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Monday, 31 December 2018

Happy New Year

This includes Facebook and Blogger friends 
as well of course!
I hope that 2019 brings you whatever you may wish for.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Season's Greetings

Who'd have thought The Beatles would be fans of 
West Ham United?

Sunday, 16 December 2018

The World of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Kurt Vonnegut fought in the Battle of the Bulge, the last major German offensive of World War II. His unit was inexperienced and sent to what was considered a “relatively quiet” area. He and many others were captured and sent by train to Dresden. The train was bombed by the British Royal Air Force and many were killed but he survived and became a prisoner of war, working in a factory by day and living in a “warehouse”. Dresden was not of any strategic importance and had little in the way of defence or air-raid shelters so when the controversial three-day blanket-bombing by Allied forces began, he hid in a cellar during that time, which was full of “hanging cadavers”. When he emerged Dresden was mostly gone - flattened by the carpet-bombing.
It has often been remarked that war leads to the production of great art and literature. In Vonnegut’s case his experiences led to the creation of his greatest and most successful work: Slaughterhouse Five. The building he had been living in was an abattoir or ‘slaughter house’.
He expounds his philosophy through this crazy, original, thought-provoking book whose protagonist is Billy Pilgrim. There are multiple themes in the book; I would say that the major ones include: the folly of war, free will (or rather, the lack of it) and time. Not only is the time sequence not linear, it’s not just flashbacks either – it’s all over the place!
Also appearing in Slaughterhouse Five is Kilgore Trout, a character used at various times by Vonnegut in several books, (at least his name is) said by critics to be at least partly an autobiographical creation. Trout is a poverty-stricken struggling science-fiction writer. In this book he acts as a catalyst for the main character, Billy Pilgrim.
If science-fiction is not your thing, I would still commend this book to you as it is one of the most important American novels of the 20th century and Vonnegut one the vital writers.
Here are some quotes from Slaughterhouse Five:
“Among the things Billy Pilgrim could not change were the past, present, and future.” 
“They were adored by the Germans, who thought they were exactly what Englishmen ought to be. They made war look stylish and reasonable, and fun...
They were dressed half for battle, half for tennis or croquet.”

“Billy licked his lips, thought a while, inquired at last: "Why me?" 
"That is a very Earthling question to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber?"
"Yes." Billy, in fact had a paperweight in his office which was a blob of polished amber with three lady-bugs embedded in it. 
"Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.” 

And the most famous one of all:
"...and so it goes..."

I'm listening to the late J.J.Cale singing City Girls. You can listen HERE.

Friday, 7 December 2018

The Poet Roger McGough

This is a re-post from four years ago:
I went recently, with my younger daughter, Laura, to hear the Liverpool poet Roger McGough reading works from his long career. In the 1960's he used to be in the band Scaffold with Paul McCartney's brother, Mike McGear.
It was in our local library with a small audience and it was a very entertaining evening, both funny and moving by turns. I bought a few books and told him that the last one of his that I bought was as a teenager - many years ago. He looked at me over the top of his glasses with mock horror! He still has an element of that Liverpool wit, long associated with The Beatles.
Roger McGough today

And in the 1960s, left, with the group Scaffold.
Paul McCartney's brother, Mike McGear is in the centre.
Here are a few of his poems to enjoy:

God bless all policemen
and fighters of crime,
May thieves go to jail 
for a very long time. 
They've had a hard day
helping clean up the town,
Now they hang from the mantelpiece
both upside down. 
A glass of warm blood
and then straight up the stairs,
Batman and Robin
are saying their prayers. 
* * *
They've locked all the doors
and they've put out the bat,
Put on their batjamas
(They like doing that) 
They've filled their batwater-bottles
made their batbeds,
With two springy battresses
for sleepy batheads. 
They're closing red eyes
and they're counting black sheep,
Batman and Robin
are falling asleep.
We're the Mafia cats
Bugsy, Franco and Toni
We're crazy for pizza
With hot pepperoni
We run all the rackets
From gambling to vice
On St Valentine's Day
We massacre mice
We always wear shades
To show that we're meanies
Big hats and sharp suits
And drive Lamborghinis
We're the Mafia cats
Bugsy, Franco and Toni
Love Sicilian wine
And cheese macaroni
But we have a secret
(And if you dare tell
You'll end up with the kitten 
At the bottom of the well
Or covered in concrete
And thrown into the deep
For this is one secret
You really must keep.)
We're the Cosa Nostra
Run the scams and the fiddles
But at home we are
Mopsy, Ginger and Tiddles
Lastly, to show that there can be depth as well as humour.....
I explain quietly. You
hear me shouting. You
try a new tack. I
feel old wounds reopen.

You see both sides. I
see your blinkers. I
am placatory. You
sense a new selfishness.

I am a dove. You
recognize the hawk. You
offer an olive branch. I
feel the thorns.

You bleed. I
see crocodile tears. I
withdraw. You
reel from the impact. 
I am listening to Dissatisfied Blues by 
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee. Listen HERE!