Not Friday on my Mind 49: Legend of a Mind. RIP Ray Thomas

Ray Thomas, who died this week was a multi-instrumentalist not very well-served by most of the time on stage with The Moody Blues merely flourishing a tambourine or otherwise not seeming to do very much. That perception would be to undervalue him greatly.

It was his contribution as a flautist where he really counted, a contribution that only added to the already distinctive sound of the band. As a flautist in a rock band he was for a while unique. (Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull came along later as did Peter Gabriel with Genesis.) That flute embellished mightily the power of Nights in White Satin, the song which became emblematic of the revamped Moody Blues.

A founder member of the band in its first (bluesy) incarnation – Go Now etc – his solid bass voice enhanced the vocal harmonies which were so much a part of the re-incarnated band’s sound.

For some odd reason there seemed to be a regular order of song-writers in those early albums by the “new” Moodies with Thomas always having song three* on side one as one of his spots.

Among his songs were Another Morning*, Twilight Time, Dr Livingstone, I Presume?*, Dear Diary*, Lazy Day, Floating*, Eternity Road, with his collaborations with Justin Hayward, Visions of Paradise and Are You Sitting Comfortably? being especially memorable.

It was song five, side one on In Search of the Lost Chord, though, that was his apotheosis. That song was Legend of a Mind with a lyric about Timothy Leary and supposed mind expansion, “Timothy’ Leary’s dead, No, no, no, no, he’s outside looking in.” Apparently Leary once told Thomas the song made him more famous than anything he had ever done for himself.

But who needed drugs when music itself could be this transportive?

Here’s a promotional film for Legend of a Mind made around the time of its first release. Thomas’s flute solo here is sublime.

The Moody Blues: Legend of a Mind

Ray Thomas: 29/12/1941 – 4/1/2018. So it goes. Thanks for the trips round the bay.

Reunion on Alpha Reticuli II by Eric Brown

Part Three: The Telemass Quartet, P S Publishing, 2016, 80 p.

 Reunion on Alpha Reticuli II cover

In this third instalment of Brown’s ‘Telemass Quartet’ Matt Hendrick is still following one step behind his ex-wife, Maatje, and the sleep pod containing his dead daughter Samantha, this time landing on the resort world of Tourmaline, now awaiting the imminent arrival of a starship despatched long before the days of telemass and whose inmates in suspended animation coldsleep are blissfully unaware of what will greet them. On landing he is rescued from the clutches of one (poor) telepath in Maatje’s employ by another (better) one not so encumbered. This is Mercury Velasquez, who volunteers her help in Hendrick’ s quest.

Unlike in the previous instalment the plot this time is more centred on Hendrick’s pursuit of his daughter. Maatje and her new lover Horvath have engaged the services of a Zuterainian effectuator. who may be able to restore Samantha to life. Velasquez’s telepathic ability reveals the dangers in the procedure. However, no full resolution is achieved (Part Four is still to come after all) and Maatje, Horvath and the insensate Samantha give him the slip again.

No weird religion this time but at least two types of strange alien to be going on with. If I have a criticism it is that the ending (involving arrival of the starship) is perhaps overly sentimental. But Brown has always emphasised human considerations.

Pedant’s corner:- In the cover – and internal – blurb; “all is not as it seems” (not all is as it seems.) Otherwise: “‘None of us like our private thoughts made public’” (ought to be “none of us likes”, but it was in dialogue, so may be true to the character,) an albino girl is described as having silver pupils (pupils? Not irises? And don’t albinos have pink irises anyway?) “‘pre-Telemass, pre-Expansion, prealmost everything we take for granted’” (to fit with the other two that should be pre-almost everything,) a missing comma at end of a speech quote, “‘Vizzek would have gone through the charade’” (through with the charade,) “‘Maatje’s might still be on’” (Maatje might still be on,) “‘I read you pain’” (your pain,) “Hendrick hitched himself onto high seat” (onto a high seat,) “him and his fellows humans” (him and his fellows; or, him and his fellow humans,) last line, difficultly (difficulty,) “he might have been able to accept it easier than” (‘he might have been able to accept it more easily than’ is the more natural form,) “Hendrick saw the saw the weapon” (only one ‘saw the’ needed,) “tears roll down her cheeks” (rolled.)
Time interval later count: 6 (though one was a sneaky “a little later”) plus one “minutes elapsed”.

