Posted by: docdenbow | February 9, 2014

Bigfoot – The Hide And Seek World Champion

I have watched Discovery Animal Planet’s programme Finding Bigfoot from the very beginning, the first episode back in 2011. I’ve now seen each and every episode that’s been broadcast – about 50 in all and I have found them all to be oddly compelling viewing. It’s a morbid fascination for me because I know week on week just what will happen.

Dick Dastardly

In many ways it reminds me of Wacky Races and how Dick Dastardly and his sidekick Muttley would fail week in and week out to win a race. Dastardly always managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory whereas the Finding Bigfoot team invariably snatch defeat from the jaws of, well, defeat. I find that their optimism and faith that one day they’ll get indisputable evidence of the existence of Bigfoot somehow touching. Despite zero evidence, the cast of Finding Bigfoot believe in Bigfoot with a zeal that borders on religious.. When it comes to Bigfoot they would tell you it exists and go on to say –

“It’s a scientific fact: there’s no real evidence for it, but it is scientific fact.”

{To paraphrase (or steal) a quote from Chris Morris’ “Brass Eye”}

Given the paucity of evidence then why is there such a large number of Americans who believe in the existence of Bigfoot? Is it a case of people wanting Bigfoot to exist so their objectivity is skewed. It strikes me that there is no middle ground when it comes to the search for and research of the whole Bigfoot business. You either think that the whole thing is a joke or believe (just about) every sighting and add “facts” to make the evidence more robust. Aside from Ranae the resident skeptic of Finding Bigfoot it seems that the “experts” Matt, Cliff and Bobo are ready to accept almost any report as genuine for the simple reason that the people they are interviewing don’t seem to be the type to tell lies.

I’ve had a few thoughts about the sightings evidence. In fact I’ve done a little digging on the internet and come across the a psychological phenomenon called Pareidolia. A very clever chap called Carl Sagan “hypothesized that as a survival technique, human beings are “hard-wired” from birth to identify the human face. This allows people to use only minimal details to recognize faces from a distance and in poor visibility but can also lead them to interpret random images or patterns of light and shade as being faces.The evolutionary advantages of being able to discern friend from foe with split-second accuracy are numerous; prehistoric (and even modern) men and women who accidentally identify an enemy as a friend could face deadly consequences for this mistake. This is only one among many evolutionary pressures responsible for the development of the facial recognition capability of modern humans.” {from Wikipedia}

Doesn’t that explain many sightings? Shadows in the woods misidentified as living creatures with human characteristics?

To me the argument would go something like this. Just about everyone know what a Bigfoot is supposed to look like, you know 7 >> 9 foot tall, hairy and with an ape like or even human like face. That sets the scene. Here we are, me and you, out for a stroll in a wooded area that is known to be Squatchy, when we hear some funny noises. You grab my hand (if you’re a foxy chick that is) and gasp in fear,

“What’s that?”

Meanwhile Denbow Squatch hunter supreme stands still and listens whilst signalling to you to do the same. Hearing only the sound of our own breath our eyes comb the adjacent trees. You squeeze my hand tighter and point,

“There! Look! What is that?”

I look where you are looking and see nothing. Then I look again and see an indistinct shadow, a shape behind a tree. I slowly reach for my camera and as I bring it up to eye level find that the shape has disappeared. You let go of my hand, trembling, and plead to leave the woods and head back to the car, the town, people and safety. If you are a foxy chick my coolness in the presence of a Squatch may enhance my chances of a shag. If you’re a bloke you’re probably ashamed that you wanted to hold my hand and plead with me not to “tell the guys.”  Me, being a level headed sort gets right on the phone to Animal Planet and the BFRO to cop some cash for appearing on Finding Bigfoot.

Bigfoot, as imagined by a Canadian artist.

Simply put Bigfoot is not real. There’s no credible evidence out there at all. None whatsoever. Take food for example.The average Bigfoot “sighting” puts our hairy chum at approximately 7 >> 9ft tall and at 500-600lb in weight. The problem here is that such an immense creature cannot be eating enough food to survive, because the impact on the food chain would be. Scientists have proven that sasquatches would need to number in the thousands to sustain themselves over the years through breeding. If these thousands of creatures are all packing away 5,000 calories worth of meat every day, where is the deficit in the animals/plants they are eating? We’re also expected to believe that these hairy dudes get by on just fruit and berries as well. Considering even a slight drop in the population of any given animal (or plant) causes large reverberations through the food chain, the statistics simply don’t add up.

Then there’s fossils, or lack of them. There has never been any fossil record of a large mammal resembling the Sasquatch in North America – despite the same soil preserving everything else that ever lived in the area, including dinosaur bones. Just imagine that there are thousands of giant ape-men roaming around North America.

Surely such creatures would leave us at least one piece of indisputable physical evidence? Surely there’s something, right? Well – there’s been no bones, hair samples, blood samples, skin samples, or any DNA evidence of any kind. One hair would provide enough DNA to prove a new species existed. Taking it further, who’s ever found a dead Squatch? More to the point has anyone ever killed one? Apparently there’s a $1,000,000 bounty on ol’ Squatchy’s head. I’m surprised it’s not been collected by the gun happy American hunting fraternity. Failing that an anaesthetic dart and a bloody big cage, that would do the trick.

I wish I believed in Bigfoot, I wish I believed in a lot of things.

I don’t.

Sorry.

*Next time out I’ll tell you why I do believe there IS a Squatch out there*

Ciao For Now,

Denbow

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Posted by: docdenbow | January 25, 2014

Faux-Naif? I Just Know Ukip Has Got It Wrong

In my life I have been called many things, some nice and some not so nice. However, in all my years I have never been referred to as “ faux-naïf.” I was called  “ faux-naïf” in a comment on this blog about an article I had written concerning Ukip. As Ukip doesn’t really figure large in my life,

UKIP Supporters

I may or may not reply to the comment. We’ll see. However I came across an article that points out the shortcomings of Ukip much better than I ever could, so if you want to read something really insightful about Ukip and Mr Farage, have a look at this from The Huffington Post. Huff Post Farage

Back to the “ faux-naïf” bit. I was pretty flattered as a matter of fact to be referred to in this way. Having looked it up I found that it means

  • appearing or seeking to appear simple and unsophisticated: a faux-naïf narration

  • a person who pretends to be naïve

Well, the gentleman who referred to me as “ faux-naïf” missed the mark somewhat. He appears to perceive me as a heavyweight political agitator who went to St Catharine’s College, Cambridge with Jeremy Paxman or at least something like that. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am what I am which is a rather uneducated ex-grammar school chap with 7 O Levels, and a Higher National Diploma in Business Studies. I’m not even well read or have succeeded in being upwardly mobile. I made no money in the 1980s and voted apathetic at the last General Election. My life experiences are limited, I’ve had a succession of crap jobs, a borderline drink problem, epilepsy and smoked way too way many fags. You see I am not “ faux-naïf,” no sir I am the Real Deal. Uneducated and unqualified to have a reasoned opinion on any matters of any worth or importance.

So why being given the epithet “ faux-naïf” make me feel flattered?

