Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

October 2004

MusicSaturday, October 30th, 2004, (4:01 pm)

I’ve loved music since I was a kid. I remember how I used to dance around my bedroom decorated with zoo animal wallpaper, bright orange curtains and a deep brown carpet, listening to music on a old wood covered radio given to me by my grandparents. The only station I could seem to get that played music was Radio Luxembourg, and even then the signal would fade in and out slowly, one moment clear the next distant, like the sound of waves making their way to the shore then retreating to the cusp of the ocean.

I can remember the first music I ever bought was when I was about 7 or 8 years old. It was a bright red Spanish Flamenco music tape I found at a jumble sale. I remember looking at the cover of the cassette box, a woman in a elaborate red dress was dancing with a man in traditional spanish flamenco attire playing guitar beside her. It cost me 2 pennies, a bargain even by 1978 standards.

A couple of years later I discovered ‘The Police.’ A post punk British rock band headed by a young and spiky haired man from Newcastle who curiously went by the name of Sting. One Saturday with my mother and young sister I went to town and with some record tokens I had saved I bought the ‘Regatta De Blanc’ album on tape along with a new battery powered cassette player.

In the warmth of the summer sun as we made our way home walking along the ‘Bunnies walk’ path by the river and the railway I enthusiastically raced ahead of my Mom who was pushing my sister in a stroller. I’d run ahead and then sit down and listen to a few moments of my newly purchased tape before Mom caught up and I repeated the process again.

Some time later I got a small second hand record player. Without any records of my own I browsed my Mom and Dads record collection which was located under the glass covered record player in the living room. The collection was small and featured artists like Harry Nilsson, Boney M, The Beatles, Abba and a Rod Stewart record that seemed out of place to me because of Stewarts questionable choice of trousers. One record that caught my attention was the classic ‘Rumours’ by Fleetwood Mac. I must have played it thousands of times on that little old record player. I’d never once heard this album played by either Mom or Dad, so without asking I requisitioned Rumours deeming that this ‘LP record’ would be the one which would set the foundation for what was to eventually become an extensive music collection. Indeed despite no longer having anything to play it on I still have that record.

U2 took me through the mid 1980’s and into the 90’s, The Joshua Tree formed an inspirational cornerstone of my collection, as it did for so many of those born in the early to mid 70’s. Depeche Mode earned a place on what was becoming the sountrack of my life with their album ‘Violator.’ Other bands followed with anthems of the age, underlining the fact that music is uniquely powerful in its ability to attach itself to events and whole chapters of your life. Forgotten memories can be reconnected in an instant simply by hearing a track significant to that memory. You close your eyes and you’re no longer just remembering, you are right there in the moment once again.

Like many teenagers I made mix tapes for myself and my friends. But unlike a lot of my friends this was something I never grew tired of doing. In fact my tapes became labors of love, carefully poured over and intensely thought out. I would seek out obscure music, ‘B’ sides and rare tracks by popular artists. I wanted to do more than simply share some music with friends, I wanted to engage them in some way. To provide them with music that could possibly engrave itself into their lives and become an indelible part of their life.

To this end I would go to the effort of not simply producing a carefully compiled collection of tracks, but also tapes and CD’s with cover art and sleeve notes. I wanted to make something that could find its way into a music collection and earn it’s place among the mass produced CD’s and tapes that would always outlive their ‘mix tape’ neighbors.

I did this with a series of tapes under the collective name of ‘The Beautiful Damned.’ There were four tapes. ‘Out of the Blue’, ‘Brilliant Colour’, ‘These Long Roads’, and ‘A Tale of Sound and Fury’. Each with a cover printed at my own cost and shared with only the hope that the person would enjoy the music.

In the ten years since ‘A Tale of Sound and Fury’ I’ve put together many CD’s for friends, but I’ve not produced multiple copies of any specific mix. The reason being I suppose, that time becomes strangely scarce as you put more years under your belt, and my friends have outgrown the days when we would sit in one anothers bedrooms listening to music allowing hour upon hour to ebb away like the scented smoke of an incense stick.

Music is still hugely important to me though. Much of my life is still, and will probably be forever punctuated by the music around me. It seems that life’s most inspiring of moments has some kind of theme whether heard at the time, or somehow applied later in memory.

The soundtrack to my life would thus far form an already voluminous box set. Unlike motion picture soundtracks, the listener would be unable to put each of the bizarrely heteromorphic tracks in context. While they might simply be able to enjoy the music on its own, the scenes and stories to which each track is umbilically joined to would be lost.

