2012 review

That promised glance back at 2012, then. (I don’t understand why people do these before the year is through, do you?)

As is only right and proper, we’ll start with music.

In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that I have taken little interest in the ‘current music scene’, whatever that means, for some time. This is an admission that I maintain is due, in part, to the copious amounts of sheer rubbish I hear daily on television and radio, and in part an acceptance that I probably have all the music I could ever need and doubt I could be more impressed or charmed by any newer musical offering. That even includes – gasp! – Bob Dylan, even if The Tempest really is ‘the best thing he’s done in a decade.’ It’ll still be there when I want to listen to it, right?

This is not to say that there aren’t great songs and new talents waiting to be discovered, simply that I can’t be bothered, frankly, to rummage through all the dross, pushing aside so much wimpish whining and pathetic tough-guy bravado along the way in search of those tiny golden nuggets. Has music ever been so dominated by pretentious bores with nothing meaningful to say? (I’m sure Bob has loads to say, don’t get me wrong, but I’m still digesting all the other things he’s said. My poor brain will go pop if I try taking any more in until I’m ready for it.)

Perhaps I am not alone, on first reflection, in finding it hard to see beyond Neil Young’s renewed acquaintance with Crazy Horse, Psychedelic Pill, for 2012’s musical highlight. The album’s stand-out track, ‘Walk Like a Giant’, is a true return to glorious form and raises the question: Is there enough whistling in modern music? (Answer: Probably. If the pasty-faced saps started whistling, surely we’d all want to punch them even more, even harder, than we do already. But perhaps that’s just me and perhaps why I’m perfectly happy and best left alone with ‘Blowin’ In the Wind’.)

I do enjoy a good, meandering instrumental. Because sometimes you couldn’t give a monkey’s for what people have to say. Hence I enjoyed The Black Chord, the second album from San Diegans Astra, whose lengthy, trippy, psychedelic jams feature more keyboards – yes, Mellotron and Moog – than you could wave a smoking joss stick at. A tip of your floppy hat also, if you please, to their logo. Love that perfect symmetry.

Something gentler and incredibly English, with angelic vocals and rather stunning ink work, is The Enid‘s Invicta. “The Orb meets Pink Floyd meets the Berlin Philharmonic,” according to Time Out at some point, when I don’t know and have been unable to find out. I’m still undecided as to whether or not I really like the album, the sixteenth studio recording from the band’s innumerable incarnations, and I approach it as someone who doesn’t know much about the other fifteen. I did find an interesting read about their relationship with their fanbase, here, though.

One talent worthy of note is San Franciscan Ty Segall, whose Twins CD has decided to live permanently in my car, where I can wail along to it tunelessly whilst cocooned in privacy. There’s something about him which reminds me of Syd Barrett. The young multi-instrumentalist has put out three albums this year: the aforementioned solo album, another as Ty Segall and White Fence, and one more as the Ty Segal Band. Talk about prolific. Have a listen to solo offering ‘Love Fuzz’, which really doesn’t remind me very much of Syd at all, but I still think is rather good.

Another more obvious choice is Australian Lennon-sound-alikes Tame Impala, whose website states they make “psychedelic hypno-groove melodic rock music” (but you should read the rest, too) and whose second album, Lonerism, was many people’s album of the year, including NME’s. If you’ve somehow missed them and aren’t too protective of the Beatles, try the album’s first single, ‘Elephant’.

Two more tracks to mix things up a bit? ‘Stay Useless’ by Cloud Nothings (a song you hear once and never forget, especially if you can relate to the line “I need time to stop moving, I need time to stay useless”) and Jack White’s ‘Sixteen Saltines’, which has quite possibly the darkest video ever.

If Astra and The Enid have you craving exploration of some of the more twisted roads in your minds, have a look at NPR’s 100 favourite songs of 2012 and scroll to Bang On A Can (David Lang), ‘For Madeline’, which is “haunting” indeed.

That’s music out of the way.

Another confession, similar to my earlier one, is that I’m rubbish at reading books and watching films promptly. I seldom visit the cinema, preferring to wait for the DVD release, and in waiting I find that the books I didn’t want in cumbersome hardback are now in paperback. That’s why I’m not going to mind, probably won’t even notice, if your most recent favourites were actually from 2011 because so were mine.

Because I’d rather wait for a paperback, I can include Mark Lynas’ The God Species: How Humans Really Can Save the Planet, out in paperback last year. What a book it is. This is the same Mark Lynas, you will recall, to be found over on The Important Stuff page at the request of David and Polly. Well, he’s now changed his tune completely and become an advocate for nuclear power and genetically modified crops.

I do intend to eventually read Louis Barfe’s The Trials and Triumphs of Les Dawson (for anyone unfamiliar, he was a rubber-faced comedian whose off-key stage act throughout the ’70s and ’80s included moments such as this); Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, by Chrystia Freeland; Bloody Nasty People: The Rise of Britain’s Far Right, by Daniel Trilling; How Music Works, by David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame); and the devastating Tombstone: The Untold Story of Mao’s Great Famine, by Jisheng Yang.

