Thursday, 30 November 2017

Irelands Road to Freedom

Act of Union between Ireland and England 1801.

Easter Rising 1916, Irish Free State.

Thirty Years of Troubles Northern Ireland with a great deal of violence  - 1960s – 1990s.

Northern Irish Peace Agreement - (1998) - The Good Friday Agreement Belfast April 1998. (Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta) –  Northern Ireland system of devolved government is based on the agreement - created a number of institutions between Northern Ireland and Ireland - and between the Ireland and the UK.  
It was clear to me, having Irish parents, that during the Brexit debates that no attention was paid to the Irish dilemma over the EU customs and trading union. Just like Scotland, Ireland was a mere after thought. No one in Ireland wants a return to a hard border – there are always nutters on either side just looking for an excuse. Why should Ireland give up its peace and prosperity? Ireland is crucially split on ancient religious grounds
Scotland too has opposite needs to England – our farming is mostly hill rather than arable; our fishing rather than cars is a major concern; we want to welcome young immigrant workers to grow our economy and support an older population; Scotland wants to pursue progressive socialist policies to work for a more socially inclusive nation – where England wants to be a low regulated, low wage economy like a new Singapore. (which is unacceptable for the EU).
AND on a personal note. My parents were from Co Down and Belfast and I visited there every summer from Scotland. I understand the deep divisions and problems there (unlike many London politicians). These divisions will not be easily healed. And I feel extremely angry at the thought that some feel a hard border is an answer there – just because of this crazy Brexit. Brexit is about looking backward.  While my husband's father came form Kilkenny in southern Ireland.

A hundred years ago Ireland embraced its rich heritage and culture – and developed its own identity again. Many had to die so Ireland could achieve self government. I hope Scotland can achieve this dream too – peacefully and through informed debate for a healthier partnership with its larger partner England. Scotland is often an after thought
England has pursued a policy of over-centralised government for more than a century, particularly during the wars and then complains of too many immigrants! By contrast European parliament encourages healthy regionalization and encouraging regional language. Why is wanting more local government against the national interest? In fact the UK is the most lop-sided geographically unbalanced major country in the world!

The great poet WB Yeats, was persuaded to write on the old Irish  songs, heritage and ballads, at the same time he lived in London and was before this part of the Anglo-Irish group who dominated Irish politics.
After the hangings of the Irish rebels in the Easter rising Yeats wrote -
his poem 'Easter 1916' 
I write it out in a verse -
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly: (YB Yeats)

The Northern Ireland peace process is often considered to cover the events leading up to the 1994 Provisional Irish Republican Army ( IRA) ceasefire and the end of the violence Troubles, and the Good Friday Agreement 1998.
Issues relating to Sovereignty, civil and cultural rights, decommissioning of weapons, justice and policing. The agreement was approved by voters across the island of Ireland in two referendums held on 22 May 1998. The British-Irish Agreement came into force on 2 December 1999.  The DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) was the only major political group in Northern Ireland to oppose the Good Friday Agreement.

Ultimately between Scotland and England - a good partnership for trade, security, environment. and defence.. rather than control from Westminster

The European countries are committed firstly to Peace and Prosperity – any other consideration is secondary. Ireland exemplifies and tells us the real UK conflict. Also that harmful over centralization in the south east.
Why should Peace and Prosperity be sacrificed by Scotland, the EU or Ireland just to suit some backward looking Tory politicians we have not voted for?

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Van Morrison Concert hall 2017

The packed concert hall thrilled to be on his Glory train -
as he took us all on a slow and so rhythmic  jazz train over high ridge mountains, peaceful valleys, and fun soul highways….

He began with one of his signature tunes
'It’s a wonderful day for a ‘Moondance …..'
He sang his songs of optimism, and of blues notes with his power soul voice

Morrison at 71, is as busy as ever and he performed tracks from his two new 2017 albums ‘Roll with the Punches’ and 'Versatile'. Today Morrison sang songs of his favourite artists on his Versatile album - such as Cole Porter, Chet Baker, Frank Sinatra, Righteous Brothers, and Nat King Cole - as well as his own compositions and several of his favourite hit songs.

Concert *SONGS – ‘I Can Tell’, ‘Here Comes the Night’, ‘Higher Ground’, ‘Days Like This’, ‘Magic Time’, ‘Sometimes We Cry’, ‘Ease My Troubles That’s What you do’, ‘Carrying the Torch’, ‘Don’t Know What it is’, ‘Wild Night is Calling’, ‘Real Love to You’,

He sang ‘One More for the Road’ - with piano cascades, and his smooth voice and lurching on loves highways and along with the golden notes of trumpet and sax. He travelled on to a softer gospel voice and to more contemporary tunes and back again, with upbeat riffs and beats and rhythms and with spiritual hopes.

