dilluns, 23 d’abril de 2012

A kiss from a rose - Seal #FeliçSantJordi

Feliç Dia de Sant Jordi!
.... Today is the 23rd of April - a very special day in Catalonia. The Catalans’ Patron Saint happens to be Saint Jordi (or George in English). Yes, the guy who killed the dragon. Jordi was a Roman soldier born in Palestine in the 3rd century AD who later converted to Christianity. Although the first documented writings of the dragon incident state that it happened in Libya, the Catalans believe it actually happened in the town of Montblanc in Catalonia. They may have a point as I can vouch that there are definitely no dragons currently living in Montblanc.
Jordi finished the dragon off with his lance, and from the wound the dragon’s blood spilled out and amazingly turned into a beautiful red rose.
Nowadays in dragon-free Catalonia, it is customary to walk the streets on this day with your family. Meeting friends, having a coffee (or beer), and, above-all, browsing at the multitude of open-air book stalls set out everywhere, as the Catalans celebrate this day by giving books and roses to their lovers/partners. Tradition dictates books for men and roses for women, though many men give both a book and a rose to their “better half”. It is an extremely beautiful, cultural and peaceful celebration. There are many public poetry recitals and book-readings today too alongside other literary events. Many countries have also tried copying this idea of a “book giving day”, and in 1995 UNESCO declared 23rd April to be World Book Day (even though, for reasons better known to themselves, the UK celebrates its “World” Book Day in March!).
This day has many literary connections. Cervantes was born, and died, on the 23rd April, and Shakespeare also died on this date – but as the English and Spanish used different calendars back then, these “23rd”s were not exactly the same day, if that makes sense!

With a title like this, today's song was an obvious choice:

divendres, 20 d’abril de 2012

Nellie The Elephant - Toy Dolls #BloodyElephants

Recordo botar com un boig amb aquesta cançó a l'institut l'any '84 (clar, era un alumne avançat, que només tenia edat per estar a P5 ;) ) . Trobo que no hi havia per a tant - potser era l'euforia del moment .... i de punk, poca cosa en té!

Bé, i ara a descansar del bloc fins dilluns - Sant Jordi :)


Remember jumping around like a mad man in the sixth form common room, back in '84 (before you reach for your calculators, I was of course a few school years ahead of my age ;) ). Listening to it now, I think we must have been high on something - coca-cola and doughnuts, was the standard fare.

By the way, not sure I'd define it as punk rock but if YouTube says so ...

Anyway, and now for a blog-less weekend, see you alls Monday for Book and Rose day!

dilluns, 16 d’abril de 2012

Elephant Stone - The Stone Roses #ElephantsForever

Visca els elefants! Visca la Republica Independent de Catalunya!
For those readers not up-to-date with the ins and outs of the Spanish Royal Family, the elderly King of Spain (who, by the way, accidentally shot and killed his brother when they were young) is still a keen hunter. So keen that he spends thousands of (our) Euros on Safari Hunting Trips de Africa to kill those pesty elephants. Anyway, on his latest adventure he has fallen and broken his hip.
The Stone Roses - Elephant Stone

diumenge, 15 d’abril de 2012

Sweet Soul Music - Arthur Conley #MostListenedTo

No m'atreveixo de contar quanta musica tenim a casa - entre CDs, arxius, LPs, singles, cassettes ... literalment milers d'albums. Però t'adones que hi ha albums que tornes a escoltar un cop i un altre cop. Quan era més jove, i tenia més temps i menys recursos potser es podia escoltar a tot i anar variant, però paradoxament ara que tinc més música que mai a casa, potser acabem escoltant menys varietat que mai! El cas és si només tens un momentet per escoltar cada dia, sovint tries el que t'agrada més. I un dels LPs que sovint acaba dins la reproductora és aquest - una recopilació del Atlantic Soul. Un CD que ja vaig comprar de segona ma, fa anys, crec que no tenia ni reproductor de Cds en aquell moment!

La primera pista és Sweet Soul Music, del Arthur Conley.


One day you wake up and find your house is literally full of music - thousands of CDs, LPs, cassettes, download files - and no time to listen to it all. Maybe as a teenager, with limited resources and more free time, I would listen to all my collection, but, paradoxically, the more music I'm getting, the less varied are our everyday listenings. I suppose if you only have a short while each day to put something on, you tend to play it safe.

Anyway, one of the albums which we listen to most is this, an excellent find some years back in a second-hand sale!

