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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


The institution of sports and shows was intended by all governments to turn off the thoughts of the people from busying themselves in matters of state.
Screen capture from The IT Crowd (2006)

LEMMY R.I.P. 1945-2015

Motorhead frontman Lemmy has died on December 28, 2015 in Los Angeles, two days after learning he had cancer, the British band has announced. He was 70. Born Ian Fraser Kilmister, Lemmy formed Motorhead in 1975 and recorded 22 albums, including Ace of Spades, as he became one of music’s most recognisable voices and faces. The band said on its Facebook page: “Our mighty, noble friend Lemmy has passed away after a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer.” His death came just weeks after former Motorhead drummer Phil Taylor died of liver failure on November 11, 2015. Taylor was 61.
Other sad news include the death of Steve Wright of the Australian group, the Easybeats, on December 27, 2015. Wright was 68. He was also widely considered as Australia’s first international rock star and his hits included Friday On My Mind and Evie. Wright had fallen ill on Boxing Day and was taken to Moruya Hospital in New South Wales.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Painting of the Day  27th Dec 2015

Cyclamen - Lucien Freud (Oil on Canvas 1964)

Saturday, December 26, 2015


DRYVRS Ep 1 - starring 

Macaulay Culkin

From 'Thousand Highways'

Truly Lovely  - Bob Sings Frank live from Autumn 2015


Melancholy Mood: Unreleased Live Recordings, Fall 2015

Melancholy Mood
Fall Tour of Europe - 2015

Melancholy Mood - Live - Basel - November 13, 2015
Where Are You - Live - Copenhagen - October 8, 2015
The Night We Called It A Day - Live - Hamburg - November 9, 2015
Why Try To Change Me Now - Live - Hamburg - November 9, 2015
Full Moon & Empty Arms - Live - London - October 22, 2015
All Or Nothing At All - Live - Saarbrucken - October 17, 2015
Come Rain Or Come Shine - Live - Basel - November 14, 2015
I'm A Fool To Want You - Live - Bregenz - November 16, 2015
What'll I Do - Live - Copenhagen - October 8, 2015
Autumn Leaves - Live - Oslo - October 1, 2015

Melancholy Mood link
Once again THOUSAND HIGHWAYS excels with his compilations and this is no exception with the quality for these live versions of Bobby singing his best of the  'Frank' canon, check the notes which are always worth a read too

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Message 

Dicken's message of 'A Christmas Carol'

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time.  Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

They are the Children of Men. And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.

—The Ghost of Christmas Present, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Lucy Faithfull House Garden (A.Swapp)
The place I worked for the last five years is to close. I met some of the best social care workers it is has been my privilege to work with in the past 20 years, most of whom became friends whilst working amongst some of the most challenging client group I have ever known. It was my great honour to work at the sharpest end of social care. My worries are for the vulnerable, the damaged, abused, addicted and those unable to look after themselves and how you rehouse 61 of the most hard to place service users it has been my privilege to come to know. Not forgetting the peerless Alcohol Recovery Project 6 bed recovery service in the business of saving many people's lives over the years in their struggles with alcoholism.
The building belongs to Riverside (ECHG) and we await with interest what they will do with the purpose built hostel and more importantly where the County & City Councils propose to rehouse these most vulnerable of clients.

Hostel supporting homeless for 30 years to close in January

  • 22 December 2015
  • From the section Oxford

Lucy Faithfull House in OxfordImage copyrightGoogle
Image captionThe council said it was working on relocating residents from Lucy Faithfull House

A hostel in Oxford that has provided homeless support for 30 years is to close in the new year.
Lucy Faithfull House, which has 61 beds, will shut as part of Oxfordshire County Council's plans to reduce funding for homeless support by 38%.
Services at the centre will end on the 31 January.
The council said it was working on relocating all residents, but would not be offering a "like-for-like" service. 
The new service, which was put out to tender, will commence from February 2016.

'Nowhere to go'

In a statement, the county council said the organisation that currently runs Lucy Faithfull House decided it could no longer provide the service.
Jason, who has friends currently staying at the hostel, said he was worried about their future: "They are not happy. They don't know what is going to happen to them.
"As people get made homeless they will have nowhere to go."
Oxfordshire County Council has proposed a £1.5m cut to its budget for homelessness services.
Ed Turner, deputy leader of Oxford City Council, said the cuts could see hostels across Oxford put at risk.
"It will put more people on the streets and really has to be rethought" he said. 
In a statement Oxfordshire County Council said "no decisions have been taken" on the future of funding for hostels.
The council's annual budget is currently £583m, but it has already announced cuts of £292m from 2010-2018.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

Jorge Luis Borges: “Soccer is Popular Because Stupidity is Popular”


At first glance, the Argentine writer’s animus toward “the beautiful game” 
seems to reflect the attitude of today’s typical soccer hater, whose lazy gibes 
have almost become a refrain by now: Soccer is boring. There are too many tie scores. 
I can’t stand the fake injuries. And it’s true: Borges did call soccer “aesthetically ugly.” 

