Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Some Van Halen Bluegrass Joy...

A brilliant Bluegrass version of Van Halen's epic song 'Jump' sung by front man David Lee Roth accompanied by The John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band on an album I've only just discovered entitled: Strummin' With the Devil: The Southern Side of Van Halen . Although the re-unions with former Van Halen bandmates still happened what is abundantly clear here is how much genuine fun Mr. Lee Roth is having! This is a delightful collaborative re-imagination of classic Van Halen tracks with various bluegrass and US folk music ensembles, love it!


Saturday, 24 December 2011

I'm a man, yes, I am... war hardened skeptic


This is the last entry I have transcribed from my father's wartime journal that has a definite date. There are some scraps of paper in between the pages that I will endeavour to decipher too...

Entry 10 - February 18th

Four and a half years ago when I first learnt that I was about to join White's, that career was shrouded in absolute mystery. Around it I wove a veil of romance. Three days in the drawing room office shattered the romance and broke my illusions, but, reviewing, in retrospect, those three and a half years once more I can feel the deeper feeling of respect for those traditions and institutions which have their basis in the office.

I can still remember that first whiff, a turgid, musty smell of old plans and papers along with unchanged air that came insidiously up the strongroom stairs as I watched Ginger, on my first morning there, open up the vault. I recall vividly the cricket and darts in the strongroom. The battles with paper pellets; being browned; holiday anticipation. All those things, which, at the time, seemed small and absurd but now contain, for me, a deeper meaning.

Personalities, too, return. The dominant, to us, tyrannous, Mr. Parker. The way he stalked in at 8:20am breaking up the happy era of mutual conversation with a brisk 'Good morning'. The way he turned round, resting on one elbow, to glare at some offender too long away from his board. Bill going in imperturbably, conscious, perhaps, only of his house, wide, garden and motorbike. Edgar: completely subservient to and docile under the pressing influence of the job in hand. The meticulous care of John Beasley, who talked French to me. Those fellows who worked because they were interested and keen and those who worked because it was the easiest solution of an unconquerable difficulty.

The atmosphere. The difference in the medium of the upper and lower offices. The sun and glazed cloth; drawn blinds and the upsetting of inkwells. The 'bog' with its pungent arcid aroma of stale tobacco pervading all other, probably more obnoxious, smells.

All these impressions and many more, too intangible and indefinite to be committed to paper, flash across my mind when I, in a new sphere, climb into flying clothes and parachute harness. I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Drawing Office, the men and boys there for turning me from a callow youth into manhood. Now alienated from its environment I can judge its true merits with the ability that only complete detachment can competently give it.

It is indeed strange that two out of the triumvirate that held the lowest positions in the office in Aug '36 should have been failures, Ginger and myself (I wonder what happened to Ginger?). However, if I have failed Whites, Whites has not failed me for which I am grateful. It was inevitable I neither had the hereditary nor the environment which would have allowed me to be a success. Initially I was an outsider and an outsider I would have remained.

It has been indeed fortunate that I held no illusions concerning the Air Force. I never held any brief for the Services and never shall, but I firmly believe that while Whites made a man of me all the Services could add was the hardening, servility and scepticism necessary to face any eventuality the future might hold.

I value all those past associations with the whole office which now forms such lucrative food for thought.

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

Index to the journal:
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Friday, 23 December 2011

Tim Minchin - Away in Some (m)Anger...

This wee ditty from the extraordinary mind and talents of Mr Tim Minchin has been cut from the Jonathan Ross Christmas show because of ITV fearing a backlash from conservative Christibods... Oh dear oh dear... full story on Tim's blog here.

Enjoy, consider this a Seasonal Salutation!


Friday, 16 December 2011

Advent music - taking a great idea and...

Taking the idea made famous by Bob Dylan, this video from the small Yupiq Eskimo Village of Quinhagak, Alaska , was a school computer project intended for the other Yupiq villages in the area. Much to the villagers' shock their 'little', project took off!

P h/t Pat Kirby

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Top 10 album listening during 2011 meme...

Compiled mainly from instinct as well as a detailed perusal of my iTunes stats and Spotify playlists... have stuck to albums that I listen to all the way through, as it is important to appreciate the the complete 'work' these artistes have created:
  1. Peter GabrielNew Blood.
    At the moment this is the CD I'm listening to the most and I cannot stress how much I absolutely love it! I am very much one of the compact Peter Gabriel (PG) post Genesis appreciation society that is delighted he is no longer part of his prog rock heritage. Apart from the hints in PG's evergreen 'Solsbury Hill', he very much chooses to leave the past where it belongs. Now his lyrical focus is less personal having become predominantly concerned with topics of international justice.

    This latest collection forms the 2nd part of this major orchestral project, the 1st release, 'Scratch my Back', featured covers from a variety of artistes who, in turn, would release covers of their fave PG song. New Blood is an intriguing selection right across PG's solo career, a subset of songs that were filmed in March this year (2011) for the DVD/BluRay and 3D concurrent release.

    As mentioned in my reviews, (Scratch my Back - New Blood) John Metcalfe's arrangements are seriously stunning, Tom Cawley's piano playing sublime and, along with Peter's brilliant vocals, they are the standout elements that make this such compelling listening. It is also important to note these arrangements are in a full, classical symphonic format. This is NOT Peter Gabriel's songs simply accompanied by orchestra, it is a much more significant piece of work than that. A surprising outcome is that some pieces that were favourites on his original recordings have been overtaken by some of the ones that, perhaps, were not appreciated so fully. For example, the wedding favourite 'In Your Eyes' is outshone by the more epic 'San Jacinto' and 'Digging in the Dirt', the latter my current top choice.

    Both 'Scratch my Back' and this 'New Blood' project have puzzled some of PG's ardent 'rock' fans, yet throughout the 3D filming session at the Appollo I noticed there was a more rapturous reception than at the initial outing in the 02 the previous year. Furthermore it is clear that this has gained PG a additional audience that now have now been seduced by the depth of his musical art through this adventurous and risky exploration of a radically different approach. It is a bit of an irony that such an established rock icon has found that this more orthodox classical accompaniement has enabled him to express himself with greater clarity than ever before.

    There are a number of formats to buy this fantastic release, with or without DVD, a version with instrumental only recordings on a bonus CD and a deluxe edition all packaged up together (yes, you've guessed, that's what I went for!)

