Saturday 31 March 2012

Bonnie, Clyde, and Earl Scruggs...

So the Genius, who made the film work so well, has finally put down his banjo.

I've always loved this, and could copy his three-finger technique pretty well, but only with one-and-a-half fingers; at half the speed, and on an old guitar which cost a few quid...

One last blast before the car gets hi-jacked...

Sunday 25 March 2012

This is for Pips - the fighter...

Awwww, being a grey haired old twollop, I just want to play this for Pips, who indeed, deserves a few chums doing a few nice chats here and there...

good stuff this

Thursday 22 March 2012

Bye bye blue...

Having had my personal pension slaughtered by the awful Brown in the nineties, and after his continuing financial car crash which then went on to affect my whole business, I was vainly hoping that Osbourne would at least try and balance things in our favour.

That isn't the case, so the next budget I'll really want to see, is one by a UKIP Chancellor, because this lot are just as bad as the Bliar years.

The statistics, calculations, statements, columns of figures etc all hide the fact that people like me and Mrs Scrobs are being utterly screwed, so it's goodbye Conservatives from now on.

I still cannot write a retirement date in my diary, and I'm 65 in a few months time.

Thanks a bunch.

Friday 16 March 2012

The Swerver...

Sad to learn that Mervyn Davies died today.

He was a giant in Welsh rugby, and because our school song was known locally as 'The Swerver', it is fitting that this clip from today's papers celebrates a great time for a great man in rugby football.

RIP, 'Merv the Swerve'.

Saturday 10 March 2012

Durufle - The Master...

So what is it about organs?

I'm not going on about those that bulge all down the Daily Mail page, but the real pneumatic, wheezing, clattering musical instruments. I mean those damn great multi-keyboarded, several-chimneyed leviathons which look like an office block in a church!

For as long as I can remember, I've always loved the sound of an organ. When I was a tot, my dear sister would sometimes play the piano with both feet on both pedals, and of course, the sound is pretty close to something vaguely like a church organ, if you shut your eyes tight.

Pips rekindled a thought the other day, when we were talking about being up early. I bought an early music composition package years ago, and the first sounds were of course, a church organ. Mrs S bought the family a Yamaha Midi keyboard years ago, and although it's been surpassed by newer models, it still works well. I have no formal piano training at all, play everything by ear, and am pretty hopeless on a keyboard, except that with the recording software, you can make as many mistakes as you like, mend them on screen, and (nearly) always get a result.

But what is it about the actual sound an organ makes, and why is it so gorgeous? I sometimes think it's because the sound is retained as long as the keys are depressed, and, as an amateur, you can think what you're actually going to play/do next, while the groaning is going on!

I remember, when The Beach Boys brought out Good Vibrations, I used to shiver at the super quiet bit between 2.15 and 2.50, because it was so innovative back then, They also did something similar with Here today, and I even went out bought the record on the strength of that tiny bit between 2.15 and 2.24!

And times move on, and keyboards are so common in music these days, I really can't keep up with the sorts of instruments which make all these fantastic sounds, which I suppose started in the Hammond and Mellotron days, and graduated through the Synthesizer years, but everyone is better off for them.

Just recently, we were choosing the music for Mrs S's dear old mum's funeral. I'd always had some special music in mind for my eventual flyaway, so it was easy to put these on the list, and we sat down one day to make sure that we got exactly what we wanted. Eventually, we went for 'A Shropshire Lad', by George Butterworth. and the quiet bit at 2.08 in Lux Aeterna, by John Rutter, which I think I'd also like to play for Lakes and his dear mum.

But, neither of these have a huge organ presence, although, they enclose you with an almost tangible harmony and warmth, and, during the search I found a piece which now just sings continually, sometimes for the whole day in this ol' grey head.

I'd bought Faure's Requiem some years ago, mainly because I like it, and there's no better reason I suppose. But also on the CD, was one which I can't even remember playing, which is a bit sad, so during the search, I put it in the machine.

I defy anyone not to be utterly transported to supreme bliss by this. Durufle didn't write a lot of music, but he sure played it, and was his own legend, I have since found out. The whole Requiem is also magnificent, but this final chapter is just so gorgeous, I need to hear it regularly, to make sure that I still have hair on the back of my neck, because it is a total ROHOBON piece, and unsurpassed...

