Music

You're a Firework!

Before the coronavirus pandemic locked us all down and locked us all in, before the days of constant news about the 'virus' and testing and tracing and sanitising and physical distancing ... I was for more than a year part of a Community Choir here in Jersey. 

We met every two weeks on a Friday just to sing ... mostly inspirational 'pop' songs and music with a bit of a meaning. It was organised by a few of us at our church - The Salvation Army in Jersey - and it was wondeful.

None of us were particularly expert singers or musicians, including the trio (including me) who led the group, but we had real fun. We did 'sing out' at church services including at Christmastime 2019 just before the pandemic hit, but most importantly, and more important than the music, it was a time to grow friendships and sing. 

We know that singing is good for us, it can lift our spirits and help with stress because it can help control out breathing. And that's why the loss of song and music and performance and choirs, and the communities and friendships they create, were so missed during the lockdowns and the pandemic restrictions. Now here in Jersey, along with other parts of the world which are benefitting from the COVID19 vaccines, we are fortunately able to sing again. 

Tomorrow evening I will be at a thanksgiving service and concert here in Jersey which I've helped to produce - I spoke about that yesterday in this blog - and it will be fabulous to welcome 'live' musicians to perform for us! It's a glimpse of how we might be returning to some sort of 'normal', although at the service we will be remembering those who have lost their lives and for whom that 'new normal' will never come.

We haven't started our Community Choir again, but who knows?

However today I want to share with you one of the songs we loved singing. It's a song by the American singer and pop sensation Katy Perry, who's birthday it is today, and it's called 'Firework'.


Katy Perry - FireworkThe words are so inspiring and challenging and for any of us who've often felt 'invisible' or worthless or vulnerable, there's a real message of hope here.

I particularly like the line :

Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road

Sometimes it feels like we're getting nowhere in life, that all the doors are closing on us and we're not getting any of our dreams or even wishes. Nothing seems to work for us, we feel abandoned and without hope.

But remember - you are a firework. I'm a firework and we can shine!

I just need to believe more ... believe in myself more, maybe ... and Ignite the Light inside and let it shine. Breathe in, be courageous, regain my confidence, show the world who I am.

Don't listen to the criticism. Forget the nay-sayers and those who would put us down! We are  worthy, we are valuable,  we are precious!

Let's Fly High!

This song, we discovered when we sang it in our Community Choir, meant different things to different people. It's got the knack of touching hearts.

So .. thank you Katy ... and Happy Birthday!

 
Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind
Wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper-thin
Like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?

Do you ever feel already buried deep
Six feet under screams but no one seems to hear a thing
Do you know that there's still a chance for you
'Cause there's a spark in you?

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

'Cause, baby, you're a firework
Come on, show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go, "Ah, ah, ah"
As you shoot across the sky

Baby, you're a firework
Come on, let your colours burst
Make 'em go, "Ah, ah, ah"
You're gonna leave 'em all in awe, awe, awe

You don't have to feel like a wasted space
You're original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow

Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt your heart will glow
And when it's time you'll know

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

'Cause, baby, you're a firework
Come on, show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go, "Ah, ah, ah"
As you shoot across the sky

Baby, you're a firework
Come on, let your colors burst
Make 'em go, "Ah, ah, ah"
You're gonna leave 'em all in awe, awe, awe

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It's always been inside of you, you, you
And now it's time to let it through,  

'Cause, baby, you're a firework
Come on, show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go, "Ah, ah, ah"
As you shoot across the sky

Baby, you're a firework
Come on, let your colours burst
Make 'em go, "Ah, ah, ah"
You're gonna leave 'em all in awe, awe, awe

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon

 

 


The Road Home

Next Tuesday - October 26th - at St Thomas' Roman Catholic Church in Jersey there will be a very special event.

It's a Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving, and it's an opportunity for all of us to remember those who have died and who meant something special to us and to celebrate their lives.

The service has been organised by a local Funeral Directors - Pitcher and Le Quesne - who have held similar events before, but of course in the past couple of years that's been impossible because of the COVID19  restrictions.

We know that since the pandemic began, so many of us have been unable to to remember loved ones in the way we may have wanted. Either we've had limited opportunities to say a proper 'farewell' or we've been unable to travel to pay our respects and to grieve with families members and friends. So next Tuesday is an opportunity to celebrate and give thanks for the lives that meant, and still mean, so much to us.

