FyreSky, Silent Jack and Terminus at The Wheatsheaf, Oxford, 25th August 2017

IMG_6061.JPGThere was a small horde of three people waiting to get in upstairs at the Wheatsheaf tonight. This kind of  bank holiday weekend keenness set the mood for the rest of the evening. It was a friendly bunch who came through the doors and got the usual “The Wheatsheaf ate my Baby” hand stamp from the lovely Lou.

FyreSky kicked us off nice and heavily. I recommend checking out their track Thunder Child on You Tube. A massive congratu-well done to the bass player for finding time to put on some serious make-up before coming out tonight. Earlier this week Terminus had suggested if people are in a rush after work that they just wash the three F’s then hasten to the pub.

Next up we had Silent Jack who are hard rockers from Birmingham. These guys gave great medley within their song “Love Factory”. There was a bit of Alice Cooper, a bit of Warrant, and much more besides, getting us in the mood for Terminus’s covers to come. I started to get interested in the idea of a Love Factory and wondered how many employees are in this factory? Is there a cafeteria? What’s the pension plan like? Is there time off at Christmas? I like music that makes me think. I also enjoyed the song “Too Many Women”. I counted how many women were present during this song. There were seven. You can check out Silent Jack on Reverbnation. It’s feel good bouncey stuff.

Terminus Set List.jpgPre-gig Terminus had the usual conversation about not speeding up towards the end of the songs, with everyone thinking everyone else does it but they don’t. Perhaps it’s an inevitable part of life that when engaged in doing something pleasurable chaps will speed up towards the end.

Terminus’s set tonight had a bit of a school disco feel. A lot of the audience had seen Terminus before and knew what to expect. I like watching the ebb and flow of the crowd, watching people’s faces change when one of their favourite songs gets played. My faves tonight were Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction’s “Prime Mover” (a great song from an under-rated artist) and Black Pistol Fire’s “Suffocation Blues” (Dean has started using his mike lead to suggest a strangle-wank during this song). I loved watching the dancing to Rose Tattoo’s “Sweetmeat”. The grind, wiggle wiggle seems to be catching on.

Terminus next play the Wheatsheaf on the 30th December and it should be a very fun  New Year’s Eve Eve Party so pop over to Facebook and add yourself to the event.

 

 

Free Christmas Short Stories ebook 19th to 21st August

TtTYtC Cover 6Sept2015I’ve written a book of 24 short stories about Christmas and made it free to download this weekend on Amazon. Just use the links below if you’d like a copy (links open in a new window):

Tales to Take You to Christmas UK link

Tales to Take You to Christmas US link

It is also free on all the other Amazon sites.

I got the idea for the book when I was looking for an unusual advent calendar for my mum. I decided that if I wrote 24 short stories, it would be an advent calendar in book form.

I took inspiration for the cover from a page of one of my favourite Ladybird books. Ladybird books are some of the first books I read. My dad used to bring me one home on a Friday night when he got paid. He inspired my love of reading. I enjoyed designing the cover and took inspiration from the Ladybird book “The Stories Of Our Christmas Customs”. All of the decorations used for my book cover have hung on either my parents’ or grandparents’ Christmas trees when I was a child.

LadybirdXmas

LadybirdDecorations

 

Below are the first pages of four of my Christmas stories. Follow That Star TonightThe BellLateNightThursdayIfIHadAMagicWand

 

Terminus and Pandamönium at Fat Lils, Witney, Saturday 12th August 2017

Terminus are back in Witney less than a month after their date with Stone Trigger and the Sykko Dollz. They play two new songs tonight so the set feels both fresh and familiar to the Terminus faithful.

The first new song is Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak. For ages the lyric “Tonight there’s gonna be a jailbreak, somewhere in this town” has made me think “Somewhere? It’ll happen at the jail surely, what are the other venue options?” but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a song about a metaphorical jailbreak, a break from the working week and the constraints of normal life.

WitneyCallingAnimalThere was a minor rock and roll moment when part way through second new song, Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, Dean kicked his music stand and A4 lyrics folder with Animal from The Muppets on into the crowd like he’s a stationery based version of Paul Simonon from The Clash. Edgy!

Terminus played the stuff that they’ve learnt over the past three years of gigging gets their crowd going. They opened with The Cult’s Lil’ Devil. They gave us what is fast becoming their signature tune, Rose Tattoo’s Sweetmeat, with the grind, wiggle, wiggle dance and the lyric “I like to bite it, I like to roll it in my teeth”. I think this refers to Angry Anderson’s modus operandi when eating a Drumstick lolly.  Drumstick.jpg

There was some great “Oi!” shouting from the crowd during AC/DC’s TNT and then during Whole Lotta Rosie I noticed that Dean, who had previously been very up close and personal with the crowd, singing lines at individual members, dishing out high fives, politely stared dead ahead for “she ain’t exactly pretty, she ain’t exactly small”. This could have been totes awks if his singing to specific people had continued. Rumour has it that Dean has been asked to contribute a chapter to Debrett’s upcoming book “Social Etiquette for Lead Singers”.

