Wednesday, 12 December 2012
Can't make up my mind whether I like Liverpool, or not. It has its' good and bad points.
Since we were last there. it has undergone some remarkable modernisation and regeneration. Unfortunately, this has left the main shopping area seeming no different from other cities and towns. I regret the loss of Lewis's department store. We went in there just before it closed its' doors, mostly because I wanted to see inside the wonderful Art Deco building that housed it, and it is sad to see such an old family-run firm gone.
However, the regeneration of the waterfront, particularly around the Albert Dock, is excellent. As well as the new Arena for events (what imaginative person thought up THAT name?), there's the new Museum of Liverpool. We thought we'd poke around in there for an hour or so, and ended up being in there for over 4 hours! We'd done the Museum of Slavery and the Maritime Museum last time we were in Liverpool, so didn't expect much more of interest to come from this new collection.
How wrong we were! It gives a fascinating insight into past ways of life in Liverpool's heyday, as well as feature areas dedicated to the cities' more famous sons and daughters. You can't escape the Beatles. From the Beatles Story at Albert Dock, to the Cavern Club in Matthews Street, they are everywhere. And rightly so. They are, after all, the most important group in the history of popular music. But, down by the docks, between Albert Dock and the new museum, is a statue of Billy Fury. Long one of my all-time favourite singers, he is much neglected in my opinion. It was good to see him featured in the Museum.
The other person featured, who gets an entire gallery all to herself currently, is the late Dame Beryl Bainbridge. Yes, I'd heard of her, but no, I was not over familiar with either her novels or her paintings. The gallery was quite an eye-opener. I can't say I liked all of her work, but one or two really made an impression on me, such as this - 'Boarding The Titanic' from the late 1990s.
Anyway, the upshot of this is, I've been researching Dame Beryl, and I now have a thirst to read some of her novels. Apparently she was runner-up for the Booker Prize 5 times! How has she slipped through my net?
Well, so, the trip wasn't an entire waste of time, from a cultural point of view.
Oh, and did I mention the plethora of SuperLambBananas? If you've never heard of them, or seen them, they are everywhere in Liverpool. There was only one, when we first went there, now.....oh dear..........
Saturday, 3 November 2012
For L I've gone with one of the most famous composers of all time, Franz Liszt.
Franz Ritter von Liszt (October 22, 1811 – July 31, 1886) was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor and teacher, renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist.
He led an eventful life, being the consort at various times, of a princess and a countess, and at one point retiring to a monastery, where he took lesser orders.
Despite this, his music flourished. Best known for his piano works, my choice for this week comes from amongst these.
This is the Liebestraum (Love's Dream) No.3. I've actually got this as the ring tone on my 'phone! Here it is played by the wonderful Artur Rubinstein in 1954. One of my favourite performances of this beautiful, soothing music:
Now - the lighter end of the spectrum. Although not technically the best band in the world, I love watching the Levellers live. They are undoubtedly one of the best bands I've ever seen live. They're a great favourite with bikers, and often play at big biker events like the Rock&Blues custom show, where they were selected to play by popular choice, coming ahead in the polls of such groups as Motorhead and ZZ Top!
Penning all of their own material, their songs often have a strong protest theme, or take a political stance. Anarchists (in the true meaning of the word) and environmentalists, they are deep thinkers and strong personalities, but their music retains a high level of musicality, Mark's voice is strong, Jon's fiddle playing is techinically brilliant, and Jeremy's hair is long! What more do you want?
Because they are so good on stage, I've deliberately looked for a live show video. This is 'Barrel of a Gun' filmed at Wychwood in 2010. The song is a protest at the shooting of 3 IRA members by the SAS in Gibraltar. Although they were undoubtedly preparing a bomb explosion, at the time of the killings, they were not in possession of any explosives. McCann was shot five times, Farrell eight times, and Savage between 16 and 18 times. All three were subsequently found to be unarmed, and without any kind of remote trigger.
No matter what country
Under the sun
You can't mete justice
From the barrel of a gun
Well, except my bikes don't think so. Both of them still show British Summer Time. The reason? I'm getting as bad as a man. I haven't read the handbooks, and I can't work out how to alter the time settings on either of them. Oh well, I suppose I'll have to get the books out and read up on it.
So, what's new? I took my usual jaunt to the annual NFL match at Wembley last Sunday. It was such a lousy game (Patriots beat the Rams 45-7) that I almost resent the exorbitant price of the ticket. I say almost, because, despite the terrible game, the atmosphere is just so uplifting and joyous, and Wembley is such a great stadium. It's also nice to get the chance to spend a day with my son and his beautiful wife. Days like that are few and far between at the moment.
Also new is my bathroom. Yes, finally got rid of the old one, installed when the house was built in the 60s, and got a nice new shiny one. The building firm have done a marvellous job, even if they did paint the walls totally the wrong colour! I chose a soft, creamy yellow - and they decided to paint it blue! They did say they'd redo it of course, but having seen the finished bathroom, and the way the blue complements the floor covering, I've decided I actually rather like it!
It wasn't an easy life whilst they were doing it though. They literally gutted it - right back to the brickwork and floor joists. They very thoughtfully put down carpet protectors throughout the house, but absolutely everything is covered in a thick layer of just - despite having been hoovered twice since they finished! And trying to sleep when you're on nights, with a jolly workman singing at the top of his voice, is not easy!
Won't be many more days this year when I feel inclined to go for a ride just because I can, but I'm determined to get at least a couple more in before the Winter hardens the ground and softens my resolve. I treated Jack to a pretty new windscreen a couple of days ago, and hopefully he'll get treated to one or two extras for Christmas to pretty him up ready for next year. I'd also like to get a couple of runs out where I can take pictures with my new camera. I've not had much chance to use it yet.
