Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Jazz Wednesday - Peggy Lee & Judy Garland

Albert's final trip

Albert Hofmann, the Swiss scientist who invented the LSD and became the first person in the world to experience a full-blown acid trip, has died. He was 102.

He was working as a chemist in Basel, when he synthesised lysergic acid diethylamide. On April 19, 1943, he took the substance before cycling home.
That day has become known among aficionados as “Bicycle Day” as it was while he was riding home that he experienced the most intense symptoms brought on by the drug.
Rick Doblin, who studied Hofmann’s work as part of his own research and knew Hofmann well, confirmed he died of a heart attack at 9am on Tuesday at his home in Basel.

As well as LSD, Hofmann later became the first person to synthesise psilocybin, the active constituent of “magic mushrooms”.
He also discovered the hallucinogenic principles of Ololiuqui (Morning Glory), lysergic acid amide and lysergic acid hydroxyethylamide.
In retirement, Hofmann served as a member of the Nobel Prize Committee. He was a Fellow of the World Academy of Sciences, and a Member of the International Society of Plant Research and of the American Society of Pharmacognosy.
In 1988 the Albert Hofmann Foundation was established “to assemble and maintain an international library and archive devoted to the study of human consciousness and related fields.”
He disapproved of the appropriation of LSD by the youth movements of the 1960s, but regretted that its potential uses had not been explored.
Albert Hofmann was married and had three children.

It's all happening at the zoo ....

The kids will love these .... Belfast Zoo have just started a new advertising campaign and this is one of the posters to be spotted round the city. I like the implied menace in the slogan.

Chaos in the printshop

Remember Honda's 'Cog' advert ... well here's a new variation ....

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Lucia Plaztik

... and a cartoon from elemental soup

Sweet 'n' sour

Here is a very interesting article from yesterday's First Post (sorry I only found it today)

Lemons that taste like sugared meringues? Vinegar that tastes like cool-aid? Sweet cheese? It's true - I've tasted them all. It just needed a small berry popped into my mouth, rolled around for about a minute, and my taste buds went into reverse. Anything sour tasted sweet. No wonder they call it the Miracle Berry. And believe me, it's much much more than a party trick.
The story begins thirty years ago with Robert Harvey, an American entrepreneur who rediscovered Synsepalum dulcificum, a wild berry grown in West Africa, which, when properly processed, turns sour food and drink sweet, and, even more significantly, high-calorie sweetened junk foods into zero-calorie tasty treats.

It was Harvey, working away in his New England laboratories in the early Seventies, who first realised that here was something which had the potential to be a safe non-fattening sugar substitute and an alternative to the (then) new artificial sweeteners, those chemical mixes just beginning to make their mark on the food and drink industry.
Harvey and his colleagues were able to process the berry's 'miracle' ingredient to make it marketable. So his company conducted their first practical miracle berry trial. They coated some sugarless ice lollies with the berry process. Then they took sugar-coated ice lollies, mixed the two brands up and handed them out to schoolchildren in a Boston playground. Result ? All the kids preferred the Miracle Berry lollies to the sugared ones, not only making the key marketing point but also showing that the berry is a taste enhancer.

Harvey was ecstatic: "The kids licked the outside of the lolly thus making the unsugared inside taste sweet. It didn't rot the teeth and there were no calories. It was junk food without the junk."
Harvey was sitting on a billion dollar project - one that could have had profound implications not only for the epidemic of obesity in the US, but the pandemic throughout the developed Western world.
Reynolds Metal (who make the aluminium wrappings for lollies and ice creams) came on board, Barclays Bank came on board, so did the mighty Prudential. Harvey had hundreds of thousands of miracle berry plants growing in Jamaica. The American Federal Drugs Administration took a benign view of the product
And then it got nasty. In the autumn of 1973 Harvey's offices were burgled and the precious files ransacked.

"This was a professional job." Harvey recalls. "When the police arrived we discovered that
none of the building's locks had been smashed or broken."

