A book about music & life. 

My name is Ryan Garner. I am a singer / songwriter who also records, mixes and produces his own music. I dabble in a variety of genres and never really stick to one “Thing”. 

This isn’t out of some pretentious principle that I don’t want to be labelled or part of a certain group i.e. “Goth” Musicians or “Synthwave musicians”, “Rappers” or “Chiptune producers” etc. Really it just stems from the fact that I like to do a variety of music. I like to explore and try new things all the time and see what I am capable of and strong at so that I can build on the better parts of myself as time goes on. 

Many would say, and I would be wholeheartedly inclined to agree, that an artist doing multiple genres is troublesome and not necessarily a good thing. Let me explain why; 

When you are trying to market or promote your music or book gigs, what do you say to people? – How do you market something so vast and varying? I can’t just say you are booking a Synthwave act, because then that leaves me little room to play other genres live on the night. The promoter, or whoever booked me, expects at this point a certain type of music and aesthetic that comes with it. It would be remiss of me to blast out a few cheeky 80’s inspired pop tunes and then meander into some Hip Hop or Dubstep music half way through my setlist. This is the route problem with Eqavox. 

Eqavox started out as me dabbling with Chiptune and making some awfully cringey songs about Video Games. I got a bit of a reputation for that, in most cases it wasn’t a good one and the reception to my songs by a lot of people was icy at best and downright hurtful at worst. I have developed a hell of a lot since then. The songs are more intimate and personal, I have allowed myself to be vulnerable and wear my heart on my sleeves lyrically rather than attempting to personify my own feelings through an elaborate set of metaphors relating to some sort of video game character. It’s a lot healthier and freeing being able to just open up more and not hide behind metaphors and use them as armour. I cringe if I listen to my old songs often, because comparing myself to a Pikachu for example is shockingly bad (voltage-based pun completely intended) and did little for me to really express my thoughts and feelings. It didn’t really give people a basis to relate to either, unless of course they were a Pikachu. 

One thing I really struggle with on a personal level is booking gigs. I don’t want to look back later in life and say I wasted the opportunity to perform live because I did, at most, 2 gigs a year in my 20’s. It’s not through lack of trying either, I contact people and reach out to venues but generally seem to get ignored (even before presenting them with my music). 

I feel like the fact that I don’t have a band backing me hold me back, but I am a natural performer. I love performing and I want to do a new gig in 2020 where I can really explore performance and have fun rather than being chained to a million different instruments. Nobody has ever seen my full potential on stage as a performer and its pretty frustrating, I want to get out there, but I just don’t seem to be able to get my foot in the door. 

I have been composing, writing and making music for as long as I can remember now. It really boils down to the fact that it is in my blood and is an absolute lifeline for me and many other people just like me out there. We can’t help ourselves but wildly scrawl lyrics out when we can’t sleep, or we get sneaky little melodies in our heads and record ourselves humming them, so we can capture that moment and make something of it later – stick it on the laterbase. I had no means of doing any music for 2 years of my life and I don’t remember anything of those 2 years much other than the fact I was fucking miserable and seriously depressed. My happiness is directly linked to music and, without it, I crumble. 

Now, I am having a complete inspirational lull and, to prevent my mind from doing a Chernobyl, I fancied writing. Here I am writing right now and, the more I think about my life as a musician, the more I find I have to say about it. Maybe this will be the introduction to a book or something, who knows. All I do know is that I need to bridge this gap in my creativity with something else positive. Maybe writing is the answer.  If this does turn out to be a book, then I hope you enjoy it and get something from it. 

Chapter 1 – Doing Everything. 

As a solo artist, it is important for others to realise just how demanding that is on one person. There are only so many hours in the day to be creative and, in my case, my full-time job tends to intrude on most of it. This leaves me with little time, time that I must share around in the best ways possible. Here is a list of things that I do personally that all relate to my music: 

  • Song writing 
  • Singing 
  • Rapping 
  • Mixing 
  • Mastering 
  • Recording 
  • Video editing 
  • Video filming 
  • Graphic design 
  • Marketing 
  • Promotion 
  • PR 
  • Social Media maintenance 
  • Website maintenance 
  • Merchandise 
  • Composing & arranging 

Some of the above I enjoy more than others and some of them I am better at than others. I would rather spend far more of my time doing the things I love which includes anything related to making music and songs. 