What else..........ah yes, the American Presidential elections are upon us once again. I've not discussed it with my daughter-in-law, Brooke. We sort of have a tacit agreement that politics and religion are not generally discussed. That way, we don't fall out with each other ;) I assume though, being a Mormon, she will vote for Mitt Romney. Maybe I assume wrongly, I don't know. I know Obama has not been the best president ever, but in my opinion, he's not exactly been the worst either, and I do think he's probably still the lesser of two evils. Some of Romney's statements have done little less than horrify me. And Obama's reaction to the terrible destruction caused by SuperStorm Sandy, were 1000% better than George W's reaction to Hurricane Katrina and the terrible plight of the people of New Orleans.
And so, update on my various hobbies. As far as the genealogy is going, I'm still trying to piece together my father's family, and it's proving to be a nightmare. As well as being one of the largest families in Lancashire, they have some given names that propagate throughout the different lines and generations. I've lost count of how many Johns I've got married to Marys! The good thing to come out of this whole project though, is that I've re-established contact with the branch of my family that emigrated to Canada when I was very young, and I have a whole raft of previously unknown cousins and other various assorted relatives.
My jewellery shop is ticking along. I'm not pushing it too much yet, as I don't have time to keep making stuff for it, but it's very comforting to know that it is there, already established, for when I retire, or if I fall prey to redundancy. I've been spending a lot of time learning and practising new techniques, and expanding my horizons. There's absolutely loads of tutorials on websites, blogs and YouTube, so I've not needed to invest in many expensive books and so on. Which, of course,means I've got more money to spend on beads, doesn't it? ;) As one of my suppliers has it, 'money can't buy happiness, but it can buy beads'!
Anyway, enough drivel, I must get on with some work. Or perhaps, instead, I'll do the next episode of the A-Z..............
Thursday, 18 October 2012
K is for Aram Khachaturian (June 6 1903 – May 1, 1978)who was a Soviet Armenian composer. Alongside with Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich, Khachaturian is sometimes dubbed as one of the three "titans" of Soviet music. Khachaturian's works were often influenced by classical European music and Armenian folk music.
Born in Tiflis to a poor Armenian family from Nakhichevan, Khachaturian moved to Moscow at the age of 19. He graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in 1934.
I guess a lot of older folk will remember the 'Onedin Line' series on TV, and the music used as the theme was his Adagio from Spartacus. You may also know his lively 'Sabre Dance'. However, I've opted for this, the Waltz from his 'Masquerade Suite'.
This is not one of your Straussian waltzes, evoking visions of handsome hussars whirling young ladies in gorgeous dresses around the floor of a Viennese ballroom. No, this is aggressive, almost violent. I don't think Mr. K knew how to write anything that wasn't dramatic and stirring!
And for the lighter side? Well, howabout Kilburn & The High Roads? What - you've never heard of them? Watch the video, and you'll recognise the vocalist. So you think you've seen him somewhere before, eh? You're right. It's no less a person than the great Ian Dury. Kilburn and the High Roads were a British rock and roll band formed by Ian Dury in 1970, and was the first band formed by Dury. The band released two studio albums and had one compilation, and separated in 1977 when Dury left to form the more prominent band The Blockheads. Here we go then, with Mumble Rumble & The Cocktail Rock
Monday, 3 September 2012
However, as well as revisiting some old favourites, I found lots of new places, and wonderful roads to ride.
Firstly, the Elan Valley was at the most spectacular I've ever seen it. With all the rain we've had this year, the reservoirs were full, and the water was thundering over each and every dam. It's an incredible sight. The Elan Valley is beautiful even when the water level is low, but with the water cascading over the dams, it is truly magnificent.
There's a road called the Aberystwyth Mountain Road, that runs from the top of the Elan to Aberystwyth. I've never ridden it before, because it's generally been windy when I've been down that way, and they strongly advise you not to ride it in heavy rain, or wind, and definitely not ice! There's big ice warning notices all along it.
But this year, it was a still, sunny day, so it just had to be done. The road runs around the mountains for around 20 miles, eventually coming out at Devil's Bridge, by the Mynnach waterfall. It's little wider than a car, full of free-range sheep, and decidedly tricky. There's an unfenced drop to one side just to make it a little more interesting.
But oh, the views! Staggering just does not do it justice. Mind, you're so busy watching the blind corners and undulations in the road, you find yourself doing little more than 20mph just so you can take a glance at all this spectacular scenery.
Another road I found that was new to me, was the Orme Coast Toll. Yes, they charge you a squid on a bike for the pleasure of riding this one, but it is worth it. The road runs from Llandudno to.......Llandudno, right around the outside edge of the Great Orme headland. It's cut into the cliff, with a drop down to the sea on one side, and the steep cliffs of the Orme on the other. Wonderful! You can also ride up to the top of the Orme, or go up via cable car or tram. The views from the top on a clear day are remarkable.
To my pleasure, I found that they've finally finished the rebuilding of the A487 from just outside Dolgellau to Machynlleth. Having been stuck there previously in the pouring rain, when the temporary traffic lights were stuck on red, this pleased me no end. It's a beautiful road, with awesome views.
Nearer Machynlleth, you pass the Osprey Project, with a magnificent 20 foot high metal statue of an Osprey coming in to land at the entrance. This was one of the things I wished I could have photographed. Further down, is the Corris Craft Centre, where you can watch various crafts people at work, and buy their output. There's a glass workshop, where they make the most beautiful flowers, birds, dragonflies, dragons etc., and it always grieves me that I can't bring any of them home on the bike. The Centre also has decent loos and a nice little cafe, so it's a good place to stop anyway.
