Follow by Email

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Chapter 18 - A story about New Wine, love songs and tactical dumps

Well check me out! This is quick succession! And there is a very good reason for that – and the very good reason for that is that I’m going to be coming across so many people in the next few weeks that I can’t (and don’t want to) have a massive backlog. So if anything – it’s pushing me forward with turbo writing figures. Or perhaps fingers laced with Red Bull. Anyway - I’m really excited about introducing you to a few people in this chapter but I will get to that in a bit. First up though……..

Album Update
Basically as I said in the last chapter - IT’S COMING! But what I can now reveal is that the album will be released on the 26th August – and shortly after the album is launched you’ll start to see a few cosmetic changes to the 10 Resolutions website to reflect that (lyric and chord sheets etc). There will also be a bit of a live album night at some point as well…and I’m sure more details will emerge about that shortly. But please (if you haven’t already and erm - obviously if you want to…..) - pre-order the album. It’s available from my BandCamp site. And as an extra little incentive (as I’d love you to use BandCamp rather than iTunes or Amazon to get the album) – if you use the code “BYHISSTRIPES535” at the checkout – you’ll get 25% off. But this code runs out on the 25th August……

What did you want to do when you grew up?
I’m sure like many people I had a number of different dreams for what I wanted to be when I grew up (as I’m sure my mum would tell you). But there were a few stand out ones………

My earliest memory of “what I wanted to become” was an astronaut because, well let’s face it – it’s probably very high on a lot of people’s lists. Space is cool. Rockets are cool. Why wouldn’t you want to be an astronaut…? (Bar the idea of having a reactor’s worth of fuel directly beneath your arse (what could possibly go wrong?). But you don’t think of things like that at a young age…. I loved Star Wars and Star Trek and erm Buck Rogers…. – and the closest real thing to those shows was to be an astronaut.
Fireman / Paramedic – Quickly ruled out due to hating the heat and being remarkably squeamish (I still am and was asked to leave a class at school for being sick IN CLASS).

Architect / Builder – I briefly tried the second option here and those of you that know me well will probably agree that I shouldn’t be anywhere near DIY or construction (unless it’s with Lego)

Lead Guitarist – A dream dreamt up after watching far too much California Dreams and Pugwall (remember those shows?) and listening to far too much Bon Jovi. 

And that actually leads me onto a question that I’ve been sitting on for a few weeks....

Did being a musician help with the ladies?
The short answer is yes. And I used it to my advantage. Obviously I was a charming, handsome rogue anyway - but being a musician definitely helped along the way. I don’t know what it is about being a musician – but there is definitely something in it (I’ve probably now inspired a truckload of young people to become musicians for completely the wrong reasons...........oops).

I also have a small confession regarding this whole musician thing (that I’ve been sitting on for a while). I worked out very early on that girls liked having songs written about them. Unfortunately writing a different song about a lot of different ladies within a short period of time gave me a bit of writer’s block and a bit of a headache. But luckily I had a brainwave. My ex’s didn’t know each other and I very rarely split up with anyone on good terms (act surprised) so my mind started formulating a plan. I crafted a song which although sounding personal was actually quite general. I left a space in the song to insert a girl’s name. And hey presto...each girl from that moment on had their own song. There were some exceptions as a few did genuinely get their own songs (not necessarily a good thing as a couple of songs were about me hurting – and yes I probably did deserve it)....but as a general worked a treat. Until I got confused in one set and said the wrong name. It’s fair to say that the game at that point was up.....(If I was still in touch with any of the ex’s or girls that I used this on then I’d apologise - but I’m not. But if by chance you were one of these girls and have now stumbled upon this blog and you now want to kill me – Please know that I’m sorry.......)

Now that’s not to say that I didn’t learn other things along the way. An example of which is DO NOT get into a relationship with someone that you have asked to sing with you at a week-long conference. Wait until after, or if you get together beforehand – change the plans for the conference. Because after a set one morning – this is the conversation that I had:

Andi (Addressing whole band): “Well done guys, that was a really great set. You all played really well!”

Band: “Thanks Andi”

(Bla Bla conversation continues for a bit and comes round to plans for the evening set)

Andi (Addressing whole band): “I’m going to give a few people a break this evening to keep you fresh for the rest of the week. So *Bassist*, *Guitarist* and *Girlfriend singer* I’d like you just to sit out this evening as I’ll need you even more that the end of the week”.

