Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Not the rolling stones

I went to see "former members" so called because they are former members of various groups.

This band are absolutely phenomenal. Bruce Barthol bassist from Country Joe & The Fish, Greg Douglass - lead guitarist of Steve Miller Band, Roy Blumenfeld - drummer of Al Kooper's Blues Project - and David Bennett Cohen, Grammy nominated piano player from Country Joe & The Fish.

The youngets of these Bruce Barthol about 68 years old,  all of them having played and performed profesionally for over 50 years.

They were fantastic - it was a privilege to watch them play and a delight to see their enjoyment at playing.   They have all played at massive rock festivals and with a host of other great musicians - here they were at a small pub with a small audience and giving a masterclass in playing.  You got the impression they could play anything anywhere.

The musicians in the audience were just blown away, I overheard one person describe it as like being in the presence of a jazz or blues great in the 20th century.

Monday, 22 October 2012

The Naked Island

The Naked Island by Russell Brandon (ISBN 0-330-02169-9) is his story of joining the Australian Army in 1941 and his capture and imprisonment for 3 years by the Japanese Imperial Army.

This was apparently one of the first books written about such experiences, and was first published in 1952.

It is a powerfully written and evocative account.  Russell writes with a keen eye for detail, a amazingly robust sense of humour and excellent character portraits.

His description of training and deployment by the Australian Army ought to be read by anyone interested in the military.  The farcical deployments and movements and 'training' contrast appallingly with the courage and heroism displayed by the troops in combat.

His time in captivity, is harrowing, and I can only describe it as being like memoirs of a concentration camp survivor.  The treatment of prisoners by the Japanese Military was appalling beyond words. In fact, at one stage in the book, Brandon himself struggles to describe the existence he endured.  The relentless 18 hours of work and brutality passing in  a haze where one incident blurs into an endless stream of torture  so bad that few incidents stand out for recall. Working 18 hours a day subject to beatings and witnessing unimaginable cruelty, Brandon survived by determination,luck and telling himself nothing mattered.

That the suffering inflicted by the Japanese Army was both deliberate and unnecessary is without doubt.  I can't help but feel for the British/commonwealth/USA troops who had to endure it and who saw their comrades suffer and die, yet were treated abysmally after the war and got little in the way of compensation or apology.

Blakes 7 is back

The way through the woods

Dr Who - The way through the woods - by Una McCormack - ISBN 978-1-849-90237-3

The strange wood - the Roman Road bends to avoid it, as does the modern motorway as did the neolithic track. 

The Dr, Amy Pond and Rory is a stolid adventure which very much captures the essence of the TV programme. 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Dead Wrong

Watching the awful "Psychic Sally" on TV this morning was quite stomach churning.

As a display of cold reading - it was fairly second rate. Sally passed on such pathetic messages as "x mises you" and "you were a good mum."

I am undecided as to whether Psychic Sally is a fraud or a pious fraud - that is someone who truly believes in what she is saying.

Most of the time Sally semed to fish for information - "Who is Sarah ?" -
begging for the reply - "I don't know Sally - your the one talking to the dead, why not tell me who they are refering to."  Strangley enough there was someone in the audience who was or knew a Sarah, but Sarah has usually been one of the top five girls names in the Uk for the past 100 years !

Mary or Jennifer or Susan would have been good bets for a response.

An audience member came out convinced that Sally had "confirmed what we already knew" - well that's the thing about psychics - you tell them things but word, body language, appearance, reaction etc and they tell you what they have picked up from you.  Sally was particularly blatent along the lines of
Sally - who is Barbara ?
Punter - My mother
Sally -  yes that's what she's telling me, Barbara is your mum 
Punter - Amazing she knew my mums name

Worst still - most "psychics" mix in hot readings as followers and staff send them information about their concerns which can then be fed back to them.
Well wouldn't you ? Your son or daughter or parent died and someone tells you they might be able to talk to them ?

Odd how Sally won't be tested properly.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Fagin's Last Hour

I have been a fan of James Hyland (actor/writer/producer)  since seeing his supurb one man show "A Christmas Carol - as told by Jacob Marley (Deceased)"

Fagin's Last Hour is an amazing retelling of Oliver Twist from the point of view of Fagin.

Hyland gives an incredibly energetic performance and conjours up Fagin, Oliver, The Artful Dodger,
Bill Sykes and Nancy.  That a man with a full beard is utterly convincing as a woman tells you what  a great atmosphere Hyland creates. Spell binding.  He shifts roles with alarming ease, keeping the dramatic tension and the play flowing.

The set, costum and make up are excellent. Dickens sadly seems very relevent today, when the squalor and division of victorian Britain re-emerging.

Now at last someone (Hyland) has persuaded me to read Oliver Twist.


David Cameron said in his conference speech.

"I'm not here to defend privilege, I'm here to spread it."

Privilege - is commonly used to mean  "a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group"

It is a sad day when the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom doesn't know what a word means.
Or does he ?

The reason for the existence of the Conservative Party has always been to defend privilege.  A few Conservatives feel privilege ought to be justified in some way - e.g for 'wealth creators' but for most of them the existence of a hierarchy is a good in itself.

Middle English: via Old French from Latin privilegium 'bill or law affecting an individual', from privus 'private' + lex, leg- 'law'