Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

March 2005

GeneralMonday, March 21st, 2005, (8:39 am)

Saturday afternoon was the first really beautiful warm day here in England. Most of the country was bathed in sunshine and warmth. It felt like the first day of summer, a perfect day to get out onto the open road with the hood down on my MG.

My girlfriend ‘Posh‘ (otherwise known as Rachel) and I headed across the border into Wales just after lunch, looking for the winding roads leading to the beautiful ‘Horseshoe pass,’ a road that is as notorious as it is beautiful. The road was wide open though with only a handful of people sharing the same idea as us so it was perfect.

As I drove the ‘stick shift’ British racing green car along the road that snaked its way through the beautiful countryside of Wales, I smiled to myself as I realised that I was actually living the hopes of a young Simon who used to look longingly at open-top sports cars when he was a kid. Back then the possibility of actually having one seemed like a dream, but here I was in Wales on a beautiful afternoon with the hood down enjoying the warmth of the sun and the open road – great stuff!

Posh, better known as Rachel LindsayWe stopped and went for a short walk along one of the hillsides on the horseshoe path. I snapped a few pictures, but pictures do little to capture this awesome scene. We both commented that the weather was uncharacteristically hot for this time of year, feeling more like a summer’s day than a day in March.

We drove on and headed off the main road onto the back roads before stopping and going for a longer walk along a fast-flowing ice-cold river. Lambs were bounding around the fields partly curious of us and partly wary of us. A little further on down the road we came to the tiny village of Glyndyfrdwy with its historic railway station that stood still in time, a monument to a bygone era. The steam trains still run along the tracks here in the summer months, these days it’s a tourist attraction rather than a practical means of transport.

Eventually, we rolled into the steam train town of Llangollen. We had a drink in an old mill-house pub on the edge of the river. We sat for a while outside slowly sipping our drinks as the sky dipped behind the foothills of the Snowdonia mountain range. Then eventually we headed off again in search of something to eat, which is always difficult, to say the least. After a while, we sat down to eat in the town of Ruthin before heading back to England.

It was a really great way to spend a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon, the first time I’ve been able to really enjoy warm sunny weather in my MG. I’m looking forward to many more such days as the summer approaches.

Found on the webFriday, March 18th, 2005, (10:41 am)

I was going to lead this little Friday ‘found on the web’ post with a website that imaginatively takes Mr Bush’s speeches and remixes them. But in the end, knowing how some of you get so wound up over me taking shots at the boy Bush, I thought I’d go with something a little lighter.

So meet 19 year old Gary Brolsma of Saddle Brook New Jersey. In December last year he recorded a little clip of him lip syncing to some terrible Romanian pop song by Ozone called ‘Dragon Din Tei’ which seems to have very little to do with dragons.

Supposedly the video was a joke Gary recorded for him and his buddies to enjoy, but as these things do, somehow it dot out there on the worldwide web practically propelling him to internet superstar status like the ‘Star Wars kid’ before him.

Gary sings his big ol’ heart out and amusingly dances away to the song without getting out of his chair. The video has swept the net making people around the world laugh out loud. Suddenly Gary isn’t just some anonymous boy working in a Staples store in New Jersey anymore. For a few fleeting moments his name is making it onto the pages of the New York Times and newspapers across the world as well as TV shows like ‘The Today Show.’

In fact Gary’s ‘Numa Numa dance’ is now prompting tribute videos! In the coming months there are sure to be more as people around the globe kick back and mimic the care-free spirit in which the chunky chap from New Jersey filmed what was to be his 15 minutes of fame. One such video shows a computer training suite full of people doing Gary’s ‘Numa Numa’ dance.’

Gary himself hasn’t spoken out much about his unexpected time in the spotlight, but he seems to be enjoying it. If it were nearer Christmas my money would be on a Gary Brolsma dancersize video!

Gary’s Numa Numa dance video
Gary on NBC news
Gary in the New York Daily News
Gary’s blog
Open letter to Gary
Classroom do ‘Numa Numa dance’
The Star Wars Kid

GeneralThursday, March 17th, 2005, (8:14 pm)

Liverpool goes nuts on St Patrick’s day. It would seem that everyone becomes just that little bit Irish ready for a night on the town, no matter what day of the week it is, and no matter how early they have to be up for work the next day. Tonight they’re Irish in spirit if not in fact, and tonight they’ll be drinking only one drink, Guinness, cold or warm, it’ll make no difference by about 10pm.