  2. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs.
    This year I went to see Arcade Fire with another one of my fave bands, Mumford and Sons, perform in Hyde Park. Along with a supporting cast which included the very wonderful Beirut it was a seriously splendid eve! There is something unique about Arcade Fire's music which sets them apart from many other bands. There is a sense of 'musical' anarchy where both instrumentation and song arrangements do not, in any way, follow the usual tried and trusted paths. The overall impression one gets listening to them live is how much energy comes over from an essentially acoustic line up: great vocals, great sounds and thoughtful lyrical ideas. I have already featured an excerpt from the album here, the transcendent 'Sprawl (Flatland)'

  3. Hope & Social - April.
    I saw this band at this year's Greenbelt Festival and they completely blew me away. With many bands that can really deliver live, hearing the recorded output can be tinged with disappointment, yet Hope & Social do not suffer from this problem. The band have set up their own studio and are clearly masters at capturing the characteristics of their endearing live performances. If you see they will be playing nearby, do not miss it, they are seriously good and superb fun. Fave track currently 'A Darkness Now Is Coming'.

  4. Paul Simon - So Beautiful or So What?
    The Beeb recently ran a documentary about the album 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' that both lifted Simon and Garfunkel into the music biz stratosphere yet paradoxically became their swansong as a duo. This prompted me to re-discover their output and Paul Simon's repetoire of solo work. His new album is delightfully quirky, utilising a return to basic methods of recording which gives it a freshness that more produced work would not have. And, of course, if you want some evergreen Paul Simon, you need look no further than the influential Graceland album.

  5. Jónsi - Go.This is the solo output from the guitarist and singer of cult Icelandic megastars Sigur Rós. Do check out the videos of the stage show, an assault of jaw dropping lighting and projected imagery that becomes one with the band of multi instrumetnalist musicians. I find the music deeply moving, the kind of music that 'gets to you' despite, on the whole, being created with an array of electronic synth type gizmos.

  6. Brandon Flowers - Flamingo.
    The Killers front man has turned in a really respectable solo effort and, despite the expectation of it being a 'Killers Lite' soundalike, allows Brandon to express more of himslef than he might do otherwise. So not only is he a great front man with a wonderful voice he now shows that he is a man of considerable depth. The lyrics include many religious references which the handful of videos made to promote this release bear out, see earlier post here.

  7. Coldplay - MYLO XYLOTO.
    Yes, OK, I confess, I actually like Coldplay! Although their latest offering seems to play very much into the stadium rock genre (including songs for the acoustic section in the middle of the set!), what entices me is the optimism of their music. It is as though they are done with experimentation, they've found their sound and now they can create song after song that seems to celebrate our very existence. Even the potentially sombre 'Fix You' from the X & Y album has hope for the future and lifts the spirits, whilst MYLO XYLOTO packs a joyful, foot tapping punch all the way.

  8. Owl City - All Things Bright and Beautiful.
    Whilst many music pundits think that Adam Young's voice is yet another Autotune special the simple fact is not only can he sing but his voice actually sounds like his recordings! The Owl City concept is very much his and indicates what a prodigious young talent he is, which I discussed briefly here. I love 'Deer Caught in the Headlights' with its audio, lyrical and visual nod to the 80s, and I'm sure I recognise those synth riffs?! Check out this unplugged version, too. I love the finely crafted tracks this guy produces, not too dissimilar to the amazing Imogen Heap, another artiste for whom it will be equally intriguing to see how they develop over the next couple of decades.

  9. Arvo Pärt - Spiegel im Spiegel.
    I remember it was one of those wonderful moments making a long journey that one of the Soul Music series on BBC Radio 4 covered this piece. It was rally interesting to hear directly from violinist Tasmin Little about how she approached this minimalist music score. Of course, its simplicity masks the technique needed to allow the very beauty of its emptiness to lift the listener into the emotional heights which,ironically, reach down into your very core enabling succour to the spirit. It is, what I may venture to call, 'universal music'. By that I mean that it would be appreciated by folk from different cultures, disparate status and by every musician regardless of their chosen genre. Something to listen to either lift or soothe the spirit.

  10. Mumford and Sons - Sigh No More.
    I have to include this, despite its 2009 release date, as I still listen to it so much! It's an amazing debut album, it doesn't suffer from many band's first studio efforts when they are prone to try lots of different styles and techniques once given the freedom of the recording process. I love the depth of the lyrics, love the energy that comes over even as an acoustic band and having heard some of their new songs live in Hyde Park very much looking forward to their next release.
Over to you, look forward to reading your compilations?


Saturday, 3 December 2011

From J Samuel White's to Wellington Bomber...

Picture from Bartie's Postcards

In this entry in my father's wartime journal dad remembers the start of his working day and some of the personnel at J. Samuel White & Co, shipbuilders on the Isle of Wight.

Entry 9 - February 9th

Today we have been flying. As I pulled on my flying boots and Mae West through my mind flew retrospective thoughts of home. I imagined myself back at work. Nine o'clock a busier hum would settle over the office. The late arrivals, drawing off their coats, would break into spasmodic chatter with their bench mates, leavened with chaff. Then Mr Parker arrives, briskly throwing out 'good mornings' on either side. Les and I would break up our huddle and with a sigh return to the common basis of work. Others, watching the censorious glance of Mr Parker, would carefully fold their 'Telegraphs' or 'Mirrors', according to age or taste, and emerge from their day dreams, dropping their castellated visions to grapple once more with reality. By the time Mr Brading arrives another day has begun.

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

Index to the journal:

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Advent music with The Killers

The Killers invite Elton John and Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant to provide vocals on 'Joseph, Better You Than Me' with wonderful lyrical and theological insights. Note the subtle change in the refrain as the song develops:
From the temple walls to the New York night: Our decisions rest on a child
When she took her stand did she hold your hand?
Will your faith stand still or run away? Run away?
From the temple walls to the New York night: Our decisions rest on a man
When I take the stand, When I take the stand, Will he hold my hand?
Will my faith stand still or run away?
And my favourite line linking the 40 years and 40 days wilderness times:
And the desert, It's a hell of a place to find heaven

Friday, 18 November 2011

Making me loud and proud - 1980-f

It is always a brilliant feeling when you hear someone perform your music! I love this exuberant performance, the conductor keeping it vigorous and everyone having a ball, lovely...

