"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Happy Birthday Bob Dylan!

Well, Bob Dylan is 70 years old today. That actually seems impossible to me, I absolutely cannot have been following the genius that is Bob Dylan for almost 50 years. Yet I have.

I suppose that to me and many others of my generation the name 'Bob Dylan' is synonomous with the change that seemed to rush through the early to mid sixties in music, art and society - to the generation that was young then. To badly filch and paraphrase Wordsworth:

Exciting was it in those years to be there, But to be young was very heaven!

My twin gods were Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. I can still remember the shiver that went down my spine - literally - when I first heard the tune and listened to the words to With God on Our Side, it expressed so exactly what I was fumbling to say at those early CND meetings I was attending.

The 'Bob and Joan' combination provided me and my friends with many adventures in and memories from those days. One of the things that drew Other Half and I together was our mutual respect for Dylan. I remember a madcap ride with friends [this was in the late sixties] to the Electric Cinema Club in the Portobello Road, Notting Hill to watch the film Don't Look Back which was a documentary about Dylan's 1967 tour of England which showed other artistes including [obviously!] Baez, the Animals, Donovan and more. The Electric at that time was falling apart and there was a very strange smell in the air. I suppose the occupants were dressed oddly, not that we were any different in our ponchos, ragged trousers and long skirts. The music and light show before the main film started was King Crimson's Court of the Crimson King. Then there were the festivals and shows, with longer and longer gaps between our attendance and children started to arrive and thus the buying of the records replaced the buying of tickets.

Unravelling Dylan's words and music helped us to think. Maybe they even helped us through the Sociology parts of our degrees. Certainly they were often played loudly at those times! His music and voice [yes!] have been a comfort, a friend and an encouragement.

We went on Dylan's musical journey with him, not always liking the twists and turns but always appreciating his depth of knowledge and skill. I loved it when he 'went electric' but wasn't so keen on his Planet Waves era. But I stuck with him and am still enjoying his recent stuff - Modern Times was awesome. And yes I loved his Christmas Album of Christmas 2009 - it was for charity too! - and laughed and cried at it!

As our children got older they started listening to the music and being dragged [not unwillingly I hope!] to the festivals and concerts to hear our heroes. The cross-over point occurred not when they began actually asking to come with us but when eldest son announced he had bought tickets for us and him to see Dylan in London. And we realised when we got to the venue that there were lots of parents our age with children our son's age and wondered if they were being similarly 'treated'?! But eldest son is a true Dylan fan and named his eldest son Dylan as proof. And whenever his Dylan talks about the older Dylan he refers to him as 'Bob not me'. Fair enough.

A new 'audience' has been reached with Bob's Radio Hour, first broadcast on US radio and successfully 'imported' here. His deep musical knowledge has been confirmed to a new generation - great work!

So on Bob's 70th birthday today we are having a Bob fest and playing his music all day. Not necessarily all sung by him, so many other artistes have recorded his music all around the world. The dear old Beeb have been playing some wonderful tributes and programmes about him for nearly a week. One tribute programme featured Billy Bragg talking about a show he was at in the then Hammersmith Odeon in the early 90s, I realised that was the show we couldn't get to because we were snow bound and which we were are still sulking about - now even more so because I missed out on Billy Bragg too! Last night the BBC news even 'leaked' that at one time Bob took heroin. Shock, horror. We never would have guessed. However, for all that has been written and discussed about him , for all the interviews that he has taken part in - he is still a puzzle wrapped in an enigma.

A couple of years ago we threw a Bob fest in a hall and charged an entrance fee, raising a tidy sum for charity. Another year we decorated the outside of the house - as we often do that neighbours just thought we had yet another relative, this time called Bob. This year I thought I would just write about him and share my gratitude for all the pleasure he has given over me all the years with you. Thanks Bob.

The Times They are a-changing. When I clicked onto the site to show the lyrics for With God On Our Side the banner ads at the side of the site were for the Weight Watchers organisation rather than the adds on the back of my precious copy of Subterranean Homesick blues as shown in the above picture. On the back of that sheet music the ads are for other sheet music by: The Weavers [Pete Seeger's Band]; Joan Baez; Peter, Paul & Mary; and a 'Young Folk' mix. Ahh the memories! The Electric Cinema Club, after going through some very bad times and getting even more decrepit is now swish and is an experience.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Anniversary Blog

Well today is the first anniversary of this blog. So time to take stock? No not really, taking stock can be depressing although when I look back I have enjoyed writing even if unexpected turns have been taken at times!

The blog was started for three reasons. In the wake of last year's General Election I needed to let off steam and I had enjoyed the political debates I had been having online during the run up to the campaign, being unable to get to many 'in the flesh' debates due to health issues. I was also meant to be writing a book about my naughty ancestors and the blog was a way of flexing my writing muscles. The health issues had also meant that I had had to retire a couple of years early from my lecturing job as a [mainly] English Lit lecturer to adults so I thought I would throw in the odd literary blog but somehow the social observations [or ranting] took over and the literariness got sidelined and emerged in the Clarice blog on New Year's Eve last year. Clarice is not quite as prolific as she should be but that should be addressed soon! The naughty ancestors book is still in the 'planning' stage.

But I have enjoyed the blogging. Sometimes my blogs have been picked up by other bloggers and re-blogged and even posted onto web sites. I was 'commissioned' to write a film review and have been asked several times to 'publicise' a 'cause'.

And have I ranted and plugged causes! Amongst others #saveournhs/keep our nhs public ; #saveourforests ; save the UK Coastguard centres ; #save our libraries ; and another to which I devote most time and thought.

I have ranted about and written open letters to various politicans including David Cameron and Vince Cable and praised such worthwhile, wonderful voluntarily run organisations such as MAMAA and Gateway Clubs. I have 'advertised' various rallies and demos and reported on some of the ones I have managed to get to. I have celebrated the lives of various people including some lovely family members.

I have made some online friends [and probably some enemies too, although I really hope not!] but above all I have enjoyed myself and hope some readers may have enjoyed my witterings too. To those I have annoyed, sorry about that but these are solely my own opinions after all.

And the photo image above? Blake's Jerusalem . Why? Why not? As good an anniversary song as any other.

Monday 9 May 2011

Nick Clegg: Saviour of the NHS???!!

So yesterday Nick Clegg decided that he is against Tory plans to 'revamp' the NHS. I am sure I am not the only blogger remarking this morning about this volte face on the part of the Lib Dem leader.

[A bit of recent Lib Dem history: in March Nick Clegg had to accept the motion put down by his MPs at his party’s spring conference condemning Andrew Lansley, the Conservative Health Secretary, proposed reforms.] Those who were said to be angry over their leaders 'agreement' with the proposed reforms included Baroness Shirley Williams.

We could not have been the only household watching Cleggy on the TV yesterday chanting 'Why now Nick?' Could it have been to do with the drubbing at the polls on Thursday in the local elections? Has he realised, with other high ranking Lib Dems like Vince Cable and Simon Hughes, that now the electorate really see their party as just a paler blue version of the Conservative party?

I do not like the NHS being used as a 'political tool' to make a politician gain votes. To me a National Health Service has been and should continue to be a human right for British citizens for the past 60+ years thanks to Aneurin Bevan and his colleagues. We cannot as a nation afford [morally and financially] to lose it. As a family historian I often read the death certificates of ancestors, mostly poor working people, and wonder if the NHS had been available 150 years ago they would have survived the illnesses which killed them.

As an individual I thank the NHS for their care in just this past six weeks, let alone my whole life! Youngest Daughter as you may know, has just given birth to a lovely grand-daughter. However both needed a lot of care from the NHS, Youngest Daughter had pre-eclampsia which got worse after delivery and thanks to the care of her hospital she is still with us to tell the tale [but still receiving treatment] - again this is one of those conditions that 150 years ago would probably be shown on a death certificate. At the same time youngest grand-daughter had to go into special care for a couple of days but is thankfully now at home with her Mum and Dad and keeping them awake at night!

Whilst this was happening in one county we had two very elderly relatives, to whom we are next of kin, in hospital in another county. The wonderful NHS saved the life of one and now he is home are now sending a district nurse in every day to him and carers to both him and his wife. And in another county my elderly aunt was in yet another hospital as she had to have treatment for another problem.

Thank you so much NHS and all the wonderful workers.

Reading Nick Clegg's biography, courtesy of Wikipedia so usual wikipedia cautions apply, the most interesting fact to me is that his great great aunt was Moura Budberg, a long time mistress of my literary hero and left wing campaigner of the early 1900s, H.G.Wells.

The picture of Nick Clegg above is again courtesy of Wikipedia. The reason I have chosen is because it is rather a badly posed picture from his point of view as the camera angle makes him look much smaller [and thus less important/inferior?] to David Cameron......

Please join with me and hundreds and thousands of others in signing the petition to #savethenhs