50 things I’m grateful for.

Let’s change the tune of this blog, if only for a day; lets be grateful! These are fifty things that I am grateful for, and I wish to inspire you to do the same. And these are in no particular order, please note.

  1. Being able-bodied.
  2. The day I was FINALLY diagnosed as having Aspergers Syndrome. It explained so many things-my flat voice, special interests, lack of eye contact, some clumsiness, etc.
  3. Having a home.
  4. Having learning support.
  5. That I’m still blogging after all these years.
  6. My planner. Because it keeps me organised and feeling less anxious!
  7. Being able to learn in a country that supports my rights as a female.
  8. My family.
  9. That an editor liked my pitch to be a teen columnist, and allowed me to write as a Columnist.
  10. That this is specific legislation in place to stop gender and disability discrimination.
  11. To even have a blog.
  12. To have faith.
  13. CATS!!
  14. To have met Brian May.
  15. To have interviewed Anastacia.
  16. ‘Left Outside Alone’.
  17. That we have a stable political system. Sort of.
  18. And that I am allowed to read.
  19. That I was taught to read and write.
  20. That my vision problems were picked up quickly.
  21. Glasses! Because I can finally see.
  22. Curly hair. It’s what makes me, me.
  23. The right to vote.
  24. The feeling I get when I see a brand email.
  25. The sound of the church bells where I live.
  26. Smell of cut grass.
  27. Summer.
  28. That I may or may not be starting on the NTCJ course soon… (Watch this space!)
  29. Anything rose gold. So pleasing to the eye!
  30. Twitter. I love Twitter.
  31. The Bell Jar.
  32. The Diary Of Anne Frank.
  33. To have been able to explore Brighton.
  34. That I have enough food.
  35. Poetry.
  36. Red nail varnish.
  37. Fifties-style dresses.
  38. Twitter blog chats!
  39. That I have now reached the age of eighteen. Finally!
  40. To understand the workings of our political system.
  41. My typewriter.
  42. All blog comments.
  43. Print media.
  44. The feel of silk.
  45. Amy Macdonald and the ‘This is the life’ album.
  46. Spike Milligan’s verses.
  47. CATS! (Oh wait, I already wrote that….)
  48. Anything APPLE.
  49. The smell of wonderstruck.
  50. You commenting on this post.

What are you grateful for?

Untitled design

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I am pleased to announce that I am working with Basic Beauty Tools. If you go to their website via this link , and order the Spongedry, you can get an extra free foundation blender by adding under ‘Note To Seller’ your colour code: LYDIAPINK for pink, LYDIAPURPLE for purple, and LYDIABLACK for black.

The Lebister Award.

Whew! good morning. You’ll probably think that today’s post is really self centred, pretentious, but Blog Awards are a great way for Bloggers to connect, hence why I’m writing this for today. I was nominated by Daniella, whose blog you can read by clicking here.  For this post, you have to:

  • Post eleven personal facts
  • Answer the 11 set questions
  • Nominate 11 bloggers with a further 11 questions, whilst tagging them.

Sounds easy, right? Here goes-and my eleven facts are:

1.I was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome in January 2015. Although that seems a long time ago, it really is not, in taking into consideration how long it took me to get diagnosed. (Because, well, to be blunt, it’s really obvious. I was the ‘different one’, the ‘freak’ who was picked on at various times. How horrible.) But I see it as ‘my job’ to raise awareness-because why should anyone be picked on?

2.The last book I read was called The Spy, based on the life of Mata Hari.

3.My hero is Jacqueline Kennedy, because she was a well educated woman, and restored the White House, spoke several languages, and was a book editor for the last twenty years of her life. *I’m always asked about her style-but I like her substance.

4.I LOVE Rock music-Queen, Genesis, Dire Straits…

5.You’ll probably find me in a library, enamoured with a dozen or more books, looking for something to read. (Or maybe with my cat, also reading.)

6.The first record I bought was A Night At The Opera (Queen) in a shop, and Resurrection (Anastacia) online. Quite the contradiction!

7.Of all the people that I wish to interview, Brian May, Queen guitarist and all around really cool person, tops the top of my list. (RT this, and @ him, okay? Ha ha!) I did meet him once, and he seems like somebody who could tell you a good story or two.

