Posted by: ralpham | September 15, 2011

From jazz to rock, then back again

From jazz to rock, then back again

By Graham – How times flies! It was May 5th  when Ralph uploaded my one and only post here http://wp.me/p1f8Nz-8B. The band reunion happened at the beginning of July, and it was absolutely amazing. One of the things I couldn’t help chuckling at when we were on stage was at old Harry. He’d always been the band’s clown in the 50s, with his skinny little legs in skin-tight trousers and that oversized leather jacket.

So there he was on his 80th birthday, now as wide as he is tall, waddling around the stage, trying the same moves, aided by a walking stick. It was funny until be started blowing his old trumpet like his  life depended on it. At one point I thought he was going to have a heart attack.

I was so pleased to hear that Joe has hooked up with some of the members of the Tom Cats and is back making music. It’s interesting that all of us old musicians have reverted back to the music of our youth, i.e. jazz. But then it makes sense, after all  it would look a bit silly if a bunch of blokes in their 70s and 80s were playing rebellious rock and roll wouldn’t it?

I loved Ralph’s post last week entitled “I reserve the right to be irrational”.  What a fantastic quote. It could easily be Joe’s maxim for life 🙂

Posted by: ralpham | September 8, 2011

“I reserve the right to be irrational”

“I reserve the right to be irrational”

By Ralph – “I reserve the right to be irrational as long as I’m not hurting anyone”, was a phrase used by a good friend of mine yesterday evening. The context was that she feels people should have the right to make choices, even if it may be harmful to the individual, like smoking.

Earlier in the week I returned to the well-trodden debate of traditional versus self-publishing with someone on one of my LinkedIn writing groups. She made some very good and pertinent points why one should self-publish, countering my view that the traditional publishing industry should be the arbiter of whether a book is good enough to be published.

Although these people are industry professionals, I know that choosing what is worthy of publishing is an art, not a science and that some great writers have been turned down, like the oft-quoted JK Rowlings, who was initially rejected by a dozen publishing houses.

I have to admit I did sway for a few days, but then I had to quote my friend: “I reserve the right to be irrational.”

Ciao for now

ps. Thanks for a wonderful, if irrational, evening Sarah 🙂

Posted by: ralpham | September 1, 2011

Olde big-mouth is back!

Olde big-mouth is back!

By Joe – I dunno wot Murray’s doing commenting on the world’s woes when he should be getting his arse in gear and getting my story published. Blimey, if it wasn’t for his people there wouldn’t have bin rioting and looting on the streets of London in the first place (I bet he deletes that bit before he posts this on his blog!).

I was having a jamming session wiv me mates from the old days last nite, and they’re as eager as I am to see ourselves in print. It’s all right for Murray, he’s only a youngster, but we’re all in our bleedin 70s and 80s, we ain’t got much time left on this planet.

I was on the blower to him after I got in last night. I gave him a right mouthful about how bone-idle he was. It’s nearly nine months he’s bin trying to get a publisher, nine bloody months! Anyway, I must’ve gone over the top a bit cos it woke up the old girl. She came up behind me, tapped be on the shoulder, took the phone from me and ever so gently placed it on the receiver.

Sometimes I wish she would scream and shout at me like any normal wife, cos I guess I do deserve it, especially when I’ve bin out drinking!

See ya next Thursday!

Posted by: ralpham | August 18, 2011

The evidence of a Godless society!

The evidence of a Godless society!

By Ralph – The wanton criminality on the streets of many cities in England last week was nothing short of sickening. That was the general view of the UK media, politicians and the Great British public – including me.

Widening the debate, I’ve been thinking about the moral malaise that is so much a part of modern life, like the parliamentary expenses scandal of 2009/2010. Were the rioters any worse than greedy politicians? Absolutely not! Both groups were out to grasp something that was not theirs.

I guess the big question is: does anybody really care about what is right and wrong anymore? Or is it simply down to what the individual can get away with?

Maybe it’s all these conversations I’ve been having with Mary about God and all that spiritual stuff,  but if we as a society/nation/world could get back to the fundamentals of being truly human – having a sense of what is good and what is evil – then surely we could turn this hateful, hurting world around!

Ciao for now!

Posted by: ralpham | August 11, 2011

An emotional rollercoaster

An emotional rollercoaster

By Mary – How life can change in such a short space of time! In seems like just a few weeks ago I was so anxious about writing my first post http://wp.me/p1f8Nz-cY, but it was in fact a couple of months. And because of it, hubby got all moody with me. Harry hardly helped matters with his http://wp.me/p1f8Nz-dU post several weeks later. Then there was the euphoria of the little man’s 80th birthday bash, followed by Joe’s second emotional dip in less that two months.

I’ve always told him I wasn’t going to play second fiddle to his music again, but when I saw how his face lit up when his mates asked him to jam with them, what could I do?

When he came back home last night from the session, it was like having the old arrogant Joe Simmonds I first met, back again. He even had the cheek to say: “Yeah, good as the evening was, I still reckon than that my band was miles better than the Tom Cats.”

It must be something about music that brings out the best and the worst in my hubby 🙂

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Bless you all,
Mary Simmonds

Posted by: ralpham | August 4, 2011

A blast from the past!

A blast from the past!

By Joe – Well I never! Remember I was whinging about life being a bit flat two weeks ago? Well you’ll never guess who’s bin in touch cos of this blog. A cuppla members of the Tom Cats, the band that beat us in the ‘Best East London Band’ competition, that’s who! And yeah, you’ve guessed it, they’re STILL playing after six decades!

