Showing posts from May, 2010

Music Monday; Just How Will You Say Goodbye?

A while back, I was doing a bit of internet surfing and I came upon a rather interesting article about modern songs being played at funerals, which is an increasingly popular phenomenon. Yes, gone are the days when one went out with a dignified chorus of Jerusalem or  The Lord is My Shepherd, now folks go out with anything from Queen to Robbie Williams. I've got to admit I have some sympathy with vicar, Geoff Strickland, who is quoted in the article as saying;

"To stand at the door of the church and hear Frank Sinatra singing ‘My Way' as the coffin is carried in, and then to hear ‘Grandad' playing as they file out is not right."

Too Right Fr Geoff! Have you heard "Grandad?" Well don't bother, it's complete pants! But if you really, really, really, want to hear it, here it is. (Oh, and stick with it because it gets worse as it goes along....)

You can check out the Grandad video here; I've removed it - as for some reason known only to teccy peop…

A Trip Down Memory Lane

A few weeks ago, I travelled down to the heart of London to BBC Broadcasting House where I attended the BBC's World Book Club to participate in an interview which was being recorded with David Mitchell, author of the best selling literary novel Cloud Atlas. I spent a very enjoyable morning enjoying the hospitality of the BBC and listening to David talk about his fascinating and complex book.

David's latest novel The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet has just been released this month in hard back. I highly recommend both books but if you'd like to find out in greater detail what I thought about both of these literary feasts then please pop over to the The View From Here and read my article The Thousand Autumns of David Mitchell.

In the meantime, here's a pictorial overview of my day.....

BBC Broadcasting House -with a van conveniently parked outside to ruin my shot. It always happens doesn't it? Just when you think you've got the perfect view some idiot (or small…

Let's have a Chinwag

Oh blimey, why is time going so fast?  I swear that as you get older time seems to pass more quickly. It seems only yesterday I wrote my last Music Monday post and then blink -10 days have passed. Where does the time go? It is categorically unfair! One minute I was 17, slim and looking to take on the world and the next minute I'm 45, with a somewhat larger arse and face rapidly looking like a Christmas turkey.

Anyway, I'm not going to talk about saggy chins. That would be defeatist wouldn't it? Besides I'm good with a paring knife. My mother didn't teach me how to slice the runner beans from top to bottom for no good reason you know. I'm going to offer my services to David Cameron though - come on David you represent this country now get that saggy stuff seen to will you? We can't have a PM who looks like he's wearing his shirt on his face and not on his neck.

Right, other than ageing rapidly what have I been up to? Well, I think it's more a case of…

Music Monday; When Classical meets Modern and Words meet Music

I've had a request to play some "serious" music - so I am - but, of course, with a slightly different spin! Instead of playing something by an established classical artist I'm going to play something by the runner-up in the 2007 X Factor, Rhydian . A Welsh baritone, Rhydian, is one of a few classical artists who have successfully crossed over into mainstream music. Since his appearance on the X Factor he has already had two bestselling albums! Below is his take on O Fortuna, a movement of  a cantata  by the German composer Carl Orff who set the words of a 13th century poem to music in the 1930s in what was to become Carmina Burana.

Well I think that's utterly marvellous; the voice, the music, the drama! When all those ingredients come together the result is thoroughly intoxicating.

And if you fancy some more self indulgence, check out BBC Radio 3 on iplayer where you can hear The Art of Friendship. The show is an exploration of friendship using classical and cont…

When All You Want is Solitude

It's been a funny few weeks. I've had a workman here most days doing a backlog of jobs - mainly in the garden which was looking a right mess due to boys decimating just about everything with their bats and balls. We've dismantled their old play shed, replaced a fence, built a patio and had a various number of smaller jobs done that had been accumulating. The last two days the workman, a lovely elderly fellow of the "old school" of tradesman, has been in and out of the kitchen doing some electrics and I've got to admit  after a number of weeks it's now driving me a little crazy.
I've come to really value my few hours at home during school time where, subject to the usual domestic chores, I can do whatever I want. I haven't really been able to settle down to write except in the early morning before anyone gets up and when all is peaceful. It's an endless procession of questions, cups of teas , opening windows, closing windows.... and so on. I'…

Sex and Sleaze; Whatever Happened to Journalistic Integrity?

Following on from my previous post In All Seriousness this week the outcome of the UK general election, a hung parliament, finally bore fruit with the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats announcing the first coalition government since Churchill's during the Second World War.  This coalition, I hope, will usher in a new period of genuine progressive politics. I'm very happy about this outcome and, having long been a supporter of the Liberal Democrats, hope that their leader Nick Clegg and our new Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, will show maturity and integrity by working together to bring about real social, economic and political change.

On a slightly different tangent, but one that has been brought to my attention yet again, is that MPs and high profile personalities are often the victims of ridiculous media scrutiny beyond what is morally acceptable. We all have skeletons in our closets but, fortunately, through our anonymity, most of us are able to keep the …

We Are The Champions!

I'm celebrating this week as on Sunday Master Benedict and his U9 school football team won a significant football tournament in our vicinity. Hurrah! What makes this a really special achievement is that the team are just a small school team competing against club teams who recruit from all around the area and practice regularly. In contrast, Master Ben's team fly by the seat of their pants! They've had very few training opportunities and sometimes haven't even had a substitute - and they have still come shining through; I'm so proud of them all for this really wonderful achievement.

It will be sad when the boys move on to different schools in July. They've made some valuable friendships and had some terrific fun - and so have all the parents. I've had a splendid time too yelling from the sidelines, abusing the opposition (under my breath of course) and writing my football reports for the local newspaper and, in earlier days, for the BBC. It's been a ro…

Vacuum Cleaners, Fleas and Men's Habits That Make Me Mad.

I was over at Paul Burman's site the other day gloating about the sudden death of a number of Paul's electrical appliances which had caused him a lot of anxiety. Alas, I should have known better - especially after my posting my blog Pride Comes Before A Fall. Yep, you've guessed it - as soon as I turned on my vacuum cleaner the blasted thing started making weird noises and emitting sulphurous odours. Yep, it kicked the bucket - good and proper!

I can't complain though about my old DCO2 (limited edition) Dyson vacuum cleaner - 12 years of sterling service. Dysons are so powerful they can even suck up up fleas! Don't ask me how I know that - I just do.  Of course, I've never had fleas in my house but I had a friend who did and she swore that a Dyson was better for rapid flea removal than any lethal potion. In fact, my friend was so good at  flea extermination she auditioned for the part of Ripley in Aliens. She didn't get the part though - some two bit actres…

A Musical Interlude for the Written Word

Below is a lovely trailer made by my colleague Jen Perrson from The View From Here for my good friend Paul Burman's book The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore which I reviewed late in 2008. Paul is with independent publisher PaperBooks which is part of the Legend Press group.  As I'm sure many of you are aware, it's a long, hard process to be published and even when you are in print bringing your work to the masses is no mean feat; especially when the independents have to compete against the might of the mainstream publishers. So I've no doubt Paul was absolutely thrilled to see Jen come up with such a delightful trailer which, I think, captures really well the essence of the book. Have a look and see what you think!

Well done Jen! What a lovely gift for Paul!

Paul's second novel The Grease Monkey's Tale is due to be published in June and I hope to be giving you a full review later in the year. In the meantime, when I've caught up on some outstanding …

Music Mondays: Taking Music at Face Value

Sometimes you forget how good a singer or pop group is... the CD gets lost in the collection, recent releases are played continuously on the radio, other musical preferences take over and you simply forget the old favourite. Then, one day, a song does pop up on the radio and you think "Wow, why did I ever stop listening to him/her/them?"

This happened to me last week. I was driving along and on came Easy Lover by Philip Bailey and Phil Collins; an uptempo pop tune from 1984. Although the the tune is credited to both Bailey ( Earth, Wind and Fire) and Collins (Genesis) there's no doubt when you hear it, it is the unmistakable sound of Phil Collins. Within a few days I'd heardEasy Lover several times (great music to drive to!) Against All Odds(Take a Look at me Now) and several other tracks and I was thinking to myself why/when on earth did I stop listening to Phil Collins?

A little bit of research explains the renewed media interest; Phil Collins has a new album due o…

Accent on Accents

Recently, I read about a British mother who developed Foreign Accent Syndrome. Sarah Cohill suffered several acute migraines causing her to be hospitalized. As a result of the migraines Sarah lost her natural Devonshire accent and began to speak with a Chinese accent. I imagine that the whole episode has been very upsetting for Sarah  and her family. However, I'm also a great believer in finding the positives; I bet Sarah gets priority at the local takeaway!

Foreign Accent Syndrome is extremely rare and was first described by French neurologist Pierre Marie in 1907. However, it was with the case of a Norwegian woman struck on the head by shrapnel in 1941, who subsequently began talking with a German accent, that the condition became fully recognised. (Pretty unfortunate for the Norwegian lady -Although luckily she didn't also wake up with an involuntary twitch in her right arm.) Since then approximately 60 cases have been reported including a Yorkshire woman who now speaks wit…