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Sidetracks And Detours present PASS IT ON weekly walkabout 29 Sunday 3rd December

Sidetracks And Detours



weekly walkabout 29

Sunday 3rd December 2023

Hello. We have contributions today from eleven of our wonderful volunteer reporters. We include a consideration of Napoleon by our Historian Michael Higgins, and we follow Steve Cooke all across the arts and Dr. Joe Dawson and Graham Marshall submit a couple of sparkling reviews, Jand Steve Bewick supplies the Hot Biscuits. Peter Pearson leads us to introspection and Norman Warwick shows us steel horses on the shoreline and tin men on the sands as he offers more Island Insights. We have also received, and include, the regular listings from I Love Manchester and Manchester Music Festival as well as Jazz In Reading and Music That´s Going Places, and we´re very grateful for their support and for trusting us with their news. So, come follow your art along Sidetracks and Detours.

By the way, just in case you missed them last week, we have added five new stories to our archives of over 1,000 free articles. These include an exclusive interview with the aforementioned Jenny Bray,  and an exclusive interview published in both English and Spanish with poet and organiser Mercedes Minguela. We also featured country Americana star Zach Bryan and his bi awards, as well as reviewing a wonderful ballet performance of The Nutcracker. We also recommended a new book for that bigger bookshelf.: Surrender by Bono is another great read.


Researching History.

Poetic Licence by MICHAEL HIGGINS

All Across The Arts; Christmas Celebrations

review by STEVE COOKE

Rochdale To Light Up With New Fire Festival

Hot Orange at the Contact Theatre:

Ed Byrne’s stand-up tour:

Octagon Theatre Unveil

Toad Lane Concerts

Live Music:

Toad Lane Concert

Margaret Ferguson soprano & Jonathan Ellis piano

review by DR. JOE DAWSON

Rochdale Music Society

Jill Crossland, Piano

St.Michael´s Church Bamford, November 2023


I Love Manchester

Christmas Period Events

Halle Orchestra

Cloud 23 at Hilton Deansgate

Christmas at Heaton Park

Fairytale Of New York

Faulty Towers Residency

Live Music


Live Jazz

four gigs  preview by JAZZ IN READING

Music That´s Going Places : preview by ROB ADAMS

Jazz On Air

Hot Biscuits with STEVE BEWICK

A Reader´s Perspective: All Points Forward

Pondering On a Playlist with PETER PEARSON

Island Insights

Steel Horses On The Shoreline



Researching History

Directed by Sir Ridley Scott and released November 2023 through Columbia. Apple, Sony

Napoleon, The Film:

review by MICHAEL HIGGINS    

Sir Ridley Scott has become an icon of British and international standing for a directorial list of unforgettable films.

These range from his Napoleonic War historical masterpiece The Duallists in 1977, to Science Fiction thriller Alien, (‘In space no one can hear you scream’), contemporary female revenge bonding in Thelma and Louise, ancient Roman history in Gladiator, futuristic Blade Runner, etc. And now, Scott has returned to the Napoleonic Wars with a film of such epic promise. It encompasses timescale of almost thirty years of the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, sometime general and emperor of the French, and conqueror of Europe.

County Durham born Sir Ridley ‘s skill reaches back into his early start in Television with his now famous Hovis commercial, featuring a steady lad delivering bread for ‘real butter’ up  a cobbled street to the tune of Dvorak’s New World Symphony. He certainly knew then how to set a scene. And what a scene he sets in this recent return to the panorama of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, Napoleon’s sixty odd battles as a leading general, his long affair and marriage to Josephine de Beauharnais, the stresses of revolution and war and the exhausting change of scenery from mansion to palace to the courts of conquered Austria, Prussia and cowered Russia. In this film the camera does splendid work.

In this I was reminded of Scott’s first success, The Duellists, adapted from a Joseph Conrad novel. In that psychologically romantic look at Napoleonic warfare, particularly impacting on light cavalry regiments, and in particular two particular hussar officers played by Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel Scott delved into social and mental strife on campaign.  Keitel played a petulant quarreller Ferault, finding offence too easily and quick to challenge those who cross him to a duel.  Carradine as D’hubert,  gets drawn into this dangerous world through a trifling incident, incurring enduring hatred and desire for revenge.  Throughout the European campaigns of Napoleon and innumerable cavalry fights the two men engage in continual bouts of duelling as first one triumphs in wounding the other and vice versa with D’hubert reluctantly drawn into affairs of honour over women or ill conceived happenings.  This tension is carried over to civilian life after the ending of the wars and the whole saga, with exquisite photography, dialogue and a marvellous trawl through the changes in uniform and men’s cavalry hairstyles – long moustachios and heavily braided and beribboned long locks in 1800 to the short, pertly sideburned head and facial hair of 1815. The atmosphere of barrack, camp and then home comforts after war, in all weathers , fair and foul, is a stirring backdrop to the idea that war can bring out the worst of men as well as define the best in them.

It was with all this in mind that I looked forward to watching Scott’s Napoleon, in the hope that an echo of The Duellists would propel this film. Alas I was largely, and sadly, disappointed.  It is not Duellist driven. At two hours and forty minutes it is long, yet despite its compass of twenty five or so years, surprisingly fast paced. This is one of the strong points of the film as it begins with the young Corsican outcast Napoleon supposedly witnessing the guillotining of Queen Marie Antoinette in 1793 (one of the film’s many fictions), cynically using the instability of revolutionary government to climb up the military and social ladder to marry Josephine (a widowed aristocratic cast-off of one of the revolutionary leaders) and to endure a sort of gloomy romance for over a decade until their divorce in 1810.

And it is a gloomy romance with a very taciturn Joachin Phoenix proving his awkwardness with women but a firm ability to lead men in battle. His struggles with politicians wary of his growing power and his eventual coup d’etat to secure power as First Consul and then Emperor are crudely, but not cleverly, shown. As a parallel to this Scott attempts to show that in trying to impress Josephine on the one hand and revenge her many sexual indiscretions on the other, he and she try to make each other ‘great’.  And the greatness often turns to bizarre sexual encounters with Josephine raising her skirt and displaying her ‘belle chose’ to him as something of hers that is ‘his forever’ just after they have met. And there are unseemly grapplings that make Napoleon look rather silly and Josephine rather soulless.  It is perhaps this soullessness in both of them that rather mars the film. That and the silly dialogue that accompanies these scenes

One of Scott’s many fictions is the idea that Napoleon as much abandoned his army in Egypt in 1798 to accost Josephine over her illicit affair with officer Hypolite Charles as with his desire to make himself -First Consul of France. Likewise after their divorce due to her inability to produce children, they correspond regularly in the film, indicating a romantic spark to their own desires and dreams.