Just in case you're wondering, this is what the original sounded like, 1980-f from After The Fire.


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Armistice Day reflection - to end all wars...

Written November 11th 1941

Twenty three years ago today an armistice was signed terminating the war to end wars. This wearying battle had, during its four years course, drawn in practically the whole globe, each nation state sending the best of their youths to die an ignoble and ignominious death. Today we normally hold a commemoration service for those “glorious” dead. But now, for the last twenty six months, the whole of Europe has been struggling in sordid strife once more to end wars for ever. Today the flower of our youth is again expiating the follies of age by their blood and their lives.

It behoves us to examine the positives. Whereas in 1918 we had won the war, today we are faced with the far greater part of our struggle before us. Yet, perhaps looking, we are potentially in a better situation. In 1918 having won the war we finally lost the peace by inaction, our lack of foresight and our unwillingness to cope with reality. Briefly the results of the overwhelming fatigue which follow the strenuous activity of the war. Then we settled down to enjoy a millennium, an everlasting peace which, as day succeeded day month following, gradually seemed to fade until perhaps some 15 years (on) we slowly realised that the dawning of the long looked for day had yet again receded into the dim and distant future.

Today, however, we must realise that without action, without our own individual effort, that peace will never come. The position we found ourselves in 1938 was not due to any economical principles, it was not the result of our Labour governments, the General Strike, or the (banking) collapse in 1931, or disarmament or the Versailles Treaty. No, it was a result of our own “laissez faire” policy with regard to our individual effort. However small our intellectual stature may be, we are fundamentally the basis by which not only the domestic policy but the foreign policy of our government is determined. Many people infer that policies do not include them, they leave such things to parliament, forgetting that they control the mandate which determines the future outlook of all parliaments.

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

World War 2 aircrew training - ideas and ideals

Entry 8 - February 2nd

It is a pity that man should be born containing the essence of genius and yet be inarticulate. Cannot we find means of expression to convey our ideas and ideals, our visions and our dreams to the rest of the community? Within the soul of every man are conceptions of beauty and vivid ideals and yet, for the greater part, we fail to set them forth to the world in all their glory. This failure leads to the suppression of our better instincts and our outward actions, frustrated and repressed, bear hatred, recrimination and evil. Thus, although my literacy limits the horizon of my intelligence I have endeavoured to reveal, perhaps haltingly and ineffectually, those ideas and ideals emanating from the soul that God gave me.

Consideration must be given to the fact that the spiritual and material sides of man dovetail together and co-mingle. It is a fact that we must recognise. God must be given His place in our material sphere as well as in the abstract. Contentment and happiness for all must be aimed at, since it is only in obtaining this materially that we shall be able to provide the basis of a spiritual unity.

God's place in the war is marked and a definite one. The war, ostentatiously, is one between nation states as such and yet, beneath the surface, on closer examination, it bears the marks of a new and international campaign for freedom of body, mind and spirit. The struggle for the survival of Christianity. In the light of this it behoves us to take stock of our own position and see where we stand. Essentially we all must have some spiritual conception of its outcome.

Christianity teaches us the brotherhood of man. This brotherhood, or fraternity, must; when we have defeated the narrow nationalistic outlooks of Nazism and Fascism and these tendencies within our own country; be extended to all irrespective of their previous tenets or beliefs. Although this war was thrust on us by Nazism and Fascism thwarting our vested interests we must remember that those very interests originally supported and encouraged these ideologies which now wish to destroy them. Thus it would seem that even within this state there are some that will wish to maintain the original structure of society and (the original) national sovereignty. We have to struggle within the state for recognition and acceptance of these views which, I believe, are in accordance with Christ. In that will lie our victory. “Forbearing one another, forgiving one another”. We shall achieve peace at heart and a unity not only of the nation but of all the forces that are struggling with us at the present moment and a unity with all those who, all over the world, have faith in freedom, liberalism and God.

This policy entails the acceptance of Germans as our brothers and equals. Although this war was originally directed against the “Nazi Government” many have lost sight of this including, perhaps, our present government and bear an active, living hatred for the German individual. Whatever happens this will not do as it is a direct denial of all Christian thought. It is futile to imagine that we can partially accept so much of the faith as suits our purpose. We must be wholeheartedly for or against. If we are against Christianity we may as well cease fighting, for true liberty and true freedom will never be obtained without a living conception of Christ. The German Nazi must be treated as suffering from a delusion and this delusion rendered harmless.

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

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Saturday, 5 November 2011

BBC's Rev Series 2... can't wait!

The new series of Rev returns to BBC2 next week... Episode 1 transmits at 9:00pm Thursday 10th November. Forthcoming episodes feature a trip to the Greenbelt Festival and none other than Ralph Fiennes as the Bishop of London.


Thursday, 3 November 2011

Greece in crisis, Captain Corelli time...

Colchester's Mercury Theatre has this incredible knack of running a production that has an uncanny amount of synchronicity to current affairs. And they've scored yet again with this intriguing depiction of Louis de Bernières novel 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin', a collaboration between the Mercury and the Kote Marjanishvili Theatre of Tbilisi, Georgia. The play features both live action from a trim cast of five supplemented by a series of puppets playing both mini versions of the main on-stage characters and other parts.

What was no surprise was the compelling quality of the acting and the stage production, the latter not only providing stunning visual effects but also giving Health and Safety a scare with so much exposed naked flame! The puppetry really came into its own in the 2nd act, whereas in the first, whilst admiring the impressive technical skill, I found myself occasionally wondering what it added apart from the show stealing pet goat. As mentioned, in the 2nd part the interface between real and puppet action became an essential element, able to sensitively depict the harrowing scenes that are so distressing in the book (and film) without lessening any dramatic impact.

All the action is set on the Greek Island Cephallonia (Kefalonia) which suffered Italian and then German occupation during the 2nd World War. The characters are given more time to develop their personae than in the film and, one of leading actors, Mike Maran, is, indeed, credited for this excellent adaptation. He plays the long suffering Dr Iannis who opens the play with one of the most memorable scenes, as depicted above. Captain Corelli is cast as a bit of a buffoon! Having said that, Tony Casement plays him brilliantly, both as romeo and as the commander of his squad of loyal but slightly reluctant soldiers. Roger Delves-Boughton plays both Corelli's Quartermaster and the humorous British Spy, 'Roger', would you believe? Mr Bond, I presume?! Mandras, the local Greek fisherman was played by Gus Gallagher and Dr Iannis' precious daughter, Pelagia, was wonderfully brought to life by Natalie Kakhidze.

