portrait of this blog's author - by Stephen Blackman 2008

Friday, October 31, 2014

Michael Payne has died aged 45
I am sorry and saddened to hear that the father of murdered little girl Sarah Payne,  Michael Payne, has been found dead at 45 and I note that BBC correspondent, Duncan Kennedy, has said that Payne was a father "crushed by agony". A parent "consumed by grief".
"When his eight-year-old daughter Sarah was abducted in July 2000 his world collapsed. She was found dead in West Sussex 17 days later, murdered by Roy Whiting - a paedophile now serving life in jail - but it was a term that gave Michael only temporary escape from his demons.

With his wife Sara, Michael found brief solace and purpose in campaigning for Sarah's Law, giving people greater information about sex offenders, but he began drinking heavily and the marriage collapsed. He later said he had failed to protect his own daughter. He had tried to come to terms with his suffocating loss, but in the end he was consumed."
Sarah Payne aged 8 in 2000
The parents of little Sarah who so took the public's heartfelt sorrow and pain to their hearts were often in our thoughts and prayers but I often wondered who and what services offered themselves and how do we ensure this takes place. Do the authorities underline the value of therapy in such overwhelming circumstances? I would have expected so.

Sarah Payne's mother, Sara, later spoke, eloquently I thought, of how the extent of her husband’s pain may have been sidelined, with support systems not oriented towards helping fathers. “I feel sympathy for any man in the situation. It’s not geared to dads. It doesn’t take into account their emotions. They have no one to turn to.” Sara herself was able to throw her energies into the work around Sarah's Law and advocating for victims of such crime with the support of wonderful people like Shy Keenan who's book 'Broken' I read after hearing about her in the contexts of supporting Sara Payne. It is a towering read if one needs insight to what it is to be the survivor of horrendous levels of childhood abuse but has been withdrawn for 'legal reasons' which suggests someone mentioned in it has taken action against her which would be a shame not to say crime?

Michael Payne struggled in the way so many men do by drowning his sorrows with alcohol, or trying to, and he was jailed for 16 months in December 2011 after pleading guilty to attacking his brother after they had drunk large amounts of alcohol. His defence counsel said when he was charged  Referring to the murder of his daughter, at the time: “The assorted aftermath had a life-changing effect on him . . . It’s desperately sad. He never sought nor was offered assistance with bereavement counselling. In a nutshell, he suffered the kind of experience that is every parent’s enduring nightmare.” That must have felt never ending.
As a professional counsellor I reflect today on how much my vocation may or may not have let Michael Payne down but it feels like it. Men tend not to ask for help and male counsellors especially have a duty to offer and continue to offer help to people who have tried to come to terms with such a terrible loss.

I was especially moved by reading that his daughter and Sarah's sister, Charlotte, posted a picture of her father on Facebook alongside a message saying she was "heartbroken".

"No matter what happened and how many mistakes we all made you will always be my daddy," she wrote. She later added: "I'm sorry I couldn't save you dad. I hope you have finally found your peace and happiness." Counsellors and specially trained abuse therapists like myself may have cause to pause and reflect that she shouldn't really have had to end up feeling it was her responsibility to 'save' her dad when the support professions didn't.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Eric Clapton has released a new song, written in tribute to his former Cream bandmate Jack Bruce, who died on October 25, 2014, aged 71. Clapton had earlier paid tribute to Bruce, writing on his Facebook page, "He was a great musician and composer, and a tremendous inspiration to me." Clapton has now put up a new song, "For Jack", which he posted on October 26 on Facebook, reports Rolling Stone.

