Thursday, 15 February 2018

Emotional LIfe Songbook


The 'Emotional Life' songbook features fifteen of my songs, including Island of Happiness, Stargazing, Scorpio Eyes, For What I Am and Alive at last. It is a kind of sister publication to 'Something More' which features twenty-three of my poems along with nine of Amy's illustrations. These booklets have both sold quite well on my craft stall. My songs can also be found on my YouTube Channel here and my 8tracks channel here, I have also included some of them on my Vimeo Channel here.



Saturday, 3 February 2018

Paris Top Twelve

I have visited Paris five times in my life, each time I have found something new and exciting there. When I first visited I had to take the ferry between Dover and Calais, now I can take Eurostar and be there in a couple of hours. Inspired by my New York Top Twelve I thought I would develop a Paris Top Twelve, to remember twelve of my favourite Parisian locations.

1. Paris Opera House
My daughter's favourite place in Paris, so good we visited it twice. Sheer beauty and grand gorgeousness. Look up in the auditorium and you see the surprising ceiling, full of whimsical charm. We lingered along the sultry halls and staircases, soaking in the glamourous atmosphere.


2. Musee D'Orsay
A great imaginative use of a disused railway station. I loved the impressionist paintings and period furniture. It is a vast museum, so we found a cosy nook for my dad and daughter to sit in, while mum and I walked all over the various, treasure filled levels.



3. The Louvre
The impressive glass pyramid above the Louvre's entrance promises of the delights this famous art gallery has to offer. There always seems to be great security and crowds around the Mona Lisa, but there are many other great paintings with a much better view, one of my favourites is 'The Shipwreck of the Medusa' by Theodore Gericault.


4. Montmatre
The art market itself is quite crowded and touristy, but the galleries and surrounding area are well worth a visit. I couldn't resist taking pictures above these famously picturesque MontMartre steps.


5. Sacre Couer
It is quite a crowded walk up to the Sacre Couer, but quite enjoyable, especially if you turn around and take in the wonderful Parisian views.



6. Notre Dame
It is situated by the Seine in a very pleasant spot. We ate sandwiches there, before venturing into the cathedral which is beautiful and magnificent.



7. Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is so big, you can see it from all over Paris. We didn't go up it, just to be near it and appreciate its greatness was enough.


8. La Galerie Lafayette
I'm not so keen on shopping, but knew, from my guide book, that there is much more to this emporium than mere consumerism. We ventured up the escalators and staircases, taking in the sparkling surroundings until we reached the very top and were treated to great views of Paris from the terrace at the top of the shop.



9. Pere Lachaise Cemetary
I visited this on my first trip to Paris made in 1989 when I was 21. There are some spectacular graves here but the one I was most keen to visit was that of one of my musical heroes, Jim Morrison. I didn't take any photos on my first visit to Paris, but here are a couple of postcards I bought to commemorate the occasion.



10. Champs Elysee
Paris is a planned city and this becomes more obvious when walking down the Champs Elysee and looking back at the Arc D'Triopmph that marks the centre of Paris. There are wonderful green spaces in which to sit and enjoy a cool drink and a crepe suzette, on a long, hot afternoon.

 
11. Rodin Museum
I visited the museum dedicated to the artist August Rodin in 1995 with my fiance. His work was superbly displayed in a very elegant house and garden. Most memorable were his famous sculptures the thinker and the kiss, but it was wonderful to appreciate his lesser known works in such a well thought out setting.



12. EuroDisney
I feel that Disneyland Paris has been a welcome addition to the traditional Parisian sights on offer to the humble tourist. We enjoyed Walt Disney Studios more that the Disneyland Park, in particular the Tower of Terror, the history of film show and the special effects ride.


I have really enjoyed thinking about Top Twelves for Paris and New York. I am now thinking about what my London Top Twelve would be, which would be coming from a different perspective being a Londonner, rather than a tourist.

Monday, 29 January 2018

New York faces, New York places


My first big apple is filled with the faces of people who most inspired me to make my trip to New York in 2017.


Alicia Keys
A beautiful singer responsible for my favourite New York song of recent years 'Empire State of Mind'.


John Lennon
John Lennon thought of New York as a big Liverpool. Tragically he was shot dead by a fan outside the Dakota Building in December 1980. Strawberry Fields in Central Park is Yoko Ono's memorial to him.

David Bowie
A London boy who lived a rich life in New York, but kept his creative spirit alive to the end.

Quentin Crisp
A self-proclaimed 'stately homo of England' and the inspiration for Sting's 'An Englishman in New York'.


