Running Down A Dream

So this is a kind of rambling post about my clichéd American dream in the light of recent events

Running down a dream, that never would come to me …

I had this crazy, clichéd American dream – I was crossing the great wide open, in a huge, beat up old RV – I was cruising long roads into nowhere stopping off in battered old gas stations and sad motels – I was driving east to west looking for Bagdhad café, Kerouac, a Fistful of Dollars, Aliens and Vegas – I wanted to start at Rockaway Beach or Coney Island and drift through road movies – I’d be heading out across the plains with Born to Run blasting out the speakers in the RV.

I guess that has always been my American dream – I could hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach and travel on down to sit on the Dock of the Bay.

Running down a dream that never would come to be

It’s Monday morning – had a sleepless night, running work through my head – that’s always Sunday through Monday – half awake with this giant checklist churning in my brain like one of those old dot matrix printers spewing out endless reams of paper – must do, must do , must do … and what if it never gets done ?

Monday morning road trip, the rain thudding down on the windscreen, stuck in a long line of early morning traffic – crawling at dead slow stop snail’s pace, past the bakery, the supermarket, the café, the gas station – turn right at the lights and crawl on. Monday morning, half awake, half asleep – running down a dream ? I’m Running on empty.

Switch on the radio « Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door » – Guns and Roses version – Oh how I hate this song now – it’s been a staple of every band I’ve ever played in – « And now folks here’s a song about a dying sheriff … » – that’s how I announce it now – switch channels and there is news coming in about a mass shooting in Las Vegas – rain outside in the blurred half light of Monday morning and mass murder – feels like that big black cloud really is coming down. In France we are stiil reeling from the latest terrorist « attrocity » – two girls stabbed to death at the St Charles train station in the southern city of Marseilles – two students – both cousins aged 20 and 21 killed by a knife weilding madman who proferred God’s greatness and then hacked up two girls because they were girls – and now a 64 year old mad man who slaughters fans at a country music festival because … because they lke country music ? Because they wear Stetsons and cowboy boots ? Because he is mad ???

The profiler/psychiatrist /specialist professer guy on the radio is asked to speculate about a motive and the « profile » of the assassin. « Is he mad ? » asks the journalist of the expert. « We can’t say the killer is mad, for him, his actions are probably perfectly sane and logical. »

Running down a dream – news comes later in the week about the sad death of Tom Petty

« US Rocker Tom Petty … » announces the BBC – I never thought of him as a « Rocker » but as a poet – I suppose his words were the inspration of my clichéd American dream – I loved his road trip style, far flung, small town, dead town wanderings – listening to Tom Petty, I’d just want to esape to somewhere that was probably nowhere. He had a sideways, poetic, vison of the American dream, that seemed achievable « Even the losers, get lucky sometimes. »

Back in Vegas, the death toll gets bigger as the media rolls out non-stop coverage. I’ve got this kind of 9/11 feeling in the pit of my stomach as news comes in that terrorist group, Islamic State have claimed responsibility for the massacre – 64 year old former accountant/property developper/banker (the killer’s job changes with pretty much every news bulletin) – a white middle class senior with an unhealthy passion for guns, who would seemingly have undergone some fast-track, self-styled, internet radicalisation and then … It doesn’t fit.

I’m still in my American dream. My daughter mocks gently as she sees me consulting pages and pages of cowboy boots on Amazon. « OMG ! » laments the wife « You’re surely not going to …  not at your age. » Dreary, caustic disbelief . And why can’t I have a pair – I’m only just in my early fifties.

I suppose my American dream is still that fuelled by my American idols, from Lou Reed to Ray Bradbury, A Tom Petty, a Joey Ramone, some Lynyrd Skynyrd and Kurt Vonnegut with Patti Smith. I’d like New York Punk, a trip to Coney Island, Breakfast at Tiffanys – an RV ride to Aliens in Nevada and to top it all, a ride on the Chattanooga Choo Choo. – My wierd American dream scape littered with silver rocket ships, flying saucers, vast graveyards of planes left to « die » in the desert sun and rolling up to a battered old gas station on route 66 behind the wheel of my Chevvy Impala asking some « old timer » for some « gas » .