As for movies, I saw few. Favourites were Ted, The Iron Lady, The Woman in Black and, if I ever pluck up the courage to watch it, I expect War Horse. But I might never pluck up the courage unless someone promises me that the horse doesn’t die at the end.

Television, on the other hand, I saw plenty of. The Walking Dead and American Horror Story: Asylum are two of many acclaimed and highly original US series which, thankfully, haven’t yet ended. For something completely different, A Touch of Cloth was hilarious, but then Charlie Brooker usually is.

I soon gave up on Homeland (sorry) and avoided Borgen purely out of spite at tiring of seeing them mentioned so many times on Twitter. Perhaps I’ll discover them in my own time in a few years, or something.

News stories were numerous as always and no round-up of the year would be complete without remembering some of them. Allow me to start by saluting three heroes, Bradley Manning, Malala Yousafzai and Victoria Soto, and by respectfully commemorating two simple names, each a victim of man’s all-too-often appalling inhumanity to his fellow man, names destined to always be triggers to feelings of anger, disgust and deep, deep shame to so many: Jyoti and Lennox. May their names one day soon be used and recalled proudly to mark positive changes that must come.

There were many other inspirational people who deserve mention: Larry DePrimo for buying a homeless man some boots; Brian May for fighting on behalf of England’s badgers; the Hillsborough Independent Panel for finally exposing The Truth; Gary McKinnon and his gutsy mother, Janis Sharp, for finally beating the bullies they’d been standing up to for so long; David Attenborough for marking his 60th year in television as undoubtedly the finest teacher anyone could possibly wish for; and six-year-old rocker Amber Jacobs, who I’d meant to blog about several months ago, now the world’s youngest DJ with fine taste in music, I’m sure you’ll agree.

I overlook the Olympics intentionally because, as predicated, I now find myself feeling queasy at any mention of the ‘Games’ and particularly sick of hearing about (I refuse to watch) assorted Olympians whoring themselves at every opportunity. But I will tip my hat, a tatty cloth cap this time, writing as a republican and pleb, in respect to Danny Boyle for turning down a knighthood. For this I’ve almost forgiven him for needlessly using live animals in the opening ceremony.

Do tell me who or what I have forgotten.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

73 thoughts on “2012 review”

  1. Well, my attitude to new music is somewhat like yours, Fed. In fact more so because Tame Impala’s ‘Elephant’ is the only song on that list that I’ve even heard, let alone liked. This is really inexcusable and I shall stand in the corner before writing “I must open my narrow little mind” 100 times in my favourite notebook.

    As a punishment I am listening to Radio 6 which ought to be the right thing to do and am amazed that the bumbling, dithering delivery of Mark Radcliffe has not been consigned to SAD FM yet.

    I fear I rather missed out on Movies although I enjoyed Skyfall well enough and probably “Tinker Tailor…” if it was early last year. 2013 should be better as there are a lot of credible Oscar contenders coming up this month, including Les Mis (which I had not seen on stage but caught this weekend) and was I thought rather good and suitably miserable where it needed to be.

    2012 was a rather contemplative year for me. The second, and I suspect last, year of my Sabbatical from ‘useful’ (i.e. paid!) employment during which I pledged to find myself. As it happens I was down the side of the sofa (with 62p in loose change and a few peanuts) all along and now have to think of something to do with myself, which is of course much harder.

    I had a stimulating time dabbling in Creative Writing at the UEA and if I read a book a week for the next 40 years will be almost as well read as my fellow scribes. I surprised myself by writing some acceptable poetry and ought to write a bit more. I cycled the 500 miles from Ben Nevis to Snowdon which is a rather nice thing to do if you have time (and have had chance to harden your backside) and saw little Bella grow from an 8 week old pup to a rather mischievous, leggy, flat-coated retriever who can melt your heart at 10 paces and steal your birthday cake when you turn around.

    I got into the Olympics and found myself rather proud that London managed to put on a good show …. It’s actually quite edifying to live in a time and place where we can be both down on ourselves and also grateful that we don’t live in one of the many dreadful places on Earth we could have had the misfortune to find ourselves. (Unfortunately the Premier League was won in galling circumstances by the noisy neighbours).

    Oh, and Norwich turned up as ‘the most Godless City in Britain’. I’ll drink to that.

    1. Oh, and Norwich turned up as ‘the most Godless City in Britain’. I’ll drink to that.

      That’s nothing, Tim. 83 witches and 93 satanists are living in Wales, according to the Daily Mirror. There’s been a lot of evil glancing going on.

  2. Yo Fed,

    In regards to music, anyone who is over 50 has probably reached their threshold anyway. What I mean is that when you are young you are like a sponge soaking all the new sounds that come out. However at a a certain age, you start to realize that a lot of new music sounds like a bad copy of what has gone on before. This goes on till you pretty much stop listening to what is current and stick to the stuff that you heard from say 10 to 30 years old. That is when you know that you have reached your threshold. Happens to movies too but not quite as bad as music.

    I think I heard about 2-3 songs last year that mildly interested me.

    Cheers, Howard

    1. I think you’re right, Howard. I doubt I’ll remember any of the above songs a year from now unless they are picked up by TV and radio and played relentlessly.

    2. Whilst Howard makes an interesting observation about those of us into our 2nd half century of existence and having possibly reached saturation point to new music, I tend to agree that we gravitate back to the familiarity of the music we grew up with. However, there is still the odd occasion when something new comes along which stimulates the aural senses, providing your ears are open and receptive.

      From a personal perspective, these two facets have gleaned a triad of gems for me during 2012.

      Firstly, Steve Hackett, who seems to become more prolific as he advances in years, released three albums containing over 190 minutes of material last year. Admittedly, two and a half hours of this was his ‘Genesis Revisited II’ project, but it was a complete re-working of some Gabriel-era classics and was a joy to behold the nuances of some old favourites from the bygone days of my youth.

      He also collaborated with Chris Squire (Yes) to produce the album ‘A Life Within A Day’, under the guise of Squackett, whose individual styles blended together so well, to create a kaleidoscope of sound.

      Secondly, a four-piece band called The Chevin. Here’s a sample track of theirs, ‘Love Is Just A Game’, from the album ‘Borderland’. I have to bang-on about these guys because they originate from my own humble little market-town of Otley, here in the Yorkshire Dales. I’m convinced they’re destined for success before too long. This album, provides my lugholes with substantial pleasure and pride. These local lads are good enough to have already had the audacity to have made an appearance on The David Letterman Show over in the States. Keep your ears and eyes open for them (you heard it here first).

      Howard (and Fed), may your threshold prove NOT to be finite…

      1. Ah, I forgot about The Chevin. You mentioned them in the chatroom once, Ken. Thanks for reminding me.

  3. As always, an absolutely pleasurable read and on point!

    I’m still digesting 2012 …

    It was a year filled with immense heartache for so many yet lined with the strength of the human condition/spirit and that thing called hope.

    I made (admittedly feeble) attempts to stay on top of musical recommendations and had a brush with a few that might warrant a closer listen but few resonated – I mean REALLY resonated. Tame Impala and Band of Horses became stocking stuffers and a couple of tracks have been added to my playlist. I flirted briefly with a few recommendations from a co-worker: Moon Duo – Circles; The Walkmen – Heaven; Baroness – Yellow & Green; and Beach House – Bloom. The latter is growing on me and I’m not sure which of the tracks to share so here goes…

    I did spend a great deal of time immersed in the blues – I find it comforting or perhaps it’s that I have become impatient with a lot of the new stuff I hear preferring instead to know where I’m being led.

    One of the highlights of a lifetime (for me) was the long overdue recognition of Rodriguez through a documentary called “Searching for Sugar Man”. For just a tad shy of 40 years, his album, Cold Fact, has been with me and in the mid-90s, I received the CD as a gift (it was, at the time, only available in South Africa) because the LP was just too worn (it’s now safely ‘archived’). Arriving in the States in 1980, I couldn’t believe no-one had ever heard of this American “folk hero” who had shaped the views of a whole generation (and likely their children and grandchildren) of South African’s. Even though nominated, I am not counting on the documentary winning an Oscar. It could be the proverbial “cherry on top” if it did which would give me such a feeling of personal satisfaction. 🙂 Then again, Rodriguez needs no such validation and the documentary has opened up a whole new generation of ears and the music will still live on. I have to share this. The album cover was slightly different in South Africa and remember folks, this is from 1970!

    There’s something familiar about the Astra logo – almost Asia-like. Correct me if I’m wrong but my ear hears a smidgen of Uriah Heep influence and something else I cannot quite place. This could grow on me. Had a listen to Ty Segall’s Thank God for Sinners and there was something reminiscent of Alice Cooper – specifically his Welcome to My Nightmare album. Really enjoyed Love Fuzz!

    Will be back with books and a couple of movies …

    1. Loving Sixto Rodriguez; thanks, Pavlov. Let’s just forget 2012, shall we? Try as I might, I keep going back to the old and familiar. Granted, it’s partly the memories attached which help make those songs so special, but that’s only half the story. OK, maybe three-quarters?

      I will definitely look out for the documentary.

  4. I enjoy Jools Holland, he’s probably the only music show I enjoy these days. As for new artists I’m the same as you Fed. Maybe it’s down to age, or my apologies if you’re younger than me.

    I spend most of my time these days surfing the web or playing Call of Duty on my Xbox. I do enjoy Channel 4s the Mentalist, or reruns of Most Haunted.

    I really think music is dead, when I was growing up we were inspired by music, was introduced in our lives i.e. punk, new wave, ska, and so on. This does not seem the way music comes around these days, it’s all X-craptor and people who say they’re a band but don’t play instruments, i.e. girl groups and the like.

