Monthly Archives: November 2012

Bob Marley: Revolutionary of the Soul

Think you know all about Bob Marley? Well, we all do don’t we. His image is everywhere and so is the music, but if you want some fresh ears and fresh eyes to reconsider his well-lived life you could do a lot worse than watch the film Marley. I heard the director, Kevin MacDonald, on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week on Monday and was intrigued – not least because the documentary is over 2 hours long. That was like a challenge for me. If I can concentrate that long on anything, then the thing is good. I did concentrate and I learned plenty, all worth knowing.

Much of the content is moving. I won’t spoil it by listing it all, but it seems that to know Bob was to love Bob, and to love him was to hurt sometimes. As he said himself, ‘The good times of today are the sad thoughts of tomorrow.’ When he was touring the States in 1980 he collapsed with a seizure whilst out jogging. He was taken to hospital and told that the melanoma cancer, found in his toe in 1977, had spread throughout his body, into his brain and lungs. The medical opinion was that it was untreatable. The next concert on the tour was in Pittsburgh. Without saying anything to his band they completed the usual sound check before the gig. Except, to the amazement of his musicians, this sound check lasted over 2 hours and Bob Marley only played this one song.

The Pittsburgh concert was his last, but Bob Marley lives on, just as he said he would.

My music will go on forever.
Maybe it’s a fool say that, but when me know facts me can say facts.
My music will go on forever.

Waffle Heaven in Bruges

Following on from the photo of the Mountains of Mourne in Northern Ireland earlier this week, today we bring you wafflage from Belgium via the Wray Barton Wrecking Crew.  

Wish I was there? Hell yeah.Image

Powerful message out of Hackney via Rudimental

I heard this track a while back and loved it. Now I’ve seen the video I am blown away. Rudimental come from Hackney, a place I moved out of when young kids started to get caught, and killed, in gang crossfire. This video is a brave response to urban street life and the choices young men make. Boys evolving into manhood need to assert themselves and their identities and society needs rituals and markers for this to happen in both a symbolic and positive way. Work is one rite of passage that is harder and harder to come by for young men. With time on their hands and hope in short supply it is no wonder some get into gang culture to fill the vacuum modern society has created.

There was an insightful programme on Radio 4 this week about the absence of fathers in the black British community (listen again here). David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham, who presents the programme highlights the sad fact that of nineteen youths arrested in the immediate aftermath of the riot in Tottenham last year, only two had fathers who played an active role in their lives. As Lammy puts it, directly from his own experience, he ‘struggled to cope… to fill the great father-shaped hole in his life.’

It sounds dramatic to say this, but I will say it anyway: there is an emerging crisis in masculinity in the UK. I regularly work with men whose skills and knowledge were once needed and recompensed, but as the world has moved on rapidly, they have been devalued and discarded. I work with young men who have no role, no apparent future and no obvious way of creating a meaningful identity for themselves in mainstream society. I see egos in need of emergency first aid and reinvention and I see a culture that would rather point the finger and label people than shoulder some of the blame itself.

The message from the Rudimental video is that there is another way. It is a short, film with maximum visual impact and as such it could be accused of being simplistic. Of course there is not only one answer. But I understand it as a response to a desperate hidden situation that no-one cares about, is barely reported and I believe it is a much-needed start. Rudimental are not the only musicians reflecting these urgent issues, I think also of Plan B and Chase & Status. We must try and harness the energy this music creates, talk about the issues openly and respond creatively to the situation.

The future of the 21st Century male depends on that happening.

Crumpled paper

The world seems extremely harsh at the moment. People killed in Gaza, a woman dies needlessly in Galway, Ireland. Grief is casually posted all over the internet; almost impossible to avoid. It’s not the grief I want to avoid; there is nothing wrong in bearing witness to a life lost. It is rather that it is mixed in amongst stories about celebrities dating footballers, or television presenters being disciplined – all lumped together – deaths and lives – news fodder.

There is no antidote to death and loss and grief. None at all. All one can do is carry on. It was rather nice then amongst all that to find this casually discarded penguin by the kettle this morning. Some doodle that was done at school and is destined for the bin; the artist having moved onto the next thing.

On days like these, it is nice to have the blog to capture these ephemera on. I post the picture and think about lives recently lost and lives hung on to, for now.

Brotherly Love

We have featured Kevin (common cat) and Stan (Irish Wolfhound) on the blog before and it is a winter-warming visual pleasure to do so again. Last time I think they were idling by the fire reading Heat magazine. This time they are contemplating Life, The Universe and Everything.
I can see that age has made philosophers of them both. Stan has been really ill this year so it’s good to see the back of his head looking in such fine fettle *insert smiley*

We are spending Christmas with them both if all goes to plan; it looks like there’s going to be a fight for a space round the hearth…

Feeling Fragmenty

I know it’s not a word, but it does the job.

