Squeezed some in

The last couple of days proved to be a complete change from the warm even hot days preceding and in fact have been quite cool. The cooling effect was due mainly to the high winds though the temperature had dropped dramatically too. Not ideal for relaxing in the garden or even working in the garden. I had been feeling drained with a lack of enthusiasm for any activity. I didn’t even take a walk because of the wind and the rain too, yes we finally got the rain we were hoping for. Anyway it was mainly the wind which kept me indoors. That was Friday and Saturday and it looked as if Sunday was going to follow suit. The day started dull and windy though any rain that fell was very slight indeed, so much so it was barely there. The forecast was promising as far as it promised to be sunny later in the day. It was only about 14 deg C throughout the morning with a little wind so I went out for a walk wearing a lightweight jacket, this one which I had purchased a couple of weeks ago

It looks like a raincoat but it isn’t designed for wet weather, it is more just a coat for use in the cool evenings of the warmer months of the year. It is very lightweight and comfortable to wear and it keeps the wind at bay if it isn’t too windy. I walked into the town centre and on the way saw an electrician acquaintance of mine working in an empty shop. Naturally I stopped for a chat with him before moving on. There is an open space named Princess Diana Gardens which is in front of the local civic buildings and theatre/arts centre and there was an army brass band playing there. Many folk were sitting on the benches listening and I found a seat and stayed listening too.

Believe it or not the band were standing in the circular area above the fountains you see in the picture. Of course the fountains were not switched on! Unfortunately I had missed much of the music but was still able to hear the last twenty minutes of the performance. The weekend had been dedicated to the armed forces with celebrations in Liverpool as well as Southport. Once the music was over I continued with my walk, returning home after two hours. After one o’clock the day brightened up but it wasn’t until three-thirty that E and I managed to squeeze in some relaxation on the patio in the now bright sunshine. It was still a little breezy though and the temperature hadn’t risen much.

Shirley Anne


Give away

Ukulele1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A little job occupied an hour or so of my time on Friday morning. An older couple had recently moved into an apartment on the Promenade and had wanted a faulty shaver unit replacing. The work was quite easy to do and only made slightly difficult because of the electrical connection method in the rear. As ever I managed and got it finished in thirty minutes. Prior to my starting the work I was offered a drink of coffee which I kindly accepted. We sat talking for ten minutes and then I did the work. Just as I had finished I was asked if I would like another coffee and as I was in no hurry to go anywhere else I again accepted. It was then as we sat in the lounge that I learned the man was learning to play the ukulele and was keen to find a local group of other players to join with. I couldn’t help him in that respect for I know of none in my area but I did tell him of a local pub, one only a few hundred metres away, where they held live music nights. Apparently they encourage new musicians to join in too. He might find the information useful. He told me he was also learning to play the banjo and guitar. He said he had been playing these instruments for about two years and I asked him to play something on the ukulele. He was quite good. I asked if I could see the guitar after I had mentioned I play. It was a small instrument but had a wide neck like a Spanish guitar would have. I tried to play a couple of tunes on it but I found it difficult because I am used to playing guitars that have a narrow neck as my own does. Still I managed to play reasonably well considering I wasn’t used to the instrument. I mentioned that I had bought a small mandolin some years ago but never managed to master it. I had intended to keep it for my granddaughter but she is learning to play a keyboard and has little interest in the mandolin. I asked if he would like to have it. You can see it standing against a covered guitar next to the organ in this picture taken a few years ago. He was interested so I returned home to fetch it and I gave it to him. I didn’t ask for payment. It hadn’t cost me much when I bought it so I didn’t want anything for it. On my return home I found a couple more bluebells in the front garden flowerbed and dug them out before going indoors as the tools were in the garage nearby. I had received one envelope through the letter box…….it was from the Inland Revenue Service……my tax-return form had arrived (see yesterday’s post)

