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Mar 29

Diving Belle.

Blog 11 - for ‘diary of an alt-pop mother’.

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We are back in the grey-ness. My heart lifts when I see the winter sun. It does come,  but it also goes.  It does what it likes. But not what it seems most everyone else wants it to do.  

I am so grateful to have been lifted up out of London’s Winter for six weeks of sun and swimming in Australia, but now I am back and I have stayed inside in this warm house too long. We need to walk to the spot where that sun is shining, turn our faces towards it, shut our eyelids to it’s glare and allow it and the crispness of the winter air to wake us, slap us out of our sluggish jetlag.

My husband, children and I are one up on everyone else who has had to do the hard slog. Over in the Lucky Country we were running barefoot through the sand, lying on dry grass and cooking sausages in the heat of the day. We saw koalas and kangaroos, loud birds and lizards, many faces whom I have loved over my whole life and only one or two people asked me about my life. I gasped. But the questioning was all over-with fairly quickly. 

I told them the good things and they were happy for me - and we just kind of talked about it but kind of didn’t and I felt as if I was secretly wearing underneath my jumper a t-shirt that said

"Please …..somebody…. help" 

Only my sister kind of knew I was wearing it. I’d told her as much over coffee one day.

Everywhere we went I held hope that, maybe tonight, there would be a potential sign-post. Telling us what to do next with our life.

"have you done any music lately?" I could hear them asking, their voices quiet, wondering. 

"weeelll,  yeaaaah, sort of… a little bit…”

I tried to be positive and really feel it and I kind of even did

"yeah we did this gig, where we all crammed in and there was a beat poet and …." 

Next to me sat an old friend. She was one decade ahead of me. She too sang young, hoped much and had people ask and want much for her. I turned to her and asked about her experience of mothering and career and expectation - we opened it up to other mothers there but they didn’t seem to feel they belonged to our particular story, so we felt like it was ok to be maybe the only ones in our tiny little club at the table after all - to just squeeze each other’s hand in a songwritery camaraderie knowing ‘you go girl’ way, and know deeply that even if they are not us - these people who have loved us long, are very much barracking us on.

She and I shared a past. We knew our similarities. We used to get together to write music on Wednesdays when I was only 15. We would try then cry and want more than we could muster. Not much has changed, but a lot has. Music is not just what’s in your head or heart, it has to become something, come out, be played, be received, it is a lot to expect. 

The only music that came out of me this time in Australia were the melodies I was grinding out with my teeth.

  I’ve noticed this a lot lately, I’m grinding out tunes incessantly with my teeth until I realise what I’m doing. Even with teeth clenched tight - the damn music begs to get out.

Last time I came to my home country it did. Get out. Properly. With a bang. It was massive for me. Last time we pulled together over 20 musicians for three different shows in three different cities of Australia and I had never felt so proud of myself. I was gob-smacked that I personally could realise and breath life into such a big idea - actually make it happen. I could                 hardly                 believe it. 

It seems no matter how long any of us have been going in our careers in anything that  there are significant moments where we have to ascend yet another starting block. But personally it’s only when someone perhaps invites me up there - that I can do it. That I can move past my cynicism and fear, climb up there and get ready to take the dare devil dive.

When I booked our first ever shows as Belle of the Ball, in 2011, for our tour in Australia I did just this.

I remember turning up to Netball (yes really) and all the girls asking me, all excited

“ So when are you leaving for your trip?”

 I suddenly felt like vomiting, crying. I was petrified. The thought of going to Australia to TOUR made my stomach turn and turn and turn. Their asking me was a shock reminder of the reality that I was packing up (and moving out of our end of lease house) to head off on a three month trip across the other side of the world to throw myself back into a spotlight I’d stepped out of - to launch my new band, to launch a little ‘idea’ that, now, had me by the neck.

 

My little sister was to blame. We were on the phone, she, in Sydney, when she said

"You should do that show idea you have - here in Australia, I think it’d really work because you know heaps of musicians here already and…" 

I had just finished telling her that I was overwhelmed at how long we would need to be in Australia ‘holidaying’ because of two important family event dates unchangeable - book-ending it. I said that we may go mad from lack of doing anything. As we already felt this way at home here in London to start with. Last thing I felt like was a break. Ha! A break from what?!

The said idea was that Ben and I would host shows with other bands we knew in each city - all on stage at once - learning and playing on each other’s songs - and call it “Burns Bistro”. 

Yes, we’d talked about it for years. She was daring me to grab hold of the idea, ascend the scary steps up to the diving board. 

 That night I asked Ben 

"What do you think, should we?"

 ”Yeah… let’s do it.” he said

Suddenly I had energy.

 It was because of them - that it was happening. My sister Harmony’s belief that we could, and Ben’s verbal support. After all these years, THAT was all I needed.

For me it seems to be quite simple -  I need :

- a practical suggestion (which gives solid guidance and displays belief in my ability to pull it off, which gives me energy to do it )  

- verbal support (provides safety, which makes me brave and believe the task at hand is worth doing.)

 

I started straight away. I frantically looked up venues in Australia online, asked around, booked gigs - the Sydney venue manager asked me for our blurb and a press photo – and I realised I had neither! I was faking it. I hadn’t even officially decided on the band’s name until I had to tell her what it was.

I faked my way through the whole thing. Invented reality. Our so called ‘band’ didn’t even exist. We hadn’t even played a show! I had to make it come across to the venue managers on the phone like it really was a professional act they were booking and that we could HOST a whole show of three or more acts intertwined onstage all at once, (MADNESS!)

Did I even have enough Belle of the Ball songs to sing?!

Here I was in our tiny office at home, still in my slippers, selling myself to strangers as something worth booking. Some of the journalists remembered the me that used to exist. That me was something that I figured still existed now but that I hadn’t actually aired, properly, for years. Well, once or twice at friend’s parties - as lo-fi and hidden as possible and as nervous as all hell, yes, but what was evolving during even these small exposures was significant for me. They had led me to this point of asking ‘can I and do I want to actually do this for real again?’ 

Performing and touring and promoting myself was so far from my house-wife mother reality for the last half a decade that I was both amused and terrified. 

I kept up the act. I asked people to play with us, people I knew, people I kinda knew, banned shyness and wrote emails - even to musicians I weak-knee admired. We asked our friend to take promo photos (on an insta-matic!) wrote an ‘over from London’ blurb, set up the obligatory social networking pages and linked up my lo-fi demos online. The musicians believed me, the papers believed me, I had them all hoodwinked. And I felt sick to the stomach.

 

We had been led by circumstances to a massive expanse of swimming pool, then taken by my sister’s hand to the deep end. Standing then at the bottom of the diving board ladder I’d looked at Ben and he’d nodded to me, so I’d climbed, I’d walked out and I was bouncing on the end, heart in mouth, stomach in toes, heart in mouth, stomach in toes. I looked at him.

It was enough just knowing he would dive in too - if I did. 

heart in mouth, stomach in toes

"I’m about to dive. I have to dive. I’m in the air now, I have no choice". 

And I shut my eyes right up til my body hit the water. 

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R.B.Burns.

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surf. sun. swimming.                                  (above photo by Dave Denison)

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home again, the winter sun breaking through

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how I felt on our trip this time.

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untitled. 

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Our leap. exhilarating and necessary.

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Becca x

(screen shot of word doc Q on computer c/o my sister Sunshine!) 

speaking of which - she is the one I mention in the blog above whom I just visited in Adelaide (and whom I miss…waaagh!). 

She is an amazing ceramicist. yes, another mother artiste, she has four kids! ye gad! I aint got nout to complain about. Anyway, here’s her lovely stuff.

http://sunshinegbmarch.blogspot.co.uk

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Oct 18

The Ball Gown. Finding the one that fits.

Blog 10 -   for ‘diary of an alt-pop mother’.

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I’m staring at the massive pile of free clothes,  overwhelmed.

It’s a clothes swap afternoon with a gig slash party afterwards and I have agreed to play my songs later on, all by myself. Ben’s call. He said I should do it solo. I can think of nothing else.

 I grab a few dresses and tops that may fit and shove them in my bag - feeling like I don’t really have time to try them on. I have plenty of time. It goes for four hours before any music starts, but I am not hugely in the mood.

A friend, newly arrived, is madly trying on armfuls of items with great excitement and so I join her with one token dress - allowing it to distract me from my ‘task’ ahead. The mirror keeps us busy.

Yes for days now I’ve wondered if I should pull out of this gig, yes - that again. Man oh man. My throat through the week characteristically gradually growing to feel sorry for itself, threatening me that it will hurt me if I dare to defy it. And the thought of the cold wind lashing at us on our way to the gig - ominous. Enough so to pull out. But I may have felt like that at 38 degrees.

 I think before - when I sang with the band (in the past) - I was nervous every gig, yes, but not ‘in charge’. When you are in charge,  however  psychological that in charge perhaps is, you carry more. Question more. Cave in more…and want to make it stop. Well this is so - for Ben and I. And tonight’s even worse,  ‘cos it’s just me. in charge. of myself.

I start the set and am not proved wrong for feeling such fear. I faff about fumbling with the casio and my lyric sheets that I don’t need,  like it’s the first time I’ve played a gig in my whole life. How humbling this whole experience is for me. But I plough on - through the microphone not being loud enough, the ukelele being stubbornly out of tune - me helplessly inexperienced in tuning on stage to be able to change it - screaming SAVE ME BEN without words.  I plough on - through the chatter of those less loyal to me or just at the back loudly unaware I even exist. Painfully slowly I sing and play every bit that comes after the next bit, after the next bit in the quiet songs I’ve so unfortunately chosen as my first. Then it is over and the casio beat finally kicks in. Ah the relief. It lifts me up to start dancing. I’m up and free and bursting to make it work. Ah the beat. The beat! It is easier to have fun.

It is easier to be upbeat and not let anyone in.

Because it backfires.

And here I was thinking I was the Queen of Conflict.

That I was unafraid of bringing up things with people.

I was wrong. I am very afraid.

