Monthly Archives: March 2017

Vera, Saddle Sores & Tragedy in London – Week 12 : 2017

March 23, 2017

So the week started with the ‘Forces Sweetheart’ celebrating her 100th birthday. Judging by the BBC programme then she also appeared to be in quite decent nick for a very senior citizen. In summarising her importance then Barry Humphries commented that she ‘was a voice of an era when civilisation was under threat.’

I like that but also I like the fact that to sing to the troops she went to the other side of the world – Burma in 1944. No Jumbo 747 into an International airport and then a stretched air-conditioned limo to a venue but a brutally hot, time consuming and dangerous journey into the jungle to stand on a soap box and belt tunes out beside a bloke on a piano whilst you hoped the look outs were concentrating on the perimeter rather than the music. She is simply the best of British.

Raising some money for York Carers Centre has been productive as I took my talk on my bike ride across the USA to a couple of ladies evening groups in Harrogate and a home gig in Acaster Malbis with the local branch of the Yorkshire Countrywomen’s Association this week. The talk lasts under an hour and I take the folk chronologically across the country – mountain ranges, camping, churches, deserts, bears, mustangs and the full 9 yards (as they say over the pond). The greatest interest seems to lie in my talking about dealing with saddle sores! This became known as the ‘Knaresborough’ problem. This was because I didn’t mention some serious discomfort as I cycled in the daily blog but obviously mentioned it to my wife in Face Time conversations. She then told anyone from Knaresborough who appeared in her shop. My arse was the talk of the town! Anyway more evenings in the diary.

So if Vera is a heroine then PC Palmer also was at the Houses of Parliament. He lost his life to a terrorist who stabbed him to death. This

tragedy was compounded by two other innocents losing their lives. In addition the terrorist was shot. We have a daughter who works in central London and this is far too close for comfort. I feel so sorry for those families who will not see their loved ones again.

The politicians talked of the horror but ‘life will go on’ and the worrying but frank admission by the Mayor that no city is ever completely safe. Stand by for vigils, bouquets of flowers and other actions that will not solve the problem but may ease the grief.

Against this numbing catastrophe then we buried, with literal honours, another former terrorist who oversaw the murder of many innocent men, women and children as well as British soldiers. I genuinely accept and believe that we must look at his defining contribution to the ending of the Northern Irish conflict and his critical subsequent political leadership. His cause was about the errors of colonial miss rule and the resentment it developed such that murder seemed, to the IRA, the only solution.

The London Islamist terrorist no doubt had the roots of his vile beliefs created by partially the colonial and western mistakes in the Middle East and he was prey to others who poisoned his mind and created the belief that killing your own countrymen, he was British, would promote their cause. I doubt, however, he would have had a former US President fly several thousands of miles for his funeral with the great and the local good. Confusing isn’t it.

Elaine, Geopolitics & Pulp Fiction – Week 11 : 2017

March 19, 2017

So the week started with attending a Speed Awareness course. This £85 bargain was because I went through a sleepy village at 36mph instead of 30mph and apparently put other lives in mortal danger. It had few redeeming features apart from my avoiding future higher insurance premiums, but it was Blog Gold.

Gavin, our workshop leader did enquire of the 22 other criminals as to whether “has anyone here been on a Speed Awareness course before?” and saw three quarters of the attendees put their hands up. At this show of hands he grinned from to ear to ear and said “welcome back!”

From here the course’s star turn, Elaine, proverbially ‘took the floor’. Gavin was going through administrative chores and he touched on the freedom to go to the toilet as and when required:

Gavin:                     “If you go to the toilet then what do you all have to do?”

Elaine:                   “Wash your hands?”

Gavin:                     “No, come back”

Gavin did however bite his tongue when required…

Gavin:                     “What are the implications of driving too fast in terms of safety in residential areas?”

Elaine:                    “You might hit a cat?”

Gavin:                     (long silence as he composed himself)…”no I was thinking about not hitting children or the elderly”

Gavin:                     “Why are there less safety issues as regards accidents on motorways?”