Apparently, one of their daughters was messing around on the internet and googled the name of her old man’s rock and roll band, and ‘hey presto’, the first three chapters of Ralph’s manuscript popped up. To say they were chuffed to read about themselves is one helluva understatement.

Anyway, so after the guys had read about how envious I was of Graham’s jazz sessions, they contacted me and invited me to make some music wiv em. Course I jumped at the chance. I think Mary was even more excited that me. But that’s probably cos I’ve been moping around the house and she’s gonna be glad to see the back of me for a cuppla hours.

I know I’m being a soppy old git, but I wonder wot would’ve happened if the Raiders had beaten the Tom Cats that summer evening in 1957 and it was us who scooped the prize of that recording contract?

Oh well…
See ya next Thursday!

Posted by: ralpham | July 28, 2011

When reality comes crashing in!

When reality comes crashing in!

Hi folks, I’m numbed by the weekend massacre at the youth camp on the island of Utøya, in Norway. It’s all very well writing a fictional novel about a mother losing a son, but no matter how hard a writer tries to get into the head of his character, as I have tried with Mary, it’s still make-believe. Okay, so a author when he/she sits down to write, has to connect emotionally with the story that’s being told, but after several hours he/she stops writing and gets back into the real world of friends, home, family etc.

I’m reminded of a Sunday afternoon spend with friends five years ago. Their son has Cerebral Palsy and had just started playing wheel-chair basketball. Being a fairly competitive type, I challenged him to a game. I got into a spare wheel-chair and we had great fun for the next 20 minutes. But what I shall never forget was at the end of the game, I sprang out of the wheel-chair, and there was the little fellow still in his.

The point I’m making is that whatever we feel while writing is temporary. For some, like the bereaved parents in Norway, the grief is unending.

ps. My friend’s son is now 18 and he plays basketball for the county of Essex. I don’t think I’ll be challenging him to another game ☺

Ciao for now!

Posted by: ralpham | July 21, 2011

Under the weather

Under the weather

By Joe – Life’s gone a bit flat in the last cuppla weeks. Now that the band reunion’s been and gone, there’s nothing to look forward to. Wot’s also a bit crap is being just three years away from my own 80th. How bleedin scary is that!

I know the Internet isn’t the place to bare yer soul – where any nosey bugger can read it – but I gotta say I’m more than a little envious of old Graham. It’s not because of all his wealth (the royalties from Chris’ music is more than enough for me and the old girl). No it’s the life he’s got up in the Midlands, wiv his extended family and loadsa mates.

He was telling me that after he bought his double bass http://wp.me/p1f8Nz-8B, he hooked up with some musicians in the next village and they now meet up a cuppla times a month for jazz sessions. Wot a jammy bastard, I’d love to do something like that.

I made the mistake of mentioning this to Mary. She said: “So what’s stopping you, Mr Simmonds?” She’s right, of course. Nothing’s stopping me, just bleedin apathy I guess. Must snap outta this mood.

I know, I’m gonna bang off an email to Murray, asking him if he’s got a publisher yet. That’s always good for a wind-up 🙂

See ya next Thursday!

Posted by: ralpham | July 14, 2011

An unwanted guest

An unwanted guest

By Ralph – You’ll never guess, but I made it to Harry’s birthday bash. You should’ve seen Joe’s face, it was an absolute treat. He came up to me and growled: “Wot the bleedin hell are you doing here?”

Luckily, Mary was in earshot. “I invited him, that’s why he’s here,” she said quietly. He looked at me, then her and back to me. He swallowed a retort, then stormed off.

I met Matt and tried to talk to him but he was having none of it, although he did ask if I was still trying to get Chris’ story published. Answering in the affirmative was clearly not what he wanted to hear. I asked him if he’d read my manuscript. “No,” he snapped. “Look, the guy’s dead, why can’t you let him rest in peace?” I tried to tell him I was a fan, not a journalist but he clearly didn’t believe me.

Apart from Mary, Matt had been the closest person to Chris, so it would’ve been great to talk to him. That evening, I tried four or five times to corner him but to no avail.

It was great finally meeting Harry and Graham in the flesh. Harry was just as I’d imagined him when I was writing about them. The only difference was that in the book, From Out Of The Blue, they were young men, now they’re elderly.

Musically, the band was pretty good, especially Graham. The only thing that let them down was Joe’s singing, but he admitted as much in last week’s blog.

Ciao for now!

Posted by: ralpham | July 7, 2011

And the band played on!

And the band played on!

By Joe – It was Harry’s 80th birthday last week and we’d decided months ago to have a band reunion. Graham was struggling to get a suitable venue so we finally decided to hold it at Matt’s place, which is a bleedin mansion in Buckinghamshire (he was Chris’ best mate and bassist wiv The Message). There were people I hadn’t seen since the 50’s, one even brought his great-grand son.

The whole event was held on this massive lawn wiv catering staff, and everything! Matt had even rigged up a mini stage. So after a cuppla hours eating and drinking, the Raiders – starring me on guitar and vocals, Harry on trumpet and Graham on double bass – took to the stage, with Pete filling in on drums.

I’d like to say we were absolutely awesome but I’d be lying, but wot I can say is that it was the most fun we’ve all had in yonks. We just grinned at each other all the time we were playing. At one point I spotted Mary wiv her hands clasped over her ears ☺
We finished of course, wiv Little Richard’s ‘Keep A Knockin’, just like the old days. It’s a good job Matt hasn’t got any neighbours!

It’s bin five days since then and my voice still hasn’t recovered!

See ya next Thursday!

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