Significant Songs (144)

The Power Of Love

Holly Johnson became famous as the front man and lead singer of the controversial group ‘Frankie Goes To Hollywood’. Although I was not a real fan of their music, Johnson’s powerful voice was an indication of real vocal talent. Released as a single from the top-selling album, ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’ in 1984, this track was very different to the commercial beats associated with them at the time. Written in part by Holly himself, and produced by the experienced Trevor Horn, this record enjoyed considerable success.

It was also used in the government campaign to promote the use of condoms, during the scare surrounding the increase in cases of A.I.D.S. He later recorded a solo version in 1999, after his split from the original group. This is a big ballad, from a man who can really sing. Now 57, Holly is still writing songs, and performing as a solo artist.

Here’s the original version. Best played loud.

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Significant Songs (143)

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

I have featured the British duo Soft Cell before on this blog. The vocal talents of Marc Almond have long haunted me, and this song in particular, as it conjures up images of smoky nightclubs, and old films. It is quite unusual to get torch songs sung by a man, but Almond has an old soul, and the spirit of Jaques Brel shines though this recording.

This track comes from the album ‘Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret’ released in 1981, with the single issued a year later. I bought it immediately, and couldn’t get it out of my head. Despite the synthesizer sound, it remains as a timeless ballad, beautifully rendered in Almond’s clear diction. Thirty-six years after it was recorded, I love it as much as I did then.

Marc Almond is now 60 years old, and continues to perform as a solo artist. He also occasionally collaborates with his Soft Cell partner, David Ball, though the band officially split in 1984.

Some things I have never done

A few years ago, I don’t recall exactly when, I heard the term ‘Bucket List’. I think it originated in America, and involved people compiling lists of things they intended to do before they ‘kicked the bucket’. (Died) Some of these were merely dreams, but most were achievable goals, given sufficient funds, and good health. This later progressed onto the blogs with adaptations, such as people listing things they wanted to do ‘Before I am 30’, and so on. They still pop up now and then, so the idea seems to have never gone away.

Over the last few years, it has occurred to me that there are not only things I will likely never do, but also lots of things I have never wanted to do, even with unlimited funds, and full fitness. On a bus journey in the rain yesterday, I got to thinking about some of those things, the fanciful, as well as the mundane.

I have never parachuted from an aircraft. I thought about it once, then discovered that my life insurance at the time would not cover me, in the event of a fatal accident. Since then, I have decided that it is not something I ever want to do.

I have not been up in a hot air balloon. I was once booked in for such an excursion, which would have taken us above Luxor in Egypt, and along part of the Nile. But the operators cancelled it, due to mechanical problems. That is something I still might do one day, if I live long enough.

I never did learn to swim. I could probably do that at the local swimming pool, or pay to attend an intensive course locally, guaranteed to have you ‘Swim in a week’. I’m not sure that I really want to though, as I have a deep-seated fear of being in water.

I have not visited America, north or south. I doubt I will ever have the money to do that now, but if I ever do, I would like to go. The same with Japan, a place that has long fascinated me.

I have never painted a picture, published a book, or performed on a stage. These three are all possibilities; things that could still happen with some training, or personal commitment.

I tried to learn to play musical instruments. At first, the double bass, and later the guitar. I didn’t have the patience to practice, and found it hard to grasp learning music, so gave up. It might be a bit late for that one now.

I have never been skiing, though I have been to places where other people were doing that. It always seemed rather silly to me, slipping down a small mountain or hillside, risking serious injury, or death. As well as that, it also seemed to be as much about what you were wearing, and the brand name on your sunglasses, so didn’t appeal. The same with mountain climbing. You go all that way, then have to try to get back down again…

I have never been on a cruise liner. Although there have been times when I could well have afforded a luxury cruise, I feared sea-sickness would spoil the experience. I did manage a cruise along the Nile, but that has no waves.

Then there are those modern fundraisers or leisure activities that have come along as I got older. Abseiling down the side of a building, bungee jumping from a bridge platform, or a crane. Running a half-marathon, competing in an ‘Iron Man’ challenge, and so many others. You are not going to hear about me participating in any of those, I assure you.
Paintballing. Running around with a group of people firing plastic balls filled with paint at each other, seeking to gain victory over another team of colleagues, friends, or strangers. I never got that, so that will never be on my list of things to do.

That just leaves me with the things I would really like to do; given the money, or the opportunity.

I would like to see the statues on Easter Island. To look at them, and wonder what they are staring at.
I would like to visit more places in Italy, and that may well be possible.
I would dearly loved to have seen the mighty castle of Krak Des Chevaliers. But as that is in Syria, and has been badly damaged by the war, I doubt that will ever happen.
I would very much like to visit more well-preserved Art Deco buildings. I have a list of favourites, though some are a little far away.

It would be nice to meet all my blogging friends. I have a fanciful notion of winning the lottery, and paying for us all to meet somewhere central, in a nice hotel. Putting flesh to faces in photos, hearing accents and voices, and sharing stories. Sometimes, it’s nice to dream.

Let me know what you would do, or what you have already done.

Significant Songs (142)

She Said

Sometimes, a song comes along that is a real one-off. Something different, and hard to categorise. I am not a fan of Rap, and most Hip-Hop leaves me cold. To top it all, English voices should never rap, it just doesn’t sound right. Rapping is an American ‘thing’, and only works with that accent, in my opinion.

Ben Drew is an English actor, singer/songwriter, rapper, and producer. I firmly believe that the words ‘English’ and ‘rapper’ do not belong in the same sentence, as I have just implied. However, I like to give credit for talent, and I am always honest whenever a new song grabs my attention, and won’t leave my head, no matter how hard I try to expel it.

