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Tim Minchin

It’s not very often that my ear worm chooses a whole artist but recently while lazing in bed or pootling on the iPad I suddenly get the urge to sing “……fuck I love boobs though…..”, maybe it’s just as well I am not out and about in public!

Tim Minchin describes himself as a musician, but this underplays his artistry, his creative skills and his often dark humour. How he analyses the things that make you think, how he dissects and interprets thoughts, ideas, philosophies and puts them into a song that hooks you in linguistically, musically, emotionally and mentally. But what is it about his creations that seem to appeal to me.

Maybe it is his acrobatic linguistics and agility, in songs like Prejudice or his piano whimsy of Rock & Roll Nerd, maybe it is the poignancy of I’ll Take Lonely Tonight or the deep thought of Not Perfect, perhaps it’s the pure risqué amusement of Inflatable You or the musicians amusement of F Sharp, he performs a couple of beat poems which take you on a journey so adroitly, especially Storm. It could be the absurdity that he sees meets with me.

Now I should add a warning here, he uses language some don’t care for and he has opinions that some would not agree with, especially on the controversial topics like religion, creationism. It is not a mocking attitude, more of an “I’ve read and listened but still don’t understand how people wholeheartedly believe ‘this'”.

I enjoy watching his live performances as his expressions and timings add another layer of language, there are few piano players that almost mesmerise me, Jools Holland is another, Tim seems to throw his hands (and sometimes feet) at the keys and they always hit the right notes, the right way at the right time, he cannot sit still as he plays (unless it’s a serious song). He tends to perform barefoot, a throwback to early experimental days where going barefoot helped him feel confident and quelled the stage nerves.

It took me a while to decide which song to link here, I make no apology if you find yourself merrily, absentmindedly singing “…..fuck I like boobs though….”

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2020 in Music, people, Review

 

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Newer History

From time to time I surprise myself when some profound statement emerges from my fingertips and such an occurrence took place last week.

A pal had posted about the annoyance she felt at the hypocrisy she sees online, that groups while complaining about history, use history as validation and evidence for their actions. I saw her point and responded

History is history, we should learn from it, all of it, the good, the bad, the ugly, the triumph and the disaster, the compassionate, the whole, it’s ripples and it’s consequences. After all the shouting, breast beating and hash tagging, what will have changed for the better – very little quite possibly and that’s the saddest footnote for history to teach.

Me on Facebook

There is currently a tv advert for Persil which includes the phrase “hashtags can’t plant trees and tweets won’t clean oceans”, making reference to actions speak louder than words. Has social media turned the majority of users into outspoken criticisers, has it given the multitude a venting platform for vitriol, perhaps that’s a subject for another day.

As we move into black history month (it’s October in the UK) I agree with the thought that more perspective is needed regarding how history is taught and what history is taught. History is a subject that will keep growing, look at the past hundred years or so, what parts should be picked out to teach, the speeches of Martin Luther King Jnr alongside the riots and protests of Black Lives Matter; the horrors of the Holocaust and Russian pogroms and the teachings of Mahatma Ghandi; the nursing prowess of Mary Seagrove and the South African apartheid movement. The advances of industry and science and the violence of protests, riots and oppressive regimes. It’s sheer volume means we cannot cover it all.

The recent yelling and vandalism regarding the historical slave trade has highlighted a gaping hole in subjects covered, the actions taken have been destructive rather than constructive. I’m not sure if this programme is available worldwide but the tv series “The House History Built” is excellent, it traces the history of all who lived in one house across centuries.

Nothing is clear cut, everything exists in the grey area.

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2020 in General, In The News, people

 

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Knobble-bobble hat

Like most things it started with a throw away line.

Recently we have been having some glorious sun shine weather, which can be pleasant but can also bring other problems. Behind glass that sun is powerful and unrelenting, we all know that sensation of handling a piping hot steering wheel. My carer has a natty little sporty car and the gear stick (stick shift in some lands) is metal, it doesn’t sit in the shade of the dashboard but bakes from the direct sun through the windscreen. Throughout her shifts, even with the window cracked ever so slightly the metal heats up and up to ouch level.

