Monthly Archives: July 2015

Reaching out to my fellow Human being today!

Can I be a force for good?Little old me,with all my hang ups!Surely doing that sort of goody 2 shoes stuff is a real turn off.You know,when you think about it,your probably already doing some good stuff each day now.Chances are,you think your insignificant,but truth be told,we are all in this humanity thing together.

No one that I know has a charmed life.It doesn’t exist.Yeah,some might have better health,better housing,better job prospects maybe.Howver,when you really bore down into it,we are all fragile in one way or another.

Yesterday,I watched a grown man in emotional agony pacing up and down a hospital corridor.Yes,he might have had the latest mobile phone,fine cloths,etc,etc.But,and here’s the main point,he was in a bad way,his child was undergoing serious surgery,I knew that look,I’d Seen it so many times before.In fact,I have gone through it many times before myself when my son was a little boy.

Although my son is now 30,it never seen gets any easier,but somehow,I’m arrogant enough to think that I can help others who are going through tough times.As I said previously,this man was of a completely different social station to me,but in that moment,in that time,he needed a shoulder to cry on.

I guess I’m trying to say that no matter how crap things might get-and believe you me,they have got like that for me on many hospital visits over the last 30 years-there is some little comfort that you can give.

His son came through the operation,and will need others,but I hope that the little boy and his father and mother feel that humanity s a force for good,and that the struggle when you have a sick child.

So,I feel that people do care and even when we are under stress it can help others when we reach out to them.


“My half full glass,not a half empty one is my motto”.

Today I went to the seaside.We live near the Jurassic coast in Dorset.Like many others,we don’t visit the coast as much as we should.Promising that we should do more of it every time we go there,it often gets forgotten in the mists of time.

Our arrival at Lulworth Cove was surprising in that the waves were really up,so much so,that the pleasure cruises around “Durdle Door”,were cancelled today”

We took my wife’s Parents who are both now in their late 70s.They have been coming to Lulworth now since the 1960s,so there isn’t much they don’t know about the place.

Because I’m Cornish,and was brought up on the North coast,my interest in Lulworth isn’t what you would call devotional.Yes,I like the place,but I wouldn’t go there every year out of choice.Maybe,we all have a special affinity to the place that we were brought up in.To me,Newquay and Crantock,along with Perranporth and Watergate Bay are in a league of their own as regards coastal resorts.

The sea was roaring today,and with that roaring comes an almost metaphysical quality.It made me think of Iris Murdoch “The Sea,the Sea”.Relationships can be like the roaring sea,they can be turbulent and difficult.At times,in over 31 years of marriage,my relationship with my in-laws has been turbulent.Yes,we sort of get along,but it’s strained at times.Some of it is my fault,and I feel some of it has been theirs.

Being brought up near the sea,I’ve always had a respect for it,probably because I’ve seen what the sea can do to human life.Yes,I love it,but I never ever take it for granted.Its like relationships,I’ve learnt never ever to take them for granted.Once you start treating people badly you will regret it.

I have always tried to appreciate the adage of a half full glass where life is concerned.However,I know,that many struggle with this attitude,and are often negative about their life,or life in general.

Just like the sea,sometimes it’s roars,and other times it’s calm,life can be like that,and as long as we don’t take it for granted,we will have a good life if we look for the good I it,and the good I others too.”

“Paint your Waggon,whatever that is”.

As a sit here,waiting for the paint to dry in this old,I kinda let my mind go back to the history of it.

You see,this was my youngest sons room.Its been through many changes from “The Smurfs”,to Manchester United Livery bed then through Radiohead posters,concert ticket notice board.Quite a rainbow of a young persons life you could say.

My son is 27 now.He left home at 18 to do a music degree at Royal Holloway,then he went to the Guildhall to join the vocal department on their masters course.

Yes,he’s been back here quite a lot during that time,but ,of course it’s never the same really when your children leave home.They don’t really tell you that in the parenting manual,or Pseudo parenting experts try to imply that’s it’s a new start,Yada,Yama,yarda.