Then the real bombshell. In 1974, the FDA changed its mind about the Miracle Berry product on the very eve of the product launch in drug stores across the whole of the Eastern seaboard. In the most brutal way, the FDA ordered all the products to be withdrawn at once. In a complete headstand, the FDA, which had indicated it would clear the product for use, now reclassified the berry as an additive, and like any artificial ingredient, it would now have to submit to years of testing for safety and efficacy.

Who was behind all that? We may never know, but suspicions abound. Harvey's project ended in near bankruptcy. And today, the Miracle Berry remains a mere party trick for those who can buy it mail order.

Tom Mangold presents The Miracle Berry on BBC Radio 4 on Monday 28 April at 9pm

Let the punishment fit the crime

It's the same story every year - as soon as we get a spell of good weather the morons are off up the mountain with their wee box of matches to set fire to the gorse,heather, bushes, wild life or whatever. That's smoke rolling off the top of the hill.

You can just see the mind set of the idiots, can't you, "here's a beautiful piece of countryside so let's ruin it for everybody and screw any wild life that gets in our way"

As you can imagine, it's impossible to get fire appliances to the top of the hill so the fire service have to head up there on foot armed with shovels to try to beat out the flames or smother them with dirt or alternatively you can pray for a sudden downpour to dowse the flames - invariably the latter is the quickest and most efficient method of dealing with gorse fires.

I would like to take this opportunity to let our firefighters know that their efforts are appreciated by some members of the community. Well done.

As for the morons who continually cause this destruction - castration with a blunt bread knife would be letting them off far too easy, throw them off the top of Cave Hill with a bungie rope tied to their goolies and the other end fastened to a stake OR 'let the punishment fit the crime' - burn them at the stake (after throwing them off the top of Cave Hill first).

Monday, 28 April 2008

Jackie Flavelle at Mount Stewart

As mentioned previously, a short video of Jackie Flavelle and his group playing at Mount Stewart on Sunday 27th April 2008.

The Common (or not so common) Primrose

Yesterday was the start of the jazz season at Mountstewart - and what fabulous weather we had for it, the sun shone all day. Dr Em and myself were sitting enjoying the music and the sun until after 6.00 last night. Hope the rest of the season will be just as good. (fingers crossed).

On the way in to the gardens I spotted this bunch of primroses (primevères) and stopped to take a pic - because it has been years since I saw a bunch. I can remember my father taking my sister and myself for a walk in nearby Glencairn on a spring sunday to pick some primroses and bluebells. Everybody did it - and that's why the common primrose is not so common any longer.

Of course once I got into the gardens I discovered more primroses round the base of this tree -

so they are not so uncommon in MountStewart. In the background you can see everybody enjoying the music of Jackie Flavelle and his group. (More of which, later)

According to wikipedia : Primula vulgaris (syn. P. acaulis (L.) Hill) is a species of Primula native to western and southern Europe (from the Faroe Islands and Norway south to Portugal, and east to Germany, Ukraine, the Crimea, and the Balkans), northwest Africa (Algeria), and southwest Asia (Turkey east to Iran). The common name is Primrose, or occasionally Common Primrose or English Primrose to distinguish it from other Primula species also called primroses.

It flowers in early spring, one of the earliest spring flowers in much of Europe, and in appropriate conditions, can cover the ground in open woods.

In more populated areas it has sometimes suffered from over-collection and theft so that few natural displays of primroses in abundance can now be found. To prevent excessive damage to the species, picking of primroses or the removal of primrose plants from the wild is illegal in many countries, e.g. the UK (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, Section 13, part 1b).

Oh, and I see that adada has a similar post today - another wee bit of flower power. I don't know if she realises that dandelions are also known as pee (or wet) the beds here and in France. As she says 'simple things always make me smile' (c:

Looks can be deceiving.

I saw this young woman in front of the City Hall and thought she was either busking or taking part in the Festival of Fools, to be held in Belfast this weekend, but no I was wrong - she is actually a member of a christian group (spit!) spreading the word of the lord. So, looks can be deceiving. They are a deceitful bunch, those christians.

But, on the topic of fools - don't miss the aforesaid Festival of Fools , if previous years are anything to go by, it will be loads of fun.



Saturday, 26 April 2008

Humphrey Lyttelton: Obituary

It is with sadness that I have to announce once again the death of another great jazz musician, humphrey Lyttleton who died on Friday, 25 April 2008 ...

