Monday, 29 April 2013

A Sign Of The Times?

The orderly North Korean society appears, at first glance, to be together: but the dividing line between those who lead and those who are led is as clearly defined as the imbalance of power. The chosen crowd watches a military parade as a third of their fellow countrymen watch their families die from malnutrition.

(C. Sony Photo Awards)
Protests at imposed austerity in Greece create unrest on the streets of Athens. Why should the masses pay for the mistakes of countless avaricious bankers?

(C. Sony Photo Awards)
The self-destruction of Syria continues unabated. The world observes but does not intervene. No oil there. Nothing worth fighting for. Unlike Iraq, Kuwait, Libya... 

The lack of sincerity will continue to fuel the fires of resentment.

(C. Sony Photo Awards)

And countless human beings seeking freedom...

...while countless others seek the opposite - their minds locked in dogma, superstition and, worst of all, religion.

But life goes on in the hope-filled minds of the innocent who share their gift with obliging friends...

...and in the life-long companions who share their undying love.

(C. Sony Photo Awards)
But there is hope. An abundance of hope. The milk of human kindness nourishes those in need...

...and never before have so many helped so many

A sign of the times?  What do you think?


Thursday, 25 April 2013

In Praise of Beauty - Part 2

Beauty, be it in Nature or Art, has always fascinated me. I live mostly in a constant state of awe and wonder. Not a single day goes by when I don't see something worthy of my utmost admiration.

Long may it continue, for I will never tire of admiring beauty.

Beauty such as in Sofia C, from Portugal. The epitome of feminine elegance and refinement, and in an arty shot that could grace the cover of any magazine...

 and on to the exquisite finesse of this translucent rainforest butterfly...

and the majestic snowy owl...

or the autumn sun forcing it's way through a blanket of rain clouds...

or even setting, after a long day of laborious luminescence...

 and...the town I love so well.


Sunday, 21 April 2013

Friends Fill my Life With Joy

Last Saturday I drove down to Farnborough in Hampshire to meet for the first time a man I have come to know over the last two years through his blog writing.

Dicky Carter and I had a couple of beers and a good chat - the kind of informed conversation expected from long-time friends.

We met up in The Crown And Cushion pub in the rural setting of Hampshire. A typical olde English Inn dating back to the 16th century, The Crown and Cushion oozes warmth and old world hospitality.

Dicky was exactly as I expected. His views and opinions matched my expectations to a tee.  I was instantly convinced he writes his fine blog openly and from the heart.

I would have liked a longer session and could easily have sat in that cosy pub sampling all the fine ales and continuing our interesting conversation, but I was en route to Basingstoke, a further 45 minutes away.

It was a pleasure meeting Dicky - I hope we can meet up again soon.

On to Basingstoke I went to meet up with Claudia, my dearest friend from Madeira, and her husband Marco. Claudia's work led them to leave Madeira some 6 months ago, much to my delight.

I arrived at her address just as the heavens opened up with a monsoon-like downpour. Claudia came to meet me from the car with an umbrella small enough to make not the slightest bit of difference. But it's the thought that counts.

It was lovely to see her beaming smile and to greet her with a huge hug, so far away from our familiar setting of Madeira. We went straight to the local pub to meet up with Marco, who was having a pint with some friends.

After the brief interval of dining at their home (my favourite Portuguese dish of bacalhau) we went straight back out to the pub, where a night of excellent live music made me feel as if we had never left The Warm Up Cafe.

Marco, Claudia, Lisandra and I at The Warm Up Cafe - Madeira
about a year ago. The night we all wore Johnny Walker
promotional fake specs

Back at the house some few hours and many beers later, we continued chatting until 4am. Just as my eyelids began to struggle to stay apart, we all called it night and staggered off to bed.

My phone woke me up at 8am with a call from Mattie asking if I was already on my way to pick him up - an hours drive away - to take him fishing.

I got out of bed and made my way, silently, to the kitchen downstairs, in order not to wake my hosts. Just as I turned on the kettle I heard footsteps coming down the stairs. Claudia appeared seconds later, smiling and looking none the worse for wear, and promptly insisted on making me breakfast. My objections were not taken seriously and soon the exotic aroma of fresh coffee brought me out of my alcohol-induced drowsy state.

