30 songs: You know sometimes words have two meanings

Back on “day” two of this series, when the topic was my least favourite song, I wrote about an Oasis song. And got some random internet abuse for it. Today’s topic is a song that makes me fall asleep and based on the song I’ve chosen, I’m expecting another backlash.

Led Zeppelin, for me, have always been one of those bands who split people into two camps: those who know only the “hits”, and those who obsess over everything the band has ever put out, able to argue over which bootleg contains the best version of a given song. Obviously there are shades of grey between these poles, but I think most folk probably fit in one camp or the other, and until very recently I was most definitely in the former.

Because here’s the truth: I don’t really get Stairway to Heaven.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s far from the worst thing I’ve ever heard, and the last couple of minutes are really, really fantastic, but the six minutes it takes to get there just bore me to tears. It’s not as if I’ve got anything against long songs, either – Kashmir is longer (8:32), and it’s one I love. Primal Scream’s Come Together clocks in at over 10 minutes, and I love that too.

“Ah”, you say, “but it’s all about the build up”. Fine. I get that. And like Gem, I’m a big fan of songs that build up to a climax. I just find Stairway to Heaven‘s build up a bit plodding. It takes too long to get where it’s going, and could definitely stand to lose a few verses. Drop that first 6 minutes down to 3, maybe even 4, and I think you’d be left with something I could fall in love with as much as I have with some of their other songs.

As it is, though, it just doesn’t excite me. Anyone want to convince me otherwise?

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

30 songs: Uno dos tres cuatro cinco cinco seis

Today’s heading is “a song you can dance to”. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I rather enjoy strutting my stuff on the dancefloor – especially after one or two, er, refreshments. Whether or not my funky moves could be classed as dancing is, perhaps, open to debate, but I like to think it is, which makes the options for this category almost limitless.

So I’ve decided to narrow things down to songs which have a specific dance associated with them, things like The Locomotion, Macarena or even Saturday Night – in other words, the sort of cheesy thing that’s guaranteed to fill the dancefloor at any celebration.

One dance stands head and shoulders above the competition, at least in the West of Scotland, and that is, of course, the Slosh. For those not from round here, the Slosh is a sort-of line dance, which usually accompanies some 70’s easy listening track (the Scotsman have conveniently listed a top 5 best Slosh records here, so I don’t have to).

Astonishingly that font of all human knowledge, Wikipedia, knows NOTHING about the Slosh, something I’m actually inclined to rectify. However, YouTube knows better, offering up this fine specimen courtesy of Jack and Victor from Still Game. There are plenty more examples of course, taken at weddings and parties. Like a lot of YouTube content, I find myself asking “why?”, but it’s there if you really want it.

I’ve written before about Fury Murray’s and the many good times it played host to. Another club I always had a good time at is the Garage, where I witnessed one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen, .

Imagine if you will, it’s Saturday night, around 1998/9… the dancefloor is packed… and blasting out the speakers comes “Gunter glieben glauchen globen”, the nonsense introduction to The Offspring’s Pretty Fly (For a White Guy). The last thing you then expect to see is a bunch of rockers, all hair and beards and piercings and tattoos and black combats with massive chains hanging out the pockets burst onto the floor, and start doing the Slosh… it was certainly the last thing I expected, anyway. But that’s exactly what happened. Weird.

No idea if I joined in or if I just stood and watched in awe – I’ve no idea who I was even with – but it was definitely a magical moment I’ll not forget.

So in honour of those random guys, and because the Slosh is definitely a dance I can do, I give you Pretty Fly (For a White Guy).

Oh, and for any Random Crap Fact fans out there, I recently learned that the “give it to me baby” part was sung by Stretch the tape measure from Handy Manny, one of Heather’s favourite shows. Sort of!

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

When I wake up early in the morning…

Heather's Big Girl Bed!

Heather is growing up so quickly it’s ridiculous. Her first steps and words, those important markers in every child’s development, seem like a million years ago. I thought the rate of change would have slowed down by now, but if anything the last three months feel like even more of a whirlwind than the preceding two years.

Back in March, when Megan was born, Heather was still in nappies 24/7 and still slept in a cot. She’s been nappyless during the day for about a month now (even managing a wee in the toilet on our cake date at 3 Steps to Heaven!). As of Sunday night she’s been nappyless at night too, and doing about as well as can be expected.

Something I’ve been meaning to write about for a while now, though, is her transition from cot to bed – or Big Girl Bed as Heather likes to call it. We’d planned to move her before Megan needed the cot, and had bought the bed well in advance – it was on offer and flat packed beds don’t clutter the place up too much. Things happened sooner than we expected, though, thanks to the cot’s drop-side coming off one of its runners one night at bed-time – THE INCIDENT as I like to call it.

