Thursday, 10 March 2011

Oh God!

I nearly died when I read that in a poll by the Metro newspaper, 70% of Londoners had voted Leona Lewis the most influential Londoner of the last century. WTF? Two days later I still haven't got over it. I know the Metro is published by the same people as the Daily Mail, but that doesn't excuse it does it? The poll was to celebrate international women's day. All I can say to all those 10,000 loyal Leona Lewis fans is..."You shot yourself in the foot there didn't you?". Maggie Thatcher came a distant second with 5%. I should point out it was about being 'influential' rather than good or bad so I guess she should be right up there...her influence is still shaping our lives and will for some considerable time into the future.

I'm not a religious man, although I have been known to head to the church on Christmas Eve and when I was young I was an occasional alter boy (I struggled to get up for the early morning service). In general I'm of the opinion that organised religion is at the root of all evil, but that doesn't mean I don't think God is a good thing.

I'm not fussed which brand of religion it is when I head to the church doors, just so long as there's a rousing sermon and a good sing song. I'm sure that God by whatever name would agree. But last night we went to a debate and discussion about the King James Bible. It's four hundred years old you know. Well you would if you listened to Radio 4. I don't but I guess The Cat's Mother does. Or at least knows someone that does. Q radio for me.

Anyway, the importance of the KJB (as we in the know say) is that it, alongside Shakespeare, invented the very words we speak and write. So in a sense this blog is the bastard offspring of a very worthy work.

Anyway, it amused me that it was chaired by someone who almost certainly wasn't Christian. I may be wrong and I apologise if I am. There were were two academics. One Canadian working in America, and one who was at least 50% American but a professor in Oxford. I'm not sure why we couldn't have found an English Don for this. It is our language after all, although those compute companies keep making me to download En(US) versions. There was a playwright. And a vicar.

So the Canadian American, knowing that the event was sponsored by the RSC, put on a performance and a half. Completely unintelligible. But it was a performance worthy of any Shakespearean stage. The 50/50 Prof explained the basics to the idiots in the audience. That helped me a lot. The playwright must have said something of note, but I can't remember what. And the Rev (actually he was a Cannon Dr or a Doctor one seemed sure and is deputy head honcho at St Paul's) noted he didn't much care for it, preferring the William Tyndale version, which was mainly burnt in St Paul's Cathedral, and which he read under the duvet with a torch. He also looked as though he was going to top himself if he had to listen to anymore of the Canadian's rantings.

What I did learn is that it was mostly writing by committee - how devastating that our finest text was written by a bunch of bureaucrats, and all the best bits were actually filched from earlier versions. Most importantly, the French are at fault yet again. It was they that came up with the idea of numbered chapters and verses so now any extremist can take a line or two out of context, wave it around and then claim to be quoting God's word. As I said organised religion is the root of all evil. Or may be it's the French.

Stationers Hall...the scene of last night's event and also where the KJB was written. At least in part.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

One word - Tara's gallery

It's Wednesday and Tara's been setting a new photo challenge. For this week, the theme is one word. And lo this is the word. It's scary.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Easy going man

I am known amongst my friends as a kind generous, easy going magnanimous man. And indeed they are perceptive, clever people who understand the real me. The me that can sometimes be hidden, shrouded in a dark thick cloak of irritation, vindictiveness and venom.

That is why, ladies and gentlemen, I must remind you all that today is Shrove Tuesday. Pancake Day. So we all deserve pancakes. Once upon a time, The Boy and I always had pancakes on pancake day. Sprinkled with lemon and sugar, having been carefully made on our electric Pancake Maker. I'd had the Pancake Maker a long time, bought from a catalogue of kitchen gadgets. Unlike other kitchen gadgets like the sandwich maker, the blender, the fizzy drink maker, it didn't linger forgotten and unloved in the back of a cupboard. Well, actually it did, but came out once a year. Shrove Tuesday. That is until September 2009. I remember that sunny month well. It was the month when The Cat's Mother decreed we had so much shit in the Brighton flat that a skip should be summoned and said shit should be deposited in it. Whilst I defended my corner well, eventually I was ground down, and The Pancake Maker was discarded. Of all the things that were abandoned to the ravages of the rubbish tip, it was The Pancake Maker that has continued to irk. Nearly two years later. I loved that pancake maker. You just dipped it's smooth dome-shaped heated surface in a bowl of pancake mix to get perfect pancakes. Unbeatable. And The Cat's Mother made me throw it away. I loved that Pancake Maker. Irreplaceable. (I know because I've looked on e-bay and have scoured the world with the great God Google).

In a 'Where's Wally?' kind of a way, here is a picture and somewhere in there is The Pancake Maker. Everything in our kitchen had been put in the games room whilst the kitchen itself was modernised; not everything returned:

This is the games room now - as you can see there's a telephone and a kettle but no Pancake Maker. The Cat's Mother made me throw it away.

We'd better get pancakes tonight. Or else. Pancake maker or not.

Many people are quite vindictive about Phil Collins. I don't know why; I quite like him. I know he ruined Genesis and wrote some pretty awful rubbish as well as the good stuff. But overall I like him. Even if he dumped his wife by fax. Well we've all made mistakes haven't we? I bought a Phil Collins album at Christmas. And very good it is too. Although I have only listened to it once. But I like the man and I like his music. So it's sad that he's announced he's not going to make any more music, saying in FHM magazine "I don’t think anyone’s going to miss me. I’m much happier just to write myself out of the script entirely.”

He thinks everyone hates him, “I know that when I did interviews it came across like I could do everything, but I’ve never actually felt like that. I went through all my own VHS stuff recently and found mountains of old interviews with me and it was very, very hard to watch. I barely recognised the person I saw from that time. I’m a very different person now. I saw some of this show of mine from 1985 and I was on-stage and I never stopped running, never stopped talking.”

It is of course everyone else's fault: “The fact that people got so sick of me wasn’t really my fault. Yes there was a lot of me to dish out – there was me, me and Earth, Wind & Fire’s Phil Bailey, me and Genesis, me and that movie I was in, Buster – there was a lot of stuff. But I only made those records once.”

It was success that brought him down: “Around the time that the music was being played so incessantly people wanted to strangle me. It’s hardly surprising that people grew to hate me. I’m sorry that it was all so successful. I honestly didn’t mean it to happen like that!”

It's a shame because one of the very first gigs I went to was to see Phil Collins. Well not him per se. Brand X. Brand X made fantastic music. I still listen to the albums regularly and would whole-heartedly recommend you find an album and listen to it. Especially topical seems Moroccan Roll.

C'mon Phil don't go. Let's have some more Brand X. But no more Buster.

Monday, 7 March 2011


I was sad to see that Alberto Granado had passed away. I didn't know him personally but he was a renowned doctor. Early in his career he worked at Cabo Blanco leprosarium in Maiquetía, and in 1961 became professor of biochemistry at the School of Medicine of the University of Havana. Later that year, he was one of the founders of the Institute for Basic and Pre-Clinical Sciences. In 1962, he founded the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Santiago serving as senior professor there. Between 1986 and 1990, he took part in the creation of the Cuban Genetics Society and was appointed its president. He was without doubt responsible for saving many lives, and inspiring others. What a great man.

As the newspapers report, though, he was best known as Che Guevara's travelling companion during the famous Motorcycle journey that turned Che into a revolutionary. The film of this journey, The Motorcycle Diaries was truly inspirational some thirty years after the event. The Boy enjoyed it immensely, and we've watched it dozens of times. What I'm hoping The Boy has taken from it is the value of travel and seeing how the world really is. With Guavera, it was the extremes of wealth and poverty of freedom and virtual enslavement that drove him, and I hope The Boy sees that whilst difference is fundamental to making the world go round, extremes of any sort are damaging and dangerous.

It's disappointing to see William Hague has heaped humiliation on Britain's finest by sending them into turbulent Libya in the hope they could find rebel leaders to make contact with. The situation is very 'fluid', the outcome very uncertain, and the thought of a group of eight Brits knocking on doors (OK, I'm sure they weren't quite doing that) asking for rebel leaders does seem ridiculous. The Libyans have said it, and it is only common sense, that for this revolt to succeed it must do so without foreign interference which will taint and undermine it. UK politicians may be nervous about the outcome, but really at this stage sending anyone there is a primary school mistake. Reputations and jobs have already been lost here in the UK over the Libyan affair, but muddying the waters will only make things worse.