Talking of the A487, it starts from a little place outside Dolgellau, called Cross Foxes. I've often wanted to stop there, but I always think, if they're that cross, they might just bite! At the moment, I wouldn't blame them for being cross little foxes, as there's an enormous road improvement scheme happening through there, where you can get held for anything up to 10 minutes, whilst they move heavy construction vehicles across the road.
As to place names, well, I found Clatter and Knockin - had I been on the LittleInsect, they might have been appropriate names, but Jack is new, and shiny, and definitely does not clatter or knock!
I found out that Rhayader - or Rhaeadr, to give it its correct, Welsh spelling, means waterfall. Quite appropriate for the town that leads down to the Elan dams. I find that, having been to North Wales quite a lot, I tend to read some of the signs now in Welsh, rather than picking out the English translation below.
I know that 'araf' means slow, 'gorsaf' is station, and 'dim parcio' means no parking. Most importantly, 'heddlu' means police..................
I really regret not having a working camera this trip, but hey, I'll just have to go back again next year, with a new one. Now that WOULD be a hardship ;)
Friday, 24 August 2012
Josquin wrote both sacred and secular music, and in all of the significant vocal forms of the age, including masses, motets, chansons and frottole.
His music was so admired and imitated over the years, that, with the advancement of scholarly knowledge, a number of works have been removed from the cannon of his output and attributed to his contempories.
Because of his immense prestige in the early sixteenth century, many scribes and publishers did not resist the temptation of attributing anonymous or otherwise spurious works to Josquin. The German editor Georg Forster summed up the situation admirably in 1540 when he wrote, "Now that Josquin is dead, he is putting out more works than when he was alive."
Josquin's fame lasted throughout the 16th century, and indeed increased for several decades after his death, eventually being replaced in popularity by the works of Palestrina (we'll come to him later!)
As usual, I struggled to decide which work to protray here, but decided on this one: Miserere Mei Deus
Now, what shall we have for J? The all too obvious choice would be Michael Jackson, the so-called 'King Of Pop', and indeed, his was an extraordinary talent, even if his life was somewhat weird. I guess when you achieve such heady fame at the age of 5, it will take its' toll on your lifestyle and personality.
However, rather than Michael, I've opted for the Jacksons as a whole.
This is the Director's Cut of their amazing (for its' time) video to an equally great song - 'Can You Feel It'
Tuesday, 7 August 2012
The company I work for is going through a staff reduction programme, where about 9% of the staff are losing their jobs. It's a sad, hard time for most of them, but even so, they tend to be generous to a fault.
They buy cakes. Lots of cakes. And sausage rolls. And feed them to us as a farewell gift.
It's not so bad when one person leaves to take up a new career, but there are so many leavers every day at the moment, those of us who are staying are getting decidedly podgy.
I don't know who ever started the tradition of buying cakes when you leave, or when you have a birthday, or a new baby etc., but it always seems to be a bit incongruous to me. Surely we should buy them the cakes as a token of our respect and sorrow at their leaving, or pleasure at their good news.
However, so be it. I will stay here, and do my work.........
And get fat..............
Monday, 30 July 2012
Only just got him, and am busy running him in, so don't expect any new posts from me for a couple of weeks!
Saturday, 14 July 2012
Yes, I've finally come to terms with the fact that I've got to let it go. After all the years, miles and memories, it's reached the end of its useful life in its present form, and, as I don't have room to store it for the rest of my life, it must make room for a replacement.
However, I refuse point blank to sell it. I really could not bear to let anybody else ride it. It would absolutely break my heart. So, in two weeks time it will be de-registered and taken apart. The fate of its component parts has been decided, but will not be discussed here. (or anywhere, for that matter)
The final nail in its' coffin came via Kent Motorcycles, who are supplying me with a new Hornet with the most gorgeous one-off custom paint job. I'm not picking it up for a couple of weeks, so I'll post photos then.
No, it could never be a 'LittleInsect 2' but if it gives me half the pleasure that one did, I'll be more than happy. I've only left myself a few days after picking it up, in which to run it in and get it serviced, and then its' first long trip will be to North Wales.
Let's hope the weather improves. It would be a shame to get that beautiful paint scheme wet and muddy.
Thursday, 5 July 2012
To catch up, I had a very wet week in Somerset on the LittleInsect, followed last week, by a wonderful few days with Pat and Peter on the Devon/Dorset border. If you're looking for somewhere to stay down that way, then go to my other blog 'My British Isles', link on the right - and pick up the signs for The Old Black Dog. I can promise, you won't regret it.
No matter how often I go to Dorset, I never tire of riding the Dorset roads and poking around the gentle little towns and villages. An absolute 'must' for me down there, is to ride the B road that runs from Burton Bradstock through Abbotsbury, to Chickrell on the outskirts of Weymouth. It's such a pretty route, with wide views over Chesil Beach, to Portland on one side, and rolling hills on the other.
Another 'must' is an evening down at the harbour at West Bay, where all the bikers hang out. There's a branch of Helmet City just opened up there, and I made Dick promise not to spend any money if he went in there, and then promptly bought myself some new gloves! - a mere £80 or so........
Dick had only been to Dorset a couple of times before, and hadn't seen much of the towns at all, so one day, we spent the morning poking around Dorchester. It may be the county town of Dorset, but it's not exactly huge, and has a faded, genteel quality about it.