    I just found a collection of Jimmy Cagney films in a second hand shop, so I’ll be settling down to watch a true Hollywood legend over the weekend.

    Regards Damian.

    1. Did you Damien, or anyone else, see Jools’ show that Sinead O’Connor was on?

      She was absolutely terrific. Admittedly she looks a bit strange, bald and tattooed, but my goodness, her voice is even better now. It has matured and is every bit as powerful (if not more so), and controlled as it ever was.

      I was so excited and pleased to hear her again, I had a look to see if she has a tour coming up. I’m so disappointed. 🙁 She’s doing a few dates in London and that’s all, and some dates in Europe. None in the rest of Britain.

      If I lived in London I’d go to all three though, they are all different venues so the sound will be different in each.

      Damn, I’m disappointed.

      ash

      1. Well, come on now, London is the centre of the universe…

        I didn’t see Sinead O’Connor’s performance, sadly.

  5. I had a hectic year which just flew by for me. I was kept extremely busy with my work and lost my Dad to an aggressive rare cancer called sarcoma, in November. He had a stroke in January and surgery to repair a fractured femur, his recovery was good until about August. In a strange way, it was actually a great year because I spent a lot of time with my parents and though sad to lose my Dad, I thoroughly enjoyed that last year. 🙂

    So it was a hectic year, and I’m struggling to remember what happened besides my family life, but. . . .

    A stand out concert I went to see, was Norah Jones playing at the Royal Festival Hall in June. All the better because it wasn’t planned, we were in London for a conference and after an idle search I discovered Norah was playing. We are fans anyway so it was a wonderful surprise. That was the first wonderful thing about it.

    The concert was fabulous. Norah played several songs from her new album and several of her old ones, heavenly listening. She looked different though. Not like the almost classical looking pianist I’d seen on TV, more like a young woman in a pop group kind of attitude about her. Not that what she plays is anything like “pop”, she’s so much better than that. I would have described what she does as a bit like jazz but not so far gone and tuneless as jazz (sorry to any jazz fans, I can’t get on with hardcore). Her voice is stunning. She said she loved her new band, and they are incredibly good, tight and well rehearsed.

    They finished their set and came back after much applause and the encore was completely unbelievable. To imagine they might not have come back on if we hadn’t been noisy enough. . . .

    They performed another three (maybe four, long time ago for me now, I’ve had a few knocks since then and my memories are a bit haywire) songs, all acoustic.

    This encore was extraordinary. We’d just seen a really good show which was terrific in it’s own right then they brought something extra special and totally unexpected to the stage. There was an accordion, a guitar, a tambourine and I think a double bass. And all their voices. The music was perfect and unbelievably, the accordion gave it an old fashioned quirkiness but still very modern and unusual, the harmonies were absolutely beautiful. The group filled the Hall with sound and the crowd were completely silent. I think I may have sat open mouthed or with a big smile on my face throughout.

    I had been stunned before then I sat completely entranced by this total departure from the sound of their original set. They left the audience baying for more. 😀

    Norah Jones doesn’t come to Britain often enough and it appears that she doesn’t tour our country, just plays London. 🙁 I hope that changes. What a talent.

    Trying to think of books, TV and films now. . .

    ash

  6. The Walking Dead. . . I had been watching that. 🙂 I lost track of it though, I forgot what channel and time it was on or the series ended and I didn’t know when the next one started or something like that.

    The last bit I remember is a big guy giving up his life so someone could return to a farm with medicine for a child who’s father was giving him blood transfusions, and rapidly running out of his own blood. I kind of have the feeling that that was the start of the second series?

    Fed, is it still on? What channel? What channel was it on, maybe I can get it on catchup from their website.

    ash

    1. The channel was FX, now renamed FOX, and it’s back on our screens next month (I’m guessing we’re mid-way through the third series at the moment). There should be repeats on, certainly a chance to catch up on the current series before it resumes. However, you need Series 2, Episode 2 (“Bloodletting”) or Episode 3 (“Save the Last One”), to return to where you left off. (The big guy was Otis, the child he was trying to save is Carl.)

      Listings can be found here, but be prepared for spoilers. How I hate these websites that force music and video on you.

      With this in mind, perhaps the Wikipedia page is of better help.

    2. I don’t have FX. I did see it though!

      Thanks for that Fed, I’ll have a hunt around and see if I can find it.

      ash 🙂

  7. With regard to Mark Lynas’ works Fed, I looked him up on Wikipedia. Yes, I see he’s changed his opinion on some really important issues.

    The worry I have, (and I don’t claim to be a very knowledgeable scientist, I have an interest in science), is that he is NOT a scientist. He is a writer who has found something to write about. He sensationalised something he ‘discovered’ about nuclear power and GM crops and made money and fame out of what was really misinformation. Many people would have read his works and taken it as the truth.

    I therefore would treat anything he says with a bit of scepticism and suspicion because I think, fundamentally, he’s trying to make money out of his writing rather than report sound science.

