Saturday, September 23, 2017

here have some book reviews


my reading has slowed down some, then. this is not due to a lack of books, look you see. far from it, as i have a formidable number here all sat ready to read. it's just that of late, to be sure, time has not permitted me to indulge.

the reasons for this are of course the most recent extended school holidays, in which i needed (with pleasure) to look after the boys. also, numerous road trips as documented here. but, it's not where this is from rather where it is at, and so let's have a gander at what i have eventually read of late.

indeed i have once again used this new "app" that i have on my phone, yaycam or similar, to take the above picture. apparently this is vintage 50s style or something. it's not a bad app, but i suspect yes i will get around to removing it.

oh, brief, spoiler-free run down of the relative merits of what i read? sure. i had greatly been looking forward to the latest John Grisham to appear in paperback and The Whistler is not bad at all. there is a tendency for me to swear off reading any further Ben Hope adventures but i seem to return to them and the most recent, The Babylon Idol, is not bad at all. with respect to the latter, a little painting by numbers.

right, on to some more details of both, then. do be warned, however, that from here onwards - try as i might to limit such - there is an inevitable *** GLORIOUS SPOILER WARNING *** in place. also, any links to the global grocer are for mere convenience. they are not to be taken as an endorsement, recommendation or affiliation with moi

to start off where i started off with these two, then, and hence the order they appear above, let's commence with John Grisham's The Whistler.

one of the most interesting aspects, i know, for you when it comes to me and these books is the provenance of them. in this instance, it could be said in some corners that the provenance is controversial.

for quite some time it was true that "cigarette counter at Morrisons" was the preferred point of purchase. alas, these days Morrisons tend to have very few books on display and for sale at this section of their store. interestingly, they did have this particular text, or if you like volume, for sale at such. they had it on offer for £4, which is a fair and reasonable price. Tesco, however, counter offered, and were prepared to sell me the novel for a mere £3. in this instance, then, Tesco won my business on pricing. this was despite the fact that the book was not on display at their cigarette counter, but rather within their demarcated book section.

enough, the book. what's interesting about this one is that it is a "legal thriller" (as you would expect from Grisham), but only broadly. yes, true, characters are lawyers, but they're not really doing "lawyer things" like billable hours and court appearances. instead, then, Grisham casts light on what seems to be an underfunded and underappreciated band of lawyers who investigate complaints against judges.

the plot follows this team investigating a very high profile, never before questioned judge on the basis of a somewhat shady and reclusive approach by an ex-lawyer. he, the ex-lawyer, is feeding information from a whistle blower as such, hence the title. and i would really care not to spoil any of the novel.

as it turned out, The Whistler was a punchy, well paced crime thriller more than it was a legal one. this is no bad thing. after some 30 years one would suspect Grisham has grown tired of the more standard legal stuff he does. i believe the next one from him departs even further than this away from his otherwise safe territory.

in truth i possibly enjoyed the one before this, Rogue Lawyer, more. only slightly, for both were really good. and indeed both were better than Gray Mountain, which was a well intentioned but ultimately very confusing slog. with confidence, then, i say give it a try.

and so on to another novelist i tend to read all by, then. this time it's Scott Mariani, with another 'Ben Hope' adventure in the form of The Babylon Idol

provenance of my copy? since you are interested, yes indeed this was another of the most kind and generous gifts i got for Father's Day this year. nice one.

plot? this, the 15th novel to feature Ben Hope (and possibly the 12th i have read), starts off with the protagonist returning from his adventures, of sorts, in Africa (the double bill of Star Of Africa and Devil's Kingdom, reviewed somewhere on this blog). back at his smart training academy in France, no sooner has Ben had the chance to put his feet up than, wouldn't you know, someone lands a seemingly fatal blow on a good friend of his. in the aftermath of this Ben discovers a letter from someone he never expected to hear from again, warning him that a person he had crossed paths with in the past may be out for revenge. which is odd, as it was reported that the path crossing person was, as of recent times in the novel, dead......

this wasn't half bad. i mean, whereas i don't expect a whole lot of creative ingenious stuff in novels like this, at times it did feel a little bit like autopilot, do the same kind of story in a colour by numbers way. and yet it kept me thoroughly entertained. yes, some of the contrived plot development is borderline ludicrous, but not so much that i ever felt like saying "no, no more". as i have done with these novels in the past.

as the end of the novel approached, and i shall try to avoid spoilers, i had a horrible sense of "here we go again". i was concerned that i was going to find "to be continued" written on the last page, as a lot of story seemed to be needed to get wrapped up in some 40 or so pages. no, it is indeed all self contained, if somewhat rushed at the end. but then again, now that i think, one really does suppose that action films get all their business concluded in ten or so minutes at the end.

well then, there you go. two books that i most decidedly did not regret reading. although they were enjoyable as they went, however, neither struck me as being the best that either of the writers has produced. yet both sit in the "better half" of the list of things they have done.

as ever i can but hope, trust and wish that all of this has been of some use or interest to someone out there somewhere!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 22, 2017

tradesmen and their tools


there are sayings which, look you see, are well known. proverb like sayings, used freely to describe a particular situation. here, in something that i trust is not really much of a rant, i will be having a look at the one which goes "a bad tradesman blames his tools". there are variations of this, to be sure, with the tradesman standing accused of being poor or weak instead. indeed, from time to time it is they quarrel with their tools, but blames works.

once again, then, that beautiful city of London has been subjected to what can only be described as a terrorist attack. let me not get into the who is responsible and all of that, instead i would rather say how much of a relief it is that the would be bomber was highly incompetent and caused disruption rather than death. quite the even more cowardly would-be terrorist this time too, since they lacked the required courage in their convictions to be a "suicide bomber"; instead electing to do some sort of timer device thing.

my issue with this incident is the appropriation of blame, or what some corners say would be the very best way possible to stop such attacks. as usual, as standard and sadly as predictable, something of a lack of knowledge and understanding has come right to the fore in finding the easiest, laziest suggestion about what to do.

yes, but of course, "internet" is to blame for all of this. we the people can, to be sure, find information on it. as some of what we find is not good or can be caused to do no good, then of course someone must do something.

even by the usual standards of the Daily Mail this is really extreme stuff. as extreme, some may speculate, as those socially inept types that carry out these terror attacks. directly stating that successful web companies have "blood on their hands" due to the actions of either an individual or a small group is outlandish.