We then took a lovely ride from there, up to Sherborn and then through to Shaftesbury, where Dick had expressed a wish to see Gold Hill, the place that pretended to be 'oop north' in a certain famous Hovis ad. My eyes lit up when he said that, and he couldn't understand why I was so keen to show him Gold Hill...that is, until we got there and found the Beadster bead shop at the top. Of course, as we were in the area, I just had to, didn't I?
Talking of beads, and my jewellery-making, I've been spending time recently, learning the art of Kumihimo, or Japanese silk braiding. I'm quite pleased with some of my efforts so far, and there are one or two necklaces in my Etsy shop (link at the top of the page). See what you think. My friend Sheila, who owns Blueberry Glass, made me a couple of stunning pendants, and I've used one with toning silk braid to create a very stylish necklace.
I've started to carry a small pad and pencil around with me, as I see things which give me an idea for a piece of jewellery, and then by the time I get home, I've forgotten it. It's my age, don't ya know! I've got designs in mind for two more necklaces in The Weather Collection - these will be 'Snow' and 'Fog'. Are you intrigued yet? There's a pretty blue bracelet just waiting for me to have time at the weekend to photograph it, and add it to my shop, and, as usual, more ideas in my head than I actually have time to produce!
Two weeks time, we're off on our travels again - this time to Northumbria and North Yorkshire, so I hope to come back with even more ideas. I'm also hoping for a change in the weather..........................
Wednesday, 20 June 2012
Oh well, let's hope things improve from now on.
Right, here we go with the letter H. Some of the world's greatest composers have been H's - think Haydn, Handel, Holst, Hovhaness...................
Yes, I said Hovhaness. That's Alan Hovhaness, American, 1911-2000. Although he composed over 500 works, he was very little known until the 90s, when, partly because of the influence of Classic FM, his work suddenly began to achieve recognition.
His is a very descriptive voice, in the same way that Delius and Debussy were descriptive. He obviously had a great love of mountains, and he composed several works describing them (Mysterious Mountain, Mt. Wildcat, Farewell To The Mountains et al) He also had a large output of religious-themed music, and from these, I was torn between the Prayer Of St. Gregory, and 'And God Created Great Whales' which utilises whale song as a background 'chorus'. Both are incredibly beautiful and moving. In the end, it came down to which one I could find a decent clip of.
This then is the incredible Wynton Marsalis, with the Prayer Of St. Gregory
And so onto the lighter bit. I make no apologies for going back in time again, but, when all my friends were swooning over the Beatles, or arguing about whether the Beatles or the Rolling Stones were the best, and which one they fancied, I was quietly sitting in the corner listening to the Hollies.
I loved, and still love, the crystal clear quality of the voice of Allan Clarke, the excellent musicianship of Graham Nash, and the excellence of the song writing.
Gonna tell you a little story..............
The firm I work for announced that they were making around 9% of the workforce redundant, and this is how they did, or didn't manage it.
Obviously, I'm not going to go into specifics, but see if you think this is fair:
on date A they announced that everyone would be sorted into 'pools' according to their skill sets, and that on date B (A + 1 week), people would be told what percentage on their 'pool' was to go.
They said that after that, people would be scored according to their abilities, and then on date C (B+ 1 week), they would be told if they were at risk or not. They would then be given one of two telephone numbers to call. One would be for those losing their jobs, and the other would be for those staying. Expected date of departure date D (C+ 1 month).
OK, with me so far?
So date B came and went, 99% of the staff were informed how big their pool was, and how many were leaving. My department heard nothing. We get a bit edgy and start chewing our nails...........
Date C came and went. Still we heard nothing. Two days after Date C, we get a phone call to apologise for not having given us a phone call, and telling us nothing, except that no decision had been made regarding us. We start to tear our hair out and have nervous breakdowns.
The next day, we all receive letters telling us that we're all at risk of redundancy. Well, at least now we know.
Ah, but a couple of hours later, we get a phone call to say those letters were sent out in error, and still no decision had been made about our department.
By this time, we're all feeling sick, snapping at each other, unable to concentrate, and generally falling apart at the seams.
A few days later, the firm announce a huge contract win. Later that day, we get a request to attend an urgent phone conference later that afternoon.
Surprise surprise, we're told our jobs are safe, and that it would be confirmed to us in a letter WHICH WE STILL HAVEN'T RECEIVED.
So, I need you all to buy my jewellery, so I can successfully get a new business venture up and running, and get out of this goddam rat race, while I've still got some vestige of sanity left.
Monday, 21 May 2012
I'm not a huge fan of minimalist music, but for some indefinable reason, I absolutely love just about everything Glass has written to date. Whether it's his driving, insistant rhythms, or the clarity of every single note, I don't know.
What I do know, is that there's a sense of urgency behind his music, that speaks clearly of modern life.
This is the second movement of his wonderful Violin Concerto No.1....
And so to the non-classical bit for G. I had many ideas for whom I wanted to portray, but this morning, the death was announced of Robin Gibb of BeeGees fame, and I'm sure you won't mind me using the space for a tribute to a member of a vocal group that spanned more than 5 decades. The BeeGees have had many, many hits themselves, and were responsible for writing a number of hits for other artists, including Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers (Islands In The Stream) and Barbra Streisand (Guilty).
Robin was a great songwriter and had recently turned to classical-esque music, composing a piece with his son in memory of the Titanic. For me, however, the greatest BeeGees songs were the early ones, where Robin not only wrote the songs, but took lead vocals.
