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Tired and confused at the station, accidently I put the wrong ticket in the barrier. I move back so as not to get in anyones way, but too late, I'm being swung around by someone gripping my elbow and pulling at my handbag. "Standing in the way," shouts a middle aged holiday maker wearing a bright shirt and back pack. Shock, anger, confusion all the way home on the tube. I soothe my elbow and this helps.

Another day, a "support worker" I've never met before rings the doorbell unexpectedly, telling me stuff up about my tennacy agreement that is completely untrue. Anger, trauma, confusion, feeling violated, I become unwell. The sound of the doorbell haunts me, I replicate this sound on my cello and somehow it turns into something else. Something completely free and liberating that merges effortlessly with a piece I started before about my experience at the station. I call this music "Rats."

Background info,



Posted by Joanne Cox, 23 October 2013

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 25 October 2013


Beautiful day outside but today I'm unsettled and irritated. It's half term “hurrah!” It seems everyone is saying but working in early years is only some of the work I do. There's about a million other things I should be doing, that I don't really feel like, the sunshine is  beckoning... my angst and irritation is directed at the heavy broken bin that blocks the gate to the beautiful garden.

The bin has been there for weeks uncollected by the council. It is put in front of the garden gate for ease of parking for support workers and others who don't even live here.

Feelings of anger and frustration whirl up, swirling into a tornado, carried along with my BPD. Everything about the bin is personalised. “Don't these people know they are hurting me, when they put the bin in front of the garden door? Why do they assume  no one here ever uses the garden? These people are HURTING ME!"

Hours later I've moved the bin again and allow my cello to fall in with sounds recorded in the garden. As I play I warmly remember my lovely neighbour and feel sad at her recent news. “Boss told me to go.”  “Boss says I've been here too long”  “Where?” (will I go) she signs. I know from experience perhaps boss is right, perhaps boss is rewriting her tenancy agreement as he speaks, manipulating the facts to fit in with the latest policy.

Despite the sadness I like my little recording. Nothing rehearsed just thinking out loud on the cello. Several times since, when BPD thoughts are dragging me down, I think the thoughts  ARE the bin that blocks the way to the garden and I think how to get past.

Audio Description of sound clip: Slow contemplative electric cello, with sounds recorded from my garden, birds singing and passing cars.


Posted by Joanne Cox, 14 June 2013

Last modified by Joanne Cox, 21 June 2013


Beautiful sun, blue sky, I'm late practicing today got distracted reading facebook, been thinking about a link Sophie Partridge posted about Mary Laver a disabled woman who is contemplating hunger strike to beg David Cameron to listen to concerns about the closure of the Independent Living Fund.

It's going round my head and I try to imagine what it must feel like to have decisions about the quality of every aspect of my life made by bureaucrats. What was it the judge said  "These people are privileged" like having a PA is the same as having a servant. So it's going on and on in my head like this.

I do a few scales on the acoustic and then set out to do some proper well disciplined practice on the electric for a composition I'm working on. Well so much for that plan, the A string has gone down, I'm turning the peg trying to get it back up I can feel a tremendous amount of tension and I reckon this one is gonna snap, but there it goes sliding down again and now the G and C as well.

I flick across the strings and I love the bass, a kind of murky monster emerges. My fingers slide all over the strings not really knowing where the notes are anymore. Everything is dark and muddy (a bit like being in my brain on a bad day.)

The derangement of the strings expresses something..maybe my own monsters, maybe my reaction to the deranged "society" we live in where politicians condem disabled people to live as second class citizens, boxed up, institutionalized, stigmatized and worthless. Outside the sun shines.

Posted by Joanne Cox, 3 May 2013

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 12 May 2013

Reclaiming my living room

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Here I am wondering out loud on my cello, connecting with the blue sky, the cherry blossom and freshly painted walls. Something got taken away when support staff turned up unannounced mistakenly citing legal agreements to do with compulsory meetings and my tennancy. I have never signed such an agreement nor am required to do so. All sorted now and with these sounds I'm reclaiming my living space, feeling relieved (it's the third time this has happened in five years and the other times were much worse) Feels wrong in a way to put stuff up that's just not worked on at all and has alot of imperfection but this at least shows how work begins for me.

Posted by Joanne Cox, 2 May 2013

Last modified by Joanne Cox, 3 May 2013

Electric Cello Diary: Prayer

Someone very close to me, is having a major operation and this short phrase is an expression of love for that person (with whom  I am in a long term relationship) as well as a prayer.

Sometimes it happens that through the cello I connect with my spiritual side.