So let's go for the first track today ....

divendres, 13 d’abril de 2012

Me aburro - Carlos Cros #Tortosa_Concerts

Pos, això, que mai t'aniras al llit sense aprendre una cosa més - dit d'altre manera, que el pou de la bona música és infinit i sempre queden cantants per coneixer. Per exemple, aquest, que no coneixia fins fa 15 dies però gràcies al bloc La Voz Telurica i el concert que estan montant per demà a Tortosa - capital mundial de la bona musica (in dreams!!!) - pos, ara li conec, al Carlos Cros.

Un altre concert al qual probablement no aniré, i ja van uns quants, però no per falta de ganes. Igualment us animo a tots, catalans i catalanes, a passar per allí i gaudir d'una bona estona. Més detalls aqui.


So, it seems like the Well of Good Music has no bottom, and there's always another good singer you'd never heard of. Today it's this guy, Carlos Cros, who I have only just discovered thanks to the Number One music blog in town, La Voz Telurica, and the concert they are organising for tomorrow night in Tortosa (music city!! If only ...). Yet another concert I probably won't be going to, but still I highly recommend for all you music fans out there. Get your a***s over here and check it out.

And a cool song here....

dijous, 12 d’abril de 2012

Islands - Bonnie Tyler & Mike Oldfield

Parlant d'illes desertes per on ens podriem escapar, pos, he recordat aquesta cançó. Té la curiositat de que és una cançó de Mike Oldfield i Bonny Tyler del 1987 que jo no vaig coneixer fins els anys 90. No té perdo (lo de no coneixer la canço, vull dir - tampoc és que m'agrada gaire, però hauria de coneixer-la!). Suposo que l'excusa és que va coincidir en uns anys de molt de moviment en la meva vida i no estava tan pendent de les coses importants en la vida. Islands.


Talking about desert islands to escape to and spend the rest of your life on ... not me, of course, but some people do talk .... I've remembered this tune. The remarkable thing about this song, for me, is that although Mike Oldfield and Bonny Tyler recorded it in 1987, I didn't hear it until the 90s. Unforgiveable (not as it's so good - it isn't - but for a music freak like me not to know it). My only excuse is that the period it came out in coincided with a tricky period in my life, when I wasn't so focussed on the really important matters.

dimecres, 11 d’abril de 2012

Brian, i Brians #NiceName

Sobre el nom Brian, i tots els Brians d’aquest món, ja s’ha parlat molt, però avuí posaré el meu gra de sorra. Em vaig sentir-me orgullos del meu nom per primer cop a la primera classe de francès, potser a l’edat de 11 o 12 anys. La professora va fer lo tipic, passar una hora explicant-nos la traducció al francès dels nostre noms. Ja sabeu, Mary, pos, ets Marie etc. Però em va dir que els francesos no tenien de “Brian”s :) La part negatiu és que va triar qualsevol nom que començava en B, i em va anomenar Bernad :(

Sembla que Brian vol dir alt (en sentit metaforic) i noble – o sigui, com jo, i tots els Brians que conec. També sembla que és un nom d’origen irlandès, però, en fi, no es pot tenir tot en aquesta vida. De Brians n’hi ha tants de famosos que fins i tot algù ha escrit un llibre!

Jo no arribo a un llibre, però si que us vull oferir un petit example del tipus de persones que som. Brian Wilson, també conegut com a Deu – lider dels Beach Boys. Brian Epstein, manager dels Beatles, fins que va morir massa jove. Brian Clough, el millor entrenador de futbol de tota l’historia. Brian Blessed, un actor de meravella. Brian Johnson, cantant dels AC/DC. Brian The Snail, del programa infantil The Magic Roundabout (la versió superior que el BBC va fer d’una serie francès). Aquest programa molt probablement es va escriure sota l’influencia de diversos tipus de droga, especialment el LCD segons els entesos .... I Brian de la pel•lícula The Life of Brian (“la pel•lí més divertida de l’historia”). Bé, aqui teniu un episodi del Magic Roundabout (amb Brian al minut 0.58) i el tema primer de la pel•lícula.

