TV at it’s best

18 Aug

Those of us in the UK have been treated to some wonderful programmes about mental illness recently on BBC 3. The series is really trying to break down the stigma surrounding mental ill health and has shown the up’s and downs of treatment that is available or not.

“My Father and Me” a truly wonderful programme narrated by the daughter of ex boxer Frank Bruno regarding the impact his Bi Polar (or Bi Polo as Frank calls it) on his family and himself.

“Failed by the NHS” followed a group of people suffering with a range of conditions including Bi Polar, Affective Schizo Dosorder, Depression, Eating Disorders, OCD etc, and the failure of the NHS to give them the treatment they required when they needed it.  The most shocking example was of a boy in Northern Ireland who committed suicide after sitting in Casualty for 8 hours waiting to see someone. The interview with his parents was heartbreaking. Top marks should go to the presenter of the programme himself a sufferer who was superb.

There have also been a short series about an adolescent in patient hospital in Manchester and a programme about how one area’s OT’s have started a football team made up of mental health patients and how playing football is helping them in their recovery.

These programmes should be avaiiable to mental health organisations to use as training films they are so good.

The BBC a it’s best


5 Nov

English: Sparkler, violent reaction (guy fawke...

English: Sparkler, violent reaction (guy fawkes) Français : Cierge magique pendant la nuit de Guy Fawkes, en Angleterre. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…

On 5th November in 1605 a man named Guy Fawkes was discovered in the cellar of the Houses of Parliament with dozens of barrells of gunpowder. He was arrested and sentenced to being Hung Drawn & Quartered.

The rhyme above was introduced partly as a warning that treason would never be forgotten.

Inthe UK it is now tradition to build a Guy using old clothes and newspaper to stuff them into a man’s shape and then burn it on a bonfire whilst letting off fireworks.


People Starving in the UK in 2012

5 Nov

My previous posts about music were so I could get used to writing a blog which is all new to me. Now I have practised a couple of times I am going to expand out to other things that catch my eye, my ear or my heart

Saturday night I watched a programme called Hungry People a documentary about people in the UK who are starving  due to a lack of money and in my eyes it was quite shocking.

One of the main people the doc tracked was a 21 yr old girl who had grown up in care and was now trying to improve her lot by going to university to become a social worker.  As she was 21 yrs old and at Uni there is no benefits to help her, so she has to rely on going to a food bank to get food to eat, a food bank that she also helps at as a volunteer. She only eats once a day and even when the reporter offered to buy her a sandwich she refused because it would upset her bodys balance of the one meal a day. Here is someone the country should be helping, she wants to help people and use the experience she has gained in the process but this country’s benefits system is not helping her, meanwhile other people are receiving  hundresd of punds to sit around and do nothing.  People trying to improve their lot should be helped and encouraged not trodden on.

On the same programme was a middle aged man with children who he said had been made redundant from his managerial job and was now on the breadline, everyone felt sorry him (even me at first) when he had to approach the food bank for help. As the weeks went on and with him saying he hadn’t received any benefit yet his trips to the food bank grew more regular and more often eventually ending up with him being chosen to receive the 10,000th food parcel the food bank gave out a special presentation was arranged by the local mayor.

The reporter started getting suspicious and did some checking to find that the man had not been in a managerial post but a van driver, he was now doing van driving work on the side and was receiving benefits. He was using the food bank when he had no reason to just pure greed on his part, to take as much as he could from everyone else, people who were desperate for the help the food bank was giving were being affected because some days the food bank ran out of food..  It showed only too well that whatever anyone tries to do someone will take advantage of it and make things more difficult for other poeple. The food bank have now had to change their policies to try and stop this happening again.

A brilliant documentary about people who are suffering in the UK in 2012 and some who just take as much as they can. May people in the Uk now think that people on benefits are total scroungers and are lazy good for nothings. Well yes there are some of those but I think they are in fact in a minority. There are many many people who desperately need help and support trouble is they are usually the ones who don’t get it. With the Government trying to tighten up the system yet again it’s those same people in need who are the ones who are being hit by the cut backs, the ones who play the system are still playing the system and getting away with it. The press constantly moan about people receiving thousands on benefit but these are the ones playing the system.


There are ways that the people who really need help can be located if they wanted to find them but it’s easier to not bother and let them suffer.


Most Westernised countries  Governments are all falling into the same trap – they believe that there isn’t really a problem, that people who are homeless, hungry & destitute are lazy good for nothings. That simply isn’;t the case Many suffer with Mental Ill Health, Have suffered Abuse both mental & physical or been hit with modern problem of negative equity and banks being, well banks help themselves but not anyone else.


Early 70’s – GLAMROCK

7 Oct

The early 70’s saw a shift away from the late 60’s long haired groups playing long rambling guitar works and we saw much more in the way of good old fashioned showmanship, with fancy costumes, pop music and some great new songwriters. Acts like Slade, Mud, Roxy Music, T Rex, Showaddywaddy & Gary Glitter & the Glitter Band. It seems the thing now not to talk about Gary Glitter and yes I agree his lifestyle was disgusting and disgraceful but he cannot be just cut out of pop history as if he was never there. At the time he was a megastar of the charts backed by the Glitter band who I always remember for having two drummers. After he and the band split up both continued having chart hits seperately. It appears that with the recent news about Jimmy Saville there semed to be an underground network of stars with predilictions for young girls and boys as it also became known a few years ago about Jonathan King.

Anticipation (Carly Simon album)

Anticipation (Carly Simon album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




Anyway putting that aside and getting back to the music new solo artists appeared like Elton John, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Carly Simon, Leo Sayer and the songwriter Carole King started her own career as a performer. The Beatles broke up but the Rolling Stones kept rolling and Status Quo kept Rockin

Elkie Brooks the raunchy lead singer with the band Vinegar Joe went solo producing some great tracks. The band Vinegar Joe also produced another solo artist in Robert Palmer.

One of my favourite bands of 1970/71 were the American group Creedence Clearwater Revival with their Rock’n’Roll style tracks like Up around the Bend and Travellin Band. The lead singer and songwriter of the group was John Fogerty who went on to write a song called “Rocking all over the World” which became a huge hit for another big band of the time Satus Quo.

English: Electric Light Orchestra in concert, ...

The Move broke up and Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne started a band called the Electric Light Orchestra which Jeff Lynne took to being a huge band, Roy Wood left and formed Wizzard which also had massive hits.

For me the music of this time was light in content maybe but it was fun, Slade titles were being written with letters round the wrong way, Christmas records were streaming out every year Merry Xmas Everybody, Lonely this Christmas and Wish it could be Xmas Everyday all became Xmas Standards.

This was the time for me when Top of the Pops was at it’s peak. All the audience had to keep dancing when the bands were playing or I should say miming some bands made a point of making everyone aware they were miming by not playing their instruments but we didn’t care because we were all watching the girls dancing or Pans People doing their weekly slot, Babs was my favourite, it didn’t matter that some of the routines were pretty naff we still enjoyed watching.

So my CD tracks for this era would include:
Cum of Feel the Noize – Slade / Tiger Feet – Mud / Ride a white swan – T Rex / California Man – Move / Ball Park Incident – Wizzard / Roll over Beethoven – ELO / Hey Rock’n’Roll – Showaddywaddy
You’re so vain – Carly Simon / Girls Girls Girls – Sailor / Hi Hi Hi – Wings / In the Summertime – Mungo Jerry / My Sweet Lord – George Harrison / Chirpy chirpy cheep cheep – Middle of the Road (it was her hotpants) / Venus – Shocking Blue / Bridge over Troubled Water – Simon & garfunkel / Mama told me not to come – Three dog night / Make it with you – Bread / American Woman – Guess Who / Let it be – Beatles / Me 7 Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin / Brown Sugar – Rolling Stones / Maggie May – Rod Stewart / Youy’ve got a friends – James Taylor / Theme from Shaft – Isaac Hayes / Brand new key – Melanie / I feel the earth move – Carole King / Son of my father – Chicory Tip / Schools out – Alice Cooper / Clair – Gilbert O’Sullivan / Rocket Man – Elton John / American Pie – Don McLean / Horse with no name – America / I can see clearly now – Johnny Nash & I am Woman – Helen Reddy




Music is foreve…

30 Sep
Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you, following you right on up until you die ———— Paul Simon
1967 – 1972 YEARS OF CHANGE
1967 was a year of change not only in music but also in me. I left school aged 15 that summer and started working and I loved it. The freedom of no school uniform, having some responsibility and I learn more after I left school than I ever did at school, well more useful stuff for the real world I suppose now it would be called street cred, although my maths improved 100% when I started playing cribbage and darts in the lunch hours, mental arithmatic suddenly became a must.
That year music took on a whole new persona with the issue of one album, Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Cl;ub Band by the Beatles. Many people like my children have asked me since what’s so special about that album?
It’s hard to explain because everyone today thinks that this music has always been there but it wasn’t. I suppose it was like when Rock ‘n’ Roll first broke through in the 50’s, there hadn’t been popular music like that before or perhaps when Rap started in the late 70’s no one had heard anything like that before. Obviously since then the 70’s Rap has progressed and changed with time as did Rock’n’Roll, Country and just about every other form of music, the basis is the same but there are some variations involved.
Well in 1967 Sgt Pepper brought something new to the form of the LP (Long Playing Record or Album)
It was the first Beatles record I bought and changed my view of the band completely ,suddenly I got them, it had taken me a long time but at last I understood where they were coming from. This remaines one of my favourite albums along with the Beatles album Rubber Soul.
It was while at work that John, the person I assisted, told me about an artist and a group that took me in other directions at the same time as getting into the Beatles. After mentioning that I liked guitar music he told me to listen to Chet Atkins and The Ventures, I had never heard of either of them. The following week on the Friday when I got paid I went over the road to the Harlequin Record Shop and bought a Chet Atkins album and it blew me away. The finger picking country style and the speed he played, I had never heard anything like that before, on this album he also duetted with Ravi Shankar playing the sitar, something the Beatles George Harrison was also getting into on the Sgt Pepper album on Within you Without you.
The Ventures were an American Instrumental band to be compared with the UK Shadows but with their own unique style. They were incredibly popular in Japan as their live album recorded in that country showed. Their rockin style on tracks like Slaughter on 10th Avenue and Perfidia and their big hit Walk don’t run.gave me another direction for my music taste to go.
Soon after this John again poiinted me in yet another direction in the form of Country music. I had heard some on the airwaves occasonally the hit songs like Roger Miller King of the Road and Jim Reeves Distant Drums but I was shown a whole range of other artists like Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Hank Snow, Roy Acuff and Dave Dudley. At this time Johnny Cash had not broken through the mass market although he was known for his earlier hits on the Sun Label in the 50’s like Hey Porter & Ballad of a Teenage Queen not that I knew them up to that point.
So at this stage I was listeing to Pop, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Folk, Country & Classical (yes classical). My father always played it Sunday mornings and I learnt to love some tracks like Hall of the Mountain King, Hungarian Rhapsody & Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.
1967 saw another change, for the last couple of years we had been listeing to pirate radio with stations like Radio London (Wonderful Big L), Radio Caroline and many others broadcasting from ships in the North Sea. DJ’s like Dave Cash, Kenny Everett, Johnny Walker and many others were playing music that couldn’t be heard on the then BBC Light Programme. In 1967 these pirate ships were outlawed and the BBC started a new station called Radio One which opened with the breakfast DJ being Tony Blackburn. Being a monoopoly there wasn’;t much choice during the day although at night, like we had for many years, we would listen to Radio Luxembourg.
Pop artists and groups I liked included: The Move, Supremes, Four Tops, Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, Rolling Stones, Four Seasons, Beach Boys, Kinks, Who, Sandie Shaw, Dusty Springfield, Paper Dolls, Marvin Gaye and many more. In 1968 a new band called Status Quo broke into the charts with “Pictures of matchstick men” – the first riff I learnt on guitar.
Folk artists included Bob Dylan, Donovan, Joni Mitchell, Julie Felix, Simon & Garfunkel, Peter Paul & Mary & Peter Seeger.
Rock’n’Roll artists Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Johnny Kidd & Pirates, Buddy Holly  & Chuck Berry amongst others.
So my music taste was becoming ever more eclectic, though at that time I didn’t even know that word!
In 1969 I went to see The Johnny Cash Show which featured The Carter Family, The Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins and The Tennessee Three backing Johnny Cash it was a great show, I saw them three times in all once was a recording for BBC Radio for Johnny Cash fan club members only, which I was.. Johnny was just about breaking into more mainstream especially after his releases Live at Folsom Prison and Live at San Quentin.
Big at this time was a guitarist who was turning the guitar world on it’s head his name was Jimi Hendrix but like the Beatles early days I didn’t get him at all then – it would come with time and I now realise what a genius he was and years before his time in style of playing.
With the late 60’s early 70’s sounds of Cream, Arthur Brown, Julie Driscoll, Free, Status Quo and Pink Floyd the styles were about to change again but that’s in the next instalment.
My soundtrack to 1967 – 1972 would include:
Fire – Crazy World of Arthur Brown
/ This Wheels on Fire – Julie Driscoll & Brian Auger Trinity /
Pictures of Matchstick Men – Status Quo
/ Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell / 98.6 – Keith / Ballad of a Teenage Opera – Keith West / Strawberry Fields Forever – Beatles / Penny Lane – Beatles / Purple Haze – Jimi Hendrix /
Intro & Outro – Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band
/ Something here in my heart – Paper Dolls / Fire Brigade – The Move / I Feel Free – Cream / These Boots are made for walking – Nancy Sinatra / I’m a Believer – The Monkees / Whiter shade of Pale – Procol Harum / San Francisco – Scott McKenzie / Happy Together – The Turtles / Same old Song – Four Tops / Ode to Billie Joe – Bobbie Gentry / Jumpin Jack Flash – Rolling Stones / Baby Come Back – The Equals / Judy in Disguise – John Fred & his Playboy Band / Mrs Robinson – Simon & Garfunkel
Next Instalment: Glam Rock takes over, the emergence of T Rex, Wizzard, Roxy Music, Slade, Alice Cooper and a certain person called Gary Glitter!