Girlfriend addressing Andi: IS IT BECAUSE YOU DONT LOVE ME??????!!!!!!!!!!

(Girlfriend storms off)

So yes, being a musician did help with the ladies. But I wish someone had told me about the pitfalls!

And moving swiftly on (sortof)...
As this chapter moves on though – I’d like to go back and talk a bit about the actual conference that I was part of in that story. It’s something that I’ve been involved with for close to 20 years (in various different roles) and it’s called New Wine. Every year around 25,000 Christians over the course of two weeks gather together on a showground in Somerset for teaching, to worship together, to build relationships with those around them and to generally do life together. I love it (obviously or I wouldn’t have been part of it for so long) and over the years I have learnt so much about myself and experienced so much in those small periods every year that it’s quite hard to describe. At some point in the future I’m sure that I’ll jump into more detail about some of that stuff and those moments (some good stuff, some bad stuff, some great moments, some funny moments, some awkward moments and some completely life changing ones as well) - but in this chapter I’d really like to focus on a few people that I caught up with last week at New Wine - people who at some point have had a massive impact on my life (whether they realise it or not).

You’ve already met some people from New Wine (and mainly a youth venue at New Wine called Club 1) that have become amazing friends (in Hellie, Kate, Varley and probably loads of others) but I’d like to take the time now to introduce you to a few more:

Russ Fletcher
Strong, dependable, faithful, wise, trustworthy and (occasionally) mildly inappropriate are just a few of the character traits that I would use to describe Russ - someone who has become a complete rock in my life over the last 13 years. We clicked straight away and our friendship grew really quickly. After our first New Wine together we promised to stay in touch - and we did. I visited Russ a lot down in Weston, spending a Christmas there one year and just generally going to see Russ to get away for little breaks. 
I’ve got some amazing memories of times we’ve spent together and I’ve also got some memories of Russ powerfully speaking directly (and bluntly) into my life (especially at one point where I was scared and trying to run away from something).  Russ is someone who can break down my barriers within seconds of spending time together and I am genuinely proud to call him my friend.

Dan Graham, Tim Keenan & Megan Rowland (soon to be Keenan)
Yes. You are correct. There has never been a 3 in my cast list before....but don’t forget that I make the rules. And (for the time being at least) – Dan, Tim and Megan very much come as a 3. Dan and Tim have known each other for years and one Club 1 I stitched Megan and Tim up together at New Wine and now they are getting hitched! (Woohoo!) And that isn’t even the first Club 1 wedding! But anyway....
Tim, Megan & Dan
I love all 3 of them so much for so many reasons and despite not seeing any of them as much as I’d like anymore (although I do get to spend the whole week with Dan next week) they have all become massive sources of encouragement in my life. I’ve watched them grow into completely amazing people and I’m convinced that none of them realise the people that they have become and are blissfully unaware of the cool stuff that is brewing for each of them just around the corner (and no jokers – the answer is not a big dump – funny as that may be........)

Chris Lang
I met Chris about 10 years ago in Club 1 and he has become someone that I have an awful lot of time for and really enjoy spending time with. He’s an amazing musician, a great friend and he doesn’t mind doing the jobs that others want to do. One of the things I love about Chris is the fact that he doesn’t take himself too seriously – and the fact that I don’t either means that our relationship has grown through mocking ourselves, spending time together and spending one Wednesday lunchtime every year showing Pizza Hut in Bath what the phrase all you can eat really entails) along with the rest of the Club 1 leaders)

In a “here’s one I made earlier” kind of thing - the video below should explain more about the Wednesday lunchtime. And yes, TD = Tactical dump (All will be revealed)

Tom Johnson
From the first moment I met Tom, I got on with him. He makes me laugh constantly but has an amazing ability to switch from messing around to saying something completely profound and potentially life changing in a matter of seconds. One of my favourite things about Tom though is his ability to look passed people’s flaws and to see the best in them. He’s completely expiring and sets an amazing example like that. He’s also a great musician (and has played on the album) 

Michelle Garland
Compared to other people that I write about in my cast list I haven’t known Michelle for that long. But through her support and encouragement she has had a massive impact on my life in a really short space of time – and the latest example of this came last Saturday at New Wine when in the period of about 5 minutes she took something that I had started to question and changed the way that I looked at it and through it encouraged me beyond belief. I also find myself confiding in Michelle (and sometimes without realising). She’s a great friend and a lovely person and I’m really thankful to be able to call her my friend. 

