Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Morrissey versus David Cameron

 This amused me- Morrissey banning David Cameron from liking The Smiths on the grounds his lifestyle goes completely against what The Smiths represented.

This asks the question of how much 'ownership' do musicians have over their music once it is released (when does music stop being the musician's and start becoming the fans and the fans gaining a right to almost calling it theirs)....surely not enough to say who can and who can't listen to it but I love that he did.

Secondly should certain types of people only listen to certain types of music that fit and reflect perfectly the type of life they live....surely not, music is about discovering new things and parts of yourself you didn't even know you! However, Cameron could be seen as hugely hypocritical for liking a band that speak out against some of his policies so strongly...yet I do think you can enjoy music without necessarily agreeing with the message being portrayed by the music.

By the way I support Morrissey's views a lot more than David Cameron's but somehow the words above seem to be relaying the opposite.

Cloud of doom and gloom

I have been a human billboard of grumpiness today......the emotion of grumpiness has literally been emanating from my very pores creating a small but compromising cloud of doom and gloom around me, showering those who have come close and spreading it's message of woeful woe. I have not liked the way I have acted at all today....I am hoping to emanate joy instead tomorrow.

Monday, 23 May 2011

A Taster from the Sufjan gig.

Remember my inadequate description of the opening 'Seven Swans' opener Sufjan did at the gig the other week. is a video of him performing it on this tour, not from the very gig I was at but close enough.

Ode to a baby blackbird

I was saddened by an event that occurred in my garden this weekend. We were sat in the kitchen with the back door into the garden open, when a lot of loud squawking filtered in and grew and grew in decibels.

We went out to see what all the noise was about, as we walked out a male and female blackbird and magpie flew away from a bush. By the bush was a a smattering of downy feathers and some broken branches, one of the dogs started sniffing behind it so we peered around.

Lying on it's back, barely able to breathe with visible pain in it's eyes was a baby blackbird- I cannot bear to see animals in pain so I was instantly alarmed. I looked into it's eyes and felt a connection with another living thing as it struggled to live and it seemed to be looking at me and I felt so sorry for it because it was part of nature and there was little I could do for it save give it sympathy and hope it would recover.

Anyway we managed to turn it over so it was on it's front rather than lying on it's back and thought best to leave it 5-10 mins and see if it's parents (which had flown off when we came outside) came back to help it.

We had guessed at this point that the magpie had tried to attack it and the blackbird parents had tried to defend their young. We went inside and watched for a while from the conservatory, we then went back outside about 10 minutes later, again as we walked outside a magpie flew away from the bush.

When we got over to the baby blackbird it was lying on it's side after trying to move a few steps and had clearly died, we picked it up and put it in the bin so that the magpie wouldn't come back and try to eat it.

When we picked it up we noticed it's neck had a deep gauge in it where the magpie had pecked at it. I know this is the way nature works but it still upset me to think of the manner in which it died and parents had tried to protect it and really being so young it had no life at all. It made me ask how much can animals know and feel?

So later at dusk as some blackbirds (i like to think the parents for artistic, poignant reasons!) I went into the garden to take some photos and noticed the little downy feathers still there next to where it had died and thought I would use some of them for a photo and  call it 'Ode to a Baby Blackbird'.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

choice and red lipstick and why it should be celebrated.

I don't want this to be a long post that goes on and on because really the point i am trying to make is very simple and to the point.

Some months ago during a meeting at work we were as a work force asked to do something none of us wanted to do and something which we felt was not detailed in the job role we signed up for. After much toing and froing and outlining why we thought we should not do it and why our managers thought we should one of my fellow workers remarked 'well we are just going to have to get on with it and do it, we have no choice'. At which I exclaimed 'we always have a choice, to take away choice means we live under a dictatorship and tyranny which I am not willing to do'.

Yes this was partly due to me finding it difficult to be told what to do by somebody else, in my view it is solely my life so I will make the choice of what I do with it and everybody has the right to this.

