Category Archives: Radio

Mourning Strangers


I found an old CD the other day. It had fallen under the passenger seat of the car.

The front cover was missing. It was like one of those Now That’s What I call Music compilations, except with decent Indie music on it.

I played it and it took me right back to the 90s.

It got me thinking about how we mourn stars.

I’ve seen quite a few posts from cynics criticising people who eulogise about our recently departed idols because we never ‘knew’ them.

And they’re right.

I absolutely loved Bowie and Prince but I didn’t know them. It’s not a traditional kind of grieving that one would do for a loved one, though. It’s a grieving for all those times when your favourite singer was there for you. Through the good and the bad.

They punctuate the important times in our lives. When we were happiest, when we were broken-hearted.

We didn’t know them, but they knew us.

And that’s why we mourn them.

Tara Sparling writes about it much more eloquently than I, here.

Why this Sleeper track? Well, it was on the CD I found.

Let’s just say, it reminds me of a great big exclamation mark.

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The Show Must Go On


Well, folks, it’s been a week since we heard that the musical genius that was David Bowie passed away.

And I think I’ve annoyed the heck out of quite a few people on Facebook by posting a myriad of Bowie vids every day.

But I did say that we should have a week of mourning for such a great man.

However, this final post is not about Mr. Bowie per se, but those he leaves behind. Namely, his wife and daughter, Lexi. (I appreciate that he has other family and friends who will also be devastated – chief of which, his son Duncan, from his first marriage to Angie Bowie.)

Browsing through some shots of the couple on Pinterest, they looked very much in love. I know photographs can be deceiving and don’t represent a true reflection of life, but I hope it was, for their sake. They look so happy.

David Jones may have departed this world, but his body-of-work will remain for as long as this planet does. Moreover, I’m sure it will inspire countless others to produce works of inspirational creativity ad infinitum. What kind of legacy is that to leave?

So, to finish off, here are a few shots of the happy couple/family. Apparently, Iman’s favourite Bowie tracks were Suffragette City and Heroes, so who am I to disappoint?

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Things for which I am grateful #365/365.


Some folks might think this is a bit of a cheat. I started with my kids and I’m going to finish with them. In my defence, I have two of the little rascals so I’m counting it as one post apiece.

There is nothing more precious to me on this Earth than my two daughters. Anyone who has children will know that something changes inside of you – chemically, biologically – and nothing else seems to matter.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to every parent, and true, the pesky varmints do get on your nerves a lot of the time. And yes, they bicker constantly. And they manage to talk in a stream of consciousness James Joyce would be proud of. But, when all’s said and done, they don’t outweigh all the adorable moments. I simply couldn’t live without them.

It’s been an epic year of blogging. Thank you for sticking by me and I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Right, I’m going for a lie down.

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 16.32.04

Here are my 365 things that I am grateful for:

1 My daughters

2 Water

3 Poetry

4 Baths

5-7 Notebooks, pens, pencils

8,9 Butterflies and moths

10, 11 Softball and baseball

12 Fresh coffee

13 Sound / masts

14 Indoor toilets

15 Stepping Hill Hospital

16 Birds of Paradise

17 Roget’s thesaurus

18 Mother Earth

19 Clingfilm dispenser

20, 21 Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy

22 Jorge Luis Borges

23 Classic cars

24 Curry

25 Tim Berners Lee

26 Charles Bukowski

27 Yorkshire

28 Shiraz

29 Food

30 Katell Keineg

31 Tao Te Ching

32 A roof over my head

33 Peat fires

34 Street art

35 Friends (as in – mates, not the T.V. show)

36 Wilfred Owen

37 The Penguin Café Orchestra

38 The fry-up

39 Wolves

40 W.B. Yeats

41, 42 Cherry blossom trees and haiku poetry

43 Bread

44 Boules

45 Maps

46 Refuse collectors

47 Candy Chang

48 Sparrows

49 The tomato

50 Studio Ghibli

51 Oliver Jeffers

52 Johannes Gutenberg

53 Tom Waites

54 The cello

55 Mothers’ day

56 The Phoenicians

57, 58 Bacon and brown sauce

59 Tulips

60 Fish and chips

61 Giselle

62 Airfix

63 Firefighters

64 Rain

65 Libraries

66 Raymond Carver

67 Toulouse-Lautrec

68 The Goldfinch

69 Wings of Desire

70 Silence

71 Elizabeth Barrett Browning

72-99 Ireland

100 Talking Heads

101 Sylvia Plath

102 Yorkshire Sculpture Park

103 My mum

104 Modigliani

105 Kurt Vonnegut

106-128 Electricity

129 The pop man

130-147 Comedians/comedy

148 Commando magazine

149 Pastry

150-156 Social media

157 David Bowie

158 Football

159 D-Day

160-194 France

195-230 Novels

231 Graphic Design

232 Viva! Roxy Music

233 – 274 Art

275 Betty Blue

276 Writing

277 Joy Division

278 – 287 Scotland

288 – 324 Italy

325 – 352 Photography

353 Leeds Utd

354 Love

355 Universe

356 Advertising

357 Pan’s Labyrinth

358 – 363 Democracy

364 Miscellaneous

365 My daughters II

If anyone wants to read any of the previous posts simply type the title into the search box on the right. (It’s underneath the ‘topic’ cloud.)

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Perfection


To achieve perfection takes trial and error.

If others are involved in your task, they may see your experimentation as indecision.

Ignore that gnawing urge to placate them for an easier life, and press on with your goal.

Only then, will you hope to attain something that you can be 85 – 90% satisfied with.

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The Boating Party – with Denis Goodbody


Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881. By Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

The Boating Party is a series of interviews with writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, sculptors, designers and the like.

In times of economic hardship the Arts are usually the first things to be axed. But, in my view, the Arts are the most important aspect of our civilisation. Without the arts, we wouldn’t have language or the written word. Without the arts, we have no culture. Without culture, we have no society. Without society, we have no civilisation. And without civilisation, we have anarchy. Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many people view artists as rebels to society.

To me, artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.

And perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where’s the creativity that will solve the world’s problems? Including economic and scientific ones?

This week, I’m delighted to welcome radio broadcaster, children’s author, lyricist and all-round communications expert, Denis Goodbody.

Denis Goodbody

What’s your greatest personal or career achievement?

My greatest achievements have all been to do with communicating ideas. We take communication for granted in our society – we assume that all the verbal conversations, physical gestures and expressions we send out every day are understood. When they are not understood, as often as not, we blame the other party.

I help people communicate their messages for a living and I think that has helped me realize the fragility of a ‘message’. When we communicate we are transmitting ideas, the most precious of all commodities on earth. Once upon a time the ‘wheel’ was an idea. “Will you marry me” is an idea. In my day-to-day life I see beautiful, wonderful, precious ideas go up in flames or sink without trace because the people gifted with those ideas failed to communicate it successfully.

On a personal level my proudest achievement is, somehow, communicating to my wife that I’d be a suitable husband. On a professional level my proudest achievement is to have sustained myself and my family doing something I love – having ideas and communicating them.

What’s been your greatest sacrifice?

God I’m fortunate. I could be pompous and say it’s an aspect of my philosophy on life, to say that I don’t look back or I avoid regret but that would be tosh. I’m one very lucky guy. Like everyone, I have reached the sign post and had to choose between busy thoroughfares and roads less traveled and I have usually taken the latter. I have never known what lay through the traffic jams on the busy thoroughfares because I’ve been too busy with the twists and turns on the less traveled ones. Did I sacrifice going out to expensive restaurants and drinking too much in favor of having kids? No sacrifice. Did I sacrifice my dream of the Parisian garret and the great novel? No sacrifice, my attention deficit and wayward ways would have left me starving in the garret with no important unpublished masterpiece left beside by gaunt corpse. The only thing I can think of that I could classify as a sacrifice was selling my extraordinarily beautiful first house but that wasn’t really a sacrifice. It was a groovy bachelor pad and it worked – the honey-trap helped win me a honey. Anything else I miss or regret would be loss, rather than sacrifice, and among those I would count the loss of my father’s life and my mother’s memory but what they have given me far outweighs their loss.

To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?

