Poem

A friend tasked me with writing a song about him. Here are the words

For Neil

Piercing blue eyes search the Southern French skies

For the love of his life

Who will soon be his wife.

 

Bilingual disguise while the girl hides her cries

They’ll be happy again

When they sail up the Seine

 

A year or two since they met

Port-au-Prince sunshine, yet

Both finding something

They weren’t looking for.

 

Four flawless pearls arrive

Four perfect girls decide

How they proceed to where

They long to be.

 

How could it be the same?

Magical alchemy came.

Blessed you whilst passing

Then faded away.

 

Six pairs of eyes smiling

No more disguise; whiling

Moments away

Now you’re older, they say.

 

Fulfilled and content

Busy father and gent

Can’t work out any more

What he thought of before.

 

And under the prize of those Southern French skies

Counts his blessings first one then five;

Thanks God that he’s alive.

 

They just keep coming…

Another piece I wrote a while ago and just found…

First appeared on Harry’s Place

Are we living in an era of ‘reckoning’?

This is a guest post by Mike Audley

I’ve had a nagging feeling for a couple of days that the Savile case isn’t as unique as first expected…

The last few years have seen our bankers fall from grace. their greed having been all but encouraged by their lack of self-regulation or indeed by any effective external regulation. Their actions, fully supported by their old school pals in the government, were a crucial catalyst, if not the root cause of the financial collapse that our Grandchildren will be paying for.

Then it was the turn of the politicians to be placed under the microscope of public scrutiny.  It turned out that  they had been playing the expenses and 2ndhome allowance system for years, under our noses, – moulding the system in order to line their own pockets and those of their friends and family.

Next in line as if in rapid response, it turned out that another shining beacon of the British Establishment, namely the gutter Murdoch press was knee deep in its own filth…even Rebeckah Brooks turned out to be a vile, self-serving power-mad sociopath! Who saw that coming? I mean, she was friends with the Prime Minister for God’s sake…! Heads rolled, hands were wrung again.

When the families of the 96 football fans who died 23 years ago finally saw a  flickering candle at the end of a very dark, old tunnel, we all knew that a process had started that will, I’m sure bring about criminal proceedings for negligence and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. My money is on the press, the police and the government of the day being  brought to book…oh, is a pattern emerging?

Meanwhile, the Savile case continues the mutating pattern. We are told to expect pillars of the community to be questioned by the police and we all suspect that the fall out will, once again, implicate the press, some members of the government of the time and, again, the police themselves.

These days it seems that the ones who got away with terrible crimes and were sheltered, aided and then protected, are not untouchable any more. The tide has turned. The public are demanding justice, and they’re no longer frozen in fear of the consequences of their actions. Those who for decades have been the untouchable ones, the ones who formed the very fabric of the establishment and who were therefore immune from scrutiny and thus were unaccountable for their often heinous actions, are now being unwillingly dragged into public view, inspected forensically and, where necessary, prosecuted. Sadly in the Savile case, the main offender is no longer with us to be brought to book, but someone will be held accountable, the public appetite for retribution is simply too strong to be ignored.

Where will this pattern lead us next? I, for one, can’t wait to find out…

Hillsborough

This was first published in 2009 on Harry’s Place, on the 20th Anniversary of the Hillsborough Tragedy. It was subsequently picked up by several others including the Liverpool Echo, Huffington Post etc. It was written in one draft, without edits and took as long to write as it is about to take you to read…

I knew three people who had gone to the match, so just hoped that they’d be okay. They were Rick Jones and his girlfriend Tracey – both of whom I’d been at Sheffield university with until the previous year – and one of my best friends Fran McCallister, a fireman and doorman, a colossus.

Me and Fran had hung out for days on end, smoking, listening to music (Cocteau Twins and Van Halen were his favourites, weirdly) and, well, just being scousers in Sheffield; taking the piss out of locals, getting drunk, having fun and being great…

At about three in the morning the first call came from my friend Kevin Fearon. He’d just identified Rick and Tracey’s bodies in a gym near to the ground. I was still sitting on the bottom step of the stairs at about 6am when he called back to tell me that he’d just identified Fran’s body as well.

My dad came down the stairs. “Any news son?”, he said.

I told him the news.

He made me a cup of tea and then did something I’ll always be grateful for. Without a word he climbed past me back up the stairs, packed me a bag, came back down, and pulled me up and got me into the car. “You need to be with your mates in Sheffield’. We drove in silence.

He dropped me off, putting a few tenners into my hand and left me to it.

Already the Broomhill Tavern, our local for so many happy years was open, despite it being early.

The next hours are hazy. People were coming into the pub having been wandering around for hours and hours, having been at the match – with blood on their hands from the batons of South Yorkshire’s finest. Struck down for trying to climb onto the pitch – often begging the police to let them – “I’M STANDING ON MY MATE”. “Shut your mouth you scouse bastard”. *THWACK*

It appears that people trying to get out were standing on the sensible ones – the ones who hadn’t left it until the last minute, but had got to the game nice and early, to pick a spot. Like Rick and Tracey.

Mates arrived. The landlord put a bottle of Jameson’s on our table and told us that whatever we needed, food, drink, money, transport to and from Liverpool – anything – would be provided. Amazing. And he was to prove as good as his word.

We walked to the ground wanting to be there 24 hours after this obscenity had occurred. The good people of Sheffield came out of their houses, giving us drinks and flowers to take to the ground.

We arrived and laid our flowers. We cried. Apparently we were on the news that night. Hugging and crying. The Salvation Army man was incredible. He gave me a cup of tea and told me that he wanted to share my grief. Please would I share it with him? It would help me, and would help him too. I was, and am, overwhelmed by this.

What followed was three funerals in five days and a shock that hasn’t gone away. Sometimes just hearing the word ‘Hillsborough’ is enough to make me burst into tears.

Fran’s girlfriend Sam asked me to play at his funeral. I wrote a song and was proud to sing it – it was called The Man That Was Larger Than Life.

Justice For The 96.

Led Zeppelin

(First published in June 2011 on Mybandtshirt)

By the spring of 1979, all of my friends were hitting each other with their rhythm sticks or posing for photographs pretending to be asleep next to Debbie Harry. The Old Rock Of The Seventies had been dealt a killer double death blow by punk, and even more so, by its own excesses in both substance and music. It was stumbling around, punch-drunk, and ready to throw the towel in. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal hadn’t quite been dreamt up by Gary Bushell and the rest of the Sounds writers, either.

But then Led Zeppelin announced that they were to play in the UK – for the first time since the legendary Earls Court ’75 gigs that some of our older brothers still talked about in reverential tones. The venue for this concert was a magical sounding place called “Knebworth” that we’d never heard of. Never knowingly accused of following fashion, I was still happily listening to Rush, Queen, the new L.A. Kids – Van Halen, Sabbath, Purple – and of course, the Gods of the lot, Zeppelin. It never occurred to me that there may be some correlation between my musical tastes and my lack of girlfriend, but that’s another story.

I implored my parents. I cried. I threatened to leave home. I begged and I pleaded, but the answer, like the song, remained the same. NO. I would not be attending. So I consoled myself with this t-shirt, bought by mail-order from the classifieds in the back of the Zeppelin fan club magazine, inexplicably called Tight but Loose – but never quite forgave my parents.

But happily the Knebworth gig is now available on DVD, well worth the watch. And I finally managed to see Zeppelin at the O2, years later.

Here’s how.

In November 2007, my friend John Davis, a Mastering Engineer, landed the enviable job or remastering some Zeppelin tracks for Mothership. As a result, Jimmy Page invited him to the O2 concert in memory of Ahmet Ertegun. Having a spare ticket and despite the fact that he could easily have funded a very nice holiday by selling it on Ebay – there were reportedly 20 million online ticket requests – John kindly took me along as his plus-one. Ludicrously, we were front row centre, seated next to the guys who pilot Jimmy’s yacht up and down the Thames.

After two songs, John turned to me and said, “Now I realise what all the fuss is about”.

Led Zeppelin rolled back the years and put on a performance that will forever be burnt into the memory of all who witnessed it. Lots of bands made great records, but very few could ever play live like them. By the third song in, Black Dog, I’d even almost forgiven my parents. But not quite.

Butter

This ‘spreadable butter’ won’t spread.

Instead it just mangles my bread.

It looks such a state,

Full of holes on my plate.

Tomorrow, it’s crumpets instead.

The Good Fare

Monday, 19 October 2009

day 353

The girl got in the car and I could tell straight away that she was nervous so I put Magic FM on. I try to match the station to the passenger, they can be a Kiss FM person, or a Radio 4 type. There’s Talksport, 5 live, Magic, LBC, Radios 1, 2 and 3, classic fm and of course Radio London- which is the default. Danny Baker’s show (weekday afternoons) is the one thing that doesn’t get changed. Broadcasting genius who has so obviously been given a free hand when it comes to music selection. I’m yet to hear him play a bad song.

Anyway, we set off. It’s a good fare, – she’s going to Greenford. She gradually opens up and tells me that she’s nervous. I try to put her at ease, reassuringly tell her that everything’s fine. Where is she going? She tells me it’s her friend’s daughter’s Christening. She’s been depressed and hasn’t been out of the house much, let alone to any sort of social function. It turns out that it took a lot for her to go and buy the present and card, – and that she really had to force herself to get dressed up and put her make up on…I tell her she’s done really well but the closer we get to Greenford, the more nervous she becomes. I keep reassuring her that she’s done really well to get this far and that I’m sure all of her friends will be pleased to see her but she doesn’t think so. They hate her, she thinks. I’m sure that’s not the case, I tell her, but she’s already decided she can’t go into the church.
As we pull up outside I try and persuade her to go in but by now panic is setting in. She’s begging me to take her home so I do. On the house naturally. All the way back I tell her not to worry, that she did really well to get as far as she did. That she had been really brave to go and buy the present and card and that maybe she’ll feel up to going along later, but she’s not listening. She just wants to get home.

Westbourne Grove – A Poem

westbourne grove

Blackberry clutched in left hand and latte in the right

Striding down Westbourne Grove with Ralph Loren in sight

Versace shades and skinny jeans, designer heels and bag,

Fresh from a spinning session, so not shopping is a drag

Economy and politics, environment and rights

Are several of the topics that don’t keep her up at nights.

Conspicuous consumption, the gym and fashion tips

Facebook status updates and fuller natural lips.

Disfunctional in childhood and ignored throughout her teens

But trust funds make the pain subside so all is as it seems.