Bear with me please, for what I am about to do. Some of my longtime readers may know that when I was a single mum, living on delayed, suspended and cancelled benefits in this hellscape of a smashed-up welfare system that we have in the UK, I held an ‘open house sale’, like a yard sale without the yard, and I sold everything I owned. Everything. My sons bed. My own shoes. Almost all of my books, clothes, crockery, the light fittings, everything. And my beautiful, wooden, upright piano. I stopped singing that day. Poverty literally took my voice away, like Ursula with her manic grin, strangled it out of me. I have since learned that it is a relatively common response to trauma, but, eight years on, that brings me very little comfort.
I used to write my own songs – the last few I ever wrote were about living in that scenario – ‘Whistlestop Tour’, ‘Girl On The Radio’, ‘All Out’ and others. I don’t know where they are these days; probably buried in a box with my dismissal letters from the fire service and the late-night emails from a senior officer who was trying to save my job, and me.
This year I have decided to do brave things, partly as a sense of righting some wrongs, and partly to continue on this trajectory of gradually increasing self-confidence that has been slowly growing inside me, like a tiny seed stretching itself into the smallest and greenest of lives. I want to feed and water this seedling, and see what it becomes, with time, and nurture, and love, and light.
And so, alone in a hotel room last week on tour, I recorded this and uploaded it to my burgeoning YouTube account. I hope you like it, or at the very least, aren’t mean about it.
And I hope that – if you recognise what an incredibly difficult and raw thing this was to do – it maybe sparks off a tiny seed of your own. Don’t let the fear of not being perfect, prevent you from giving something a go. Especially if you suspect you may even enjoy it.