But the service is not just for folk who've lost someone in the pandemic ... it's open to everyone who wants to keep alive the memories of their dear ones, even if they passed away years ago.

PLQ-remembrance-facebook (2)The evening, which starts at 7pm, will be just an hour of poems, readings, prayers, music and ... we hope ... smiles along with the sadness.

Church and faith leaders will play their part, and we'll have the magnificent Malcolm L'Amy on the organ at St Thomas' ... which is in Val Plaisant in St Helier (if you don't know it ... it's the big Catholic Church!) 

But we'll also be joined by some amazing singers. 

Georgi Mottram is a Jersey-born soprano. She's already a Classic Brit Award Nominee who’s debut single shot to No.1 in the iTunes Official Classical Charts in May 2021. Georgi is a very special talent and we're so thrilled she'll be joining us.

The Aureole Choir will also be part of the evening. The choir (founder and director Nicki Kennedy) was set up during the early stages of lockdown in early 2020 to give people who love singing a chance to celebrate their love for music. They initially met online and recorded music to raise money for local charities but now have over 100 members of all ages who meet regularly to sing, have fun and fundraise. They also run weekly ‘sing-alongs’ (with requests) to boost morale among those living alone and in Jersey’s care homes. They're a great bunch of people, so talented and so committed!

Next Tuesday will be an evening, as I said, which will be reflective, but it will also be filled, we trust, with smiles and hope!

During and after the service there will be an opportunity to remember loved ones and leave messages in a ‘memorial garden' at the back of church and those who wish to do so are also invited to give a donation to the Royal British Legion Jersey Poppy Appeal. That appeal actually starts next week!

Now you might be wondering why I know so much about this?

Well, it's because I've been working on this for months with the managing director of Pitcher and Le Quesne, Paul Battrick, and St Thomas' Church ... helping to communicate, finding the artists and speakers, sourcing the poems and prayers etc and getting involved in a little bit of PR as well.

I have to say, it's one of the best 'jobs' I've had for a very long time. It feels like we are doing something which will make a big difference to people and maybe bring help and comfort in their sorrow and grief.  But hopefully it will also just be a general uplifting hour! It's made me really happy to be involved, but also it's given me much time for reflection myself, and moments when I've been moved by words and music and remembered MY loved ones, including my darling Dad, who have 'gone before'.

If you are in Jersey on Tuesday, we would love to see you! If you are not here in the island, please pray for us, that people will come and be blessed. It's a big church and we'd love to see many people... and we hope it will bless us all.

So, on this Sunday, to bring you all into the circle of love we hope will surround us on Tuesday evening, please click on the link below to see/hear a presentation that will be part of the Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving.

It will be the first of two musical offerings from the Aureole Choir  and it's actually one of the first projects they produced when Jersey was in lockdown in Spring 2020. The song and video (which is on YouTube as well as the Aureole Music website) raised money for local charities, and it brought music into our lives at a time when choirs could not meet, we could not sing even in church (and anyway churches were closed)  and we felt so bereft of the joys of music and performance.

Enjoy the beautiful Jersey landscapes and seascapes and images and people, and the even more beautifully talented islanders who joined together for this very special project.

See you on Tuesday! 

 

 


Land of Hope ... and Glory

There are some pieces of music which are iconic, and for me that includes not just rock and pop but also the occasional piece of 'classical' music.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a classical buff ... I don't listen to a lot of what might be described as 'classical'  music, but I do enjoy the occasional iconic tune.

So I was interested when I discovered that On this Day - October 19th - in the year 1901, a piece of music which would become one of the most well-known in Great Britain at least, was performed in public for the first time.

The Pomp & Circumstance March No 1 is perhaps best known because it includes the tune which is the song Land of Hope and Glory. which is especially well known in the UK because it's a highlight of 'The Proms'. otherwise known as the 'BBC Proms' because the series of mostly classical concerts are shared with the world by that broadcaster. The march and the tune is traditionally also an integral part of the Last Night  of the Proms concert.

Edward elgarThis iconic piece of music is the creation of Sir Edward Elgar and many of his works are part of the British and international classical concert repertoire. Apart from the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, another of his best-known orchestral compositions and works is another favourite of mine -  the Enigma Variations - but he's also well known for concertos for violin and cello, and two symphonies. Elgar also composed choral works, including The Dream of Gerontius, chamber music and songs.