Although the music was all pre-recorded, it was specially written and provided some contrasting moments of joy and pathos. As a result I was relieved I could blame the smoke units for making my eyes water! The set design was sparse, mainly working with a set of moving risers and drapes. However, the lighting, sound effects, pyrotechnics and prop movements were seamlessly slick, providing amazing impact with iconic images via models and projections.

Another aspect that came over well, which the film failed to convey, was the subtle, yet effective, portrayal of the differences betwixt the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. In fact, religious imagery, practice and concepts were very evident throughout as part of life and death.

So, if you have read the book, you will definitely not be disappointed. If you've only seen the film, watching this will make you yearn to read the book and glean even more! Highly recommended...

Captain Corelli's Mandolin is on until 12th November - book tickets here


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Fats Domino v Café Musica mashup...

Part of the joy of playing acoustically is the re-discovery of pieces you probably would never consider in an 'amplified' band line-up. Here buddy James and yours truly give Fats Domino's piece 'Be My Guest' the Café Musica treatment at our first ever house gig a few days ago...

And here we play our version of After The Fire's punk anthem 'Time to Think', from ATF's Laser Love album, originally released in 1979.


Wednesday, 19 October 2011

ww2 Aircrew training - the eternal questions

The seventh entry in my father's wartime journal which suggests we need to put hope in God for answers to recover from the desperate situation of being at war. Previous posts include:

Entry 7 - January 20th

Living as we do, in these difficult times from day to day, it is exceedingly difficult to express concisely our more intimate thoughts on divine relations. There is also the feeling that our true spiritual development has been rudely interrupted by the shattering of our former environment. Nevertheless, in this undeveloped state we seem to be in closer contact with spiritual affairs.

Hitherto life in this emergency has been devoid of meaning and completely empty. Our spirit confined to the narrow realms of our body has no real outlet for expression. We all have high ideals, great ambitions, cherish beauty and dream of love, but our ideals are dissipated, our ambitions broken, beauty banished and dreams fade at dawn. This world is corrupt and lecherous, it destroys the most humble of our hopes and leaves us with nothing save the ashes of despair.

Thus frustrated, humiliated and disillusioned there is one only to whom we can turn and He is God. Perhaps man has flattered himself by imagining that he was made after God's own image. I have neither the desire or the requisite knowledge to even express an opinion, but I know that I have within me something that is immortal and gives me, as it does to everyone, my own individuality.

I hold no brief for any established form or creed of religion. Cant, hypocrisy and symbolism have destroyed the fundamental true beliefs and today there exists but an empty, hollow mockery of worship, the blind leading the blind. We need no advocate to plead our cause, we need no mediator to approach God for our very life, our existence is a living prayer and suppliant for help, guidance and assistance.

To those who may survive there is only one course open to them. That is, to supercede our present system by a scheme of things that will provide posterity, not only with material freedom and expression but spiritual expression as well. We are no longer fighting for our King, our country, our Empire or our capitalists, but we are fighting for a people, we are fighting for humanity. We are striving for spiritual expression. It is a fight to establish a basis for a new renaissance, a creation of an island of sanity, a rock on which we may build a new living edifice to honour God.

For us, however, there is nothing left to live for. We have given up our jobs, our homes, our freedom and now we are prepared to sacrifice even our lives in the sacred cause of humanity. So today I can view the machinations of my body with complete detachment. I can achieve nothing. Collectively and individually we are failures but there is still hope!

Tomorrow we live. Shedding this earthly shell which has surrounded, enmeshed and frustrated us, we shall survive and emerge into a sphere of happiness having, at last, attained our full individual, spiritual expression. For God shall wipe all tears from our eyes and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor sadness, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things have passed away!

In the light of this, death can hold no terrors for us, it is our deliverance and the salvation of humanity. We know that whatever may mar our memory here it cannot sear our souls. There is no fear however much our bodies may wish to evade the issue. Tomorrow, we too, shall live.

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

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Saturday, 15 October 2011

Peter Gabriel talks New Blood orchestra

Peter Gabriel gives an overview of his recently released orchestral project, New Blood, and gives insight into the extensive creative process involved. I was privileged to attend the Hammersmith Apollo for the recording of the DVD, which I reviewed here. Have only been able to listen the previews because the deluxe edition I've ordered includes the DVD which has a release date of 24th October whilst the CD came out on 10th October - the extra wait is proving a tad trying...


Monday, 10 October 2011

ww2 training 1941 - what is the meaning of life?

The fifth entry in my father's wartime journal which questions our very existence. Previous posts include:
Entry 5 - January 12th

After a very enjoyable weekend in Oxford we have returned to service life. A thought left undeveloped or expanded in the streets of Oxford has recurred, it is namely, what are human beings, what is the reason for their existence? What is the meaning of life?

It seems a very empty and worthless existence to plod wearily through this scheme of things, in our allotted places, for nearly seventy years and then finish. Why should men have ambition? What is power worth? Which, when obtained, has to be left after our short course has been run. Why should we have evolved throughout aeons of time a complicated and intricate system of legislative and executive government and now arrived no nearer the seat of universal happiness?

Why do we live? If it is that we are here to prepare ourselves for an eternity with or without God, why do we trouble to procreate our species? Is there any value to life? It is an involved and colossal question. It involves, perhaps, the admission that up to the present time the whole human race can be accounted as a drastic and unfortunate failure and, in our past and in our future, if the present state of affairs is allowed to continue, there is not one ray of hope or illuminated feature that has, in any way, ameliorated or alleviated the race as an indivisible whole.

But, if other men have failed, why should we? Standing as we do on the brink of the dark abyss of annihilation, it is up to us to, at least, attempt to formulate some sound theory as to the purpose of live and to achieve a basis whereby we can conform to those standards of life.

It would appear, to a reasoning man, that the purpose of life would be to achieve happiness. Happiness, however, is a very loose term. Happiness, perhaps, might be found more often in a garret than in a palace and yet I doubt whether we can achieve universal happiness by getting everyone in a garret.