why? because it is blaming the medium which delivered a message. Google, the thing most blamed when someone is of a mind to "blame the internet" for actions or events, do not create any of the information used by this individual. they don't host it, advocate it or promote it. what they do is index just about every web page to exist, ranking and presenting it in terms of what an automated system reckons is the most relevant information someone searching for stuff is after. as and when a request - and it doesn't even have to be a legal one, anyone can contact them - they go so far as to remove areas of the web which society would perhaps be better off not seeing.

no, i do not believe that the internet, as such, should be some unpoliced free for all. but running a front page story demanding that a company that so happens to make its money off of the internet "do something" to make it all stop is, to me, silly. Google, Amazon, etc may all make large piles of cash from the internet. they did not, however, build it, take ownership of it or control it.

if we are going to accuse other who use, or better still have had success, from the medium, then logic surely dictates we can hold Sir Richard Branson responsible for a lack of quality music these days. come on, Sir Richard - admit it is your fault. you have made huge money off of Virgin Records. yes, your records have given us a great deal of pleasure and benefit over the years, but alas not so much any more. is it your fault that no one records and releases music worth anything?

much of the current trend - by the Daily Mail and others - to "blame internet" for anything stems, but of course, from the horrid Theresa May. when this lady, the current or if you will incumbent Prime Minister, is not showing an absolute hatred for the British people (she tried to stop me, a born and raised British citizen, living in my own country) she tends to display a magnificent level of ignorance about absolutely everything she can think to speak of. some of her single most outstanding, indeed magnificent, achievements in respect of this have all been in relation "the internet", and how people might use it, or what they might use it for.

let us not forget that it is Theresa May that wants every single thing every single person does in the UK on the internet recorded, logged, filed and examined. she likes to watch. for some reason she believes it is fair an important, and in the "national interests", to know what each and every one of us might do online. the mind boggles at the voyeuristic nature of this. for 99.99% of the population i would suggest that Theresa May wanting to look at what we look at is far more disturbing than any saucy or mucky images we may glance at on the web.

it's not odd that it is now "internet" that the government of the day wishes to limit and control. over the years we have seen all too often the medium and the message conveyed through it blamed for the actions of an individual. we in Britain were denied any legal means of seeing Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange due to some clever lawyers (and social workers) blaming the film on various sickening acts of thuggery and criminality. that was the 70s. in the 80s that other questionable newspaper, The Sun, managed to get a corner shop owner to say that Michael Ryan, who went on a gun rampage in Hungerford, "used to rent a lot of violent videos like Rambo". the fact that Ryan did not own a VCR didn't prevent Thatcher ordering an immediate clampdown on film and video censorship.

the newspapers would, of course, absolutely love it if the internet could be if not quite banned then seriously controlled and limited. newspapers, or if you like the fourth estate, are still smarting from the fact that their position of power and influence was eroded.

once upon a time, then, the newspapers were the only source of news, information and what have you. as such they were a powerful tool to influence and sway public opinion. many a British politician has found themselves in the pocket of a newspaper proprietor, for they know that their career could be well and truly over, normally in disgrace, if they acted in a way against the editorial line.

by contrast, Theresa May is apparently trying to desperately get in to the pocket of a newspaper proprietor. surely if she could reign in, control or even better stop how the internet allows opinions, ideas, facts and information to be shared pretty much by anyone with pretty much everyone, then the newspapers will think kindly of her, since she has restored their power of influence. i kind of hope so, because as bad, evil and despicable as she is, surely no one as completely stupid to think that the internet and companies doing business on it work the way she thinks could be allowed in any position of power, let alone Prime Minister.

say Theresa May and the likes of the Daily Mail got their way. somehow Google managed to ban, suppress or remove absolutely all information, references and details to how to make bombs and other such things. would that stop the problem? doubtful, i suggest. somehow long before "an internet" came to be the likes of the IRA, ETA, the ANC and many other terrorists / freedom fighters / revolutionaries worked out how to make bombs and so forth.

the fact that information about how may one do harm is easier to find on the internet than by any other means "doesn't help", to be sure. but blaming the internet for the actions of those who use it strikes me, as i dare say you have worked out, as baffling.

newspapers may wish to reconsider calling for restraints, blame and control being placed on mediums that give information to people. they may well find that they feature surprisingly high on the list of such mediums that require this attention.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

how about some orange


yet again just one of them distraction posts, look you see.

recently i was holding my phone what has a camera welded on it at what, to be sure, turned out to be a most peculiar angle. the peculiar way of this came to my attention when i sensed, or saw, from the corner of my eye a bright light. this, i concluded, was the flash.

evidently i had pressed or if you like depressed the button on the back of the phone which allows one to take forward facing images. selfies, if you like. but this was not a selfie as such.

above is the image what was taken, then. it just struck me as being somewhat interesting shades of orange reflected in it. an almost immediate thought was, then, to share it here so that the people who are interested in such may see.

what exactly is it a picture of? not sure. there is every chance that this is a close up of one of my fingers, or perhaps even the palm of my hand that was holding the phone. also, considering where i was when this all happened, it might be a lightbulb direct, or light in closeness via the lampshade.

should this orange shading be of any particular interest or practical use to someone, well then that's a happy accident. perhaps it shows that all things in this world, in this life, happen for a reason.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

the Santander experience


there are, look you see, those who would say "ooh, you wanna be careful, don't go writing things like that" about this. my name and reputation may be marked or otherwise sullied if i did, to be sure. an understandable logic is behind this expression, for in this day and age we are told to be fearful of what we say, unless of course we do it anonymously on the net. well, whatever i am doing now clearly isn't write, so how much more wrong could i go? famous last words comes to mind.....

so anyway, i've been told by Santander that they do not want me. as an employee, that is. and this is the third such instance of me being told this. you can, then, if you so wish, suggest that what follows is what we term "sour grapes", or just bitter resentment. all i can do is try to give a fair comment on why i am a trifle miffed.

regular readers all too familiar with my current avant garde tramp look would, no doubt, suspect that i would be refused a job on the spot by anyone. let's start off with a picture of me, then, after the "interview" what failed, so you can see that i do clean up from time to time.

look you see, i can scrub up and look all presentable as and when required. neatly shaved, hair cut and a most dapper suit on, since i was instructed to wear "business attire". the shirt is a gift off of Spiros no less. a very or if you like tres expensive one, worn by the top financial people in London, innit.

this will all probably work better with sub-headings and the like, so let me write it that way.

