Saturday, February 23, 2013

Why sound is just a little more important than you might think in film


After doing the comparative bit with Leon Russell’s Song For You, I thought I might do something similar but for a different reason.

When we watch a film, whether a horror, film, a romance, a thriller, a mystery, a comedy or a drama few of us realise quite how much we are being manipulated by the soundtrack. Think of the violins in the shower scene in Psycho when Janet Leigh is taken of the payroll rather earlier than any of us had a right to expect. The soundtrack acts as a signpost: this is where you will be thrilled/amused/turned into a romantic pink pussycat/disgusted.

Below are two short films I once uploaded to YouTube. They are, in fact, the same video, but with and utterly different musical soundtrack. The second here was, in fact, the first to be uploaded. Then I decided to produce a second version - the first one below - with an utterly different piece of music. And as far as I am concerned even though the ‘film’ is the same, they are to utterly different pieces. Play them and see what you think. I suggest you play them in


order. I can’t for the life of me remember who the first piece of music is by, it’s just something I found knocking about my iTunes collection. But the second, rather lovely piece, is by an Uzbeki singer and songwriter Sevara Nazarkhan (pic above) whose music I came across by chance somewhere (on Radio 3’s Late Junction, I think). The piece is called Gazli, and I don’t know what it means, either.

Here’s the first upbeat version:


And here’s the second downbeat version.


The children are my two, Elsie and Wesley. The pictures are now about seven or eight years old.

. . .

I keep and eye on ‘the stats’ of this blog (should that be the ‘stats’ or ‘the’ stats? I don’t know. Suggestions please and all silly ones will be acted upon) and I am astounded to discover that one particular entry (this one) has been viewed more than twice as much as the next most popular entry — 4,031 times. At the time of writing this — March 2, 2013, at 10.06am, this blog as been views 38,128 times, so more than 10 per cent of those viewings are of that one entry. Why? Well, when I delve deeper into ‘the stats’ and look at ‘referring sites’, a great many of them are visited by people tracking down a well-known picture (left) of Mandy Rice-Davies (‘Well, he would, wouldn’t he’). So it has occurred to me to include that picture (and this preamble explaining what I’m doing) in every blog entry in an attempt to drum up visitors and encourage them to take a look at some other entries. It helps that when the picture was taken, she was a rather attractive woman.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fingers are being crossed in Paris and Berlin that The Buffoon is not back - some hope given a decent but dull opponent. In Spain Rajoy promises to chop off his own hand, while in Athens the Greeks learn to swim

Well, all good thing must come to an end, and Italy’s recent resurgence in the credibility stakes could well breath its last in two days. Those who take an interest in these matters, and quite possibility even some of those who don’t, will remember that with Italy’s national debt growing ever bigger and the interest rates it had to offer in order to get people to lend it money growing ever larger the, the country – and the euro – was dragged back from the brink of disaster when its prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was persuaded to do the decent thing, take a pistol into the woods and resign.

In his place was appointed one Mario Monti, a highly respected economist, who set up an government of technocrats and helped Italy regain the confidence of the markets. But most importantly, unlike Berlusconi he was not regarded by the rest of the world as a complete buffoon. And in world politics these things do matter. Monti did the biz, much to the relief of assorted eurocrats for whom ‘the project’ and its success is not a matter of principle or ideals, rather a matter of not looking like a complete dick in the eyes of those who wish them ill at the best of times. And the euro is, in many ways, a symbol of the EU: if it crashes - in my view when it crashes - it will make the EU look so silly that the whole shooting match will go tits up (if I might, on this occasion, be allowed to mix ten to 15 metaphors).

On February 25 Italy goes to the polls in its 2,345th general election since the end of World War II. The left in Italy is led by a chap called Pier Luigi Bersani (a former Communist, but then most of those on the left usually are) who is well-respected generally thought to have the charisma of a packet of cornflakes. He is said to be staid and uninspiring, and that makes him no match for Berlusconi, however much of a buffoon our Silvio is.

