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

We remember them - may angels lead you in

May angels lead you in,
Hear you me my friends,
On sleepless roads the sleepless go,
May angels lead you in.

From the song Hear You Me by Jimmy Eat World


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.