As we dive headfirst into week one of the school Summer holidays it is time for us Cats to put our paws up and take a breather. We’ve had a busy few months and it’s been wonderful to fully get back into the swing of things, post Covid. We’ve loved seeing so many people at recent events and it’s been a real joy being able to entertain folks again.
Summer holidays as a Mum always take on a chameleonic and spinning plates type of feel. Lunging from work to home, entertaining your kids and their friends, being a taxi driver, chef, hostess, cleaner…the list is endless. However, as I sit in the quiet(ish) sanctuary of my office, I am thinking about how I should be making the most of these times, with the flurry of fun that is the school holidays as they won’t last forever.
I always think it’s important for us Mums to find our ‘me’ time in amongst all the arrangements, plans of holidays and kids’ activities. Whether that is exercise, socialising, relaxation, or music, it’s vital to ensure we stay happy. For me connectivity with friends is so important, providing me with peace and balance, plus I always love having a giggle. It’s with this in mind that I’d like to take the time to thank my fellow Cats for their support, love, friendship and of course sharing in the musical moments. Our friendship has really helped me to continue to spin the plates, especially during the holidays.
I’d like to leave you with a classic tune sung by Bing Crosby and Andrews Sisters Accentuate the Positive. We love to perform this at events, and I really hope it provides you with a little bit of ‘me’ time to help with your enjoyment of the Summer holidays.
Rachel "Top Cat"
Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive - Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
So, as arrived to set up our kit, we were greeted by a welcoming and warm crowd at The King William IV ‘The Billy’ in Warmley, Bristol. We all had a great time, with lots of laughs and sunshine. After the gig, I started reflecting on how much fun we all had, and it got me thinking about the ‘morale-boosting’ qualities of music and how it makes us all feel. This was especially relevant when learning about the aim of Armed Forces day to provide a variety of events and activities to ‘boost morale’. With a brief bit of research, I found some interesting quotes and information about the relationship between music and morale, especially during times of war:
"In fact, music was an integral part of the war from recruitment to battle, to bereavement and finally to homecoming. Music woke the troops at dawn and sent them to bed at night. More important, music stirred patriotic spirits, directed troops in battle, buried the dead and celebrated victory."
Statesman Journal - The importance of music during the Civil War, Timothy Walch | Salem
Also in a more modern context the impact that music has on your morale at work, especially during the recent pandemic:
"Over 60% of employees who listened to background music at work reported being happier overall. This improved mood translated to their life outside of work. The introduction of music in a store, restaurant, or any other public-facing business can decrease stress, increase concentration for employees, and put customers more at ease. Improved focus, creativity, and motivation for employees are additional benefits of music in the workplace."
ReadWrite - Background Music Helps Improve Employee Morale In the COVID Age, Mitch Bishop
I feel deeply about the role that music plays in improving my overall wellbeing and morale in any situation, it continues to be a big source of fun and joy in my life. Us Cat’s feel so lucky to be part of music making, helping to boost morale and being together with people celebrating, having fun, and coming together and we look forward to doing lots more over the coming months.
Rachel "Top Cat"
The Platinum Jubilee whirlwind this weekend ended for The Cat’s Pyjamas with us opening The Big Lunch in Chipping Sodbury yesterday lunchtime. The Big Lunch | Eden Project Communities started in 2009, bringing together people from across the UK to celebrate with neighbours and community on the first weekend in June to enjoy a lovely picnic.
It was fab to join The Big Lunch gang after a few years out with the pandemic. The weather was threatening to rain but remained dry and bright all morning, which was a relief for all. It was great fun to stand upon their ‘Royal Balcony’ stage and perform to the crowds. The Cat’s particularly enjoyed the balcony fringe meaning that our feet were covered so we could keep our trainers on! Small things make a big difference, and we were jumping and jiving happily without our heels on!!
