Glastonbury 2022, No Need to Feel Nervous for Sir Paul and ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!’

I did say I wasn’t going to write any more Beatles-related posts for a while – as there have been many around here of late – but after watching the headline act perform at Glastonbury last weekend (on telly), it can’t be avoided. I don’t know how well-known the Glastonbury Festival is outwith the UK but I’m guessing most people who visit this place will have heard of it. It’s a massive event in the British cultural calendar and it all began in 1970, inspired by the hippie movement and the counterculture of the 1960s. Michael Eavis, a dairy-farmer from Pilton, Somerset, came up with the idea of the first festival, and since then it has become a behemoth of an event where between two and three hundred thousand people have been known to attend. After the last two years’ planned festivals had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, it seems this year’s festival-goers were really up for it, and I dipped into much of the excellent BBC coverage over the course of last weekend.


The ‘big one’ however is the act who will perform on the Pyramid Stage on the Saturday night and this year it was to be none other than Sir Paul McCartney. He was supposed to headline back in 2020, and then last year, but eventually things got back on track and he got his time on that most famous of stages. It aired an hour later on telly, starting at 10.30pm, but I was really curious as to how it would go and of course I was also a bit nervous for him. He had turned 80 only the week before – could he still cut it? In the end I stayed up late, watching his entire set (link here to BBC iPlayer) until just after 1am and I think most of us would agree, yes he could.

With such a back catalogue of songs to choose from he was spoilt for choice, but he trod a nice balance, covering early Beatles, late Beatles, Wings and solo material, in no particular chronological order. Made it a nice surprise to find out what would pop up next. The vocals at times were less than perfect, and there were some sound issues, but his band have been with him a long time and are the consummate professionals. The crowd didn’t seem to notice any of the sound issues at all and were just happy to witness one of the world’s first pop superstars in action. Mr WIAA went to bed about half way through, which is a shame I think, because it wasn’t until the second half that the truly memorable bits happened. Lovely stills on the big screen behind him of George Harrison, and of course there was the duet with John Lennon using footage from Peter Jackson’s recent Get Back documentary series. There were also the ‘surprise’ guest appearances by Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen which meant at one point we had two of the three richest people in music on stage at the same time (sorry Dave, it wasn’t you), not that their wealth would have mattered a jot to them at that precise moment.

Paul on the Pyramid stage

But what meant more to me than the joy of listening to all those songs I know and love, was that it could happen at all. In my current life I find it hard to feel positive about the aging process. My mum has had dementia since before she turned 80 and is now in a care home, along with a lot of other people who also have dementia or who are just too physically infirm to look after themselves. Many of them are much younger than 80. Watching Glastonbury on Saturday night made me realise it’s not a given that this will happen to all of us. If we are lucky, and look after ourselves, there is a lot to be positive about as the years roll by. Paul was looking pretty good and very youthful for a man of his vintage I thought, and to have played and sang for over two and a half hours in such a setting was no mean feat. I’m sure he’s had a bit of ‘help’ along the way but he always was the baby-faced one amongst the Beatles and it seems to be holding him in good stead – that and being a serial monogamist and family man possibly?

I have added his setlist from Saturday night in the Postscript below, but which of all the many songs that were performed have resonated with me most since? I can’t believe I’m even admitting to this, as a very unlikely pick, but for the last five days I’ve had Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! going round and round in my head. It’s not even a Paul song but one written by John Lennon after he bought an old 19th century circus poster in an antiques shop in 1967. The song’s lyrics detail the entire evening’s program and of course it ended up on the Sgt. Pepper album, also made in 1967. How weird that it’s stayed with me all week but maybe because it’s one of the songs that hasn’t become over-familiar and I did enjoy how on the night, his drummer flamboyantly waved his arms around in a circular fashion, in the style of a circus performer. Quite a performance.


I can’t find YouTube footage of this song from his Glastonbury set, but here it is from earlier in the month performed elsewhere. See what I mean about the drummer, Abe Laboriel Jr., at 1:05 and 2:05? Below it you will find an audio clip of the original Beatles song recorded for Sgt. Pepper.

Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! by the Beatles:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – Lots of enjoyment to be had from watching the reinstated festival this year, even if it was vicariously via the telly. I was nervous for Sir Paul, but I shouldn’t have been, as everyone accepted his vocals can’t quite be what they were back in the day and they were happy just to have this legend on the Pyramid Stage at last. His band was fantastic and what with his ‘surprise’ guests, and the audience participation towards the end, he must have been really pleased by how it went down. I might have quite a few poorly and infirm 80-year olds in my life, but some of these rock and pop heroes from the 1960s make me realise it doesn’t have to be that way. If you keep on working on new things and feel passionate about what you do, there is no reason to slow down or stop doing it.

As for those who were actually there, I am a tad jealous. Many of us have been home-based for an awful long time now, and post-covid, some of us will continue to live that way. Watching the crowd scenes at Glastonbury, of all those people who came together for a festival, it reminded me that we humans are by nature social animals and should live in communities, not alone, interacting with a computer screen. Last time I wrote about my get-together in Edinburgh with my blogging pals. It was a wonderful few days and it harked back to how I used to live, always surrounded by people, having a chat, having a bit of a laugh. Now, not so much. Will have to do better going forward.

To end I had better show a clip from the actual night itself, so how about this bit of amateur footage. As I said, very jealous. A celebration of 60 years of popular music, my era of popular music, and I wasn’t even there. Thank goodness for the BBC.


Until next time…

Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! Lyrics
(Song by John Lennon/Paul McCartney)

For the benefit of Mr. Kite,
There will be a show tonight
On trampoline
.

The Hendersons will all be there.
Late of Pablo Fanque’s Fair.
What a scene!

Over men and horses, hoops and garters,
Lastly through a hogshead of real fire!
In this way
Mr. K.
Will challenge the world!

The celebrated Mr. K.
Performs his feat on Saturday
At Bishopsgate.

The Hendersons will dance and sing
As Mr. Kite flies through the ring.
Don’t be late!

Messrs. K. and H. assure the public
Their production will be second to none.
And of course
Henry The Horse
Dances the waltz!

The band begins at ten to six,
When Mr. K. performs his tricks
Without a sound.

And Mr. H. will demonstrate
Ten summersets he’ll undertake
On solid ground.

Having been some days in preparation,
A splendid time is guaranteed for all.
And tonight
Mr. Kite
Is topping the bill!