Therefore, things like Promotion, PR, Marketing, Video Editing and Graphic Design suffer. These suffer because I am not good at them, I can get by when I need to with the help of some online tools, but the fact of the matter is that I don’t enjoy any of this, I enjoy the result. 

When I release a new single, after spending hours and hours and tireless days of recording, arranging, rearranging, mixing and mastering, I then must assemble up the energy to do the stuff I hate before I get to release that. When I release a song, the rule of thumb is that Artwork must accompany it as a bare minimum, whether I want to spend time doing that or not. I can’t just have any old artwork either – it must look good, as good as somebody who is bad at this stuff can get it. I am proud of the song after all, I want the artwork to reflect that. I want everything associated with the release to reflect and represent that. 

I remember saying to a friend a few years back how frustrating it is that I can’t just do the bits and that I am expected to be amazing at everything. To be successful, I absolutely must have the ability to do all the above to a high standard. I don’t though, and this is one of many problems I face as a muso. 

I am exactly that, a musician first, songwriter second and producer third. Anything else that is necessary and expected as part of the package of releasing and promoting music, I awkwardly meander and fumble through because it’s essential.

🤕 

Today  

Today, as with so many days, I am searching for something that will make me feel better, something that will ignite the spark in my heart. 

I don’t think what I am looking for exists. I suppose, on a basic level, I am looking for happiness. However, It’s hard to explain because I wouldn’t describe myself as an unhappy person - but I feel desperately empty most of the time ... like something is missing or not quite adding up.  

I have tried books, but have a hard time concentrating on the words. I continue to buy books that I think may be the answer. Wasting money on self help guides that do nothing for me. I’ve tried fiction books to help me escape my own head, but they just don’t have the power they used to have when I was younger. I’m always still firmly locked in the cavernous echo chamber. So fiction books aren’t the answer for me. 

I tried self help books - the type that deal specifically with OCD, anxiety and depression. I thought that by staring right at these issues, acknowledging them, and attempting to find healthy ways of dealing with the crippling feelings I have on a day to day basis could only have a positive impact on me. However, I get frustrated. I get frustrated because it’s just fucking words on paper and there are no real answers there. I can relate to the sentiments of the text but that don’t see solutions. I can’t help myself. Self help books aren’t the answer for me.  

I tried philosophy books and psychology books but they are just too heavy going, too hard to read. I don’t want to delve deeper into chaotic thinking and despair - my life literally is chaotic thinking and despair a good portion of the time. No point aggravating it.  

Further efforts to “cure” myself have brought me to audiobooks recently. I thought it would be quite calming being read to. I opted for self help books as an introduction. This just left me feeling patronised - it felt like I was being talked down to by someone who seemingly has their shit together and that made me angry.  

So, Self help audiobooks are not the answer for me. I return the books and look for something more light hearted, comical and uplifting but I just can’t listen to people talking endlessly - it’s boring and my mind just switches off or wanders.  

It always meanders in minutes back to frantic anxious thoughts and noise. I can’t switch off long enough for audiobooks to be of any enjoyment at all. So, audiobooks aren’t the answer for me.  

I thought I would take a more herbal based approach and started popping CBD capsules, using CBD sprays and generally a variety of supplements and vitamins in the hope they would make me feel better. I spent almost 100 pound on supplements at one point in life because I was that tired of being broken - I desperately wanted to feel better and would try anything.  

Needless to say, supplements and vitamins were not the answer for me. I never felt much, if any, difference at all no matter what I took, regardless of how much or how long I took it for.  

So books aren’t the answer, audiobooks aren’t the answer, CBD isn’t the answer, vitamins aren’t the answer. I keep throwing money at a million morsels of shit hoping it will fix me but seeing no benefit, it’s burning money just because I want to be normal and “happy”.  