The Three Santander "Assessment" Experiences

so as i said earlier, this most recent rejection was the third of three. thus far - oh just you wait, people, this has a most curious ending to it.

i wholeheartedly accepted the first one. that was some 3 or so years ago, was my first "interview" in close to 15 years and took me by surprise as it wasn't an interview as such, it was a group of 8 of us doing "exercises". basically you had to introduce yourself, watch a video about how ace Santander is, participate in a group exercise and then do some rudimentary maths and reading tests, along with a go at data capturing. i flummoxed most of them, i confess, for i simply was not expecting nor prepared for it.

the second was some 12 or 18, maybe even 24, months later. i was far better prepared for this. alas, others in the same session were all the more so. they, and i say this to their credit, had worked out (presumably from other such sessions) that the only way to succeed in these things was to be as voiceful, loud and opinionated as possible. thus, i was kept silent for most of the session. sure, i can be loud - louder than war if need be - but for some reason i thought a bank might not wish to employ someone what simply shouts their own opinion over everyone's conversation.

besides, as i remember, the team from Santander spent the first half of this "assessment" session checking out an assortment of websites unrelated to banking. i have no idea how they spent the second half, as they simply got up and left. perhaps they went for a coffee, or off to look at something they had seen on the internet.

third time lucky? well, no. hence me writing this.

yeah, sorry about the further picture of me. at least one to follow. i don't really have any other images to use that are relevant to all of this. but, back to the narrative.

Third Refusal

what made this third approach interesting was some changes. one did the tests at home before going, presumably to see that you were up to the task. in respect of this, i scored 90% in their basic maths test, a perfect 6 out of 6 for "best answer" to give to hypothetical situations, and a not so bad 99% on their data capture test. when the lady called me back to discuss my results she was happy, excited and optimistic, saying that these were by some distance the best results they'd had. well, as i shall reminisce later, i do know my verk stuff.

off to the "assessment" session, then, with 7 strangers. it was at their premises here in what's been styled "Tees Valley", whereas the other two were on offsite locations. perhaps they had grown tired of people running the sessions abandoning them, who knows.

an early warning sign was that i, along with everyone else, was told to "park in the staff parking area". when i and a few others arrived to do this, we were met with a gruff voice, informing us that "we don't even have enough parking for our own staff", and it was our problem to go find parking somewhere else. nothing quite like getting potential employees all flustered and out of a routine just before the "interview". presumably this approach is what has seen Santander win all those "a great place to work" awards.

ok, maybe two more pictures of me, then. but you all get bored and complained when there are no pictures just text. who knows, maybe someone out there actually likes the way i look. if so, bravo you on keeping it secret from me.

That Third Assessment Session At Santander

i kind of suspected that not all would go ever so well with this with the parking debacle. also, the co-ordinator sacrificed the needs of the many for the ambivalence of the one. someone booked for a later session decided to just pitch up for this earlier one. so everyone got delayed whilst she elected to sort that all out for him. not that it would have seem to have done much good.

an exceptional amount of time at this session was spent with all 8 of us being informed how brilliant it is to work for Santander. how they really, really value people, encouraging awards and recognition and all that. also, how they know and understand that the key to success is valuing staff and making sure of long term employment.

let us pause to consider this. if you have to keep saying the same thing over and over again then it is usually because people do not believe it to be true. the most recent and well known example of this is that Mr Kim Kardashian fellow who has to keep telling everyone he is in fact a "genius", although no one else calls him this.

other factors question what we were told on repeat. at a similar session for another place of employment (perhaps another bank, perhaps BT) we had one lady who spent the entire time saying how awful Santander was. how no matter how much you wanted to help people calling if you didn't get rid of them and on to the next call within 2 minutes you were in serious trouble. also, if they attract and retain staff, why so much recruitment? no bank is growing so fast that they need to "interview" 160 people a week - and do so for more than one week.

so anyway, the session. yes, i introduced myself nicely. i spoke the most clearly at the assessment exercise. i acknowledged someone working there that i vaguely know from school days. i listened to what others said. i conversed with them. i asked questions. in truth, i walked out thinking i had done pretty well.

but today, when i called to find out what the word was, i was told that Santander said "no one" from my group was "selected" as "no one really stood out or made an impact". that wonderful thing when you are told there is no need for you in this world.

yes, promise, that's the last picture of me for this post. and again, if you are one of the people out there that for some reason like how i look, stop being shy and retiring and quiet - please say so, maybe i can feel of value to the world if nothing else.

What Was Missed

i am still struggling, if not wrestling, with this approach by Santander. on the one side they go to great lengths to claim, indeed celebrate, what a great employer they are, how they look after their employees, give them special badges, rewards, etc. and yet they cannot be bothered to spend so little as just five minutes speaking to potential new employees on a one to one basis? perhaps the truth of how Santander treat staff is closer to what that lady i met said. i certainly saw scant interest in people.

down memory lane, then. in my time at verk in the banking world, these highlights come to mind. with a very dear friend i re-engineered a password issuing process, getting access to clients within 24 hours rather than 48. an elderly retired lady once called me in error. not only did i, outside of my normal job, help her with her query but assisted until the day i left verk and made sure my successor would do the same. this one time a business owner was under threat of physical violence by his staff as the payroll failed. i made sure i contacted the right and relevant people to sort the credit details out and got the staff paid. i was sent to meetings with Government officials to answer queries and explain exactly how their interest worked as they were struggling with their own reconciliation calculations. trust was placed in me to make sure all interest rates were applied correctly. in respect of the latter, one of the accounts i handled for this was the charity established by Mr Nelson Mandela - an account that, you would think, they don't let just anyone handle. and, well, lots of other things. also, a lot of good times, fun, and friendships.

would i be sat here thinking the above makes me something special? not particularly, i simply did all that was asked to the best of my abilities. the thing is, though, i'd like to think it shows that i am capable of doing the job asked. this is something Santander could have found out in, say, a brief, five minute one on one interview, asking me what i could bring to their (so they say, often) great organization.

that might have been more helpful to them than what happened, which was to sit me in a room with seven strangers and encourage us to shout, debate, speak and talk all at the same time.

right, it's time for what was promised.