Incidentally, there is still a great vagueness about how our man Silvio set up is business empire, which embraces the media, the food industry and a football team, and made his billions (the Daily Mail delights in his Blofeld-type lair on the coast of Sardinia). The Economist, which has never liked him, has hinted that he was first set up by the Mafia as a useful means to get

their money laundered. I can’t remember what evidence they produced for that claim, but I have to admit that it is a claim I subscribe to completely, solid evidence or not. It is the sheer vagueness of his start in business which is so worrying.

When Monti resigned and the election was called, the left had a very healthy lead in the polls of around 15 per cent. Then Berlusconi went out on the stump, got the crowds laughing (where Bersani has the crowds yawning) and that lead has already been cut to just under 10 per cent. That, admittedly, would be sufficient to see the man off, but the question is, will Berlusconi manage to whittle it away even more? We won’t however, know, because Italian electoral law dictates that no opinion polls can be held in the last two weeks of campaigning.

I should imagine that from Paris, Madrid and Berlin everyone is keeping his or her fingers crossed that The Buffoon is not returned to power. Because if he is that could well be curtains to all the good work in restoring the Italian economy Monti has done. And that could mean the curtain could go up in the – in my view long overdue – final act of the tragedy that is the euro. For once Italy falls, as it might, Spain will follow, then France. Germany’s Angela Merkel faces the electorate  in just over seven months and if the euro is going to the wall, she will know full well, ideals or not, that no electorate will be won over with exhortations to dig even deeper in their pockets to bail out their European cousins. No sir.

On the other hand, of course, Bersani might well squeak home and be in a strong enough position to form a government. Who knows.

And where does the leave yesterday’s ‘coming man’ the ‘Catholic gay poet’ Nichi Vendola. Well, exactly nowhere. When I first came across him courtesy of a radio documentary he was, indeed, the coming man of the Left and the one everyone ‘in the know’ predicted would be challenging Silvio Berlusconi at the next general election. Well, that was obviously news to our Mr Bersani, who is the man doing the challenging on Sunday and Monday. So if anyone assures you in any way that your are a ‘coming man’ or a ‘coming woman’, do the decent think and withdraw from public life gracefully, though sharpish, before you are obliged to withdraw from public life with rather less grace and a lot of egg on your face.

. . .

Quite apart from all that annoying business with the euro which might or might not blow up, Spain’s prime minister Mariano Rajoy has been facing demands that’s he should resign over  corruption allegations. I didn’t know until I heard it on a recent edition of the BBC’s From Our Own Correspondent (available on all good online radios, laptops and desktops) that the Spanish have a phrase, something of a linguistic shrug of the shoulders, which loosely translated means ‘well, that’s how it is’. It is a philosophical attitude which allows many to cope with some of the shit life throws their way.

But it would seem that Spain is becoming increasingly fed up with corruption, which (according to the FOOC correspondent) is rather more  widespread than I imagined. Quite a few people are at it. The examples given was slipping your doctor a fistful of euros to shift you


up the list to an estate agent agreeing not to charge you an extra 250 euros if he doesn’t have to give you’re a receipt for the money you have just paid him for some other business. On Wednesday Rajoy gave the Spanish equivalent to an address to the nation in which he pledged to cut down on party political spending blah-di-blah. What he didn’t address were the claims that he, too, has been busily stuffing used €10 euro notes into his underpants.

And what about Greece, the perpetual basket case whose government is so broke that hospitals are open for a day other month but whose national wealth is still quite fabulous (not paying taxes being seen, according to my brother, as a national patriotic duty, one which came from the days when Greece was ruled by those horrible Turkish Ottomans. It also helpfully means you have a bit more moolah to spend on all the goodies you want to treat yourself to)? Well, Athens was hit by several hours of heavy rain and a thunderstorm and is now ankle-deep in water everywhere. Which only goes to show that it never rains but it pours. (If I get negative feedback about that, admittedly rather weak, joke, I promise to withdraw it.)

. . .

