Saturday, 29 December 2012

What a way to make a living...

Who wants to be a musician?

I have been earning a living... well making a little cash... from working as a gigging musician for about a year and a half now.

And in all that time it has yet to stop being strange.

The idea of gigging is quite glamorous, I mean who wouldn’t want to earn a living by singing or playing an instrument? The reality is so different it is hilarious.

I think the first time you realise what a ridiculous job this is, is when you work on a show. From the audience it all looks fantastic. Characters come to life on a stage full of glitz and sparkle. The compere is always charm personified, wooing the audience with his tongue in cheek humour and well-timed winks. The rock n roll stars are suitably roguish, all tight leather trousers and sky-high quiffs. The band plays as though their lives depend on it and – for a second – you truly believe that you are transported.

Then you go backstage. And you watch Mr Compere put on his mascara, meanwhile berating his agent – in a gravely voice borne from a 40-a-day habit – for not getting him a higher paying gig. The hairspray leaking from the Rock n Roll Star’s dressing room is enough to not only kill the ozone layer but also revive it as the uber strong undead ozone layer distributing quiffs to all.

One of the band stomps down hall in a huff because the drummer drank the last beer. The keyboard player – weird even by musician standards – is on his tenth cup of coffee and has started twitching. The guitarist has zoned out to such an extent he needs poking with a cattle prod get him onstage and everyone else is running in circles because one of the ageing stars went out for a sandwich 3 hours ago and still hasn’t returned.

And that’s when you realise.

Musicians. Are. Mental


They have to be. Because no one else in the world could possibly put in the level of commitment, obsession, sacrifice and sheer insanity required to make a living in this business. It is a monster gnawing at your home-life, bank balance and sanity.

You will not make money. The purist here would argue that money is a by-product of doing something you love. To you little purist I say – bless you, go sit down and have a biscuit.

“Somebody said to me, ''But the Beatles were anti-materialistic.'' That's a huge myth. John and I literally used to sit down and say, ''Now, let's write a swimming pool.''”

Paul Mccartney

I read a quote from Katy Perry the other day that said “People think I’m sitting on this pile of money, it’s so wrong. To make a lot of money you got to spend a lot of money”. And no-where is that truer than working as a musician. There is always a new piece of equipment to buy, new promotional material needed, servicing to be done... and none of it cheap. So, if you want to be a musician you need to be prepared to be broke about 90% of the time. The other 10%? Enjoy it while it lasts my friend because I can guarantee your mixing desk is about to blow because someone spilt water on it last night.

There are those who gain success. Some of the really lucky ones even manage to hang onto it. I’m not even talking about Mick Jagger success; just maybe the chance to be in the band of a reputable touring singer is one that most muso’s would leap at.

The trouble is the ones that gain success can often forget how fleeting that success can be. They become seduced by the lifestyle and find themselves sucked in by booze, drugs and women. Then – a few years later – they sober up. And sit in their rented flat wondering what the hell went wrong. They then spend the remainder of their careers annoyed, trying to reclaim the success they think they now deserve.

So why do we do it?

Well the short answer is – because it is hilarious. And so much more fun than anything else we can think of doing.

Ok so our daily commute ranges from a 30 mile round trip to a 300 mile round trip. We have spent more nights than I care to remember falling into bed at 4am only to wake up at 8 feeling like we’ve been hit by a bus. We are constantly broke and spend an inordinate amount of time quibbling over payment with venues (tell you what, phone a couple of plumbers and ask them to come work 10 hours on a Saturday night and pay their own expenses then we will ask for a quarter of their quote).

We also laugh more than anyone else I know. We have been to some bizarre places and met the good the bad and the downright ugly. We’ve seen the best in people and the worst.

And we love it. Every time that first song starts up and people start smiling or dancing or – hopefully – both. We love every second of it. It’s a huge adventure and we don’t want it to be over yet.

We have some brilliant stories. Like one of the times someone we work with accidently called James Blunt a **** to his face. Or the time another person had to be searched in the airport as he’d put his wig stand in his carry on luggage and airport security get a little edgy about disembodied heads travelling through the x-ray machine. We’ve played to thousands of people at a music festival and to 30 people in a mansion on a cliff in Guernsey.

