This year I’ve done a pretty good job of sticking to a new routine of blogging on a Saturday morning whilst Mr WIAA is at our local sports centre engaging in a bit of yoga. He’s been going for over 10 years now, and is often the only male in the class, but after a back operation a good few years ago it was obvious that going forward he needed to really look after that part of his body and I think he could now give the average 30-year-old a run for their money. As the sports centre is closed he’s taken to the kitchen to create his poses, so I’ll just stick to my usual routine of playing Rol’sSaturday Snapshots and then share something new.
Last time I included another of the little films I made a couple of years ago around the time of the Spring Equinox. It featured the Mark Knopfler instrumental Going Home from the film Local Hero and regular commenter Lynchie jumped in and regaled us with his tale of having been the first journalist to meet with David Puttnam and Bill Forsyth about their planned production (link here). The village of Pennan on the Aberdeenshire coast had been chosen as the setting for the fictitious village of Ferness which was to be the site for a new oil refinery. The hot-shot executive sent to close the deal gradually adapts to the slower-paced life however and gets to know the eccentric residents. As time goes by he becomes conflicted, as he knows the deal will mark the end of the quaint little village he has come to love. Unbeknownst to him however, the villagers are tired of their hard life and are more than eager to sell, although they feign indifference to induce a larger offer. This all leads to some great comedic moments.
A couple of years ago we decided to take an Australian visitor along the coast to visit Pennan and I managed to get my picture taken outside the iconic red telephone box. I’m pretty sure everyone must do that but only if they successfully navigate the steep single track road down into the village. At one point we had to reverse backwards up the hill to let someone past and I was pretty alarmed by the burning smell coming from under the bonnet. Anyway, the car survived, and we had a really pleasant afternoon in a village that feels as if time forgot.
The Pennan Inn – Gordon’s hotel in the film
The little harbour
Well, it took a Herculean effort to upload those pictures, as my broadband is rubbish at the best of times, but much slower at the moment. Not important in the grand scheme of things but I hope we can all continue to stay connected through these difficult days and weeks.
I only have one other piece of music on this device by Mark Knopfler and it’s called If This Is Goodbye, a duet he recorded with Emmylou Harris. Very beautiful but not the most positive of sounding songs, so to end this post I’ll just share another clip of Mr Knopfler playing a different version of his instrumental from the film.
I have absolutely no idea how to pitch my blog posts at the moment as in the few days between writing something new, the world has yet again been transformed into a place none of us would have recognised only a couple of weeks ago. I admit to having had a rather large wobble over the last 24 hours (too much social media), but after the massive treat of going to the local supermarket for a basketful of basics, and having just met some of my neighbours (at a distance) for the mass round of applause for the NHS, I think I’ve just swung the other way – What a roller-coaster of emotions. Still haven’t spoken to my mum or had any communication from the care home and DD is at the other end of Scotland with her boyfriend in their one bedroom flat (true test of a relationship), so tough.
Shower room now on the back burner
Last time I wrote about how I had eventually treated myself to a new shower room after 20 years of making do with the previous owner’s version. Although last week the plumber was confident it was a CV-19 Free Build, by late Monday it was obvious he wouldn’t be able to come back. I paid him in full, as he is one of the many self-employed tradesmen who now have no work. A plan came through to help the self-employed this afternoon but many will fall through the cracks, including ourselves – Not complaining as any help should go to those most in need, but I do worry about a lot of the locals who depend on tourism and the service sector for their livelihoods.
Last time I also shared one of the little films I made at the 2018 Spring Equinox after taking a few classes at the Apple Store. Here is the second one, this time featuring a piece of music by Mark Knopfler, which seemed to suit the particular scenes around here really well. I give you Going Home from the excellent 1983 film Local Hero. Watching it now, I cannot believe how quickly something like going for a leisurely drive has turned into a pipe dream. At the moment, I feel as if I will never take anything for granted again.
Until next time, I hope you and your loved ones stay safe and well.
If you are a frontline worker, we are so grateful for all that you are doing. At times like this it becomes obvious which jobs are worthy and necessary, but sometimes poorly paid, and which are very well paid but not necessarily worthy. The Cult of Celebrity has been seen for what it is and for that I am grateful.
