Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Day Forty-Six

1. The Rainbow Test

While I am learning ways to settle my waking mind and find peace along this journey through creativity, spirituality and meditation, it seems this has not yet managed to find it’s way into my sleeping mind at night. I find myself having many an unsettling dream. It’s not that they are bad dreams all the time but they are often very realistic, leaving me feeling out of sorts.

One of the main reasons for these vivid and memorable dreams is that I often have to get up in the night to empty full stoma bags or change sheets when they have leaked. This tends to be in the early hours of the morning so I have periods of lighter sleep again close to the time I will be fully up which makes them easy to remember. 

Last night was one such night. Wills drained out a lot from his stoma, my night was broken and my dreams vivid. I dreamt that Wills and I had been called back into Birmingham Children’s Hospital for more tests. I didn’t really understand why as we have exhausted tests and possibilities, other than transplant, which is why we are back on the list. It was our consultant and team but everything was different too so things were pretty alien in my dream. I was told there was a new test where they would inject rainbow die into him and then x-ray him and the rainbow colours would dissipate through his body and show up everything that doesn’t work properly, why and also every complication and set back he will have after the transplant. After the tests, we would be able to fully prepare him for the transplant and begin to treat the complications he was going to face. I woke really confused. It didn’t take me long to realise this wasn’t real but there was something that lingered and made me feel a bit weird all day.

I think that dream came from a conversation I was having on Facebook when another family waiting for the same transplant with our team asked me if I knew anything about an admission for a review and tests. Then there was the TV program about our Chaplaincy team. The rainbow colours dissipating through the body comes from a similar thing in the meditations I’ve been doing. Then throw in my general anxiety about what is to come and my wish that we could have a crystal ball to predict what we’ll face and - voila - that’s my dream!

If only I could do something to keep my sleeping mind calm. And if only the rainbow test really did exist. I know our team would use it all the time if it did.

2. Anticipating the dawn 

At this time of the year we all begin to reflect on the year that was and what next year may bring. I'm sure this will inspire a lot of writing to come on this blog in the coming weeks. I am especially reflective at this time of year as my birthday is late November (in Friday in fact) so I find myself looking back over my earth year as well as the calendar year. In both cases, it has been quite a year!! It has been hard but it has also been incredible! The next two pieces were written this summer at a moment I had been waiting for most of my life!

One of my most vivid childhood memories is the moment I first saw this:

I was seven years old and I was absolutely enthralled and entranced. Kate Bush was to me what Disney Princesses are to little girls today. I wanted to see and hear as much of her as I could in those days before YouTube, DVDs or even videos made it possible to re-watch things over and over again. My parents and then four year old brother must be grateful for that but then, maybe not, because, instead, I would dress in my nightie and sing and imitate Kate Bush...four hours, and 'perform' Wuthering Heights to anyone and everyone who would listen. Like little girls and their Disney Princesses, I wanted to BE Kate Bush.

Looking back, I'm rather glad I had no DVDs or iPads to relive the real Kate Bush because, in between precious glimpses on 'The Multicoloured Swap Shop,' 'Top of the Pops' and various chat shows, I 'just' had my memories and my imagination. Right from that young age, Kate Bush fired up and inspired my imagination. I was fascinated by the story she told in Wuthering Heights and, very soon after, read the book for the first time, helping me on the road to a love of literature and writing.

Kate Bush is one of the main inspirations to the way I write in my stories, poems and especially songs. Throughout my life, as I developed my craft, she has been there showing me how to push boundaries, be eccentric and daring but, above all, sensuous and emotive. To write with your heart on your sleeve and not be afraid to be honest to your vulnerabilities, both in autobiographical writing and when handing it all over to a character. A lot of my style and the themes in writing comes from her inspirations too. Her music is often on as I write and is always the 'go to place' if I get stuck and need some direct inspiration.