That Rather Interesting And Entertaining Ending

for me the best part of being told that i did not stand out, that i was not wanted and that i could not bring anything to Santander was this email i got. it came within minutes of the phone call what said that as far as Spain's leading bank was concerned i was of no use to the world.

perhaps clicking on that would make it large enough for you to read clearly. if not, or you simply cannot be bothered to, that email there is inviting me to apply for the very same job at Santander which they have concluded i cannot do. fascinating how my CV says to them "yes" but their bizarre approach to herding potential staff says no.

directly approaching people like this suggests that they really, really need staff. again, perhaps that lady who worked there once spoke truth, although that must be tempered with the fact that she was looking to work somewhere else. at best, then, they are wasting the time of - and raising false hope - hundreds of people in seeking one or two that meet an undefined level of expectation. 

a lot of the problem at Santander, and other organizations, is the curse of "Empire Building". this happens when someone is so entrenched in a role at an organization that they believe they have absolute power. when not repeating how ace an employer Santander is the three representatives could barely wait to remind us all of how many years they had been in the role. that's wonderful, but it does lead to clouded judgement and mistaking your own personality for what is best for a company. no one dare question them, of course, for they have been there so long they simply must know what they are doing.

in all likelihood, then, publishing this and not hiding behind a fake name probably means there is no chance at all of Santander "considering" me again. this doesn't really matter, does it? with their herd like cattle auction mentality approach to finding staff i am clearly not going to make the grade.

or, maybe, it's just me. perhaps i am worthless, a waste of space, overweight and out of date. by Spanish standards that would be yes, no and maybe in relatively equal measure to all of those.

SENSATIONAL UPDATE - as preposterous and ridiculous as this might seem, i have just taken a call once again asking me to apply for this position!

let me press on, then.

¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡sean excelentes los unos con los otros!!!!!!!!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Spiros Rock Cock


one of those posts with which i must be exceedingly, indeed extremely, careful with. i do try to keep the content of this safe for both all ages and for those who might get upset by some things. every now and then i fail, but i try, to be sure, look you see.

this would then all be something which could case some distress. perhaps better if you feel that you're at risk you go off and leave now. the more tolerant, or perhaps broadminded, might wish to stay, see and read.

in recent posts i have spoken of our travels to Blackpool. whilst mentioning the heritage and traditions of the place i neglected one particularly delectable treat the place offers. this is, of course, the teeth breaking, sugar overloading joys of a stick of Blackpool rock.

oh yes, dear reader. as far as possible i am going to use the means of Commodore 64 mode, as well as ZX Spectrum, to show off the sticks, if i may call them that, of rock what i got Spiros off of Blackpool.

Spiros has, i have noted, something of a fear about travelling north of London. not a fear, i suppose, just no wish to. he does not believe that he would care for what he found outside of the capital. perhaps i am of guilt in this, as i might have let him know that here in Yorkshire we don't really "do" that thing he is passionate about, which is to say make short term but mutually beneficial friendships with other gents in restrooms and other such public lavatories.

to make amends, then, i thought it would be a nice gesture for me to get Spiros some Blackpool rock. well, if he won't go there to try it himself - and i do believe his friendship ideas are quite popular in quarters of that seaside town - then the taste of it can surely go to him.

no, dear reader. no i most decidedly did not get him any of the traditional, standard, noted for its dynamic cylindrical nature sticks of rock. i was going to, honest, but then i got distracted by a shop what sold - at quite a reasonable price - rock cast in a by far more priapic nature.

this, i said, this right here is exactly what Spiros likes, and would no doubt be thrilled to get in the post. which, as it turns out, he was. some quite colourful words were included in the little excited outburst of (presumably) joy i experienced when they, so to speak, landed. as a bonus i believe the postal worker gave Spiros a cheeky, knowing and possibly "i too do short term but mutually beneficial friendships" wink .

for those interested, the distinctly priapic Blackpool rock confectioneries, for i got him two, were some 4 inches in length, or if you like about 10cm. reasonably wide, too, but i did not think to measure that aspect.

Spiros expressed, in his joy, some slight disappointment about the length. this was, however, offset by the width, or if you like girth. he then proceeded to tell me certain benefits to such sizes, but in the interests of one day just about scraping into heaven i turned a deaf ear to such filth. 

that? just some pink salt of  Himalayan extraction. i believe this is quite popular these days. recently Spiros mentioned that he had a nice big stiff pink one off of a chap called Jamie, so i am assuming he was making reference to this Jamie Oliver endorsed condiment.

yes, as i was saying, i purchased Spiros not one, certainly not three, but two of the rather priapic sticks of Blackpool rock. i was uncertain whether he would prefer the pink or the black one, so elected to get one of each and let him decide. 

to be perfectly honest, it would not be all that much of a shock if he elected to enjoy the pleasures of both at the same time. if so, then i would speculate that this wouldn't be a first.

in fiscal terms, what did i invest to make all of this "happen" for my chum? south of £5. the sticks, if i may call them such, of priapic Blackpool rock were a very reasonable £1 each. not bad considering the artistry involved. Royal Mail, of course, sought to charge as much as possible for the delivery of them. i was, however, able to get it to him for a sub £3 fee.

well, there you go. i have every confidence that, by the time you read this. Spiros will have sucked both of his sticks of rock completely dry, or to the point where they are no more. nice one, mate.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

on the last leg of the holiday road

hello once more

and so a final look at some pictures from our trips across the country this most recent summer. yes, this does somewhat feel like quite a while ago, look you see. i just thought it would be quite boring to put all of the pictures up all at once.

in the last post from this, well, last trip i finished off with the Lakeland Maze. this is in and around the Kendal area. rather than heading home straight from there my (considerably) better half elected to explore reasonably priced hotels in the area of an overnight stay. to this end, and to her credit, she found a fabulous place at a rather generously discounted rate.

more of that through the post, but for now, then, a wander through Kendal.

not that this shall be an exhaustive guide to Kendal as such, for we didn't really spend all that much time there. our travels took us from the maze to the hotel late in the afternoon, and then in the early evening off we went to Kendal itself. when most things were, as it were, closed. these pictures, then, are really mostly for family and friends around the world wanting to see how the boys are getting on.

so, about that hotel.


quite a magnificent old building, i would believe you do not require me to point out when the picture above pretty much does so.

there are indeed quite a few hotels of this nature scattered across England. indeed, perhaps the whole of the UK. usually they are big country estates which once housed a wealthy (and presumably large) family, but have now been converted to accommodate guests.

back to a roam around the streets of Kendal, then, and some mostly splendid street art that William spotted down a side alley.

some fantastic drawings, paintings or what you would call them on display, there, celebrating some artists who are now sadly no longer with us. although at least three in the above are, even if at least one of them does not do so much any more.

but anyway, back to the grounds of the fancy swanky hotel, and indeed back to some pictures of the boys.

indeed, a well. or a well like structure. the boys charged over to this, all excited about the idea of dropping a stone down it or perhaps lowering the bucket,but no. it was all gravel in it, and was there just for show. i would expect that it i an integral part of any photograph which happens at the place as and when they host a wedding.