It appears that I have at last broken free of the yoke of intellectual snobbery, I am now in a position to express my opinions and have them taken seriously or dismissed as the ranting of an uneducated, self loathing, frustrated loser via the magic of a WordPress Blog. I can  be the voice of the “ faux-naïf.”  I can gather together those that see the world through childlike eyes and give them a simplistic answer to their problems and their ills.

“When we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Martin Luther King

I think that I would face serious opposition if I were to lead the  “ faux-naïf” in that manner for a group of individuals has beaten me to the metaphorical punch. Their mantra diametrically opposes that.

UK Independance Party STK125T

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce Ukip and quotes from its membership as featured and collected by The Daily Mirror.

Daily Mirror  18 May 2013

Ukip’s Chris Pain, leader of the opposition at Lincs Council and the party’s East Midlands regional chairman, wrote: “Have you noticed that if you ­rearrange the letters in ‘illegal ­immigrants’, and add just a few more letters, it spells, ‘Go home you free-loading, benefit-grabbing, resource-sucking, baby-making, non-English-speaking ********* and take those other hairy-faced, sandal-wearing, bomb-making, camel-riding, goat-********, raghead ******** with you.’”

Mr Pain has also ­objected to foreign doctors working in the NHS.

Last May he posted a story about a Hungarian medic who bungled an operation on a four-year-old boy in Manchester, and wrote: “We don’t want them taking all the jobs in the local community and we certainly don’t want them working in our hospitals!”

Peter Entwistle, party chairman in Bury, Greater Manchester, labelled President Barack Obama a Muslim, writing: “I bet he’s a closet ‘Imam’ as well!

“If I ever see him on a Greyhound bus wearing a rucksack, I’m getting off!!”

Mr Entwistle laughed when confronted about his President Obama bus comments, saying: “I don’t think I’d be the only one getting off.”

The party’s deputy chairman in Scotland, Misty Thackeray, “liked” a Facebook group claiming “paedophilia is part of Islamic tradition”.

He also praised far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, a self-­confessed “hater of Islam”.

Recommending Mr Wilders’ new book, he said: “Geert is great …(peace be upon him.. lol) ..!”

Meanwhile Tiggs Keywood-­Wainwright, a Ukip councillor in Boston, Lincs, complained about mosques being built in “quintessentially English” Cambridge. “Is nowhere sacred for the Brits in Britain any more?” she wrote.

“Bottom line is we have too many muslims in this country!”

Mr Pain said the comments on his Facebook pages were “not my original posts or writings”, claiming his ­account had been hacked.

Mr Thackeray refused to comment on “this ridiculous nonsense”. He said Mr Wilders was a “legally, democratically-elected politician”.

Ms Keywood-Wainwright admitted she “probably” regretted some of her remarks.

She claimed she meant there were too many Muslims “in certain areas”, adding: “My GPs are all Muslims and I have no ­problem with them at all.

“One of them is extremely nice and very, very good at her job.”

Farage described demonstrators who besieged him in Edinburgh on Thursday as “fascist scum”.

He also slammed the phone down on a BBC interviewer questioning him about Scots issues.

” Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.”

Oscar Wilde

Ciao For Now

Denbow

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Posted by: docdenbow | January 20, 2014

Why Ukip Scares Me To Death

According to the BBC website Ukip have now suspended David Silvester, whatever good that’ll do. What is the point in Ukip suspending him? It’s plain for even the most stupid amongst us (That’s me – hello!) that this is nothing more than a damage limitation exercise. Ukip had said Mr Silvester’s views were “not the party’s” but defended his right to state his opinions. Well Ukip that doesn’t work for me and I don’t think most of

English: Godfrey Bloom, Member of the European...

Godfrey Bloom – Bongo Bongo Man

the most intelligent portions of the country will see the suspension as another instance of the door being slammed after the metaphorical horse has done a bunk. This is the party that included MEP Godfrey Bloom, he of “Bongo Bongo Land” (amongst many more gaffes) fame.

I don’t suppose that I am alone in thinking that Ukip is just a vehicle for middle class, middle England fears and phobias. However, it appears that David Silvester’s expulsion from the party has coincided with an event which could have catastrophic repercussions for the country as a whole. Today, January 19th 2014 that esteemed organ that is the Financial Times has announced something that is truly terrifying to any right thinking individual, and Liberal Democrats. Ukip apparently is the most popular of the political parties, with 27 per cent of voters saying they “liked” Ukip the best. Mr Nigel Farage won 22 per cent of support in the poll as most favoured leader, behind Mr Cameron with 27 per cent. Ed Miliband, the Labour leader polled 18 per cent with Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, trailing with 13 per cent.

English: Nigel Farage at a conference in the G...

I find the very thought of Nigel Farage and his braying Ukip mob in any position of authority and influence to be more than a little worrying. He seems to pander to the lowest common denominator and exploits the narrow minded, but also tries to engender so feeling of “Englishness” that died out with Jeeves and Wooster. Nigel Farage’s idea of a successful United Kingdom revolves around smoking fags, drinking warm beer and deporting as many people as he can.

Yet for all that is so wrong with the political agenda of Ukip there is something that to my mind is far, far worse. In future elections Ukip intend to field many more candidates. The BBC quotes –

“UKIP plan to vet all 1,818 candidates to ensure it didn’t have “extremist, barmy or nasty” views.”

Well Ukip, me old muckers, you haven’t got that many now and you’ve let David Silvester and Godfrey Bloom and gawd knows how many other halfwitted morons through the net of your “rigourous” selection process. So what is to be the quality of the candidate who will potentially get elected?

According to Steve Crowther, the UKIP Chairman “After an exhaustive, multilayered assessment programme, the original 200 individuals who put themselves forward as prospective candidates have been whittled down to the current 78. We are now offering our approved list to the membership to make their choices.” So doing the maths 39% of those wanting to stand for the Euro elections have passed Ukip’s exhaustive, multilayered assessment programme. For me that begs very serious questions

  • How exhaustive were these tests?

  • Just how good is this 39%

  • How bad are the others?

Whilst it’s true to say that the British electorate are totally disenchanted with successive broken promises from Government after Government regardless of whether they’re Conservative or Labour it’s plain to see that the limited Ukip offers no solution. The headings of the manifesto are all fine and dandy but far too many assumptions are being made as to how these may be implemented. Does Mr Farage really think that he can pop over to Brussels and just say “I’m out” like Duncan Bannatyne does in “Dragon’s Den?” That’s how the thick of the UK think Ukip will operate. It’s just not the case. Yet for all of that the “headlines” of the manifesto are designed with a great deal of expertise to appeal.

Bringing Power Back To The UK

  • EU controls Immigration, Business and Employment, Financial Services, Fishing, Farming, Law and Order, Energy and Trade. It seeks now to control Foreign Affairs and Tax.

  • The British people must decide through an immediate referendum if we stay in the EU or come out and claw back independent power over our national life.

  • We do not have to be ruled by this regime to work with our European neighbours who depend on us for their markets.

  • Give the public power to require binding local and national referenda on major issues.

Protect Our Borders

  • Only by leaving the EU can we fully regain control of our borders and control migration.