But who could even put together a complete sountrack of their life and hope to share in in context? That’s the beauty of making and giving away a great mix CD, while its context in relation to you might quickly be lost, it has the possibility of finding its way into someone else’s sountrack, someone else’s memories.

GeneralFriday, October 29th, 2004, (7:02 pm)

This time next week I’ll be in Southern India. I’ve been asked to go out there with a charity called Salt of the Earth to take photographs of the work being done there. I’m actually going for a corporate customer of mine who has donated a large sum of money to that charity and wants to get the positive PR from that.

I’m flying to London on Thursday night because it’s just easier to do that than drive to London. Then on Friday morning we catch a GulfAir flight to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. It’ll just be a short stop there before we fly the remainder of the way to Trivandrum on the South West coast of India.

I’ll be out there for just seven days working in the poor area of Tamil Nadu where two thirds of the Children suffer from malnutrition that could be cured with just two locally made cookies that would cost about a penny a day to produce. Clean water is scarce, collected by women who carry huge containers of water on their heads for several miles to get water back to their homes. Most of the people in this impoverished region live under the national poverty line of $500 a year!

The gap between rich and poor in India is, according to the DVD that I got from Salt of the Earth today, “unimaginable to most.”

I think it could be an amazing week and a hard week. I’ll have my laptop with me and will hopefully get some time to write stuff for Meanwhile. All I have to do now is figure out what power plug India uses and to remember that I have to take these Malaria tablets now every day for the next 8 weeks!

If this trip goes well then there are plans to go out to Africa and South America next year too.

Salt of the Earth
Facts about the region
A map of the area

PoliticalFriday, October 29th, 2004, (12:09 am)

President Bush has banned all web users outside of the United States from viewing his election campaign website for “security reasons.”

According to the BBC, the blocking began early on Monday so those outside the US trying to view the site got a message saying they are not authorised to view it. However the security measures were put in place in a slap-dash half-baked manner to which the world has become accustom to seeing from America. Many of the alternative addresses for the site still allowed overseas viewers (and those alleged security risks?) to view the propaganda pages of Bush’s site.

The news of this rather xenophobic so called security measure has once again stirred feelings around the world that Bush is perhaps less than honest in his dealings with the American people and the world. Indeed many see this as yet another example of how shockingly arrogant the Bush administration and ‘America’ have been in the last four years.

The worldwide interest in Americas forthcoming vote appears more keen than ever before, some might suggest because the rest of the world desperately want to see Bush ousted from leading America. And as the vote already looks like it could all end up in court and controversy again us non Americans are wondering how on earth America can seriously stand proud and claim to be the leaders of democracy and the free world.

Paranoid Bush blocks non Americans from reading his site
The world is watching YOU!
Florida election papers go missing
Al-Qaida’s support for Bush

GeneralThursday, October 28th, 2004, (1:11 pm)

The Boston Red Sox are champions at long last! Of course you don’t need me to say anymore than that.

The Bosox swept St Louis like the Queen was coming to visit, clinching the title and a record 8th straight game win. I sure wish I was back in Boston today!

GeneralTuesday, October 26th, 2004, (11:35 pm)

I spent the weekend in Birmingham (UK) trying to avoid the nasty wind and rain by going to the Mall with my friend Will.

I hate Malls on the whole. It’s in those places where my position in the grand scheme of things is made very frikkin clear indeed. I am a consumer, and if I’m not spending money then would I please get out of the way of the people who are thank you.

It’s actually more fun to go to the mall and watch people scurrying around. To walk around anonymously and catch the shards of conversations as people pass by.

“He said if I wore that he’d fuckin dump me, can you believe that shit!?” said one fat girl who I sincerely hope didn’t wear anything that revealed any more than a plunging neck line.
“What a bastard. Like he can talk” Her friend replied. “He needs a good slap if you ask me, I think you should tell him to go fuck himself.”
“Yeah, I might.”
Hmm. Call me judgemental but I can’t see the guy in question being heartbroken over losing this charmer and her friend.

Another couple walked past debating the purchase of what I assume was a very expensive TV.
“It’s on offer though.” He pleads
“Do I look stupid to you, did you wake up this morning and think you were married to Miss Bimbo UK or something?!”
He laughs coyly and retorts “But imagine how good it would be when we play DVD’s and stuff. The thing we have at the moment isn’t anywhere near as good.”
“So what exactly are we going to do with the old one now then, and let me remind you that’s not even out of it’s bloody warranty yet – Darling!”
I’m feeling bad for the guy as he continues pleading what looks like a losing case.
“I’d sell that no problem – Dear. Plus, Eddie said he’d buy it.”
“Hang on, I thought you’d only just seen it just now.”
“Well yeah, but Eddie said…”
“How did Eddie even know about you selling the other one if you only just saw it?”
They take to the elevator and I don’t follow. Though I assume the new TV or whatever it was didn’t end up getting purchased.