    My own personal opinion on nuclear power is that sooner or later we will have to accept that it’s the only way to maintain our lifestyle. We can have wind turbines and solar panels and everything else but there will be times when these are producing less power than needed and an instant back up will be needed because we can’t store excess energy that these alternatives produce. Therefore we always need a back up. If we have the capacity in a nuclear plant to provide that backup, why bother with the expensive alternatives? Money would be better spent on researching methods of making nuclear really, really safe. It seems like common sense to me so the political will must not be there. Guess who influences political will? The public who read books! (Written by, incidentally in this case, a student of history and politics!! NOT SCIENCE, FFS!)

    As for GM foods, I’m still against these. If you breed them too strong and they escape to the wild they will contaminate the wild type from which we developed domestic strains. When something goes drastically wrong because the GM eventually failed (from lack of resistance to something the wild type had developed over millennia), we won’t have the wild type to start again with. Deliberately causing an extinction of a food crop is really not a good idea.

    I won’t be putting any money in Mr Lynas’ pockets. Of course all of this is just my opinion and I’m open to being corrected and/or educated. 🙂

    ash

    1. Apologies for the late response, Ash. It’s been a while since I read the book, so I wanted to re-read parts of it before commenting.

      First up, I’m not a student of science either (I’m a student of history and politics, of all things 😉 ), so I for one am glad that he writes not as a scientist but as someone with a flair for expressing himself clearly because, chances are, if he did write as a scientist, his would be a book I doubt I’d even pick up. OK, so maybe I’d pick it up and flick through it, but I expect I would very soon put it back down at the sight of the first rambling sentence without any commas, and the big words and acronyms I don’t recognise, then I’d likely need a sit-down to regain my composure due to flashbacks of boring lessons at school. In his defence, he starts the book by pointing out that his previous writing was somewhat less rooted in science and as such he has taken on board a lot more of it to formulate his new theories. I think that’s perfectly fair and useful to those who, like me, like their science presented in manageable chunks.

      On GM foods, for example, he makes a good case for how we need more nitrogen-efficient crops, because organic farming will obviously require huge areas of forest and wilderness be brought into production, which will only release stocks of carbon and further harm wildlife habitat, and still would not be enough to feed an already huge and growing population. But I still don’t like the idea of it.

      I still can’t bring myself to embrace nuclear power (due to the potential dangers when things go wrong, the cost to run plants safely and to decommission, and because stories like this one, from just this week, horrify me), but then I will stick my neck out here and say that I would personally prefer governments start limiting as a matter of urgency the number of children people can have and, while they’re at it, they could also introduce a maximum wage to go with the minimum (and create many genuinely green jobs with all that spare money), make air travel ridiculously expensive, insist that every roof be covered in either solar panels or greenery, and modestly tax every person in the developed world so that those in developing nations who feel that exploiting ‘their’ natural resources is their right (after all, the developed nations have already done more than their fair share of exploiting and not just on ‘their’ patch) can be compensated should they wish to think again and leave well alone for the good of the planet and those amazing species we share it with. (In fact, the author suggests that each country adds half a per cent to VAT – a tax on consumption, if you will – in order to protect and preserve globally valuable ecosystems, which I think is a great idea.)

      None of this is ever going to happen, obviously. So he puts forward other, more realistic suggestions which might.

      As is pointed out early on in the book, our culture and our politics are many decades behind our science. When the author refers to ‘the idea of perennial human victimhood’ and far too many people ‘relieving themselves of any inconvenient burden of responsibility’, I have to agree. Who could disagree? This is partly why climate-change deniers are successful at peddling their agenda: because they exploit this ‘Oh, but we are so small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and the world is so big, whatever can we do?’ rubbish, a myth perpetuated by religion. If we can do something, if the scientists say they can, we ought to listen. We ought to bust our backsides to reach set targets and make all the sacrifices necessary (although Lynas’ whole point is that, no, actually, we don’t need to suffer terribly for it). And if that puts a few noses in the Green camp out of place and, better still, bloodies the noses of those with the power and money and influence to bring about real change, then so be it, because things aren’t changing quickly enough for many people’s liking and the clock is ticking.

      The book is based on the concept of the nine planetary boundaries within which, it is argued, we must stay if humanity is to avoid catastrophic, irreversible environmental change. As Johan Rockström puts it so perfectly in his TED talk, seeing all the graphs on everything from degradation of forests to population growth to freshwater consumption, etc., all of which follow the same pattern over the last 200-odd years, it’s time to bend the (alarmingly upward) curves.

      So Lynas advocates things which might appal at first, such as more intensive farming on smaller areas of land, along with things you might already agree with strongly, such as delivering modern sewage and sanitation facilities to everyone on Earth (which would cost $11bn a year, apparently) in order to reduce nitrogen pollution (by five million tonnes per year). Nitrogen flow is one of the three planetary boundaries which, it is estimated, we have already transgressed.

