Friday, September 29, 2006

Image Versus Music

I have talked a bit in my blog recently about image and branding in the music industry and how I feel that this has sadly now become more important than the music - to the point where there are probably countless budding Elvis Costellos and Ian Durys out there who probably won't even get a sniff at a record deal in the current climate.

Today I had thrust in my face on a channel 4 music programme a perfect example of this music versus image scenario in the form of The Pussy Cat Dolls. Pussy Cat Dolls are a mega success both here and in the US but largely because of the way they are sold. They have little musical talent, they don't write their own material and their songs are at best forgettable. So what is it that sells those shed loads of records - image of course. and with the Dolls it is all about SEX. Their latest video is little short of soft porn (although they do almost keep their clothes on). In the 60s and 70s you would have probably had to go to a seedy cinema with a long raincoat on to watch stuff like this. They suggestively rub their bodies, they heave their bosoms, they open their legs provocatively - it's classic stuff. And they look good, they are thinner than any normal person could hope to be without resorting to bulimia or illness, they are so brown one wonders if they have ever heard of skin cancer and they are shiny - yes shiny.

But I can't help wondering how things came to this. Music used to be about guitars, drums, a great voice. Yes image still counted for something. But often those great artists seeemed sexy because they were talented - lets face it if you met Tom Jones in your local supermarket you might think he ludicrous with his open shirts and medallions, so what is it that gives him the edge. It's talent, the great voice. Something that a lot of current artists seem to be lacking. Asked in a years time to sing a pussy cat dolls song most people will be stumped, at best they will remember the gimmicky one that encouraged the ordinary lad on the street to be discontent with the looks of his girlfriend - nice!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Thirteen Snippets of Great Songs

Thirteen Snippets of Great Song Lyrics

Thirteen Snippets of Great Song Lyrics

1…. What It's Like - Everlast
"Mary got pregnant from a kid named Tom who said he was in love
He said, "Don't worry about a thing, baby doll
I'm the man you've been dreaming of."
But 3 months later he say he won't date her or return her calls
And she swears, "God damn, If find that man I'm cuttin' off his balls."
then she heads for the clinic and
she gets some static walking through the door
They call her a killer, and they call her a sinner
and they call her a whore
God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes
'cause then you really might know what it's like to have to choose."

2...Touch and Go - The Lightning Seeds
"Oh was it star-dust or just lust
Well one touch is just not enough
Faces change but somewhere in the passing crowd
The face you just can't live without

Nothing changed but nothing seems the same
Remembering a thousand things I meant to say
The past's a sea of boys and girls
Who disappeared without a word
All friends of mine who had their time, then drifted away..."

3...Headmaster Ritual - The Smiths
"Belligerent ghouls
Run Manchester schools

Spineless swines
Cemented minds

Sir leads the troops
Jealous of youth
Same old suit since 1962

He does the military two-step
Down the nape of my neck..."

3...The Rain Song - Led Zeppelin
"It is the springtime of my loving - the second season I am to know
You are the sunlight in my growing - so little warmth I've felt before.
It isn't hard to feel me glowing - I watched the fire that grew so low.

It is the summer of my smiles - flee from me Keepers of the Gloom.
Speak to me only with your eyes. It is to you I give this tune.
Ain't so hard to recognize - These things are clear to all from
time to time."

4...Civil War - Guns n Roses
"My hands are tied
The billions shift from side to side
And the wars go on with brainwashed pride
For the love of God and our human rights
And all these things are swept aside
By bloody hands time can't deny
And are washed away by your genocide
And history hides the lies of our civil wars"

5...One in Ten - UB40
"My arms enfold the dole queue,
Malnutrition dulls my hair,
My eyes are black and lifeless
With an underprivileged stare
I'm the beggar on the corner
Will no-one spare a dime
I'm the child that never learns to read
Because no one spared the time.

I am a one in ten a number on a list,
I am a one in ten even though i don't exist.
Nobody knows me, but im always there,
A statistic a reminder of a world that doesn't care."

6...Jesus of Suburbia - Green Day
"I read the graffiti
In the bathroom stall
Like the holy scriptures of a shopping mall
And so it seemed to confess
It didn't say much
But it only confirmed that
The center of the earth
Is the end of the world
And I could really care less."

7...Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd
"There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ships smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I cant hear what youre sayin.
When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb."

