Sunday, October 31st, 2004, (2:24 pm)
THIS COLD OCTOBER DAY
A few weeks ago I was chatting to a friend in London. In the throes of conversation he asked “When are you going to get serious and come to London Simon?” His reasoning behind the comment was that all the big business deals in this country are done in the capital, London.
I laughed the comment off, but later when I reflected on the conversation, as one does, it began to annoy me that I hadn’t shot down such a southern-centric attitude. London is 250 miles away from where I live here between the the historic riverside city of Liverpool and the rolling hills of North Wales. But each one of those miles might as well be ten. London means nothing to me now, like Las Vegas, it’s an exciting and interesting place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.
I moved ‘up north’ over ten years ago now. After returning from a few life shaping months in the Californian sun, my old stomping ground in the south of England somehow didn’t feel like the place I wanted to return to. I needed something new, something completely different.
The Wirral Peninsula reaches out into the Irish Sea and sits on the North West coast of England. Within 30 minutes of my home I can be in Wales, essentially a different country and a place where one can get as lost as it is possible to be in this Kingdom. In fact… [Click here to continue reading this article at 'Meanwhile']
Saturday, October 30th, 2004, (4:01 pm)
THE ART OF MAKING A GOOD MIX CD
I’ve loved music since I was a kid. I remember how I used to dance around my bedroom decorated with zoo animal wallpaper, bright orange curtains and a deep brown carpet, listening to music on a old wood covered radio given to me by my grandparents. The only station I could seem to get that played music was Radio Luxembourg, and even then the signal would fade in and out slowly, one moment clear the next distant, like the sound of waves making their way to the shore then retreating to the cusp of the ocean.
I can remember the first music I ever bought was when I was about 7 or 8 years old. It was a bright red Spanish Flamenco music tape I found at a jumble sale. I remember looking at the cover of the cassette box, a woman in a elaborate red dress was dancing with a man in traditional spanish flamenco attire playing guitar beside her. It cost me 2 pennies, a bargain even by 1978 standards.
A couple of years later I discovered ‘The Police.’ A post punk British rock band headed by a young and spiky haired man from Newcastle who curiously went by the name of Sting. One Saturday with my mother and young sister I went to town and with some record tokens I had saved I bought the ‘Regatta De Blanc’ album on tape along with a new battery powered cassette player.
In the warmth of the summer sun as we made our way home walking along the ‘Bunnies walk’ path by the river and the railway I enthusiastically raced ahead of my Mom who was pushing my sister in a stroller. I’d run ahead and then sit down and listen to a few moments of my newly purchased tape before Mom caught up and I repeated the process again.
Some time later I got a small second hand record player. Without any records of my own I browsed my Mom and Dads record collection which was located under the glass covered record player in the living room. The collection was small and featured artists like Harry Nilsson, Boney M, The Beatles, Abba and a Rod Stewart record that seemed out of place to me because of Stewarts questionable choice of trousers. One record that caught my attention was the classic ‘Rumours’ by Fleetwood Mac. I must have played it thousands of times on that little old record player. I’d never once heard this album played by either Mom or Dad, so without asking I requisitioned Rumours deeming that this ‘LP record’ would be the one which would set the foundation for what was to eventually become an extensive music collection. Indeed despite no longer having anything to play it on I still have that record.
U2 took me through the mid 1980′s and into the 90′s, The Joshua Tree formed an inspirational cornerstone of my collection, as it did for so many of those born in the early to mid 70′s. Depeche Mode earned a place on what was becoming the sountrack of my life with their album ‘Violator.’ Other bands followed with anthems of the age, underlining the fact that music is uniquely powerful in its ability to attach itself to events and whole chapters of your life. Forgotten memories can be reconnected in an instant simply by hearing a track significant to that memory. You close your eyes and you’re no longer just remembering, you are right there in the moment once again.
Like many teenagers I made mix tapes for myself and my friends. But unlike a lot of my friends this was something I never grew tired of doing. In fact my tapes became labors of love, carefully poured over and intensely thought out. I would seek out obscure music, ‘B’ sides and rare tracks by popular artists. I wanted to do more than simply share some music with friends, I wanted to engage them in some way. To provide them with music that could possibly engrave itself into their lives and become an indelible part of their life.
To this end I would go to the effort of not simply producing a carefully compiled collection of tracks, but also tapes and CD’s with cover art and sleeve notes. I wanted to make something that could find its way into a music collection and earn it’s place among the mass produced CD’s and tapes that would always outlive their ‘mix tape’ neighbors.
I did this with a series of tapes under the collective name of ‘The Beautiful Damned.’ There were four tapes. ‘Out of the Blue’, ‘Brilliant Colour’, ‘These Long Roads’, and ‘A Tale of Sound and Fury’. Each with a cover printed at my own cost and shared with only the hope that the person would enjoy the music.
In the ten years since ‘A Tale of Sound and Fury’ I’ve put together many CD’s for friends, but I’ve not produced multiple copies of any specific mix. The reason being I suppose, that time becomes strangely scarce as you put more years under your belt, and my friends have outgrown the days when we would sit in one anothers bedrooms listening to music allowing hour upon hour to ebb away like the scented smoke of an incense stick.