I keep and eye on ‘the stats’ of this blog (should that be the ‘stats’ or ‘the’ stats? I don’t know. Suggestions please and all silly ones will be acted upon) and I am astounded to discover that one particular entry (this one) has been viewed more than twice as much as the next most popular entry — 4,031 times. At the time of writing this — March 2, 2013, at 10.06am, this blog as been views 38,128 times, so more than 10 per cent of those viewings are of that one entry. Why? Well, when I delve deeper into ‘the stats’ and look at ‘referring sites’, a great many of them are visited by people tracking down a well-known picture (left) of Mandy Rice-Davies (‘Well, he would, wouldn’t he’). So it has occurred to me to include that picture (and this preamble explaining what I’m doing) in every blog entry in an attempt to drum up visitors and encourage them to take a look at some other entries. It helps that when the picture was taken, she was a rather attractive woman.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Some of tomorrow's TV highlights here in Old Blighty: can you wait?


I do so hate to be thought a party-pooper or a misery guts, but I am beginning to wonder about the sanity of my fellow countrymen, or at least those who choose to spend their evenings glued to what my grandfather used to call the ‘idiot’s lantern’. The Critics’ Choice of the TV programmes on tomorrow (February 19, 2013) which is appearing in the paper published by my highly respected employers’ (may God protect and preserve them and all their cattle, praise the Lord) includes the following not-to-be-missed gems: on BBC 2 at 9pm The Railways: Keeping Britain On Track, the second of a six-part series you will get the chance to meet staff and passengers at Leeds station and hear what they have to say. I really can’t wait.

If that doesn’t float your boat, you can tune into Litter Wars on BBC 1 at 10.35pm which promises to be a fascinating account of folk who are fed up with all the waste and litter on our streets and are taking ‘matters into their own hands’. Well!

Pick Of The Day, which I assume is rated by the papers critics to be even more interesting, is The Friend Chicken Shop: Life In A Day, which takes a ‘unique, warts and all’ look at – well life in a chicken takeaway. That is on Channel 4, but also at 9pm, so if you want to see both it and the in-depth look at life on a railway platform, you’ll have to record one and watch it later. Decisions, decisions, the bane of our lives.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

History is made as British Prime Minister gets Pope's go-ahead to marry his guinea pig. And Queen sensationally found hiding in Leicester car park

Well, the cat’s is out of the bag: David Cameron has pulled it off. He has persuaded the House of Commons to allow a man to marry another man and is now free to make an honest man of Nick Clegg, though what fiery Spanish Mrs Clegg (a one-time flamenco dancer, apparently, who can rustle up a mean tortilla) will make of it is yet to be seen. But who will now still insist that Britain is living in the Dark Ages? There will still be the nay-sayers, but please walk with me on this one and give them all the traditional two-fingered salute.

Our Prime Minister is now free to marry his Deputy and the fact that they are both men is no longer a barrier. I understand they don’t much like each other and bicker all the time, but are staying together for the sake of their principles, so it could well be a real, traditional marriage. I trust this will end all the loose talk that we still send our social workers up chimneys and have no idea what to do with vegetables except boil them for several hours until we can be certain they are dead. (Apparently, the latest scientific thinking is that vegetables do actually feel pain and the Dutch and Germans are already considering banning the practice of boiling them to death, although – surprise, surprise – the French and Spanish are dead against any such ban and claim the practice is a vital part of their natural heritage, like killing geese by stuffing them full of corn and teasing bulls to death.)

There are still many benighted fools who insist that marriage was, is and always should be between a man and a woman, and that if God had wanted man to marry his pets, he would have made them far prettier (the pets, that is, not man). But you and I, as intelligent,

‘Don't raise your hopes, Norman. I've got a feeling that Brad Pitt is already spoken for’
© Mac/Daily Mail/Associated Newspapers/Whoever gets the money
rational, drinking people, know full well that whether you are for or against man marrying his pets is a generational matter: those of us who grew up with the traditional view that ‘marriage is between a man and a woman’ are simply incapable of adapting to change, whereas our younger folk almost to a man and woman regard it as an example of progress at its finest. (Billy Bragg has already written a song about it.)