Elaine:                    “Less pedestrians”

Gavin:                     “Err… hopefully no pedestrians”

Gavin                       “So we’ll all agree that alcohol is not to be taken if you are driving. What else goes with alcohol?”

Elaine:                    “Kebabs?”

Gavin:                     “Err…  no, I was more thinking of drugs”

He wasn’t awfully lucky because as he went on to explain stopping speeds and the laws of physics (that explained that the greater the speed the longer the stopping length). He confidently asked “if anyone knew any physics?” hoping this selection of nurses, retirees, farmers and van drivers would know nothing only to find a physics graduate in his midst. This thankfully shut him up!

Oh by the way, Elaine, a nurse, was caught speeding when she was visiting a friend with a dog wheel chair (the contraption animals with non functioning rear legs use). As she ruefully commented that it was a cruel blow when she was on a mercy mission. This is true because even I couldn’t make this up. I am not keen to re attend anytime soon unless they can confirm that Elaine will also be in attendance.

So this week I finished reading Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall.A very interesting analysis of geopolitics, which also made it into the top sellers listings. I need now to find a book to enable me to sleep with one eye open, my wife is studying a number of dark subjects. On Anna’s beside table I list for you 10 of her current, past or future reads – Bone Field, The Impossible Dead, Standing In Another Man’s Grave, The Drowning Man, Dead Lane, Orphan X, Unguarded, The Hunt, The Woman In Cabin 10 & Her Every Fear.

Lastly, the Grim Reaper took Chuck Berry and James Cotton. Chuck, as they say needs no introduction, but apart from a worrying interest in under age girls he did bring a more articulate form of rock n’ roll to the world. Not only great tunes well constructed but great lyrics that painted a picture of teenage America in the late 1950’ and 60’s. They told of young love, cars, dancing, travel and who can forget C’est La Vie from Pulp Fiction as John Travolta and the dangerous boss’ squeeze, Uma Thurman, dance to it.

James Cotton was the Blues harmonica player with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and many others including solo work. Given that these originals just about drank themselves to early graves then James clocked up 81 years, which is still soon I know. I love his sound but in 2015 when I cycled down America I eventually turned east when I hit New Orleans and cycled along a very empty and quite dull parched coastline. I had seen only one other cycle tourer in 2,000 miles when a cyclist came into view barrelling along toward me. Immediately recognising each other as fellow tourers we stopped and chatted. Andrew Alli was heading to New Orleans to meet friends and play blues harp. He had a Blues band. As I’d been to the home of the Blues in the Mississippi Delta I told him about my trip and favourite artists. Given he played harmonica I raised my love of James Cotton to which he told me that he’d met him. Before I shook Andrew’s hand I asked if his hand had also shaken James’? He had and so in one way or another I have touched Blues royalty.

Record Of The Week # 12

March 19, 2017

Genesis – Foxtrot

‘Walking across the sitting room I turned the television off’… These words from Supper’s Ready on Genesis’ fourth album Foxtrot came into the hire car as I drove through Cleveland, Ohio with Dave Truscott besides me.  Woa! early Genesis on US daytime radio, what a find, I thought. Sadly Dave, a buyer for B & Q who I’d brought across the pond to see some American kitchen cabinetry wasn’t listening but continued to talk over it and so I turned it down and, like a good salesman, listened to his pearls of wisdom.

My trip with Dave was sometime in the early Noughties but this album came my way in 1972 and thereafter I was devoted to Genesis until Peter Gabriel left. I heard them perform this live at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London on January 18th 1974 (I’d first seen the band, second on the bill, in Bradford on October 11th 1972) and it was so epic that I can even remember the location of my seat in this theatre and who I went with. I’ve seen a lot of live music and so for this to stand out is quite something.

At this stage Genesis were a quintessentially English Progressive rock band with that ponderous, multi instrument, textured and thoughtful brand of music delivering songs that talked about science fiction scenarios (“Get ‘Em Out By Friday”),  medieval kings and queens (Time Table) and the usual mixed gibberish of images and heroes (“Watcher Of The Skies”). However it was the seven part Side 2 of “Supper’s Ready” that I’d be begging Kirsty to let me take to my Desert Island and not least the one record I would retrieve from the waves.