Relieved from flip flop flying, zoom, flip flop fly, Don’t get behind,
In the midnight hour, and with our musical Holy Guardian angel,
Mood music, with you my love, when he surprised us all, after walking off the stage, with a rendition of his biggest ever hit, ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ for a very welcome encore!

Morrison is the pivotal star with his occasional hand signals to the band.
He sings of distant vibes, and of hurried tones. Fill my heart.
Morrison is one of our top songwriters.

*Van was relaxed and in good voice and form!
Shimmy dancing from the King of Celtic soul.  
Top marks also to his quality band!  

“Recording songs like these - especially the standards - gave me the chance to stretch out vocally and get back to the music that originally inspired me to sing - jazz!”  Van Morrison on Versatile

On his 2017 album Roll With the Punches, he has recorded R & B classics that informed his music (his father had a large collection of these records when he grew up in Belfast city) – Bo Diddley, Mose Allison, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Lightnin Hopkins, which he performs with his highly individual, raw and personal interpretations.
 “From a very early age, I connected with the blues. The thing about the blues is you don't dissect it – you just do it. I've never over-analysed what I do; I just do it. Music has to be about just doing it and that's the way the blues works – it's an attitude. I was lucky to have met people who were the real thing – people like John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Witherspoon, Bo Diddley, Little Walter & Mose Allison. I got to hang out with them and absorb what they did. They were people with no ego whatsoever and they helped me learn a lot.”  Van Morrison, Roll With The Punches
Van continues: “The songs on Roll With The Punches - whether I’ve written them or not - they’re performance oriented. Each song is like a story and I’m performing that story. That’s been forgotten over years because people over-analyse things. I was a performer before I started writing songs and I’ve always felt like that’s what I do.

Roll With The Punches was produced by Van Morrison and recorded with an incredible team of studio collaborators including Chris Farlowe, Georgie Fame, Jeff Beck, Paul Jones and Jason Rebello.

His Astral Weeks album  is one of the classic albums of all time, all tracks written by Van Morrison – Beside you/ Sweet Thing/ Cyprus Avenue/ The Way Young lovers do / Madame George/ Ballerina / Slim Slow Slider /

CUTS in ARTS FUNDING, 15th November

We had good news of minimum pricing for alcohol which the Scottish government has been pushing for 5 years now. Scotland is now the first country in the world to do so, after the UK supreme court ruled in its favour.
The idea is to push up the price of cheap booze, such as cider at £3 a bottle to £11.52 a bottle. Ten years ago we didn’t have this amount of cheap alcohol, cheaper than water!

Alcohol costs the NHS a great deal. Some wonder why the retailers should benefit financially from this 50p a unit.

Today I also heard the director of the Traverse theatre Edinburgh, speak of severe cuts in the Scottish Arts. Since the UK government deregulated Lottery tickets and the price has gone up, the funds being raised are down over 15%, with a reduction of 300m in 2016. There have been several press articles on this issues which is a huge concern for Scotland's major festivals such as Celtic Connections and Edinburgh Fringe. Lottery income makes up 40 per cent of Creative Scotland’s and SportScotland’s total income.

I had an IDEA!!
Can we use the extra money raised with minimum pricing for alcohol to help fund our ARTS! – for music concerts, art exhibitions, theatre shows, top festivals such as Celtic Connections and Edinburgh festivals.
For me the arts are a life saver – they offer people hopes and dreams, that can often make the biggest difference. I'd also like to see accessible arts - with funding for local and community arts, music, dance or drama.  To encourage the free Fringe access and for youth music, art and drama.  All the arts need healthy grassroots funding also. Festivals like Celtic connections do offer Education programs, free open mic sessions and much more! 

Arts cuts are coming warns Creative Scotland in letter to cultural companies.
ARTS companies across Scotland could lose their funding as cash for culture falls in the coming years, the nation's main cultural funder has warned.

A reduction in National Lottery money, has led to Iain Munro, deputy chief executive of Creative Scotland, to warn arts, theatre, dance, literature and music companies that some will lose out in looming spending round.
He admitted it is "unrealistic" to expect funding of companies to be the same from 2018 to 2021 as it is now, given the expected cut in lottery and, potentially, government funds.
Westminster ignoring Holyrood ministers over warnings of an arts crisis.