The Sound of Metal

This film was harrowing.

For someone in Music, my ears are everything. I use them all the time to make choices and engage with my vocation and profession.

To watch a film that focuses on someone who loses that is a difficult watch.

Live events, clubs and other areas of loud noises were frequent pre-COVID, and I always took my ear plugs everywhere. I don’t care if look weird with them in. I’d rather protect and reserve my hearing. Because the sobering fact is that many venues are loud to the point where they cause tinnitus and that ringing in your ears.

A friend of mine had to get surgery to sort his tinnitus out. it was expensive and it was debilitating. So £20 for decent earplugs is one of the best investments you’ll make in my book.

Riz Ahmed does an impeccable and passionate job of playing Ruben Stone, who during the start of the film, hits the heck of the cymbals in grunge, stoner metal style and then things become muffled, he starts losing his hearing, and with that, his career and relationship is in the balance.

We follow Ruben on a journey to come to terms with the fact that his hearing will get worse. Much of the film takes place in a deaf community, where Paul Raci gives a wonderful performance and a lot of evocative themes come into play such as acceptance, identity, adapting, community and finding inner peace.

The sound design is extraordinary and I can’t think of any other film that has gone to the same length as this one to give a visceral experience of what it is like to lose your hearing. Seeing it in the cinema would be somewhat challenging in this respect.

Watching a film like this makes you appreciate the senses we have and also admire those who don’t, and fight every day to condition themselves into living without thinking their lack of something is a handicap.

A tremendous watch.

Getting the Vaccine

To my surprise, I had a text from the NHS calling me in for my vaccine last Friday.

The fact that they have started vaccinating under 30s as soon as they have around here is a really impressive feat. and I share my admiration and respect to everyone who has been involved in the process.

The process was very easy, I went in, stated my name and date of birth about three times, sat down, waited for five minutes, then was called up to have it. They also provided a leaflet with all of the information regarding what the vaccine is made up of and it’s possible side affects.

The vaccine happened so fast, I barely noticed it. The key thing to do is to make sure your arm is relaxed, and if needles aren’t your thing at all, keep breathing and look away.

They make sure you sit for 15 minutes, just to make sure you are not feeling any adverse affects.

And out I went with my card, awaiting the call for my second dose, which I imagine will be done via text.

My arm is aching, I am feeling a little bit drained but nothing too bad.

I feel very privileged to have been able to receive the vaccine but unfortunately, many people in the world will not be able to receive a dose for some time.

India in particular is suffering and there is a significant need for oxygen to save lives. I have been given a reliable donation link and if you are able to support, I’d encourage you to do so.

Here is the link: https://www.ketto.org/fundraiser/mission-oxygen-helping-hospitals-to-save-lives?utm_medium=whatsappShare&utm_content=d3c30bf00c4bf87fede016d8d577988d&shby=1&utm_source=internal&utm_campaign=mission-oxygen-helping-hospitals-to-save-lives

Wishing everyone well.

Coming Soon…Live at Ratio Studios

One of the most frustrating things for musicians during this whole era has been the inability to get out and play in front of audiences.

Restrictions where we live have even made it hard for us to get rehearsals together.

After months of planning, myself, Miff and Jiff recorded a full live Kinky Wizzards set comprising of our last two albums.

We had an absolute ball making it and was in an incredible space, and we look forward to sharing it with you soon.

By-election – What I vote for

Today is the U.K. by-elections and for the Welsh, it feels pretty significant.

Many don’t want to admit that the U.K. is divided and dividing up and unless central powers in Westminister get their act together, things could look radically different.

So I cast my vote.

I won’t share the party, but I will share the values I was looking for. I’m not partisan to a party and I’ll happily swing depending on their manifesto and the time we are in and the challenges we face.

I voted for someone who came across as genuine, honest and worked at grassroots levels. I voted for someone who is optimistic and has plans that are ambitious and engage in possibility. I voted for someone who appears fresh in what is otherwise a system that has left many disenfranchised.

I voted for a party that puts education and healthcare at the heart of it’s policies as well as looking to take progressive action to tackle climate change.

For the first time, I felt like I was voting for something optimistic. How I wish the process of voting could be more optimistic and if we can look at new representative systems such as ranked voting which in turn, replaces first past the post, we may achieve that.

It was also great that 16-17 year olds were able to have a say. They’ve been massively affected by decisions which they have had no voice to say otherwise.

I’m fed up of parties and people slandering each other and everything being a rat race. What I want is for the narrative to be based on ‘we’ and for everyone to work as cooperatively as possible.

It’s been a tumultuous few years and as we go forward beyond this pandemic, let’s hope things can change for the better.

To the wire

My mind always boggles at the fact that Peter Jackson didn’t see the final cut of Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King until the premier, simply because they were still doing a few final edits.

The difference between work and art is that when you work you want to do the bare minimum, when you do art, you want to do everything possible.