so far as i am aware the poisoning of wells is nowhere near as commonplace as it once was. before, in days gone by (as opposed to those to come), when we used wells for water rather than the current plumbing and tap scenario, marauding villagers used to poison the wells of other villages. why? i have absolutely no idea. something to pass the time, perhaps.

yeah, sorry, that without warning is indeed a picture of me, along with the 75% of my family who i am quite aware of the fact that you all like and care for a good deal than you do me. but, indulge me, it would not be a family holiday without family photographs.

that was on the streets of Kendal, early evening. we popped over there, some several miles from our hotel, in order to dine. 50% of the family wished for Subway, the other 50% wished for KFC. so we sat together in both, but had split dinners, so to speak. one really can't help think that all of that would have been avoided had the McDonald's not been closed for refurbishment or other such business.

rather like the incident with the well i had to share with the boys a view, or interpretation, that the swing they were rather excited about wasn't a swing as such. again, i suspect that this is a prop in place for photography that happens at weddings. but, as you can see, to them it was a swing, and used as such. no groundsman came out to admonish us, so i take it as such behaviour was accepted.

have i ever poisoned a well? not in a direct sense, so far as i am aware. perhaps in a euphemistic or metaphorical way. to me the idea of going around poisoning wells is a bit like that "eye for an eye" approach to justice. pretty soon everyone ends up blind.

the boys, and again i would suspect his is clear in the picture, were intrigued by the war memorial to fallen soldiers on display in Kendal. it is, sadly, rare indeed to find a village or town anywhere across the country without a similar tribute.

for centuries our armed forces have served to both defend our own land and the lands of others. all too many have fallen in defending. there is, then, a major emphasis on respecting and honouring those who serve the nation.

but, you are here for more updates on the boys, i would imagine. and so here's another picture of them within the lavish grounds of the fancy hotel we stopped at.

of our time in the hotel breakfast was interesting. we were seated in a dining hall that looked and felt as though the value was higher than the whole of our home village. and by no means is our village a cheap or poor region. this caused all of us to speak rather softly, then. we did this right up until the point at which a family with rather young children arrived, with the children making exceptional noises. after that we just spoke normally.

yes, another family photo / selfie, so i am in it. go on, just the one more picture of me.

i did that with the front / face facing camera, so i suspect that i should have "flipped" or rotated the image prior to posting it here. never mind, for now it is done.

Kendal, and the Lake District entire, is a place of happy memories for me. a recent post showcased some of these. it is a place i would love to go again for a longer holiday. the boys, i fear, alas, might get a touch bored at they age they are at if faced with the prospect of walking hills and looking at lakes. maybe when they are older we shall go, or perhaps at some stage my (considerably) better half shall go on our own.

on the whole a lovely yet all too brief stay in Kendal. it would indeed have been far too much for us to have headed from the Lakeland Maze straight home, so a stop off was wise. as is the wisdom of my (considerably) better half, i suppose. the only truly foolish or questionable thing she really did was settle for me, so it is no surprise that she made a good decision.

but, you know, all things end, or if you will nothing lasts forever. after our overnight stay it was to the road of our holiday, and a return home. 

hopefully that we had a most splendid time with our exploits has been expressed in the images and in the words i've composed.

i think i have said this in another incident of commenting on our holiday road. should i be mistaken, so far in recent times we have travelled east, south and now west in our pursuit of a break. perhaps north is next.

thanks as usual for reading. until the next time, then,

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

cricket closes

hello there

and so as the sun sets so much earlier than we have become used to, look you see, the cricket season draws to a close for another year. the darker days and longer nights ahead mean, to be sure, that we can no longer watch or enjoy this most majestic of sports on this side of the equator. time, then, to wrap up some coverage of the last few games of the season for you.

James and his team had a superb season overall, finishing second in their league and, most importantly, playing the game in the spirit intended. this last part was, is and always shall be the single most important element of cricket.

in a rare move i actually rather like one of the pictures i have taken. specifically, that one right there above this. assuming it loads up properly. yes, just to confirm what you will have undoubtedly assumed, that's James in preparation for putting on a batting display.

whilst on the subject of yes, indeed i have quoted that famous poem about there is no more English summer scene than that of cricket being played upon a village green. or, for that matter, the village cricket ground. quite true, i would imagine. except amongst those who for some reason loathe and detest cricket. such people must exist, i guess.

and how, now that it fades, has the English summer been? perhaps not so summer as many would have hoped, indeed willed for. there have been bursts of blazing sun days, to be sure, with them sometimes happening two or three times in a row. we have, however, also had a lot of damp, went, overcast and chilly days.

hence my (considerably) better half, from time to time, electing to wear a most dapper rain coat on the days and evenings when we went off to cricket.

yes, i wore a jacket too, but one really does suspect you have little or no interest in my well being. all that matters, i suppose, is that i was taken to wearing my rather trusted and cared about hat.

for some of you, i know, playing the videos i add here is problematic. for the most part it appears to be a problem for those of you who use them mobile devices, such as phones and tablets, to browse this blog. no idea if it means you need a plug in or browser change.

anyhow, here's James doing some of that fancy batting i mentioned earlier, just before i got all distracted with talk of weather.


that's him batting against what in principle is our nearest neighbouring village with respect to any sort of "rivalry" within the game. but please don't take that as it being all hotly contested or bitter. the overwhelming majority of team members on both sides are at school together, and have a friendship bonded by cricket.

i do believe that last point is a truth held across the game. the sport is about doing your best, but also one that evokes and encourages mutual respect from opponents. in terms of team sports, it may well be true to say that only cricket and rugby union encourage such respect. never, for instance, have i seen a football team compliment another.

yes, that's indeed James patrolling the border at the cricket ground in another village, quite close to us. lovely ground, and a light fading evening game.

as that was taken at an evening game - and i am sorry, yes, i should keep notes - this would have been a match for the age group one up from where James would usually play. whilst ostensibly it is down to a lack of players at that particular age, it is all the same flattering that he gets called up for what you'd have to call a comparative senior level.

the picture above has loaded up, or if you will uploaded, sideways on my side. boss if you have it the right way around on your device. if you are on one of them mobile things i suppose it shall be easy enough for you to turn the device around to look at it with the correct orientation. should you wish.

indeed, William is finding ways to amuse himself as one game progresses. no, he doesn't get overtly bored and distracted, he just has that sense of adventure and a wish to play that the majority of us had at that age, until growing up knocks it out of you.