As we arrived in the city that is the last stop on the West coast before the emerald Isle itself, we were greeted by a huge sign warmly welcoming us to Liverpool, the capital of culture 2008. No matter that it’s still only 2005, Liverpool is proud to be given the honor of being chosen as a European capital of culture. Then, just moments later, just a hop away from the shadow of the sign a car passes us, the driver hanging out of the window gesticulating and shouting in the broadest of Liverpool accents at the car in front, which it turns out is towing him.

“Wind down ya winda ya silly bitch!” Ah yes, welcome indeed to Liverpool, the 2008 European capital of culture.

A taxi pulls up next to the imbecilely joined cars and the taxi driver leans out of his window to shout at the other man who is still shouting at the woman who is apparently going the wrong way.

“Sort ‘er out will ya Jez! The pair of yoos gonna cause an accident!” Shouts the taxi driver, but it’s all in good humor as ‘Jez’ shouts back “We’re ‘edding for a ‘claims direct’ moment ‘ere mate, I can tell ya!” Both the men laugh as the traffic lights change and the towing vehicle drives off. At this point ‘Jez’ resume his position of driving with one hand while hanging out of the window shouting “Wind you fockin winda down will yoos OII!!! The Winda, the fockin winda, wind it fockin down will yoos!” As both cars head down Hope Street ‘Jez’s’ voice fades into the noise of the city that’s gearing up for a long night.

We step into the Everyman, theatre/bistro/bar/whatever. Tonight, like everywhere across the city, it’s taken on an Irish flavor as a six piece Irish band by the name of Reckless Elbow warm up at the far end of the room. At the bar everyone is ordering Guinness whether that be their usual poison or not, and by the time we’ve got our drink and turn to find a table, all the tables are occupied as the place has filled to capacity as the show upstairs has ended and every from that has just flooded into the bar.

We find a spot and stand there as the sound of people and music grow louder. It certainly sounds like Ireland, even if this English crowd are a little more reserved than the Irish. If you stand there and close your eyes breathing in the pub air, the sound of the violin will whisk you away to Temple Bar in Dublin. We’re on Irish time now, no need to look at our watches from this point on. It could well be a long night over in a second, such is the Irish way.

Reckless Elbow
The Everyman, Liverpool
Liverpool – Capital of Culture 2008

PhotographyWednesday, March 16th, 2005, (1:04 pm)

Quite a few people have commented over time about my photography and the pictures I use in the ‘logo’ space at the top of the page. So with that in mind I thought I’d take a moment to share with you the full size versions of the pictures I’ve recently used in the ‘logo’ space, and tell you where they are from and all that stuff.

The picture above was taken on the 99 from Fresno, California, to San Francisco¬†a couple of summers ago. We rented a car and headed to ‘Frisco’ with no particular plan and just had a really mellow day driving around listening to ‘Redemption’s Son’ by Joseph Arthur and stopping by places that looked interesting. It’s become one of my favorite pictures and is typical of my very un-pro ‘point and click’ style.

This picture was taken last year in Fresno while I walked to ‘The Revue’ cafe in the Tower District one typically hot afternoon. The scene just appealed to me, the lines, the abundance of the color blue and the oddly abandoned bit of living room furniture.

I can’t tell you exactly where these pictures were taken, but we’ve all seen a similar thing ourselves at least once right? The view of fluffy clouds out of a plane window is probably over Northern Canada flying to or from the States. The blurred car on a highway looks to me like it would be a UK highway, taken while I was driving – what a mad man!

More pictures by me : Point & Click America

GeneralTuesday, March 15th, 2005, (11:01 pm)

I’m feeling like a strange color blue. Not sad, just blue, and for no reason, it would seem. I just spent a great evening with my girlfriend, then went and did grocery shopping on the way home.

On the highway back to my place I was the only car on the deserted road. I wasn’t feeling speedy so I tootled along at 60pmh as Josh Ritter’s ‘Baby that’s not all’ played on the stereo.

When I got back I unpacked the shopping and then came up here. I just sat in front of the Mac and then read the comments on my last post, then surfed around a few of my subscriptions and a few other peoples blogs.

