Resolutions

Hi! Well, I guess this is where I came in! I started my blog experiment exactly 1 year ago and this was my first…

So, I thought I would re-post this as a kind of 1st blogbirthday re-visit.

I seem to have tailed off on my blog towards the close of 2015, in favour of doing more music but who knows? I might try to post some new stuff soon. M.

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Hello!  (my first blog/musings – please be gentle!)

Resolution Line breaks: reso|lution NOUN A firm decision to do or not to do something: a New Year’s resolution.

Well, I guess I made through Blue Monday – just! Although, sometimes the blue feeling creeps back in, like the hypnotic 12″ version of New Order, fading in and out. Hopefully fading, fading, fading, to a gentle hum, then a clarity of silence.

It struck me that emerging from the celebrations of the season, (I’m not saying the C*******s word until this December at the earliest!), and New Year, is it our obsession with resolutions, in some way, to blame for our blue feelings? Have we subconsciously raised some crazy, un achievable expectations, which eat away at us as we reluctantly drag ourselves into January?  Knowing fine well we will forget what we’ve promised ourselves and failing before we’ve begun?

Perhaps?  I don’t…

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Music Serendipity…

A long time fan of Neil Finn, I sometimes find it hard to discover new music where I feel the same connection.  Recently, (and it’s probably because they’re from Canada that I haven’t come upon them before – can you believe that?!), I have found a new source of amazing song-writing in a similar vein to Neil Finn.

It is of course City & Colour ((Color), depending on which side of the pond you reside!).  Dallas Green’s song-writing, beautiful vocal and acoustic approach to his songs have me hooked!

I booked tickets to see Lucy Rose at Glasgow in February 2016 and she plays alongside City & Colour. Who are they? I thought.  Hence the connection and subsequent search for the identity of City & Colour.  It’s one of those serendipitous moments when you discover a great band you instantly know your gonna like… Like forever!  It’s going to be an awesome concert!

Here’s Dallas doing ‘Waiting’ an absolutely amazing, melodic track – the kind I wish I’d written!!! (godamit!)

City & Colour

Waiting.

 

Been a while…

Hi guys…been a while I know but I seem to have been busy doing all the other media stuff we all get sucked into to keep connected!  Plus a bit of writing, music-wise, and trying to get time to record stuff too.

Anyway I guess we’ll go straight into books, an update.  So what have I been reading..? Well, a mixture of stuff really, so here’s the line up:

Just read… really funny and I totally recommend it.

 

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Currently reading…

I’ve gone back to Andy Mac to catch up on his Nina Wilde & Eddie Chase adventures.  I’ve favoured a contemporary author Scott Mariani (and his Ben Hope series of adventures), so it’s good to re-visit this series just now.

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And this I bought recently whilst visiting Edinburgh…

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…I can’t wait to get stuck into it!

Anyway, thanks for stopping by and I’ll update properly during some quality down-time next month – hopefully!

M 🙂

 

You’re Safe Now.

Hello!

I’m currently compiling a list of new song ideas to complete and record.  Over time, I collect loads of chord structure ideas, half finished songs, even just a chorus idea.  The hard part is the discipline needed to compile a ‘ready to record’ list, and harder still, to stick to it!

In preparation I tend to find other songs languishing on the hard-drive which I’ve recorded but neglected to mix and polish.  Perhaps because working along you can tend to get ‘track deaf’ – that is, the song becomes a stack of tracks which makes for a confusion of ‘what do I do with this lot’ kind of scenario.  It’s good step back and re-visit these situations and recently I did just that.

You’re Safe Now is one of those songs where I knew it was going to be a good track but I had loads of recorded parts and it was just a case of deciding what to keep and what to ditch, mix and process the good parts.

Hopefully that is what I achieved with this one!  Here it is (let me know what you think):

https://soundcloud.com/mike_turnbull/youre-safe-now

Book Review – The Forgotten Holocaust by Scott Mariani

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The Forgotten Holocaust – Scott Mariani

I am a huge fan of this series of books by Scott Mariani.  Ben Hope has so much depth to his character and each book gives just a little more insight into his life.  The thinking man’s James Bond certainly always gets sucked into a new adventure despite always trying to retire from kidnap and ransom rescue, which ultimately reveals a deeper – and dangerous – mission for Ben.

This is the tenth book in the series where Ben once more attempts to get himself some ‘me’ time in a cottage in a quiet part of Ireland.  Only, a curious turn of events immerses him into an investigative situation of a historical nature.  This adventure takes him to Madeira and Tulsa where his mission collides with a parallel investigation by Erin.  Together they realise their situations are linked and the real adventure starts to begin.

I always enjoy these adventures and the end of each chapter wills you to always jump into the next.  And just like the way Scott’s chapters tempt you to keep reading, so do the last lines of the book – I’m already starting book 11 The Martyr’s Curse!

Check out Scott’s web site for the other ‘Ben Hope’ books and development of book No. 12  www.scottmariani.com

Highland Scenes

Ok so as promised I thought I’d share some great photo’s of my recent trip to Scotland.  I was based in Glenelg which isn’t far from the route taken to get onto Skye.  The cottage I stayed in looked across to the southern end of Skye and was pretty dramatic.

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This panoramic is the view from the cottage.

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This was one evening and shows how amazing the light can be – no photo-shop here!

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Another evening sky…looking at Skye!

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Mornings were equally surprising.

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This rainbow lit up the tiny hamlet, it was so amazing and it lasted literally seconds before changing again to dramatic clouds.

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My trip to Sandaig – Gavin Maxwell’s Ring Of Bright Water setting. (See my other posts on this subject) You can make out the monument and plaque where the cottage once stood, to the right about 2 thirds up the pic.

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A beautiful white beach made from tiny shells and crystal clear waters at Sandaig.  Sat here for hours in the total silence – apart from the waves!

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Evening sun at Sandaig through the grasses – could have stayed all night!

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A collection of shells from the site – the tiny one at the front is a Groatie Buckie and is a rare find.  I’ve been to Sandaig 4 times now and this was the only time I spotted one!

