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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

18 And Life.

You know you're getting old when.....

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Sharing Those Special Places.

The cycle path cometh.

Friday, 24 February 2012

AudioBoo - A Lost Viewer.

A Lost Viewer. (mp3)

Here's a link to the blog post that i mentioned:

Thursday, 23 February 2012

A Website Too Far?

There's always another website to waste your time on isn't there?
This time it's a new site called Pinterest -

Links to some of the sites mentioned:

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

It Was 50 Years Ago Today.....

.....that John Glenn went into space for the first time.

I heard this mentioned on BBC radio this morning and then came across this video.
The opening words of the commentary to this video are "This is the moment that the USA entered the space race".
All very good, except that it wasn't.

I'm sure we all know that the first person into space was Yuri Gagarin, on 12th April 1961. But, so many seem not to know that the second person into space and the first American, was actually Alan Shepard. His first mission took place on 5th May 1961. Nearly a year before John Glenn's first flight.

Alan Shepard, like Glenn, was one of the original NASA astronauts. All of whom were later immortalised by Tom Wolfe and Hollywood in 'The Right Stuff'.
Shepard later commanded the Apollo 14 mission to the Moon and was the fifth person to ever walk on the surface. Something John Glenn never did. He is probably best remembered for playing golf during a moonwalk.

I am in no way trying to diminish the undoubted achievements of John Glenn. After all, he later became the oldest man into space when he flew aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1998. He was 77 years old at the time!

No, what annoys me about this is that Alan Shepard seems to have been left out. I can't remember any news items, or videos when the anniversary of his first space flight came around. I certainly remember Yuri Gagarin's flight being, quite rightfully, commemorated.

So, why has Alan Shepard become the forgotten man of space history?
Maybe, it's because he died in 1998, of leukemia and also because he wasn't a very high profile character during his later life?
John Glenn on the other hand, famously became a U.S Senator for 25 years and of course went back into space in 1998.
John Glenn, thankfully, is still alive and kicking today and therefore available to talk about his past exploits.

They say that death is a great career move. But it seems that this only works if you're a pop star, or an actor/actress. It obviously doesn't apply to astronauts.

The next few years will bring a whole host of 50th anniversaries. After all, the 1960's were a time of great change and produced many momentous events and memories.

Two immediately spring to mind, one more for 2012 and one for 2013.
1 - The Beatles first single "Love Me Do" was released on 5th October 1962 and
2 - President John F. Kennedy was assasinated, in Dallas, on 22nd November 1963.

I have a funny feeling that those particular anniversaries and the people involved, will be well remembered.
And quite rightly too.

Thanks for the memories.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Two Moments In Time.

I'm sure that we've all seen at least some of the footage of the UK singer/songwriter Adele performing 'Rolling In The Deep' at the Grammys the other night by now?

Not surprisingly, i suppose, it was featured on all of our major news bulletins here in the UK and a very good performance it was too. It certainly made me appreciate the song far more than i had done before. I thought that it brought out the bluesy and gospel feel of the song.
By the way, a lot of the footage has now been taken down from YouTube etc due to copyright demands from the Grammys themselves, spoilsports.

One thing that i noticed about the performance was the reaction of the crowd afterwards. A prolonged standing ovation and a feeling that, for once at least, it was a genuine and spontaneous reaction from the assembled musicians and lesser Grammy goers.

But, it also reminded me of a similar performance very nearly a year ago at the Brit Awards, in London. That performance was of 'Someone Like You' (Watch in HD), but although i didn't see the awards ceremony, to be honest they bore me to tears, i do remember the reaction afterwards.

Although Adele was a big star at the time, the introduction mentioned the fact that she was Number 1 in 17 countries at that moment, that performance catapulted her even higher.

That live version of 'Somone Like You' was played, seemingly, non-stop on UK radio and the song flew to the top of the charts. The YouTube video of that performance went viral and was being shared all over the world. The link above has now been watched over 94 million times!

It was at that time that i started to notice American friends of mine sharing that video on Facebook and suddenly realising that they'd stumbled onto someone quite special.

Fast forward a year and now another great live performance, this time in the USA, threatens to send Adele's career into virtual orbit. Yes, she has already topped the U.S charts and set chart records galore. But i think that the effect of last Sunday's performance will have, once again,  showcased Adele's talent to a whole new audience.
Winning 6 Grammy awards obviously doesn't exactly hinder that either.

But, why her?

