Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Bad days deserve positive distractions

Today is a day that really sucks.

My mind has been wondering through the valley of past memories and wonderful experiences.

All great memories but not when you realise the companion of those memories is no longer in your life.

Anniversaries are never easy I guess.

So I am distracting myself with something completely different...

My single life and in particular today, my Feng Shui Tibetan Power surging comfort space: My bed.

Its a place of refuge for me some days. Other days it’s a place of pride.

Its not my bed, its not even my room, although I rent it, its not my home but I am personalising it for the short time that I will be here.

Happy for the safety of a reliable roof above my head, a welcoming bed and a great friend to help nudge me out of the negative cycles that run through my head and heart.

But my distraction today is to explain to you two things that I love about my new, all be it temporary, bed:

1) The two Tibetan cushions on it create a beautiful energy in the middle, that when I lay or sit between them, I can feel their healing power

2) At night I put the cushions at the bottom of my bed and pretend they are loyal dogs sleeping on my feet

There. That’s how I get through each night alone, with my spiritual cushions being fake dogs at the foot of my bed.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Big Burns Supper 2017

Credit Big Burns Supper 
This year’s Big Burns Supper was a whole new level.

There was yet another great eclectic programme of events, activities and artists.

There were over 60 performances in partnership with 12 pubs, theatres and venues in Dumfries.
It drew in impressive crowds.

We had Lulu, The Scottish version of Cilla Black really, but here all the same, in Dumfries! Those that went gave it rave reviews.

There was local favourites, new comers as well as international favourites including the feet flying, fiddle flinging, bag pipe creations from the Peatbog Fairies. All filling the floor with movers and groovers with their hands waving in the air, long hippie hair because they don’t care.

A Queer Haggis version of Le Haggis – both of which were mind-blowing and awesome.

And most importantly for me, BBS was the perfect antidote to a particularly personally challenging week. Showing me, without a doubt, that no matter how dark one part of your day can be, you can choose to push through it and walk into the light. Or in my case Glitter.


Challenge accepted – naturally my glitter brushes broke of course so I just had to resort to using my hands – the hard ship..

Also - Put on this crew tartan plaid Lou and go act as the Le Haggis lead singer’s bouncer while he is on centre podium and stop the over excited ladies groping him - Challenge accepted.  A riot.

And - Go get that bloody woman’s phone off her Lou, she is filming everything, take it off her, slap her if you have to! Challenge accepted -  but approach somewhat amended into a compassionate leadership style warning that ended with her heartfelt apology, handing it over voluntarily and a kiss on the cheek for me. Done.

So where did all this begin?

Big Burns Supper Carnival - click here for video

The starting event walks through the people lined streets of Dumfries. 

BBS Carnival Parade - Pic credits Hazel Gardiner


As this year’s spectacular carnival was led by a timely and poignant Pride not Prejudice lantern parade which included people from across our multi-cultural, multi-race, multi-faith and multi-faceted communities who stood side by side, proud in their diversity
Proud to say ‘we are part of and very much love Dumfries and Galloway, here we are showing our support.’ Here comes the change!

BBS – Breaking Boundaries Smiling

This January, the 2017 celebration of Rabbie Burns, was all about the community and the way Dumfries embraces their right to translate his poetry, his lifestyle, his historical roots of expression, into the modern diverse world that we all live in right now.

In an effort to utilise local resources and venues this year the BBS crew teamed up brilliantly with the management of the Easterbrook Hall and turned that venue into an entirely different place. It was a spectacular effort. A new approach and an epic transformation.

BBS Easterbrooke Hall decor - Pic credits Kelly Hamilton


Never before have I walked into the Easterbrook Hall and been so Wowed. Each room so well
presented, decorated, mood-lit and constantly full of great programme entertainment.

