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Birmingham Blogger

An internet diary by a member of the colourful and active Birmingham community.

Thursday, August 03, 2006
I have just been listening to two new cds by Dutch band Within Temptation. They are a cross between Evanescence and All About Eve. Great vocals and a dramatic delivery. I have also got a DVD which includes some of their videos. The one for Angel is absolutely brilliant. We tend to think we are at the centre of the musical world in this country but there is a whole scene going on in Northern Europe we know nothing about. All those Scandinavian kids getting blown away by great music.

Anyhow I was inspired to write a poem about alienation and redemption. It is called:

A Moment of Tranquility and Enlightenment

He was an outsider
They called him a freak at school
But this didn't worry him
He had always been an outsider
Wrapped in a veil of darkness
His secrets lay hidden away
He played the guitar
He learnt a few chords
And started to write his own songs
He listened to Nightwish and Within Temptation
I felt a bond, kindred spirits
He welcomed the darkness into his soul
Soon he would try to find a place in the world
He attended a few gothic nightclubs
And made a few friends
They decided to form a band
Their following grew
They performed in small gigs around their hometown
And then further a field around the whole of Norway
Soon they were climbing the charts
Their album went to number one
They started to perform at large festivals
The fans could be counted in the hundreds of thousands
This child was lonely no more
A hundred thousand kindred spirits calling out his name
So many lonely souls looking for a guiding light
All united together in a moment of tranquillity and enlightenment

I have added it to my gothic poetry website. I hope you enjoyed it. It would be great to attend on of those music festivals in The NEtherlands or Scandinavia. The atmosphere loos absolutely fantastic.

Monday, July 17, 2006
Syd Barrett, the former lead singer of Pink Floyd died on Thursday 6/7/2006 aged 60. He was a madcap genius who experimented with drugs and paid the ultimate price. He cracked up, got kicked out of the band and became a recluse. His music will last forever. His iinfluence on the later Pink Floyd albums is undeniable. You can check out all Pink Floyd lyrics.

I am in the process of putting together a new website called Tales of the Asylum. I wanted to add some new poems and Syd's death provided the inspiration for one particulare poem. Here it is:

Psychedelic Syd

An old man died in the asylum last week
He was quite heavy and his hair was receding
He used to rave and rant a lot
And quote weird poetry
He claimed he was a lead singer in a band
Which had some hits in the sixties
They had released an album that did quite well
They toured all the psychedelic clubs around the country
The music was literally mind-blowing
Ten minutes of thrashing guitars and drums
Psychedelic slideshows filled the background
They were all high on drugs
This inmate claimed he wrote all the songs for the band
And the drugs helped to inspire him
He wrote about trips to Jupiter and Mars
And other far off places
About sitting in hayfields and dancing in circles
And staring at the sun
They envisioned a new society based on love and peace
The inmate claimed that the drugs had blown his mind
And he could not cope with the pressures of the job
He was thrown out of the band
And lost all his money over time
All the other members of the band became rich
But he spent his time being moved from institution to institution
I don’t know if there is any truth in his story
He didn’t seem like a rock star
Although he could be pretty wild at times
When he started to rant
And quoted all that psychedelic nonsense
The other inmates called him Psychedelic Syd
“Shine on you crazy diamond”

The guy has left behind him a great legacy. Dark Side of the Moon is one of the classic albums and was no doubt influenced by Syd Barrett's breakdown. His early songs are great examples of 60s Psychedelic music. To repeat the last line of the poem, "Shine on you crazy diamond"

