Day 35 – Not Perfect (Tim Minchin)


I guess today is Monday as it’s just followed Sunday and honestly, I’m at fault apologise as I haven’t written a blog for something like 20 days now (as if anyone is reading)  😉

But in the words, I am proud of it is now 35 days and I haven’t gambled once and it’s kind of weird as in between or without all the stupidity to do with gambling I’ve realised a whole new life where I can express my creativity. Yes, I have been a bad boy and been doing a bit of political subversive activities on the side and enjoying every minute of it. This blog gave me the idea of writing a whole new blog where I felt I may make a difference by highlighting injustices in the world. Maybe I could name some of the key people who are so greedy in the quest for power and money that human life, wars, famine and the state of the planet fade into a soft silky, gold quilted pillow as they happily put their heads on them to sleep at night, their minds clear of any guilt since their conscience bypass happened many years ago, when they came into money or power – and wanted more.

So genuinely I’ve been on a quest and like a dog with a bone I’ve been quite relentless in this quest to write about the inequalities in the world in the hope that some day a penny may drop somewhere and plant a seed of thought in someone’s mind that the most important things in life are love and truth. By love I do mean loving other people as well as yourself. For me it kind of goes with the territory of being a human being, so when I see the opposite of my values played out day by day I take umbrage in a big way and find myself logging onto my Snowden-esque blog through a VPN so no-one can trace who is writing all of this stuff about some people who are doing serious damage to the world and future of generations to come.

So, that’s my explanation.

One thing though that steered me back to the blog was a conversation with my nephew the other day who is 14. He’s a lovely lad and just about to turn 15 – an age I’d gladly go back to. But it occurred to me that none of my nieces or nephews realise that at one time in my life I was a bit of a musical prodigy and entertainer and I’d guess if I’d pick on person in my life that I look at with the greatest admiration now and think ‘if you’d only stuck to your music you may have been nearly as good as that guy, Tim Minchin.’

Sometimes it does baffle me that they haven’t made Tim recognised as the no.1 world entertainer and a very humble, but absolute genius. If you read this Tim and think about going into politics first my advice would be try not to as power corrupts, but if they ever create the Minister for Joy and Peace then it may be a go-er. In saying that I live in the UK and you in Australia so guess you would choose there, but I’d vote against that as well as I know you were born in Northampton so possibly could run for politics here.

Whatever I’m rambling a bit so I’ll go back to my own life to kind of make a desperate grasp at how my life path could in some way have followed Tim’s. Impossible? Well I tell my nephews that nothing in life is impossible if you follow your dreams and passions.

I guess I need to go back to when was around 8 years old and was left alone in a local department store in Sunderland by my mother as she went to try on a new coat. She didn’t actually leave me alone, and social services weren’t needed to rescue me, she just said ‘can you just stand beside the music section in the store while I try on a coat over here, and don’t move.’

I was a bright lad so didn’t take the words ‘don’t move’ literally as I kept breathing and was moving my feet and hands about and decided to explore the pianos on display.

It may have only been 5 or 10 minutes that passed when my mother returned to find me sat at a piano playing away like a precocious Mozart and the lady who ran the department saying to my mother ‘oh, he’s very good. Has he been playing long?’ As it happened the shock on my mother’s face gave the game away that I’d never had a day’s piano lesson in my life and was just enjoying how I was able to place my fingers on the piano and bring lovely tunes to life. My mother asked. ‘who taught you how to play?’ With the innocence only an 8-year-old can have I guess I replied ‘no-one, I’ve just watched people playing on the TV.’

It was interesting at home that night as my mother relayed the story to my father who was impressed, and so much so that he immediately went out and bought me my own instrument and started me on professional home tuition. On this score I owe a lot to my father as we were by no means rich. My father was a teacher with 6 kids to look after, and when he had finished working as a teacher during the day, he’d come home, have something to eat and then go out and drive a taxi until he was tired and came home, slept, got up and went to school the next day. In hindsight the sad thing was that for all of this, the standing joke between us as kids was that instead of a fancy car (which actually no-one had then) we had an old Ford Zephyr with a big sign saying ‘TAXI’ on the top, which due to the high mileage was a banger and often needed a push from 6 kids in the morning to get it started. Ha ha…now that memory made me laugh. My father in the car with 6 kids all under 13 behind as he shouted ‘now push …puuuuuuuussssshhhh’ as he’d eventually let the clutch out and we’d all pray that the car would start. I seem to recall before this one of his cars had an old crank shaft and handle at the front to start it.

