Friday, 26 August 2016

Dead Poets Society #6

Image result for philip larkin

Going by Philip Larkin

There is an evening coming in
Across the fields, one never seen before,
That lights no lamps.

Silken it seems at a distance, yet
When it is drawn up over the knees and breast
It brings no comfort.

Where has the tree gone, that locked
Earth to the sky? What is under my hands,
That I cannot feel?

What loads my hands down?

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Tuesday and Wednesday's set lists in York

The Three Tuns, Coppergate: -
Love Song
Into The Light
You've Got A Friend
Heart Of Gold
You're Sixty*
Tell Me Why
I Don't Want To Talk About It

* I've taken to singing Johnny Burnette's classic with a twist - "you're sixty, you're beautiful and you're mine". More tasteful I think, and amusing - the audience certainly agreed. A quiet pub with 4 or 5 players, but a very attentive and appreciative audience. After downing my free pint for playing, I made my way to the second venue of the night.

Sotano, Little Stonegate: -
Out On The Weekend
Only Love Can Break Your Heart

Sotano is a basement bar with an excellent open mic night. The place was rammed when I arrived (10:15-ish). Already the list of players was into the early hours and that with only 2 songs each. It must have been 1:25am when I finally took to the stage, after drinking with my foot on the break pedal - £4.50 a schooner!! nevertheless there were plenty of punters giving it some. While at the bar I was approached by a Canadian lass who had noticed my Neil Young t-shirt. Her favourite song was Out On The Weekend, or as she described it "the one that goes see the lonely boy", so I obliged. Luckily there was just time for another free drink before I headed off.

The Habit: -
Ron Elderly: -
Just My Imagination
You Better Move On

Da Elderly: -
Things We Said Today
One Of These Days

The Elderly Brothers: -
All I Have To Do Is Dream
When Will I Be Loved

Medley: Sweet Caroline/Hi Ho Silver Lining

Ron Elderly: -
Make You Feel My Love

Da Elderly: -
Baby What You Want Me To Do
Laurel Canyon Home

Our usual host was taking a night off and the organisation was rather more....err....organised. 2 songs each or 3 for a duo. When everyone had had a turn, the rota started again. The place was pretty full all night and there was the usual variety of players including an excellent harmonica player, a lad on ukulele and a raucous duo (double bass & guitar). I invited the harmonica chap to join me on my last two bluesy numbers. The lad on ukulele finished off the night with a wonderfully dextrous instrumental arrangement of the Queen/Bowie classic Under Pressure.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Antony Jay RIP

Sir Antony Jay obituary
Co-writer of Yes Minister, BBC TV’s satire on the mechanics of government

Stephen Bates
The Guardian
Tuesday 23 August 2016

Sir Antony Jay, who has died aged 86, was one of the two authors behind the influential 1980s BBC government satire Yes Minister and its successor Yes, Prime Minister. It was a broadcasting triumph that not only intrigued and attracted the civil service caste and politicians from Margaret Thatcher downwards, but has echoed around the world – with sales to 84 countries – and reverberated in spin-off books and a successful West End adaptation of Yes, Prime Minister.

The idea of a hapless politician, constantly thwarted, outwitted and occasionally saved by wilier, more devious, civil servants struck a resonant chord among viewers in democracies from Europe to Australia and the US, and taught viewers valuable, if cynical, lessons about the shortcomings of governments. While it did not make Jay’s fortune – he and his co-author Jonathan Lynn were paid £1,200 an episode between them – it did establish him as an occasional media commentator of trenchant rightwing views on Westminster and Whitehall politics forever afterwards.

The series had its genesis in Jay’s much earlier experience as a young TV producer on the groundbreaking BBC nightly news programme Tonight in the late 50s and early 60s. The live broadcasts were among the first to interview politicians robustly and to report the news occasionally irreverently. What it taught Jay was the conceit and vulnerability of ministers when viewed at close quarters. “You saw a lot of politicians were just puppets,” he told the Irish Times in 2013. “I realised these compromises, driven by conflicts between ministers and permanent secretaries, had huge comic potential.”