Genetopia by Keith Brooke

Pyr, 2006, 303 p.

 Genetopia cover

We are long in the aftermath of The Fall, in a genetically unstable world. Traits can migrate from species to species, carried by plague and fever, or deliberately induced in the gennering vats. Humans can become Lost, animals be brought up from beasthood to a form of sentience. Those called Mutts have been bred to obey – to love – humans without question and carry out menial tasks; slavery by another name. Technology has regressed to that of muscle power only. In all of this, true humans strive to keep their bloodlines pure. People are judged on what can be divined of their breeding and different clans specialise in different occupations.

While Brooke occasionally uses other viewpoints our main window on this world is through Flintreco Eltarn, whose sister Amber (Amberline Treco) has been sold into Muttdom by their father who (suspicious of his wife Jeschka’s proclivities) has always thought of her as impure, one of the Lost. The book then takes the form of Flint’s quest to find Amber. Along the way Brooke has the opportunity to present various aspects of his imagined world where everything outside the familiar bounds of a person’s knowledge is dangerous, any transformation a frightening thing, all change harmful and corrupting. As well as in the gennering vats changing vectors may occur in unfamiliar plants and fruits – or even in familiar ones. Yet human nature it seems is perennial. Venality, concupiscence, love, fear, hate all make their appearance.

He finally encounters one of the Lost, whose changing he was complicit in bringing about, who tells him, “‘The last trump has wiped out most of True humankind. All of nature (was) engineered to defer to your kind. When you find your judgement, the world will be inherited by those who have embraced change,’” and, “To be human is to be fluid, unfixed. Humanity today is not what it was yesterday, and it is only the start of what it will be tomorrow…. Out here we are truly posthuman. To be changed is to be blessed.”

Genetopia is in some ways an odd book. Within that familiar quest structure (which it partly subverts at the end) it seems to both decry and advocate a change in humanity. Perhaps the biggest problem I had with it was that the profound ability for biological change felt out of place with the regression of other technology. Brooke is good on relationships though, if a little pessimistic here about the possibility of a kinder humanity.

Pedant’s corner:- “When a human baby shows signs of the taint, when it reveals itself as one of the Lost – it was taken and exposed on the Leaving Hill.” (“it was taken”; therefore “showed” and “revealed”,) “a series of wooden rungs were lashed” (a series was,) “they were easier tolerated than enslaved” (they were more easily tolerated,) bouyancy (buoyancy,) Taneyes’ (Taneyes’s,) “and it fit” (fitted, but it was a US publication,) “either side fringed by bamboo and tall rushes” (each side.)

Lockerbie Garden of Remembrance

The memorial to those who died as a result of the blowing-up of Pan-Am Flight 103 lies in Lockerbie Cemetery.

Viewed from the cemetery:-

Lockerbie Garden of Remembrance

Remembrance plaque:-

Lockerbie, Garden of Remembrance Plaque

Garden of remembrance:-

Lockerbie, Garden of Remembrance

Closer view. The centre stone of the three in the middle ground is inscribed, “In remembrance of all victims of Lockerbie Air Disaster who died on 21st December 1988.”

Lockerbie,Garden of Remembrance, Closer View

Memorial Wall:-

Lockerbie, Garden of Remembrance Memorial Wall

The Distant Echo by Val McDermid

Harper, 2010, 569 p. First published in 2003.

 The Distant Echo cover

I probably wouldn’t have read this – I wasn’t particularly taken by the author’s The Wire in the Blood – but the good lady had just finished it and mentioned it was set partly in my old stamping ground of Kirkcaldy and partly in St Andrews (which I know well.) So I thought I’d give it a go. The locations in the book aren’t restricted to Fife, it does stray to Edinburgh, Stirling, Glasgow, and even Seattle but the main events take place in what the locals like to call “the Kingdom.”

