MEAT LOAF (not a recipe) …

I was watching a documentary the other day on Meat Loaf, as you do. Or as I do when I’m having slight plotting problem. I used to listen to Bat out of Hell fairly frequently but have got out of the habit in the last few years maybe as my life got slightly less bat out of hell-ish. On hearing the intro to the song,  ‘The sirens are screaming, and the fires are howling …’ the hairs rose up on my arms and I remembered just how much I loved the whole gothic, campy, sweaty, ruffle-shirted glory that is Meat Loaf. And it got me thinking about this ‘hair on the arms’ or ‘back of the neck’ thing or whatever you care to call it and how often it’s used in writing as a lazy shorthand for STRONG EMOTIONS and how it doesn’t actually happen that often in life or not to me anyway.


It got me thinking about another rather different time. It was 1996 and I’d gone to see the Dalai Lama at the Alexander Palace in London. I hope you appreciate the seamless segue from Meat loaf to the Dalai Lama that just happened there. There was an enormous crowd, delays in getting everyone in and a long wait. The friend I was with was out of sorts and the atmosphere was quite ‘heady-trippy’ for want of a more elegant expression. I remember feeling a bit irritable and bored and then the Dalai Lama came out on stage and the hairs didn’t just rise up on the back of my neck they rose everywhere there was a follicle. I can remember absolutely nothing about what he said only my physical and emotional response to him coming on the stage. I wasn’t a buddhist by the way and I’m not one now. The friend I was with had almost the exact reverse response and became more and more irritated which was very funny in retrospect but confusing at the time.

Scientists in North Carolina have apparently done some research into the link between music induced bumps and personality types. People who had the most chills had the most open personalities, they were receptive to new experiences, creative, curious and had active imaginations. So now I’m off to play Bat out of Hell. Maybe my plot will then be tricked by the sight of the bumps rising up on my arms into thinking I’m someone with an active imagination.  Someone who will wrestle it into submission and with the sheer force of my … well, you get my drift.

So here’s the question. When was the last time you had goosebumps? Standing in a draft doesn’t count, seeing ghosts is absolutely fine but please, please don’t make me regret asking!



6 thoughts on “MEAT LOAF (not a recipe) …

  1. On ‘The One Show’ last night, Dave Wakeling of ‘The Beat’, talking of his song ‘Mirror in the Bathroom’ and modern audiences reaction to his work, said ‘they use some of your threads for their tapestry’. I hope it was his original line, but even if not I still love it. I imagine if you use too many threads it becomes plagiarism.


  2. I was thinking about this physical emotional response thing only the other day. When I met my partner for the first time we literally sparked – a real jag of energy between us. When I wrote this into a novel everyone, including the editor, told me to get rid of it because it was implausible and cliched. (I have vowed to sneak it in one day…)


    • Well, I think that’s extremely romantic … and I hope you do sneak it in. It reminds me of a scene a friend wrote and read out in a writing group. It involved a man picking up and carrying a woman who was asleep out of a car and into a house. I said I thought it was implausible and cliched but he said he’d done it and he was keeping it in! So there you go. Next time …


    • Hi Andrea I do love songs that tell stories. I think it’s so clever. They do it all with music too! I love Leonard Cohen for that as well – obviously the music is rather different but the storytelling is top notch. Great thing about rock music is that its propulsive it gives me the feeling of being moved forwards which sometimes can be very useful if in fact I am stuck!

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