The latter is an amazing bug, but the amount of times I’ve agonised over a piece of music, bounced, rebounced and then still finding things to tweak!

It’s sometimes good having a deadline imposed upon you. The pressure, the adrenaline and the need to get it done all sets you off on a relentless mission to get everything done in the precious amount of time you have.

Finding something that you can commit to, give your all and spend a phenomenal amount of energy on…is a blessing.

Decisions

We make decisions all the time. Many of which are small or at least seem it, whilst longer term impacts set in.

Take diet for instance, or committing to an exercise routine or pursuing a specialism. Deciding to enrol in these all offer long term outcomes.

But every now and then, we are poised with opportunities or possibilities that are monumentally big for us and bring about a fear of change or being uprooted.

So how do you decide?

Gut instinct certainly helps, but allowing time to meditate over choosing one thing above another and weighing up what you gain, what you sacrifice and what you compromise also helps.

Most importantly though, I think it comes down to your values, who you are and who you want to become. There may be external forces or pressure but it’s never good to deny who you are.

Either way, it also comes down to a willingness to dance with the unknown, we can only determine so much moving forward.

But for now, there’s the possibilities.

Series finales

I think back on my time being so emotionally invested in Game of Thrones and how the season kind of get crushed under it’s own weight by the final season.

To be honest, the show felt like it was on a somewhat downward trajectory when Twyin Lannister snuffed it at the end of season 4. The greater moments became spectacle until that’s all it was predominantly about for season 8.

There’s the evaluations, the uproars, the petitions, the sly suggestions of disapproval from the cast and there’s no denying the fact, that seeing an end to a TV series that has lasted so long is always going to be difficult.

And it seems like every armchair critic out there has never been more vocal or self entitled for that matter.

The Line of Duty season finished yesterday, and it was an enjoyable if somewhat underwhelming closing out. There’s definitely worse endings, but the uproar was insane! People do get attached.

Either way, there are plenty of other series to watch and enjoy, and part of the fun can be imagining your own ending and how you would do things differently.

I rather liked spending a night of insomnia reimagining the tactics of the long night in Winterfell for instance.

Above anything else though, creators and performers deserve more than being tagged and trolled by those who’ve never attempted to write anything themselves other than criticism.

First times in a long time

This weekend, I did things that were before the COVID era considered ordinary things to do.

I sat outside a pub, with friends one evening, and played a game of five aside on the other. The absence of these things over an elongated period of time has meant that doing it again, I appreciate it more than ever.

Being able to interact with friends and family in a way where we do not have to be concerned about potentially harming each other with a virus is my idea of returning to normal.

We are not quite out of the woods just yet, so but things do look like they could be better and that’s what I hold on to.

Moving forward, I think we may be able to appreciate the things we can do again that we weren’t able to for a while that bit more, and seize the moment accordingly.

Working under pressure

When deadlines are tight and there is a lot to do, how do you cope when the pressure is on?

A little bit of stress is good and gives us the sense of urgency but when it gets too much, it can work against us in a way that’s negative not only in a professional sense but in a mental and physical way.

It’s important to find ways during this time to manage what you have to do, get into a mindset of getting it done whilst recognising the importance of exercising, eating well and taking time out for yourself.

Sometimes, stepping away for an hour or two is better for you than slogging through when your energy levels are depleted.

Finding systems to tick things off categorically, or make small hurdles for yourself as opposed to climbing a major mountain also help.

Either way, we sometimes have to find the means to cross the finish line, sweat it out and then rest and recuperate.

But it’s better to temper an approach to which you can cross the finish line sustainably than running yourself and crashing and burning beforehand.

Unforgotten

April has been a creative whirlwind for me and I have barely stopped. But when I have, I have been watching crime dramas!

‘No comment’

‘Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Wee Donkey!’

Of course, Line of Duty season 6 is out, being released weekly and whilst we leave in an on demand culture, I like the weekly anticipation that is culminated from the thrill ride that is this TV series. It’s convoluted, engaging, and outright daft at times, and Adrian Dunbar’s catchphrases crack me up every time. The interrogation scenes are also part of the magic as well.

But whilst I have been waiting for the release of each episode, I’ve been watching ITV’s Unforgotten, which I happened upon via a former lecturer of mine singing it’s praises on Facebook.

As far as marketing goes, nothing quite beats recommendations and word of mouth.

And in contrast to the thrills, interrogation and big crime syndicate series long plot of ‘Line of Duty’, ‘Unforgotten’ is a character focused series, often slow, patient, considered and above anything else, extraordinarily empathetic.

The lead characters Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar are wonderful together and their own personal stories intertwined with the cases they work to solve are a treat.

The premise is based on crimes that took place decades ago, the impact they had on the victims and their loved ones and the persons involved with the murder in some way or another. From there, is an unravelling of lies, secrets that have been kept and revelations that have been tragic or shocking. It’s heavy stuff, but the way it is crafted by the writer Chris Lang is engaging and compelling.

I highly recommend this series.