The prologue lets us know of a Fife Police press announcement of a cold case review and a shadowy figure haunting a cemetery before Part One plunges us into the 1978 discovery of the dying body of Rosie Duff by four students at St Andrews University (schoolfriends calling themselves the Lads Fi’ Kirkcaldy) taking a short cut back to their flat after a party. One of them is a medical student and tries to save her life but fails. As discoverers of the body and covered in blood they naturally become suspects. The investigation cannot summon up evidence even to charge them and the case is unresolved but they are still subjected to suspicion, threats and violence – especially by the dead girl’s brothers. McDermid makes a lot of this finger of suspicion and the effect it has on the four and their relationship(s). Part Two sees the resurrection of the case and its reintrusion into the four’s lives. But in the intervening twenty-five years the main evidence from the victim’s clothing has been lost and there seems little hope of progress. But the review has stirred the old suspicions and someone has the four firmly in the frame.

McDermid’s prose is certainly efficient but rarely rises above the workmanlike. The book’s structure, too, made it slightly odd. Part One was more or less scene setting, involved a lot of information dumping and therefore dragged somewhat. McDermid makes passing reference to the fascistic fringe and government encroachments on citizens’ rights in the late 1970s. (That sort of thing has become even worse of late with intolerance having been adopted into the political mainstream and governments eager to seize any excuse to restrict citizen’s rights.)

I would have said that it was cleverly executed except that the resolution was disappointing. It has more holes in it than Stoke City’s defence and depends too much on the prior withholding of information from the reader. In the last (tie-up) chapter it is revealed that one of the four Lads had a piece of information that would potentially have pointed to the murderer but never told the other three – nor the Police – during all those twenty-five years of suspicion. We can only suppose this was to create an artificial sense of suspense and it kind of obviates the point of the book (no matter what reason he might have had for his reticence.) Moreover the murderer seems to have been able to carry the body up a hill to where the Lads stumbled upon it without seemingly getting any blood on himself, even though the victim had a gaping wound.

McDermid has a wide readership. I assume they don’t like taxing their brains overmuch.

Pedant’s corner:- the main drag (St Andrews has a main drag?) Roger Waters’ (Waters’s. And I know he wrote Shine On You Crazy Diamond but did he sing on it? Wasn’t that David Gilmour?) “[Kirkcaldy’s] Town House looked like one of those less alluring products of Soviet architecture” (is more than a bit harsh. It’s a fine buiding.) Raith Rovers’ (Raith Rovers’s,) Brahms’ (Brahms’s,) “had strode” (stridden,) “‘Gonnae no dae that’” (is referred to as if it were a catchphrase from the early to mid 1970s. It wasn’t. Chewin’ the Fat, where it originated, was first aired in 1999.) “‘We lay low’” (we lie low – but it was in dialogue and the character had lived in the US for years and they can’t seem to get the lay/lie thing correct over there,) Soanes’ (Soanes’s.) “The sky was clear, a gibbous moon hanging low in the sky between the bridges.” (sky….sky,.) Sainsburys (Sainsbury’s.) Plus several instances of “time interval later”.

Dumbarton 0-1 Dunfermline Athletic

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 6/1/18.

I was hoping for at least a point from this game but it wasn’t to be.

I certainly didn’t expect Falkirk to go rampant against the team in second place. It seems they have finally got their act together; as was always likely.

So it looks like 9th place is probably the best we can hope for.

I’ve also now got the fear for our Scottish Cup game up at Peterhead in a fortnight. They’re on a great run and seemingly scoring for fun.

Nervous times.

Interzone 273

 Interzone 273 cover

Erica L Satifka’s Editorial states her surprise and delight at winning the best newcomer award at Fantasycon for her novel Stay Close. Jonathan McCalmont’s column1 comments on the ebb and flow of the Science Fictional year due to the awards cycle and bemoans the narrowing down of discourse to only the professional sphere. Nina Allan extols the merits of the French short SF film La Jetée. Book Zone is now relegated to coming after Nick Lowe’s Mutant Popcorn film reviews. This edition features my review of Frances Hardinge’s A Skinful of Shadows plus others on Gnomon2 by Nick Harkaway, 2084 an anthology edited by George Sandison, Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee, Tricia Sullivan’s Sweet Dreams, the new Ann Leckie, Provenance, Jane O’Reilly’s Blue Shift, Jane Yolen’s collection, The Emerald Circus, the tie-in book to the Channel 4 series Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams, Jeanette Ng’s Under the Pendulum Sun: a Novel of the Fae and The Overneath3, a collection by Peter S Beagle.