8.Funnily enough, my first cohesive memory is of listening to Queen-You’re My Best Friend. (who said I was a fan girl?!!)

9.I love to talk about politics, having taken it as one of my three A levels. Whilst I know that it can be polarising-just look at Brexit!-I think that we have a duty to hold those in power to account, and to be well informed.

10.Feminist? Yes.

11. In spite of the fact that I juggle being a full time student, a blogger, and a columnist-meaning that I have to be VERY organised-I am a very messy person.

And now for the set questions from Daniella to answer! (Still with me?)

  • Why did you start blogging? I saw an article in Shout Magazine, which was a place I could take refugee in, being a lonely pre-teen. (Not a lot has changed.) It looked really cool-and a way to write-so, with the permission of my parents, I jumped in1
  • Who inspires you, not just in the blogging world but in life? Oh lummy, that’s a tough one. Jacqueline Kennedy is my hero, but I am also inspired by Anastacia (I created my own version of one of her outfits recently), Brian May for being just a really cool person, Caitlin Moran for the way she writes, Jodi Picoult for the way she writes and tackles issues, and Lesley Ann Jones, the lovely and supremely cool rock journalist and author.
  • What social media app do you find you use the most for your blogging? WordPress to write posts from, Twitter to post.
  • One thing you are most scared of in life? Dying? (Yeah, about that…) I do believe that there is a God-because there just must be more to life than this-but I don’t want to have wasted the time I have on Earth. Oh and the Tube. Too many people-it’s an ASD thing.
  • Do you prefer a night in with friends or a night out on the town? Depends on the mood I’m in. I prefer town because I can go down to Brighton, and get lost for hours. Everything exciting seems to happen there! But I love to host Netflix evenings.
  • What topics do you blog about most and why? Too many to count! Lifestyle encompasses a lot-so books and autism, I guess. I love books-and you can never be lonely with a book-and Autism, well to raise awareness. 
  • Do you find the blogging community supportive? Largely yes. I won’t elaborate as to the ‘no’.
  • If you were an animal, what would it be and why? Always a cat-I love cats!-and my nickname is the crazy cat lady. Apt, no?
  • What is your favourite genre of music? Rock.
  • What’s the bravest thing you’ve done in the past week or so? Probably talking to a lecturer with eye contact, and I managed not to feel anxious at all. (Eye contact is a hallmark for those on the spectrum.) I also can find it hard to interpret what they mean. And yes-I’m being neutral in case they are reading this. But they are such a good teacher-it’s just me being me 🙂 This is something that I find happens frequently, in that I cannot maintain eye contact, but it is something I am overcoming. 
  • Do you prefer savoury or sweet treats? SWEET!

The Eleven Bloggers I wish to tag:

Kimberly Jessica

Country Katie Uk

This Stuff Is Golden

Lisa Kallas

A Beautiful Caos

Freya Creech

Youralmostalice

Envy Fisher

Grace Brown

Blogger Badger (Emily)

Faz

And anyone else who wishes to do so!

My questions for you:

  1. How do you keep organised, in terms of a planner?
  2. Ice cream-yay or nay?
  3. Manicure or pedicure?
  4. Apple or Samsung?
  5. First album you bought?
  6. What motivated you and why to start blogging?
  7. Dream job as a child?
  8. Would you call yourself a feminist?
  9. Who is your role model?
  10. And hero?
  11. Pineapple on pizza-yes or no?

Until tomorrow,

Lydia

XO

***

I am pleased to announce that I am working with Basic Beauty Tools. If you go to their website via this link , and order the Spongedry, you can get an extra free foundation blender by adding under ‘Note To Seller’ your colour code: LYDIAPINK for pink, LYDIAPURPLE for purple, and LYDIABLACK for black.

My bucket list of experiences. (In association with Eventbite.)

Eventbrite recently contact me, in order to inspire me to create a list of experiences that I cherish, in the form of a bucket list. So, for today’s post, this is exactly what I’m doing. Feel free to join in also!

Ping pong for my birthday.

It was at Bounce in London-well, I think that’s what the restaurant was called-and most of my relatives were there, and we were just being silly. (I did get a few ping pong balls whacked at me…) Life goes so fast, and it’s often really intense, but this was the antithesis of this.

