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R.I.P Amy. It’s particularly sad when someone dies before their time. Especially when they had so much potential, and especially when life got too unbearable and loved ones couldn’t seem to help.
We were all anticipating the 3rd album. For that spark on stage again.
Clearing out my bug-ridden PC, I think that’s why I had recently forgot I was lucky to see Amy. A personal appearance at The Astoria on 14 Apr 2007, at G.A.Y. no less! The photos and videos I took reminded me that I hadn’t completely forgotten, but for many reasons for me that was practically another lifetime ago.
I almost never went. Some friends were not available, others couldn’t be bothered! At the eleventh hour I thought, “Screw it, I’ll go on my todd”.
I’m so glad I did. I met a guy and a girl also going (not seen them since) and we had a blast on the balcony!
I have no detailed photos or sharp clips though. They are only about a minute each in length, only a taster. It was a far cry from my usual trigger-happy, ready-to-record collection of gigs now. Coupled with the fact that my battery had run out of juice.
So you may be disappointed if you expect even average quality.
But the graininess instills a rawness to it that makes it seem more real. And that her voice and character still come through is a testament to her prowess. Her voice still so strong and so arresting.
Watching the clips last week felt very eery, I guess you’ll feel the same. The lady singing before us had sadly passed away suddenly at 27 (or unfortunately perhaps not so suddenly if you think about it). In a venue that is now no more after being demolished for the Crossrail project.
Knowing I was also 27 (meaning she was 23…!) while looking through my camera lens at her was alarming. But mostly, 2007 was the last year my Mum was alive; any event whether banal or stupendous in 2007 I can’t help hold as painfully sacred. Events like perhaps going home and telling my Mum about the concert, listening to her reaction, and then tucking our conversation away in some corner of my memory, maybe as nothing particularly special, completely ignorant that in months to come the change in my landscape would be nothing short of alien.
I hadn’t seen these clips since 2007. But apart from feeling sad, there was a bittersweetness. And seeing Amy reminded me how much she entertained everyone that night. The room was filled with happiness at her kookiness and her power. She was such a laugh, joking with the crowd. And I hope you get that from watching them too, which is why I wanted to share these clips for anyone who loved her, as short as they are. Hopefully a warm fuzzy feeling of how great she was!
I also wanted to promote MIND, the mental health charity. It’s an umbrella organisation to deal not only with addiction, but all mental health issues, depression, anxiety, minor to major, the lot. There shouldn’t be a stigma attached to it. Sometimes it goes unnoticed compared to other tangible physical diseases. But it’s devestating when someone feels isolated, having seen loved ones suffer and also been affected.
Sometimes all it takes is to share one’s worries with a loved one, to feel on top of the world again. But for many people, this simple act of opening up, which most people engage in, seems to not be an option. And that’s when small problems can spiral out of control, and often they need not. And it’s not just drug addiction, other reasons for feeling low, which is normal for all of us at some time or another and usually we pull through it, can be left unchecked until, in some cases, it’s too late.
Right now, someone else who isn’t famous is going through this. Maybe your neighbour you pass by every day. Your work colleague. Family member. Trying to put a brave face on it. Maybe you?
Depression isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of being strong for too long.
So, whether you liked the clips or thought they were crap! ( :-/ ) …have a look at MIND and donate if you like. Or maybe someone needs your support. Or maybe you do, but are too scared to ask for help. We all need help sometimes.
CONGRATULATIONS to Prince William and Kate Middleton on their big day!
It’ll be information overload for a few weeks. But here are the facts you really want to know! (Perhaps. ).
* Although only 29 years of age, Kate will be the oldest bride to marry into the Royal Family. Princess Diana, was barely 20 years old when she married Prince Charles in 1981. Statistics show that marrying at this age means that Will and Kate are less likely to divorce.
* William and Kate are 12th cousins once removed according to The Daily Mail (!) (ancestor Sir Thomas Leighton) or 15th cousins (descended from Sir Thomas Fairfax) according to other sources – from the 16th century.
* David Cameron wants the nation to “get on and have fun and celebrate our country” this Friday, advising councils to allow the British public to throw street parties. Around 4000 applications for street-party licenses were received and an estimated 2 million people will be celebrating on the streets.
* Among the 1,900 guests include (make of this what you will!) Victoria and David Beckham, rugby coach Clive Woodward, comedian Rowan Atkinson, director Guy Ritchie, Kanye West, the landlord of Kate’s local pub, TV presenter Ben Fogle….as well as two of Kate’s exes and four of William’s (including Jessica Craig, Olivia Hunt, and Rupert Finch…heterosexual pairings btw! ).
* Around 40 foreign royals have been invited, including the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, the Sultan of Brunei, the Emperor of Japan, and kings of Malaysia, Tonga, and Thailand.
* President Obama has not been included due to the high costs of additional security, but will visit the UK in May for a royal dinner and ball to pay his respects to the newlyweds. Sarah Ferguson has also been snubbed, oh dear. :-/
* Senior Royals and dignitaries will be shuttled between Buckingham Palace and Westminister Abbey in minibuses…not Prince Charles though, he’ll be chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce style. (Get him! ).
* Male military guests will be required to wear their armed forces dress uniform, while women have been advised to wear elegant afternoon dresses with or without a smart coat or hat.
* Prince William’s Mum got married at St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1981. Like Princess Diana, Kate is following in her would-be mother-in-law’s footsteps by not promising ‘to obey’.
* The Wales-Middleton union will be the 15th royal wedding conducted during the 1,000-year history of the Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster, to give Westminster Abbey its formal name. Victoria’s granddaughter, Patricia of Connaught, chose to marry her naval aide-de-camp Alexander Ramsay in 1919. Only then did the trend for 20th-century royal weddings begin.
* Prince William and Kate Middleton are said to have chosen the abbey for its beauty, historic and recent personal royal connections and intimacy.
* In particular, Prince William’s mother Diana, Princess of Wales had her emotional funeral service here. 29th April 2011 will surely be an important day for him in many ways when he places a wedding ring next to his mother’s engagement ring on his bride’s finger.
* After the royal couple’s first press conference, Kate wants to be known as Princess Catherine. If she and William make it to the throne, Kate will be the sixth Queen Catherine of England. (Get her! ).
* William and Kate are allegedly going to be the first royal couple to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement.
* William and Kate’s wedding reception will have 600 chosen guests enjoying a lunchtime buffet – his parents celebrated with a 120-guest breakfast hosted by the Queen.
* Kate will spend her last night as a single woman at The Goring Hotel in Belgravia – the Queen Mother called it her favourite hotel and in 1952 most Royal guests for the Queen’s coronation stayed there.
* William will not wear a ring but Kate will wear a gold ring passed down to William from the Queen, traditionally sourced from the Clogau St David’s mine at Bontddu in North Wales.
* Lookalike agencies can be in huge demand. And having ‘Wills & Kate’ on the books could be the holy grail of all lookalikes. Easyjet recently ran a competition, the 2 winners of which winning free flights for a year (Wills & Kate on Easyjet?!) Out of 20 finalists, Simon Watkinson, 29, from London and Orsola Rossi, 29, from Milan have been crowned the most convincing Prince William & Kate Middleton lookalikes across the whole of Europe. Simon and another Kate lookalike – Jodie Bredo – feature in this T-Mobile Royal Wedding viral ad…love the song choice!
* It’s the Royal wedding of media firsts — first to be announced on Twitter, have a soundtrack released online within hours of the service and the first Royal wedding to have its own flood of smartphone apps. But no 3D… this time. All guests have been warned to switch off mobiles during the service and NOT to update Twitter. (Ha! Hopefully! We’ll see! )
* The royal couple have asked their guests donate to charity instead of buying gifts – one of 26 charities. Click HERE to see them!
* The Metropolitan Police have been carrying out extensive security checks around Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. Police have been checking every possible threat from the inside of traffic lights to inside the street-gutters. The operation is costing an estimated £20 million.
* 80,000 commoners will flock to London to cheer on the happy couple, up to a billion are expected to tune in at home. It’ll be a media beast — 8,000 TV and radio journalists, CNN is drafting in an extra 50 US staffers to add to its London desk of 75, the BBC has stationed 850 staff and Sky and ITV have 460 between them.
* The Queen is said to have sent out ‘save-the-date’ invitations via fax machine. Cute!
* Kate might get called a tart – it’s a tradition for Royal brides to get a pudding named after them, in 1947 there was the Bombe Glace Princess Elizabeth and in 1923 the Fraises Duchesse Elizabeth.
* William has invited several individuals recently saved from homelessness by his late mother’s charity, Centrepoint. He apparently wanted to include those who have touched his life in some way.
* According to it’s statistics, the alumni of St Andrew’s University, where the pair met, have a 10% chance of marrying a fellow alumnus.
* Kate has shunned riding to the Abbey in the glass carriage used by Princess Diana on her wedding in favour of taking a car — either a 1950s classic used by the Queen or the Phantom IV used by Charles and Camilla during the infamous incident at the student fees protests last year. But the newlyweds will take Charles and Di’s carriage on the ride to Buckingham Palace.
* The Royal Wedding route will include The Mall, Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall and Parliament Square.
* Burglary is expected to rise significantly on Friday due to the mass public partaking in street parties while forgetting domestic security. Thieves are likely to use the occasion as a prime opportunity to target people’s houses. Be careful people!
* If William had wanted to marry before his 25th birthday he would have required the consent of his grandmother The Queen!
* Gamblers can take a punt on all things Royal wedding — topping the polls at the moment are bets on whether Harry will lose the rings (38/1) or end up drunk (33/1), and what colour of hat will be worn by Her Majesty.
* The organizers of the Rugby World Cup have invited the couple to spend their honeymoon at the tournament in New Zealand.
* When (assuming so!) he becomes King, William, at 6ft 3ins, will be the tallest monarch ever.
* The economy is set to experience a hefty boom due to amount of consumers spending on celebration products such as: bunting, decorations, alcohol and party equipment. This is estimated to generate an extra £480million to retailers across the UK…!!!
* Memorabilia Meltdown!!! Fridges embossed with a giant photo of the Royal couple, a Kate and Wills meat pie and a limited edition Princess Catherine engagement doll, who has her own Facebook page and sold at Hamleys toy store, are just some of the options. Japanese toy line Sylvanian Families has designed rabbit replicas of the royal couple, to go on sale in the UK around the time of the wedding.
* The see-through Charlotte Todd dress that Kate wore in a charity fashion show at St. Andrews University back in 2002 was recently auctioned off for £78,000. It is supposed that this modelling moment for Kate was how she first caught the attention of the young Prince.
* The Royal couple have opted for wedding music that includes Westminster Abbey Choir, Chapel Royal Choir and the London Chamber Orchestra over celebrity performers.
* The wedding flowers will be white gardenias, lily of the valley, delphinium and roses — all grown in Britain — and will stay in Westminster in the week after the service to be seen by the public. Kate’s bouquet will include a sprig of myrtle, known as ‘the herb of love’, in keeping with a tradition started by Queen Victoria in 1840. The wedding bouquet will go on the tomb of the unknown soldier, a tradition started in 1923 by the Queen Mother on her wedding day.
* Michelle Mone from Ultimo wanted to design the wedding day lingerie and even sent designs to Kate, but the regal bride is more likely to be supported in undergarments by Rigby and Peller, the Queen’s corsetières.
* Some pop stars will feature on the DVD of the Royal Wedding. Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley has recorded a duet of ‘True’ with Irish pop princess Carol Anthony.
* William’s no-bake chocolate crunch cake, a childhood favourite, will contain 1,700 McVitie’s biscuits and more than 18kg of dark chocolate.
* Two of the horses taking part in the ceremony are named after Prince William and Catherine Middleton. The horses are part of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.
* The couple WILL re-enact a kissing photo-op on Buckingham Palace balcony.
* Despite not making it on to the guest list, rapper Snoop Dogg (left, below the Beckhams), sent William a wedding gift, a song called Wet, which he composed for the stag do.
* Four stylists — James Pryce, Richard Ward and their two assistants — have been drafted in to monitor Kate’s hair throughout the day.
* Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who will marry the couple, is hard of hearing in one ear, unable to drive and at school had a note permanently excusing him from PE.
* The bride has commissioned four pairs of shoes for the day with varying heel sizes but will walk down the aisle in a pair of silk slipper flats.
* Cake-maker Fiona Cairns, behind the multi-tiered wedding cake iced in 16 different blooms, first met Prince Charles 10 years ago at a Fortnum & Masons event in London when his opening chit-chat was “Do you do wedding cakes?”
* A recession-conscious Queen has opted for ‘two bite’ buffet canapes for her 600 guests at the Palace rather than a sitdown meal. The lucky 300 guests invited to Prince Charles’ do later in the day will be treated to an organic three-course meal served up by award-winning Swiss chef Anton Mosimann.
* Sarah Burton, creative director of Alexander McQueen, is the name emerging from royal quarters as the designer of Kate’s dress.
Happy Royal Wedding Day everyone! XXX I wonder if they’ll be dancing to this?…
12th of December 2010.
Just another day.
I guess I imagined I’d be with my Mum.
Perhaps driving with her to my Grandparents, looking over to me with a slight hint of pride sitting with her son at the wheel.
Or helping her cook her infamous lamb biriyani for my close friends that she (and I) had so longed to meet, to know an important part of my life, looking after everyone as always. Both watching contentedly as people close to my heart enjoy her food, eating with us.
Taking her to a museum, both eagerly discovering, say, the ancient Egyptians, or enjoying a West-End play, or simply spending time with her in town, arm in arm, proudly showing her off to the world.
Or at home, she’d be listening, enraptured, beaming, as my sister spoke excitedly about her hard work paying-off in her demanding job, or how I got an ‘A’ in my latest assignment.
I could be sitting with her in the living-room, me obsessing over the latest pop artists on T4 or X-Factor, my Mum half-frowning at me, half-joining in.
Or maybe…she would just be there…while we were chilling at home…her pottering around or feet up on the sofa…just her presence, but such a powerfully loving, warm, pure and immensely beautiful presence.
But, all this and more are bittersweet fantasies, endlessly evolving in my mind, since my Mum died unexpectedly 3 years ago today.
Memories have always been important to me. Actually, massively so – half the time I’m in a constant state of playback of past experiences.
I think this is why I’ve found it particularly cutting. I remember speaking to someone shortly afterwards who said that after his Mum passed away many years ago, the pain never goes, you just get try and get used to it. ‘Blimey’, I thought, ‘this bodes well’. Actually…he was so right. Well, for me at least. Of course, everyone dies. Bereavement and mourning are a fact of life, always very sad, but the final rite of passage. Everyone who’s ever lost someone always feels pain, but I guess it all depends on different circumstances, some people’s are worse than others.
I think what makes it quite tough is that since late primary school, a distance developed on my part when I realised I was gay. Sensing early on the social taboo, but then the far greater family and cultural and (gravely misinformed) religious view, the idea of being close when I might be disowned was too painful, and unsafe. And so although I still was a part of the family and enjoyed good times, in my heart of hearts, it was always from a distance.
Desperately wanting to be honest, be open, just be me, but too scared of rejection. But I’ve always said, as harsh as it sounds, that I’d rather be disowned than be dishonest. After years of damage, when I came out to my parents for good (I initially came out at primary school…but in short, it wasn’t taken seriously), it was like being reborn…a feeling I’m sure others can relate to. It was the most difficult but proudest moment of my life.
Of course, it was an ongoing process, and there were some very difficult times. But to finally know that there were no secrets, that she knew who her son was. No sinister ‘elephant in the room’. I was ecstatic. Nothing could ever compete with that relief and happiness. And very slowly, I started to reform broken bonds, making up for lost childhood. It was a massive learning curve for her which she was still on, and I was immensely proud at how she dealt with it, in her way. One can’t expect ones’ parents to get used to it overnight.
And so I hoped to take her out, show her my friends she had always wanted to get to know, or my partner, go out with her, anything and everything. I could be 100% relaxed and feel at home in my family once more. The one thing so many take for granted, the only thing I had wanted for so long, was now finally coming.
But a few months before she passed away, life suddenly descended into darkness. There was a lot of pressure on our extended family, but particularly my Mum. All families have ups and downs. There are a couple of incidents that were our toughest times, but we pulled through. But, this time, regardless of my Mum’s death, was shaping up to be yet another. I shan’t elaborate here, but again we all tried to pull through.
Less than 24 hours previously, I had met her at my flat. Unfortunately my last moment with her was to be a brief hug in the cold. Dropping some stuff over, my Dad asked my Mum if I could come downstairs rather than meet me in my flat. ‘Thanks Mum’, ‘OK darling, Dad’s tired, we have to go’, ‘OK, see you later’, ‘Bye, see you later’, *HUG*, ‘Love you’, ‘Love you’.
I remember on the day she died, something horrible I had recently heard she experienced as a child particularly gripped me that morning, and I solemnly vowed I absolutely had to get justice for her while she was alive. And then, hearing it on the phone, the words that broke my heart. Running out into the street at night, finding taxis who’d agree to take me home, seeing my sister’s telling face at the doorstep, then rushing upstairs seeing her laying on the bed, blood on the pillow near her face. She still smelled so strongly of ‘Mum’, that comforting, loving essence. Her skin still so silky soft. She went to sleep in the afternoon, and my Dad found her a few hours later. The coroner said she was healthy and didn’t know why, but perhaps her heart. I think the hospital misdiagnosed her a few days previously. A few weeks after my Mum died, my Granddad also died.
We all face hurdles…I’ve faced a lot that other people also have, and a lot that people haven’t. But I feel you must always tell yourself that there are people in a worse-off situation. Because it’s true. But even though that doesn’t help sometimes, you have to, otherwise you’d be bitter, be unsuccessful, be defeated. But thank God / Cosmos, like a lot of us, I’ve got through them, and achieved, and then one can finally appreciate the good in one’s life, and enjoy life.
But with my Mum taken away, it was difficult to keep telling myself the same thing. She was barely 60 years old, I was in my 20s. Her parents were still alive. After years of being trapped, I had only just started to develop a full content relationship with her after coming out, sharing our life the way we were supposed to, the way others did and perhaps took for granted. She had devoted her life to making everyone around her happy, putting others before herself, and I wanted to devote the rest of my life to making her happy. And the last few months of her life she was tortured with sadness.
That was the moment I thought, ‘No, f**k this. What the f**k just happened? My Mum’s been robbed from me. I’m supposed to live my life with her. We’ve been through such a difficult journey, and now we deserve happiness. We need to make loads more memories. Good happy memories. I wanted her to meet all my friends. It’s not fair’.
And so the memories I had became like gold-dust. Such memories with my Mum are worth more than all the money on the planet…and then some. From waking-up, to going to bed…her face, her voice, her laughter, her kindness, her joy…infiltrate my mind, my soul. Painfully sometimes.
In the absence of creating new memories with her, I have a desperate need to share past memories with others whose lives she blessed. Of course, something we all do when we lose a loved one. Regaling tales, swapping anecdotes, reliving. That’s all I could do.
And so we move on, try to adjust. Make the most of our lives, with those important to us. Knowing I could never do that with Mum, I hoped to do that with those she was important to too.
So memories. To try and make up for missing out on them. Unfortunately, the other thing I was relying on seemed to give way. My sister and Dad together with me in my family home. My Mum’s extended family together with us three. But my Mum’s family and Dad grew resentful of each other. My Dad entirely refurbished my family home. And then he remarried within months, and then left the country.
‘So what did I have left?’, I asked myself desperately. I never say never, but it’s unlikely I’ll have my family back to how it honestly ought to be. I feel it didn’t have to be that way.
If anyone else is going through a similar experience, this is what I hope helps. Some of what I always did, some of what I’ve learned since.
Talk to friends. Maybe a counsellor might help?
Share your memories with your loved ones. In some cases your family may implode and you can’t. I tried to find at least a few people with whom I still could.
Tell those important who hadn’t met them, all about them. Share what made them special.
Make good memories! With people in your life who are still here.
Surround yourself with positive people. Try to distance yourself from negative people.
Try to be around those who truly appreciate you. And make sure you tell people whom you appreciate exactly that.
Live your life respectfully and try to do what you can to make those who you’ve lost proud.
I don’t think my Mum got enough of the appreciation and support she deserved and so selflessly gave others. And we never had enough of a chance to share life and for her to meet my friends. But I hope by making her proud and letting people know about her, it’ll make her and me happier.
Hope this helps anyone else who is going through a tough time.
R.I.P Mum. Love you and miss you forever. X