He did say, “Soccer is one of England’s biggest crimes.” And apparently, he even scheduled 
one of his lectures so that it would intentionally conflict with Argentina’s first game of the 1978 
World Cup. But Borges’ distaste for the sport stemmed from something far more troubling than aesthetics.
 His problem was with soccer fan culture, which he linked to the kind of blind popular support that 
propped up the leaders of the twentieth century’s most horrifying political movements. 
In his lifetime, he saw elements of fascism, Peronism, and even anti-Semitism emerge in the Argentinean 
political sphere, so his intense suspicion of popular political movements and mass culture—the apogee of 
which, in Argentina, is soccer—makes a lot of sense. (“There is an idea of supremacy, of power, 
[in soccer] that seems horrible to me,” he once wrote.) Borges opposed dogmatism in any shape or form, 
so he was naturally suspicious of his countrymen’s unqualified devotion to any doctrine or religion
—even to their dear albiceleste.

Soccer is inextricably tied to nationalism, another one of Borges’ objections to the sport. 

“Nationalism only allows for affirmations, and every doctrine that discards doubt, negation,
 is a form of fanaticism and stupidity,” he said. National teams generate nationalistic fervour, 
creating the possibility for an unscrupulous government to use a star player as a mouthpiece to 
legitimize itself. In fact, that’s precisely what happened with one of the greatest players ever: 
Pelé. “Even as his government rounded up political dissidents, it also produced a giant poster of 
Pelé straining to head the ball through the goal, accompanied by the slogan 
Ninguém mais segura este país: Nobody can stop this country now,” writes Dave Zirin in his new book,
 Brazil’s Dance with the Devil. Governments, such as the Brazilian military dictatorship that Pelé 
played under, can take advantage of the bond that fans share with their national teams to drum up 
popular support, and this is what Borges feared—and resented—about the sport.

His short story, “Esse Est Percipi” (Latin for “to be is to be perceived”), also may explain his hatred 

of soccer. About halfway through the story, it’s revealed that soccer in Argentina has ceased to be a sport 
and entered the realm of spectacle. In this fictional universe, simulacra reigns supreme: the representation 
of sport has replaced actual sport. “These [sports] don’t exist outside the recording studios and newspaper
 offices,” a soccer club president huffs. Soccer inspires a fanaticism so deep that supporters will follow 
nonexistent games on TV and the radio without questioning a thing:
The stadiums have long since been condemned and are falling to pieces. 

Nowadays everything is staged on the television and radio. The bogus excitement of the sportscaster
—hasn’t it ever made you suspect that everything is humbug? The last time a soccer match was played 
in Buenos Aires was on 24 June 1937. From that exact moment, soccer, along with the whole gamut of 
sports, belongs to the genre of the drama, performed by a single man in a booth or by actors in jerseys 
before the TV cameras.

This story goes back to Borges’ discomfort with mass movements: “Esse Est Percipi” effectively accuses

 the media of complicity in the creation of a mass culture that reveres soccer, and, as a result, 
leaves itself open to demagoguery and manipulation.
According to Borges, humans feel the need to belong to a grand universal plan, something bigger 

than ourselves. Religion does it for some people, soccer for others. Characters in the Borgesian 
corpus often grapple with this desire, turning to ideologues or movements to disastrous effect: 
The narrator of the story “Deutsches Requiem” becomes a Nazi, while in “The Lottery in Babylon” 
and “The Congress,” small, innocuous-seeming organizations quickly transform into vast, 
totalitarian bureaucracies that dole out corporal punishment or burn books. 

We want to be a part of something bigger, so much so that we blind ourselves to the flaws that develop 
in these grand plans—or the flaws that were inherent to them all along. And yet, as the narrator of 
“The Congress” reminds us, the allure of these grand narratives often proves too much: 
“What really matters is having felt that our plan, which more than once we made a joke of, 
really and secretly existed and was the world and ourselves.”
That sentence could accurately describe how millions of people on Earth feel about soccer.

(Source: newrepublic.com)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Coffee anyone?! . . . . . . . 

Friday, December 18, 2015

32,000 year old art . . . . 

The Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave, discovered near the Gorges de l’Ardèche (Southern France) in 1994, is now considered by archaeologists to be one of the most significant prehistoric art sites in the world. The figures pictured here are estimated to have been made as many as 32,000 years ago.
one for those who think the world is 2,000 years old! . . . . . . . . 