Well, i can't pretend to be any expert on the music of Adele. I have both of her albums in my iTunes library, but that is only because i've bought the albums for my wife. I've never actually listened to them all the way through. In some ways, i don't really have to as i hear Adele's music everywhere anyway.

But, i do appreciate it and certainly enjoyed both of those career defining live performanaces mentioned above. For me, the live performances that i've seen have been better than the recorded ones and maybe that's why those tv performances have had such an impact?

As the compere of that Brit Awards show said after Adele had sung, there was no need for pyrotechnics, just a piano and a voice.

Adele doesn't need dancing girls, sexy videos, or autotune and she also just doesn't do lip-synching unlike the majority of other, especially female, singers around at the moment. She relies instead on what she does best, singing and singing with real emotion too. That is obviously helped by the fact that she writes the majority of her own songs.
Yes, she had a full backing band at the Grammys, but it was still an understated performance.
It is all about the performance, there are no distractions.

What people are being drawn to i think, in the case of Adele, is something that they haven't really been able to get from a pop star for some years now. A return to a kind of back to basics performance, just like in the old days.

Another selling point and i'm sure that this is not just coincidence, is the abscence of any real "image". Although, i do feel that this has in actual fact now become her image. Whether that is by accident, or design, i'm not sure.
Without meaning to sound mean, Adele looks rather plain and just doesn't have that 'pop star' look that other female singers have. This means that all of the attention is drawn to her voice and performance and i think she succeeds all the more for that.
This sets her apart from the likes of Lady Gaga, Rhianna and Beyonce, all of whom use their bodies, sexiness and shock tactics to help sell their music.

Adele's success and the reaction to these performances just goes to show that the public do actually appreciate and recognise a great talent when they see and hear one. Hopefully, it will also lead to the general public starting to see through those shock tactics employed by others and help provoke a return to real performances.

Whilst i can't pretend to be the biggest fan of her music,  i'm more than happy to stand up and applaud the talents of Adele. I have a feeling that i'm not alone in that.

Let's hope that her success might herald a new generation of original performers with genuine talent, instead of the ersatz pop performers we've been subjected to for far too long now.

Let's hope also that those two great performances will be followed by many others in the years to come.

PS: Here is a video of Adele's debut tv performance: Daydreamer - June 2007
I know i will have seen this at the time, but don't remember it. I guess that just goes to show that we can't always spot talent when it is in front of us?,

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Friday, 10 February 2012

Sexed Up?

I am an avid viewer of the UK Channel 4 TV program "Time Team".

For those not in the know, it is a program all about archaeology and it has been broadcasting now for many years. Every program visits a different archaelogical site and spends 3 days excavating there. Sometimes they find very little and other times they strike the jackpot and find something historically exciting and significant.

The program has been in the news this week after two of its presenters have quit the program. One a long serving archaeologist and the other, a new presenter brought in for the latest series, the 19th, which started airing on Channel 4 a few weeks ago.

Whilst i have no intention of trying to read between the lines of statements, from various parties, that i have read and second guessing what actually caused those resignations. Some things, to fans of the program at least, are pretty evident.

Before the current series starting broadcasting, i saw pieces saying that the old format had been changed slightly. There was a new, second presenter for example, Mary-Ann Ochota, one of those who has quit. It was also revealed that some other regular contributors would not be as visible this time around.

This has been born out when watching the start of the new series. Some people seem to have gone altogether and others are not present for whole episodes, but turn up occasionally in others.

Of course i understand that there can be many reasons for this. People move on to pastures new, although i've not seen any suggestion of this. Others could be busy with their own careers as professional archaeologists, or experts in their own particular field and, maybe, just can't spare the time to appear in a tv program.

But, what has become evident to me as i've been reading the fall out of these resignations over the past few days, is that the whole program production of Time Team has changed for this new series.
For some strange reason the producers seem to have decided to mess with a well loved formula and to try to sex it up.

I fully understand that things might have to change. Things can get a little stale, but we're not talking about a comedy show that has to dreamt up and written here. We're talking about a factual program with a seemingly endless supply of material.
This seems to me to have been a classic case of trying to fix something that wasn't broke in the first place.

Sure, Time Team isn't for everybody, but it never will be. It is what i would call classic niche market tv. The audience will never be huge, but those that do watch will be passionate about the program and the subject matter. They will and have, become very attached to the program and don't want to see change just for the sake of it.

I feel very sorry for those presenters that have felt the need to resign. After all, it's hardly their fault that they've got caught up in all of this.
They have, in effect, become the victims of the changes, as have the viewers as well.