To be blunt: opposing this legislation seems to me quite sufficient grounds for introducing euthanasia throughout the European Union. It would demonstrate quite clearly that nothing can stand in the way of progress, but there would be the added benefits that our struggling Western economies would see pressure on their pension arrangements eased considerably and it would be a very welcome shot in the arm for Europe’s funeral parlour sector who have been having rather a lean time of it of late, what with advances in medicine and the average lifespan growing ever longer. So a cheer all round please: thank you Mr Cameron and all the best for your future union with Mr Clegg

. . . .

 It is a measure of just how momentous the ‘man can now marry his pets’ legislation is that a similarly quite astounding piece of news has passed almost unnoticed. We woke up on Monday morning to be warned that although scientists were still performing tests and were remaining ‘tight-lipped’ on the matter, it seemed likely that the Queen has been buried in a car park in Leicester and had been there for several days.

What was particularly concerning about the news – and despite official caution, there can be little doubt that it was true – was that there were no reports at all from any of her palaces, castles and other residences that she had been missing. None. Not a sausage. Her Majesty of The Cinque Ports, Her Regal Holiness and Britain’s Favourite Granny (to give her some of lesser-known titles) has been leading an increasingly quieter life these past years (the word is that all the training for her celebrated parachute jump last August over Hackney rather took it out of here – she is, after all, well over 50) and is said to like nothing better these days than to retire to the Buckingham Palace conservatory with a copy of Woman’s World and a mug of tea. You would have thought that after she had not been seen for several hours, someone in the Royal Household would have raised the alarm. But apparently not.

The good news is that although she was completely buried in the car park, she was not dead. One report even claimed she was rather annoyed to have been discovered, the suggestion being that she had engineered the whole incident in an attempt to lead some kind of private life, but in a statement The Palace (you can find it in full here) confirmed that The Queen had indeed been found in the car park in Leicester and would appear at a special Press conference later this week. No further explanation was given.

Prince Charles issued a statement saying ‘one is relieved at the happy outcome of this matter’. When approached by journalists, Prince Phillip simply told them to ‘fuck off’, and Prince Andrew was out of the country. In a joint statement Princes William and Harry said they were glad that The Queen was ‘all right’, and Prince William’s sister-in-law Pippa Middleton revealed she had already been in touch with publisher to write a book about the matter. Should be a humdinger!

. . .

These things are, of course, always a matter of opinion, but as far as I am concerned the rot started when darts began to be televised. It got worse: last week, admittedly on daytime TV when most people are dead, we had a documentary on a day in the life of a bailiff.

 Tomorrow BBC2 (once seen as the ‘thinking man’s channel’ now just the channel for conceited folk who think they have a brain and will only watch BBC1 if they’re sure no one will find out) at 8pm there is Planning Process. This shows the ups and downs of life as a town planner.

This week ‘officers in the Borders consider an application to erect a shed – for 169,000 chickens – while a homeowner has been dumping rubbish in his garden for 20 years’. And our broadcasters have been dumping rubbish on TV for quite a bit longer. You’ll gather that I don’t bother watching I’m A Celebrity …, Big Brother, Cooking On Ice or Celebrity Traffic Warden. I prefer to watch paint dry. I shall keep you posted on further not-to-be-missed programmes on TV here in the UK. Should get foreign visitors to the blog green with envy.

. . .

I keep and eye on ‘the stats’ of this blog (should that be the ‘stats’ or ‘the’ stats? I don’t know. Suggestions please and all silly ones will be acted upon) and I am astounded to discover that one particular entry (this one) has been viewed more than twice as much as the next most popular entry — 4,031 times. At the time of writing this — March 2, 2013, at 10.06am, this blog as been views 38,128 times, so more than 10 per cent of those viewings are of that one entry. Why? Well, when I delve deeper into ‘the stats’ and look at ‘referring sites’, a great many of them are visited by people tracking down a well-known picture (left) of Mandy Rice-Davies (‘Well, he would, wouldn’t he’). So it has occurred to me to include that picture (and this preamble explaining what I’m doing) in every blog entry in an attempt to drum up visitors and encourage them to take a look at some other entries. It helps that when the picture was taken, she was a rather attractive woman.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Song for you: a comparative analysis of different versions, with reference to what is crap, anodyne and pointless (Whitney Houston, The Carpenters and Michael Buble) and two - Donny Hathaway and Herbie Hancock/Christine Aguilera - which at least do the song justice. Oh, and Russell's original (which I like best of all). And then just a little bit about gay marriage, to keep you buggers on your toes (bad joke not intended)

I can’t remember when, why or how I first got to like the music of Leon Russell, although I was familiar with his name as one of many names knocking around when I was in my salad days. In the late Sixties, early Seventies he was best known for organising the Mad Dogs And Englishmen tour of the U.S., but apart from hearing songs from the eponymous album when I was in someone else’s flat and it was played, I knew nothing about him. ‘Leon Russell’ was just one of those names, and to add to the confusion there was an English folk singer knocking about at the time who was also called ‘Leon Russell’. But for some reason I bought one of his LPs (as they were in those days) called Carney and he immediately, just on the strength of that, became one of my favourite singers.

I’m the first to admit that he doesn’t have a conventional good voice, but then nor do several of my other favourite singers, for example The Kinks’ Ray Davies and Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, to say nothing about bloody Bob Dylan. Yet all four, in their own way can knock spots of the more vanilla types, your Michael Bubles (see below), that fuckwit from Simply Red (I really can’t bring myself to write his name, I loathe him so much. He reminds me of TCP) who is to soul music what KFC is to fine dining. Russell never really registered as a ‘star’ in his own right, but made his name as a session musician, playing piano, guitar and bass, and sought-after arranger in Los Angeles. Another of the singer/songwriters I like, JJ Cale, was in his band when they were both knocking around Tulsa, Oklahoma, and trying to make a name for themselves.

Russell also wrote some great songs, notably the one I am writing about here, Song For You, as well as This Masquerade, which was a big hit for jazz guitarist George Benson - a great version - and The bloody Carpenters - the usual soft-edged crap. You can tell I’m no big Carpenters fan (and, again, see below). Their version sounds like the kind of schmaltzy muzak you hear in lifts (US: elevators) from here to Dubai via New York and Rio, as does Helen Reddy’s and Kenny Rogers: great song, appalling interpretations.

Below are three cases in point. Song For You is a great love song. Play it to your girl, and she’ll forgive you anything for the next few days. But it does, it really does depend on interpretation. So here, apart from Leon Russell’s original, are five other versions, in reverse order. (Amy Winehouse also did a version, but I only found out after preparing the six below for upload to this blog, and I really can’t be arsed going through that again. And, anyway, although she sings it in her inimitable way, she doesn’t actually try to sing it as a love song, which as far as I am concerned rather misses the point.) The first three versions are an object lessons in how to kill something stone dead.

First off is Whitney Houston’s version. It starts of OK - well, OK if you like her middle-of-the road stuff which I don’t, but after one minute 30 seconds it completely loses the plot and is turned into ersatz middle-of-the road disco and becomes truly awful. In fact, I was obliged to fade it out as I can’t expect anyone reading this blog to be subjected to that kind of crap while enjoying my hospitality. But by all means listen for yourself just to reassure yourself that I’m not talking bullshit.

video

Next comes the version by The Carpenters, which if you are familiar with the kind of dross they used to turn out, will come as no surprise. I’m liberal enough to admit that some - deluded - people get their rocks off listening to The Carpenters (or what passes for their rocks) but I find them downright embarrassing. But give them at least a minute of your time at least and then, I trust, you’ll agree with me.

video

Next up is that arch tit Michael Buble, second cousin to The Carpenters and various other ersatz emotion merchants, who is another idiot who couldn’t resist taking a lovely song and turning it into accessible garbage. Let me speak my mind here: Michael Buble music is safe, white soul for safe white middle-class dinner parties given by the kind of fuckwits who think living life on the edge is leaving the house without their mobile phone (US ‘cell phone’). It, too, is - in my ever-so-humble opinion - quite awful. But give it a minute of your time, too, and then reflect on how not to do something. And if you listen to it all and tell yourself ‘what’s he talking about, it’s not that bad’, you are officially banned from reading this blog.