The truth is in my case,I miss my son.Hes on tour with an opera company as I write this in the South of France,so you could say that he’s done well.No,he’s not been on the tele,just Radio3,but I am very proud of him.

During the 2 days that I have been painting in his room,I have also remembered the times we spent talking,listening to Miles Davis,generally hanging out.

As father son relationships go,we are alright.My youngest son has had to play a back seat in our family because his older brother has often been seriously ill in hospital for extensive lengths of time.This has meant him bring left with family members while we were at various Cardiac centres around the country in a desperate attempt to get treatment for his brother.

Through all this time,this room has been a sanctuary for him.Even painting it seems odd.I have to have music playing while I do it,mostly Miles Davis.My son is a Wagnerian tenor,but we still love all the other genres.

Oh well,I think it might be time to get back to the painting.

Memories are powerful if we keep them alive.

Viva Chris Froome,our great cyclist.

Tomorrow,in Paris,Chris Froome should,barring an accident make history for a British cyclist,by becoming the first man to win this great event twice representing Britian.

Who of us have not been captivated by the rise of British cycling over the last decade.First,Sir Bradley Wiggins,then Chris Froome the first time,it is a fantasy world for British cycling at the moment.

The Manx Missile,Mark Cavendish is,on his day still the one of the best sprinters the sport has ever produced,so we should be rightly proud of our achievements as a nation in the sport.

My nephew,who has worked inFrance for over 10 years talks about the profile of the sport there as being through the roof.Any Town that has the Tour coming through its centre will be celebrating because of the prestige of the event.Its spectator draw is truly immense.Richard ‘s town in the South were chosen a few years ago,there were over 150,000 on the roads lining up to wave the Pelaton through,such is the respect the sport demands there.

To win the tour,you have to be the complete cyclist,you have to have a great team,you have to have no crashes,and you have to have luck too.Any one of these factors not being present,and you don’t win

Chris Froome has endured much taunting for spectators during the tour.To be spat at isn’t a good feeling,I should know,I teach teenagers,and they have,at times done this to me.

I,along with millions of others,will be glued to the TV tomorrow to cheer home a hero.We should pinch ourselves.If a Frenchman was going to win tomorrow,their country would have a national celebration,such is the Kudos of cycling there.

Let us salute our cyclists,they really deserve our support.

“It don’t mean a thing,if it ain’t got that Swing”.

What would you say to a person who asks why your Tapping your feet to music?

My temptation was to say “if you have to ask why,the. You will never appreciate music”.However,that does seem a tad superior.My some loves Maths,and is a Doctor of computer science,so I might ask why he constantly talks about Algorithms.You see,I don’t really get maths beyond the obvious stuff,I don’t get its beauty,or its applications.

Fats Waller once famously said;”It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing”.I kinda go with that as an anthem for so much of the music that I love.

To be honest,many of my classical music friends don’t feel music in the same way as I do.My tales of Busking in London as a student cos I couldn’t afford to eat go over their heads.

When I was a young organist,I got caught reworking “Rubicon,Bt Tangerine Dream by the vicar who thought that it wasn’t suitable,and that from a man who hailed Messien as his favourite composer.So,you see,music can mean different things to different people.

To be blunt,some of my tastes in music would be totally frowned upon by my staff cohort.

Trying to extoll Srummer and the clash to them has,at times,been a battle that I haven’t won.

Personally,to me at least,I feel that we should respect music of all genres,and not be snobs.

Yes,I feel that there should be a Punk/New wave Prom.Yes,I’m probably deluded in the eyes of Petroc and his co-presenters on Radio 3,but that’s me.

As regards music in our time,it’s now vital that we reach out to the creative vibe that many young people possess.Yes,a classically trained musician will always have their place in our world,but we have to take along those who might not feel that they can express their music in quite the same way.

Yes,it will take imagination and drive.It will also need the coming together of all musicians in a spirit of co-operation and good intent.

Are there musicians out there who count inspire.You bet there are.

“Happy Holidays”.

Today has been a dreary one for all those trying to get away for their summer holidays.Sometimes the weather can affect us all,especially if we suffer from seasonally adjusted depression.