I don’t tell them if they’ve upset me. I just avoid them. I hear it, take it home and let it fester, until I am so scared of that person, of it happening again, that the friendship stretched  so thin and taut across my fear of what comes next  has no choice but  to SNAP! At the touch of a finger point. 

 Girls are so complex.

It is only as she walks away that I realise what she has done.

She has shot me down. Why?

The big pile of clothes on the table next to me is all of us just tossed together in one big mass -

  “There you go, be women,  see how you fly”.

My other friend with the clothes turns to me and sees my face

"Are you ok?"

No, no I’m not.

 My gig gratefully acts as a pause to what I will at some point let myself feel.

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Before the Ball - we put on the dress that we have carefully found to be most ‘us’ then step through the front door to be presented at the entrance of the ballroom,  for inspection.

"Mrs Rebecca Burns".

We are looked up and down and at first it’s simple - You - are either admired or dismissed. And you walk on in. You end up in the powder room with those who chose you (and you them) and divulge vulnerable remarks about being too shy or not being able to dance or being in love with so and so and then it gets complicated.

 As time goes on - after a few Balls - the patterns of your dress may clash against your friend’s. Or they have put on weight so your lack of it annoys them. You feel defensive if someone comments on your dress in the wrong way,  on how you look in that dress, on how maybe another one would look better. You ask to borrow their dress when you can’t find yours one day and it feels like you are asking too much. They ask you if you would pick up their dress from the drycleaner for them but you just can’t that day and proceed to feel uneasy and bad about it. You ask them to help you with your zipper at the back that is soooo annoying… and they suggest you may just be better off in trousers if the dress is such a hassle

 and the fun is over.

I get lured in. Into communicating honestly in the hope that they too will trust me in the same way.  And they do, and it seems like everything is alright, but I find that I am waiting …

for when it isn’t alright.  Anymore.

Waiting for that moment when I ask for too much, say too much or let someone down  - when grace is not given… and I am judged. Or I am the brunt. Of a comment.  A joke. A bad mood.

 And today,  it happened.  It slapped me across the face. And it is in these moments I want to have only Ben as my friend because it’s too hard work getting it right. It’s too hard work not taking it personally. It’s just too hard. I don’t know the rules and later that night I cry and I swear I cannot ever, EVER see her again.

Drama at the clothes swap.

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My daughter has a hold of her friend’s hand and they are spinning each other around and around in their new old shoes - found on the kid’s clothes swap table. They couldn’t wait to dance in them. She had come up to tell me they were waiting for a dancing song. Waiting for the man to play one.

Sometimes I feel like no-body likes me anymore, nobody wants to play with me.

Sometimes I feel like the rubbish-est friend in the world,  trying to guess and getting it all wrong. 

Sometimes I feel like the rubbishest adult in the world that everybody, simply everybody, is talking about.

But it’s possible we are more preoccupied with ourselves than anyone else       is       ever      going      to       be. 

It is usually,  mostly,         all                   in             our       head.

And even if it isn’t - well - I’m learning that some things,  especially things people say to me, they , well,   just may not matter so much.

Or more so,  may not be mine - to bare.

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The fact is it is going to happen.  There will be harsh words. There will be pain. There will. There just will. Truth lies in difficult, dark moments. Deep truths lie in how we react. What happened inside us? What are we carrying around? In the conflict, in the drama, we can find everything we need to know, need to grow, need to have some grasp on, to be free of things having so much power over us.

To not be free of the conflict. But free in it. After it. And maybe one day - when I’ve really got this thing down - during it.

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Today I had many girl-friends here. Some new, some old, some even older. Some came and went and some stayed. As I brush past one of them on the way back from the drinks area I kiss her on the cheek out of a sudden affection, then hold the shoulder of another, sitting there right in front of us. She squeezes my hand - upon her shoulder.

I love them and I need them.

I like the dancing. Now. I’m feeling far more able.

I like the exchanging of dresses and tips. That’s what it’s about for me. It’s not about buying one dress, with my own money, for only me to wear. Even then it won’t be perfect. And I’m not going to pretend that it is.

I like it that we get to choose the dress out of the pile but that we also have to work with what there is.

I like it when we admit the dress we have chosen is not quite our fit, that it needs a few changes…and in response - we get help to make it fit. When the points of our fingers touch and move into a clasp of our hands.  And we help each other sew it up,  take it in, agree about the annoying zip, step back and look.

And look.

Again,

and again,

and again.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that I’m going to receive  an Again.

But sometimes I do.

Sometimes the sting

just never comes.

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"Thankyou for singing that song again” my friend says as she smiles up at me.

She can sew,  she helps me sew my buttons back on.

I can sing, I help her sew her heart back together.

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Sadness it comes like a dove as it rests upon my shoulder

Gently it’s singing to me as it calls me to grow stronger

Every day I feel the changes in me. Every day I feel the changes in me.

This time is so new to me and it’s pulling on my heart now

Something has shifted in me, like a river flowing downstream

Every day I feel the changes in me. Every day I feel the changes in me. Because of you I feel the changes in me.

 I feel the drought is finally breaking, into my arms, the rain drops fall as I catch them. On my tongue, they taste so good as I catch them, let the water living pour down

Excitement’s on the edge of it’s seat and it’s causing me to hold on. True peace is abiding in me, I just can’t believe you love me

 Every day I feel the changes in me. Every day I feel the changes in me. Because of you I feel the changes in me.

 (Upon my shoulder - By Rebecca Boucher Burns)

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When I am home,  the next day - I try on the dresses I’d blindly grabbed. Someone else’s skin that I now have.  Something I may not have chosen from a shop but now - on me, yes, I like it. It suits me. It is black, perhaps sexier than I would have bought, more expensive material than I could afford. Each friend and what she has to give, who she is, adjusts me a bit. Changes me a bit, teaches me something. And I am thrilled at it’s choosing me to wear it - at it’s difference to who I have been, what I have worn before.

I realise that I didn’t feel like my solo outfit fitted me very well at all - playing music alone . Or else it just didn’t fit in the place where I wore it. I don’t’ know. I had to try it on for size at least, before I could make adjustments. I think in a different context it could work. So I won’t throw it away just yet. I’ll put it in my ‘maybe’ bag of clothes for further, later on, inspection, stowed away in the top back corner of my wardrobe.

1. My dear friend distracting me with dotty dresses (that are too tight!!)image

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2. Me getting better at this whole ‘playing instruments malarkey’ - this is at our latest gig at the Red door Cafe - (many months after the clothes swap one) see how pro I look, so calm.

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3. My lovely girl with me at a gig in Australia. Ah all those friendships (and outfits to try out) in front of her, she’s only just begun. She already has a style of her own, in many things. And it’s not always the same as mine. I like that. It is hard at times but yes, I also like it. Cos she changes me. Challenges, inspires and questions me. Once again I am starting to see all these things are like a gift to me xx (ha! free, practical therapy!)

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my song (lyrics in blog) that my friend thanked me for singing for her

https://soundcloud.com/belle-of-the-ball/upon-my-shoulder

This posting is dedicated to Ms R and Ms V.  xx

Aug 01

The clock is ticking, I keep looking, worried the ball will end.

Blog no 9. for diary of an alt pop mother.

 Ah yes, it’s time again. For the craziness that is….a gig.

Last month it took me about five working days to set up band pages, loud hailers, banners and posters to sites that promised promoting ease, to make my life a breeze, and only after hours of designing blurbs and filling in forms, divulging all my details and allowing the internet machines to have access to me in every possible way, do I find that upon trying to send out my self made invites to come and experience what it’s all actually about (music) - I find that access to my own actual friends’ emails that I myself have provided - I am not allowed to have.

I wanted to scream.

I dragged my feet around the house dramatically to represent   

    my                       inner                 grief.

 

Ah the computer stealing precious time from me again. 

Even my twice removed sister in law of power and energy and music organizational prowess said to me recently that she is quite frankly…fed up. We - at her CD launch. She - fresh off their UK band tour. It had taken the last of her stamina. The last of her health. Sick of and from putting so much in, she felt forced to say “Enough!”

Life forced her, and I, to step away from the computer that week and put our hands in the air - for just before my hope had all but died, my laptop died instead.

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Now two weeks later, on my kids hand me down iPad, I am back. The gig is now a fortnight away.

Today I find myself looking for a big-kid-size drum kit on eBay. I want it two kill two birds. To serve both our son - as a gift ‘cos he loved the drums we borrowed last time - and for ourselves as a handy kit to borrow for our drummer  from New Zealand who has not got one yet.

Yes it seems our shows are not meant to be easy.

The rehearsal is tomorrow.  Depending of course on us having drums and also on wether the cafe owner and fellow performer is still in hospital or not. It was an a & e adventure, last minute.

At least this show’s venue is just down the road - which means our favourite sounding keyboard - that is also the heaviest keyboard ever made  - can be possibly dropped off or taken in a borrowed a car, or if all else fails it can be carried on our local bus almost door to door. Luxury. From our house at the top of the hill near Greenwich Park. To the old markets at the bottom of the hill near Greenwich Park.

Greenwich park, the Royal Observatory. Where time began. Well …where time …keeping … began.You know - Greenwich Meantime? Ring a bell?                               

Yes. We live, sleep, hope and plan our lives - right in the heart of time’s pivotal point. Is it why time makes me anxious? Because it’s so close, breathing down my neck? I can feel the power of the great controlling ticks from three blocks away, reminding us. Pressuring us. Why did someone ever even start this in the first place?!! What if we still just had no track of time? We couldn’t be late and feel bad for it. We wouldn’t feel wasteful of the time we have. Who decided time mattered? That time is of the essence and that there is a cut off time in each phase of our life that we are lured in to believe …and worship.

We find ourselves shouting at our children because of their complete disregard for time. Then we realise they are oblivious and free and we apologise in word or in deed but can they still get their shoes on please.

What does "it’s only a matter of time’" even mean? It sounds set in it’s ways. Predicting doom. Unchangeable.

