age when he should have been starting to think about reaping the reward of his life spent working made Kyla re-think many aspects of her own future.

Determined to grab life by the balls Kyla graduated with a 2:1 degree only a year after the death of Dave. She spent a little time exploring New Zealand with money inherited from her beloved Grandma then returned, expecting her degree, intern work experience and voluntary work to ensure her a good job.

But the country Kyla returned to was changed. High levels of redundancies, increased cost of living and lack of entry level opportunities meant that Britain was not a good place to be a graduate. Time and time again Kyla was rejected for jobs due to a lack of experience that the public sector was in no hurry to provide. She was also ditched by the boyfriend and was sad for a while.... until she realised she could still be awesome without him. Eventually Kyla managed to find a job she loved working with children that she adored and she was happy.

However, this country appears determined to ensure that those who are highly qualified shy away from childcare. The pay for support staff in schools is horrendous and if you are newly graduated and dreaming of the day you can afford to live somewhere other than your old bedroom it’s nigh on impossible to live on. Kyla started to look for other work and courses but found nothing she could afford to do. She started to feel despondent and to give up on ever achieving anything in life. The sense that there had to be something more to life than this – something that had been developing ever since the death of Dave – became an uncontrollable itch.

That was when Kyla’s life was hit by an explosion of colour. A man, different to any other man she’d ever known, swept into her life like a whirlwind.

This man was like nothing she’d ever experienced. He sent her flowers before their second date and turned up at her house with boxes of cookies, picnic hampers, profiteroles, wine and steak. He serenaded her with guitar and double bass (a particular weakness...). If she cried he wiped away her tears with a handkerchief and she found it the single most endearing moment of her life.

Mr P changed her life with the ferocity like a hurricane and – for once – she found herself giving in. From being cautious, reticent and quietly alarmed, gradually Kyla found herself falling deeper and deeper in love with this crazy, sweet tornado of a man. When he proposed just outside the castle in Disneyland, Paris on their first anniversary it felt like perfection, their wedding exactly one year later was the frosting on the delicious cupcake.

Life wasn’t all plain sailing though. The itch to do something – anything – had intensified in Kyla. Although she adored her job working with special needs children she had become disillusioned with the lack of influence she held in her position and longed to do more.

That’s when Mr P first convinced her to give being a musician a go. She was wary but – not seeing any other options available – she agreed.

Her first show was the single most terrifying thing she had ever done. The weeks preceding it were filled with panic attacks, crises of confidence and constant tears. Somehow she survived the baptism of fire and threw herself into more no matter how scared she felt.

Unfortunately, in this business, there is no probation and sometimes those who are experienced forget what it took to get that way.  Kyla found it hard to deal with the constant rejections, the negative comments and the occasional outright hostility that working in the entertainment industry brings and her confidence took a nose dive.

Those who have followed this blog regularly knows what happened next.

Kyla accepted a job on a new show, worked incredibly hard and built her confidence to a stage where she finally felt OK in herself again. She quit her day job and got ready to throw herself into touring.

Then the inevitable happened... over a voicemail.

Broke, beaten down and rootless, Kyla didn’t know what to do.

But this time she wasn’t beaten. She knew that no matter how bad she felt in this moment she was going to get through.

That was when Kyla first picked up her red lipstick. She thought through everything she’d suffered over the past few years, she thought how much she’d love to crawl under a duvet.

Then she opened her lipstick and put it on.

Since that moment – almost 4 months ago Kyla has made it her mission to throw herself at life, whether life liked it or not.

She started endlessly promoting herself and Mr P as a musical duo, determined that no matter what they could always rely on each other. Their relationship grew and developed to a stage where they knew they could take on anything. They worked hard together touring the country, spending hours cooped up in an old Ford Transit travelling from gig to gig. There was frustration, exhaustion and endless doubt but they carried on working every single day, often performing for nothing in order to hone their act.

Kyla started writing, trying to post a blog as often as she could. She grew to know people in the vintage community and revelled in this new world. She tried Burlesque classes and presented a radio show. She was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis – a condition that causes great pain and makes her extremely tired and coped with it the way she copes with everything. She put on her lipstick.

Finally Kyla had learnt that fear is nothing.

Everyone in life has bad moments, some are worse than others. Some people suffer greatly, others are lucky. The only thing you can control in this life is how you react to misfortune.

And the only thing standing in your way is you.

Just over a week ago, at 7am one cold grey morning. Kyla and Mr P found themselves driving down to Brighton. They were more nervous than they had been in a long long time. After an endless journey they found themselves in a tiny cramped studio, singing to two complete strangers at close quarters. After just 40 minutes it was all over and they travelled home hardly daring to hope.

Sometimes life is cruel, it gives you more than you think you can possibly handle. But it’s always for a reason, and you will always be led to exactly where you need to be.

For Kyla and Mr P that place is Madeira. Working as fully fledged musicians within an amazing hotel. The place they will be flying to in only three weeks.

Life has come very far for that scared little girl trembling on stage. Now she is ready, they are ready.

And they will take on life together.

For my explosion of colour. You make everything. I love you.

Mrs P

X x x x x x x x x x x x  x x