Within this sublime 23 minutes we experience the driving and varied percussion of the master sticks man Phil Collins, long before he went on to become a balding latter day Cliff Richards. The prominent and occasionally stabbing bass of Mike Rutherford, the near classical keyboard fills and themes created by Tony Banks with a selection of weapons including the mighty Melloton and the epic swooping and melodic guitar of Steve Hackett that created a whole sound rather than just a riff or a fluent lick or two. And then the incomparable Peter Gabriel with a large selection of vocal styles on one album. I’ve read the band resented that Gabriel became the media’s favourite given the fact they all composed the music and he just sang it but how many blokes were wearing fox’s heads and red evening dresses on stage or then shaving his head down the middle at this time as well as dominating the stage? Within this track we have lyrics that were brilliantly evocative of battles, the devil, God, supersonic scientists, Winston Churchill – all nonsense but each song evoked a picture, a story and even euphoria as we climax with:

                                            ‘Lord of Lord’s,

                                             King of Kings,

                                             Has returned to lead his children home,

                                             To take them to the new Jerusalem.’

Progressive rock got a bad name from trendy music journalists as the decade elapsed and the ability to play your instrument became a badge of shame but frankly some of this stuff  is amongst the best of British popular music. The technical proficiency of the musicians as well as the creative talents to compose meant that it was as varied as a piece of classical music but with a willingness to fuse acoustic, pop, rock, classical and folk. Joyous. 

A masterpiece. A Tony Ives Top 25 album.

Record Of The Week # 11

March 15, 2017

|Tony Ives

Rag ’n’ Bone Man – Human

On podcasts I had heard Rag n’ Bone Man (Rory Graham) over the last few years but it wasn’t until the release of his album Human, and the accolades rolled in, along with Russell Crowe tweeting about him that I started to take an interest. Fifteen years plying his trade on the English south coast in various guises meant that he’d more than paid his dues when he eventually got in the studio for this project. This experience helps him comfortably interpret a number of styles effortlessly. Rory has a voice that lends itself to soul, rock ballads and the blues. It is a voice that has a gravelly bottom end with a compelling presence and the potential to blow down a building should he choose to let it rip.

What’s a rag and bone man? In post war Britain horse drawn carts used to patrol residential areas collecting scrap and surplus detritus. Originally it had been bones and clothing but latterly it wasn’t unusual to see a poor bedraggled horse lugging metal scrap.

Rory has writing credits on all tracks and given the rock/pop/soul confection then it pleases throughout but there are some highlights over and above the standout Human with its driving beat. Human was co written with the voice behind Ben’s Brother and it explains the quality of the song. Other songs have pop song writing royalty on them but you feel they helped rather than dictated. There must be a word of praise for the production of Mark Crew and Jamie Scott. They really ‘got’ Graham and whilst all the arrangements remain contemporary it is sympathetic and showcases.

Where the backing is simple and he can interpret a great melody then these are the moments when you’d turn it up or tell everyone around you to be quiet. Grace has a piano, guitars and strings in the mix but they compliment each other rather than compete. Skin, has the feel of an Adele song. Against a muffled drum Graham leads the song into a chant and a choir backs him as he opines about love lost. However the one for the multi star rating in my iTunes library will be Die Easy. Anyone bringing straight spine chilling unaccompanied vocal Delta blues music to the top of the charts will always have my attention and devotion.

The big question for Sony will be whether Rory can repeat the success with the next album. Human is a triumph but some great voices have had epic arrivals and then somewhat swift departures – Macy Gray and Duffy come to mind.

(Thanks to Vanessa for giving me the album)

London calling….

March 14, 2017

Coming from the North of England then London has retained, for my lifetime, an aura that will always be difficult to shift. After all it is the home of some things central to every Englishman’s life – Wembley Cup Finals, where the Queen lives, Houses of Parliament and not least where all the big bands will play a gig.