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A view of Skye road bridge – linking mainland Scotland to the Isle of Skye!

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This view was a reward for a 9 mile hike through forests and a wooded coastal route.

Hope you liked my pics!

(all photography © Mike Turnbull 2015)

Over 2000 visits & a bit of a book update!

I just noticed that I have had over 2000 visits!  

I don’t think that’s so bad when I only started this page in January 2015.

Also, a quick update of a bookish nature…

I’ve just been travelling in Scotland and managed to pick up 3 new books – like I need them?! – I’m still plundering my ‘To Read Tower’ which actually doesn’t get any smaller due to additions, but stays the same size because I am managing to read stuff too!

So, the first book I found in an Isle of Skye book shop was The Tent, The Bucket & Me.

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A friend had mentioned this title to me only a week or two earlier and he said it was funny.  So I spotted it on a used, or pre-owned shelf for £2.00!  I remember camping with my family and also with the Scouts when I was younger so I just had to get it.

The next one was a bargain at 80 pence!  Terry Pratchett’s The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents.

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This was also on the used shelf but amazingly it hadn’t been read – Bargain!

The next book was a purposeful purchase following a visit to the Bright Water centre

http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/skye/brightwater  on Skye.  It’s a book by Richard Frere called Maxwell’s Ghost.

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Anyone who’s followed me may know I’m a fan of Gavin Maxwell and the books (Ring Of Bright Water trilogy) he wrote about his life and keeping Otters, and other creatures on a remote site near to Skye called Sandaig.  This was back in the 60’s and sadly the cottage on the site is no longer there.  People may be familiar with the film (loosely based on the Ring Of Bright Water books) with Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers – 1969.  Richard’s book is an epilogue to Maxwell’s time at Camusfearna – the place he loved at Sandaig.

I visited the site and it’s truly peaceful and beautiful, set on a remote bay, a 40 minute walk via a forest track which winds its way down to reveal a magnificent scene of tranquillity.

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The rewarding view from the end of the track.

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Camusfearna – Maxwell’s cottage which is no longer there now due to a fire in 1968.

Bookish update…

Hello!  September already, autumn just around the corner – where has this year gone eh?!

I haven’t posted anything for a while but I blame the time of year, the summer – albeit a wettish one here in the UK – a few distractions here and there, a bit of travel (I’ll do a post on that) and general holiday stuff!  So anyway one of my last bookish posts was that I was reading To Kill A Mocking Bird.  I finished it a while ago and I did do a little review on Goodreads – just forgot to post it on WP!

So here it is plus an update on reading stuff…

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I’m sure this is a literary classic and I know many who did the book in English literature at school. However, I did start to read the book open minded but half way in I began, reluctantly, to question what all the fuss has been about for 50 years. Yes, excellently written and it explores a culture in American history, but I personally found it hard going. I’m happy I’ve read it, I wouldn’t read it again and I wouldn’t jump to get “Watchman” – but in time I may do.

…yeah, I’m sorry to devotees of the book but as I say, I’m glad I’ve read it, and in the main it was a good read but it didn’t press my buttons too much.  I had intended to get ‘Go Set A Watchman’ but I’m going to hold off until I’m ready – I’ll be checking in with a friend of mine who is reading that one just now and see what she thinks of it.  I do have a load of books to get through as it is; more on that in the next post perhaps…

My current read is one of a series I’ve been following for a while, by Scott Mariani.  It features Ben Hope (check him out here) or Scott’s books here www.scottmariani.com  who, despite trying to retire from kidnap and ransom recovery type jobs, always seems to be sucked into yet another high-octane, ‘Bond’ style adventure which takes Ben all over the world.  These stories are sOoo good! – they read like a movie.

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Scott Mariani – The Forgotten Holocaust.

I’m about halfway through and it’s as good as ever – so much so that I’m holding back and restricting how many chapters I’m reading in one sitting… what can I say, I love these books – I’ll do a review when I’ve finished it. 😉  I am happy to learn that there is another in the series out now – The Martyr’s Curse (No.11 I believe!) and that there is another in the pipeline for Jan 2016 – The Cassandra Sanction. Yay! or ‘get in!’ as we say here.

All Things All At Once.

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Another acoustic driven band I like featuring Snow Patrol front man Gary Lightbody.

I kind of found these guys by accident whilst in a clothing shop in the UK, Fat Face.  I heard this haunting, acoustic song and thought how wonderfully simple it was with some great soaring melodies.  I loved the stripped back indie/folk sound and remembered the line ‘I will love you better than him’ so I could Google it.  Sure enough Tired Pony came up and It was a pleasant surprise to find Gary Lightbody involved ( I knew that voice was familiar!).

Here is the song/video –  All Things All At Once, their studio looks so ramshackle and cool!

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Always My Turn…

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Aaron Espe

A little while back I heard a song on an ad, a Christmas ad, and the words ‘frozen forests’ prompted a spot of google time which yielded a great acoustic artist I’d have never got to know – Aaron Espe.

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 Ok so the Frozen Forests song was done to death and it will eternally remind me of a sentimental Christmas ad (in the UK anyway).  However I did download the ep which I love and has some great songs on it.

One of those is Turn which is simply beautiful and as ever with great songs, I like to share the experience, so here it is:

(also check out Through Frozen Forests too…) 😉

Turn

Flo Morrisey – Beneath Sadness Is Truth

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Flo Morrisey

Another new artist destined to go far – Flo Morrisey has amazing maturity in her song-writing for a 20 yr old.  Her voice has a warmth and maturity beyond her years and the folky, melancholic, 60’s vibe works really well with her image and outlook on music and life – so refreshing these days!

This interview with Tidal explains all and you can listen to the tracks from her album ‘Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful’

FLO MORRISSEY: BENEATH SADNESS IS TRUTH

Amazing Water Droplet Photography

Photography by Ivelina Blagoeva

I came across this today and I think the pictures are brilliant.

While simple water droplets may seem quite typical, Blagoeva transforms them with the backdrops that she chooses. Branches, flowers, webs, and even insects help to emphasize the shape and colouration of the droplets that remain after a fruitful rainstorm.