And the greatest? This is a live recording of him singing 'I Started A Joke'
Robin, The Day you Where born the whole world started living, The Day you have Died, the Whole world has started Crying
Rest In Peace, free from pain, and thank you for the music
Sunday, 20 May 2012
This is what I learned:
1. DON'T pull onto the edge of a pub carpark to consult your map, or 15 minutes later, you'll STILL be throwing a stick for a very insistant collie dog
2. soft tyres + heavy rain + Porlock Hill is NOT fun
3. When your map says 'scenic route' it's pointless doing it in thick fog. Mind, the roadside banks were rather pretty
4. DON'T go down the 1 in 4 hill into Malmsmead when it's pissing it down unless you like going down hills sideways
5. cake + lake + friend = excellent afternoon
6. Don't let Buzzby chase swallows unless the cafe owners like birds flying round inside their tea rooms
7. When you're at a sleepy little harbour village, it's not the fact that those 6 ladies in very smart business suits are standing outside a bar swilling beer and smoking cigars that seems incongruous, it's the fact that they're all men.......
8. Only stand on top of Clifton Suspension Bridge in a strong wind if you like your hair getting all knotted up
9. When a guy on a 1400 Kwak blasts past you going up Cheddar Gorge, don't mutter 'prick' under your breath, as for sure, when you go round the next bend, you'll have to swerve to avoid him and his bike lying in the middle of the road. ('pillock' would be more apt)
Quite a learning curve, I think..........
Friday, 20 April 2012
Right - F. So what have I got for you this week? Well, F is for Faure - that's Gabriel Faure, a French composer, organist, pianist and teacher. Fauré was recognised in France as the leading French composer of his day, and indeed, his music is still much loved, for its beauty and romanticism.
This is his gorgeous Pavane Op.50, set to pictures by Claude Monet:
For the non-classical bit this week, I've opted for something that I first heard on the John Peel show. John Peel, for me, was the greatest DJ ever. He was never afraid to showcase the unknown and obscure music, and was responsible for more than one person or group attaining stardom.
These are The Flying Lizards with their rendition of the old Beatles classic 'Money'. Don't blame me if you don't like it, blame John Peel!
Now, how odd is that? Guaranteed to get inside your head though...........
Sunday, 8 April 2012
"It has served us well, this myth of Christ" - Pope Leo X, 16th. century
Yeah, right. (yawn) so yet another sect discovers a lost treasure that, if revealed, will destroy Christianity and the world as we know it.
Ever since Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln hypothesised in the true meaning of the Holy Grail in the book 'The Holy Blood And The Holy Grail' (a book which is well worth persevering with), there have been numerous novels written based around the myths and some facts relating to the subject.
Probably the most famous one is 'The DaVinci Code', with contains numerous historical and logistical discrepancies, but which, nevertheless, is quite an entertaining read.
This book is similar in theme, but this time it is the Knights Templar who hold A Great Secret that will destroy civilization. Although a fast moving novel with quite a spirited narrative style, the content of the book is dross. There are questions to which no logical answers are given, and the author obviously has a great knowledge of small arms, but do we really want to know that 'he pulled out his Betamax R-311xyz and loosed off three rounds, where just 'he pulled out his gun and fired' would serve equally, if not probably better?
LOL for some reason, every time I picture the hero, F.B.I. Agent Sean Reilly, I get a picture in my mind of British actor Phil Davis - he of Quadraphenia and Whitechapel fame. I can just imagine him playing the part!
Give this one a miss
Rating: 1/5 cos I like the red cross on the cover
Friday, 6 April 2012
It was interesting to me, as you may have read elsewhere in this blog, I have gypsy heritage. Anyway, the post was mostly pictorial, with very little verbage to detract from the beauty of the images, and a real pleasure to go through.
Then, I started to read the comments posted underneath the article...............
Oh sweet heavens, the very first guy to post.......and I'm quoting him exactly, so you will have to excuse the language......
'“Gypsies” are real people. They are Roma. Making a wagon in the style of many Roma caravans from over a century ago does not make it “gypsy.” This is incredibly racist and offensive. Do some fucking research.'
Sorry, could you repeat that?
Do you need help with your drug addiction problem?
Can I get you a psychiatrist?
How does admiring something, irrespective of race, gender, creed or sexuality make it rascist and offensive?
Do you mean that I can't appreciate the wonderful singing voice of Paul Robeson, because he was a black man? Or admire the piano music of Achron because he was a Jew? Or like the songs of Elton John because he is gay?
I watched a program the other night about sexism in football, which apparently still exists. But so it does (although it's getting better) in the world of motorcycling. It, in fact, still exists in any field which has traditionally been a bastion of male power. It's not that many years ago, that my husband and I went into a local bike shop because I wanted a new bike.
The salesman was really offensive, and I ended up walking out of the shop and going somewhere else. Every time I asked him a question about the model I was interested in, he would turn to my husband, and give him the answer, and all he kept on about was how the colour of the bike particularly matched his (my husband's)leather jacket. This, despite being constantly told that it was me who wanted a new bike, and SHOCK! HORROR! I was buying it with my own money!
Now, I'm the first one to agree that if a woman does the same job as a man, then she should get the same pay, but it does seem to me that sometimes the pursuit of correctness has gone totally in the opposite direction, and the so-called disadvantaged classes are now given priority over the average Joe Bloggs.
This showed up a couple of years ago, when the company I worked for, was threatened with prosecution because, as a large company, they didn't employ the required number of disabled people. Now, I agree that disabled people deserve exactly the same chances of employment as able-bodied ones, and that certain allowances should be made to enable them to fulfil their potential. But what do you do when, as in this case, no disabled people had applied for the jobs? Do you go out on the street and beg disabled people to join your company for fear of getting heavily fined for not meeting your quota?
