Strungout at Glastonbury (for

Last weekend, I played at Glastonbury on the Pyramid Stage with a brilliant band. I had a blast, and by some miracle, I didn’t have to drink.

When I was on stage, looking out at the thousands of people with the flags, singing and dancing, albeit in cagoules and thigh deep in mud, I had a lovely, glowy moment. “Well!” I thought. “This is a turn up for the books, for the girl who couldn’t get out of bed without having a drink and was never going to play the cello again for as long she lived.” Coming from where my alcoholism eventually took me, to being paid to play the cello at ANY level, is miraculous. I feel the same gratitude when I play in a background string quartet for a stranger’s wedding. In the old days, I’d have been drunk at the back of the church, a bottle of “water’ (vodka) at my feet or I simply wouldn’t have made it there and caused a lot of stress for whoever hired me.


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In my previous life as a lush, I lurched from crisis to crisis, learning nothing, feeling nothing. In case you were wondering, feeling nothing is the absolute holy grail if you’re an addict. Oblivion is the name of the game. Some people assume I drank because I was an irrepressible party girl, seeking unbridled hedonism and high times. The more prosaic truth is that I wanted to feel nothing at all. Ever.

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The Shovel List

The items on my particular Shovel List are mainly irrational, minor annoyances. Like most people I know, I get very upset about all kinds of grave and seemingly insurmountable problems like cancer, or homophobia, but issues of such magnitude and complexity do not belong on the Shovel List. The Shovel List is a place for largely groundless hatred, often towards inanimate objects. I find in life, it is the catalogue of daily minor annoyances that can render me suicidal, having built over the course of a day from molehills to mountains. The Shovel List helps dispel all that. The larger things, like terrorism or Parkinson’s disease...well, we all hate them. That’s a given. The big things have no place on the humble SL. 

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Erin Go Bragh

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with all things Irish. I have no idea where this comes from or why it has stayed with me all these years. I remember clearly the first time I met an Irish man. I'd never heard an Irish accent before and I loved listening to him talk, just around the house, to his family. I was utterly entranced by the sing-song intonation, long vowels and dotted rhythms in his speech. On one occasion he good-naturedly called his daughter an "eejit", and when he told me what it meant, I laughed and laughed. (I was about seven. My sense of humour wasn’t sophisticated. He could have said “fart” and I would have thought he was as witty and urbane as Woody Allen.) 

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It’s been a while since I wrote. A few kind souls recently asked me over twitter/fb why I’d stopped posting, and there are lots of reasons, the primary one being this:

A member of my string quartet Raven threw eggs at Simon Cowell live on the final of Britain's Got Talent.

“Egg-gate” took over my life for months. I couldn’t write about it at the time because the fallout was nuclear and every time I tweeted it ended up on the Daily Mail Online. I still can’t write about it because there may well be more fallout as a result. And frankly I’m all talked out. I can barely muster the enthusiasm to type this paragraph on the subject. Suffice it to say, the result of the egg lobbing was a clusterfuck of gargantuan proportions. The desire to engage with any kind social media after receiving several thousand abusive tweets and emails from irate BGT viewers understandably disappeared, and Strungout was the inevitable, if temporary casualty.

That’s all done now though and I’m back with blog posts coming out the wazoo. Those “Where have you been? I’ve really missed your blog!” people are going to wish they'd never mentioned it. 

The combination of the new year, my fast approaching 30th birthday and the change in my career situation have all contributed to a burning desire to overhaul my life. There are a few things I’ve been putting up with for as long as I can remember that I am finally ready to roll up my sleeves and tackle with gusto.

The first thing on my shit list is INSOMNIA. (a.k.a schlafenschmerz. Ok not really. I just like adding “schmerz” to things and pretending I'm fluent in German.)

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What's in a Name?

Last month my new husband and I had our first serious married disagreement. Some might call it a row....voices were raised, eyes were rolled, F-- bombs were dropped (by me. Restraint isn’t one of my attributes). We recovered quickly and we’re friends again now, but when I tried to discuss the tricky subject of my dispute with my nearest and dearest, I encountered a veritable shitstorm of controversy.