Nevertheless it took nearly 20 years for the programme to get off the ground, the 38 episodes of the two series between 1979 and 1988 coinciding with the Thatcher government. Its success was not only down to the crunchingly authentic-seeming verbal jousts between the main characters but to the casting of Paul Eddington as Jim Hacker, the harassed and permanently alarmed minister at the fictional Ministry for Administrative Affairs, and Nigel Hawthorne as his feline permanent secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby, refereed by Derek Fowlds as the private secretary Bernard Woolley. Eddington, seeing where the laughs were, had originally wanted to play Sir Humphrey, but was persuaded of the comic potential of the minister. Nonetheless, he then watched Hawthorne win four Baftas without winning any himself as the series progressed.

The writers themselves were not even invited to the Bafta ceremonies at which the programmes eventually won a total of seven awards. Their partnership was successful despite their different political allegiances: Jay, the rightwing free marketer, researched and supplied the plot lines and Lynn, the left-leaning actor, provided the jokes and dialogue.

The scripts were closely based on detailed research and conversations with former political advisers and ministers, including Marcia Williams and Bernard Donoughue, who had been members of Harold Wilson’s staff at 10 Downing Street, and the scenarios were sometimes derived from real incidents. The distinction between a ministry’s policy and its minister’s policy came from a Civil Service College lecture by Barbara Castle that Jay attended in 1972.

The undatedness of the plot lines arose because the original scripts were written well in advance of transmission – some actually during the era of the Callaghan government in the late 70s – so they could not take their topicality from current events later. “We often had to write months ahead of transmission … it means you can’t put in little topical jokes that will be funny tomorrow but meaningless months later,” Jay said. “Our jokes were about permanent things rather than temporary things and they stayed relevant.”

Thatcher became a fan, identifying so closely with the series that she even insisted on writing a sketch for the characters in 1984 before a National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association award ceremony. Lynn, Hawthorne and Eddington were reluctant participants, not least because the prime minister’s sense of humour was notoriously non-existent, but also because they did not wish to be associated with a partisan event, since the whole point was that Hacker’s politics were never identified. Jay, however, was happy to indulge the prime minister: “I was a great supporter of Margaret Thatcher: she was very nice about it. It gave us lots of publicity,” he said.

Jay and Lynn had met at a company called Video Arts that Jay had formed with John Cleese in 1972, after he had left the BBC. It was set up to make training documentaries about business management. The humorous approach, tackling issues such as how not to interview candidates and how not to sell things – described by Lynn as the comedy of cock-up – was wildly successful, and Lynn, who had been in the Cambridge Footlights with Cleese, was recommended to Jay when Cleese left to write Fawlty Towers. The company, which started with £4,000, was eventually sold for £44m in 1989.

By then Yes, Prime Minister – the sequel series in which Hacker fortuitously reaches Downing Street – had come to an end in the UK, and Lynn was leaving for Hollywood to become a film director. The two teamed up again more than 20 years later to write a stage play based on the same characters, though with new actors, since Eddington and Hawthorne had both died, and Fowlds was too old to return as Bernard. The stage Yes, Prime Minister came to the West End in 2010 and also toured the US. The afterlife continued in a spin-off television series featuring the same characters, broadcast by the Gold satellite channel.

Born in London, Antony was the son of Ernest Jay, a character actor who appeared in a number of British films in the 30s and 40s, and his wife, Catherine Hay, also an actor. He was educated on a scholarship at St Paul’s school, west London, and studied classics and comparative philology at Magdalene College, Cambridge. He claimed to have spent his time at university playing bridge and cricket and writing for university magazines before knuckling down to study and being awarded a first-class degree.