And so the search continues. It’s hard to search for something when you don’t know what it is you are searching for. It’s more than a “feeling” or temporary sensation. I want my brain to scar over and start repairing like the rest of my body would if it was damaged.

But I’m hoping for a miracle it seems. 🔊

Opinions on live solo electronic musicians. 

Hi all, 

Looking for some opinions on what you would make of you went to a gig and it was just a guy and a laptop. This would mean the performer is literally just pressing play on the laptop - which runs the backing tracks they have made. 
 

This would allow the performer (ie me) to actually concentrate on performing more. It also means the performer could interact more with the audience rather than thinking about the sheer workload they have going on at any given time. 
 

I have done only a few gigs in my life and I want to do more. I really, really want to do more. I’m naturally a performer though and I feel like previous setups haven’t given me the chance to really “Perform”. 
 

For example, I did a gig in Sheffield a while back. It was me and my laptop. The Mac was running the backing tracks and i was playing, rapping and singing along to them. However, I had 2 different keytars on stage with me, a microkorg and an acoustic guitar. Switching between sounds,  making sure the correct backing was playing, ensuring the settings were right was a nightmare. 
 

My set list comprised of the songs I was playing and a list of detailed instructions on what to switch when, what sounds to use etc. It sucks the fun out of it and doesn’t give me the chance to have fun, it becomes stressful and too much for just one person. 

I could bring in some other musicians but I hate relying on other people and I am not a people person particularly. On stage, given the opportunity, I can be a completely different person without the stresses of doing things at a certain time. 

My question is this, can somebody make up for “just pressing play” by being a captivating and confident performer? Would the performance side alone be enough to maintain interest? Laptop, mic and a human? 
 

Thoughts appreciated,

Eqavox

Mental Health Awareness Week (USA)   

Hey all, 

As you may or may not be aware, it is Mental Health Awareness Week over in the USA from 6th October – 12th October. We had a week dedicated to this in May over here in the U.K., but I believe that, as honourable and good-willed the sentiment is, a week alone per year for awareness is not enough. 

There are serious, fundamental problems that many people are experiencing on a day to day basis mentally that remain unspoken about. There is still a stigma to be broken down and tackled and there is, now more than ever, a real need for openness and compassion between people. It’s high time that Mental Health was discussed in a candid way amongst everybody, friends, colleagues and family members. People shouldn’t feel the need to be bottling their emotions up to anybody anymore. 

With the internet, mobile phones and social media we have never been so connected to each other, but how do you explain the distance growing between people? There is a real alienation between us now. Our ability to communicate effectively is vastly diminishing and it’s easy to see why. 

We all have a vast and wide expanse of emotions, both positive and negative. We all feel things in different ways. What may not be a struggle for one person, could absolutely break another and vice versa. 

I firmly believe that 100% of people suffer with some variety or degree of mental health issue at some stage in their life. For some, unfortunately, it is an ongoing battle. For others it is more transitory, but the impact doesn’t fluctuate based on the illness or it’s permanence. 

It is said that mental illnesses are “Invisible”, which I would largely challenge. The results of these illnesses are not invisible. If you are observant enough, you can see the fallout of fragmented people. 

My primary problems are continuous, uncontrollable Anxieties. Occasionally there is a nice little flurry of depression thrown into the cocktail too when I haven’t got enough to struggle with. 

The evidence is there if people were attentive enough to notice; 

  • Torn skin on fingers 
  • Tired and bloodshot eyes 
  • Struggling to concentrate 
  • Becoming angry at the slightest inconvenience 
  • Taking everything that goes wrong in life so personally 
  • Being jumpy at the slightest noises 
  • Struggling to maintain eye contact or have extensive conversations with people 
  • Having little to no confidence in myself 
  • Self-loathing.   
  • Crowds 
  • People 
  • Travelling 
  • Driving 
  • Noise 
  • Becoming wildly obsessive about things 

This could continue for a lot, lot longer but I won’t bore you with the details. I don’t feel as though anxiety is “Invisible”, you just need to look hard enough to see that people are struggling with it. Depression, on the other hand, can be completely hidden. I have become astute at hiding it. Nobody knows what goes through my mind most of the time. I am glad they don’t, because they may think I am crazy. Sometimes I question my own sanity too. 

