‘A Plasterer in Paris’…

It’s a big day today for our ongoing, “it’ll all be done by Christmas” building project.  For months we’ve heard lists of things that can or can’t be done before or after the screeders.  I have pictured the screeders as being like magical characters from a Harry Potter book, ancient and bit worldy wise.

In reality this is not a completely accurate description, although our chief screeder looks just like Robin Williams as Mork (of Mork and Mindy fame) and he was pretty mystical.  Screeders get up super early the knock-on effect of this being us having to get up even earlier (like the day before!) to make sure the kettle is on.

Screeders, like plasterers are very bendy, I feel they would be naturally good at yoga.  I think some amazing choreographer like Matthew Bourne should write a contemporary ballet featuring these guys it could be called ‘A Plasterer in Paris’ or ‘Screeding in the Rain.’ I have found myself utterly mesmerised by the skill of these chaps and their ability to make large expanses of rough uneven wall or floor become smooth like marble and all so effortlessly.

As an added bonus we discovered our other screeder likes to sing and treated us all to a rendition of Elton John and Kiki Dee’s hit ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ covering both parts which isn’t easy to do.  The less glamorous side of screeding involves other people filling endless wheelbarrows of heavy wet brown cement-y stuff and dumping it around the room.  They had this very whizzy self levelling laser machine which shone a bright red light all round the edge of the room.  I quite fancy buying one but realistically I don’t think I’ll get much ware out of one.

Most of our day has been spent keeping Alan the dog away from the wet screed, building walls of defence using whatever comes to hand 3 bags of cement and a watering can.  It’s like a red rag to a bull he has thus far managed to find a way of leaving a set of paw prints on every wet surface available, although he excelled himself running through a channel of fresh concrete in the kitchen not once but twice, the funniest thing being builder Rich trying to catch him and ending up ankle deep in concrete too.  I shouldn’t speak too soon but currently Screeders 1 – Alan 0.


This information will neither make or break your Wednesday but …

Computers are wonderful, modern technology saves us hours of needless toil, until they flipping stop working and you start missing deadlines because you’re having to now do multiple hours of afore mentioned toil.
It started with the phone, it’s given me 4 years of almost stress free service but after regularly cooking out at inconvenient moments I purchased a newer model.  Just as I was about to plug it into the computer and boot it up to transfer all the information from the old mobile to the new,  I thought I’d just have a quick look at the suggested procedure and there it stated that it would be best to make sure my computer software was fully up to date.  Fair enough, upon closer inspection I see that there was an available update a whacking great big one of over 5 GB.  As our broadband connection is about equal to the dizzying speeds of 1990’s dial up, I put the phone to one side, and set the upgrade to download overnight. 
This morning I set the new upgrade to install onto the computer, cue 5 hours of hell and meltdown. It became almost funny…. almost.  The computer said ‘no’ to the update but the upgrade wasn’t having any of it and kept repeatedly trying to install itself despite the computer throwing up every excuse it could think of to avoid, what I assumed to be the inevitable.  I assumed wrong and neither would back down, the computer now so hacked off with me that it refuses point blank to go back to the previous version where we were both so happy, so there I was in Catch 22 city.  
After an hour of trying to further negate update-gate I turn to our local computer repair shop and Tom talked me through a hopeful solution.  The update and the computer have now been in peace talks for nearly 2 hours and have reported via a small dialogue box that they should have reached a decision in the next 34 minutes.   Meanwhile the new phone sits gathering dust in a drawer, the old phone has been called back into service so I can try to get this column finished typing with 2 fingers onto a tiny screen.  I appreciate that this information will neither make or break your Wednesday but I felt compelled to share. Marvellous flipping inventions, computers grrr.

Impromptu gatherings are just the best …

Our good friend Amy came to stay for the weekend, she once gave Jeremy Corbyn a marrow you know.  On Saturday, in order for me to hit my 10,000 steps per day, we went for a walk… in the rain – “it’s just liquid sunshine” muttered Amy although hard to hear through parka hood and thick scarf.  Post walk the kettle went on and a text came in from Muddy’s cousin who lives approximately 638 steps away, to say they were going to pop in for a cuppa, minutes later similar message this time from our friends Nina and Fi who also happened to be in the area.

Cousin Clare and crew left about midnight and Nina and Fi went home about midday on Sunday!  Impromptu gatherings are just the best, we made the food stretch, chucking together whatever was in the cupboards and getting creative – I give you pickled onion surprise!  Everybody got on and we laughed till the early hours, topics included the Briggs-Myers personality test which was new to Mud and I but no one else, if you’ve never heard of it either I urge to have a look fascinating stuff.