Shirley Anne

Sing for your supper

Fender CapistranoIt has been quite some time since I sang anywhere. I once sang in a couple of choirs at school and later, much later, at church. The latter being so later was that I didn’t believe in God and therefore I didn’t go to church. Since leaving the church about fifteen years ago and for reasons I won’t explain here, not at this time anyway, I have not sung anywhere. The last time I sang solo and accompanied myself on guitar in public was at church at times when I led the congregation in worship. When I left the church I ceased playing the guitar for almost five years then took it up again about eleven years ago. In total then I have played guitar for twenty years since 1990 when I first started. I am self-taught with no formal training but people say I am quite good. I am not so sure myself but who am I to judge? Once in a while I might take my guitar (shown in the picture) with me when I go to work, usually in the summer and it remains in the van until I take it out if I am taking a break from work or have finished work for the day. I have been known to sit outside of a pub and just play for my own pleasure. I digress. I had two jobs to do on Monday morning, I wasn’t sure I would be able to do the second for I wasn’t sure how long I would be at the first. As it turned out part of the work I was to do at the first job had to be cancelled and that left me time to do the second job. Unfortunately the customer at the first job had bought two new outside light fittings to replace what he thought were two faulty ones but in fact it appeared it was only the lamps that were faulty. It would have been impossible to fit the replacement fittings in the same position without some major alterations to the existing wiring so it was decided to leave the old ones in place. The remainder of the work was inside and was completed without any problems. I had an idea that the lady in the apartment I was to visit for the second job would be interested in hearing me play the guitar for a couple of reasons. I have worked in her apartment a few times in the past so she knew from our conversations that I played and wrote Christian songs. She had hinted on those occasions that she would like to hear them. She is also a Christian and a fellow ‘Scouser‘ (from Liverpool as I am). I thought I would surprise her on this visit and take along my guitar. I completed the work she had asked me to do and something extra that was non-electrical too but I had to return to my van to get my battery drill to do it and whilst there I brought my guitar back inside  with me. We sat down and had a coffee and a chat before I took the guitar out of its case and played a couple of well-known Beatles songs which thankfully for me she immediately recognised! I played a few more and then some of my own compositions. Even though I have written a few songs I sometimes forget the words but I made an attempt and sang some for her. I guess she liked my playing for she has invited me to return again. Maybe next time I shall be singing for my supper?

Shirley Anne


I remember this song from my very early years. Mum and dad had a large valve radio that was powered by a wet cell battery and I remember visiting the local recording studio which also supplied recharged batteries. Dad would take along the drained battery and return home with a fully charged one, with me tagging along sometimes. I guess I would have been about five or six years old or maybe only three or four. I have fond memories of listening to the Bill Cotton Band Show which must have been broadcast by the BBC on long wave. For those who know nothing about radio except the digital ones of today, which I hasten to add I own, radio was broadcast as an analogue signal superimposed on a carrier wave. The carrier wavelength being, short, medium or long. I heard this song quite a number of times in those early years and this rendition of it too. Over the last few days I have had no electrical work save for Monday and Saturday mornings and have therefore spent my time working in the garden as my recent posts indicate. On Thursday though things were different as I spent most of the day sitting out on the patio reading a book about angels and people’s experiences of them. I was having a lazy day and was reminded of this old song………..


Shirley Anne

In demand

English: Easter holidays On a cold North Sea b...
: Easter holidays On a cold North Sea beach. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monday’s weather was little different from Sunday, just as cool and just as misty. Only consolation was the absence of wind. As Monday was one of our ‘Bank Holidays‘ I took the opportunity to stay in bed a little longer. It was around 9 o’clock as I lay there contemplating the day ahead and what I would do in it. It turned out very little as it happened. The house phone rang! Someone had a problem with their light switch asking if and when I could fix it and probably expecting me to be available straight away. I explained that it was a holiday and I wouldn’t be available until the following day, Tuesday and only after I had completed my other work scheduled for the morning. He agreed and I scheduled it for lunchtime onwards depending on how soon it took me to do the first job. Other work is scheduled for the remainder of the week. I seem to be in great demand lately. Tuesday was the first day back to work for me after an extended weekend break as it was Easter. On Easter Day, that is Sunday, a small song developed in my thoughts and I quickly wrote it down once I’d played it through on my guitar. It was the first song I had written for some time. I went through a spell a couple of years ago whereby I wrote several songs in a matter of a few days so it was nice to be given a new one. Tuesday was also the first day of the new tax year for me and the first day of my financial year, the day from which all account reckoning is taken each year. I mentioned I would be filling in my tax return for the previous year quite soon so on Monday morning I began collating all my records and totaling my incoming funds and outgoing expenses. As the weeks go by I shall continue with completing the data ready for when I submit my tax return form. I had forgone breakfast on Monday morning by choice and intended to eat later in the day. It was about 4.30 when I ate a small meal. E had gone to see her mom for the afternoon so I had the house to myself. I decided to bake some more scones. It was last Thursday when I decided to bake a fruit cake by way of a change whilst E was out shopping and that had been eaten by Monday. I did little else during the day, saving my energy for the working week ahead.