All of that is just a miniscule splinter of me that comprises a cracked puzzle of injurious sentiments. 

Talk candidly and openly. Share with people. Cry with people, laugh with people, smile with people and really connect with the people around you. If the world could do this, a lot of people wouldn’t be feeling the way they do. 

There is nothing to be gained by denying when you are ill. It will only cripple you later down the line. The real strength lies in your ability to be honest with others and honest with yourself, that is far bravery than hiding your feelings away behind a façade. 

Just look out for one another. Keep an eye out and extend your hand out wherever needed. The world, and the people in it, could be far, far stronger if we connected more. 

Don’t be so wrapped up in yourself that you fail to notice others putrefying around you. 

It’s not about “babysitting” or “mollycoddling” everybody. It’s about being mindful, compassionate and vigilant. 

The signs may be there that the people around you need help, you likely just haven’t noticed 

Talk.

Eqavox

I have linked this post to my track about mental health called "White Horse". Check it out if you haven't yet heard it. 

Unchartists - A Spotify playlist for musicians.  

Unchartered Artists – A playlist. 

Playlists play a significant role in the promotion of underground and independent bands and artists these days. There is no denying that one of the best ways to get your music heard is through playlists with significant followers. 

If you can get your song on a playlist, then that is great news. Irrespective of the size of the playlist or number of followers it has. Afterall, any promotion helps us to gain traction. 

It’s important for artists to support other artists too along the way. 

One of the problems I have encountered is that, to get featured on playlists, many of the curators require you cross their hand with gold. This leaves you feeling less like you have earned your place there as you have bought your way in. 

There are also other methods, where you are encouraged to follow the playlist and the curators on social media with the promise that your song will get added to the playlist. In my experience, having done this many times, I have never found myself on any of them. I quickly realised that this is not a genuine way of getting your music heard. 

These playlists get a clear majority of followers, sure, but they are likely thousands of other musicians primarily hoping that their song will be featured, rather than genuine listeners with a real interest in the content. 

I want to help other bands and artists get discovered without shelling out money. 

Because of this, I have created a playlist “Unchartists” on Spotify. It is a collaborative playlist that enables artists to add their own music into the mix. 

This is a collaborative playlist, so you can add your own songs to it. 

This is an idea I have had for a while, to make something where people can share their music for free. This is not genre restrictive, you can add your music regardless of what category it falls under. 

I want this to be a place where people can go to experience a vast and diverse expanse of a variety of music from lesser known artists and subsequently help us all to grow. 

There are no real rules here, however, I would request the following please as a courtesy: 

Please only add a maximum of 3 songs. 3 songs that really show what you are capable of. Please don’t spam the playlist or I will have to remove some tracks. 

If you add your songs to the playlist, please share it with your audience 

  • Encourage people to listen to the music, follow the playlist and share what they are enjoying. Granted, with such a variety of genres, not everybody will like everything, but every music fan will enjoy some things in there. 
  • Please share the playlist everywhere you possibly can 
  • Feature it on your website 
  • Share it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (#chartists) – Personal accounts and your band / artist accounts if you feel comfortable with that. 
  • Do a blog post / Vlog about it. 
  • Encourage other artists / bands to add their music & ask them to share the link around too. 
  • If you have Spotify for Artists maybe feature the playlist on your artist / bands Spotify page. 

It’s mutually beneficial. The more people that share it, the more it grows. The more it grows, the more followers we get. The more followers we get, the more listeners we all get. The more listeners we get, the more our audiences grow. 

Maybe have a browse through it as it grows too, you may find other artists to collaborate, remix or work with. 

I have kicked the playlist off with my own song to start off with – Losing Control. 

One last thing be respectful of the playlist. Please don't rearrange and drag your song to the top of the playlist - that's just rude. 

Please do not just dump your music in this playlist and not share it around. It is not here as a platform to benefit just you, it is here to benefit musicians as a collective.   

