Archive | April, 2016

Music to my Ears..

28 Apr

Two star-crossed lovers in a novel I read recently shared their ‘moments of beauty’ each day while their flame of passion burned. It was their way of rescuing something fine and untainted from the carnage of the dead and broken. They drove blood-drenched ambulances from the battlefields of Northern France during WWI. Cows canoodling in the sunshine, unaware of man’s inhumanity; a child’s song coming from a farmhouse; a hot bath; silence.

I woke this morning to more news about the Hillsborough verdict fallout. A woman said that the rest of the country was against them. That wasn’t true. The Sun maybe; the South Yorkshire police hierarchy maybe. Perhaps a siege-mentality was needed to keep the great fight going all these years. I admire the fortitude and bravery of the families and the wider Liverpudlian community. But they didn’t walk alone.

I was intrigued by the news that we are going to scrap what Cuba owes us and, what’s more, give them £350million for unspecified ‘good works’ to boost their economy. Hmm. Methinks the Yanks have been pressing our buttons. I’ll ask my economist friends what all this is about.

Further scans of the news brought no moments of beauty. Much news is shabby stuff. Edginess, controversy, scandal, disaster and death prevail. A Muslim MP is anti-Semitic. A cycling guru calls disabled bikers ‘gimps’. Greedy entrepreneurs raid BHS pension pots. I needed some beauty. I turned on radio 2.

Now my relationship with music compares, I am sure, with plenty of my generation of 50s children. Buying singles of the Beatles and Dusty Springfield were rare pocket-money treats. Pop music was in short supply and the BBC struggled to find airspace. Radio Luxembourg filed the black hole and I gobbled up whatever was on offer for the first three decades of my life. And then I stopped. Life, work, children, TV…I’m not quite sure what really got in the way but my encyclopaediac knowledge finished around 1978. I can identify my children’s music (80s/90s) – but only the stuff that blared from their bedrooms. Naturally I couldn’t make out the words but the creeping realisation that much of it was very good sat uneasily with my stance that the 60s couldn’t be bettered. And so I am sad that too much great music has flowed under my bridge and I have let it go downstream without a thought. I do have my old-man modern favourites (Coldplay, Keane, Killers…you know the type) but I’m a CD in the car man and tend to watch Newsnight rather than relax in the arms of Ed Sheeran. You know what I mean.

Ken Bruce played Sounds of Silence by Disturbed, the record of the week. I was transfixed, transported. It’s a beautifully chilling cover of the great Simon and Garfunkel classic. I sat very quietly. Uplifted. Disturbed. I listened on and Peter Skellern was singing You’re a Lady; I’m a Man. Nostalgia. I went to the radio 2 website to check on the BBC Folk awards and found myself watching Rufus Wainwright ‘s tribute to Sandy Denny – a gentle, mesmerising performance of Who Knows Where the Time Goes. He looked like a young, gently rolling Joe Cocker – and, along with the audience, I was spellbound.

Who knows where the time goes? Indeed. Music and Beauty. Made my day.

Fork handles, Two Soups…Ch,ch,ch,Changes..

26 Apr

I saw Victoria Wood at The Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone twenty years ago. The audience was largely female and, from the opening minutes, splitting its sides. As a male sitting among guffawing females, I smirked amiably at the cascade of jokes about corsets, tampons and stretch marks. The rapid-fire songs were ingeniously funny and the night’s conclusion was a standing ovation of several minutes. Now this unique little flame is extinguished – along with so many others of too young an age this year. Prince.

Today I have tuned in to hear a couple of sanctimonious doctors rail about patient safety. I wish the ‘junior doctors’ would come clean and say that this is about money, Saturday overtime pay and Jeremy Hunt. I’d be more inclined to appreciate that their subsidised education and high income potential was worth the effort of my latest missed appointment. The BMA have some questions to answer too.  And as for Jeremy Hunt, the sooner he becomes rhyming slang the better.

Talking of money, I notice that someone you won’t have heard of, a soccer luminary by the name of Dominic Solanke, is asking to be paid £50,000 a week by Chelsea. He has yet to play in the first  team but believes that his efforts to get in the top XI deserve a huge reward. Unlike doctors he doesn’t appear to work on Saturdays at the moment; nor at any other time in the week. He’ll soon be in the Sunday Times Rich List, published at the weekend, along with a number of premiership soccer players, most of whom actually get selected.

Obama’s entry to the EU in/out  thing was tedious wasn’t it? Does anyone care who the next mayor of London is? And at £29million do we really need to repair Big Ben? I’m only asking. Other questions that have plagued me of late include: Why has it taken so long for BHS to become insolvent? How much more mud will stick on John Whittingdale before he falls on his prostitute’s sword? Has anyone got a good word for Donald Trump? Even his supporters revel in the anti-hero unpleasantness of the man.

As we slouch towards voting for this or that in May and June bigger pictures appear above me. The value added to our lives by Victoria Wood et al. Justice for the 96 of Liverpool. And debates on big issues where self-interest and lust for power come second to what is right and what is wrong. It would be good to ch, ch, ch, change things for the better, not just for ourselves.


6 Apr


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