So yes, despite being ‘not well off’ he actually went out in his taxi on an evening to pay for my music lessons as well as to keep the family fed. So, thanks Dad. I miss him now still every day.

The rise to child musical prodigy was quite spectacular. I remember one show at junior school where the headmaster couldn’t decide who would play the instruments so instead just said to me ‘look, can you just run around and play all of them. We’ll have people hold them, but when the moment comes you play them.’ I still didn’t quite get how good I was.

By the age of 13 I was playing as an organist with a fabulous Hammond organ and Leslie speaker (my Dad loved ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’) and was backing singers as they came to the clubs on the North East of England club circuit. Always there was a resident drummer and sometimes a resident organist or travelling organist, but soon the clubs I worked at recognised not only was I fantastic sight reader of the ‘dots’ but also better than any of the other organists on the circuit, despite my age. The main challenge was that even now at 55 I look like I am maybe mmmm I’ll say less than 40 ha ha…but then at 13 I looked as though I was 8! So often it was that a singer would be arrive at a club and saying, ‘all right then, so where is the organist?’ And the concert chairmen would point in my direction while the panicking singer would be searching the area for anyone else except some 8-year-old kid playing with a superball against the wall. Many was the time I had to look at the grey expressions of the singer’s faces as they almost wept asking the concert chairman ‘but can he play?’ At which point the concert chairman would just say, ‘just wait and see,’ and smile.

Those guys I have to say were very protective toward me. I also am grateful to those guys who stuck up for me during those situations and were protective of their boy wonder. When I watch Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights on TV I often wonder how he managed to get the Northern club scene so accurate as he’s 10 years younger than me but managed to get the whole Northern Club scene characters spot on. I could go on and on about the characters we had but that could wait for a book. I just remember my key challenge as I was only 13 and my father winking at me and saying ‘well, you’ll grow up fast son,’ it really was a baptism of fire. I was a painfully shy 13 year old pubescent boy and whatever memories I have of the female singers getting naked in front of me as they got dressed into their stage clothes are blanked as this was the moment I dreaded as they’d nonchalantly be saying ‘oh bring me on with this then I’ll go straight in with ‘Could it be Magic’ by Barry Manilow, can you do that fancy Chopin piece at the beginning. Most other’s get stuck, but I think you’ll manage big boy,’ as they patted my head and give me a sweet naked smile. By this time, I’d be a quivering wreck, my hands shaking, my cheeks flushed, my throat gulping for air as I tried desperately not to show I was fazed by having a gorgeous mid-twenties girl undressing in front of me. I used to wish someone could have told me that it was standard practise or ‘artistes’ to undress in the dressing room – even though I was a hormonally challenged 13 or 14 year old.

Time went on until I got my grade 8 at violin at a young age and really loved my musical at secondary school. Carrying a violin case every day to school didn’t exactly make me in with the ‘in crowd’ but I enjoyed my music and playing in orchestras until eventually I got a guitar a Moog synthesiser and a band and was around 16 at the Gateshead ‘Rock on the Tyne’ meeting people in my ‘peer group’ such as Bono and U2, then unknown and at the bottom of the bill, but telling everyone who would listen that one day they’d be famous and he’s be one of the most famous people in the world – and they were and so was he, cunt!(ha ha…only joking Bono, or am I) 😉

I remember vividly the moment Bono sang at the inauguration for President Obama in 2009 and having that sinking feeling ‘that should have been me.’

As it was my path went a different way. I happened to be talented also mathematically and in sciences at school, so my careers advice was that I MUST do an engineering degree. Thinking about doing music was out of the question as I should know I’d never make a living out of it. It wasn’t a career. How sadly misguided. In the end I went off to do my degree in Engineering, but after a year knew I wanted to do music, so had a chat with the local education authority and they told me that if I passed my audition at RADA I’d get a full grant. I was thrilled. Went to RADA, passed the audition and then back to my university and promptly dropped out, excited about my change to doing something I was passionate about.

I guess the time when my path came to an abrupt halt was when I then applied for my student grant for RADA (yes, we got student grants in those days) and was told that the rules had changed, and I no longer qualified for a grant to study music as I’d already received a grant for 1 year to study engineering. I remember it well as I was kind of distraught and my father was furious as I was left in limbo. His bright kid with now no chance of doing a degree.

In the end I decided the only option would be to apply for a degree local to where my parents lived and pay for it all by working as a musician on a weekend. When I think of it I guess I should be proud I did it and ended up with a degree, but it wasn’t anything from RADA, it was a degree in Physics from a local university.