video

That’s the worst of them out of the way, and now for two versions which are half decent. I’m not too sure Donny Hathaway has all that much street cred (UPDATE: Actually, I’ve discovered he has quite a lot, but mainly among pensioners and baldy soul ‘buffs’ for whom ‘R&B’ is something entirely different, not that today’s R&B is all that bad. In fact, some of it is rather good. Trouble is I daren’t say so for fear of coming across as some kind of Medallion ‘Who, Me Old?’ Man. Sadly, Donny topped himself. He had mental issues and jumped out of a window). But at least he doesn’t make a pig’s ear of Leon Russell’s Song For You. You get the feeling, when he sings it, that he is at least singing of someone he loves or loved and isn’t just fulfilling a contractual obligation. The arrangement is, for me, just a bit iffy, the kind of arrangement you might hear in an advert selling life assurance or a mortgage. But though it’s by no means the best, it is firmly this side of the fence where bloody Whitney Houston, The Carpenters and Michael Buble are well and truly the other side. Donny makes it.

video

This version is, in my view, a good one: Christine Aguilera sings it and Herbie Hancock plays keyboards and, I should imagine, arranges. This works, not least because the jazz is so good. And until I heard this, I always thought - never have heard much by her except various tracks while working out in the gym - that Christine Aguilera was just another pop chick. She’s obviously a lot, lot more.


video

Now for the one which knocks all the rest into a cocked hat, what this whole blog entry is all about: the version by the guy who wrote the song and who most definitely had someone in mind when he did so. This one is for me the tops by one million miles, a complete different song to all the rest. I don’t really like admitting this because it makes me sound a bit of a tit, but listening to Leon Russell’s version - each time - sends a chill up my spine. And I feel deeply in love with I don’t know who. Sadly, not my wife. It just reminds me of the days when I still felt such strong emotion. (Sorry about that last bit, but it would be dishonest not to add it.)

video

If you have the time to spare, play Herbie Hancock/Christine Aguilera’s version then Leon Russell’s one after the other. Then you’ll realise just what a great song it is and why Whitney Houston, The Carpenters and Michael Buble should be hauled before the International Criminal Court in The Hague and charged with crimes against humanity.

Oh, well, I suppose you deserve a photo of the man, so I have looked up two. Below is a very recent one - well, he is almost 71 -, and then below that as I like to remember him, not least because for a moment or two I can still persuade myself that I’m not yet an old fart. Not yet, but sadly, like the rest of you, slowly getting there.



PS: There’s got to be a PS to all this: looking up something related, I’ve come across the fact that a damn sight more people have recorded this song than I thought, including Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, The Wanker From Simply Red (surprise, bloody surprise), Neil Diamond, Celine Dion (oh dear), someone called ‘Leon Jackson’, someone called ‘Jim Brickman’ and Willie Nelson, who manages to ruin it in a totally unexpected way and ruins whatever good impression I might inadvertently have had of him. I think his major claim to fame is that he hasn’t yet died.

To hear these version (or not - I wouldn’t blame you) use Spotify. I haven’t heard the Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield versions and I would like to. The rest of them are equally as awful as Whitney, Michael and bloody Karen Carpenter.

. . .

This blog likes to stay up to date so let me add my two ha’porth on gay marriage. In Britain they are now allowed to enter into a ‘civil partnership’ which gives them the same legal rights as far as inheritance etc are concerned. And Amen to that. Why not? But I really, really can’t get my head around ‘gay marriage’. What more do they get that civil partnerships don’t give them? I did actually ask a gay acquaintance that very question and he gave me the very sensible answer that gays like to be treated equally. And I can’t disagree with that. Yet it still doesn’t answer my question: what do gays get which a civil partnership doesn’t give them?

It does, of course, come down to definitions. And definitions, like much else, not least our moral values, are not quite as set in stone as many like to believe. Yes, of course we can redefine ‘marriage’. For many it means the union of a man and a woman. So why not redefine it and make it ‘the union of two people who love each other, irrespective of sex, and want their union publicly sanctified’? That would surely do the trick. Yet I can’t get away from the feeling that we are chasing down some blind alley ever faster for no very good reason.