From folk, spoken word, Scottish Ceilidh, solo artists absolutely rocking it, Metal, Ska, Soul, Choir, Comedy, Haggis Hunting, Classical, Ukulele rock and roll (yep!), Bagpipe poetry, Quantum Magic, Country, Contemporary wind instruments coupled with electronics, traditional Irish music, Talent development events, Tribute Bob Dylan, Plays, Monologues, the Transform project that worked across a number of communities across Dumfries to support them in expressing their local diversity and performance talent, and of course the first ever Sunday Session mahousive party which saw three rooms at the Easterbrook hall and sixteen different bands, not counting the open mic, the spoken word and the live Art performance feature from London based artist- The Line Girl.

Is that not some list?

Due to my own schedule and personal situation I could not attend as much as I wished to. But what I did attend was a life changing experience for me. Certainly in that way when you rise so high from being part of something meaningful, or dancing to great bands who have such charisma that the room energy changes and definitely from times of heightened senses by being impressed by the acrobatic performances. But mainly it changed my world view by being able to step into the world of the BBS.

To take part in the Pride not Prejudice part of the parade and to languish backstage gleefully rubbing glitter onto various body parts of many beautiful talented people.

I was privileged. At times I was on the edge of emotional, because during great happiness and wonder you can get a lump in your throat that reminds you how long its been since you felt this good.

So breaking it down into my favourite aspects:

Burns Night Live - click here for video

Seven performances, haggis eating dinner (the veggie option for me was fantastic), Ceilidh kicking, poetry slamming. A great night out. Confession – my first ever Burns Supper! Yes, yes I know, I’ve been in Scotland 20 years and apart from a primary school dinner time initiation involving a stuttering version of Willie Wastle and addressing the Haggis, I had no idea how the Scottish celebrated Burns Night.

Turns out, Dumfries is THE biggest loudest proudest place to be if you want to celebrate Burns Night. And it really was live, around the world. The BBS crew providing those of us lucky enough to be sitting munching, drinking and enjoying the show, with social media updates and the opportunity to wave at the live feed camera. ITV Scotland Border even came along and put the Programme Director (Executive Producer) through his paces on live national television!

BBS Crew Burns Supper YMCA - Pic credits Citizen Rain

My two favourite parts of the evening had to be the BBS crew interrupting the addressing of the Haggis to launch into the YMCA and an incredible spoken word performance by a local pint size Scottish lass with an incredible mind blowing way with words. 

Burns Night Supper Cara McNaught
Pic credit Galina Walls

Reciting her own political social statement, bang on point, on the button and raw, the kind you see on the back of a pub toilet door and think, “thats bloody incredible!”

Where can I read more?

I got to mingle with such an eclectic group of interesting people. I bumped into people I haven’t seen for years. The most hilarious scenario was a lovely older lady who I recognised straight away from my days living in Lockerbie.
She was my practice nurse at my local GP. Gulp....

So you can imagine my embarrassment when she approached, with her friendly yet inquisitive  face and enquired, ‘I ken yer face hen, but whir dee I ken yer frae?’...

...“Errr well mostly vaginal swabs and hormone injections love.”

Not exactly my actual spoken words, thankfully my brain to mouth filter was working. But I did make a joke of it and we both roared. I guess she gets that a lot. I hope. Maybe?

Apart from my presence the night was othwise suitable for children so it was lovely to see families there, enjoying the Ceilidh, the food and the world wide exposure to the exciting celebration amongst the revellers and artists. Everyone soaking up the Burns tribute.

For my first Burns Supper it wasnae bad at all, quite braw indeed.

Queer Haggis
If you have never seen the award winning Le Haggis, either at the Edinburgh fringe or in Dumfries,  then shame on you. But if you have, just imagine its entire stunt spinning spectacular Scottish soundtrack glory... but with Queer Haggis there are extra camp juicy cherries on top.This year included a full crew dressed up in drag, glitter or fancy dress, so the whole event was about embracing your weird, your diversity and certainly about being just a little bit kinky and coarse.

