Category Archives: music

126. A new England

I don’t want to change the world
I’m not looking for a new England
Are you looking for another girl ?

a-new-england.jpgBilly Bragg, July 1983;
Kirsty MacColl, December 1984

It might seem a stretch to link political activist and singer Billy Bragg with the new leader of the Conservative Party, but both featured in the news this week.

Billy received a write-up in The Observer for his new book on English patriotism – a decidedly risky concept within the social landscape of modern Britain, fitting entirely comfortably neither on the terraces of Upton Park nor on the East London streets of Bragg’s childhood home in nearby Barking.

And David Cameron was everywhere it seemed, following his début at the Tory Party Conference, where he made that speech – a decidedly risky exercise within the political landscape of the right, fitting entirely convincingly neither in the Conservative Party conference hall nor in the white middle-class streets of Bournemouth which surrounded it.
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121. Hot in the city – Billy Idol at Guilfest

billy-idol.jpgIt’s hot here at night, lonely, black and quiet
On a hot summer night
Billy Idol – July 1982

The changes to our weather patterns over the last few years have been gradual, but they really don’t seem that subtle any more. More than anything, there’s a certainty about our summers now which belies all those clichés about the weather in this country.

You only have to look at those once green lawns and fields, all uniformly browned and bleached for weeks now, to realise that southern England has become just another segment of the Mediterranean for a month or two every year.
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119. Schönbrunn, Vienna

There’s always the sun
The Stranglers, October 1986

As I wake in my hotel in the eastern city suburbs at 7 am, I can still hear the strains of the Viennese Boy’s Choir departing from their programme to sing ‘Jerusalem’ at last night’s client reception. I can still picture the grandeur, imperial opulence and enormous chandeliers of Vienna’s Coburg Palace.

schonbrunn-palace-vienna.jpg
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116. London is Olympic – The London Marathon

1. London is Olympic – 21.04.2006

The London 2012 film and music were playing at the Expo last night, reminding me that Sunday will see the first marathon in this newly Olympic city of ours.

And inspiration for the marathon start line just doesn’t get any better than this.

london-olympics-2012-heather-small-proud.jpgI look into the window of my mind
Reflections of the fears I know I’ve left behind

I step out of the ordinary
I can feel my soul ascending

I’m on my way
Can’t stop me now
And you can do the same

Heather Small – May 2000

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110. The hands that built America – Houston skylines

houston-skylines.jpg

Oh my love
It’s a long way we’ve -come
From the freckled hills
To the steel and glass canyons
U2 – November 2002

My watch says almost midday, and still I’m waiting for the sun to come up. I’ve been sitting in my hotel room for a couple of hours already, wide awake and yet bleary-eyed with jet-lag, but a glance out of the window and across the freeway shows a resolutely dark sky over the plains beyond The Loop.

Oh well. There’s no point in waiting any longer. I chuck on a T-shirt and shorts, lace up my shoes, trot out through the lobby and hit the sidewalk running.
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109. Happiness, more or less

river-wey-navigation-and-newark-priory.jpg

Happiness – more or less
It’s just a change in me
Something in my liberty
Oh my mind

Happiness – coming and going
I watch you look at me
Watch my fever growing
I know just where I am

Well, how many corners do I have to turn ?
How many times do I have to learn ?
All the love I have is in my mind
The Verve – September 1997

The runner’s high. Goodness knows, I’ve sought it long and hard recently. I’ve waited long enough.

Some would argue that it’s exercise-induced narcosis which keeps us running in the first place. But I know that’s not true. Because whilst I appreciate the benefits of running, and a certain post-run clarity of thought is up there on my list, there really is much more to it. You can’t manufacture those moments – they just happen.
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