How To… Bang the Drum

I’m no snob (fine, that’s something of a slight untruth. I’d love to believe I’m not especially snobbish but I’m only human. There have probably been instances once in a blue moon when I may or may not have looked down on someone ever so slightly less fantastic than I am) but everyone knows that percussion instruments are incredibly easy to play and require next to no musical prowess. And I’m not just saying that as a former flautist.

Put it this way, when you sit down at a piano or behind a set of drums you can get a note out of it that sounds pretty much like that of a professional. I mean, you can’t sustain it or anything but initially you’ll be perfectly well able to fool others into thinking you’re far more talented than you are. Inexpertly tootle a flute or a bassoon and it’ll sound fluffy or reedy or some other variety of awful. I’m definitely not making excuses for the multiple years it took me to sound halfway decent on a wind instrument (work almost entirely undone by ages of non practice or neglect).

But chords are trickier than they might appear. You have to stretch your fingers and everything. And get hands to work essentially independently of one another. Playing the piano is probably too difficult for us to get into right about now. I’ve also only got about a hundred words or so left and that’s simply not enough time to get that particular task accomplished (I know it’s never stopped me before but I do have standards you know).

The drums then. Don’t be fooled, you don’t need coordination or even anything remotely resembling a sense of rhythm. It’s even easier than you always assumed it was (at this point I’m banking on your inflated sense of ego carrying you through without actually spurring you into actually following through and banging the drums). You just pick up a drum, if it’s a little one, or station yourself adjacent to it if it’s one of those awesome big kettle drums and whack away. And then bang the actual drum with either sticks or your bare hands.

Bang the drum – Bryan Adams


How To… Run With the Pack

As the excrement mounts up, it’s not stretching things to say that we’re all looking for one way or another to escape. Some bury themselves in work, whether it’s career related or otherwise (I definitely haven’t been cranking out blogs whenever I feel the unbearable pressure of current affairs weighing me down. I’m far more likely to escape into the captivating world of television after all). There are those who absorb themselves in cultivating various relationships. And then there are folk who feel compelled to go for something altogether more dramatic.

Now I’m all for getting back to nature (well, not all that much but for the first time pretty much ever I’m living somewhere with a garden to tend so I probably ought to tinge my thumbs with a slightly grassier hue) but this might be going a very little bit too far. Yes, some people are obsessed with wolves and bedeck their homes, and even wardrobes, with images of the majestic lupine beast. As much as they might proclaim otherwise, they don’t actually ever want to run with the actual pack. Even if it forms the major part of most of their fantasies.

But society is an interesting thing and the way it’s going people may well feel that much more compelled to run away from it entirely. Let’s get these types set up as best as possible so that they don’t wind up as a delicious wolfy dinner.

For one, you need to be really rather fit indeed. Running with the pack mandates a very high level of physical prowess. Stretch out those calves, get nice and loose and, most importantly, down on all fours. I know that sounds wrong but if you insist on loping upright you’ll stick out like a sore thumb. You may well also need to work on that glorious howl I know you’re capable of. In order to get in with that pack prior to the marathon run you’ll need to convince them that you’re one of them.

Run with the pack – Bad Company

How To… Watch That Man

It’s a paranoid age. If you stop watching absolutely everyone then you’re bound to miss the moment when they begin surveilling you. Not that anyone’s getting squirrely or however else you might choose to describe it. You definitely don’t have anything to hide, you’re merely desperately clinging limpet-like to your privacy as if it’s the only thing that really matters in your life. For reasons you don’t care to divulge at this point in time.

You can’t be everywhere at all times and you certainly can’t split your attention across many different streams. Especially when you’ve been so transfixed by that riveting documentary on salmon farming. So you need to develop strategies to make sure that your soft and fallible human attention doesn’t miss so much as a single intriguing thing. Expensive cameras and extensive recording equipment is definitely a good start but such set ups have been fooled and outwitted before.

Or perhaps you’ve already gone too far. It’s unreasonable to aim to keep a weather eye on anyone and everyone. Therefore, it’s time to go for an entirely more laser focus. There’s someone in your life, you know precisely who, and that man needs to be watched. He’s the very source of all your misfortune, be he celebrity with undue influence, politician gone off the rails or even an acquaintance you don’t much care for who’s crossed you one time too many.

So follow him, document his every move by posting his doings online, circulate everything he dares to share on social media, break into his house and observe him while he sleeps. You won’t get into trouble for actions that the courts might brand as stalkerish, I promise. Although, if you get it into your head that I’m the person you should be watching I assure you that you really oughtn’t. It’s just not a pretty sight in the mornings, you might well end up wanting to claw your own eyes out and then what a mess you’ll be in.

Watch that man – David Bowie

How To… Quit Your Low Down Ways

It is simply unspeakable what you’ve been doing to those midgets. Haven’t you ever heard of the advice to pick on people you’re own size? No, it’s definitely not better that you originally thought they were children. We really are plumbing new depths of wrong here. Please let’s not get into the murky story of how it all began. Because I don’t want to be forced to testify against you at your inevitable trial. I don’t care what dizzying heights you’ve reached over the course of this activity, it really doesn’t make it acceptable.

Rather than continuing in this destructive pattern, we could always have a crack at breaking your habit. Obviously it’s highly possible that I’ve already talked extensively about this particular topic but you’ve taken things to a whole new level. This merits a brand new lecture. Congratulations to you.

