Random facts and a little fiction

  • In 1964, 57 years ago today, I reported to Uniacke Barracks in Harrogate, Yorkshire, to begin a three year apprenticeship as an Electronic Engineer, thus beginning my Army career which lasted for 28 years and 151 days
  • After 22 years in the army I morphed into a military accountant
  • On Monday I watered a sparrow – she was asleep in a bush – I apologised
  • I have created a very small wildlife pond – it has been immediately colonised by mosquito larvae
  • My wife and I are somehow suffering from multiple mosquito bites

I’m happy and I’m shallow

but sometimes I am deep

I’ll often write best sellers whilst I am fast asleep

Poem-A-Day 2021, Day 11: Hafiz — Sappho’s Torque

I came across this profound and lovely poem on Angélique’s blog. Please click on the link here.

If you have never read any of Hafiz then this could be the start of a life journey for you!

Sappho’s Torque

the blog of Angélique Jamail, Author

Here is another lovely fragment from Mala of the Heart, this time by Hafiz of Persia (Iran). It reminds me of the need and mutual benefit of kindness in the world. God blooms from the shoulder of the elephant who becomes courteous to the ant. *** Hafiz (ca. 1320-1389) was born in the garden city of Shiraz. It is said that after the early […]

Poem-A-Day 2021, Day 11: Hafiz — Sappho’s Torque

Song Lyric Sunday – 12 September 2021 – Starlings

Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday gives us the chance to share familiar, and sometimes not so familiar, songs. This week the prompt is to find a song that may include, or reference, one of the following: Devoted, Faithful, Honorable, Loyal, True.

If you fancy sharing one of your favourite songs you can find out how to participate, and also listen to all the great entries, here.

For my SLS on 22 August I offered Elbow’s “One Day Like This“. A comment from Geoff Le Pard reminded me of another Elbow song, Starlings, which is my choice for today.

Incidentally, Geoff’s new book, “The Art of Spirit Capture” is released on 17th October. Details can be found here.

Any song that seeks to oust the Prime Minister (albeit it was Gordon Brown at the time the song was written), and all who luncheon with him, and can use lyrics such as “So yes I guess I’m asking you To back a horse that’s good for glue And nothing else” has got to be a winner for me!

One of the best tracks from “A Seldom Seen Kid“, this song deals with unrequited love and how it makes one feel – from “stubborn, selfish and too old” to the magnificently written :

The violets explode inside me
when I meet your eyes
Then I’m spinning and I’m diving
Like a cloud of starlings

He sees this girl as the perfect woman, and only has eyes for her, even though throughout the song he tries his very, very best to hide and deflect his feelings :

“You are the only thing in any room you’re ever in”

Such a beautifully simple yet powerful line.

The girl clearly isn’t interested in him though, not in any way, so the “love” is completely and utterly unrequited. Even though he’s completely true to her, and even though he feels he needs her so much :

“But find a man that’s truer than,
Find a man that needs you more than, I”

A superb Elbow track.

The first video is the original release version and shows magnificent pictures of starling murmurations. The music mirrors the movement, but beware (especially if you are wearing earphones) as the exploding forms of birds is told by the brass section and at 1:15, and later – you may jump!

The second video is a live performance which shows admirably how much the singers and musicians enjoy performing this song and also shows some of the private asides that occur between the artists during their daily work.

Starlings

Elbow

How dare the Premier ignore my invitations?
He’ll have to go
So, too, the bunch he luncheons with
It’s second on my list of things to do

At the top is stopping by
Your place of work and acting like
I haven’t dreamed of you and I
And marriage in an orange grove
You are the only thing in any room you’re ever in
I’m stubborn, selfish and too old

I sat you down and told you how
The truest love that’s ever found
Is for oneself
You pulled apart my theory
With a weary and disinterested sigh

So yes I guess I’m asking you
To back a horse that’s good for glue
And nothing else
But find a man that’s truer than
Find a man that needs you more than I

Sit with me a while
And let me listen to you talk about
Your dreams and your obsessions
I’ll be quiet and confessional

The violets explode inside me
When I meet your eyes
Then I’m spinning and I’m diving
Like a cloud of starlings

Darling is this love?

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Guy Edward John Garvey / Craig Lee Potter / Richard Barry Jupp / Mark Potter / Peter James Turner

Starlings lyrics © Salvation Music Ltd

Unforeseen nice things

Sue at Nan’s Farm and GC at themainaisle.com post a weekly prompt each Wednesday inviting us to participate in any way we choose.

The prompt this week is Unforeseen.