  • Those wishing to permanently settle in the UK must financially support themselves and their dependents for 5 years. This means private health insurance (except emergency medical care), private education and housing.  You pay into the pot before you take out of the pot.

  • Bring in a points based visa system and time limited work permits.

  • Tourists and new migrants to the UK must provide proof of private health insurance cover as a condition of entry to the UK.

Rebuild Prosperity And Keeping The Lights On

  • Outside the EU we will save £53m a day and we can give British workers the first crack at the 800,000 jobs we currently advertise to EU workers.

  • No tax on the minimum wage.

  • Local councils are to enroll unemployed welfare claimants onto community schemes or retraining workfare programmes.

  • Scrap all green taxes, wind turbine subsidies and adopt nuclear power to free us from dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil and gas.

  • Develop shale gas and place the tax revenues into a British Sovereign Wealth Fund. Norway’s oil Sovereign Wealth Fund is now worth $750bn.

  • Make real and rigorous cuts in foreign aid and replace with free trade.

Safeguards Against Crime

  • No cuts to frontline policing

  • Make sentences mean what they say – life must mean life.

  • No votes for prisoners.

  • Leave the EU to prevent foreign criminals entering the UK.

  • Scrap the European Arrest Warrant, which can see British citizens sent to foreign jails on scant evidence.

  • Remove the UK from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.

Care And Support For All

  • Ensure GPs surgeries open in the evening for full-time workers, where there is demand.

  • Set up locally elected County Health Boards to inspect hospitals, so that we never have another Stafford Hospital crisis.

  • Social Housing to be prioritised for people whose parents and grandparents were born locally.

  • Allow the creation of new grammar schools.

  • Those wishing to come to the UK must show proof of private health Insurance as a condition of entry to the UK.

  • Ensure that benefits are only available for those who have lived here for over 5 years.

  • Make welfare a safety net for the needy, not a bed for the lazy.

Free Speech And Democracy

  • Political correctness is stifling free speech.

  • The law of the land must be single and apply to us all. We oppose any other system of law.

  • Teach children positive messages and pride in their country. We want to unite through better Integration.

UK Independence Party

I’m sure you’ll agree that those headline policies are in the main enticing. Many of those policies would in fairness get my support. However, the movers and shakers of Ukip are not my worry. They don’t scare me to death. I’m made of far sterner stuff than that. There are other things “behind the scenes” that bother me. It’s not the officers it’s the troops I worry about. The reactionary old buffers sipping G and T reminding everyone within earshot of how the Italian cars have 5 gears and 4 of those are reverse, French are all stroppy and a bit smelly and they refuse to talk about the Germans apart from tapping their noses and shaking their heads. Ah yes, the sort of old coves who view folks from the next town or village with suspicion, it’s these that scare me and it’s because there’s so many of them and they will join the ranks of Ukip spreading their xenophobia, homophobia and bigotry.

Welcome to the 21st Century In Great Britain.

We’re doomed if Ukip is the alternative to the established parties governing this country.

Ciao For Now

Denbow

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Posted by: docdenbow | January 18, 2014

David Silvester And His Invisible Friend

If you are Christian or religious please be aware that I write this below not as an attack on Christianity, but as an attack on David Silvester UKIP councillor for Henley on Thames. I respect your right to your beliefs, and hope you respect my right to mine.

“A Christian nation that abandons its faith .. . will be beset by natural disasters”

David Silvester

So according to this esteemed UKIP councillor the recent floods, winds, heavy rain and all that stuff is caused by those “Gays.” That nice Mr Cameron has said it’s okay for Gay people to marry each other, and David Silvester has decided that this will make his invisible friend unhappy so he will flood the very areas where he is hoping his reactionary party of xenophobes will get votes.

A right pisser that is.

SS Gay

This is another spectacular own goal from this raggle taggle bunch of chinless losers led by the terminally dull Nigel Farage. Mind you this is a new low for his mob of intellectual dwarves. Mind you Farage’s minions have issued a statement to the media  by telling HuffPost:

“If the media are expecting UKIP to either condemn or condone someone’s personal religious views they will get absolutely no response.”

Call me a dunce if you will, but this is muddled thinking in the extreme. This is the party that condemn people of other religions as being “reactionary” or “dangerous” because of their beliefs.

Listen you bunch of bloody hypocritical so called Christian bastards, have ever read The Bible? Do you ever practice Christian principles in your lives or is turning up to church once a week to be seen shaking hands with the Parson enough to make you a Christian? Well, is it?

I’ll tell you a little story shall I Mr Silvester?

This is from a book I read once (well more than once to be honest)

“A lawyer stood up “Who is my neighbour?”
Jesus answered, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he travelled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, ‘Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’ Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbour to him who fell among the robbers?”
The lawyer said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.

Ah, but the UKIP Christians would say that the beaten up bloke was a Romanian or a Pole or an illegal immigrant so he got what was coming to him. Okay, that’s as maybe but where where does it say a man kissing another man will cause the Thames to burst its’ banks and there to be big waves in Aberystwyth? To the best of my knowledge it doesn’t actually say that anywhere in the Bible. In that case we have a prophet amongst us. David Silvester is not alone in making proclamations based on religion. He’s not the first and he will not be the last. We’ve seen them come, we’ve seen them go. Some stick around for a bit others don’t. I want to think a bit about David Silvester’s statement.

So how does he know about this weather and gay marriage stuff? Oh yes, I know….he’s a prophet so……..

God or Jesus told him.

Wonder whether it was phone, text, email, Skype? Did God send an Angel or even turn up himself or did he delegate the job out to JC? Wonder what God or JC said that made David Silvester link gay marriage to bad weather? More to the point why did God choose to convey His message to the world via the UKIP councillor for Henley on Thames? Does God have a sense of humour and thought that he’d do this for a laugh?

Look at it like this, let’s say that I’m a card carrying Bible thumping Christian. Whether or not I like the idea of same sex marriages is my business. My religious beliefs are between me and my God. I would be very angry to find that a bigot was trying to hijack my faith by spouting homophobic rubbish. What gives him the right to speak for me? Has God, my Christian God given him the ultimate authority? How dare he assume that he can speak for God? My God.

When it comes to religion I’m not sure what I am. I don’t believe in a God as such, but I do believe that there is something that binds (or should bind) the human race together. When it comes to “organized” religion, I am just not there. Not there at all. I love Cathedrals and edifices built in the name of religion, the spirit of the craftsmen that built them. The history attached to them. A house of God? I’m not sure, I’m not sure that Gloucester or Canterbury Cathedrals are any more places of God than the Pyramids on the Giza Plateau. What I do know is that any God worth his salt would not oppose Gays or Gay marriage for that matter. I also know that any God would not see half of this planet starve and living in grinding poverty whilst the other half spend their days eating burgers and wondering what tablet computer to buy next. Part of the human condition is to feel love, why do religions around the world find it so odd that a man would want to spend his life with another man or a woman wish to spend her life with another woman. In the grand scheme of things (whatever that scheme is) what does it matter? There are far more important issues that need to be addressed.