All in good time Pet, feels friendlier. Something an old person would say because they know better.

For some of us in this neighbourhood  - time is on our side, for some of us it is ticking away. Depending. Is it about us then? Our outlook? Our attitude? Or just our age?

How to unravel our minds from being so wound up in what may not even matter.

Once the winding mechanism is at it’s capacity, it is let go of - and off we go! Ticking and ticking, governed by the unwinding, the moving ahead backwards, all the time spinning towards stopping, towards a possible too late.

But I say - all in good time. To myself. Sometimes I’d like to be old, and be saying things like that. And really believing it. In my bones. Past the living out of youngness, past the many years ahead, past that bit.   Old.

While the rest of the world measures their clocks up against us here - Ben and I sit measuring ourselves up against the rest of the world. Often unconsciously. Sometimes on purpose. We can’t help it. Humans find truths by measuring.

We measure ourselves up against people we respect - and learn about ourselves. Against people we can’t stand - and learn about ourselves.      Against other parents, other singles, others childless. Against those in our line of work. We wonder - How they tick. Where they play, where they go, what they hope for, who they share their lives with, how they built their cast and stage and story and how they feel.

 Sometimes  Ben and I catch the reflection of ourselves in our lounge-room mirror. Sitting there in our little suburban house. And we wonder why we - two seasoned music doers, hardly ever play music and are not in a really proper band again by now, recording and breathing new ideas with others, out there… out there….you know…. somewhere. All in good time.

Maybe it’s London, maybe its busy-ness. London with all its potential but deep wide waters. I wonder too about those bands I knew in Australia who have perhaps not ever stopped to pause but have just kept on going on and going.  Have they achieved what they have because of it? Because of not leaving their own country? Because of not giving birth to children?

The things I chose to do differently to them I would not choose to change - for flinging ourselves across the world with our eyes shut was us being true and becoming pregnant at the end of it was a gift. And a world I would never want to exchange, despite my comparing.

Thankfully I did leave school rather young and crammed in quite alot early on, so I had some extra time to play with anyway - ha ha, if you look at it like that.
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We all leave a trail of a timeline behind us as our lives play out. And I guess it becomes a serious business to us at times because we know we can not switch the bits round or take bits out once they are drawn. It feels in those moments our decisions are so important.

My time-line from birth ran happily enough along. The dot that depicted the start of the next bit spewed forth a line that ran fast through teenage hood to a line that was quite stubbornly straight and slightly going up at the end. The next important dot threw the line high in the air at the finding of love and the story-line started to become a bit more meandering with bits jutting off to littler lines that interwove and now hang limp as threads do, yet to be sewn.

And I measure myself up against myself also. To all the other me’s in the other bits.

Especially when I have a gig. Especially when there is something  comparable to my past. Especially when this madness of getting my music sorted ensues, pursues, and when I am staring into the face of having to do it all myself. Like I am a beginner again.

I measure myself up against the early bit of time-line where I dreamily hoped for a record deal - to be in that elusive club, and then to the me at the dot where I got the record deal - and was allowed into the club, to a point…for it still felt like a lonely road and like it dangled an ‘almost’ banner ahead of us, forever in our view, so that the now was never okay and the line jumped up down, up down, confusing us.                          The me on the shitty stage, the me on the big stage, the me at the dot in that manager meeting, the me in tears, the me at the music party, the me reminiscing  about an earlier me lying down on our band house floor alongside my long term band mates, listening in the dark to our finally finished album on our big speakers turned up loud. All of us Proud and Relieved for something solid to hold, that doubled as something that showed the world what was inside us, what we had to offer.

It is this measuring up and studying of the line behind us that leads us ahead. To decide to make things work better for us now so that we aren’t just stuck, wondering why we are here. To feel better about our dot. The dot we are on - on the map. I actually sewed my time line physically once in an arts therapy group that I helped mum lead for a Hackney Hospice for the ill and dying. With cotton and colours, material, buttons and emotion - we all allowed the mourning of the various deaths and endings in our lives to be acknowledged, to gently lead us to our Now.

The venue owner just called me to say he is 1. out of hospital and 2. there are drums in the cobble-stoned cellar of his Greenwich cafe. They’re dodgy he said, but existent. We is livin’ the life man. And it means I can get off this ipad and get on with playing some music. Yee-har.

….

Becca x.


….

At this Greenwich show coming up soon -

https://www.facebook.com/events/534258803289045/

 I am going to perform this very new song below - “Fragments” .

It is the song inspired by Vicki’s art in the blog I wrote a while ago - “Pictures of the ball.” I promised you I would post it when it was ‘finished’. Well it is not totally ‘finished’ as such - as it will evolve, through playing it live and then later through recording it again for an album most likely, but for now - I’d like to present you “Fragments” -  in all it’s lo-fi demo glory. xx

 https://soundcloud.com/belle-of-the-ball/fragments-demo

PHOTOS: A few of the pivotal dots on the way : 

The Mercy Bell (after Dale our drummer left and we lived and waited in between the UK and USA for the next dot on the map to call our names, call our names)image

The Big Announcement of our wee bairne, over the phone, to those far away.

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And the child himself. Gob-smacked we were. Amazing.

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There is a season turn turn turn, for every thing turn turn turn….

- A song my dad used to sing around the house. He often only sang bits of songs ‘cos he couldn’t remember the rest. But we gather bits don’t we, the bits that matter to us, to make our soundtrack.

Jul 04

the pause between dances

Blog no 8. for diary of an alt pop mother. (Starting off with a bit of prose.)

 

A Bath, after Paris.                                          Rebecca Boucher Burns 

 

Tonight I let the bath drain out around me while I stayed there

and as it did - a weight became apparent

my legs and back bone lay heavy on the bath’s hard shell

heavy, so heavy

the water that was holding me had left

and I was no longer floating

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when something is gone

you see clearly how much it was giving you

carrying for you

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my heart beat still loudly from the hot water once there

a cool breeze came through the window onto my warm skin, cooling me

I lay there in the dark

by myself

in stillness

and I thought -

 

 .

Paris let me float for a bit

and for this, I am so thankful.

.

Becca. 2013.


I have realised something.

That a holiday gives me the same thing that a dinner party does or a day out at a river or in the country - or seeing a band or a film or a play - it gives me pause.

It puts on hold - all things.

My sense of needing to achieve, my mulling over what life is all about, my own dishes, my own wondering what to do today.

 I guess it distracts me from all this by being so interesting, so consuming, fun, warm, unusual or unexpected. Sometimes these moments ‘away’ consume us by their own challenges but still they are a diversion, a pause from our own life, our own thoughts, frustrations, ideas, or our on-going norm.

And I know I need that.

Sometimes there is no connection with the norm in these times and sometimes these times connect with our old tired thoughts in a refreshing way - without using our own energy - in a way we couldn’t come up with ourselves.

When our family (my sisters and parents etc) are altogether we, actually, naturally tend to just ‘hang out’ together, not talking about our lives, our careers, our cares, even if we haven’t seen each other for years! Instead we just sit, play cards, drink tea. And I really like this too. It too feeds. I like to share the journey and to talk too, and I do that naturally, but I enjoy

the pause

from questions about what I’m doing with my life. Are you going to send the kids to school? What did you do this week? Questions stress me out!! I can’t answer factually without the experience of those facts sneaking in. I am incapable of doing this for example:

"How are you?"

(Me) “Fine thanks”

"What you been up to?"

(Me) “Not much”

"Fine"!!! "Not much" !!! Whoah those words trigger way too much for me to use them as a flippant reply! And  I just feel so obliged to tell the whole truth and nothing but! 

As a big arty family I think perhaps we’ve always been asked alot of questions also. So it’s a kind of ‘being asked things’ disorder. he he.  Wow I’m gonna be terrible at promoting my film when it’s finally done “Huh? Whatevs, Seven sisters, yeah yeah, big f*&%en deal, blah blah”. Heck, the reason I made the documentary was so we could all say “Go see the film dude”.

When my family have gone, I miss them.

And when it’s felt light like that - I want it to keep going.

In the past it upset and concerned me that life would all come rushing back in as soon as I left a friend’s house, arrived home. When it was over. Facing another Monday.

But I think it might be ok.

I just think it might be why these things need to happen. Why - art, food, parties, treks, ‘other’ jobs aswell as our main career, adventures, games of cards and leaving our house, opening up our house or however interrupting our routine - needs to happen. 

 To give our brains and hearts a break. To bring us out of our own, real, but limited, worlds.

 …

(totally try the ‘bath draining out while you are still in it’ thing) xx

The film about my sisters I’m making - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAv7Z-9CRM0

PHOTO -  Ben and I on the Love Padlock Bridge in Paris last month. My sister Angelle’s husband rode with mine (Ben) from London to Paris! Us wives were so proud. ah. (We went via train and met them there).

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And below is a video of us playing our song “Different to me”’  - just ‘cos this is meant to be a music blog after all and also ‘cos the lyrics refer to a Paris trip we did many years ago - (our first time there) and it was a true visiting Paris as a couple so the pressure is on to have a great, romantic time - experience - so… we had a massive heart wrenching ‘discussion’ and realised our great expectations of each other and impact on each other and actually how similar we were.  So it’s ironic that this song is called ‘different to me’ rather than ‘similar to me’. But really, that would not make a very good lyric now would it. Enjoy. xx

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6MPVUOGzOU

 

Jun 28

Out of the Mouths of Baby Belles

BLOG  7 - diary of an alt- pop mother

I sit in the cool of the arts and craft room at my laptop - a rare moment of working while the children play. I usually just come to these groups without a means (or plan) to work and even though I like talking to the friends I have made in this home educating community - I also feel a little like I need to be elsewhere,  on an unnerving semi regular basis. It comes like a flow, washing through both Ben and I and out again,  cyclically, and one day that wave will be strong enough that it will push us far up past the shore and into the school office. To try the ‘other’ way.