Listening to Golden Days.

The new album by Brian may and Kerry Ellis. I have yet to listen to all of this, but I already have firm favourites, such as The Panic Attack Song. There was so much excitement for me-and I felt like a kid again-in downloading it, and just walking round, playing it at home.

Teaching a relative the Presidents since Herbert Hoover.

One of the most prominent hallmarks of my version of Aspergers Syndrome is that I can become very obsessive, and some facts I can recall in great detail, as a result. (I use ‘a relative’ to be indirect, because my personal life is private, therefore separate from this ol’ blog.) I have been able to recite the Presidents since Herbet Hoover from the age of fourteen, I think. But my ASD has often served to alienate-people can be scared of me. (WHY??) But being able to teach presidential history-whilst sitting, key policy, impact, etc-has been great of me, because I can put my knowledge to use, passing it on. (Well, up, as they’re older than me, but still…..) Presidents are a love of mine.

Blogging daily.

Quite the challenge!

Seeing Emeli Sande live.

Although some things went a little bit wrong during the performance, to be asked to review her show, as a spur-of-the-moment proposal, it felt like I was ‘making it’. I had done what I had always wanted to do. And it was a great night out!

Beginning pilates.

Here’s a secret: I am neither athletic, inclined to exercise, or at all flexible. Beginning pilates has totally changed that! I go weekly, and it has helped my core muscles, as well as toning my abs just a little bit more. But I feel far more confident now! I feel better about myself, and able to walk tall, assert myself even, instead of slouching, scuttling away. If you lacked the confidence that I did, I really suggest that you give this a go.

Working with Bagleman.

What’s wrong about finding out about how Bagels are made? Not much, in my book, and I had to travel for it-all good in the end. I got to explore a part of Brighton that I didn’t even know existed also.

Reading The Summer Of Impossible Things.

I was sent this as a proof copy, but how I cried. A tour-de-force novel about time travel, bringing relatives alive, and changing times, this was affirming for me. (It was the last line of the book that got me: “Thank you for being brave”.) Rowan Coleman is brilliant. And I wish that I could write like her.

Interviewing Jemma Morgan.

Interview your blogging hero? Why not!

Getting accepted to the NTCJ.

The NTCJ is something that I have wanted to do for a long time-simply because it trains you to be a Journalist. And it’s recognised by various industry heavyweights. To be a journalist is what I have wanted to be for a long time-and getting the acceptance email was a truly happy day.

 

There’s still more to come in 2017; and all I have to say is, “Bring it on”.

Until tomorrow-

Lydia

XO

***

I am pleased to announce that I am working with Basic Beauty Tools. If you go to their website via this link , and order the Spongedry, you can get an extra free foundation blender by adding under ‘Note To Seller’ your colour code: LYDIAPINK for pink, LYDIAPURPLE for purple, and LYDIABLACK for black.

Mercury rising; Queen Extravaganza Are Back!

Hammersmith Apollo, 20/11/2016.

 

*Disclaimer: I attended this gig, having requested Press tickets, to give it an honest review. What follows is my genuine opinion.*


If you’ve been reading this blog for a while-surely a year counts as this?-you’ll know that I like Queen. And their official tribute band: Queen Extravaganza. They play A Night At The Opera (circa 1975) through, because the idea was to celebrate this great Rock And Roll album. The brainchild of Queen drummer Roger Taylor, it’s brilliant.

Let’s start from the beginning….
It was relatively early on arrival; we’re met with the news that there’s going to be a live recording, available on CD. And it’s the Hammersmith Odeon! The iconic venue-where Queen themselves played, and even Bruce Springsteen… Needless to say, I’m excited.

The support act, Electric Pyramid, bring a rock flavour to the general buzzing hubbub of the auidence. People are pouring in, although finding seats seemed to have been a little bit difficult. There’s long hair flying about stage, guitar riffs, and the occasional clap. It’s good old fashioned rock.

But there’s a man on stage. Seemingly small from the back of the room, he seemingly has a twinkle in his eye, a smile that’s grin-wide. Spike Edney. SPIKE EDNEY! The music producer for Queen on The Works, and who played with them at Wembley. And a huge figure in the music industry. He chats briefly about the recreation of A Night At The Opera-including going to studios, listening, dissecting the tracks. Then ROGER TAYLOR walks out on stage. The soft-spoken Queen drummer takes the microphone, to introduce his brainchild. There’s clearly a tone of envy in the voices of the two men-Edney even fondly dubs the band “bastards” for being young, the age Queen almost would have been in their prime, as a collective.

Meeting the band last year…

 

Remember the release Queen Live At The Odeon? It’s the same voiceover, from the same concert, who introduces them I think.

There’s a sudden change in the atmosphere; seemingly mysterious, we proceeded into Death On Two Legs..the run through of A Night At The Opera. It was notable for being sung vengefully-and, following this, throughout the concert I just had this feeling of “Mercury is here…”

Best of all, I loved the greatest hits selection-I never thought that I would hear Marc Martel sing Tie Your Mother Down, for one. There was also Seven Seas Of Rhye (an oldie but a goodie). And Stone Cold Crazy , as well as Save Me were also performed.

What really seemed to do well with the auidence was I Was Born To Love You (a Mercury solo song, possibly), as well as The Show Must Go On. They were definite highlights, largely because of the amount of skill, talent, and sheer balls to carry it off. The venue was built in such a way that sound was seemingly been thrown right to the back of the room. And any Queen song, album, or just music in general should be performed that way.

Needless to say, by the time Radio GaGa came round, my hands and voice were sore. They still are as I write this.

Also, just as a side note: hats off to Tyler Warren! The drummer of the band also sings-with a very high falsetto. He also covers ‘I’m In Love With My Car’, and harmonised on virtually all the other songs. That’s some feat-to drum along additionally whilst taking lead vocals.

Overall, my favourite part was the band introduction sequence during Somebody To Love; each was introduced by Marc Martel, stating their name, where from, etc. There was just a little bit of Let Me Entertain You played-as one of ,all time favourite Queen songs, I would love to see this played live. And covered well of course. It has to have grit, as well as keeping the substance of original lyrics. This band have the ambition and potential to do so.

From the meet and greet last year..

I also loved the fact that Martel asked if any auidence “hipsters” have A Night At The Opera on vinyl. We were also greeted as “good people of London”. So regal!

My only criticism is two things: there was a huge emphasis on lighting, to the point almost of being painful. During a quick break in songs, with the band off stage, and the lights up, spots were polluting my vision. It also partially contributed to a headache later on. Martel also forgot and messed up quite a few of the lyrics-there needs to be more of a fluency.

Please, please, pretty please, next year can we have News Of The World?

If you’ve enjoyed this post, you may enjoy the following:

And…..

Click here to buy the new double album.

Interview: Tyler Warren on Music, QUEX, and Drumming!

So….Queen Extravaganza this year are touring, with Greatest Hits, and a full run-through of A Night At The Opera. They are the official Queen tribute band. Last year, I interviewed lead singer, Marc Martel, (click here to view), saw one of their shows, (click here to view), and met the band (click here to view.) But-because the new tour launches today-I’ve interviewed Tyler Warren, Drummer.Expect Queen puns, serious drumming advice, and more..

(Disclaimer: Some questions are highlighted in blue, being a ‘Twitter project’; thank you to contributors James Rundle and Jordy Van De Bunt: )

Hello Tyler, thank you for agreeing to this interview.

No problem Lydia!

Growing up, did you want to a musician?

Always. Both my parents are musicians, and music was always around me since I was born. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, and I’m so grateful that I’m able to do just that right now, thanks in no small part to Roger, Spike, and Brian.

“You put a different kind of energy and emotion into your own art, as opposed to someone else’s, and even though the return isn’t on the same scale as QE, it’s still just as, if not more, gratifying.”

-Tyler Warren, Mademoiselle Interview.

What was the first record you bought?

The first album I ever got from my parents was Dr. Feelgood by Motley Crue on cassette when it came out (1989). I was 3 years old. The first I ever bought with my own money was probably either a new copy of that, or a KISS album, still cassettes 🙂 My mom and dad had all the Queen albums already, so I didn’t start getting those on my own (on CD) until later.

How did you come to be a part of Queen Extravaganza?

I, alongside Marc and Francois, am one of the originals from the internet competition Roger and Spike held back in the summer/fall of 2011. We all submitted videos that were judged by them, alongside internet votes from the general public. We made it to the third and final round of live auditions at Studio 606, the Foo Fighters studio, in California. It was such a trip, and something I’ll never forget: auditioning in one of my favorite band’s studios, where some killer music has been recorded (In Your Honor, Echoes Silence Patience & Grace, etc.)

“Let us. Enter. Tain you ;-)”

-Tyler Warren, Mademoiselle Interview.

*Can you remember what you were thinking at your audition?

Honestly, I was more in awe of where I was, and looking at all the Foo Fighters/Nirvana/Queens of the Stone Age memorabilia than anything haha! I wasn’t too worried about the actual audition itself, because a) I grew up with the Queen catalogue, and b) I grew up doing music competitions, and eventually, you learn that whatever happens happens, and you can’t change that, so you might as well not sweat it and have a good time while you’re doing it.

“The first album I ever got from my parents was Dr. Feelgood by Motley Crue on cassette when it came out (1989). I was 3 years old. The first I ever bought with my own money was probably either a new copy of that, or a KISS album, still cassettes :-)”

-Tyler Warren, Mademoiselle Interview.

*What do you do, music-wise, as a solo artist?

I write and record my own music. I’ve released 5 albums and 1 EP as a solo artist, and I’m very proud of everything I’ve done. In the studio, I play a lot of the instruments, and live I sing and play guitar. I’m approaching 10 years as a solo artist, and I’m hoping to have a retrospective of those years ready in time for next Queen Extravaganza tour in the UK this fall 🙂 After that, it may be time for new music with a new band… 🙂 When I’m not doing either of those, I also play lead guitar in Marc’s solo band as well.

I love performing for other people, but I’m at my absolute happiest, from a musician standpoint and, most importantly, a creative standpoint,  when I’m recording and performing my own music. You put a different kind of energy and emotion into your own art, as opposed to someone else’s, and even though the return isn’t on the same scale as QE, it’s still just as, if not more, gratifying. Making just one person feel something with your own words or music, is a feeling that’s unparalleled.

During a tour, how do you prepare for your performance?

I do vocal warm ups before each show, and stretches with my arms and legs for drums, and if I’m feeling really tight, I’ll warm up on a practice pad. Sometimes we’re rushed, and I don’t get to loosen my body up as much as I should, but I always try to be mindful, and loosen up throughout the show. I don’t think about the music too much, because I want to get out there and have fun most of all.

“It was such a trip, and something I’ll never forget: auditioning in one of my favorite band’s studios, where some killer music has been recorded (In Your Honor, Echoes Silence Patience & Grace, etc.)”

-Tyler Warren, Mademoiselle Interview.

“In the studio, I play a lot of the instruments, and live I sing and play guitar. I’m approaching 10 years as a solo artist, and I’m hoping to have a retrospective of those years ready in time for next Queen Extravaganza tour in the UK this fall :-)”

-Tyler Warren, Mademoiselle Interview.

*What are the more challenging songs to play live?

My absolute favorite stuff to play live is deep cuts. When we did the first “ANATO” tour, the whole first set was pre-ANATO music, so I was absolutely in heaven with that set! In a live setting, it’s so much more challenging from a vocal and instrumental standpoint than the later stuff, especially the 80’s stuff. It was much more artsy, and we as band pride ourselves in reproducing as much of those original studio recordings as we possibly can. I, for certain, pride myself and the band in doing that, because I know we can, and I know we’ll blow people away when we do that.

Do you ever get nervous?

Not really. I’ve been playing and performing for so long, that it’s just a part of me. I’d even say that I’m at my most comfortable on stage, doing what I do best. I get more excited than anything, being able to make all these people who come to see our shows happy to hear all their favorite music. Every time the curtain falls, I think of every concert I’ve seen as a kid, and what it meant to me then, and what it could mean to someone watching me now, and it’s just full-circle awesomeness that I wouldn’t trade for anything haha! 🙂

Where has been your favourite place to perform?