So Friday I googled and found a crochet pattern for a mini coupe and began twiddling the yarn. When she returned for the tea time visit I surprised her with a half done cover and asked her to see if it fit the knob snuggly enough (it did).

By the time she (as she said, excited with anticipation) returned to throw me into bed, the cover was finished with a frilled edge, drawstring base and a Pom-Pom on top.

Her smile was a lovely satisfying reward.

It’s the little things that make the biggest impact.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2020 in General, people, Projects

 

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Intelligence Prevails

LOOK WHAT I HAVE IN MY POSSESSION!!!

Not long after my sustaining morning coffee had been supper my phone began churning for my attention. Over-Intelligent Pharmacy Lady was calling to say my high dose vitamin D had arrived and she was all primed to take my card details.

Taking care over my diction I slowly read out the long number, then the relevant details and we both held our breath as the green button was hit. Et Voila! Payment accepted, package in delivery box due out at 1pm.

Shortly after 1pm a lovely lady knocked on my door and left the package on my desk.

For the inquisitive, each tablet is 500 micrograms, I am to take a capsule twice a week for seven weeks. The average recommended daily dose is 10 micrograms and the recommended daily dose for an MD-er is 25 micrograms.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2020 in Life

 

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Staycation

This morning BFF flew home to Bonny Scotland after staying here to take care of me for a smidge over two weeks. After the stress and worries this year has thrown at me, the postponement of our April pj-party due to CoVid19, it was so unbelievably uplifting to have BFF walk through my door.

Our time together has three main heading, films, food and yarning. Now that might be silly chatter yarning or the more creative productive yarning. This time as well as some cat protection blankets we also tackled some rather cute cat toy mice and fish.

Previous visits have been invaded by the black and white bundle of adorability, affectionately known as Mickey #NotMyCat, this time he brought his brother Ginger #NotMyCat2. He’s a lot more timid but did like to snooze comfortably and alone either on my bedroom windowsill or the woollen blanket on my bed, he’s also very vocal and announces his arrival. Both offered their approval of the crocheted toys, plus the rubs and snooze spots, and especially the edible treats.

My BFF is multi talented, not only did I get a much needed hair cut but a pedi soak too. Mickey gave the humming, vibrating bowl of water a glare, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d decided to dip a paw in but instead he gave it the usual cat statesmanship glare of indifference crossed with that ‘stupid humans’ expression they are so adept at.

After 187 consecutive days I escaped the confines of my dusty hovel and we ventured along the High Street, suitably covered in my new denim jacket (Christmas and birthday present from BFF) and wearing a natty face mask. A few errands were ticked off the list, social distancing guidelines and hand sanitising adhered to, the find trousers task one sadly was not successful.

This visits films included

  • Spitfire
  • The ugly dachshund
  • Armstrong
  • The absentminded professor
  • Kinky boots
  • Summer in February
  • Hidden Figures
  • Broken Flowers
  • The Great Gatsby
  • First Man
  • The Parent Trap
  • Flight
  • Born On The Fourth Of July
  • A summer place
  • A single man
  • First Wives Club
  • Calamity Jane
  • The Iron Maiden
  • A map of the world
  • Capote
  • Pollyanna
  • There’s No a Business Like Show business
  • American Pastoral
  • Walk The Line
  • The Crown Seasons 1 & 2

Back to our respective routines, counting down and conjuring up, until we can get together again.

Oh the tasty treat pictured, it’s enchilasagne …. enchiladas but layered in a lasagne fashion, it is so delicious and no layer out weighs another. BFF made a second batch so there are more for me to enjoy. Did I say my wonderful BFF was multi talented???