After graduating I started work for good as an engineer and then dropped out of playing.

There’s a message there somewhere, and although deep inside me I’m happy with my life and guess in many ways know that the only thing a person needs in life is happiness and love, I would still have loved to have given music a go and tried RADA or tried doing what I was really passionate in.

Now I’ve spoken for about 90% of this blog about me, which is kind of narcissistic, ‘look at me wasn’t I brilliant,’ and not mentioned Tim Minchin – but I guess it lays the groundwork for why I admire Tim so much and what he as achieved. At the risk of offending any other person I have blogged about to date I guess Tim in my opinion stands so high above the others (sorry others, no offence) as when I watch him perform and see his genius it’s just obvious that first of foremost he is being rule. What comes out of his mouth is no marketed version of Tim, but you know it is Tim as a person when he is being interviewed. I guess one of the most endearing qualities when I’ve seen him interviewed all over the world and genuinely admired by Jonathon Ross to Conan and the rest.

Also, the range of his talent seems endless from writer, composer, performer, comedian, musician, director, cabaret artist, mimic and mime it really is endless. It’s like he has tapped into the source of his soul and bared it for audiences, no filters, no pretence, no artistic pretentions – he’s just Tim Minchin and always humble when receiving the love from his audience and peers.

I’ve just checked Tim’s awards on Wiki and they list as follows:

2005 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Directors’ Choice Award for Dark Side
2005 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Perrier Comedy Award, Best Newcomer
2005 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, The Groggy Squirrel Critics’ Award
2007 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, Best Alternative Act
2009 Helpmann Award for Best Comedy Performer for Tim Minchin – Ready For This?
2009 Green Room Awards, Cabaret: Best Original Songs
2009 Green Room Awards, Cabaret: Best Artiste
2010 Chortle Awards, Best Music or Variety Act
2011 Helpmann Award for Best New Australian Work for Tim Minchin Vs Sydney Symphony
2012 Olivier Awards: Best New Musical for Matilda The Musical
2012 Helpmann Award for Best Comedy Performer for Tim Minchin vs The Orchestras Round II
2013 What’s On Stage Awards, The W&P Longreach Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for Jesus Christ Superstar
2016 Logie Award, Most Outstanding Supporting Actor for The Secret River (ABC)
2016 Helpmann Award for Best Original Score for Matilda the Musical
2017 Olivier Awards: Best New Musical for Groundhog Day The Musical

Not bad for a 32-year-old guy from Perth. However, when I look at them I can’t see any Boy Scout awards and badges for camping, lifesaving and emergency preparedness or citizenship in the community so wonder if I may have just trumped you on that score Tim. 😉 But then what was he winning before 2005? That could be the clincher.

I’ve seen Tim a number of times in each of his different ways of performing. But always love hearing his song ‘Not Perfect,’ eloquently and intelligently written about just being human, and funny too.

So, I’ll add this as one link of one of my favourite works by Tim. I can’t add them all as it would fill he blog – but I’ll let Tim and his words and music do the talking.

Lyrics and music: ‘Not Perfect’ by Tim Minchin

This is my earth
And I live in it
It’s one third dirt and two thirds water
And it rotates and revolves through space
At rather an impressive pace
And never even messes up my hair.
And here’s the really weird thing
The force created by its spin
Is the force that stops the chaos flooding in.
This is my earth and it’s fine.
It’s where I spend the vast majority of my time.
It’s not perfect, but it’s mine.
It’s not perfect…

This is my country
And I live in it.
It’s pretty big and nice to walk on.
And the bloke who runs my country
Has built a demagoguery
And taught us to be fearful and boring.
And the weirdest thing is that he is
Conservative of politics
But really rather radical of eyebrows.
This is my country and it’s fine.
It’s where I spend the vast majority of my time.
It’s not perfect, but it’s mine.
It’s not perfect…

This is my house
And I live in it
It’s made of cracks and photographs.
We rent off a guy, who bought it from a guy,
Who bought it from a guy, whose granddad left it to him.
And the weirdest thing is that this house
Has locks to keep the baddies out
But they’re mostly used to lock ourselves in.
This is my house and it’s fine.
It’s where I spend the vast majority of my time.
It’s not perfect, but it’s mine.
It’s not perfect, but it’s mine.