Postscript:

Paul McCartney’s Glastonbury setlist of 39 songs

  • Can’t Buy Me Love (The Beatles song)
  • Junior’s Farm (Wings song)
  • Letting Go (Wings song)
  • Got to Get You Into My Life (The Beatles song)
  • Come On to Me
  • Let Me Roll It (Wings song) (with “Foxy Lady” outro jam)
  • Getting Better (The Beatles song)
  • Let ‘Em In (Wings song)apparently many people only know this song from the Postcode Lottery advert and were bemused by how it turned up on his setlist!
  • My Valentine
  • Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five (Wings song)
  • Maybe I’m Amazed
  • I’ve Just Seen a Face (The Beatles song)
  • In Spite of All the Danger (The Quarrymen song)
  • Love Me Do (The Beatles song)
  • Dance Tonight
  • Blackbird (The Beatles song)
  • Here Today
  • New
  • Lady Madonna (The Beatles song)
  • Fuh You
  • Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! (The Beatles song)
  • Something (The Beatles song
  • Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (The Beatles song)
  • You Never Give Me Your Money (The Beatles song)
  • She Came in Through the Bathroom Window (The Beatles song)
  • Get Back (The Beatles song)
  • I Saw Her Standing There (The Beatles song with Dave Grohl)
  • Band on the Run (Wings song with Dave Grohl)
  • Glory Days (Bruce Springsteen cover with Bruce Springsteen)
  • I Wanna Be Your Man (The Beatles song with Bruce Springsteen)
  • Let It Be (The Beatles song)
  • Live and Let Die (Wings song)
  • Hey Jude (The Beatles song)
  • Encore:
  • I’ve Got a Feeling (The Beatles song, virtual duet with John Lennon)
  • Helter Skelter (The Beatles song)
  • Golden Slumbers (The Beatles song)
  • Carry That Weight (The Beatles song)
  • The End (The Beatles song with Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen)

Yet More Beatles, ‘I Feel Fine’ and Words of Wisdom from Caitlin Moran

This blog has been a bit Beatles-heavy of late as after watching Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back mini-series on Disney+, I went on to watch some of the many other documentaries made about them, and kind of fell in love with them all over again. I admit to having been a bit too young for ‘Beatlemania’, but of course I knew of them, and in the early ’70s their films were often shown on telly during the school holidays. When the Red and Blue compilation albums were released in 1973, I somehow acquired them and loved pouring over the lyrics on the inner sleeves – what a songwriting journey between Love Me Do and The Long and Winding Road. (When I say I somehow acquired them, that’s because albums like this were really expensive in relation to what we received as pocket money back then, so I can only imagine there must have been a build up of birthday and Christmas money in my piggy bank.)

How great they were able to recreate the original picture all those years later. The EMI building now long since gone.

I mention the above because I am going to write one more Beatles-themed post before giving them (and you) a bit of a break. I have been making excuses of late as to why my blogging output has been falling short of normal – all valid excuses – but how to kick start things again once you’ve lost momentum? I decided to revert to one of the ideas I had when I first set up this place, simply pick a song at random, then challenge myself to write about it. When I opened the music app on this device the other night and pressed play, the song that burst forth was this one – I Feel Fine, a non-album single by the Beatles from 1964 (Paul goes over his ankle at 0:09 in this clip!).

I Feel Fine by the Beatles:


Most of us will already be really familiar with this simple but effective love song, but what made it a bit different, and a bit experimental, was that it starts with a single feedback note. It was apparently produced by accident when Paul plucked the A string on his bass, and John’s guitar, which was leaning against Paul’s bass amp, picked up feedback. The band loved that ‘Nnnnnnwahhhhh’ sound and asked George Martin if it could be edited onto the front of the record. It could, and the rest as they say, is history.

In the promotional clip for the song, made for a Top of the Pops round-up of the year’s biggest hits, the band are shown interacting with various items of gym equipment. George sang into a punch-ball whilst Ringo pedalled on an exercise bike. I recently shared a trailer for their film A Hard Day’s Night and although filmed just a year and a half later, the clip for I Feel Fine shows a band that is starting to morph into something else – the hair is longer, the clothes more casual and the attitude a bit more irreverent. Interestingly the Beatles only appeared on the live TOTP show once, which is really unusual for a British band from the ’60s, but then they were rarely available, and could it be that they got so big, so fast, that such a weekly chart show was a bit beneath them? Not sure, but few of the really big stars of music ever appeared, which led to the show becoming a bit MTV-ish for a time, especially in its final years.

But the main reason I was happy to have a song by the Beatles pop up as a random pick, was because I have been wanting to share an extract for some time from one of my favourite books, by one of my favourite authors. I don’t have many books by my bedside with little sticky tabs inserted to remind me of important passages, but two of them are by Caitlin Moran, whose writing I love. In her novel How To Be Famous, an entire chapter is dedicated to a letter, written by the main character to her friend John, who has suddenly become a big star in the world of music. The chapter/letter is too long to share in full, but here are what I think are the best bits, that sum up what she is trying to tell her friend:

There is one terrible weakness you can have if you amusedly and self-deprecatingly describe yourself as an artist, and become famous. One let-down if you become loved by millions, and your work is meaningful work. And that is if some of the millions who know, and love you, are teenage girls (…) the love of teenage girls is not merely substandard, or worthless – it is an active mortification to an artist. Oh you take those girls’ money and become elevated on their devotion, and enjoy them putting you at Number One – but you do not respect those girls.

Things that boys love are cooler than things girls love. That is a simple fact. Boys love clever things, cleverly. Girls love foolish things, foolishly. How awful it would be to love things like teenage girls do. How awful it would be to be the wrong kind of fan – a girl. A dumb, hysterical, screaming girl.

But bands need to be screamed at. In their hearts they know that. They know there is a power they will never attain until they have stood in the white-noise of a theatre of devotion and seen the girls down the front collapse in ecstatic tears. And this is true even when it’s the biggest scream in the world, even when the mythology is that the screaming was what killed your band.

The Beatles at Shea Stadium

Why did girls love the Beatles so much? Because the Beatles loved girls. They were saturated in girl culture – they loved black American girl groups; they had dandy outfits and uncomfortable pointy shoes, like girls. They went out of their way to write about girls in their songs – ‘She Loves You’ is the Beatles siding with a girl in love… acting as her sexy envoys. They grew their hair long, like girls: an act of alliance in a time when femininity was implicitly inferior.

How can you be as extraordinary as the Beatles? How can you change so much, in such a short space of time, with seemingly nothing – no capital, no contacts no education – on your side? By tapping into the cultural capital of humanity: girls. To be on the side of girls. To look girls in the eye, and declare yourself on our team. To copy girls, to acknowledge girls, to learn from girls.

The great pity of my lifetime is that still no one notices this is what happens. Girls are invisible. The power source goes unacknowledged. But not to other girls. I see you girls. I see you in history. And all anyone has to do – to have our impossible energy and love, given willingly, forever – is to say, ‘I see you too.’

Well said Caitlin.

The wonderful Caitlin Moran

Until next time…

I Feel Fine Lyrics
(Song by John Lennon/Paul McCartney)

Baby’s good to me, you know
She’s happy as can be, you know
She said so
I’m in love with her and I feel fine

Baby says she’s mine, you know
She tells me all the time, you know
She said so
I’m in love with her and I feel fine

I’m so glad that she’s my little girl
She’s so glad, she’s telling all the world

That her baby buys her things, you know
He buys her diamond rings, you know
She said so
She’s in love with me and I feel fine, mmm

Baby says she’s mine, you know
She tells me all the time, you know
She said so
I’m in love with her and I feel fine

I’m so glad that she’s my little girl
She’s so glad, she’s telling all the world

That her baby buys her things, you know
He buys her diamond rings, you know
She said so
She’s in love with me and I feel fine
She’s in love with me and I feel fine, mmm, mmm

The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night and ‘If I Fell’

Last time I mentioned that the hard graft part of my college course is now over, so to reward myself I indulged in a bit of a wallow in the distant past, revisiting old footage of the Beatles at the height of Beatlemania. This came about because I’d recently re-read my Christmas stocking book, Nothing Is Real: The Beatles Were Underrated And Other Sweeping Statements About Pop, by David Hepworth. A bit of non-fiction was needed as a foil to the very literary books I’ve had to dissect of late and there is nothing I enjoy more than a rock and pop anthology. The first section of the book contained essays on the Beatles, and yet again (I’ve mentioned some of David’s other books around here before), I learnt so much that was new to me.


I knew the Beatles had been in existence for some time before their breakthrough year 1963, but it wasn’t until Ringo Starr was recruited in September 1962 that they truly became a group (they weren’t called bands in those days). He was the best drummer in Liverpool at the time and the rest of the lads liked him, so once it was decided that Pete Best had to go, in those days before house telephones, Brian Epstein turned up at his family home in one of the less salubrious parts of that city to ask if he wanted to join the group. The rest as they say is history. Ringo was more than happy to change his slicked back hair to mop-top style, and wear the smart suits Brian had insisted the lads adopt. His unique style of drumming was pivotal in creating the Beatles’ sound and a lot of that was down to the fact he was born left-handed, but his superstitious grandmother wouldn’t let him use his left hand so he learned to play on a right-handed kit. It meant his route round the drum kit was a bit different to that of other drummers which is why other bands found it so hard to copy their sound exactly.


Anyway, I had enjoyed reading all these snippets in David’s book so much, I decided to search for moving images of the Beatles on some of the many avenues available to us on our tellies nowadays. It didn’t take long for me to find their 1964 film A Hard Day’s Night (on Amazon Prime), and what a joy it was to watch it again straight after reading the book, as there was so much more to look out for now that I knew more of the Fab Four backstories.

Within the first 10 seconds, both George and Ringo have fallen over!

The film has a plot of sorts, but it was essentially about Beatlemania and was a vehicle to showcase some of the songs written especially for the soundtrack. It was early reality television, where we saw the lads lark around in between rehearsals, exhibiting their individual personalities, but best of all they sang those simple (but not simple) love songs that were aimed at their young teenage market. Every time I watch the film I warm most to this song, If I Fell, possibly because it’s not one of the ones that’s become overfamiliar but also because we get to see them ‘at work’ interacting with each other whilst they rehearse for the show. I hadn’t noticed before but I also like how the beat to the song comes from Ringo simply tapping the metal side of the snare drum with his drumstick (0:32) – Maybe this is ‘a thing’ in the world of drumming, but I’d never taken heed of it before.

If I Fell by the Beatles:


It’s an accident of birth of course, but had I been born ten years earlier I would have been just the right demographic for Beatlemania, but I wasn’t, I only had Rollermania which was a pale imitation. What I noticed most about watching the film this week however, was just how much joy exuded from the screen. The Fab Four were still finding their feet as a band experiencing something that had never occurred before in the UK. Their fans adored them and they thought they were the luckiest guys in the world.

I knew if I looked hard enough I would find them, and I did. Here are seven of a series of 60 trading cards issued by A&BC, with chewing gum, back in 1964. I thought they might be worth something, but once I visited the ‘well-known online auction site’ I realised there are still many of them out there. I’m pretty sure they weren’t bought by me as there is no way my mum allowed me to have chewing gum at age four (‘if you swallow it it’ll stick to the inside of your tummy’), so I reckon they probably came via my older cousins who often came to stay in the summer holidays. Nice little bit of memorabilia though, and perfect for my wallow in all things Beatles-related this last week.

Trading cards from a set issued by A&BC in 1964


Until next time…

If I Fell
(Song by John Lennon/Paul McCartney)

If I fell in love with you
Would you promise to be true
And help me understand
Cause I’ve been in love before
And I found that love was more
Than just holding hands

If I give my heart to you
I must be sure
From the very start
That you would love me more than her

If I trust in you oh please
Don’t run and hide
If I love you too oh please

Don’t hurt my pride like her
Cause I couldn’t stand the pain
And I would be sad if our new love was in vain

So I hope you see that I
Would love to love you
And that she will cry

When she learns we are two
Cause I couldn’t stand the pain
And I would be sad if our new love was in vain

So I hope you see that I
Would love to love you
And that she will cry
When she learns we are two
If I fell in love with you

The Beatles, ‘Paperback Writer’ and Nearly At The Finish Line

WIAA: Alyson…, oh Alyson.

Alyson: I know, I know WIAA – It appears that I’ve gone quiet around here again, but all for a good reason. One final push and I think I’ll actually finish my course and get a qualification. I had a project to submit yesterday which took three weeks of hard graft – Doesn’t leave much time for blogging.

WIAA: Understandable then. It’s just that my pages were feeling a little unloved again.


Alyson: Sorry WIAA. It’s also not lost on me that just as we seemed to be finally getting back to normal after two years of pandemic-related anxiety and restrictions, the biggest, most scary scenario imaginable has actually come to pass. I can’t pretend to understand all the background detail to what’s going on, and it’s complicated, not black and white, but could the 21st century really get any worse?

WIAA: Again, understandable then that you’ve not been feeling ‘blogging inclined’.

Alyson: Here’s the irony WIAA. Exactly 40 years ago right now I was in the midst of studying for my finals, at University. Those stressful last few weeks were overshadowed by the fact our country went to war, with a large South American country. Some of our lecturers lost the will to tutor us, such was their dismay at what had happened. Rumours went round that young males (our boyfriends) would be conscripted. Of course that didn’t happen, and our lecturers did put the processes in place for us to sit our finals, but with only seven weeks left to go on my current course, I’m experiencing a terrible sense of déjà vu albeit on a far scarier level.

WIAA: How about sharing a song to take your mind off things?

Alyson: Always a joy WIAA, although not much time today for all the background research I like to include around here. As I’ve had to read so many books over the last few weeks (my chosen author for my project was the wonderfully clever Kate Atkinson), I think something about writers might be a good idea. Here is Paperback Writer by the Beatles, one of their non-album singles from 1966.

Paperback Writer by the Beatles:


Last month I spent the guts of a weekend watching Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back mini-series on Disney+, which documented their time making the Let It Be album, culminating in that rooftop performance in Central London. I loved it, and as others have said, because the footage has been so skilfully remastered, it looks as if it could have been made yesterday. All four Beatles were back in our lives and with eight hours of airtime, you got a real insight into how they were with each other at that time in early 1969. Not as bad as was always made out it seems.


Anyway, I have a copious amount of notes that I want to make into a Get Back blog post at some point, but I did also have one of those revelatory moments when watching it. Yoko Ono was permanently attached to John throughout the whole thing, never veering far from his side. How annoying for the rest of them I thought until I realised that 40 years ago, I too was that limpet. He doesn’t get mentioned around here often, as I’m not as anonymous as I used to be and don’t want to cause any upset, but the student boyfriend and I were rarely apart during those years which meant whenever he spent time with his male friends I was always there too, as I had done the unthinkable and dropped my female friends. In the library, in the bar, having lunch in the refectory, at the football pitch, yep, I was always there…

I was Yoko.

Although I have now lost touch with that entire group of young men, all these years later I can only apologise for my limpet-like behaviour. I’m still really glad you didn’t get conscripted, but instead got to the finish line and sat your finals. Let’s hope the same can be said for the class of ’22.

Yoko Ono

Until next time…

Paperback Writer
Song by John Lennon/Paul McCartney

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
It’s based on a novel by a man named Lear
And I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

It’s the dirty story of a dirty man
And his clinging wife doesn’t understand
His son is working for the Daily Mail
It’s a steady job but he wants to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

Paperback writer

It’s a thousand pages, give or take a few
I’ll be writing more in a week or two
I can make it longer if you like the style
I can change it round and I want to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

If you really like it you can have the rights
It could make a million for you overnight
If you must return it, you can send it here
But I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

Paperback writer

Paperback writer, paperback writer
Paperback writer, paperback writer
Paperback writer, paperback writer
Paperback writer, paperback writer (fade out)

Six Years of Birthday Blogging and the Phrase, ‘We All Now Know How That Turned Out’

I had a birthday this week, my sixth since starting this blog, and it occurred to me to look back at what I was writing about in each of those years at this time. It made for interesting reading, as although there is always a song around here, from the get-go it has also been my web-diary, and I’ve been pretty honest about all the ups and downs that life has very naturally thrown my way.

2016 – Back then I was still concentrating primarily on the music, and for my birthday post I decided to write about music from the year of my birth, music that certainly didn’t feature in my own musical memories, but it might have done for my parents had they not been quite so busy coping with a new baby in the house. My next post was all about that momentous decision we were about to make, which could possibly take us out of the EU. (Well, we all now know how that turned out and a right hullaballoo it’s still causing all these years later, this week regarding the humble British banger.) But getting back to the year of my birth, here’s a bit of Adam Faith for you.

What Do You Want by Adam Faith:

2017 – This was the summer of terrorist attacks and tragic fires. The Manchester Arena and London Bridge attacks and then the horrors of Grenfell Tower. At the same time our new PM Theresa May decided to hold a snap election to consolidate her majority in The House of Commons ahead of Brexit negotiations. (Again, we all now know how that turned out.) On a more positive note, a very successful benefit concert called One Love was held in Manchester shortly after the atrocity at the arena, and we also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ seminal album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles:

2018 – By this time I was really getting into my blogging stride and in early June I wrote a couple of wedding posts, one a very royal affair (we all now know how that turned out – there’s a pattern forming here) and one for a girl from our neighbourhood. To challenge myself I also embarked on a whole week of blogging which culminated with me posting 7 in 7 (seven posts in seven days). I was very proud of myself but now realise whenever I set myself these kind of challenges I understandably lose followers along the way, as overkill really. It certainly does help flex the blogging muscles though. On a positive note, my Full Moon Calendar in Song series was really gathering pace and is still my favourite because of all I discovered, both about our only satellite, and about the many moon-related songs that were included. I thought Carly Simon’s version of Moonlight Serenade was just perfect for June’s Strawberry Moon.

Moonlight Serenade by the Glenn Miller Orchestra:


2019 – By the time my birthday came around two years ago I was already headlong into greeting guests at the holiday hideaway we had taken on earlier in the year, but having worked in an office for 35 years it turned out I wasn’t ‘match fit’, and my back, neck and shoulders were already giving me gyp. I wrote about the sleepless nights that ensued, compounded by the sheer number of troubling television dramas that filled our screens of an evening. One BBC drama called Years and Years portrayed a worrying picture of what life might be like in only five years time, with everyone working from home at their kitchen tables, communication all being done virtually via screens, and everything we consume being ordered online. (Well, well, well – Again, we all now know how that turned out and it didn’t take five years, just one.) On a really positive note however, I finally made it down to London that month to meet long time blogging buddy C from Sun Dried Sparrows. As we used mock-ups of our first albums to recognise each other this song by the Clash seems appropriate (for C anyway – my first album wasn’t quite as ‘cool’).

London Calling by the Clash:

2020 – This is the big one isn’t it. I had reached a milestone birthday but couldn’t celebrate it with anyone as we all had to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. Not complaining of course, as there seemed little other choice at the time, but by June it was becoming apparent there would be no V-shaped bounce back to the economy and that restrictions could be in place for another few weeks yet (a year on, we all now know how that turned out). DD’s life in Glasgow was in disarray and there would be a complicated manoeuvre to get her home safely – It was going to be a Cruel Summer, I could tell. One positive thing from that time was that our country’s entertainers rallied round, and I enjoyed a fair few online concerts cobbled together via the wonders of modern-day technology. One was by Take That which aired just before my birthday. I had been a bit too old for the Take That phenomenon when they first appeared on the scene in the early ‘90s, but they are now a middle-aged man band as opposed to a boy band, with a great back catalogue of songs, so it was a real treat to watch them in action when everything was still looking very bleak. The song that always ends their shows is Never Forget, and I think we can all agree, unlike Y2K which came and went with very little drama, none of us will ever forget the year 2020.

Never Forget by Take That:


2021 – So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – It has become apparent from writing this post that life can throw us some pretty spectacular curve balls and from one year to the next we find it impossible to predict how things might turn out. I wasn’t able to celebrate my big birthday much last year, but the +1 version was a whole lot better – Afternoon tea at a posh hotel courtesy of DD. Very nice indeed. Who knows what next year’s birthday will throw up, but let’s hope it will be that life is a whole lot better for all of us.

Until next time…

Never Forget Lyrics
(Song by Gary Barlow)

We’ve come a long way
But we’re not too sure where we’ve been
We’ve had success we’ve had good times
But remember this

Been on this path of life for so long
Feel I’ve walked a thousand miles
Sometimes strolled hand in hand with love
Everybody’s been there

With danger on my mind
I would stand on the line
Of hope and I knew I could make it

Once I knew the boundaries
I looked into the clouds
And saw my face in the moonlight

Just then I realised what a fool I could be
Just ’cause I look so high I don’t have to see me
Finding a paradise wasn’t easy but still
There’s a road going down the other side of this hill

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

Safe from the arms of disappointment for so long
Feel each day we’ve come too far
Yet each day seems to make much more
Sure it’s good to be here

I understand the meaning
Of “I can’t explain this feeling”
Now that it feels so unreal

At night I see the hand
That reminds me of the stand
That I make the fact of reality

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

We’ve come so far and we’ve reached so high
And we’ve looked each day and night in the eye
And we’re still so young and we hope for more
But remember this

We’re not invincible, we’re not invincible, no
We’re only people, we’re only people
Hey we’re not invincible, we’re not invincible
So again I’ll tell you

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

Never
Never forget babe
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

Cold Winter Nights, George Harrison and “Here Comes The Moon”

Since discovering that all full moons have a name (given to them by the Native Americans who kept track of the months by the lunar calendar), I have written about each one as they appear in our skies. To accompany the post I always include one of the numerous songs that have been written about the moon and its many foibles.

Well, it’s been a bit of a cataclysmic week here in the UK. On December the 12th we had a General Election and by the 13th we woke up to the news that the Tory party had secured a “stonking” majority at Westminster. They certainly didn’t secure a stonking majority here in Scotland, but they never do, so no change there. As I often say around here, we are living through strange times and I don’t believe for a minute it will be all plain sailing for the new government heading into 2020 – Things had come to a head however and it seems Brexit fatigue had taken over the country which is a great shame, as I have a terrible feeling that many of those who voted Tory for the very first time last Thursday, will be the ones who suffer most over the next five years.

Anyway, we all need a break from the politics and before the end of the weekend I just wanted to share this picture of the full moon which lit up our skies on election night. It’s not a great example in terms of quality, but it was the one I managed to take on my phone when heading back to the house after a trip to the hairdressers. When things are looking a bit glum, a trip to your local salon is sometimes just the tonic required and I am happy to report my tresses have now been lit up too, just in time for Christmas.

cold moon (2).jpg
The Cold Moon, 12th Dec 2019

We’ve been here before in this blog with a December Cold Moon post both in 2017 and 2018, but it’s the series that just keeps on giving as no two years are ever the same. It seems to be a bit of an optical illusion but the closer to the horizon the moon is, the larger it appears, and by golly that moon on the 12th of December certainly looked large. The politicians may come and go but thankfully the moon still waxes and wanes every 29 and a half days, which is a pleasant constant in a topsy turvy world.

I’m rapidly running out of songs I am familiar with for this series but here’s one written by many a fan’s favourite Beatle, George Harrison. I’m pretty sure it was put forward as a suggestion early on in this series, but it’s not put in an appearance yet, so now would be a good time. Here Comes The Moon was written by George whilst on holiday in Hawaii in February 1978. He came up with several songs for his album George Harrison there, drawing inspiration from his surroundings. He apparently recalled seeing marvellous sunsets and on one particular occasion, the full moon was coming up just as the sun was going down which totally bowled him over (but the bowling over was possibly more down to the effect of certain hallucinogenic substances!).

Here Comes The Moon by George Harrison:

As for George, he was the youngest of the Beatles and a mere lad of 15 when he first joined John and Paul in their skiffle group The Quarrymen. He was also sometimes called “the quiet Beatle” which is perhaps why so many warmed to him the most. He died far too young in 2001 at the age of 58 but has left us a large body of solo material as well as all that he recorded with the Beatles and Traveling Wilburys.

I for one will have to investigate further as I have become quite smitten by this uncomplicated song, written purely about the moment, and not intended as a metaphor for life in any way. Perhaps we should finish off with something from George himself, that gentle soul whose last words were apparently, “Love one another”.

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Until next time….

Here Comes The Moon Lyrics
(Song by George Harrison)

Everybody’s talking up a storm
Act like they don’t notice it
But here it is and here it comes . . .
Here comes the moon, the moon, the moon, the moon, the moon.

Impulse always quickens when it’s full
As it turns my head around me
Yes it does and here it comes
Here comes the moon, the moon, the moon, the moon, the moon.

God’s gift I see that’s moving up there into the night . . .
Though dark the mirror in the sky reflects us our light:
Looks like a little brother to the sun
Or mother to the stars at night
And here it is and here it comes
Here comes the moon, the moon, the moon, the moon, the moon.

Breath is always taken when it’s new
Enhance upon the clouds around it
Yes it is and here it comes
Here comes the moon, the moon, the moon.

Yesterday, The Delights of Suffolk and “She’s Leaving Home”

Yesterday, I went to see Yesterday, the new Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis film where the premise is that in the blink of an eye (well, during a 12 second global power cut actually), an alternate universe has come about whereby the Beatles never existed. This being the case, no-one has ever heard any of their songs. No-one that is except a certain Jack Malik (excellently played by Himesh Patel), who during the power cut was hit by a bus and rendered unconscious for the pivotal 12 second period.

Yesterday_(2019_poster)

I have probably given too much of the plot away already for those who have not yet seen it, but needless to say, there is much comedy to be had from an alternate universe where throwaway remarks such as “will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64” are met with blank faces. The film was directed by Danny Boyle, whose films I always really enjoy, and the screenplay was by Richard Curtis whose films I also always really enjoy, so it was a no brainer I would go and see it twice, once yesterday (with Mr WIAA) and once last week (with a cinema buddy).

A strange coincidence has come about however in that I’ve spent the last week or so coming down from the high of travelling to London to meet up with my Suffolk-based blogging buddy C, and this film is set in Suffolk. I’ve spent much of the last fortnight hearing about Suffolk, eating produce from Suffolk and watching Jack and his manager Ellie travel the highways and byways of Suffolk in her little Mini Clubman. Apparently the film is already having an effect on the East Anglian tourism industry with visitors wanting to see more of this corner of the English countryside. Lowestoft here we come!

Of course with the film being set in Suffolk it made sense that local resident Ed Sheerin would put in an appearance. This was no cameo however (remember him in Game of Thrones?), he had a full blown part, and whatever you think of Ed it worked well for the whole premise of the film. With someone like Jack effortlessly coming up with songs such as Yesterday, The Long And Winding Road and In My Life, he had to admit that his songwriting crown should now transfer to this new kid on the block, or kid on the beach in this case, it being Lowestoft an’ all.

The great thing for me about this film is that it has made me fall in love with all those great Beatles songs again. I think they had almost become over-familiar to my ears so the appreciation I should have had for them left me for a while. I tried to find my copy of The Red Album last night and it’s not even downstairs amongst the vinyl, so it must be upstairs in the loft, mouldering away in some box of long-forgotten memorabilia I no longer visit. How can this have happened? It was the first album where I poured over the lyrics on the inner sleeves and could see the progression made from Love Me Do in 1963, to Eleanor Rigby in 1966. Only three years apart, yet even at age 12 I could tell the songwriting style had evolved so much.

Beatles 1

Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles:

Another Beatles song I’m going to have to include here is She’s Leaving Home, because as of this weekend, DD will be doing just that. I’ve written a post using this song before (link here) but the theme that time was of a very different nature. The years roll by however and here we are again. It’s been lovely having her back in the house for the last few weeks helping her prepare for the big move south. She hasn’t actually lived “at home” for quite a while now, but she has always been a mere ten minute drive away, so this is a very big change for both her and us. The time is right though, and we wish her all the best. The lyrics are not really relevant to our situation this time around (thankfully), but there is still a tear in my eye as I listen to them. As I said above, the film has really awakened that dormant part of my hippocampus where the Beatles songs hang out.

She’s Leaving Home by the Beatles:

For those of you who haven’t yet been to see the film, but want to, I hope I haven’t included too many spoilers. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it seems both Richard Curtis and Ed Sheerin are marmite figures around here, so it might not be your bag. A wonderful thing however to imagine a world where we are just hearing all those great songs for the first time. As soon as I get the chance, I will fight my way through the contents of my loft (now added to somewhat, in light of DD’s pared down move south) in order to seek out “The Red Album” and enjoy pouring over those lyric-strewn red inner sleeves, second time around.

Until next time….

She’s Leaving Home Lyrics
(Song by John Lennon/Paul McCartney)

Wednesday morning at five o’clock as the day begins
Silently closing her bedroom door
Leaving the note that she hope would say more
She goes downstairs to the kitchen clutching her handkerchief
Quietly turning the backdoor key
Stepping outside she is free

She (We gave her most of our lives)
Is leaving (Sacrificed most of our lives)
Home (We gave her everything money could buy)
She’s leaving home after living alone for so many years. Bye, bye

Father snores as his wife gets into the dressing gown
Picks up the letter that’s lying there
Standing alone at the top of the stairs
She breaks down and cries to her husband
Daddy, our baby’s gone
Why would she treat us so thoughtlessly
How could she do this to me

She (We never thought of ourselves)
Is leaving (Never a thought for ourselves)
Home (We gave her everything money could buy)
She’s leaving home after living alone for so many years. Bye, bye

Friday morning at nine o’clock she is far away
Waiting to keep the appointment she made
Meeting a man from a motor trade

She (What did we do that was wrong)
Is having (We didn’t know it was wrong)
Fun (Fun is the one thing that money can’t buy)

Something inside that was always denied for so many years
She’s leaving home, bye, bye

Postscript:

Anyone reading the comments boxes will spot that I wrongly labelled this place as Lowestoft (where the film is set) when I first pressed the publish button – It was quickly pointed out by TS that it’s actually Southwold. Duly corrected.

lowestoft
Southwold beach

Sleepless Nights, “Please Mr. Postman” and Songs About Aretha

Tuesday, 21st August, 9.30am

Well, as I sit down to start blogging for the first time in a couple of weeks, I feel a little nauseous – No, not at the thought of blogging, but because half and hour ago I had to leap out of bed and get ready to face the day at breakneck speed. The reason for this haste? – I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of the postman!

This sounds ridiculous I know, but since giving up work last year I’ve been able to have a more laissez-faire attitude to becoming suited and booted by 8am every morning. Problem is, once you log on for the day, the hours and minutes can whizz by and I sometimes find myself still in pyjamas when the doorbell rings, knowing full well it will be our smiling postman, with some parcel or other I have to sign for. I probably imagine it, but he makes me feel like a tardy teen who has been festering under the duvet, as opposed to a busy bee who has already put on a washing, tidied the kitchen, paid a few bills and checked the various email accounts. To compensate I end up gibbering, telling him about everything that is going on in my life, but a nice little exchange all the same. My friend the postman is the only person other than my family (and the blogging fraternity who very kindly take the time to read my posts) who knows of the journey I have been on over the last year, since deciding the world of the paperless office was not for me.

pp

As this blog always features a song or two, this would therefore seem like the perfect time to squeeze in something I have long wanted to include, Please Mr. Postman. Now this is a song I am very familiar with as one of my favourite duos, the Carpenters, got to No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart in 1975 with their version. It started out however as the debut single for the Marvelettes and in late 1961 became the first Motown song to reach the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The Beatles started performing it as part of their live set at the Cavern Club in 1962 and also included it on one of their first albums. Here is a great clip from those days, the boys dressed in their very smart suits complete with snake hips and mop top haircuts. They would have had no idea back then of what was yet to come.

Last time the Beatles cropped up around these parts was when I did a compare and contrast (link here) between their version of Ticket to Ride and the slower paced one, yet again, by the Carpenters. Seems like a good time to offer up both versions of Mr Postman then (although I won’t inflict the Carpenter’s official Disney-themed video clip on you). Which one do you prefer, or would it be the original by the Marvelettes that floats your boat?

Please Mr. Postman by the Carpenters:

But I digress and have yet to explain my morning nausea caused by leaping out of bed at such speed. I woke up last night at 3.30am, which is fairly normal for me, but I usually get back to sleep at some point and get a few extra hours in before the 7 o’clock alarm goes off. Last night however I didn’t, as I had committed the cardinal sin of surfing the net on my phone before going to sleep as I still hadn’t worked out the angle I was going to take when I eventually get round to writing my Aretha Franklin tribute. Not so long ago, after “experiencing” the song I Say A Little Prayer at great volume on the car radio, I wrote another compare and contrast post (link here). The Aretha version of course won hands down, but other than that I’m finding it difficult to find a personal connection to her music. I can see how she came along at just the right time, when America was going through a period of massive change, but having been born about 20 years later in rural Scotland, other than appreciating that great voice and the passion with which she sang, nothing much else for me to write about.

aretha
Aretha Franklin 1942- 2018

So, the last thing I did last night before switching off my phone was to visit some of the other blogs in my little circle to remind myself what they had written about Aretha. Last week, even before it was announced she had passed away, CC over at Charity Chic Music had posted something very fitting and then Rol dedicated the whole weekend on his My Top Ten blog to the lady and her music. Both of these dedicated daily bloggers chose to include the song Aretha by Rumer and that was the cause of last night’s sleeplessness – After listening to it twice before turning the lights out, it was the first thing to enter my head when I woke up at 3.30am and subsequently formed an earworm for the rest of the night however hard I tried to get back to sleep. As earworms go it’s a very pleasing one, and quite a soporific one you would have thought, Rumer having a voice not that dissimilar to the late great Karen Carpenter. But no, last night it just didn’t work out that way at all.

Aretha by Rumer:

Typically though, once Mr WIAA said goodbye and headed off to work, I slipped into a deep, deep earworm-free sleep, waking up far too late, thus the mad panic to get up and dressed before the postman’s inevitable ring of the doorbell. I made it, just, and so avoided that feeling of guilt at not being up and at it yet. Despite often talking gibberish of a morning, I decided that to recount the tale of the “Rumer earworm” was taking casual conversation a tad too far, so on this occasion resisted – Lucky chap!

As for the tribute song, I may not have had a personal connection to Aretha and her music, but the narrator in this song certainly does – All about a girl who goes to school listening to Aretha Franklin on her headphones. Like the fate of so many others, she’s having trouble there, and as her mother seems to be suffering from depression, she doesn’t have anyone to turn to. Fortunately Aretha comes to life in her imagination, encouraging her to stand up for herself and strike out on her own. The songwriter was asked why she chose Aretha Franklin: “She’s the Queen of Soul. If you’re going to write about somebody who embodies the spirit of music itself you go to the top of the list – and there she is. Her voice is probably the closest you get to God. There’s an incredible amount of passion and heartbreak in her voice as she’s lost a lot of family members. She’s just got something in her voice that puts her at the top of the tree and there’s no negotiation.” And on that note, I think I’ve just written my tribute post.

Until next time, RIP Aretha Franklin.

Aretha Lyrics
(Song by Steve Brown/Sarah Joyce)

I got Aretha in the morning
High on my headphones and walking to school
I got the blues in springtime ’cause I know that I’ll never have the right shoes

Mamma she’d notice but she’s always crying
I got no one to confide in, Aretha nobody but you
Momma she’d notice but she’s always fighting
Something in her mind and it sounds like breaking glass

I tell Aretha in the morning
High on my headphones and walking to school
I got the blues in springtime ’cause I know that I’ll never have the right shoes

You got the words, baby you got the words
You got the words, baby you got the words

“Oh Aretha
Aretha, I don’t want to go to school
‘Cause they just don’t understand me and I think the place is cruel”

“Child singer, raise your voice
Stand up on your own, go out there and strike out”

I tell Aretha in the morning
High on my headphones and walking to school
I got the blues in springtime ’cause I know that I’ll never have the right shoes
But I got the words

Snow Scenes, the Beatles and “Ticket to Ride”

Well, this post has come about because of the plethora of snow images that seem to have come my way this week. It’s been a really cold one and although we’ve avoided snowfall in our neck of the woods, I know that many other parts of the country have had a fair bit – Beautiful if falling in remote scenic places but a bit of a pain if you have to dig your car out for the commute to work.

Yesterday morning we had the Opening Ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympics which are taking place this time in South Korea. A spectacle of a show as expected with technology playing a large part in the proceedings. I can hardly believe however that there is to be a joint Team Korea at these games. Athletes from the North and South walked into the stadium together, dressed in identical “cosy” outfits behind a unifying blue and white flag. Considering the childish badinage that has taken place between some of our world leaders of late (who really should know better), this was a wonderful sight – The power of sport in bringing people together toward a common goal.

winter olympics

But here are the pictures that have inspired today’s song choice. Our “across the road neighbours” got back from their skiing holiday this week and sent me a few of the shots they had taken there. Turns out they had visited Obertauern in Austria, which is where they filmed those very snowy segments for the Beatles film Help!. Over 50 years later and it seems that it’s still the resort’s main claim to fame, as the pictures below show.

Obertauern

Obertauern
Obertauern in Austria where the Beatles filmed Help!

I always loved the snow scenes in that film and of course that was also when the song Ticket to Ride was included, to accompany their “madcap” antics. The Beatles were dressed in those iconic outfits, black against the white snow, complete with top hats, cape-like jackets and “bunnets”.

To quote Paul:
“It was good to make Help! and it’s a nice film. It’s funny. It’s a period film now. We just took it all very lightly, we had a laugh, and in the snow. All the snow scenes were cos the lads wanted a holiday, they were fed up working.”

Ticket to Ride by the Beatles:

I am not going to insult anyone’s intelligence by explaining who the Beatles were so we’ll stick to the song. Released as a single in April 1965, it became the Beatles’ seventh consecutive No. 1 hit in the UK and their third consecutive No. 1 in the US. It similarly topped the charts in many other parts of the world. The song was recorded in London for the album “Help!” and it marked a progression in their work relative to previous releases. The Beatles it seems were growing up!

But of course being a great fan of the Carpenters, I will have to include their version which was originally recorded in 1969 but then re-recorded for their first Greatest Hits album in 1973. Arranged by Richard Carpenter, the song has a very different sound – The long piano intro means it doesn’t even really kick in until 0:35, and in the capable hands of Karen Carpenter, the line “I think I’m gonna be sad” sounds truly convincing.

No snow here today fortunately, and blue skies, so we’re going to head out shortly to enjoy the day. Hopefully these Winter Olympics in South Korea will provide a fair bit of entertainment over the next couple of weeks as unlike in years gone by, Team GB actually win a fair amount of medals nowadays, on the ice and on the snow. There are also usually a few locals in the Curling Team which always adds to the excitement and has made us all experts. It looks comical, but it’s always impressive how they can sweep the ice to make the stone curl, or go faster. I will leave you with a picture of the view I wake up to from my bedroom window if there’s been a fall of snow overnight – Lucky me, but sadly no Carpenters lurking amongst the trees in my forest!

45 22nd Dec Craig Phadrig hill covered in snow

Until next time….

Ticket to Ride Lyrics
(Song by John Lennon/Paul McCartney)

I think I’m gonna be sad
I think it’s today, yeah
The girl that’s driving me mad
Is going away

She’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
But she don’t care

She said that living with me
Is bringing her down, yeah
For she would never be free
When I was around

She’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
But she don’t care

I don’t know why she’s riding so high
She ought to think twice
She ought to do right by me
Before she gets to saying goodbye
She ought to think twice
She ought to do right by me

I think I’m gonna be sad
I think it’s today, yeah
The girl that’s driving me mad
Is going away, yeah

Oh, she’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
But she don’t care

I don’t know why she’s riding so high
She ought to think twice
She ought to do right by me
Before she gets to saying goodbye
She ought to think twice
She ought to do right by me

She said that living with me
Is bringing her down, yeah
For she would never be free
When I was around

Ah, she’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
But she don’t care

My baby don’t care, my baby don’t care
My baby don’t care, my baby don’t care
My baby don’t care, my baby don’t care….