In one day last week I saw all of these people (and load’s more). I’m fully aware that I’m a lucky man to have these people and everyone else in my life – and if truth be told I probably don’t say that enough – so thank you. And it’s with another couple of people in mind that I’ll conclude this chapter:

The events of Chapter 9 were without question the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to write about. And I can think of no harder situation that I’ve ever had to experience. And whilst Wifey and I have (for the most part) got over the pain now, the memory is still there. It still hurts at times. You can probably understand that. At least I hope you can. It never will be an easy thing to get over and I imagine that it is something that will linger for a while. There is absolutely no point in me putting a tough guy act on when the absolute truth is that we are still healing and at times we still feel the pain. Something that I said at the time (and still completely agree with) is that I wouldn’t wish what we went through on anyone. I wouldn’t want anyone to have to experience the heartbreak or pain of what we went through….Which is why my heart wept a few nights ago as I was told of two amazing friends who have just gone through the same thing.

These friends selflessly stood by us when we needed them most and they were willing (and wanting) to do anything within their power to help us as they set an amazing example of both friendship and love. Now I’m not going to pretend to understand the reasons as to why this has happened to such fantastic people. But what I will say is this:
We love you both. And from the bottom of our hearts we will do anything that we can to help support and love you through this. You have our thoughts, our prayers and our love. My heart is broken for you both of you - and if there is anyway whatsoever that we can help to ease your pain - then we will do. It is a complete honour to call you our friends - and now is the time for us to show that more than ever before.

And with that message, I’m going to leave this chapter. Please continue to ask questions via email, twitter, or Facebook or in the comments section below. You can also subscribe to 10 Resolutions by filling in the massive white box at the top of this. If you’re around tomorrow night (Sunday) – feel free to come along to Seek His Face in Cheltenham and as a final plug....don’t forget the album (last hint...this chapter). Right – I’m off to take a TD before my band arrives (but more on them very soon).

God Bless

Friday, 9 August 2013

Chapter 17 (Part 2) - A story about encouragements, births and office family outings

After 17 chapters – I still haven’t realised how long it takes me to physically write a chapter. I probably should have learnt by now and the information probably should have hit home - but unfortunately it hasn’t. Not that I’m complaining – because I know exactly what I want to say – but it just takes a while to type it up. I even tried using a dictation app to try and make the whole process less typey this week…but that failed as the app failed to understand my mockneyshire accent and I spent longer re-punctuating and amending everything than it would have taken me to write anything in my finest handwriting in the first place. So I gave up doing that after a paragraph and here we are - back to normal.

And after that ramble – welcome to the 2nd half of Chapter 17 (The first half is here).  And I’d like to properly kick off this half of the chapter by continuing from something that I started speaking about at the start of part 1 - A simple message of encouragement from a friend. Have you ever noticed that something really simple can make or break a day for you? Well last Monday - a message I received set me up for not only the day but the week that followed. And I wish that I still had the message on my phone to show you – but unfortunately thanks to a “minor” accident at the wedding the day before my phone needed to be replaced. But very simply the message went along the lines of “Thankyou so much for writing your stories and thankyou for being in my life”. In my half hungover and probably over emotional state of last Monday the message bought a tear to my eye - because despite having an amazing weekend – I just needed that little push. I went back to that message later in the day after recovering from my stealth hangover* and was hit with a somewhat overwhelming wave of thanks for the timing of that message and replied again to the sender explaining how much the message meant to me. Big gestures are great but little ones can be just as powerful - which (as you can now probably imagine) is why I was pretty much ripped to pieces after all of the amazing messages and great bits of feedback from you all after Part 1. Which leads me onto saying (in the least soppy way possible) – thank you all for supporting 10 Resolutions, thank you for reading these stories and thank you for being part of my life. I hope that in some way you find little sparks of encouragement within these words and that when you need it most - a friend will help pick you up. 