      He questions why Australia isn’t already the world’s first 100 per cent solar country; why China uses far too much fertiliser when Africa is where it is needed and where productivity most needs to be raised; why Americans have been eating genetically engineered soya, canola and maize for a decade but it is still boycotted by Europeans. (72 per cent of Guardian readers remain unconvinced of its safety and value, according to this recent poll.)

      The stats throughout the book are shocking and upsetting, from mortality rates of birds lost to the 5,400 wind turbines in California’s Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area alone, for example (67 golden eagles, 188 red-tailed hawk, 347 American kestrels, 30 barn owls, 271 starlings, 189 rock doves, 415 western meadowlarks…) to the 1.7 million hectares of Indonesian rainforest converted to palm oil plantation in just 15 years for the sake of biofuels. But if he can shock, let him. People need to be shocked out of their ignorance or, if you prefer, as in my case, forced to accept that the greenwashing we’ve been subjected to isn’t necessarily as perfect as it once seemed.

      It’s a beautifully presented, sensibly ordered, helpfully repetitive, but above all totally readable piece of work. Please do read it, borrow it from the library if you must; I’d love to hear what you think of it and I’ll gladly read it again to refresh my memory in preparation for a discussion on it. It’s one of the most enlightening and, at the same time, infuriating books I’ve ever read.

      Here he is recently arguing that ‘Without nuclear, the battle against global warming is as good as lost’ to give you a taster.

      This could have been a blog post in its own right, couldn’t it? Damn.

  8. I started reading several books during 2012. Haven’t finished any of them.:( Life took over or I couldn’t concentrate so started something either more light or more heavy! Either way I couldn’t really concentrate on any books so they are waiting for me.

    I’ve been able to read short things, interesting articles that sort of thing. Follow the odd blog. 😉

    ash

  9. Should have said earlier, I love your posts Fed and this one is as good and stimulating as all the rest.

    I love all the responses from bloggers too.

    ash 🙂

  10. Wrapping 2012 up is rather easy: regarding music bought mostly old stuff (Rory Gallagher for example), read old books (are cheaper), installed a photovoltaic power plant on our roof (yet the sun isn’t shining these days 😉 ), my daughter went to university, the Blog still exists (thanks for that FEd and DG) and we all got older …

    Not a bad year I’d judge, but there have been better years though. Anyway I do not feel being Sponge Bob, filled up with impressions of the past decades. For me the reason why it has become so difficult to find new stuff that impresses me, is the way music industry works. Cork always floats, while the pearls aren’t easy to found, if you know what I mean.

    Best regards,

    Taki

  11. Hello again FEd, happy New Year to all.

    Films I saw were Prometheus, the prequel to the Aliens films. Scary.

    I saw the final one in the Eclipse vampires series. Thoroughly embarrassed at the admission? Yes. :)) A young relative made me watch all the others then I was curious about whether or not they got married in the end and what happened to the half vampire baby!

    No taking the mick! :))

    TV programmes, there’s been a strange one called, “Person of Interest”, I watched some of the episodes, Michael Emerson who played Benjamin Linus in “Lost”, stars in it. It looks very high tech and Big Brother-ish and with a Lost connection, I thought it might be quite good. Well, I’m not so sure.

    I’ve watched lots of repeats, I like Waking the Dead, Spooks, Silent Witness (a new series has just started).

    I absolutely love The Big Bang Theory. :)) I have no idea when the new series is showing nor on which channel, there are so many repeats on different channels, I just watch whichever I find.

    That reminds me, I also love the new TV advertisement that Stephen Hawking features in, it’s so funny, ha ha ha. It’s the only one for that product, by the way, which I can stand to watch without going into a rage!!!

    All for now, best wishes to all,
    Rose.

  12. AC/DC at the River Plate was brilliant…where do they get all that energy from? The whole stadium rocked.

    War Horse was okay, horse survived the war and did not end up as horse meat either. In real life the horse the story was based on and its real life owner spent many happy years after the war galloping over the Downs on (I think it was) The Isle of Wight. One lovely shot was a British soldier together with a German soldier trying to rescue the horse from loads of barbed wire requested assistance from there colleagues only to get deluged in wire cutters thrown from the trenches!!!

    Like you Fed the DVD will be out soon if not already and will soon be on TV anyway (we saw it on a plane!)

    HMV on Monday were advertising ‘Coming Soon… Skyfall, order your copy now’! Errr I think not.

    1. War Horse was okay, horse survived the war and did not end up as horse meat either.

      Thanks, Heather. Maybe I can watch it, then. I’m afraid I’ve become quite detached from the sight of humans getting blown to smithereens, suffering the hell of gas attacks, rats, trench foot, etc. But should a horse, or any other animal, be placed in harm’s way and fail to return home from a wicked, hellish war started by men

      On a serious note, there is a beautiful, I think, monument on London’s Park Lane dedicated to animals that have played a part in various conflicts. The inscription reads: ‘To all the animals that served and died alongside British and Allied forces in wars and campaigns throughout time. They had no choice.’ So sad, so true.