The real Josephine, (played by Vanessa Kirby)  died in 1814around the time of Napoleon’s final retreat into France and first exile to the island of Elba. But Ridley Scott has her die in 1815 during Napoleon’s ‘Hundred Days’ escapade in escaping from Elba, regaining the throne of France and fighting his final battle against the armies of Wellington and  Blucher.

Historians have pointed to the many fictions in the film which I need not go into. As a past member of the Societe Napoleonic I would point out that the battle scenes are not historic. Only a small portion of the frozen lake crossing battle shown was part of the battle of Austerlitz in December 1805 but the film pretends it was the whole battle.  Tactics are wrong with infantry ranks, cavalry manoeuvres and artillery all seeming  to get involved in a muddled, jumbled brawl with not one instance of a soldier ever having to prime, load, ram the shot home and fire as with smooth bore open sight muskets of the day. Napoleon is seen leading cavalry charges at the battle of Borodino, and again at Waterloo, which, as a former artillery officer and overall infantry officer he never did. In fact he was rather stationary and sluggish at both Borodino and Waterloo.

At the real Waterloo in June 1815 the troops of both sides marched into position in the pouring rain and slept in sodden blankets in the positions they were to fight in because neither side had tents. Tents abound in the film. Only the officers slept under cover in nearby farm houses or inns in 1815. And farmhouses, which were a major feature of the battle are completely absent from the film. In the film Napoleon has a grand marquee. Wellington’s allied army was only one third British and wore not only red jackets but Dutch-Belgian blue, Brunswick black and Nassau Green, yet Scott shows them as all British wearing red Jackets. And, bizarrely, huge British Union Flags are positioned every few yards along the allied line instead of the smaller regimental standards of each nationality’s army. Likewise the French in the film were festooned with huge tricolores bizarrely placed along every few yards of the French line.

In the real battle Napoleon launched attacks on the allied farmhouses and the infantry which were repulsed, then had to resort to cavalry attacks against Wellington’s  infantry and artillery which fell back to form successful defensive squares. With the Prussians assaulting his right wing Napoleon then had to use most of his infantry reserves to keep them at bay. Consequently a last attack by depleted French guard infantry against Wellington’s Anglo-Dutch- German line was again repulsed , which, along with fresh Prussian forces driving in the French right wing forced the French army into a retreating mob. 

In Scott’s film Rupert Everett is a rather oddly cast Wellington as Napoleon’s nemesis. But the poor, and very minimal, script does not give him, or Napoleon, much scope in shining here. Oddly the battle has Wellington’s infantry advancing through the guns to face the French Cavalry to form square. And they seem to advance from rifle pits and trenches a la World War I. There were no entrenchments at Waterloo. Nor did Wellington or Napoleon ever meet in real life. Yet in the film they do after Napoleon’s final abdication and his request for asylum in Britain is refused.

Scott’s retort to the historians who complained was to tell them to get a life and ask them, ‘Were you there?’  Andrew Roberts, author of many books and articles on the Napoleonic era, replied that no he wasn’t there but Napoleon and others who all wrote memoirs were and in history we follow the writers and documents of the time. I would suggest the whole film is cocking a snook at history all the time, or at least following the adage that in the contest between truth and legend one should film the legend.  And one has to ask if the film was shot for historians and the likes of me or the general public who wish to be transformed from a dull mostly empty cinema theatre into a past world of romance, rivalry and sentimentality.

There were only a dozen people in the screen room of my cinema and two of them were war gamers who sat before the start discussing model soldiers and tactics. But another viewer sat beside me was my wife and she said she found the film fast paced and passable- not great but worth the late afternoon out.

photo 6 Vanessa And I must admit that no matter how dull and boring Joachin Phoenix and Vanessa Kirby were as Napoleon and Josephine, the film itself certainly was not. It never dragged and from one scene to another the story carried on from luscious set to luscious set with ease.  If David Scarpa’s script made children of the other actors in their mainly bit parts, it did not impact on the film as a grand sweep of one of the most iconic characters of history and the myth of love conquering all, or at least that in love and war all bets are off.

On at least all is fair in filming. Sir Ridley only took two months to film this great epic and admits he has over four hours of ‘director’s cut’ footage toN release in the future.  Will the slightly disconnected settings and dialogue of the present film finally be joined up? Watch this space.

All Across The Arts; Christmas Celebrations

review by STEVE COOKE

Rochdale to light up with new fire festival.

The countdown to Christmas began in Rochdale in November with a spectacular new 2-day event and magical family entertainment leading up to the lights switch-on.

A free immersive experience for all ages, Ignite will feature incredible flame arches, an elegant ‘Eyeful Tower’ of fire and flame throwing, a musical fire tree.

‘Ignite’ Fire Festival , right , transformed the gardens opposite Rochdale Town Hall from Saturday, 25 November 2023 to Sunday, 26 November 2023 with 2 free night-time spectaculars delivering a magical trail of blazing fire and lights. Over 25 fiery displays, blazing sculptures and illuminated installations created by artists from the UK and abroad are now open to walk through from 4pm to 8pm each evening, with the Christmas lights switch-on having taken place on Sunday, 26 November 2023.

Visitors were able to follow the trail of flaming chimneys, fire shells, fire pits, festoon lighting, magical lights and jaw dropping special effects. Image courtesy of David Street.

Street theatre and interactive arts group Travelling Light Circus hosted fire shows featuring jugglers, torch spinning and dance for a multi-sensory mesmerising experience along with over 70 local residents that they had trained especially for the event.

Visitors also enjoyed a techno infused performance by ‘Drum Machine’, a 20-strong drumming collective. The group have performed at top festivals across the UK, but it will be their very first time in Rochdale.

For younger children there were lantern making workshops so little ones took their own homemade lantern to the switch-on.

There was hot food, mulled wine, and other seasonal drinks. It was the first time the lights have been switched on in front of the town hall since 2019, as the square and building have until recently been closed for major refurbishment.

Father Christmas and his special guests, including Mayor of Rochdale Councillor Mike Holly, who officially switched-on the lights at 5.30pm on Sunday, 26 November2023 in front of the town hall after the traditional countdown, whilst the ‘Ignite’ Fire Festival continued until 8pm.

Councillor Janet Emsley, the council’s cabinet member for equity, safety and reform said:“This new fire festival was such an exciting and unique addition to our switch-on, something we’ve never seen before in Rochdale, providing amazing family entertainment across the weekend and helping to attract visitors from across the region. People have supported local and our fantastic businesses and I invite everyone to come and join us.”

All Across The Arts: Theatre

preview, STEVE COOKE

Hot Orange At the Contact Theatre: November 2023

Hot Orange follows Amina and Tandeki as they navigate what it takes to sustain love and friendship beyond childhood idealism – and the moment you fall in love.

‘It’s summer. It’s hot. Like really hot. Like ice pop after melting ice pops hot. Like orange midday sun hot.’

