Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, bloglings. I hope you’re having fun, spending it with people you care about, and taking the time to reflect on the year gone and look forward to the year ahead.

2006 has been a really interesting year. Some good stuff, some not so good. 2007 looks like being a year of transition and change for so many people I know, and I hope and pray for all of them that those are changes for the better, changes that enable them to live more deliberately, more fully and to see their own potential for changing the world around them.

I hope you enjoyed the parties… onward and upwards into the new year, friends. xx


So Saddam Hussein has been executed. Tried in an Iraqi court for one of the many crimes he was clearly very very guilty of, and then sentenced to death. Killed for killing. The act of killing brutalises the killer, whether that be the government who sanction it, or a murderer who slaughters in cold blood. Iraqi democracy hasn’t been promoted through this, Saddam hasn’t ‘paid’ for his crimes, none of those he committed such atrocious acts against have received any restitution, and to delight in someone’s death is to allow yourself to be drawn into the brutality of their actions… Should be forgive Saddam? That’s not for me to say, as someone personally unaffected, but as someone who thinks the death penalty is a profoundly immoral law, I can’t possibly take any pleasure in his death, and am sickened by the celebratory way it’s been reported…

I was initially also sickened by the comment from the government, reported on the BBC site , but as the full quote taken from the CNN site below shows, she was grossly misrepresented on the BBC site…

“I welcome the fact that Saddam Hussein has been tried by an Iraqi court for at least some of the appalling crimes he committed against the Iraqi people. He has now been held to account. [the next bit was missed from the BBC site] The British Government does not support the use of the death penalty, in Iraq or anywhere else… We have made our position very clear to the Iraqi authorities, but we respect their decision as that of a sovereign nation.”

If you miss the second half of that, it’s a completely different quote…

Anyway, Saddam’s execution is no cause for celebration, but it may be one for reflection for those who still see killing as a suitable punishment for killing. I hope and pray that the predicted upsurge in violence in Iraq is a misjudgement… As with so many of these things, there’s no pleasure at all in the doom-mongers on the left being right. I so hope they are wrong. People being killed and injured is never a good thing, least of all to prove a point.

The travel-pain of the ecomonkey

So, as y’all know, I avoided a short-haul flight by taking the train/boat/train route to Belfast. Train, fine. Boat, hideous – the roughest crossing I’ve ever had, bar none. A veritable storm which had me retching into a sickbag, and falling asleep on the floor, unable to crawl back up onto my chair. The food was also appalling.

Still, I’m here now, with the lovely and wonderful Gareth, looking forward to a great New Year. Just don’t ask me to go on any boat-rides over the weekend…

On the bits of the journey where I wasn’t asleep or puking, I watched ‘I Know I’m Not Alone‘ again – the Michael Franti film, and read a big chunk of ‘As Used On The Famous Nelson Mandela‘ by Mark Thomas – an INCREDIBLE book. Vital viewing, vital reading. Just don’t try it on an Irish ferry in a storm.

They say it's your birthday…

…it’s my birthday too, yeah!

Hurrah! Happy birthday me. 34 eh? Well, I made it to the big 3-4… er, OK.

Up v late today – first day for quite a few that I haven’t been woken up by nieces who think that jumping on uncle Stevie’s head at 8am is REALLY funny.

So how will I celebrate? By sorting out my accounts, of course! How else? Really ought to do some practice too, as I haven’t picked up a bass in almost a week. And then hopefully a hastily organised curry this evening… Yay!

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas y’all – I hope those of you that celebrate Christmas are having a fantastic day, spending it with people you love, and reflecting on the things that matter in your life.

For those that don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope you’re having a lovely time anyway!

I’m spending it in Somerset with my family, which is rather fun – it’s the first time I’ve been around kids on Christmas morning for quite a while, and it definitely takes on a whole other angle… My usual ‘grown up’ Christmas is usually just a day to relax and think about the birth of Jesus – this is the first year for ages that I’ve missed the Christmas eve and Christmas day services at St Luke’s, and it feels kinda strange, but it is lovely to see the kids down here.

Just watching Robert Beckford’s fascinating ‘Secret Family Of Jesus’ documentary – his program last year on ‘Who Wrote The Bible?’ was probably the best bit of TV I’ve ever seen on Christmas day, and this one’s pretty damn fine too.