Her images showcase the significance of appreciating the little things.

My Modern Met www.mymodernmet.com has reviewed this amazing photography with water droplets in nature, revealing some incredible colours and forms, so there are more to look at.

Check out more of these photos here:

http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/ivelina-blagoeva-macro-droplets

Humanity points scored in: Chick Rescue Operation.

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Grey Wagtail chick.

I was in a building yesterday and I could hear what sounded like a squeak, almost like a random squeak of a wheel that needed oiling.  On closer inspection I came across a fledgling chick, just sitting on a balcony.  I could see the distinctive stub of a tail, like a Wagtail and then thinking of a pond nearby where I’d seen Grey Wagtails darting around, I deduced it was a Grey Wagtail chick.  It also had a little yellow on its downy feathers and a grey back so yeah, I was sure.

How did it get in here?!

Anyway, I knew I needed to release it outside, and I guessed the pond would be the best place. I carefully approached it with small box in hand but as predicted, it flew off the balcony and glided, unwieldly  to the floor.  I managed to scoop it up into the box and I took it out to the pond.  Fearful of rats or crows getting it, I perched the box in a safe place, but outside, it seemed so vulnerable.  I guessed that if it made that same squeak noise, the parent birds would find it but I couldn’t see them around anywhere.  Many anxious moments later I spotted the adult birds darting around, agitated, in the vicinity of the open box so I was relieved that the chick would be looked after until it was a little stronger to fly off on its own, phew!

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Adult Grey Wagtail

Job done 

Humanity points scored 

Loads of good karma created!

(images from Google as I didn’t have a camera or phone at the time!)

Art Mesh

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Rome-based artist Edoardo Tresoldi constructs stunningly expressive representations of the human form using wire mesh. Gigantic figures come to life under the hands of Tresoldi, with each facial expression, clothing wrinkle, and contortion of the body so realistic that each sculpture looks like a person frozen in action.

My Modern Met have posted a piece about an amazing Italian artist Edoardo Tresoldi.  His eye for detail is so incredibly re-created with mesh, they really are very life-like – you can see more amazing images here:

http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/edoardo-tresoldi-wire-mesh-art

What am I reading now? – TKAM!

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To Kill A Mockingbird.

Harper Lee

This has been in my ‘To Read Tower’ for a while and it seems fitting to read it now that ‘Go Set A Watchman’ is released (I must get that one too!).

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I bought the 50th anniversary edition of TKAM which also seemed a good thing to do, rather than what I usually do, which is look on Amazon for pre-read books sometimes.  You can get some absolutely perfect editions of books, even if they say they are ‘used – good’ or ‘used – acceptable’.  I’ve often received books in these conditions but actually are pretty perfect in condition.  OK, sometimes you might get the odd dog-eared book but for the price of a couple of £’s… hey, it’s worth it.

However, I guess there’s nothing like the feeling of buying a new version of a book in a book shop – totally un-read; fresh and just waiting to be read!

Book Review – Somewhere In Time by Richard Matheson

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Somewhere In Time by Richard Matheson

(Does contain spoilers but I have put a brief warning for you to stop reading part-way through my review if you would like to read the book yourself!)

Originally published as ‘Bid Time Return’ this book intrigued me and I was inspired to look for it when I stumbled upon the movie (from 1980).  Matheson has written some great classics such as I Am Legend, The Shrinking Man, Beardless Warriors and Hell House.  I remember seeing The Incredible Shrinking Man – the 1956 movie – when I was younger and being transfixed with the idea that a radiation cloud could cause a man to gradually shrink to nothing! Bizarre!  Great film though and they should do a CGI style modern re-make!

So back to Somewhere In Time

Richard Collier is a 36-year-old screenwriter who has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and has decided, after a coin flip, to spend his last days hanging around the Hotel del Coronado. Most of the novel represents a private journal he is continually updating throughout the story.

He becomes obsessed with the photograph of a famous stage actress, Elise McKenna, who performed at the hotel in the 1890s. Through research, he learns that she had an overprotective manager named William Fawcett Robinson, that she never married and that she seemed to have had a brief affair with a mysterious man while staying at this hotel in 1896. The more Richard learns, the more he becomes convinced that it is his destiny to travel back in time and become that mysterious man.

Through his own research in self hypnosis, he develops a method of time travel that involves using his mind to transport himself into the past. After much struggle, he succeeds. At first, he experiences feelings of disorientation and constantly worries that he’ll be drawn back to the present, but soon the feelings dissipate.

If you feel you want to read this book, then don’t go on any further, as I do reveal what happens next…

He is unsure what to say to Elise when he finally does meet her, but to his surprise she immediately asks, “Is it you?” (She later explains that two psychics told her she would meet a mysterious man at that exact time and place.) Without telling her where (or, rather, when) he comes from, he pursues a relationship with her, while struggling to adapt himself to the conventions of the time. Inexplicably, his daily headaches are gone, and he believes that his memory of having come from the future will ultimately disappear.

But Robinson, who assumes that Richard is simply after Elise’s wealth, hires two men to abduct Richard and leave him in a shed while Elise departs on a train. Richard manages to escape and make his way back to the hotel, where he finds that Elise never left. They go to a hotel room and passionately make love.

In the middle of the night, Richard leaves the room and bumps into Robinson. After a brief physical struggle, Richard quickly runs back into the room, and he casually picks a coin out of his pocket. Realizing too late that it is a 1970s coin, the sight of it pushes him back to the present… (this plot summary is part excerpt from Wiki)

What did I think…

Brilliantly written, I loved the story and it made you really think about Richard’s obsessional drive to get back in time to be with Elise and that he hadn’t actually prepared himself; other than hiring an authentic costume and finding money of the period in an antique shop.

For example, he had to think how to say things within the 1896 period and be careful not to use modern, 1971 words and phrases.  At times he had to quickly correct himself.  Also just the feeling of being in another time was a challenge for him, be it etiquette, social expectations, the type of food on the hotel menu and details such as the ocean being so much closer to the hotel in 1896 that it was in 1971 and there was no car or traffic noise.  And of course he couldn’t explain to Elise who he really was and where he’d come from.  But of course, this was time travel – it’s all happened before – only Richard knows what happens but he cannot alter time and inevitably it catches him out…

I’d read this again one day for sure and I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Somwhere in Time – Richard Matheson

Amazing Bass! Always Like This – Bombay Bicycle Club.

