ME and AC/DC


In 2012, on a blogging group (blogster? multiply?) we were challenged to pick our favourite music performer/group, and use their titles to reveal something about ourselves. This is that post, revived…

Are you male or female: GIRL’S GOT RHYTHM

Describe yourself: PROBLEM CHILD

How do you feel: SHOT DOWN IN FLAMES

Describe where you currently live:  SIN CITY

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: HELL AIN’T A BAD PLACE TO BE

Your favourite form of transportation: HIGHWAY TO HELL

Your best friend is: RIFF RAFF

Your favourite colour is: BACK IN BLACK

What’s the weather like: THUNDERSTRUCK

Favourite time of day: You Shook Me ALL NIGHT LONG

If your life was a tv. show: SHOW BUSINESS

What is life to you: FLING THING

Your current relationship: DOG EAT DOG

Breaking up: BABY PLEASE DON’T GO

Looking for: FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK

Wouldn’t mind: LET’S GET IT UP

Your fear: T.N.T.

What is the best advice you have to give: ROCK AND ROLL AIN’T NOISE POLLUTION

If you could change your name you would change it to: WHOLE LOTTA ROSIE

Thought for the day: MONEY TALKS

How would you like to die: SHOT DOWN IN FLAMES or FLICK OF THE SWITCH

My motto: IF YOU WANT BLOOD, YOU’VE GOT IT

Sister, Let the band play on?


Daily Prompt: We Got the Beat.

Well, I guess I could pretend I was in a band – we never performed on stage, or in public at all, but we practised. Boy, did we practise – regularly together, almost daily. The number of band members ebbed and flowed according to the tides of commitments elsewhere, but generally there would be up to twelve – or as low as three – in the practice cells of the convent music block.

Yeh, we were all students at a convent, learning violin, piano, or flute. And all girls, from twelve to sixteen. Most were also school pupils, boarding at the convent, though there were a few “day girls”, or one or two who attended a state school and came to ours only for music lessons.

A little context, time-wise, may help here. Think early sixties, in a rural town whose radio station’s manager filtered what new releases would air to suit the tweed jacket and twin-set and pearls agricultural big spenders who’d come into town once a week to buy up supplies. So no Dylan, no Stones, no rock. And no radio at all in the dormitories. And one black and white television on which we watched a weekly documentary under the watchful eye of a nun, who’d avidly watch the screen while clicking her knitting needles. Anything to do with reproduction of animals, and “Off! Early night, girls.”

Back to the practice cells – and I mean cells. Each was off a central corridor that ran from the top of the flight of stairs to the two teaching rooms at the far end. The cells were only just sized to accommodate an upright piano, a chair, and a music stand. The windows were small panes of patterned glass, set in steel frames. Only the top one opened, and that so high you used a pulley to haul on the cord which turned the screw-rod – designed to forbid looking out. Not a note or a squeak left any cell, for all four walls were lined with pinex for sound proofing, as was the inside of the door. From the corridor, they showed their beautiful rimu panelling. From inside, they added to the grim feeling of the cell.

Always, the girl in the cell closest to the top of the stairs would leave her door partly open a crack, as from her piano seat she could see the shoulder of the supervising nun at her rosary or knitting, sitting on a hard, straight-backed chair. Until the refectory bell rang, for the nuns to attend afternoon tea and devotions (a quick Hail Mary then back to duties). Our look-out would wait until the nun’s rosary clicks faded into oblivion as she passed through the typing practice room and closed that door.

All cell doors would pop open, and we would gather in Mother Michelle’s teaching room, which gave us room to talk without the typists below hearing. We’d ask day girls what music they’d heard, and could one hum or sing parts of it if she’d heard it often enough to learn a verse or the chorus.

There was one day-girl whose sister worked as a technician at the radio studio. She would tell us of the releases we’d never hear until we got back to our home towns. And of the TV shows: the Country Touch, In the Groove and Let’s Go! on which she could watch country, folk music and pop – The Beatles, even! New Zealand city bands would play to a hand-picked studio audience – our town’s only glimpse of city fashion.

She couldn’t read music (nothing to do with the thick-lensed glasses she had to wear), so she’d cheated her way through three violin music grades,  playing by ear . One day in the open door part of practice session, her fingers were flying – a static and erratic pace, given she was using recall, not sheet music like the rest of us – up and down the keyboard. Apparently a band called the Hamilton County Bluegrass band (hell, we didn’t even know what bluegrass was) had played a country number – the Orange Blossom Special. She said the band not only had guitarists and a drummer, but a player of the banjo, the bass, a mandolin – and a fiddle.

She brought us Orange Blossom Special  bit by bit, by playing just  enough on the piano for us to be able to pick out a melody for the pianists or the violinists to cover. Somehow it became the one song we all wanted to play. One day she brought in a 45 rpm recording, and a boarder sneaked away to the dorm to bring her portable turntable. At last we got to hear it properly performed!  See? It was possible to play a classical instrument and have fun doing it!

We mastered our cover version, and moved on to whatever other pieces she was able to recall and pick on the piano for us. And that was our major focus for “band practice”, from nun’s tea-break bell to the call up the stairs from the typing room: “Penguin alert!” when all practice room doors would quietly close, and it would be back to Bach, Brahms and Beethoven.

