The Generosity of Strangers and the Power of Music.

So if we’re friends on Facebook or if you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed that I’ve been planning a gig with my friend for the Playing for Change Foundation. We ran the gig on Monday night and it was AMAZING. We gave ourselves (stupidly) only two weeks to plan it. This meant sourcing artists, a venue, negotiating terms with said venue and getting a large enough crowd to make sure that our artists weren’t singing in front of an empty room! Luckily we pulled it off. We found some incredible artists some with powerful voices to get the crowd up on their feet and some with smooth, calming tones perfect for relaxing to. I also ended up singing, partly because we needed more people and also because I love music.

It’s safe to say that I was astounded that these incredible artists were so happy to give up their Monday night (yep, Monday night gig) to perform for us. Some people I’d only met once or twice and some I’d known for a few months. Only Jade, my fellow organiser, had I known for any real length of time. But I knew two out of three of the other performers, not particularly well, but I knew them and I knew they were good people. One is a powerful activist with the voice of an angel, the other is working towards being a counsellor, with so much soul in her voice! The third and fourth, one who I’d only met a couple times and one never before (and Jade) work on a social action programme are powerhouses in work and music. All the people we had involved with the performing side of the gig were involved, in one way or another, in making the world a better place to live in, in creating a more peaceful, healthy, fair and happy society for us and our future generations and I’m so proud and so honoured to have been able to perform alongside these beautiful people.

The crowd were also pretty special. We had way more people come along than we expected. 50+ people, casual acquaintances, friends, friends of friends, complete strangers from upstairs even some of the staff from the pub (more on that later). The people who came primarily were also people working to make the world a better place. Many work in charities, some are nurses, volunteers, campaigners, activists, artists, fellow musicians and everywhere in between. Even if they weren’t working in one of the “social” sectors, the fact that they came along and supported the charity and the gig and us, means they came along to help us change the world.


Our wonderful Gen, absolutely killing it on stage!

Finally, a huge thank you to the venue. I can’t express to you just how generous these strangers were. We booked the venue on short notice on a night where there are few events. They provided a stage, amps, microphones, stands, stools, extra lamps, tons of extra chairs, a member of staff at our own little bar and a whole host of smiles. A few stick in my mind in particular.

Emmanuel, the bouncer for the night popped in periodically, bringing audience members and listening in. He complimented us all multiple times and I learned that he’s a saxophonist and has been playing for over 17 years.

Rosie, who was working the main bar upstairs, came down before we started and helped us set up the room. This doesn’t sound like much but we asked for the room to be changed multiple times. Sofas moved, stage put out, extra chairs put away then brought back out. She did this all with a huge beautiful smile and she even stayed for a little chat. She’s a good egg despite our indecisiveness and our very particular plans.

Maria, who was our amazing bartender for the night, wasn’t feeling great. But she still worked with another beautiful smile, paid us a heap of compliments and made sure we were all sorted and ready to have a cracking night. I left one of my cables at the venue after Monday and when I went to pick it up, she greeted me with that same infectious smile and told me how glad she was that she worked downstairs for the night. It’s a small gesture on her part but it means the world to me.

On top of their amazing team, they gave us the venue for free. So if you’re ever in the Shoreditch area and are looking for some of the best staff in town and the nicest beer garden ever, go on down to the Water Poet. You won’t regret it.

We couldn’t have achieved any of what we did without the help of amazing artists, volunteers, audience members, venue, staff and supporters from afar so to everyone who came along, thank you for your generosity!

You can still donate to PFC here.

Music is a powerful tool for change and a valuable learning tool for young people and adults alike. Help us spread the message of peace through music.

To hear more music check out my YouTube channel here where I’ll be uploading some videos from the night and follow some of our other singers below. (More to be added in due course).

Kath: @kaffwyatt (tweet her to get her singing more!)


Campaign Bootcamp Part 2

Disclaimer: there won’t be much about the actual bootcamp day in this post.

So some time has passed since my post about anxiety and how it was affecting my time here at Campaign Bootcamp. Straight after that post and a nice reassuring chat with my friends Tara and Lucy, a lovely lady named MJ brought out her ukulele. For those of you that know me, you know exactly how much I love my ukulele and music in general. It relaxes me in my mind and body and gives me confidence like no other object or activity could.

I know I’m not a professional musician. I’m not a professional singer. But when you give me a guitar or ukulele it seems to transform me into a performer and a character. It turns me into a musical parody of myself and one that I wish I could be without my instruments.

It’s partly because I’m doing something I love. It’s partly because it makes people smile. Every time I perform in front of people I’m terrified, no matter who I’m with or where I am but the instruments put a physical barrier between me and the people. It’s like a reliable friend that has transformed into a musical instrument. It’s not just a tool for me, it’s a safety net and a trustworthy companion.

It might sound strange that a ukulele or guitar could be so important to me. In fact it is strange. But it’s a way for me to relax, collect my thoughts and give me confidence. This confidence may not last long but it’s a huge step for me to feel that good all the time. It helped me really connect and open up to people and it hopefully put a few smiles on their faces too. Music connects people in a way that can’t be matched. Even those who “aren’t musical” can create and participate in music in so many ways.

This evening has proven that music is a powerful tool. I sang with a lot of people, people sang together, we did a song from Kenya, songs from London, songs from Australia and the states. Music is truly universal and the most powerful tool for unity.


Even on the best of days

Today was an odd day.

I got back from Manchester feeling thoroughly pleased with two days work. But at the same time, very anxious. See I had a gig to go to. An amazing band called The Staves. My anxiety came from the fact that the person I was going with had to cancel because of work. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find anyone else to go with so I was going to have to go alone.

As the time went on and the gig got closer my anxiety grew. I’m someone that refuses to go to a restaurant or a cinema or the theatre alone. I’d sooner eat my own arm than attend something like that alone. I asked everyone I thought might be interested if they wanted the ticket for free but it was, sadly, too short notice.

Eventually I mustered up the courage to go alone in the hopes that the music would pick me up as it usually does. Throughout the evening I went from highly anxious, very self conscious and extremely uncomfortable to being just about okay enough to enjoy the sound of those three beautiful voices.

At one point I was close to having a panic attack and I almost left part way through. Luckily, The Staves are not only incredibly talented, they’re also hilarious. They managed to keep distracting me with music and their surprising potty mouths. If you hear them sing you’d never expect it but it was brilliant.

The problem is I was constantly so anxious and I’d worked myself up into such a state before the gig that my brain wasn’t working properly. My memory of the evening is blurry. I remember them being amazing and hilarious but nothing beyond that. No specifics.

Even on the best of days I feel anxious but there are things that help me cope. Today it was The Staves, their beautiful faces and spectacular voices and music. They managed to stop me from breaking down in public and having a panic attack in a venue full of a few thousand people. It’s likely they won’t ever know what they did for me today and do on a regular basis. Today I took my first step to becoming comfortable enough to do more things like this by myself! Cheers, ladies!

Also keep an eye out for our first post for #OnYourMind coming soon! If you want to find out more, check out my previous post, tweet me @albysaurus or email me

A Glorious Return

So I’ve been experiencing some pretty awful writers block recently which may be a result of my recent panic attacks and dip in mood. However, I’m feeling significantly better now and I’m keen to get back on the blogging scene!

I’m very lucky to have had a really good week and been able to do the things which often lift me out of my funk. I even managed to socialise four times in one week! Tuesday night I went up to Newcastle to stay at some friends new flat before they headed down to London for graduation. On Wednesday night I went for dinner with an old friend in Newcastle. I went for a lovely dinner with people I volunteer with/volunteered with on Thursday and got the worlds messiest burger. Friday I managed to head out with some more old and new volunteering buddies for a chilled out evening in a nice bar by work. Good food, drink and company. What more could I want? I also had a really great week at work, speaking to hundreds of young people about running their own community projects and receiving some fantastic feedback from the event organisers. This set me up for a dynamite weekend.

So far this weekend, I’ve been writing songs, rewriting old songs, listening to music, playing music, singing along with music and reading about music. It’s been a pretty music fuelled Saturday. But as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, music is something which I love, something which makes me feel better all the time no matter how low I’m feeling.

All the songs that I write though, aren’t just to cheer me up. I always try to write songs for people who might also be going through a rough time and need cheering up. Besides music and friends, the thing that always cheers me up the most is knowing that I’ve made someone happy, made someone smile and helped to change someone’s mood for the better.