Across the divide of a scorched basketball court two girls meet, shoot hoops, and discover their shared obsessions make them inseparable friends. But will faith, growing pains and the darker reactions of others get in the way of that long, hot, orange summer?

A decade later the past walks back into view when 18-year-old Amina is confronted by her childhood best friend Tandeki. Can they reignite the spark of friendship by untangling their hurt feelings, or are some heartbreaks just too hard to mend?

Hot Orange, by Amal Khalidi and Tatenda Naomi Matsvai, is the latest production from Half Moon, the UK’s leading small-scale young people’s venue and touring company. It will be presented in their multi-award-winning immersive theatrical style, exquisitely framed within an evocative soundscape.

All Across The Arts: Theatre

previews, reviews, interviews, recommendations


Ed Byrne’s Stand-Up Tour: Middleton Arena date

A treat for fans of Mock the Week, Have I Got News For You and observational comedy at its very best as comedian Ed Byrne brings his new tour to Middleton Arena next year.

Having had the experience of both interviewing Ed and seeing his previous shows at the Middleton Arena I can highly recommend you don’t miss out on this opportunity.

With his TV career now in its third decade, the much-loved master of observational comedy has appeared on the likes of Father Ted, QI, Mock The Week, Alan Davies As Yet Untitled, The Pilgrimage, Dara & Ed’s Big Adventure and Have I Got News For You, as well as hosting Live At The Apollo and Comic Relief Bake Off.

The Irishman will be performing his new live show, ‘Tragedy Plus Time’ on Wednesday, 7 February 2024, direct from its premier at this year’s Edinburgh Festival where it received a stack of five-star reviews and was named Best Reviewed Show at the Fringe. Humour was defined as Tragedy Plus Time by Mark Twain, so Ed says he is going to test that formula by mining the most tragic event in his life for laughs.

Recognised as one of the finest observational comics, Ed has also developed huge success on the international circuit, performing to capacity audiences in Canada, France, Australia, New Zealand, and the USA. He is an Edinburgh Festival Fringe favourite and has performed sell-out tours across the UK. It will be Ed’s fourth appearance at the Middleton venue, having performed previously there in 2015, 2017 and 2021.

Ed Byrne ‘Tragedy Plus Time’ is at Middleton Arena at 7.30pm on Wednesday 7 February 2024 February. Tickets (£27.50, plus booking fee) from middletonarena.com or by phoning 0300 303 8633. You can buy in person at Middleton Arena.

All Across The Arts: Theatre

preview by Steve Cooke

Octagon Theatre Unveil Exciting 2024

There is much for theatre goers to look forward to in 2024 with the Octagon Theatre announcing an unmissable programme year for their spring/summer season.

The impressive line-up boasts a literary classic, a rock ‘n’ roll musical, a compelling new play, a hilarious northern classic, a zany fast-paced comedy, and a musical adaptation of a beloved family adventure.

As they get ready to open their rip-roaring festive show later this month, the venue is already looking ahead to 2024, in what promises to be a jam-packed season with something for all audiences to enjoy.

Kicking off their spring offering is a bold reimagining of one of literature’s most loved authors, in a new adaptation of Jane Austen’s NORTHANGER ABBEY (Fri 1 – Sat 23 March 2024). A co-production with Orange Tree Theatre, Stephen Joseph Theatre and Theatre by the Lake, this new adaptation by Zoe Cooper infuses the plot and spirit of Austen’s original novel with her own unique voice. Directed by Tessa Walker (former Associate Director at Hampstead Theatre and Birmingham Repertory Theatre) it promises a play packed full of humour and brimming with love.

Then, one of the world’s greatest entertainers is celebrated in HOUDINI’S GREATEST ESCAPE (Wed 3 – Sat 6 April 2024) in this hilarious 39 Steps-esque thriller from New Old Friends in association with Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. Expect physical comedy, sparkling wit, a touch of chaos and mind-blowing and unbelievable magic illusions.

Classic comedy is next on the bill in John Godber’s hysterical northern favourite, BOUNCERS (Tue 9 – Sat 20 April 2024) from The John Godber Company. Celebrate good times at the Octagon when this new production takes audiences back to the 80s when disco was king, and everyone lived for the weekend.

Next up is the smash-hit musical sensation LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (Wed 24 April – Sat 18 May 2024), in a co-production with New Wolsey Theatre, Theatre by the Lake and Hull Truck Theatre. This brand-new production of the devilishly delicious sci-fi musical, directed by the Octagon’s Artistic Director Lotte Wakeham, features an iconic rock ‘n’ roll score in this beloved, globally renowned show.

The season continues with a compelling new play TESTMATCH (Thu 23 May – Sat 1 June 2024), a co-production with Orange Tree Theatre and English Touring Theatre (ETT). Directed by award-winning director Diane Page, this provocative and funny play by Kate Atwell explores the mythology of fair play when cricket’s past and present collide in this captivating production, set during present day Lord’s at the Women’s Cricket World Cup and early 19th century India.

Bram Stokers best-selling novel gets a hilarious re-telling in the brand-new comedy theatre show, DRACULA: THE BLOODY TRUTH (Tue 11 – Sat 29 June 2024) – a co-production with Stephen Joseph Theatre and directed by their Artistic Director, Paul Robinson. Three years after the iconic gothic novel was released, Professor Abraham Van Helsing is not happy. He knows the truth – the Bloody Truth – and is about to share that with audiences, in this side-splitting comedy by the UK’s leading physical comedy theatre company, La Nevet Bete, and writer of previous Octagon smash-hits The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Time Machine, John Nicolson.

Before all that, the Octagon will bring their current season to a gripping conclusion with a compelling new production of George Orwell’s iconic classic drama, ANIMAL FARM (Thu 1 – Sat 24 February 2024), adapted for the stage by Ian Woolridge and directed by renowned director Iqbal Khan. This enduring and devastating satire about equality and the corruption of power will be brought vividly to life in the Octagon’s co-production with Derby Theatre and Hull Truck Theatre.

Octagon Theatre, Howell Croft South Bolton BL1 1SB

Visit: octagonbolton.co.uk

Phone: 01204 520661

All Across The Arts. Live Music

recommendations by STEVE COOKE

Toad Lane Concerts – Weekly Music at Lunchtime

This week we have Slava Sidorenko’s piano class from Chethams School of Music.

The concert series has been held at St Mary’s since 2001 and was granted the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2020… during the pandemic!

Running every Wednesday, Music at Lunchtime is a weekly live classical music concert series that has been going since the 1960s. The sessions were initially run at the old Rochdale Art Gallery by the local authority, but since May 2001 have been run by volunteer-enthusiasts and artistic director, Dr Joe Dawson.