A little girl to her father who is waiting outside a lingerie shop.
“It’s pretty that isn’t it Daddy.” She points to the skimpiest pink lingerie on a mannequin in a rather provocative pose. The Dad looks at the mannequin and raises his eyebrows obviously understanding the suggestion of the pose.
“Yes, that’s very pretty.” he replies returning his attention to a leaflet he’s reading.
“Mummy likes those doesn’t she Daddy?”
He takes another look at the mannequin then with a smile on his face says to his daughter “We can but hope darling, we can but hope.”

Conversation dipping is a fun way to kill an otherwise dull few moments in a busy shopping mall. I’d highly recommend it.

Picture taken by me in Selfridges department store in Birmingham’s new ‘Bull ring.’

I’ve written some other ‘people watching’ material at my ‘real’ website. See…
Tickets please – Finding inspiration on the 16:34 to Liverpool.
On a bus to Seattle – My trend of writing on while in transit continues.

Faith & Religion and PoliticalThursday, October 21st, 2004, (6:14 pm)

I was watching the news tonight when, in the coverage to the run up to Americas election, some people in an Arizona Church were asked about Bush and The War Against Terror (otherwise known as T.W.A.T. for short).

They gave their full support for Bush citing that he was “God’s President” and that by going and waging war on Iraq he was “spreading the word of God.” They were then shown all standing in a circle, in their frumpy fashions, and praying aloud asking the good Lord to put his chosen president in place to lead America.

The brief storey then showed the people that style left behind all standing around singing and clapping out of tune to some old praise song being banged out of an equally old piano by an even more old lady.

“Is this war more or a crusade do you think?” asked the interviewer to one female member of the congregation.
“Well of course! This is about proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ, bringing the gospel to a part of the world that has been lied to throughout history.”
“Would you then describe this as a Holy War?” says the interviewer
“Absolutely.” is the quick and decisive response from the woman.

I could only sit there shaking my head in disbelief. This isn’t a Holy War, this is supposed to be a war about freedom and liberty, though most agree that to claim that is to ignore the obvious facts that this seems to be a war more about oil than anything else. After all, if America and Britain were so concerned with the freedom of Iraq under the oppressive dictatorship, then how come those countries haven’t yet started military action against China? Why was it America remain tight liped and uninvolved about the situation in Sudan?

Say what you will about this war, but surely the last thing it’s about is religion. And surely that’s the last thing it should be about too. This isn’t a Jesus -v- Allah showdown and making it that would make an already volatile and seriously out of hand situation far graver than it already is.

The Christians interviewed in the news story claimed that God was on their side. The interviewer then asked if that wasn’t exactly what al-Qaeda have repeatedly claimed. The answer is of course yes.

God himself has yet to come out and publicly comment on who’s side he’s on. But my thought is that God, whichever team he plays for, must surely not be in favor of any kind of war? I mean if God isn’t a peaceful leader/creator then heaven isn’t going to be the wondrous bliss we’re all looking forward to.

Of course as America gets ever closer to polling day the rest of the world is looking on, much of it hoping that Bush will be ousted from the currently less than White House. Bush has fudged foreign policy in his four years at the wheel. He’s upset numerous countries, many of whom (including the UK) were, and still are, considered friends and allies. His unwinable war has created more problems than it has fixed, and he’s a card carrying oil man. Having said that though, maybe America (and the world) should give him a chance to ‘fix’ the things he’s so badly broken.

Kerry is popular across the world more by default than by virtue. He’s popular mainly because Bush is so intensely hated. We know very little about him. The bumper stickers I’ve seen in the United states with slogans such as “Anybody but Bush 04” may be funny, but is it really a considered and sensible thing to simply vote for ‘the other guy’ just to get ‘the present guy’ out?

Whatever happens I hope it won’t turn into the farce that we saw in the Bush -v- Gore vote, where America looked utterly pompous on centre stage of the world. And if Kerry does get in, I wonder, will the happy clappy Bush supporters stand behind Gods decision? Who knows, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Why Christians should vote
George Bush and the Rise of Christian Fascism
Why Christians should not vote for Bush
Commical Florida voting machine video

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