I can hear the swathe of non schooled children playing outside on the adventure playground …you are possibly at this point imagining it’s all mismatched hippy clothes with rainbow leggings and un-brushed hair but as is typical of London there is actually a great and varied array of ‘types’ of people trying to do this way of schooling their children.

The playground itself is old skool style with risky bits. Ropes to swing themselves on, gaps to jump across, bridges to run across, high ladders to climb - trying out what they find interesting, where their skills lie and what works for them.

Similar to our arty life really and our own personal home schooling style.

 I feel good today. Because  I had a meeting,  about a gig. About a gig that we can make our own, in our style and be excited to tell people about. It really does feel good doing your to do list. I had a sneaky suspicion it might - that my way of going about life needs a tiny bit of tweaking to feel SO much better about.

THIS is better. Play and work together! I like killing two birds with one stone!

Lately I’ve not thought an artistic life actually suits me after all.

That I can’t actually hack it.

I think mostly it’s because you are constantly re-inventing your days, your art, yourself. I’ve done it so long now and yet it is still so challenging. I left home at 14 (well my home left me - my family lived in a motorhome - it literally drove away.)

I wanted  - from that point onwards - to sing my own songs in a band. So I let myself be blown by the wind in that direction - following whatever  leads to wherever  - not letting anything get too in the way - through theatre,  community art projects with troubled teenagers , music therapy with the disabled,  a spot of supermarket shelf filling… to finally find someone to start a proper band with five years later, at age19. So…it’s been a long time basically, of making up almost every day, afresh.

PAUSE>

A little girl just came in to say hello to me,  keen to know what I am doing. I said I’m writing a music blog, and it’s also about being a mum. Her eyes lit up

 "Oh! Do you teach your kids music?"

"well not exactly, we have the instruments around and they play them,  but yes, my daughter has taught herself to read music too by asking her dad to help”.

"I can play the piano but I’m not very good" she says "I’m trying to make up my own songs."

"Oh yes my daughter does that too"

She then says

"I played Beethoven’s  symphony no 9. once but couldn’t get the end right” (!!)

(ah rrright, out of MY league then.)

 She is a gorgeous looking child of Jamaican descent,  wearing  cool clothes, donning cool hair that can go into cool styles unlike my boring brown, fine white-girl hair of which plastic baubles just plain fall out.

"Bye" she says trottling back off outside.

PAUSE> again.

Just back from playing pool with my son (10) - he was a bit at a loss as what to do next ‘cos he was bored of kicking balls and climbing etc so I beat him at pool, like every good mother should. My years of pub gigs paying off.

Hmm. Probably should go soon ‘cos it’s a long bus ride home with unbelievably noisy high-school students if we don’t hurry.

Last week coming back from this same group my 8yr old daughter had in fact been chatting to me about piano. About lessons and teaching yourself and making up songs on the piano and she asked me if I could read music. I said I couldn’t… but maybe… I ventured….you could teach me?

She said gladly “Yes, ok!… ANY time”.

I thought that was gorgeous, she seemed to be so pleased to be able to offer ME something.

I like that the teacher and the student is always a shifting thing, with parenting. Right from my babies births it has been like this. Their humour, their affection, their mere existence  teaching me, teaching them,  how to be better,  more controlled humans.  Forcing me to try to laugh more, let go quicker,  start again. The biggest lesson I could probably learn from them is to not be in such a hurry. I do stop to smell the roses, literally, but that is as far as I have managed to take that line of living - I still carry so much “in a hurry” angst. It is they that notice the tiny amazing insects on the ground way down on the grass, the cool fence to climb on, rocks to collect , the stick that answers all my sons needs.

Although I do remember following his lead when he was a toddler on our way home from the shops and it took us about an hour. The shop was only three blocks away.

I guess the moral of the story ( heck let’s go trad storytelling here) is:

“with kids - things are slooow”.

In so many ways.

But finding the sneaky ways within this reality, is fun and fruitful.

…ah ……

"the end”!

"KIDS! WE’RE GOING! GRAB YOUR JUMPERS AND SCOOTERS - LET’S GO! QUIIIIIIIIICK! "

It was nothing short of a miracle.

We did not miss the bus.

 

By day - I watch - as the creativity …

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  and the discovering… unfolds

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By night - I am an Indie Pop Queen . xx  he he

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The GIG I am excitedly referring to in this blog - August 9th. London.

https://www.facebook.com/events/534258803289045/

Jun 24

The Cosby Show rings bells. So funny! →

We are eating up The Cosby show on you-tube (with our kids) and thoroughly enjoying it on a whole other level - now that we are the adults in the show.

Thought it fitted in perfectly with my blog, I just HAD to share it. So funny.

Jun 10

The Ball’s guest list. V.I.P.

diary-of-an-alt-pop-mother - blog 6 -

Recently my 8 and 10 yr old came up to me and said hesitantly

"your music isn’t really…um…cool is it mum?"

I, slightly taken aback,  answered “Ah….well… what do you mean by cool?”

"Like… Rock music"

I say “well I … ah”

My son says “you know like Robot Rock”.

Ha! Not very accurate little music critics after all! He is referring to Robot Rock by DJ’s ‘Daft Punk’ - who are NOT rock - they are um…kind of electro break beat … but yes they ARE cool (we bought him their CD - pretty cool for his ‘first album’ hey …mine was Mary Poppins.)

Then my daughter offers

"…like Harmony"

Oh. Not as cool as Harmony. Of course. Auntie Harmony. My own little sister. Well yes they have something there.  I guess having a pretty, punkesque auntie all dressed in black, up on stage with a loud band pounding, then suddenly jumping off stage to give them both hugs hello when she sees them as they come into the gig up close to the stage with me - to then jump back up on stage and start singing (and at times screaming like a banchee) IS pretty DAMN COOL.

Plus they have also probably picked up that we all think she’s cool too. I’ve  even joked to our friends I think saying “I could never be as cool as Harmony, it just comes so naturally to her”.

It’s backfired. They were not meant to hear that! We cannot be compared! I am cool in my own right damn it! “Mother in band” equals COOL! Doesn’t it? Doesn’t it?

So then I say to them

"well I used to play some rockier music” (admittedly the use of word ‘rockier’ is an embarrassingly bad start

"and there’s one where I even scream like her…I’ll have a look for the song." I’m desperate.

I quickly go downstairs and find the song ‘Picking Daisies’, I haven’t heard it for absolute ages, and realise I have not actually ever shown my own children this very old record of mine - the only one that was ever actually (friggin-well) released by the record companies. And there in the most dramatic as close to rock punk-ness song I have  - there are my screams and wailings in the background. I used to almost cry on stage in this song, collapsing to my knees dramatically at the end. It exhausted me. I would sit there kneeling by myself while they played a short instrumental pause. The two songs always went together, like a ‘piece’ for the audience, for the story-line.

 AGHHH…..You drive me insane so that I’m like you, but if I start to change, well, who will you run to? And you keep asking me if I, if I… love you……

I loved the drama and I do miss that a bit, as I seemed to ditch it from my over use of it for a while. But it takes confidence to ‘go there’ you have to be ok with yourself, ok with being ‘a bit over the top’. Disturbing the mid tones of an easy listen or of an audience just expecting a fun night out.

I called the kids downstairs and played them the song

 …and I feel like, and I feel like I have to, I HAVE to love you AAAAAAAHHHHH (shouting,  loud guitar, drums, angle grinder!)

"See!" I said, hoping for some re-assurance.

I’m not sure they were convinced. But I think they found it intriguing. I think they find the whole thing a bit mysterious. I’ve heard my daughter say to her friends ‘when mum was famous’ - which is another word a bit like ‘cool’.  Undefinable.

It’s funny, ‘cos I noticed at least in a few of our earlier Belle of the Ball shows last year - that I had a sudden never felt before panic -while performing - thinking suddenly “am I cool? am I cool? do the audience think I’m cool?”

It just came in and kept going through my head, even to the point of making me forget lyrics.

 On this particular night the audience appeared to mostly consist of teenagers and I think it’s that - that threw me.

Our world seems to be in love with so called “young people”. To want to impress them, be like them, have them on your side, understand them. But if anything they probably care more, wonder more about what everyone thinks of them.

Many years ago when the said auntie was a budding teen I said in jest ‘stop trying to be cool Harmony' and to my horror it turned out she carried that silently for years. I couldn’t believe it when she told me. I felt so bad! Ah the irony.  It seems this same vulnerability comes back later.

At my show full of teens there was a moment where I thought “ok nah, lets just stop now, this song is really not going well,  really not working,  let’s just stop it and do another one,  or better still just give up and go and sit down! Yeah let’s just…” and then the song was suddenly over, we’d got through it right to it’s end and people were…. clapping! It was ok!

Wow… what was happening to me? I had never felt this stuff before, mid show, this little devil voice whispering  'you are not ok, you are not good, you suck'. Why now after all these years of confidence and true belief in my music and ability were there doubts coming into my mind mid song, in front of everyone.

At the beginning of my career the only coolness we cared about was  'not selling out' - you know like all true alt/indie musicians. I'm sure we were not hugely cool but others seemed to think so, and really that is what defines cool anyway I guess. Other people's opinions. Perception. Once again, just like fame.

 So, the show is over and the lights are up. ie the show where I felt like the ‘old’ person who was not cool and who’s music wasn’t cool and who was worried she may never write a good song in her life again….one, well after that one - yes, after I have sat down and the other bands have played - (including the teen band) out of that very distracting swathe of young things  - a boy/man with an afro approaches me…. tentatively… and says

"Hey, um, I really loved your music…yeah… I…um (looking around him nervously) I liked your band the best"

"Thanks" I say. Thanks.

Who feels like a bit of a dill.

I then go outside and am packing our instruments back into the car (including my electric guitar and amp - ok yeah s’pose that’s cool, girls with guitars i know I know) - the guy walks past again thanking us for our ‘cool’ music (!) and the girl with him - to top it off and completely render back to me, a woman, a confident sense of self with nothing more to be said -

she shouts

And you’re really pretty!!”

HA! Karate kick that yo.