So, at the end of this clichéd and confused post, I guess that I am trying to says that I have, for years, been nursing a stilted and very personal vision of my American dream that procludes the Las Vegas Massacre. My dream is inspired by all my favourite muisical and literary clichés. For me the US is still this giant and impossible gritty western. It is Josey Whales peppered with Steppenwolf. I supoose this is like Americans who thin of the UK as all Bowler hats and afternoon tea ( oh dear). But I wanted in foremost and earnest fashion to sat that my heartfelt sympthies go out to all American readers after the Las Vegas massacre. My love to you all.

Small Day Hot Town Blues- No Road Trip this Summer

“I got those small day hot town blues baby …”

Yep, temperatures are starting to soar again on this, another weekend for the great French summer getaway. All routes to the sea have been at gridlock all day, with police and the national road authorities describing driven conditions as “black” – meaning just don’t leave home today if you want to get anywhere soon.

Small town, hot day, I am reminded of all those songs about spending a long hot summer “kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town,” – My dreary small town favorites – that Tom Petty classic “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” – slow summer in a hermetic tupperware kind of town. For urban boredom – the Jam song “That’s Entertainment.”

Your soul i screaming for adventure but your bank balance is telling you to stay home. No titles on these, just your judgement. “Small Day, Hot Town.” or “No Road Trip this Summer” – it is 35°c and all you want is shade or a week by the sea. You need release.

You need to get away “Autres destimations” – written on every mail box in France – that slot where you post letters to other places where you want to be. Those places that others send you postcards from, wishing that you were there, and you wish you were

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No road trip this summer. Your car ain’t fit for tripping.

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If you can’t afford a garage, you’ve just gotta keep the car in the garage.

No money to get away, you gotta look closer to home for your place in or out of the sun.

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London and the New Blitz

25 years ago, when I moved from London, to my provincial French bubble, keeping up with events in the UK was a challenge – the occasional British newspapers that made it down to my corner of small town rural France, would always arrive a couple of days late, and if I wanted to keep up with events on a daily basis, I’d flick on the radio to listen to the BBC World Service – coming through loud and clear with everything happening everywhere in except for that place I used to call home. On a good day, with the wind in the right direction I could occasionally get weak, crackly and erratic reception of the BBC « Home Service » in the modern guise of BBC Radio 4.

Now, I am fully aware and connected to events in London thanks to satellite TV and Internet. I can watch BBC London News over breakfast, knowing that delays on the Central Line, traffic chaos at the « Sun in the Sands » roundabout or roadworks on the M25 or cancelled Woolwich ferries, will have no effect on my journey to work. I like the « nostalgic » ex pat disconnect – a distant and reassuring view from deepest France of life in that place I once called home – and as long as London life trundles on …

Then there are those mornings when you hook up, switch on, tune in, connect from your disconnect and just think out loud with a huge F word on your lips – « this can’t be happening? – Not in London. »

Westminster Bridge, London Bridge, Borough Market – this isn’t happening, I know those places. I’d walk across London Bridge everyday to get to class when I as a student. I’d often go for a few pints in the pubs in and around the Borough on the South bank – starting off at The Anchor and finishing up at the Market Porter before getting my train from London Bridge Station – there’s a big slice of my life around there, including that wet night in February 1989 when my partner and I had our first embrace, leaned up against a lamp post just a few years from the Anchor pub. And now, London, I go as a visitor to see my dearest lifelong friends who still live there.

Innocents mowed down by madmen on the bridges, diners an drinkers hacked to death in Borough market, a policeman stabbed at the gates of Parliament in the shadow of Big Ben – I know that place well, my dad was a parliamentary correspondent for the Reuters news agency – he was always taking us up to Parliament for visits, we’d have a coke in the press bar, we’d have our tea in the Parliamentary canteen, and every Christmas, we’d go to the Christmas party held in the bar normally reserved for Members of Parliament. These are places that were (and are still part of my life.)

I‘ve spent the past few weeks glued to the TV watching every event as it unfolds. French news has taken second place, from the recent Presidential, to this weekend’s parliamentary election in France – both events seem relatively unimportant.

I suppose the first bombshell was last year’s European Referendum result. A slim majority of elderly « Little Englanders » had voted us back into the past – by the time Brexit finally happens, most of them will be dead – and then in recent weeks, the terrorist attacks and now the tragic fire at Grenfell House in West London. All this as Brexit negotiation loom large on the horizon. There is of course no link between Brexit and other tragic events, save one – Britain is in trauma and frankly the Powers-That-Be, cannot cope.