What, then, does happiness consist of? Man's life probably falls into three spheres: his work, his leisure and his pro-generation. Firstly, therefore, man must be allowed full expression of his genius, or talents, in whatever direction his genius, or talent, tends to take. Secondly his leisure, or recreation, must be considered; artistically, spiritually and physically. He must be allowed sufficient time to devote to his leisure and given the capability for full, fundamental enjoyment. Thirdly comes his family responsibilities, to which, naturally enough, a certain amount of time has to be devoted.

Superficially it might appear that these spheres are, largely and to a greater extent, dovetailed together. Nowadays, or even in the past, it would appear that a young man's leisure is almost wholeheartedly taken up in the process of biological selection. Admittedly it is so but only from a sense of frustration and the attempt to kill two birds with one stone.

I prefer to face facts and from them I draw these inexorable conclusions which are: that man's life today has to be fundamentally re-organised and subdivided so that the full amount of true happiness can be obtained, symbolical to Adam Smith's avocation of the division of labour being the means of obtaining wealth.

Thus having shaped in our mind the purpose of life and generalised on the means to achieve how are we to bring them into effect? And when they are brought to pass, what is the sum total of our achievement?

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

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Thursday, 6 October 2011

Steve Jobs - just one more thing...

The genius of simplicity. Graphic created by Jonathan Mak Long, a 19-year-old designer living in Hong Kong, found right here. Thoughts and prayers for his very private family and close friends...

YouTube video of Steve Jobs' inspirational speech to Stanford University graduates in 2005.

Apple's own tribute.


Friday, 30 September 2011

I'm not a fan of X-Factor but...

There is some good in everything... a heart warming clip from the Australian show. All things work together? Especially the responses from Ronan Keating on and off camera plus love the excerpt of 30 Seconds To Mars playing in the background as the judges' votes are lodged.

P h/t The Wedlocks

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Why does my heart feel so bad?

Blackie - from birth circa 1995 to 27th September 2011

Dear Lord, thank you for Your creation and for our Blackie.

Thank you for bringing her into our lives and the joy that she gave us.

Thank you for the home, comfort and security we were able to share with Blackie.

Now as we say goodbye help us to remember the joy and warmth we feel for her as we wipe away our tears.

Earth to earth, dust to dust...

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.


Listening and watching the moment Lexie says goodbye in Monarch of the Glen...

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Monday, 26 September 2011

Aircrew training 10th Jan 1941 - Books

Dad's bookcase and some original books in my music room
Entry number four from my father's wartime journal covering his thoughts on Bomber Command aircrew training during 1941. Dad was both very well read and a collector of books. Am pleased to say I am now custodian of the wonderful gems he discovered. Earlier posts from his journal:
Entry 4 - January 10th

The day has drawn, once more, to a close. No flying today. We managed to get to get the evening off in Didcot and arrived back rather late when we adjourned to the mess, which made us even later. I received an extremely good letter from Beryl (his younger sister) and another from Mrs Peach who is still worrying over Jack (Jack Lavers enlisted with dad and, after the war, became the family solicitor).

This evening my thoughts, prompted from some unknown source, made me think of my collection of books at home. The main theme was actually concentrated on what should become of them in the event of my death. It seems such a pity that so many volumes collected with unwonted pains and energy should now be of no use to anyone.

With books I have spent so much of my time that my soul is held between their musty leaves. To me, perhaps, in some frustrated way they have been the outlet for unbounded love on my part. I lived with them and now the mere sight of them fills me with pleasant memories of more happier times when I was free to browse, at my leisure, on the intellectual fare provided.

I have heard Robespierre proclaim his fiery, wonderful exposition of liberty, equality and fraternity in the French Revolution. Seen his proscriptions and the tumbrils full of condemned men and women the next day. I have been at the side of Napoleon in his campaign in Northern Italy and marched with Wellington in the Peninsula. Macaulay, Allison, Adam Smith Gibson, Shakespeare have all provided me with their philosophy and works and added to works of countless modern authors have given me spiritual meat and drink for the past five years. What will happen to them when they no longer have one beside them who cherishes them as though they were his betrothed? Perhaps my people will realise what they have meant to me and say of those faded and stained books,'there lies his soul, his mind, all of him that was best and that which we counted most dear'.

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Stages of Faith...

Things you see on a church bookstall that make you ever so grateful your mobile has a built-in camera...

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Thursday, 15 September 2011

Making the Last Night special...

On 15th September 2001 American conductor Leonard Slatkin led the BBC Orchestra in a dramatic rendition of Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings at the BBC Proms. This was a change to the usual program of exclusively jingoistic ditties that is the regular fare at the Last Night of The Proms. Some questions readily arise:

  • Was it the proximity to the tragedy of 9/11 that made it so spine tingling?
  • Does the music carry such gravitas in itself that has made it one of the most popular classical pieces?
  • Was it because the Proms broke with traditions held since inception to invite an American to conduct the Last Night?
  • Was it the interpretation that Leonard Slatkin brought to the piece being an American and therefore relating more strongly to 9/11?

Furthermore, are we prepared to embrace the deeper notion that Barber, when composing his Op.11, sensed that this moment would arrive, when, one day, his piece would become a majestic incarnation, even though he would have clearly been unaware of the detail and extent it would be able to provide such succour to body, soul and spirit years later?

It is safe to assume that being present in the Royal Albert Hall at the time with the additional ambience and audio dynamics was definitely preferable to the somewhat diluted intensity of viewing on TV. Regardless, many, including myself, watched transfixed, sharing this special moment simultaneously, yet our experience was both tempered by production decisions and would have been spoiled by a disturbance such as a telephone call.

Watching on video now does not have the same sense, it certainly triggers recall but it is not of the moment. However, sometimes the corollary may apply as we consider whether some performances take on greater significance after the actual event as time passes as the cache builds from word of mouth. A reflection of the earlier oral traditions, perhaps?


Monday, 12 September 2011

Ten Years After...

Yesterday (Sunday 11th Sept 2011) I was privileged to musically assist my buddy Rob Halligan at one of the events happening on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Because of the extra security in Grosvenor Square for the BBC live transmission of the afternoon memorial ceremony meant I landed up having to be between the inner 'secure' area and the great outside. So I was only able to watch, from a distance, over the hedge or through the door of one of the BBC outside broadcast trucks whilst being unable to traverse either security cordon. Ironically this restriction then enabled a wider perspective on what was happening all around the square, both being able to witness the various protests and 'unrest' along with hobnobbing with the police and media personnel. At times there were some unusual juxtapositions, for example there was one period when what protestors were shouting through a megaphone blended with very audible music from the Radio 2 Hyde Park concert whilst the Thoresby Colliery Welfare Band brass band deftly played Sir Edward Elgar's sublime 'Nimrod' as the guests were gathering.

