Music and Courage


As you may already know, I’m a music fan and almost all the time, BBC 6 Music is the preferred channel of choice in the McDuff kitchen. There is a segment on Lauren Laverne’s Morning show called ‘Memory Tapes’ where a listener gets in touch with their story, and a selection of  songs to accompany.

This could be in the form of a mixtape they’ve made for someone else, or a mixtape they’ve found in their attic or perhaps a mixtape they’ve made for their children; there’s lots of stories on the Memory Tapes pages.

A little while ago, I had this brainwave, whilst thinking around this blog launch, to get in touch with the Lauren Laverne show with a ‘Mental Health’ mix tape. A selection of songs, curated from the most played of all songs on my iTunes library, from various mixtapes I’ve made in the last twelve years.

Making that selection was loads of fun, drawing on lots of memories in this time, where music has got me through. I love to curate, and make sounds work next to each other and blend seamlessly, I find it wonderfully therapeutic.

To listen carefully to songs, can illicit such powerful emotions; which can in a moment transport you and change your state. Music for me throughout my mental health journey has been a constant reminder of me and my loves, which in turn has always given me hope.

I didn’t necessarily think that Lauren Laverne’s show would get in touch, but felt bold enough to write anyway. I was bowled over when they got in contact soon after my original email, and hadn’t actually thought of the reality of talking on the radio! Whoops?

There are a few things that I know that I am, and courageous is one of them. So harnessing that, I thought well, I know a little bit of what I’m talking about, as in these are my experiences. I’m no music expert and would hope I didn’t come across as naive, but well, let’s just see how this goes.

I was terrified! Firstly, I was speaking to Tom Ravenscroft, who is only John Peel’s son and quite legendary in his own right. Was I going to be totally starstruck? There had been a few hiccups before being on the show last week, so I didn’t know for sure that I’d be on until he mentioned me at the start of the programme. Eeek!

Then the song that played in my ear, as it did on the live broadcast, as I waited to go on was the latest Prodigy single, which completely buggered up my state of zen. Yes, this was live and was absolutely what I had wanted when I wrote in. And it was happening.

It’s funny, as we were talking I felt both comfortable talking with Tom Ravenscroft, as it was a conversation around music, mental health and my song selections; yet I was very aware that this was live, people could hear me and I was exposed.

This made me feel a mixture of empowerment and vulnerability. When I thought about the latter through the interview, I felt like I was melting and didn’t think I came across so well. Proper stage fright!

A few friends had sent me messages of congratulations and said positive, lovely things. At the weekend, some friends came over and we talked about it. They persuaded me to listen back to the interview, which we did, over wine. I actually felt pretty proud and welled up.

Who would have thought that I could actually like what I heard, I don’t mean egotistically, I mean in hearing how I was and knew I felt and the marriage of the two. My voice is calm, confident and friendly. I didn’t feel awkward listening back, not like I would have done in earlier days.

I mean, I actually can’t believe I had the confidence to write to the show. Now to have been on it and listened back, to that likeable, lovable even, voice. That voice of courage, strength and hope. That makes me smile.

You can listen back here, around 35 minutes in, right after the Prodigy single 😉







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