I think, perhaps, that that word ‘equality’ is in part to blame, given the explanation my gay friend gave me. We all seem to think we know what it means, but in fact it is a little vaguer than we might like. For ‘equal’ doesn’t mean ‘the same as’: it does depend on context. So when it comes to pay and conditions, I believe utterly that a man and a woman who do the same job should be treated ‘equally’: that they get the same pay and conditions. Full stop. But patently a man is not ‘the same as’ a women. Each is unique.

The issue here is that both should get ‘equal treatment’ when it matters (in itself far too vague a statement in the circumstances, though in my defence I should say that it’s almost 11pm).

I think much difficulty, and many difficulties, derive from the spurious equation of ‘equal’ with ‘the same as’. When we are talking of gays and heterosexuals, we should naturally point out that a gay couple is not able to produce offspring, whereas a heterosexual couple - in theory - can. (They might not fancy each other, hence the ‘in theory’). So in that sense a gay couple is not the same as a heterosexual couple. At this point you might, naturally, argue that ‘marriage need not necessarily imply the imperative to reproduce’. And to that I would be obliged to agree.

So it does come down to definitions. Unfortunately, the result of that is that morality is thus necessarily relative. And if that is the case, the various modern, current, Western moral imperatives - that racism is evil, that we should all be treated equally etc - are also relative, that is to say (at the end of the day) negotiable and might not necessarily be true always and forever. The trouble is that we don’t want them to be negotiable: the technical word for all this is ‘dilemma’.

But it is far too late to carry on now. All I can do is leave you with this one thought: once ‘God’ was the ‘fixed point’ which gave reference to everything else. Then in time we did away with ‘God’, although moral philosophers realised that without a ‘fixed point’ of some kind, some universally acknowledged imperative, all moral philosophies - i.e. ethical systems - fell apart. Today, rather dishonestly, we liberals ignore the philosophical incongruities of our reasoning and argue that our ‘liberal values’ are right and that is that! And if you don’t agree, you are a fascist, reactionary pig! And gays should be able to get married if they want to! And if you don’t agree, you are well beyond the pale! (And in the very same breath many of us liberals are apt to argue that all this talk of God is superstitious stuff and nonsense!)

But as I pointed out almost ten minutes ago, it is late and I am buggered if I can think as straight as I should to attempt to make the kind of points I am making. Although I will admit that having started this entry writing about a love song called Song For You, I am bound to admit, accept, acknowledge and all the rest that a man might feel the love it conveys for another man, and a woman for another woman just as much as a man can feel it for a woman or ... blah, blah, I’m sure you get my drift.

God bless you all. (Did I really say that? Well, wash my mouth with soap and water!)

. . .

PPS: I’m watching a BBC documentary on Mark Knopfler, and the thought just occurred to me that I would be more sanguine watching such programmes and such like if those being featured being interviewed didn’t all pretty much look like bloody retired geography teachers, retired social workers, retired and still revovering alcoholics and retired paedophiles.

. . .

PPPS (if that’s at all possible) Will the good Lord please save me from nostalgia. Please. Always. Nostalgia is The Beast we have all been warned of time and again.

. . .

I keep and eye on ‘the stats’ of this blog (should that be the ‘stats’ or ‘the’ stats? I don’t know. Suggestions please and all silly ones will be acted upon) and I am astounded to discover that one particular entry (this one) has been viewed more than twice as much as the next most popular entry — 4,031 times. At the time of writing this — March 2, 2013, at 10.06am, this blog as been views 38,128 times, so more than 10 per cent of those viewings are of that one entry. Why? Well, when I delve deeper into ‘the stats’ and look at ‘referring sites’, a great many of them are visited by people tracking down a well-known picture (left) of Mandy Rice-Davies (‘Well, he would, wouldn’t he’). So it has occurred to me to include that picture (and this preamble explaining what I’m doing) in every blog entry in an attempt to drum up visitors and encourage them to take a look at some other entries. It helps that when the picture was taken, she was a rather attractive woman.