Monthly Archives: December 2012

Boxing St Stephen

St StephenPoor guy St Stephen.

First he gets stoned to death – one of the first Christian martyrs.

Then he gets a designated day just after Christmas so no one notices it.

Then – to add insult to injury – it’s renamed Boxing Day, so he lapses still further into obscurity. (Though in Ireland we’re still holding out to some extent.)

No longer! In the spirit of Stephen’s Green, I bring you this St Stephen’s Day / Boxing Day / Christmas song. Best to skip ahead to one minute in – he waffles a bit and has a false start.

Aah – Elvis Costello – always a pleasure.

I wonder would any reader fancy explaining about the third creature sharing the 26th of December – the wren? Maybe you have direct experience? Any wren boys out there?

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Happy Christmas

This is not original, but it’s still the best. Bar none.

Happy Christmas to you and yours.

And the story of the song is here written by Dorian Lynskey. (It’s not really Shane on the piano. Cheeky pup that he is.)

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I’m always touched…

touche-pas-a-mon-poteI was asked to write about touch by my Loose Bloggers Consortium mateys. (You’ll find them by scrolling down the right hand side of the screen and clicking on their links..)

Touch – it’s wonderful. Not the “soft touch” (easy to trick), not the “touched” (bit bonkers), not even the “touche pas à mon pote” (hands off my pal) slogan from the French organisation SOS Racisme.

But to me – dear reader… (I’m just changing into my smoking jacket and cravat, lighting the fire and preparing my pipe. There. Ready.)  As I was saying, to me, touch is all about you, wherever you are in the world.  (Except China – not many readers showing up as from China.) As the woman said, I’m just touched by your presence here/dear.

PS: A Christmas joke Continue reading

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I invented risk

riskI invented risk. The Game of Risk that is. The strategic board game of world conquest began on my kitchen table.

But hold on with the begging letters to share in my vast royalty riches until I explain how it happened.

Back when I was wee, we had to make our own entertainment. Oh we were so poor. It was a combination of the Four Yorkshiremen and Angela’s Ashes (by Frank McCourt).

When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.

Okay okay – I’m exaggerating a little bit. In fact, it’s a barefaced lie – we were well looked after my brother and sisters and I. But the bit about inventing The Game of Risk is true.

KamchatkaI did it by opening out some empty cereal boxes and sellotaping them together. On the blank inside sides I drew up a map of the world, divided into regions. Kamchatka – my favourite – was there of course. Madagascar was a secure deadend niche. Indonesia was the gateway to Australasia.

The soldiers, cannon and cavalry were little cut out cardboard counters rather than factory moulded plastic figurines. But hey, cut me some slack why don’t you. I was only wee.

So  – game created – we played it. And this prototype lasted for ages and worked very well.

And my creative inventive reputation was sealed.

Until Continue reading

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Music

Komla - pic by Lorenzo Guerrieri http://www.lorenzoguerrieri.com/

Komla – pic by Lorenzo Guerrieri http://www.lorenzoguerrieri.com/

There is not enough music in my life. But here’s my personal top ten lis of live gigs of 2012 – in no particular order, except for number one.

10. Komla – In a Soho basement. Never seen, heard nor heard of them a week ago. Very good – mellow, charismatic, smooth – a bit Eagle Eye Cherry (which is a good thing). The band website is here. (They were supporting the relaunch of the charity Art Saves Lives.)

Aletia Upstairs9. Aletia Upstairs – This Cape Town, South Africa singer song writer and I shared a radio studio. I was plugging an excellent book, The Obituarist, by, ahem, me – available to download from Amazon here or Smashwords for non-kindles here. She arrived expecting to play some CDs, but rose magnificently to the unexpected  challenge of playing live instead. I’m listening to one of her CDs as I type. South Africa can be very annoying in the same way Swiss people are – irritatingly and seemingly effortlessly multilingual. Aletia sings in various languages. (You can see her and hear the radio show – and me – by following this link.)

8. Tom Williams and the Boat – Another intimate performance. Just Tom and Anthony (lovely riff) Vicary rehearsing for a live radio show I produced. It was almost as though I’d arranged the whole thing just so that I could have a gig all to myself. But I’d never be so devious, would I?

7. Adam Beattie and the Consultants – Again, another complete surprise. Very good, including a song dedicated to and about his late grandfather, who died aged 100. (Or so the songs say anyway.) See it here.

6. Africa Express – Baloji, Paul McCartney, Baaba Maal, Damon Albarn, Fatoumata Diawara, Noisettes, Rokia Traore, Seye, Spoek Mathambo, Thandiswa, Tony Allen – breathtaking array of African musicians and some Brits playing behind Kings Cross railway station in London. Assembling and moving this crew must be the musical achievement of the year. You can get a flavour here.

Tsivi Sharett - pic by Ottavia Castellina

Tsivi Sharett – pic by Ottavia Castellina

5. Nights at the Bonnington Cafe – cheap food, priceless music. Pretty much everyone there is a performer except me Continue reading

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