Margaret Thatcher thought that it was “vital” that she should be able to go into a hospital of her choice, on a day of her choice with a doctor that she chose. It was a typically crass comment from someone whose entitlement destroyed the imagination to understand the lives of ordinary people. Of course she should be able to choose what she wanted – money may not be able to buy you love but it can get almost anything else. Or, at least, that’s what she thought.
I was searching for the on-screen TV guide this morning to record the midweek football when I saw two new channels, ViaPlay2 and ViaplayExtra. What are these? However, there are so many channels that I couldn’t really be bothered to explore. How many hours have I wasted, scrolling through the TV guide to try and find something I want to watch? It was much simpler in “the old days” when a lack of choice meant that, as a family, we watched “No Hiding Place” instead of “Panorama”.
Is more choice a good thing? When I meet a friend for coffee and there is a huge choice of cake, I’m likely to wonder whether my choice was the correct one. On the other hand, if there is a limited choice between coffee cake or apricot flapjack, I’m more likely to be happy with my choice (I don’t like apricots (I don’t think I’ve ever seen apricot flapjack (but maybe I should be more experimental (but I love coffee cake (this is the point I’m making))))).
I discovered that two members of my extended family have taken their daughter out of her state school and put her in a fee paying school. I respect them a lot as people but I’m a bit disappointed with their choice. On the other hand, it’s none of my business and if their daughter is unhappy, they should, of course, do all they can to ensure her happiness. However, there is a part of me that wonders whether this is just a case of choosing the apricot flapjack and wondering whether the coffee cake would be better. I don’t think their daughter was unhappy in the state school and I think they thought that the grass would be greener on the other side. In this case, the independent school is on the other side of a large town which is 40 minutes drive away.
Sophie Jamieson works in a restaurant as a bar tender. She released her first EP in 2013 but after a disastrous recording session she chose to leave the music business in 2014 and didn’t play her guitar for four years. “In all honesty, I didn’t know what I wanted to do until 2018,” she says about her choice to record an album called “Choosing”.
In the past Sophie Jamieson did plenty of things to hurt herself, including choosing to have an over reliance on alcohol. These days her choices include “being kind to myself, to allow myself to live better, to see that I don’t deserve to hurt myself, and to trust myself”.
I’m not clear what the message is in “Runner”. It sounds like her lover is packing a bag and Sophie Jamieson is worried that this could be the end. She wonders what choice her lover is making. “Are you going left, right or ducking out the way?”. Although this seems like a difficult time for her, in an interview with “Still Listening”, she says that the song is a moment of “realisation, recognition and understanding”. I guess it’s up to the listener to choose whether this time in her life was a positive or negative time. The song starts quietly with only an electric guitar for accompaniment but halfway through the song a ninety second coda introduces more guitar, drumming, wordless vocals and an increasing tempo building to a great climax.
I’m similarly confused about “Boundary”, which Sophie Jamieson says is her favourite track on the album because it is “full of self-compassion, self-recognition and the potential for wholeness and fullness” and yet the song contains lines like “Scratching away at the surface of the deck/It’s a game but you’re nervous of your neck.” Maybe the key to understanding her point of view comes in another quote which seems to indicate that the key to happiness lies in our ability to embrace the low moments with brutal honesty rather than try and suppress our darkest thoughts. “Coping mechanisms can be addictive. There’s a theme of addiction to self-punishment in various forms which can be a way of escaping reality – kind of pulling yourself down a notch in order to have an excuse for not being good enough, and as a way out of a feeling of isolation”.
My love of this album is not based on the lyrics whose meanings are, frankly, impenetrable to me. No, the great thing for me is the contrast between her gentle soothing voice and her electric guitar as well as the occasional explosion of noise. The opening track “Addition” is a great example of this with a cacophonous instrumental break that breaks up a song which describes “a desperate search for an answer.”