Elgar is often regarded as a typically 'English' composer but the most interesting thing I've learned about him is that his musical influences came not from Britain but from continental Europe. He also felt like an outsider including musically - this was a time when music was dominated pretty much by academics and Elgar was a self-taught composer. Now THAT'S astonishing!

Socially Elgar also felt out of place.  He was a Roman Catholic in a largely Protestant Britain, and as a result some people were suspicious of him. He was from humble origins but lived in a very class conscious society in Victorian and then Edwardian Britain. He apparently was sensitive about his beginnings even after he gained recognition.

And another interesting point about Elgar - his major success didn't come until he was in his 40's ... 

That's encouraging I think ... it's never too late!

Just a note about the Pomp And Circumstance Marches - full title Pomp and Circumstance Military Marches. Although No. 1 In D and March No. 2 premiered today in 1901, actually they are a series of five (or six) marches for orchestra. The first four were published between 1901 and 1907, when Elgar was in his forties, but the fifth was published in 1930, a few years before his death and a sixth march was compiled after his death, from unpublished sketches. This was published in 1956 and in 2005–2006.

But back to Marches No 1 and 2. Both compositions were played two days after the premiere in Liverpool, at a Promenade Concert - a 'Prom'  - in the Queen's Hall in London. It was  conducted by Sir Henry Wood, who is synonymous with the annual promenade concerts. Wood actually conducted The Proms for nearly half a century and introduced  hundreds of new works to British audiences, and after his death in 1944 the concerts were officially renamed in his honour as the "Henry Wood Promenade Concerts".  In 1901 he conducted Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1  second, after March No 2, and Wood later recalled that the audience  "...rose and yelled... the one and only time in the history of the Promenade concerts that an orchestral item was accorded a double encore." (Henry Wood, My Life of Music p. 154)

And a final point before I leave you and you can enjoy this presentation of the iconic piece ...  The piece now known as Land of Hope and Glory in its original form was just a tune.

It was a big hit, including with the new British monarch - King Edward VII - who happened to mention to Elgar that he thought his March No 1 tune would make a great song. So when the composer was asked  to write a work for the King's coronation, he worked the suggestion into his Coronation Ode, with words written  by the poet and essayist A. C. Benson. Unfortunately the coronation was postponed because the king was unwell, so Elgar created a separate song, which was first performed by Madame Clara Butt in June 1902. And part of that original work - the first of the seven stanzas of the Ode's original final section - is now a feature of the Last Night of the Proms, and has become an English sporting anthem and a  general patriotic song.

Final thoughts on all this - apart from the fact that some people are just brilliant Elgar teaches me that sometimes we have to wait for things to happen for us. And sometimes what we create turns into something more wonderful than we might ever have imagined or dreamed.

How wonderful!

 

 


The Candle of the Lord

This past few weeks I've been thinking quite a lot about light and candles. 

Although we're in the early weeks of October, I'm already commissioned to work on a few Advent and Christmas projects so I've been thinking about themes.

The idea of Jesus Christ being the Light of the World and being born to be one of us is an overriding Christmas theme and of course, candles are often synonymous with the festive season. 

It's a time when we may think a bit more than usual about the Light coming into our world but also, it's a time when I think about my responsibilities to be a person who brings light to others. A person who doesn't sow discontent and negativity, but peace and positive vibes.

For inspiration today I turn to a song written by an amazing Christian leader, singer and songwriter ... Joy Webb .... She is a Salvation Army officer (minister) who in the 1960's led a Christian pop group called 'The Joystrings' - they made it into the UK pop charts! 

Major Joy has devoted her life to God  and since those heady Joystrings days, she has blessed us with many incredible songs which are loved and appreciated, and not just in The Salvation Army.

What I love about Joy's music and songs, writing and words,  is that she really goes to the heart of what it means to be a person of faith.  Her songs, in particular,  are always 'real'. sometimes poignant, many times challenging.  Down the years, her God-inspired words and music have inspired me many times.

There's a song which Joy wrote years ago and which is still one of my favourites ... it sums up that whole idea of US following the example of Jesus and being a light in our world.

The Candle of the LordIt's called 'The Candle of the Lord' and the words are incredible ...

Please click on the link below to read the words and immerse yourself in the music.

There's are many versions online, including vocal renditions, but today I've chosen an interpretation by a friend of mine, another incredible musician called Gaz Rose ... and his imaging of the song in music and pictures/video.

Thanks Gaz!

Thanks Major Joy!

And to you all ... have a great day!

And be blessed!

 

 


Imagine

IMAGINE!

You just need to say the word and immediately a particular song starts resonating in my head and heart.

It's a classic 'pop' song, that is much more than a 'pop song', by one of the legends of pop and rock music - the inimitable John Lennon ... he of the legendary pop group The Beatles ... singer, songwriter, musician, peace activist ... what a guy!

I'm thinking about John today specifically because it was on this day (October 9th) in 1940 that John Winston Lennon ... later John Winston Ono Lennon ... came into the world. 

Today I could have chosen SO many songs to celebrate John Lennon - and those of you who know me might have thought I might choose one like Strawberry Fields Forever which is directly linked to a Salvation Army children's home in Liverpool of that name in the grounds of which Lennon played as a child. Today it is an amazing centre run by The Salvation Army which works with the community and people with special needs, and pays tribute to the Lennon legacy.

But no ...  instead I've chosen another of John's iconic songs, composed and recorded and released after his time with The Beatles had come to an end.

IMAGINE!

Rolling Stone magazine described Imagine as Lennon's "greatest musical gift to the world" ... for many many reasons musically ... I won't go on about that now, but if you're interested, please feel free to investigate by clicking on the link embedded in the name of the song above.

Actually the eponymous album on which the song appeared was released in the USA in October 1971,  a month after the international release in the UK.... and the single was the best-selling one of John's solo career.

ImagineIt's a song which resounds with people around the world. 

Some believe this song is 'anti-faith' but I don't think it is. It actually encourages us to imagine a world of peace, without borders separating nations and peoples and without materialism which divides. Yes, it says 'no religion' but note it doesn't say 'no faith', and the two are very different.

John Lennon is credited with writing the song but just before his death in December 1980 he said that much of the song's content and the lyrics came from his wife, Yoko Ono. 

In an interview, actually for Playboy magazine, Lennon said that he and Yoko had been given a Christian prayer book which inspired the concept behind Imagine

He said this:

The concept of positive prayer ... If you can imagine a world at peace, with no denominations of religion – not without religion but without this my God-is-bigger-than-your-God thing – then it can be true ... the World Church called me once and asked, "Can we use the lyrics to 'Imagine' and just change it to 'Imagine one religion'?" That showed [me] they didn't understand it at all. It would defeat the whole purpose of the song, the whole idea. 

Some might think this sounds rather 'pie in the sky', but I love John Lennon's sentiment and he and Yoko's idea that we can dream of the world living as one ... one day!

So, to celebrate John Lennon and this brilliant song, here's the official video for Imagine, which is also iconic.

I love that the first 45seconds actually has no music ... but just the sound effects of John and Yoko walking. I love it's rather surreal concept ... rather like the song actually.

It's actually the first few minutes of a longer 81-minute feature-length film or 'documentary rock video' that was made to coincide with the launch of the Imagine album.

From the shots of John and Yoko walking through a thick fog and mist, arriving at their house as the music begins, to a sign above the front door to their house which reads: "This Is Not Here" (the title of Yoko Ono's then New York art show) and then to the interior shots of John at the piano as Yoko gradually opens the shutters to let in the daylight and reveal an all-white room. It's all so symbolic. But the end is where it gets me. Until that moment it all feels like a piece of art really, including when Yoko sits down beside John at the piano as he concludes the song, and she just looks at the camera.

But then ... as the song ends ... the couple look at each other and ... wait for it ... they kiss!

Fabulous! 

So let's sit back and enjoy the song today ... and dream.

 

Oh and by the way ... remember earlier I told you about the Strawberry Field project in Liverpool? 

Well, click on the link and you'll find information about the 'Imagine' Piano which is there.

It's actually THE world-famous piano that John Lennon used to compose and record one of the great peace anthems of the 20th century and it's on loan to the exhibition, courtesy of the estate of the late George Michael. It's a walnut-finished upright Steinway model Z piano and George bought it back in October 2000.

I haven't seen it myself yet but I'm looking forward to going to Strawberry Field when I can!


Talking Movies

This past weekend the latest James Bond movie hit cinemas across the world.

'No Time to Die' is the 25th in the series of films featuring the British secret agent James Bond -  based on the original spy novels by author Ian Fleming 

For actor Daniel Craig it's his fifth outing as '007',  the fictional British MI6 agent, and it's his final Bond film so next time around there will be a new Bond.