30 Sep
I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me-like food or water
Ray Charles

Music is my soul – as the song says “It’s my soul and Inspiration”

From my earliest memories music has been there always every step of the way from the early childrens songs on “Children’s Favourites”yes I’m that old! to modern songs of today they all play apart of making me who I am. At the age of about 3 – 4 songs like “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly by Burl Ives and was starting my interest and then by 5 the record of the day was Tommy Steele – “Singing the Blues” and I would stand on the kitchen table with a hardboard guitar my brother made performing this song. That’s when it started.

The first record I ever bought was not a hit but it was a doo wop song called “Heartaches by The Marcels famous for their version of Blue Moon. It was bought with my pocket money in W H Smiths in Richmond Surrey. Smiths were then a major record stockist unlike now when the internet has changed the music industry beyond recognition from those early days.

In the early 60′s the music trends changed rapidly the British music scene was picking up late Rock’n’Roll songs like Move It by Cliff and Shakin all over by Johnny Kidd & the Pirates were showing that British artists could compete with the Americans who up to then had virtually ruled the airwaves. Then came a new English producer who shook the US Charts by getting a BRitish group to No 1 in America. The producer was the wonderful Joe Meek with the band The Tornados and “Telstar” a great instrumental. This was before The Beatles were hardly heard of but obviously they followed on the breakthrough by storming the US charts and starting a Brit Revolution with fantatsic 60′s bands like The Kinks, The Who, Spencer Davis Group, Dave Clark Five and many more.

At age 10 I was taken to my first live concert by my brother at Kingston Granada. In those days there were a lot of acts on one nights bill. This night we saw The Outlaws, Tony Sheridan, The Bachelors, Mike Berry, Sounds Incorporated and Brenda Lee.

The band for me that night was Sounds Incorporated a great instrumental band who did their own set and then backed Brenda Lee. They really caught my imagination and I collected all their releases from then on. They didn’t make it big in the charts but were a fantastic live act chosen by the Beatles to be their support act at the Shea Stadium Concert and also backing the Beatles on the track Good Morning Good Morning on the Sgt Peppers Album in 1967.

After that night I went onto to see many bands going now with my mates we saw Johnny Kidd & the Pirates (another great act)  Billy J Kramer & the Dakotas, a very young Cilla Black, The Fourmost, Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich, The Herd, Marmalade, Tremeloes and The Who. At that concert the Who finished the show by smashing up their instruments and keith Moon throwing the drumkit towards the audience it finished with the kit balanced on the edge of the stage. Whilst it was amazing to watch I did find it a bit annoying as I was saving up to buy a guitar at the time they could have given one to me instead of smashing it up (ha ha).

To this point the following is probably a representative sound track to my life:

Soundtrack of my life 1952 – 1966 = There was an old lady who swallowed a fly – Burl Ives / Singing the Blues – Tommy Steele / Shakin all over – Johnny Kidd & the Pirates / Sounds like Locomotion – Sounds Incorporated / Heartaches – The Marcels / Telstar – The Tornados / Hippy Hippy Shake – Swinging Blue Jeans / Glad all over – Dave Clark Five / Here comes my baby – Tremeloes / Kites – Simon Dupree & the Big Sound / Summer Holiday – Cliff Richard (my first date with a girl) / Price of Love – Everly Brothers / California Girls – Beach Boys / Let’s Hang on – Four Seasons / Wimoweh – Springfields / Nashville Cats – Lovin Spoonful / Universal Soldier – Donovan / Eve of Destruction – Barry McGuire / Turn Turn Turn – Byrds / Jet Black – Drifters (Shadows) / Hava Nagila – Joe Brown / Blowin in the wind – Bob Dylan / 40 Miles of Bad Road – Duane Eddy / Blue Suede Shoes – Elvis Presley.

As you can see from that list it’s very eclectic and that very varied taste continues through my life music is music I do not like to be stuck in one genre variety is the spice of life as they say.  One other thing you may have noticed is up to this point there are no Beatles songs in the list so far that is because at first I didn’t like them I wanted to be different all my friends liked them so I thought they were overated and annoying but that was to change. To end this chapter I have to mention the worst group we ever saw live because it came as a shock that they were so bad on the night we saw them it was The Bee Gees. We travelled to Slough to see them quite a way on the bus and they were absolutely awful. The first act had been closed by Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick and Tich who gave a fantastic performance but The Bee Gees in the second act were terrible they were off key, the band seemed as if they were drunk and the whole thing was so bad we actually walked out it was the only concert I ever walked out on.

Next Time: The Beatles finally get into my soul, Country music is introduced to me and two older artists/acts  I had never heard of become a major part of my music life.


An Organic Owl

29 Sep

An Organic Owl

This was made by a friend in the USA I just think it’s brilliant