The Kiss cover Detroit Rock City for a moment created Witney Rock City* and Terminus closed with Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name. I love this song and having my old mate Gareth next to me and us dancing like it’s still the 1990s was a treat and a tonic.

Headline act Pandamönium came onstage to the Steptoe and Son theme tune (and this made me think of the days when Charlie Mouse would come onstage to the song A Windmill In Old Amsterdam).

You can trust Pandamönium to do metal because they’ve got an umlaut. They opened with Michael Schenker’s Armed And Ready. They followed this with a meaty version of Judas Priest’s Grinder. I’d also like to hear a vegetarian option of this song, lyrically along the lines of “Grinder! Looking for chickpeas to make houmous, Grinder! You can get all the protein you need from plants actually”.

ACCEPT_BALLS+TO+THE+WALL-422987
Are Pandamönium’s legs this hairy?

Accept’s Balls to the Wall sounded hairy. Sabbath’s Children Of The Grave galloped along, with James Knapp’s bass expertly herding us through this classic. AC/DC’s Live Wire was a good choice, as was Priest’s Metal Gods. I find I’m humming cowbell heavy Hair Of The Dog by Nazareth today, Gareth Kerry having percussed it superbly and Mark Cunningham’s vocal embroidery proving as florid as his Western shirt**. Guitarists Liam and John wearing Terminus vests provided a handy hint for the audience to remind them which of the personnel were in both Pandamönium and Terminus.

 

It’s my first time in a while hearing Sabbath’s Country Girl and Priest’s The Rage. Pandamönium have chosen some less well covered stuff because they love it and who can argue with that decision? They played a set with some surprises rather than the obvious. A few people wanted to be able to buy a Pandamönium T-shirt so I hope this happens in future, they have a very cute and spiky logo.

 

The gig in brief:

Number of Motörhead T-shirts in venue: 3

Number of Terminus T-shirts/vests in venue: 5 (not counting the ones sat patiently on the merch stall waiting for a new owner).

Number of Belly Dancers in venue: 2

 

*Yeah, Witney is a town, this is a confusion that happened before with the Sleaze in The City tour, but what you don’t know is that when I go to Witney I take a very, very small cathedral in my pocket, thus rendering it a city for a short while.

**Embroidery is so on trend this season.

OXROX ALIVE Festival Saturday 5th August 2017

OXROX Alive.jpgYesterday I saw Blaze Bayley sing Wolfsbane’s epic song Manhunt at OXROX ALIVE Festival and I briefly felt like it was 1989 again. The lyric “Ooh! They’ve got their dresses tight! Gonna set this town alight!” made me smile. They don’t write ’em like that any more. The heavy metal pantomime that is Blaze Bayley must have grabbed a whole grove of invisible oranges during his performance. He whipped the crowd up like he was making butterscotch Angel Delight. He was ably assisted by his backing band, who are splendid in their own right as Absolva when BB isn’t on board. He left me wanting more, so I shall have to go and see him again.

I didn’t see all the bands because I was gossiping in the sunshine (I did hear them all from my spot on the grass and it was all marvellous metal as far as my ears could hear). I ventured inside to the attractively curtained* club house for noisy duo My Diablo who are basically two men with the energy and volume of four. I also watched Desert Storm. I’ve seen them perhaps ten times now and they are always musically tight and doomily satisfying.

IMG_5816.JPG
Heavy Metal Panda welcomes pink Fl’obble to her new home

I also became aware of the great work done by the Rock Against Child Pornography and Abuse UK (RAPCA UK) charity and purchased a Fl’obble from them that matches my hair. I had a great time at this intimate festival and I got chips. This is the life!

 

 

*My Nan used to work in Co-op’s soft furnishings department so I notice these details.

 

The gig in brief:

Number of women having their dresses tight: Lots, including me.

Number of women setting the town alight: 0 (All us women with our dresses tight got into a little huddle and decided we didn’t want to get the festival organisers in trouble by going on a fiery rampage).

Number of crisps flavours available behind bar: 6, plus Smarties were available so I had some of those.

Phrase I giggled most after saying: “Can I offer you a small handful?”

Kindle Book Freebie The Very Metal Diary Of Cleo Howard 1997

VMD97The Very Metal Diary Of Cleo Howard 1997 is free on Kindle* until the end of the month.