 

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Harmony and I in a who is the coolest (disco dance) battle. I have a yellow jumpsuit on. Say no more.

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Singin and playin next to my man on the piano stool (just like I used to with my big sister Dani who I thought was very cool indeed and I liked it when she played music with me and we made up stuff).

 

May 13

One belle in a room alone with the sound of the ball through the wall.

diary of an alt-pop mother - post no 5.

"IT!"….stomp stomp stomp giggle giggle "IT!" stomp stomp stomp "AGH" "IT!" HAHAHAH RUN STOMP BANG any minute now my daughter is going to bang something on her body on something in the small hallway that wasn’t designed for a game of chasey … and cry. Any                 minute                         now.

The accordian is their soundtrack - a piece Ben is madly trying to learn as fast as possible because he found himself signed up to be in a film as an ‘accordian’ player even though he has never officially called himself one having only played our Pop music and not a complicated classic piece that almost everyone can hum scarily correctly.

The job description started out as this : that he was to show the actor how to pretend to play ‘a bit’ of the piece.  They then said Ben would actually play the piece himself - in it’s entirety - (with them filming his hands). And finally they added that that he would record it with the guitarist for the soundtrack! Ben’s slight smudging of his actual accordian expertise had backfired and I’ve not heard silence for a week. I know the accordian piece so well now even I could play it.

I think he’ll actually be ok. It sounds to me now - after his inspiring commitment - like he’ll pull it off.   Let’s just hope they don’t change the piece …again.

 

So yes I’m writing my blog again. My friend - in protest - said she would not read any more posts unless I played some gigs - namely a residency for six weeks at the event night her brother runs!! But even if I don’t end up agreeing to her strict demands it has forced me to do some music making today!! YAY! I’ve set up the casio, laptop, microphone and found the fragments of blurry recordings and lyrics to the song called “fragments” to see what I can make of it.

But the chasey (“IT”) game happening underneath this room and outside the office door in competition with the accordian’s drone is somewhat distracting me, so I have been naughty and snuck on to write this instead. shhh don’t tell my friend.

Last time I recorded I did not bother to set all this hoo-ha up. I just pressed record and used the laptop mike. It didn’t sound very good, but I am so slap dash. If I can’t decorate my home using blue-tac I’m not interested. The walls remain bare. The idea of even having to find the tool box in the first place to nail a nail in (or learn how) is not something I find very attractive . And sometimes it seems anything that may take time - I give up on pronto. I found myself having to really hold back on impatience and annoyance as Ben was very patiently trying to help me set up the recording equipment properly this morning and show me how to tell the difference between the two types of mikes and all the imputs and leads and tracks, mono stereo,  etc etc etc. Luckily we’ve already been here a few times before and so this time I do know a little more and have managed to retain a lot of the previously shared information to both his and my delight. Ah the singing diva who  had others do those kind of roles before - needs to re programme  herself if she wishes to not have to forever more depend on everyone else.

I also have a tendency to vague out and assume someone else will be listening to the instructions and I can just ask them to show me again when and as I need to know (or care to know thankyou very much) - I did this when I went ‘water skiing once and never could manage to do it - my friend who had actually listened to the instructions found it a breeze and coincidentally found the breeze to which she set sail. I stood right where I was waist deep in the water - unable to stay up on the board to save myself. Up down. Up down. But it did little to change my habit.

So I sit here with my mini studio - it is all set up now,  and I am determined.  I have taken my time and chosen a cool casio kid beat plus a keyboard sound and with a real microphone in my hand - I am ready! See you at the other end.

hmmm

Okay so I can hear her crying now,  told you so. Banged a limb. This is really not working - they are going mad today inside. I am willing them to leave the house….or sign themselves up for school.

OH for a sound proof room to magically appear around me.

 "GET OFF!" he shouts

"YOU JUST SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE!!!" she shouts

"YOU GET OFF MY CHAIR AAAAAAAAAH!" he shouts…again.

It is called lack of focus. Lack of embracement of it being Ben’s day. Lack of embracement by Ben? By them? Don’t know, but it is only when our usual days are changed around because of un-for-seen work (like a film for a few days for Ben soon) that it throws everything off kilter. That we realise our bodies, hearts and coping ability- depends very much so on this slightly bohemian but surprisingly consistent rhythm we have created.  She is now upstairs crying VERY loudly until someone helps her, cares for her, kisses her better (the crying does not stop of its own accord - never has, never will, not since she was a baby) and I have to fight the three default settings inside myself.

 1. My motherly instinct to go out of the closed door-ed-ness of our ‘office’ to give her a cuddle.

2. My immature instinct to put my fingers in my ears and sing la la la la

or

3. My wife-ly instinct/flaw to step out there and fix the problem bitterly while judge-mentally glaring at the worn out husband. 

I do none of those things as husband walks in at that moment  and I see why things just went terribly wrong in such a very short time - he was trying to make us a coffee. Grind, heat milk, extract the espresso, froth the milk, pour and bring up to me - and in those 5 minutes they had torn flesh from each other’s skeletons. In another 5 minutes they will be laughing again.

On these days it is a fine line. A very fine line between pleasure and pain. The lyric writer in the Divinyls had children too I suspect.

Now my blinkin’ phone is ringing. My son brings it in to me. I hate phones. They DISTRACT me and ANNOY me and SCARE me. But it is Ben ringing me from downstairs,  he wants me to look on the laptop for the local swimming pool opening times (we only have one computer). My darling girl is now prancing around in her new hand me down Gymnastics costume which I assume she is going to swim in and asking me which bag she should take (despite me not being ‘on duty’ still).  Ever since she was one years old we had an established rule that if dad is in charge that day you ask him.  Hmm. I guess at least if it hasn’t sunk in yet - she won’t be needing counselling one day from the years of “parent needs to work and not get you a drink today honey bunch” type rejection. Phew.

Ah think, just think of the great sigh of relief when the house is mine once again. When their shoes are on. Their coats are on. And I can hear the fading voices gently, graciously disappearing.

Silence is Golden.

You know when ‘children playing’ noise is making you all tight inside that you need some time alone.

 

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This is me trying to record.

Apr 19

Pictures of the Ball

 diary of an alt-pop mother - blog no. 4.

Sometimes I go quite a while without writing a song. I write lyrics but I mean when the words come hand in hand with a melody, of their own accord, into my head.

I let them come in and I try to remember them, over and over I start from the beginning and try to memorise it until I can get as far as I can, then skip back again before I forget. Recite and remember, recite and remember - I reach a slightly further place each time and I have to do this until it is just so long that I have to write it down or record it – so as to not let it fall into a distant moment with no record.  If I try to put off archiving it like this I can make it go longer. Often if I try to capture it - it stops and I only get half the song I would have if I’d have just let it keep playing. Playing out. Out in the rain without asking it to come in to get proper clothes on so it can go back out again, but then it not wanting to.

Fragments the invite says.

I find myself here quite early, it’s my friend’s piece hanging in this Mayfair gallery, more like a house with a big front room, but it always feels good to be at something special in the heart of the city. A reason for living here. Those ‘ah this is why’ moments. Not sure this is fully one of those, I for one don’t feel at home or relaxed, it’s not cool hip London, it’s slightly scary English well-to-do London - old money, old expectations and old fashioned-around-art-appropriateness, so I feel a bit out of my depth,  but still it is new and exciting and I feel happy to be a part of something, outside my home. And I have successfully looked enough like an ‘invited guest’ to this private view to be let in by the door man.

I loiter for a bit then find the hooks and hang my own coat, unsure if the man will or won’t ever take it for me, then find a safe haven in the toilet.

Mirror. The wind has had a field day with my hair and the banana I had grabbed to eat has rubbed off my lipstick. I will bide my time a bit until the others get here. A few minutes in here with my lipstick, and a bit more faffing in the corridor, smiling self consciously at the door man until I can do nothing more but enter the fold.

Moving slowly across the room full of people I try not make it too obvious that I’m making my way to the complimentary wine. I feel funny being served and treated like I am posh, knowing I am not and that I have been a waitress on the other side of the bar and am no different to them. And yet perhaps I am? Maybe they themselves would not want to come here? I wouldn’t have known about it if I was not a friend of one of artists on the wall, but I do like to know. And I do like to come.

Private views were not a part of my life before. Museums and galleries weren’t even for that matter. London has grown me. 

I walk and chat, trying not to be too chatty and scary. I quite like not to chat but find I do anyway. 

Then I claim the carpet in front of Vicki’s art and look poignantly, as if to say this is why I’m here. Why I belong. She’ll be here any moment. Someone next to me suddenly verbalizes admiration of her piece at my ear. I say proudly and with some ownership and affection that it is inspired by the tsunami. “She saw a documentary about it.” We talk about the documentaries we have both seen on the subject and the harrowing, moving scenes that have stayed with us. She says to look up a fiction film based around that time, a love story. I say I will, and we move on. Fragments of conversations, fragments of experience, fragments of found objects (piece no 4.) The theme of the exhibit is trying it’s darndest to make thoughts come.

Then I find my grandma’s back screen door.

The woman has mounted it on the wall over a hand made print of an old photo of perhaps her mother, not unlike the pictures of my Grandma - young at the beach. It is mine.

“In or out!” she shouts. We have to keep the flies out. Through the cat flap, so thrilling, climbing in ‘cos Grandma has forgotten her key, or because she’s not home, until I’m just too big I can’t fit and I have to get in the adult way.    

  I                  will                    always                  miss                         her.

 I am talking at great length now to the husband of the woman who made it and who both had at least a part of my own hot summer memories. The daughter joins and our shared Australian backdoor pasts bind us momentarily. But I see my friends are finally here and welcome the chance to break out of my old identity. I am here now, no more reminiscing. Hugs and kisses, my friends. Old now too, 6 years old. Did they have a screen door? Probably not. I get another top up of white wine and cheers our friendship and my friend’s achievements. I walk back to see the tsunami again.