After national service as a second lieutenant in the Royal Signals, in 1955 he joined the BBC and was in at the start of the Tonight programme as a producer. Broadcast live, with limited technical resources, the show centred on its unflappable presenter Cliff Michelmore, who could be relied upon to cope with films breaking down and guests held up in traffic. But it was also a training ground not only for onscreen journalists but also for producers and directors such as Jay, Alasdair Milne and Michael Peacock. Jay became the programme’s editor (1962-63), and left BBC TV as head of talks features (1963-64) to become a freelance writer and producer.

Following the sale of Video Arts and the success of the Yes Minister series, Jay retired to Somerset, from where he produced a stream of works on management techniques, spin-off books including Jim Hacker’s diaries and How to Beat Sir Humphrey: Every Citizen’s Guide to Fighting Officialdom (1997) and even a handbook, Not in Our Back Yard: How to Run a Protest Campaign and Save the Neighbourhood (2005), about organising community resistance to planning proposals for the likes of wind farms and road schemes.

There was also a regular stream of articles, many attacking his old employers at the BBC, for receptive papers such as the Daily Mail and Telegraph. He insisted that the corporation was institutionally leftwing, and in 2011 he called for it to be reduced to Radio 4 and BBC1: “What more do we need? The case for a drastic slimming-down gets stronger every day.”

Jay was knighted in 1988, at about the time Yes, Prime Minister ended, though apparently for his much earlier work as a producer of the Queen’s Christmas broadcasts. His final collaboration with Lynn came in the Guardian earlier this month, with Sir Humphrey welcoming a new Brexit minister.

In 1957 he married Jill Watkins. She survives him, along with their children, Mike, Roni, Kate and David.

• Antony Rupert Jay, writer and producer, born 20 April 1930; died 21 August 2016

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Toots Thielemans RIP

Toots Thielemans, Jazz Harmonica Player, Is Dead at 94

Peter Keepnews
New York Times
22 August 2016

Toots Thielemans, one of the only musicians to have a successful career as a jazz harmonica player, died on Monday in Brussels. He was 94.

The death was confirmed by Mr. Thielemans’s agency, which did not specify a cause. Mr. Thielemans, who retired in 2014 for health reasons, had been hospitalized recently with a broken arm.

That Mr. Thielemans played jazz on the harmonica was unusual enough. Even more unusual was how he first gained international attention: by playing guitar and whistling in unison.

He introduced this approach in 1961 on his recording of the wistful but jaunty jazz waltz “Bluesette,” which he wrote.

The record became an international hit, and the song was his signature. It also became a jazz standard, recorded by numerous instrumentalists, among them Chet Atkins, Tito Puente and Mr. Thielemans himself, who went on to record it several more times. It was also recorded, with lyrics by Norman Gimbel, by Sarah Vaughan and other singers.

But his distinctive sound on the chromatic harmonica was Mr. Thielemans’s primary claim to fame and, especially, to fortune.

Although his name was well known in the jazz world — he performed with greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman and Charlie Parker — it was relatively unknown to the general public; his playing, on the other hand, was virtually ubiquitous.

It can be heard on the soundtracks of movies including “Midnight Cowboy” and “The Getaway.” It was featured in television commercials and on records by, among many others, Ms. Fitzgerald, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones, who once called Mr. Thielemans “one of the greatest musicians of our time.” For more than four decades, it has been heard in the opening theme music of “Sesame Street.”

Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidore Thielemans was born on April 29, 1922, in Brussels, where his parents owned a cafe. He offered various explanations over the years for how he came to be known as Toots, sometimes saying he chose the name himself and at others saying it was given to him; whatever the truth, the name was apparently borrowed from two American jazz musicians, Nuncio Mondello and Salvador Camarata, who both went by Toots.Photo

Musically inclined from an early age, he began playing the accordion at 3 and took up the harmonica in his teens. A few years later, inspired by Django Reinhardt, a fellow Belgian, he began playing guitar, as well. By the end of World War II he had become a full-time musician.