This is my body
And I live in it.
It’s twenty-nine and twelve months old.
It’s changed a lot since it was new.
It’s done stuff it wasn’t built to do.
I often try to fill it up with wine.
And the weirdest thing about it is
I spend so much time hating it
But it never says a bad word about me.
This is my body and it’s fine.
It’s where I spend the vast majority of my time.
It’s not perfect, but it’s mine.
It’s not perfect…

This is my brain
And I live in it.
It’s made of love and bad song lyrics.
It’s tucked away behind my eyes
Where all my screwed up thoughts can hide
‘Cause god forbid I hurt somebody.
And the weirdest thing about a mind
Is that every answer that you find
Is the basis for a brand new cliche.
This is my brain and it’s fine.
It’s where I spend the vast majority of my time.
It’s not perfect, but it’s mine.
It’s not perfect, but it’s mine.
It’s not perfect, not quite sure I worked out how to work it.
It’s not perfect, but it’s mine.

Having said that a really happy time was watching Tim at the London O2 Arena on Sunday 13 October 2013 playing Judas in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar,’ and another breath-taking performance. To be honest I was also pleased to see my favourite Spice Girl Mel C. playing Mary Magdalene, who was as yummy as she had ever been as a Spice Girl; but now more gorgeous, stronger and confident in her talent as a performer and stage presence. So between Tim and Mel C it was an awesome night. The night ended with Lord Andrew Lloyd -Webber and Sir Tim Rice taking to the stage to celebrate notching up 42 years since the first performance on 12th October 1971.

I have mixed feelings about putting up the next clip of Tim, but it’s the only one I can find on You Tube

I loved the Independent review of his performance from the 2012 performance “Best of all is Aussie Matilda composer and performer Tim Minchin as Judas, moving from moral prurience to disaffected disciple and traitor with snarling, screeching cynicism.”

I guess the mixed feelings come after I purchased the DVD of the show only to find someone had had the bright idea of auto-tuning Tim’s voice, which was irritating and has always irritated me as the people who do these things seem oblivious to the fact that the perfection in being human and also being a performer are in the slight deviations from purity that make each performer and individual and able to give a song their stamp. I’m sure Pavarotti would have gone ballistic, but from the article in the Independent on 1st February 2013 Tim was obviously upset about it, but still able to see the big picture – as always and didn’t behave like a prima donna.

“It is the saviour of singing starlets whose vocal prowess might not otherwise cut the mustard, and the scourge of pop purists. But as a regular live performer who received rave reviews for his performance as Judas Iscariot on the arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, Tim Minchin did not imagine that his performance would be subjected to Autotune when it came to the tie-in DVD.

Nor did he take the surprise very well. “It really pissed me off,” the Australian comedian said this week, describing the decision to use the pitch-correcting software on his singing as “humiliating”, “a slap” and “f***ing rude”.

“I’m not deluded about my voice,” the 37-year-old told the podcast A Bit of a Chat with Ken Plume. “I know the weaknesses of my voice more than anyone. But I also can hear pitch. I know when I’m out of tune and I’m just not very often out of tune particularly.”

The rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sir Tim Rice was first staged on Broadway in 1971 but was revived last year, with the role of Jesus selected though a primetime ITV talent show called Superstar and former Spice Girl Melanie C playing Mary Magdalene. Minchin said he has not raised the issue about his auto-tuning with Lord Lloyd Webber, but added he “might have to have a little tantrum” if the DVD goes into reprint.

He did add, however, that the episode was a “little negative in a largely massively positive experience.”

Minchin is in New York preparing for the opening of Matilda the Musical on Broadway. He wrote the music and lyrics for the show, which is still playing to sell-out crowds in London and won seven Olivier Awards last year, putting it into the Guinness Book of World Records. He told the interviewer: “I’m really only at the beginning of my career,” adding: “I hope.”

By Nick Clark, The Independent, Friday 1 February 2013

I agree with Tim.

In homage to another example of this I’ll include the link to Natalie Wood singing the part of Maria in West Side Story

Again, what on earth was wrong with the beautiful imperfections in her voice, only to be replaced by a rather bland Marni Nixon.

As Tim went to take his bow with the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar on Sunday 13th October I couldn’t help but wonder if Lord Andrew and Sir Tim were aware that there was a talent on the stage which has every potential of eclipsing the talent of the two combined.

Keep hoping, keep performing Tim – I can’t think of anyone better on stage or in comedy or writing at the moment and look forward what every new year will being in the career of Tim Minchin.

As I write those words I also think a young 55 is never too old to buy myself a piano, keyboard and instruments and with the same philosophy of enjoying my new life day by day, who knows what I can produce in five or so years. All I need is the same passion and lust for life and their art as every talented performer, such as Tim, as ever had.

© Michael Gamble 2018

All photos and video clips also subject to their owner’s copyright.
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