However, I realise I live within a society and as such my choices as an individual are limited to the constraints and boundaries put in place by that society that I live in or choose to live in.

However, ultimately I have a choice....I choose to live in the society I live and it's when that choice or my capacity to make any kind of choice is taken away from me that I cease in my eyes to be a human being.

No matter what things happen to us in life....whether we lived in a '1984' style-state controlled society where our individual choices are replaced with commands to live in accordance with what is best for 'the party' or 'collective', our biggest and most fundamental right to choose whether we live or die remains, nobody and no situation can ever take that away from us. This, to me is the greatest gift to human kind...our right to choose how we live, what to wear, where to go, what we believe, what type of person to be, what we aim to do. When our right to choose is taken away we become shells of what we should be.

There is an extraordinary diary entry written in 1946 by Lieutenant Colonel Mervin Willett Gonin which demonstrates the point perfectly;

Gonin was part of a group of British soldiers sent to liberate the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen at the end of the Second World War. I am sure everybody now has their own terrible image of what a concentration camp under the Nazis must have been like: they were death and work camps set up for the segregation and killing of groups of people, they lacked life and colour in every way possible, they were human factories void of light inhabited by skeletons who had lost their flesh and with it their basic human rights. Full of shadows and despair, the small, low military style buidlings echoed the human misery it's walls observed day in day out.

They were places where hope was lost and never given back.

 Gonin describes it as 'a bare wilderness, bare as a chicken run' (except chicken's were treated better).

Upon entering Beslen his despair at what he faced is summed up in these words  "One had to get used early to the idea that the individual just did not count. One knew that five hundred a day were dying and that five hundred a day were going on dying for weeks before anything we could do would have the slightest effect.'

Despite the soul-destroying task ahead of them, Gonin and the other British soldiers began helping those who could still be helped with food, drink and medical care. However, these seemingly crucial things paled into insignificance with the arrival of a box of red lipstick. Gonin explains the experience best in his own words...

'it was the action of genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance. I believe nothing did more for those internees than the lipstick. Women lay in bed with no sheets and no nightie but with scarlet red lips, you saw them wandering about with nothing but a blanket over their shoulders, but with scarlet red lips. I saw a woman dead on the post mortem table and clutched in her hand was a piece of lipstick. At last someone had done something to make them individuals again, they were someone, no longer merely the number tattooed on the arm'

The red lipstick gave these women their identity back, they were more than the nameless mass that Beslen had made them believe they were. 

With the strike of red lipstick upon their parched and withered lips they morphed from wandering, aimless, shadows into purposeful individuals that had a right to live in the way they wanted to live. 

The choice to 'be' was given back to them, in the act of putting red lipstick on they chose to embrace life again and as a result inherited all the future choices they would make as human beings.

When I first heard this story it struck me deeply...there are things we need beyond the basic needs of survival, we need to feel 'we' are 'I' and that we have the right to choose the way we live our life. 

Now when I put red lipstick on I remember this story and smile that once red lipstick literally saved lives, I celebrate being an individual and feel grateful beyond belief that I am lucky enough to live with choice.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Sufjan Gig-eth!

I went to a Sufjan Stevens gig last night in Manchester. Where are the photos you may ask? Well...I took my big old camera in its bag, took it to work before and everything and alas upon entering the building it was promptly taken off me up to a mysterious room in the clouds on the fourth floor- not allowed I'm afraid but you can see what I saw here through these delightful photos taken by somebody else who must of had a smaller camera.....

The lack of camera was a real shame because the visual aspects of the performance were key to the interpretations of the songs...and the visual aspects were utterly bizarre, colourful boardering on psychedelic, apocalyptic, full of the cosmos and space and aliens, out there concepts, spinning shapes and merging patterns- in fact all of these adjectives accurately describe the musical experience as well showing how well the visual echoed the sound.

It was an intense cacophony of trombones, drums, guitar, piano, synths, bass heavily driven by rhythm which walled you in and made you listen and tap your foot.

The opening of 'Seven Swans' was an experience, an experience that just listening to it on your i-pod cannot justify, the explosion of sound half way through thumped the main chords out so that you felt them course and vibrate through your body because music should not just be hear but felt as well.

All I can say is if you like music to take you on a journey and want to go to gig that is different to any other gig you have been to then this is worth your £15.

It is all summed up by the fact that Sufjan opened the show in an outfit that almost looked like a glowing/illuminous coloured skeleton mixed with tribal painting framed by 5ft swan wings on his back, swaying and bobbing about as he bopped to the beat.

So I had to catch the last train home from Manchester.....Midnight struck and I feared I'd turn into a pumpkin and then up at 6:30 for work today- I paid the price from nowhere a beast of a cold has generally bunged up my face all day.

 I must have been a sight on the bus this morning, the cold wind had made my already saw-dustesque- tired eyes full on water, making it look as if I was weeping, black smudgings of mascara all over and a very snotty nose with no tissues to hand to sort it. Why do I never have a tissue when I need them most...always they are there mis-shaping my pockets and sleeves when they are never needed.

But my bedraggled, damsel in distress appearance on the bus this morning is all now a distant memory because it is the most glorious of all the nights of the week- Friday with its promise of a luxurious lie in come the morning-ahhhh.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Worn books are the best books.

I don't like books to look pristine and neat.  A book that looks like it has hardly been touched giving the impression it has been preserved in a glass display cabinet is surely a book not worth reading. After all, a book is the portal, the key into another precious world of imagination and a glorious insight into distant and exotic lives and so any good books should not be prim and proper looking.

They (books) should look like somebody has enjoyed, hungered and cared for them. A book's outer appearance should reflect, that for a short period of time, they became an intricate and personal part of somebodies' life.

Pages curled and dog-eared at the corners, worn after being lovingly thumbed through as the reader has flicked back and forth reminding themselves of an earlier character or plot, the spine cracked and worn from being propped up here and there-on the bus, in bed, on holiday, by a tree, the possibilities of where are endless because the beauty of a book is you can take them anywhere and instantly escape away into them.

The edges of the pages perhaps a little brown and ink-stained from being taken in and out of a bag, a scattering of pencil marks throughout, highlighting a meaningful sentence and its echoes of connotations that meant significance to the reader at that moment in their life and was worth noting.

A sprinkling of pages... with their top corner turned in, an old marker to indicate to the reader where to reconvene with the story they left, where to forget about their own lives and immerse themselves in the lives of the characters they've come to know personally.

And when you buy a book from a secondhand book shop and discover a handwritten note in the front to indicate they had once been given as a gift, or a name and date of purchase pencilled in the front cover all of a sudden the book itself has it's own history and story in it's own right and you will become part of that as it's next owner.

For a story in a book can never be owned but shared, it is there to behold, consider and remind anybody that wants to know that life has many twists and turns and so the best books are those that physically show these twists and turns most proudly.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Blimey! a good old rant about Buses and Music.

I've noticed of late that 'youths' (by that I mean those younger than my 23 years) have taken to overtly and most obviously revealing to the world and the general public their questionable taste in music.

By this I mean I sit on the bus at 7:30 in the morning (the early prelude to work when I need soothing, relaxing sounds to ease me into the day) and have to- through no choice of my own- listen to what I can only describe as 'tinny', electronicised, lack of actual singing and indescript (because such music does not deserve the time of coming up with words to describe it) sounds.

Track after soul-destroying track plays, although you can't really tell where one song starts and one song ends as in reality it all sounds the same. It makes me sad that this is all some people will know, missing out on life's greatest gift. It is played aloud on phones or on portable speaker type things so that we can all share in and enjoy the emotional deepness and thought provoking essence of these songs.

Not only can we enjoy this 'free music' on the bus but anywhere you may wish for a bit of quiet time to yourself; walking down the street, shopping in the supermarket or now even when taking your dog for a walk in the previously peaceful woods.

So all the while that I'm sitting on the bus I have two thoughts bounding through my head...

               'Do they not know that headphones have been invented for a reason?'
              'why is it only terribly music played aloud in these scenarios?'

Why not a bit of  Nick Drake, Elliott Smith, The Smiths, The Cure, Ben Folds, Jeff Buckley, The Shins, Faure, Beethoven,Terri Reid, The Kinks, ELO etc...the possibilities are endless, most music in the world is better than this so why revert to this?

 The answer that comes to mind is because 'this' is what the music industry has told people to listen to (don't get me wrong some music in the main charts is fantastic but most is terrible at best), where image drives sound and talent for instruments has been replaced for the ability to play around with things on computers.

Music is supposed to be about choice and freedom to express, the variety is endless so please do not be hemmed in and trapped by what somebody else tells you to listen to-discover your own music that suits you and your mood perfectly because it is out there to be found and by not looking beyond what is in the charts you are seriously missing out.

The journey of searching for and the delicious joy of arriving upon a beautiful musician whose music seems created for you in that moment, that speaks directly to you and you know this is just the start of a strange and emotional relationship in which you will get to know a piece of this person you have probably never met, you will feel like you know them personally through their music which they have shared with you and the world.

And when you find that first song which echoes in your head and pounds on your thoughts to think about the world differently and you know there is more of this person's music for you to explore, more emotions of joy, despair, hope and confusion for them to play with, you realise it was worth the search.

One of the things that frustrates me about this life is that time here is limited and so I as one individual will never be able to listen to all the music ever created and in this I know I will miss hidden gems, diamonds in the rough of music that would have impacted on my life in a way that will always be unknown, so all I can do is listen and search as much as I can.

Just to add to this rant that started off with my daily experience on the bus....has the concept of queuing completely died out in England, once the country renowned for it's queuing sentiment.

We used to be able to say, 'well our european neighbours may have better public transport, services, weather, food...but goodness me it's alright because here in England we have manners and actually queue in a orderly and respectful manner'.

It seems this last vestige of quintessential 'Englishness' is on the decline -note to those I regularly get on the bus with in the morning- If I am there before you and have most times been there for 10-15 mins before you please do not arrive just as the bus comes and barge in front of me. I have been up 10-15 mins earlier than you and as a reward deserve to choose my seat on the bus and not be jostled to the flip down seats which are hard to balance on especially when reading. Thank you to the majority of you who still know what queuing is.

By the way I am under no delusion that this post makes me sound old before my time, grumpy and generally unpleasant, I'm usually not these things but terrible music being forced into my ears and lack of politeness annoys me no end!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

A fire and armchairs is all I need.

I sat today at the Kitchen table and read my book as my mum bustled around me cooking dinner. There was a comforting mingle of voices from the radio, the growing intensity of steam from the kettle as it boiled, the dull ‘clip’ ‘clip’ of the knife on the wooden board and the rising sizzling of the meat in the pan interspersed with floats of conversation from my mum as she carried out these tasks.

It was getting dark outside and the lights were low and cosy in the kitchen, Pooka was curled up perfectly in her basket sleeping away and it was just so peaceful and the world for me for that hour was contained entirely in that kitchen between me and my mum, the rest of the house silent.

And it made me think a delicious thought that what would make it even better and almost tantalisingly idyllic would be for there to be placed in our kitchen a great open roaring fire (despite it being May), the size of one wall etched in rough stone with two winged armchairs in deep ruby red drawn in a haphazard way in front and for me to nestle lovingly into these and read in comfort and warmth with the reassuring sounds of the kitchen and my mum all around me.

(Image taken from 

This is what the Kitchen used to be, in the one-up- one-down terraces of old, all the living of the whole family took place in the kitchen, with its open fire where all gathered round, playing games, talking, cooking, washing, mending, planning, re-telling, sharing joys and sadness, the passing of people in and out…the beating and tangible heart of the home.

And now with these thoughts another life ambition to add to my growing list is I need an open fire complete with armchairs in my kitchen in my house…someday.

PS. I couldn't quite find the perfect picture of what I have in mind on the internet, but the one above comes close.

The sound 'meh' sums it up.

People and their opinions are sometimes too much. Especially when their opinions are based on beliefs you just can't agree with. But why does somebody else's wrong opinion make me question the credibility of my own? I just rest assured that one day they will 'know' and that's the hope.

Also I think I have been waiting for buses for too long at bus stops recently and my subconscious fears it is wasting too much precious time, this is the only explanation I can give for dreaming of waiting at a bus stop last night.

Today has been a 'meh' day, much moping around the house...doing little and feeling frustrated for not achieving any of the useful things I could have done. I'm hoping tomorrow is better.

Monday, 9 May 2011

The Storm of despair and hope.

Thunder storms....there's just something about them. Something that gets to me and makes me feel excited and energised. The darkening of the sky, clouds leaking their white fluffiness to become bruised and harrassed shades of their former selves. The world stopping and becoming still as a green tinged eerie light touches and falls on leaves and glints off the feather of a retreating bird as it flees to a spot of shelter as the first fat drops being to fall. Nature knows its is coming and pauses...and holds it's metaphorical breath...waiting...

And then the rain falls....and how it falls, relentless-uncaring the rain drops throw themselves against the earth, clattering and shattering, bouncing off the ground and roofs you can almost feel the water's determination to fall as hard and fast to the earth.

Then a flash, a spark, silver it lights the world in a brilliance that makes you sit up and notice and causes people to remark' did you see that....DID YOU SEE THAT?' like its an unknown curiousity because it still fascinates us and will still fascinate us the 500th time we witness it because it is this world we inhabit and take for granted shouting at us to take note at the awesome power of nature....a sharp nudge to recollect the thought that we are only guests here, that this world is in no way ours but that the world belongs to the world and the world belongs to God.

Followed by a  growling thunder in which the sky shakes and crumbles and seems to be shaking itself in angst and anger. The sound of a thousand angels making their bed as my mum used to tell me and that image always used to make me smile.

And so we sit and wait down below, humbled and hope it passes and doesn't impart it's strength directly on us.

Suddenly as quickly as it just stops and the earth catches its breath again. And everything is suddenly so green and fresh and rejuvenated, the aroma of the earth mixed intoxicatingly with the dew off the leaves as it glints in the emerging sun.

It is like the world has been created all over again from scratch, born a new with all the possibilities and potential that brings.

So I love thunderstorms for all the above reasons and because they seem to play out right above our heads the two emotions that guide us, pushing us and holding us back, the despair of the storm and then the hope of a world re-created it brings after it.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

A Simple Sunday.

I just got excited because on my dashboard it said I had a grand total of 2, yes that's right 2 followers....and I got excited and thought somebody else actually reads this....really....and then I remembered I had clicked to follow this blog by accident earlier in the day so actually the extra follower was in fact myself and I felt a little sad and desperate HA, well I enjoy writing to myself at least I know that the readers of this here blog will understand what I'm trying to say.

ANyway why is that it gets to 10:30 at night and that's when suddenly my motivation kicks in and I think yes right, I will sit down and do this or that various creative endeavours I've been wanting to do all day, it only takes me 14 hours to get the momentum going to start doing things and then I decide and its pretty much time for me to go to bed else face the consequence of feeling like actual death when i have to get up at half six in the morning for work.

However having said all this the past week I have managed to maintain some level of motivation and have exercised nearly everyday and cut crisps out of my diet and cut down bread.....,I realise this seems a minimum achievement but with my below average will power it's quite a success for me so we shall see how the following weeks go.

So in the 14 hours of building momentum today I have enjoyed and appreciated the simple things because the week is always more complicated then it should be and so the weekend should be a rest in simplicity :

1) Reading.....these are the 16 books I have 'on the go at the moment' which I dip into according to my mood and inclination....there's a random pot mixture of history, poetry, classics, weird, fantasy, historical novel, just quite normal, guidance. My mum doesn't understand how I keep track of what I'm reading and how I don't confuse one story with another, neither do I really...

2) Trying desperately to learn acoustic guitar because its my favourite it soothes the soul and is the song writers perfect accompanying tool.

3) Just sitting in the cosiness of my room and enjoying the peace and music harboured in it.

4) Writing whilst gaining inspiration from anything i can lay eyes on....

5) Enjoying the strange sounds and snuffles of a sleeping pooka...they sound very human sometimes and her sighs sound like she's got the weight of the world on her shoulders.

6) Thinking about tidying my room but secretly liking its random draping of clothes and clutter.

7) Being amazed at how dogs can literally just chew.....and chew.....and chew for hours and hours and need nothing else to amuse them because it really is just the simple things that we need to be happy.

8) Sitting in a sunny garden....just taking the time to sit in the sun.

9) Growing my first vegetables, getting my hands dirty and seeing what if anything grows...I'm hoping carrots, lettuce, beetroot and tomatoes appear at some point.....also it amuses me that the container I bought to grow my vegetables in are in fact designed for children.

10) Loving the colour of these leaves in the sunshine....they catch my eye every time I look out my bedroom window.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

An Easter of Muchness.

I have so much to write about and so many thoughts that I don't really know where to start. I have so many thoughts and ideas that the good ones are just going to start evaporating from my mind and be lost forever. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by thoughts, so saturated by them that your mind flits from one thing to the next at a 100 miles per hour just in case it misses something, but in its flitting it can't really get to the bottom of anything or make sense? I just wish I had the time to write them all down it seems the older you get the more you have to do and the less time you have to do the things you actually love instead days become filled with the mundane.

Over the Easter period I ended up going here there and everywhere...within the space of four weeks....Montpellier in the South of France, back home, Belgium, Holland, Germany on a music tour performing outside at different concerts, back home, Kent and London, back home, Kent. Trains I know them well and enjoy the time of quiet which forces me to do nothing else but sit, listen to music, stare out of the window at the passing landscape, write- those four hours are a blissful respite from everything else .... on the other hand-London underground, rush hour,hot weather, massive case and heavy shoulder bag, ticket gates that shut on your suitcase just as your going through holding up a queue of angry, unforgiving commuters behind you....not so good. I think every time I experience this I take one year from my life in stress but its worth it to see the people at the end of it.

Old school and university friends were seen, some of whom I have not seen for nearly two years and some of which seemed different somehow and older and sorted and aware of themselves and know which way they are going. Which then makes you think about yourself and whether you have changed or progressed in any way. I seem to become more unsure about which way I'm going and what I should be doing, I seem to get sick of a job after half a year of doing it so how am I supposed to know what I won't get sick of or maybe I will just flit from job to job until on the year just before my retirement I finally realise what it is I'm supposed to do maybe its best not to know. I'm too idealistic and think everything should be perfect and if its not well thats just not good enough.

                                     Chilling in Hyde Park.

                     Pimms at the Serpentine.

         My housemates from uni---eh!

At the moment at this age of 23 years and 1 month and a bit it just feels that all of a sudden real decisions need to be made but I don't think any decision is irreversible and i believe that you can never make a wrong decision because you made it for what you thought were good reasons which suited that moment of decision most perfectly at the time. So in a year and a few months I will move to Kent to be with James, and I will complete my Masters in History and then after that who knows but i think I'll be wherever I need to be. Those are my decisions for now and these will lead to things unknown and more choices but life would be nothing without choices.
making plans for the future catching up with the past