It contains the thoughts of fifteen year old Cleo, who is growing up in Reading in the 90s, loving metal, disliking the Spice girls and being fascinated by boys.

I like the idea of this book going on holiday with people! If you do read it somewhere exciting I’d love to hear about it.

The Amazon link to download the book in the UK is The Very Metal Diary Of Cleo Howard 1997 UK

The Amazon link to download the book in the US is The Very Metal Diary Of Cleo Howard 1997 US

It is also free on other countries Amazon sites, just search for the title and it will appear.

Happy reading!

*You don’t need a Kindle to read the book, you can also get a Kindle app for your phone or tablet or use Kindle for PC.

Kindle for PC

Kindle for Android phone

Kindle for iphone and ipad

 

Terminus, Sykko Dollz and Stone Trigger, The Lounge, Archway 23rd July 2017

Towel Panda
Heavy Metal Panda has a pink towel

Waking in Wolverhampton I feel sad that it’s the last day of the tour already. Today is the London date that no tour would be complete without and so we’re off to The Lounge, Archway, London after breakfast which is a fun meal. There are a few bleary eyes about and, thinking about hangovers, I’m reminded of the old Elvira joke;

“How’s your head?”

“I’ve never had any complaints”.

I have a partial English (I’m not a sausage fan, contrary to what you might have heard) and a black cherry yogurt. After breakfast and freshening up Heavy Metal Panda decided to be the first panda in history to ever leave an extra towel in a hotel.

We do more standing about in a car park. We realise the Terminus vehicles are going to be cramped so Emmy, Heavy Metal Panda and I get to go to London with Gaz of the Sykko Dollz and his lovely wife Helen. Part way through the journey Heavy Metal Panda is a bit star struck, thinking it a privilege to hear great vocalist Gaz singing along to Absolute Rock radio. We get to Archway first and have a cosy meal in McDonalds before everyone else arrives.

AlbaThe venue is plush. There is a glitterball and a celebrity sound guy, Danny Felice from Breed 77. On the journey from Wolvo I’d said “I wonder if we’ll see any celebs in London, apart from the ones we’re taking with us of course”. I take a picture of a mural of a woman in her undies on the wall. Alan explains this is Jessica Alba and he describes her talents, looking wistful. Alba, if you’re reading, I think you might be in there.

Soundcheck is fast and precise. Doors open at 8:00 and Terminus take to the stage at 8:30. Some Oxford locals have come out to see them which is much appreciated. Terminus play a short set that includes Rose Tattoo’s “Sweetmeat” (otherwise known as the grind wiggle wiggle song), Kiss’s “Detroit Rock City” and they finish with Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World”. It’s the highest stage they’ve ever played on. John’s hat is very sweaty after. I don’t assess the sweatiness of the rest of the band because that would be weird.

Next up we have the Sykko Dollz. They play only their original material tonight. I’m at the front with the Dollz faithful singing and dancing along. I really need the Dollz to get into the studio and record. I’d love to have been able to take these songs home with me. The crowd is jolly and a section of it keeps breaking out into a chorus of “You’re so vain”. The dancing to “Riding All Night” is as suggestive as that in Terminus’s grind wiggle wiggle song.

Headline act Stone Trigger round off the weekend with an enthusiasm impressive for chaps performing for the fourth time in a row. I’ve developed a deep fondness for the tracks “Rattle Your Bones” and “Children of the Night”. You can get their album from Stone Trigger Big Cartel and become fond of them yourself.

I have Stone Trigger’s Tommy to thank for making me feel like I was back at the Queens Arms, Oxford in 1989, because he was in the ladies’ loo, doing his eyeliner. When I first began frequenting rock pubs there were always blokes in the ladies’ using the mirror. I overheard Sykko Dollz singer Gaz say “Was there a dressing room? I was still in my boxers when punters were coming through the door, I was putting on more of a show than I should have been”. Further glamour was added to the evening when we spotted beautiful alternative model Dani Divine. This inspired Emmy  to attempt to teach John and Alan to walk like a model. More work is needed on this project.

Everyone
Sleaze In The City Tour Class Of 2017

Now the sad bit. Goodbyes. I think of the Dr Seuss quote; “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened”. Helen echoes my thoughts when she says she wishes we could create a heavy metal island to all live together on and never have to go to work. Music is escapism. It’s what makes the boring bits of life bearable. It’s what accompanies our celebrations. It’s what brings people together. It’s what thunders through the veins of all the Sunday night gig goers. It’s what makes us feel alive and in the moment. It leaves us better than it found us. It becomes part of us.