As the light for all of us is essential to good health,it made me think that things can affect us and we don’t even realise it.

Many suffer from stress,and many are burdened down with health issues that don’t end.For the past 30 years ,I have struggled watching my son deal with a serious heart/Lung disorder.Although after numerous operations that have kept him alive,his prognosis is still very poor.

What the future will be for him,we can only hope,as all carers have too.We don’t really judge anyone anymore like we used too when we were younger.Now,as seasoned humans beings who have made our share of mistakes,we tend to realise that what you see on the surface maybe not be the true picture.

Sometimes out of adversity we can be shaped for the better.Sometimes out of negative events,we look at how we can find a way to treasure the moments.

I would say that I have learnt to communicate better with my son.Yes,I have had to make sacrifices to cope with this.Communication is important and empathy.

Holidays are a wonderful time for children.As a teacher,I hope that they all have a great time.

“Love our National Parks,and the Animals too”.

Having spent a week in the Exmoor National Park,I can vouch for its beauty,it’s breathtaking scenery,and it’s beautiful animals.

Nothing,however,saddened me more than the voluminous amounts of posters for the countryside alliance,for the almost obsessional defence of hunting of the hunting lobby.

I appreciate that we all have our view,and maybe I should have thought about having a holiday in their back yard so to speak,but I didn’t enjoy the references to their rights over the land,as if their values are the only ones in existence.

The rights of animals,IMHO,should have equal rights as have humans,and they shouldn’t be in servitude to us.

I go back to my high density population centre tomorrow with mixed feelings.Yes,wonderful wonderful countryside,vistas,and all,but not at the expense of our animals.

Yes,we are where we are,and maybe I should just write about what I know a bit about,music,and the teaching there of.However,sometimes you have to call things as you see them.

“Don’t just sing in the shower!”

Are we,as a country,in danger of only having citizens who have to be entertained,and not ones who can entertain themselves?

Yes,it’s probably not as simple as the question implies,as there are always nuances in every issue that we might raise.However,it’s something that bothers me as a musician,and as a music teacher.

I like so many others,grew up in a community where to sing in a choir was quite a normal activity.It didn’t cost you anything,you had a sense of shared ownership,and quite often,as in my case,it lead on to other musical interests.

Many of my pupils have volumes of music available to them on their devices,and many listen to music in various forms for hours in a day.However,trying to get them to appreciative other genres that don’t form part of their cultural identity is often a real challenge.

Many associate singing as something that is done in a studio,or in the voice,or x-factor,or some such reality TV programme.Whilst we all can applaud the success of these shows,it’s a shame when the focus is on celebrity and not just the joy of singing for its own sake.

Recently,a good friend of mine visited Cape Town,in South Africa.He remarked that in that city there were over 1,ooo choirs.That figure floored me.I doubt weather there are 1000 choirs in 20 of our cities put together.He put a lot of their love for singing down to their roots,their interdependence,and their general poverty.

Yes,all those factors may,or may not be true,but wouldn’t it be lovely if we could start a resurgence in singing in our country too.

Music at its most primitive,starts with vocal folk song,and folk music has played a marvellous role in our musical consciousness in this country.By started a debate about entertaining ourselves,we offer a counter narrative to this obsession with celebrity culture.

We all have a voice,we all can make iat least some noise.

Have a go.One your own.In the bath,shower,with you brother,sister,parent or carer.

Homage to Chris Squire,bassist with Yes.

You were the glue that held the colossal beast that was Yes together.

Your passion for this genre saw the bands through so many incarnations.

Imagination,flair,drive,and bloody mindedness made Yes into a mega Band.

With the pairing of Anderson and Squire,Yes produced progressive rock of the highest order.

The introduction of Rick Wakeman only added another layer of excellence.

I along with millions of others saw Yes,and still feel that they are relevant today.

They were shortly going to Team up with with Toto for a tour.

Surely,there will be a tribute to Squire from the band.IMHO he will go down as one of the true greats.

Some of the greatest ever rock musicians will know that a legend was in their midst,and a whole army of fans too.

R.I.P. Chris Squire.