After a couple of minutes it became apparent that fixing the side would involve partially dismantling the cot – not ideal when your toddler is sobbing her eyes out because her cot is broken. And so began the job of convincing her that it wasn’t broken, and that we’d taken the side off as a practice for the big girl bed she was so looking forward to sleeping in.

Getting her to stay in bed those first few nights was a challenge, although not as bad as it could have been. For the most part Heather is a good sleeper, so once she actually dropped off we didn’t have too much trouble – getting her to stay in bed long enough to drop off was the harder part. And especially once she was in her new Big Girl Room, with its Big Girl Bed, bedtime was good again. There was just one more problem – light mornings!

Being woken at 5am by a toddler who’s convinced it’s getting up time, because it’s light outside, isn’t fun. Trying to convince said toddler that she needs to go back to bed because it’s too early is even less fun -and it’s hard to argue with the light coming through the cracks in the curtains!

It was Gem who came up with the solution though – we got her a Gro-clock, and for me it is absolutely the best parenting gadget we’ve bought. I genuinely can’t speak highly enough about it, and would recommend it to anyone in an instant.

Like all the best ideas, it’s pretty simple – when your child should be asleep it shows a blue star, and when it’s time to get up it turns into a yellow sun. What could be simpler? Getting up time is set just like an alarm clock, and two different times can be pre-programmed, which means we can easily sneak a few extra minutes in bed at weekends. The buttons also have a lock function, to stop your little one bringing the sun up early – invaluable with a child like Heather who will press any buttons she sees, and is very adept at figuring out what they do.

Stay in bed...

...until the sun!

The clock comes with a rhyming story book, about the animals on Sleepy Farm who club together to buy lazy Percy Pig a Gro-clock so he’ll know when to stay in bed – see what they’ve done there? After two months of reading it every night at bed-time, Heather pretty much knows the story off by heart – and Mummy and Daddy aren’t far behind!

Again, we might have been lucky, but it only took a night or two for Heather to get the hang of it, and now it’s rare to see her up before the sun. In fact, there have been a few times we’ve heard her get a book out and read in bed while she waits for the sun, rather than coming to wake us.

Amazon are currently selling the Gro-clock for £22.75, and it’s definitely worth every penny!

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

The internet is really really great…

I honestly have no idea how long it is since me and Gem had a night out, just the two of us, neither driving, and without kids in tow. At least a year, I’d say, taking into account our almost 4 month old and the preceding nine months of pregnancy. Fair to say, then, that Saturday night’s outing can be described as a rare treat!

First step was dropping the girls off, something Gem had been dreading because it’s the first time Megan’s been left anywhere without us. Meanwhile, Heather was desparate to get to Grandma’s house (Grandpa isn’t allowed naming right, apparently!) for the sleepover she’d been looking forward to for days. Amazingly there were no tears (from anyone) on our departure. I mean, Megan wasn’t exactly happy, but that was due to sore gums rather than anything else.

Torres was the venue for our pre-theatre meal, somewhere we’ve not been to before. We love tapas, and although we know nothing will ever compare to the best tapas bar ever, we keep looking. We were booked on a 5pm.co.uk deal offering 3 tapas and a glass of house wine for £10.95, which caused much confusion when we asked for a couple of Estrellas before ordering. That aside, service was good, as was the food which arrived almost as soon as we’d ordered – I suspect that was down to the early evening quiet!

We did, however, have cause to complain, when our desserts arrived frozen – fine if you’ve ordered ice cream, not so much when it’s cheesecake or tiramisu. Sorted out without fuss though, which is always nice to see, and certainly wouldn’t put us off going back. We tend to think Merchant City before Sauchiehall St when it comes to Glasgow, but Torres is definitely handy for the King’s which means a return isn’t out of the question.

Following our meal, we had time to hit for one more pre-theatre drink, and headed into the Hippo Lounge for a quick drink. Although familiar with its Gordon St sibling, it was the first time either of us had been here, and it didn’t disappoint – particularly as their well-stocked bier list included two of our favourites from last year’s NYC trip!

The evening’s main event was Avenue Q which is most easily described as Sesame Street for grown-ups. Most of the main characters are muppet-style puppets, who only exist from the waist up and are carried around by one – or in a few cases, two – puppeteers, who also provide their voices. It’s amazing how easy it is to focus on the puppets though, and before long you barely notice the people behind them, which I guess is testament to their skill.

Revolving around various people (and monsters!) living on the same New York street, Avenue Q is a very funny show about adjusting to life in the real world, and learning to be yourself. Song highlights include It Sucks To Be Me, Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist, and The Internet Is For Porn. Possibly not for the easily offended then, but definitely a show I’d watch again.

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!