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God’s Work?

Words almost fail me.

After all, what can you say about an atrocity like this?

The triggering of the bomb took place after the concert had finished. The bomber must have known his targets included children. What on Earth can persuade anyone that the deliberate killing of children is justifiable? What sort of person can even contemplate that?

If it was the act of someone seeking a short cut to heaven what makes them think that a God worth following could ever condone such an act?

Not, anyway, a compasionate, merciful God, upon whom peace should be.

And if they think they are carrying out God’s will why in any case would a God need anybody’s help to work His purposes out? God is by definition omnipotent. Surely taking onto yourself the status of His helper/agent is blasphemy?

The response of the people of Manchester has been magnificent. Humanity trumping barbarism.

This post is for the dead, the injured, their families and all those with any connection to the aftermath of an act which was beyond despicable.

Friday on my Mind 149: Foot Tapper. RIP Brian Matthew

It was with great sadness I heard on Sunday of the death of Brian Matthew, one of the voices of my youth and, through the BBC Radio 2 programme Sounds of the Sixties, also of my recent adulthood.

This came only a few days after the BBC had mistakenly reported his death.

Despite his apparent dismay at a crass decision by the powers that be to replace him, and his stated intention to make further programmes for Radio 2, Mathew was obviously not as hale and hearty as he once was (none of us are.) There had been another lengthy absence from the programme a couple of years ago so the final news was merely a confirmation of what I had feared.

Whatever, Sounds of the Sixties is not – and never can be – the same without him. The new incumbent, Tony Blackburn, is far too chatty (what is all that stuff with Dermot O’Leary, who follows him on air? Just play the music and give us the information about the acts) and always sounds fundamentally unserious about the show’s contents. It’s Blackburn’s style and has always been his style but it grates somehow.

So. Here is the tune that will forever now be associated with Matthew – the one with which Sounds of the Sixties played (and plays) out every episode and which I will never in future be able to hear without a further tinge of sadness.

The Shadows: Foot Tapper

Brian Matthew: 17/9/1928 – 8/4/2017. So it goes.

May Day

So. This is May’s day.

… — … … — … … — …
Dot, dot, dot; dash, dash, dash; dot, dot, dot. Dot, dot, dot; dash, dash, dash; dot, dot, dot. Dot, dot, dot; dash, dash, dash; dot, dot, dot.
Mayday! Mayday!

We in the UK have recently been sailing troubled waters but now we are coming out of a lea shore and are about to enter the full blast of the storm. Who knows what the political landscape of these islands will look like in three years’ time? A second Scottish Independence referendum has been made ever more probable by the UK goverment’s stance on a so-called hard Brexit and deaf ear to other voices.

Scottish independence might have been achieved on a relatively friendly basis in 2014 but I doubt that’s at all likely now.

The febrile English nationalists (for that is what they are) who have driven this headlong rush over a cliff have no thought of (or care for) Scotland – and still less for Northern Ireland for which this represents a double crisis, the “cash for ash” scandal having led to a breakdown of the power sharing arrangements. They will exact a heavy price for what they will no doubt see as a betrayal of “England, their England”.

I believe Theresa May is trying to look stern when she lectures all and sundry in the House of Commons and on television but to me she looks threatening – as in, don’t dare cross me, my revenge will be sweet – despite there being no substance behind her bluster. Scotland can look for no favours from her.

I never thought that another politician could achieve a position lower in my esteem than Margaret Thatcher did but Theresa May has managed it. (David Cameron, aka Mr Irresponsible, though he is entirely responsible for the mess the UK now finds itself in and amply demonstrated his irresponsibility by doing so and more so by running away from the consequences, is merely a buffoon by comparison.) May is potentially dangerous. Not so much in herself as in what may come after her.

Chuck Berry

Reading his obituary and a piece in the Guardian’s G2 brought home to me how important Chuck Berry was to the development of rock and roll and the music that followed it.

His heyday was in the 50s so I had kind of missed all that by being too young. I must have been aware of him somewhere in the background via the paltry amount of rock music on the radio in those times but I didn’t really come into contact with his music till the mid to late 60s when some of his singles were in the pile beside the record player at a youth club I went to. It’s therefore No Particular Place to Go and Memphis Tenessee I remember most particularly. It wasn’t actually till years later that I discovered No Particular Place to Go was a reworking of a 1957 song, School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes the Bell).

Not the least of his accomplishments was to irritate Mary Whitehouse with his ding-a-ling. (Well, it seems it was Dave Bartholomew’s ding-a-ling, but it was Chuck who annoyed Whitehouse.)

His personal life may not have been unblemished but he certainly has an impressive musical back catalogue, and that’s only the singles.

So here are those two Berry singles the second in a later live version.

Chuck Berry: No Particular Place to Go

Chuck Berry: Memphis Tenessee

Go Johnny go! Tell Tchaikovsky the news.

Charles Edward Anderson “Chuck” Berry: 18/10/1926 – 18/3/2017. So it goes.

Two Today

I know I’ve not yet commemorated Chuck Berry. I’ll do so on Friday.