      I don’t suppose you noticed whether the film finished with those slow-fade subtitles that bring you up-to-date, perhaps mentioning how, never mind the estimated eight millions horses that had been killed, following the First World War many thousands of horses were abandoned where they had served, left to fend for themselves or sold into hard labour, did you? The same is true for thousands of dogs following Vietnam, for mules at Dunkirk in the Second World War, as well as pigeons, camels, elephants. Little loyalty was shown to any of them, but somehow I can’t imagine Steven Spielberg finishing on such a sombre note.

      Lincoln should be interesting, by the way.

    2. We’ve all heard the saying, “Life is cheap” and it really is. It’s so often that humans and animals are used, abused and simply murdered by humans who seem to have the attitude of there being plenty more where they came from, we can do what we want with them. What kind of mentality is that?

      Yet humans somehow profess to think that life is sacred.

      I can’t stand the thought, just the thought of a horse caught up in barbed wire. I won’t be able to watch this film.

      Rose.

  13. I measured the year in smaller triumphs. This is the first year since my beloved husband that I have not had to go to hospital on the anniversary of his death. I got to see my two precious grand babies walk and start to develop the most charming of personalities. And I tried to do my best to live the best life I can and be aware of the ripples my actions spread. I hope I can do even better this year. Oh, and there’s always my sage advise, never turn down a free meal or a chance to visit the loo!

    1. I neglected to mention that 2012 saw the end of five years of casts and surgeries on a broken foot and I was back to my three to five mile daily walks that I love dearly. And I’ll be damned if I didn’t break the other foot yesterday! I’m so flabbergasted that all I can do is laugh!

      Let’s just hope that 2013 is a year of quick healing!

  14. On a Gilmour related note, what happened to the app in the Apple Store? I don’t see it listed.

  15. A DVD worth watching, that came out in December 2012: ‘Planet Ocean’, a documentary film directed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand (remember ‘Home’, that was mentioned here a few years ago in the topic ‘World Environment Day’?)

    Not a depressing movie. By combining stunning aerial shots with underwater imagery, Yann Arthus-Bertrand turns the attention on the urgency of the action to be taken in order to save the oceans and the planet. ‘Planet Ocean’ just sends a clear message that “a more sustainable world is not only desirable but achievable”. I showed it to my pupils. All the children should watch it.

    I love the last words appearing on the screen “Ne nous résignons pas.” (=something like “Let’s not give up”?)

    Here it is. (So sorry I couldn’t find it in English.)

  16. Hi Fed, I was wondering, what with all the snow if you have any leeks.

    Sorry Fed.

    Damian

  17. Happy Birthday, Dan!

    I hope you have a great day with your family.

    And a big hug to your lovely little Madison. 🙂

    1. Have a good one, Dan. The same to Roger and to Terrence later this week. May you all enjoy many more.

  18. Been snowing all day today but not sticking, unlike Wales. You had it really bad there.

    Damian.

    1. I saw that too, Pavlov. On his website, he writes:

      We don’t suggest you knock your favourite furry friend on the head.

      Not unless you want your eyes clawed out, anyway. :))

  19. ANY CHANCE OF A U.S. TOUR??? Please play ATLANTA. WOULD LOVE TO SEE YOU BEFORE I DIE. THANK YOU!

      1. Public Relations. The art of establishing, and then promoting, a favourable relationship with the public.

    1. Thank you.

      Ah, ‘Public Relations’… the modern form of ‘propaganda’ in our so-called democracies, you mean? …

  20. … on to some movies and books.

    Going to the cinema is considered a treat in our household so we tend to wait until the DVDs are released before seeing the ‘new’ stuff. An exception was The Hobbit and ‘wild, wild horses, couldn’t drag me away’ from seeing it (perhaps not an ideal choice to describe). Just as soon as I can, I will buy the DVD and indulge in an all-day viewing of it followed by the Lord of the Rings trilogy — household chores be damned! It didn’t disappoint – for me anyway. We saw The Hunger Games for the benefit of a 14-year old although he much preferred The Hobbit 🙂

    The movie/documentary that made the biggest impression on me though was not from 2012 but rather 2007 and only made it’s way to me this past year. Begging Naked. One of the most beautiful and painful things I’ve ever seen – I ached inside for weeks after seeing it. There was of course Searching for Sugarman which was personally satisfying/gratifying for me.

    There are 2012 releases that I want to see and will in time: The Raven, Rise of the Guardians and The Woman in the Fifth and another foreign film called Attenburg which was released abroad in 2010 but only made a limited appearance in the States in 2012 (“unable to relate to her fellow humans, she lives her life through the wildlife documentaries of Sir David Attenborough” was the line that caught my attention although it’s far ‘spicier’ than that).

