“Wise enough to carry the scars, without any blame…”

Goodbye 2012.

Goodbye 2012 and fuck you, is really what I want to say, but I am trying to be the bigger and better man.

Its fair to say that if it was a boxing match, 2012 versus myself would have been mis-match of the century. The skinny lad from Yorkshire against the Year of change!  – the bookies would have had a laugh wouldn’t they?

Truth be told, from the moment that first right hook landed last Christmas, I was on the ropes. I honestly never saw it coming and was quickly forced onto back foot. As 2012 then lurched from one thing to another, it felt like the punches continued to just rain down – some jaw splitters, others sneaky little ones to the ribs, one after another.

Each punch a negative memory. Each with its own ripple effect into different areas of my life and my mind. Like arrows embedding into my soul, each blow was a game changer and each defined a new set of rules. Around halfway, the referee should have stopped the fight and he would have had every reason to. Punch-drunk, only my instincts appear to have kept me in the match.

It would be pure self pity to go into too much detail, but a lot of this year has been unfamiliar territory. The year of change has done just that. Its changed me, my family and the direction of my life. If I am honest, I am not completely sure I handled each one the way I would have liked to. “Could do better” would no doubt have been my year end report from the teachers.

Sure, I landed blows on the beast. They may have been small victories in the bigger picture. They may have appeared insignificant to some, but to me they have required an inner strength that I was perhaps unaware I had. Each small victory will remain a positive memory that I will take from this year and carry forward. The outcome was that 2012 won the match in the end, but not by a knockout blow. It won on points.

I am still standing, still here. Am I stronger? Perhaps… Am I wiser? I think so…. Could I have handled things better – almost certainly…. Am I strong enough to lock the negatives in a box at the back of my head and just focus on the positives? I am damn well going to try…

2013 is the year I will say goodbye to my old man, but I think I am as prepared for the moment as I can be. Its the year I will have to stand up and be counted for my mum and again, I am prepared for that too. My 40th will come and go, there may be drama and a midlife crisis, who knows. I have no sight of anything else that will come my way, but I am ready and I am waiting.

I know most of the things that happened this year were not of my making. That makes things a tad easier somedays, other days not. I know that I have had tremendous support from even the most surprising of people and places. That too has helped more that I can say. So now a line is drawn beneath.

There could only be only one of 2 songs that accompanies this ramble. One will remain private, but the other is quite possibly the best song ever written and I implore you to not listen to it once, not even twice, but on repeat.

The lyrics are, as was pointed out to the man himself, “deep”. They have connected with me so many times over the last – man alive, nearly 20 years – and I find myself drawn again.

This is the stunning and amazing Distant Sun. Bless you Mr Finn and thanks for all the music…

Tell me all the things you would change…
I don’t pretend to know what you want…
When you come around and spin my top…
Time and again, time and again…
No fire where I lit my spark…
I am not afraid of the dark…
Where your words devour my heart…
And put me to shame, put me to shame…
When your seven worlds collide…
Whenever I’m by your side…
And dust from a distant sun…
Will shower over everyone…
You’re still so young to travel so far…
Old enough to know who you are…
Wise enough to carry the scars…
Without any blame, there’s no one to blame…
It’s easy to forget what you learned…
Waiting for the thrill to return…
Feeling your desire burn…
And drawn to the flame…
When your seven worlds collide…
Whenever I’m by your side…
Dust from a distant sun…
Will shower over everyone…
Dust from a distant sun…
Will shower over everyone…
And I’m lying on the table…
Washed out in a flood…
Like a Christian fearing vengeance from above…
I don’t pretend to know what you want…
But I offer love…
Seven worlds will collide…
Whenever I’m by your side…
Dust from a distant sun…
Will shower over everyone…
As time, comes rolling down your neck…
Like a tiny bead of sweat…
And you end up getting wet…
Its time, I fell asleep as the dust laid on the ground…

“So tell me when, you’re gonna let me in…”

Some things in life just happen…
Sometimes your eyes can’t see…
Sometimes there is no reason…
Some things are meant to be…

Sometimes the Sun shines brightly…
Some days it’s a cloud…
Somewhere there’s a rainbow…
Sometimes people are so damn proud…

Sometimes we’ve best intentions…
Some days our minds are Black…
Somewhere it went missing…
Some day we’ll get it back…