ah, that might well be more like it for some of you. a lovely sunny Sunday morning match.

in my last post - one which in retrospect could capably be described as the penultimate one for this season - i mentioned some of the problems with organized cricket in England, especially at youth level. perhaps it would be fair to include in that list how problematic it can be for parents to commit to being up and about rather early every Sunday of a given summer.

this is no criticism of parents. far from it. practicalities dictate that the kids can realistically only make use of cricket grounds on Sunday mornings, for invariably the senior teams shall take to the field in an afternoon. for working and/or single parents, that's tough, as usually Sunday morning would represent if not the only break to a week then the time at which they may get housework done.


once more, then, for the benefit of those able to play back some video, that's James taking a wicket. which yes, means he was the bowler. splendid stuff. sensational.

at youth level there's an approach in place that sees all the team both bat and bowl. the one exception, and i think this is in place across all levels of organized cricket, is that the wicket keeper does not bowl. probably due to time considerations, really, as it would be quite the faff to have a change of the protective gear worn.

yes, James and William one morning in Marske, prior to an early Sunday game. as i recall, this one was a tough match. our team was heavily depleted, what with some of the regular players away on summer holidays. in celebration of the spirit of the game, and indeed to ensure the match went ahead, the opponents "loaned" us a couple of players to help field, whilst some of our team batted twice.

another image or two from the sunny Sunday at Marske? no good reason comes to mind as to why not, so sure.

my (considerably) better half assisted with that match too, taking on the official scorer duties. William helps out too. over the course of the season he has become quite the dab hand at updating the scoreboard. he is particularly good at operating the controls for electronic displays at those grounds which have such.

no, i suppose i don't do a good deal in terms of practical help. at the matches i have mostly watched, and indeed kept an eye on William at the times when he was playing about rather than running scoring systems. also, via the wonders of modern communication devices, i provided a running commentary on matches for the benefit of the substantial fan base our team has in New Zealand.

and there i am. dear me, that beard of mine is getting all out of control. i suspect, whether i wish to or not, and whether people like it or not, soon i shall have to take the clippers to it. my understanding is that William is in the minority who prefer it when it is gone, for he "does not like his Dad looking old". it's always wonderful when someone expresses care.

yet more video footage, then. once more this is James providing a batting display.


for those unable to watch it, or not quite able to make it out, that's James knocking the ball far enough away from the fielders to take two runs with his batting partner. nice one, valuable runs.

does James have a preference for batting or bowling? in truth he seems quite adept at both, which goes some way to explaining call ups to the older level. whilst i suspect, on the basis of how he speaks and what he likes to practice, he would really rather excel as a bowler. but then again, the appeal of smashing a sequence of deliveries for 4 or 6 is irresistible.

William in the nets above, then. once more this is at Marske. it would seem the better pictures i decided on come for the most part from that game. which is kind of disproportionate to the fact that images from four different games are on the go here.

English summers are incredible. well, not for those that wish to go to sleep on an evening without heavily reinforced curtains. at the peak of summer the sky stays light until well past 11pm at evening. in the above image, not so much. as the evenings draw in darker earlier we know that, to use a phrase now apparently linked to some sort of television documentary, winter is coming.

the summer not being six straight weeks of blazing sun has some plus points. it has, for instance, been a while, i think, since England has had a much dreaded, groan inducing "hosepipe ban" enforced. normally after a week or so of hot weather we are all informed that the reservoirs are bone dry, assuming bones are dry, and that none of us may use water for things like washing cars or watering gardens. apparently a hosepipe is central to both, hence how the ban is named.

ah, now i do know what this picture above is - perhaps because it is so recent and that my memory has not totally faded. that's James leaving the field after batting for the last time this season, a superb innings against a great team from Maltby.

in the same match James also gave a superb bowling display. for a final video, here's a not so bad one i managed to record of him taking a wicket.


what shall we now do what with the cricket season over? perhaps sleep a little longer on a Sunday morning. i dare say i shall still get up reasonably early, be it to do some laundry or attend to other concerns. beyond that, i am uncertain. in truth no one can really be too certain of much.

another picture from the game at the village close to us, then, or if you like Stokesley. yes, i included that one purely for the most splendid photo bomb thing that William managed to pull off.

well, that would be just about all i could say on the cricket for this post, indeed this season. Ashes in Australia coming up, so perhaps should i be around and have something to say maybe cricket shall feature once more before the year is out.

for now, though, let me more or less end with one of them "symbolic" like images, for it features the sun setting down after the last game of the season. 

my thanks to the many of you who have come by and read these reports. the readership figures, since they exceed the number of fingers i have, are all far more than the number of family and friends i am aware of in this world. it's fantastic that there has been such interest. in the pictures and details of games, if of course not my words.

until the next time, then.......

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

random bowie - let's dance

Howdy Pop Pickers

And so another month, another edition of Random Bowie for you. Before I start I’d like to say thank you. Whilst how many people read all this stuff isn’t that much of an issue, I had feared that people were getting bored with this, look you see. I’ve had messages to the contrary, requesting or if you like asking that I go on. I press on, then, and as you will be aware from the title this month it’s the turn of Let’s Dance.

It would be fair to say that this, with three uber pop heavy singles, is just about the closest thing there is to a “David Bowie summer album”, meaning it is supposed to be played on a boss tape deck down the beach, or in the car as you drive in the sun. As we north of the equator bid farewell to summer and those to the south of the equator look forward to that season heading their way, now seems the time to tackle this one.

For this edition I am going to use an even more different way of presenting my musings than the different ways I have done with the previous editions. But first, the usual starting section of quick and easy fantastic facts.

Let’s Dance is the 15th studio album by David Bowie as per the commonly accepted method of counting his records. It was released in 1983, some three years after the last record – the frequently cited masterpiece Scary Monsters. Considering from 1970 – 1980 he was releasing stuff at a Beatles like rate of more than a record a year that was some gap. This was also his first record after signing for EMI, a deal which it was believed to be worth somewhere significantly north of ₤10million to Bowie – significant money then, and it’s almost impossible to think a musician would be offered as much in this free and easy age of streaming music.

The album spawned four singles, three of which were massive, massive hits. A huge tour – Serious Moonlight – was undertaken to support the record. It would be fair to say that the album sales and tour success added together took Bowie from reasonably popular, admired artist to being a huge musical mega star. For many, at time Bowie included, it was the start of the end of Bowie as a creative force; redemption coming only either 6 or 10 years later depending on how you like Tin Machine.

OK, let’s go. Some nice headers for you, then, so you only need to read what you want.