As some of my Facebook friends know and some of my twitter followers know, I’ve uploaded a few of my songs for people to have a gander at. I received some really nice feedback saying that I managed to put a smile on faces. This was pretty ace for me. My mood was dipping, my body and mind were exhausted, but the fact that I managed to make my friends smile with the music I created means that I was able to combine the three things that cheer me up the most.

If you don’t believe that cheering someone up will make you feel better about yourself, your mood and life in general, I challenge you to give it a try. And just a bit of shameless plugging, please find the three songs I uploaded just below. Right there. If you’re having a bit of a lousy Saturday, hopefully I’ll be able to brighten it up for you! Enjoy, smile and have a good weekend.


Appreciation for the Nation

Welcome, welcome, one and all! I’ve been saying for quite a while now, that I would start blogging again and so here we go. I’ve been pondering lots of things recently and sometimes, I ponder more than I’d like. My depression hits hard sometimes and I  have to do what I can to try to keep my mood up and appreciate everything that I have and naturally, I try to focus on what makes me successful when my mental health makes me feel like I’m failing.

We all have different definitions and interpretations of life, love, work and fun. What some people find fun, others find absolutely mind-numbing. What some people find hilarious, others find cringe-worthy. And most importantly, what some find to be a success, others deem it to be a complete failure.

Success to many is related entirely to how much they earn, how up to date their phone is, or how many doodah’s they own. Not everyone measures success in what they earn or what they own though. Obviously, I’m not saying I don’t like money or phones or doodah’s, in fact I love them all, but I value other things more. So here’s a little list of what I value most.

1. People

There are some people who you instantly know you’re going to get on with, some people who you get to know over time and some people you’re born with and live with. 
My family, despite their flaws and annoying habits, are fantastic. They don’t really understand depression, but they selflessly put up with my moods, my days where I don’t want to see/speak to anyone and I even occasionally get lifts from the station to my house (which is ridiculous seeing as it’s only a ten minute walk). 
My friends are the other people who make me feel successful. They, much like my family, look out for me when I need it most and most of the time I don’t even need to ask. It’s like they have a 6th sense. There are so many to name, so I won’t name any at the risk of forgetting and offending someone. The only failure here is that a lot of them live in the north. Sort it out guys, come to London.

2. The Stuff I Do

Volunteering is a great thing to make someone feel successful. I currently mentor some mentors who mentor some mentees. I’ve taken a bit of a back seat in volunteering recently but when I was volunteering for a couple charities at once and could see a tangible change because of the things I do, I felt successful. 
My work makes me feel successful sometimes too, in particular when I’m working face to face with my young people and supporting them with what they do. I love helping them achieve what they want to achieve, and hearing/reading/seeing the excitement in their voice/email/face when they hear that their projects are being approved!

3. The Music of Life

I’m not a professional musician. I’m not even an amateur musician. I am a self taught guitar and ukulele player and a keen singer. I’m never going to pursue a career in music but playing music and singing makes me feel brill especially when I’m singing with a friend. It’s much more fun. Even without the musical instruments, a good album or a catchy tune will pick me up. 

4. All the Little Things

A nice walk, a random smile from a stranger (which believe me, is a massive deal in London) , an unexpected text from an old friend. I try my very best to look out for little things in my day which I can appreciate. For example, every morning I get the bus over London Bridge. On one side I can see St. Paul’s Cathedral, the other, Tower Bridge, Town Hall, HMS Belfast and of course on both sides, the River Thames. London is a beautiful city, I wish people would get off their phones and appreciate exactly how amazingly lucky they are to be here! 
One final little thing which makes me feel awesome, is getting home from work, kicking off my shoes and getting changed into my Hawaiian lounge pants and oversized NYPD hoodie. Comfort unparalleled. Who needs clubs and bars when you have comfort clothes and a ukulele?

5. Not Being a Bellend

Sounds like a pretty simple thing. Don’t be a bell end. Be a good person, treat people with respect. Don’t be a push over, but be kind. I feel better about myself just by being nice. If you’re good to people, people will be good to you. If you treat people like shit, don’t be surprised when the same shit comes flying back in your face. People appreciate it when you treat them with love and respect. 
I know that last line was cheesy. It’s true though. 
This little blog has been a little strange, poorly structured and I think the message has changed slightly from beginning to end but thanks for reading this far! Let me know if you like the blog and let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to write about next time!