Prior to the service Rob was on the media interview 'treadmill', his responses encompassing the virtues of grace, forgiveness, hope and redemption giving the broadcasters an opportunity to explore a sea change in thinking partly fueled by a sense of 9/11 'replay' fatigue. And all this under the shadow of the massive eagle atop the foreboding American embassy to the West. Even the programmes presenter, David Dimbleby, felt some optimism replacing the usual entrenched views when chairing an intriguing Questiontime on 9/11 the preceding week.

Another of the concerns expressed by various commentators is that the repeated showing of films of from that day would inflict pain on grieving relatives all over again. However, whilst sharing one of those precious cuppa moments with Rob yesterday he said that it isn't the footage that gets to him, it is often music that's the trigger to bereavement symptoms. Some songs, some bands and even music that is not Rob's taste all have a powerful effect. Nowadays when there is such a close correlation of news footage and a typical Hollywood blockbuster perhaps we actually become inured to reality once it is repeated so many times?


Thursday, 8 September 2011

Isle of Wight - seeking sanctuary World War Two

The next episode from my father's wartime journal covering his thoughts on Bomber Command aircrew training during 1941. This day he reminisces about his home, the Isle of Wight, with vivid, literary images of vantage points that I can readily place as I, too, explored the same places of my birthplace just over a decade later. Previous posts from the journal:

Entry 3 - January 9th

At the moment I am about to go up on my first night flight. Today has been very fine, for January, and the night augurs well for the trip as the moon is already up delineated against the clear, cloudless, frosty sky. We went up this morning, as well, for a 3 hour cross country so today I shall feel I'm a real airman.

The long sojourns in the crew room today were broken up by thinking of the Isle of Wight. The saying that 'absence makes the heart grow fonder' is all too true as far as I am concerned with the Island. For too long I had been abusing it, disdaining it, now, at last, the memory of the home town recurs to me like a vision of paradise (Dad lived in Lake, a village between Sandown and Shanklin).

So vivid are these impressions, culled from the all too short periods of leave, that by now I can smell the tang of the salt laden, sea-weedy air that impinges on the back of the nostrils and permeates the system like a draught of nectar. I can feel the ridges on my arm as I lean over the guard wires on the cliff and stare happily at the slight, oily swell and the tumbling frothy tide breaking spasmodically on the brown sands below.

Away on the left is the symmetrical curved hump of Culver Cliffs, its regularity broken only by the outline of the fort and the wireless station with its aerial and obelisk. It sweeps up and over and ends in the sheer white cliffs which tumble into the sea. The white cliffs end suddenly and emerge as another strata of red sandstone which throws the whole setting into a remarkable relief. Just below us stands the pier with its pathetic broken back, the remnants of which are revealed by the ebbing tide. The whole scene is remarkable by its throbbing quiet broken only by the screech of a seagull or the shuffling gait of an aged couple taking a constitution which has become a ritual to them.

Yet again, superimposed on that vision, I find myself spirited away to the opposite end of the Bay where, sitting on the handrails of the steps on the cliff, I pause to stare at the wrinkled face of Dunnose Head. This old, red-brown cliff has its upper face worn and lined with the marks of denudation its lower part is worn smooth by the erosion of the sea. It stands impassively, brooding, looking out at the ocean, the changeless, yet changing, face of nature. Tufts of grass and clumps of gorse have precariously established themselves, where possible, on the cliff and give a personality unique to itself. A sea breeze ruffles the foliage of the trees beyond it and as I feel its chilling effect I shiver and learn how puny man is when faced with nature. How the grandeur of nature makes man's foolish plans and schemes pall into appalling insignificance?

The scene is changed once again, the air persistent in its claim for recognition has been subtly infusing with its salty tang the soft, sweet fragrance of the country meadows of hay, clover, gorse and trees. The sound of the quiet has changed from the rhythmic lap-lap of the gentle waves to the whistle of the wind in the trees and the passing of a breeze over a full stocked field. I'm looking from the road over the countryside. From the road the terrain rushes precipitously away to the bottom of a valley where a small stream meanders slowly to its ultimate end. A small copse covers the stream's retreat, a bastard offspring of a large wood, distant and barely seen. Beyond, the valley undulates gently up to a height slightly less than my vantage point, diversified by little nooks and rills characterised by the rambling hedges.

The more I contemplated, the more vivid the constantly changing vista becomes. How little I realised, for two years, the true value of those things I then considered commonplace and mundane. Once again that marvellous wonder of nature, the mind, rescues us and restores that beautiful environment.

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Aircrew training day two - politics

Day two in my father's journal of his thoughts on commencing World War Two Bomber Command aircrew training. Previous posts here:

Entry 2 - January 8th

The snow is now being conquered by the thaw, but there is probably more on the way. Flying was cancelled today and so there were plenty of opportunities for soliloquising but I'm afraid I didn't feel up to calm deliberation. Still, as Johnny is forcing me to keep up my promise I must, at least, attempt something before he switches out the lights.

I have been arguing tonight on our new world which we are so hopefully promised by our over optimistic M.P.s after the successful conclusion of this present war. To me it seems we have yet to obtain a real grip on the problem. There will be such a vast potential of promise of better things to come that our usual vacillating policy will, in the end, achieve little, or no, good. We shall have to cast all party or sectarian principles aside and strive to obtain the best out of every one of our legislative officials. The ingrown prejudices of maturer years will have to be thrown aside and youth allowed to slip in and command.

All bias against our present enemies must be overthrown and we must co-operate wholeheartedly, both nationally and internationally, to restore and reconstruct the damage that the war has forced on the people. This revival must inevitably be essentially both of a spiritual and material nature. We must appeal to the people's better nature to allow certain powers to enable us to allow this reconstruction and, at the same time, place them in such a state of mind so that they will be able to benefit by such reforms as we will be able to give. Everything and everyone that stands in our way in our path to a fuller life must be swept aside so that nothing can impede the inevitable and irresistible path of progress.