Phone: Dr Joe Dawson 01706 648872

Doors open 12noon, concert starts 12.30pm – 1.30pm

St Mary in the Baum, Toad Lane/St Mary’s Gate, Rochdale OL16 1DZ

Live Music:

Toad Lane Concert

Margaret Ferguson soprano & Jonathan Ellis piano

review by DR. JOE DAWSON

Today’s concert was tinged with sadness with the news that Frank Lever, one of St Mary in the Baum’s long standing church members, had passed away the night before. The genial nonagenarian was churchwarden in 2000 and became an original committee member of TOLPAC, which agreed to host the council’s lunchtime concerts that had become homeless. He remained a fervent supporter, often manning the door. He was also elected the very first ‘Man of Rochdale’.

He will be remembered with great affection and much missed.

The celebrated duo, soprano Margaret Ferguson and pianist Jonathan Ellis has been an ideal partnership for many years, and they were among Frank’s favourites. Margaret’s charismatic personality and wonderful singing and Jonathan’s powerful playing never ceased to delight him. On learning of Frank’s passing the previous night, Margaret spontaneously introduced Cesar Franck’s Panis Angelicus as an opening to the recital, which was dedicated to him and proved to be a fitting requiem.

A cheerful song by Carey was followed by sumptuous arias by Handel, Saint-Saens and Rossini and works by F Paolo Tosti, including his renowned Goodbye (noted for its many repeats of the word).

The audience were enraptured as usual and demanded, and got, a cheeky encore. But it was clear on many levels, that this was not Goodbye, but au revoir.

This was concert number 1,062 since taking over from the council in 2001. The Queen’s Award-winning Toad Lane Concerts are every Wednesday 12:30 – 13:30 at the Grade 1 listed St Mary in the Baum Church, Rochdale OL16 1DZ, admission £6.

Live Music

Rochdale Music Society

Jill Crossland, Piano

St.Michael´s Church Bamford, November 2023


Here’s my belated review of the recent Rochdale Music Society concert. Jill Crossland was performing her miracles on the piano in St Michaels Church Bamford!

This was the last of the three concerts in the Society’s Autumn Series, which has already displayed the breadth of musical experience which is one of the hallmarks of Rochdale’s concert promoting venture that began back in 1980. When you go to a Rochdale Music Society concert you can be sure, as on this occasion, that you will experience a wealth of artistic delight as well as the very best in musical performance, as this demonstration of pianistic skill by Jill Crossland amply displayed.

In the first half of the programme Jill made playing Bach’s opening four Preludes and Fugues from his Well-Tempered Klavier Book 1 sound almost too good to be true! Her technical ability to produce clearly differentiated parts in the fugues while sustaining the overall coherence of Bach’s writing was a model of execution. So, too, was the playing of the several movements of Bach’s English Suite in A minor.

In the second half of her programme Jill produced impressive accounts of some Chopin Nocturnes, with very convincing accounts of Schumann’s somewhat rambling Arabeske Op.19 and Chopin’s Polonaise in C sharp minor and his Berceuse in D flat. The final item in her concert was Chopin’s Ballade No. 3 in A flat which, like the other three Ballades, presents many technical and interpretative challenges in performance to which Jill face up with the great assurance of one who knows what the music is saying and is fully equipped to convey its meaning to an audience.

The Music Society’s 2023-24 Season will resume on Saturday, March 16th 2024, when St. Michael’s Church, Bamford, will be the setting for a Jazz Session with the internationally acclaimed Dutch Violinist, Tim Kliphuis backed by Nigel Clark, Guitar, and Roy Percy, Bass. This Trio will thrill the audience. Details of Ticketing are to be found on the Society’s website:


Christmas Period Events: Hallé Concert

3 December @ 12:00 – 14:00 FROM £17.50


An enormous Christmas present has been found in The Bridgewater Hall. What could it be? Who is it for?

Join the Hallé elves, their festive conductor Holly and presenter Tom Redmond as they unwrap this magical interactive Christmas adventure with a gift that just keeps giving…

Book Hallé Christmas Family Concert at The Bridgewater Hall

Join Cloud 23 at Hilton Deansgate Hotel for a spectacular series of Festive Sundays

Sunday 3rd December Christmas Wreath Making

Join us as we kick off the magical month of December with ‘Wreath Making in the Clouds’.

Join ‘Poppy Wren Flowers’ in Cloud 23 as they guide you through making your own wreath, all while sipping on a welcome festive cocktail and upgrading to enjoy one of our infamous antipasti towers!

Sunday 10th December Festive Cocktail Masterclass

Join our expert bartenders and recreate the Infamous Cloud 23 Magic at home this Christmas.

Our Bartenders will guide you through making a couple of our festive cocktails for you to enjoy when they are complete.

Sunday 17th December Afternoon Tea With Santa

One for the family, join the big man himself as he pays our favourite skyline bar a visit on December 17th before setting off home to get himself ready for the special day.

Enjoy Festive afternoon tea with your family as Santa makes his way around to come and say hello, and you never know he might even pop you on the nice list.

Book Festive Sundays in Cloud 23

Christmas at Heaton Park

1 December @ 16:45 – 22:00 FROM £10

Everything you need for an unforgettable time with friends and family. There are breath-taking seasonal lights as never seen before.

1st to 31st December 2023 – BOOK NOW

Discover colour-changing orbs of light stretching out into the distance, larger-than-life flowers and neon strings that reach high into the sky. Wander through a laser garden filled with thousands of tiny beams of light and into a giant twinkling tunnel that surrounds you with sparkle.

Immerse yourself in the tantalising world of thrills, spills and the sweetest of treats at the fairground village.

Grab a seasonal snack from one of the hand-picked street food vendors who bring an indulgent twist to the menu on offer. Complete your walk under the stars with a perfectly festive *spiced winter warmer, *hot chocolate or *toasted marshmallow and share it with someone special.

Your very merriest Christmas starts here. Limited capacity with timed entry

*additional charges apply

Book Christmas at Heaton Park

Fairytale Of New York

4 December @ 19:30 – 21:30 FROM £30

I am preparing this edition on the very day Shane McGowan has died, and that news renders the next couple of paragrpahs poignant indeed.

The Christmas phenomenon Fairytale of New York is back with an even bigger production and more than 65 performances in 2023.

Direct from the West End and after multiple sell-out tours, the ultimate feel-good show is touring the UK & Ireland with a talented international cast of singers, musicians and dancers.

Fairytale of New York will feature a double-whammy of all your favourite Christmas classics including Driving Home For Christmas, Oh Holy Night, Winter’s Tale, White Christmas and – of course – The Fairytale of New York.

This magical show will have everyone on their feet singing, laughing and dancing in the aisles in time for Christmas!

Book Fairytale of New York at AO Arena

Faulty Towers Residency

Hotel Brooklyn Manchester

showing 14th February to 3rd March 2024

I KNOW NOTHING, .. and I will share all I know

Be part of the action as Basil, Sybil and Manuel serve up mayhem on a plate alongside a 3-course meal and two hours of non-stop laughter at the Hotel Brooklyn. 