Tough knowing how to pitch our blog posts at the moment, as yet again things have moved on apace, and we can barely keep up with what is unfolding day by day. After finding a new positive side to my personality this year after a couple of whingey and moany years, I have struggled this week. The virus itself has not really made too much of an impact up here yet on our health services (although I know it will), but of course the measures to contain it have, so it just takes a while to adjust and regroup.
I can’t see my mum at the moment but I have put cards offering help through all the doors of our immediate neighbours, and those others we know who are over 70. Our estate was built just over 40 years ago so many of the original residents still live here and are obviously now in the age group we need to shield, by asking them to self-isolate. A livelier bunch of septuagenarians you would be hard pressed to find, so it’s gonna be tough – We will endeavour to do what we can for them.
DD lost her job this week but hopefully will be joining the ranks of the NHS 111 teams very soon so trying to do her bit. Myself and Mr WIAA certainly have skills that could be invaluable at this time, so we too are ready and willing.
We watched The Last Leg on telly last night which did provide a bit of light relief, however the show ended on a serious note and it definitely struck home. The team made the point that at this difficult time we will be sorely tested – We should endeavour not to behave like the lawyer in Jurassic Park who runs off to hide in the toilet, but try to behave responsibly and help others in whatever way we can, directly or indirectly.
And here is a moment of levity in this sombre post. There is no chance of me running off to my toilet anyway, as this week, of all weeks, was the one we were scheduled to have a new shower room put in. Here is a picture of what my bedroom looks like at the moment! It is due to be finished next week but with things changing at such a pace, starting to wonder if that will be possible.
Believe it or not there is a very close connection between the current state of my shower room and this blog, specifically my Full Moon Calendar In Song series. 25 years ago I worked for the NHS myself, although not on the frontline. For 5 years I shared an office with RJ who has provided me with so many great pictures of the moon for my series. We both left our jobs at around the same time – I gave birth to DD and became a full-time mum, whilst RJ went on to try his hand at an array of new professions. Somehow, he ended up becoming the installer of fabulous kitchens and bathrooms and our paths have now crossed again at this most unusual and uncertain of times. Yes, he liked his coffee back then and he still likes it now!
The “helping hand” above the door!
I am at a loss to know what to share musically, but as yesterday was the Spring Equinox I am reminded of the little film we made a couple of years ago on the dashcam. I’m sleeping in DD’s school bedroom at the moment whilst the work is going on, and as her bed is situated right by the window, I woke up yesterday to beautiful blue skies and birdsong. For a few seconds I forgot that life as we know it has totally changed at the moment and might never quite return to what it was ever again. Nature is having a well-earned break from the worst effects of what we as a race have been throwing at it. If you can, I urge you to go out and enjoy a brisk walk. Really listen to the birds and check out what Mother Nature gives us at this time of year.
Until next time…. Hope you and your loved ones stay safe and well.
Mr. Blue Sky Lyrics (Song by Jeff Lynne)
Morning! Today’s forecast calls for blue skies
Sun is shining in the sky There ain’t a cloud in sight It’s stopped raining Everybody’s in a play And don’t you know It’s a beautiful new day Hey ay ay!
Runnin’ down the avenue See how the sun shines brightly In the city On the streets where once was pity Mr. Blue Sky is living here today Hey ay ay!
Mr. Blue Sky Please tell us why You had to hide away For so long (so long) Where did we go wrong?
Hey you with the pretty face Welcome to the human race A celebration Mr. Blue Sky’s up there waitin’ And today Is the day we’ve waited for Ooorrr
Oh, Mr. Blue Sky Please tell us why You had to hide away For so long (so long) Where did we go wrong?
Hey there Mr. Blue We’re so pleased to be with you Look around see what you do Everybody smiles at you
Things are a bit grim, so we need a bit of a distraction. Welcome back to this occasional series where I share the contents of my archive box of teenage memorabilia. I always knew these random bits and pieces would come in handy some day, but little did I think it would be because 2020 is turning out to be the year when everything changed. Let’s hark back to simpler times.