The crowd was buzzing, and it was great to see the numbers swell as our set went on. Many a happy face, a bopping mover, and a singing soul amongst them, which was a joy. We were grateful for such a wonderful, celebratory atmosphere, and all of us had a great time. Particular highlights included seeing family, friends and colleagues in the crowd; surviving the manic, fast-paced lyrics in ‘In the Mood’ and us all pointing out Katherine’s husband Chris as the focus of our attentions in ‘Sway’…poor chap, thanks Chris!
So, as I sit at my desk, thinking about lunch and my meetings this afternoon I will remember this weekend with much fondness and smiles. Thank you Ma’am. Xxx
Rachel "Top Cat"
Today was a great day in The Cat’s Pyjamas history. We got the fantastic opportunity to go and sing at BBC Radio Bristol in the studio and have a chat with the presenter.
After a chance connection through a Portishead Facebook group this morning the gang trooped into the centre of Bristol for our moment on the wireless, as part of the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations.
A mixture of nerves, excitement, and bewilderment we popped over the Suspension Bridge and got ourselves checked in with security on Whiteladies Road. In classic ‘Mum style’ we were massively early and spent a good 45 mins flapping between cold drink/hot drink/prosecco before opting for a glass of tap water and a wee!
The folks at BBC Radio Bristol were some of the nicest, warmest people and we really felt looked after. The presenter of the show Paris Troy was a bundle of bubbly energy and a real tonic. He really put us at ease, and we set too answering a variety of questions and doing some snippets from ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ and ‘Tico Tico’. We actually had a great giggle, and it was surprisingly fun.
I think today has given me the chance to reflect on the last 10 years of The Cat’s Pyjamas and some of the interview questions really made me think about how the power of music supports my wellbeing. As we talked about on the radio coming together to sing as a group has really helped us all feel ‘like ourselves’, ‘we have our own time’ ‘gives me a great sense of happiness’ ‘I no longer feel invisible when I sing’. All these are key challenges for many Mums like us, along with lots of others.
So today on this Jubilee Friday I wanted to give a big ‘Cat’s Pyjamas’ shout out to all the Mum’s out there…make sure you find your thing to make you feel special, you deserve it. xxx
Rachel "Top Cat"
Here's a little video celebrating what was a fun yet exhausting 24 hour Sing-A-Thon. The fundraising total is currently at £1560 so not lot to go to reach my target of £2000! All this money will go directly to The Children's Society and will secure my place in the London Marathon this October!
Thank you so much to everyone who took part, supported and donated through this crazy 24 hours!
We Cat's Pyjamas enjoyed doing an hour of our singing at the end of the 24 hours and by some miracle, I remembered my words.....well, most of them!
Right, now best get running!
Katherine (Classical Cat)
Today started off like so many others, a typical Monday morning rushing about sorting my kids out and gathering all of my things to race out of the door to work.
Arriving at work at UWE Bristol, it was a quiet day on campus, and I was preparing for a solid day of meetings and sessions with students. Settling down with my morning porridge at my desk I noticed that a message had pinged into my phone from Radio Bristol. They had got in touch as they were keen to chat to me about what us Cat’s were doing for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend.
So, the next thing I knew I was running around again and racing outside to find a better signal for my phone conversation with the radio station. Sitting out the front of a rather blustery Bristol Business school I found myself live on Radio Bristol with the presenter John Darvall.
I chatted about the Chipping Sodbury Big Lunch and us opening the event at 12 – 1 on Sunday 5th June. John was warm and friendly and joked about ‘Don’t sit under the apple tree’ and how ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ always raises a smile. I enjoyed talking about the event and how much we were looking forward to performing.
Anyway, back to the desk now.. planning the afternoon’s work activities and feeling like the whole experience was a dream!