Celebrate the BBC’s iconic show and experience it like never before… a West End theatre production and dining experience rolled into one, which promises a ‘deliciously entertaining’ night that you won’t forget.

With over 70% of each performance improvised, this is the completely immersive and highly interactive comedy spectacular where anything can happen… and usually does!

MMf 2024


The team at Manchester Music Festival (MMF) is thrilled to announce a brand-new look for our 50th Anniversary Season!
Introducing our vibrant new logo and a completely redesigned website, both reflecting the evolution and creative spirit of MMF, led by our esteemed Artistic Director and founder of the Emerson String Quartet, Philip Setzer, as we approach our 50th anniversary. Our logo symbolizes our commitment to classical innovation, embracing both tradition and the future of music. Our revamped website offers an enhanced user experience with easier navigation, with all the latest updates on our upcoming festival season.

Explore our new website www.mmfvt.org and please stay tuned for further news. Thank you for being part of our musical journey.

Musical Director, founder member of The Emerson Quartet has a message for all you.,

I want to say to all of you what a great honour it is to be appointed the new Artistic Director of Manchester Music Festival.  My colleagues on the festival’s staff, the board of directors and I have worked tirelessly to create a memorable menu of musical highlights for all of you for the 50th Anniversary in 2024.  The theme of the Festival will be called “The Romantic Journey”.  I have always thought of each program, and especially a series of thematically-linked concerts, as a kind of journey—one that both increases our knowledge and deepens our enjoyment of these great works of Art.  We will explore the definition and roots of Romanticism, experience the passing of the romantic torch from Beethoven to Schubert, Schumann, Mendelsohn, Brahms and onward to Tchaikovsky, Debussy Dvorak, Respighi, and Barber. The journey will take us all the way to a newly commissioned work by Sarah Kirkland Snider, exploring romanticism from the viewpoint of today.  We will also have concerts featuring our Young Artists and a special program called “Given a Chance”—romantic works of composers who struggled to have their voices heard due to their gender and/or the color of their skin.  We will also present two family concerts for children, informative and fun.  The opening program of the festival, performed by the Wu Han-Philip Setzer-David Finckel Trio, will consist of two monumental works that helped herald the new Romantic Era of the 19th Century:   Beethoven’s “Archduke” Trio, op. 97 and Schubert’s Eb Trio, op. 100.  The festival’s Grand Finale will feature the great American Soprano, Christine Goerke, who had tremendous success as Brünnhilde in the most recent production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the Met Opera.  We certainly hope you will join us next summer as audience members.  We cannot do this without your help.  I know I speak for everyone involved when I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your friendship and support.

MMF already has an impressive line up so below you can find events lined up for festival that runs from

July 11 – August 8th, 2024

Weekly themes      

Lighting the Torch – Beethoven, Schubert

Passing the Torch – Schumann, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky

Brahms and Friends – Brahms, The Schumanns and Strauss

France, England, and Some Things New – Debussy, Elgar, Setzer, Snider

The Grand Finale – Dvorak, Brahms, Barber, Respighi


MMF Thursday Night

MMF Young Artists

MMF Special Events

MMF Discovery

MMF Family

MMF Thursday Night

Opening Week:
Thursday, July 11 at 7:30 pm

Week Two:
Thursday, July 18 at 7:30 pm

Week Three:
Thursday, July 25 at 7:30 pm

Week Four:
Thursday, August 1 at 7:30 pm

Week Five:
Thursday, August 8 at 7:30 pm

MMF Young Artists Concerts

Program One:
Sunday, July 21 at 5 pm

Program Two:
Sunday, August 4 at 5 pm

MMF Special Events

MMF 50th Presentation and Young Artists Solo Performances
Saturday, July 13 at 5 pm

Vassily Primakov in Concert
Sunday, July 14 at 5 pm

MMF presents The Steinway Spirio and Young

Solo Performances
Saturday, July 27 at 5 pm

MMF Talks “The Romantic Era”
Saturday August 3 at 5 pm

MMF Discovery

GIVEN A CHANCE:  Concert and Discussions
Sunday July 28 at 5 pm

MMF Family

Pictures at an Exhibition
Sunday July 14 at 2 pm

Edward Arron and Young Artists
Saturday July 20 at 11 am & 1 pm

Live Music with storytelling and illustrations
Melody’s Mostly Musical Day

Saturday July 27 at 1 pm

Live Jazz At Progress

four gigs  preview by JAZZ IN READING

The next Jazz At Progress presentation, on 22 Dec, is Moscow Drug Club – for which all tickets, with the single exception of the wheelchair space, are now sold.

Tickets are, however, now available for the following four events


9 Feb – Jean Toussaint Quartet
Jean Toussaint is of course the  brilliant world-famous tenor and soprano saxophonist who came to fame as a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the 1980s. 
Tickets are, however, now available for the following four events. We’ll send out the normal reminder emails before each show but, to avoid disappointment, you might want to secure your seats now.

Fri 22 Mar – Arbenz + Hart + Pursglove = Conversation
The internationally renowned drummer & percussionist Florian Arbenz is joined by Jim Hart (vibraphone) and Percy Pursglove (trumpet/flugelhorn) in an exploration of the realm between jazz and improvised music.


10 May – Five-Way-Split
Five top musicians with a vision to carry on the lineage of the likes of Art Blakey, Jimmy Heath, Cedar Walton and Horace Silver as well mirroring the New York contemporary-bop scene, with an extensive repertoire of carefully crafted and imaginative original compositions

The Gaz Hughes Trio
Jazz drummer Gaz Hughes (of whom Ginger Baker says “Incredible!”) brings us  original numbers inspired by the late 50s Piano Trio format but with fresh twists: “Old School Jazz for the 21st Century”

As always, keep an eye on the Jazz in Reading website for details of all Jazz At Progress shows, as well as news of jazz gigs across the wider area, all listed in the Jazz Gig Calendar.

Live Jazz

Music That´s Going : preview by ROB ADAMS

December can often be a bit quiet for live jazz but there’s quite a flourish around the beginning of the month this time before the calm sets in

Following the rapturously received London premiere of her latest album, Returning Weather, Christine Tobin (left) brings “the rich, wine-dark, engulfing beauty” of her voice to the Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock on Thursday 30th (November), St Peter’s Church, Linlithgow on Friday 1st and Perth Theatre on Saturday 2nd. Accompanied by the outstanding Phil Robson on guitar, Christine will be singing some new songs and some specially reworked older material in her first Scottish concerts for almost ten years. Don’t miss!