Well I’ve just mentioned my parents so let’s take that as read. I have also mentioned my good fortune. It was my parents who chose the strange and archaic private education I received and it was my good fortune to have had the most incredible teachers. Nowadays half of them probably wouldn’t be allowed to teach because of insufficient qualifications, inability to speak Irish or whatever. I find it hard to think of one it wasn’t a privilege to learn from and that’s not just a rose tinted rear-view mirror. Oh, they were strict and sometimes sarcastic. One could hit your ear lob with a piece of chalk from thirty feet but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t use the skills, techniques and disciplines he taught me. One was a baronet and a racing driver. Another had his face badly burned rescuing a comrade from a tank at El Alamein. Yet another had mysteriously distorted finger nails which, we were led to believe, were the result of being tortured. I owe a debt of gratitude to all of those teachers, among whom I include my parents. As I observe the development of education I worry increasingly that it is becoming merely an ‘information-downloading exercise’ instead of the eye-opening, horizon lifting experience it should and can be.

Who and what inspire you?

Music, visual art, literature and children inspire me because they provide me with ideas and they stimulate the creation of more. Children inspire me because they embody possibility and hope. Seeing children observe things for the first time, trying to see those things as they see them, is a way for the rest of us to rediscover the world for ourselves. The notion that children should be seen and not heard is criminal. Music can speak truth without words, as can visual art. They speak truths in ways that leave everyone to witness their own version of that truth, free of argument or dissent. While I can’t say that of literature, as words are more self-evident, I will say this: fiction often contains more truth than fact. History has to be written from one standpoint from which it tries to recreate events. Fiction, on the other hand, makes no bones about its standpoint and is free to make its point subjectively and clearly without trying to be all things to all people.

What was the last thing that inspired you?

My wife’s singing inspires me, and has done for a good while now, so the last thing? I think The Illustrated Beatles exhibition in Dublin. 42 illustrators digging under the surface of 42 Beatles’ songs and presenting their findings in 42 incredible pictures. As a body of work it combines all of the things that inspire me: Music, visual art and literate lyrics, plus the fact that I heard the songs when I was a child and they helped form my worldview.

What makes you unhappy?

Hatred, war and cruelty and, for the most part, all of those things are borne out of bad communication. If the money that was spent by governments on the development of weapons was spent on finding away to avoid wars, we would have had a solution long ago. The problem is that there is profit in dissent which is why the really evil people in the world are those who foment discord, dividing and conquering for financial gain.

What makes you happy?

As well as music, art, literature and children? Family. When, as adolescents, we distance ourselves from our parents – an evolutionary necessity – we don’t realize how important it is to comeback. I married and bred late compared to many and no day passes without me going dewy eyed at the fact someone as incredible as my wife agreed to marry me, have a child with me and allow me to call the kids she already had ‘family’.

What’s your favourite smell?

Well it’s not napalm in the morning. In fact, the opposite. I love the smell of fresh air in the countryside. It can be a fragrant summer woodland or a winter storm on a beach. If it’s mingled with my wife’s perfume as we stroll together, that pretty much completes the olfactory picture.

What are you reading?

I’m just finishing a book about The Beatles’ visit to Dublin in 1963, a nice context to The Illustrated Beatles Exhibition. My literary weakness? Thomas Hardy. His books conjour the smells I’ve just describe and I think he could have been the world’s greatest cinematographer.

Who, or what, are you listening to?

As well as Carmen Browne? I’m listening to a lot more jazz than I used to but my listening-week is usually ruled by whatever topic I choose for my weekly radio show ‘Roots Musings’. You caught me on a bad week, it was a novelty show about Halloween.

What’s your favourite sound?

Silence. Silence is a canvas and when you have it, you can choose how to fill it. I’m funny that way.

What’s your favourite film?

God that’s hard. Chinatown, probably.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

The beginning.

What frightens you?

Like any parent the thing that frightens me most is the prospect of any harm coming to one of the children and, by extension, to any children or animals. Intentional harm or cruelty to animals and children is the basest and most perverse human behavior.

What’s your favourite sense of touch?

I don’t want to be to graphic about it but having the skin of someone you love touch yours can’t be beaten in my book. And I don’t mean exclusively carnal contact either. I go to the nursing home to see my mother each week and I hold her hand. With her diminished memory there’s very little room for meaningful conversation but that touch says everything we need to say.

What do you do to relax?

Music, literature, visual art and breathing in that fresh country air, with birdsong spattering the silent canvas.

What do you do when you’re angry?

A lot of internalizing goes on which is unhealthy but it does mean I process stuff rather than let go on reflex. I do shout a bit which isn’t pretty as I have a very loud voice to begin with.

What can’t you live without?