    I did quite a bit of reading although hardly enough. I get overwhelmed by the enormous bodies of works that are out there. I caught up on Terry Pratchett, re-read a Kit Williams (I call it the ‘Bee Book’) based upon a chat with Ash (I thought I was the only person in the world who knew of it!), and have made a very feeble attempt to skim through a book called Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb which I have been told is a “must read”.

  21. Yesterday I had my 22nd birthday, the first one without my dad, who’s gone since March 2012.

    So many memories came out yesterday, and I just wanted to say thank you to Mr. Gilmour for every piece of music he has written and played so far. I don’t know if he’s ever going to read it, but anyway… I just have to say it. My dad loved him so much. The only time I ever saw him cry happened during a Gilmour solo. Somehow, his guitar always touched his soul, more than any other (and he certainly loved lots of great guitar players…) He was just 52; still a young, bright-minded man.

    Now I can’t discuss the Pink Floyd/Gilmour solo songs with him anymore… But I know they are a straight way to find him.

    Thank you for leading him somewhere only he knows… And allowing me to enter there, sometimes, too.

    Karine, São Paulo, Brazil

    1. Bless you, Karine. I’m so sorry for your loss and sure that David will be very moved by your words.

    2. Karine, I am sure the legacy your father has left you is a beautiful one and there will often be times where you will shed a tear and a memory will trigger a smile. He lives on in your heart and mind, through the music you shared and, as you have so beautifully expressed, you know how to find him.

      Thank you for sharing this with us – it makes me even more mindful of the memories I build with my son!

  22. Karine, thank you so much for sharing your memories of your Dad, it brought tears to my eyes. I too, cry shamelessly at times when I listen to a David Gilmour guitar solo. I can’t put into words what part of my deep soul that it touches, but it is powerful and beautiful. This feeling is why I love Pink Floyd, David Gilmour, and I don’t think any music will ever cause this reaction in me again. However, thank heavens I have all these wonderful albums to revisit whenever I feel the need to be “touched”. I’m open to any recommendations of music anyone thinks will “touch” a music hardened lady. I’m just too fed up with current noise called music. Give me David Gilmour, give me Pink Floyd and leave me alone with them.

    1. Thank you all for the comments…

      When I discussed with my dad, we used to say Pink Floyd sound was like the ‘Big Bang’s cosmic noise of the 20th century music’. Somehow that makes sense to me. 🙂

      I’m happy to see that these deep feelings also occur to so many people, with so different cultures, so different life stories. That’s amazing.

    2. Tough call, Carolyn.

      One piece that I think is very moving is “Shipbuilding” by Robert Wyatt (written by Elvis Costello of course). As Robert produces a momentous little piece of cornet on David’s Albert Hall DVD version of “Then I Close My Eyes” (which also makes me “happy-sad” whenever I listen to it, and do you notice that real look of warmth from David towards Robert on the DVD?) it might be worth a try …

      Keep diving for pearls with memories of your Dad, Karine.

    3. My review of 2012 would not be different to any other year over the last 50+. I cannot contribute to discussions on TV or books but I do try to keep up with the music scene as I tend to see it.

      Went to quite a few gigs and albums I seem to have enjoyed immensely include:

      The Pineapple Thief – All the Wars
      Syd Arthur – On and On

      …and local singer songwriter Cliff Hands who has written an anthem for today’s times: Hard Times.

      Hope you enjoy it.

    4. It was nice meeting you in the chatroom today, Carolyn. I hope you enjoyed our company. 🙂

  23. You forgot the Welsh GrandSlam FEd – Happy Days!

    Hope all are well – Iechyd Da.

    Simon J

  24. Hi Fed,

    Checking in here as time fades away.

    Seems like your music views are shared by many, based on the current volume of music sales (why is video game music more entertaining that what’s on the radio?). I think times have changed a lot from my golden years (just over the 50 year hurdle now). The music industry is to blame for its own woes. I can remember growing up (during the birth of FM radio and the death of AM) where all age groups enjoyed listening to the radio and radio catered to that general audience. Does anyone remember “good old novelty songs (oh yes, they call us the Streak), comedy bits (George Carlin, Cheech and Chong), Motown, heavy metal ballads, Barbara Streisand, Soundtracks to Broadway musicals, etc.” They all got on general radio playlists. The rule was if it was entertaining, it was played. Now they apply a “genera” filter. Boring!

    There’s still plenty of great new music out there, it’s’ just harder for someone of my generation to find. During the past David Gilmour/MySpace Arnold Layne songwriting competition, I listened to a lot of the original MP3s that the submitters had on their MySpace pages. A lot of it was quite good. These days, I still buy music, but go over to the music I had overlooked (most of it recorded in England, like the Blues of Elmore James or Jazz of Jelly Roll Morton). Or I listen to my old favorites but in a different way (like why did the drummer play with the groove in a certain way?, or why did Rick Wright play this chord in Us N Them rather than another?). And of course I still love to listen to the music of my own Band, The Unemployed Teachers (which strangely sells better in the UK than in the states) and still discover new things, even in my own music.

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