I have seen it or others like it she has done a few times now and even though I’ve always thought them amazing I had not found my own take on it. But now I stand  - and set in this context of fragments - I now see it. I see all the remnants. The aftermath, the visual destruction of peoples lives in front of me, all they once were, all they once had - torn apart by violent, uncontrollable, horror filled water smashing in then sucking away their lives - ripped from them - out into the fierce sea, over and over until it’s finished, had it’s fill, then bringing back gradually what it does not want.

Her picture. A mass seaweed of man-made objects, broken lives, people and buildings floating. Gathered at the rims of the waters edge, lapping at the rubble. And I am deeply moved.  It will never be the same. For those surviving and those they got to keep, they have to begin again.

 

 I enter into my own world, little bits of words come and tunes tap out beats in my brain, but it is so noisy. Near the toilets is a quieter place, the door man is still there but now I cannot let myself be bothered by him nor my need to be acceptable and accepted. I sing as close as I can into my mobile phone. But stop too soon, forgetting. I go back into the room of art and stop and sing, stop and sing. Holding up my hand and covering my phone as I record - stop, sing, stop, sing, stop.  It seems I have accidentally had too many top ups of wine to remember very far into my song for memorising it while it’s evolving - so it is in this stop start way that it will have to just be. A song broken up into pieces. Into fragments. In amongst the chattering crowd. 

Ben and I have bits of our belongings and hearts all over the world. Some left in USA only to have been reported as rotted in the cellar by sewerage pipes bursting. My sister there tried to save some bits but of others she said “They were so beyond keeping they had to go”. I’ll never know what it is I lost. This is unnerving, but also somehow freeing that I did not have to decide myself. We are constantly having to de-clutter, to re-think what we want. Every time we move. Every time we think about our life. I fantasise about having other people to make these decisions for me, but I’m sure if they did it would be un-nerving, being so out of my hands.

Some other boxes we went back to find later were safe still under a now stranger but once neighbour’s house elsewhere. Wedding presents, too many photo frames, were taken out, scaled down and re-chosen for our baby growing life in Australia. There are still boxes and bags in Australia - from that very time. Baby clothes musty, and big holes sacrilegiously made by rats into important things we just had to keep, for possible future babies, for a life back there, in the future, one day. This, just one pile of our for laters taking up a significant corner of the junk room under my old friend’s life above of a hoard of her own, including twins. My old friend - as in - since we were both nineteen. Before babies, before husbands, even…just… before my band. When I wrote all those mostly forgotten diaries of young love triangles and longings that are stored somewhere else again in the world. Hopefully alright. Maybe at my mother in laws, hopefully not found.

Every time. In each home, in each bag and visit I find bits of me I have not thought about for a while. Connections and affection that have been saved through more careful, thought out storage.

Under Jude’s house I found bags of clothes I’d forgotten I even had. The ultimate dream of a find for any girl. Bags of dresses! I was thrilled! Oh that one, oh that, Oh I loved that!! And we finally gave in and dragged the brand new rocking horse, unloved, wrapped in bubble wrap - upstairs. I give up. The rocking horse may aswell be used.  I had won it when our lives were all packed for England – in the last week, an empty house. Her kids could use it now, why not, mine will obviously never. A fake memory, a rocking horse that is my children’s but was never theirs. There are photos though of them, on the horse in our empty front room, so they will think it is a memory. They will think of it as theirs. They will take that fragment we captured on camera and use it to try and make the whole picture of who they are, where they’ve come from. How much of our own memories are only fragments of the actual stories? Our take on it or perhaps a ‘fact’ unknowingly based on someone else’s telling of it. I want to ask my mother all about it. I want to know what it was really like. All things that were, could have been, that could still be, that never were. That are. Now.

I’m back in the Mayfair room. With my forehead at the window facing away from the noise - I have tried to capture how it is I feel. What I want.

I think I want a tsunami to come.

To wash away my past. To take the disappointment of goals not fulfilled or finished, away. I like the idea of the cleansing. Of not having things that weigh on me or fill my house anymore, things that weigh on hearts. My friend’s hearts. Relationships, crowding in, pain and hurt piled up so high on top of too many things crushing love and goodness ‘til it is gone. I am on the ground kneeling at the installation of some stone and a photo slide - trying to see it closer. My memory of it is poor. And now in the room everything seems a bit fuzzy, busy, low light. I’ve tried as well as I can to get the bits of song into my phone, and I hope I have succeeded, but I have to go home. I find my friends to say I am. But stay out in the stairwell for a long time because I find I cannot go. I am too blurry, too tired. I am sitting on the stairs beyond the ‘private no entry’ sign and I am expecting to be told off. But I don’t care. I have not eaten properly and the wine has taken me captive. I see that the mounted coat rack has broken off the wall and all the coats and bags are now smattered all over the ground. I’ll have to wade through the massive pile to find my belongings. I will wait. I will sit for a moment with my phone of half written memoirs, the bits I remember, the bits that make me, only to be left wondering what is still out there floating. What I am still yet to find. When someone I know tells me of another thing or upturns debris covering up something from the past.

 And when I am ready I will take my salvaged coat and the black scarf that I hope is mine, and leave. To go back to my home. To my present. To the people and things I’ve been allowed to keep.

 …

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       Fragments of stories. My children’s rocking horse.

Victoria Arney’s Art (below) and website - http://www.victoriaarney.com/

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Fragments (of a new song) on my laptop screen.

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Later in the week when I listened to the recordings - they were very hard to hear- because of the people talking all around me at the gallery, but this is what I salvaged - it will evolve as i turn it into a full song

Fragments, I hold you here. In my heart and in my head. If you go, I fear I’ll disappear. A storm will wash away all the new ideas.


Fragments, I hold you here. In my heart and in my head. If I lose you, I fear I’ll disappear, I won’t know who I’ve been

But it feels like a wave has come, wash away the pain…… and it feels like a wave would help me start again…

Losing is what I want. But I come here and you help me find. All the fire I used to feel, you take away my fear

I’m not sure… where to live
I’m not sure…  how to feel

 (I’ll post a demo recording of it - when it is done!)  Becca x

Rebecca Boucher Burns.

Mar 25

Being the belle of one’s own ball

diary of an alt-pop mother - post no.3.

 

Did another show a little while ago. I wanted to pull out of it right up ‘til the moment we arrived. Oh dear.

Nerves I guess.

The venue itself was a basic, humble, black box - very much the classic rock venue, smelling of rotting wet beer mats and toilet cleaner now left unmasked from the smoking ban. Our hearts sank as the final band sound-checking rocked out ‘Long Tall Sally’ - and we hoped deeply that they were being ironic. But in some ways the ludicrous booking of us on this bill - if they were actually seriously going to play rock classics - started to make the performance fear inside me, less so. The booker’s necessary hype to get you to commit - losing it’s power.

People trickled in and the first act emerged. Ed. A one man act, winning us over immediately with his apologetic mumbling and fumbling of electrical leads and gadgets. Extracting samples for beats from objects and foot pedals with a sudden burst of washy synth and layers of his own mellow, soothing voice. I shut my eyes and took in the lush soundscape. And felt comforted.

We ourselves had a full band this time, I guess that’s why the nerves were so raw, it was to be something new - new people - yet again -  up on stage in front of everyone… humbling… but I guess things can’t become well worn without being new once. Each thing you try has to be at some point it’s debut.

To play the belle of the ball songs in a proper band context has been a desire for a while now - to pull together people and ideas less haphazardly, to create fresh new noise that can be ours to keep. But Mr Rights are hard to come by and … well we have found we are painfully shy.

So this one was the booking agents doing. Three months earlier I was emailed and asked if I wanted to do the gig as 'a band' or ‘a duo’ .

"aah…mmm….ahh" I said, the opportunity stood glaring at me "OK then! A BAND!" he says "Are you sure?"  I want to say ‘no’ but I say “yes” (‘hell why not’) knowing perfectly well why hell why not…. but the fact I’d made the promise meant I was now forced into doing something about it. Which is good for me it seems.

Over the next few months I asked two drummers, a bassist and three guitarists.

 I got three possible “Yes” s hanging in the air as “Maybe no” s - if their usual bands needed them, which they did. And one very enthusiastic “YES I’d LOVE to!” later to become a “Shit, no I really can’t! What gig? Who? I don’t even remember having that conversation, who are you again? Oh ha ha ha well then, I must have been drunk”.

hmm.

So the ‘London music-scene advice’ to find people to play with you by ‘getting out to pubs and gigs’ was not really… ‘working out’.

But the gig date was getting closer and I was finding that denial was not working either.

So… ending up at a Christmas house-party - wearing my charity shop find - a very bad oversized Christmas ‘band’ t-shirt and leggings - (only to find out once we’d arrived there was actually no dress theme) …but dressed like this - I found my confidence. I felt bold and bad in that kitchen disco jungle of jingle-bell dancers and I started shouting over the music asking random people if they played music and would they play in my band. And voila - I snagged a drummer! An unclaimed drummer! Fresh from three bands in New Zealand. I turned to Father Christmas beside me (Ben in full Santa suit) and we ‘cheers’ ed our glasses to the new year!


 Christmas madness over, no more excuses. Lucky T-shirt gone. New year. Closer now. Still no guitarist. Feeling deflated, one week to go. I could do it half assed with just Ben, me and Joe. Couldn’t I?
One step at a time? but I wanted a proper guitar thing going, a big sound, loud-ness. I wanted to try it. Try what was in my head.

 In my hour of need I turned to Josh.

Yes, my old and trusty guitarist band-mate from Australia! From my old band The Mercy Bell. And he was up for it. It wasn’t that I didn’t want him I just was trying to find new ways like I said, new blood, new sounds and trying to listen to that idea in me, but I know Josh is a great player and we have a well honed music foundation together and and and that he would want to and well he wrote the music to half of my new songs -  in my ‘new’ band anyway (!) So when he said he could do it - well, it was a great relief.

I will keep on thinking of what would be best for this new band, keep being brave. I need to make sure I allow myself to feel it is mine, and that that is ok, you know. That it’s up to me.