I left some minutes later, jumped in the car and drove away, just as a wave of sadness engulfed me. On  the rear view mirror I could no longer see Claudia, and I was missing her, all over again.

So looking forward to the next visit.



Thursday, 18 April 2013

Something I rarely do... promote my music, but now that I've found an old CD of a song I wrote about 3 years ago - I've  decided to post it on YouTube.

It's a home recording, simple and unplugged, and it refers to the last stages of my relationship with Madeleine.

It was written around the time when she started telling me what I was thinking and predicting what I was about say.

The time when she started "Talking For Me"

A time when almost everyone around us could foresee our demise.

Everyone...but me.


Friday, 12 April 2013

100 Words: Proud to Be What?

I am amazed at the amount of times I hear or read the word proud used in the wrong context.

Phrases such as "I'm proud to be Black/White/British/Gay/" and many more, are wrong and annoy me. Those are conditions that were not chosen, nor gained through effort.

One can be proud to be an athlete, an artist, a parent, for to achieve those qualities effort and sacrifice are required.

One can't be proud of something not worked for.

Singer Heather Small has the right idea

I'm not proud to be Portuguese, I'm just happy with it.

But I'm proud to be a good father, a singer/musician, and an atheist - all achieved through hard graft.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Best Mind Altering Drug is Laughter

"Panda? in the cute cuddly bear?" I asked

"No, I call my wayward husband Panda because he treats our house like a cheap hotel, and only drops in when he wants food and sex"

"But why give him such a cute nickname?"

 "Because the Panda eats, shoots and leaves"

eats shoots and leaves

And a few ticklers from recent FB posts


Monday, 8 April 2013

Oh Maggie I Wish I'd Never...

...seen your face - as sang by Rod Stewart back in the days - has been playing over and over in my head all evening. It all started when I heard the news about Margaret Thatcher's death.

My sympathy goes out to her relatives.

I never liked her and will not weep for her. In fact I disliked her intensely.

Maggie and I were poles apart - politically and socially.

At the height of her power in the early 80s I was a paid-up member of the Labour Party, campaigning tirelessly and volunteering many an unpaid hour in my bid to help elect Neil Kinnock.

A formidable politician she undoubtedly was. A true blue ultra right-wing conservative who cared more for dog-eat-dog capitalism than for the masses.

I also never liked the tag  "The Iron Lady"  given her by the press, and was always of the opinion a more apt label such as "The Ice Maiden" would have been more appropriate.

But I didn't hate her.  And I certainly wouldn't want to do what singer/songwriter Elvis Costello suggested in his song Tramp The Dirt Down, written about Maggie, and which he sang"when they finally put you in the ground I'll stand on your grave and tramp the dirt down"

The Iron Lady has died - may she rust in peace.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Why Are so Many of Islam's Clerics so Full of Hatred?

Every time I see or hear extremist clerics of Islam spread violence hatred and intolerance, I wonder what they think their prophet would think of their actions.  I also wonder why their followers don't ask the self same question of their religious "leaders". Then I remember that faith is as blind as it is destructive and is the main source of human suffering.

The latest target of the archaic zealots is Amina Tyler.

Amina is a 19 year old Tunisian girl who recently posted a topless photo on Facebook in protest at the inequality and subjugation of women in her (Muslim) society.

Amina is being detained by her family under house arrest - incommunicado - and with the help of local police. She has received numerous death threats after appearing with the words "Fuck your morals" and "My body is mine and not the source of anyone's honour" written across her torso.

Her brave and noble campaign has since inspired world wide protests in support of her actions.

You can also read the inspirational words of  fellow blogger SoggyMog on her valiant effort to highlight Amina's plight.

Amina is extremely brave to stand up for her rights in a society where such actions can easily lead to her death.

I know the Islam preachers of hate will try to break her bones, but will they ever break her spirit?

I sincerely hope not.

I ask all my blogpals to please support Amina by spreading this campaign through social media.

Together we can make a difference.