Sometimes we’ve just forgotten…
Some people won’t forgive…
Somewhere there’s an answer…
Some things aren’t ours to give…

Some people go on living…
Some days we live to die…
Sometimes its deep depression…
Sometimes Eye… Fly… High…

Some people just don’t get it…
Some believe only what they hear…
Some understand the bigger picture…
Some begin to fight their fear…

Some days we play the victim…
Somehow we just don’t exist…
Some people are so stunning…
Someone yearns just to be kissed…

Some thoughts should be forgotten…
Sometimes we’re led astray…
Some words never can be spoken…
Some things just locked away…

Someone’s always watching…
Sometimes we still deceive…
Some say that there’s an ending…
Somehow we still believe…

Someday we will understand…
Some claim our eyes will see…
Some thoughts we will remember…
Someday the Dove will set us free…

Todays music comes from Keane – not a band I overly love, but they have the odd song that does it for me – this one especially. “Somewhere only we know” is one of those that is so open to interpretation – I find it interesting that different things can be read into lyrics and poems. Like the above, they are just words. However they can be read in so many ways and they carry so much – or so little. I sometimes wonder if that is due to the intent of the writer, or the desire of the reader.

Enjoy.

“I really like Christmas, It’s sentimental, I know…”

Now, I am no Christmas scrooge. I love this time of the year, even now young Ollie has admitted to knowing that Santa is fake, I still get a buzz out of it. However, if I hear one more “Christmas” song in the next few days I think I will scream.

The last week or so the office mates have had the same tunes on the CD player, then the radio churning out the same stuff on heavy rotation. Then there was the Christmas party and you can throw in the same music on the TV, or playing in the background in the shops as we panic bought the last bits for tomorrow. Over and over again, the same dross gets pulled out every year.

The 70’s and early 80’s Christmas songs are held up as the definitive tracks to have on around this time. Why? Because they have been played so often, that they have become part of the culture. I bet Noddy Holder couldn’t believe his luck when, year after year, his gush was played again and again. Even when you could point to a song that was decent, like the Pogues “Fairytale of New York” repeated airplay has diminished it.

I don’t want to hear Mariah Carey at the best of times and self righteous Band Aid being rammed down my throat wore thin years ago. Yes, Wham’s “Last Christmas” is tolerable, but even George must be sick of that one. And even Lennon’s  message in “War is Over” got lost in the mix somehow. I won’t even get start on East fucking 17!

The problem is, the new stuff that comes out dressed up as Christmas tunes never stand a chance. Perhaps mainly because they too are poor efforts or misguided attempts at parody. However they also don’t get played often enough to counter balance the old stuff. Now I sound like a Grinch, but that’s not true. There are tracks I like, I just don’t want to hear them again and again and again!

Well, with one exception. It has to be said that this one by Ray Conniffs choir never fails to hit the spot – perhaps its not overly played, perhaps it’s the voices, perhaps its due to being a tad over 2 minutes long. Whichever way, it is the song that makes me think that Christmas is here:

Anyway, rant over! I would like to wish you and yours all the best for the festive season and hope all your Christmas wishes come true!
And as its Christmas, today gets 2 songs and Its only left for me to hand over to Tim Minchin and allow him to speak my feelings about this time of year more eloquently than I can – with the exception of the being able to be in the sun. Next year, I may well remedy that…

Have fun and stay safe in the world where you live…

“But forget it all, I know I will…”

So, we made it through. The end of the world didn’t happen, the doomsday prediction was incorrect , Armageddon no where to be seen and danger of any kind averted  – well, for now anyway.

It was interesting, as I spent some time this morning canvassing opinions and suggestions as to what people would do in the short time we could have had left. If we were told at say, 11am, that the world would end in 11 minutes, what would people do? It made for an interesting coffee break.

The overwhelming reaction was to try get home. Others said head for the pub, a couple said grab someone and head for the nearest storeroom for a last minute and I guess a rather unromantic rendezvous. The home suggestion intrigued me. It was as if there is some inbuilt tractor beam instinctively pulling us there.

Its a nice thought, but given the timeframe, the likelihood or the reality would have been to get stuck in traffic and die alone. The romantic notion that even if you made it back, could be shattered by the thought that the house could be as empty as you left it earlier that morning. Would that not depress you further before the time ran out?

The ironic would have been grabbing the rendezvous , only to find out it was a false alarm. So perhaps the better suggestion would be the pub, with the memory of seeing your loved ones off for the day being a more lasting memory to take into, well, wherever. And that was of course the next question – what happens when we die?

Of course, this could have gone on for a while and there was no hard and fast answer, how could there be – but there was a spectrum of beliefs. How do you pick the bones out of that one? What would be better – into blackness and nothing or reborn as a Rat? What would be worse, reborn as a Rat or reborn as a Rat with your memories intact, knowing that you once were Human, but are now a Rat?

Heaven would be nice, a place where you meet loved ones who have passed, but you can’t have good without the bad, the clean without the dirty – so what will Hell look like? – No one cared to speculate. No one really wants to think of it, which is understandable. I guess sweeping things under the carpet isn’t always the best way, but sometimes, not the worst.

Anyway, we live to fight another day and you live to hear another song. Nothing to do with the end of the world, but everything to do with the aforementioned rendezvous, this has been playing in the office this week on someone else’s CD and I had forgotten how good the song was. The song is by Squeeze and this is a great solo version by Glen Tilbrook.

“They roar like Lions, childlike underneath…”

I am sure that I am not alone when I say I can’t get my head around the senseless loss of life at Sandy Hook Elementary. As a father, it sends a further chill down the spine. My heart goes out to all affected and my thoughts are with the families…

It got me thinking. Every day, as most parents, I pack young Ollie off for a long period of time. I have to trust the system, trust my boy and trust the world where we live. I don’t really know what he does, who he speaks to, how he behaves or who he interacts with. He then has to make his way home and spend time waiting for me to return from work.

Upon my return, there are some blanks filled in, but largely, his days are filled with one word answers. It was “good”, It was “fine” (I hate that word!), It was the “same”.  As parents, we trust that, whilst he is in the system, no real harm will come to him. I guess its expected that at some point, he may be bullied. At some point, some kid may take a swing at him, or say something hurtful. Or even the other way round.

In the grand scheme of things, especially in light of what has happened in the USA, these simply pass as mere character building, or rights of passage as we go through early life and into adulthood. There is no real other way. Well, I suppose there is, but home schooling is perhaps not for everyone.

As a parent, we have to learn let go. We don’t want to, but we know we have to even though it doesn’t come naturally. I have to trust that I have done enough as a parent to enable Young Ollie to grow in “his” way. I remember vividly the time Ollie demanded to be allowed to walk to the corner shop alone.  In his head, he did it alone, in reality, he was never aware he was followed.

Just out of sight, just enough to let him have the feeling he wanted and me to have the peace of mind. Of course, over time, you begin to take things for granted. Over time, confidence that they can handle themselves grows and I guess if I am honest, there are times I switch off. Young Ollie wanders to the shop now and I don’t blink an eye.

In time, it will be solo trips to town, before progressing to Leeds – just as I did as a kid. Of course, that’s how it should be. In a perfect world, all kids would find themselves and grow. Yet Its easy sometimes to get wrapped up in your own issues and forget that we live in a far from perfect world. I can’t be everywhere with Ollie and I need to let him grow.

Not many people know I lost my brother when he was Ollies age. A routine family trip that ended in heartbreak. One moment in time where the eye was taken off the ball and disaster struck. As a parent, I don’t know if anything is worse than that. I am not sure my parents ever recovered. Honestly, until Young Ollie came along, I am not sure I ever understood.

As I go along, I find that history has a tendency of repeating when we least expect it to. These events have perhaps refocused me as a parent. Ensuring as much as I can that no harm will come to my boy, the centre of my world. Easy to say, difficult to do in so many ways. I don’t want to smother him, I don’t want him not to find his own way.

I want Ollie to stride out into the world and make it his own. I want him to be his own man, make his own rules and find a place in this world that he is comfortable with. I will never be scared or afraid to let him go, but if I am honest, I am sometimes scared I will lose him like my parents lost Alan. With that in mind, as todays song says, I am making a deal to “stay awake”.

The song is called “Golden Child”. There are a few versions of this song knocking around, including the final recorded version. However, this was from Neils gig at the Scala in London. Not the best venue in the world, but this was a new song and a definite highlight. Its an audience recording too and I really should use more of them, they capture the nights so much better.

“You dance around it, the Golden Child, you try to hold it, but he slips right out of your arms.”
Enjoy.

“I made a promise…”

Nothing much from me tonight.

However, I did indeed make a promise to put up that stunning Sheryl Crow song called “Home”…

Quite a bittersweet track and quite possibly the best song that Sheryl has written from what I have heard of her music.

The lyrics are quite vivid, brave and direct – see below…
Enjoy!

I woke up this morning…
Now I understand…
What it means to give your life…
To just one man…
Afraid of feeling nothing…
No bees or butterflies…
My head is full of voices…
And my house is full of lies..
This is home, home…
And this is home, home…
This is home…
I found you standing there…
When I was seventeen…
Now I’m thirty-two…
And I can’t remember what I’d seen in you…
I made a promise…
Said it everyday…
Now I’m reading romance novels…
And I’m dreaming of yesterday…
This is home, home…
And this is home, and this is home…
This is home…
I’d like to see the Riviera…
And slowdance underneath the stars…
I’d like to watch the sun come up…
In a stranger’s arms…
And this is home…
And this is home, home, home, home…
I’m going crazy…
A little everyday…
And everything I wanted…
Is now driving me away…
I awoke this morning…
To the sound of breaking hearts…
Mine is full of questions…
And it’s tearing yours apart, tearing yours apart…
And it’s tearing yours apart, tearing yours apart…
And its tearing us apart…

“All depends on your state of mind…”

Those of you who know me, will be aware that, whilst I am not a religious type, I will try take a balanced view rather than just dismiss. The same goes for other beliefs or opinions held by my friends or colleagues – even the strange ramblings of my brother about aliens and UFO cover ups.

However, this week, I was nearly thrown off course and in the end, I began to question whether a lot of beliefs simply revolve around the persons state of mind. This story is in Two very small parts – the first being Monday night. I had been thrown a bit during the day, you know, just when you read perhaps too much into something someone said or did.

I normally park the car in the drive at home, but due to  the fact it was a flying visit before becoming dads taxi for the evening, I parked on the road. I got out of the car and walked down the drive and noticed that sat on the little porch above my front door was the most stunning Brown Owl.

It may not have been the first visit of said Owl, but the first time I had noticed and it stopped me in my tracks. It was sat still, just looking at me as the evening darkness was closing in. To be honest, it was quite a powerful moment. It didn’t last too long, before the Owl decided to take flight. I thought little of it, other than to mention it to Ollie in a Harry Potter type way.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon and a chance conversation with a colleague. I mentioned the incident with the Owl and without hesitation, I was informed that the Owl was “The Messenger of Death”.  For more than a moment, I was spooked. I have to be honest, given the situation with my father, I even convinced myself that it kind of made sense.

So, I googled it and indeed, its true – well, for some people. In Pagen terms for example, that is exactly what the Owl represents. In others, its the Owls hoot that is the death warning. In this instance, the Owl just sat there silently and looked at me.  Other belief systems see the Owl in a different way.

Navajo think the Owl is the envoy of the supernatural world. The Pawnee believe that it offers protection. The Cherokee see the bird as sacred because of its night-time vision, and wish that power for themselves. Also the fact it can see in the dark gives the suggestion of the true ability to see what is happening around you.

Yet I have always associated the Owl with wisdom – it can see that which others cannot, which is said to be the hallmark of true wisdom. So, its clear that for some the Owl has a dual symbolism of wisdom and darkness. Its not all Harry Potter type sorcerers and witches – its not all death and gloom.

Isn’t the Internet a wonderful place, there is so much more written about this stunning bird. The web is a source of never ending information that can enlighten, but perhaps scaremonger too. But I have to say, that given my perhaps vulnerable mindset at the moment, I can see how some people need to believe in something more.

Or look for something much deeper in a situation that, on the face of it, just is what it is. If I am honest, thats something I have been very much guilty of over recent weeks – looking too deep into things – and I am trying to refocus and be reminded of the late Paul Hesters moto of “keeping it real”.  After all, its the only way to be!

Still, it made for an interesting diversion to the week. Now you will be glad to know that not even I can think of an Owl related song for this blog and I refuse to stoop to the depths of “Owl City”, even though Ollie has a track of theirs on his ipod. So, todays comes from Split Enz – who are celebrating their 40th year as I soon will be!

“Years go by, wonder what you did, yet in a minute you can change your life”…

Enjoy!