Steve Voce writing in the independent says .... he excelled at everything that he chose to do. He was a trumpeter, bandleader, calligrapher, cartoonist, writer, journalist and broadcaster. Well, not quite everything. He admitted to being no good at ice-skating, but attributed his lack of success to the failure of anyone to make size 13½ skating boots to suit his feet.

His career began when he gained fame for his declamatory trumpet style and he ended up contributing more to the British jazz scene than anyone else, bestriding it for more than half a century.
Lyttelton came from a respected family, filled with eccentrics, that had distinguished itself over the centuries. It was, he said, “a long line of land-owning, political, military, clerical, scholastic and literary forebears. Not a musician amongst them”. His ancestor Humphrey Littleton was notorious for having been, after an atypically bad career move, hanged, drawn and quartered for his part in the Gunpowder Plot.

Lyttelton liked to claim that Littleton was subsequently buried in Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Buckinghamshire. Sadly, or perhaps happily, the account of the original Humphrey’s fate has subsequently been discredited. Independent

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Some Free stuff .. and some not so free

Today I received an e-mail from Victoria Square (she's a nice girl really) offering a FREE UMBRELLA if I spend £100. I think not!!
Instead you will find me at Oxfam books in Rosemary Street for the FREE music gig and no doubt I will come away with a pile of books under my arm and maybe a few cd's. That's right they don't just sell books - so nip along this saturday and help support a worthy cause.

Blues Thursday - Taj Mahal - The bourgeois blues

A canto of cranes - second movement

... and still they come.
These are quite close to my previous post and as blueboat points out 'Belfast's skyline is full of cranes '

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Jazz Wednesday - Joni Mitchell - BLUE

This is for my fellow blogger; blueboat of Belfast Daily Photo ; let's hope she will be back blogging again soon. We miss her keen eye and Belfast humour.

... and this one is for me. It is my favourite ever Joni Mitchell song.

A Case of You - Joni Mitchell

Victoria Square (cont.)

I took a walk through Victoria Square this afternoon and was surprised to hear a jazz band entertaining the crowds(!) ... well the few people who ventured in to this rich woman's playground, it's certainly not for the plebs like you or me (c:

This may be an effort to draw in the crowds because, as you can see from the pic below, there were very few shoppers in now that the original fascination has worn off. Can we have our old Victoria Shopping Centre back now, please!

What's This?

... well your guess is as good as mine. Is it art masquerading as a lamp post or a lamp post masquerading as art .... or just a huge lump of useless tin? I know where my money goes.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008


It was a cold afternoon and they were wrapped up warm but it obviously did not spoil the enjoyment of their shared taste in music.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Flossie Malavialle

Coming home recently I had the car radio tuned to one of our local radio stations and was surprised when they played a track by Flossie Malavialle from her new CD of Jacques Brel songs. So, of course, I immediately googled her and found the widget which has been on the side bar for the past couple of weeks. I hope you have been making use of said widget and appreciating the music as much as I have.

Flossie's MySpace url: and her web site in French and English here:

There is an interview with Flossie on nick 365 here:

Flossie Malavialle, born and raised in Nimes in southern France, arrived in Britain five years ago on a year's teaching exchange. She'd asked for Edinburgh, they sent her to Grangefield comprehensive, in Stockton.

"Maybe it was my accent," she supposes disingenuously. "Scotland,
Stockton, perhaps they sounded the same." This is the North East

The really surprising thing is to hear her speaking with a Geordie accent (no bad thing).

John Condon

One of the tracks on the Flossie Malavialle widget is 'John Condon' and here is a bit of information about him ...

The youngest soldier to be killed in the Great War of 1914-18 was No. 2622 Private John Condon, of the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment and came from Waterford in Ireland. Like a quarter of a million other boy soldiers from all over the British Isles, John was underage. He arrived at the Western Front in March 1915 and two short months later he was dead. Killed in a German Gas attack at a place called Mouse Trap Farm near Ypres, Belgium on the 24th of May, a day they say when a greenish yellow mist crept from the German lines with deadly poison. John's grave is in Poelcapple Military Cemetery and is now reputedly the most visited grave on the entire Western Front for obvious reasons. There, amongst thousands of white headstones, there is usually an array of poppies, flags and wooden crosses around the final resting place of young John Condon and a gravestone that says it all.