8...Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
"And did they get you trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change? And did you exchange
a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?"

9... Sail Away - David Gray
"Crazy skies all wild above me now
Winter howling at my face
And everything I held so dear
Disappeared without a trace
Oh all the times I've tasted love
Never knew quite what I had
Little Darling if you hear me now
Never needed you so bad
Spinning round inside my head."

10...Young Americans - David Bowie
"Have you been an un-American?
Just you and your idol singing falsetto 'bout
Leather, leather everywhere, and
Not a myth left from the ghetto
Well, well, well, would you carry a pistol
In case, just in case of depression
Sit on your hands on a bus of survivors
Blushing at all the Afro-Sheeners
Ain't that close to love?
Well, ain't that poster love?
Well, it ain't that Barbie doll
Her heart's been broken just like you have."

11...Nightswimming - REM
"Nightswimming, remembering that night
September's coming soon
I'm pining for the moon
And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit
Around the fairest sun?
That bright, tight forever drum
Could not describe nightswimming."

12...Southern Cross - Crosby Stills and Nash
"When you see the Southern Cross for the first time,
You understand now why you came this way,
'Cause the truth you might be runnin' from is so small,
But it's as big as the promise, the promise of a coming day.

So I'm sailing for tomorrow, my dreams are a-dyin',
And my love is an anchor tied to you, tied with a silver chain.
I have my ship and all her flags are a-flyin'.
She is all that I have left and music is her name."

13...Changing of The Guards
"Gentlemen, he said,
I don't need your organization, I've shined your shoes,
I've moved your mountains and marked your cards
But Eden is burning, either brace yourself for elimination
Or else your hearts must have the courage for the changing of the guards."

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Mac for Winter

Having been on an extensive tour of the art college today, I am getting the feeling that I should have bought a mac instead of an ordinary laptop. Almost every computer on campus is a mac. I just hope that I can transfer word files. It just never occured to me when I bought it - I chose one that would be compatible with my pc and that I could do writing on - and of course one that was within my price range. I probably couldn't have got a mac for that price. Ahh well we live and learn.

On a more positive note it was a beautiful day here in Norwich, more like summer than autumn and the absolute opposite of the torrential downpour that we endured all day yesterday. It was so bad on the coast that there was floooding apparently. The weather has become so whacko in the couple of years I don't know how any government can deny that we are suffering the effects of global warming. I miss the real winters we had when I was younger - they were hard sometimes - when I lived in the countryside we got snowed in a couple of times. But when those winters ended you really appreciated it!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Too Old for Creative Writing?

Today I enrolled for the creative writing degree and at the grand age of 40 was the oldest student by at least 10 years. Did I feel old? YES! Did I feel like quitting before I had even started? Hell Yes! Did I quit? No not yet and hopefully I won't - it didn't feel comfortable though - I was definitely out of my comfort zone. I was hoping that there would be at least one other oldie in my group - I know that there have been more in previous years.

What is putting them off? Not the course content, a lot of people come to creative writing when they are older - maybe it is the new tuition fees that came in this year. The government have a lot to answer for! It nearly put me off too - but sometimes you jsut gotta follow your dream. So thats what I'm trying to do - just have to conquer those feeling of inadequacy and being out on a limb first!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Laptops and Dreams

It's arrived! The laptop is here although i can't do much with it until I install word and get a wireless router - which hopefully courtesy of amazon is on it's way! It looks good though! Not that that is the issue of course.

So I am almost set up to become a student again. Not only that but I switched my bank account to a student one and now my overdraft is interest free and I can choose 10 cds from cd wow - can't be bad. As you long as you can cope with the years of debt when you finish the course....

Seriously this student business is a little scary, I look at the course outline that I got through the post and I think wow am I capable of this, and am I kidding myself that I can write. Then on the other hand it is my dream and if I don't try I will never know!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thursday Thirteen Things that Happened When I lived in a Hippy Commune

Thirteen Things That happened When I Lived in a Hippy Commune

I lived in a commune for about 9 years from age 17 to 26.

1…. I wrote a book of short stories, although they never got published it was still quite an accomplishment. One story did get published in a local literary magazine, it was about a woman whose husband had died. When it was read out at Thetford writers circle several people cried!

2...My boyfriend and I lived on a converted bus for a year (we converted it). We never managed to get more than 40 miles fom home though.