Debbie Harry
I got turned onto pop music and NYC after watching Debbie Harry singing 'Hanging on the telephone' on a chaise longue on Top of the Pops in 1978.

Lou Reed
I'm still discovering more of Lou Reed's music. I've been a fan since I discovered the Velvet Underground in the 1980s. I got his homage to Edgar Allan Poe 'The Raven' for Christmas.

David Byrne
'Psycho Killer' is my favourite track, but there is plenty of thoughtful pop to enjoy from Talking Heads.

Patti Smith
She had a big hit with Bruce Springsteen and 'Because the Night', but most of her stuff is more alternative and poetic.


Rosemary's Baby
So many of my favourite films star New York City. 'Rosemary's Baby' is one of my oldest favourites.


My second big apple is filled with the names of the thirty places I managed to visit during my one week stay in NYC.

Monday, 15 January 2018

The Fall of Ursula Usher


 
The Fall of Ursula Usher is the story of a lonely pop star. Her efforts to keep the haunting ghosts of her life at bay are continually thwarted by a nosy journalist determined to discover what makes her tick.

Each chapter is named after a character who left a lasting impression on her, they are ...

Steve, Sara, Joe, Miss Prince, Gordon, Louise, Mr Willison, Simone, Mike, Rosemary, Nick, Uma, Aunt Frances, Jason, Colleen, Charles, Tony, Ursula ...

Ursula's public persona is somewhat based on the work of Tori Amos and Kate Bush.



Monday, 8 January 2018

London Walks: the Thames Path

One of the major joys of living in London is walking along the Thames Path, Over the last ten years I have walked the whole of the central London part of the Thames Path from the Thames Barrier to Hampton Court. These are my highlights of that well trodden path.

Part One: The Thames Barrier to the Cutty Sark


The Thames Barrier was built in 1984 but I didn't see it for real until 2014 when I decided to visit the official start of the London section the Thames Path. The barrier stretches across the width of the Thames looking a little like the curves of the Sydney Opera House. There is a small cafe and visitors centre plus a grand view of the river. 

The Greenwich peninsula has seen a lot of building work over the years, but there is still something quite desolate about it. The O2 is a welcome public space. There are interesting retro outlets here, bars, walkways and restaurants, as well as a gateway to the entertainment arena. Security was very tight when I last visited.

The Cutty Sark is an impressive ship named after the witch from the Robert Burns' poem 'Tam O'Shanter', the name means 'short shirt'. It was a good place to end the first leg of the Thames Path.

Part Two: Cutty Sark to Tower Bridge


We did part two of the Thames Path on the north side of the river. The most memorable sight was the traffic light tree on the Isle of Dogs, an artistic statement about man and nature, utterly confusing for motorists. We did this part of the path in reverse and crossed back to the South Bank via the Greenwich foot tunnel.

Part Three: Tower Bridge to Westminster Bridge


Amy, mum and I often walk the stretch of the river between Waterloo Bridge and London Bridge. There are many places we like visiting around this area: the Royal Festival Hall, Gabriel's Wharf, Tate Modern, the Globe Theatre, Southwark Cathedral and Borough Market. We are generally blessed with a good, clear and sunny, day, the river generally looks lovely and there is usually something vibrant, exciting and good natured going on. Stretching this walk out on either side, you can also take in the London Aquarium at County Hall and the Tower of London on the North side of the river near Tower Bridge. 

The highlight of London Aquarium for me was the rays and especially the rays at feeding time. These flat fish are extraordinarily cute, beautiful and fscinating. There is a Sea World type glass tunnel with sharks swimming, to the side and above you. 'Finding Nemo' was all the rage when we visited and the clown fish and angel fish were very popular.

The Tower of London includes a number of buildings circling a central court. Most interesting are the crown jewels, which had a long queue to it and a moving walkway to keep viewers circulating. A popular part of the tower is the Bloody Tower; well-known 'guests' in the Bloody Tower have been Queen Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, Sir Walter Ralegh and the young princes, Edward and Richard, all of whom met very sticky ends. The last time we visited the Tower of London we kept bumping into Dr Who's River Song, which made the day even more thrilling.

Part three of the Thames Path is very special and I think deserves a blog post all of its own.

Part Four: Westminster Bridge to Putney Bridge


The highlight of this stretch of the river was definitely Battersea Park. I have visited this park several times over the years and find it surprising, green and spacious. I first brought Amy here when she was six. She loved the zoo, the carved wooden animals, the fountains and the water features, as well as the rough and ready adventure playground. My favourite part of the park was the retro cafe by the lake, it was like being back in a work canteen in the 1950s.