I am very much showing the fruits of coming out of a ‘long term band - relationship’ - and it feels important to tread carefully. It does not come naturally to me to be ‘in charge’ unapologetically. Our band was very much a democratic band set up, or at least that’s what we intended it to be. In my documentary (the one I’m making about us seven Boucher sisters) - one of my sisters Butterfly - who was bass player in The Mercy Bell (now a solo artist) - talks a bit about it :

Butterfly: There’s elements that I miss of being in The Mercy Bell of that… having these two or three other people that have been through everything with you and they fully understand when times have been bad and HOW bad they were and also the exciting times…the…ah… ….few…of them…? aah…  (we both laugh)

Becca: Ah… I think there was two… (exciting times)

more laughter

Butterfly: but errr …I know the freedom of being able to make a decision MYSELF - I get to make the final decision.  Doesn’t mean I don’t talk to anybody, I’ll still talk to two of my great friends <who> I’ll ring up…I’ll even talk to my A&R guy but it’s still my decision at the end of the day. I don’t have to work with other band mates that are indecisive or disagree, you know, it’s a lot harder to go with your gut feeling when you are in a band.

Becca: Mmm.

Butterfly: I’d love to see you do something where it is your thing. Where you choose the bloody drum beat that you want and don’t have to feel bad for it! Yeah! I would love to see you do that to see how far you push yourself … it’s even more fulfilling if you make great decisions and for some reason it’s not as devastating if you make the wrong decision.

Becca: Yeah ‘cos there’ll be no-one saying I told you so (if they’ve had to compromise)

Butterfly: Yeah - or “Should have gone with THAT person’s decision”, <instead> it’s like “well, yeah so I made a mistake …whoops”. I’ve made lots.

2013, Butterfly is now not with her (major record) label and even though grateful for all the good during that time - tears of joy and relief and pent up ‘holding it together’ flowed for her at it’s end. For it is too easy to end up in a place where you feel like you are being dragged along by something that some how came to have a life of it’s own - that is not yours anymore - it seems to be about everyone and everything else and you end up trapped and resenting it. My own experience of being signed, having management etc often felt like this. But really in any field - any personal venture can turn out like this, where you feel you are putting your whole heart into it still as it is your baby, but with little sense of authority anymore or freedom…or… nail in the coffin - credit. And so when you are finally ready, you brave it and start again. Tweaking it. Doing things slightly differently this time round.

I was hesitant to work on this new music even with my husband. Because I was scared that this part of my life mattered too much to me - so it just wouldn’t work with him. I would struggle and be mean… because he is my husband, if you understand. Thought we’d argue.

But eventually we said stuff it and did it anyway and I remember in our first rehearsal thinking “Oh I LIKE this!” I think it was that I had him all to myself, focused on something that mattered to us both, getting on with something! Together! I was thrilled!

And we both always try to be on our best behaviour of course. Food. Eating food helps.

We also purposefully decided to uphold enjoyment of it this time as important.

Night of rehearsal, four days to go. The poor drummer Joe had his first true London travel experience of getting to the ‘other side of town’ taking ‘forever’. But once over the thresh-hold we handed him a London Pride and a bowl of crisps and all was well as we crammed together in our lounge and played through the songs with tea towels on the drums and amplifiers turned down to an acceptable, middle-class, leafy street, suburban level.

Our kids came and went - saying hello and asking me for food mid song and I - in response - pointed animatedly towards the kitchen (still singing) suggesting ‘help yourself options’ in between lyrics.

"Well maybe you

and lights are to be turned on

could make some toast?

and floors are to be trod upon

Oh I don’t know ah

my arm is to be held on to

huh? an apple?

to be there for you

(non nod) yeah an apple’s good

and pain is to be trusted..

we’ll eat dinner after we’re finished ok?

And Oh I think I’m wasted if I don’t, if I don’t

I just want to

yep that’s great bub

be happy, be happy…

Ok, anyone for more crisps?

Josh’s array of stringed instruments and electronic boxes were sounding good (and new!) as I encouraged more dirtiness and gave him permission to experiment. And we breathed a sigh of relief as New Joe - temporarily drum-kit-less and rather tall - sat bent over the only drum kit we could get our hands on - a child sized one - and bashed out with ease and energy good, steady beats that made the songs drive along gratefully.

 The owner of the small drum kit - a 7 yr old friend of ours - had been more than happy to lend it to us - it seemed he was thrilled to have his drum kit played by ‘a real band’!

It is always nice to be seen as a real band.

I remember going on telly in Australia with The Mercy Bell and them treating us like we were a real band, special you know. Like we were people who deserved the Green Room - full of coffee and treats to eat (and perhaps take home? yeah? yeah?)… so fun. We weren’t often treated like that in any other aspects of our band life and work so we lapped it up. Ah…Channel 9’s Kerri-Anne Kennerley’s Midday show. Highlight of my career.

 

Back then I did feel like I was in a real band, I was the real deal. This time round I don’t feel like it’s particularly real at all yet. The whole move back into it still feels quite surreal.

Mostly, right now when I finally get to the event - I feel like a rabbit caught in the headlights, I can’t get away so I am forced to become a dancing rabbit, to survive. I instinctively don my old top hat and cane, it feels familiar but not fully me yet. Not quite right yet. A dancing rabbit? Whaaat? No wonder it feels surreal for me if I’m saying I feel like I’m a dancing rabbit on stage….sorry… just go with it. So I do my old tricks and attempt some new ones - ok so I’m not going to be a rabbit now it’s stupid. I’m a singer….

…the sound of the band surrounds me on the box black stage wailing it’s way along to the wrong beats for the wrong songs, we are laughing and driving with nervous energy - the songs to places we hadn’t rehearsed and emotions til then untapped - the sudden howling crunchy guitar and responding thumping drums takes me away from over-thinking and into where I’m meant to be

"for if she has to choose, don’t tell her what to do, for if she has to choose, don’t teeeeeelll her whaaaaat to do"

 I want to cry, at the lyrics, at the feeling found from this music and I know it’s what I miss.

In the spotlight of the headlights we had all donned our performing rabbit hats (yes, back to rabbits on road, car coming etc) from our four individual past lives - to distract and dance our way out of trouble to the other side of the road. And it was a wild ride.

The wildness will go but hopefully not completely. Cos I like wild. I like laughing at the seriousness. On stage. Even though it’s still a bit unfamiliar to me, I like it, I like new, it is very much alive.

 

In the old warren, years ago we achieved a lot, got through a lot, but it got a bit crowded and we needed to leave. In the captivity we had found ourselves in we fought and fought not to be tamed and it exhausted us, we collapsed in our cage. Then the cage door was opened. We were hesitant, sniffing at the ground. Wow this rabbit analogy really has endless possibilities! Josh hopped out (Dale escaped with his rabbit wife ages before - when we changed from our small cage (Aus record label) to our bigger cage (USA Record label) - feeling like it was no place for a family of bunnies to be born) So finally, in London Butterfly hopped out. And I, now able to, free of letting down my other mates, hopped out too.

I ate of the grass for a while, then my husband (my buck) and I travelled back to Australia and had some bunnies (small litter of two - hehe)  in our sunny, warm warren for a bit….then I got a bit hungry to run (jump, ah what ever it is they do…dash?) dash with my dashing buck back to wider UK fields again.

But it’s scary and complicated starting off into the wild again, especially with bunnies at your heels tripping you over and asking you for marigold flowers and shit and having bunny tantrums just as you’re trying to get out the warren door clearly in a hurry.

 

It will continue to slowly evolve, this new music of mine, reveal itself to me, as to what it actually is. And perhaps for now I will just strive to have no definates, no taking for granteds and make sure I keep a certain hold on it, keep it mine.

Harmony, another singing sister of mine - when asked (in an article) what her personal ‘motto’ was - she said You are the only one who is 100% invested in your career. Don’t ever forget that but appreciate those who invest anything in to it too.

I quite like that. It shifts it around a bit in my head, in my heart. Authority, blame, power, freedom all so heavily related to expectation. It is wisdom hanging like a carrot before me…. hee hee that really is so stupid… let me chew on it for a while…oh man… and to think I’m a song writer….shameful. 

.

Relevant Links  -

Video of Belle of the Ball (us) - performing ‘Further’ - the song I quoted from, at the gig I spoke of - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-86duILS8g

Butterfly Boucher - https://soundcloud.com/butterflyboucher/03-not-fooling-around

Ed (the one man act) - https://soundcloud.com/eddowie/may-for-a-dead-queen-1

Harmony’s band - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bax_aoFIpGs

Ben’s music/soundscape - http://www.myspace.com/mrbenjaminburns

For Belle of the Ball news/shows/recordings/bio keep reading these blogs (psst pass it on) and visit us at :

https://www.facebook.com/rebeccaboucherburns

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image tee hee xx

Mar 25

I quote from this song and talk about this gig - in my third blog for diary of an alt pop mother - “Being the belle of one’s own ball.”

Feb 14

the belle tolls midnight


diary of an alt pop mother - post no. 2.

Last night I lay in bed for hours, I couldn’t move for fear of waking my husband, as our typical English bedroom is so small – my side of the bed is crammed up against a wall I can’t escape from. In these hours I wrote part of the sequel to my novel, a couple of songs, some poignant thoughts on the world and a perfect plan for my life.

Shame I can’t remember any of it this morning.

I have before tried to slide out between the bed head and the wall but although I have the physique of my ex-ballerina mother, I would not want to spend the rest of the night stuck like this - willing Ben and his big shoulders to turn in his sleep to jiggle the bed enough with his movement to free me.

 Once I tried having my mobile phone on the floor under the bed – at the ready for ‘ideas’ - I had one…felt around in the dark and after finding odd socks, a cold hot water bottle and a (noisy) plastic bag full of clothes still needing to be taken to a charity shop (or sold on ebay, shyeah right!)  I found my phone and whispered a song into it, the words weren’t hugely decipherable the next day (it is a ‘vintage’ phone) but it sounded intriguing and cool, so much so that to sing it properly at full volume it would definitely lose most of it’s charm. Gypped again.