The fact of the matter is, that legislation will not change people's opinions, but education will.
When my son was little, he attended a pre-school group, where one of the little boys had epilepsy. When the child had a seizure, instead of panicking the other children, and shoo-ing them out of the room, the lady in charge sat them down on the floor, while she made the little boy safe and comfortable, and then quietly and calmly explained what had happened to him, and why, in words that any 2 year old could understand. As a consequence, my son has grown up with no fear, but total respect, for people with differences.
How different this, to when we were teenagers and my friend had severe epilepsy. She learned to recognise the onset of a seizure, and we would take steps to sit her on the floor away from solid obstructions etc., and allow the seizure to run it's course. 9 times out of 10, we would hear such comments from passers-by as 'disgusting, shouldn't be allowed', 'she must be drunk' etc.
I think a lot of people just simply feel uncomfortable around anybody who is a bit different to themselves, and need to cover up their embarrassment with a load of bluster and hot air. Which brings me full circle back to the guy who made that ridiculous post. My guess is he has no understanding of the gypsy way of life, he's fearful of them, but doesn't want to be seen as rascist, so he goes too far the other way.
There's too many people like him out there...........
Wednesday, 4 April 2012
But, how are you doing? Found anything new that you like yet?
However, the letter E:
Obvious choice for the composer this week - Sir Edward Elgar. Most people consider him the greatest English composer ever, but personally, I prefer Vaughan-Williams.
But Elgar was indeed, truly great.
Appointed 'Master Of The King's Musick' in 1924, he is probably best known for the Enigma Variations and the Pomp And Circumstance marches, which include the melody for 'Land Of Hope And Glory' - considered by many to be the English National Anthem.
Why England doesn't have an official anthem beats me. After all, Scotland, Wales and Ireland all have theirs.
But I've gone for one of his more delicate works. This is the exquisite 'Chanson De Matin' Love this video, which sets the music to the paintings of J.M.W. Turner.
Now, the non-classical bit............
A bit spoilt for choice this week, as I like everything from the Everly Brothers to Eminem. However, I finally settled on one of the greatest folk-rock bands of all time, who have endured for decades - the incomparable Eagles.
Having decided on Don Henley and his band of (sometimes) Merry Men, I'm now spoilt for choice as to which number to play.......
Finally settled for this:
Tuesday, 27 March 2012
Debussy was a master of the tone poem, expressing thoughts and scenes by means of musical notes instead of brush strokes on canvas. Among his musical paintings, is 'Snowflakes Are Dancing', from his Children's Corner No.4 suite. If ever a descriptive piece of music existed, it is this.
And the Japanese? Well, classical music doesn't have to be played by a symphony orchestra, or string quartet et al. The undoubted master of the synthesiser is the Japanese, Isao Tomita. Internet clips don't really do his performances justice. I strongly recommend you buy one of his recordings, a decent hi-fi and a good set of headphones.
Now, turn the music up, and listen. See? It really does get right inside your head, and dances around!
And so to one of my all-time heroes - Bob Dylan, composer, poet, and.........Bob Dylan. To me he is the greatest poet of the 20th. Century, and, yes, he can't sing for toffee, but his music has a depth and authenticity that is unrivalled.
A lot of youngsters today dismiss his words as meaningless drivel, but, if you were young in the 60s, you knew instinctively what he was getting at, and understood his emotions and where he was coming from.
He's still making excellent recordings today, all be it a little more straightforward and easier to comprehend.
Sadly, I couldn't find a clip of him doing Desolation Row, only covers. That is my all-time favourite song of his, so here he is with a live performance of 'Tangled Up In Blue'
Sunday, 25 March 2012
He travelled extensively, but eventually settled at Batemans, near Burwash in Sussex. And I think this is why his poems speak to me so much. Although many of his books are based upon his early life in India, a lot of his poems speak of life as it was in Southern England, and, as such, I can identify with them. From his 'A Smuggler's Song', which I used to sing a setting of with the school choir:
If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse's feet,
Don't go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street.
Them that ask no questions isn't told a lie.
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark --
Brandy for the Parson,
'Baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Running round the woodlump if you chance to find
Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine,
Don't you shout to come and look, nor use 'em for your play.
Put the brishwood back again -- and they'll be gone next day!
If you see the stable-door setting open wide;
If you see a tired horse lying down inside;
If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore;
If the lining's wet and warm -- don't you ask no more!
If you meet King George's men, dressed in blue and red,
You be carefull what you say, and mindful what is said.
If they call you "pretty maid," and chuck you 'neath the chin,
Don't you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one's been!
Knocks and footsteps round the house -- whistles after dark --
You've no call for running out till the house-dogs bark.
Trusty's here, and Pincher's here, and see how dumb they lie --
They don't fret to follow when the Gentlemen go by!
If you do as you've been told, 'likely there's a chance,
You'll be given a dainty doll, all the way from France,
With a cap of Valenciennes, and a velvet hood --
A present from the Gentlemen, along o' being good!
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark --
Brandy for the Parson,
'Baccy for the Clerk;
Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie --
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Reminds me that I live in a part of Kent notorious for smuggling, and, indeed, had an ancester who was transported for smuggling, and another executed for murder during a smuggling adventure.
To the one I probably like best, 'The Way Through The Woods':
They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.
Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate.
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few)
You will hear the beat of a horse's feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods. . . .
But there is no road through the woods.
When I was young, there was an old road leading to Lympne Castle and church, disused and unloved, except by the odd tractor from the Castle Farm, it was gradually returning to nature.