It is also essential for us to deal with fundamental realities so that at the moment we can evolve no theory or ideal is to take its place at the head of affairs. We can work on no fixed plan but will have to deal with the situation in which we find ourselves. As soon as the war ends we can start; a co-ordinated body of youth determined, at last, to give the world a new light to guide them, not disdaining criticism, but determined that nothing can deter them from reaching their goal.

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

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Monday, 5 September 2011

Freddie Mercury Google Doodle

Remembering Freddie on his birthdate, who would have been 65 years old today. A rock genius... am privileged to have worked with both Queen and Freddie.

An official tribute and insight (with a smattering of rude words!) to planet Freddie here.


Friday, 2 September 2011

Back to the Start - Country meets Coldplay

A charming cover version of Coldplay's 'The Scientist' sung by Country Music megastar Willie Nelson as part of the soundtrack for a short film about farmers returning to a more sustainable way of working the land. The film is called: 'Back to the start' commissioned by the the Mexican (yum!) Grill chain Chipotle, official blurb here:
The film, by film-maker Johnny Kelly, depicts the life of a farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the errors of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future. Both the film and the soundtrack were commissioned by Chipotle to emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system.
P h/t Mike Todd

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Festival of St. Greenbelt 2011

And so it came to pass... another year of the very wonderful Greenbelt Festival has lifted the spirits, given succour and encouragement despite being a little more cold and damp than the last few August Bank holidays. However, there is much to celebrate about this year's edition.

Even from the way the site was laid out, alterations to various locations and the schedule it was clear the Greenbelt team have made many changes that are, overall, for the better. It did seem there were less traders there and also organisations exhibiting in the G-Source marquee, of course that may be because of ongoing financial restraints in these tricky times economically. Regardless, the feeling of greater space and more elbow room was comforting, exemplified by the area in front of the Jesus Arms fellowship station... and there is a new winner for the best on-site food! The Southern Indian Vegetarian cuisine stall just to the right of the Jesus Arms, absolutely amazing and a great story of how they created the business via Twitter.

The Talks

Despite always reminding myself to not try and take in too many talks the rest of the time I failed yet again! The talks were particularly good this year, thank Greenbelt you can catch up on the ones you miss because of schedule clashes, so much going on with 50 venues, will just mention some highlights:

Brian McLaren's talk on Christian Identity in a Multi-faith Context on Monday was the best talk for me over the weekend. I would vaguely categorise it as Analytical and Practical Theology rather than Theoretical Theology. Also I managed to get a ticket for the filming of his Greenbelt TV slot which succinctly summarised his concerns for the future. I have to say I find his talks easier to assimilate than some of his books but will give his latest another try once I can get through my current reading matter!

As someone who had immensely enjoyed reading Sisters of Sinai it was another joy to sit through author Janet Soskice's outline of the book from both a content perspective and her brilliantly engaging presentation.

I always like to go to a seminar that seems as though it will be opposed to my faith journey. My choice was Pádraig Ó Tuama's talk 'Our Lady of Greenbelt' which included an exploration of Roman Catholic Marian dogma. Having had a strict Exclusive Brethren upbringing and subsequently been immersed in Protestantism this seemed a scarily suitable selection! I have never, ever prayed 'Hail Mary' before, yet during the shared Liturgy at the end of his amazing talk I was readily able, albeit a tad wet-eyed, to join in the prayers with genuine conviction.

The Music

Even as a musician myself, I have focused on the talks more than the music offerings. However, this year one of the most noticeable changes was the substantial improvement to the choice of musical acts, particularly those chosen for mainstage appearances. This was evidently more acute after many of the artistes featured at Greenbelt 2010.

Friday night started cold and damp, then a rollicking mainstage set from a very much on form Show of Hands had everyone smiling again. This was followed by home favourite Martyn Joseph and Billy Bragg closed the bill with his passionate 'one man Clash' performance. Somewhere and somehow in all that I managed to nip over and check out a couple of minutes of Adrian Plass' irreverent take on church attitudes and behaviour over in the Big Top... note to self, add that talk to my download list!

Saturday was topped and tailed with rain showers and my musical attention was drawn to the Performance Café, both as listener and player for the Rob Halligan set... The 7pm time slot meant I missed Willie Williams' Big Top presentation along with most of the mainstage, only catching a bit of the enigmatic 'Get Cape Wear Cape Fly' set.

Sunday was overcast and cool, great music from Duke Special who chose to end his set with a moving version of Joy Division's classic anthem 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'. Then after the start of Idelwild's set it was time to leg it back to the Performance Café for what turned out to be my out and out favourite band of the weekend.

Hope and Social are absolutely brilliant! To me they represent everything that is Greenbelt in a musical package. Joy, exuberance, fun, great songs, thoughtful lyrics, great band rapport, great singing and some wonderful 'moments'. There was no-one there that would not have been won over with such an engaging and charismatic performance.

Hope and Social also played the mainstage on Monday (pictured at the top of the post), but at 2:45pm, and with a schedule clash with in vogue comedian Mark Thomas elsewhere, the audience only grew from a relative handful after the set was past the half way mark. On mainstage the band had a full line up including a brass section and were in top form. Another cracking 'moment' ensued when singer launched into a gentle version of 'Don't Cry for Me Greenbelt Festival' narrating a woeful tale of the band's pre-festival stomach disasters due to a 'paltry' (their word!) Kentucky Fried Chicken encounter... one word: priceless!

So it was onwards through the rest of Monday's strong mainstage bill featuring folk fave Kate Rusby, Canadian Ron Sexsmith then The Unthanks. Whilst on a usual warm, balmy August night it would have been delightful to listen whilst languishing on the grass recovering from all the cerebral stimulus of the festival, in the relative cool it was only really Kate who connected with the Greenbelt congregation. This was in stark contrast to the final mainstage act, the legendary Gospel singer, Mavis Staples. Monday nights at Greenbelt must always represent a programming challenge to try and persuade as many as possible not to delay their departure. Well, if you left early you missed an amazing treat!

Everything about it was excellent... I loved the stripped back band, just drums, bass and guitar. The musicians were top notch, playing with fantastic groove and feel, great to watch up close, too. As I said, everything was splendid... lots of light and shade, for example, they started with an a capella piece and worked up to some serious rhythm and blues (old style!).

About half way through the set something clicked. Performers and audience engaged more, the band started smiled broadly, everyone then had an even better time, especially Mavis, who readily took us there...