Also on a run of enthusiastically received performances, pianist Euan Stevenson and saxophonist Konrad Wiszniewski (right) follow their high class autumn gigs with a last New Focus Duo concert of 2023 at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh on Monday 4th. Their Classical Connection is now a finely honed, deeply expressive informative and entertaining look at common facets shared by jazz and classical musicians. How did Satie i Duke Ellington’s music has become one of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s specialisms. Those who witnessed the ensemble’s recreation of the Ellington sound and spirit last year, when musicians who weren’t even born when jazz lost this crucial figure played his music with startling poise, assurance and in the zone creativity, will attest to Duke’s continuing inspiration. This time, there’s the added presence of the fine young singer, Lucy-Anne Daniels, whose gospel roots make her an apt interpreter of Ellington’s songs and whose guest slots in these concerts will be warmly anticipated. Get into an Ellington mood at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Friday 8th, Laidlaw Music Centre on Saturday 9th and Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh on Sunday 10th.

Duke Ellington’s music has become one of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s specialisms. Those who witnessed the ensemble’s recreation of the Ellington sound and spirit last year, when musicians who weren’t even born when jazz lost this crucial figure played his music with startling poise, assurance and in the zone creativity, will attest to Duke’s continuing inspiration. This time, there’s the added presence of the fine young singer, Lucy-Anne Daniels, whose gospel roots make her an apt interpreter of Ellington’s songs and whose guest slots in these concerts will be warmly anticipated. Get into an Ellington mood at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Friday 8th, Laidlaw Music Centre on Saturday 9th and Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh on Sunday 10th. Duke Ellington’s music has become one of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s specialisms. Those who witnessed the ensemble’s recreation of the Ellington sound and spirit last year, when musicians who weren’t even born when jazz lost this crucial figure played his music with startling poise, assurance and in the zone creativity, will attest to Duke’s continuing inspiration. This time, there’s the added presence of the fine young singer, Lucy-Anne Daniels, whose gospel roots make her an apt interpreter of Ellington’s songs and whose guest slots in these concerts will be warmly anticipated. Get into an Ellington mood at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Friday 8th, Laidlaw Music Centre on Saturday 9th and Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh on Sunday 10th. Influence Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue; how did

Mozart affect Billy Strayhorn? Find out on the 4th

Jazz at the Merchants House of Glasgow closes a very successful season with one of the UK’s leading bands specialising in Brazilian music, BRBQ. Comprised of trumpeter-multi-instrumentalist James Brady, pianist Ed Rice, bassist Mario Caribe and drummer Stu Brown, BRBQ will bring classics by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Hermeto Pascoal, Joao Bosco and more to Glasgow on Sunday 17th

The world class Irish guitarist Louis Stewart is no longer with us but his classic solo album, Out on His Own is winning new admirers as well as reminding old fans of his fabulous artistry. Reissued on CD earlier in the year, Out on HIs Own has just been made available again on vinyl for the first time since the 1980s with added sleeve notes and photos. If you’ve never experienced the magic of Louis, listen here and join the growing band of followers who are eagerly awaiting the next reissue from the label formed

specially to celebrate Louis’ work, Livia Record

Blue Lamp
Sun 3: Lewis Benzies Band & Further On (2pm)
Thu 7: Rob Luft Qrt
Thu 14: Aberdeen Jazz Orchestra

Viewfield Baptist Church
Sun 10: Rose Room (3pm)

Jazz Bar
Jazz nightly (check website for updates)
Mash House
Sun 10: Mahuki
Thu 14: Playtime with Seonaid Aitken
Queen’s Hall
Sun 10: Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: In an Ellington Mood

Traverse Theatre
Mon 4: New Focus: The Classical Connection

Glad Cafe
Tue 12: Mahuki
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Fri 8: Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: In an Ellington Mood
Merchants House
Sun 17: BRBQ 

606 Club
Fri 1: Dave Lewis 1Up
Sat 2: Harvey/O’Higgins Project
Tue 12: David Gordon Trio
Wed 13: Mina Agossi
Tue 19, Wed 20: Hamish Stuart
Ronnie Scott’s
Fri 15: Laurence Cottle Big Band
Mon 18 – Sat 23: Ray Gelato & the Giants
Wed 27- Fri 29: Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra
Sat 30 – Fri 5: Incognito

St Peter’s Church
Fri 1: Christine Tobin & Phil Robson

Perth Theatre 
Sat 2: Christine Tobin & Phil Robson 

St Andrews
Laidlaw Music Centre
Sat 9: Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: In an Ellington Mood

As always, the above list isn’t intended to be comprehensive

 other gigs are available

On air sign background

l Jazz On Air

Hot Biscuits with STEVE BEWICK


Next week, our Hot Biscuits Jazz mix-cloud presentation includes a recent  called Yes, Tomorrow recorded by  Paul Dunmall‘s Quintet, that will be reviewed by my colleague Gary Heywood-Everett.

Also featured in our broadcast is Eddie Durham, an American jazz guitarist, trombonist, composer and arranger. He was one of the pioneers of the electric guitar in jazz. The orchestras of Bennie Moten, Jimmie Lunceford and Glenn Miller each benefitted greatly from his composing and arranging skills.

We will also hear Daniel Karlsson saying, `Sorry Boss`.

It’s Never Too Late` according to Tasos Gkoumas. but we´ll have to close because  Diane Washington’s  is Drinking Again.

So, if this looks interesting PASS IT ON TO friends so you and they can follow me anytime 24/07 at www.mixcloud.com/stevebewick/

A Reader´s Perspective: All Points Forward

Introspection: without need for volume control


When John Stewart (right) died in 2008 that was the end of his concerts ( fortunately a dvd recorded at The Turf which John had previously put on hold was later released) Was it the end of any more releases? At first I thought surely not, as I considered the number of artists that have had posthumous material released. There had been talk for years on the Bloodlines Digest (John’s fans eblog).of The Box That Ate Mt. Clemens Michigan.  The box referred to was said to have contained a mountain of tapes and unreleased material from John’s garage that he had entrusted to his pal Tom Delisle.

Long story short. Tom Delisle has since passed and nothing new has surfaced. Yet fifteen years later I still John Stewart albums more than recoredings by any other artist.

So if I had to choose say threed of the most important non- classical artists to me, longevity of listening to their music and quality of music and lyrics would be key in making my selection.,.. There are a whole host of new artists I have discovered during the last decad and a half  but none have as yet served long enough time to be considered as having yet passed ´the test of time´ !

In my collection I have a lot of Neil Young, Eric Taylor, Guy Clark, Chip Taylor, Kate Wolf and Nanci Griffith and others I listen to on a regular basis who would feature on my Desert Island Discs. If down to three, after first placing the late John Stewart, I would have to include Mark Knopfler and Jackson Browne, both of whom continue to release new material.

Mark Knopfler, (left) released from the Dire Staits straightjacket, has delivered film music and folk, country, r&b influenced albums. Sadly he has now given up touring and the concerts I have long enjoyed will be no more. Jackson Browne, howver, continues to tour and release quality new material.

