Wednesday, 18 May 2016


Whenever you go away there is always something happening at home that you miss and as much as I enjoyed the The concert in Verona I am gutted to have not been present at the Lincoln School of Journalism's ball.

A couple of my students at the University of Lincoln had asked me before our classes came to an end last month if I was going but because of my trip away I was unable to make it. Therefore, it was only today when I had to go into work to invigilate for an exam, that I found out students had honoured me with a recognition award for helping them along with their Teeline Shorthand.

I'm told the applause was massive and I am very sorry that I was not there to hear it or to say a huge thank you to the students for their appreciation, and of course to congratulate them for their own hard work in gaining the relevant speeds from 60wpm upwards that they wanted. Shorthand is not an easy subject but with regular study and practice it can be nailed and I am glad that I can help those who are determined to master it.

I was also over the moon when some of my students presented me with a card, and chocolates, after they finished the course and achieved their 100wpm passes. "Bonkers but lovely shorthand tutor" is a description I can happily live with. I am pleased you have all enjoyed (if that is the right word) your shorthand sessions.

I've often told students the reward is in the effort and maybe they decided I needed some reward for my efforts too. I am truly humbled and thrilled to get this award and really sorry that I couldn't be there on the night.

Thank you all again - and good luck with your future careers. There are some real stars coming out of our university and I am very proud to have been one of the tutors involved in helping to create and train the next generation of journalists to the highest standard expected of editors.

I will treasure this award and your good wishes for years to come. I will never forget any of those who I have met during this first three years of teaching the subject. It has been an absolute pleasure.

Friday, 13 May 2016


Picture by Simone di Luca/Fabrice Gallina from HERE. Right click to translate if it appears in Italian.

Sometimes just one word sums up an experience and the one we had in Verona at the fifth anniversary concert of the 2 Cellos was Wow!

I must admit, I'd never heard of them until a YouTube video of their version of Michael Jackson's "They Don't Care About Us" flashed past my Facebook page one day. I was captivated by it and the drama of Croation Stjepan Hauser and Slovenian Luka Sulic as they played those instruments in a way I'd never seen or heard before. More than that, they gave an edge to a song I wasn't that keen on and made me love it. I followed the links to click to buy tickets for the concert and I'm glad I did. It was one of the best experiences I've ever had.

Despite a nightmare when booking flights and B&B (I got dates mixed up) the trip started great and just got better as we wandered around until the moment arrived we had come for. The venue was magical, the atmosphere electric, the event had me feeling like I was riding some musical astral plane where all the songs I loved and liked were made so new and unique by the sound of those epic cellos it was like hearing them for the first time ever. The passion and energy of the musicians on stage, which included drummer Dusan Kranjc, had me stomping, stamping and head banging all night.

The Piazza Bra in the Italian city of lovers was packed with people waiting to get into the venue and once inside they crowded into every single space and seat available.

Initially, I worried that the security man's legs would be our view for the night but after I took a photo of those handsome legs, and showed it to him, we had a giggle about it and red faced he moved sideways. When the concert began, he took a seat and our view was magnificent. The amphitheatre is great because it allows everyone to see. The acoustics were fantastic.

The supporting acts, Remo Anzovino and Lon Loman were warmly received but when the boys with the cellos came on stage there was a roaring welcome. They thanked everyone for coming and seemed genuinely humbled by the amount of people who turned out, having once said that if anyone had told them five years ago that they could fill a concert hall with just 2 cellos they would never have believed it. And yet there they were, standing in front of thousands of people all screaming, singing and dancing in wild appreciation of a truly new and unique talent deservedly flung onto the edge of superstardom after being discovered by Sir Elton John who, like me, was wowed when he first heard their version of a Michael Jackson song.

(pic credit Simone di Luca/Fabrice Gallina)

The 2 Cellos began in traditional style with a classic that sent shivers down my spine and brought tears to the eyes of my husband. I thought I even heard him say that this was a moment he had waited for all his life. When they finished and I felt the spell break, I heard them say that this was not a classical concert. This was no ordinary concert. This was most definitely a rock concert with songs interpreted and given fresh energy by two young men who play as if they were born with cellos by their side. This was like being carried on a wave to musical heaven for two hours and swept up in the same intense passion of the crowd who couldn't get enough and the artists who held us transfixed with their dramatic performance.

Pic from HERE

They covered hard rock songs like AC/DC's "Highway to Hell", Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" with a splash of Beethoven, a mash up of Iron Maiden's "Trooper" with a slice of "William Tell", and had the audience singing to The Rolling Stones "I Can't Get No Satisfaction", and rocking to headbanging tunes like Guns and Roses "Welcome to the Jungle" and Nirvana's "Teen Spirit." Their interpretation of Sting's "Shape of My Heart" and "Fields of Gold" (which ended the show) took my breath away.

For a full review see HERE Right click to translate.

(pic credit Simone di Luca/Fabrice Gallina)

The surreal experience was made more intense and dramatic by the thousands of lights all around us that were held aloft from mobile phones against the darkness of the Roman Arena in Verona and the clear night sky. Even the predicted rain stayed away. The crowd chanted for more and more and were determined not to let the show end. The 2 cellos did not disappoint and came back for several encores. After the magic was taken away with the instruments back stage, and the artists left the stage for the final time, the crowd reluctantly knew they had to let them go and began to file out of the ancient landmark. We left the Arena in a daze as if we had just experienced a journey to another world. Floating on air as we walked back toward our hostel, the Juliette B&B with the 2 Cellos music still in my head, we stopped at a wine bar and sat for a while because we needed time to come down a bit before heading to our room. As we walked, we passed the occasional piece of silver and gold paper slips that had been fired into the crowd during the concert in an explosive sparkling display. A few must have floated over and into the streets or dropped from people's clothes as they headed home or onwards to end their night as we did. These intermittent lonely scraps were like full stops reinforcing the end. The concert was over and soon the whole experience would be too and we would soon be back home to reality.

If you haven't heard of the 2 cellos then check out some of my favourite Youtube videos of theirs below. They are coming to the UK in July

The show was the highlight of our trip but the Italian city of Romeo and Juliette was beautiful in itself. We took advantage of the day we had there before the concert and the time we had before our flight the next day to see all the sights, including Juliette's house and balcony, and like many other lovers before us, we left our love lock - even though it was tiny and came from my suitcase because that was all we had to hand. We weren't sure what to do with the keys but decided to keep one each and then, later, we dropped one of the keys into a wishing well at Juliette's tomb. The other one got lost down a drain when it fell from my purse as I boarded the bus to the airport. It's just as well that neither of us are romantics at heart but as they say in Italian : " Siamo fatti l'uno all'altra" - we are made for each other - perhaps because we share the same cynicism but with the enchanting venue, the passion of the music, the atmosphere of the crowd, the charm of the City, and some time to care about each other, that characteristic soon melted away. Life could never be better than this.