In 1949, he shared the stage with Charlie Parker at the Paris Jazz Festival, and a year later he toured Europe as the guitarist in a sextet led by Benny Goodman. He moved to the United States in 1951 and eventually became a citizen.

From 1953 to 1959, he was a member of the British jazz pianist George Shearing’s popular quintet. He mostly played guitar with Mr. Shearing, but his harmonica work was featured on at least one number at every performance. It was also showcased on the handful of albums he recorded as a leader in those years.

After leaving the Shearing group, Mr. Thielemans became a busy studio musician, even spending a few years on staff at ABC. But he remained active in jazz, with the harmonica now his main instrument. He toured frequently, and occasionally recorded as the leader of a small group, for the rest of his life.

Most of his albums presented him in a straightforward jazz context, but late in his career they took on a more international color. On “The Brasil Project,” released in 1992, and a follow-up, released the next year, he collaborated with Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil and other prominent Brazilian artists. And on the 1998 album “Chez Toots” he returned to his roots, leading a group of French and Belgian musicians in a program of French songs.

Playing a set in New York a few months after turning 80, Mr. Thielemans “seemed dazzled by his glorious sunset, and found shelter under the umbrella of sophisticated schmaltz,” Ben Ratliff wrote in The New York Times, adding: “He’s in good shape, only losing wind at the end of a long string of notes; but he finds off-centered rhythms, attaining a little bit of freedom, knocking his instrument from side to side for tremolos.”

Albert II, then the king of Belgium, bestowed on Mr. Thielemans the honorary title of baron in 2001. The country’s prime minister, Charles Michel, said on Monday, “We have lost a great musician, a warm personality.”

The National Endowment for the Arts named Mr. Thielemans a jazz master for 2009, the highest honor that can be accorded a jazz musician in the United States. “I accept this distinction with pride and emotion,” he said at the time, adding that he had only “played at music” until a Louis Armstrong record in 1940 provided “instant contamination” and changed the direction of his life.

Mr. Thielemans lived in La Hulpe, a suburb of Brussels. Information on survivors was not immediately available.

In March 2006, Mr. Thielemans was the guest of honor at an all-star Carnegie Hall tribute concert, with the pianist Herbie Hancock and the clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera among the performers. Reviewing the concert for The Times, Nate Chinen praised both Mr. Thielemans’s “exuberantly expressive” playing and his infectious spirit.

“No one stole the spotlight from Mr. Thielemans,” he wrote. “He was having giddy fun, and the feeling was contagious.”

Monday, 22 August 2016

Saturday, 20 August 2016


Native American protesters halted pipeline construction in Cannon Ball, N.D.
Despite President Obama banning the Keystone Pipeline proposal, the consortium of Canadian and U.S. oil companies have done a deal with separate state governments to establish a different pipeline, which they will run under the Missouri River at Bismarck, North Dakota.  If the same level of flooding that has affected Louisiana this week occurs, you could have a major disaster with the water polluted by millions of gallons of tar-sands oil from a pipe break that would damage the Missouri-Mississippi drainage system for generations.

LaDonna Brave Bull Allard

Native Communities Stand Up To Proposed Oil Pipeline: ‘This Is Keystone 3’

Katie Valentine
5 May 2016

By some accounts, the Dakota Access oil pipeline seems like done deal. Iowa, the last state out of the four the pipeline would cut through to grant a permit, approved the pipeline in March, leaving the project with just one federal approval to gain. And the company in charge of the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, appears to not be waiting until that federal permit is granted: It’s already started construction on the 1,154-mile pipeline.

But for the native tribes affected by the pipeline, the fight is far from over. Tribes have written letters to government agencies, met with the Army Corps of Engineers — which is responsible for issuing the final permit for the pipeline — and have launched a campaign, called Rezpect our Water, against the pipeline. They’ve even set out on a 500-mile relay run in protest of the project.

“Even in South America and Canada, we have seen the devastation of a culture because of oil leaks and oil spills and we just don’t want that to happen here to us,” Doug Crow Ghost, director of water resources for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota, told Think Progress.

