Get Ready For The Great Ukulele Celebration 2015

UkeflyerIt’s a first of its kind for the Chesterfield and surrounding areas and it promises to be a fantastic day to remember.

We are only a month away and we are putting everything into this event because we want to promote music and the little instrument into our little Town. With a day fit to bursting with talent making their way to Brimington, all clamouring to get on our stage you can bet there will be something for everyone. From vintage tunes uncovered to modern music covered. There might even be some George Formby…if that’s your pleasure.

A real family occasion in the sunshine. Come along and partake of the food and outdoor bar serving all day as well as the fairground rides for the little ones…and all set against the backdrop of The Ark Tavern Pub and it’s legendary hospitality…

IMG_0408As you might expect there might be a few ukulele’s there so you know you will be guaranteed plenty of smiles and a rousing sing-along.

And that’s your cue to dust off your Uke and bring it along…the more the merrier. Doesn’t matter if you haven’t got one…bring the whole family and talk to the experts and find out what it means to be mad for the uke.

 

Stay tuned for some exciting news about our raffle prizes….

 

Paul.

 

Observing the Observance.

sunset-poppy-field_00449586Sunday just gone was remembrance Sunday, a chance for us to gather and remember the fallen of the two great wars and all the ones still falling today in the not so popular wars somewhere around the globe and those yet to fall in the wars still to come, although presently we won’t be remembering those latter ones but, for want of a better expression, we will be looking forward to those moments when we can gather together and remember. But we can be assured that day will come. This coming together, civilian shoulder to civilian shoulder, has become the sticky glue that binds us and, if you will allow a well worn cliché, the thing that makes Britain Great, or so they say. I’m not so sure.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn this day of which I pontificate in my usual manner, a program of events was thrust into my hand as I stamped the hard rubber floor of the playground for circulation and watched the uniformed children playing on the swings, climbing up and down the frames, uninterested by the bitter cold and the events soon to interrupt their play. The cries and whistles from the cub master summoned the little soldiers into fidgety lines. Their disappointment of being nudged from play into the contemplative rows would soon be replaced by their own feelings of camaraderie. Ok we don’t want to be here but at least we are together in our not wanting to be herer. Now the only enemy was the watchful burning eyes of their parents as well as god’s representative in this particular playground.

As I flicked through my leaflet I noticed that god featured heavily in this, my Sunday afternoon. Should have guessed that when I first clocked the chap in the flowing linens. And so it was that in between the brass band emptying their instruments of sputum onto the ground where the children once played and will very soon play again, we were assured that our men would not be forgotten in this god occupied world.

cenotaphThe denomination of the VIP’s gathered required that the small congregation of people respond in unison to their petitions to god, so thank goodness we had our scripts. The result however for me was a particular unease in listening to the rhythmic chanting like tones. Suddenly I was struck with a devilish thought that inspired in me a cheeky little grin akin to the children pressed into place in front of the cenotaph. The musical undertones in the solemn contrived phrases were reminiscent of something satanic. I suppose I’ve been spoiled by films like Rosemary’s Baby and other such books. By the way I make no apologies for mentioning Satan in this particular blog. I think it only fair that god’s arch nemesis get a mention. Seems fair don’t you think?

 

…and through  it all the children poked and prodded, smiled and giggled in all the wrong places, not I suspect from thoughts of the fallen but of getting back to the the playground and the addition of a promised supply of ‘well done’ biscuits and juice.

Well done children. See you next year…

 

Playground Dust

Church bell rings that children should fall

From playgrounds dust they’ll rise anew.

Coaxed and prodded to heed the call,

Pressed erect by mother’s dew.

 

Moments silence, a flag protests,

Held stiffly by a pristine child.

Forgotten playgrounds lay bereft

While they remember unknown. Killed

 

But they will stir the dust again

Of playgrounds far from fields, frozen.

When trumpets sound they’ll flee from men,

To swing and slide they’ve chosen.

 

Let us play. Our lives are blessed.

Not pressed into fields, hopelessly churned.

Let playgrounds ring with a childhood caress,

A song that begs for our return.

 

Then, a man I stand on frozen waste

That playgrounds dust not fall.

That you should not see my face

And know your destiny at all.

 

Instead, let battle cries be lost,

Smothered by playground songs

And church bells ache from winter’s frost.

No longer heard by playful throngs.

 

…Thanks for reading, dearest one.

It’s Turned Out Nice for The Ukulele.