My dad gave me a hand-held tape recorder years ago, he has used one all his life to capture song ideas mid flow. Mine collects dust on the shelf because Ben or one of the kids has used the batteries out of it for something or rather (probably… they sit dead now in our camera, while we take dodgy photos instead on our phones.) but yes it sits there waiting for me. The cassette I filled on it before the batteries died is surely riddled with HIT songs. A record company’s dream tape. When I’m dead someone will discover it, that kind of thing.

 I know, I know, I should record my belle songs better but I also like them the way they are - ‘lo-fi demos’ that haven’t entered the chinese whispers chain yet to find out what they can be. They will, they will.

I did organise the beginnings of a ‘proper’ album when we visited Australia last year - with a friend who’s life story and ‘place he was at’ resonated with our own - a little too closely I’m afraid. The amount of hours spent away from the record button tending the children we shared between us or distracted by the internet from lack of sleep and an inability to focus on one task (recording) left us with half finished, half-assed attempts at songs that now sit un-useable somewhere on our laptop’s hard-drive.

Still, I carry a sort of blame.

I carry a sense of guilt, that it is my fault things don’t get done, that it is up to me. It once used to infuriate my sister (with no children yet) - my wishes - my complaints - my inaction. But I think she gets it now. We thought we had become so different but actually, we both have so many ideas and options in our head (mostly things we have to create from scratch) that we’ve ended up feeling much the same.  I know it is about getting on with the things on our inner lists but how? I home school. I home cook. I home work. I home…live - all day long I am here. If I leave – I have to leave our computer – (the one the whole family uses), at home. If I want to meet people, record an album, in a place other than my own house, I have to find that somewhere and that other somewhere to deposit my children so I can find it. After doing that - any energy urging me on has gone.

I asked Ben last night at midnight where it is he has lived that he was the happiest. I’m not sure he gave me a final answer, but we discussed Australian beaches, homes in the mountains, we pondered cities and cools things that make them worth their while.

London. Wandering through an ‘invisible’ art exhibition. Sitting in the rainbow sandpit on the South Bank - with friends and a jug of ale precariously balancing on the ledge of the Thames River railing. Shouting over the voices of our playing children, skate-boarders attempting tricks behind us, business people browsing 10 metre long trestle-tables of second hand books beside us, theatre and dance pieces going on without us.

We wondered if we’d miss it. If indeed existing in a wooden house on stilts in the sand would leave us wanting.

I would have room to get out of my bed.

I’d still have to creep carefully to avoid squeaky floor boards near kid’s bedrooms. But once I was outside on the verandah - I could sing my budding songs to a sky absolutely full of stars. And out in the warmth of the late evening air I would capture what it is that is in my heart, my head, the many paths we take, the decisions so often made for us, despite us, and probably sit there wondering

when the next one might happen

for any local bell striking midnight - there would be a thousand in London. Ringing on into the night without me, but this time - would my glass shoe, in the bottom of my wardrobe, be beckoning me back again?

Will I always have my two matching shoes on separate sides of the world?

It seems I am loathe to put both feet down… anywhere… so I will just have to learn how to balance on one foot a little better. one foot at a time.

very                                          slow                                                steps.

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Invisible Art, Hayward Gallery, London. Photo by Jessica Wu.

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A British Brew in the Rainbow Sandpit, London. Photo by Jessica Wu.

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Ben recording accordian track, me being arty, Gosford, Australia.

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Bronte beach, Sydney, Australia. 

and lastly…

 Here’s a painting I did ages ago - with some lyrics from an old song of mine.

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Show me you care, whisper in my ear, tenderly you care

Show me you care, whisper in my ear, speak so I can hear

Maybe this time we’re not right, if we could count the stars…

maybe this time we’re not right.

If we could count the stars, if we could count the stars…

then maybe.

Rebecca Boucher Burns.

Becca will be playing a short solo set of her Belle of the Ball songs at this event soon : https://www.facebook.com/events/447748161964252/

Nov 17

I am not the belle of the ball

diary of an alt-pop mother - post no.1

After the other night I knew it was time for me to start. To do this blog. To give insight into how my alt-pop music life, as a mother, in London, rolls.

It doesn’t roll very easily.

 

South East London, 1950’s era terrace house, pink carpet. Getting ready for gig (plus last minute rehearsal). Putting all my makeup and stage wear into a grabbed plastic bag while getting the kids to get their shoes and coats on (never quick) with husband (fellow band mate)’s help. Gathering together the smallest instruments we could find to take on the bus because our car was made un-roadworthy last month. Finally out the door and running down a hill in Greenwich near our house, to the bus (slight shower of rain) 4pm.

Wait for bus.

On bus.

Off bus onto tube.

On tube.

Off tube onto Rail.  Wow this is taking a long time.

Off Rail, past homeless man asking for money – it troubles my daughter that I don’t give him any money and she asks me why – I start to say how giving money to him doesn’t really help the actual problem…while calling my son to get down from the wall… my husband has just answered his phone and my daughter then suggests that maybe the man is pretending to have no money and he is actually rich. I say ‘but sitting out in the cold asking for money would not be a very fun thing to choose to do if you are rich’. She says ‘it’s not that cold’. I attempt to elaborate on the plight of the homeless as we cross the busy crossing in Hackney Central but I feel that her reason alone will allow her heart to feel ok about it. We carry on in our warm coats and scarves through the back streets of the East end to my sister’s house.

House mad with children, an hour after we said we’d be there, we shove down a cup of tea, say goodnight to the kids (my daughter is okay now about staying there, and us going to our gig, phew) – we get our instruments, plastic bags and rock n roll asses back on the bus.

5.30.

Starting to feel a little disheartened now. Vibes shared between the band mates (the two of us) not so great. Feel bit tired. Ben hasn’t really wanted to do this gig at all. He generally doesn’t want to do any gigs we get. A musician who doesn’t really like playing. So this whole trek is not really giving the idea any big ticks. Between my sister’s house and the bus-stop Ben loses me. Or I lose him, either way I feel abandoned (with all the instruments) and annoyed that I probably won’t get to eat dinner before our show now ‘cos we are even later. Requested sorry’s and sorting out occurs. On bus trying to let it go. Each minute/bus stop goes past, when are we gonna be there? Why am I doing this again? Do I really want to? Suddenly my old band mate (who’s just come back to London from Australia) texts me saying “hey I’m already there! (at the venue) It was much quicker than I thought it would be!” Yay for him! His life is so different to mine now. He has no kids, he has just rocked up to play on one song for us. His enthusiasm and happiness to play with us tonight though will go far and I appreciate it. The bus is still going. Almost all energy and hope has seeped from me. We arrive. 6.10pm.

 The promoter seems nice (relief), we get a sound check (bonus) during which I play ukelele really badly and Ben sings off really badly and I feel like we are actually crap - but when I go to the loos - the other performer is in tears on the phone to her boyfriend about her keyboard not working properly and I feel a bit better. I offer her our tiny casio if she wants it. I get dressed and put my make-up on in this here – my usual ‘dressing room’– the girl’s toilets’ hand-basin area.

People we know and even some facebookers start to arrive! This is never something we take for granted so it’s quite nice, but I feel very nervous. Ben has bought some food and I pick at it and attempt to drink my ale. I chat with my ‘I’m about to perform so I am elsewhere’ eyes to the various guests from random parts of our lives, until it’s time to go on.

We have an accordian, two tiny casios, a tiny guitar (ukelele) a tiny xylophone, and a tiny set list (6 songs) 6 hours of effort for 6 songs…for no pay…ah sorry, for 6 drink tokens. And it goes well. Ben sings really so off again, in the same song as in our sound check, that I just have to make a face and laugh - the audience erupts with me and suddenly they are there in our lounge with us, laughing and listening to us singing and playing our songs, in our lo-fi pop, lo-fi performance kind of way. Dipping and diving with us through the emotions of the songs, sad and hopeful. Ben throwing out his good vibes and piano notes, and me consciously depending on my singing voice to distract from the fact that I have only played the ukulele twice, ever, in my life. It is good for me to be challenged. Before - in The Mercy Bell, I only did what I was good at… now I feel embarrassed, relieved, confident. New shoes, Old hat. I’m still not sure how I feel about it all.

I sing

“I can feel it creeping under the door and into our room… and I… can’t face the day. I have everything I want, I want no more, no more”

It’s as much untruthful as it is truthful. Now, and back then in America when I wrote those lyrics - about Ben… and about my working life. Home vs ‘out there’. About having to leave my safe place with him to face a day of songwriting with strangers and red herring promises from music industry people. In a town where it felt like so many people had given up on being true to what it’s all about. Like little lambs we did what we were told, slowly dying inside, losing our way as a band, as artists. Still sends a shiver down my spine.

Here I am, safe with you, it is good. Out there, there is such great expectation, that I feel really afraid, overwhelmed…

“Won’t you walk with me around the garden, hold my hand in yours, keep it warm, keep it warm, ‘cos I… don’t want to go.”

Now, procrastination and fear, it holds me here, but so does this love, this warmth, it is the only thing that really makes sense, and it’s done. Yes, I already have it. I already have Ben, my children. All else is elusive, all else makes me want to crawl inside myself and not move, wishing indeed that I didn’t want anything more. I don’t want to make this happen. I don’t want to go.

Big applause and it’s all over.

I’m off the stage.

I ask Ben for my other drink token that he was looking after and he says he is sorry but …he gave it away.

It’s not the first time that something I really thought was mine has been given away.

I am only ever the belle of this ball….for such fleeting moments.

But here I am… dusting off my dance card …collecting names and promises…

again.

 

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 Rebecca Boucher Burns (and Benjamin Burns), Belle of the Ball, London.

https://www.facebook.com/rebeccaboucherburns

https://www.facebook.com/events/114250022080685/ (GIG COMING UP)

http://belleoftheballtheband.tumblr.com/

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