The news came today that Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse, has died.

Dexter had at one time the distinction of being the author whose books were most donated to charity shops. (At least in England. In Scotland Ian Rankin fills/filled that role.)

Norman Colin Dexter: 29/9/1930 – 21/3/2017. So it goes.

Looking at the news coverage of the death of Martin McGuiness I did wonder whether the UK was the only country in the world whose media reacted with such an emphasis on his terrorist past rather than his conversion to peacemaking and power sharing. Sinner that repenteth and all that.

(In this context I note Norman Tebbit’s characteristically pungent comments on McGuiness’s death. Anyone would think that Tebbit had never done anything in his life that warranted citicism. Some of the policies he supported as a government minister caused grief to tens – hundreds – of thousands of his fellow citizens – and perhaps the premature deaths of some of them. The tone of his comments suggest he feels McGuiness’s adoption of peace was not genuine. Well, Ian Paisley had much more reason to suspect McGuinness of duplicity yet managed to find common ground. Paisley’s son explicitly acknowledged the change in McGuiness’s attitude. Fair enough Tebbit’s wife was severely injured by the IRA so he has a pressing reason for his contumely but she wouldn’t have been in that hotel if she wasn’t his wife. Then again Tebbit has never been known for acknowledging the viewpoint of his political opponents.)

Whatever, McGuiness was one of the most prominent Irishmen of his times.

James Martin Pacelli McGuinness: 23/5/1950 – 21/3/2017. So it goes.

John Surtees

I was sorry to hear yesterday of the death of John Surtees, the only man to win a World Championship both on motor bikes and in F1 Cars.

John Surtees: 11/2/1934 – 10/3/2017. So it goes.

Tommy Gemmell

One of the Scottish footballing giants of my youth, Tommy Gemmell, has died.

Famous for that goal for Celtic in the 1967 European Cup Final which immortalised not only Jock Stein (as Bill Shankly said about the team’s manager) but the entire 11 as Lisbon Lions. It’s impossible to imagine a team composed of 11 players all born within thirty miles of their home stadium achieving anything similar these days. As it was nothing any of them did after that could ever surpass it.

Celtic did reach the European Cup Final again in 1970 and again Gemmell scored but Celtic lost that one in extra time.

Here’s some colour footage of the 1967 game along with interviews with the players from many years later:-

Thomas “Tommy” Gemmell: 16/10/1943 – 2/3/2017. So it goes.

Oscar Fail?

I don’t watch the Oscar ceremony. It’s an event which garners publicity way beyond its actual significance or importance for weeks beforehand and I’m not much into films anyway.

Notwithstanding that I couldn’t avoid the aftermath of this year’s do and its wrong envelope saga. Lead item on both the radio and TV news all day.

So the story that was to be the big thing from the Oscars this year didn’t happen: overshadowed by an apparently inexplicable mistake.

My first thought on hearing of what transpired was to wonder if any of this year’s award winners made any anti-Trump comments in their respective acceptance speeches. If they did I haven’t heard a word about them. And naturally it occurred to me that anyone behind the scenes wishing to avoid any discussion that such comments may have caused would have reason to feel very pleased indeed at the actual turn of events.

It may just have been an almighty cock-up (the usual explanation for bizarre occurrences) but if it was a conspiracy to deflect any possible criticism of the recipients and the so-called Academy from T Ronald Dump and his supporters it worked beautifully. I still don’t know the content of any of the winners’ speeches – at least one of which usually makes the news.

If this was a dead cat it was certainly a beezer. Possibly the most dead cat* ever.

Pedant’s corner:- *Yes, I know if a cat is dead, it’s dead and can’t be any more dead. There are no degrees to death after all.

The First Steps

Despite the First Amendment to the US Constitution the new President of that country has set in train a course by which freedom of speech in the US might be going to be curtailed.

This is the way a toddler responds to criticism. And neutering the press, is, of course, the way dictators behave.

It’s a classic tactic. Define an enemy against which your supporters can rally. Even when that so-called enemy represents the bedrock of your country’s system of governance – a system which you have sworn to protect.

Add in the fact T Ronald Dump has already gone for Muslims, Mexicans, transgender people, judges and now the press; who will be left to speak up when he comes for you?

To be clear, T Ronald, just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them a traitor to their – and your – country. Arguably it makes them more of a patriot than you are.

My country (or my President) right or wrong is a pernicious doctrine.

In fact in a democracy it is the highest duty of a loyal citizen to point out to his or her government when it is doing something wrong.

Core Values?

In yesterday’s Guardian G2 there was a wonderful scathing article written by the US born comedian Rich Hall dealing with recent events in his home country.

In it he satirises the US penchant for owning, and using on each other, firearms.

A striking sentence concerns the number of terrorist-related deaths carried out by people from the seven countries subject to the, now legally suspended at least till appeal, ban on entry to the US.

That number?

Zero.

(Though Hall does balance this by saying there have been three – thwarted – attacks using knives.)

I don’t suppose such satirising of what Hall characterises as the US core value of gun crime will change anyone’s mind, though.

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