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Bombay Bicycle Club

Another new band for me and I’m glad I stumbled across them.  Bombay Bicycle Club is an English indie rock band from Crouch End, London, consisting of Jack Steadman (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Jamie MacColl (guitar), Suren de Saram (drums) and Ed Nash (bass). They are guitar-fronted and have experimented with different genres, including folk, electronica, world music and indie rock.

Also, their name comes from the restaurant chain of the same name.

I love their different approach to song-writing and it’s unique these days to hear of success from an almost experimental out-look to popular music.  ‘Always Like This’ is a perfect example of a guitar band doing something different.  The bass and guitar lines are so  catchy and infectious.  It was the bass line which prompted me to do this Amazing Bass! post – you’ll love this one…

Here it is:

Amazing Bass! – Under The Shadows.

Hi!

I started a series (Amazing Bass!) this year but I’ve been a bit lazy with it recently.  Seeing as I’ve listened to a lot of new music, I’ll bump start my AB! again with this post.

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So, one of my favourite new artists this year has been Rae Morris and there is a perfect Bass driven song on her album ‘Ungaurded’ called ‘Under The Shadows’.

It features a cool bass chugg which sits beautifully with the drums and the song is so catchy too.  Quite rightly, and I’m not surprised to learn, that it has been subject to various re-mixes as the song seamlessly morphs into a great dance track.

Details on who played the bass on this song are sketchy, despite a search for credits on the album.  It could have been any number of session guys who featured on the album, which was recorded in LA by producer Ariel Rechtshaid who has done a great job.

Here is ‘Under The Shadows’.

Romeo Larmond – ‘Broken’

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Romeo Larmond new single ‘Broken’

Soul boy of South London Romeo Larmond is no stranger to music.

Jamaican born Romeo arrived in London with his family when he was just a child and began his musical journey in a gospel choir with his parents.

Romeo is now pursuing his music after he was asked to record “Broken” produced by Shiplap Records.

Romeo embraced the track after experiencing the sad loss of his loving mother in 2013 and with his soul filled voice the performance on the track is heart felt.

“Broken” is now available for download on iTunes and you can hear the song here: ‘Broken’

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Work It Out – Lucy Rose’ new album

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Lucy’s second album is more modern and contemporary compared to her last.  Where she drove her sound with acoustic guitar with a fairly organic band sound (albeit with a little technology here and there with keyboards and trigger pads) on ‘Like I Used To’ she has temporarily put down the acoustic guitar for ‘Work It Out’.  Although it does feature on some tracks…

There is the inevitable second-album-more-money-in-the-pot production to bring Lucy bang up to date but her whispery vocals are ever present and her melodies more adventurous too.

Here’s what she said in a review with DIY…

I think a lot of it is down to what I was writing on that’s given that feel. When we were touring so much in America, there are a few songs on there which had been written on an iPad, on a BeatMaker, so they’re very much beat-driven and bass-driven instead of so much acoustic guitar. There’s that side of the album, which has that part of it, but then when I came home and the album wasn’t finished. I had all of this material that I’d been writing on the road, so it was important to also have ‘Lucy back at home’ writing. That’s when I wrote songs like ‘Like An Arrow’,  when I was back at home with an acoustic guitar and it wasn’t so restricted.”

(you can see/hear Like An Arrow here in one of my earlier blogs)

This is a stand out track and this video is great too… ‘Till The End’

To Read Tower – Update June 2015

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My ‘To Read Tower’

So, here is my current ‘To Read Tower’ and as you can see it’s practically falling over!

They aren’t in a particular reading order (I gave that idea up a while ago!) as it doesn’t quite work out that way… The tower keeps growing but my reading time hasn’t increased either, so here’s a resume of what I have here now.

  • On the top is The Time Traveller’s Wife:  Someone has let me borrow this copy – I couldn’t say ‘no’ so took it to be polite but I’ve seen the film about 4 times and I’m curious about the book version.
  • The next 3 are by Jo Nesbo and I was given these on permanent loan!  I didn’t much about Nesbo (read a bit about him here) but they appear to be from a very good literary source.  That is, Scandi translated fiction!
  • Next is The Miniaturist, again this was given to me recently, permanent loan yet again, and I had seen it in Waterstones and on Amazon and mused over it so it should be interesting.
  • TKAM – To Kill A Mockingbird – I must get this read before Harper Lee brings her next, long awaited book out.  I ought to have read this in my youth at least, but never did – must do it this summer!
  • Next is One Hundred Years Of Solitude.  This was a recommendation as ‘a lifetime must read’ so I’m curious about this one.
  • The Goldfinch is below that and I’ve been meaning to ready myself in order to plough through this one.  I say that because others who have read it say it’s long, meandering – you get lost, confused, then it all comes together at the end – we’ll see!
  • Ah! The Forgotten Holocaust by one of my favourite authors Scott Mariani.  When I get to this one I’ll devour it and read it quickly, as I love this Ben Hope series of novels.
  • Next is The Small Hand – a ghost story – which I don’t usually read but as it’s by the author who gave us the Woman in Black it should be great.
  • Below that is A Short History Of Tractors in Ukrainian.  This has been around a while and is reported to be really funny, but I still haven’t got round to reading it – some day maybe!
  • Never Let Me Go is next and I think I found this somewhere outside?!  No one around at the time so I took it for safe keeping 😉  Anyway, I’ve seen the film with Keira Knightly, (not with Keira… but with Keira in the film..!) but this will be a good read I’m sure.
  • Mark Haddon’s A Spot Of Bother is next and after reading ‘…Dog in the Night-time’ I’m sure I’ll enjoy this one too.
  • And finally, at the bottom is Chocolat – again having seen the film ages ago, I’m sure this will read better than that.  As ever, I’ll need the time and perhaps the incentive to read it.