We’re journeying back to March 1976 when I picked up my monthly copy of Words Magazine. On the cover of that edition were 10cc, and on page 3, we get to hear a little more about our cover stars.
I do sometimes (always?) ramble on a bit around here, but no need for that this time as I recognise some people actually drop by for the tunes. One of my favourite films is Guardians of the Galaxy and it was on telly on Saturday night as a replacement for the rugby which didn’t go ahead. One of the “stars” of that film is the mixtape made for our hero by his mother, full of her favourite songs from the 1970s. The opening scene shows the young Peter listening to his Walkman, and the song playing is I’m Not In Love.
I’m Not In Love by 10cc:
There is a half hour documentary in the BBC iPlayer archives about the making of this one song, so I urge you to seek it out. Written by band members Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman, it has a really distinctive backing track, composed mostly of the band’s multitracked vocals. Released in May 1975, it became the second of the group’s three number-one singles in the UK and was our smooching song of choice at my local youth club disco. Written mostly by Stewart as a reply to his wife’s declaration that he did not tell her often enough that he loved her (he really did), it was originally played on guitars, but the other two members of the band, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, disliked the track and it was abandoned. Stewart persuaded the group to give the song another chance and they ending up creating a new version using just voices.
Until next time….
I’m Not In Love Lyrics (Song by Eric Stewart/Graham Gouldman)
I’m not in love So don’t forget it It’s just a silly phase I’m going through And just because I call you up Don’t get me wrong, don’t think you’ve got it made I’m not in love, no no, it’s because..
I like to see you But then again That doesn’t mean you mean that much to me So if I call you Don’t make a fuss Don’t tell your friends about the two of us I’m not in love, no no, it’s because..
I keep your picture Upon the wall It hides a nasty stain that’s lying there So don’t you ask me To give it back I know you know it doesn’t mean that much to me I’m not in love, no no, it’s because..
Ooh you’ll wait a long time for me Ooh you’ll wait a long time Ooh you’ll wait a long time for me Ooh you’ll wait a long time
I’m not in love So don’t forget it It’s just a silly phase I’m going through And just because I call you up Don’t get me wrong, don’t think you’ve got it made I’m not in love I’m not in love
Well, what a difference a week makes. Last Saturday marked the publication of my 300th post and it has become a habit for me to write something to mark the achievement of reaching that nice round number (Post 101 and Post 201), but understandably not finding much inspiration. I am still amazed I bounced back in February after a month’s hiatus as I had found myself writing negative, self-pitying posts for quite some time which just weren’t particularly entertaining, but I did, and I’ve been quite enjoying revisiting the tracks of my years of late.
But here we are, and although I desperately want to avoid any talk of coronavirus around here this is my web diary as well as a music blog, so it really can’t be avoided. I am reminded of a conversation I had with a girl at work many years ago – It was about how we both spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about restructurings at work, issues with our kids, house prices and the rest, whereas in reality the really worrying things will come out of nowhere, and we’ll be blind-sided on a Tuesday afternoon. The following Tuesday afternoon, after a visit to her GP, she was diagnosed as having cancer. Fortunately it was caught early and after treatment she made a return to full health but it made me realise we really shouldn’t sweat the small stuff.
But, old habits die hard, and over the last couple of years I have been sweating the small stuff (suddenly the whole Brexit debacle seems like small stuff). I am one of those people however who is a bit rubbish at dealing with minor problems and dilemmas but when something really big comes along I rise to the challenge. The way things are currently playing out, this year is going to be one helluva challenge and I’m not talking about the virus itself (which as the PM has even said himself will lead to loved ones being taken before their time), but the fallout from it.
Mr WIAA and I have a mantra for life which is, “It’s All About The Balance” – It has served us well over the years and it’s only when the balance becomes skewed that we struggle. But that just relates to our family dynamic (and the balance in the last few days has been severely skewed). Applied to the country as a whole it’s not going to be pretty, but there really is no way of avoiding it. This virus is new, there is no vaccine as yet and we’re pretty much all going to have to get it in order to build up immunity (assuming “the science” is correct). I totally get why the government want to delay the banning of large scale gatherings but events seem to have overtaken them and in domino-effect style one large “gathering” after another is being cancelled or postponed by its organising body.