The World’s Oldest Tattoos Are on the Weathered Skin of an Alpine Ice Mummy:Ötzi the Iceman

Detail of a wrist tattoo on Ötzi the Iceman, the oldest-known tattooed mummy in the world
(© South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/EURAC/Samadelli/Staschitz)

When hikers in the Alps stumbled upon the mummy known as Ötzi the Iceman along the Austrian–Italian border in 1991, the body was so well preserved that they feared they’d discovered the corpse of a fellow mountaineer. Later research revealed he died around  3105 BCE. In the decades since, scientists have thoroughly studied Ötzi, who is preserved at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy. Their research continues to reveal unknown details about ancient European life, including mapping Ötzi’s 61 tattoos last year with new non-invasive multispectral imaging.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


In 1965 I was a precocious twelve year old school boy who got up early (5am) to do his paper round which I would do for the next few years. There were three TV channels ‘Ready Steady Go!’ was the first real pop music show I watched but I still watched Animal Magic with legend Johnny Morris on kids TV. 
The word "fuck" is spoken for the first time on British television by the theatre critic Kenneth Tynan so I knew something was going on! I can still recall my parent’s shock though my father (who did not ever swear) was somewhat mildly bemused. 
The Beatles had already won us over the year before with the film ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ which we watched on holiday in Wales (Barmouth where there was a magnificent record shop, ‘Cob Records’ that became legendary and is still there) after the record shop we went every day to the corner milk shake bar. This year they released ‘Rubber Soul’ which made me really sit up and take notice (especially of girls!) Norwegian Wood told stories I wanted to happen to me but we hung around with a lovely girl called Michelle (who went on to marry my best friend) and her sister and I mooned over her and listened to the track that featured her name. George played sitar on the album and began studying with Ravi Shankar. Prior to this Donovan had been the highlight for me on Ready Steady Go singing ‘Universal Soldier’ by Buffy St. Marie which I thought was better than ‘Eve of Destruction’ by Barry McGuire! The Small Faces released Watcha Gonna Do About It and I determined I was going to be a mod. The Beatles ‘Day Tripper’ came out about a “naughty girl” and was thought to be about drugs though we didn’t then know it. The opening riff by George was the most exciting sound I had ever heard!

(* I just watched an ITV programme last night, well early hours of the morning at 3.00am, which featured hours of Beatles as they searched for the Nation’s Favourite Beatles No. One single [Hey Jude] but Shelia E noted to check the drum intro from Ringo on Day Tripper the drum rolls he uses are FAST!)

The Beatles perform ‘Rain’ and ‘Paperback Writer’ on BBC TV show 'Top Of The Pops’ in London on 16th June 1966 and by then when 'HELP!' their second film came out, I definitely knew something was going on, something special, something a part of me. Deep down. Something was definitely happening . . . . .
definitely  . . . . 
The Beatles perform ‘Rain’ and ‘Paperback Writer’ on BBC TV show 'Top Of The Pops’ in London on 16th June 1966 and I knew something was going on, something special, something a part of me. Deep down. Something was definitely happening . . . . . 

BIG O Ezine 

ANYWAY, ANYHOW, ANYWHERE (All the news this week)


Taylor Swift with her squad.

Taylor Swift has been criticised for being elitist and presenting a "silly, regressive public image" by famed feminist author Camille Paglia, who has also labelled the star an "obnoxious Nazi Barbie". Paglia has penned a think piece for The Hollywood Reporter in which she critiques Swift's modern brand of 'girl squad' feminism and portrays her as elitist and self-gratifying, reported NME, Dec 11, 2015.

In her colourful manner, Paglia writes: "In our wide-open modern era of independent careers, girl squads can help women advance if they avoid presenting a silly, regressive public image - as in the tittering, tongues-out mugging of Swift's bear-hugging posse. Swift herself should retire that obnoxious Nazi Barbie routine of wheeling out friends and celebrities as performance props, an exhibitionistic overkill that Lara Marie Schoenhals brilliantly parodied in her scathing viral video 'Please Welcome to the Stage'.

"Writing about Taylor Swift is a horrific ordeal for me because her twinkly persona is such a scary flashback to the fascist blondes who ruled the social scene during my youth."

She continued: "Girl squads ought to be about mentoring, exchanging advice and experience and launching exciting and innovative joint projects. Women need to study the immensely productive dynamic of male bonding in history. With their results-oriented teamwork, men largely have escaped the sexual jealousy, emotionalism and spiteful turf wars that sometimes dog women.