Theresa May’s lack of compassion and action on the Grenfell House fire is shocking, the fact that on a visit to the site of the tragedy, the Prime Minister had to be « evacuated » under police escort to protect her from the anger of residents and survivors is proof that she should have and could have done more and more quickly.

I wanted to draw a parallel with the London Blitz, that period in the early years of World war Two, when German Luftwaffe flew nightly raids over London, trying to bomb the city and Britain into submission. Everyday from September 7th 1940 to May 10th 1941, Londoners lived with the prospect of death as a daily reality.

There are those « heroic » images of the time of Churchill, smoking his cigar and picking his was across the rubble of bombed buildings. There are Pathé newsreels showing the King and Queen visiting the devastated streets of the East End. This week though we haven’t seen similar deeds by Theresa May or her ministers.

The local authorities have also seemed strangely inactive, even non-existent. All support for survivors of the fire has been community and charity based – with financial and matériel donations pouring into the area from ordinary people.

People power or people pulling together in adversity just to survive – that was one of the « legends » of the Blitz – solidarity and self help born in adversity – a kind of collective survival instinct fuelled by anger and defiance.

To be fair to the local council – Kensington and Chelsea – they did wheel out the deputy council leader for the benefit of he nation’s media – an inept, tongue-tied, curly-haired but fresh-faced official looking more like a young graduate than a seasoned politician, unconvincingly reassured viewers that the council were doing « everything we can » to handle the situation.

I would like to add that no one from the company that carried out the refurbishment of Grenfell House has been questioned, and there are some serious questions to be answered, on the refurbishment and the materials used (cladding)

What is clear is that no one in authority is actually Handling anything, people are fending for themselves.

In the terror attacks on London (and let us not forget Manchester) it is clear that the Emergency Services did their best to cope, however all these tragédies prove one thing, the authorities cannot cope, and if (God forbid) there were a serious of major attacks on London or a major disaster, people would be helpless.

They say that a week is a long time in politics. Just a few days ago, Mrs May was striding her way back into 10 Dowing Street, sure and safe in the knowledge that she would be Prime Minister – with a little help from a minority protestant party with a 19th century vision of the world. She was ready to go for Brexit, but now ? I would say , expect the unexpected. The tragic fire at Grenfell House was way off anyone’s radar, and these events in north west London and the ensuing government indifference and inaction – well they are events strong enough to bring the newly elected government down.

What all these tragic events show is that Londoners are all Londoners, regardless of race, colour, creed or origin and they are all pulling together. These tragic events also show that all Londoners regardless of race, creed, colour or origin – new Londoners or old Londoners – they are (we are) all targets. Like our ancestors in the Blitz, death is back on the agenda as a daily reality.

In her official birthday message today, the Queen qualified the last few weeks as « sombre times. » These words from her majesty carry far more weight than Mrs May’s timid words of sympathy ? May I suggest now that Her Majesty backs up words with action and flings a few million pounds the way of Grenfell House.

Finally this « Blitz » comparison does leave one huge question – were the authorities at the time of the London Blitz really able to cope or did London survive thanks to the brave men and women of the emergency services and the solidarity of Londoners and their sheer bloody mindedness ? Certainly the latter.

So, on this warm, and thankfully peaceful afternoon in rural France ; I have spent an hour scribbling away in what I call « Cross Channel gazing » – a sideways look across the water in that land that was once home. So far from the realities of anything in my ex-pat disconnect, until, the day it happens here.

Historical Info

The London Blitz Septembet 7th 1940 to May 10th 1941. An estimated  43,000 dead and 48,000 to 138,000 injured.

 

 

Road Movie Biker Wanderlust and Swedish Furniture

Unstructured ramblings on over 50’s wanderlust, Swedish furniture and sympathies for all you poor bastards with hybrid cars who accelerate at the speed of a dead snail. Enjoy

If life was a road movie at the moment, I’d be cruising sedately through those areas of commercial space known as “edge lands”, where the first ragged remnants of countryside, rubbish dumps, car washes and junkyards meet the last drab dregs of urban sprawl – rubbish dumps, car washes and junkyards

I’d be cruising along an endless highway, lined with supermarkets, DIY stores, car dealerships, fast food outlets and discount shops.