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In the Loop

It’s been ages, loyal readers, and I’ll tell you for why.....

1. I’ve met someone else. Actually a few other people.

I’ve been writing for other blogs. I know. Brutal. It will never be the same as what we have, but I had to spread my wings a bit. There is a NY based female orientated blog called XOJane, who encourage their writers to be as outrageous and honest as possible. As you can imagine, the quotient of “My vagina and me” posts is high. I got busy writing for them...and for some anonymous blog sites, when I wanted to write about a) sensitive things that my family don’t need to know about and b) controversial things that incited web based backlash, which believe me, is easier to take from faceless internet strangers than friends and colleagues. Remember BGT-gate? Oy. I’m careful where I post my ramblings these days.

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Sofar so good

A few weeks ago, I played a gig on The London Eye, which is not a phrase I ever thought I'd type. I’d never been on it, despite living in London for 6 years and seeing it towering over the river I live adjacent to every day. My neurotic control freakery means that a trip in a pod that goes 135 m into the air for 27 minutes is my idea of hell. Don’t get me wrong, I love a panoramic view of my city as much as the next person, but I’d rather experience it from a building, with solid foundations, walls, floors, maybe even a sofa,  you understand. A few years ago I would have let some other braver cellist do this gig, but getting a) sober and b) older has taught me that if I said no to everything that frightened me, I would never leave the house. Also, the gig in question was for James Page, and I love him. 

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Madness at the Olympics

This blog entry is shockingly tardy and briefer than usual (thank GOD, I know you’re all thinking. I recently had a short chat with a trumpeter friend of mine at a recording session who said “Your blog looks good.” “Oh really?” I said, flattered, “Which one did you like?” “Oh I haven’t READ it, it’s longer than bloody War and Peace! I have a job.”)

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Hyperchondriacal Hysteria

Oh dear readers: today is a bad day. Not bad by a normal person’s standards….indeed, I have a roof over my head, my two week old marriage is thus far intact, I’m in possession of all my limbs, and my family are alive and well. I strongly suggest that if any of the above nightmare scenarios are in fact happening to you at this moment in time, that you stop reading now, because what I am about to describe to you is going to seem unbearably trivial and self indulgent. (Although frankly, what is a blog if not a vehicle for trivia and self indulgence?)

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Ode to Joilets (Part One)

am meant to write Strungout once a week. It’s been about a month since I last wrote, which according to the “how to be the best/most read blogger” blogs I have been reading, is a cardinal blogging sin. I have a good excuse though, sort of. I went on a very intense tour of Japan, and then got back and worked like a dog. The last few weeks have also been occupied by my impending nuptials (6 days to go until I am officially off the shelf.) In short, I’ve been knackered, barely capable of conversation, let alone writing down sentences. 

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Panic Stations

I’m about to out myself: as a sufferer of performance anxiety. Any regular readers will know that I was born a worry-wart and a self confessed neurotic. I’m also a shameless show off, so I was addicted to performing from when I was a little person. Marrying these two aspects of myself has caused me considerable angst in the past.  I spent years trying to hide my chronic anxiety with labyrinthine coping mechanisms and pretending to be normal, but these days, I can’t be arsed.  It has often felt like a cosmic joke that I have found myself in a career which is so closely linked with adrenaline and fear. God knows I’ve tried to do other things, but I missed playing too much. It never felt right doing anything else. 

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Raven Calamity

So some regular readers of StrungOut and faithful twitter followers will have noticed that my last two posts are no longer available for public consumption. There is a reason for this, but boringly, I’m not at liberty to tell you what that is right now. Bear with me, I’ll try and be interesting about other things. I’ve been bowled over by the sheer number of people that read them and commented on them. I have also received my first couple of negative comments on twitter….which stung.  Luckily I have a close friend who is a controversial columnist and she was available for skin thickening tutorials. 

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