I was eight years old when Kate Bush toured 'The Tour of Life.' I didn't go but had it on a video a few years later. Even on film, it was incredible and I longed and longed to see Kate live myself. It was never going to happen though. It was one of those things you resigned to. I've always been glad Kate Bush isn't a 'celebrity' on 'Strictly Come Dancing' and 'Masterchef.' Her mystery and enigma makes her art so much more exciting. You don't hear anything and then. suddenly there is a new album to savour. It's so much more impactful that way rather than hearing her talk about it for months ahead whilst sitting in a Sunday morning mock kitchen talking about the theme of her new piece in between chewing on her 'food heaven.'

Like most fans, I was absolutely astonished when she announced she would be touring. I HAD to see her. It felt like destiny. Alongside inspiring me creatively, Kate's music has inspired me in life. I grew up with her almost like my older sister. Her early music seemed fun and full of stories for the child in me, later she taught me about being a woman in the 'Sensual World' and then, as relationships came and went, 'The Red Shoes' album was there sharing the heartbreak with me. Certain songs have spoken directly to me at times I really needed them to. I'll come back to these in later posts...

The timing of this tour couldn't have been more poignant for me. The tickets went on sale whilst I was in hospital with my son in a life changing situation. The concert itself came in the week before being told he needs to go back on the list for a second transplant and going back to sign consent and re-join the active waiting list. I'm in a major life transition right now and it's not an easy one. This tour has come slap bang in the middle of it and, I know, will be a huge part of it for me.

3. Before The Dawn

I will never forget the morning tickets for Kate Bush's Before the Dawn tickets went on sale. I had my laptop, phone, the iPad William (my son) had borrowed from the hospital and my kindle fire all on different ticket sites. Hospital wifi isn't know for its speed. I was refreshing and refreshing and it kept looking like I had got tickets but then sites froze at critical moments and when they unfroze the tickets in my basket were no longer available! It at least gave Wills some fun laughing at my extreme frustrations. Then it was all over, no more tickets anywhere.  No one could have wanted this more or tried harder to get a ticket. I have to confess I actually cried. Then, as I shared laments with other unlucky fans on Facebook my message box pinged. "I have a ticket with your name on!"I REALLY cried now. Wills was in hysterics too, laughing at me. He still can't grasp the idea of tears of joy! We spent the rest of the day singing 'I've got a golden ticket' from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Some amazing people made this possible for me and they are wonderful. I think the whole experience is even more special for me because of this.

That amazing moment was three months ago. It's been a long and hard three months in so many way. I explained a bit about that in the previous post and will come back to it in later ones but yesterday wasn't about that. Yesterday was a break from life. It was a strange and surreal day. I had known for three months that I would be at the opening night of Before The Dawn. I would see Kate Bush walk out on stage for the first time in 35 years! It is so emotional I am welling up writing about it! We think we remember things like how it felt to be a child at Christmas and on the day of your birthday party. Well, take it from me, we only remember a vapour trail of that feeling. Yesterday, I remembered in full how that felt. It was unreal. I was almost nervous I was so excited. I could barely eat, certainly couldn't sleep, I couldn't concentrate on my work. I was literally a cat on a hot tin roof walking around the house listening to music - yep of course Kate, playing a few bars on the piano here and there... I ended up leaving early to meet up with the friends I was going with because I couldn't sit around any longer. How do you feel when the moment comes that you have been waiting for for literally as long as you can remember but never thought would happen?! It's surreal and so incredibly emotional. I was determined to fully enjoy and experience every moment of yesterday. I let myself feel, and cry, when I finally saw and heart Kate Bush right in front of me on the stage.