No 67 Chevrolet Impala convertible for me – I’d be driving a modest, white, four-door-family saloon ; possibly of Japanese manufacture with a hybrid petrol/electric motor.

On the radio, nothing as dangerous as Rock and Roll, but perhaps an adult « AOR » or «  easy listening » station with just a hint of Rod Stewart or Elton John wafting out the speakers

Nothing too dangerous in this road movie comfort zone and nothing magical, mysterious, subversive or even vaguely interesting about my destination – I’m probably just driving to a Swedish furniture store to pick up a beige sofa or a set of shelves. I’m not even going to get out the car and go in the shop to look, I’ve done a click and collect

I’m not looking for a Thelma and Louise Blues Brothers Fast and Furious Grand Theft Auto adventure – that’s all just a little too much. I think I’m like all those in-between late middle aged early retiree guys of my generation – I’ve got a kind of wanderlust but I don’t want to wander too far in case I miss my dinner and my favourite early evening TV shows.

It started on Sunday, when I nipped out to buy a newspaper. The lady at the counter handed me a « new » magazine for « young seniors » or « the active over-fifties » – the latter written in an exciting red typeface and screaming me at me from the front page.

No way am I a young senior
Yes I’m over fifty

Yes I am active BUT I have a mental age of nineteen and I am a singer in a rock and roll band (with three other guys who are all over fifty) and that actually sounds pretty sad. I shouldn’t be out gigging of a night, I should be home wearing a tracksuit and slumped in a sofa with a beer in one hand and a remote control in the other.

So, it was my Sunday morning newspaper buying mission and I declined that kind offer of a special offer on the new young/oldie magazine. As my eyes scanned the shlves in search or reading matter though, I was attracted by wo magazines that might just quench my wanderlust – a monthly review of camper vans (or recreational vehicles as our transatlantic readers refer to them) – second a motorbike magazine with a special supplement on « biker dads » – all those “adulescents” like me who wanted a motorbike and never had one – I’m flicking thought the pages and – I’d love a Suzuki Van Van – a 125cc dune bike, with thick tyres and youthful looks – and just oozing biker dad attitude. Safe but mildly subversive

I wanna buy a motorbike and have sedate easy rider Sundays in the country. I wanna cruise down the Swedish furniture store in my leather jacket and have saunter round before I do the click and collect. I just wanna hop on my bike and go places that aren’t so far that I can’t be back home in time for dinner.

Bikes though, dangerous things. What if I fall off or got too fast or … Camper vans far better. I love camper vans. I’m always amazed how van designers manage to cram a luxury bijoux residence into such a small space – all fold out Formica lifestyle. I need a van. I want to drive to the sea, park up by a long deserted sandy beach, brew up a strong cup of tea and then stare out across the ocean, wondering what lies beyond.

Bike, or van, or both. The wife can drive the van as I ride the bike, and when I get tired, I can strap the bike on the back of the van.

Here’s the dream, to use the above combination for a great Tour De France of all the places I’ve lived or visited since I ever started coming to France as a kid in the seventies. What wondrous wanderlust.

Dreaming is great, but instead of writing about great travel plans, I should start by getting on the web abd booking a summer holiday.

Be Kind, Random or Otherwise.

Everyday is a national or international day. Every lobby or interest group has its day. One American website (http://www.nationaldaycalendar.com) claims there are more than 1200 such days every year, a similar French website (http://www.journee-mondiale.com/les-journees-mondiales.htm) lists 459 – one thing you can be sure, there are only 365 days a year, so some of these « promotional days » or « awareness days are going to clash.

The world is just recovering, from the emotional and Financial strains of Valentine’s Day – but rather than the ritual and often forced celebration of love, wouldn’t you have rather celebrated National Ferris Wheel Day? So, this one didn’t figure on the French calendar of national days, meaning that depending were you live, all awareness days are different.

It seems that the Americans have far more national days than anyone. Take this last week as an example

13 February  National clean out your computer Day

14 February  National Ferris Wheel Day

15 February  National Gumdrop Day

16 February  National Do a Grouch a Favor Day

17 February   National Acts of Random Kindness day

18 February  National Drink Wine Day

19 February  National Chocolate Mint Day

Every lobby has its day and I for one will certainly be celebrating National Drink Wine Day, which in France is everyday – in fact there are none of these days I would not consider celebrating, but there also just too many days to celebrate.