After various delays in production, the latest movie in the Bond franchise was due out in 2019 and then 2020 but release was delayed several times because of the global COVID19 pandemic.

The producers and distributors resisted temptation to release the movie early via one of the streaming sites and decided instead to wait to release it in cinemas. And finally, No Time to Die had its world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 28 September 2021. An exciting, sparkling event by all accounts packed full of royalty and celebrities!

Loads of my friends have already seen the movie - it was released in cinemas on 30 September 2021 in the United Kingdom and here in Jersey (as well as other countries like India where Bond is huge) . It is set to be released in the United States on Friday this week - October 8th -  and is now being rolled out across the world.

But it's already a massive success - in its first weekend Universal Pictures reckon No Time to Die took $121 million at the international box office! 

In fact, No Time to Die is being credited with 'saving' cinema. Across the world, the coronavirus has closed cinemas  and James Bond is bringing people back to movie houses in their millions!

But I'm not talking about this today just because of the latest 007 phenomenon, but also because October 6th marks another important day in movie history.

It was on this day in 1927 that a film called The Jazz Singer posterThe Jazz Singer was released.

Starring Al Jolson - a big stage and musical star of the day and reckoned to be the most well-known American entertainer of the 1920s - although it wasn't the first film to have pre-recorded sound, it was the first feature-length movie to have pre-recorded dialogue as well as music and song. 

And so it's gone down as the first 'talkie'.

The movie premiered on this day at the Warner Theatre in New York and it was a sensation! Although many people in the industry may have thought 'talking movies' were a 'flash in the pan',  actually The Jazz Singer revolutionised the motion-picture industry and marked the end of the silent-film era. It was a huge investment and gamble for Warner Brothers, who were just a small studio in those days ... but it paid off.

Film dates back to the 19th century and by the early part of the 20th century movies were very popular ... but they were 'silent'.

There were HUGE stars of the Silent Movies (just think people like Charlie Chaplin for starters), but no one heard them speak or talk, or sing. There was no sound at all and when the films were shown in cinemas there was usually organ accompaniment which was a whole genre of entertainment in its own right.

And then came The Jazz Singer!

The film is the fictional story of Jakie Rabinowitz, a young man born into a devout Jewish family who defies tradition - he decides not to follow in his father's footsteps to become a 'cantor' in a New York  synagogue but instead decides to aim high to make it in the world as a jazz singer. It's not just a change of name (he becomes Jack Robin) but also a change of direction which puts him into conflict with his faith, his culture, his home and his heritage.

Although it's gone down in cinema history as the first talking film actually most of The Jazz Singer is still silent with subtitles. There are actually only nine scenes with lip-synchronous singing, two of which also include a few spoken words, lasting less than two minutes.

But it was enough to see off the silent film era. In 1928, the year after its release, The Jazz Singer was given an Honorary Academy Award and by mid-1929, Hollywood would be producing almost exclusively sound film. By the mid-1930's movie makers in Western Europe were doing the same. If you're interested in all this, why not go to  A Brief History of Sound Film (1895-1930) to find out more or click here?

The Jazz Singer has been re-made a couple of times as movies - namely in 1952  starring Danny Thomas and Peggy Lee; and - one of MY favourite movies - the 1980 remake starred Neil DiamondLucie Arnaz, and Laurence Olivier - a classic, in my opinion, with some amazing songs!

Cinema has come a long way since 1927! The majority of those who flock to the 'movies' to feast on No Time to Die may never have watched a black and white film and some might even turn their noses up at the 'old stuff', thinking them to be unsophisticated, 'old fashioned' and a bit 'simple' because they don't have all the bells and whistles, effects, tensions and pounding soundtracks of today's films.

But it's worth remembering that without the trailblazers of movie making, those willing to take a risk, try something completely new, step outside the normal conventions of the day and reach, literally, for the stars ... we wouldn't be where we are today, and not just when it comes to movies!

So to mark this landmark day ... let's enjoy a clip or two from the original 'talkie, learn more about his amazing film that broke the mould, and give thanks for those pioneers of cinema1

Have a great day everyone!

 


I Find Your Love

Don't you just love modern technology?

There was a time when to listen to music you had to sit in the house, switch on the radio or put on the record player, cassette player of CD machine.