Many small businesses will go to the wall, especially in the hospitality and entertainment sectors (I include football in this one, DD’s other half’s industry). My home town derives a massive amount of its income from tourism and that’s just not going to happen this year (my industry). Dedicated health professionals will be tested to their limits and those who lose their jobs and livelihoods will suffer greatly (doubt if DD’s workplace will weather the storm). The old folk with dementia in care homes (I include my mum in this group) can no longer be visited by their families and they won’t understand why they’ve been abandoned. Should the worst come to the worst, they will be alone.
But again, here we are, and although the experts and scientists tell us to self-isolate if we have symptoms (and not go on cruises !?), many of us in the real world who may well not be paid if we don’t turn up for work will carry on regardless – It’s just human nature as navigating the Universal Credit system for urgent replacement funding would be nigh impossible. Likewise, there is an army of unpaid carers out there who look after their elderly relatives. They have been told to give them a phonecall and tell them they won’t see them for a few weeks! Again, not going to happen. I know from personal experience I had to visit my mum three times a day when she was poorly otherwise she would not have been fed or given her medication.
Last Saturday my first guest of the year to the holiday hideaway left for home, after having spent an excellent week in the area where he and his family were blessed with great weather. He knew about Alyson’s Highland Adventures from my blog and decided to give me a whirl. This Saturday it’s increasingly looking like he might be my first and only guest of 2020. Yes, this year the town is going to look less like the picture on the left and more like the one on the right.
The Town at Night
I have just asked Mr WIAA if he had any song suggestions for this post and he came up withIt’s The End Of The World As We Know It by REM. Although I think he’s kinda right (in the short-term), that all sounds a bit too dystopian. Instead I’ll include this offering from Bon Iver who are new to me, but the song Blindsided from their 2008 album For Emma, Forever Ago suddenly seems appropriate to how we’ve all been hit this week. The majority of that album was recorded whilst lead singer Justin Vernon spent three months in (self?) isolatation in a cabin in north-western Wisconsin. Most interestingly for me however is that their name comes from the French phrase “bon hiver” (good winter) taken from a greeting heard on the excellent ’90s telly show Northern Exposure. We watched that show religiously but with the passage of time I seem to have forgotten they ever said that.
Blindsided by Bon Iver:
So, “What’s It All About?” – I seem to have returned with another negative post but I’m just bracing myself for all the changes we’re going to have to get used to over the next few weeks and months. I really want all my loved ones to stay well (and of course all you lovely followers too) but being realistic this thing has to run its course so that we can get to the other side. Strange times indeed.
Until next time….
Blindsided Lyrics (Song by Justin Vernon)
Back down, down to the downtown Down to the lockdown… Boards, nails lie around
I crouch like a crow Contrast in the snow For the agony I’d rather know
‘Cause blinded I am blindsided
Peek in Into the peer in I’m not really like this I’m probably plightless
I come through the window I’m crippled and slow For the agony I’d rather know
‘Cause blinded I am blindsided
Would you really rush out? Would you really rush out? Would you really rush out for me now? Would you really rush out Would you really rush out for me now? Would you really rush out for me now? Would you really rush out for me now? Would you really rush out For me now?
Ooh, for me now Ooh, for me now Ooh, for me now
Taut line Down to the shoreline The end of a blood line The moon is a cold light
There’s a pull to the flow My feet melt the snow For the irony I’d rather know
‘Cause blinded I was blindsided Blinded I was blindsided Blinded I was blindsided
Lest we stray into negative blogging territory too soon, here is a clip a friend has just sent me. Most of us will remember Nigel Hawthorne’s portrayal of Sir Humphrey Appleby, the Permanent Secretary for the Department of Administrative Affairs in the telly show Yes Minister. Very funny, but also very apt for our times.
When I was young, and worked in offices, I couldn’t wait for the weekend to come. From this end of the telescope I really want time to slow down a bit more, as the weekend comes round just too quickly (although always a treat to have another edition of Rol’sSaturday Snapshots). Last year I dashed off a quick poem about this phenomenon for my writing class and it made reference to three songs. As I was the most mature (chronologically) of all the students in my group, no-one recognised the songs, but I’m pretty sure regular visitors to this place will pick them out easily.