In what other job could you get a phone call saying “Mate, gig in Italy tomorrow – can you make it??”.

So that’s why we do it.

At least that’s what I’m reminding myself tonight while I sit in a social club in Basildon.

I hope we don’t get bottled.

Mrs P

X x x x x x x x x x

Friday, 28 December 2012

10 Things to go with your Red Lipstick

After the festive cheer....

Hello Everyone!

How have you all enjoyed your Christmasses? Did Santa bring you everything you wanted? Today feels like one of those really depressing days where it's all over. You spend weeks getting ready for Christmas then all of a sudden - poof - it's gone! Back to reality... a little tubbier, a little drunker and a lot poorer than a month before. 

To ease myself back in to day to day life I have been compiling a list of the top things that go with red lipstick and I thought I'd share them with you, helped with a few choice quotes from a few well-known women. 


"A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future" – Coco Chanel

I love a good perfume, for Christmas Mr P bought me the perfume created by Dita Von Teese and I adore it. No matter what I’m wearing my perfume always makes me feel instantly more glamorous and ready to face the day. 

Perfume is one of those wonderful accessories that does nothing but compliment you. It still fits when you've put on a few pounds, it matches whatever you put on and it is the one thing you can put on which will instantly get you in a party mood.

So - whenever the post Christmas blues threaten - spritz on your perfume and claw back your festive spirit. Even if it's only to sit on the couch eating leftover Toblerone and watching recorded Christmas re-runs. 


"I have got two reasons for success, and I'm standing on both of them." - Betty Grable

Now this one – for me at least – is most definitely not an everyday thing. I am not one of those girls who can walk for miles in heels without feeling the strain. However, whenever you need to walk tall and confident what better accessory than a pair of heels? They make your legs shapelier, your chin higher and give you the most delicious wiggle.

And yes, I know, none of us want to be ogled. But come on - a little ogling makes any girl feel good. 


“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.”                        - Elizabeth Taylor

We all go through hard times without exception. You cannot change this, but you can change how you react to it. And – let’s face it – if Elizabeth Taylor could still do it five husbands later we all can.


“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
― Mother Theresa

There are a million ways to show love and not all of them have to be big grand gestures. In face some of the most beautiful ones aren't.  It’s making a cup of tea for someone unasked. Reaching out for someone’s hand. Laughing at a joke you've heard a thousand times before.

Once you've started practicing small tokens of love why not extend it? Why does it only have to be for those close to us? Smile at a stranger, volunteer a little of your time, check in with someone you know to be vulnerable. Being selfish is easy. Don’t take the easy route.


“Ignore the critics… Only mediocrity is safe from ridicule. Dare to be different!”

 “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”
― Dita Von Teese

I love Dita Von Teese. There is a lady who is most definitely not scared to be different. 

You have to have belief in yourself because otherwise, who will? You can't expect to go through your life with cheerleaders, sooner or later the buck will stop with you. So stick on your lipstick and believe in yourself no matter what you want to do. Even if you only believe that you will manage to stick to your new post-christmas gym routine. Or that this year you really will take up knitting. Unless you believe it you will never achieve it. 

A Good Book

"No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. She will not want new fashions nor regret the loss of expensive diversions or variety of company if she can be amused with an author in her closet." - Lady Montague

Read, read everything, everywhere. Knowledge is power and a well-informed argument is always more likely to triumph than not. But more than that, reading is a gateway to new places, new experiences, adventures far beyond anything here. Who wouldn't want a piece of that?


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anais Nin

I know some amazingly brave people. Far far braver than me. Whether it's dealing with illness, travelling alone or standing up for themselves some of my friends are the bravest and strongest people going. 

That doesn't mean they're not sometimes cowards though. Everyone is. Everyone has that one thing that terrifies them - whether it's trying something new or opening themselves up to be vulnerable with a new person. Why not use your red lipstick as an excuse not to be scared. 

Think to the best moments in your life. Now imagine what would have happened if you had been too scared. Maybe if you had been scared of doing something on your own you wouldn't have discovered that amazing new hobby or met those new people. Or if you had been scared to accept a date, maybe you never would have fallen in love. Think of everything you could have missed by being scared. Even if the risk goes wrong, surely that’s better than wasting your time in nothingness? So don’t be scared. Put on your lipstick and try try again.