In my back garden (yard) I have several bird feeders which I keep regularly stocked with all sorts of seed, nuts, suet, fat balls, and dried mealworms. I have a feeding station, feeders in trees, feeders under arches, and ground feeders. Not forgetting, of course, four separate water feeders/baths. The birds really do feed well, and sometimes the odd squirrel will decide to wreck everything in sight to partake of the feast. My ground feeders also cater for hedgehogs, the odd feral cat, and even foxes.

The downside to having so many feeders is that I am constantly having to weed underneath them. Oh, I know that I could buy “No mess, no grow” seed but really it tends to be very poor quality and often very dusty and so is prone to getting damp and clogging up or going mouldy (and yes, we do put a u in mouldy in the UK, just like we do in favourite, neighbour, and many many more words) The birds do try to help out by fossicking under the feeders to hoover up any stray seed and fat. All this tends to do is to leave a very bare patch underneath.

Sometimes I miss seeing that something has started to sprout in the garden that I have not planted, and I end up with unforeseen growth. I once had some very healthy, and rampant, plants that had very distinct shaped leaves and which I could have sworn I’d seen on a drugs awareness course I had attended. They composted very well – honest!

This year the birds have left some unforeseen, but very welcome, sunflower plants. They’re not daft – they know that they will produce food for later on!

Song Lyric Sunday – 5 September 2021 – Piano Man

Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday gives us the chance to share familiar, and sometimes not so familiar, songs. This week the prompt is to find a song that may include, or reference, one of the following: Carnival, Festival, Gala, or Jamboree.

If you fancy sharing one of your favourite songs you can find out how to participate, and also listen to all the great entries, here.

Today, I’m featuring Billy Joel and his signature song Piano Man.

Piano Man is a semi-autobiographical tune and is one of Billy Joel’s most famous. It tends to make us feel nostalgic, as if we were sitting in that very bar listening to the great man.

Billy Joel wrote ‘Piano Man’ for the album of the same name, released in 1973. He was just 24 when he wrote it.

The song is a fictionalised version of Billy’s own experience as a piano-lounge singer which he did for six months in 1972–73 at the Executive Room bar in the Wilshire district of Losaway.

As he needed work to pay the bills, but couldn’t use his well-known name, he worked at the bar as a piano player under the name ‘Bill Martin’ (his full name is William Martin Joel).

It was a gig I did for about six months just to pay rent. I was living in LA and trying to get out of a bad record contract I’d signed. I worked under an assumed name, the Piano Stylings of Bill Martin, and just bulls–ted my way through it. I have no idea why that song became so popular. It’s like a karaoke favorite. The melody is not very good and very repetitious, while the lyrics are like limericks. I was shocked and embarrassed when it became a hit. But my songs are like my kids and I look at that song and think: ‘My kid did pretty well.'”

Some Facts about the song:

  • The verses of the song are sung from the point of view of a bar piano player, who focuses mainly on other people at the bar, who arrive at 9 o’clock on a Saturday. These include:
  • An old man, John the bartender, the waitress, businessmen, and bar regulars like ‘real estate novelist’ Paul and US Navy sailor, Davy.
  • Most of the characters have broken or unfulfilled dreams, and the pianist’s job is to help them “forget about life for a while”.
  • The pianist makes money when guests “sit at the bar, and put bread in my jar, and say, ‘Man, what are you doin’ here?”.
  • The chorus comes from the bar patrons themselves, who say, “Sing us a song, / You’re the piano man; / Sing us a song tonight. / Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody, / And you’ve got us feeling all right.”
  • Billy has said that all of the characters depicted in the song were based on real people.
  • “John at the bar” was actually the bartender who worked during his shift at the piano bar.
  • “Paul is a real estate novelist” is about a real estate agent named Paul who would sit at the bar working on what he believed would be the next great American novel.
  • “The waitress is practicing politics” refers to Joel’s first wife Elizabeth Weber, and who worked at The Executive Room as a waitress.
  • “Davy” was inspired by David Heintz. His daughter Lisa told Songfacts: “He met Billy Joel in a pub in Spain in 1972 while he was in the Navy. He married while he was in the navy, had three children. He passed away in 2003 of ALS. It really hurts when I hear this song played on the radio and they leave this part out.”
  • Believe it or not, but it was never a hit in the UK at all!
  • In the US, it reached number 25 in the US, and number 10 in Canada.
  • It wasn’t until the success of his 1977 album The Stranger that the song began getting played more on radio and became one of his signature songs.
  • Today, it remains popular, and ranks as his #1 song on iTunes and Spotify.