Today, 17th February is officially International Acts of Random Kindness Day – so it was announced on this morning’s news. The journalist however failed to mention that, in the USA at least; it is also National Cabbage Day.

What exactly is an act of random kindness? (I would suggest that not serving your loved ones cabbage for dinner this evening is an act of kindness.) And how can kindness be random?

Take the journalist on the BBC this morning, standing outside a train station and offering cakes to total strangers. Already by having decided to offer up cakes was not a random, but rather a conscious and pre-planned act. Of course there were no takers, just bemused faces of passengers entering and leaving the station. A complete stranger offers you a cake in the street – my first thought « is it poisoned », secondly « what is the pay off? Nothing is free » and finally « just ignore this person, he or she is obviously mad and I just don’t want to get involved »

How do you decide what act of kindness to perform, on whom and when?

Why simply be kind today? Kindnesses can be performed everyday and in that context they are simply acts of common courtesy.

Holding a door open for the person behind you. Kindness, yes, but also common courtesy and common sense. I’m not just going to let go of the door and send it smashing into the face of the person behind me. We live in a litigation age, if I dent your nose with a closing door, you might just get one of those injury compensation lawyers on to me.

Simple acts of daily courtesy can make all the difference

There’s the lady behind me in the supermarket queue, she’s only buying one item and I have a whole cart load of shopping – hey just let her through – common courtesy – I often do this and sometimes live to regret it – the day I let an old lady pass through and she called up her husband who appeared with huge bags of shopping. I protested. « But you let me in front» she protested back and it all finished with me jostling back in front of the old dear.

Courtesy on the road to help traffic flow. Let the car out the side street, slow don and let the guy changing lanes to get in … perhaps he’s having a rotten day, perhaps he’s in a hurry. I’ve just made his life a little easier.

I’m a great believer in that old phrase « what goes around comes around » which I suppose is anther way of saying « you reap what you sow ». Enough acts of daily common courtesy and you’ll find that when you need to change lanes or jump the supermarket queue, it will happen. Kindness always happens and perhaps where you least expect it or when you most need it.

So, National Drink Wine day on 18th February in the USA, whilst in France we will be marking the International Right to Strike Day – that’s very French, my only question, why does it fall on a Saturday and not a working day?

I guess some of these national and international days are a bit frivolous. February 19th (according to my French website) is International Whale Awareness day whilst in the USA it is National Mint Chocolate Day, when the US National Confectioners Association will have you all guzzling … mint flavoured chocolate (is that different to chocolate flavoured mints?). My favourite up and coming day is February 21st when Americans will be marking National Sticky Bun Day. Perhaps as an act of Random Kindness I’ll stand in the street on that day and offer up sticky buns to bemused passers-by.

http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/rak-week

OF RESOLUTIONS AND REVOLUTIONS

Possibly my last post about New Year (promise)

A GOOD RESOLUTION, A LIFE-CHANGING REVOLUTION, RESOLVING TO DO GOOD DEEDS AND WHEN TO TAKE DOWN YOUR CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS

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It is that time of year, the turning of the year when we resolve to make ourselves better, fitter, happier healthier people. We decide, to give up bad habits, to divest ourselves of those physical or mental burdens that make us unhappy. We resolve to change our ways. We are full of good intentions.

Ah yes, the good old New Year’s resolution, but never a revolution. Where there is a will there is a way and it will take us all our frail human determination to accomplish those goals which we have set ourselves, therefore, we are not going to undertake anything too difficult that might just revolutionise our lives. Radical change? Heaven forbid. Just the act of going back to work after the festive blip is going to require a heroic effort.

The return to normal life. I know on the first day back at work, everyone will be wearing glazed expressions of emptiness. It will be like a train station or an airport during a computer glitch or a system failure – transport staff put up large signs “Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible”. We will all be wearing such signs until late January, when finally the last vestiges of Christmas decoration have been taken down and it feels like we are all “back to normal”.

Hold on though, why are we all heading back to work when it is still officially Christmas? Why are we all slaving away? The Wise men haven’t arrived yet. Jesus is still in his manger and Mary and Joseph are still sitting in the stable. Christmas does not officially finish until February 2nd – Candlemass or Midwinter’s Day. Why are you ripping down the Decorations on Twelfth Night? You can leave them up until Candlemass. Yes, but isn’t it just a tad depressing, heading off to work on those cold January mornings with your tree and tinsel still up? Yep, what is worse than crawling to work in mid-January and passing shops and houses still festooned in their festive garb.