So well done Greenbelt, the music, and particularly the mainstage line-up, is a visible flagship which represents the artistic side and, often, the faith component, too. One of the differences betwixt this and the previous year is that some of the GB10 artistes, whilst often protesting about injustice, were simply anarchic rather than challenging. It's a subtle, yet important, difference.

The Confession

On the Sunday morning everything halts for the service of Holy Communion. It is incredibly tough to curate a service that will be loved by everyone and encompass both some orthodox and new elements. Reading through the service sheet now it is clear the content of the service was excellent. I have to confess I am a Still Small Voice person rather than an Earth(quake), Wind and Fire person when it comes to music in services of worship. Rev Vince Anderson was excellent technically, you couldn't fault the quality of the music but... it was SO loud! Everyone who experienced the delight of the unaccompanied singing at the start of Brian McLaren's seminar on Christian Identity will know what I mean. However, it is a joy to share the Eucharist with that once a year congregation.

A Conclusion

There is one conclusion I would like to make. I am uncomfortable with the notion that Greenbelt is a church in itself... that implies an institution. I notice there were some events appearing which contradict much of the teaching we hear in the seminars. In fact, one such event I found deeply disturbing, representing a legacy of all that is bad about church, colonialism, Victorianism and empire. Of course, it is us as human beings that make up the church, not the practices, denominations or personal preferences. Long may Greenbelt continue to be a celebration, a feast, a coming together of people to experience the divine in a human way...

(and I haven't even mentioned the wonderful Methodist Church Art collection, half the bands I saw, the discussion panels I managed to get into, the drama, the brilliant conversations with friends old and new...!)
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Monday, 22 August 2011

Remove the causes, not remedy the effects...

The sixth entry in my father's WW2 journal, extraordinarily salient at this moment in national and international affairs. Previous posts from the journal:

Entry 6 - January 13th

Are we thus merely to attempt to subjugate our passions, or allow them to be mass controlled, mass produced and swayed by mass hysteria as our public opinion today is swayed by the machinations of the propagandist? Is sadness and sorrow to be removed entirely from the ken of men? Sadness and sorrow have given us many great inspirations and temporary genius. Is this new renaissance to be just another step forward in the advance of the machine age, where our emotions are laid down for us, on tap, to be utilised, as and when, our leaders think fit?

No, God forbid! It is our part to lay our hands on the root of this cancer, this rot which is our social disease. It is our part to remove the causes, not remedy the effects. We must aim at the creation of a world of universal contentment. We must allow all men equality of opportunity. We must study our fellows not as a herd of cattle, or of sheep, but individually so that we collectively form a race, a species to whom life has, at least, revealed some purpose Our creative, our spiritual minds must be instructed that our contentment, our happiness is dependent wholly and solely on the happiness of others and it is our individual task to further the happiness of others so that posterity, in time, will realise the full value of that gigantic creative effort which we shall have undertaken.

Then how can this be brought into effect? To whom can we look to for leadership? What practical basis have for putting our ideals, our theories to the test?

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

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Tuesday, 16 August 2011

World War Two aircrew training day one...

This is the first entry in my father's journal from the 2nd World War, pictured top left above in one of the Wellington bombers he flew in. An earlier post, Wellington Bomber raid October 1941, narrates all the action pretty much in real time.

Entry 1 - January 7th HARWELL

I hope to be able, in these ensuing pages, to record a few of my impressions during the forthcoming year. Today has not been very productive in so much as we have done nothing.

My literary effort has been overcome by writing a foreword for Johnny's book, which has been bashfully completed. I should like to feel, that, if this book is to be read by any one other than myself (for whom it is primarily intended) they should tolerate it owing to the writer's complete lack of genius and to the environment in which it was conceived.

Harwell is an operational training unit where air crews are polished up for operations and many of us feel that, at the moment, we bear the mark of an early demise. If this is the case I hope that this book will be a close link between me and my closest friends and my parents.

Tonight I am feeling, as usual, fed up and we have expressed our feelings in no undisguised manner by turning our bunk into a beer garden. I have often wished to get to the bottom of the repression the RAF typically describes as 'browned' or 'cheesed'. I think it consists of many subsidiary feelings. Perhaps it is combined with a sense of homesickness and, above all, a sense of the futility of our present position.

Today, tuning the 1082 receiver I listened to a choir of German voices rendering a past song. I am no musician but to me it seemed inordinately beautiful and there swept over me a feeling which is practically impossible to describe. I was suffused by thought that all that was beautiful and worthwhile in this world was being overcome by brute force and not only that but I was subscribing my own effort to overcome them.

I feel in complete harmony with that group of German people, unknown to me, in a new spiritual sphere and the sense of futility is overwhelming. Am I still essentially the pacifist that harangued and argued in 1938? Have I not outgrown the out and out idealism? It seems these questions will probably never be answered and all that I stood for and set my heart on before the war will be wrecked. Could I but forsee the outcome of the next decade and I feel I should be able to die happily. Isn't something to be done for us who languish in despair at the probably fate of this world should we win or lose?

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

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Friday, 12 August 2011

Loving your neighbour...

Some serious wisdom from Russell Brand about the past week in the UK:
But I know, as we all intuitively know that the solution is all around us and it isn’t political, it is spiritual. Gandhi said 'Be the change you want to see in the world.'

In this simple sentiment we can find hope, as we can in the efforts of those cleaning up the debris and ash in bonhomous, broom-wielding posse’s. If we want to live in a society where people feel included, we must include them, where they feel represented, we must represent them and where they feel love and compassion for their communities then we, the members of that community, must find love and compassion for them.
Read Russell's full article here.


Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Wednesday Wisdom...

Some recent links that caught my attention (and that, maybe, have yet to write about!)...

Mike Rimmer's eulogy for Gravy Train's guitarist, Norman Barratt
Have to confess the news of Norman's passing came as a tough one. Here was one of my contemporaries, we played many of the same stages, I admired his never flashy, expressive technique... The image of him playing his favourite cherry red Gibson 335 (special edition with Bigsby tremolo!), always reaching for the controls betwixt every phrase, while carefully chosen notes swooped and soared above everything else going on... He was a true musician's musician and a special guy.

Shane Claiborne and the Simple Way guys give out packs for school kids... click to help

A brilliant set of online jigsaw puzzles

Financial Times comment on the C of E's money troubles

St Luke's church Kentish Town gets, ahem, born again