With all that being said - here is the link: 

https://open.spotify.com/user/1142605247/playlist/5RXYJAH89Jf4jkWUufFRa0?si=zklM0Q4dQqGhgClAHVaO_g

Eqavox

BCB Radio Interview - Eqavox - 01/08/2019 between 22:00 - 23:00.  

Hey all, 

Tomorrow evening I am heading into the BCB studio to be interviewed about my music by Michelle Dalgety. 

We are going to play some of my songs and chat about my music. 

The show is being recorded tomorrow evening between 19:00 - 20:00 but it will be aired on Thursday 1st August between 22:00 - 23:00. 

If you happen to be otherwise engaged, don't worry as I will ensure you are able to catch up with the show afterwards. 

If, however, you can be there with us, that would be fantastic & appreciated.

I will try to get some pictures uploaded Tuesday night / Wednesday of me in the studio and generate a bit of hype for it. 

Thank you to Yorkshire Music Collective for the opportunity and for continually supporting independent artists - you can find them below:

  • Website: http://www.yorkshiremusiccollective.co.uk 
  • Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/154851782785/Blog http://www.yorkshiremusiccollective.com/ 
  • Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/yorkshiremusiccollective

The show will be broadcast on the BCB Radio website - feel free to give the link below a sneaky bookmark & maybe set up a reminder. 

  • http://www.bcbradio.co.uk

See you there :)

Eqavox

 

 

Help promote artists / musicians / jewellery makers / photographers / poets / designers you enjoy ...  

It's so, so difficult for musicians, artists, writers etc to get noticed these days. 

There are literally millions and millions of people all reaching for the same goals, all trying to stand out, all trying to make something of themselves. 

The creative world has always been busy, chaotic and crowded but, with the introduction of the internet, it is now over saturated too. 

I spend a hell of a lot of time trying to push my music out to everybody, trying to get peoples attention and, more importantly maintain it. 

Being a musician also means you have to be able to do a multitude of other things if you want to stand a chance of being noticed. 

For example: 

  • Press Releases
  • EPK's (Electronic Press Kits) 
  • Graphic Design - Album covers etc.
  • Video Editing - Music videos.
  • Mixing
  • Mastering
  • Writing lyrics
  • Marketing 
  • PR
  • Social Media

It's not enough to have a good song up on the internet. That song needs to be EVERYWHERE. Soundcloud, Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify, Deezer, Tidal, Napster, Amazon MP3, Youtube. 

So, you finish your track. Save it. You are happy with the musical side of things but then you realise you need an eye catching and relevant image to use as cover artwork. So, after spending days on music, you spend subsequent days creating some cover artwork. 

You finally have your artwork AND finalised music. You upload this to the digital retailers mentioned above and play the waiting game for it to appear on them all. 

Then you realise you need a video with some eye catching visuals to really make the song stand out. So you spend subsequent weeks searching for stock footage, recording on location, editing, deleting and re exporting a video a million times. 

Eventually, you have your video ready and uploaded to your Youtube. Your song is on all major digital retailers so you need to get the links for each individual retailer and add it to the comment section and video description sections so people know where they can buy / stream it from. 

The next step is to post the video EVERYWHERE and hope the algorythm Gods will bless you. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, your website all that jazz. plaster social media in it. 

Encourage people to share or retweet it if they like it. Most don't, but some do and every little helps when it comes to spreading the word. 

You then spend hours and hours every day for weeks on end submitting the song to whoever you can that may listen. 

  • Spotify Playlist curators
  • Radio Stations
  • Online radio shows
  • Podcasters
  • Vloggers
  • Bloggers
  • Music Reviewers 

I approach hundreds of people personally. I don't send out spam, mass emails. I email directly and ensure I show an interest in what they do. I check out what they do before hand and make sure that the particular song I am promoting at the time will fit in with their style / theme. I keep the emails personal because I owe them that much and it's respectful to do so. Sending off one generic email to hundreds of contacts never works out very well. 

You have to give a little to people and be genuine in your approach to what they are passionate about. 

