Category Archives: 2009

217. The Guitar Hero and the Gypsy – Fleetwood Mac live in London

night at the wembley arena london england by roadsofstoneLightning strikes — maybe once, maybe twice
And it lights up the night

Fleetwood Mac – May 1982

The lights dim, the cymbals beat, and the guitar begins.

Right from the word go, there’s an energy about this — a foot-stamping, driving rhythm from front left of the stage. It defines Monday Morning, the opening song, and it runs all through the show.

lindsey buckingham fleetwood mac live 2009 by bengarland flickrAnd the truth is that I’ve listened to Fleetwood Mac for two decades and more, but it never struck me until now.

Lindsey Buckingham is a rock star. There’s just no doubt about it.

My kids know Fleetwood Mac mainly from Guitar Hero, which features the iconic solo from Go Your Own Way. And suddenly that seems appropriate, for Guitar Hero is exactly what he is.
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216. Geneva

rainy day geneva switzerland by roadsofstoneIt’s 6 am and raining. Mid-summer has somehow ended in the night, and a different kind of July stands waiting for me as I step outside.

The street is chill and almost empty. A fine wet shimmer is wrapped around the tramtracks as I cross them, and even now, in my first few strides, I can feel the morning washing clean the heavy dreams of last night’s dinner.

summer sunset from cologny switzerland lake geneva jura mountains by roadsofstoneI turn my collar to the cool and damp, and kick my heels slowly east along the lakeshore.

The first minutes of a run like this are always hardest. A body short on sleep but not so short on years is slower than it should be to get going.

My feet are heavy, and my stomach feels heavier still, with a not so faint taste of Swiss Gamay red lurking somewhere down inside.

I raise my eyes and look around. Across the grey lake, the city lies serene and timeless. Geneva is exactly as I remember her. Unchanged, if just a little wetter.
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215. Waltz with Bashir – from Lebanon to Gaza

Tomorrow, President Obama will meet Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, bringing the Arab-Israeli Peace Process stuttering back into life.

Let’s wish success to them all as they begin that great endeavour.

Meanwhile, the UN Report on the War in Gaza was finally published last week, reminding me of this brief review that I wrote in March 2009 of the animated film Waltz with Bashir, directed by Ari Folman.

Time has passed since then, but the sentiments still apply.

* * * * *

waltz with bashir 2008 director ari folmanWhat an incredibly timely movie this is — coming so hard on the heels of the recent massacres in Gaza — and it’s the first time I’ve seen the Arab-Israeli conflict covered in any kind of movie, let alone a stunning and inventive animation.

The pointlessness of war — that’s what the film is about. But what makes it unique is its recognition of regret and remorse for the chaos of conflict and the pointless loss of life within a different war.
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214. Three years of Roads of Stone

past and present high street rye east sussex england by roadsofstoneThings have been slow around here, for a little while now, and in more ways than one.

I’ve had less time for running, and less still for writing. I’ve been unfit, distracted and slow.

And yet — there’s been real progress, too, hidden not far beneath the surface.

Our 95,000 visitors this year may have found only 22 new posts to read, but it’s been a momentous year of change, both in London and abroad.

the old mill horsham sussex england by acirfa virtual tourist comThe great crash formed the backdrop to the year, but it was in America that destiny was decided.

A changing political landscape marked the 2008 US election and the new opportunities that brings, for America and the whole world beyond.
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213. The price of risk – a City of London view

gherkin tower42 finsburysquare from citypoint london england july2009 by roadsofstoneHigh flying, adored
What happens now —
Where do you go from here?

For someone
On top of the world
The view is not exactly clear

Evita — Rice & Lloyd-Webber (1976)

I spent much of the summer visiting financial institutions in the City of London.

The fallout from last autumn’s global economic meltdown is still drifting through our streets. The world didn’t end last October, but it felt a close call at times.

For the moment,  it seems as if the worst is behind us. The dust is clearing slowly, and yet in the City uncertainty still clouds a faintly growing optimism. For many in the Square Mile, waiting out the storm a while remains the wisest game of all.

When recovery comes, what will it look like? Or is it here already, lurking in the lunchtime swagger of those traders who survived the carnage, and the evening calm of bankers working now for different masters?

summer 2009 clouds over the city london england by roadsofstoneLooking back, the causes of this crisis are clear to see. It was all about the price of risk.

In 2007, the City thought it had abolished risk, or at least knew how to measure it.
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212. Cuba 1: Just imagine

mogotes valle de vinales cuba by roadsofstoneJust imagine.

Picture a beautiful country of fertile green plains and lush, forested mountains.

A country washed by warm tropical seas, blessed with the finest beaches in the world.

A nation with a proud history extending across three millennia and more. A land coveted by great empires and fought over for centuries — where the fate of our planet was decided, many times more than once.

balcony architecture parque marti cienfuegos cuba by roadsofstoneThink of a country rich in art and architecture, with nine World Heritage Sites for culture and nature.

Wander streets at the cradle of music and dance, listening to rhythms echoing all around the world.

Dream of stunning cities, beautiful towns and remote villages, set across a landscape unblighted by shanty towns or ghettoes. A land where men, women and children of all different colours live side by side, and where racism is confined to the past.

Envisage a country with excellent health care which is free and accessible to all. A society where life expectancy rates equal those in the United States, and where infant mortality rates are significantly lower.
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211. The price of oil: 4 – a rising road ahead

st pauls cathedral city of london england banking financial crisis 2008As the world begins hesitantly to emerge from this downturn, when and how strongly the recovery will manifest itself is still unknown. There are huge uncertainties remaining.

So why should energy costs be rising again already? Last week’s post about the oil price shock of 2008 described a fall from a $147 peak last summer to $34 in February 2009.

In concluding, I noted that although a $60 oil price looks ‘low’ today, in relation to past prices, it’s still way above the average.

In fact, the oil price has only exceeded $60 for some 15 months across the whole of recorded history. What has happened to keep the oil price high?
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