Also on the chatty agenda, comparing quick and easy ways to cancel a restaurant reservation, “Yes I’m afraid we’re going to have to cancel our table tonight – we’ve just split up, thank you goodbye.” As the wine flowed we attempted handbells for beginners.  Recently I fulfilled a lifelong ambition of owning a set of 20 handbells and had done a few arrangements of popular tunes to amuse and delight guests over the holiday period but we hadn’t really had time to experiment, but I feel there was something for everyone…. Hey Jude, Last Christmas, Theme from Star Wars and Little Donkey all clearly colour co-ordinated and manageable for the non music reader.  We then talked at length about whether or not it was ok to spend so much time writing entertaining rudimentary charts for handbells whilst leaving your other half to do all the cleaning, cooking and making up of beds ahead of afore mentioned visitors arrival.  The evening ended with many rounds of Cards Against Humanity – Fantastic.

The reason we left Glastonbury was to move closer to the motorway for work but what a fantastic bonus to now be closer to friends and family again and have time to enjoy these spontaneous get togethers.


Swing’s The Thing

We’re swinging into 2018 with the ‘Swing’s The Thing’. 

This brand new show sees Clare and her excellent musicians effortlessly traverse a rich landscape of timeless and sparkling material, with standards from the grand masters of the Great American Song Book, Cole Porter & Rodgers & Hart, to witty urbane song stylists of the 50’s & 60’2 Cy Coleman & Carolyn Leigh & Dave Brubeck, there’s always a not to more contemporary writers and originals too.

So check out our listings page for a venue near you and join us for a celebration of popular music from the golden age of song that guarantees to be upbeat and uplifting to the extreme!




The winners of the British Jazz Awards 2017 were announced late on Wed 8th November.  Featuring a broad array of jazz talent and now in their 31st year they are the only poll that gives jazz lovers up and down the country the chance to vote on who their favourite musicians, bands and albums have been in the last 12 months.

Teal, who has previously won the British Jazz Awards for vocals in 2005, 2007 and 2015, is a sought after singer throughout the country with her stunning voice, encyclopaedic knowledge of jazz, swing and big band music, and her innate warmth as well as a prolific recording artist and popular BBC Radio 2 broadcaster.

Clare Teal says ‘It is an honour to win any award and as the British Jazz Awards are voted by the public it is pretty special to win for a fourth time particularly with the stellar line-up of nominees.   So a big thank you to those who gave me their vote and a massive congratulations to all the other winners and nominees’.

Click here for the full list of winners and nominees



All of Manchester’s communities stand together in strength, resilience and love.

In this most musical of cities, Manchester’s orchestral musicians from the Hallé, the BBC Philharmonic and the Manchester Camerata will come together with The Bridgewater Hall for a concert in support of the families and friends of the victims of last Monday’s atrocity.

The event details are:

  • Thursday 1 June at 8pm
  • The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
  • Sir Mark Elder and Stephen Bell will conduct members of the Hallé, Manchester Camerata and BBC Philharmonic orchestras
  • Performances by Clare Teal, Alice Coote and Guy Garvey

The evening will include inspiring and uplifting classical music, a performance by Alice Coote – one of the world’s finest mezzo sopranos – as well as songs from international jazz star Clare Teal and award-winning singer-songwriter Guy Garvey.

Everyone involved with the event are giving their services free. Tickets for the concert are free, but you MUST have a ticket to gain entry.

We are asking people, if they are able, to make a donation to the WeStandTogetherManchester Justgiving page at


You can get the latest information, details on admission and book tickets by visiting www.halle.co.uk/westandtogether. You can also contact the box office on 0161 907 9000. The Bridgewater Hall has waived its usual ticket charge. You will need your tickets to gain entry to the building.

Please check the Hallé link above for updated information as it is confirmed.


The Making of ‘Twelve O’Clock Tales’ – Clare’s upcoming album

To whet your appetite, here’s a little taster of what’s to come … enjoy!

Accompanied by the renowned Hallé, conducted by Stephen Bell and arranged by British composer and trumpet maestro Guy Barker and celebrated jazz pianists Grant Windsor and Jason Rebello, Twelve O’Clock Tales’ rich jazz infused repertoire includes songs from Cole Porter, Billy Strayhorn, Van Morrison, Tim Rice, made famous by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson and Peggy Lee, the songs include ‘Sans Souci’, ‘Secret Love’, ‘Feeling Good’, ‘Lush Life’, ‘It Might As Well Be Spring’, ‘Wild Is The Wind’, ‘Into The Mystic’ and ‘Paradisi Carousel

Twelve O’Clock Tales launches at The Bridgewater Hall concert April 30th 2016

Pre orders are available now from Bandcamp