The The Dakota Access pipeline, also referred to as the Bakken pipeline, would carry oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. The project, which was proposed in 2014, once had a route that would cross the Missouri River upstream of Bismarck, North Dakota. But that proposal was changed, according to Earthjustice, because of worries that the pipeline would impact drinking water for the people of Bismarck. Now, the proposed route would run downstream to the reservation — despite the fact that the Standing Rock Sioux also get their drinking water from the Missouri.

A leak in the pipeline, which would cross under the Missouri River twice, could decimate water supplies for the tribe, Crow Ghost said. But it’s not just water supplies he’s worried about: There are also plants that live along the riverbank that are crucial for cultural reasons, and an oil spill could destroy them.

“There are cottonwood stands along the Missouri and its tributaries, and buffalo berries, sage, and mouse bean that we use,” he said. “There are so many different ones. I couldn’t even begin to name them.”

Crow Ghost and other members of the tribe wrote letters to multiple state and government agencies, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Civil Works, the states of North Dakota and South Dakota, the EPA, and the Army Corps of Engineers, outlining their concerns with the pipeline. After receiving the letters, the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation all wrote letters of their own to the Army Corps of Engineers, asking the agency to complete a revised version of its Environmental Assessment that looks more closely at the proposed pipeline’s impact on water sources for native communities and at concerns over environmental justice issues that the pipeline poses.

“The routing of a 12- to 30-inch crude oil pipeline in close proximity to and upstream of the Reservation is of serious concern to the Department,” the Department of Interior writes in its letter. “A spill could impact the waters that the Tribe and individual tribal members residing in that area rely upon for drinking and other purposes,” it continues. “We believe that, if the pipeline’s current route along the edge of the Reservation remains an option, the potential impact on trust resources in this particular situation necessitates full analysis and disclosure of potential impacts through the preparation of an [Environmental Impact Statement].”

Currently, the Army Corps is working to complete Environmental Assessments (EA) for the 37 miles of the pipeline’s route that are under the Corps’ control. These 37 miles include segments of the route that cross federal land, including the two crossings of the Missouri River. The rest of the pipeline route was under the jurisdiction of the states, said Eileen Williamson, spokesperson for the Omaha district of the Army Corps. If the Corps does find that the pipeline, in the areas examined, does have the potential to cause significant environmental effects, a more rigorous Environmental Impact Statement will be required. The Corps also has the ability to take the letters from the EPA, Interior, and ACHP into account when it completes its assessments and include a direct response to the offices in the Environmental Assessment, she said.

The agencies, in their March letters, also recommended that the Army Corps provide more consultation with tribes over the pipeline — the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation wrote it was “perplexed by the Corps’ apparent difficulties in consulting with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.” Williamson said that Army Corps representatives have “attended three comprehensive consultation meetings with representatives from numerous tribes,” including a meeting with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe last week.

Still, Kelly Morgan, Tribal historic preservation officer and archaeologist for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said she wished the Army Corps had consulted more with the tribe. There have been meetings, she said, but she didn’t view them as formal, government-to-government consultations — though that is how the Army Corps classifies them.

“As the tribal archaeologist, this whole area has a very rich cultural history,” she said. “There are burials out there, cultural sites, and habitation sites” that have spanned multiple generations. During one of the meetings with the Army Corps, Crow Ghost took an officer to see a burial ground that would be impacted by the pipeline, a region that’s off the property of the reservation but “is still aboriginal territory of our people.”Nobody wants their church to be desecrated, and the earth is our church.

“We want to protect that. That was a village. We hold that in high regard because of our relatives that are still buried in that area,” he said. “Nobody wants their church to be desecrated,” he added, “and the earth is our church.”

It’s with that sentiment in mind that youths from multiple tribes in the path of the pipeline set out on a 500-mile relay run last week to deliver a petition against the pipeline to the Army Corps Omaha District office. The petition calls on the Army Corps to complete an Environmental Impact Statement on the pipeline before permitting it to cross the Missouri and Cannonball Rivers.