Heavy Metal Panda and I would like to thank everyone for a wonderful weekend.

 

The gig in brief

Most disturbing sentence of the night: “It’s time to go home”.

Number of Motörhead T shirts in the venue: 1.

Number of middle aged men enrolled in Emmy’s model school: 2.

Number of crisps flavours available behind bar: 0. The bar man told me they used to have crisps but they don’t now. I think the people who usually come to this venue are probably too cool to eat crisps in a bar.

Terminus, Sykko Dollz and Stone Trigger, The Giffard Arms, Wolverhampton, 22nd July 2017

IMG_5407Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny in Evesham. My husband and I had spent the night in single beds due to a slight mix up when booking. The Terminus camp decided to seek out a fry-up and were successful in the Old Swanne Inn Wetherspoons. We were the loudest customers and the ones wearing the least beige. I chose pancakes with maple syrup. They were microwaved to near perfection. Next we did a lot of standing about in a car park. It’s not a proper tour if you don’t do this. We then began a drive from Evesham to Wolverhampton. It’s the first time in Wolverhampton for three-fifths of Terminus and for me. I’m keen to see the sights because I love the TV series Raised By Wolves.

wolvesHere’s a quote from Della, the Mum in Raised By Wolves; “Underage clubbing was the making of me. If I hadn’t vomited my guts up on cheap cider night after night and been punched hard in the tit by a Goth in a mosh pit I wouldn’t be the woman I am today”.

Also, Wolverhampton has got some great rock history. Tyla (Dog’s D’amour, Spike & Tyla’s Hot Knives, The Tyla J. Pallas Band) hails from Wolverhampton and Noddy Holder has an honorary degree from the University of Wolverhampton.

“Out of darkness cometh light” is the city’s motto. While I was there it was mostly darkness and rain so I did minimal sightseeing.  I saw the view from the hotel window (of a skip, a roundabout and a funeral directors), a Betfred, a pub called The George Wallis, and the splendid venue The Giffard Arms. I’m making a promise to myself to go back to Wolverhampton and do it properly one day.

WolvoTerminus kicked off Saturday night by playing a set of classic partying tunes. It’s the Zodiac Mindwarp “Prime Mover” cover that does it for me time after time. The intro is amazing. I’m with Dean as he proclaims “We shall be drunken stars, we shall fear nothing, demand the impossible, dream your destiny” and then he gives us “defy the logic of alphabets” and I start wondering how I’d write anything without an alphabet. But he’s carrying on with “I slayed the king of the wolves, nothing is impossible” and then I wonder if the wolves have a new king now, since it must have been about 1988 when Zodiac Mindwarp first slayed him.

DollzWolvoNext I witnessed the hair magic happen for Neil of the Sykko Dollz. The awesome hair stylist Alex Barker soon had Neil’s mohawk stiffer than a gin with no tonic, more upstanding than a 1980s teenage boy with the Kays catalogue open on the underwear section, and greener than an apprentice who goes on an errand to buy tartan paint. Sykko Dollz look great onstage against the red velvet curtains. Gaz’s contact lenses add an otherworldly edge to his face. It’s my third time seeing the Dollz and I’ve moved closer to the front since Thursday and started singing along with all the choruses. The Dollz faithful are out in force and are a very friendly bunch.

Tommy WolvoHeadline act Stone Trigger are full of class and professionalism tonight. During a minor mike issue Tommy leads a singalong of Bon Jovi. He doesn’t lose the crowd for a picosecond. He moves about the stage constantly, letting everyone in the room get a look and a listen. This band are superb at songs with the noise “woah-oh” in. You need this kind of music on a Saturday.

All too soon it’s load out down metal stairs in the rain. I start humming to myself and I realise I’ve re-purposed Marillion’s “We’re just sugar mice in the rain” lyric  to “We’re just metal stairs in the rain”.

It’s hard to leave the venue because it has everything there should be in a pub; great music, friendly bar staff, JD Honey, the traditional installation in any pub’s ladies’ loo on a Saturday night of a woman assuring her mate she isn’t going to text her ex later.

The ladies’ loos in The Giffard Arms have cubicles with doors marked Goddess, Vamp and Mistress. I was going to go in Goddess but went in Vamp because there was tiny bit of sick in Goddess. Emmy went in Goddess when it was clean. I wonder which is most popular?…

The gig in brief

Most disturbing sentence of the night: “We’re not taking orders because our chef has to go out”. I nearly got hangry.

Number of Motörhead T shirts in the venue: 3.

Number of Elvira pictures in the venue: 1.

Number of crisps flavours available behind bar: The bar had sweets and crisps available. Sweets top trump crisps any day.