BBS Le / Queer Haggis Galina Walls
All great fun of course.

A throw back to an old story line taken from their original inspiration six years ago, of running a story through the show, with just a dash of spice, a sprinkle of naughty but nice and many gasps from the crowds from over excitement and hilarious combinations of bare bum kilted rock and roll, and utterly sexy performers. Dragged up was the constantly disgruntled Drag Act Ivana, (there aint no way you can call her a Queen any more, she's far too dirty).

She is crude, rude and wishing she was nude, the loud and gregarious Mancunian Ivana.

Who was in mourning, of course, over the loss of her secret lover, George Michael. She repeatedly caused havoc among the audience with her inappropriate ways of seeking physical attention for her poor grieving heart. Which mostly involved sitting on laps and then accusing people of being ‘dirty bastards.’ 

(No images I am afraid as she is too adult content to risk in my blog...)

There was a beautiful duet ribbon twirling performance with the sexy lingerie clad lady stretching into unbelievable positions and the blind folded man, keeping her spinning and mirroring or complimenting her stunning shapes.

Queer Haggis
Pic credits Galina Walls Galinawallsphotography.co.uk
There was a bare-chested tight jean leg handsome man swinging in and out of a bath tub from nothing but two long straps which he  used with his hands, his feet and his arms to impressively display Olympic precision strength and ability to actually twist himself up and over, up and over, up and over. Beautiful poses and inspiring strength and stamina.

Cara MagnificentmcnaughQueer Haggis
Pic credit Galiana Walls

He then wound himself high up into the rafters poised legs pinned horizontal, wrists wrapped before dramatically dropping down to a perfect splash and pose to all the roars across the floors. But what the ladies went wild for were all the times he swung from side to side across the bath splashing them with water. Wet ladies in that audience for shizzle.

Incredible juggling, solo song performances, a PVC clad big mama playing the wazoo out of her twazzoo, LGBT specific stand up comedian and a burlesque sword swallowing show girl  stunt goddess that set the house on fire, almost literally, with the impressive fire headdress the sword swallowing beauty donned for one of her entrances.

And how could one not be bowled over by the reappearance, literally in the flesh, of the one and only waxing lyrical being satirical totally political but pointing out the obvious principle the daring invaluable and invincible,
Cara Magnificentmcnaught.

It was all incredibly spectacular and great fun

One particular female act, Velma Von Bon Bon, who performed around a tall pole with a half circle

bowl of water on the top began her performance like a cross between a clumsy Frank Spencer and a totally wrecked Ab-Fab Patsy. Numerous failed attempts to get up the pole into her bowl had the crowd in stitches. Acting shit on these types of apparatus is actually more challenging than making the perfectly symmetrical moves, so huge kudos to her. All eyes were on her. Until....

...she asked the audience for a participant, a male participant, someone submissive, who would do as he was told. All eyes hit the ground. I watched as she slowly rotated around her pole, she rolled her eyes as her pointing finger scoured across the crowd as all male eyes remained firmly fixed to the floor and not one man stepped forward. As she reached the final corner where I was sat, man or not, I felt obliged to help the woman out and flung up my hand.

I will!
Citizen Rain and Velma Von Bon Bon Queer Haggis
Pic Credits Citizen Rains pal
I clambered disgracefully onto her podium and held onto the bowl topped pole to steady my nerves, my heels, my spinning head – what was I doing up here? I was barely able to get out the front door earlier and now I’m covered in glitter and on stage in front of an audience. Dear lord, take a breath. Ahhh fuck it, roll with it. On went the persona! And out came Lorrain...TGMLYA x

My participation entailed a little bit of dancing (not great in the heals I had on), helping to rip off her bikini line wax strips, pre-lined with muff hair which I then stuck on her shoulders, she wasn’t expecting that! But then she gave me a huge pump action water cannon and I was guided off the podium to stand well back and practice shooting her in the face. Well. I wasn’t expecting that.