It has since been cleaned up and partially re-opened. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing, as I used to love the peace and tranquility of it.
Which reminds me, my son and the lovely Brooke are to be married in 3 weeks' time. Rene promised Brooke a fairytale wedding in an English castle - just what every American girl dreams of.
Well, they went off looking at castle venues, and eventually settling on Lympne (which actually isn't a castle, but a castellated palace, but that's another tale), not realising that it was where I grew up, and where I met my husband.
Small world, ain't it?
Monday, 19 March 2012
Eric Coates was a great composer of British Light Music, and many of his pieces were used as signature tunes on the Radio, and if, like me, you were a youngster in the 50s, you would be very familiar with Eric Coates and tunes like 'Knightsbridge' from his London Suites. He also composed the title music for 'The Dambusters', a march which is still a great favourite with military bands everywhere.
Here then is Knightbridge, from his London Suite No.3:
And so to our non-classical choice for this week. As I said, I grew up in the 50s, and had my teenage years in the 60s, as a consequent of which, I became very familiar with the Rock N Roll music of the time.
Someone who started rockin' in the 60s, and who still does today, is Cavan Grogan. Fronting 'Crazy Cavan & The Rhythm Rockers', he is still a force to be recognised whereever teddy boys and old-style rockers hang out.
Renowned for having the longest legs in rock n roll, Cavan not only puts down some solid vocals, but he and his sidekick Lyndon Needs composed a lot of the tunes they still play today.
Sadly, there's not much quality footage of him around on the web, but I did find this from 1979, and my favourite Cavan song:
And Cavan as he was in 2005, with 'Both Wheels Left The Ground':
Sorry about quality, but as I said, there's not a lot of quality out there. If you like to rock, and you've never seen him live, do try to. He's great
The reason? Well, Folksy decided to make some changes to the way they conduct business, without consulting their users or clients first. The changes in question have resulted in there being effectively no seller protection in place, even if you sell via PayPal, and send your parcels recorded delivery.
The only reson I found this out, was I had a spare 10 minutes, and was browsing the Folksy user forums - something I don't usually have time to do. There has not been a word from Folksy admin sent to us - and we pay them for using their service.
Now, I don't know about you, but I've always been of the mind that if a firm (or MP) doesn't deliver on your expectations, you vote with your feet.......... It seems more and more these days, companies take people for granted, and think they can ride roughshod over their clients and/or customers. A quick bit of prior communication would have been helpful, and, of course, for them to have got the conversion correct too.....or is that asking too much?
So, I'm gradually transferring all my stock over to my brand new Etsy shop, and the link down on the right has been changed accordingly. Not everything has been moved over yet, as some of the items I'm not too happy with the photography, so I want to refresh the images before posting them for sale again.
Meanwhile, pictures of all of my items are on Facebook, and if you want something, please, just put 'SOLD' under the picture, and send me a quick message.......
Etsy have been around a long time, and speaking to friends who use it as a marketing tool, they all seem to be very happy. The only drawback, is that it is huge, and primarily dominated by the American contigent. Ah well, I shall just have to work hard to get my stuff seen (and bought!)
Monday, 12 March 2012
Bach had 20 children, by two wives, but only 10 survived to adulthood. JC. JCF, and WF were all great composers in their own right, but their father was superlative.
There are over 1,000 known compositions by Johann Sebastian, amongst which are the tremendous Goldberg Variations.
Now, a lot of people find the playing of the late Glenn Gould a little eccentric, but I have always found his renditions of Bach thrilling. So here he, and JS are....
And for the non-classical B, who better than the master of differing identities, David Bowie. Words are not needed here, as, if you've never heard of Bowie, then you must be a time traveller from the distant past.
Here he is in his incarnation as Aladdin Sane:
Thursday, 8 March 2012
Pinterest - an online pin-board for storing stuff that you find interesting. I did wonder at first if it would add any value to the way I use the internet, but I thought, well, give it a go and see.
So, I joined it and created a board or two, and suddenly I've found all sorts of uses for it. For instance, I've got one board where I store images that inspire me to make my unusual jewellery, and another to store images that will, no doubt, aid me with the design of my Art Deco dollshouse.
In fact, I can think of dozens of uses for it, and perhaps it will stop my home computer and my work room getting so cluttered with bits and pieces of this and that. (Well, it might, but I doubt it!)
Took me a while to work out how to add a Favicon for it to the sidebar, but I've done it now, so you can all have a snoop at what inspires me.............
scrub all the above.
It seemed like such a good idea at the time, but it seems that Pinterest users are leaving themselves open to a wide range of fraud and copyright infringement charges.
This will explain all.....
I've deleted my account on Pinterest, and I would ask all my friends to seriously consider doing the same
Monday, 5 March 2012
Now, with one or two notable exceptions, I'm not a huge fan of modern classical music, but John Adams seems to me to offer more than just (sometimes) dissonant non-tunes. He's a marvel at telling a story, whether in one of his operas, or by means of a purely instrumental piece of music.
In 2001, he composed an opera, The Death Of Klinghoffer, based upon the hijacking of the ocean liner, the Achille Lauro. This is the Night Chorus
As I said though, it's not just his ability in opera to tell a story. He can also convey a multitude of emotions and visions with his instrumental tunes. This is his 'Short Ride In A Fast Machine', or as I prefer to call it, and as this clip has it, 'Short Ride ON A Fast Machine', as it's a piece I love to listen to when I'm out on one of the bikes.
OK, so you might not like it, but please give it a listen.
Next, the non-classical act for 'A'.