Now we can take our music with us on our 'phones. I can take mine to the beach, can listen as I walk and I can even plug my 'phone into my car's audio system and listen to hundreds of my favourite songs to my heart's content as I motor along. 

I do have masses of music and songs on my playlist, some are just great pop songs, some which remind me of younger and happy days, some more 'religious' and some which sort of cross over different genres.

There's a song on my list which I want to share with you this Sunday. When I listen to my music on the 'phone I have the system on 'shuffle' and for some reason this one's been popping up a lot recently.

It's a great song, I think... and one which works for me on the faith and the pure music enjoy front.

'I Find Your Love' reminds me to look for love in everything and in all circumstances. Thanks to the fabulous singer Beth Nielsen Chapman for a wonderful song and sentiment! 

So inspiring. 

Enjoy!

 


I Will Survive!

If you're on social media, you'll know that often there are 'viral' posts which urge us all to get involved in answering a question ... mostly just for fun.

I don't usually take part in these kinds of conversations but I saw one the other day which made me laugh ... so I answered the question.

The post said this 'Age Yourself with the poster you had on your wall as a teenager!'

And what was my answer?

'Donny Osmond. The Osmonds. T-Rex/ Mark Bolan ....a few more I could mention ... and I’m proud to be from that era!'

Yes, that does 'age' me ... I was a teenager in the 1970s! 

But who cares? As I said in my answer, I am proud to be the age I am and to have lived through my teen and early adult years at a time when there was some fantastic music around. Not just ballads and those 'teen' songs, but some fantastic rock and roll AND, of course, DISCO!!

Which brings me to one of my favourite songs of all time!

'I Will Survive sung by the fabulous Gloria Gaynor!

This is a tune that often got us up on the dance floor and it didn't matter if there were boys available to partner up. We were happy, us girls, to just get up there and freak out!

Yeah I said it ... freak out! I am a product of my age!!!

I will surviveI love this song not just because of it's freaking out value but also because of those words in the title - I WILL SURVIVE!

In 1978, when this song hit the charts, I was still a teenager and I had the world in front of me.

I was still to fall in love properly for the first time, still to travel the world, still to go to university, still to become a journalist, a TV and radio presenter and an author. I had dreams but I still had all that to come.

I was still excited about life and what might lie ahead. I was still rather naïve about the realities of life.

And I was still to lose important people in my life, including my darling Dad. I was still to have my heart broken (several times) and to feel battered down by life and love.

I was still feeling I needed to 'fit in' with what others wanted me to be - I had still to discover the 'real me'!

OK... so this is a 'break up' song ... but it is the words of the chorus which rang true with us all!

Oh no, not I, I will survive
Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I'll stay alive
I've got all my life to live
And I've got all my love to give and I'll survive
I will survive, hey, hey

Years on, they are STILL important words.

With all the 'stuff' that's happened in the intervening years, it is love that helps us survive. Despite the heartache and the missed opportunities, the unfulfilled dreams, even the love that did not materialise ... I have survived!
Sometimes that feels a bit like a miracle, but it's true.

And today the sentiment of the words is even more important ... I HAVE survived so much, I WILL survive so much more!!!

So why am I sharing this brilliant song today - September 7th?

Well, today is the birthday of the woman who's voice rang around those dancefloors and who has graced our airwaves for decades. Gloria Gaynor was born on this day in 1943... and she was one of the legends of music who epitomised the disco era of the 1970s and 1980s!

Happy Birthday Gloria ! Thanks for the fun! Thanks for the music! Thanks for the inspiration!

A footnote ... if you watch this video you'll see something that is Typical Disco ... a roller skating dancer. It's an iconic image. And yes, in the early 1980's when I first visited the USA I also went to a Roller Disco!

WHAT fun! What bruises! I'm no skater ... but my did we laugh!!


We can be Kind

If you joined me yesterday, you'll know that here in Jersey, Saturday September 4th was a day to celebrate kindness at the fourth Jersey Kindness Festival.

I've been working with the festival organiser Brian Clarke, founder of Kindness Connects here in our lovely island, to promote the event which was held in the beautiful setting of St Aubin's harbour.

Kindness is a big thingAround 30 charities were there, talking to people and showing what they do every day to share kindness in our island. 

There was loads of fun for all the family, and art and music ... it was phenomenal.

Hopefully the thousands who came along will have been inspired, to be kinder in their daily lives but maybe even to help some of the charities in their work. 