Music is still hugely important to me though. Much of my life is still, and will probably be forever punctuated by the music around me. It seems that life’s most inspiring of moments has some kind of theme whether heard at the time, or somehow applied later in memory.
The soundtrack to my life would thus far form an already voluminous box set. Unlike motion picture soundtracks, the listener would be unable to put each of the bizarrely heteromorphic tracks in context. While they might simply be able to enjoy the music on its own, the scenes and stories to which each track is umbilically joined to would be lost.
But who could even put together a complete sountrack of their life and hope to share in in context? That’s the beauty of making and giving away a great mix CD, while its context in relation to you might quickly be lost, it has the possibility of finding its way into someone else’s sountrack, someone else’s memories.
Friday, October 29th, 2004, (7:02 pm)
SEVEN DAYS TO INDIA
This time next week I’ll be in Southern India. I’ve been asked to go out there with a charity called Salt of the Earth to take photographs of the work being done there. I’m actually going for a corporate customer of mine who has donated a large sum of money to that charity and wants to get the positive PR from that.
I’m flying to London on Thursday night because it’s just easier to do that than drive to London. Then on Friday morning we catch a GulfAir flight to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. It’ll just be a short stop there before we fly the remainder of the way to Trivandrum on the South West coast of India.
I’ll be out there for just seven days working in the poor area of Tamil Nadu where two thirds of the Children suffer from malnutrition that could be cured with just two locally made cookies that would cost about a penny a day to produce. Clean water is scarce, collected by women who carry huge containers of water on their heads for several miles to get water back to their homes. Most of the people in this impoverished region live under the national poverty line of $500 a year!
The gap between rich and poor in India is, according to the DVD that I got from Salt of the Earth today, “unimaginable to most.”
I think it could be an amazing week and a hard week. I’ll have my laptop with me and will hopefully get some time to write stuff for Meanwhile. All I have to do now is figure out what power plug India uses and to remember that I have to take these Malaria tablets now every day for the next 8 weeks!
If this trip goes well then there are plans to go out to Africa and South America next year too.
Salt of the Earth
Facts about the region
A map of the area
Faith & Religion and Meanwhile article and Political
Friday, October 29th, 2004, (2:21 pm)
A few nights ago I was watching some TV coverage of the U.S. Presidential election battle which is soon to draw to a close as Americans go to the polls on November the second. In the coverage, some people from a church in Arizona were asked about Bush and The War Against Terror (which has the ironic acronym TWAT). Their answers left me quite literally stunned.
They gave their full support for Bush, citing that he was “God’s President” and that by waging war in Iraq, President Bush was “spreading the word of God.” The report then showed them standing in a circle, in their frumpy fashions, praying aloud and asking the good Lord to put his chosen president in place to lead America. Further scenes showed the congregation standing around singing and clapping out of time to some old praise song being banged out of an equally old piano by an even older lady.
“Is this war more of a crusade, do you think?” asked the interviewer to one female member of the congregation.
“Well of course! This is about proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ, bringing the gospel to a part of the world that has been lied to throughout history.”
“Would you then describe this as a Holy War?”
Without hesitation the woman responded, “Absolutely.”
I could only sit there shaking my head in disbelief. This isn’t a Holy War, this is supposed to be a war about freedom and liberty, though many speculate that…. [Click here to continue reading this article at 'Meanwhile']
Friday, October 29th, 2004, (12:09 am)
BUSH BANS FOREIGNERS
President Bush has banned all web users outside of the United States from viewing his election campaign website georgewbush.com for “security reasons.”
According to the BBC, the blocking began early on Monday so those outside the US trying to view the site got a message saying they are not authorised to view it. However the security measures were put in place in a slap-dash half-baked manner to which the world has become accustom to seeing from America. Many of the alternative addresses for the site still allowed overseas viewers (and those alleged security risks?) to view the propaganda pages of Bush’s site.
The news of this rather xenophobic so called security measure has once again stirred feelings around the world that Bush is perhaps less than honest in his dealings with the American people and the world. Indeed many see this as yet another example of how shockingly arrogant the Bush administration and ‘America’ have been in the last four years.
The worldwide interest in Americas forthcoming vote appears more keen than ever before, some might suggest because the rest of the world desperately want to see Bush ousted from leading America. And as the vote already looks like it could all end up in court and controversy again us non Americans are wondering how on earth America can seriously stand proud and claim to be the leaders of democracy and the free world.
Paranoid Bush blocks non Americans from reading his site
The world is watching YOU!
Florida election papers go missing
Al-Qaida’s support for Bush
Thursday, October 28th, 2004, (1:11 pm)
FLYING PIGS FOUND IN ST LOUIS!
The Boston Red Sox are champions at long last! Of course you don’t need me to say anymore than that.
The Bosox swept St Louis like the Queen was coming to visit, clinching the title and a record 8th straight game win. I sure wish I was back in Boston today!
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