I enjoy songs with strong lyrics that tell a story. When Mark released his last album, Down The Road Wherever, one of the tracks was titled My Bacon Roll.

Goodness, I thought before I had heard the track, how can you construct a song around a bacon roll. I was  aware, though, that Money For Nothing, was written after Mark had been in an American hardware store and observed a mouthy assistant giving forth a rant about how other people made money playing guitar on the MTV whilst he and the others had to move ´microwave ovens, refrigerators, colour tv’s´.

So, My Bacon Roll is based on a character he had witnessed in a greasy spoon cafe asking the waiter have you got my roll, my bacon roll whilst bemoaning to his pal all things to do with change. ” I never got the elbow, I slung it in and pulled the pin.The white water rafting. What was that about” ( a work based team building exercise) “I used to like a bit of folding” (cash and not credit cards) The guy is something of a luddite. My bacon roll is the refrain.

Beryl on his Tracker album is not about any old Beryl but about the Liverpool novelist Beryl Bainbridge. ” When she got a Booker Medal she was dead in her grave after all she gave.” Mark considers her a victim of the class system.

Jackson Browne (left) still writes tuneful songs are also full of articulate and insightful lyrics. These Days, written in 1971 when he was 23, contains the line ” don’t confront me with my failures I had not forgotten them” My Cleveland Heart on his latest album Down Hill From Everywhere is about an artificial heart developed by the Cleveland Medical Center. In the song he wants a new heart because his old one keeps making the same mistakes.The song came to mind whilst driving past the Medical Center. I could do with one of those he thought.

In the song I Remember America John Stewart remembers America as it used to be. ” I remember America. I remember my schools. Now its graft and gangs and guards and guns and needles in the pool.”

Good songs make me think.

Some bring back memories-happy and sad. I need to hear the lyrics and not have them drowned in a wall of sound. I think that is why I have difficulty with much of Bruce Springsteen’s material. On the other hand there are the songs to drive by where the tune is dominant and you can concentrate on the road and not take too much notice of the lyrics.

Most of my listening is done in the evening when I am winding down from the affairs of the day, although these days I confess I often fall asleep whilst doing so.

Nothing irritates me more than hold music and background music to a conversation. Fortunately, whilst I have headphones, I rarely need to use them. The neighbours on either side of me are usually out all evening and my audio set up, coupled with the source material, delivers a pleasing sound without too much recourse to the volume control

Island Insights

Steel Horses On The Shoreline


Cabildo President Oswaldo Betancort has said that The Rising Tide, the sculptures by British artist Jason de Caires Taylor, may be returned to the Castillo de San José in Arrecife.

In July 2019  Sidetracks and Detours published an article entitled  Underwater Museums and Revealing The River. The piece, which we reproduce below, was a compare and contrast between two projects that had taken place more or less siumultaneously,

One project was begun before I left Rochdale and was called Revealing The River, because it was an ambitious and ultimately successful plan to strip an area that had been concreted over decades ago to create a car park that concealed  the River Roch flowing through the town centre of Rochdale as it had in the town´s cotton days.

Rising Tide, on the other hand, was part of the hugely successful Totally Thames Festival shown in London. This part of the collection, put together by an artist taking his first London commission, consisted of four equine sculptures placed on the shores of The Thames at Nine Elms. Like Gormley’s iron men at Crosby, they were placed looking seaward and best visible at low tide.

However the artist, Jason deCaires Taylor, is better known to me for another project. He is currently putting the finishing touches to a project creation in my home town of Playa Blanca on Lanzarote. This project is the building of The Museo Atlantico, which will be the first underwater museum in Europe.

Before I left Rochdale I was told that the cost would be prohibitive even of the laying of stones engraved with poetry along the bed of the part of The Roch to be revealed in the town’s current project. Given that response, an underwater museum seems particularly ambitious.

Both the Rising Tide exhibits and the work on the Museo Atlantico received amazing press in September when images of both works were spread all over the social media. In fact my research revealed radio broadcasts, major daily papers and magazines, arts trade press and tv coverage on ITV and BBC as well ABC USA, all of which referenced not only Jason’s Rising Tide exhibition but also his work here on Lanzarote.

Jason has been living on the island since commencing building the Museo Atlantico eighteen months ago. I have no doubt that the profile enjoyed by Rising Tide will be of great benefit to the island when the work is eventually opened.

The Totally Thames initiative was the brainchild of London Mayor Boris Johnson. He was sent a copy of a feature review of the project in Lancelot, the Lanzarote Tourist Guide, to which he responded personally.

Publicity and Media Relations are being handled by Four Colman Gerry, one of the UK’s leading PR firms, who also represent the Man Booker prize.

The innovation of Jason’s building of an underwater museum on Lanzarote seems to fit an island with an identity moulded by the late artist Cesar Manrique, as featured recently on these pages. He adored the island of his birth and made his life’s work out of protecting and extolling its natural features, sculpting a shell around nature, without altering the original scene, to better present the tableau.

Three years later on 8th March 2022 I proclaimed in a headline stating that


Works exhibited in a 1968, before he was even born, in a New York exhibition, Earth Works, were built in and from the natural environment, but at that time working with such ambition did not necessarily reveal environmentalist responsibility.

Subsequent to that 1968 exhibition, and the emergence of Earthworks or Land Art, Tatylor´s (right) work seems to have become aligned to such descriptions. The introduction of art that engages with, and addresses social issues such as poverty, addiction, capitalism or equal rights (to name a very few) brought forward another new field of artistic expression, where art has become a form of activism. We currently exist in a time of great environmental damage, where the destructive activities of industry and the daily consumptive habits of individuals, wreak environmental havoc on our planet. Each day, habitats are destroyed, whole species are lost and climate change alters the living conditions across the world. Small changes can be made that can ultimately have a big impact, the first step of which is bringing about environmental awareness of the conditions of the various ecosystems around the globe.

The Rising Tide is a series of sculptures of horses with oil extraction pumps in place of heads. They were originally presented in London in 2015 and later installed at the foot of the Castillo de San José, where they were covered by the rising tide twice a day.

The first glimpse of the statues at low tide was a sight to behold. Looking down from the castle on the cliff their ´coats´ seemed to shine in the suin as they apparently drank in the shallows of the shore-line.  They and the figures further along the coast  in the unique underwater museum, seemed popular with indigenous folk and tourists and, indeed, held in high regard even abroad.

However, the work of Taylor here on the island has became something of a political football  in the last couple of years

The Rising Tide sculptures have become the focus of a bitter political quarrel in recent years. Commissioned by the ex-Cabildo President Pedro San Ginés, they were removed by the Socialist administration in 2019, who claimed they were only ever meant to be temporary and did not reflect the spirit of César Manrique.

