February 2012 Snow!

It was a sad start to the year with the loss of a close family friend.  A funeral in January reminded me very vividly of the loss of my dear mum 15 years earlier at the same time of year and of how quickly the years pass by.  But January also had us negotiating the purchase of our little house in France.

In February Bella turned one.


And when the Easter holidays came we were en vacance to France to seal the deal at the notaires and become the proud owners of our own little house in France.  And it didn’t disappoint, which was one of my worries as we had only seen it once back in October 2011.

Le Petit Coquelicot

In April my god mother sadly passed away, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.  She was a lovely lady and this meant another funeral.  It was a beautiful sunny day and was a real trip down memory lane at the wake afterwards.  Lots of pictures from my old home town and childhood days.

Mum, me, Auntie Ruth and Uncle Stan

It was Cal’s last year at primary school and so there was an outdoor activity week in February and then SATs in May and then Cal and Hubby went for a few days to France while I was marking.   The weather was not so good and it was clear that there can be stormy weather too.

Love that storm

Love that storm

When the summer school term ended it was straight off to WOMAD.

Womad 2012

Then back for a few days and then down to London for the Olympics.  Such a buzz and an event I’m so glad we didn’t miss.

Olympics 2012

Once back home Cal turned 11 and there were a few days to recuperate and then it was off to France again.  This time in 40 degree heat, so it took some getting used to.

Upside down

Boys love water

It was also the year that I tasted fresh figs for the first time!

Fresh figs

Then in september it was Cal’s first day at secondary school.

Secondary school uniform

Then half term saw us back to France again.  Not as warm this time though.  Once back to Blightly I was doing my amateur dramatics thing in 3 episodes of Fawlty Towers.  A quiet Christmas day with all the family over on the Thursday afterwards.  Then new years eve at my good friend Es.

It was also the year that Cal did snow boarding, fencing and started playing table tennis.  What a busy boy!

Snow boarding with Adam

At fencing

And so that was 2012.  Looking forward to an even better 2013.  Happy New Year. X

For me the BLJ occupies a really special place in my psyche.  It represents the rebel within that I cannot quite fully release.  It takes me right back to my teenage years and the music I loved, punk rock.  Anyone who wore a leather jacket could look cool.  Well perhaps not anyone.  For example, Brad Pitt is struggling here.

Brad Pitt

And these guys used to look cool but whatever happened to them?

The Beatles

It reminds me of all those strong female musicians of the last Century, like Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders)

Chrissie Hynde

Joan Jet from the Runnaways,

Joan Jett

The Slits,

The Slits

Gaye Advert

Gaye Advert,

Patti Smith, Debbie Harry,Debbie Harry

Suzie Quatro

And Suzie Quatro, who had her first number 1 in 1973 with Can the Can.

And all the really cool boys wore them too.   The bands, the rock artists all looked so cool in their BLJs.  It represents strength, and although they are all much the same, there is something individual about a BLJ.

The Ramones

The Ramones

The Clash

The Clash

Lou Reed

Lou Reed

Bruce Sprinsteen

Bruce Sprinsteen

Johnny Thunders

Johnny Thunders

Keith Richards

Studded BLJ

On the face of it, they are similar in style, but they mould to the body of their wearer and can be customised in either ostentatious or very minimal ways.

A man in a BLJ is way too cool for school and a woman in a BLJ can take on the world and not just this one.

Since the age of 17 I’ve always owned a leather jacket.  It is hidden away in my wardrobe and I am ashamed to say rarely gets worn, but it reminds me of the inner me,  le rebelle sans cause!

I remember searching the markets of Camden for my first leather jacket, it had to be perfect and then I found it in the Freeman’s catalogue (anyone remember these) in the days before the Internet.  It was tiny and made of really soft black leather with all the right details and I loved it.  Then I loaned it to a friend and it got stolen.  My next BLJ had an eighties style to it as did the next one, which was thick and heavy and way oversized, as worn in those days.  Then more recently I purchased another BLJ very similar to my first one.  It must have been out of the wardrobe all of 3 times.  It is quite simply a crime and must be rectified as soon as this blog is complete.

There is no doubt that the BLJ is a cultural icon.  Historically it hails from across the pond.  Favoured by US police for its waterproof and protective qualities.

Marlon Brando in The Wild One

Marlon Brando in The Wild One

It became the ultimate symbol of cool in the 50’s being worn by the likes of Marlon Brando in “The Wild One” a 1953 outlaw biker film, directed by Laszlow Benedek and produced by Stanley Kramer.  Brando played the iconic gang leader Johnny Strabler.

James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause

James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause

James Dean confirmed its coolness in Rebel Without a Cause, a 1955 American film about emotionally confused middle class teenagers, directed by Nicholas Ray.

And later it became the uniform of bikers and Hells Angels.

It was cool way back in the day, worn by style icons like Nancy Cunard and her Barbaric look ivory African bangles.


Today BLJ’s are inextricably linked with Heavy Metal, Glam Rock, Punk Rock, Rock n Roll, the list goes on, Madonna,

Lady Ga Ga.

Anyone who wants to add a little bit of cool to their wardrobe simply rocks up to the party in a BLJ.  Andy Warhol did.

When the TV shows and films of the 70’s and 80’s depicted life in the 50’s and 60’s, they used the BLJ, The T-Birds in ‘Grease’ and

The Fonze in ‘Happy days’ are examples of this. 


The BLJ was the subject of a book published in 1985 and written by Mick Farren, chronicling its history over a seventy year period up to the mid 1980s.   “The black leather jacket has always been the uniform of the bad.”   He sites Hitler’s Gestapo, the Black Panthers, punk rockers and the Hell’s Angels.  

And we all remember Arnold Schwarzernegger in The Terminator, when he steels the biker’s outfit from the Hell’s Angels in the cafe bar at the beginning of the film.

The BLJ is clearly an icon of the cool but sometimes I would like to think it all started with a cold female biker back in 1949.

WOMAD 2012

Friday – Peatbog Fairies Scottish band on the main stage – lively Scottish jig tunes to a pounding beat. Violins and bag pipes with a disco beat.
Then Jimmy Cliff on main stage, reggae rocks.

Saturday – Correspondence British scat band.  Lovely and sunny good vibes and beat. Bit too much base and in need of a sangria.  New age ska and manic dancing by lead singer.  From here looks like Adam Ant.  Fear and delight all the way through the night. Then dub step.  Just gave my review to the Guardian newspaper.
Later in evening there was a ska band ska cubana. Really good feel good ska and they are right anyone can dance to them.  Even me!

Sunday – Pine Leaf Boys from Louisiana.  Blue grass stomping sounds.  Then Aussie punk with a hint of Latin.

All these images I hope show why festivals are such fun.  Music and much, much more.  Hope to do it all again next year.


Latitude first night.

Obelisk Arena
Obelisk Arena

2,05 can’t sleep. SOMEONE in the next tent snoring, nightmare. Bloody cold too. Also want a wee but not walking miles in the cold at this time of the morning. Better put this away and try to get some sleep. Oh Joy!

There follows a rant!  Festivals are not as they used to be – or are they, comment. Are people primarily at festivals today to see the bands? Or are they there to be seen seeing the bands of the moment. Bands who they are told are the next big thing. They dance around but not to the beat, simply to show off their festival look, that you can now purchase on any high street. AND what is all this nonsense about queuing for 30 minutes to use a shower, since when did washing become a prerequisite at festivals. Surely a person can go four days without a wash? festivals are now brimming with doctors and lawyers all dressed in Barbour jackets and Hunter wellies. Since when did they stop listening to Phil Collins? Since they were told to in one of their glossy magazines. I mistakenly thought I was giving my son a unique and life changing experience, one that I was never able to have, only to realise that festivals, like regular dental check ups, are now quite common for children.  BUT you’ll be pleased to know that festivals are still COOL but it’s the kind of cool we are told is cool not the kind that we establish for ourselves is cool. I’m not sure that I feel entirely comfortable with that kind of cool. But hey, great bands can be seen and the mud can be experienced, so should I grumble? Well I have some grounds. I have a purring lion in the next tent who stays up till the wee small hours talking inane babble about DIY projects. Then when I set off for the toilets this morning I am able to pass any number of people, mainly mid thirties upwards who wouldn’t smile at you or give you eye contact, other than to do their best impression of a rabbit caught in headlights, if their lives depended on it. I kind of rest my case there, festivals are still cool but only the really cool ones are in your head.
Ignore the above rant I was cold and tired and woken up by the huge purring cat in the next tent.


Fantastic day 1 and the notable bands/artists were.

The Duke & The King – while this bands guitar front man looks like an extra from Deliverance, the girls Afro and voice together with the drummers is something special.  West coast blues rock and that’s good. That girl is Simi Stone, must be related to Sly.

The Vaccines – 3 minute pop songs that we are told by Radio 1 we must like. Well me no like. Who the hell is Zane Lowe to tell us what we should like? After all he’s no John Peel!

Wanda Jackson – liked by Elvis apparently, but nobody said he had taste in music.

Paloma Faith – now I can go one or two of Palomas songs but then I’ve had enough. She’s a but like peanut butter, one slice of toast with it in is enough.

Bright Eyes – apparently this band will be no more soon. That saddens me because they were very good. Conor Oberst will no doubt continue in some othr guise.

The National – well I didn’t know anything about this band but I definitely will be checking them out post festival. Huge anthems a very big stadium sound.

K T Tunstall – KT really rocks. What more can I say!

KT Tunstall
KT Tunstall

Chapel Club – London band, this is one if the, “you must like this band if you want to be seen to be cool”. Well they didn’t do it for me. Mainly because any band whose lyrics are inspired by Ted Hughes and Ernest Hemingway has got to be trying far too hard.

Adam Ant & The Good, The Mad And The Lovely Posse – what was I expecting? Well not what I got I don’t think. Adam and his posse really rocked. Yes he played all his hits but he moat definitely has still got it. The voice is still there, the looks are still there and he still has the moves in bucket loads. Here was a man showing us what he did do best and giving us a glimpse of what might yet be to come. I would say watch this space!

Ant Music
Ant Music

Villagers – briefly saw so won’t comment.

British Sea Power – Didn’t see them.  Ooops!

Rumer- when I first heard Rumer on the radio I thought it was Karen Carpenter. Super smooth jazz vocal chords. Sensual pop.

Seasick Steve – now here is a man who has quite obviously had nine or possibly more lives before this one. I first saw SS on Later with Jools and several times since. He plays blues, yes he sits down and uses guitars made from cigar boxes a d car hub caps and broom handles, but this is no gimmick, because he really has lived enough to play the blues. Live he is electric.

Sea Sick Steve
Sea Sick Steve

The Cribs – while eating.

My Morning Jacket – from Kentucky and fronted by Jim James. More folk rock anthems than you can shake a stick at.

Paolo Nutini – thank god he’s not making fish and chips. Fantastic live, with all the hits. A rich and fruity soulful voice.

The Children's Author
Dinkin Dings


Anna Calvi
Saw Kele from Bloc Party – superb

Iron & Wine

Bit of a bummer that I am at work tomorrow so will miss Suede, The Eels and James Blake, hey ho!

All in all a great weekend of music sunshine rain and mud, oh and super snorers.

The Crowd
The Obelisk Crowd