There are eclipses today, the moon, the sun (if you live in Australia – best view from Cairns).
I don’t know if they are good or bad or just are – I suspect the latter – the rest is all down to interpretation.

So for today, I’m putting myself back together with this beautiful photo a dear friend took last weekend ‘In the place where the dark Mourne sweeps down to the sea’ and some music. To hear the full song that the line is taken from: Mountains o’ Mourne by Don McLean click here. Worth a stop and a listen in a busy world with its lunar and solar eclipses and general mysterious ways.

The BBC: Banging Some Heads Together

What on earth is going on there?

I just can’t keep up. How can you resign after 8 weeks? How can journalists interview their own bosses live on air and then yet more of these journalists come on after the boss has fallen on his sword and say they just don’t understand why the boss fell on his sword.

It is like watching an animal eat itself – top down – impossible but true.

And of course it is top of its own news output – CONSTANTLY. I have even had to give up my main purveyor of news the Today Programme on Radio 4 in protest. Now, I shall never know how it works out, but in my head it will feature a bunch of middle-aged white men in suits with laptops being burned at the stake in front of *Pebble Mill whilst Mr Blobby leaps around cackling.

BBC, you are too big and worse you are BORING. Go away and sit on the stairs and come back when you have fought to the death or sorted yourself out because playing out every twist and turn and fart on every airwave WE PAID FOR, is an insult to the public.

Now clear off.

I know it should be Media City in Salford, but ūüėõ

See BBC you have made me resort to using the sticky out tongue emoticon, which is a big no-no.

We Remember

Of course we do, for it is too hard to forget.


‘This old world keeps on spinning round…’

‘…it’s a wonder tall trees ain’t layin’ down… There comes a time.’

Neil Young

Losing my grip

I can feel, for perhaps the second time in my life, that the technology is slipping away from me. I think my generation, ¬†and that of my parents, even one of my grandparents who lives on and emails into her nineties, are the only groups who will have this sensation regarding digital technology…

My children are digital natives: electrickery is just an extension of their senses. Their cognition embodies not only their digits,  but tapping keyboards and wielding a stylus and swiping and clicking and all manner of things that would make you seem unutterably afflicted in the 1970s, when I grew up.

Back then when the phone rang, the world stopped; ¬†it was A Phone Call and to be treated seriously. ¬†Oh, just remember the telephone, with its challenging spiralling coil joining the giant receiver to the dialling part (funny how we didn’t call it a speaker receiver once the two functions were melded into one gross plastic curve). ¬†Now nearly all my calls go to voice mail and I tap out this post on a screen keyboard from my phone – which is a world first for me and a painfully slow one at that.¬†

I was looking for the monstrous beast that is my phone in my bag this week. ¬†‘Oh I’m just looking for my camera, ‘ I muttered. I am confused now by the multiplicity of the new technologies. ¬†I don’t understand the ‘apps’, I have one for drawing (I still can’t draw) ), I have one that plays the guitar (I still can’t play the guitar). I mean who wants to be able to strum tunelessly on the phone at bedtime? Just because?

In the 80s my father bought four of us kids a Spectrum computer to share: I was not impressed. ¬†It was something to do with its purpose – I couldn’t work out what it was for. ¬†A few years later I went to work, learned a basic word processing programme and a smattering of DOS language and got on with the job. ¬†From time to time ¬†I would be sent somewhere highly regressive (the NHS, a metal merchants, a marketing department) and be given a typewriter as my tool to work with. Correcting an error or changing the ribbon on one of these dinosaurs always caused me more stress than remembering to save or back up a document.

Technology was good. Technology was god? Just now though, ¬†with this new-fangled phablet I lug about, I feel out of sync, like I did when the ZX Spectrum rocked up. I know it can do Stuff, but I am baffled by the purpose of most of it. Still, ¬†it’s early days. Someone might try to make me carry one of the old style dog and bones round the streets; I am sure that would concentrate my mind as quickly as the sight of an antiquated typewriter and a ream of foolscap used to. I still count my blessings, but I know I am on the cusp of Out of Touch.

N.b. I have tapped out this whole damn shizzle on a smartphone touchscreen with a stylus pen.  The screen is greezy, the tapping slow. I cannot do pictures.

Never again? 

I have had to hop on the old reliable laptop and put in a picture – I don’t know much, but a blog is not a blog in my blog if there ain’t no picture. And I see that posting from the phablet gives me formatting code that I just don’t like the look of…