Thursday 31 May 2012

Ann Kaide

On this day in 1909 my Nanna S was born in Dundee. My Nanna [sic] was like a second mother to me. I was the first grandchild and was spoilt something chronic. Sadly she died in 1974 at too early an age. I miss my Nanna.

Just after my father died I found a load of family photos thought to have been destroyed. I was over the moon I can tell you. In amongst the photos were a number of my Nanna. Here’s one of her at the age of 48:

Wednesday 30 May 2012


Last Saturday we returned home from a wonderful holiday in France:

After a hectic first weekend of our holiday with our friends near Compiegne we made our way down to Bayeux for a relaxing few days. We had rented a Gite right in the town.

We are not very good tourists. Most people seem to like going to places and tick as many tourist 'attraction' boxes as possible. Not us. We like our holidays to be slow and gentle.

For most visitors Bayeux is not a destination. It's just another stop on the relentless ardour that is American coach trip hell. Most visitors seem to come to the area to visit the beaches famous for the D-Day landings. Something that didn't greatly interest us. We had come to Bayeux to see the Tapestry and generally chill.

The Bayeux Tapestry is something quite remarkable even though it is embroidery rather than tapestry. Pictures don't really do it justice. It's not as tall as I expected but much longer than I had imagined. We had decided to visit late in the afternoon in an effort to avoid the crowds. Turning up at 5 o'clock certainly paid off. There were thankfully very few other visitors so we were able to peruse the tapestry at our leisure. You can gauge how busy it must get at peak times by the speed of the commentary on the electronic guide that you are given on entry. We listened and walked at a fairly rapid pace along the almost 70 metres of the tapestry. And then, the commentary dispensed with, we went back to the beginning enjoying the work at our own pace. Studying bits of interest in great detail. And a mighty fine experience it was indeed. It not only tells the story of the Battle of Hastings but events leading up to it. From a Norman perspective obviously. Pro William the Bastard nee Conqueror most certainly.

Bayeux's cathedral is quite a spectacular edifice to behold. Standing head and shoulders above the whole of Bayeux with its spiky twin towers at the entrance, a central domed tower with a spire on top all vying for attention. The medieval equivalent of the Ferrari or Lamborghini and a cudgel all rolled into one; a rich man's penis extension and a vehicle for oppression.

We had no real desire to visit any of the D-Day landing sites. That would seem to be the domain of very narrow minded people. Although we did make a couple of small exceptions. As a pacifist I am so often misunderstood by those that seek to glorify war. I will be accused by those types as being disrespectful to those that fought and died for our freedom but I am most certainly not. We stop on the coast road overlooking the site of some of the landings the skeletons of the mulberry harbours still visible after all this time. I felt sick in my stomach and I welled up inside at the thought of the death and destruction that reigned over that area on people of my grandparents' generation. Nobody should have had to of gone through such unimaginably fearsome times. War is evil. No one ever wins. War serves no purpose.

We had a lovely afternoon in Deauville a rather quirky town on the coast east of Bayeux. It's a seaside town that looks as though it could have been designed in Hollywood. Quintessentially French essence distilled into a concentrated form. Masses of timber framed buildings with towers and conical roofs.

On the way back we stopped at the Pegasus Bridge, we just felt we had to do something. I really can’t put into words how it made me feel.

Bayeux is a nice little French town to spend time in. We spent much of our holiday just wandering around and pottering there. We’re not good at the relentless schedules.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

From Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas

This piece has no significance. It just happens to be a good bit of writing. Enjoy.

"I am a draper mad with love. I love you more than all the flannelette and calico, candlewick, dimity, crash and merino, tussore, cretonne, crepon, muslin, poplin, ticking and twill in the whole Cloth Hall of the world. I have come to take
you away to my Emporium on the hill, where the change hums on wires. Throw away your little bedsocks and your Welsh wool knitted jacket, I will warm the sheets like an electric toaster, I will lie by your side like the Sunday roast

Sunday 20 May 2012

It's a mad world

But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here.

- Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

Tuesday 15 May 2012

The power of advertising

I try not to be affected or influenced unduly by advertising but sometimes I can’t help it. And last night I gave into such temptation. I was swayed by two adverts. The first was an advert for Sky television and the second was for Greene King IPA.