Per cert, si aquests dies tardo molt en penjar apunts o contestar-vos, és degut a treballar massa – no us imagineu que he fotut lo camp a viure en una isla remota al mig del Pacific ... especialment si no trobo el passaport ...
So, is Brian a cool name or isn’t it! The first time I really paid attention to the greatness of this name was in first year French lessons at secondary school (high school for the ultra-cool). As usual the French teacher managed to fill in an entire class telling us the French equivalents of our names. You know, Mary, you can be Marie; John, you’ll be Jean, and so on. But when she announced the French had no Brians, I was overjoyed – not being the keenest French-fan at that time. So she stuck Bernard on me – which kind of put the downers on. (but, apparently Brian is a French surname and means maggot, to them, so all’s well that ends well)
Anyway, to cut a long story short, there have been many great and heroic Brians throughout the ages. Not surprisingly as Internet informs us that Brian means high and noble. It is probably of Irish origin but we won’t hold that against it. Anyway, there are so many of us that someone has actually written a book on it. So let’s see a few of those Brians ...

Brian Wilson, leader and composer of the Beach Boys. Otherwise known as God. Brian Epstein, manager of the Beatles, until he died rather too early. Brian Clough, a great football manager from the time when football was still football. Brian Blessed, what an actor, what a voice! Brian Johnson, lead singer with AC/DC. Brian the Snail, from kids’ programme the Magic Roundabout (, probably the only BBC children’s series to introduce the effects of taking LCD to youngsters. Apparently this programme was a re-write of a French one, but much improved of course! And who can forget Brian, of the Life of Brian “the funniest film ever made”. Anyway, here’s an episode of The Magic Roundabout, and the theme song from the Life of Brian.

By the way, if it seems that I am not posting regularly on the blog over the next few weeks, or if I am slow at getting back to your comments and mails, it’s just down to an excessive work-load, of course. Don’t be thinking I’ve fled the country to live a life of Riley on a tropical island or anything like that .... as if that would ever cross my mind! Now, if I could only find that passport ...

dimarts, 10 d’abril de 2012

It's raining men - The Weather Girls #PerNetejarLaCasa

A vegades em poso a fer la neteja de casa - el housework. Per tal objectiu, evidentment, cal una bona musica - sovint poso els Guns 'n' Roses, o Nirvana, però l'any passat em vaig comprar aquest CD. Expressement dissenyat per ajudar-te a fer les tasques de casa. Suposo que algu podria preguntar per que surt una dona i no un home a la portada, però davant d'una opció 50/50 suposo que és questió de sort, i no de mala fe ....

La veritat és que el tema, housework, només és una excusa per fer una enessima recopilació de musica pop dels 80 i 60 - surten tots els de sempre (per això ho vaig comprar!). Queen, Blondie, Hot Chocolate, I will survive, Build me up buttercup .... en fi, si us agrada netejar la casa a ritme de musica pop de tota la vida, aquest és el LP que necessites.

Triant una de totes, que tal The Weather Girls, amb It's Raining Men?


As I have no plans for fleeing the country, and a firm committment to this stable family life in happy Catalonia, from time to time I actually do my share of cleaning and housework - and obviously I need some cool music. I usually put on Guns 'n'Roses or Nirvana, but last year I couldn't resist buying this little gem - a CD especially designed to "help" with your housework. Sexist design? Maybe, maybe not, it could just as easily have been a man, but with a toss of a coin maybe they chose a woman by chance .....

Anyway, the fact is that the theme of housework is basically just an excuse to make up yet another compilation of classic 60 and 80s pop. As you can imagine, it's all here - Queen, Blondie, Hot Chocolate, I will survive, Build me up buttercup .... So, if it's a good CD you need to accompany your weekly, or monthly, clean-around, this is the one for you!

Here's one of the tracks ....

dissabte, 7 d’abril de 2012

Easter Parade #CapFestaSenseCelebrar

Aquesta setmana toca celebrar Pasqua i us ofereixo 4 idees reflexions rapides de que fem a Anglaterra – o, més ben dit, que feia jo, i no pas una explicació completa i objectiva.

M’encanta Easter per la barreja de temps que ofereix, primavera, hivern, sol, fresca, no saps mai que pot tocar. M’encanta per la xocolate i les pastes, i per tenir vacances en familia. La part religiosa – que ens diuen que és el motiu real de la festa (encara que sempre, i en totes les cultures, s’ha celebrat la primavera) – pos, no m’afecta gens. Des de que em van deixar d’obligar d'anar a Sunday School (una mena d’esplai religios “light”) als 7 anys, ja no he ficat mai cap corbata amb elastic ni m’he interessat per la religió. No estic dient que no hi ha un Deu o dos (bé, avui no ho dic!), però si que dic que si n’hi ha un, no voldria que anessem tots a una esglesia.