I Don’t Like Fridays
Always used to have Friday on my mind Start of the weekend The promise (often unfulfilled) of exciting times ahead
Now it comes round too quickly Another hundred and sixty eight hours gone Whoa time, slow down, you move too fast
Boomtown Bob didn’t like Mondays Now I want Monday to last forever So much left to do
So little time…
Friday On My Mind by the Easybeats:
Back then I realised I knew very little about Australian group the Easybeats who had a big hit in 1966 with Friday On My Mind, so I did a little research, and as often happens around here I discovered a fascinating rock and pop family tree.
This winter has been quite mild here in Scotland but back in 1962-63 we had what was called The Big Freeze, the worst winter on record, with snow lying eight feet deep. A TV advert at the time offered assisted travel to families who fancied a new life in Australia, and 15 members of the Young family from Glasgow moved there in June 1963. One of their sons was George Young who went on to form the Easybeats. His younger brothers Malcolm and Angus went on to form AC/DC a decade later. The Easybeats disbanded in 1969 but then in 1976 George got together with his old bandmate Harry Vanda to form new wave group Flash and the Pan.
Had the winter of 1962-63 been a mild one none of these bands might ever have existed. The family initially stayed at Villawood Immigration Detention Centre on the outskirts of Sydney which was where George Young met and became friends with another migrant, Dutchman Harry Vanda, and together they formed the Easybeats. Malcolm and Angus Young then developed the idea for their band. The name came about after their sister Margaret saw the initials “AC/DC” on her sewing machine. The brothers felt this name symbolised the raw energy and power-driven performances of their music. It was she who also came up with the very memorable schoolboy outfit for Angus Young.
I can’t pretend to be a fan of AC/DC but of course I know of their musical output, although probably attributed more to having watched the film School of Rock several times. I can’t pretend to be a fan of Jack Black either, as he always comes across as just a bit too manic for my liking, but that kind of characterisation was just what was needed for this film. (Fast forward to 2:30 for the best bit in this clip.)
The song Waiting For A Train by Flash and the Pan (George and Harry’s new wave band) was the one that did best in the UK Singles Chart. It reached the No. 7 spot in 1983.
So, “What’s It All About? – I know there are lots of you who still long for the weekend but trust me, once you get to my age, you do want the week to slow down a bit more.
As for the song Friday On My Mind, Harry Vanda described it as reminiscent of the days when the band members lived in hostels in Sydney as “new Australians”. They longed for the end of the week because that’s when the fun began. The song has quite a build-up and after the opening cymbal crash, its just a staccato guitar for the next 20 seconds where the lead vocalist runs through the days of the week, explaining why Monday to Thursday doesn’t excite him. The bass finally comes in as he gets closer to the weekend. 30 seconds into the song we hit Friday, and the drums come in to play.
Well, that’s Saturday Snapshots played and my Saturday blogpost written. Better head off now and achieve meaningful things, as before we know it, it’ll be Friday again. Argh.
Until next time….
Friday On My Mind Lyrics (Song by George Young/Harry Vanda)
Monday mornin’ feels so bad Ev’rybody seems to nag me Comin’ Tuesday I feel better Even my old man looks good Wed’sday just don’t go Thursday goes too slow I’ve got Friday on my mind
Gonna have fun in the city Be with my girl, she’s so pretty She looks fine tonight She is out of sight to me Tonight I’ll spend my bread, tonight I’ll lose my head, tonight I’ve got to get to night Monday I’ll have Friday on my mind
Do the five day grind once more I know of nothin’ else that bugs me More than workin’ for the rich man Hey! I’ll change that scene one day Today I might be mad, tomorrow I’ll be glad ‘Cause I’ll have Friday on my mind
One of the new things I discovered during my month of abstinence from all things computer-related (should have waited until lent really) was a telly channel called Talking Pictures. I have bemoaned of late that hardly any of the mainstream channels show old black and white movies any more, and I miss that. Here however (I think it’s No. 81 on Freeview) was a channel totally dedicated to such fare. It bothers me somewhat that there will be a whole generation of people who have never heard of Humphrey Bogart or Fred Astaire, and have never laid eyes on any of their prodigious output.
One film I recently re-watched on Talking Pictures wasn’t black and white however, in fact it was an extravaganza of colour, but was set right at the start of the 1930s so fitted the channel’s ethos well. Many years ago I had one of those “lost weekend” kind of things. My two flatmates were away for the duration; I had recently split up with the long-term boyfriend; and, for two days had no other commitments, so I holed up in my comfy indoors-y clothes and watched telly. We didn’t have a VCR back in those days, just a basic Radio Rentals telly, but one of the flatmates had recently acquired a new job in sales, and had been given a machine with a built in video-player to dazzle her potential customers. That weekend I aimed to make full use of it, but ended up watching only one film, four times, as I was so blown away by it. The film I rented was Francis Ford Coppola’sThe Cotton Club and I can still remember most of the dialogue verbatim. (This clip seems to start in the middle, so needs to be reset.)
Two weeks ago I wrote about the film Paint Your Wagon and about how it was both a Western, and a Musical. The Cotton Club was a Crime-Drama, but also a Musical and like Paint Your Wagon didn’t get brilliant reviews when it came out, as it didn’t particularly appeal to either audience. Personally I loved it and couldn’t understand why it hadn’t been more successful. With the passage of time that opinion has been reassessed however and a remastered version was released in 2017.
The Cotton Club was the name of a Harlem jazz club of the 1930s during the era of Prohibition and Jim Crow racial segregation. Black people could not patronise the Cotton Club, but the venue featured many of the most popular black entertainers of the era, including musicians Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Adelaide Hall, Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, and dancers such as Bill Robinson and The Nicholas Brothers. In its heyday, the Cotton Club served as a hip meeting spot, with regular “Celebrity Nights” featuring guests such as Jimmy Durante, George Gershwin, Paul Robeson, Al Jolson, Mae West and Fanny Brice, amongst others.
There were some great musical performances in the film and we got to witness what it would have been like to experience Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway (he of Minnie the Moocher fame) in their prime. The song I most enjoyed when I first watched the film 35 years ago was Ill Wind (You’re Blowin’ Me No Good) and all these years later it was still the song I most enjoyed. The actress Lonette McKee was given the task of singing it, however over the years it has been recorded by all the greats, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Washington and Ella Fitzgerald to name but a few. The song was composed by Harold Arlen who also gave us the soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz. Yes, he was the man responsible for taking usSomewhere Over The Rainbow.
Ill Wind (You’re Blowin’ Me No Good) by Ella Fitzgerald:
One observation from having typed the word “ill” several times for this post, depending on the typeface you use it can look like the number three in Roman numerals. A capital “i”, and the letter “l”, often look the same, but I can assure you it’s neither a song by Lonette McKee the Third, nor a level Three Wind, it is indeed about a wind that we really don’t want, just like the one that whisked Dorothy off to the land of Oz.
These old movies on the Talking Pictures channel are not for everyone but I’ve watched a few now and they are a real insight into our social history. Some of the best lines in The Cotton Club came from a young Lawrence Fishbourne who played mob boss and bookmaker Bumpy Rhodes. They made a real impact on me when I watched the film 35 years ago and his short speech has never left me. Last week I wrote about the BRIT awards and how rapper Dave was responsible for the most powerful performance of the night. 90 years on and I’m realising they are not a million miles apart.
Until next time….
Ill Wind (You’re Blowin’ Me No Good) Lyrics (Song by Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler)
Blow ill wind, Blow away, Let me rest today. You’re blowin’ me no good, No good.
Go ill wind, Go away, Skies are oh so gray Around my neighborhood, And that ain’t good
You’re only misleadin’ the sunshine I’m needin’, Ain’t that a shame It’s so hard to keep up with troubles that creep up From out of nowhere, When love’s to blame.
So ill wind, blow away. Let me rest today. You’re blowin’ me no good.
So, ill wind, blow away, Please let me rest today. You’re blowing me no good, no good, no good.