A Note To Lazy Journalists And Writers Who Got Here Via Google to “Borrow” For Their Own Article

Thanks, I am flattered. But please note that this one record, Let’s Dance, is the only record which can be described as “his best and most important since Scary Monsters”. That’s because it was the very next album he did after that.

Martin Scorsese, pre The Departed, was asked about his lack of an Oscar. He said that the trick or secret of making movies was not winning awards, but making money. You have to make money with the film, he said, otherwise they will not let you make another. The same is true of music. With the money this album made Bowie was effectively free, for better or worse, to do whatever it so pleased him with the rest of his career.

On The Way To Let’s Dance

It’s inaccurate to say that Bowie didn’t do any music for the first quarter (give or take) of the 80s. He was just mostly doing other stuff. Musically, between Scary Monsters and Let’s Dance there was some stuff. The highlight, and this we will come to later, was undoubtedly the original version of the theme song for Cat People, an absolutely horrendous film which tried to make incest a good plot idea long before Game Of Thrones had a stab, so to speak, at making it fashionable. One other musical highlight was of course 1981’s Under Pressure, with Queen, apparently recorded amidst one of the most awesome piles of cocaine ever seen in a recording studio, post Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, at least. And then there was the Baal EP, which is not so bad.

Otherwise, Bowie kept himself somewhat busy with the ramifications of his divorce from Angie Bowie and doing some acting. In respect of the latter, by all accounts his stage performance in The Elephant Man was brilliant. For brilliant you can see, the harrowing, haunting film Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence sees Bowie deliver what I would argue is, or sadly was, his greatest ever acting performance. If not, admittedly, as iconic as The Goblin King.

But, with distractions aside, it was time for David Bowie to go back to what David Bowie did, which was make music.

Deciding The Sound Of Let’s Dance

This you probably know, but for the sake of a complete article the sound of Let’s Dance is flat out 80s pop. Or, if you like, what became the 80s pop sound in the wake of this album. Although if you like that I am not sure you are correct.

Legend has it that David Bowie called Nile Rodgers and said “Nile, I want hits, lots and lots of hits”. And so Nile Rodgers took the songs and crafted them in his exceptional way into great pop songs. As years went by, Bowie from time to time dismissed this. He suggested that it was not, as point of fact, made as a “commercial hit record” as such, and that people only say that in retrospect when they are aware of the huge sales. On that note, at over 10 million copies sold it remains, so far as I am aware, his biggest selling album ever.

I suspect the truth lies somewhere between the two. For a pop album the lyrics have some remarkable depth, suggesting that yes, maybe this was not exactly all set up to be a simplistic, successful pop record. But then again surely Bowie was aware of the New Romantics, in particular the most blatant acolytes, Duran Duran.

As far as I am concerned it is no stretch of the imagination to suggest that Bowie saw the videos for Hungry Like The Wolf and Rio. He would have said, to himself or one of his inner circle, “now hang on. I influenced them, and yet they are surrounded by money, ladies, cocaine and more money. I want some aspects of that for myself, thank you”. And so it came to be, although the cocaine is an official no, as we shall get to later.

Let me make something clear. There is nothing at all wrong with a musician trying to make lots and lots of money. I would be quite suspicious of any musician that said actually no, I don’t want to make piles of cash. Someone like Noel Gallagher, or more recently Ed Sheeran, might be a complete dick, but at heart he was right – if you’re not going to go out and try to be the biggest selling and most successful, why bother? Whether you make it or not is a different matter, but don’t limit yourself.

The Let’s Dance Album

OK, this, right, might well be the least interesting part of this post. The record consists of eight songs One of these, Criminal World, is a cover of a song by an obscure (ish) band called Metro, themselves heavily influenced by Bowie. Another, China Girl, is an inspired reworking of a song Bowie had previously done with Iggy Pop. Then another is the highly contentious re-recording of Cat People.

Whilst there’s an indisputable groove to it, the album is, alas, not very good as an album. This is to say there are some splendid, splendid moments on it, but the record as a whole lacks any sense of flow to make it a coherent, engaging experience entire.

Highlights are almost the three big singles – Modern Love, China Girl and Let’s Dance. The latter is a let down. On the full on album version, running somewhere north of six minutes, you get a bit of “jazz odyssey”, with the musicians all allowed to just do their thing with no discernable limits. A rare instance of the single edit version of a song being the superior.

Away from them three I would highlight what was in some places the fourth single, Without You. If you’ve not heard it before and play it now you would not be wrong to think it’s familiar. The sound of it, to me, seems to have inspired just about every piece of incidental music you’ve ever heard during any 80s movie made from 84 onwards. I would humbly suggest Mr Jan Hammer and Mr Harold Faltermeyer were fans.

Lyrically this album is as strong as anything Bowie has done, even if the words tend to get buried under pop production. There is evidence that when he speak, sorry spoke, of the record not being started as a pop album intentionally there is truth in the words. And it is not like the lyrics I speak of are hidden in the album tracks. The soul searching inner conflict of Modern Love is as strong an example as you could want.

Two fails on the record. With the first I risk expulsion from Bowie’s good books forever. For some reason he always seemed to hold Ricochet dear, even naming a documentary film after it. Oddly, this is the only song from the record not to appear as either the a or b side of a single. Anyway, sorry, but it is dull and monotonous.

The other is the re-recording of Cat People, or if you wish to be pedantic Cat People (Putting Out Fire). If you heard the Let’s Dance album version first you would be forgiven for thinking it was amazing. Should you then, however, hear the original film soundtrack version, you would equally be forgiven for saying “but, but, but this original version is absolute perfection and one of the greatest things ever recorded. Why would you ruin it with some silly synth pop and a far too loud Stevie Ray Vaughan guitar?”.

Would I recommend that anyone looking at getting Bowie records get Let’s Dance? You might guess this, and it seems rather ludicrous to say of a record which has already sold so many copies, but no. Rather seek out the proper version of Cat People. After that, the majority of Bowie compilations – in particular Changesbowie and The David Bowie Singles Collection – tend to feature the three main singles, and with mercy it is the single edit of Let’s Dance that appears. In truth that is all you need to know of the record.

Overall, and this is no doubt going to be disagreed with, I would say that the one which came next, Tonight, is the better album experience.

The Let’s Dance Videos

Considering he started off as an actor, it must have been with some delight that Bowie saw the rise of MTV during his off years. Oh sure, music videos had been around, but by the time of his return to the stage in 1983 music videos were coming to be accepted as an art. One that you could throw ideas and budget at.