*Stealth Hangover. This is something that I should probably explain. But I’ll give you some context first. You’ve been at a wedding and you’ve been drinking beer and wine. It’s a lovely combination – but a combination that (you know from experience) will come back to haunt you the next morning. The thought jumps into your head “I could stop now and then I might be ok?” but then in 99% of cases that thought is instantly dismissed by a new thought “I’m too far gone now anyway so I’ll just keep going / slow down”. Most of us will be able to relate to that situation. The drinks I’ve selected for my example don’t make that much difference (replace them with your normal options) but you just need to understand the context. Anyway – the next day comes and you are fine. There is no rational explanation. Your head should theoretically have a tribe of African drummers constantly beating away – but they aren’t there. You feel great! You smugly smile – convinced that you have beaten the hangover and you start getting on with whatever it is that you need to get on with. Then 4 hours later (and out of nowhere) it happens. BANG! 

Forget the tribe of African drummers. This is something different entirely. This isn’t a tribe of African drummers. This is every single drummer in the known universe each playing a different rhythm at once in your head combined with a selection of the loudest car stereos in Blighty each playing their loudest most unimaginative tune whilst part of your brain is in front of each speaker. Now you want the next few minutes to pass quickly – but it’s a bit like your hangover hasn’t got the memo. You move into action. You find the strongest painkillers that you can and combine them with your soft drink of choice (sparkling water or Coke Zero are normally mine). You agonizingly wait for the painkillers to kick in and at some point in the course of this you utter a very well known phrase “I’m never drinking again”.
And that my friends – is the stealth hangover.

I’m going to carry on bringing you up to date and introducing you to people in the same way as I did in Part 1. I’ve got a few great things to tell you about – as well as a preview of something JUST FOR YOU. So here we go….

My night in the big smoke

The night before the epic Chris and Sam wedding event I left Wifey with Naomi, Sam and the Twins and headed into London to catch up with John Zwanzig over a few beers and a meal…..

John Zwanzig
John was my music teacher in secondary school and is someone that I can safely say has had a massive impact on my life. Most of us have a teacher or a couple of teachers that we will always remember from time at school. Who are yours? John Zwanzig was one of mine. He was a great teacher. He completely inspired me and was willing to let me develop my skills at my own pace and adapted the way he taught to the way that I learnt and took in information. He also occasionally helped me get out of double Science – and that is something that I’ll be forever grateful for! (Incidentally and perhaps controversially – I think that Science should only be a core subject until the end of Year 9 – but that’s a conversation for another day).
Anyway – fast forward a few years and through the land of Bookface John and I got back in touch and have met up a few times over the last few years. Now I can’t really describe the moment when you first meet an old teacher – because for a few moments it’s just a bit odd and you feel like you might be back at school. But after that? John has now become a really good friend and it’s lovely to be able to spend a bit of time with him when we both have the chance.

After saying goodbye to John, I popped in to a gig venue briefly to say hi to another friend – who it just so happened was playing that night.

Tom Lynam
I’ve known Tom for a number of years now as I first met him in the Faction years.
And despite him being one of the busiest men on the planet – we’ve kept in touch along the way. Tom is without question one of the most talented musicians and songwriters I’ve ever come across and is also one of the friendliest people you could ever meet. I’ve sat down for loads of beers with him over the years and I think the overriding feeling that I’ve walked away with is that he is just a lovely guy. He also has a lot more depth to his character than he will initially let you see in person or until you get to know him. The place where Tom bears his soul though is on stage and as a little plug – why don’t you check out his EP as it’s awesome! He’s a cheeky little scamp – but you love him for it.

Bowling the night away (Office Family Outing)
I’ve said before that I’m extremely blessed to work with an amazing bunch of people and to celebrate 8 of them being given permanent jobs – loads of us went bowling (on half price everything night). Perhaps surprisingly – it wasn’t that messy (for most of us) but as I keep talking about these amazing people – I thought I’d introduce you to some more of them (aside from the ones that you’ve already met like Joe, Naomi & Andy). 

Lania Rokodravu
Naomi, Anthony & Lania
When Lania laughs – you can hear her from the other side of the office. But that isn’t a bad thing because Lania will never fail to make you smile thanks to her completely infectious personality. She might come across as noisy and a bit of a joker but when you get to know her you realise that there is so much more to her personality than that. She’s strong (physically and mentally), funny, kind and basically amazing. 