Click here to listen to the (instrumental) track.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

'The Basement Tapes Complete: 

The Bootleg Series Vol. 11'

The Basement Tapes Complete will be released on November 4. As a curtain raiser, The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 is now streaming via NPR.
The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 is a six-disc set which will feature 138 songs. There is also a special two-disc edition - The Basement Tapes Raw: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11, featuring 38 songs. The Basement Tapes Raw: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 will also be released as a three-album set on 180-gram vinyl. - Uncut

These are the 12 tracks being streamed at NPR:

Edge Of The Ocean (Disc 1, Track 1)
You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Take 1) (Disc 3, Track 17)
I Shall Be Released (Take 1) (Disc 3, Track 19)
Quinn The Eskimo (Take 1) (Disc 4, Track 4)
This Wheel’s On Fire (Disc 3, Track 21)
Johnny Todd (Disc 2, Track 1)
Don’t Ya Tell Henry (Disc 4, Track 21)
I Don’t Hurt Anymore (Disc 2, Track 19)
Silent Weekend (Disc 5, Track 12)
Crash On The Levee (Take 1) (Disc 3, Track 10)
One Too Many Mornings (Disc 5, Track 2)
I’m Your Teenage Prayer [Disc 2, Track 8]

Monday, October 27, 2014

sad to report the death of  

Jack Bruce

 JACK BRUCE R.I.P. 1943-2014

Big O have three boots available of concerts not available anywhere else and had this report
Jack Bruce, best known as one-third of Cream, died on October 25, 2014 of liver disease at his home in Suffolk. He was 71. In a statement issued by his family on Saturday, his family said: “It is with great sadness that we, Jack’s family, announce the passing of our beloved Jack: husband, father, granddad, and all round legend. The world of music will be a poorer place without him but he lives on in his music and forever in our hearts.”
Bruce played bass, sang and was the principal songwriter in Cream. The group sold 35 million albums in just over two years and were given the first ever platinum disc for Wheels of Fire Bruce wrote and sang most of the songs, including “I Feel Free” and “Sunshine Of Your Love”. But even leaving aside that group, in which he played with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, his CV reads like a comprehensive guide to the British blues boom, with spells in Alexis Korner’s Blues Inc, the Graham Bond Organisation, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Manfred Mann. Bruce’s life had been marked by health and financial troubles. In the late 1970s he struggled with drug addiction, and worked as a session musician to make money. In 2003 he was diagnosed with liver cancer, and that September he underwent a transplant. His body initially rejected the new liver, and Bruce almost died, but he recovered well enough to return to performance in 2004. - The Guardian and BBC
Jack was a hero, a feisty Scot and bass virtuoso, song writer and singer we loved and of course we adored Cream when they came out and still recall the affect of the Farewell Concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 1968 (we were bereft until we got blown away!) of which Tony Palmer's excellent film is still available on youtube and in two formats the original one from Tony Palmer Films which is superb quality but sadly doesn't have the voice over of the original. I also bought 'Songs For a Tailor' when it came out and loved it's unique style and substance (still!) He had a new album out this year 'Silver Rails' so I recommend you go out and buy them!

 Cream - Farewell Concert Royal Albert Hall 1968 (Tony Palmer Films)

Rest In Peace

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Detectorists
Well those who know me are familiar with my abiding notion that I hold that there is no real point in getting a huge HD screen for your tele as there is nothing on the ruddy thing anymore and yet I discover new bands (Wilful Missing) from watching such drivel (Waterloo Road since you ask) all the time but I have a new favourite show and this is a prime example of what we Brits do best I feel and why I still feel like owning a tele. I adore these gentle clever comedies we produce without so much as a bell, whistle or a flag [sometimes too quietly I feel] so we'll I'll give it a plug here.

My new delight is 'The Detectorists' written and directed by the wonderful Mackenzie Crook and starring both he and another hero of mine, Toby Jones (son of, IMHO, our greatest character actor, Freddie Jones, and who, after playing Truman Capote and other roles of late where hasn't put a foot wrong, is giving his Dad a run for his money!) after his recent success in the simply divine 'MARVELLOUS' earlier this month, this is Toby at his best in an understated tour de force as they both play nerds of the highest calibre, men in love with their metal detectors. Of course!

Toby Jones as Neil Baldwin in 'Marvellous'

The theme song featured this week in the story lining as the boys, Andy (Mackenzie) and Lance (Toby) do Lance's plaintive love song inspired by his wife (ex!) at an open mic night down the pub
It is delicious and made me check out the singer guitarist Johnny Flynn who has done some lovely work here and elsewhere (not least also with the peerless Laura Marling - see below)
get the single here
 The Detectorists theme (removed . . and hey! put back up again . . . . )

Mackenzie can also have some perks in the writing presumably as they have cast his partner with the delicious Rachael Stirling who catches him flirting inadvertently with a much younger student Sophie played by Aimee-Ffion Edwards and if you are going to be working with such story lines then I guess it is a perk to have actors as beautiful and clever as this [lucky dawgs!]
It also features Lance's ex-wife Maggie [played by Lucy Benjamin] who runs a 'head shop' or alternative life style crystal shop and the rest of the casting is sheer genius also as witnessed by the rival detectorists leader the 'Antiquisearchers' with the excellent Simon Farnaby (Mighty Boosh, the excellent Man v Weird etc) the head of their own group being played by the brilliant Gerard Horan and his wife played by a favourite actor of mine Sophie Thompson (google her it's worth it!)

All in all it had me laughing out loud and squirming with embarrassment (cue the song which actually is surprisingly good! watch out for Johnny who goes on the open mic night first much to the chagrin of our heroes) I could watch this over and over and probably will until the DVD comes out it is in short sheer genius (you can tell I like it can't you?)
It is by turn pathetic, bathetic, hilarious and I found myself revealed in several characters!
Enjoy! I will

and meanwhile in addition here's Johnny Flynn with Laura Marling . . . . . . The Water

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

 Alicia, David and Bob!

I note with interest after much heralded hullabaloo about David Byrne's musical extravaganza Here Lies Love about Imelda Marcos today that Billboard exclusively reports that Alicia Keys will take the stage with "rock legend" (sic!?) Byrne at 'Keep a Child Alive''s 11th Annual Black Ball event, a yearly gala offering first-time musical collaborations.
It crossed my mind as I checked the picture of her, that Bob Dylan wrote about her in a song (Thunder On The Mountain) and sometimes we can pause for a moment and truly understand why the muse may take us!
"I was thinking about Alicia Keys, couldn't keep from crying
When she was born in Hell's Kitchen, I was living down the line
I'm wondering where in the world Alicia Keys could be
I been looking for her even clear through Tennessee"
This year's Black Ball will take place on Oct. 30 at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Robin and The Homeless

A Little Robin Williams Story:

“Years ago I learned a very cool thing about Robin Williams, and I couldn’t watch a movie of his afterwards without thinking... of it. I never actually booked Robin Williams for an event, but I came close enough that his office sent over his rider.
For those outside of the entertainment industry, a rider lists out an artist’s specific personal and technical needs for hosting them for an event- anything from bottled water and their green room to sound and lighting requirements. You can learn a lot about a person from their rider. This is where rocks bands list their requirement for green M&Ms (which is actually a surprisingly smart thing to do).
This is also where a famous environmentalist requires a large gas-guzzling private jet to fly to the event city, but then requires an electric or hybrid car to take said environmentalist to the event venue when in view of the public.
When I got Robin Williams’ rider, I was very surprised by what I found. He actually had a requirement that for every single event or film he did, the company hiring him also had to hire a certain number of homeless people and put them to work.
I never watched a Robin Williams movie the same way after that. I’m sure that on his own time and with his own money, he was working with these people in need, but he’d also decided to use his clout as an entertainer to make sure that production companies and event planners also learned the value of giving people a chance to work their way back.
I wonder how many production companies continued the practice into their next non-Robin Williams project, as well as how many people got a chance at a job and the pride of earning an income, even temporarily, from his actions.
He was a great multiplier of his impact. Let’s hope that impact lives on without him. Thanks, Robin Williams- not just for laughs, but also for a cool example.”
Reposted from brianlord.org

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Ali Campbell sings Dylan . . well it cheered me up

This performance on Later with Jools the other night has receieved mixed reviews to say the least some people noting Ali's blatant use of the autocue and others claiming it is like a 'drunk uncle at a wedding' . . . well I enjoyed it!
Lovely arrangement!