I gotta say, we haven’t performed there yet, but our next tour ends at the Hammersmith Apollo, and I’m BEYOND ecstatic for that! So many classic concerts have been recorded there, from the classic Queen shows from ’75 and ’79, the Bruce Springsteen Born to Run video from ’75, and Rush’s A Farewell to Kings live CD from ’77 (bonus disc from Different Stages)… It’s just endless. I CANNOT wait for that 🙂

*Does your drum kit resemble Roger Taylors?

It’s very similar. I set up my drums pretty high like he does, especially cymbals. My kit is kind of a combination of Neil Peart and Roger. Because I like setting up high, I love Neil’s modern-day tom setup, with it’s circular motion. Roger and I both favor pretty large cymbals as well. And you gotta have the roto toms if you’re playing Queen music, am I right?? 🙂 They’re also black sparkle DWs just like his, except mine don’t have gold plated hardware. Maybe someday 😉

Can we expect an extravaganza of a performance?

Of course! 🙂 Marc will dazzle you with his voice and prowess, Nick will amaze with his effortless guitar-ness, Darren will kill with the keyboard-y goodness, Francois will thump the bass with his Zoolander-esque style, and I’ll just try not to make a fool of myself. Let us. Enter. Tain you 😉

What are you looking most forward to in this year’s tour?

Mostly seeing everyone again. It’s been nearly a year since our last tour, which is way too long!! We all get along so well, and play so well together, and we’re all friends and love each other, so that’s it for me. And of course playing some of my favorite music live for so many people 🙂

“They’re also black sparkle DWs just like his, except mine don’t have gold plated hardware. Maybe someday ;-)”

-Tyler Warren, Mademoiselle Interview.

What are your tips for aspiring drummers?

ALWAYS keep practicing. If you’re serious about drumming, always try to have good technique. And open your mind to new things. When I was growing up, I was really stubborn with what I liked and didn’t like. It wasn’t until college that I opened up to different things like jazz and funk, and believe me, it’ll only make you a better musician if you broaden your horizons. You don’t have to listen to bro-country though hahaha 😉 Jazz especially will free up your limbs. But, if you wanna rock like me (haha!), you always have to practice, because like anything,  rock drumming is like a sport, and when you don’t use those muscles, it takes that much longer to build them back up.

Always listen to everyone around you, and learn every aspect of the song, not just drums. Drummers do more than just keep a beat. They are a piece of the larger puzzle that makes a band or a song. You can’t be in your own little world. You have to be aware of what all the other players are doing, because everyone plays off of each other. I tend to familiarize myself with every aspect of the music, because it makes it that much easier to become a unit, as opposed to just a bunch of guys playing their own thing, and hoping it comes together.

Also, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS protect your ears. Drumming is a dangerously loud environment for your ears, so if you want to be able to enjoy drumming, and the music you make and love, you have to protect your ears.

***

Thank you to Tyler Warren for answering my questions; Jordy and James for their contributions; and promoter Nathan Stone for all his help!

Christmas gift Idea: Brian May’s Red Special Book.

(Thanks to Carlton books for sending me this!)

Queen fans, gather round; here’s the perfect Christmas gift for you/partner/offspring-particularly if a Guitar player, or a fan of Brian May. (Simon Bradley was a co-writer, and appears to be responsible for pitching the concept of the book..)

51E+a1TmDVL._SX387_BO1,204,203,200_

Credit: Amazon.

Although this volume is a little bit slim, it is rich in detail of how May’s guitar was built, over the course of about two years,finishing in around 1964. The about of detail is astounding, considering at time of publication that The Red Special was fifty years old!

However, I am not a guitar player, being not clever enough to learn. At times the book is a little technical-so would have liked an Index, just to have fully understood.

But apart from that..

It has a lot about playing, a little about its first restoration; the guitar was even dismantled and x-rayed! (Brian-if you ever read this-I and a lot of fans think you were incredibly brave to let that happen.) A favorite part was reading about Brian playing on Buckingham Palace roof, complete with pictures.

Now, to narrative; Brian is telling the story about how the guitar was bought to life. I like this-because it’s a very likable story-and it’s very endearing. (And it’s genius how this guitar was built! Just with Brian’s father, inn a workshop..that seems very rare, even today.)

If you know a fan of Brian May, or even just a guitar player, this is an ideal gift.

Click here to buy.