I’m glad they aren’t in ‘to read’ order, then again, because the tower is always there and it morphs – I can choose by mood, rather than by order.

Hope you like my round up – does anyone else have a leaning tower of groaning books waiting to be read?

Bikes – Lucy Rose.

Really looking forward to Lucy Rose’ new album ‘Work It Out’.

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It promises more of a ‘pop’ production from the last album (which is probably more organic in approach).  Still, Lucy needs to progress and her songs are great and her voice blissfully sweet and whispery… (if that’s a word?!).

Here she is performing Bikes from her last album ‘Like I Used To’ – (great band she’s got too!)

100 Follows!

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Just realised I got over 100 followers now!

Thank you to all those who do, and I hope others join in too.

I’ve slowed down on the blog front recently but I try to keep ’em coming – you know what it’s like when you’ve got 10’s of things to do at any one time.

The next thing I’ll do is a ‘To Read Tower’ update.  I’m working through it slowly and there have been additions since the last update, like the Nesbo books I was given recently.  There are more to discuss so look out for that soon!

Nesbo Triple Gift.

3 books, one author – Jo Nesbo.

This week a friend of the family dropped off a carrier bag of used books.

The note said: ‘was going to throw these out.  Are they of any interest to you?  If not pass them back or give them away’

3 books by Jo Nesbo: The Redbreast,  Nemesis and The Devil’s Star.

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Now, I must admit I haven’t come across Nesbo, but the books look good.  Intrigued, I turned a page for a bit of info on Nesbo and found that he is a musician, songwriter, economist and author from Norway.  So, from the get-go there are some great boxes ticked already in my head!

My first thought was Stieg Larssonesque maybe?!  Let’s face it, Scandinavian translated fiction seems to be a winner.  I’m also a fan of Nordic Noir TV & Film from Scandinavia so I am looking forward to reading these books when I get chance.

Before I do get the time to start reading them, I guess my question is, has anyone out there come across Jo Nesbo and what did you think of his books?

Lucy Rose

lucy stage

Lucy Rose

Discovering new music and artists seems to nave become a slight obsession at the moment.  There are so many great new musicians and songwriters out there and it’s great to seem them actually getting there too.  It’s well deserved, as in the case if Lucy Rose.

From Surrey, England, Rose’s musical origins began with her playing drums in her school orchestra, her songwriting started writing tunes on her family home’s piano, she later bought a guitar from a shop she passed on the way to school, taught herself and began writing material at around the age of sixteen. Rose never played her material for anyone until she left home after completing her A-levels. At eighteen, she moved to London; but instead of taking her place at University to study geography, she began experimenting and performing with other musicians. It was at this time when she met Jack Steadman, the frontman of Bombay Bicycle Club (another great band!).

After becoming friends Steadman asked if she would like to perform vocals on a song he had written and was recording. The acoustic album Flaws came out with Steadman on lead vocals, and Rose performing backing vocals most notably on the title track “Flaws”, as well as others on the album.  She also performs some backing vocal duties on Bombay Bicycle Club’s third album, A Different Kind of Fix, and features in their fourth, So Long, See You Tomorrow. Rose also performs some backing vocal duties on the track This Sullen Welsh Heart by the Manic Street Preachers on their album Rewind the Film.

So, some great connections has lead her the right path indeed.  Her album ‘Like I used To’ is a breath of fresh air in the form of modern day produced acoustic chill out, amongst some really tight and funky beats thrown into the mix.  Lucy’s vocals are wonderfully whisper-like with and lovely tone – melodic and dreamy, I love this album.

used to

Lucy Rose ‘Like I Used To’

The new album ‘Work It Out’ is eagerly anticipated July 2015 and no doubt will see her reaching not only a wider audience but reaching for awards too.

lucyroseLucy Rose ‘Work It Out’

This song ‘Like an Arrow’ is from the new album and it gives you a taste of her talents as a songwriter.  The video is pretty cool too!

(all images sourced from Google)

What am I reading now…

in time

Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson

Somewhere in Time has been in my ‘TOWER’ of books for a while (must do an update on this!) and I’ve been waiting to read it for inspiration.  A while back, I recorded a soundbed of a song called ‘BID TIME RETURN’ which remained an instrumental.  I originally came up with the idea because I had the phrase in my head ‘bid time return’.  I’m not sure why it was in my head but after a little Google session, I realised it was linked to a book and that there had been a movie version too.

time movie

Somewhere in Time (1980)

Brief synopsis:

In 1972, playwright Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) becomes fascinated by a photo of Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour), a turn-of-the-century stage actress, while staying at the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan. As Richard’s obsession grows, he learns from a friend that time travel may actually be possible through hypnosis. Richard travels in time to meet Elise, and the two appear destined to be together. However, Elise’s jealous manager (Christopher Plummer) attempts to keep them apart.

This is great fantasy stuff – time travel, hypnosis, modern day vs early 1900’s, addiction, obsession etc…

So, this intrigued me more, but having watched the movie, I felt that reading the original book may give me some greater inspiration for lyric ideas for my ‘Bid Time Return’ instrumental and turn it into the song I originally started.

It seems to take me a while to get through books at the moment – too many distractions & too little time – but this book is my next read.

Book Review: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson.

*Warning – may contain slight spoilers – but I’ll keep it minimal!*

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

OK! Interesting one, this one. First recommended by another reader and blogger Lisa Tiller and then I kept spotting the cover online and in book shops, so I thought I’d give it a go. I had no clue of its’ content, synopsis, genre or anything. Sometimes this is a good way to go.

What did I think?

As I started the book I began to wonder what I’d let myself in for as the nameless narrator sucked me into a descriptive and very vivid account of his car accident. Sometimes the medical content of the burn injuries took no prisoners. How they were sustained and subsequently treated were not for the faint hearted. However, it was all relevant for the unfolding story.

Our ‘victim’, as I’ve said, always remains nameless but we do get to know his past, his profession and how he thinks as he lies in hospital surrounded by those to help him. Although, he is not alone… he is convinced that a ‘Bitch Snake’ is residing within his spine to torment his very soul as he recovers. It haunts him, taunts him and plays with his mind.  This becomes very significant, as does a mysterious visitor Marianne Engel who curiously knows everything about him and wants to be his carer despite never having met her in his life… or has he?!

