Monday 9 October 2023

Something to make you smile

There are many terrible things that we can't change in the world, much as we'd love to. I was struggling to think of what on earth I could write? What might change anything? Then I saw a tweet and it put a smile on my face. I thought "You know what, if I can put a smile on one persons face today, then it will have been worth waking up and getting out of bed" so here it is. Just watch this for a few seconds.

Sometimes, all we can do is try and make people smile. I believe we all have a mission/purpose in life and we are all put here for a reason. That mission is not always clear to us. Sometimes, we never realise what it is/was. Sometimes we only realise years/decades later we've made a difference. This was brought home to me a few years ago, when I attended a school reunion. A friend of Indian heritage, who I'd not seen for decades was there. We were chatting away, when he told me that when we were at school, he thought everyone hated him because he was Indian. One day he was being picked on, when I saw what was going on. I went over to the bully and said "If you want to pick on someone, pick on me. Don't let me catch you doing this again (expletives deleted)". It was the moment he realised that he had mates who would stick up for him. It made a huge difference. I was shocked when he told me. He'd always been a good laugh and it had never occurred to me that he felt like that. Just speaking up when you should can make a big difference. I asked him if the kid who was bullying him did it again after that. He said it stopped completely. 

It made me think. How many times do we do things that make a change and we never really know? I never wanted thanks for doing it. I was just looking out for a mate. Sometimes my mates have looked out for me. I am blessed. When my Mum passed away, one particluar mate took me out for a Thai meal and a few beers. It made a huge difference to me. A few years later, I told him how important it had been to have a good chat. He said he'd been surprised how OK I was. What he didn't realise was that I wasn't at all, I was putting on a brave face, but he'd helped pull me out of a hole. Recently, when I was recovering from cancer surgery, friends asked us over to stay at their Villa in France for a few days to recuperate. Again, it made a big difference to how I was feeling.

Sometimes, you get more back than you put in. When the drummer in our band lost his son, he was pretty devastated. Our singer was unable to rehearse, but I realised it was important to get him out. I booked a rehearsal. I've never sung with the band, just played guitar, but needs must. I wrote a couple of rather silly songs, mostly to put a smile on his face. Aftr a few reheasals, I recorded one of the songs, and my kids heard it and suggested that I should consider singing it live. I'd never considered it before, but when I listened, I realised it worked. I thought it would help Graham if we went out to my friend Boz Boorer's studio in Portugal to record them. In truth, I expected little from the tracks. Boz is a genius in the studio, but I'd not really taken the songs we were doing too seriously. To my amazement, they sounded brilliant. Gigs followed and at our most recent one, my wife, who has been subjected to far too many, since 1985, said it was one of the best ever. I think that my aim of putting a bit of smile on Graham's face was successful beyond my wildest dreams. Of course, a joke, a smile and a few songs can't solve all of the problems in the world, but if it can make us feel a bit better for a little while, then that has to be good.

At the age of 61, when I really should be hanging up my guitar, putting on the carpet slippers and retiring, I'm feeling more musically engaged with the band than at any time for decades. We've got a gig coming up on the 28th October with The Silencerz, a band put together by Lee Thompson of Madness with his son Daley, at the Bull Theatre in Barnet. If you want a smile and a boogie, there really is nowhere else to be that night(details here).

Here is a little video we shot at our last gig at The Dublin Castle in Camden Town.

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