Peace, in the name of the Prince of Peace (don’t you just wish that all those world leaders who claim to be Christians would remember that they are supposed to be following the Prince Of Peace?) xx

Don't forget – Juliet Turner at the Purcell Room tonight…

Another heads up for tonight’s gig at the Purcell Room – Juliet Turner, Boo Hewerdine and Brian Houston – a better singer/songwriter line-up you’d be very hard pushed to find. I’ll be there, so come and say hi and feel oh-so-festive at this most marvellous of gigs. There are still tickets available – details here – and look, you can go straight from work and catch Tomorrow’s Warriors in the foyer for free before the gig!

There is no better way to celebrate the friday before christmas than a day sorting out your tax accounts for the previous year, followed by a Juliet Turner gig, unless you left out the taxes bit…

more great thinking and writing on Climate Change…

No, that heading isn’t me bigging myself up for some super new poorly researched fanciful idea that I’ve come up with, it’s a reference to MarkLynas.org – Mark is the New Statesman’s chief writer on all matters climate change-related. He’s a great writer, and a very honest blogger by the looks of things.

I’m sure you’ve all by now book-marked monbiot.com for George’s weekly stuff about the same subject. Put Mark’s in alongside it… great stuff, and hopefully some inspiration to change the way we live a little…

rescuing great songs…

So, clearly The Cheat is on the same tip as me just now, and just sent me this Youtube link, to Brett Anderson (ex-Suede) doing ‘Beautiful’ – as made famous by Christina Aguillera… another great song… Christina’s version is rather nice too, certainly not in the same doleful performance league as Celine slaughtering ‘My Heart Will Go On’, but it’s another one that benefits from the acoustic treatment. Enjoy…

David Ford gig at Bush Hall

One of the guests at Duke Special’s gig last week was David Ford – fantastic singer/songwriter, and from the two minutes I spent talking to him, a seemingly v. nice bloke. He mentioned at that gig that he had a show coming up at Bush Hall, but it was sold out, and apologised for not being able to invite me to even buy a ticket and go… Fear not, for where bands can’t get tickets for their own shows, the mighty Catster can employ the dark forces of the evil empire to procure tickets to just about anything (if I was planning on having Christmas dinner at Bono’s house with his family, and I’m sure Catster could sort out a guestlist place… :o)

So, Catster, The Cheat and I all went to the gig, after a lovely curry at the Ajanta (scene of many many a curry with Jez when he was living in Shepherd’s Bush – come home, you fool – Canada is clearly not the place for you, I haven’t done a wedding gig since you left!)

The gig was an annual charity show that David does, with special guests, to raise money for different projects – this year’s was a YMCA project that took kids from problem situations and put them on a scheme for a few months that apparently helps them look at self-esteem and lifestyle issues before sending them off to Durban in South Africa to work on an HIB/AIDS project out there. Amazing stuff, gotta love the YMCA.

And the gig was amazing. David’s own songs are big emotional singer/songwriter affairs, like a more angry Damian Rice, and the choice of crazy covers for the night was briliant. Fran Healy from Travis did a fab version of Dancing Queen, then a completely acoustic version of Driftwood, stood on top of a grand piano played by David – that’s almost certainly on YouTube by now; if not I’ll upload my video of it, cos it was great.

David then picked songs at random out of a ‘number one hits of the last 30 years’ book, and played a blinding version of ‘My Heart Will Go On’ – how clever is Celine that she managed to make me hate what is now clearly a very very beautiful song? That takes quite a skill, a sort of reverse alchemy… Anyway, David played it fairly straight to start with, then went all uptempo and spoilt it, but still, it proved that with just a guitar and a voice, it’s an incredible song. He also did Like A Prayer with big audience sing-along, which worked brilliantly too, and Ashes to Ashes, but couldn’t remember the melody on the middle. Same for ‘If You’re Not The One’ by Daniel Beddingfield, another song I’ve loved since I first heard it (see Catster, I’m not ashamed to admit it!), which David again hinted at doing a beautiful version of before giving up… He could SO do an incredible covers album of tunes like that. maybe he will one day.

Anyway, all in a great night – extra kudos to his drummer, who was tops. The rest of the band were fun but a bit shambolic – great for a night like this, but not what you’d want on a proper gig. The drummer though was v. funky. Great player.

So now I need to catch a normal David Ford gig some time, to see what he does then. I’ll be the one down the front asking for ‘My Heart Will Go On’.