What are you talking about, your actions don’t come close to what I get up to? Well, for one thing my private life is off the table and for another I didn’t know you knew about that. Anyway, it’s you we’re judging at this point in time. That’s much more fun. But before we abruptly depart from this line of discussion how precisely did you find out? Have you been installing cameras again? I thought we’d already had this conversation. It’s just creepy.

Nevertheless, in the endeavour of stopping you could try going cold turkey. Then again, turkey isn’t even half as delicious as chicken and how would cramming your gullet full of tepid poultry help you stop doing that thing everyone disapproves of so whole heartedly? There are plenty of other methods of making life more difficult for yourself to the point where you basically have no other option but to give up. It’s kind of my thing, you may have noticed. Like arming the little people so that you’ll get your arse handed to you on a more semi-regular basis.

Quit your low down ways – Bob Dylan

How To… Move Together

Having moved four times within the space of less than three years I want to say I’m done. You know, for a while. It’s tiring and we had a few casualties over the course of the last one. And I refuse to go back to Ikea in the near future in spite of the fact that we have money left on a voucher there. I barely made it out alive last time. It’s not just the packing, it’s the unpacking, the booking of a moving van, the frustration when said movers don’t turn up at the agreed time, the planning of where stuff’s going to go, the identification of new guff you have to buy. Essentially a living hell.

But there’s an advantage to my extensive experience. I may have numerous flashbacks that disturb me in the night as a cold sweat threatens to ruin my sheets. However, it means I can pass vital knowledge on to you. A lot of press and attention is given to the subject of moving in with someone. You have to inventory your stuff, convince them that where multiple similar items are owned yours are vastly superior and consider the fact that wandering round in the nude just won’t be the same again. Especially if it’s just a friend you’re rooming with.

But once you’re a unit, a household, moving together is a different kettle of fish. You have to negotiate whose name is one which bill and other stuff. It’s definitely a big deal. You had space together that was collectively yours and now you have to negotiate the rocky road of putting your stamp on somewhere totally different. Or just crack out some rocky road ice cream as you’ve been drained by the move. You might even have to think about decorating too. Minefield. I’ll probably give you all the guidance on it once I’ve summoned up the energy to do some.

Move together – James Bay

How To… Fight the Power

They told you that you were on no account to put your finger anywhere near the socket. There were excuses and half hearted explanations about how you’d wind up electrocuting yourself. They lied. Obviously. I can’t believe you bought it though. Maybe this advice just isn’t for you, you’re sufficiently weak willed to have walked away from your destiny in the first place. Oh don’t give me that hangdog expression, you know full well it’s not going to work on me. Tell you what, I’ll give you the run down of what’s going on and you can go forward making your own decisions.

If you were to do the brave thing of jamming something metal into a socket, rather than experiencing the sting of mains electricity coursing through your veins, you’d find yourself on a battleground. Your opponent, the power, is admittedly a daunting foe but you’re more than capable of winning. Haven’t you ever seen a film? You know the sort of thing, where you cross your heart and start having faith in yourself and a mystical energy surges from seemingly nowhere. It’ll totally happen.

Fine, maybe fighting the power doesn’t have to be quite that literal. But, you’ve got to admit that it would definitely be satisfying. Shortly before I start being inundated with legal threats thanks to that highly shonky advice. Whatever, let’s fight a different variety of power in an alternative fashion.

You could initiate a stern letter writing campaign letting the governing politicians know that you quite certainly don’t approve of what’s going on. Or post cutting things about them in an online forum. Anything else would require a more concerted effort and a higher level of organisation than I think you’re up for. Plus, you’re a teensy bit too weedy to be especially effective in a more physical arena. No offence. Oh, what are you going to do? Fight me? Get real.

Fight the power – Public Enemy

How To… Get Your Rocks Off

I think it’s safe to say that every now and then we’re entitled to just a little bit of fun. We work hard. Definitely. Sure, for the most part we’re hardly slaving away at the coalface and the majority of us have relatively cushy office jobs that don’t take as much out of us as we might want to pretend. And we have the indulgences of holidays and weekends. Nevertheless, we are perfectly entitled to pursue whatever behaviour we please in the name of relaxation or elation. We’ve got to make life worth living after all.

So, you’ve got some rocks. Slabs of heavy material settled on your shoulders, weighing you down, holding you back and making life a general misery. Poor you. I’m certain we can all well understand the need to get away from it all. Not that I’m imminently planning an escape attempt, that would be strange and I definitely shouldn’t be dropping any hints about it. Perhaps I should abruptly change topic in order to get us some of the way back on track.

These rocks you have, let’s figure out a way to get them all of the way off you. Maybe you’re an adrenaline junkie, you look to blow away the cobwebs by going in for activities where there’s a very real chance you might well wind up dead. Not that anyone’s judging anybody else. Even if they insist on chucking themselves out of helicopters and wind up seven shades of grisly. Or get lost on moors and mountains and rely on people deploying various resources to save them. I’m clearly just jealous.

You absolutely can achieve precisely the same effect by curling up with a good book. Maybe a glass of something imported and expensive if you’re feeling really daring. Or you know, maybe get out of the house to sample some of that glorious culture I’ve been hearing so much about. Or geography. Landscapes are kind of cool I suppose.

Get your rocks off – Bob Dylan