Lo Dijous Sant a Anglaterra es diu Maundy Thursday i en el passat era un dia que la familia real, i altres nobles, tiraven monedes pels “desgraciats” a la sortida de l’esglesia. Com que avui en dia encara som desgraciats, es continua fent – és tradició que la Reina entregi uns diners a un grup de persones aquest dia. Ja no són qualsevol desgraciat sino unes persones que s’han triat per haver fet algun servei per la societat. Els diners consisteixen de 5,50 lliures (ja sé que és simbolic, però ja que hi estem, podrien augmentar-ho!) i unes monedes de plata d’un penique, tantes com anys té la reina. Gastats en una botiga tenen el valor d’un penique, però com que són de plata, la gent no les gasta, però si no tens sentit de la tradició les pots re-vendre al EBay a col·leccionistes per uns 100 lliures.

Del Divendres Sant, Good Friday, lo que realment recordo és que sempre menjavem fish & chips (pataques i pescat fregit de un take-away). De gran em vaig assebentar que era també amb excusa religiosa (de no menjar carn) i aixo em va fer dubtar – una religió que t’anima a consumir junk food (menjar rapida, “basura”) no pot ser del tot dolenta. També recordo que en el passat els pubs anglesos havien de tancar a les 11.00 de la nit (ara no), pero aquest dia s’havien de tancar mig hora abans – per aixo, haviem de beure més rapid!

Pels xiquets la setmana d’Easter consisteix en fartar-te de xocolate, i fer jocs en ous. Es poden decorar, amb pintura o rotulador, bullits o “bufats”. També es pot fer egg-rolling – si trobes una baixada bona, preferentment de gespa suau, pots començar a rodar ous bullits (decorats) a veure qui arribi més a lluny. I egg-hunting, buscar ous (de xoco) pel jardi.

De menjar, la gent tendeix a menjar un bon dinar el Diumenge, Easter Sunday, probablement amb corder. I de postres, xocolate! Però també tenim una pasta tradicional que menjem aquesta setmana, un rival per a la “mona”. Es diuen Hot Cross Buns, son com uns panets dolços amb panses, que es menjen (si vols) torrats (Hot) amb mantequilla. I tenen una creu (Cross) damunt. Bonissimes! I dificils de fer. Aquest any ho hem intentat, i sembla que ens han sortit bé, com vereu a la foto ...

A continuació, fotos, i musica, com no, la Easter Parade, de Sarah Vaughan and Billy Eckstein.
OK, just a few quick personal subjective explanations of what Easter means to me, and comparisons, from Catalonia, with my English easters. Easter for me means a wonderful time, the change of seasons, sun, snow, rain, warm, cold, you name it, you never know what you’re gonna get. And free time to enjoy with the family and go for relaxing walks, with loads of chocolate a-waiting when we get home again. Sorry to say, but the religious aspect of Easter just misses me – I ain’t saying there’s no Superior Being (not today anyway) but I am convinced if there is He/She wouldn’t want us to be following an organised religion. To cut a long story short, I try to be good to my neighbour but I don’t need no religion (just someone to tell me that an abusive use of "Hollywood" double negatives ain’t funny), and stick to a pagan version of this springtime festival!

Anyway, above I have explained about Maundy Thursday and the Queen’s generous giving of pennys to the serfs. And how on Good Friday we always used to eat fish & chips (hold on, a religion encouraging this can’t be all bad ...). And on Sunday, lamb, and Easter eggs, and egg-decorating, and egg-rolling, and egg-hunts. Yesterday we even tried to make Hot Cross Buns – a kind of sweet tea-cake with dried fruit, best eaten toasted with butter (and with a cross on them for obvious reasons). We had always believed them too complicated to make at home, but 20 years in Catalonia without them and a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do – i.e. encourage his wife to try making them. And I take the photos. They’ve turned out quite well.

Catalans eat a “mona”, a bread-type simple cake with boiled eggs wrapped in it, to symbolise the re-birth of Jesus, or the birth of all things come Spring.
Anyway, photos, and the Easter Parade.

various Easter cakes and activities, hot cross buns, and the weather.

dilluns, 2 d’abril de 2012

The Powers and the Glory of Love - Aidan Moffat i Bill Wells #GreatMusic

Hi ha molta música bona alli fora, i avui no tinc gaire cosa més a dir! Aquests craks han fet un medley amb les tres cançóns dels 80 que es deien igual, The Power of Love, i un altre per completar, Glory of Love. Aqui teniu l'explicació, i aqui la musica .....
There's so much great music out there. Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells have made an amazing medley, which they explain here.
And the medley, is here ....