“We are borrowing this land from our grandchildren so we need to take care of our main life source: water,” Roni Starlin, Santee Nebraska tribal citizen, and one of the coordinators of the run, said in a statement. “Without clean water we will cease to survive, thus exterminating our own existence. We are running for our future generations.”

So far, it’s not clear when the Environmental Assessment will be released — it was projected to be early May, but Williamson said there’s no clear timeline because the Army Corps needs time to go through the comments it received on its draft EA. If there’s anything related to environmental concerns in those comments, she said, the Army Corps needs to determine whether those concerns have already been addressed or still need to be. And the Corps has received a lot of comments, she said, stressing that the agency at its core was neither a proponent or an opponent of the project.

If the Army Corps does find in its Environmental Assessments that the pipeline won’t create a significant impact on the environment, and decides to grant a permit for the project, tribe members aren’t backing down. Crow Ghost said the tribe had talked about next steps if that happens, but wasn’t ready to share what they were just yet. Earthjustice and other environmental groups, including the Indigenous Environmental Network, have been working with the tribes, as have been some landowners along the pipeline’s proposed route.

“In my way of looking at this, as the tribal archaeologist, this is Keystone three,” Morgan said, adding that the Standing Rock Sioux tribe was strongly opposed to that pipeline too. “We’re just at the beginning.”

From Think Progress

Lean more and sign the petition at

Thanks to Mike Cowdrey

Friday, 19 August 2016

Dead Poets Society #5

Traveling Through The Dark by William Stafford

Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.

By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.

My fingers touching her side brought me the reason--
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated.

The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.

I thought hard for us all--my only swerving--,
then pushed her over the edge into the river.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

John Maher's Nobody's Home exhibition at The Lighthouse, Glasgow 2016

Nobody's Home
Ex-Buzzcocks drummer John Maher photographs abandoned crofts in the Outer Hebrides – complete with sheep skeletons, tin walls and Technicolor interiors

Parallel Lines

Blue Chair Last

Waiting Room

Tin and Stone

Bedroom and Chapel, Ensay

Rust in Peace, Isle of Scalpay

TV Set

Nobody's Home, Isle of Lewis

Say Hello to: Nobody’s Home Exhibition 22 Jul – 31 Aug
Level Two

Nobodys Home - an exhibition featuring the work of photographer - and former Buzzcocks drummer - John Maher is part of Architecture and Design Scotland’s Say Hello to Architecture Programme, at the Lighthouse, Glasgow, on 21st of July. The exhibition captures abandoned crofts from across the Outer Hebrides.

At 16 years of age John Maher was recruited as a member of the punk band the Buzzcocks, and a number of chart hits followed, before the band broke up in 1981. In 2002, John relocated from his hometown of Manchester to the Isle of Harris, where he lives and works today. John’s photographs of decaying man-made objects set against a backdrop of stunning Hebridean landscapes have appeared in a wide variety of publications.

Speaking ahead of the opening of the exhibition, John Maher said, “Taking this exhibition to Glasgow is the realisation of a long held ambition. What started out as a personal project – documenting abandoned croft houses in the Outer Hebrides – has had an unexpected side effect. As a result of displaying my photographs, there’s now a real possibility of seeing at least one of the properties becoming a family home once again. Putting on this exhibition in collaboration with the team at Architecture and Design Scotland means Nobody’s Home is about more than pictures on a gallery wall. It shows that looking through a lens to the past, can help shape things in the future.”

John initially photographed in the dead of night, under the light of a full moon, and many of his night photographs involve lighting the interiors of old buildings, vehicles and boats scattered around the Hebridean landscape. In several instances he would return during daylight hours to shoot the interiors of abandoned croft houses he’d visited the night before. This was the beginning of a new way of photographing the islands, which ultimately led to the Nobody’s Home project.

