Tuesday, 29 March 2011

On this day, 550 years ago, the Battle of Towton is fought...

To complete my hatrick of “on this day” mini-series, I return again to the Wars of the Roses and in this instance, its showpiece, the Battle of Towton. I am speaking of an event that is beyond the current status of Jack Templeman novels, but rest assured, this battle, that took place on this day 550 years ago, was the focal point of the thirty-year conflict.

In essence, Edward Duke of York (who had already pronounced himself King several weeks previously and who would become King Edward VI) defeated Queen Margaret’s Lancastrians on a snow-capped field near Towton in North Yorkshire. Over one hundred thousand men fought in the ice-cold blizzards, making this the bloodiest and largest battle ever fought on English soil and mass graves are still being uncovered as testament to the severity of the bloodshed.

You have only to wait until book three to read about it…

Friday, 25 March 2011

The Cost of Fuel and the Green Police

All I have heard of late, each and every time the issue of the cost of fuel is raised, is a dour blanket of protests from the ashen-spirited anti-car brigade. “Fuel is too cheap anyway. You should get public transport or walk or cycle. Let’s put tax up further on cars – actually ban them completely. We all need to drive less.”

Oh really? How is that then? Do I simply wake up in the morning at present and think to myself “I know, I’ll just get in my car and drive aimlessly around for a few hours to do my bit for the environmental butchery of the planet?”

For the record, I typically work at two locations, one being south Birmingham, which is an eighteen mile trip; and the other Oxfordshire, which is fifty-five miles away down the M40. I leave my house just before 7am in order to get to my desk without suffering too much from the stresses of traffic, and I often don’t return until after 6pm

If I were to hand my car over to the lentil-wearers, then what would be my options? Cycle? My knees and back are already wrecked as it is without needing to set out at 2am each morning for a hundred-mile round cycle trip. Walk? Oh, ok, the train would be another. Yes, the train. Ah the joys of the train! So let me see, in order to catch the train, I would need to get from my house to the train station, which would be a short drive followed by parking followed by car theft (train stations are notorious) – ah yes we’re banning cars anyway – so it would actually be a short walk followed by a bus trip to the station – this alone would take around half an hour. I would then have to take the train from Stourbridge Junction to Birmingham Moor Street – a 35 minute journey – followed by a 55 minute journey to Banbury – from which there is probably a half an hour walk from the station to the office (not including the delay in between trains). So that would involve me leaving at least half an hour earlier, having a stressful Phileous Fog-style circumnavigation across the West Midlands, running from one stop to another, desperately hoping for no delays (of which there always are on trains) before finally arriving, knackered, tired, stressed and almost certainly late for work, a good forty minutes after I usually arrive by car – and at a far greater expense.

This, of course, does not allow for the fact that I have the need to leave early and late on occasions. The working hours of 8.30 to 4.30 are not necessarily representative of what I regularly do as I sometimes have to drop by a different office, leave early for a physio appointment, work later due to meetings – add to all of that the fact that I have a six month old daughter who I see far less of than I would like and it is only my car that allows me a fighting chance of a normal existence.

Do these people have jobs? Do they have families? Do they have responsibilities? Mortgages? Bills? Or do they lounge around reading the latest copy of Big Issue, wondering how many chairs to throw through the window of the next Tory Party Conference? The anti-car lobby are exactly the reason why I take great pleasure from Jeremy Clarkson. I am not time or cash rich but I do live in the real world and until there are viable alternative forms of transport available, I will continue to be driving to and from work and I do not intend to continue to pay more for the privilege.

Next week – potholes and road tax…

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Continuing the Daniel Cure "Demo Tape Cellar" - Dying Breed

Back in the mid-nineties when Ephesia, Nausea and a whole host of other high school bands were starting up, there was Dying Breed. I always felt that they were the most “band-like” of the bands, in that they had a sound and they played within themselves to maintain a professional edge. True, it did not stop them playing to the trends and I seem to recall they ended up disbanding after a time and their efforts at trying to adapt to Nu-Metal, rap, hip-hop and any other fad could not have helped this.

However, they could play and for a group of sixteen year olds, they were pretty good. I recall joining a couple of their rehearsals on guitar, plus on a few live tracks – they used to do a cover of Sepultura’s “Slave New world” – another example of playing within themselves as other bands would have tried to pull off something like Territory or Propaganda to poor effect…




Anyway, I’ve posted a couple of their tracks on You Tube, but here is “Cracked” from their first demo – check out the instrumental outro…

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Waybuloo

I have, as of late, discovered that this is not the name of the magical land. The place is actually called Nara and the inhabitants Piplings. I have also discovered their names – the yellow monkey is called Yojojo, his blue friend is called NokTok, the pink cat is called De Li and her friend the lilac rabbit is Lau Lau. Any children who occasionally appear and join in with their yogo (basically yoga but where you can fly a little bit - well, hover) are referred to as Cheebies; whilst the Pipling's butterfly pets are called Narabugs.

Now, even if you have never watched an episode of this, you can’t fail to be chilled out by the mere mention of these names – as such it has become a staple diet of Saturday and Sunday morning, often following rugby and cricket updates. In fact, I reckon they should ship this out to rogue dictatorship and terrorist training camps – they’d soon lose their militant hate of the world after watching a couple of episodes of this…

I do wonder what the creators were on though… and if can have some...

Friday, 4 March 2011

On this day, 550 years ago, Edward of York proclaims himself King of England...

In this second entry in the “on this day” mini-series, I can one again draw upon the Wars of the Roses for inspiration. 550 years ago to this day, Edward, the young Duke of York, seized control of London and proclaimed himself King of England in the process. He was not immediately crowned, for there was the small matter of King Henry VI to deal with and so Edward's coronation day would have to wait until his Yorkist forces had met King Henry’s Lancastrians in the north. He would not have to wait long…