"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Everything starts with a dream. Never listen to those who doubt yours.

A Voice

"You can't move mountains by whispering at them" - Pink 

Talk. Have opinions. Share your opinions. Be decisive. Be loud. Be anything but silent. The one thing that people struggle to remember is silence. 

A Smile

“Keep smiling, because life is a beautiful thing and there's so much to smile about.”
- Marilyn Monroe

I have always hated my smile. I blame the Hollywood identismile that seems to be everywhere these days telling us that beauty cannot be achieves without a perfect straight, glow-in-the-dark set of gnashers. My teeth aren't white enough and, perhaps more prominently, are crooked as hell. I’ve dreamt about straightening them for years. So wearing red lipstick was perhaps not the most obvious choice for me as it automatically draws attention to your mouth.

But saying that, you cannot ever underestimate the power of a smile. The big genuine smile you give to someone you love or the cheeky grin you give to someone you’re trying to win over. The rueful smile when you’ve done something wrong or the shy smile when you feel those butterflies beating in your stomach. There are so many smiles we can use, each of them with their own cadence and power.

So what better way to celebrate a smile than with a beautiful vibrant lipstick? No matter how crooked your teeth.

I plan to look for all these things in the New Year!

Mrs P

x x x x x x x x x x x 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Things I am Learning

Hello old friend.

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I updated you!! It’s been a crazy few weeks.

Here are some things I have learnt over the past few weeks:

1.       I am a Musician.
Now this is a biggie, you might remember me saying that I didn’t feel like I could call myself a musician, especially after everything that has happened. I’ve now realised that’s not true. Over the past few weeks we’ve been really busy and for the first time I feel confident that I know what I’m doing and that I’m doing a good job. It’s not perfect and I’m certainly not perfect but I’m not beating myself up over the little things anymore. And a big part of that is that I’ve realised....

2.       What we do matters.
A little while ago I was really worrying about contributing something meaningful to the world, I loved my work with children and for a while it felt like I wasn’t doing something as important as that. But I don’t feel that way anymore. I’ll give you a few little examples from the past few weeks that have proven this to me:

-          We play an evening gig for a Christmas party. It’s fairly quiet – no dancers but a lot of smiles and singing along. At the end of the evening an elderly lady comes up to us and says thank you; in the morning she is going in to have a serious operation and we managed to take her mind off it for a while.

-          Maldon, the Christmas Market. We stand outside in the freezing cold for three hours singing to the passersby. We see families with small children dancing along waving glow sticks. Older couples singing along. The mayor boogies down the road with the patron of a local restaurant and – at the end of the evening – a couple slow dances in the middle of the street as we sing our final few songs.
-          Just last night we played a little gig at Scope Drummonds – a home for adults with Cerebral Palsy. The joy was immeasurable. One lady in a bright pink skirt sang along at the top of her lungs for the entire night – she substituted every lyric for her own sounds and the sheer bliss on her face was wonderful. Also there was an elderly man who had recently moved from another residence, he had struggled to settle and become regularly upset. Last night he asked to be moved to the front of the crowd and visibly sang along (he knew more words than us!). There was also the Deaf lady who signed to me how much she enjoyed the night and kissed my hand thank you. Those little moments cannot be bought. 

There are other examples but I won’t go on. The important thing is I now fully realise 100% how important our own brand of entertainment is and that it most definitely cannot be dismissed.

3.       I genuinely love being with the man I married

This might seem like a strange one, I mean I married Mr P, of course I love being with him! But – let me ask you all something – how many of you regularly spend hours trapped in a small white van with the person you’re with? I mean never mind quality time. When you’re stuck travelling with someone – and only that person – for a long amount of time you had better get on with them. This weekend alone we clocked up a grand total of 14 hours in a car/van. With no distractions. It’s times like that when I realise that Mr P, my joyous, carefree, irritating, barmy, wonderful Mr P really is my best mate. We pull together and work together so well. There genuinely is no one else I’d rather be stuck on the M1 for 3 hours with.

Although I have learned not to buy comedy CD’s anymore after we nearly crashed on the a12 listening to Michael McIntyre. It’s worrying when the man driving suddenly hands you his glasses as he’s crying too hard to see out of them. 

A little glam goes a long way

What's the old saying? Fake it till you make it? Well it's certainly true. Every time I've felt low on the inside I have slapped on that good old red lippy and my god let me tell you I get out there and make it. What can I say? It brings out the fighter in me. 

4.       It’s ok to say goodbye

I don’t know how many of you know my history. It’s not something that usually comes up but a few years ago I lost the man who brought me up. It’s been a difficult time, my family isn’t exactly a nuclear family and there have been a lot of unusual hurdles over the years.

Today my Mum and I finally finished clearing our home ready for her to move and begin her new life in a new town.

I knew it would be hard. Especially for my Mum. There have been a lot of memories in that house, some good and some bad – the same as any family home. Things have changed beyond all recognition, not least the two women who packed the final boxes today. It was strange seeing it all stripped bare.

But it was O.K. That place was my home, and it was a good home. We went through a lot in that home. But now it’s time for a new home and I have learnt that that word means more than bricks and mortar. Home is your family and your friends. I said to my Mum today; “It’s strange to think I’ll never come home again.” But the truth is I will. I have many homes, places where I can go and feel happy and safe. At the end of the day I walked away from that old place with no regrets. If things were different then maybe that would’ve stayed our family home for many years. But they aren’t, and it won’t. And you can’t change that. But you can embrace it.

And I didn’t look back. 


Thank you everyone who has read this little blog. I’m going to aim to update it a little more regularly now, especially once Christmas is over and everything settles down a little! Of course before then I have to get through my immense to do list including:

-          Hunt down Turkey

-          Kill Turkey with bare hands

-          Remember I’m not cooking Turkey 

-          Try to find way to dispose of Turkey in a non-suspicious manner

-          Knit beautiful homemade Christmas gifts

-          Realise that I am appalling at knitting – buy wine instead

-          Drink all the wine

-          Buy more wine

-          Drink that too

-          Give everyone a sausage roll and mince pie for Christmas

-          Wrap everything, lose dog

-          Have minor breakdown

-          Rediscover a love of ginger wine with whiskey

-          Love everyone and everything for entire Christmas season.

To name a few...

So onwards and upwards, tis the season lalala and it’s good to be busy. Also next year is looking up. No announcements just yet but looking at – 

-          Radio
-          Theatre 

Stay tuned!

Mrs P

X x x x x x x x x x

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Change your life, one lipstick at a time

I’ve been thinking a lot today about my quest to change my life with red lipstick.  

I’ve started channelling my 50’s housewife by eating better, and cooking more. I’ve been a little less lax with the housework and I’ve started taking more pride in my home. I’ve also started taking more pride in my appearance. Wearing red lipstick means I have to dress to suit it; it makes me get my nails done and wear flattering clothing and perfume.

I suppose the biggest thing is red lipstick means I can’t blend in - I’m constantly drawing attention to myself whether it’s walking the dog, going to the doctors or heading off on a night out.

I know that some people may think I look strange, or over-dressed, but for the first time in my life I’m training myself not to care. I don’t know if this is something that happens to everyone but ever since I can remember I’ve always had “that voice” in my head. The one that tells me how big I look every time I put on weight, how over-dressed I look when I dress up, how much of an idiot I’m making of myself every time I put myself out there.

If pushed I could probably tell you where these voices originate, but that’s not important anymore. I could spend hours raking through all the reasons why but that’s something I am determined to move past. Quite simply, everything that happened previously doesn’t matter anymore because the only way to change is just to do it. Focusing on the past means you can’t move forwards and that is what I’m so desperate to do right now.

By wearing red lipstick I am making a statement. I am making myself impossible to ignore and dealing with everything that comes with that.

So once I’ve put myself out there I might as well go the whole hog...

So today I signed up for Burlesque classes... and signed up to volunteer at a local greyhound sanctuary... and phoned up my local volunteer coordinator to see about volunteering in a couple of children’s centres.

And I’m not stopping there either – oh no.

Watch out world. Mrs Player’s on her way....

And she’s in red lippy.

Mrs P
X x x x x x x x x x x x x x