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I live beside a misunderstood community. What is locally known as The Hippy House, is, in reality, a shared house filled with some of the most supportive and creative people I have ever met.

It's rare to visit the house without seeing someone drawing, writing, whittling or playing an instrument, and it's an addictive force to be around.

The first to be swept up was Olive, who disappeared one afternoon while I was chatting in the kitchen, only to be found lying across an armchair on the back porch with one of the guys playing his guitar. He was daydreaming while he played the same set of chords over and over, while Olive's teeny angelic voice sung the words to the chorus of Wagonwheel (her favourite song) over and over again. How he discovered that about her, let along get her to sing along with him is a mystery I never chose to unpack. Instead, I pulled my head back through the sliding doors and silently tiptoed away grinning to myself.

It never occurred to me that a few months later, the same household would weave the same magic on me, and I would find myself singing in front of people for the first time in my life.

I've spent a lot of my life singing in the shower, with my headphones on, and on rare occasions in front of people when I have consumed enough alcohol to be brave. Most of those occasions have resulted in me being told to "SHUUUUUUT UUUUUUUUUP!!!!!!", and so, for a long time, I did.

I stopped singing in the shower because I was just trying to get through it before The Offspring Wars escalated to literal bloodshed. And as a side note, I would like to point out that my going to the shower is never announced. I sneak into the bathroom with the same ninja skills I used to sneak out of my bedroom as a child, but they know, OH THEY KNOW. Even if all three children have been quietly enjoying activities in different time zones, I can guarantee that I won't have finished shampooing my hair before the first screeches are echoing through the house.

I stopped singing with my headphones on because I live in a house with no Wifi and, frankly, I'm bored of the music I have downloaded on my phone these days.

I stopped singing with other people around because, well actually, I didn't, there's just never anyone else around.

The point is, lockdown happened and I was blessed to be in a bubble with the guys across the road. And I'm a strong person, Lord knows I'm stubborn, but after a month of all that support and comradery, they snuck in behind my defences and a few beers into the evening, I started singing. Like singing along to someone playing the guitar. With nobody else singing with me.

Hands down, the most terrifying thing I can remember doing.

Especially when other people turned up. Other people, as in AN AUDIENCE. My brain took one look at the situation and had a full-scale Hulk Smash tantrum. The only saving grace was that we were singing a song that has three verses in it and that I'd listened to it for three days straight while I was in labour with Esme, which is to say, that song is indelibly lodged in my brain until the day I die.

The thing was after I'd told my brain "Sun’s gettin’ real low" a few times (geeky Marvel reference for you there), I actually started to enjoy myself. Okay so I had to stare at lyrics on my phone to avoid making eye contact, and I had to be given the most obvious of cues to start singing in the first place, aaaaaaand yes I fucked up more times than I got it right, but nobody cared, nobody told me to shut up, not once. They were having so much fun they made ME start to have fun too.

Right up until the point someone suggested an open mic.

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