Here’s the Article reproduced in full from the S40 Local magazine which serves the Chesterfield area hence some local references. Hope you like it and goes some way to inspire you to pick up the little instrument or at least follow my band on Facebook by hitting the link (I’m a bit cheeky…Yes I’ll give you that). https://www.facebook.com/BarrelhouseUke

 

portrait2When I was but a lad (readers beware stories starting with those words) I don’t remember seeing many ukuleles about. Only occasionally I’d catch a glimpse of George Formby (on the telly, I’m not that old) bedecked in his shimmering Jockey’s outfit, shimmering as much as something could shimmer in black and white, and a strange looking instrument cradled in his hands. But despite the lack of colour there was no mistaking George’s cheeky little smile as he played his ukulele for the adoring film extras, who themselves were wearing tight little smiles as they listened again to take 34 of ‘Mister Wu’. It was years later that I was told by those in the know that George mostly played a banjolele. I expect this to be in the days before he dedicated his time to fat free grilling machines (darn my research, the wrong George).

uke3This revelation about Mr Formby caused me to review my childhood somewhat and I now conclude that my earliest sighting of the ukulele in all its glory must have been from Elvis Presley in the film Blue Hawaii, as well as a first glimpse of a swathe of swaying hula girls wrapped neatly around the King. Yes…where was I?

Despite the lack of Hula girl hangers on I persevered with the ukulele and still today find myself gathering smiles from folk as I walk through the town carrying the little instrument. On such occasions as these I may be met with a shout out from some joker full of bubbles, ‘Hey hey, turned out nice again’. Sorry George but from now on you will be referred to as the unmentionable ‘F’ word. Hey, hey!

One of the appeals for me with this little instrument was the element of surprise that this combination of wood and nylon could deliver, especially since I had been conditioned to expect maybe a risqué tune or two, a Hawaiian shirt and at the very least a cheeky little Formbyesque smile.

The versatility of the ukulele gives it a surprising and most welcome edge. If you don’t believe me then do one of those search thingies on one of those internet thingies and discover a wealth of ukulele covers from Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody to Nellie the Elephant. Better still have a wander around town, visit your local musical gear shop and marvel at the plethora of sizes, colours and shapes available, and on your own doorstep to boot.

Continue your journey through town and into Queens Park and see the teenagers cradling the latest affordable ukuleles. Take notice now. Something is happening here when the younger folks are embracing the ukulele. I think I know what it is. It is a breakthrough of ideas, one in particular, the idea that you can play what you want and not what is expected. Ask the kids toting ukuleles nowadays and they’ll tell you that leaning on a lamppost on the corner of the street has never been so much fun.

Notice too an increase in social events and clubs willing to meet and play together just for the fun of it. Hey and if you’re having trouble finding these fun loving ukers then take your new ukulele and stand in the middle of town and start thrashing. I can guarantee that like minded fun loving closet ukers will find you and then? Good times.

 

Paul Frith Lives in Chesterfield and performs regularly with his ukulele band, Barrelhouse. You can visit and like the Barrelhouse page here: https://www.facebook.com/BarrelhouseUke

 

Cheers Paul.

I Can Only Hope That Good Things Still Come in Little Packages.

IMG_4157Here’s a picture of my little notebook. It’s a thing I carry about my person and on any given day I move it about my body, from top to bottom, side to side and on very special occasions from bottom to top, just to confuse any would-be scallywag set upon liberating the somewhat tarnished treasures within. Don’t be fooled by its appearance either, it’s actually bigger than it appears. To give you some idea of its size I have set it next to a fifty pence piece. Can you see the fifty? Well there you go then. Come and have a go scallywag.

As a writer, I am sometimes caught mid dalliance with the odd idea or two, licking the underside of my brain in the hope that it will stick and depending on how often I scrape around the grey stuff will depend if the sticky notion will find its way into the book.

We are always told to carry some sort of recording device of some description such that in my case, at the drop of an item of clothing I can set about gently coaxing the fresh idea between the soiled sheets of paper before strapping it into place, oblivious to its screaming objections and cries of bad taste. There it will stay, maybe forgotten about until such times as I get bored with looking for that fifty pence piece or the next electricity bill drops onto the mat. And then it’s all hands to the book and the inevitable unease felt as I am reunited with more tarnish than glitter and even after a fair bit of panning for that one nugget that might just put some salt with my pepper, more often than not an old familiar thought echo’s in the darkness of an empty head: what was I thinking?