Saturday 3 March 2012

Tales from the Med...

Next week, in Cannes, the annual MIPIM will be taking place.

MIPIM stands for some unpronouncable French description of several thousand property related persons, gathering together in a huge concrete bunker to drain the whole of the Champagne area's annual quota totally dry, in just a few days.

I used to go for my old firm, and indeed, still have the scars on parts of my liver to show for it, because there really is an overhead industrial bucket of alcohol waiting to be poured down you at every turn.

A few years ago, the five day session used to start at Gatwick, at around 10.30am, with a few pints for breakfast. One time, I found myself carrying a leather suitcase worth about £5,000, and it turned out that the lady who I was chatting to, and to whom the voluminous extravagance belonged, was a Bond Girl (once), but because the mists of time, possibly a large G and T, and the several years since I saw 'Dr No', I can't remember for the life of me who she actually was...

But anyway, once one has landed in Nice, the fun begins, and the opening bash (at The Majestic in those days), sets the scene for several days of hypertension, sleep deprivation, and of course, blurred vision...

I'm only saying all this, because my good friend and BP said yesterday evening that he was feeling a bit fed up with having to turn down all the invitations, and I have to admit, I'm already wishing that just somehow, I could say 'Yes' and arrive at a lawyer's bash, possibly to trip up on entering the vast room, and apologise to the hatstand!

Most of the action happens away from the Bunker, where all the stands are, and although I actually used to work the aisles to start with, it was always nicer outside, in places like this, where one year, I stayed all day from 11.00am until late at night. This place, the Caffe Roma, just heaves, and I probably miss the craic there more than any...

You'll see many big faces (often red), and names from the courts, the bloated councils, the prisons (oh yes), and the occasional contact with whom there's some actual business to discuss, but that is a bit of a rarity, because there's no time to talk except for making generalities, and then doing the nitty-gritty the following week - if you survive that is.

One year, we were all on one of the superyachts in the Old Harbour, (owned by a wealthy family, who unfortunately happen to be in the news as we speak), and it was all going well, until there was a little overloading problem, i.e., there were too many people on one side of the huge boat, and a certain slope seemed to occur which meant that the champagne began to tip over the edge of the glass. It got progressivly worse, and the inclination increased, so we adjourned to the quayside, and watched what would happen.

Apparently, it was nearly a total disaster, because it is an incredibly dangerous situation when an overloaded boat sets up a rocking motion, and the Harbour Master was called to get everyone off pronto. (I hope BP will expand on this, as he knows these things). It took half an hour for the boat to stop rocking, and a stern discussion ensued with much arm waving, 'Merdes' and 'Mon Dieus', but by then we were far away in a cheeky little Italian eatery, enjoying another bottle of Chianti, and some choice pasta, with, among others a lovely lady client and my good chum Andy, who somehow both discovered over a second bottle, that they had lost their respective virginities on exactly the same beach in Devon...

(For once, I won't mention my traditional moan about naive councils attending, because there are plenty of newspapers which do that for me, and take these delegates to task for spending all that taxpayer's dosh)!

So, all you lucky people, getting packed for the flight down on Tuesday, or perhaps taking the Eurostar and the TGV, which is a fabulous way to travel down, I wish you a successful, riotous and happy week, and while you're away, BP and I plan to land the biggest deal we've ever done, and we won't tell you until long after you get back, by which time it will be far too late...

Thursday 1 March 2012

Hen Wlad fy Nhadau

Hen Wlad fy Nhadau

Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion enwogion o fri
Ei gwrol ryfelwr, gwlad garwyr tra mad
Tros ryddid collasant eu gwaed.

Gwlad Gwlad,
Pleidiol wyf i'm gwlad,
Tra môr yn fur i'r bur hoff bau
O bydded i'r hen iaith barhau

I'm not Welsh, but you have to admit, that they sing this pretty well...

My dear old mum was English, but had a Welsh christian name - a version of Elonedd. When she died in March several years ago, we had spring flowers on the coffin, which of course, were very seasonal.

Just as they were lowering the coffin into the grave, one single daffodil fell out of the wreath, and finished up lying across the brass plate inscribed with her name.

Nice touch that...