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2020 in Films, General, Life, people

 

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The Stunned Pause

Yesterday I had one of those instances where Big Sis would have literally laughed out loud. It began with my afternoon care visit, the carer is one I do not have very regularly but has been coming here for a few Saturday afternoons, we’ve had a number of conversations about various things. How to describe her, she’s short and rounded, akin the Estelle Getty look. She has a tendency to speak as if she’s looking after a half-deaf tottery ancient oldie who starts each sentence with a croaky “I’m eighty four you know…” type vibe.

She mentioned that her brother goes to a music evening where those gathered listen to and discuss music, wondered whether that would be something of interest to me (absolutely not). I replied that not many people listen to the styles of music that I enjoy. I went on to explain that I have a very mixed musical taste, depending on what I’m doing at the time. When I am concentrating on writing the HTML for the website I tend to listen to classical music, the likes of Debussy, Bach, Saint-Saën, Rachmaninov and such, for other creative musings it might be general rock and pop of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s preferring proper good tunes to specific groups, but my absolute go to for pure enjoyment and mood uplifting and this was my driving music was…..

(When I was telling BFF this in a telephone call at this point she went “You didn’t!”, oh yes I absolutely did.)

…..heavy metal, not the main stream but the off main rib rattling proper deep metal.

And then it happened, the face freezes as the mind adjusts and computes, the eyes reveal that they had a completely different perception of you. The sweet little innocent young (not so now) ‘nice’ girl. Ohhhh Noooooo, I have a dark side. I am sarcastic, cynical, stubborn, feisty, questioning. My tastes are eclectic, I enjoy Shakespeare and Dickens, but also Red Dwarf and child animation movies; tv quizzes like Tipping Point or The Chase and will have a crack at Only Connect and University Challenge; films it’s more the grizzly horror or mystery than sweet romance. Musically it’s what takes my fancy.

In a recent online convo with my BFF about getting my hair cut, she suggested like Tinkerbell, to which I posted the suitably cute smiling face and she, knowing me exceptionally well, said no, more like…

Can you guess who posted which, lol.
 
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Posted by on June 14, 2020 in General, Life, people

 

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Destructive Anger Destroys

Over the past few days we’ve witnessed more and more global unrest and calls for changes along with recognition of how the black community has been systematically treated. The death of George Floyd, along with far too many other coloured people, in the USA is a tragic, horrific thing, but it has lit a fireball that might yet engulf thousands of more lives. It was a wrong action by that officer, others were wrong around him, that caused a death; and there have been similar actions by other officers in the past. Thankfully very very few in the UK compared to some educated countries, but nowhere is immune.

The Black Lives Matter movement has a wish (not using the word agenda, it has connotations) and in the twenty first century, forward thinking, prosperous West, you’d think we’d be able to get it right more than wrong.

Watching the marches, the protests, the taking the knee, it is a commendable grand gesture but how does it teach, enlighten or instruct. I am fully aware that these events contain a few hell bent on chaos and destruction and a few more who get polluted by the mob mentality, but I am yet to understand how defacing buildings, statues, plinths, memorials will teach, enlighten or educate.

Where do I learn the other side of the story without being branded a racist, a privileged white b*itch, or such like, or being shouted at “you’ll never understand coz you’re not black”. Violence, rage, destruction, aggressive language etc will not help change minds, or teach a better way, it will fuel the old assumptions and stereotypes. It will instil fear and anxiety.

There was a particular image that enraged me to utter gutteral wanton disgust … it made me so angry I wished true, long term harm upon another person. Here is that image.

This is the Cenotaph. It stands in Whitehall, London. There are only three words on it “The Glorious Dead” and we see someone trying to set fire to the Union flag. The Cenotaph is a memorial to all those who died in the World Wars, all those who enlisted, all those who volunteered, all those hundreds of thousands who were conscripted, from ALL nations of the Commonwealth (last time I checked that warmly, willingly, includes ethnic minorities). For the millions who fought, suffered, were injured, who died, defending and protecting many rights and freedoms people so quickly abuse today. This person saw fit to trample and abuse that – my cynical sarcastic mind wants to ask “Is it because the Portland stone is too white?”