Sunday, July 02, 2006
I have just got back from watching Roger Waters play Dark Side of the Moon at Hyde Park Calling. It was the first time I had seen any member of Pink Floyd in the flesh. I went with my brother. We stayed at the Quality Hotel at Paddington. The first priority was to find a place to watch the football. Lots of budweiser and tears at the end. I don't think England will ever win at penalties. Decision time - a meal at Garfunkel's (next door to the hotel or rough it at KFC. Fat food won the day. I thought we would eat and head for Hyde Park for about 8.30. In time for Texas and Starsailor. Three changes on the tube for a journye that would only take 15 minutes to walk. As we got to Hyde Park I could hear the sound of Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd. Panic set in. The concert had started. I thought we had missed the whole thing. Fortunately, we got there in time and only missed the opening. The sky got dark. The band took a ten minute break and prepared to play all the songs from Dark Side of the Moon. A great experience. Pink Floyd maybe the greatest band of all time, I know it depends on the kind of music you like but Dark Side of the Moon is one of the biggest selling albums of all time. The slide show was great. Quite dramatic and colourful. Night set in and a quarter moon shone in the clear night sky. A dream fulfilled to see members of my favourite band. In recent time I have developed a taste for Explosions in the Sky from texas. It is probably a toss-up as to which of them is my favourite at the moment. They are both great bands.

We walked back to the hotel. I had put on a new pair of shoes when I left Birmingham which was not a good idea. My feet were bleeding and the skin was hanging off but we still walked back to the hotel becuase all the taxis were tied up. Got back to the hotel and had a coffee and then off to my room to check on the tennis results. Andy Murray had managed to beat Andy Roddick in three straight sets and now play Baghdatis of Cyprus. I rang my Mum on Sunday to let her know. The Cypriot is a big thing in his home country and my mum will have split loyalties have lived there for the last five years. I also found out that Jelena Jankovic had beaten Venus Williams which I was delighted about. I had seen Jelena play at the Edgbaston Priory in the DFS classic. She is a beautiful young lady and has a great tennis game. The East and Central Europeans have a great desire for tennis. I guess it offers them an opportunity of wealth and success and fame. So tomorrow I will be cheering on Andy Murray. If he loses it will be a sad day for the Scot. If he wins it will be a great day for British tennis. he is Scottish if he loses and British if he wins. He has a great attitude and a natural flair for the game. I think he just needs to find a bit more power and a few more killer shots. Good luck Andy and Jelena!

Saturday, February 18, 2006
I have just been watching Fast Track on BBC News 24. It was about the environmental cost of air travel. It is a complex problem and somewhat of a dilemna for many of us. We all want to travel the world and experience different cultures but at what cost. With all the cheap airlines such as Easy Jet and Ryanair and MyTravelLite growing all the time and increasing the number of destinations the temptation and desire to travel is increasing all the time. In many ways the economy benefits. Birmingham has visitors from all over Europe flying in on cheap airlines. How much damage is done to the Environment? There was an article in the Energy Bulletin discussung the subject. Will we find a way to reverse the greenhouse effect before it is too late? It is hard to imagine the climate of the planet changing dramatically. It takes many years to observe the changes and by the time we have all the data it may be too late. I don't know what the answer will be. I know that air travel will continue to increase. I hope that our desire to travel the world will not end up costing us the earth.

Sunday, January 22, 2006
So yesterday the whale that came swimming up the Thames finally died after great efforts to save its life. Hopefully, the death will not be in vain. Such a sight cannot help but inspire the imagination and raise the profil of these magnificent creatures. How many children will be encouraged to take an interest in marine biology as a result?How many new members and donations will the environmental charites such as Green Peace and Friend of the Earth receive?

It was a heroic adventure which will be talked about down the generations. Those who saw were blessed. They saw the glorious beauty of nature at work and witnessed the fragility of life as well. All those who watched on TV around the world will remember these last couple of days.

Here is a poem dedicated to the heroic struggle:

A Whale Came Floating up the Thames

A bottle nosed whale came swimming up the Thames
Sick and disorientated
What will be the outcome?
Nobody knows
The whale floats by the Houses of Parliament
The crowds gather on Westminster Bridge
The traffic all around comes to a halt
Such a fascinating site
A whale floating down the Thames
Such a magnificient creature lost and confused
So used to the massive expanse of the North Atlantic
Trying to find its way home
Helicoptors overhead monitor the progress
Under Battersea Bridge and the crowds are bigger and bigger
Children take the day off school to see such an astonishing site
One of God's most glorious creatures paying a visit to their town
Many years from now these children will tell the grandchildren
Of the day they saw a whale floating down the Thames
The experts tell us that the whale is distressed
The whale needs our help
The experts do what they can to return him to the oceanT
hey lift her with a crane and place him on a barge
They try to return him to the ocean
But time runs out
And the world mourns
A million starving children in Africa face death
But this event touches our hearts
A needless tragic death perhaps
Or a simple act of nature
But surely not a pointless death
A future marine biologist watches on
Only eleven years old
He is inspired by this site
And dedicates his life to protecting and understanding the creatures of the sea
A thousand people ring Friends of the Earth and sign up
Their donations will help in the campaign to stop the killing of Whales
One death may help to save thousands of others
Your struggle for life has touched all our hearts
This ordeal will be remembered for many years
The day a whale came floating up the Thames

Saturday, January 07, 2006
I recently heard a report on the radio about a Woman in West Bromwich who fell to her death falling from a loft while trying to get the Christmas presents for her children. It is quite a distressing story. At such a happy time how xould xomething like this happen? The truth of it is probably that we control our own actions and random events happen. I hope her children will not be permananently scarred by the event. Maybe as they grow up this event will make them stronger and help them to appreciate every moment of their lives. The following is a poem based on the news story:
Children's Tears
Young mother goes christmas shopping
Full of the festive spirit
Her young children wait anxiously for the big day
She tries so hard to make things special
Her husband did not hang around long after the birth
No long term commitments
Living for the moment
Oblivious of the consequences
Still time to make amends
She loves her children
She wants to spoil them while they are still young
The Christmas tree takes pride of place
All lit up with bright lights
The children have finally gone to bed
The young mother gets the ladder to the loft
And quietly starts to gather the presentsIt is going to be a great Christmas
As she moves the presents around
Her foot slips and she falls
Knocked unconscious
The children sleep quietly and dream of Christmas morning
Such a happy time
The mother remains motionless
As midnight strikes she slips away
She passes onto a better world
In which such accidents are unknown
How do you explain such things to the children?
So many sad memories associated with this special day
A dark shadow hangs over them
The Lord works in mysterious ways
Such events make us aware of our own fragility
Life is a precious gift
So celebrate these family occasions
We never know when those close to us will be lost to us
Only to be reunited in a higher place
Where all shadows are removed
And eternal peace shall reign
Children's tears rain down from heaven
In memory of all the fragile souls that have departed this earth
And those who remain behind
Share a thought for them as you eat your Christmas dinner
And cherish every moment of your life

Thursday, May 06, 2004
On Wednesday I went to Oxford to watch American band Explosions in the Sky. They are absolutely excellent. All the music is instrumental with thrashing guitars and drums, the sould rises and falls like a tidal wave of emotion. The concert was at the Zodiac which I had never been to before. I checked the location on the internet and printed off a map. I knew I had to get off at junction 8. So I passed J9 then J8A, I carried on a little further and then came to J6. I hate motorways!!! I got off the motorway I turned back and found J8 which of course was only on the M40 heading north. I arrived at about 6.30pm and head to the nearest pub to kill a bit of time and then headed off to the gig. The Zodiac looked tiny on the outside, but inside it was quite large. It probably had room for about 300 people. The support band was okay but a little dull. Finally, Explosions in the Sky arrived on stage. The first song built up slowly into a crescendo of noise and the crowd started to cheer. Unfortunately, after that, the lead guitarist started to have problems with his guitar or amplifier, he spent half the gig trying to get the damn thing to work which killed the atmosphere somewhat. When they all played together the music was electric and took me off on a uplifting spiritual journey. Overall, the concert was a little disappointing due to the technical problems, but for a few glorious moments the music was mindblowingly brilliant. I hope to see the band again sometime in the near future. You have download a live concert at archive.org which is an excellent site for live music, but it helps if you have broadband. It can take two days to download a concert otherwise. Fortunately with the Explosions in the Sky concert you can download individual songs. I strongly recommend you check ou their music.

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