However there are sometimes gold in them there pages and for those moments of discovery where other ideas are inspired by the old then it’s worth the process of keeping a little piece of paper to hand and if you can bind it in a particularly appealing way you may grow to love it a little bit.

Here’s one thing for sure: If you love your little notebook it will give unto you unexpected treasures of hope, hope that you have something to say that is at least relevant to you, after all, isn’t that why we set about writing in the first place?

 

Paul.

A Blog, What is it Good For, Absolutely Everything. Should I Say it Again?

Duncan-Blog-picEverything you want to say can and should be said. The confines of a diary or a journal or a blog is a means to allow you to express yourself however you choose. Only Fear of it being read can stopper your ink pot or deaden your mouse clicks and give you a sense of inadequacy and self doubt.

Most people these days turn to blogs to get their messages across when at other times they didn’t have the words to say what they meant or express how they felt. Finally a side of an argument that can be relayed without interruption. Now Imagine that. A place where you can express your beliefs? This just keeps getting better and better doesn’t it?

Okay I’ll kick of the proceedings by imparting one of my current beliefs. You know that saying, ‘No Man is an Island’? Well I don’t believe that for a minute. Okay so it is my belief that that idea is totally flawed on a very human level. The idea that we should lay down and be defined by a collective thought or idea frankly sends a chill up and down my rented spine.

Can you imagine such a world whereby our thoughts and responses or reactions are defined by others? Well we probably don’t have to imagine such. It could be argued, quite convincingly that we are already immersed in such a world. For sure we interact with people that we love and are dizzily swayed this way and that by the choices that one’s close to us make but our actions and responses will always be in response to our own self and the way we want to feel. They are our first choices that we make internally. You can change a belief just like that (readers note that I just clicked my fingers…oh yeah I do that). All you are doing is checking how you feel. Want to feel different? Change your next thought, after all a belief is simply a thought that you keep thinking.

Just one thought at a time.

mind-depressionMy own personal window into depression has brought me to the conclusion that trying to change too many thoughts in order to feel better than I did was for me the first troubled step deeper into the darkness.

Remembering the lessons then of my experiences hopefully will equip me with the tools for dealing with those particular shadows and make my transition back into the light as easily as conjuring the thought itself.

Now I know that it is enough to just tweak my thoughts and notice the subtle differences in how I feel and the effect that I can a have on the external world because of simple changes in my thinking. Whether you’re a fan of the man Jesus or more drawn to the Ghandi man (both equally cool in sandals) then you’ll know they were onto something when they both uttered the similar teachings: ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ and, ‘The kingdom of God is within.’ and ‘Seek first the kingdom and everything will be added to you.’ Like the smallest nudge on an ocean liner’s rudder can take you around the world if you let it, changing just one thought can bring about a brand new world worthy of your beliefs.

So I’ve established that I am an island and if you are with me thus far I may even have convinced you of a similar notion about yourself. By the way it hasn’t gone unnoticed by the author, of the precarious paradox I seem to be negotiating with that last statement, namely that I am attempting to make you aware of your own individuality, and bless you, your role is to be convinced by my own belief and apply it to yourself…Does anyone else’s head hurt?

1530579-bigthumbnailOkay so I’m an Island and your an Island and the Blog (Hey remember the Blog…it’s why we’re here in the first place) is the pier reaching out across an endless ocean of indifference. And there you stand upon your soapbox, teetering dangerously close to the edge of the pier, spouting to the fishes.

So Start Spouting. Have You Got Something To Say?

Remember this is your side of the argument, uninterrupted by the tepid viewpoints proffered by many, all clamouring to plant their proverbial flag in your head. (Never thrown those particular combinations of words together…think I’ll have a biscuit.) And here’s another idea that may prove uncomfortable and stick in your craw: We really care that these things, our little messages to the world are actually read. The Blog that you have imparted, that little vulnerable piece of you that is your gift to the world is your very own cathartic balm and the only closure you will ever experience from it is the idea that at least one of those little fishes has read it. Dare you to dream then you may dream that one of those little fishes may talk to another and another and another? Hey I’ve seen Finding Nemo…don’t tell me fishes can’t talk.

So let me just bring the mood down from the dizzy Disney heights we were enjoying with the Nemo reference and say that the Blog is like a suicide note for the living, we want it to be read we just don’t want to be around when it happens.

Hey this is my Blog and I’ll cry if I want to.

Whatever reason you decide to put finger to button and unleash the dormant creatures within, namely ideas and opinions, grievances, call to arms etc…It doesn’t really matter. Whatever it is you have to say is important because it is coming out of you. There’s nothing more thrilling than surprising yourself at the things you have inside you and in some cases the courage that you never knew you had to let it flow out into the world.