How many more times are we going to see perfectly good tv programs and radio shows being sexed up to, supposedly, make them more appealing to the general public?
We can probably all think of examples of our favourite shows being changed and usually changed for the worse too. I know that there are several shows that i now don't either listen to, or watch because of this trend.

I just hope that Time Team doesn't become another one.
Thankfully, the fall out from this latest debacle suggests that lessons have been learned and that the next seires will feature a return to "normal service".

Only time will tell.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

A Bad Policy.

Some observations after reading a companies IT policy.

Are they all as badly written as this one & does anyone out there really "get" social networking?

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

This One Always Gets Me.

Yesterday i was re-aquainted with a piece of music i hadn't heard for a few years. A piece of music that has an effect on me every time that i hear it. A piece of music that everyone should hear at least once and doesn't get the exposure that it fully deserves.

A local friend of mine on Facebook posted a link to a YouTube video of the track.
Here it is and i suggest that you watch it now before reading any further:

Powerful stuff isn't it?

As i said earlier, i feel that everyone should hear that piece of music at least once and once it all it usually takes to embed it into your head forever.

I can honestly say that, although i had no idea what the song was when i first heard it, it was something that i didn't forget.
The friend who posted it yesterday said that they can remember hearing it broadcast on Radio North Sea, an offshore radio station. They were listening on a small transistor radio at the time, under the bedclothes. Does that sound familar?
I'm pretty sure that i first heard that track under similar circumstances. Although my radio station would have been the famous/infamous Radio Caroline. This would have been in the mid 1970's.
I heard it a few times back then, via Radio Caroline, but i never did catch what the song was actually called, or who it was by. The only piece of information that i heard was the word "MoWest", which meant absolutely nothing to me at the time and in those pre Internet days, that's the way it stayed.
Despite this, it was a piece of music that i never forgot.

I can't remember exactly when i next heard it, but it was certainly many years later.
I had a feeling that it was on the BBC radio program, Desert Island Discs, or at least that's what i thought. I have since checked and according to their records, Tom Clay's track has never been chosen.
But, i distinctly recall hearing somebody mentioning the track and playing, at least a part of it, on the radio. I remember this because i was instantly transported back to the first time i ever heard it and all the reasons that made it such a memorable song were instantly there, once again.
The person talking about the song was also saying how much it had affected them too. So, i was not alone.

Thankfully, during that interview, i finally heard and wrote down the name of Tom Clay. And, luckily, the Internet was now with us and a quick search revealed details about the track and about Tom Clay himself.
Even then, the track proved rather elusive when it came to trying to purchase it and i still couldn't get my hands on a copy.

The mystery of the word "MoWest" was revealed though. MoWest was the record label that the song was released on, it was a subsidary of the great Motown label. It was released in 1971 and got to number 8 in the Billboard charts, selling over 1 million copies.

A few years later, i found the piece of paper with "Tom Clay - What The World Needs Now/Abraham, Martin and John" written on it. This time an Internet search found the track and i was finally able to download and listen to this elusive song that i had first heard all those years ago.
I can promise you that that first play of "What The World Needs Now" had the same effect on me as did all previous listens.

Tom Clay's masterpiece is one of those tracks that i have to be in the right frame of mind to listen to.
In fact i hardly ever play it, but then i don't really need to. I can remember it well enough without hearing it.
There have even been times when i've thoughtt of playing it, now that i have that luxury, but i've stopped myself from doing so. I think that is mainly because of the effect that the track always has on me.
As with yesterday, one listen can get me thinking. remembering and even blogging!

I can honestly say that i don't think there is any other piece of music i know, that has the same effect on me. That is not something that i've ever really thought about until now, but i certainly believe that to be true.

Maybe this is because of the era, the 1960's, that the song is all about? The 1960's were, after all, my formative years and the track mentions events, albeit on another continent, that i remember vivdly. Events that have stuck in my mind ever since
One of my first memories is of the assasination of President Kennedy in 1963, when i was 5 years old.

I know that there is more to it than that though. The effect on me also comes from the interviews that are heard during the song and the answers given by the small children to the questions they are asked.

Now the subject matter of what those innocent children were talking about is, unfortunately, still all too relevant in 2012. You can almost imagine similar interviews taking place right now.
I'd like to think that the answers given would be the same too.

Maybe we haven't come as far as we thought we had?

PS: That's two days running that i've written about music and certain songs reminding me of my past and the effect that those songs have had.
I can see a trend developing here.

If you want to find out more about Tom Clay, go here: