Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Big Stevie – Day 2

So, another Stevie Wonder song. This is one of my very, very favourites and here it is in a long live TV version from the 1970s (worth sticking with it for the backing singers getting a solo each later on). Apparently the big man is 60 this year – still going strong too if this year's Glastonbury Festival performance is anything to go by – but here he is when there was rather less of him:


Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Big Stevie

Stevie Wonder was one of the headline acts at the Glastonbury festival down in England this year. I've been to that festival twice (something like 1990 and 1992...) but these days TV attendance is just fine for me. Last night we watched the Wonder Sunday night show on aforementioned box and it was really enjoyable - full of spirit and good vibrations and lots of the big hits. Unless I missed it he didn't do this song though (one of my very favourites of his - I'm quite a fan):

It's not one of his groovier songs and I suppose some people might think it cheesey but I just love the lyrics (they're here) - they're so unlyrical in some ways...and yet the song totally works. I mean "I don't want to bore you with it/Oh but I love you, I love you, I love you" - who would dare to write that's quite radical in its way. I just love it.


Sunday, 27 June 2010

Not quite the Poetry Bus

It's a really good road-sign Poetry Bus prompt this week from Don't feed the Pixies. Somehow though I've not had time nor inclination to get to grips with it (I think the sunshine has been partly to blame - sorry...just too nice to do any work).

Instead of a new poem therefore I offer you a very old one (it's at least ten years old... probably more...but it is about roads...). I wrote it back in the days when I lived in very built-up areas and only got out to space and countryside now and again (very different life now of course). In particular, I wrote it after a walk all around the Haworth area in West Yorskhire. It's an area that looks a bit like this:

And here's the poem:

Quarter to four

I spy
Country types
To be worse than us
To Speed
Down windy smelly roads
In straighter newer vehicles
To nearly run us down in fact
Well what are we?
Worse than livestock
City dwellers
Idling in
And all around
Spots of beauty and history
We're all the same
We block the lanes
We stand and sigh
They can't get by
We irritate
They're late to get
The kids from school
We sigh again
“They don't appreciate
Their lives”
And harder still back home
We sigh
Where roads are all there is
To spy

RF maybe 1998


Friday, 25 June 2010

And more photos

I know some of you have been revisiting the 1980s this week (all set in motion by Kat, I believe). I haven't joined in so far because...well for me the best bits of the 1980s were the beginning and the end. In 1981 I looked like this:

Flicktastic or what? In this pic I was 14, it was the summer holidays and we were on a train from Hannover to Berlin (me, Mum and a friend of mine). Mum had a friend who lived in West Berlin (a friend of her first husband - the two men had met in a POW camp after WW2 I think) and he was a friend to Mum right to the end and sent me a lovely letter and photos when she died last month. The journey was quite exciting - all through the East German countryside with lots of sniffer dogs patrolling the train at every stop. And then of course we got to Berlin...and in 1981 quite a lot of that city looked like this:

In my teenage diary I describe East Germany as 'bare and dreary'...and heck, I lived in a Middlesbrough suburb at the time...


Thursday, 24 June 2010

And the sun's still shining...

It's been sunny here for what feels like years now (OK, it's been a couple of weeks...still great though) so in praise of the sun here is Ella F yet again...this time accompanied by Tom Jones and a couple of rocking chairs. They're singing a song I first knew in a 1976 version by Boney M (yes, Boney M...they did a great version of it) but it was written and first sung by one Bobby Hebb. It's a smasher of a song... and I posted it on facebook the other day but thought I'd share it on here too. I know some of you don't get over that way.


Wednesday, 23 June 2010

More singing! More singing!

So, we've established that I wouldn't win any points in the University Challenge 'spot the poets' picture round...thing is I've always preferred singers and musicians so I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. I like poems (sometimes) but poets...hell, they're more often than not a right royal pain in the backside, aren't they?

Here's the singer I've been listening to most of late:


Monday, 21 June 2010

More Graves

A few posts back (here) I was talking about the Robert Graves book 'On English Poetry' (1922) that I have been reading of late. On the whole books about poetry and I are not the best of friends but I love whole chunks of this one (and the 'English' is a bit misleading...a lot of it is just about poetry in general). Bits of it are hilariously dated but other sections are still spot on. Here's another chunk of it:

"The History of English Poetry is a subject I hope I shall never have to undertake, especially as I have grave doubts if there really is such a thing. Poets appear spasmodically, write their best poetry at uncertain intervals and owe nothing worth mentioning to any school or convention."

Or try this:

"The poet is the outsider who sees most of the game, and, by the same token, all or nearly all the great English poets have been men either of ungenteel birth or of good family which has been scandalized by their subsequent adoption of unusual social habits during the best years of their writing. To the polite society of their day - outsiders to a man."

Though I guess women are allowed in (or out) now too. Well, sometimes. And on that note there's a great post at the HappenStance blog just now too (here)


Saturday, 19 June 2010

Reach up high for the giant Jesus bus

I'm busy a lot this weekend so am posting this even earlier than usual. This week for the Poetry Bus Kat gave us this story to write about (giant Jesus struck by lightning in the US – see here). Basically in Ohio, USA, this

turned into this

To begin with I thought I might miss this one out (religion is one of the subjects that interests me so little that I can hardly put it into words... my feelings could be more summed by a shrug if I'm honest). But then a little piece was written and it seemed odd not to share it... almost unChristian you might say. So here is my offering and for once I have used a capital G for God (I don't normally...being so areligious it feels odd to me to capitalise... and for a really lovely song by Tom Rosenthal that touches on this theme go really GO, it's worth the click - funny and charming). In this instance and in this piece, somehow, it seemed more right than not to go upper case... maybe because if it were me I would want a capital G (the cheek of it...who does she think she is...). Lots of long lines in this one so the lay-out's a mess...maybe I should try one of these new formats you've all been playing with recently.

Heavens to betsy

If I were God, well, there'd be a few changes I can tell you
I'd be a bit more hands-on, for a start, get stuck in, not hold back
And I don't think I'd be leaving everything to the mortals quite so much
I mean, just look at some of the stuff they get up to
They're like children, don't you think, need a few good pointers

And I know the dear old Bible has its fans and everything
But an update now and again wouldn't do any harm really, would it?
Perhaps a regular newsletter by email (Twitter feed? Text message?)
And I don't see why any God who's serious about their work
Can't provide, oh let's say, a few latest tips, their line on the i-pad, that kind of thing

But every now and then I see that something is with us and hard at work
God or Devil, I've no clue, but my jove it's mighty
A canker is found and wiped out with a vengeance
Say, a white monster Jesus, blitzed quick as you like
Maybe torched from above, and left hollow, for dead

RF 2010


Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Another snippet, another photo

There are many reasons a career in academia was not for me. Mainly I'm just too flighty...I like a bit of this and a bit of that (look at my punctuation for heaven's sake...)...and I certainly couldn't concentrate on one subject for 3 years for a PhD or anything like that. Well, unless that subject was being flighty.

It's like with reading...I'd quite like to be serious and erudite but my brain just wanders off to pick through life's magazine rack (instead of, of course, its university libraries). Hence I was flicking through a month-old copy of the Guardian magazine this week and reading an interview with all round comedy guy Chris Morris. Morris has a film out called 'Four Lions' (and have I seen it... of course not... do you know how far we are from a cinema here?) and that May piece is here. It's very interesting...if you like comedy which I do, do , DO. I especially liked this bit:

"It's an age thing (…). You see young people, or kids, and they're fascinated by the way people talk. And that's great. But eventually you get to the point where you think, 'You know what? I don't care how you talk, I'm just listening to what you're saying.' "

Especially as I had a post a while back saying pretty much the opposite (back here). And yet...maybe they're both right.

Anyway, speaking of age – here's my maternal Grandma (making her first appearance on this blog). She was born in 1900, one of seven children in a baker's family in Wiltshire, and she went on to marry four times, have three children (all from the first marriage) and work as headmistress of an approved school for girls during WW2 (between marriages one and two). She was (like our little 'un) a redhead and something of a stunner, so Mum always said. She died in 1979 (when I was 12).


Monday, 14 June 2010

Wailing for England

So, the valley of tears it is this week. Mum gone a month now and it seems harder than ever. I have a poetry event on Saturday too...interesting to see if I can make it through my bit without wailing. The event is at Barry Mill near Carnoustie, starts at 6pm and features various local poets and musicians. It should be fun...but I probably won't read this morning's poem.

poem temporarily removed

p.s. Today's photo is from some time back in the mid 1990s. Taken somewhere near Whitby, North Yorkshire. Oh and this is NOT my Poetry Bus poem for this week, Bus Trippers - that is on the previous post.


Saturday, 12 June 2010

A walk for the Bus

So this week Jeanne Iris has set the Poetry Bus task (instructions here). I chose the listening option which involved taking note of all surrounding sounds for 5-10 minutes and then writing something inspired by those sounds.

I didn't want to write about sounds in the home so I did my homework for this task whilst out walking the dog on Friday afternoon. One walk I like very much these days is around the grounds of what's left of our local psychiatric hospital (handily it's just at the top of our street). You can read a little about Sunnyside Royal Hospital here or here. It's a fascinating walk for many reasons – there are so many different architectural styles on show for a start (so many different buildings have been added to this huge site over the years) and there are lots of different trees, flowers and shrubs to see too, as well as plenty of wildlife. Like many of these big, old hospitals this one is due to be closed soon so it is a very quiet place really (there are very few patients left inside – just a couple of wards). What there are instead are lots of boarded up buildings and plenty of empty space and I am enjoying all this space while I can because we are promised lots of new houses here instead over the next couple of years. I really hope they keep as many of the trees and green spaces as they can – it's such a beautiful place really and with gorgeous views down to the sea too. Some people don't like the idea of walking through a psychiatric hospital I suppose but I feel quite at home there...partly because my Dad spent time in various similar places. I came close enough too in my time.

Here are a few photos of the grounds I took today:

And the place where I stood and listened for the task was here.

I could hear rooks, raindrops on my hood (it was raining a little on Friday but not today when I went back to take photos) and also the traffic on the road behind the trees (not a major road but still, busy enough at certain times). The poem that resulted was one of my easy-going little rhyming numbers (see below). I write like this every now and again and I have no intention of stopping. I know some poetry people hate this kind of thing but I really don't...there's something childlike and simple about this style (the beginning of this one even reminds me of 'The Gruffalo') and I like that about it. I don't expect every poem to be a possible National Poetry Competition winner (good job...) - I simply write for the love of it, for the pull of it, and sometimes this is the way it pulls me.

So the audio version is here and the text...well, it's right here:

Rook talk

I stand on the edge of a meadow
I stand on the edge of a wood
There still are some places left for us
There are still some things that are good

I hear rooks and raindrops above me
I see buttercups, speedwell below
The rain is so gentle and friendly
It pitter-pat, pitter-pats a hello

But the rooks are a different matter
They are groaning and griping on high
Local traffic is driving them crazy
All the noise, all the fuss (heavy sigh)

I mean what are the humans all thinking
Cars come and they go – such a row!
Yesterday they all went that way
And look here they come roaring back now

They must have some kind of system
Even squirrels have rules (more or less)
But we've yet to make sense of the humans
They build boxes, drive boxes, make mess

It must be hard for them stuck down there wingless
And we try to be patient and kind
But why must they make such a racket
Birds are trying to sing, do you mind?

RF 2010


p.s. Been playing 'name the worst film ever made' here this week to lighten the mood. Pop back and add your nomination if you like - to this post.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Bad films 2 - the sequel post

So, lots of suggestions already for the worst film ever made (last post is below or here). Here are the ones mentioned so far:

Miami Vice (dir Michael Mann 2006)
The Omen (dir John Moore 2006)
Supervixens (dir Russ Meyer 1975)
Batman and Robin (Joel Schumacher 1997)
The Avengers (Jeremiah S. Chechik 1998)
Robin Hood (Ridley Scott 2010)
Alexander (Oliver Stone 2004)
The Manchurian Candidate (Jonathan Demme 2004)
Austin Powers – Goldmember (Jay Roach 2002)
Happy-Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh 2008)
Liquid Sky (Slava Tsukerman 1982)
The Lovely Bones (Peter Jackson 2009)
Final Destination (James Wong 2000)
Emile Zola porn ( mistake...)
Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton 2010)

A good selection so far (and for once I'm not disappointed to note a lack of women directors...). Any more for any more?

Adding them as they come in...

Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright 2007)
Highlander II (Russell Mulcahy 1991)
Sex Drive (Sean Anders 2008)
Head (Bob Rafelson 1968) - this one (like many in our list, I'm sure) suggested because of its place in the 'biggest disappointment' subcategory
Dune (David Lynch 1984)
There's something about Mary (Bobby & Peter Farrelly 1998)
Day of Atonement (Alexandre Arcady 1993)
Love, Actually (Richard Curtis 2003) (finally! Thank-you Gillian!)
Starship Troopers (Paul Verhoeven 1997)
The Passion of Christ (Mel Gibson 2004) (never been tempted myself...)
The Texan Chainsaw Massacre (Marcus Nispel 2003)
Welcome to L.A. (Alan Rudolph 1976)
Kill Bill Vol 1 (Quentin Tarantino 2003)
Catwoman (Pitof 2004)
Vegas Vacation (Stephen Kessler 1997)
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (John De Bello 1978)
Maid in Manhattan (Wayne Wang 2002)
Ed Wood (Tim Burton 1994)
From Dusk Till Dawn (Robert Rodriguez 1996)
2012 (Roland Emmerich 2009)
Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis 1994)
Avatar (James Cameron 2009)

and there are suggestions via Facebook too...

Dog Soldiers (Neil Marshall 2002)
Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky 2000)
Showgirls (Paul Verhoeven 1995) (Say it isn't so...)


Bad films

Very tired here...all the emotional stuff, plus visitors (now gone), plus...the fact that everyone else seems to be getting on with their lives like nothing has happened...whilst I feel like going to bed for a year or something.

Anyway...don't ask why (WHY?) but we watched the 2006 'Miami Vice' movie this week. It is possibly the worst film (or movie) that I have ever seen (and why did they bother casting the lovely Jamie Foxx if they weren't even going to give him any lines?). I'm too tired to write any more...nominations for the worst films ever please.

Thank-you. Your cooperation is appreciated.


Sunday, 6 June 2010

Coo coo

So this week's Poetry Bus task was set by the Weaver of Grass and was a straightforward one (write about flora or fauna). I went for some nature quite close to home.

A pair of

Suburban wood pigeons
More garden than wood
More fat than flustered
More lazy than me

They get up late (for birds)
Build a half-arsed nest
Ignore the flitting
Of blackbirds and starlings

There's plenty to eat
No need for inner city squabbling
They get plump and so comfy
Doze long days in the sun

RF 2010


Friday, 4 June 2010

Quick quotes and notes

So, I'm weaving my way back into poetry and all that and currently reading 'On English Poetry' by Robert Graves (1895-1985). It seems to be an original 1922 copy (from our local library's not-on-shelves-but-still-available collection) and it's very amusing and feisty. Take this:

"The mind of a poet is like an international conference composed of delegates of both sexes and every shade of political thought, which is trying to decide on a series of problems of which the chairman has himself little previous knowledge - yet this chairman, this central authority, will somehow contrive to sign a report embodying the specialized knowledge and reconciling the apparently hopeless disagreements of all factions concerned. These factions can be called, for convenience, the poet's sub-personalities."

Well, it made me smile.

Also, at present, Mark and I are watching 'The Wire' (like real least a show a night, sometimes more) and we're now into series 3. It is excellent, no question about that, and it certainly takes my mind of the highs and lows of real life. Most of all it has some great roles for actors and some brilliant, sometimes shocking storylines. Who would be your favourite character...Omar? Bunk (pictured below...the best voice on the show)? Greggs? Daniels? I pretty much love all of them.

But back closer to home, I'll see you all soon for Weaver's Poetry Bus trip too. Nature, she says...yeh, I seen some of that stuff once...


Tuesday, 1 June 2010


So, here I am... an orphan now. It's an odd business...I'd got quite used to only having one parent (that's been the case since 1973 after all) but now the two of them are gone. Here's a rather blurred picture of my Mum and Dad together, taken in 1965 (two years before I was born). I think they are holiday snaps but goodness knows where they were - it looks like a quarry in the background or something.

I don't have many pictures of both of my parents together – there are their wedding shots from 1962 (the second wedding for both of them of course) but my Mum was 38 when they married and someone had dressed her to look much older so they're not my favourite images of her. She was never hip in my lifetime (she never once had a pair of what she would have called 'denim jeans') but she wasn't overly frumpy either and the least I can do (for a woman who didn't really like parading herself publicly) is only show her best sides to the worldwide web.

One very unexpected thing that I found when clearing Mum's desk were letters she'd received from my Dad (written in 1961-2, before they married). I'd never heard about these letters (and we talked quite a lot, Mum and I) and not having known my Dad at all well it was quite exciting to read these letters and, in a sense, hear his voice. I've read some of his poetry before but it's quite stilted stuff (a bit affected, even, for my taste) and you don't get much of a sense of the man from it. The letters however are quite different – funny, personal, anecdotal (he was a GP – lots of great subject matter). I'm not sure I'd call them love letters really...but there are terms of endearment, some affection and a hope for love, I think. The line from the letters that amused me the most was this one:

"I am not a real intellectual – don't be misled by a certain facility for the use of words."

Hmmm. Interesting...