Candlemass

Candlemass commemorates the presentation of the baby Jesus at the Temple. In a more “sinisiter” vein, it also marks the ritual purification of Mary 40 days after the birth of her son.

Up until the late nineteenth and early twentieth century the “purification” of young mothers was a common ceremony in some churches – it was called “Churching” – There was something inherently sinful in the act of procreation and something “unhealthy” about the act of childbirth, therefore young mothers underwent a purification ceremony before they were allowed back in church again, or allowed to take Holy Communion.

This ritual purification dates back to biblical times. When Women weren’t allowed to worship at the Temple or Synagogue after childbirth. The length of time that women were excluded from worship depended on the sex of their baby. In the case of a boy, young mums got a 40 day ban that increased to 60 days if they had given birth to a girl. So, if Jesus had been Jessica, we might well be keeping our Christmas decoration up until late February.

Jesus or Jessica ?

Of course Jesus wasn’t Jessica, but I am just wondering, if, next Christmas I could ask my employer for forty days off work for the festivities?

Oh Lord! Can you imagine celebrating Christmas for 40 consecutive days.?

40 days or 60 days. If Jesus had been Jessica, that would certainly have thrown the Christian calendar out of synch. Imagine Jessica spending 60 days in the wilderness – a 60 day long Lent. Of course this means that Easter would come 60 days after Ash Wednesday, meaning that Easter would fall firmly in Spring and we might actually get some decent weather for Easter.

Candlemass, like all good Christian ceremonies is of course based on a Pagan Ceremony – Midwinter’s day and the Festival of Light. Time to light a few candles and bonfires to mark the halfway stage of winter and a slow return to longer days right up until June 21st – Midsummer’s Day, the point at which days start to get shorter. Seems a bit weird that those long summer days are actually getting shorter in the run up to winter.

A Good Deed a day

 So, back to resolutions. I have decided to have daily resolutions or rather good intentions – that good old boy scout thing of « a good deed a day ». Some small act that will make someone else’s existence a little easier such as holding a door open for the person behind me, rather than letting it fly and shut firmly in their face.

Yes, there are plenty of day-to-day things you can do. When you driving along a main road with a huge line of cars behind you, why not stop and let through the poor bastard who has been waiting all day to come out of a side road. Do the same at roundabouts, give way to a couple of cars. If every motorist just let one car through on a roundabout it would do wonders for traffic flow. In the same way, stop at crossings and let that little old lady across.

Pity The Old Lady and her tin of cat food

Good deeds in shops. There you are at the checkout, a trolley laden with shopping and behind you, a fellow customer with just one or two items. Let the, frail little old lady with her tin of cat food go in front of you. Statistically you have longer to live than her. So you have the time as she pays for her cat food in one cent coins.

For all those small good deeds you do, the one day that you need a good deed just to make life a little easier, well generally it happens just when you need it.

And finally a good deed that costs nothing. A warm morning greeting with a smile for friends, neighbours and colleagues. You know, when you are down in the mouth with a bad case of the Monday morning blues, it just takes a smile and a heartfelt greeting from a colleague to make your day.

Sun-Drenched Beach

Oh dear, this all sounds so trivial, but then you don’t need a spanner in the works to make the machine breakdown, sometimes just a grain of sand will do. I’m hoping my grains of sand will pile up and form into one long sun drenched beach, for this is also that time of year that we traditionally think about booking our summer vacation, and every year, the stress levels in our house go through the roof as I annoy my family with holiday plans. This year I’ll go with the flow and pick up something at the last minute. And so, to my final resolution – cease stressing those around me with my plans, fears, worries and good intentions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THOU SHALL HAVE FUN (but without fireworks) OR “Making the Party Playlist”

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Thou Shall Have Fun

New Year’s Eve – party time – « Thou shall have fun » resounds the First New Year Commandment. No matter how awful you feel – you shall have fun, and as the clock strikes 12 and the new year begins, all your fears, troubles and problems will melt away like an ice cream in a micro wave oven ;

Ice Cream in the micro wave

Hey that is a rotten metaphor, who the F*** puts their ice cream in a micro wave ? Well I do folks – those small individual pots of Haggen Daz or Ben and Jerrys that I like to scoff in front of the TV – straight out of the freezer they are just too cold and I haven’t got the patience to leave them out long enough to melt just a little – so one minute on « defrost » in the microwave, just to thaw them out a little.