As a direct result of seeing John’s images of abandoned croft houses, the Western Isles’ housing body, Tighean Innse Gall, in conjunction with the Carnegie Trust, have set in motion a plan to renovate some of the derelict properties.

Pictures from

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Back Through The Opera Glass: The Beach Boys Album Covers Project

Here's a terrific site that has links to an excellent, comprehensive three part, 470 page downloadable project by Malcolm C. Searles that tells the stories behind the cover art on all The Beach Boys' albums from Surfin' Safari to That's Why God made the Radio, with contributions from band insiders, artists and designers.

It's on Facebook, but you don't have to join the Evil Empire to download it! Yay!

Check it out here:

Ought to be in a book, of course...Helter Skelter Publishing maybe...

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Greg Mitchell - The Tunnels

... Song: Ghosts of The Berlin Wall by Pat Ffrench and The Orchid House Project.

The Tunnels
The Untold Story of the Escapes Under the Berlin Wall
Greg Mitchell

In the summer of 1962, one year after the rise of the Berlin Wall, a group of daring young West Germans risked prison, Stasi torture and even death to liberate friends, lovers, and strangers in East Berlin by digging tunnels under the Wall.

Then, as the world’s press heard about the secret projects, two television networks raced to be the first to document them from the inside, funding two separate tunnels for exclusive rights to film the escapes. In response, President John F. Kennedy and his administration, wary of anything that might raise tensions and force a military confrontation with the Soviets, maneuvered to quash both documentaries.

As Greg Mitchell's riveting narrative unfolds, we meet extraordinary characters: the legendary cyclist who became East Berlin’s most wanted man; the tunneller who had already served four years in the East German gulag; the Stasi informer who betrays the ‘CBS tunnel’; the young East Berliner who escapes with her baby, then marries one of the tunnellers; and an engineer who would later help build the tunnel under the English Channel.

Capturing the hopes and fears of everyday Berliners, the chilling reach of the Stasi secret police, and the political tensions of the Cold War, The Tunnels is breaking history, a propulsive read whose themes still reverberate today.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Dead Poets Society #4

The Day Lady Day Died by Frank O'Hara

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don't know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn't even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan's new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres
of Genet, but I don't, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness

and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Last Night's Set Lists

Last night's set lists

At The Habit, York: -

Ron Elderly: -
Streets Of London
Need Your Love So Bad
I'll See You In My Dreams

Da Elderly: -
Shine On You Crazy Diamond
Bouquet Of Roses
You've Got A Friend

The Elderly Brothers: -
Love Hurts
Everybody Knows
You Got It
Yes I Will
When Will I Be Loved

The holiday season kicked-in with an unexpected early dearth of players, so the evening kicked-off with three songs apiece for those who did turn up. Yours truly raised a few eyebrows with my first offering, not the usual Neil song, but a Pink Floyd tune. Some new faces from Grimsby performed first as a duo, then as a trio with some awesome 3-part harmonies. The Elderlys dug out a old Hollies classic which we hadn't played for ages. Tim the harmonica maestro joined singer/guitarist Tim for the finale which included an excellent San Francisco Bay Blues.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Misery at The Blue House Roundabout, Newcastle

Newcastle City Council have put forward controversial plans for the redevelopment of the Blue House Roundabout. If they get the go-ahead - after a remarkably but not unsurprisingly short consultation period (when many people will be on their summer holiday...) - the project seems guaranteed to piss off motorists (already pissed off by the many traffic projects the council are putting into place elsewhere around the city. Did I mention the changes to the twin roundabouts at South Gosforth (see below),

the changes at Cowgate, the mess that is Gosforth High Street, the flow of traffic around the Central Station?), cyclists, nearby residents, conservationists and some local MPs.

Here's how the project will eat up great chunks of the nearby moors:

Viz co-creator Chris Donald has come up with his own solution:

Of course, Newcastle doesn't have a monopoly on this: