National Blow A Raspberry Day

Sharing this piece from five years ago today, as a reminder of times when we could actually go out. Have a good day, and stay safe 😊👍

Take It Easy

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For the latest in my series of Dates To Note I wanted to find something a little different, like I did with American Pi. It took a bit of searching but I finally found something: today is National Blow A Raspberry Day. At least, it is here in the UK but I’m not sure about anywhere else. Do they have a Bronx Cheer Day in New York, perhaps?

Even the Royals are doing it! Even the Royals are doing it!

The Day was started a number of years ago by twin brothers Frank and Freddie Arter. As befits twins they were inseparable, which meant that from their earliest school days they were known collectively as the F.Arters. Worried about how impersonal modern life was becoming, they conceived the idea of blowing a raspberry at someone as a way of breaking the ice, of putting a smile on people’s faces. You can do it to colleagues when…

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Tuesday Tunes 2

One of the comments on last week’s first Tuesday Tunes post suggested that I should make this a regular feature. This seemed like a good idea, so I’m going to do it at least for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis – the number of each post will serve as a useful count at the start of each week the UK has been in lockdown, even if it serves no other purpose! I dipped my toe into this water last week by sharing two songs and, as I don’t intend these to become magnum opuses (opi?) – I’m going to stick with that format. Though, knowing how well I ever keep to a plan, there is no guarantee of that!

This week’s two songs are, in title at least, my little response to Covid. The first is from a man whose music I’ve loved for over 50 years, going right back to his days as a founder member of Fairport Convention. I have just about every album he has ever made (does anyone know where I can get Sunnyvista without breaking the bank?), and have seen him play live as part of the Fairports, with his then girlfriend – and later wife – Linda, solo and with his own band. I never tire of listening to the great Richard Thompson, a man who has written so many wonderful songs. This one gives us all a suitable message for these strange times in which we find ourselves:

Yes, I know it’s about a love affair and not a virus, and yes, I know I posted it as a #SongOfTheDay on my Facebook page recently, but so what? It’s a great song, deserves to be heard again, and the message transfers well!

Continuing my (very) loose theming, my second song this week is also about doomed love, rather than a virus, But the message could easily apply: it’s what we’re all wishing we could do to Covid-19, restrictions on our lives, and worries about whether we’ll be caught short of toilet paper. The band Del Amitri had a few years of success in the pop charts, and should, I feel, have had more. Derided by some as a ‘pop band,’ and somehow unworthy of the attention of serious musos (or pseuds), they produced some seriously good songs, and Justin Currie, their leader, wasn’t given the credit I felt he deserved for his songwriting abilities. This is what we all wish we could do to Covid-19 right now:

I hope you’ve enjoyed these two Tuesday Tunes. They may not really have anything to do with viruses, pandemics, incompetent governments or lockdowns, but they have, I hope, brought a little enjoyment into your life and brightened your day. We could all do with that right now!

Stay safe, isolate if that’s what you’re required to do – it makes sense – and be well. I’ll see you again next Tuesday for some more tunes that have nothing to do with Covid-19.

Tuesday Tunes

I’ve recently seen a growing number of bloggers and Facebook friends posting under the banner of ‘Music Monday.’ As is often the case I didn’t quite get my act together to start doing this yesterday so I thought I’d do a little rebranding to suit my tardiness. Anyway, what’s a day, between friends? Somehow, though, I doubt that ‘Tuesday Tunes’ is a remotely original tagline: I haven’t been on Twitter today but I expect I’d find loads on there!

As anyone who has viewed my blog will not take long to realise, music is very important to me, and to countless others. In these strange, scary and unimaginable times in which we find ourselves, music is a common bond between us: if you don’t believe that, just take a look at the videos of Italians joining together in song from their balconies, or the Spanish police roaring to a halt in an empty street during lockdown, and serenading the people who live there. Music can uplift our spirits when we need it most, and I’m going to begin my ‘Tuesday Tunes’ by sharing a couple of songs which I think speak to us at all times, but especially now.

I shared the first of these on my Take It Easy Facebook page a couple of days ago, but think it deserves a much wider audience (hint: new sign ups to the page are always welcome, follow the link in the right hand column). Jackson Browne has been a favourite artist of mine ever since his first album, all the way back in 1972. The track I shared is from his third album (and my favourite of his). It is a song about mankind’s stupidity and arrogance in its belief in its superiority, and how the true spirit of ourselves and nature can rise above that. That sounds pretentious, as I write it, but it is anything but that: couched in one of Jackson’s beautiful tunes, the song has always spoken to me, and is particularly meaningful as a comment on how we need to come together to defeat the Covid-19 virus. Take a listen and you’ll see what I mean – I saw him play this live some years ago, and it was one of those ‘hairs on the back of the neck’ moments. I still get something in my eye every time I hear this:

The second song I want to share today is from an English folk-rock band that I’d guess most of you haven’t heard of before: Merry Hell. They share with Jackson Browne a strong sense of social conscience, and many of their songs are rousing and uplifting calls to our better nature. I believe this one is especially relevant to us all, now more than ever – the band’s albums are great, but this live performance really gives the song its full power:

We do need each other now. Our Prime Minister finally did last night what he should have done weeks ago, and put the country in lockdown to try to prevent the spread of the virus. Yet still this morning there are pictures in the media of people crammed into the carriages of London Underground trains. I doubt that they are all key workers, but the stupidity and arrogance of those who aren’t beggars belief. They, and we, could learn a lesson from these two songs. It is hard not to write a downbeat post in our current times, and this is very much intended to be a positive message, via the medium of music. Take care, be and stay safe, and be uplifted by the beauties of life which will long outlast the crisis. And keep remembering:

We need each other now.