3...I spent a summer travelling around visiting other communes and housing projects in Shropshire, Leicester, Wales and Scotland.

4...I went on an epic journey travelling from Newbury to Norfolk with: two other women, two horses, two three year old girls a pot cart and a tent. We walked most of the way and it took several weeks. We met some lovely people and some not so lovely people. It is the only way to really se the countryside.

5...I learned a lot about building. Shortly before I moved in most of the house had burned down. We raised money and rebuilt it - ourselves! I tried my hand at: plasterboarding, plastering, rendering, denailing wood, fiberglass insulating walls, interior and exterior painting, varnishing, Carrying tiles up scaffolding and nailing sheets of wire mesh to clay lump walls in preparation for render.

6...I had a 21st birthday party to remember - it is still the biggest party I have been to. We had several bands and several hundred people turned up (quite a lot of gatecrashers!). At one point there were so many people on the landing that we thought that the ceiling would collapse.

7...I nurtured a love of cooking. For some reason I had not really done any cooking at home. I was thrown in at the deep end. I cooked my first full meal for 13 people aged 17 I was terrified it would go wrong.
I did a lot of cooking while I lived there - I had a captive audience, we were supposed to take turns cooking the evening meal but some of the residents were atrocious cooks and everyone was only to glad to have someone else take their slot. I cooked pickles, chutneys, jam, bread, cakes, pasties...and all on a coal fired aga.

8...My boyfriend was killed in a car accident. I was 21 at the time and it was pretty devastating. I went into a cycle of travelling round staying with friends and drinking too much.

9...I spoke at the Labour party womens conference on public transport. The labour party was still socialist in those days!

10...I had a little moped that I whizzed around the countryside on. It was great. I used to get up early on a Sunday morning and head off to the car bootsale at Banham zoo where I would buy LPs. I would pile them in the mopeds front basket. I loved riding through the countryside on an autumn morning. It wasn't much fun in the rain though - I had horrible big yellow waterproof trousers and jacket, they were very unwieldly.

11...I had a bike accident and broke my foot. I was very young and very foolish. I was on my bicycle and someone on a motor bike was pushing me along...not very clever. The speed was too much for the little wheels of my ladies bike and when he let go I lost control and went somersaulting off down the newly resurfaced road. Ouch!

12...I went to a lot of hippy fairs, gigs and ceilidhs. Some of the fairs I worked at either as site crew or with a clothes stall. I also helped to put on some of the gigs - I remember we put on a benefit concert for Greepeace in the local village hall shortly after the Rainbow Warrior was blown up.

13...After the hurricane in the 80s we were without power for several days (we used to get snowed in in winter as well!). It was fun in the evenings, we had an aga so we could still cook and we had lanterns and candles. There was one great evening wher we had a spontaneous candlelit music session evryone was playing pots and pans and anything else that they could find.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Worship Your Inner Attention Monkey

Profit versus Health, The School Dinner Crisis

Woo hoo - the sun is out again today. I have just trimmed some bushes and done some weeding in my front garden. No I know it's probably not quite the right time to prune but it was stopping me getting in and out of my front door!

Last night N and I watched the first in a second series of "Jamies School Dinners". For those of you who don't know Jamie Oliver is a British chef who is campaigning for kids to have decent food. It was rather depressing watching though none of his recomendations seem to have been implemented and although some of the schools he visited are now no longer selling crap, what he didn't seem to realise is that there are thousands more schools around the country that are still selling it.

Take N's school for instance - it is a massive high school of over 2000 kids and that number will increase next year when children go up a year earlier. They aren't too close to any shops so if the school didn't sell junk it wouldn't be that easy for the kids to get it. So have they cut out the junk - no way - they sell sweets, crisps, chocolate, the worst cheapest kind of fizzy drinks, chips, instant pizza. They do have a few healthy items on the menu but N says the queue is always to long. I get round this by giving him a pack lunch and usually he doesn't take money. Yes he still has some unhealthy stuff - crisps or a cake, but the main bit is good - this week it is a tortilla wrap with pinto bean pate (refried beans), grated cheese, cress and black olives - yummy!