Shirley Anne

The audacity of the man

English: The first chord to Bridge Over Troubl...
The first chord to Bridge Over Troubled Water on Piano. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Much of my latest posts have been about my work but it is fair to say my work occupies a lot of my time and is full of interesting occurrences. Well last week was such a busy time for me so by Friday evening I was very happy to forget about the work and think about other things. I was tired too! Earlier on Friday I had two jobs to do at two different locations. The first job went well as did the second though the second one was in two stages. I had to remove two light fittings from one house, replacing them with something else then transporting the lights I had removed to another address before installing them there. The guy was moving home but hadn’t yet done so which meant all his belongings were at the first address. There was a beautiful piano in the lounge together with a lovely acoustic guitar. Naturally I asked if he often played them and he gave me a wonderful rendition of the Simon and Garfunkel song ‘Bridge over troubled water’. He then told me that he wasn’t as good on the guitar. When I had finished the work at that address I asked if I could play something on his guitar. I played a couple of my own songs and he told me that I play well. He asked what instruments I have at home and I told him. We then travelled to the other address and I installed the lights there. It must have been about one o’clock when I was back at home cooking lunch. The rest of the day and the weekend was mine. Late in the afternoon I received a call from the lady in whose house I had worked on Tuesday and Wednesday. There was a problem with an appliance which was causing the new electrical panel to trip off. I called to her house immediately and spent an hour sorting out the fault. It proves just how effective new safety measures are in modern electrical panels. Sometimes though they can seem to be too sensitive as far as equipment protection is concerned, not so for our own protection. Anyway I solved the problem for her without charge and was back home just before six o’clock. Now all I wanted to do was relax and after my evening meal that is just what I did. However I got a call around nine-thirty but didn’t respond thinking they would leave a message, which they did. It was an older guy from the sound of his voice, asking how much I would charge to fit the two wall lights he had bought earlier and that if I was interested could I give him a call. Well I thought to myself what a cheek to phone at such a late hour, reasoning that if he knew he wanted the job doing, as he had already purchased the lights, why didn’t he call earlier? I decided not to return his call until Saturday morning. On Saturday morning the house phone rang at nine o’clock and woke me up. I resisted answering and began to drift off again for a spell. A few minutes later my mobile phone rang and by this time I was feeling a little annoyed at the audacity of the caller ringing so early on a Saturday morning. I thought it might be the same guy who had phoned the night before and I was right. Now I can understand someone calling in an emergency but fitting two lights isn’t an emergency. When I had gotten dressed and was now downstairs I called his number only to be told that he had found another electrician to do the work. What was the urgency? It seemed he had purchased his lights late on Friday afternoon or even early evening and then expected there to be someone instantly available to fit them. Such audacity and I could tell from his voice that this guy thought the world revolved around him. Well it doesn’t. I was polite with him but hung up. Some people are unbelievable.