We’ve already got music, literature, art, family and fresh air. To that you could add chilli and red wine, preferably consumed Langkawi restaurant on Baggot Street in Dublin. How are you fixed? [You’re on. Next time I’m over!]

What’s your motto?

“Live and let love”.

What’s your Utopia?

I always have to remind people that in Thomas Moore’s original Utopia, they had slaves. This tarnishes the whole concept for me though it does teach me one important lesson. Living your life fairly and without exploiting others, means an element of hard work. To answer the question free of pontification, I would say my Utopia is somewhere in the west of Ireland with all of the things mentioned under the question “What can’t you live without?”

If you only had one year to live what would you do?

I would conquer my attention deficit and finish the novel I didn’t finish in question Two.

What sends your taste buds into overdrive?

Chilli – especially prawns. And I meant that about Langkawi! Mine’s a ‘Sambal Udang’.

Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket, and why?

If I were the rocket-suppository-inserting type – and I don’t believe I am – it would have to be Mitt Romney or some other American Tea Party Type. They have no concept or care of the world around them. They are phenomenally selfish. They are racist and intolerant. They embody just about everything the American Constitution – as I understand it – set out to avoid. I know it’s not my country but it is my world they are setting out to destroy. They are no better than the fundamentalists and terrorists they claim to oppose.

Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?

Would it be too obvious to say my wife? I have no desire to meet any of my heroes as I wouldn’t want that status diminished by reality. I guess I’d settle for Barrack Obama or Ang San Suu Kyi, both of whom I believe are incredible people.

What are you working on at the moment?

I should be working on a book I’m writing and a couple of advertising projects already overdue.

What is your ambition?

Right now, my ambition is to complete the answers to question 25. Beyond that, my ambition is threefold: finish the novel I started (not the one mentioned above), promote and expand my radio shows listenership, to write more songs with Carmen Browne. Before all of that, however, I’d have to say my ambition is to be the best Dad in the known universe beside which the other ambitions are a piece of cake.

Which six people would you invite to your boating party?

Thomas Hardy, Guy Clarke, Joni Mitchell, Carmen Browne, Barack and Michelle Obama.

What would be on the menu?

Sambal Udang, Sushi and lamb tagine and metzes. We’ll have a couple of bottles of the Chateau Kefraya – failing that, anything else from the Beka Valley.

What question would you liked me to have asked?

Other than what date we’re having that meal in Langkawi? I think I’d like to have been asked to define my concept of God. I am inundated with scientists, atheists, agnostics, fundamentalists and dogmatists telling me that God either does or doesn’t exist. None of them, as far as I can see, have taken the time to describe the God believe does or doesn’t exist. There’s almost 7 billion different concepts of God on this planet alone and I’m not arrogant enough to say that all of them are wrong. In the Judeo-Christian bible there is, I believe, a misprint. Where it says “God Created man in his own image”. The reality is the other way round – we create God in our image.

Thank you, Denis.

My two rascals enjoying Denis' "How the Elk got to the Games".

My two rascals seal of approval of Denis’ “How the Elk got to the Games”.

Denis Goodbody – Biography:

Denis is a writer and broadcaster living in Dublin. The bulk of his career has been spent conceiving, writing and producing advertising. In recent years he has expanded his love of having ideas producing and presenting 2 weekly radio shows, co-writing jazz songs and writing books.

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I have a dream too, you know.


True, it may not be as ambitious and world-changing as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s. But it’s a dream nonetheless.

To be honest, I wasn’t going to post about it until I felt I was in more of a position to realise this dream. But short of winning the Euro Millions Lottery, it aint going to happen without some serious philanthropic backer.

So, what is my dream?

Well, it’s to build a School of Arts for under-privileged kids.

Kids from low socioeconomic backgrounds in large inner-city estates. Kids who might not ordinarily get the opportunity to explore the more creative aspects of their nature.

What good would that do society? We’re in a depression, don’t you know!

Problems in every field of human endeavour are virtually always solved by creative thinking. Even the great Albert Einstein said so himself. Creativity allows us to look at problems from different angles and apply new thinking to solve problems.

Moreover, I don’t see it as a school that produces an unprecedented amount of artists. But an unprecedented amount of creative thinkers – whichever vocation they choose to pursue later in life. Whether it be mathematics, science, business, computers, product design, or economics.

And yes, a few more more artists too. And what’s wrong with that? Art is seen as a dirty word in this country. If I tell people I write poetry, they shift uneasily in their seats. If I said I write poetry in Ireland the response would be a polite smile and a nod toward the back of the queue.

Do you think the first rocket flight to the moon was dreamed up by a scientist?

Sure, scientists and engineers made it a reality. But it is creative people who come up with the ideas and the original solutions of how they can be achieved.

What will the kids do?

The school will develop and encourage creative thinking and self-expression.

It will foster, nurture and encourage exploration of the arts in all its many and varied forms including: painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, poetry, literature, screenplays, theatre, drama, dance, music, design, digital arts, film, photography, humanities, languages, and the classics.

Where is this school?

I quite fancy the idea of transforming a derelict Victorian mill. There’s something quite ironic about that. Though it certainly wouldn’t be a prerequisite. (Salts Mill in Bradford is a good example.)

Initially, an inner-city campus close to urban populations that have a high level of low socioeconomic families. Basically, anywhere across the Manchester – Huddersfield – Halifax – Leeds belt. It’s also sufficiently ‘central’ enough to accommodate children from further afield.

It would also be good to have a rural retreat – somewhere like the Lake District, Peak District or the Yorkshire Dales, where children can attend week-long courses/classes which double up as a holiday.

I would also like to open an international sister school in India or Sri Lanka where people from distinctly different cultures can share ideas. These schools could also participate in exchange programmes. (Then subsequently, even further afield: China, South America, South Asia.)

What about science subjects?

This school wouldn’t be a replacement for existing schools and their curricula – more of an extension to them.

Would it exclude people from non low socioeconomic backgrounds?

Not at all. But opportunities for middle-class families in other schools are much more accessible, regardless of ability.

Intake for low income kids would be based as much on desire and enthusiasm to participate rather than ability. There would be a limited number of places for more affluent children. Sort of like Eton – in reverse.

What kind of courses will it run?

Day-long workshops for visiting schools.

After-school classes.

Week-long courses. (Which would include accommodation for traveling students.)

Weekend classes.

Full-time sixth form courses. (A-levels.)

Masters and PhD courses.

What ages are we talking about?

Key Stage 2, up to, and including, sixth form.

Undergraduate, Masters and PhD courses.

What else does the school have?

Apart from studios and classrooms?

There’d be accommodation for students who are visiting from further afield.

Cafe / restaurant.

Gallery to promote and sell students’ work.

Gallery featuring independent contemporary and traditional art.

Masterclasses from guest lecturers.

State of the art library. (Both on and off-line.)

Book shop.

Art-house cinema.

Who will pay for it?

Well, that’s the biggest question of all.

A like-minded philanthropist would be nice.

Arts Council grant.

Lottery funding.

A percentage of Masters and PhD students’ tuition fees could go towards funding.

Sales from restaurant and galleries.

Fundraising / donations.

An Ideal World School of Arts.

Salts Mill, Bradford.

David Hockney at Salts Mill.

Salts Mill interior.

Studio space?

Any constructive criticism and advice about how to get something like this funded and off the ground would be greatly appreciated.

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Me, the thief.


Where do you get your ideas from?

I get asked this all the time in my job.

I usually reply that the ideas come from the information I am supplied with to do the job.

All you have to do is jizz it up a bit in your creative cocktail shaker and see what comes out.

Sometimes it tastes like piss.

Other times it tastes like a Mojito mixed by Mr Hemingway himself.

But there are a few other ingredients that go into the creative cocktail shaker that aren’t in the brief.

These are taken from all the stuff you soak up in your daily life: art; literature; music; ads; news; gossip; film; blogs; tabloids; soaps; comedy, et cetera, et cetera.

What turns your cocktail from being piss into ambrosia is what bits of your own inspiration you put in there.

I came across this quote on the Gutenberg Press II:

I read something similar by Picasso a few years back. But in the spirit of the quote – he probably pinched it from someone else in the first place.

Here are a few bits of graffiti that you may have seen before, but what I like about these are how they integrate their art with the environment, rather than the environment being purely a canvas.

Whilst out for a saunter with my two girls, the eldest, who’s 5, said: Daddy! That looks like a cup!

This is what she was looking at…

Kids get it.

It’s adults who unlearn it.

Inspiration lurks everywhere, if you want to be inspired.

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