It's shocking though that despite the publicity about poor diet and how it affects the children's behaviour and ability to work and concentrate that the schools are still selling this junk to their pupils. It just goes to show that for most schools profit means more than education.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Subway madness and the Great Public Transport debacle

It seems that Subway sandwich stores are taking over the world - well Norwich anyway! It all started with one little counter at the entrance to Castle Mall shopping centre. Then suddenly there was one on Unthank Road, and another appeared by the St Stephens roundabout. And today I noticed another new one near the back of Top Shop. How many sandwich shops does Norwich need? Is it a plot? I looked up the stores on the Subway website and according to that there are only two shops in Norwich - spooky. Are they secretly feeding mind bending drugs to the good folks of Norwich and if so for what purpose?

Norwich does seem to be overflowing with food outlets theses days. Cafes and takeaways must now out number retail stores about 3 to 1. Ironically there are very few places in the city centre where you can buy groceries or other day to day items. We are fast becoming a culture where you can over load with as much cake, coffee and designer shoes as you could ever desire - but try and get a pot of paint and you might find yourself out of luck. Choices for groceries and hardware are strictly limited unless you go out of town, and that, of course, involves a car.

Which brings me nicely to my second bug bear - the pitiful state of British public transport. A girl at the bus stop today asked me which bus she needed to take to get to Dereham or Earlham road. For some reason Norwich chooses not to display bus maps on most of its bus stops so it is very hard for out of towners to find out how to get anywhere.

Then she asked me the price of a ticket and for a moment I thought that she was going to faint. Another shocker - she was from London where you can travel all day on an oyster card for £3.50. Price from Norwich city centre to Earlham road - about a 15 minute walk - £2.80 for a return fare. No wonder cars are so popular. Are we being encouraged to utilize our public transport and leave the car at home - I think not!

All this transported me back in time (no not literally!) to the mid 80s when I was living in rural Norfolk. Our village had several trains a day and suddenly their number was culled to a measly two and none on a Sunday. Our life line all but disappeared overnight. I started a petition and we had a lot of signatures. We took it to the local Headquarters of British Rail (as it was then) and they discounted it - the reason being that some of the signatories didn't actually live in the effected villages. Never mind that those other signatures were from actual rail users, friends and familiy of the village residents, or employees at the local industrial estate. Needless to say the rail services were never reinstated, I wonder if that station has any trains stopping at it at all now.

It's amazing to think that with all the media focus on global warming, the oil crisis etc that we are no further ahead with public transport issues than we were in the 1980s. If anything things are worse now than they were then. Public transport remains costly to the consumer and hard to access for those living in more isolated rural communities. Then we have the wise British Government wagging its knobbly finger of blame at the oil fired power stations whilst using its other hand to build more and more roads. They even let what little industry that was using rail (like the Post Office) desert it in favour of fleets of's madness.....

Playlist for a Gray Autumn Morning

Playlist for a grey autumn morning:

1) You are my World - The Communards
A real odie this from the 1980s - saw it on a repeat of the Tube last night.

2) Brilliant Mind - Furniture
Another oldie and as far as I know their only hit.

3) Everyday I Write the Book - Elvis Costello
Yes you have detected a bit of an oldie theme going on here!

4) Tiny Dancer - Elton John
Even older oldie - we recently saw this on a dvd my mum had of The Old Grey Whistle Test from the 1970s.

5) Solsbury Hill - Peter Gabriel
I loved this when I was younger and travelling west to see my mum made me want to hear it again - luckily I already had it in itunes!

6) Whistle Down the Wind - Nick Heyward
hmmm it's all getting a bit early 1980s around here!

7) Starlight - Muse
Ahhh that's better something a bit more contmporary.

8) The Old School Yard - Cat Stevens
Taking oldies to the extreme!

9) All the Things - The Lightning Seeds
from the brilliant album Tilt.

10) Beloved One - Lou Rhodes

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Stiff Competition

Last night I watched most of a programme about Stiff records on BBC3 (or was it 4?). What struck me was how much talent there was on the label and how it was all about the music rather than the image. Yes the image was important, but the image meant something entirely different then to what it does now. Musicians were in it because they wanted to (and were driven to) make music and the image was secondary to that. And far from the modern music image which is all about sculpted body shapes and having a stylist choose your outfits for you. The image for bands in the eighties was about individuality, often it was slightly rumpled, geeky, grungy - but that was to show that what meant most to them was the music.

