Serenading Serendipity

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Our neighbour’s daughter is looking sad. I take my drum and over the garden wall, play her a song incorporating her name. She’s delighted. Her Dad comes out and we get chatting. He works for a publishing company and asks if I’ll do a drum session with his team. Three months later the phone starts…

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Life In The 80s

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David Bowie puts his head around the door of Studio One, “I need one of you for some hand claps on a new song”. I’m doing some programming for Madness who are working on their new album in Studio Two. He sees me and says, “Hey, Tom Morley, Scritti Politti, I heard you were coming…

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How To Meet The Queen

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Cancer. Thirteen. I get ‘shielded from the pain’ and don’t get to say goodbye to my Mum. My Gran, who lives next door, dies of cancer too, three years later. At sixteen I reject the well-meaning ‘shielding’ and make sure she and I talk about everything. The London Blitz, the Royal Family visiting the East…

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Amy. Her Story

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Amy. She’s blind, deaf and four years old. To be honest I’m not qualified for this gig. I haven’t trained as a teacher and this is my first ever drum session with special needs children. Fifteen of them with bright, expectant eyes. Most of them are older, in wheelchairs with straps and head rests, brought…

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Deep in flow like Leonardo. Loved-up. Grateful. In the groove.

Deep in flow like Leonardo. Loved-up. Grateful. In the groove. Leonardo da Vinci invented the first disco ball when one of his models broke a mirror in his studio in Florence. But that’s history, right now shattered glass is flying across The Camden Palace foyer in London. Grimacing bouncers have me in their sights. Suddenly…

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Spring Forward

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I’m losing it with a boy in today’s school drumming session. It’s most unprofessional of me but I’m going to make sure he never does this again. It’s a mixed class of 10 year olds and he’s white, privileged and seemingly rather popular. I’ve just assigned a conducting role to a shy black girl. Why?…

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Favourite Birthday Present

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Someone just asked what’s my favourite birthday present ever? It’s 2006. Two friends are driving Dawn to their house to get dressed on the way to her mystery Birthday Party. From there she’s carefully blindfolded and given soft sheepskin boots to wear as they drive out of town. They have her favourite music on an…

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Odlum House Of Grass

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I reach for my drum. It all seems too formal. We’re a predominantly white group of delegates politely handing over an envelope of cash tips to a black group of staff at a conference venue in South Africa. “We learned a Zulu song last night, have you got time for us to sing it to…

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Andy Warhol NYC

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Andy Warhol. Our handshake is ice cold. This isn’t a metaphor, his eyes are warm but we’ve both been clutching our champagne flutes too hard. Little Nell’s isn’t the biggest club in New York but on this opening night it’s the most crowded. We’re both being encouraged to move away from the bar by our…

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Are You The Captain?

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Eric Clapton turns up at Prince’s after-party at The Kensington Roof Gardens. I’ve never quite ‘got’ the blues before, even though I’ve been a lifelong Hendrix fan. We’ve all read the rave reviews of Jimi playing ‘Red House’ at the Isle of Wight Festival but for many of us there, especially the teenagers, we wanted…

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