Part Five: Putney Bridge to Richmond Bridge


This was the most straightforward of the walks, it was surprising how much the riverside had been developed, mostly flats and accompanying restaurants, bars, green spaces and helicopter pads. An interesting diversion could have been the London Wetland Centre at Barnes. Richmond Riverside was a good place to end the walk, with a cup of tea at the Tide Tables riverside cafe.

Part Six: Richmond Bridge to Hampton Court


This part of the path felt very familiar to me, it is near the area I grew up in. The riverside walk between Twickenham and Richmond is particularly lovely. On the way is the Marble Hill House and gardens and a lovely children's playground. This walk passes through a lot of greenery and ends up at one of my favourite London places: Hampton Court. 

The last time I visited Hampton Court we were treated to many different historical scenarios. Amy was pleased to meet Catherine Parr in one of the drawing rooms, a conspiracy concerning Charles I was being conducted in a shady passageway, jousting was taking part in the grounds. We also visited the wardrobe costumes for the Other Boleyn Girl. The cafes have become crowded and overpriced, but the maze is definitely worth exploring. 

The Thames Path continues past Hampton Court, maybe I will explore it further, beyond London, in the future.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Continuing in Concert


I had my first piano lesson in 1975. Since then I have played the recorder in local Eisteddfods and music festivals, sang in a choir, participated in a college musical, completed an acting course and performed my songs in folk clubs in and around London and South East England, however it wasn’t until 2010 that I started playing classical piano pieces in public, primarily in local churches. 

Since 2010 I have developed a repertoire of over twenty pieces that I find very enjoyable both to play and to listen to. You can listen to these favourite piano pieces by going to my ‘At the piano’ playlists, which are available on YouTube and 8Tracks.


Monday, 18 December 2017

ALF Christmas cards


After designing my own grown-up Christmas Cards in 2015 I went through Amy's old drawings and found six that I thought could be developed into lovely child-like Christmas card designs. Together with mine they form the basis of a ten card collection.


Monday, 11 December 2017

ALF @ Landmark


I watched this church in Teddington deteriorate, over the years, from the top of a double decker bus on the way to Kingston. A few years ago it was taken over by the Landmark art centre. Now you can visit various arts and crafts exhibitions, held there on occasions throughout the year. In 2016 Amy and I visited twice.



The first visit was to the art show which Amy found very inspiring. The artists came from all over Britain and beyond, we especially enjoyed the natural landscapes and floral designs. The second visit was more crafty and Christmassy. There was food and drink on offer as well as glass fusion pieces, pottery, candles, porcelain lampshades, handmade soap and various needle-crafts. There were a few painters but not so many as previously. I bought Amy another needle-felt slide for her hair.


Monday, 4 December 2017

Pulsar


 Pulsar has been a work in progress for some time now. I wanted the illustration to look something like a 1950s sci-fi film poster, but I think my picture above looks more like 'Scooby Doo' than 'When Worlds Collide.' I have recently completed a more successful science fiction picture called 'Out of this world', I have used it as background for my poem 'Pulsar Observation'.


The most successful 1950s Sci-Fi inspired poster I did, previously, was for 'Destination Deep Space'. 



Monday, 27 November 2017

The Watering Hole

This essay / piece of flash fiction helped me get my A in my English Language O'level, so I will always be grateful to it. It can also be found on my WattPad page.

The Watering Hole by Lorna Wadge
Candy sat in the pub with a double whisky, as recommended by ‘Kerrang’, and her boyfriend, Syd. She looked deeply troubled; since waking earlier that afternoon she found she was profoundly concerned for the future of Rock’n’Roll.
Syd was irritated. He stood up.
‘Where are you going?’ Candy asked.
‘You’re so depressing,’ he growled and left.
Candy was on the verge of arguing that she had not said anything all evening, but she thought better of it.
‘He’ll see the light,’ Candy thought, obviously not on the same wavelength as Syd, who had a mind like a cess-pit.
Syd was in fact the cleverest boy Candy had gone out with, he was ‘brave’ enough to drive a car and was the fastest ‘Rizzla roller-upper’ in the Black Dog. Candy had said of this latter accomplishment ‘you’ve got to have something in this life.’
Supplying the music this Thursday night was a pretentious wimp, who played the synthesizer and sang of love lost, love found and love in similar predictable situations, all of which left Candy seething and in a good mind to select ‘rip it up’ on the juke-box, but now found she was too legless to move.
‘This Evan Williams is strong stuff,’ she concluded, while setting fire to the wrong end of a Marlboro cigarette and struggling with an awkward packet of cheese and onion flavoured crisps.
The time was nine o’clock and the bar was filling up fast. The sound of the synthesiser player became weedier as people chatted about mundane matters such as ‘the washing machine's been playing up again’ and ‘I must see the chiropodist.’
Candy reminisced about the old days.
‘I remember the great guitarists,’ she told herself, ‘Shame about Hendrix.’
She also remembered Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison and a joke about necrophiliacs paying death duties.
‘Huh,’ Candy stood up and smoothed down her bourbon stained ‘Pop Art’ dress. She blinked, tried to focus her eyes on the wall and her mind on her usual worries and hang-ups and she staggered over to the ‘Way Out’.
When she had reached the door, she turned.
‘Save Rock’n’Roll,’ she screamed and spent ten minutes trying to make a dramatic exit by slamming the saloon bar door.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Goodbye to All That (5B450)