BBS Queer Haggis
Galina Walls
Perfect shot, but I couldn’t stop. Poor young Jack, who is an incredible young name to watch, this year taking on the stage manager role and during Queer Haggis dressed in a cute little Elf outfit, anyway he had a stiff word with me “Stop now Lou, Timing” and crouched cautiously nearby for my cue. Velma Von Bon Bon said, ‘typical Lorrain, comes early like most men.’

She then perfectly performed an incredible feat of twists and turns to finally climb gracefully up into the bowl of water and as she performed a handstand on top of the bowl of water! Impressive indeed. And my cue to shot my canon load all over her face as she held the handstand and then lowered herself in and out of the bowl. Utterly impressive and got me wet too.

Ward and Watson
On Saturday, I was very much enjoying being on hand with the Le Haggis staff crew and back stage glitter and eyelash sticker, watching the acts perform and totally shimmer.

I got the opportunity to take leave for an hour or so, by way of an alternative interlude from the glamour of Easterbrook Halls and hike across town to another BBS Programmed venue, the Brigend Theatre, to watch Ward and Watson perform.

Such a great pair of women reaching out to the world through their own musical expression and connection with life. They have a wonderful sound, beautiful and unique, meaty at times too, such potential ahead for these new comers.

The Dohl Foundation
LED Trainers Rock
Pic credits Citizen Rain
Sunday Session at Big Burns Supper involved sixteen different performances in three stage areas. But there was only one that really stuck out to me. Anything ethnic with drums and I am there. So you can imagine my excitement to learn The Dohl Foundation had come on stage just when I was given a 20 minute role call warning until my own performance began.
I skipped into the hall to the booming thrum of the Indian melodic beautiful drum dance beats of The Dohl Foundation.

Somewhat disheartened by instructions from our performance artist to not get sweaty, as this would cause issues with the paint that was about to line over my body. Darn! But I understood. I had one good fandango groove on with my LED trainers in disco mode. Could not believe the lead drummer had the same LED trainers!

Imagine co-joined stage to dance floor bounces being had before the song bounced and crashed to an impressive finale and I then turned immediately and left, pre-sweat warning was on, yet I was only hot and happily bounced right up. One song wonder but it was the musical highlight of my day.

Little bit of back story - I have followed Afro Celt Sound System for over 20 years. I love Banco de Gaia, Transglobal Underground and such like. So imagine my utter disbelief when I met said LED trainer wearing lead drummer, none other than THE Johnny Kalsi from the Dohl Foundation and looked into his eyes and saw not only a reflection of my ancient history, my life and loves but a strong sense of DeJaVu-I know-You! How’s that?

Bloody well turns out not only does he play in The Dohl Foundation but he played with Afro Celt Sound System AND Transglobal Underground. So as far as this man is concerned he is a god in my eyes. I know him because I have been at the front of many of their gigs. And I mean THEIR gigs. Not just at a festival, of which I have many other glorious memories of seeing these guys perform, my friends dancing, the highs we had and the golden sunshine memories, but on their own tours too. And here was the very man, talking to me, in our LED trainers. It was an immense convergence. A true gift of meeting someone you know you have already spent a lot of time with. Hilarious.  In Dumfries!

The Dohl Foundation - Pic credits TDF
I could have held onto Johnny Kalsi and talked about cosmic connections all night but I was performing and had to dash off to my own performance.

Sunday Session
So then my Sunday session boosted into something quite euphric and surreal, pushing boundaries but still feel, still keeping it real. To me annyway! It became a liberating, slightly awkward at first, big ole confidence push to sit completely naked on a tartan back drop and line floor. The Line Girl, did a fantastic job painting three of us and herself into a body statement of Scottish body blankets. Once dry we posed, moulded and cavorted in all our glorious stripes and shapes for nearly 5 hours.

The Line Girl & her work
Pic credit The Line Girl - http://www.thelinegirl.com/art 
www.thelinegirl.com/art  Look her up! Amazing work, so intricate, delicate yet bold.