Shirley Anne

Striking a chord

The Guitar Player (c. 1672), by Johannes Verme...
The Guitar Player (c. 1672), by Johannes Vermeer, guitar Voboam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had one electrical job to do on Wednesday for an elderly lady living in a village about three miles distant. I had called there last week to assess the work over a cup of coffee. I mentioned this in a previous post a couple of days ago (God's mother?). I knew I would be in for a nice time whilst working there. I was installing three under-the-units light fittings in her kitchen for she had complained that there was insufficient light in the kitchen with just the ceiling light. She had a point. Now that I have completed the work I don't think she will be complaining about a lack of light any longer! Each unit is fitted with its own switch so that she can have any combination of lights on at any time. She was a chatty woman, something I have found with many women her age, in fact I tend to be just the same. The problem with folk who have employed me to do their work is that sometimes they don't realise that I need to get on with the job. I have to tread carefully and be patient but in the back of my mind I am keen to get on with it. Fortunately after about fifteen minutes of chatting and drinking coffee I was left to my own devices to get on with the work. She interrupted me twice in order to make me a drink and then left the room. All the work had been done but I had to make a final connection to an existing circuit which meant isolating that circuit. She thought I was going to switch everything off but of course that isn't necessary. She watched as I made that connection then reinstate the supply. I could hear the 'Oos and ahrs' as the lights came on. She was excited that the lighting was so effective and thanked me for what I had done. Once again she chatted away but this time it didn't matter, I had finished the work. She began talking about her family, her sisters and the husband of her granddaughter whilst showing me pictures of them. She mentioned that the young husband of her granddaughter was into 'Heavy Metal' music though she couldn't remember the term. I hinted and she remembered. Evidently he played guitar in a band and was so happy that he had married into her family for it appears many of them play instruments and get together occasionally. Her sister is a singer and is still active in the older club scene in Liverpool and she is around eighty years of age! She told me that she could play the guitar too and showed me the instrument she had bought recently. It was a three-quarter sized acoustic guitar partly strung with nylon strings more usual on guitars playing country or folk music. One of the steel strings was missing, bottom E. It was way out of tune but nylon strings do tend to drift out of tune more easily. She offered me the instrument to play and I tried to tune it as best I could for I am wary of tuning someone else's instrument in case the strings break. I told her as much but I made an attempt at playing some of my own compositions. I could just about get the songs out and had to sing along for them to sound reasonable, a little difficult with a five-stringed guitar that is woefully out of tune. She asked about my own guitar and how long I'd been playing. She told me she had been playing for forty years but that she couldn't read music or play chords and demonstrated how she played. Well I have to say I was impressed as she only used the bottom strings whilst strumming out a song. Essentially she was holding down just a couple of notes but it sounded good. I said that I would like to bring my own guitar if ever I was to go there again and we could have a musical afternoon. Maybe I will get such an invite sometime.

Shirley Anne

Remembering and doing

You Can Play These Songs with Chords
You Can Play These Songs with Chords (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many years ago, twenty-four to be precise, I had recently become a Christian, the year before in fact. It was now 1990 and I became involved in children’s ministry at church. The group of children I was working with ranged from about seven to about thirteen years of age. When I took on the role there had been two women working with the children so my presence allowed each of us to take a break on a rota. Neither of the women were musical in that they couldn’t play an instrument so in order to introduce the children to Christian songs they used taped recordings. I couldn’t play an instrument either but after joining the group I decided to learn to play the guitar. I had an old instrument at home which was really a beginners instrument but it sufficed for me to learn to play a few chords. I soon learned a few simple songs using less than six chords but I was determined to learn more and so over the next year I began by buying a proper instrument and teaching myself as many chords as I could. If anyone reading this has experienced the learning curve themselves or have endured the endeavours of someone else they will know what I am talking about. For a younger person learning to play an instrument is a much easier affair, I was around forty-five years of age when I started and it took some time accordingly. I became reasonably good when after a year or so of playing I was invited to join with the other musicians in the church services. I spent almost ten years with them and learned much. However I left the church and for five years didn’t pick up my instrument.

Shirley Anne

I began to play once more for personal pleasure about ten years ago and ever since I have improved much. I can now play many chords and especially those which, though basic, can be difficult to master, some of the ‘barre’ chords like E flat at the first fret for instance took me a while to get to grips with. Of course some chord shapes are so involved it is a wonder how anyone can play them but as I said the younger one is when learning, the better. One area I have found difficult is in remembering songs and I mean by that which chords. Gradually over the years I have built up a reasonably sized repertoire most of which are the songs of Lennon and Mc Cartney but of other artists too. I have also written many songs myself, around fifty of them but those of course I have no difficulty in remembering. I play as often as I can which is usually every day for at least a half-hour but more often an hour and I vary what I play each time. I try to learn new songs occasionally and those I once thought I would never master or play reasonably well are not the impossibility anymore. It takes time and practice and dedication, lots of it though if one likes music it isn’t a chore but a pleasure.

Shirley Anne

Bald headed hippy

Youth Culture - Hippies 1960s
Youth Culture – Hippies 1960s (Photo credit: brizzle born and bred)

