Week 5

Well another week has rolled by.  This last one has been rather busy – no surprises there.  I was working Tuesday-Friday and Sunday as well – really enjoying the job!  Enough to do to keep me busy without being stressful.  Ideal.

On the Saturday I had a wedding to play for in Halifax at Holdsworth House Hotel.  Once I drove out of Manchester I suddenly entered a winter wonderland.  The roads were just about clear and the snowy scenery over the Pennines was gorgeous.  

So a relatively easy journey until I get to the hotel itself.  The single track driveway was very icy and snowy and I just managed to slide onto it when a car leaving the hotel started driving towards me.  She was obviously not going to stop so I had to reverse off the snow back onto the road to give her enough room to get out – I’m already sliding all over the place so mild panic ensues.  But anyway, I manage to get into the car park – which is ankle deep in snow, after a lot of skidding around (I wonder if onlookers thought I was doing it for fun) I managed to follow some tracks into a space at the far end of the car park.



Ok the car is parked, next hurdle, how to wheel a harp across the tundra previously known as the car park.  A man who went by the name of Jaf was busily shovelling snow and I asked if he would help me – but by help I meant carry my bag, steady the harp and catch it if I slip.  His definition of help was rather different.  As soon as the harp was loaded onto the trolley he started wheeling it – I freaked out slightly but then realised there was no way I could have managed it so I just let him get on with it.  I must say he did an excellent job – so well done Jaf !

The venue itself looked very beautiful:


I had been asked to play this for the Bride’s entrance:

At first I thought it a little strange to play video game music at a wedding but, to be fair, it’s a lovely piece of music.

The two readings were also lovely – Shakepeare’s Sonnet 116 – the one made even more famous by Sense and Sensibility, and an Edward Monkton story called Love Monkey:

It was once custom that every monkey would carve for himself a wooden heart.

And the heart that love monkey carved was the most beautiful of all.

Its contours were soft and rounded, like an ancient pebble sculpted by the oceans.

Its surface was smooth and shiny like liquid silk, and it shone as bright as a ruby in the desert sun.

“Take your hearts with you wherever you go,” said their teacher.

“Nurture them as a mother nurtures her new-born baby.

For when you want to give of yourself fully, your heart is the only true gift you will have.”


That night, Love Monkey had a dream.

He dreamt of a monkey whose smile lit up his sole like sunshine.

He held out his hear to her, so radiant, so splendid and so new.

She took  him in her arms and he felt truly, perfectly, at peace.

When Love Monkey awoke he resolved that, from that day forward,

he would search for his Dream Monkey until he could stand before her and give to her his perfect heart.


He travelled through deserts…and climbed over mountains.

He trekked across forests…and sailed many oceans.

Love Monkey looked after his heart as best he could, but the storms that he endured on his travels chipped away at its surface and each new adventure reshaped it.

By the time he arrived on the last distant shore, his heart was so changed by the patina of time that it barely resembled his old heart at all.

And then, he saw her.


Standing before him, as radiant and as beautiful as the sunshine, was his Dream Monkey.

At firs the cold not speak.  But then, from somewhere deep inside himself, he found a voice.

“I have travelled the world over to find you, and to give you my hear,” he said.

“But now that I am finally with you, I see how foolish I have been.

You are so beautiful, so perfect.  And my heart that was once smooth, so bright and so new is now not something that I could even bring myself to show you,” and he turned to go.

“Let me see it,” said Dream Monkey.  She took his heart and held it up to the light.

“Nothing to me is more beautiful.  Every fissure tells a story.

Every blemish makes you more real.  All my life I have been waiting for a heart like this; a heart that speaks the truth.”


“Come here,” she said. “I have something for you too.”

In her hand was a tiny golden heart.  It was as worn and as scratched as Love Monkey’s own

…and it was the most precious thing that he had ever seen.

Love Monkey put his arms around her and they held each other for a long, long time.

“I shall treasure this heart for as long as I live,” said Dream Monkey, running her fingers over its ridged and dimpled surface.

Then they looked into each other’s eyes and, feeling the joy of truth in their souls for the first time, they began to laugh.


And often they sit together still, holding each other’s hearts in their warm hands, lifting them to the light…and laughing.


Always laughing

There were a lot of tears at this wedding, happy tears.

The ceremony was over rather quickly – and I played some music while people were leaving, I had one gentleman come up and start videoing me half way through Andrew Lloyd Webber’s All I Ask Of You – I’m not one to be put off easily but all I wanted to ask of him was to stop it!  

So afterwards I had to bring my car round to the entrance so I could get the harp back in, this time I had to ask two guys to push my car through the snow – and of course Jaf was on hand to wheel my harp to my car.  I could get used to all this help!  So I slid back down the driveway and went on my merry way – it’s good to get back into the routine of doing gigs!  And there are plenty more coming in the next few weeks.



Week 4

This last week will in the future be thought of as the-last-week-in-which-I-had-any-free-time.  I start my new job tomorrow and I am so excited!

So being offered the job totally changed the feel of last week – it went from being just another week in which to chip away at emails/admin/looking for gigs to being the last week when I can get up when I want to, have my own schedule, go out for several cocktails with friends, play Monopoly til 2.30am and then watch a DVD with friends and beers and just generally making the most of my freedom.