Piano Man

Piano Man

Billy Joel

It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in
There’s an old man sitting next to me
Makin’ love to his tonic and gin

He says, “Son, can you play me a memory
I’m not really sure how it goes
But it’s sad and it’s sweet and I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man’s clothes”

La la la, di da da
La la, di da da da dum

Sing us a song, you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feelin’ alright

Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
He gets me my drinks for free
And he’s quick with a joke or to light up your smoke
But there’s someplace that he’d rather be
He says, “Bill, I believe this is killing me”
As the smile ran away from his face
“Well I’m sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this place”

Oh, la la la, di da da
La la, di da da da dum

Now Paul is a real estate novelist
Who never had time for a wife
And he’s talkin’ with Davy, who’s still in the Navy
And probably will be for life

And the waitress is practicing politics
As the businessmen slowly get stoned
Yes, they’re sharing a drink they call loneliness
But it’s better than drinkin’ alone

Sing us a song you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you got us feeling alright

It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday
And the manager gives me a smile
‘Cause he knows that it’s me they’ve been comin’ to see
To forget about life for a while
And the piano, it sounds like a carnival
And the microphone smells like a beer
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say, “Man, what are you doin’ here?”

Oh, la la la, di da da
La la, di da da da dum

Sing us a song you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you got us feeling alright

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Billy JoelPiano Man lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

Summer Love | Peter Matthews — Whispers and Echoes

My third Summer based poem shared from Whispers and Echoes. Please follow the link.

Lying on the lawn with Lorrilee A game of tennis then a nice cream tea Walking hand in hand beside the sea Dancing in the moonlight full of glee * Watching fluffy clouds go scudding by Looking at the seagulls flying high Playing silly games with twinkling eye snuggling close together, my oh my Peter […]

Summer Love | Peter Matthews — Whispers and Echoes

Song Lyric Sunday – 29 August 2021 – Don’t Get Me Wrong

Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday gives us the chance to share familiar, and sometimes not so familiar, songs. This week the prompt is to find a song that may include, or reference, one of the following: Fraud, Hypocrite, Phony, Pretender, Snob

If you fancy sharing one of your favourite songs you can find out how to participate, and also listen to all the great entries, here.

This week I am cheating slightly by transposing one of the prompt words into the group just because I like them, and because I can! The song I’ve chosen is from Get Close, the 4th album recorded by The Pretenders, and released in 1986. It became one of their greatest hits and was written, and sung, by Chrissie Hynde.

So, here, for your pleasure, and mine, is The Pretenders with Don’t Get Me Wrong.

ArtistThe Pretenders

AlbumGet Close

Released1986

Lyrics

Don’t get me wrong
If I’m looking kind of dazzled
I see neon lights
Whenever you walk by

Don’t get me wrong
If you say hello and I take a ride
Upon a sea where the mystic moon
Is playing havoc with the tide
Don’t get me wrong

Don’t get me wrong
If I’m acting so distracted
I’m thinking about the fireworks

That go off when you smile
Don’t get me wrong
If I split like light refracted
I’m only off to wander

Across a moonlit mile

Once in a while
Two people meet
Seemingly for no reason
They just pass on the street
Suddenly, thunder showers everywhere

Who can explain the thunder and rain
But there’s something in the air

Don’t get me wrong

If I come and go like fashion
I might be great tomorrow
But hopeless yesterday
Don’t get me wrong
If I fall in the mode of fashion
It might be unbelievable
But let’s not say so long
It might just be fantastic
Don’t get me wrong

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Hynde Christine Ellen

Don’t Get Me Wrong lyrics © Hynde House Of Hits, Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited

New baby

I love your little fingers and I love your little toes

I love your dimpled chin and your little button nose

I even love your whimpering and all your wild kerfuffles

And probably the best of all I love your snores and snuffles

But p’raps there’s one or two things that annoy me all to hell

I hate it when you vomit ‘cause I cannot stand the smell

There’s one thing that would really make me very very happy

And that’s the day you learn to live without that dreadful nappy!

British Summer | Peter Matthews — Whispers and Echoes

Another Summer based poem shared from Whispers and Echoes. Please follow the link.

Summer rain so warm and wet only to be expected, yet…. I see a bit of blue sky there Come my love, let’s not despair * It’s ages since we picnicked here and now the sun’s come out it’s clear we’ll sit down here beneath the trees and rest our plates upon our knees * […]

British Summer | Peter Matthews — Whispers and Echoes

A day at the beach | Peter Matthews — Whispers and Echoes

Please click on the link below to read my “A day at the beach” in 10 lines!

Puffy white clouds avoiding the crowds buckets and spades put on the shades ice creams we lick `em seagulls they nick `em toddlers shout family day out sun, sea, and sand isn’t it grand! Peter Matthews, a country boy at heart, lives with his wife of 47 years in the suburbs of Nottingham, England.  His greatest […]

A day at the beach | Peter Matthews — Whispers and Echoes