I think the highway did it. From the moment I left the store there seems to have been nobody else around. No one on the road, no one on the street where I live, nobody on IM, no planes drawing moonlit white lines across the night sky. Sigur Ros ‘Njosnavelin’ is playing and I don’t think that’s helping. I have no idea what the guy is singing about but it sounds like I feel right now. The world may well have ended and somehow I’m left behind just writing this aimless post that will most likely be deleted once I’ve made a cup of tea and had a little snack.

I think I’ll sit on my window ledge and wait for a car to drive past or some other evidence that I’m not the only person left alive after some strange and final event in world history.

General and PoliticalTuesday, March 15th, 2005, (11:46 am)

Here is an interesting fact that i didn’t know until today. There are ten times more people in America who consider themselves ‘Irish’ than the number of people actually living in Ireland itself! Even if you consider the fact that probably more than half those people have less connection to Ireland than they might actually like, it’s still a quite staggering statistic.

Of course, many of those Irish Americans have political opinions about the “struggle back home” and the activities of the terrorist organisation the IRA (Irish republican Army). I’ve heard so called Irish Americans, who haven’t been ‘home’ often if ever, talk about the “Bastard British” and the plight of the “comrades” fighting against the British. I tend to stay silent in such discussion, because as wrong as it might sound, I don’t really know a lot about the Irish problem. All I know is that it’s steeped in history and hatred that goes back years and that I dare say the British did indeed do terrible things to the Irish that helped ensure such entrenched loathing of us.

Having said that, while I sit and listen to those Irish Americans who talk about the “glory of the revolution” and the “battle” I note that these people, like all of us, were appalled at the outrageous acts of terrorism on September 11th 2001. Like everyone, they are keen to see that such a thing never happens again on American soil, yet somehow they feel justified in donating money to funds in order to aid the “battle back home,” a battle that we have, for years and years before 9/11, simply called terrorism.

As a child I grew up in a time when innocent office workers and tourists in London were being killed on a regular basis by bombs planted by the IRA. I sat in a London garden one afternoon and heard the deep boom of the biggest bomb to ever explode in the UK, then watched a thick black plume of smoke snake its way into the air over the city. I’ve been evacuated from parts of London too many times to remember as threats of bombs were called in, some real, some false. I’ve seen the devastation of a shopping mall in Manchester levelled by a huge IRA bomb planted in the back of a truck. I’ve been evacuated from work twice in bomb scares and watched the bomb squad carry out a controlled explosion on one place of work to disable a suspect package. Like anyone having grown up in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s I watched all this and never once did it ever strike me as glorious or a worthy struggle that might have a peaceful outcome. To me it was just terrorism. Needless hateful violence carried out by murderers and people who are “proud” to fight for what they believe in, but too cowardly to unmask their faces in the process.

Most of the money for this wave of violence, and indeed the violence that still goes on today, comes from the United States. It stands to reason that this would be the case when you consider that there are ten times more ‘Irish Americans’ than Irish people living in Ireland. But it seems that in the shadow of Americas own battle against terrorism, support for the IRA and its political affiliates has begun to fade fast.

Many political and influential voices in the United States are now stepping away from their support, or lack of condemnation, for the the IRA. With Sinn Fein’s leader, Jerry Adams, being shunned by many of the high profile figures who were due to meet him in his trip to America, there would seem to be a change of heart coming from ‘Irish Americans.’

Maybe this change of heart is just because support for the IRA might fly too much in the face of Bush’s war against terrorism too much, and create an unwelcome spotlight and backlash on the person in question. Or maybe the change of heart really is just that, a change of heart. Maybe some Irish Americans are finally figuring out that “the battle back home” isn’t going to be “gloriously won” by setting off bombs, shooting people, and killing innocent men, women and children.

Make no mistake, I’m not saying that I disagree or agree with the political objectives of the likes of Sinn Fein. I’m not invalidating the very real Irish issues at hand. I’m just glad to see that in these violent times it would seem that some of the IRA’s long distant supporters are waking up to the fact that killing more people isn’t getting them any closer to their long term political goals.

US snubs ‘send SF vital message’
Irish guns ‘fuel British crime’
IRA issue on US agendas
Sinn Fein warning: Reactions
Sienn Fien

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