So, here am I trying to enter into the spirit of things for this, the last big festive hurdle of the year.

No Fireworks

Off to the « party » shop to buy few fireworks and bangers for tonight – I know it is still thick fog outside, but I had this dream of setting of huge rockets into the night sky – make a wish on a rocket, light the blue touch paper and then send it skywards before it explodes into a mass of mulitcoloured stars that fall back to earth – each star is part of my wish or my dream that I want to share with the world.

« Sorry » says the gum-chewing trainee down the party shop. We’re not allowed the sell fireworks this year. »

« Why ? » I ask

« It’s ‘cos it’s the law » she limply explains and chews

The manager comes over and explains that due to the current state of emergency in France, the sale of fireworks has been forbidden and under the state of emergency it is forbidden to let fireworks off from 26th December to 2nd January.

“I don’t want to blow anyone up” I persist.

We had all this last year – gangs of youths buying massive rockets and firing them at the police.

New Year’s Playlist

No matter, my contribution to the party will be musical – my new year’s playlist.

Something old

Something new

Something borrowed

Something blue

Looking for « old » songs with a new year’s theme. That U2 classic « New Year’s Day » , so when the adults are all drunk in the wee small hours, they can cavort around again pretending they are teenagers – much to the embarassment and disgust of their kids. I know there was also an ABBA song entitled « Happy New Year » – Oh dear, I’m not doing very well on this am I. What about a few tracks from those we have lost ? Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen … why not a blast of Debbie Reynolds ?

« Good morning, good morning – we’ve drunk the whole night through, good morning hangover to you…. » (revised lyrics)

Nostalgia – something else I have resolved to give up – Living in the past. (Jethro Tull ?) I had a nostalgia-driven pre-Christmas trip to London. I had promised myself to visit all those places from my past that had some kind of meaning. Too depressing, the past is dead and those places will never be the same. Talking about old times makes me acutely aware that I have more life behind me than I do in front of me. This year will be living in the present and the future. Go on, let’s have one nostalgia-driven track, that Bruce Springsteen classic « Glory Days. »

Something new ????? I’l leave that for the kids. I can’t think of any one single song this year that has made a lasting impression on me – come to think of it, I can’t really remeber any of this year’s songs. The first signs of dementia ? Well here’s one that got in the charts and I sing with the band – « Counting Stars » by One Republic .

Something borowed ? Guess I can find a decent cover version of an old song that is suitable for a New Year’s party  (I’ can’t think of anything for the moment)

Forget the « blues » – I swore that this would be the year I stopped singing the blues. Yeah, one or two blues tunes in the band répertoire, but no more. The blues is just so boring to listen to. I defy anyone to listen to more than three Robert Johnson songs without wanting to slit their wrists. I supose at relaunched the blues for my generation was when Eric Clapton went unplugged in 1992 and of course there was always the nostalgia around the Blues Brothers. I guess we all need somone to love, so I’ll at least have that one.

I would like to add some songs of hope to this. « Stairway to Heaven » is just too cheesy now, so I’ll opt for a song by Oasis entitled « Stay Young »

Hey! stay young and invincible

Cos we know just what we are

And come what may we’re unstoppable

Cos we know just what we are

Even at 51, I’ve got to stay young. Strange though, as I get older, I feel younger and it’s all those younger than me who tell me what to do. So to this play list I will also add. « My Generation » by the Who.

Of course we need fireworks, (even if they are against the law this year ) – so we’ll have some courtesy of Katie Perry – the lyrics are what I would wish for you all next year

« Ignite the light and let it shine. »

So, here is my playlist

New Year’s day                        U2

Happy New Year                     Abba

« Good Morning »                    Debbie Reynolds (from Singing in the Rain)

Diamond Dogs                        David Bowie

Glory Days                              Bruce Springsteen

Counting Stars                        One Republic

Somebody to Love                 Blues Brothers Version

Stay Young                             Oasis

My Generation                        The Who

Firework                                 Katy Perry

And finally

« Auld Lang syne » – and I don’t know what the words mean, but it is traditional.

Happy new year folks.