In the fiction we have:-
Looking for Laika4 by Laura Maro, an altered history where the Soviet Union seems to have survived longer than in our timeline. An adolescent with fears of atomic conflict consoles his younger sister with tales of Laika the first space dog travelling the universe in search of a better planet. Off-stage in this story London is immolated in a nuclear strike.
After the Titans5 by Rachael Cupp is a fabular construction in a bucolic setting where Titans roam the land and ordinary folk are as flies to the gods.
In the future of Dan Grace’s Fully Automated Nostalgia Capitalism people are pervaded by mites of all sorts that protect them from the harmful effects of smoking and the like. But the mites also act as agents for control. Nevertheless petty acts of defiance are possible.
The Big So-So6 by Erica L Satifka is set in the aftermath of an alien takeover where they used a drug to pacify and classify the populace. Then they withdrew it and themselves.
The Garden of Eating7 by R Boyczuk riffs on the Garden of Eden theme in a post-apocalypse setting where an (AI?) remnant of the UN counsels a young boy against a police-like entity called the Amerigun.
James White Award Winner The Morrigan8 by Stewart Horn is narrated in a style flavoured by demotic Glaswegian. While well-written it depressingly panders to the “hard man” image and the gang culture by describing the influence of the (possibly other-worldly) woman who instigates the biggest gang fight in Glasgow’s history.

Pedant’s corner:- 1“less time, less money, and less staff,” (I know staff is technically singular but fewer staff is a more natural usage,) “that might have an influence on the discourse: Ordinary fans (surely needs a full stop. Not a colon.) 2 “into which a body is broke” (broken?) 3”The sheer breath of theme” (breadth,) “eventually a pair of elderly Turkish mystics take the tenants to..” (a pair takes,) “characters getting out of their depth” (characters, so depths,) “in which monarch’s relinquish power” (monarchs,) “intervenes in a case of marital fidelity and creates chaos” (infidelity? Possibly not.) 4“Taken a deep shuddering breath, and began to read” (the previous sentence was in the pluperfect so begun to read,) “they lay in rows” (this one is present tense, so “they lie in rows”. Mauro has the preterite, lain, correct, though.) 5To emphasise the ‘ancient’ nature of the tale this has a ligature between the letters s and t – as in st – when they occur consecutively within a word. “I say, May all creatures tremble,” and, “He says, Make to me a sacrifice” (why not put in the quote marks?) Cronus’ (Cronus’s.) 6written in USian, “none of them look at us” (none looks.) 7Written in USian. 8Crosslea park (that’s a proper noun so Crosslea Park,) “‘They’re gonnae to be” (no “to” required,) “like was made for cutting” (like it was made for cutting.)

Lockerbie War Death Commemoration

This gravestone in Lockerbie Cemetery, on the grave of his son, Dr John Douglas, has the inscription:-

“In loving memory of Robert Douglas, architect, Lieutenant KOSB. Died 15/7/1915, from wounds received in action at Gallipoli. Aged 42 years. Buried at sea.”

Lockerbie War Death Commemoration

Live It Up 43: Only You

A few weeks ago I featured Yazoo’s Nobody’s Diary. Their first hit had been Only You which they took to no. 2 in 1982.

The Flying Pickets went one better a year later scoring a no. 1 with their a capella version.

Here’s them miming on German TV.

The Flying Pickets: Only You

And this is the original, with the somewhat weird video.

Yazoo: Only You

War Graves, Lockerbie

In common with many municipal cemeteries around the country Lockerbie‘s has a “Commonwealth War Graves here” sign on its gates.

I found three; two for the Great War, one for World War 2.

Second Lieutenant D Black, General List and RFC, 3/10/1917, aged 18:-

War Grave, Lockerbie Cemetery

Private E P Ferguson, Highland Cyclist Battalion, 17/1/1918:-

Lockerbie War Grave

Lance Corporal T Cook, Royal Tank Regiment, 23/1/1946, aged 27:-

Lockerbie Cemetery War Grave

free hit counter script