Bicycles, Sgt. Pepper and “The One on the Right is on the Left”!

I don’t quite know what happened this week but my blogging mojo left me. First of all I had intended to write a few age-related posts ahead of my birthday next week but that old chestnut time, or the lack of it, got the better of me. I then spent a couple of hours last night looking at the screen, unable to string a coherent sentence together. My long list of “posts pending” and my American Odyssey series both require a fair bit of research and to be honest, at the moment, I’m just not in the mood. I blame the fact that this week has been especially spreadsheet-heavy at work, where the numbers side of my brain has obviously encroached on the space usually left for words. In situations like this, for the second week in a row, it will have to be a web-diary type of post.

On Wednesday evening we went along to the local college where Mr WIAA “works” in the art department (although it all sounds a bit of a lark to me). There was a year-end exhibition of the student’s work and it usually makes for an interesting evening where we also get the chance to buy some pieces at very reasonable prices – Who knows, maybe one day these young artists will become famous and their pieces will be worth something. For one group of students, yarn bombing was something that had featured heavily this year, and I did like this bicycle.

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A bicycle of the knitted variety

This week has also of course been politics-heavy ahead of next week’s “snap” election and although most bloggers steer away from such topics, I cannot deny that the issues at stake have infiltrated my thoughts a lot over the last seven days. The television debates (or non-debates actually) have not been particularly effective and as usual I end up warming most to the Green Party leaders and candidates, but they are never going to be able to form a government (can you imagine them having a special relationship with Mr Trump after his withdrawal from the Accord de Paris this week), so the best alternative it will have to be. Like the Greens, Jeremy Corbyn is against nuclear weapons of any kind but of course he is continually hectored and harangued about whether he would ever actually “press the button” if the need arose. I’m with the young lady from the Question Time studio audience who shook her head in dismay at how so many in the room seemed bent on, in effect, killing millions of people. If things get that bad, it’s curtains for us all anyway.

In the meantime, my employers, as well as creating a new paper-less environment have also created a car park-less environment. This has led to the initiation of a cycle-to-work scheme, where eco-bikes are now at our disposal – The Greens would be proud of them although it’s not always easy being of that persuasion and Andy Hallett sang all about it back in 2001!

It’s Not Easy Being Green by Andy Hallett:

Still thinking fondly of the knitted bicycle from earlier in the week, Mr WIAA and I went to a local café today where they also show you how to fix and repair your bike. It is right next to the college so a frequent pit stop for staff and students alike. Called Velocity Café, it is run by enterprising youngsters who have created a great little hub for like-minded souls right in the centre of town. We sat at one of the long tables where you can have a chat with fellow diners or catch up with the newspapers. And this is where I had a bit of an emotional moment over my butternut squash and red lentil soup. In today’s Review section of The Guardian there was an excellent piece by the author Ian McEwan (link here) which really got to me. Right at that moment in time, I wanted nothing more than to live in a land full of Velocity Cafés, and not one where people who are reluctant to launch nuclear weapons are lampooned.

Fortunately I pulled myself together and we even had one of their award winning granola slices for which Mr WIAA managed to get the secret recipe last year. He has attempted to make them a few times now but they never turn out quite like in the café – Methinks they perhaps left out some of the key ingredients, as a secret recipe would no longer be secret, if given out willy-nilly to customers.

Not a lot of music so far included in this post and funnily enough, when it comes, it’s not going to be bicycle related although that does seem to have become the theme for this post. Whilst having lunch, BBC 6 Music was playing on the radio and it was a programme about the Beatles album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” which was released 50 years ago this week. I am not remotely qualified to write knowledgably about this ground-breaking album, so I’ll stick to the facts. It was their 8th album release and spent 27 weeks at the top of the UK charts. It was “lauded by critics for its innovative approach to music production, songwriting and graphic design and was probably the first album to bridge the divide between popular music and legitimate art“. Peter Blake’s album sleeve is arguably the most famous of all time, consisting of a collage of 88 figures which included the Beatles themselves. Copyright was a major problem as Brian Epstein had to locate each person in order to get permission to use their image out of context. Looking closely at some of those figures, this can’t have been easy. Today sitting in the café I think I found a renewed affection for this album as it is one of those that has perhaps become a bit over-familiar to my ears. Time maybe for a proper re-visitation over the coming week to mark its landmark birthday.

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Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles:

So, “What’s It All About?” – We’re heading to our polling stations again next week and although I have been very good at predicting the results of the last few elections and referendums, I have tended myself to always back the losing side. I often visit Jez’s site over at A History of Dubious Taste and he has put together some very good posts on the political goings on (read shenanigans) over the past few weeks – Informative but funny too, so I would thoroughly recommend a visit. This also reminds me of a song he featured a couple of weeks ago which is perfect for tonight’s post. I’d never heard it before but it has become a guilty pleasure over the last fortnight. I will leave you with Johnny Cash and The One On The Right Is On The Left and will return next week once we all know the outcome – Politically charged times indeed!

The One On The Right Is On The Left Lyrics
(Song by Jack Clement)

There once was a musical troupe
A pickin’ singin’ folk group
They sang the mountain ballads
And the folk songs of our land
They were long on musical ability
Folks thought they would go far
But political incompatibility led to their downfall

Well, the one on the right was on the left
And the one in the middle was on the right
And the one on the left was in the middle
And the guy in the rear was a Methodist

This musical aggregation toured the entire nation
Singing the traditional ballads
And the folk songs of our land
They performed with great virtuosity
And soon they were the rage
But political animosity prevailed upon the stage

Well, the one on the right was on the left
And the one in the middle was on the right
And the one on the left was in the middle
And the guy in the rear burned his driver’s license

Well the curtain had ascended
A hush fell on the crowd
As thousands there were gathered to hear the folk songs of our land
But they took their politics seriously
And that night at the concert hall
As the audience watched deliriously
They had a free-for-all

Well, the one on the right was on the bottom
And the one in the middle was on the top
And the one on the left got a broken arm
And the guy on his rear, said, “Oh dear”

Now this should be a lesson if you plan to start a folk group
Don’t go mixin’ politics with the folk songs of our land
Just work on harmony and diction
Play your banjo well
And if you have political convictions keep them to yourself
Now, the one on the left works in a bank
And the one in the middle drives a truck
The one on the right’s an all-night deejay
And the guy in the rear got drafted

Postscript:

As this was a very bicycle-heavy post it does seems wrong to leave without sharing anything musically related to bikes. Here is a clip that I revisit often as from that impressive London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. The song Come Together was very appropriately for this post a Beatles one, but in this case was performed by the Arctic Monkeys. I loved those guys on the bicycles and from what I have just heard this morning on the news, the sentiment of the song is more relevant than ever.