Kindness, as this image says, is a REALLY big deal ... it can make a difference to everyone ... those who receive the kindness and those who give it. 

Yesterday I saw Kindness in Action and it was a privilege. I was at the Kindness Festival all day just helping out and I have to admit, today I'm pretty tired.

So I'm not going to try to wax lyrical  ... there will be more about kindness coming down the line because as I also told you yesterday, I'm actually also writing a book about the subject.

Today I'm just going to share a song with you which says it better than I do I think.

It's from the British singer/TV presenter Aled Jones and, I have to admit, it's one of my favourites on my playlist.

Enjoy and be inspired!

Have a kind day everyone!

 

 


Remembering Roy

Today I'm remembering a great man!

I was privileged to meet him just once ... as a young reporter in Jersey I interviewed him because he was the star of the annual summer parade - The Jersey Battle of Flowers.

Roy Castle was a HUGE personality, a star of stage, screen and TV -  musician, singer, comedian, actor, dancer and television presenter - he was a true legend.

Many will remember him because for years he became well known to British TV viewers as the presenter of the children's series Record Breakers

But before that he was well known for his roles on stage, television and film and because of his amazing musical talent - he was an accomplished jazz trumpet player but he could play many other musical instruments. He was also a person of great Christian faith and a family man - years after that meeting with Roy I actually got to know his wife Fiona ... what a lovely family!

I'm thinking about Roy today because it was on this day - September 2nd - in 1994, that he passed away aged just 62. I remember the shock of hearing about his death ... he had lung cancer but he had never smoked. He blamed his illness, which was diagnosed a couple of years earlier, on passive smoking during his years of playing the trumpet in smoky jazz clubs.

Roy was brave. Even in his final months and with his health declining he continued to work hard, including on the high-profile Tour of Hope to raise funds for the erection of the building that would become the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, the only British charity dedicated solely to defeating lung cancer.  Fiona continued to work with the charity after her husband's death, and campaigned for the British smoking ban which came into effect in Northern Ireland in 2004, Scotland in 2006 and England and Wales in 2007, banning smoking in virtually all enclosed public places.

What a legacy!

Sometimes when you meet your heroes, it's a disappointment because they turn out not to be the person you think they are.

But when Roy Castle came to Jersey in 1988 to be 'Mr Battle' at our island's annual floral parade, the highlight of the summer season, the Jersey Battle of Flowers - there was no disappointment.

He was JUST as lovely as I thought he would be. He was jolly and kind, and smiling. A consummate professional and actually a really nice chap. I  interviewed him for the local TV station - Channel TV (ITV) - and filmed him during the Afternoon and the evening Moonlight parades. I saw first hand how hard he worked and how brilliant he was with the public, and us media! There was no 'stardom' about him really - he was full of fun and laughed and chatted to anyone and everyone. People loved him!

That same year - 1988 - Roy presented a TV series for the ITV network which was also close to my heart.

Marching as to warIt was called 'Marching as to War' and it told the story of The Salvation Army, it's founders William and Catherine Booth, and explored all sorts of aspects of the work and music of the global church and charity Christian movement.

For me, as a young Salvationist and someone who was working in television at the time, it was exciting to see my church and it's history being shared with the world, and I was thrilled that Roy Castle - so empathetic and compassionate - presented that series of programmes and was able to bring something of his own personal Christian faith to the project. And I know, from talking to people who were in that series with him (some of whom I can still recognise on the films) that Roy was a pleasure and joy to work with!

A few years after the programmes went out I found myself living in Norwich where the series was made by Anglia TV. By the late 90's I was actually working in the network religious department at Anglia ITV. It felt like a circle was complete.

The whole 'Marching as to War' series is available on YouTube, thanks to my friend Rob Westwood-Payne, who also hails from Norwich and who is  now a Salvation Army officer, or minister.

Some of the footage is now rather dated. Times have changed ... among other things, the uniforms are different and some of us don't wear uniforms at all these days ... and of course the world has altered around us. 

But the message of Booth and his life-altering mission movement remains as strong today as back in 1988 when the series was made, and in 1865 when William Booth first set up his East London Christian Mission, which in 1878 would be renamed The Salvation Army.

So - if you have half an hour to spare - why not  sit back and enjoy this episode?

It's the one where Roy tells us all about 'Soup, Soap and Salvation' - one of the key message of the early Salvation Army ...