I don’t wish to spoil what unfolds and ensues but Marianne becomes the key character in the story and what she has to reveal to our ‘victim’ and how she does it, keeps you gripped throughout the book. Her own account takes the reader on various exotic journeys, although, there are times when her stories, albeit significant to the plot, can seem to labour on a little. Still, Marianne helps our ‘victim’ on so many levels despite all the time having her own demons and issues which are seriously dark & enigmatic with deep, divine links to the very distant past. A past which is also very present!

It’s not often I would say this but I believe this book would make a great movie.  It contains all the ingredients to make a movie not unlike ‘The Time Travellers Wife’ – but with more serious attitude on an epic scale! (…and a little risque!)

A recommended read if you want to tackle something spectacularly imaginative, seemingly impossible and different.

I liked it very much – maybe not everyone’s cup of tea.

I would give it 4.5 out 5 stars.

Big Feastival!

For a quite a number of years now, I’ve spent a bit of time in the Cotswolds – each summer – well Witney, which nestles on the edge of the Cotswolds near to Oxford.

Our summer music festivals up and down the country draw in everyone these days – not just the die-hard, mud-surfing teens and twenty-somethings.  They now cater for the the whole family and all ages which is great.

One festival (or feastival!) flying that flag proudly is Jamie Oliver and Alex James’ Big Feastival bringing together everbody’s great loves – music and food!

Jamie Oliver and Alex James present The Big Feastival.

A unique weekend celebration of music, food and fun for all the family, set on Alex’s idyllic Cotswolds farm.

Here you can enjoy music from top acts, tuck into top chef demos in the Big Kitchen and have your fill from The Menu, featuring the cream of the UK’s street food crop. Browse local producer stands, join a cookery class or get your foodie fix joining top chefs for intimate Q&A sessions. Keep little and big kids happy in the fun-filled Little Dudes Den, join an arts & crafts workshop, enjoy the Big Top games or take a spin round the vintage funfair.

So from 28th – 30th August we can enjoy seeing some great names such as:

Groove Armada (DJ)

Heaven 17

Flyte

Dizzee Rascal

Grandmaster Flash

Paloma Faith

The Feeling

Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Badly Drawn Boy

and of course this years great find – Rae Morris

Plus many others… including top chefs with some great demonstrations and a whole lot more!

…the only thing is, I’ll be sad not to be able to go this year as I’ll be away in Scotland – never mind, there’s always next year!

(images taken from the Big Feastival web site)

http://www.jamieoliver.com/thebigfeastival/

You & I Know – Neil Finn.

You and I Know – unreleased track

A previously unreleased track from Neil Finn’s Dizzy Heights sessions.

This is from the Neil Finn official website and featured in his recent newsletter.  I love to hear tracks like this – it gives great in-sight into the creative process and how hard it must be to have to short-list songs for a new album.

This track would have easily sat well on Dizzy Heights (Neil’s album from spring 2014), and features Sharon Finn on vocals with Neil.  Of course, it has all Neil Finn’s lovely sense of sound and melody.  Here it is…

“You & I Know” 

(click on the word ‘Listen’ once the page loads up)

…I was offered my record deal in my favourite fish and chip shop. (Rae Morris)

…Really!  how cool is that?!  How many great artists out there can say that?  Although I guess there have been record deals struck in all kinds of bizarre and wonderful ways over the decades.

Rae Morris

Rae Morris at home in East London Photo: Leo Goddard

This is a great interview from the Telegraph about Rae Morris, who I am championing at the moment.  Her songs are amazingly mature and melodic for such a young musician.  She’s one of those rare, talented songwriter/artists who has just ‘got it’… and in spades!

Click on Rae’s pic above…

(or you can read from here)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/11629955/Rae-Morris-I-was-offered-my-record-deal-in-my-favourite-fish-and-chip-shop.html

Sail Away…

Irish band Darling are on my playlist at the moment.

Aw mates, brilliant news for us here at Darling HQ to kick off the week. We’ve been made UTV’s Select Irish Track of the Month. What this means to the uninitiated is that It’s Just One Look will be on *heavy rotation on FM104, Cork’s 96FM, Limerick’s Live 95, and LMFM for the whole month of April. Pretty cool right??

Happy Monday ya’ll!

GX

*getting played on d radio lots

They have a powerful, yet very melodic sound which I love.  I did a post on their song It’s ‘Just One Look’ which is an awesome tune and Sail Away is just as good.

Their material is original , the vocals are unique but the sound is remenicent of early U2, Coldplay & Simple Minds

Can’t wait to hear more from these boys!

Check this one out…

http://www.darlingmusic.ie/

Cardboard Box Office Brilliance!

I’ve just come across this amazing funky family!  I can’t believe I haven’t seen them before!

The Mackies, who re-create scenes from films and TV using mainly cardboard boxes ans simple props from around the home.

I first saw them on a ‘My Modern Met’ (http://www.mymodernmet.com) email highlighting most popular stories this week.

StarWars

A quick look on their (Word Press site!) and I was hooked!

Each scene is fantastic and so, so very funny.  I love how they re-name the movie too – Star Wars above (you must have got that one huh!) was named Wah Wars – brilliant.

This current one is excellent – Dad Max: The Old Worrier (Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior)

I can’t wait to see more…Love it!

What is this Cardboard Box Office?

Darling – It’s Just One Look.

Hello Darling!

I’ve bigged up Rae Morris a lot recently (her songs are so good tho!) but I’m discovering some great new bands at the moment too.

One such band is Darling from Ireland.  These guys supported Rae Morris recently in Dublin and I’m pretty sure it would have been an awesome night if this video of Darling is anything to go by.

It’s Just One Look is an awesome tune – one of those that gets you straight away – right off the bat!  So full of energy and harmony with great simple guitar work.

Check it out…

http://www.darlingmusic.ie/

Cold – Rae Morris.

Still championing the wonderful Rae Morris – this is ‘Cold’ featuring ‘Fryars’

I saw her play this live and it was just as good, even with Rae doing Fryar’s parts.

Such a simple but very effective video of a great song; just using one location, a bunch of guys, girls, Rae, Fryars, and using two main colours & simple choreography:

Double Bass Distortion!

Double Bass Distortion!? …Whaaaat! …(*slightly skewed facial expression*)

Check this out – Double Bass being played as a solo instrument using a very neat and innovative way to get some distortion going on! (using the humble ballpoint pen).

Mad! – but cool stuff…

Film Review – The Book Thief.

The Book Thief – based on the novel by Markus Zusak

Emily Watson in The Book Thief

While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. In the basement of her home, a Jewish refugee is being sheltered by her adoptive parents.

As with any adaptation, details are inevitably shaved off in favour of a more rounded, flowing format.  This film suffers from that treatment whilst still managing to hold on to Zusak’s heart-warming tale, delivering an enjoyable movie on the whole.

I think when you’ve read the book, scenes in your head are unique to the reader.  When Liesel first approaches the Mayor’s house to deliver washing, I had a dejavu.  What I saw on screen was exactly what was in my head when I read the book – bizarre!

Moments I remembered or waited for, were missed out or merged to allow content flow.  Such as how Liesel stole the books with Rudy, from the Mayor’s wife.  Also, I felt that the unspoken relationship between the Mayor’s wife and Liesel could have been depicted better.  The book which was thrown into to river was the Hitler book, however, in the novel it was one of the stolen books.

The marches of the Jews through the town, and what Hans and Liesel did were innacurate in the movie which was slightly disappointing.  I realise that these scenes could have been quite harrowing, but the direction to soften these scenes surely left out some potentially powerful moments on screen.

Max’s hand-written books, (he did for Liesel in the basement), did not feature.  There could have been some lovely moments, of say black & white or sepia animations to depict those little stories within the movie.

Despite my criticism, I thought it was well portrayed overall with great performances from Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Roger Allam, Nico Liersch, Ben Schnetzer.

Here’s the trailer…

Seafret – Atlantis

An awesome duo from the North East of England – this is Seafret.

Atlantis is a great track and their acoustic based material sounds refreshing in todays overly pop sounding industry.

This is from their Bio (on their site).

They met at an open mic night…

Honest and captivating , Seafret’s material has a beautifully contagious feel. Writing about life as it evolves around them, the two have a rare observational eye – though young, the world is not going to pass them by.

Retaining their love of open mics, the duo appears determined to win over fans one step at a time. “You get up and if you win one person over, that’s one more person,” Jack explains. “It’s all part of it.”

“We never set out to just record one hit,” insists Harry. “That’s why we want something with more weight. People can get a grasp on what the band is about, rather than just one song.”

Ultimately, though, the duo are inspired by what they see around them – and what they miss most about being divorced from the North, in their new home of London. “It’s the sea. I miss the sea,” the guitarist says. “When you live there you take it for granted. I never missed it before. You don’t realise what it does to you when you’re there.”

http://www.seafret.com

The Killers and New Order work together

Wow, this would be something. Killers and New Order! Anticipate an amazing sound from these guys. Hope they pull it off!

Kendrickmusicfreak

Brandon Flowers reveals he has been working with New Order http://www.nme.com/news/new-order/85437

View original post

Grow.

“Blind and childish I won’t fight it, here I hide underneath my innocence” 

“Grow”

This is such a great line from a song by Rae Morris – ‘Grow’.

I love the simplicity of this song – the melody and the lyric work so well to make it a great tune.

http://www.raemorris.co.uk/

May Reading: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson.

What I am reading now…

gargoyle

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

This is another book recommended by a fellow blogger.  Their review sounded great so I like to take a chance on these things now and again, not knowing anything about the book whatsoever. Hopefully it wont take me so long to read this one – I’d like to increase my reading rather than taking 3 or 4 weeks!  (need to manage my time better).

Other news – I just finished The Book Thief so please check out my review on that. 🙂

Unlikely Surroundings and Bizarre Turns!

An evening with Rae Morris.

I don’t often get to go out much but sometimes I’m compelled to attend something I feel drawn to.

A new British singer songwriter Rae Morris was playing my home town Friday night and having heard of her recently, I felt I didn’t want to miss seeing her early on in her career, in a small venue.

rae1

Rae Morris http://www.raemorris.co.uk

The venue was our local library in Kendal, South Lake District, UK.  Library?! I hear you say.  Yes, that’s right a library – getting it loud!  We have an organisation called Loud In Libraries which is flying the flag for using libraries as arts venues.

getitloud

This is such a great idea and many libraries have the capacity to host smallish gigs.  It’s great that an up and coming artist can play these intimate venues and really connect with their audience from the start.  Not to mention what a great back-drop they are for a playing a gig!

I’d decided to go to our local Pizza Express for something to eat before going, literally to the next building, to the gig.  As I waited for my lasagne, cradling my Peroni, I mused over the notion that Rae Morris might pop in for a quick bite before  the gig herself.  Hell no! why should she?  She’ll be at her hotel waiting her time with her band and crew, chilling out before heading to the library.

library

Kendal Library

Splutter! *embarrassing glances around me* OMG! (nearly choked on my Peroni) look who’s just come through the Pizza Express door! Rae flipping Morris that’s who!  Is that really her in a long padded coat, jeans and looking like a young woman looking for someone? Er, yes it is!

I couldn’t believe it, but I’d recognised her for sure.  She made her way to a long table with about 12 or more people at it, and I deduced that it was a table consisting of band, crew & family members.  How lovely, how refreshing that she could just wander in and join them.

As I left for the venue myself, I saw lots of hugs and presumably lots of wishes of good luck happening as the whole entourage started to make a move too.  As I looked back, heading down towards the high street, I saw Rae disappear around the corner, heading to the back entrance to the library – I was headed for the front.

The library was packed with standing people – I estimated about 200 – but I made my way near to the front for a good view.  The small stage set up in the corner comprising of pianos, synths, guitars, basses (and a big double bass) and a drum kit was incongruous to the familiar surrounding of my library.  But very exciting though.

Needless to say, Rae Morris was awesome as she blazed through her debut album and ‘chit – chatted’ to us all in between songs.  It was so amazing to get a great wall of sound making the legs of my jeans flap with the vibrations.  What a sound!

rae2

She played all the songs from her album ‘Unguarded’ including my two favourites, ‘Don’t Go’ and ‘Morne Fortune’.  The latter was awesome as I’d spotted the bass player pick up a fretless bass as they launched into the song.  Those expressive notes and that sound, made all my hairs stand up on end!

Amazing and unlikely surroundings and bizarre turns indeed.

#stoked! 😉

Book Review – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

book thief

This book is much talked about, much passed around, much celebrated and consequently, a must read.

So, here is the basic blurb:

HERE IS A SMALL FACT – YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier. Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall. SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION – THIS NOVEL IS NARRATED BY DEATH. It’s a small story, about: a girl, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. ANOTHER THING YOU SHOULD KNOW – DEATH WILL VISIT THE BOOK THIEF THREE TIMES.

What did I think?

The unique perspective of Death himself narrating the story is interesting and makes this book a fine read indeed.  There were times however, where I felt Death’s little tangents took me away from the story.  For example, early on in the book I wanted to really get into the thick of Liesel’s unfolding story and I felt the flow wasn’t really happening until about a third of the way through.  I really wanted it to be a page turner but Death’s slightly repetitious musings seemed to arrest the flow.  However I settled into it and must say that those musings do become very significant later on in the book.

Typically, with such a subject of Hitler’s treatment of the Jews and his unique hold over the Fatherland, there were harrowing descriptions.  These were beautifully off-set within the characters of Liesel, Papa, Mama, Rudy, the Mayor’s Wife and Max.  Their personal journey’s through those war years in Germany are beautifully told; held together by intertwining words, phrases, stories, experiences and of course, a few books.

There has been much written about, and movies made, depicting those all too familiar sights and sounds of Auschwitz and Dachau, persecution of the Jews and fear, but it was the perspective of the ordinary German people who made this story so engaging.  Those war years for them, was a mirror of what it was like for British people.  Only, what came across to me was an underlying fear of Hitler by those ordinary people.  A silent reluctance.  We on the other hand had a very purposeful and inspirational icon to guide us through those times.

My issues… (but with a glorious conclusion).

I am a fan of creative and poetic writing when it comes to descriptions within a great book but I have to say that at times I struggled with the occasional adjective within the story.  Sometimes I felt I had to stop and think about some of Death’s phrases with a bit of a frown and this kind of stopped my flow.  These were few and far between as I did like the style of the delivery.  I got used to the way Death presented his thoughts and recollections and admired his logical and inevitable approach.  He became more than the phantom we assume.  He had a purpose but he had a conscience, he was curious and he had a memory.  He was actually haunted by humans and of course during 1939 and 1945 he was very, very busy.

Even though I had tiny issues with it personally, flow-wise, by the end of the book I couldn’t take away from the fact that this is a modern literary classic so I have to give it a worthy 5/5

Exotic Words – (G) Galeanthropy.

Galeanthropy

(rare) A mental condition of thinking that one has become a cat, usually manifest in the adoption of feline mannerisms and habits.

(Origin) From Ancient Greek γαλῆ (galē), contracted form of γαλέη (galeē, “a name given to various animals of the weasel

kind”), +‎ -anthropy.

I might be alone in this, (I hope I’m not alone in this!…I’m not alone in this, am I?!) but there are times when I think…

I might be cat!

I always find the warm spot and sit there

I sometimes purr when contented

I often bring gifts with a gleeful face

I stare into space

I can be selectively deaf

My kneading skills are great (making bread though)

If provoked, I can hiss

I can often chatter (but not at birds through the window)

I sometimes make little ‘Brrr’ or chirrup noises to myself

If I really like you, I’ll rub my cheek on you

I might pat your face to attract your attention

I’m very curious

I sometimes have a mad half hour

Although, I don’t roll in the street, I don’t show my tummy for a rub, I don’t scratch the furniture and I don’t need to bury my…you know what!!!

But I don’t think I’m quite as annoying as this…

(video courtesy of Simon’s Cat – Simon Tofield)

Resolutions

Hello!  (my first blog/musings – please be gentle!)

Resolution Line breaks: reso|lution NOUN A firm decision to do or not to do something: a New Year’s resolution.

Well, I guess I made through Blue Monday – just! Although, sometimes the blue feeling creeps back in, like the hypnotic 12″ version of New Order, fading in and out. Hopefully fading, fading, fading, to a gentle hum, then a clarity of silence.

It struck me that emerging from the celebrations of the season, (I’m not saying the C*******s word until this December at the earliest!), and New Year, is it our obsession with resolutions, in some way, to blame for our blue feelings? Have we subconsciously raised some crazy, un achievable expectations, which eat away at us as we reluctantly drag ourselves into January?  Knowing fine well we will forget what we’ve promised ourselves and failing before we’ve begun?

Perhaps?  I don’t know?

I guess if we say to ourselves, this year: “I must do, or not do x” “I ought to, or not do x” “I should, or shouldn’t do x” “I really need to start, or stop x” We are stressing out with high expectations.

Must, Ought, Should, Need, are just words which make us feel pressured and anxious. Resolutions are best when they are do-able, surely? Something simple and positive to focus on, since we’ve just been subjected to the pressure cooker environs of the “previous festive season”. One easy to do thing, or focus, which will make us feel better, stop the glum, arrest the blue is key. Replace the above with “I’m going to do x”, I will do x” and I’m pretty sure you’ll feel happy to go ahead and actually achieve a simple New Years Resolution – just one – stress and expectation free!

So forget all that learning to ride the unicycle whilst playing the banjo and juggling live salmon, reciting popular phrases from The Philosopher’s Stone – in French stuff!

I would choose from this list as a start: Read more, listen to more music, go for more walks, laugh more, love more, care more, have tolerance, try new foods, drop prejudices, live and let live!

Oh, and for me, create a blog…

M.