I put myself in a position I had never been in before. I took my kit off, apart from knickers, in front of an audience and sat while I was painted in lines that blended me into a tartan tribal body tribute. 

Pic credit Wendy Rippingale

Feeling super body conscious at first, the conversations and laughs,  the audience appraisal, particularly from friends who I never ever thought I’d show my naked body too, EVER, laughed and sniggered but mostly kept my courage boosted. 
From great vulnerability comes courage. 
It is where courage is born. 
I owned me.
I was reborn that day. 

...(into myself not some weird cult / religious / naturist thing...dont worry)

As soon as the paint was on I felt clothed. I even stood up at times and talked to people from my work. Totally forgetting everything was on show and flying free. It really didn’t matter to me. This was also brand new news to me. I was embryonic and easy in my exploration of free.

I discovered I am not body conscious and am indeed proud of what I have. Curvy and swurvy, that’s my definition and I’m sticking to it, right? Happy.

We all wear the same body after all. We are all beautiful beings.
Human versions of Individual vessels.

Interpreting life,  hopefully doing good along the way, through all the diverse doorways to adventure and pathways with many forks to guide and decide us, define and refine us into creative considerate collaborators. Full of synchronicity, the power of connection and beauty. Being as diverse and eclectic in proof of each others colourful fusion in the never ending rainbow of life. 

Our bodies are the very symbol of unique diversity. It is but mere contortions and versions, angles and shapes we see. What is more important is what we don’t see. Who inside really are we?
What have you been through thats made you who you are?
How do you evolve through lifes trials, tribulations, trips and transitions?
How do you measure your personal growth?
Are you a decent human being?
What key actions define you?

Actually being art certainly makes you think.

BBS Parade  - Pic credit Suzi Hunter

I wrapped a scarf around myself for dinner and to go for a smoke though. A lady does not have ones tits out at the dinner table. Unless one is the table, of course. And smoking naked is just pure dead hazardous and ridiculous when you live in Scotland. So body shame free I laid around in glee and bliss as people tried to work out what on earth we had to do with Rabbie Burns.

Pure dead naked interpretive celebration of the body as a work of art. Especially Scottish as we were blended into tartan. Simple.

Once our performance was over, I spent the rest of my evening having a ridiculous good time back stage with a bath full of ice and beer. Trying various attempts at a performers mannequin challenge but we were all too hyped in various ways to get it right for long enough. Much giggling and camera person falling over things. All good fun.

I eventually ended my night dancing my socks off, which I had conveniently put back on along with some clothing and my LED trainers in party mode and slowly turned my orange stripes into an all over orange tango colour foundation. I went home with a beam on my face, a buzz in my mind and a bright orange body.

Evette Dionna hand heart
I made new memories with old friends who blanketed me in love and support in my hours of need.
I made new memories with local talented musicians who I am always delighted to bump into now I know them.
I went home having made strange powerful connections and new friends for life.
I went home liberated and just a little bit more courageous than I had started that week.

Thank you Big Burns Supper.

Not only did you impress me with your endeavours to up your game using local venues and resources but you totally wowed me and the members of the public I spoke to. Which if you know me, you will know is a lot of people. I like to make friends and gather feedback.

But also thank you for reminding me what community is, what friends are for, what an idiotic crazy eclectic beautiful crew you are and for reminding me I have a tribe in you, as you bring out the absolute nutter in me.

BBS – Breaking Boundaries Smiling
BBS – Breakup Blues Solution
BBS - Being Bloody Spectacular

Finally, I have emerged a little less Blue Lou B Lou of Bluetopia Creations and a bit more Lorrain from Citizen Rain. No pain. No shame. Still Lou but with Rain. Quite different but ultimately the same. Not plain. Nor a strain. Quite unable to complain. No disdain. Occasional moments of insane but always back to retraining my brain to reign my world again.