But Orange Blossom Special? I can hear it now – just as I can “hear” The Band practising it.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/daily-prompt-we-got-the-beat/

The 50s Poodle Skirt – a CRC challenge


The 50s’ Poodle Skirt

 We live on a dairy farm in the Waikato, and it’s hay-making time. Cousin Jeanette’s coming to stay, and her friend Kay. They’re almost grown-ups, when I’m only five. My big sister Sarah is two years older than me, and she thinks she’ll be allowed to be with the older girls. Pffhh!

We have a radio. Its oak cabinet stands three feet high, and it’s narrow, and the top two sides are three inches lower than the main top. (I know because my teacher set us to measure something for homework and that’s what I measured.) The front has three arched cut-out shapes, with a fabric behind them. Dad says that’s where the sound comes out, and it’s to stop us seeing the little men and women inside, as they sing their songs and play their music.

I know he’s telling fibs for fun. That’s not how a radio station works. They have the singers and orchestras and bands come in and play for us in one of the station’s studios. It must be a busy place, ‘cause the songs aren’t long, and they only play one piece and then someone else plays or sings.

Anyway, when Jeanette and Kay arrive on the train, Dad goes to collect them and their luggage. They’re coming to mind Susan and me while mum helps with the hay, and to bake for the hay makers’ billy times. When they walk in there’s hugs and kisses all around from Jeanette, and small hugs and hand-shakes from Kay, and they go to their room to unpack.

After a week of looking after us, on Saturday morning Jeanette and Kay are all excited. They’re going to have a party tonight, and they’ve asked all the hay-maker boys to come. Mum’s made Ginger beer (and she doesn’t know Dad’s got real beer out in the wash-house, under wet sacks). The aunties have baked small cup cakes and a sponge and a chocolate log cake and sandwiches. Mum says there’s Pimms in the kitchen for the older women.

In the afternoon, Kay carries a square case into the lounge.

“We’ll set it up now,” she says.

I sit on Dad’s big armchair to see. She unclips the lid, and it comes right off, not on hinges. It has an electric wire attaching it to the main case. The main case has a round thing, and an arm-looking thing, and three dials. Jeanette sees me watching.

“It’s a portable record player,” she says. “I’m going to buy one for myself, too.”

Then Jeanette opens a smaller case. It’s about a foot square and maybe six inches deep. She flips the lid back. Inside are lots of thin envelopes. She pulls one out. It has a circle cut out from the middle, and you can see a red label in through the hole.

“These are the records,” she says. “We can play them on the record player.”

I haven’t a clue what she means, until Kay takes one, pulls this black flat plate with a label that’s got a dog on it, and she balances it on a tall spike she’s put into the middle of the player’s circle. The record sits there, above the circle. Kay moves a little lever on the end of the arm thing, and puts it back on its little prop. She twists one dial, then twists another which clicks.

The table starts turning, the record drops down onto it, and the arm-thing lifts itself up, moves over the record’s edge, and lowers itself down to sit on the record.

And music comes out. Nice, rhythmic music, a bit faster than the dance bands Mum and Dad listen to on the radio. But I’ve never heard this song before. The singer is a woman, and she has a happy voice. Kay and Jeanette get up from the floor and start to dance. And not like Mum and Dad dance. This is really happy and wild. They kick their legs high, hold hands and spin each other around, Kay swings under Jeanette and back to start dancing again, Jeanette rolls over Kay’s back. In, out, twist under her arm, spin out to arm’s length, spin back, jig and kick together… Oh I want to dance like this!

After a while, there are records scattered all over the floor beside the record player. Some are still not back in their envelopes. And as Kay and Jeanette “boogie” (that’s what Kay calls it), Kay steps backwards and “CRACK!” – her heel goes through two records. And they’re Jeanette’s two records. Now, I would have cried, but they just laughed and threw the pieces to me to put in the rubbish. I had a good up close look at the four pieces. There was a groove running around – I could put a fingernail in it and trace it around. I’d watched the record player, and had wondered what made it move slowly across the record, from the edge to the middle. Now I could see how that worked

And now I knew, radio stations didn’t have the performers parading in and out of their studios – they played these records!

After tea, Sarah and I were sent to bed to read. But first we were allowed to watch the aunties get ready for their party. (Sarah was a bit sulky because she thought that being the older sister she should have been allowed to go to the party.)

Kay and Jeanette both had fluffy jumpers – Kay’s was white and Jeanette’s was pale blue. They had ankle socks on, and lace-up soft shoes. But it was their poodle skirts that Sarah and I loved. Kay’s was a dark blue, and it had a little poodle made of lots of white pom-poms sewn on. Jeanette’s poodles were one big dark blue one and one little pale blue one. And they had leashes of dark blue ribbon twisting up the lemon-coloured skirt. Oh, how pretty!

We listened from our beds. We heard the boys’ cars arrive, car doors slamming, Dad greeting them at the door, clinking of things the boys had brought, and then the music started. Louder than they’d played it in the afternoon! Sarah and I sneaked along the corridor, and cracked open the door into the sitting room. Everyone was dancing! Mum was dancing with a hay maker, Dad was dancing with Mrs Taylor from up the lane, some of the boys had brought their sisters or their girlfriends, but it was so exciting to watch. The girls all had only their socks on. Sarah said it was to make it easier to be swooshed back and forward between their partner’s legs – and she was prob’ly right, being older than me and all.

© Lynne McAnulty-Street, Rotorua NZ, 2012
More poodle skirts back at Creative ‘Riters Corner, challenge #71