Tuesday, 29 August 2017

My Victorious - 25-27/08/17

A montage of Friday - Messrs Charles
and Burgess, Madness and us

Victorious Festival - August Bank Holiday 2017
Southsea Common

Don't read that, read this. This is the heavy, heavy Victorious sound. The Southsea-est sound around. So if you've come in off the street, and you're beginning to feel the heat, well listen buster, you'd better start to move your feet, to the rockin-est, rocksteady beat of Victorious. One Step Beyond!

  • OK, so I've paraphrased Madness, or Prince Buster actually. The sun shone down on this year's Victorious Festival, the sixth so far, with an additional Friday night to boot this year. Kicking off My Victorious was the one and only Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show (from our beloved 6Music)! Crowding the D Day car park, the soulful DJ came on stage amid much love from the audience. His energy flowed through the banging speakers and he sang along to every line of every song he played. What a disco! 
  • Sadly, we had to leave after 45 minutes of bopping in the second row, just because we wanted to watch The Charlatans on the Castle Stage. My only moan of the whole festival was that Madness (headliners) fans had plopped themselves down in amongst us Charlatans fans and were (rowdily) socialising in large groups instead of listening! I could've gone home after Weirdo, their opener and my favourite. I know old Tim is a bit shy himself; he wasn't chatting much and I think they changed their set around a little, with The Only One I Know placed second to last and a bit slow for my liking. But gosh they sounded good, the soundtrack to my uni days. (I think Mr Humdrum and I were the only ones singing the lyrics to the Shire Horses' original version of West Country Boy; good cover Charlatans, but not as good as old Marc n Lard.)
  • Madness - well, apart from the Pompey hooligans, there were a lot of happy families in the audience for this ska band. The great view afforded from our vantage point on the hill, under the Victorious light sign, added to the sound from the natural bowl, all produced a fabulous end to the inaugural Friday night. Everyone was dancing to what was probably the soundtrack to their childhoods, or their parents'! Suggs put on a good show, lots of (relevant) chat in between songs. A slick performance. My Victorious had started well.

Mr Humdrum and the boy
On the first full day, we took our 11 year old son. He attended one day last year; this year we allowed him more freedom with his friend. It was quite safe to let them wander for an hour or two, then meet up at the tank, then off again to buy sweets and "do stuff". They turned up on time and were where they said they'd be all day. Here he is with Mr Humdrum, in matching merch.

  • Urban Voice Group were on the Seaside Stage, with what seemed like a hundred youngsters singing and rapping on stage. Great role models for the boy, we thought. 
  • As with any Victorious, we needed to see the Southsea Alternative Choir to really kick things off. For the first of their six sets in two days, the acoustics were amazing on the Seaside Stage; their harmonies blowing on the balmy breeze, accompanied by their enthusiastic audience. They were amazing, and, as always, raised lots of money for their chosen charity.
  • Wandering around, we happened across, as you do at festivals, a crazy, thrashy-Spanishy-sounding guitar quartet called Machete. Unfortunately, we only heard their last two songs, but even the boy was engaged. Worth a watch. 
  • Echobelly and Feeder were great to hear sat lazing on the grass at the Common Stage; Mr Humdrum watched British Sea Power on the Castle Stage. 
  • The boy and his friend were in a band together (Ben's Atomic Dustbin) until they left primary school in July, and their Rocksteady band leader Luke was playing (keyboard and guitar) in Kojak's Revenge, an energetic cover band with a twist. The boys watched from the front row as us parents jigged and sang along to every song behind them. When they covered Don't Look Back in Anger, Luke looked over and smiled at them, as they'd played this song in their band. What a great moment that was for us too, as his friend's mum beamed at me too. 
  • We weren't interested in the headliners that evening (Stereophonics or Rita Ora), but we ended the evening watching a local band Mr Humdrum's cousin is in called Eyes to the Skies. You know the latest Queens of the Stone Age song? Very Eyes to the Skies, QOTSA ripped them off! Headlining the AMP stage, they performed even better than last year. Great stuff lads. 


11 year old Harrison Etherington's
Victorious debut
The Dandy Warhols rock!
  • The third and last day (sans efant!) heralded two more local artists - Strong Island Stage showcased Harrison Etherington, an old school friend of the boy, aged 11 as well. He was amazing on his guitar, with a sweet voice, tackling Oasis, Leonard Cohen, Shawn Mendes and Ed Sheeran. One to watch! 
  • Second up, Richard Morris is a local singer/songwriter whose backing singer, lovely Ellie Button, works with me! We were delighted to watch them, again with fabulous acoustics on the Seaside Stage. 
  • We decamped to the Common Stage to watch The Dandy Warhols. Sadly they didn't play Every Day Should Be A Holiday, but what a set! Obviously, Bohemian Like You was the pull for the crowds, but for all the other tracks, I'd definitely see them again. The double-barreled singer certainly double-barreled the audience with his almost Sonic Youth sounding guitar effects, in a mesmerising extended version of a song I'm still trying to track down. Awesome. And with a rock geek version of Scooby Doo's Daphne on keyboards, how could it get better than this? 
  • Well, we went back to the Seaside Stage to watch Emptifish, our own surf-punk, ubercool group. I can't really do them justice, so I'm going to instruct you to google them. 

    Slow Readers Club - someone sign them!

  • They were followed by Slow Readers Club, an unsigned (why not?) band I've heard lots of on 6Music, very enjoyable. 
  • Same goes for Field Music, on the Common Stage - poppy/funky music with twists and turns. We watching their drummer and singer/guitarist switch instruments! 
  • The Jesus and Mary Chain annoyingly pulled out, to be replaced by Pete Doherty. I say replaced... his bands passed me by and after much discussion on the night, I think it's because I am just too old for his antics and have seen it all before. The performance was a performance, with a floppy trip in the pit to connect with his audience. He needed help from the security guard to get back up on stage! They didn't even play the only Libertines song I know! Yawn. But I think he went down well with some guys down the front. 
  • Next up Slaves. I had heard their music but it's quite headache-inducing for me, so I wasn't that sure. I knew it'd be loud because the soundcheck was! What I didn't realise was that they were only two. The singer plays a unique drum kit and played with so much energy, he put Doherty to shame when he just jumped back on stage after his own audience visit! What a wall of sound with the guitarist and backing singer. Amazing - very sweary but worth it. They seem liked nice guys not thugs either. Ask them where the hi-hat is. Somehow this was better than the Dandy Warhols. How could it get even better still? 
  • Answer - Franz Ferdinand. We saw them at Reading in 2004 just as their first album was released. They didn't seem to have aged, but that might be due to Alex's white blonde hair! A brilliant 50 minute set including all their hits. I secretly hoped they'd bring on Sparks to form FFS but sadly no. This was it for me, it couldn't get better. 
  • We hung on chatting to our friends while Elbow started, but the doom and gloom was enough for us so we headed over near the Castle Stage for some food, and to surreptitiously listen to Olly Murs, who actually did put on a good show, well for the one song we heard. A great showman, enjoyed by the tens of thousands watching him (not Elbow!).

Franz Ferdinand - should have headlined
To sum up, the sun shone. There were no queues for (clean) loos. There were hardly any beer queues (except Friday night). Lots of local music. Lots of great well known bands. Nice burgers and mac'n'cheese from our own Southsea Beach Cafe and Tenth Hole eateries. No real trouble from youngsters this year and not much either from the olds - (except Madness fans!). Early bird offers ensure this event is great value for money and the whole weekend ticket price was excellent value to watch Slaves, Dandy Warhols or Franz Ferdinand, let alone all three! 
What is better than a festival where you can watch ferries and hovercraft in the harbour, listen to live music, and walk home to your own bed at night?

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

He's pushing my buttons

Everyone knows I'm a koumpounophobe so I don't actually possess any buttons to push, but even my 11 year old boy can find them. Find them with such pinpoint accuracy as would befit a sniper, then deploy them, waiting around for the blow-up. The more I read about this, the more I realise how much I'm complicit in this - not totally to blame, but I can certainly help to avoid it.

It all started - well when he was born, no seriously, about two years ago when I identified that I was getting really stressed out in the mornings with our school routine. Five minutes before he was due to walk or I was due to drive him, he'd come out with lines like "Oh I need to take in my football today" - cue hunt in the garden or garage. Or "I would like to scoot today please". I know I sound unreasonable, but these things organised the night before are fine. More than fine. But hell, when we're both trying to get out of the door but only one of us understands the need to be in school on time, it makes me unreasonable. Where is dad in all of this? Well of course, he needs to leave half an hour before us. Those magic 30 minutes - due to traffic, oh yes - but it's during these few minutes that all the conflict occurs! Even my answer of "Well it's too late for this, maybe tomorrow" sets me up for an annoyance and anger that I can't really explain. At any other time of the day, I'd just ignore it and make him wait until the next day, but I suppose I'm just not that calm in the mornings. My dear mother-in-law helpfully suggested (yes helpfully, I don't have an annoying butting-in MIL) that he gets ready the night before and that I go into the other room for some time in the mornings to avoid any episodes starting. This worked a treat; my son was on board and all was well. Buttons not pressed. Buttons in fact idly hanging around unpressed.

Forwarding to this year - year 6. Despite me believing he's emotionally immature (and that's not all that bad, he's got plenty of time to grow up), he's been able to emotionally push my buttons on a few occasions. So successfully once earlier this year that it took my mates in the staff room to help me understand what had happened! I forget the start of the conversation, but it went on to him saying he wanted to be a famous YouTuber. Like the "I wanna be a famous footballer" conversations we'd had a few years back, I tried to say he needed a Plan B in case his YouTube channel didn't yield as much financial success as he'd liked. Oh dear. By saying this, I'd totally ruined, no crushed,  the hopes and dreams of an 11 year old. How bad did I feel? Quite bad. Recognising this, he went on to add that no one liked him at school and he was always getting bullied/teased. I then felt like the worst parent in the whole world and went to bed on this. My friends in the staff room the next day almost laughed in my face and told me, "You've been had!" I realised what he'd done. Oh he was good at it, and since he's done this a couple of times since, I'm beginning to wonder if he is as emotionally immature as I'd first thought!

But his forte, his piece de resistance (can't do accents on this, sorry), is the ability to push my buttons with his physical/oral actions, such as:
  • walking too close to me that he falls over me, or I fall over him
  • standing on my feet while walking too close next to me (are his size 7 feet he just too big for himself?)
  • cracking his knuckles (now I regret showing him that Facebook article debunking the arthritis link)
  • constant rudeness - not answering back, though he's achieved Exceeding for that - no I mean the rude jokes. I'm glad we can discuss things like boners and other funny areas of puberty/sex ed without getting embarrassed as it means he may talk to me when he's older about serious stuff, but when it's a barrage of "That's what she said" quips, it just gets too much. My best friend came down for the weekend and unfortunately we just laughed at him because, well, he was funny - but it just got worse until he'd reached a limit he probably didn't realise was there. It wasn't just bants anymore, it was too much. 
I can't even describe how annoying he was during a walk, time at a fair, trip up the Tower, lunch etc. Don't get me wrong, he's funny and we all laughed appropriately but he went overboard. He didn't know when to stop, which is funnily enough what his teacher said. My friend said her university-bound stepson had pushed her buttons the same way he was pushing mine.

So how do I cope with this? I can't just keep getting annoyed with him. It's not fair on him to hear me yelling, whilst doing that cry/laughing, "Shut up!" or for me to look forward to him playing on his X-Box for an hour. One of the obvious differences is he has no audience today.

Today, we're back on our own again. He has a broken arm and is stuck for things to do somewhat, but also the weather is horrendous. He's been lovely. We've been shopping for school uniform today and had a cafe-stop afterwards. Not a crossed word between us. (I'm sure this will change when dad gets in, but that alpha-male-ism issue is another blog post.) I've done some research online. Here's what I've come up with:

Keep calm. Don't let my anger becomes the reward for him. I can say to him "I'm going to think about this in another room, but I will come back and I'm not ignoring you". I can repair to my room to think about it, to calm down, to find an appropriate response. Try to respond with humour, if appropriate. I'm bound to need this next week when we visit my parents, as there is always tension between him and my dad as he gets bored - my son that is!

One comment from another button-pushed mum really summed it all up. She said, "Now that she's a teenager, I can understand why some animals eat their young." As long as we don't reach that point, I'm sure we'll be ok!