As it's work in progress, I didn't quite get the character on the open strings I would have liked. I dream of working without all the boomy hiss, which is driving me up the wall and for which I apologise. The signal from the pick up my electric cello came with isn't particularly strong, so I am planning
when funds allow for an upgrade.

Recently I have had the privilege of a fund raising advice session with Dipak Natali at Shape's Pop-Up Gallery. I now have a much better understanding of why I didn't get the funding for the Electric

Cello Diary and the work I have to do to address this. It really is going to be a lot of work and the most important thing for me right now is to think of realistic ways I can actually get the work done, whilst keeping on top of the rest of my schedule.

Lucky me, my partner is very supportive of my work and this is a great help. Borderline Personality Disorder can make relationships fraught with difficulty, pain, agony and drama! I think that a turning point for me was having CBT and now I have developed many skills to manage BPD in a relationship. My experience of BPD has also helped me to help my partner in various ways. Another positive is that BPD is often associated with sensitivity and passion!

I wish you all a Happy Valentines Day and if you are not into
anything soppy, check this out, industrial metal played by cellist Tina Guo.

Posted by Joanne Cox, 7 February 2013

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 22 November 2013

Electric Cello Diary: Dead Fox

It wasn’t my intention to make such a dark and mournful offering at this time of year. This piece originated in early November, but have been busy with work and plagued by various technical problems to do with my cello playing that cannot be blamed (unfortunately!) on needing new equipment etc. I listen to this piece and though happy with some aspects there is so much that I would like to improve.

Concentration and focus in practice and performance is a big issue for me and in terms of Borderline Personality Disorder, we are famously distractable. Playing the cello is a precise science and requires a brain that can be very objective. Not easy if you have a brain that easily moves in to being all over the place, but I'm adapting with strategies.

One such strategy is that I start by practising in 6 minute times segments. Sounds extreme but even during this short time I will notice my mind drifting to places that have nothing to do with what I am trying to achieve and my posture has become unhelpful to playing. I intersperse the 6 minutes with 1- 2 minutes doing some exercises that my physio gave me and trying to remember some moves from Brazilian Dance class at the gym. This strategy is really helping.

‘Dead Fox’ came about when I noticed I was less stressed in the morning having been for a short walk and got some oxygen in my brain. I decided I ought to try this more often. Unfortunately to get to the place I really wanted to walk I had to walk up a section of road that was very noisy and not at all pleasant for a pedestrian. I thought I could put up with this inconvenience but then I saw a dead fox lying in the road. I felt so sad about the way the land is horrendously cut up by roads and I wondered if the fox had a family. In the piece I try to express the sadness and compassion I felt for the fox as well as my sense of disturbance in a harsh savage environment.

I wish you all a wonderful 2013 and on a more cheery note, here is a link to “Festivale” by Adam Hurst a cellist I am really inspired by, his piece is beautiful and uplifting.

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 7 January 2013

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 7 January 2013

Electric Cello Diary: Fed up in my living room

The piece I have uploaded originated when I felt really constrained by my thoughts and surroundings. In retrospect that’s how I've been feeling about my project The Electric Cello Diary. So much to achieve before it gets where I want it. Feels like I'm underneath a mountain.

I am working towards The Electric Cello Diary being presented as a fully accessible blog. At the moment I'm using Facebook and You Tube. I would also like to ‘perform’ in interesting public spaces - the street, galleries etc. By perform I don’t mean like a recital. I mean me and my electric cello integrated into the surroundings and complimenting the vibe that's there already.

I'm doing the project because I love creating my own music through the electric cello and I want to develop my electric cello playing to full potential. At the moment I’m making the best of the equipment I’ve got but need several rather costly enhancements.

The Electric Cello diary will be interwoven with references to Borderline Personality disorder with particular reference to how it affects me and my personal processes in managing it. Lots of info out there about the symptoms and the difficult aspect of what it feels like, but not as much info on how people adapt to managing it on a daily basis. I feel very strongly that I want to get my experiences out there to contribute to discussion.

Borderline personality Disorder (I really don't relate well to the name, but at least everyone will know what I'm talking about), enhances my life and my music. It is linked with oozes of feeling, sensitivity, reactivity and creativity. But it also brings challenges, like feeling overwhelmed and being very easily distracted. These difficulties make it hard to play cello well and achieve stuff. I'm constantly working on strategies to manage this and adapt.

I am finding the funding process really hard, but have brilliant support from friends and the Creative Steps programme at Shape. Recently had a funding application turned down mainly due to public engagement and management issues. Another mountain to climb.

Please feel free to ask questions, contribute ideas and comment.

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 7 November 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 7 January 2013