So far as I am aware no official video was made for Without You. The other three did, and in their own way proved to be either influential and/or groundbreaking.

Modern Love – When you look at it now, you go “oh, it’s just a pretty standard staged thing, supposedly showing the song being performed in concert”. Correct, except or only that such videos did not really exist before this one. Videos were fancy, or showed a standing performance. I wouldn’t say that Bowie “invented” the “let’s do a video that looks like it is an intimate in concert thing”, but he surely made it popular with this.

Let’s Dance – The Australian video, the one which perhaps made Neil out of The Young Ones believe that David Bowie was Australian.

Not before and seldom since has such a subtle political statement been made in quite a direct, in your face way. The video passes comment on the divisions within Australian society, between the wealthy and predominantly white citizens and the indigenous Aborigine people. You are very welcome to try, but I doubt in any other pop video you will find such a simple yet effective statement being made like the scene where the Aborigine lad is seemingly forced to drag the machinery through the streets of (I think) Sydney.Or, for that matter, the aboriginal lady, in a similar forced way, scrubbing the streets clean for those of western descent to walk and drive on.

Some have raised an eyebrow over the ending. By accepting the red shoes to dance the blues the Aboriginal lady, apparently, risks a downward spiral that shall finish with a nuclear explosion wiping out her culture. I would have thought dancing, in particular in fancy shoes, was surely a universal. Anyway, nuclear bombs were all the rage for mid-80s video. Let us not forget that Frankie Goes To Hollywood's tribute to Mad Max 2, Two Tribes, got turned into some Cold War nuclear threat thing.

Also, yes I have been to Australia - oddly around the time Bowie made this video there - and yes, the gentlemen really do dance the way they are shown to in that outback cafe.

China Girl – Ooooh, David’s bum. Although most versions available on DVD these days, alas, edit this, a la the nosebleed scene from Loving The Alien.

Sex in music videos was not new at this time. Yes, this was before it went all out, which happened when Frankie Goes To Hollywood unleashed Relax later in 1983. But before this we’d had, say, Girls On Film by Duran Duran, which featured full frontal female nudity. This video, however, showed intimate, passionate interracial sex. At a time when interracial relationships were relatively rare and widely tut tutted at. Yes, in some circles they still are, but ever decreasing circles.

If nothing else, then, Let’s Dance allowed Bowie to really go all out with his passion for being as much of a visual artist as he was musical. Three great videos, three videos which are decidedly important to the whole evolution of music video as art form.

And of course, yes, with the 80s being what they were, the importance of all three to the development of the music video were forgotten when, in late 1983, arguably the greatest music video of all time – Michael Jackson’s Thriller – came along. Man, thinking on 1983 was some time to be alive with the gift of sound and vision.

Serious Moonlight

A big, big tour, then. From May to December 1983 David Bowie played north of 90 shows to north of 2,500,000 people. It was at the time the biggest tour any musician had undertaken, and was perhaps as a consequence the biggest money maker. Not bad for the time at all, considering in the 70s and 80s tours were considered as things where you would lose money in order to make money from record sales on the back of them. My, how times have changed with those roles reversed.

The main controversy of the tour was the then young and promising guitarist who had played on the Let’s Dance album, Stevie Ray Vaughan, being axed close to the start. Various stories exist, but the most plausible and most widely accepted is that Bowie was dubious of Vaughan’s cocaine habit. It had not been all that long since Bowie had broken his addiction. He was then fearful of temptation, and fearful of losing a guitarist to the constabulary mid-tour. No behaviour agreement could be brokered, so he was out, and back into the fold came Earl Slick, a regular Bowie player.

It is very much worth getting the Serious Moonlight DVD. Yes, the impossible yellow coiffure hair is a distraction. There is frustration ahead in watching, too, as songs that do not need an 80s pop reworking – Life On Mars? and Station To Station in particular – are given an 80s reworking. But then again, the pop songs that are meant to sound like 80s pop sounds sound simply superb here. In terms of live recordings, the Serious Moonlight DVD represents one of the finest vocal performances Bowie ever delivered.

A big plus with the DVD is the inclusion of the otherwise rarely seen Ricochet documentary. In effect this documentary is Bowie wandering around Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand during the last stages of the tour. You get some wonderful snippets and insights into the man via doing so. There’s also some performances from those dates on the tour which seem to surpass the main concert film.

The Let’s Dance Legacy

Bowie famously, or perhaps infamously, referred to the success of Let’s Dance and the Serious Moonlight tour as the start of his “Phil Collins” period. I take this as to assume he means that he was now a global star with a huge audience, considering the significant success Phil commanded in the 80s The trick was Bowie, by his own admission, had absolutely no clue as to what this new, frankly f*****g massive audience wanted or expected from him.

And so he sought, perhaps rather like Phil, to give them more of the same. Tonight was certainly an outright attempt at Let’s Dance 2, whereas 3 years later Never Let Me Down was an attempt at a huge pop album with an even bigger stage show to go along with it, the genuine low point that was The Glass Spider Tour.

When you read, or better listen, to the lyrics across Let’s Dance and Tonight it’s rough to say he “gave up” on being creative. The fairer translation might be that he toned it down, or perhaps paused it, so as to bask in worldwide fame and adulation. Long term fans may well have baulked at the change in direction, citing Spinal Tap. In truth, though, this period gave him the stature and more importantly perhaps the financial clout to do whatever he so chose from them on.

I think I listened to Let’s Dance less than half the times than I did Tonight when that featured as a Random Bowie episode. To be perfectly honest I suspect that never again shall I play this record from end to end ever again. As mentioned above, all that I need from this record going forward can be found on compilations.

Phew. That is somewhere north of 3,000 words on the album. It probably takes longer to read this than it does to just listen to the album. With that being the case, thank you so much indeed for taking the time to read it all. Or some of it.

 Yes, by the way. Indeed I am aware of a recently published "new" Bowie biography. It sounds rather like a hatchet job off someone from GQ magazine, written with the knowledge that the dead cannot sue. From what I gather it makes the shocking revelation that David Bowie "quite liked" sex. All I can really say is to remind you of what Bowie said about why he didn't write an autobiography - "just go and find the already written biography that amuses or entertains you the most, assume it is true, and get on with your own life". 

Next? It shall take some doing but I may well tackle “the big one”. Not my favourite album, but all the same the one that most would say is “the big one” when it comes to Bowie. Although that could be said of a few, I think you might know which one. For me it just seems like an October record.

Until then, then…..

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!