2622 Pte. J. Condon, 14 years old

Even today, in Waterford City, John Condon's memory is largely forgotten and recent attempts to erect a monument to his memory were met with opposition from some who still cannot see fit to remember those Irishmen who died wearing a British uniform.

The lyrics of the song are printed below:

"John Condon"
Just a day, another day beneath the Belgian sun
Past grave on grave, row on row until I see the name John Condon
carved in stone, the harp and crown, little crosses in the ground
and standing there, my silent prayer is for a boy who died a soldier
Wee lad who'll not grow old. Heroes that don't come home
Here they lie in Belgian fields and Picardy
Just a recruit in soldier's boots
from Ireland's shores to here this living hell. This Poelcapelle.
Where young men fell like you, John Condon
and all around the harp and crown, the crosses in the ground stand up in proof,
the bitter truth, the waste of youth that lies forgotten
wee lad who'll not grow old. Heroes that don't come home
Here they lie in Belgian fields and Picardy
Now tell me John, before I go on. What did you come here for?
with Ireland's bold, your life untold, 14 years old - to die a soldier?
and all around the harp and crown and crosses in the ground
what caused was served? So undeserved!
Heroes that don't come home. Sing out for all their souls
here they lie in Belgian fields, and Picardy.

©Laird/Starrett/McRory 2001

Opera Monday - Olivia Safe

This should be of particular interest to members of my family - Olivia is the girlfriend of one of my nephews - and it's not difficult to see why ..... it's because she has a really great voice.

You can find out more about Olivia and listen to some more of her excellent performances on her MySpace site.

Jos. Braddell & Son

Referring back to another post - J. Braddell & Sons - I was passing the Duke of York recently and spotted this old enamel sign on the wall. Interesting to note that it was '& Son' only when that particular sign was made (compare with the nameplate above the shop) and also interesting is the low telephone number allocated to them.

I must make something clear - I referred to a photo of Blades Direct, UPPER North St., on Belfast Daily Photo - but I did not wish or intend to infer that they had any connection with Braddell's of LOWER North Street, though I did think that the comments that both blueboat and I posted on Belfast Daily Photo would have made that clear - we were just remarking on the similarity of shop fronts. So I apologise (very belatedly) to anyone who may have misconstrued my post and subsequent comments.

Gum Bin

You probably remember me having a little rant recently about the amount of chewing gum in Belfast which is thrown on to the pavement instead of being disposed of properly. I did mention that there are quite a few litter bins around the streets of Belfast but, in addition, they also have these devices on top, specifically for gum and cigarette butts, so there really is no excuse, other than the fact that most cigarette smokers and gum chewers are just total morons.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Dance with me

Dance with me, I want to be your partner
Can't you see the music is just starting?
Night is falling, and I am calling
Dance with me

Fantasy, could never be so giving
I feel free, I hope that you are willing
Pick your feet up, and kick your feet up
Dance with me

Let it lift you off the ground
Starry eyes, and love is all around us
I can take you where you want to go

Dance with me, I want to be your partner
Can't you see the music is just starting?
Night is falling, and I am calling
Dance with me

Let it lift you off the ground
Starry eyes, and love is all around us
I can take you where you want to go

Fantasy could never be so giving
I feel free, I hope that you are willing
To pick your feet up, kick your feet up
And dance with me

Dance with me, I want to be your partner
Can't you see the music is just starting?
Night is falling, and I am calling
Dance with me

Dance with me

Dance with me

Heard this on the radio the other night and thought I would check it out on YouTube and found this excellent video by discoducky featuring 2003 world ice dance champions Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz. The synchronization of the various video clips to the music is just excellent.

... and here are the lads themselves performing live

A bit art nouveau(ish)

This was taken from the bar of Madison's Hotel on Botanic Avenue. I like the curves of the railing and just thought mono-chrome would give it more of an arty feel about it.