Then you get mostly rejections in return or potentially nothing at all in some cases. 

I would say, to do all of the above, can take up to 1.5 - 2 months realistically. 

It's exhausting and hard work. It can be discouraging work but it's work that needs doing. 

I would suspect that for artists / video editors / graphic designers / painters etc they all experience similar issues too. 

Promoting really intrudes on your art. If I could spend less time promoting, I could release more music more frequently. 

I guess the intention of this blog is to point out the amount of work and time artists invest in what they love and promoting it. 

If you like what we are doing, then it is so important for you to helps us out where you can with a retweet or a share here and there when you see or hear something you enjoy. 

The support is always appreciated and it alleviates some pressure from us knowing that other people are pushing us and helping us too. 

I don't make much money at all from my music. I do it for me and for you because I enjoy it. 

I hope you do too :). 

So yeah, please help your artists, jewellery makers, graphic designers, painters, producers, musicians, rappers, etsy sellers, small businesses etc etc and just share - That is honestly one of the easiest ways to support us. 

Much love, 

Eqavox

 

BCB Radio 106.6FM - Upcoming Radio Interview.  

Hi All, 

Thursday 1st August I will be joining Michelle Dalgety in the BCB radio studio (106.6FM) for an interview about all things Eqavox. 

We are going to hang out, chat about music and play some of my tunes.

There will also be loads of other brilliant tunes thrown in the mix by various local and unsigned artists. 

The show will air Thursday 1st August between 22:00 - 23:00 GMT. 

You can listen on the good old fashioned radio or, alternatively on the BCB website, below: 

http://www.bcbradio.co.uk

You will be able to catch up with the show on the website too after it has aired if you happen to miss the broadcast. 

I will post more about this nearer the time but it's definitely something to add to your reminders and calendars. 

Hope you can join us. 

Thank you to Yorkshire Music Collective, BCB Radio andMichelle Dalgety for their continued support of unsigned and emerging artists. 

Eqavox

Once Upon A Time ...  

Colours seemed so much brighter as a child. The world was so unassuming. I chased butterflies through fields, trying to grasp them. I watched through shadowy windows, the sun piercing a dusty dawn. Dispersing a cerise sky. I watched the sun scatter dreams from her eyes like cinders and smoke on hypnotic airstreams.  

Now, the colours have faded. The world is demanding. I listen for silence through echo chambers of gloom, trying to mute them. I gaze through vibrant windows. Sinister shades spiral in over green meadows. I saw the sun burn out years ago, swept away like embers in a tempest.  

It’s difficult for me to put into words really, the above is the closest I have got to date. It’s merely a reflection that life as a child was incredibly relaxing and happy. I was content, so I had the time to appreciate the world around me and observe things that were beautiful, things that you take for granted as you get older:  

  • Sunrises and sunsets.  
  • Crisp, hazy mornings where dew dozes on leaves of the drooping trees.  
  • Damp grass, ornate with shimmering raindrops that dance as you amble through them.  
  • Autumn Leaves. A cacophony of warm colours to fuel our souls through the cold, dead winter.  
  • Rainbows.  
  • Frozen, icy meadows smothered with frosty silk. Flamboyantly gleaming.  
  • Snow.  
  • Icicles clutch to skeletal trees. Shimmering vibrantly as they thaw.  
  • Neon florid skies, cloudless skies, bloodshot skies, auburn skies.  
  • Clouds that morph into a million ideas, only to dissipate like modicums of silt in the ocean.  
  • Gazing through the night at distant city lights that invoke deep, ethereal moods of marvel.  
  • Observing the cosmos through the inquisitive mind of a child who dreams the days away imagining where it all ends.  
  • Contemplating the moon, the universe, the stars and the ceaseless heartbeat of eternity. An infinity you can gawp into but on no occasion understand.  
  • Becoming motionless as you sit, indulging in stasis, scouring boundless skylines for drifting satellites.  
  • The overwhelming and absurd fact that the beacons of light that burst and sparkle in the remoteness may not exist anymore.  
  • Fires that crackle and snap. Frenzied embers flourishing up to the sky, pirouetting alongside sluggish cinders into drowsy atmospheres.  
  • Heat pulsing over frozen, weary bones. Warmth.  