2017 has ended up being quite a goal orientated year, mostly because of my idea for a 5B450 project which I had at the beginning of the year. The idea was to do five achievable things that I'd always wanted to do, but never got around to doing, before I reached my 50th birthday in November. These are the five things I achieved.

1. See a Shakespeare play at the Globe Theatre
One of our favourite London walks is between the Royal Festival Hall and Southwark Cathedral. Near the end of it is the Globe Theatre. Every time we passed it I thought 'we must go and see a play there'. We saw 'Romeo and Juliet' in May 2017.




2. Attend a School of Life event
I have been a fan of the School of Life since it was set up in the late noughties. The 'How to be serene' seminar I attended in June fitted in with my newly developed Stoical philosophy of life.



3. Get the house redecorated
Some of the house hadn't seen a lick of paint since we moved in over twenty years ago. I'd been dreaming of a pale orange landing (mango melody shade 3) for over ten years. Now I see it every time I exit my bedroom.


4. Join a book club
Always having my young daughter around meant not joining groups where I could socialise in the evenings. I finally joined an evening book club in early October 2017.


5. Visit New York City
The biggest of my 5B450s was my visit to New York City in late October 2017. I'd been wanting to go there since I was about 15. It felt like a dream when I rode in a yellow taxi from JFK to my hotel and sat at my hotel window looking out at Upper West Side Manhattan. I now have my photos and diary to look back on and I'm really pleased with myself for making that trip.


As well as these five things, I wanted 2017 to be memorable in other ways too. I made sure I had something special to do each month; whether it was a Bowie book signing in Kensington, a London walk, visiting Brighton and the Lake District, doing a craft fair or just enjoying a celebratory meal. I also had a few virtual goals too, like producing over 50 blog posts, making more use of Wattpad and writing more book reviews. I don't know what 2018 will bring, whether I'll attempt some goal free living, more in depth work or just help other people more. In the words of someone suffering from severe short term memory loss, I think I'll do 'whatever is beneficial'.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

London Walks: a ghost walk

One of the highlights of my 2012 visit to Edinburgh was the ghost walk. Edinburgh is a great place for a ghost walk, an old Scottish-Gothic city with a murky past of fake witchcraft, over drinking and English nastiness. Cardiff in 2013 was too new for a ghost walk, but there is still enough of the old city of London to make for a substantial ghost walking experience. My ghost walk was a birthday treat on a misty chilly evening in November.


We started at Bank Station. I know from experience that Bank-Monument tube station is a tangled maze, so I was quite careful to get the exact exit to meet up with our guide and fellow ghost-walkers; the guide was an articulate English lady in a flowery hat. After the rules of the walk were explained to us we ventured out into the modern city. Most people on the walk were tourists and there was a little explanation of traffic protocol, in particular zebra crossings, before we proceeded into the shadowy alleyways of the City of London.


There are many old churches in the city, our guide pointed out one which had been bombed out during the blitz leaving it a particularly eerie looking sight on a moonlit, late autumnal night. We often found ourselves walking in the footsteps of Ebenezer Scrooge, down the alleyways of old London and within the earshot of the church bells that heralded the arrival of Scrooge's three redemptive spirits. The whole atmosphere and lighting of our walk did invite ghostly imaginings of half seen reflections and illusions, of odd shapes and figures.


There was talk of supernatural dramas and Harry Potter films around Leadenhall Market and our walk ended in the shadow of the Guild Hall. The London ghost walk was not as creepy as the Edinburgh ghost walk, but I'm glad we did it, maybe the Jack the Ripper walk would have proved more chilling.