Ask yourself this. What offends you the most? Seeing to men or two women holding hands when they’re in Tesco’s or children living in poverty? There are 3.5 million children living in poverty in the UK today. That’s 27 per cent of children. There are even more serious concentrations of child poverty at a local level: in 100 local wards, for example, for example, between 50 and 70 per cent of children are growing up in poverty. Have a look at this – Child Poverty Facts

Why doesn’t David Silvester’s God do something about this? Is this another of God’s punishments?

Listen Dave mate, I’m going off your God in a big way. Anyway isn’t your God a bloke? And Jesus was a bloke wasn’t he?

So worshipping Jesus, if you’re a man, is a bit Gay isn’t it? So that’s why it’s raining men.

Ciao for Now

Denbow

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Posted by: docdenbow | January 13, 2014

Mrs Denbow Was Wrong About Sherlock

 

Another instalment of my ongoing jazz obsession arrived, this time in the shape of a 4 CD set of Tubby Hayes. I won’t bore you (yet) with the details of this 4 CD set or list the Tubby Hayes recordings in my collection. What I will say it is only because I have stopped smoking fags that I’ve felt happy to spend what is admittedly not a lot on buying CDs that I want. Whereas it’s not that long ago that all I had of the Little Giant was a version of “Mexican Green” that was locked inside my head, I now have a pretty fair old collection. Plenty to be going along with.

 

It’s Mrs D’s fault that I’ve been buying and listening to a lot of jazz in the past few weeks. We’ve had a conservatory for a fair few years, a totally underused appendage tacked onto the rear of our home. It’s been variously used as a conservatory with can furniture, a study with a mega computer desk and a dining room with a crap Argos sideboard that hid my much loved hi fi away. There’s a radiator in there and we have an oil filled electric one as well so although it can be colder in there than the rest of the house it’s never been an insurmountable problem. Mrs D decided recently that we were “wasting the conservatory.” I’ve been saying that for years to no avail with everything I’ve suggested falling on deaf ears because Mrs D is “always right” and I am “an idiot” and a “lazy sod” who wants to “clutter up everywhere with laptops and guitars.”

 

On Saturday mornings Mrs D and Miss D the younger go shopping together and after doing the Morrison run have been going into Next to look at their home furnishings. Mrs D grabbed a catalogue and brought it home and sherlockexamined it in forensic detail. She made a decision. She decided that we were to buy a “Sherlock” snuggle chair (a mini sofa for midgets or lovers) and a “Sherlock” wingback chair. I drove over to Next at Pemberton Retail Park to see “Sherlock” face to face. I must admit that the snuggle chair, the chair and the footstool were really nice. In fact they were very nice.

 

When I saw the prices, I felt that “Moriarty” would have been a more appropriate name as opposed to “Sherlock.” Although I’m sure that they are high quality I felt and feel that £1200 is a bit much to spend on furniture for a room that Mrs D will not sit in. She assured me that she would use the conservatory if we “tidied” it up a bit. I felt a little railroaded by all of this but that has been the way of my married life for nearly 30 years (anniversary 3/03/2014) A few days later I was taken to B & Q to get an electric fire type thingy that has pebbles in it to put into the conservatory Getting the box into a 2004 VW Polo FSI was not the easiest thing we’ve ever done, but between us Mrs D and I managed.

 

Phase one was complete. £99 spent on a cheap little fire as a “focal point.” The next step was to stick some wallpaper on the wall that Mrs D had already stripped. (I should point out that it’s a sort of 3 sided conservatory. Enter from the living room glass straight in front, glass to the right, but on the left there stands a plain wall.) She’d found via the magic of the internet the sort of wallpaper that she wanted and was recommended to go to Rabarts just off Carmarthen Road. There were a lot of pattern books and when I say a lot I do mean a lot. I was a bit worried when I saw the names on the covers of these pattern books Brian Yates, Casamance, Colefax & Fowler, Colemans, Dixons, Doshi, Farrow & Ball, Gallerie, Graham & Brown, Harlequin, Jane Churchill, MAV, Muraspec, Osbourne & Little, Romo, Sandersons, William Morris, Zimmer & Rhodes and Zoffany. I became alarmed when we were told that these wallpapers, nice as they were, were “from about £50 a roll.”

Thinking Sherlock

I was a very unhappy Denbow. That’s £1200 for a dwarf’s settee and a chair and wallpaper at £50 plus a roll. All of this for a conservatory that rarely gets used. Mrs D of course was chuffed to find a wallpaper that was almost exactly what she was looking for. When she got the loaned pattern book home I was certain that the “almost” would be dropped and she’d want the most expensive wallpaper in the book which was something like £90 a roll. To try to make me feel like a condemned man I asked if we could go into B & M Bargains across the road to buy myself a couple of bottles of Dandelion And Burdock, some drinking chocolate and some Foxes Glacier Mints. (I am a man of simple pleasures) Mrs D set off to look at cushions, lamps and curtains and I got a basket and filled it with what I went in for. I then was faced with the virtually impossible task of actually finding Mrs D as in big shops she tends to go walkabout. Eventually I found her looking at wallpaper. It was vile, but was mercifully cheaper than the rolls we’d just seen in Rabarts. I left Mrs D looking at the vile wallpaper and saying that I was going to check out car care products I went up the other wallpaper aisles. I struck gold, I found what can only be described as a budget alternative facsimile to the wallpaper we’d just been looking at. I dragged Mrs D to come and have a look. She was mightily impressed. She actually liked it, but…… Right I thought time to assert myself for once in my downtrodden life. I took a deep breath,
“I am not prepared to spend £90 a roll on wallpaper for once wall of the conservatory. No way.”
She looked levelly at me.
“If the roof springs a leak then simply put the wallpaper will be buggered if we’re spending that type of money on wallpaper we need a real professional to hang it. That’s going tocost more than the paper probably”
I waited for her reply and when it came I was staggered.
“You’re right, I was thinking the same thing. I actually like this better and we can put this up ourselves.”

 

A week or so later the wallpaper was up and a bit of painting completed and the dreaded trip to Next was was at the top of the agenda. Both Mrs D and I have given up smoking and are now part of the growing band of “Vapers” and she wanted to go to the Vaping shop before we went to Next. I readily agreed as I was keen to delay the inevitable. After parking the car at Parc Tawe I suggested we nip into the YMCA Charity Shop for a quick wander around. This is not your typical High Street charity shop, it’s huge. Inside there are all manner of goodies (and baddies) to have a look at. consThere’s a fair amount of furniture, wardrobes, sideboards, dining tables and even fridges and a couple of dishwashers. This charity megastore also sells three piece suites, settees and odd chairs. Mrs D was loitering about 10 yards behind me when I saw it. A 2 seater settee that to my eyes looked brand new for £69. Lovely dark brown and looked as if it would be comfortable. I plonked myself down and waited for Mrs D to catch up.
“Ooooh, that’s nice.” she said sitting beside me. “ It’s very comfortable as well., how much?”
I handed her the card that I’d taken from the settee.
“We’re having this if it’s anything like the right size.”
I was sent to ask one of the volunteers if I could borrow a tape measure. I did some measuring and asked the $64,000 dollar question.
“Well, is it the right size?”
Mrs D considered the question for a moment and announced that it was about 3 inches wider than the dwarf’s settee in Next and would ”stick out” another 5 or 6 inches.
“I’ll go and ask them about delivery” was her answer to that.
When she came back to me she said
“It’s coming on Tuesday and £15 to deliver!”

 

The following week we returned to the YMCA shop and found a G Plan hi fi cabinet for me to bung my hi fi in (what else?) That cost all of £10 and as it fitted in the car without any problem at all there was to be no delivery charge. There followed a happy day for me connecting all back up in readiness to have a listen to some music properly once more. Meanwhile Mrs. D had bought cushions, two lamps, a throw and a rug and even the little armchair that was already there no somehow doesn’t look too out of place. It’s a small an inviting little room now. Without wishing to sound like one of those bozos off the TV we now think of it more as a “sun room” than a conservatory. We’ve even got a small TV in there. What more could you ask for?

 

As a result of Mrs Denbow’s planning and execution of, what I must admit, was a brilliant idea there’s a place that she and I enjoy both together and alone. I sit there with my Kindle having a read to the soundtrack of my jazz albums with our little dog Daisy sitting beside me.

 

We’ve managed to save ourselves a bloody fortune as well. I must say that Mrs Denbow was right as she always is……

 

Ciao For Now,

 

Denbow

 

 

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Posted by: docdenbow | January 3, 2014

A Gentleman’s Day At Denbow Towers

I’ve been looking forward to these post Christmas days for at least two weeks now. Having fulfilled my duties and obligations, I can now have some genuine *me* time. Of course although I am of an intellect that reaches for the moon and the stars, I am like many geniuses before me cursed with being under the tyrannical rule of what men of my station in life refer to as *The Wife.* It is for this reason that I have had to bow down to the sheer force of Mrs Denbow’s personality and do exactly as I am bid over Yuletide. However, I have been granted a brief respite from my days under the jackboot of matrimony in order to lull me into a false sense of security before oppression begins anew in the year of our lord 2014.

So I was free, like a prisoner paroled for just a day in order to do, within reason just as he wished. My day began with a powerful mug of steaming Maxwell House and a small bowl of Lidl’s (or was it Aldi?) finest ersatz Shreddies. Once consumed, I went to the bathroom to complete a gentleman’s ablutions and when suitably dressed, attired as I was in a tweed waistcoat jacket, plus fours and knee length woollen socks and my finest brown brogues topped off with my brown checked trilby, I took my terrier down to the Volkswagen for the short drive to the Park Of Singleton. Once my vehicle was safely parked, I removed my shooting stick from what is laughingly called a boot in my tiny teutonic vehicle and strode with my struggling terrier into this green oasis lurking within the hustle and bustle of modern city life.

Releasing the little dog from her lead and puffing contentedly at briar I watched in admiration as she ran a full 100 yards in order to commence an altercation with a dog far bigger than herself. 300584_10150784554520262_1553449893_nIn the past I would have been alarmed, but I have discovered a simple command that ensures that she comes running back to me with all haste. After a stroll around the perimeter of the former grounds of the Vivian family we, the panting hound and I, climbed into the Volkswagen and returned to Denbow Towers.

Denbow Towers is a fine period property constructed some time. Its features are not unique, a few doors, windows, a tiled roof, a staircase and grounds with several outbuildings. It is possibly more pied-à-terre than manorial, yet it possesses an elegance that is unique. The crowning glory of Denbow Towers is the conservatory where one can sit and watch the trees perform their elegant dance as the wind ripples through the branches. Throughout the seasons the view from the windows of the conservatory will uplift the spirit and gladden even the hardest of hearts and tears will flow as nature’s beauty is observed. Of course when there’s heavy rain or God forbid, a hailstorm then the noise within precludes relaxation – unless powerful narcotics or strong drink are utilised.

Yet today I have been most fortuitous and must express my gratitude to the sundry BBC forecasters who have arranged for me to have a day where the prevailing weather onditions have permitted me to sit, in comfort, in the conservatory. Today my dear friends I have listened to music, read sporadically, dozed fitfully and drunk several pots of tea whilst a sleeping terrier yipped and yapped as she dreamt of fighting sundry alsatians.

As I have already suggested I am an intellectual and as such I possess a superiority over the oiks. As a gentleman I am by definition refined and stylish, but beyond that that I am debonair. In keeping with being refined, stylish and debonair my choice of clothing whilst indoors is, if I say so myself, breathtaking and would no doubt make the Prince Of Wales feel unkempt in comparison on the evenings that he stays indoors with Camilla to watch Emmerdale Farm or You’ve Been Framed. Not for me, or the Prince for that matter, a *trackie* from Primark and a curry stained sweatshirt. I wear a silk paisley smoking jacket and maroon leather mules (Slippers to you thickos) of a far higher quality than his Royal Highness as mine are handstitched by Savile Row tailors and exclusive cordwainers.

Like my clothing, my musical taste is naturally refined and stylish. Not for me the idiot gruntings of One Direction or the shallow meanderings of Coldplay. Ozzy Osbourne and those Black Sabbath chaps make way too much noise and I cannot begin to describe the rashes that appear if I am exposed to Slayer or Napalm Death. Don’t, please don’t, even discuss Sepultura as my state of health, both mental and physical, may become threatened. As I said I am an intellectual and as such the music that pleases my ear is also of an intellectual nature.

I have wide a catholic tastes when it comes to sonic pleasure. (old joke alert) Indeed I found that the Pontiff’s last offering was of the highest quality. I both enjoy and appreciate all types of music from AC/DC to ZZ Top and from Aztec Camera to World Party. However, I do also listen – and listen closely – to music that I consider to be of a more cerebral nature. Today I decided I decided to exercise my cerebellum with the music that I played. I decided to begin with the Mozart’s 1st Symphony. Whilst I think it’s fair to say that it lacks the depth and panache of later works, one must always bear in mind that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was just 8 years old when he composed this. That simple fact boggles my mind. Most 21st Century 8 year olds sit punching away at an X Box controller or playing with the latest must have toy and being, I suggest, little more than an irritation to their elders. Young Wolfgang was no doubt, when naughty, sent to his room and told to write a symphony. Precocious is not a sufficient word to describe Mozart – genius is probably better although that word is bandied about far too often to those with a minor gift these days.

Having been mightily impressed by Mozart’s 1st, I pondered as to what I should listen to next . My CD player sat agape and my amplifier awaited expectantly to do its thing. I perused my collection and chose a CD by the Jacques Loussier Trio. This CD features re recordings of the Trio’s better known interpretations Johann Sebastian Bach’s works. Although many people consider this music to fall in the horrible category of “Easy Listening” I cannot and will not agree. I am of the opinion that Loussier’s music is jazz improvisation that is based of Bach’s work. To my educated ears Loussier stands on the bridge that leads from classical to jazz and it is most unfortunate that his interpretation of “Air On A G String” is most associated with a rather tacky, yet famous, advertisement for Hamlet cigars.

Whilst mentioning Monsieur Loussier’s talent with interpreting classical works, I feel I must bring up these “pop classicists” that sell out concerts and move rather large quantities of their recorded output into the sweaty paws of the terminally ignorant via CDs racked as far as the eye can see in such fine music emporia as Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose. I am of course referring to *acts* like Paul Potts, Katherine Jenkins, Il Divo and Andrea Bocelli. These performers are portrayed and packaged to the general public as “Opera Singers.” Oh dear, it does truly appear that you can fool some of the people all of the time, as was asserted by Abraham Lincoln, as these aforementioned hacks are no more opera singers than is Evander Holyfield. I refuse enter any kind of discourse explaining why these “performers” cannot be classified as opera stars except for asking for the names of the opera houses of the world in which they have performed and the name of the opera concerned.

Moving from Monsieur Loussier I once more looked at my CD collection. I seem to have mislaid my Mahler CDs so I chose a jazz CD randomly, or rather one that lies within the jazz section of my CD racks. My digits had fallen on a magnificent album that I believe defies categorization. It is by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays and is called “As Falls Wichita So Falls Wichita Falls.” Metheny is widely known as a jazz guitarist and Lyle Mays played keyboards in more than one incarnation of the Pat Metheny Group. For the past 36 years Pat Metheny has been releasing albums under his own name, with his Group or in collaboration with others. I find it difficult to choose which of his releases is my favourite as he has been and continues to be so prolific. As I have just about all of his albums in my collection I tend to dip in and out at random rather than make a conscious and I never have felt that I should have chosen a different album. Each one stands or falls as as Witchita falls entirely on their own merit.

An hour passed in the company of Metheny and Mays’ ambient jazz masterpiece and a I decided that the next album would need to be a little different to bring me fully back into the world from the somnambulistic state into which I’d been drawn. To me that album acts as an aural anaesthetic and induces total and blissful relaxation and that would not do. I needed to find music that would enliven me physically, emotionally and intellectually. I decided that “Saxophone Colossus” which is one of Sonny Rollins’ most acclaimed albums. Certainly the opening tune “St.Thomas” implores one, even a chap as old as I, to jump to their feet and as the younger generation would say “shake your booty” and have a go at the new sensation called “twerking.”

The twerking over and my breathless body quite invigorated, I decided on playing just one or two tracks from my collection before Mrs Denbow would exert her considerable influence on me once more. I sat for a moment and thought and decision made I took my copy of Tuby Hayes New York Sessions CD (AKA Tubbs In NY) and decided to play just the first track “You For Me.” That track is one of my favourite Tubby recordings.

Finally I decided to play just one song by Frank Sinatra. This was to be one of the beautiful recordings made with Nelson Riddle and shows Sinatra at his peak. The song chosen was “The Lady Is A Tramp” which was my only way showing resistance, even it that resistance was passive towards the all encompassing authority that is Mrs Denbow.

I hope for another day soon where I will be able to repeat that joyous day.

Ciao For Now

Denbow

Posted by: docdenbow | December 29, 2013

Mexican Pepper – A Jazz Odyssey

When a lot of people think of jazz music, they think of the turgid tripe of Kenny Ball or the disturbingly named Acker Bilk. Then there are those who only associate jazz with what sounds to be a cacophonous drivel – Trad Jazz. As a result of knowing a few facts, many people dismiss jazz altogether. Others confuse really terrible acts like Shakatak and Spirogyra as jazz. Larry Carlton and Lee Ritenour are spoken of a jazz guitarists, they’re not. Their music is not terrible by any means, but doesn’t fall into the area or category of what I call jazz.

When I call something jazz, I’m right as I always am. Right I mean.

Down the years there have been pioneers of the genre – Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Oliver Nelson – I could go on and on listing the greats of jazz to show both my knowledge and ignorance of this type of music, but that would be pointless. What I can do, however, is suggest and recommend albums that may well suck you into the whole jazz phenomena if you choose to have a listen to any of them.

These few are some of my personal favourites and I list them in no particular order of preference or chronology, they’re just listed.

A Kind Of Blue – Miles Davis
Soultrane – John Coltrane
Blues And The Abstract Truth – Oliver Nelson
The Shape Of Jazz To Come – Ornette Coleman
Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section – Art Pepper
Saxophone Colossus – Sonny Rollins
Mexican Green – Tubby Hayes
The Sound Of Love – Tommy Smith
Kenny Burrell – Midnight Blue

My personal favourite of those above is Mexican Green by Tubby Hayes. I’d imagine that 99% of any of you reading this (that’s at least 9 of the 10 regular readers!) are saying to themselves “Who? I’ve kind of heard of some of the others, but Tubby whatsisname?”

It is of course here that I should really point out to you that the Tommy Smith from the list is not the ex-Liverpool crunch tackling half back of yesteryear, but a gifted Scottish jazz saxophonist.

Anyway back to Tubby Hayes. Back in 1984 I managed two record shops one in Gloucester and one in Hereford. Amongst the New Romantic tosh and Frankie Goes To Hollywood stuff I espied lurking in the jazz section of the little Gloucester shop two albums. “True Blues” and “Blues For The Fisherman” both of which were recorded live at Ronnie Scott’s by the Milcho Leviev Quartet. Most of the time I would have not given these albums a second thought as I’d never heard of Micho Leviev or his Quartet. The sleeves on these albums were virtually plain, but did list the members of the Quartet one of whom was Art Pepper.

Earlier in the 1980s I had *discovered* Art Pepper and immediately became a fan. I loved (and still love) the Galaxy releases that were recorded during the “second coming” of this alto sax genius. These two albums showed Art Pepper in fine form and I was mightily impressed. The albums were on the Mole Jazz label and I idly wondered what other albums, hopefully by Art Pepper, were on that label. There was this customer called Peter who used to buy, order and recommend jazz albums to me. It was him who told me about Mexican Green by Tubby Hayes being available via the Mole Jazz label. More of Art Pepper later……..

I ordered a copy for stock and from the first play was floored. Here was a player who, I guessed, not only was an outstanding tenor saxophonist, but also a flautist! I really can’t praise this album highly enough, to me it’s got everything a jazz album should have. Anyway in those pre internet days there wasn’t much I could do to find out more about this Tubby Hayes. How the hell had I never heard of him? I knew all the names of the jazz greats even if I’d never heard their music, so who was Tubby Hayes? Who was this mystery man?

This is a fine article by Tubby devotee Simon Spillett that fills in all of the gaps and will tell you as it told me everything you need to know about Tubby.

Tubby Bio Click Me

Simon himself is a terrific tenor player and for what it’s worth I’ve only recently bought his second album Sienna Red and haven’t had chance to play it more than once yet, but it does sound  a good ‘un Of Simon it was written on a now defunct Bop blog…

“Simon Spillett never fails to impress. With a technique that outstrips most of his contemporaries…and yet these aren’t mere hip arpeggios but meaningful usage of the tools at his command. He is a living, walking Jazz Courier, with Tubby’s technique and Ronnie’s laconic sense of humour”

Recently I’ve been gathering more Tubby albums together to satisfy myself that Mexican Green was not just a one off and from what I have played so far even his earliest work whenin his teens and early twenties shows an assurance, feeling and maturity that is difficult to associate with one so young. In many ways, outside of jazz devotees Tubby’s legacy to British music seems lost and that’s a crying shame.

I earlier mentioned Art Pepper. The first time I heard Art Pepper play was on an album called “Landscape.” To my meathead hard rock ears this came across as special. Very special indeed. At the time I was too skint to buy it and decided to see if this Art Pepper chap had made any other records (!) so trudged across to the record library and checked through the catalogue.

Hmm, there were quite a few there so over the coming weeks I borrowed Straight Life, Winter Moon and One September Afternoon. This chappie was good, very good, and I really enjoyed his music.

To sound a bit of a poseur, it touched me. I know that makes me sound a daft tw*t, but it’s true. Then some more albums turned up in the library Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section, Art Pepper + Eleven, Gettin’ Together, Smack Up and Intensity. These dated from late 1950s over twenty years previously and they were great, Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section which eventually I had as a Christmas present was my favourite though. (we were a bit skint as I said!)

So now I’m slowly collecting Tubby Hayes albums, bit by bit and remain ever hopeful that I will find a copy of Art Pepper’s Complete Galaxy Recordings at a price that I can afford.

I’ve wanted a copy of this for years and missed out on one about a year ago that was on eBay and although it was one my Watch List I forgot to bid and it sold for just £27! Gutted as I would have paid a fair amount more.

I remain ever hopeful of finding a copy at a price that suits my pocket……

Good things come to those who wait. eh?

Ciao For Now,

Denbow

Posted by: docdenbow | December 13, 2013

Point > Click > Kerching

Cover of "Sienna Red"

Cover of Sienna Red

Oh aye, Christmas is fast approaching and I have a problem. It’s not a big problem as problems go, but a problem just the same. These problems have been caused by looking for a Christmas prezzie for Mrs Denbow and listening to Tommy Smith CDs.

I wanted to buy Mrs. D a pair of Crocs (she likes ‘em and so do I – so there) as a little Christmas prezzie, but as she is the owner of weird feet buying any shoes for her without first being able to try them on is a gamble on a par with sticking it all on black when playing roulette. Although I found quite a few pairs of Crocs that she would probably like, the Denbowette (who also likes Crocs) advised against buying them due to the aforementioned weird feet issue. The Denbowette is going to search Matalan(d) for something for her Mother, thus taking the pressure from her Daddy. However, that didn’t solve the problem. Well it did solve part of it sort of.

In my search for Crocs for my weird footed spouse I encountered a nice pair for me. I already own two pairs of Crocs so why not a third? A little Christmas treat, nothing wrong with that is there? So a one click purchase was made via Amazon and they are currently in transit. The second problem has been caused by the Scottish saxophone maestro Tommy Smith. You see listening to a couple of his albums has reignited my love for jazz and made me realize and remember that there are a few CDs that I should have in my collection, but don’t.

There is an eBay seller that holds 500,000 CDs in stock and their prices are, what used to be called, keen. I’m sad to say (I’m lying) went into buying frenzy and have bought five jazz CDs.

Kenny Burrell – Midnight Blue
Andy Sheppard – Learning To Wave
Sonny Rollins – Saxophone Colossus
Stan Getz And Joao Gilberto (The one with Girl From Ipanema on it)
Jamie Cullum – Twentysomething

That little lot cost me £11, so I think I’m ahead of the deal on that. I’m bidding on a couple of other jazz CDs, but as don’t want any of you meanies to outbid me, I won’t tell you what they are. Anyway that’s not a problem. I mean five CDs you actually want for £11 is good. I know it’s good. The trouble is and this is the root of my problems (well aside from many others such as personality defects etc etc) is I’m finding this internet shopping lark too easy. For sure, what I’ve bought have been real bargains, the Crocs were £13.60 (brand new in a box) and they normally retail at about £30 > £40 and the CDs, well you know the price of CDs. It’s just this point > click > kerching is very bloody easy and I’m seriously worried about getting a bit carried away and that IS a problem.

Ciao For Now

Denbow

p.s. Just bought Simon Spillett’s second album Sienna Red

Posted by: docdenbow | December 9, 2013

Capricorn Crashes Into Aquarius

It’s under three weeks to go before we all lurch haphazardly into 2014. Once more the population of the UK, and probably many more countries besides, will make drunken resolutions to stop smoking, drinking, exercise more, lose weight and to generally try to be a better all round sort of person. A recent survey (that I’ve just made up) has found that approximately 100% of New Year’s Resolutions are broken before Capricorn crashes into Aquarius. Go on tell me me that this survey is wrong – I dare you.

Have you ever managed to stick to a New Year’s Resolution?

I know for a fact that I haven’t. For years I planned out what I needed to do to improve my life and how I would implement these changes. However, every single year I awoke thick headed, befuddled and confused on January 1st, due to an overindulgence of alcohol, yet realizing that I liked smoking, drinking, not exercising and lying back on the settee stuffing my face with pasties and crisps whilst watching whatever rubbish appeared before me via the Cathode Ray Beast (that was rented from Radio Rentals) that lurked in the living room.

No my friends, New Year’s Resolution’s are not for me and I’ve deluded myself in the past when I’ve thought that maybe, just maybe that a resolution made on 31st December could change my life. Okay so I’ve never stuck to any so if I had who knows what I’d be by now. A musclebound teetotal anorexic, for example? A long distance runner? Well maybe none of those, but one thing I can say for sure is that I wouldn’t be any happier than I am now and I wouldn’t be any (alright not much) thinner. You see without waiting for a change of year, I have given up smoking, stopped drinking, exercising a little (taking the hound for regular and frequent walks) and rationing the pasties and crisps. I still watch trash TV, but now the trash is of an even lower standard than it was in years gone by – so even that has got better (if you get what I mean) than it was in those halcyon days.

On a strictly personal note there are, of course, things that I’d like to see come to fruition in 2014. These things are not Resolutions but hopes, dreams and desires. It’d be nice to win the Lottery, but having stopped doing it when the price of the tickets doubled then there’s little chance of that. Therefore I think the likelihood of ending the year buried under an avalanche of cash is slim, but of course you never know. I will keep on blogging and trying to improve the content and quality of the stuff that I share here. I think what I need to do is focus on a style instead of jumping around and writing posts that, like this one, essentially repeat sentiments and paraphrase what has gone before. To me that will be more difficult than the actual writing of the blog itself.

Then there’s the *novel* I’d like to complete the bloody *novel*.

The concept is nearly fifteen years old now and it’s really and truly no further forward than it has been at any stage since I first started thumping at the keyboard all those years ago. Perhaps I should stop thinking that I’m ever going to finish it, or even finish anything like a *novel* and give the whole notion up as a bad job. Yet for all that, I’m kind of pinning my hopes on a young lady called Hannah who has said said that she’ll read the work in progress and tell me what she thinks. I hope she does and I hope that her appraisal is honest. It seems that I’m clutching at straws with this as I seem to be a bit needy, desperate for praise and reassurance.

My confidence as a budding *novelist* is at an all time low and I’m thinking that once the Christmas Festivities are out of the way that I should put the fifteen year old millstone out to pasture and start on a new project, something that I can feel genuinely enthusiastic about. I just don’t know anymore. Aside from the *novel* I’ve messed about with, I’m totally bereft of ideas as to what I could write a *novel* about. Can’t think what to write about. I cannot and will not call it “writer’s block,” because that implies that I’m a novelist who is struggling. As it stands I’m just a bloke who wants the finished article without putting in the hard graft. They say “write what you know about,” but I’m not sure that I really know anything about anything that anyone would spend any time wanting to read.

Anyway enough of the morbid misery……………………………..

Not unlike New Year’s Resolutions that we don’t make, Mrs Denbow and I do not really exchange much in the way of Christmas or birthday presents. If there’s anything that we want, then we buy it when we want it rather than put up with an interminable wait caused by the promise,
“Ooh I’ll get you one for Christmas!”
One thing about Christmas presents that I can’t stand is the false gratitude that you have to show when someone (usually someone you detest and is indifferent to you) gives you a present you don’t want. You force a smile and utter those immortal words that are in everyone’s Festive vocabulary,
“Thank you, but you really shouldn’t have bothered.”
When I end up saying this, I really mean it. What I’m actually thinking is along the lines of
“If you think three pairs of socks that I know for a fact came from Poundland as part of a multi pack of twelve is the best you can do, then really forget it. Don’t bother again. Please.”

Problem is she’ll be mightily pissed off if she wakes up on Christmas morning and finds that me and Daisy (the dog) haven’t bought her anything.

I’m open to suggestions….maximum price £30

Ciao For Now

Denbow

Posted by: docdenbow | December 7, 2013

Good Books, Bad Books & Jazz

I read, quite a lot. Books, blogs, newspaper websites, general stuff on the internet. Yeah, I read a lot I suppose. I’ve come to the conclusion that I read more than the average bear Boo Boo, to paraphrase Yogi. I read for pleasure and books are there to enrich the mind, educate, enlighten and help you to understand the human condition and life. That’s all very well and good, but nearly everything that I read is what I’d call popular and doesn’t enrich, enlighten or educate. These books may elicit a chuckle or two, and yes they do provide light relief, but those kind of books are all that I’ve been reading. No weighty tomes for me.

Music is similar as far as I’m concerned. I have a massive collection of music. I know you expect me to brag that I’ve got classical, jazz, pop, folk, rock, hard rock and heavy metal. Well I have, so there. I have The Complete Mozart Symphonies – Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields / Neville Marriner at one end of the spectrum and Black Sabbath and Metallica at the other. When it comes to music I have somewhat catholic taste. I mean the Pope’s album of Slayer cover versions was sensational.

Moving swiftly on…….

Whilst I love my virtual trash fiction and rock music, I do think that from time to time that I need to branch out a little and open my eyes, mind and ears to things I don’t normally encounter. In terms of my reading this habit of reading what I consider lightweight virtual rubbish changed in the last couple of weeks when I re read some of my JFK assassination books to get some some ideas for my marathon “Who Killed JFK?” post on this ‘ere blog. Rubbish they may, lightweight these books are not – neither actually nor metaphorically. Whilst reading these, I plonked myself down on the sofa in538694_10151492341325262_737940261_23656087_1953025359_n the conservatory and read page upon page accompanied only by the occasional  gentle snores of our little dog Daisy such was the concentration that I required. Heavy reading done and monster blog post completed (it took up far too much of my time) I began to wonder what to read.

I decided to pick something a little bit odd for me. I also resolved that no matter how bad the book was that I was going to finish it. I chose “Fall Out”  Janet Street-Porter’s autobiography of the 70s, and after about fifteen pages my promise to finish whatever book I chose was being tested to the limit. I really should have read the Amazon reviews before I started as it is nothing more than a name dropper’s almanac and a list of the men she shagged. This is truly a book of epically shit proportions and even if you’re her number one fan, leave it well alone. Oh yes, she complains throughout that she was ostracized because of her accent – listen honey it’s never been about your accent it’s been all about your inability to speak until you had some remedial dental work.

JSPTotally disillusioned with reading anything other than populist stuff after a close encounter with JSP I wondered what to read next. It would require some thought. I have access to a load of books and can get good advice as to good reading matter, so I decided to ask for help in making a decision. The good advice I would take from my sister who has taught A Level English for nearly 30 years. She is aware of my aspirations to write and thinks that some of the stuff I have sent to her shows potential. Now this isn’t her being polite as I know, and she has confirmed this, if she thought is was crap then she would say so. I wrote a monologue, an old lady just talking about her sons and her batty friend. It’s meant to be performed and not read. My sister says it needs polishing and that I need to learn how to write it as a screenplay complete with stage directions. For me, that’s not easy but is definitely worth pursuing. What she did point out was that what I had written was derivative of Alan Bennett’s “Talking Heads” series, but that was necessarily a bad thing. She sent me a couple of YouTube links and urged me to read some Alan Bennett to look at the way he writes when he’s away from performance pieces. With this in mind I got hold of “The Lady In The Van” and “The Uncommon Reader.”

As I said I have aspirations to write. Now my sister says, to be able to write you must read and read a lot. I think my problem has been I read a lot. A lot of crap. I need to spread my wings a little when it comes to reading if I ever hope to be be able to write characters that can live and breathe on paper for others rather than just in my head. Anyway, rather than chunter on about writing ambitions that I may have, I’m just going to shut up. One day I may have something to share, who knows?

Anyway, back to the two Alan Bennett novellas, or short stories or whatever, I have never read anything like them in my life. To be honest I had always had Alan Bennett booked down as a weirdo. Not an eccentric, just plain weird. I was dimly aware that he’d done some things and that he was feted as a genius and appearances on arts programmes and The South Bank Show reaffirmed to the great unwashed that he is a genius. Mind you had a programme about Bennett turned up in the past, I’d probably have turned the TV over to watch Dog The Bounty Hunter with a cynical yawn.

To get back on track these novellas are great. The writing seemingly effortless and the style captivating and enchanting. Of the two I preferred  “The Lady In The Van” where Mr Bennett casts himself as a participant in this (true?) little story. Well worth a read is that one. Reading these two books I had a soundtrack not of a snoring terrier, but of music. Finding something that is a suitable accompaniment to reading is, for me, not that easy. Obviously Metallica, Motorhead and bands like that are a no no, but other albums that are “wordy” also seem to intrude on my privacy whilst I read. After a quick search through my disorganized CD racks I found what I was looking for. Two CDs by the Scottish jazz saxophonist Tommy Smith, “The Sound Of Love” and the another “Misty Morning And No Time.” I’m no expert on jazz, but to my ears Tommy is out of the top drawer and makes a lie of the widely held belief that it’s only Americans who can play jazz. The two CDs I’m talking about here are both on the Linn label audio geeks, so the sound is excellent.

So there you are, one crap book by JSP, two brilliant novellas by Alan Bennett and two fine jazz CDs by Tommy Smith.

I’ll educate myself yet,

Ciao For Now,

Denbow

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