In 2010, Drew’s group, Plan B, released the second single from their second album. It was called ‘She Said’, and I immediately noticed it, as well as it becoming a major chart hit. The sharp-suited Drew looked the part in the promotional video, and the unusual mix of contemporary pop, retro beats, and smart lyrics made this the standout song of that year. Seven years later, I still never tire of hearing it.

Enjoy something really different, and very English.

The big changeover

Many of you may remember my post ‘City Stress’, about when Julie and I went to Norwich, to change over our home telephone and broadband supplier.

Well, Monday the 16th was the big day, the day we were due to change over. We had the new router, delivered a few days earlier, and eagerly awaited the emails and text messages telling us how to get started. But of course, nothing happened.

We still had a phone line, and a broadband connection, but it was with our previous supplier, British Telecom. We heard nothing from EE (the new supplier) on Monday, and it seemed to be a case of ‘I told you so’, about changing companies, and nothing working as promised.

However, it all got going this morning, (Tuesday) albeit a day late. We were told to connect the new router, and to get ready for our faster fibre broadband connection. This involved me crawling around under the desk in the office, drowning in a sea of wires and cables, as I sought to disconnect everything from British Telecom, and set up the new system. Once it was all done, I switched on the new fancy router, and…nothing! We had a phone line, but no Internet connection.

I called the freephone number for EE, fearing the worst. But I was pleasantly surprised when an efficient young man, from a call centre in Bristol, managed to immediately diagnose our problem. British Telecom had failed to connect our new broadband at the exchange, he told me. Leave it an hour, unplug the router, and restart. I thanked him for his efficiency, but in the back of my mind, I thought ‘Yeah right, like that’s going to happen’.

But I was happy to eat my words, when it happened exactly as he had predicted. We soon had a great connection, faster Wi-Fi, and a good signal for all devices. Once the new passwords had been entered, Julie was able to connect all three tablets, and her smartphone. We have been flying away since, with a great speed broadband, and a reliable Wi-Fi signal too. So far, so good.

Isn’t it just great, when technology actually works?

Blogger’s Books: Robbie Cheadle

Today, I am delighted to be featuring the new book by the lovely Robbie Cheadle, and her son, Michael. Robbie is my kind of blogger; committed, engaged, and generous with her time and comments. Robbie blogs from her home in South Africa, the land that brings us gold and diamonds, and perhaps more importantly, my favourite red wine, Pinotage. She has sent me an introduction, and a short bio too. Please enjoy her work, and if you think it might appeal to you, links are available at the end.

Thank you, Pete, for inviting Michael and I over for a visit to tell you about our new book Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook.

When Michael was learning to read, he would do anything to distract me from the work at hand. He started off by running away but later that year he got cleverer and he started making up stories. He quickly realized that I was also easily distracted from the boring task of learning sight words when he started talking about his imaginary world where you could eat everything, even the flowers, trees and houses. Sir Chocolate was born and we developed his character and those of his friends during these conversations. When Michael started learning how to write, it quickly became apparent that it was very hard for him and a processing disorder was diagnosed. We started writing his little stories down together as a nice way of practicing something that was very difficult for him.

Michael and I wrote Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River while we were on holiday in Ballito, a sea-side holiday town in KwaZulu Natal. My sister and her little girl, Emily, were staying with us in a holiday house and one unusually cold morning we were all sitting chatting and drinking cocoa made with condensed milk to warm us up, when the idea of a river made of condensed milk was born. By the end of the morning the whole story had been discussed and written and read out loud to all the other children. They loved it and the idea was so much fun that Michael and I were very easily able to make [and eat] all the delightful illustrations including this lovely condensed milk pool.

Please explore Robbie’s book collection via these links. You can buy them at very reasonable prices.
https://www.amazon.com/Robbie-Cheadle/e/B01N9J62GQ
http://tslbooks.uk/tsl-books/robbie-and-michael-cheadle/

Here is Robbie’s own bio, by way of introduction.

About Robbie and Michael Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle was born in London in the United Kingdom. Her father died when she was three months old and her mother emigrated to South Africa with her tiny baby girl. Robbie has lived in Johannesburg, George, and Cape Town in South Africa and attended fourteen different schools. This gave her lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills as she was frequently “the new girl”.
Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specialises in corporate finance with a specific interest in listed entities and stock markets. Robbie has written a number of publications on listing equities and debt instruments in Africa and foreign direct investment into Africa.
Robbie is married to Terence Cheadle and they have two lovely boys, Gregory and Michael. Michael (aged 11) is the co-author of the Sir Chocolate series of books and attends school in Johannesburg. Gregory (aged 14) is an avid reader and assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books. Robbie is also the author of the new Silly Willy series the first of which, Silly Willy goes to Cape Town, is now available.

Robbie’s own blog can be found here. Please visit, whenever you have the chance.
https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/

Many of you will have seen Robbie’s comments on my blog posts, and on many others in our small community. Let’s all try to give her the support she deserves, by sharing her links, and if you feel inclined to, buying her books. Best wishes to you all, Pete.

Another guest post: Sally Cronin

One again, Sally has been kind enough to feature one of my posts on her delightful blog. It is a good few years old, so anyone not around back then might like to read it. If you do, please comment there, on Sally’s blog.

Here’s a link. https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/17/posts-from-your-archives-a-good-education-by-pete-johnson/comment-page-1/#comment-108751

Thanks in advance, and best wishes to everyone. Pete.