"If women in Hollywood seek a broad audience, they must aim higher and transcend a narrow gender factionalism that thrives on grievance. Girl squads are only an early learning stage of female development. For women to leave a lasting mark on culture, they need to cut down on the socializing and focus like a laser on their own creative gifts."

Might we also add, Taylor Swift is a control freak as she embarks once again on copyrighting her album titles, song lyrics and phrases (click here). She's become the Mickey Mouse of superstar musicians, following that rodent's practice to sue anyone who infringes its image.


A drawing of a red-coloured fox has become a copyright issue for pop diva Taylor Swift. An American artist Ally Burguieres has taken to Facebook to call out the 26-year-old singer for using one of her artworks to promote a Taylor Swift album without her permission or offering compensation. In October 2014, in the lead up to the release of her album 1989, Swift posted a picture of a hand-drawn fox with the song lyrics "They are the hunters we are the foxes and we run..." written beside it. Ms Burguieres claims she is the original artist of the fox, which was signed by someone else in Swift's post. The issue has dragged till now, a year later, without a resolution. The artist has now posted an open letter on Facebook to shame Taylor Swift. Read the story here.

Monday, December 14, 2015

JOHN LENNON 1940 - 1980

(ten minutes silence)

Oh, No Not John 

35 years ago this week, John Lennon, was shot and killed outside his New York City apartment building on December 8, 1980, and he didn’t have a funeral. His wife, Yoko Ono, asked people around the world to pray for John’s soul at a designated time. 
On December 14th, fans around the world gathered in public squares at 2pm ET for 10 minutes of silence. More than 100,000 people assembled in New York’s Central Park to pay their respects.
I too observed the silence in my parents house in their front room, sitting on the floor and my mother and father were kind enough to make no noise and leave me undisturbed and in that way joined in also in ten minutes silence. 
The front room was like a music room where I had discovered music as a child and where dad had played me so much classical music and then where I had listened to so much with my brother and all our friends, learned to play the piano and the electronic organ, eventually learning the guitars and where I had first heard 'With The Beatles', 'Rubber Soul', 'Revolver' and where we first played 'Sgt. Peppers'.

Friday, December 11, 2015

This news just in from the peerless Emily Barker - news of her new music for the film Hector starring Peter Mullan . . . . . .

Emily Barker Newsletter

Greetings from Switzerland, where I played one show last night in between all the shows on my current tour of Germany...

Back home in the UK, today is the day Hector is released. It's been a long road, and one that I've so much enjoyed being on, working with the wonderfully talented Jake Gavin - this is his first feature film - and my first full soundtrack - it's so exciting to see it hitting the big screen all over the UK from today (it will also be showing in France and Australia, and with luck a few other countries too).

Along with the film, there's also this video for the film's title track 'Anywhere Away'... I spent an afternoon with Jake filming my parts and he edited it in with scenes from the film - hope you enjoy it!

Emily x"
Anywhere Away video

Anywhere Away EP

Songs from Hector

Alongside the release of the film, I've also put together an EP featuring the three songs from the film: 'Anywhere Away', 'Wheels and White Lines' (featuring Roddy Hart on vocals) and 'Roll Me in Your Arms'.

The EP available now (CD and download) from my Bandcamp store (as well as on iTunes, Spotify etc.).

Proceeds from the single will be donated to London homeless charity, Shelter from the Storm.
Anywhere Away EP >>

Live on air in 2011, Dermot O’Leary asked me if music for film and TV was something I wanted to do more of. The Red Clay Halo and I had just performed ‘Pause’ live on Dermot’s BBC Radio 2 show, a song which had recently been used as the theme to BBC noir thriller The Shadow Line. Listening in to the show that afternoon, as I answered an emphatic “Yes!”, was film maker Jake Gavin.

This is the first song from the soundtrack I subsequently composed for Jake’s directorial debut, Hector. Peter Mullan stars in the title role as homeless Hector McAdam, making his annual journey from Glasgow to spend Christmas at a London shelter, his back story unfolding as his journey progresses. Given the bleak backdrop of homelessness in the UK, the film actually tells a rather uplifting story, highlighting the random acts of kindness from strangers that can bring hope at difficult times.

‘Anywhere Away’ was written for Hector, but also connects with that feeling all of us have faced at one time or another: the feeling that we are being overwhelmed by circumstances out of our control, and the only place we want to be is any place but the one we’re in.

Jake Gavin shot this video and edited it together with scenes from the film...

The single is available now from my own shop here:

Proceeds from the single will be donated to Shelter From The Storm.


Anywhere Away (Songs from the Jake Gavin film 'Hector') Cover Art
Emily Barker just released Anywhere Away (Songs from the Jake Gavin film 'Hector')check it out here


bandcamp logo