Half of those artists that were signed to Stiff would probably not get a sniff of a record contract now because they would not be deemed as being attractive enough. What a loss that would have been - Elvis Costello, Ian Dury, Graham Parker to name but a few. Yes 70s and 80s fashions were terrible but what always strikes me is how ordinary some of the musicians looked, and girls like Bananarama who seemed glamorous then would be dubbed fat by todays standards. Even Madonnas early years have been dubbed her chubby period. What is the world coming to? Yes we are an overweight society but isn't that compounded by teens being expected to live up to airbrushed unrealistic goals whilst being fed supersized portions of food and drink at every turn?

Sarcasm Aside

This weeks renter is Sarcasm Aside. It was refreshing to come across a blog that I hadn't read before and one that made me want to scroll down and read more posts. I haven't always had renters, not through lack of offers but because I only wanted to have blogs that I would actually want to read myself. It seems hypocritical to reccomend that I don't believe in.

Anyway Sarcasm aside is like a breath of fresh air, both witty and intelligent, with a very cool template to boot. The post about David Sedaris made me want to read his books (I am on the case) and the notes to villains on the Villains to Root For post had me laughing out loud!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Noise pollution seems to be a growing problem in modern day society. This week I went to visit my mum in Wiltshire and what I found quite noticable was how much quieter it was than Norfolk. It seems these days that wherever you go in the Norfolk countryside you are within spitting distance of a major road and the noise that accompanies it. I'm not saying that there was no noise in her village, there were a lot of RAF planes around and the odd helicopter but on the whole it seemed a lot quieter.

I sometimes wonder if all the background noise we create is damaging our health. It is certainly raising our stress levels. In Norwich you hear roads, planes, helicopters, emergency vehicles, trains, construction work and then of course their are all the usual house and neighbour noises - tv, music, radio, fridge, washing machine, vacuum cleaner, tumble drier, kettle, lawn mower, video games etc etc...I sometimes find myself yearning for some peace and quiet, just to be somewhere where the only noise is something natural - like the wind in the trees, the sea, or water running over rocks.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Thirteen Great Songs

Thirteen Great Songs I listened to on the Train this Week

1…. SeƱor (Tales Of Yankee Power) - Bob Dylan
2...Man Out Of Time - Elvis Costello
3...Beloved One - Lou Rhodes
Nominated for this years Mercury Prize, and well deserving!
4...To Get Down - Timo Maas
One to get down to!
5...Starlight - Muse
6...You Have Killed Me - Morrisey
7...Gabriel - Lamb
8...What it's Like - Everlast
9...(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding - Elvis Costello
10...Days Like These - John Lennon
11...Highway Star - Deep Purple
12...Wooden Ships - Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
13...Jesus of Suburbia - Green Day

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. stacie

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Buddleia the Beautiful Apocalypse

There is an old disused petrol station on the Unthank Road in Norwich. It has only been out of use for a year or two but it looks like it has been abandoned for a lot longer. What I find interesting is that the plants that have self seeded there aren't what I would expect. Instead of nettles, grass or brambles what is growing prolifically around the site are Buddleia bushes.

Buddleia is one of those plants that does have weedlike qualities. I have a bush that has self seeded in my back garden and his grown massive without any help from me. It also seems to be a plant that is coping very well with Britains climate change. I had a small dark flowered bush that I planted some years ago and it has suddenly flourished this year - so much so that I have had to cut it back.

It makes me wonder though what would happen were humans just to disappear from the world. Maybe our apocalyptic visions of a world covered in spiky brambles and peopled by rats and cockroaches are too pessimistic. Maybe the world would become a beautiful haven filled with flowers and butterflies.

A Little Northern Exposure

N and I have been watching DVDs of Northern Exposure that we ordered from Hs' DVD club. I was surprised that they have stood the test of time and are not too dated and I was also surprised that N who is almost 14 has really got into watching it too. I first watched the series when N was about 3 or 4, they used to show it late at night on channel 4, and they must have been re-runs then as it was filmed in the very early 90s. For those of you who don't remember it Northern Exposure is an American semi comedy series set in Alaska, The main character Joel is a Jewish doctor from New York who finds himself posted there after the Alaskan government pays for his medical training.

It is so much more than that though, with a cast of intriguing characters including a retired astronaut, a female pilot, an ex beauty queen, an aspiring fim maker, a spiritual dj and Marilyn Joels self apponted and extremely wise receptionist. What is great is that there is a real mix of characters and races, a large number of the cast are native americans. But the things that really steal the show apart from all that are the stunning Alaskan countryside and the music. Although I did read that on some of the later series they have changed the music on some of the dvds which I hope won't detract too much from our enjoyment - as the music was always an integral part of the plot.

This is a series that has dated quite well and I couldn't help feeling that if they showed it on UK tv today it would be more popular than when it was originally broadcast as I think that it was quite ahead of it's time.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Thirteen things I like about me

Thursday Thirteeners Have this week been Set a challenge to find Thirteen Things We Like About Ourselves

1…. I think that I am a good mum
2. Becoming a reflexologist
3. Doing well in courses - in my BTEC nursery nursing and HNC childhood studies I got mostly distictions.
4. Having a handsome and talented son
5. I think I am quite good at writing poetry
6. My photographs
7. Caring about other people, I am usually better at sorting out other peoples problems than I am my own!
8. Having got through a lot of tough times in my life (losing, a partner, losing a brother, being a single parent) without losing my marbles!
9. My love of music
10. Getting a place at art college
11 My love of literature and art
12 Working part time for years whilst my son was young but always putting him first.
13 My sense of justice and fair play, morals I suppose. I worry about doing the right thing for the planet and everyone on it.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. tink
2. mommyba
3. denise
4. caylynn
5. tinker
6. k t cat
7. ghost
8. jenny ryan

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Greedy Planet

There was an alarming article in this Sunday's Independent newspaper detailing how the world for the 6th year in a row is not producing enough food to feed everyone on the planet. This is due to various factors which include: growing population (there are now 5 people for every two living in the last century) and crop failure. So far this food deficit has been offest by using surpluses that have been stockpiled in previous years but these stockpiles are running dangerously low. Farming more land is becoming increasingly difficult as we build more roads and cities to satisfy the growing population.

I can't help but wonder though if there is more that we in the west could do to help alleviate this situation. For a start we live in a cafe culture . I am not pointing the finger here, merely stating a fact, I have coffee out at least once a week, sometimes two or three times, and we are not drinking genteel little cups like we had in the 1970s - oh no, now we drink super sized extra strong buckets of the stuff. And all that coffee has to grow somewhere. That means that millions of acres of fertile land that could be growing food are devoted to growing coffee so that plump Europeans and Americans can sup a bucketful whilst stuffing our faces with cake. Hardly seems fair does it?

Someone should put their foot down. ban or minimise coffee production and grow some real food. We'd soon get used to doing without it if we had to. Then of course there's all the land given over to drug production - I'm not even going to go there. and of course the cow crisis, not only all the land they graze on but the millions of acres used to grow crops to feed them with - this has long been cited as a enviromental problem. Apparently we now have to add to all these factors the new push for bio fuels - in the U.S thousands of acres have been given over to growing corn to produce ethanol for bio fuel. Plus there are all the millions of acres used to grow other crops that are imported mostly to the west.

Take a look in your cupboard and you will find a whole array of food that doesn't come from your home country - just off the top of my head I know I have bananas, aubergine, olives, sweet potato - none of which are grown in the UK. I should be ashamed of myself. I used to have an organic veggie box delivered to my house once a week and I may just go back to that - try to eat more local produce and what's in season. One thing that really riles me is that here in the UK the supermarkets import food that DOES grow well here. Look round Sainsburys and you will be hard pushed to find an English apple or pear - yet apples and pears grow excellently here and we have an abundance of delicious varieties - yet we are importing apples from South Africa!

It doesn't take a super brain to work out ways to help the environment, but obviously there are no governments willing to stick their necks out and do something about it. How about for starters subsidising public transport - if it was cheap to travel by train more people would - it's certainly less stressful than the motorway. In Norwich it's cheaper to take your car into the city and pay for car parking than to take the family in by bus - that certainly doesn't encourage people not to use the car. And how about imposing a ban or tax on goods imported that could have bought here like apples for instance. If English apples were cheaper everyone would buy them.

You can read the article "The Hungry Planet" here.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Pupski reccomends The Barnaby Ray Quartet

Found myself watching a youth programme on BBC2 at midnight last night and was fairly impressed. The show called Blast Friday was filmed at St Ives in Cornwall, which happens to be one of my favourite places but that was not why I enjoyed it. One of the main reasons was two tracks by the band The Barnaby Ray Quartet (BRQ) a kind of mix of folky, drum and bass with a great female vocalist. I was left wanting to hear more - you can check them out by clicking the link!