I know no one will read this and that is okay, but if by chance one of those little fishes finds this little morsel and decides to swim with it then this is for you.

Love and Peace little fish.

Paulx

If The Story is King Then Let It Reign.

Kindle-006Recently I heard an interview with american author James Patterson and of how he was championing the good old ‘hold-in-the-hand’ paperback and the survival of the ‘Walk-in and smell’ bookshops. I must admit I love going into the bookshops and taking in the whiff of the neatly bound books and the crispness of the freshly shelved tomes. But it’s usually with a tinge of sadness that I go into the big retailers and, after a moment or two of swimming in the sometimes overwhelming current of choice, I start to feel for the bottom as I ponder the prices hidden neatly on the back of the books at the bottom left hand corner. You see I can’t help whipping my smart phone out and scanning the bar-code for the well known online retailer to tell me that I can get it for 50% or sometimes even 75% cheaper if I am willing to wait a while for it to be delivered to my home.

But now dear reader I don’t even have to do that. I can now take my smart device and after a few clicks I can make my choice, pay my money and have the digital version of my book within five minutes. I guess the reason I was entertaining that sad tinge I referred to earlier was that I like the process of the purchase and having the chunky book in my hand. But Hey! I’ll get over it…won’t I?

It is these very digital devices that I think Mr Patterson was decrying as he fights the good fight and in some cases provides grants for struggling independent bookshops. Good Fella.

Once-A-Upon-A-TimeI can see what he is doing and am willing to concede that it is certainly a noble path; to save our paperbacks. But I can’t deny I have mixed feelings about  holding onto something that reaches far into our past and at the same time fending off what seems to be inevitable. Simply because this transition we are witnessing, this change of how the story is presented is out of our hands. One of Mr Patterson’s other goals is to champion the story getting read by more and more of our younger ones and it is those ones who will be making the choices of how they have the story delivered and presented.

Our children are being born into such a fast paced environment now that they are hitting the ground running. The technology and methods of lightening communication are in their hands. I believe that if it gets so bad that we end up withholding choices from the younger generations then it can only be a self serving venture, desperately clinging onto a past that has barely any relevance to the younger generations and in no way serves the progressing of the story.

Springtime_smallIf we are decided that the story is king then the responsibility ( if you decide to take it on) to harbour the story from natural decay and neglect should include eliminating any and all risk of withholding any means of telling the tale.

A story is a story is a story whether it is from the yellowing pages of a well turned down paperback or floated across a crackling camp fire.

Long live the STORY.

Paul.

It’s Not Just An Illusion – It’s a Real Eye Opener

IMG_3764Hey everyone I just finished reading Illusions by Richard Bach and I think…I think I get it now. No doubt in the not too distant future I will, after the seventeenth read, come out and say the same thing.
It just seems to be one of those books. It’s almost as If there are times in my life where I’m guided somehow towards a point of ideas or phrases that I just needed to hear in order to affect a shift in my nature or attitude. I think there are times like this for us all. Your answers may manifest in other ways. For me this time it was Illusions, tomorrow it might be the start of a new roll of toilet paper. I know weird or what.
I’ve said before that I picked up the bug for writing from authors like Bach who could say so much with so very few words, and Illusions is perfect. What if suddenly we were all hit with a Messiah complex like the protagonist in Bach’s book? What would we do? And on the first opening of the Messiah Handbook it told us that we already were THAT powerful.
Granted this work isn’t for everyone and that’s clear from the Amazon reviews, which are entertaining in themselves but it’s like I always say, ‘Imagine living your life having never travelled and seen the world because some guy tells you he’s been and what’s wrong with the shoes your livin’ in.’
Wow! Imagine if we all listened to THAT guy.

‘Write What You Know.’ – Are You Kidding Me?

