Category Archives: heroes

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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206. The price of oil: 2 – a tragedy in the North Sea

bond-superpuma-helicopter-north-sea-c-ap-thesunco-ukI was going to write another article about the oil price today, but I’ll postpone that for now. Sixteen people died in a North Sea helicopter crash on Wednesday.

Their Super Puma helicopter had flown 150 miles from the BP Miller Platform towards Aberdeen, but came down just 13 miles from the coast at Peterhead.

Eight bodies were recovered from the scene. Another eight may never be found.
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198. This bank and shoal of time – beside the river in Stratford-upon-Avon

stratford-upon-avon-england-christmas-lights-on-clopton-bridge-dec-2008-by-roadsofstoneBut here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We’d jump the life to come.
Macbeth, Act 1, Sc. 7.

Why then the world’s mine oyster.
The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 2, Sc 2.

The Roman road crossed the river at its widest and shallowest point, and gave this town its name: Strat-ford-upon-Avon.

The Clopton Bridge stands at the same spot today – five hundred years old, and still carrying all the traffic across the river. Beneath the bridge, the Avon flows both chill and slow. I know the feeling.

I run past the boathouse, the Tramway Bridge and the Rowing Club. The Avon is full of rowers out bright and early. A couple of fours, a sculler or two. There are no canal boats today, but the river is navigable all the way from the sea.

stratford-upon-avon-england-monument-at-new-lock-dec-2008-by-roadsofstoneThe navigation works were authorised by King Charles I in 1635, and by 1641 the river was open to within four miles of Warwick. But by 1874, the upper section had fallen into disuse.

It was the vision of David Hutchings and the Upper Avon Navigation Trust to re-open the river between the Severn and the Birmingham Canal. Stratford New Lock was the last link in that chain, finally completed in 1971.

The lock was built by volunteers from Gloucester Gaol, and Stratford’s Shawshank offered a tough kind of redemption. Continue reading

196. In Shelley’s Sussex footsteps – running from Horsham to Warnham

autumn-on-the-causeway-horsham-sussex-england-by-yoshi-san-virtual-tourist-comO Wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being
Thou from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing

Ode to the West Wind, Percy Bysshe Shelley — 1819

A new season in a new town. Autumn has come and gone here in Horsham, scattering her falling leaves behind new footsteps across the park.

September laid a blank canvas all around this pretty Sussex town, and running set me free to paint. It’s invigorating, exciting and refreshing to explore anew.

Horsham is over a thousand years old. Standing calm beside the River Arun, amid green fields atop the Wealden Clay, historically this town gave birth to bricks, and beer and Catherine Howard.

Two centuries ago, Percy Bysshe Shelley set forth upon his life from here — a journey cut short before his 30th birthday in a shipwreck off the Italian coast. One of the great lyric poets and an unconventional and uncompromising radical, Shelley was expelled from Oxford for his atheist and anti-monarchist views.
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195. The arc of history – USA election 2008

“It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.”
— Barack Obama, Chicago, 4th November 2008.

barack-obama-and-family-chicago-illinois-usa-4th-november-2008It’s just three miles and a lifetime’s journey from the South Side of Chicago to Grant Park, and I can remember every step.

How marvellous it was that the US election race this year should find its long-awaited finish line at the same spot as the Chicago Marathon — one of many high points I’ve shared with this incredible country through a relationship that stretches right across my adult life.

I entered the United States late one August night in 1981. Seventeen hours out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, we drove across a bridge and into Maine. Next morning, six hours and a brief stop in Portland later, I stepped wearily off the bus in downtown Boston — completing my journey from England to New England, where the history of this great nation had started.

That visit took me down the east coast to New York and Washington, in an arc via Pittsburgh to Niagara, and then back into Canada for a return flight home.

My memories of America from that trip? Coin-fed TV sets in lonely Greyhound bus stations. The wind on Cape Cod. Looking across the Charles River on a long walk out to Cambridge.

washington-monument-capitol-from-lincoln-memorial-usa-h4num4n-flickrThe view from the Empire State Building. The sound of dusk on Broadway. The New Jersey Turnpike. The Smithsonian. The Capitol.

A quote carved into the Washington pavement —
‘One of these days this will be a very great city, if nothing happens to it’ (Henry Adams).

My love affair with America had begun.
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194. The US Electoral College: a From Scratch guide

new-england-leaves-in-fall-by-roadsofstoneThis longest race is nearly run at last – and as autumn 2008 falls inexorably into the arms of winter, the US election beckons with its promise of history in the making.

Because by the time the October New England leaves lie buried under fresh January snows, the new course of our free world will have been decided.

And after months of Primaries, Conventions and Rallies — the millions of words from Hillary, Barack and McCain, and thousands of column inches on Sarah, Joe and even Joe the Plumber — how, exactly, will America elect her new President?

We’ve heard about the battleground states — the races for Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. But surely, every vote counts, right across the country?

This week, I’m indebted to Ella, our long-standing America correspondent, for writing this timely From Scratch guide to the US Electoral College.

new-hampshire-snow-by-atonal-at-flickrdotcomAll across the lower 48, Hawaii, Alaska and the farthest reaches of the Upper East Side, America decides.

And this is how it works.

* * * * *

Click for www.electoral-vote.com

On November 4, we Americans will be voting for a new president in no less than 51 separate elections — one in each state and the District of Columbia.

On that day we won’t elect the new president, though; that won’t happen until December 15, when the electors, chosen in the primaries and by state party meetings, gather in their respective state capitals to cast their votes.

And the president won’t count as duly elected until those electoral votes are counted in Congress on January 6.

In a nutshell, those three stages define how our Electoral College works.
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192. Ending the streak – America wins the 2008 Ryder Cup

valhalla-golf-club-hole-6-valhallgolfclub-comThe streak ends today.

So read a banner beside the fairway at Valhalla yesterday as the final day singles of the 2008 Ryder Cup were about to begin.

jb-holmes-kenny-perry-celebrate-ryder-cup-2008-valhalla-kentucky-usa.jpgThose words showed how much the Americans wanted to win it this time. And win it they did, as Paul Azinger and his players delivered the first USA victory since Brookline in 1999. The Kentucky twilight fell to wild scenes of jubilation and joy.

This was a true team achievement. Lining up as underdogs, without the best player in the world beside them, the Americans played wonderfully, and they putted even better.
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