That seemed to me a strange thing to say, as from everything we are told about the late Manrique reflects on his  generosity of artistic spirit and his consideration of art as s  part of everyday life.

The Atlantic Museum, which was said to running at a considerable loss, was also removed from the list of CACTS (Cultural, Artistic and Tourist Centres), and certain sculptures of associates of San Ginés who were facing corruption charges were removed.

Speaking to Canarias7 recently, though, the current President of Lanzarote, Mr. Betancort, said that he has planned a meeting with the de Caires Taylor in early December, and “If we can come to an agreement with the artist, our wish  is to put the horses back where they never had to leave.”

Betancort also announced that there were plans to start promoting the Atlantic Museum once gain. The underwater museum consisting of scores of life-sized sculptures was removed from the official list of the island’s tourist attractions at the start of the island previous government’s term

As a writer of the all across the arts pages for the Lanzarote Information web site for the past two or three years, and as author of my own twice weekly Sidetracks And Detours blog, I have loudly celebrated the diversity and accessibility of the island´s arts and cultural agenda. If I´m honest, I have often used Cesar Manrique and his canon of work as a comparison or reference point, and I have never tried to pretend that there are new artists who have yet matched Manrique´s genius or his prolific output.

Whenever I have spoken, though, to artists working on the island and interviewed them about their art form I have never sensed any resentment of Cesar´s status. Our artists, instead, rate him and praise him as highly as do we ourselves, the general art-loving public. However, if Manrique were bestowed an exclusivity that those artists could not share, nor even have their work looked at in the same light as Manrique´s, then surely alienation and resentment would breed amongst a generation that until now has felt only inspired by the work of perhaps the greatest artist the island has produced.

I don´t believe that art can exist in isolation. Da Vinci´s Mona Lisa surely speaks in some way, even smiles in some way, to characters in crayon-drawings by five year olds, and the stone horses of The Rising Tide discuss the state of the world with all who ever stop to look at them, in different light and waterscape depending on the time of the day. The work itself surely engages in conversation, even if not in agreement, with the Another Place exhibition / installation placed on the Crosby coastline in the UK by Antony Gormley.

The works of Manrique, Gormley and Taylor have led me to profound and enjoyable contemplation. Manrique re-shaped our island as our island re-shaped his Art, Taylor is currently taking art into the sea, in a quest for those horizons that the tin men of Gormley´s gaze on so …fixedly, as I described in a piece I called Have You Ever Seen Rain,….

Emerging from the womb of sand upper torso first becoming fully erect gazing seaward standing separate and solipsistic; devoid of soul yet soulful missing a heart beat yet hopeful yearning reaching to a horizon where a stiletto sun-shaft pierces uncompromising threatening clouds slowly dragging further out of their reach a miserable tide. Ageless, yet old from birth old before their Time bedraggled by barnacle and limpet stained by rain on the cold coast braceletted colourfully by those who come to visit them to conserve them to converse with them in silent commune to see whatever it is they with hollow sightless eyes can see.

Where sky is kissing sea cranes and rigs are huddled together as pirates plunderers and pillagers of the ocean bed where sleeps the pilgrim and the pioneer and the cartographer and the navigator and the sailor and Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water. Tin-god and iron-man standing on the beach in another place stoned by sand bronzed by sun and pissed on by dogs indifferent to their statutory rights of man rites of passage from land to sea to another land another place another race another time waiting for no man fashioned in his own image.

Naked they enter this world and naked they depart and if in the midst of life there be death then they in their deathlessness see thee more clearly hold thee more nearly and love thee more dearly than those building castles in the sand and are still looking to the horizon and hearing the sea song always the sea song as aborigines following song-lines to the coast.

Wave after wave after wave anointing their feet cleansing the pedestals upon which they stand android-like looking out to the sea again to the lonely sea and the sky and the weather coming in and the ebb and flow and ebb of dreams and a star to guide them by serving no purpose but to stand and await annihilation and regeneration impassive and proud as wind snakes sand and diamond dusting along the tide line, lifeguards perhaps or soldiers of King Canute landlocked sea-bound and permanent.

A primeval force born to die or to die trying casting long shadows motionless emotionless and emotive; silent witness to the drama still amidst the maelstrom of public opinion oblivious to furore of gods created by man on this a Sunday too a November afternoon of early darkness made earlier by a closure of the sky by rain clouds looming over the ocean obscuring vision leaving no trace of their existence no footprint no shadow for art is ephemeral; no progeny no notion of present past or future they will return from whence they came somewhere beyond our imagination beyond the farthest reach of time yet will stand… though the heavens may fall stars may dim suns may fade and moons may wane for they are not of this universe but are from the black holes in the sea the grave holes in the earth and the last priest on earth will utter

ashes to ashes

iron to rust

and none will mourn their passing

save we few who know or think we know or know we understand or understand we can never know we few who hear the sea song, always the sea song

telling us it’s not too far from Elvis Presley to Saint Bernadette

who see them submerging under wave after wave after wave one by one by one in single file in iron filings by nature defiled never to be entered into any missing persons file of those not missed by any next of kin and the tide will wash clean the sand and there will be nothing where there has always been nothing but the transients of man the beachcombers and the donkey riders and the sun-seekers and the bucket-and-spaders and the bird watchers and none will look out to the horizon and wonder what lies beyond or wonder whether the earth is round for we know it to be so and no one ever thought it was flat or thought that man made man-of-tin would emerge from the womb of sand and walk without moving out into the ocean to drown to escape the consciousness of all but those who remember Chinese migrant workers on shifting sands and we few who hear the sea song

singing the last boat home,……..so the healing process may begin.

And another punctuation mark in this story was added recently when the installation and inauguration of a sculpture by Manolo González took place, which has been paid for thanks to “donations from citizens, companies and institutions”.

“César’s Gaze” (left) shows the creator sitting in the centre of an eye-shaped window, a metaphor for “his illustrious gaze, his visionary spirit and his innovative character”.

The work is a sample of the recognition of the people of Lanzarote who re-designed the island “from respect for its nature”, and who also transformed its future forever.

We are also now hopeful that the saga of the Rising Tide installation by Jason De Caires Taylor might conclude with the strangely magnificent animals drinking again at shoreline, a scene full of contentment on the one hand, but on the other a constant reminder that we must be careful not to poison our oceans so much that scenes like this are lost forever.

We take a look a look at two emerging female singer writers, ands we look at some prime Prine parkland, We also tell you the history of the founding of San Antonio, Texas and the settlers from the Canaries who became some of its founding fathers. And that will leave us just enough time for us all to consider the philosophy Of Modern Song.

All this and more will be posted, daily, live on line at our Sidetracks and Detours site and made available free to all who visit.

 So we will see you round the corner somewhere down the sidetracks and detorus and happy trails.

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