The heading today is a quote from the official website of a great hero of mine, singer, songwriter and guitarist John Martyn who passed away on Thursday this past week. It tells of the essence of a man who wrote many songs about the the vagaries of the subject. Indeed, similar were the words I first heard about him, a fellow student al college back in the late seventies exhorting me to ‘come along to see this guy’ who was playing at Nottingham University, whose songs were invariably written around love.
I did go along, and I was stunned at his musicianship. I’d had the opportunity to borrow an album or two beforehand and was interested in John’s unique style of music already but this live performance was quite something apart. My friend and I had caught a bus from the city out to the University and polished off a drink in the Student Union bar before rushing to the stairs leading to the concert room. At the foot of the stairs stood two men, one with a mass of curly hair, an unruly beard and an earring. In his hands were a guitar with several effects pedals hanging from it. It was John Martyn and his roadie. We had a few quick words with him, wishing him a good gig whilst walking up the stairs, and he took the stage with a crate of beer beside him as we took our places sitting cross-legged on the floor. What transpired was a stunning and original display of innovative guitar virtuosity couple with John’s blues influenced trademark slurred vocals.
From that time around thirty years ago I’ve always felt a special affinity for John Martyn’s music. Not only for it’s excellence but also as a link back those happy and carefree times at college in Nottingham and the great friends that surrounded me in those days. This is perhaps the reason why I was so taken aback to hear the sad news of John’s passing this week. It feels very much like a part of my past has disappeared too. Read more »
One of the funniest images I’ve come across in a long time appeared on my laptop screen this morning. It was an image of actor Todd Carty competing on ITV’s Dancing on Ice. Todd appears to have gamely taken on the John Sergeant role from Strictly Come Dancing as resident clown.
When was the last time you saw such flagrant panic on someone’s face as on this shot of Todd careering off the ice?
After an extremely wooden performance characterised by naked fear, Todd made this wonderfully entertaining (and unplanned) exit from the ice after tripping away from his ice dancing partner. On his exciting departure from the ice, Todd seemed to at several points somehow miraculously avoid landing prostrate. Seconds later he reappeared onto the ice to join his partner looking like he had been shot out of a canon from behind the scenes. One can easily imagine a couple of stooges off set grabbing him and turning him round back in front of the cameras!
Watch the whole hilarious performance here!
Without being too harsh on poor Todd, he’s never going to become a skater. After many months of expert coaching he looks as though he’s just strapped a pair of blades on for the first time and is looking for the rink boards to nervously hang on to. Lifting one skate off the ice then the other looks like a perilous pastime for him. Fair play to him however, he’s certainly game!
Nottingham has a new ‘mystery’ of late with the presence of an unknown graffiti artist with a statement or two to make the about the city she or he lives in. It’s all very curious – and not a little amusing for those who enjoy a wry sense of humour tied in with a well-meaning protest.
Prior to Christmas, a story appeared in the local Nottingham Evening Post regarding some signage that was being placed on various was around the city centre. The professional looking sings displayed a male toilet logo with text saying “Public urination permitted after 7.30pm”. It was authentic enough to deceive many members of the public into using the alleys, side streets and doorways as a place to relieve themselves.
Shortly afterwards, what was believed to be a woman’s voice was delivered in a recorded message to the newspaper stating that the signs were an attempt to remind the city council that there were a large quantity of pubs in the city centre but extremely few toilets to use after the pubs and clubs close. She also questioned whether the 24-hour alcohol license was being used responsibly and indeed if it was appropriate. Read more »
There’s no such thing a a ‘free lunch’, right…?
Well maybe and maybe not. Browsing the web yesterday I came across an extremely nifty little piece of software however which allows one to play free music. Nothing unusual there perhaps, but this music player simply requires that you type the title of practically any song you can bring to mind and it will produce it for your gratification instantly.
The titles don’t download. They just play…instantly. Try it for yourself by registering and downloading the easy-to-use software from the logo below.
This is an image sent to me by a visitor to The Tears of a Clown in regard to this article about Bestwood Country Park and Colliery Village in Nottinghamshire in which she has an interest. The image is of the old boiler house which served The Bestwood Lodge, once a fine hunting lodge and now a popular hotel on the edge of the pretty woodlands of the country park. It’s kindly requested that if anyone recalls this building which was demolished around the turn of the 1980s’ and stood on the land where the Fire Station is now situated, would they mind sharing their memories or knowledge about it.
But that is not all.
The visitor who supplied the image for this article pointed out that there appears to be a little more to this fairly ordinary photograph than may at first meet the eye. I too immediately spotted it. For those that are partial to a good mystery, these premises were purported to be haunted. I’ll leave you to look at the image closely…
It’s that time of year once more - practically everyone appears to have some kind of cough/cold/flu/man flu complaint. Every room you enter is accompanied by the orchestrated coughing and wheezing of young and old alike. Every year we are told that there is no cure for the common cold, albeit there may be substances to relieve the depressing and uncomfortable symptoms of this annual trial. I think I have just discovered one in all it’s awful glory during my recent trip to New Brunswick, Canada – Buckley’s Mixture!
Let me tell you a little about this stuff. It’s singularly the most ‘bogging’ medicine I have ever taken – seriously awful. After my initial two teaspoons full I sat stunned and horrified for several minutes whilst the milky white solution reached parts of my throat I never knew I had. I have never experienced anything quite like it.
The evil potion was first concocted by pharmacist, one William Knapp Buckley after taking over a Toronto drug store way back in 1919, producing it for marketing the year after. Buckley was a shrewd entrepreneur and used the relatively new advertising mediums of print and radio to promote his product Canada-wide and eventually for export. Read more »
Every New Year’s Day in South Queensferry near Edinburgh under the gaze of the massive Forth Bridges an event takes place which literally takes the breath away. The ‘Looney Dook’ is a well-established lemming-like rush into the ice-cold waters of the Firth of Forth by stupidly brave locals to signal the New Year. The event has something of a history these days and is not it’s own in the genre. Today’s Telegraph-Journal in Saint John, tells of at least two more similar events here in Atlantic Canada.
I visited nearby Mispec Beach a few days ago and it is a charming spot. Ideal for summer bathers in spite of the reported cold waters of The Bay of Fundy which lap the sands there. Nearby, all around lay petrified waterfalls of solid ice, beautiful though forbidding at this time of year. Not so for some brave souls however. Read more »
Well things are going very nicely here in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada – thanks for asking. The family welcome for our Christmas and New Year break has been marvellously warm and kind – a complete contrast thankfully to the Canadian winter that we face here.
I run every day – it’s a given. That applies to wherever in the world I am and whatever other commitments I have, I alwaysrun - at least a short distance, every day. Through the cold, fog, rain, snow and icy sidewalks, being here in the Atlantic Canada city of Saint John presents no exception to that rule.
I have to say it’s been difficult.
In fact I can honestly say that all told, its the most difficult place I’ve ever run in.
As anyone reading other blogs on this site regarding my travels will perhaps know. One of my favourite pastimes is to identify quirky, interesting and diverse stories from the North American media. Yet another story or two came to my attention in the past few days concerning that venerable Canadian institution – the Zamboni.
For those not in the know about such things, a Zamboni is a large ride-on machine that cleans the surface of a recreational or sports ice rink. It’s a much loved machine, I’m not quite sure why it’s held in quite such high affection but you just have to love the Zamboni. Read more »