So what will the consequences be, for me ….. Well, I’ll be blunt and honest, it will scare me. What if as I go to enter a door and don’t stop to let the ethnic person go first, am I about to be called racist. If I hold the door to let the ethnic person go first, am I exerting my white privilege. If I enquire for explanation or understanding about an opinion or action, am I being confrontational. I fully realise that not everyone is carrying that hair triggered chip on the shoulder but because so many do, how do I avoid getting snapped at, or flattened with a knee at my neck.

Dear World, I myself alone have no control on what happened during the past two-three hundred plus years or more. In that, I am powerless. I can only be responsible for my personal actions of the past five decades (and a smidge bit, very slim but more). I hope I have always been equally respectful and friendly to everyone I have ever encountered, for that is the best I can do.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2020 in In The News, Life, people

 

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Behind The Screen

This blog is a little different to my usual because it is being written with the intention of adding a link elsewhere to try and explain/highlight what has happened ‘behind the screen’ to bring a web page together.

As some may know I administrate, edit and manage a web site about a particular musician and have done for many many years. It is an on-going, complex, multi-layered learning experience that gathers information into one place. I do it for my own satisfaction, to have a one-stop place that collates his work, for the fans and those interested to visit. Yes, it costs me money, but what hobby doesn’t.

Recently he was interviewed by Dom Familaro for The Sessions Artist Series published to YouTube. If you are interested in the workings of the music industry, the various musicians that back, support, perform with many A-list names, perhaps you play an instrument, these interviews are entertaining and interesting to hear so many peoples different life stories, how music became their profession and where that profession has taken them and things they’ve learnt and experienced on the way. But I digress…..

The website has a few interview transcripts and it occurred to me that even though YouTube has the ‘captions’ option (akin to on the go subtitles in language of your choice), there is still a section of the world wide audience who are missing out, so I decided to transcribe the thirty-eight minute interview and find a way it can be translated, thus broadening it’s reach. Sounds reasonably straightforward, doesn’t it. Ha!

Step 1. Using a mix of shorthand, speed writing and longhand I begin taking down the dialogue. Gone are the days when I could audio-type thanks to my depleted dexterity. So it’s listen intently, stop video, write, reread, rewind and listen again, correct script, add punctuation. Continue to listen, pause it, write it down, check it, relisten to the passage, make corrections and proceed ….. you get the idea. It took a few days, working an hour or two per day.

Step 2. Thanks to my muscle disease rendering my fingers/hands/wrists so weak the easiest way to transcribe the written word is to use dictation, no more confidently typing at between 70-75 wpm for me anymore. I create a fresh document, hit the microphone and speak clearly, deciphering my scrawl as I go. Stopping after a couple of paragraphs to read over the dictation, correct the errors, add the punctuation, capitalise names etc. Hit save and carry on. It takes a couple of days but at the end there are nine pages of crisp type, each paragraph a persons dialogue, all checked, proofed and corrected.

Step 3. Now it gets a little technical because I need to add the HTML tags that make it show on the eventual web page. Each paragraph needs a <p> at the beginning. It makes visual sense to have the interviewers dialogue in a different colour to the interviewees, so I add a font=“colornumber” to those lines. I also have to add the speakers name to each paragraph to make it easier to follow who is saying or asking what. So that’s added, all in capitals for emphasise.

Step 4. Using a specific software program I create the webpage, it’s basic style set to match the myriad of pages already there. I add the techie bit of code to embed the YouTube video, making sure it sits comfortably and is the correct size. I add the tab heading and explanation. Then in chunks I add the coded interview transcription. Crossing my fingers I hit the ‘test’ function to see what it looks like as a web page. I am reasonably pleased with the result except the colour is way way off, neon lime green, the hex code is a shade of red! Hmm……that needs investigating, it works on other pages already published.