How many times have I heard that phrase dripping from the great open jawed, best selling authors in the known universe: ‘Hey Bud. Write what you know.’ Ok strictly speaking the ones that have said it weren’t from the American Midwest slap bang in the middle of the fifties but they might as well have been as I contemplated the nugget of wisdom as old as the golden rule itself.
‘Hey I’ve got news for you,’ would have been my reply, if they could have heard me and if they were real and not a conglomeration pulsing within my brain/mind (I can never remember which one it is).
If I wrote what I knew then this would probably be my last blog post, I would have probably replied.
If I’m honest I haven’t got that many interests and certainly not enough to pretend I know a little bit more about it than the next man. And certainly not enough for them to be tearing down the blog walls, clamouring for my particular nuggets.
Then it hit me like an ex-wife in an elevator. (Just kidding people. I haven’t got one of those. They wouldn’t allow it in my building…The elevator not the ex-wife.)
‘What we know’ is everything about life and the human condition. As a writer of fiction its almost like having carte blanche to invent stories with real characters with real emotions and resolutions that we may have reached or would like to reach in our own lives.
We’ve all laughed and loved, sighed and cried, been elevated to the dizzy ecclesiastical heights of ecstasy and scraped each other off the floor when life just seems to stop between floors. Some of us have suffered at the hoven fists of well meaning family members and have come out the otherside with your best writing hand intact or at least we know people that have. Stories abound all around. I guess I got out of the habit of looking for for them.

Write what you know?

WOW! Where do I begin?

I’ll try my best but their really isn’t enough time…

Think of this as Rescheduling 2.0

Well here I am again folks, one of those friends who says he’s going to ring but never gets round to it. Believe me when I say it’s not you, it’s me.
Anyway so here’s the latest. Busy busy busy.
A couple of pieces of ghost writing will soon be in the bag and I’m excited that one of them will be featured right here on my blog. Check out R.F. Sylpaisa’s tab at the top of the page. By kind permission she will allow me to feature her short book on The philosophy of Wing Chun, something I have a little bit of experience with on this very blog. Having read the piece which I’m told is scheduled for release some time in August it has worked some kind of magic on me and as a result I’ll be doing my own spiritual stretching with a short book about….Well that would be telling…but I will give you the title. Its called ‘What’s the Frequency Abe?’ And I’m very excited about it. It feels like it’s a book I’ve wanted to write for years, so much so that I’ve hung onto that title for all of fourteen years.
So there you have it. From now until the year end I’ll be chucking myself in with these two spiritual numbers. So watch out for a new book by Miss Sylpaisa and don’t forget to follow my blog for the latest updates. Details of how all that witchcraft is achieved is over there on the left.

See you in the next post.

Paul.

Backed and Blocked Up Does Not Mean I’m Dead.

onceIt’s been far too long since I updated my blog with news and alerts of progress on the forthcoming tomes. There is a reason for this. I have been terribly busy with freelance work and other demanding works, befitting a more seasoned scribbler than myself. But it has meant I could put a bit of money aside to download the latest Angry Birds App; sixty-nine pence well spent, if I do say so myself, even if all it did was to fill in those excavated pits in my head so often referred to as writers block. So in short, progress has been as elusive as Nessies car keys (he should have got one of those gizmo’s that bleep when you clap your hands).

But that was then and this is now.

ocucover

A First Look at The Cover of New Ghost Story ‘The Occupier’

Unfortunately this has put my deadlines teetering precariously on a ledge. So with appropriate revisions in place I have managed to talk them back from the precipice, smothered them with blankets and reassurances of days in the sun and, consequently put the release of my new book, ‘The Occupier’ back to the middle of June next year. This in itself has been a cathartic exercise, relieving me of the pressure of performing messianic sleight of pen in front of an increasingly dwindling and indifferent audience.

It has also allowed me to organise my projects in order to deliver them in a timely fashion.

More and more I’m reminded of the virtues of a well organised and stocked filing cabinet of ideas, ideas that seem to take on a life of their own, like little children fighting their way to the front, baying for attention until your knees buckle and you find yourself face to face with one more thing that will stopper the free-flow of what you sometimes jokingly refer to as creativity (anyway that’s enough self deprecation for this post). Caging these loveable little monsters in my labyrinth-like filing system has become quite a skill and that in itself may find its way into one of my stories.

So it’s here at the blog, the sharpening stone for the craft, where I’ll attempt to do my stretching exercises before donning my pit boots and start picking at the coal face in an attempt to unearth the occasional gem, as yet only imagined by myself.  Plus isn’t it good occasionally to get away from the restraints of the 140 character tweets or the very demanding attention span of the average Facebooker. Don’t get me wrong but when I’m on Facebook I’m not braced to read about the latest theory of why holding a cigarette in one hand while managing a lawnmower with the other can extend your life by an extra couple of years…PEOPLE! Don’t throw it in my face, send me a link so I can ridicule and scorn in my own time. Make me laugh/Cry/Angry for goodness sake. Give me something I can write a blog post about.

As always, Love and Wet Fishes.

Paul.