Now before advertising executives get all horny about the fact that their powers of persuasion are absolute I will burst their bubble. First of all I have to say that I wouldn’t give Murdoch the pickings of my nose so I sure as hell am not going to any of his products or services. In fact I couldn’t actually tell you anything about the Sky advert apart from it is for Sky and has some great background music. Now I am a fan of Greene King IPA and I don’t need an advert to tell me how good it is but I do like the advert. The Greene King ad starts with a cask bearing the place of it and my creation, Bury St Edmunds. It’s a well made ad. It features a pub. I don’t know if it’s real or fictitious but it feels as if it should be in Bury and it feels as if I’ve been in it. The ad features some slightly odd if not mildly menacing characters and that coupled with the haunting background music make for a visual masterpiece.

And my purchases?
Two music downloads of course.
The Greene King IPA ad: ‘Country song’ by Jake Bugg

Monday 7 May 2012

My paramilitary past

Oh that crazy Scandinavian furniture

All my adult life I’ve been a pacifist. Peace can only ever be the sane option that an intelligent, rational human being can choose. War is failure. War solves absolutely nothing.

I haven’t always recognised this. At the tender age of fourteen I joined the Air Training Corps, an offshoot of the RAF (and I don’t mean the Red Army Faction). It existed to groom and indoctrinate young boys into the cult of murder and a life in the Royal Air Force.

I have to confess that I enjoyed much of my time in the ATC. As well as learning the meaning of Esprit de corps I learned to shoot a rifle and had the opportunity to fly a couple of times. I never grasped the ability to march in time with my fellow cadets though. I blame two left feet, the lack of music and the fact that it used to bore me shitless on never mastering the left right thing.

But despite the fact that it is something I now find abhorrent. I did learn from the experience and I suppose because I am the sort that will question most things I didn’t succumb to their propaganda. The exposure to discipline and the culture of being ‘an officer and a gentleman’ certainly did me no harm, but I acknowledge it might not have suited everyone.

Going away to camp for a week was also right up my street, after getting through the initiation ceremony that is. Initiation at ATC camp was known as Brylcreeming. Interestingly it had no connection with hairdressing or that particular hair grooming product, although I suppose in the mists of time it had been pressed into service. Shaving foam was the unction of choice for the Brylcreeming ceremony in my day. Brycreeming was carried out after barrack room lights-out. The victim was de-bagged and his bollocks were sprayed with shaving foam. It was customary to resist the treatment, and after a brief struggle and an application of the said foam you were left on the cold floor in the dark, half naked and squirming. Oh how we laughed. The rest of camp was good. We took part in a night exercise. Did some shooting. Had a flight in an Air Support Arm Britannia; which was due to fly us up to Prestwick, but half way through the flight we developed engine trouble and had to turn back. As we came into land we could see fire engines and ambulances waiting, they then proceeded to follow us down the runway sirens blaring. It was so exciting. I didn’t twig the danger of the situation until much later.

I was a member of the ATC for about a year and a half. I realised that the military was not for me. I realised that having a possible future hand in killing was not for me. I also didn’t like how one’s individuality was suppressed, plus the uniforms were bloody itchy.

A warning to children everywhere

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Dear Diary Nº2

Hello again Dear Diary. I expect you are quite shocked. You don’t hear from me for thirty two years and then like buses two entries come along almost at once.

You’ll recall that the last time we met I mentioned 1974. It was a very significant year. I’ve already recorded some of the reasons for its significance but there were other reasons. We’ll gloss over the nocturnal near miss and go straight to the music. One of the short-lived group of friends, the one I am now in contact with now, is a Yorkshire man. At the time he mentioned a local band to watch out for. He was convinced they were destined for greater things. Their first album was released in that very year. The band in question was Be Bop Deluxe and that first album was called Axe Victim.

I was hooked from the first play and have been a firm Bill Nelson fan ever since. Rather unfairly at the time they were criticised as being a little too Bowie-esque. Be Bop Deluxe went through several line-up changes and five albums in its history, finally transmogrifying into Bill Nelson’s Red Noise for one album before Bill deigned to dream in colours and go solo. I was lucky enough to see Be Bop Deluxe on their Modern Music tour. Modern Music being their fourth album. Their biggest hit single was Ships In The Night.

I always felt that Bill Nelson has never had the recognition he deserves. Not only is he a great songwriter but an absolutely brilliant guitarist as well. Any bit as good as many of the so-called greats. His music has always stood me in good stead over the years.

I’m always looking for the next exciting thing musically. Sometimes good stuff comes along but real wows are few and far between. But I continue to search. It keeps me young.

I have no idea what music will manifest itself this year but despite that I think this is going to be a year to remember one way and another DD