Anthony Rose
Despite being a Manchester United fan - I really like spending time with Anthony and I’m really proud of him because of the man that he has become. Like Lania, Anthony has a bit of an infectious personality and is a bit of a scallywag (I’m working on bringing that word back). Anthony is fun, confident, subtle as a brick and kind-hearted. He is also a bit of a mischief instigator.   

Steve “Grandad” Silcox
Steve is called “Grandad” because he is one of the “elders” of the office (despite acting a lot of the time like he is still about 25!) Have you ever thought to yourself after seeing someone “Wow – If I’m still like that at their age then I’ll be happy……”? Well Steve for me is one of the people that I base that theory on for myself. Humble, friendly, selfless, reliable, trustworthy and blunt – Steve is well loved - and deservedly so because he will go out of his way to help anyone. Just don’t ever try and get hold of him on his mobile…….

Becky Lane
If I’m in a bad mood, Becky is one of the people that can without fail cheer me up. She can make me smile, she can make me laugh and at any given moment she can catch me off guard by throwing a curveball in there to make me think. Becky is really outgoing and fun on one hand whilst possessing amazing levels of compassion and kindness on the other. One of my memories of Becky is that she wrote us a completely beautiful email after the events of chapter 9 that actually brought me to tears. I’ll never forget that email as it was written from a place of such caring and empathy that it just took me apart. Without any question - Becky is one of the people that I most look forward to seeing when I walk into the office. 
Becky Lane and Amba

Amba Parker
Amba is very simply one of the nicest people that you could ever meet. She has a complete heart of gold and will always put your needs above hers. You can’t help but smile when you are around her (unless she trys to poison you with nuts – in which case you can help but smile because in my case I was throwing up) and she has one of those personalities that you just find yourself opening up to. Amba is absolutely lovely and is a regular winner of our “Little Bit of Sunshine” award. Oh – and if you ever need her to be somewhere on time – give her a time which is 30 minutes before you actually need her there.

Some of my favourite moments in the office (and on work “family outings” have come courtesy of Bex (as have quite a few of the questions that I’ve answered so far in 10 Resolutions). Bex is one of those people that can’t help but care for others and because of that – if there is anything everything ever wrong with her or if someone has hurt her you will become instantly protective of her (not that she needs protecting though). Bex is funny, absolutely amazeballs (a popular Bex phrase), sarcastic, (occasionally) ditzy, cheeky and can banter with the best of them. She also has a contagious happy mood and a “mild” case of OCD whilst being (I’m pretty sure) allergic to the cold. 

Now obviously that isnt everyone that I work with....but if I introduce you to everyone now,,,what would we do going forward! 

Babies, babies everywhere…….
Just before I started writing 10 Resolutions - we had a stage where loads of couples got pregnant - and now we are in the stage of the babies being born…and I love it! Dan and Christine have just had a beautiful baby girl called Amelia (Dan and I had a cheeky cigar together the day after she was born) and my friends Rich (who I saw on the night of the baby being born) and Julie have also just had a baby called James. Congratulations!!!! 

Richard Dunne
I met Rich (through Andy Howson) a few years ago before he started working in our office and he is the person that has probably grown up more since I’ve known him than anyone else in the same period of time. He is loyal, patient, funny, and has an amazing ability to see the best in people and to believe in them. He also listened to 12 different mixes of one of my songs to try and help me work out which one was the best (something for which I’ll be forever grateful)! 

So there you have it – you are very nearly up to date. I could carry on and ramble for ages about the return of football, my preparations for Rivercamp and about the fact that I walked in the other day to discover that Milo the destroyer had arranged a number of covers into a girlfriend shape (in a hint to Wifey and I that he wants a girlfriend?) – but I’m not going to. Mainly because it’s important that what comes next is the start of a new chapter (that might seem cryptic...but it’s not....) 

Please feel free to ask loads of questions about life, the universe, or everything in between on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments section below. I’m off to investigate some luncheon and to try and work out where on earth the TV remote has disappeared to!

God Bless

P.S – I promised you a preview of before anyone else sees it – here is the album cover.....Ohhh. And if you'd like to pre-order the album - you can do by following this link (Please do. Pretty please)