The gig itself was as incredible, more so than I had expected.  I have never felt so much anticipation looking at a stage before a gig. There were little clues to what was to come. Lots of drums and percussion but that was all to note really.  Then, the band came on and we suddenly heard the mystical,  disembodied grand-maternal voice of 'Lily.' Kate conga'd onto the stage with her choir of vocalists, including her son Bertie who had a big part to play in the show to come. Kate looked amazing in flowing black clothes, bare feet, long hair flowing down her back. She loos mumsy, warm, bohemian, creative, hippy chic, eccentric... once again, I wanted to be her, or like her at least.
The gig started as a pretty standard concert. Awesome lighting, fantastic music. Kate sounded amazing from the off with perhaps a little hint of nerves that were soon discarded and her voice got stronger and stronger through the first segment of the show. She sung songs from Hounds of Love, The Red Shoes and Aerial. At the end of 'King of the Mountain' the stage got stormy with swirls of light and the percussionist stepped out to whirl a wind over his head. Suddenly confetti pieces with segments of Tennyson's 'The Ninth Wave' were blown all over the audience (I didn't catch one so if anyone has more than one and is kind enough to share....) and, I knew things were about to get REALLY exciting.

From the moment Kate announced the tour with the now iconic image of herself floating in water with a life jacket, there was speculation that she was going to play The Ninth Wave section of her Hounds of Love album. This suite is one of my favourite pieces of music so that was exciting for me.

This is where the show became a full piece of multi media musical theatre, complete with film segments, a script that included Kate's husband and son Bertie in a piece of very poignant comedy, an underwater world created with lighting and fabric across the stage, a ship wreck, spooky sea horse skeletons, a life size buoy, flares, a rescue helicopter... It was dramatic, moving, frightening and all the time the music and Kate's voice impeccable. For me, the Ninth Wave section was the absolute highlight of the show. Kate has always seen her music and wanted to portray it as a complete piece of work with visual images. The Ninth Wave came to life, we were living it with her and it was an amazing experience to be part of.

After the interval, Kate bought another suite of music to life. Her Sky Of Honey suite, the second CD in the Aerial set. This was equally stunning but in a more chilled and relaxed way. It opened with a puppet appearing through a massive, Narnia inspired door. This is shown on the front of the programme. Kate's pleas for no photography or film were obeyed by everyone I could see which was important because this was not a night for screens. This was theatre, personal communication and it was wonderful to live the moment and then take it away in memory to inspire thought and imagination.

Bertie played the part of the painter in the suite. With all I'm going through with Wills at the moment, I was particularly touched and moved to see the beautiful bond between mother and son that Kate has written sung about so often being such a central part to the show.

Where Ninth Wave brought drama and excitement, Sky of Honey was beautiful and relaxing. The lighting was just awesome and the set finished with a forest of silver birch trees, one of which went crashing into the grand piano. I'm sure that was meant to happen right?! The piano was certainly ok so I guess so. After a very brief exit, Kate returned alone on the stage to play it during a stripped down and wondrous performance of Among Angels from 50 Words for Snow. The audience were silent. After the drama and spectacle, this was a precious moment for just her and her fans. Then the band came back on for the final song. I was surprised Kate chose to finish with Cloudbusting. I don't know why, I love the song and was very happy to hear it. I guess that one has always been one of those visual one that is a complete film package with the video for me. It worked though and we loved it.

Despite our elongated cheers and shouts for more, Kate didn't return. There was talk and speculation about Wuthering Heights. I never expected her to play it. I would have loved her to but at the same time I didn't rally want her too. That song belongs to the teenage Kate with the big wide eyes. The 56 year old Kate is chilled and mellow. Her voice has dropped in register and her songs are slightly slower and relaxed. Her selection was just what I expected, focusing on the conceptual suites of music that she could really make into a production and theatrical experience with some songs from later albums that have never been performed live before and that are where she is musically and artistically at this stage in life.

This night is not only one of the most amazing times of the year but of my life! The memories of it are still keeping me going and, of course, it was where my rescue tin came from too. Tomorrow, I'll complete this little mini series with 'after the dawn,' how this night has inspired me and a little peek at some ideas that have come out of the experience.

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