Step 5. Thanks to an excellent web site that walks you through, teaches and shows how to grapple with HTML coding I can put together the five or six lines of instruction to add a button to bring up a menu of languages that Google will then translate the whole page. Wow! I add it at the top of the transcription coding and hit ‘test’. It’s there, and what’s more……it works! Victory! By chance it answers my query about the text colour coding, I think the issue is that versions of HTML change things, and that’s what has happened here, the code for changing the font colour is now a script command within the <p> notation, so I will need to put together the new bit of code, then copy and paste it at the beginning of each of the interviewers dialogue.

Step 6. I confidently upload the new page to the server, add the link to the main media page so viewers can get to it and voila….well no, not quite yet, actually. I forgot the special text snaffoo, you see when you type characters like & ( ‘ ) “ and then copy/paste them into a coding page, things go a little bit odd, it turns a ‘ into ’ . So I need to go through the entire transcript and remove the gobbledygook and replace the appropriate punctuation mark.

Next time I am at my desk, I will have to go through the coding, change the font colour code and correct the ‘ (oh I hope the find and replace will help me). That a rough idea of what is involved for just one page. I intend to add the translation script to every page of the site, a mere thirty or so. Like the Forth Bridge, there is always something that needs working on to improve.

Link to the interview ….. The Sessions Artist Interview

Link to the website http://www.stcgibb.com

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2020 in Music, people, Tech, Website

 

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CoVid-19

Well here we all are, being all cosy and shut in, some are out and about doing their essential duties and a huge THANK YOU to them all. It was been interesting watching the tv reports, media articles and social media reaction. Soo, what do we think of it so far.

Quick run down of the media v chief medical advisor advice. Official advice on the symptoms is …

  • Fever
  • Persistent dry cough

According to the media symptoms are

  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Loss of sense of taste
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach and intestine issues
  • Breathlessness
  • Headache
  • A dozen other unsubstantiated drivel 🙄

Then we have the behaviour versus the rules. Officially we have been told

  • Only go out to buy food or get medicines
  • Travel to/from work if it’s essential
  • Short exercise (maintaining social distance)

But what are people ‘actually’ doing? The majority seem to be able to follow the appropriate guidelines but, as ever, there is a selfish element in our society that ignored, flouted and even blatantly acting ridiculously.

There are horror stories of gangs gathering, of people spitting, of people acing out, punching, attacking anyone who crosses their actions. People have been selfishly stockpiling food and loo rolls, actively yanking out of others hands or filling three, four trolleys of items. It’s not actions driven by fear but by selfish greed, either to resell at hiked prices or do be smug.

AS FOR ME ….. I’m okay, I self isolate in January, February and March because I want to socially distance from the usual coughs and colds, so it’s just being extended. My Carers complete the four daily visits and I’ve been assured that as in most need I am a priority for continued care. I’ve enough in the cupboard to get me to my grocery delivery (might get a bit odd next weekend) but depending what they bring and whether I can book another slot *shrug* but Carers, neighbours and family have offered to shop.

Sadly, broken heartedly, brought to tears, my BFF has had to cancel her visit but she has rebooked for June. I hope some of these restrictions can be reduced before then.

When this is all over …. I am definitely having that bumper British breakfast delivered by a local diner – delayed deserved birthday bonanza.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2020 in In The News, Life, people

 

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2019

To say that 2019 has been an absolute horrid catastrophic year would be a cavernous understatement. Never at the beginning could I have foreseen the end, nor the hell in between.

I usually feel odd at the end of any given year. Many see it as a fresh page, the new beginning, the marker to strive forward. I just see it as another day, no different to the 31st, 17th or 4th. However, I’m not ready to let go of 2019, I don’t want to let go of what’s been lost. 2020 will be the first year without my Big Sis, and I am way far being ready for that. 2020 will be a year of more forced change and adapt as I try and find somewhere new to live and all the fraught difficulties that brings.

BFF and I are already planning some fun, hopefully when she visits we will over night in the city and revisit some old haunts and enjoy some reminiscent foods. I’ll still be crocheting blankets when the strive strikes. There are online projects to get stuck in to and ongoing business to fit in. I should get back to nightly reading.

Still, it will be what it will be and hopefully we are all still here by the end of it.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2019 in General, Life

 

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