Everything was enhanced when I was younger. My senses were fiercely sharp. Everything was beautiful and curious, exciting and mysterious. There was so much to do, so much to see, so much to love. 

To quote some beautiful lyrics from The Birthday Massacre from their song "In This Moment":  

When I was younger  
The days all seemed to last  
So much longer  
But that was once upon a time ... 

Memory Lane 

Memory Lane. 

My grandad was a strong person too. He was quiet and somewhat reserved, but when I accidentally spilled something on the carpet, for example, all he needed to do was give me a look and that was enough to scare the shit out of me. I called it the “Panda Stare”. 

When I was very little my grandad would pick me up above the kitchen table and let me push the light that dangled over it. I used to love doing this. I’d push it back and forth while shouting “Swing, Swing!”. When I got a bit older and a bit too big for him to be picking me up anymore he used to hold my hands and I would stand on his feet. He would walk around the room with me like that for ages because it made me happy. 

He took me to watch trains pass by at a bridge just outside of Leeds city centre every Sunday afternoon. He would lift me up, so I could see over the bridge when a train was coming, and I used to gesture with my hand at the trains, miming at them to blow their horn. They always did because what sort of a monster wouldn’t do that for a child?   

There was one steam train that came out of Leeds at 3pm on Sundays. We always tried to ensure we were there around that time to see it. It was the only steam train that we knew of that was operational anymore in that area. It was a little green engine that we named “Smokey Joe”. I was obsessed with trains as a child and still enjoy them to this day, and planes. My grandad enjoyed both and talked to me a lot about them growing up, so I learned a lot more about trains and planes and how they work than anything else. 

I remember sitting on a plane once going to Ibiza with my Nan and Grandad and I was watching the TV screen onboard. They were about to do their safety spiel and I saw a CGI, animated plane on the screen. It glided majestically across the bottom and did a full 360-degree loop before coming to a stop at the right-hand side of the screen and disappearing. I turned to my grandad, gasped, and exclaimed; 

“Our plane isn’t going to do that is it!?” 

My grandad turned to me with a smile and said: 

“Well, I hope not” and continued browsing the magazine from the chair in front of him. Probably looking at what beer he was going to have. That was a reassuring response. 

Grandad bought a lot of Hornby train-sets and trains for me. It was amazing because I would always turn up at my Nan and Grandads house wondering if there would be a new train waiting for me up in the attic. We used to sit up in the attic and set different tracks up and get the trains running. When I was very young I would often call him the “Fat Controller” after the fat controller from Thomas the Tank Engine. I often found myself alone in the attic after calling him that, it was a mystery to me as to why. I was completely oblivious. You probably can’t call the character that anymore, it’s too politically incorrect. Maybe it should be the “Full Figured Controller” now or something. 

He was a real character and a bit of a rebel too. He bought me a cannabis lolly from a stall in Ibiza when my nan told him not to (I don’t think it had cannabis in it). He bought me a replica metal Luger pistol and put it in our suitcase for our flight home, even though my Nan told him not to. We went for a walk up a mountain in Ibiza and there was a sign in Spanish. We ignored the sign because Nan and me couldn’t read it. Eventually my Nan wondered what the sign further back said. My Grandad said; 

“It said something about not passing this point, dangerous cliff edges and rocks falling … something along those lines” 

Nan couldn’t believe that he understood it and just chose to ignore it. I could, because it’s exactly the thing he would do to amuse himself and me and wind Nan up further. 

Surely enough, we got around the corner to find a gaping hole in the side of the mountain with a 500-foot drop, so we had to turn back anyway. Grandad wanted to look up there and he was damned if he was going to let any big red warning signs get in his way. You must admire that level of rebelliousness I think. I mean that is pure dedication, risking your life and your family’s life just because you wanted to see what was up there. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it never seemed to kill him, thankfully. I get the impression he thrived on danger sometimes, like he got a kick out of it. Maybe adrenaline perhaps?

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