I toyed with all sorts of ideas, from Abba to the non-populist side of Adam And The Ants, but in the end, I settled for what I believe to be the greatest of all the British Rythm And Blues acts from the 60s. This then, is the Animals, from Geordieland, and the wonderful voice of Eric Burdon, and, of course, Alan Price on keyboards. (hmmm....think it's high time we had a 60s R&B revival). Sadly this is a side of 60s music that has been much overlooked. We get plenty of Rolling Stones, Beatles, Flower Power etc., but you very seldom hear music such as this, Long John Baldry, Yardbirds, John Mayall et al.
Monday, 27 February 2012
Just recently, I've been making a lot of stuff inspired by the natural world. One of my big loves (along with millions of other people) is tigers. This is one of my tiger-inspired bracelets. There's two different versions in my shop (see link in right column)
This necklace, I love. I found the beautiful handmade glass acorn and oak leaf in another Folksy shop, and immediately was reminded of a little verse that I learnt as a child:
A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he heard, the less he spoke
The less he spoke, the more he heard
Why can't we be like this old bird?
So, here is The Owl In The Oak Tree necklace, made with Kambaba Jasper:
The other piece I want to feature today, only has a loose connection with nature. The English language has many words with two or more completely different meanings. The words 'Spring' and 'nuts' are just examples. So, here is 'Nuts In Spring'. And you thought nuts only came in the Autumn? This bracelet has coiled springs of green wire, hexagonal motorcycle nuts, and carved nuts of the fruit kind from Africa.
The above bracelet is from my 'PunkyRider' collection - bling for biker chicks
As always, they can be found in my Folksy shop - LittleInsectProductions
I love music - everything from ancient motets to rap, and encompassing everything in between. So, weekly, I'll take a letter of the alphabet and mention one classical composer, and one non-classical act. We shall start this goodly enterprise next week, and I hope to introduce you to some things you've never heard before, as well as reminding you of some old favourites.
But to kick it all off, I thought this week, I'd mention a couple of names that have pinged on my eardrums recently, up-and-coming stars, if you like.
Let me introduce you first to Heads.Hearts. This all-girl threesome came to my attention because the drummer, Abby, is the daughter of an old friend. They're rapidly beginning to make a name for themselves, and if you like the funkier stuff of groups like Florence And The Machine etc., I reckon you'll enjoy these.
Next, Rizzle Kicks. I caught these lads on TV the other night by accident, and I was transfixed. Seldom have I seen such energy in a stage performance. They truly are mesmerising:
So, there's your tasters for today. Next week, we start with 'A'...................
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Tuesday, 7 February 2012
We've got one coming on 1st. March, to replace Dick's ageing NTV700 Deauville.
The best thing about it will be the fuel consumption - it promises anything up to 80mpg!
Well, we shall see...................watch this space...............
It will join the LittleInsect, the CBF1000FA and the VFR800X XRunner, and, although similar in style to the latter, promises a totally different riding experience.
And, while we're in the mood for bike stuff, this is the latest addition to my PunkyRider jewellery collection:
This is the 'Nuts In Spring' bracelet. And you thought nuts only came in the Autumn? LOL you were wrong! The bracelet is actually a concept based on incongruous elements in the English language i.e. nuts and Spring - both words having two completely different meanings. It features green wire springs, hexagonal nuts (of the motorcycle type) and carved nuts (of the fruit type) from Africa, and is finished with a cute antique copper cruiser
If you're interested in purchasing it, or any of my other pieces, then follow the link to my Folksy shop
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Aren't they beautiful? If you want to see more, then visit her website here
Oh, and before anyone starts on about her work imitating that of Deborah Butterfield, well, to me there's no comparison. Ms. Butterfield's work is far more impressionistic and symbolic, and not to my taste at all. She doesn't capture the spirit of the animals nearly as well as Heather Jansch does.
Sunday, 29 January 2012
It lies at the most southerly point in Kent, close to the border with Sussex. (I refuse to call it East Sussex - but that's a whole other story!)
It's just a huge bank of shingle sticking out into the sea, with two nuclear power facilities standing on it. So, what's so special, I hear you ask?
Dungeness is beautiful. In fact, it's an area of outstanding natural beauty. Despite the power plants, or maybe because of them, it's quiet, bleak and lonely. There's a pub, three lighthouses, and a handful of shacks, but not a lot else. There's plants that grow here and nowhere else in Kent. There's a couple of big lakes, and an RSPB wildfowl reserve. There's snakes, lizards, and a whole lot else.
This quite simply must not be allowed to happen. This place is so special and unique that nothing should be allowed to disturb its ecology. Nevermind the fact that taking away huge amounts of shingle will also render the few habitations down there liable to flooding.
If you don't want to see this happen, then please protest to your MP. There's a site been set up here with facilities to help make yourself heard.
Please join the fight....................
Being somewhat a political animal, I've been doing my bit, signing petitions, writing to MPs and stuff.........
so far, I've only had one reply - from my local MP, Damien Green. This is his reply.........
Thank you for letting me know about your objections to the proposed application at Dungeness.Well, it's a start..............
As you will know Dungeness is not part of my constituency, so it would be inappropriate for me to express a view about the particular application , but I will ensure that Damian Collins, the MP for Folkestone and Hythe, is aware of the number of objections from my constituents I am receiving about this matter.
Wednesday, 4 January 2012
Mind, if you intend wearing an appropriate piece for the current conditions, you'd better carry a huge bag of assorted jewellery with you and be prepared for a quick change!
As ever, it's available through my Folksy shop (link down there on the right somewhere)