It’s been amazing!  And the weird thing is, now I’ve relaxed somewhat regarding my income, gigs are now pouring in!  I have gigs for the next four Saturdays, a solo recital in March at church (more about that later) and a huge pile of Wagner to mark up and learn for a concert in exactly twelve sleeps, Arggh!

Maybe the only thing I needed to get more work was, well, work.  It’s going to be pretty crazy trying to fit all this in as well as working four days a week, but I can’t wait to get busy and work hard for a living – it’s going to be so satisfying to see my debt get smaller each month.

A new chapter starts tomorrow!

Week 3

How is it week three of 2013 already? 

Something crazy happened in the last seven days.  In my last post I remember saying how I need a part time job as a little extra income – well, I’ve got one!  First interview was last Friday, then second interview was yesterday (Monday) then yesterday afternoon I got a phone call offering me the job!  Exciting!

It’s four days a week in a specialist clothing store for tall ladies like me – they don’t need me on Saturdays so I can still accept the majority of the gigs I’m offered which is a huge plus.  Also, we get a clothing allowance each season so we can wear their clothes to work – so I will regularly get to pick out lovely clothes that fit really nicely!  It’s so perfect for me.  I start a week today – next Tuesday.  

I’m so excited about saving some money!  Finally!  This year I’ll be able to buy decent Christmas presies for my family instead of having to knit them because I had no spare cash.  I’ll be able to have the occasional night out in a nice bar and not freak out if I spend £30 on drinks – not that I ever do that *cough*.  My life won’t have to grind to a halt if a couple of gig payments take ages to arrive – December gigs this means you!

It’ll also be nice to be around people during the day – not that I get lonely – but I sometimes wish I had the chance to have more social interaction during the week.  The shop itself is lovely as well, really friendly, not too busy and the clothes are good quality – it’s almost like a boutique.

So all this has changed the feel of this week – it now feels like my last week off before I suddenly become very very busy.  Somehow I’ll have to fit in my running, admin and practising for gigs in amongst working 25-30 hours a week.

I’m so excited!

Week 2

So it has been 2013 for a week now!  I still haven’t decided whether to say two-thousand-and-thirteen or the slightly more concise twenty-thirteen.

So I want to post every week this year.  During this week I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to write and sort of formulating the ideas in my head so I can just write it and it’s done!

This isn’t the post I thought it was going to be.

I thought I’d be writing about how getting up early really impacts on the whole day, about how I feel much better and much more organised.

I do still believe that getting up earlier results in these things – I feel as organised as I could be, the flat is clean & tidy, I’ve had time to cook healthy and somewhat interesting meals, I’ve even been running a few times.  But I think what I was looking for is a sense of control.

Control over how I organise my time, control over the money that comes in, and the gigs I’m offered.  But I’ve been really unsettled at just how out of control I have felt recently.  Take for example, a pupil who, for whatever reason, no longer wants lessons.  Fair enough but I then have to find that money from somewhere else – usually just as I’m reaching some sort of equilibrium between income and spending, something happens to tip the balance, having to buy a new car for example, or suddenly receiving a bill I’d forgotten about.

There is also the fact that I’m still owed money from gigs I did over Christmas – I hate that I have to nag to be paid in a reasonable amount of time.  I’d actually rather they give me a cheque on the day which is dated in the future – at least then it’s in my hands ready to be put in the bank.

I hate living from month to month like this – it’s only half a life!  Only just making enough to get by – I need something else, a part time job somewhere – just something during the day, during the week while I’m not really doing anything apart from pottering around trying to sort my life out.  I have no money for socialising or clothes or anything really that’s not a bill or rent or a car payment.  I know people younger than me who have bought their own property – wow – that’s just amazing.  I wish I was in that situation.

I don’t want to put a downer on anyone who reads this!  But posts like this are important – this is not an easy career to go into – I’m still deciding if it’s one I even want to stay in for the long term.

Happy New Year!

Firstly, I’d like to wish everyone who reads this a happy and prosperous New Year.  And, I also want to thank those who have been reading my blog, and a big thank you to those who leave feedback in the form of comments – or in person.

On New Year’s Eve I decided to take a very last minute trip down to Hampton-in-Arden to see my sister.  I’d already had a gig – performing at Sunrise Senior Living Retirement Home in Bramhall as part of their holiday celebrations.  I had what I thought was a clever idea that we could sing some carols for a bit of audience participation.  This was not met with much enthusiasm, or indeed, singing.  Never mind!  I tried.

I was actually in Hampton last New Year’s Eve too, in the same pub!  That led me to ponder the things that have changed in 2012 for me and my career.  My bank balance is probably pretty much the same, I’ve had to change my car (rest in peace Bertie), but what I have gained is experience in terms of gigs and teaching.  I just hope it’s all heading somewhere – and that I’m heading in the right direction.

Anyway, moving on!  I’ve made a few resolutions – some of them will only begin once I get back to Manchester later this week:

  • Start running regularly, 3 times a week – I didn’t go for a single run in December so I’m looking forward to getting back into it.  I also have the target of the Great North Run to aim for.
  • Get up earlier Monday-Friday, days are ridiculously more productive if I drag myself out of bed earlier, every day needs to be like that.
  • Get out of overdraft and start saving – this will be huge if I manage it.
  • Write in my blog more often!  Once a week – even if it seems like nothing noteworthy has happened!

So, what are your resolutions? How long will they last? Do let me know!