I’ve been there done that and have worn the T-shirt. I was a ‘hippy‘ in my younger days like many of my generation and I was into all kinds of weird music, well weird to my parents. I still love the music and still enjoy playing it but not that often these days. Although I have many records they are all on vinyl and although I posses a player I usually only play music through YouTube or have it on my radios. I grew out of blasting my eardrums and those of others around me a long time ago, in fact if I am not playing music I do not like to be forced to listen to it when someone else is playing it. Once upon a time I was told off for playing music too loudly but now I have come full circle and it is my turn to raise the objections! I think you might call it maturity or having consideration for others who don’t wish to listen. There’s nothing wrong in pushing up the volume as long as it doesn’t disturb others and as long as you don’t mind the idea of possibly going deaf later in life. When young we often ignored the advice of our elders thinking all they wanted to do was spoil our enjoyment but in reality they were only trying to protect us as well as themselves. When you don’t want to listen to loud music it becomes an imposition to the point of distraction and we cannot concentrate on whatever we are doing. I was sitting at home watching a movie on television a couple of evenings ago and I could hear a ‘thump, thump, thump’ going on in the background. At first I didn’t think much of it but after a few minutes it began to annoy me as it was spoiling my enjoyment of the movie. It was an action movie and was fairly loud itself at times but still I could hear the thumping in the background despite having double-glazed windows and living in a detached house. I decided to try to locate the source of the sound by going outdoors and discovered that it was coming from one of my next-door neighbours. The guy who lives there is single so there is no family living with him, no youngsters who might be playing their music loudly. I know for a fact that he likes heavy metal and rock music for I have heard him playing it at home before. I believe him to be around ten years my junior so that would make him possibly a hippy too in his youth. Now though I guess I could call him a bald hippy for his barnet has long-since disappeared! I had to go round to ask him if he wouldn’t mind lowering the volume a little as I could hear it next door over the sound of the tv. Being as he is a nice guy he apologised and explained that it was a new system he had bought recently and I suppose he wasn’t used to the controls. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt over that one!

Shirley Anne

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Still playing

It’s been a while since I mentioned my guitar and for those who might be interested I do still play it every day. I try to spend an hour at least each time if I can. I remember the first time I picked up a guitar, probably too late in life to start playing I thought at the time for I was 44 years old but as people have often told me, it is never too late.  Actually, I don’t agree, yes you can learn to play when you are older but it takes longer to master and of course you will never attain the same capability as someone who started playing when they were young. I can say that I am not as good as many but better than most and I keep learning all the time. I am self-taught, never had a lesson in my life and I sometimes regret that as my style of playing is limited to playing chords and improvising. A local guy I know plays exceedingly well. He plays both electric lead guitar and acoustic guitar but he has been playing for many more years than I have. Although it has been 24, almost 25 years since I first started to play I did have a break of 5 years when I abandoned the idea. I was having a rough time in those days and just didn’t want to know. I am glad that I resumed playing about 9 years or so ago and I have improved quite a lot during these latter years. This is my guitar….Fender Capistrano Holding down chord shapes is very difficult for the beginner and some shapes seem totally impossible (like E flat and D flat at the top end of the guitar neck for instance)  but with practice they get much easier in time. I remember having to avoid playing some songs because the chords were so difficult but now I find them easy. One or two I am still grappling with but I am improving. It is nice to be able to play and it is relaxing too. When I first played E would make herself scarce and I didn’t blame her. She still avoids entering the room if I am playing and she is never encouraging. She wouldn’t dream of joining in to sing along with the songs she knows and I think that is a shame. She will make any excuse rather than join in. A year or two ago we had an indoor barbecue because the planned event was marred by the weather but we still enjoyed the time and at that time I played a couple of songs. Some of the guests joined in with me but E kept out-of-the-way. I don’t know why she is like that but she has always been the same. So I play with only myself for company most of the time. In my early years of playing I was in the church band and learned quite a lot about music and I began to write songs myself. To date there are about fifty of them and I play them along with other songs as the mood takes me. Yes, I am still playing and enjoying it.

Shirley Anne

She did it again revisited

English: Musikverein in Vienna Deutsch: Wiener...
English: Musikverein in Vienna Deutsch: Wiener Musikverein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Something more about the visit to Vienna on Friday…

This is the hotel we shall be staying at http://www.saveur.com/article/Hotels/Hotel-Sacher-Wien

Brief Itinary

After checking in to hotel on Saturday around lunchtime, visit concert hall in our finery at 19.30 for a two-hour concert then invitation to go backstage to meet the conductor and presumably have photos taken

Sunday, free to ourselves

Monday, free to ourselves but another visit to the concert hall and another concert

Tuesday lunchtime start journey home.

The Hotel is paid for as are the concert tickets and the main flight to and from Vienna.

Not bad for a freebie. Well not exactly all free, we, that is I will have to pay for all other expenses but I am looking forward to the experience

Shirley Anne