24 Carat Gold Cake

This isn’t the first time that I’ve started the blog, got a couple of paragraphs in and not found the hook to carry on with the theme: bin and start again. The best blogs, for me anyway, just flow like I can’t get the words out quickly enough. The problem this week is that there are so many words, so much emotion, and so many important things to share, that I kind of lost the thread as soon as I’d started. Or at least I did the first time: this one might just work.

This blog is basically a brain dump of an astonishing week. When I wrote Oscar 2 Eileidh last week, I knew of things that were happening behind the scenes on the other side of the world, but as with all these things, I didn’t want to say anything in case it didn’t work out as I’d hoped. I’ve been in that situation a few times so I decided to sit tight and wait, and see what developed: in reality, the result was beyond my wildest dreams.

None of this would have been possible without The Flag, and for that I thank Vanessa Riddle. It was Vanessa’s cameo appearance at Celtic Park, against Inverness in November 2014 that warranted the flag. Then it went walkabout to Australia and credit to that goes to my, and LCFN’s long time pal Angela. Angela flew the flag and passed it to Tara who went walkies with it round town: by town I mean Adelaide. It even met Santa in the sunshine! But it was only there at all because Jimmy Harrington walked round the coast of Straya for kids with brain cancer. All I wanted was a photo of Jimmy and the flag. As it turned out, I got Anna Meares too: what a photobomb that turned out to be! And by the way, as a relevant aside, Jimbo flew out of Adelaide today to start a new life in Brisbane with the Brainchild Foundation. Jimmy mate, you a star, a very bright star: long may you shine for the kids who depend on your energy.

But the real matchmaker in this story is my good but never actually met friend Julian Jarrett. JJ, as he’s affectionately known, has a radio show, and good friend in Missy Fay. Missy featured on his show a couple of times and I liked her music: and her style. Missy and I became friends. That’s almost the final piece in this global jigsaw.

Cue Amelie Bottrill, aka Frank Loves Joan, the Festival act.

Amelie is Missy’s pal. I had to dig awhile to find this quote because so much has been said and written about the creative genius of Amelie Bottrill and Ben Abercrombie these past few days, it took a bit of finding…

“I know talent when I hear it/see it but have always promoted where possible via word of mouth and now social media”.

There. You heard it. But just in case if you haven’t, here’s the link:

Amelie and I (well mostly Amelie really) have been doing stuff behind the scenes for a couple of months in preparation for the second anniversary of Princess Puddles’s diagnosis. Amelie is a singer/songwriter with a voice to die for. Think the very best of Sinead O’Connor meets Kate Bush.

At half three in the morning local time, Amelie sent me the karaoke demo of “Puddles” recorded on the piano in her living room. When she’s an international star, that demo will be worth a fortune for charity. It’s raw, but then it had every right to be: it was the first full take.

Cue Ben: Ben is Amelie’s producer.

He’s the guy who twiddles the dials and churns out the final product. Amelie was fully aware that from that initial demo, there were only 36 hours to play with if Puddles was to hear the polished version on her special day. Ammie and Ben did not disappoint…

They went into the studio on Monday afternoon to lay down Puddles and some other new material for Amelie’s forthcoming CD. Puddles, the title track, was recorded and mastered at 5am UK time on the 9th, our deadline day. I got it on an email at breakfast time and did what all good middle men do: I passed it on. Gail was waiting up in Forres but with a mum’s worth of family tasks to attend to, so it was the afternoon before she was able to lay the track on top of the collage of Eileidh’s two years spent fighting neuroblastoma.

Gail sent me the video just before teatime. I was in tears. I knew that the song was good, heck, I’d been playing it all day. But this was the first time I’d seen it with the real story. It was perfection. Amelie had captured the mood, the fight, the beauty and the energy of the little warrior Princess.

Puddles is a masterpiece of creative genius: the genius of Amelie Bottrill and Benjamin Abercrombie.

Gail posted it up to Eileidh’s Journey a five o’clock and the hits immediately took off. A hundred in the first hour; a hundred more in the second hour. By the morning, it was through 2,000. Then three; then four. And last night it crashed five thousand hits. The story of a wee girl from the north of Scotland, celebrated in song by another girl 10,000 miles away, was making people cry all over the world.

So then on Wednesday, the press picked up on the story. The Aberdeen Press and Journal ran a big piece and even managed a couple of quotes and a photo of Amelie herself. From memory, I think the pic may have been taken when she performed at a friend’s wedding a couple of weeks ago.

But the story didn’t end there. On Thursday I got word, since confirmed from Australia, that Solving Kids Cancer are proposing to release Puddles as an official charity single in support of all kids with cancer as part of the annual “Go Gold In September” campaign to make people aware of childhood cancer. For my part, I’ve been trying to break the internet, a trick I learned from Mouldy, by spamming celebs in the hope that someone will give Puddles a retweet. To date we’ve not had one, but you know what, the LifeCycle Man doesn’t do giving up. There is someone out there who knows the record business who will help us to take Puddles to number one. We just need to find that person. Pete Waterman’s own web page specifically says that he doesn’t entertain demos. Well I’ve got news for Pete: this ain’t no demo. This is the real deal. There are kids out there that you could help us make a difference to, a real difference, if you could just give Puddles the Waterman Watermark.

In her own words posted to Facebook at the end of a tumultuous week, Amelie said “I hope this has cheered your Friday as it’s done for me! It’s given new meaning and purpose to my music, and I am keen to do more”. I don’t want to overload our Strayan songstress but watch this space…

Now, it’s hugely important that before I get on to the stats business, I mention yesterday. Social Media has been the making of the LCFN project, and through one of my strongest connections, I was invited to walk through the city of Glasgow to raise awareness of the link between foodbanks and mental health. The distance we walked in the baking midday sun was irrelevant but not irrelevant: 7.5 miles, although we took a scenic detour along the river so I bet it was actually over eight. Those 7.5 miles symbolise the round trip distance that a woman had to make to a foodbank to get provisions to feed her family. Next time you jump in the motor to do the weekly shop, think instead about walking almost four miles to get there then the same carrying your stuff to get home again. That is the society that Britain, formerly Great Britain, has fostered.

And so, finally, to the numbers: these ones matter. They matter a lot. I haven’t become blasé because I do recognise the symbolic importance of tomorrow, but the big mile impetus is now history. I’m managing myself just as much as I’m managing the miles. Tomorrow I will go through 24,000 miles. I’ll finally enter the home straight, albeit about six weeks behind schedule. Tomorrow I plan on doing just 20 miles. And the weather has promised to be nice. I plan to end tomorrow on 24,001: or to put it another way, 999 to go. This is an emergency trip. Children are suffering. They’re suffering unnecessarily because of insufficient funding into paediatric cancer. LCFN is aiming, albeit in a small way, to change that. Amelie is now running the Australian end of the show: as a self confessed activist, she’s an admin on the LCFN Facebook group. I don’t actually know what the future holds, but as a starter for ten I’ve created a LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma group on Strava. In doing so, I’m inviting cyclists all over the world to join the club and lob their miles into a global effort to ride 100,000 miles for kids with cancer. All miles count. And when we’ve achieved that, we’ll just raise the bar and go for a quarter of a million. How long’s it gonna take? How long’s a piece of string? I’m not planning on doing this on my own, but 24,001 miles is a good start.

Because tomorrow is a 24 Carat Gold Cake Day!

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