Why don’t you check us out on Radio Bristol (recorded live on Monday 23 May) following the link below:
Radio Bristol - Listen Live - BBC Sounds (at 34 minutes and 40 seconds into the programme)
Rachel "Top Cat"
Katherine, our Classical Cat, is doing the London Marathon this October and will be raising money for an amazing charity, 'The Children's Society'. As a bit of fundraising madness, she will be hosting a 24 hour Sing-A-Thon next week! We Cat's Pyjamas will be singing a 60 minute set to finish the Sing-A-Thon and we are hoping Katherine remembers all her words after having had no sleep the night before.....!
She has set up an Instagram account which will follow her journey as she trains for the marathon and will be filled with live videos throughout her 24 hour sing-a-thon. Please follow her to see what she is up to! https://www.instagram.com/sopranoontherun/
If you would like to donate to this amazing charity, here is a link to her JustGiving Page: https://www.justgiving.com/.../katherine-londonmarathon2022
From The Children's Society's website:
We are a national charity working to transform the hopes and happiness of young people facing abuse, exploitation and neglect. We support them through their most serious life challenges and we campaign tirelessly for the big social changes that will improve the lives of those who need hope most. We've been doing this for 140 years and we won't stop until we've built a society where hope is alive in every child.
We are loving being back in rehearsals, not only so we can embrace our love of 40s music, focus on purrrfecting our intricate close harmonies and work out when we can fit in another box step……but also so we can spend an hour or two in a mindfulness haze of forgetting that we need to get back to the busy life of being working mothers!
Yes, we are so blessed here at the Cat’s Pyjamas that between us we have 10 little kittens (some not so little anymore!) and as everyone knows, being a parent is all-consuming in so many wonderful yet exhausting ways. Or perhaps, that is just life in the 21st century; maybe we like to blame the young ones for our exhaustion but actually the blame is better suited to the constant ringing of phones, online notifications, social chat groups, work emails, planning and keeping up with the latest school events, clubs, dress ups and charity days.
Being a mummy, while living in this 24-hour, technology driven world, is a whole new level of exhaustion. So, let’s take a step back and breathe. Let’s look around us and be grateful for what we have. Let’s take a moment to pat ourselves on the back and remember that in the eyes of each of those kittens, we are SuperHeroes (most of the time!).
Last evening, my pet cat spent the ENTIRE night staring at a corner of our house where she had trapped a mouse behind some furniture – she is a hunter and she was not going to let that mouse escape. In the morning, we rescued the mouse before it succumbed to her claws (sorry, Skye) and I was left with a feeling of admiration. Oh, to be so mindful that she could think of nothing else. She didn’t have 104 plates spinning in the air, terrified of one falling, she just had one objective which was to be very still, calm and determined.
So, on this Mothering Sunday, I would like to raise a glass of admiration to my gorgeous Cat’s Pyjamas for being the most incredible hard-working, time-juggling mothers who still know how to DooWop with sass; to my own mother who always worked hard when we were young and yet still had time to teach me to follow my dreams; to all the mothers out there who are simply incredible women; and to my cat Skye…..for helping me learn how to focus on one thing at a time….!
It's felt like a funny couple of years, that seem to have passed in a slow blur.
Covid has had a huge impact on live music and events and I'm so excited that I'm able to start putting gigs, concerts and show dates back in my diary again. I have so missed the buzz and thrill of a live event, there is nothing like it. As cheesy as it sounds, for me it is the best way to be in the moment, totally connected to what I'm seeing and hearing, a real chance to lose myself and forget everything else going on. I always leave a show with that childlike energy and joy that gets harder to find and experience as you get older.
It also leads me to realise how much I have massively missed music-making itself. We at Cat's Pyjamas HQ haven't had the opportunity to get together to create music, enjoying the warmth of lush harmonies and playful melodies. As we move into one of my favourite times of the year, with the daffodils out, bringing their own brand of sunshine, we're back to regular get-togethers and laughs in our rehearsals. We have gigs on the horizon and are looking forward to seeing you in the future.
It's great to be back....we've missed you!
Love Rach, "Top Cat" xxx