I lived there briefly for a year when I was 18 years old and then lived close, for 6 years, in Essex during the 1980’s. However the place then never seemed such a very foreign country.

I feel when I step out of car after a sojourn down the M1 or alight at Kings Cross that I am like the shop floor worker who suddenly finds himself in the director’s office: impressed with the furniture, his wardrobe and ambition but uneasy about who is paying for all this, that the director didn’t pay his dues to get to this position and the fact this chap is calling all the shots as regards my life.

On my recent pilgrimages to the epicentre of the UK I was wandering around a Co-op, in Crouch End, when I saw an aisle identifying ‘International’ foods. Momentarily I half expected to find foreign foods such as Yorkshire Pudding Mix, Worcestershire Sauce, Pontefract Cakes, Ginger Nuts and Marmite. After all London is the sixth largest French town with an estimated 350,000 living there. Google suggests that from the 2011 Census that over 36% of the London population was born abroad. The very look of many streets in terms of shops is something that has a middle eastern bazaar feel to it rather than anything like a provincial British town.

London has changed as regards its population in such a significant way that it wouldn’t be a stretch to worry that, in it’s position as the centre of our country that, it doesn’t think like the rest of the England and Wales. More to the point then whilst I have often visited London and the south then how many Londoners had been north of Hendon. A city state?

The way it votes reflects its cosmopolitan or multi cultural composition. The rest of Britain is not multi cultural apart from a few mono cultural centres that are just not British white. The way it viewed Brexit moved it into the same category as Scotland or Northern Ireland.  The wealth and public expenditure and the voracious demands for more resource makes it London-centric whilst much of the UK would dearly want to have a fraction of its expenditure on infrastructure, health, education and culture.

As regards the property market then not least at the very top end it has been driven by foreign money seeking a safe haven or a high return. This trickles down to the rest of the housing market eventually pricing, say, two young people in reasonably well paid employment out of the market forever probably. Who’s happy with that?

Our news seems to be a cocktail of London analysis and their angst about the wider world. British journalism, all located in London, seems in these post Trump and Brexit times, to be struggling more profoundly to change and move on. This is a group of often intellectually gifted, connected and mobile people and I wonder if they are holding frantically onto the old entitled order which they could reach, predict and control/influence or are they floating free of prejudice and providing a valuable critique? To haul out a social media strap line then – it doesn’t speak for me. I get told that all is turning to ashes. However, if you live outside of London then many think England might alternatively be starting to come to its senses.

On my recent trip I got up early on a Sunday and went into the centre. Young London was still pulling the duvet up overs its ears as I took advantage of the frequent and efficient public transport to town. I suddenly got a vista of some of the amazing architecture without millions of folk jostling for space on the pavement. I saw the delicious and wide range of food shops and eating establishments. I took in a world class museum. I wondered around stores carrying a range of their goods greater than anywhere else in the UK. I enjoyed the view, the size, the investment and the peace. It will always have the stature and authority but maybe the North and Midlands are rising again. It could be a long war.

Stetsons, Bagpipes & Heavy Breathing – Week 10 : 2017

March 13, 2017

Sadly I clocked up another birthday on Monday and have, however, to thank everyone for their good wishes. Cakes and presents abounded and I was a grateful man. By way of a celebratory outing we trekked across the North Yorkshire Moors before adjourning to Pickering for refreshment.

However, the week was mainly given up to music. After having followed the Americana Music Show podcast assiduously for some time and heard some fabulous music then the host, Calvin Powers, invited me to write up a few reviews of new releases – click the above for one of my efforts. The show, playing out of North Carolina, plays that undefinable genre called ‘Americana’ that includes Country, Folk, Singer Songwriter, Rock n’ Roll, Roots (what is that?), Soul, Blues, Gospel…. well you’re getting the picture now! Receiving free music and being allowed to write about it was fine by me! Calvin now publishes these reviews (and others) plus plays music from the albums in questions in a 15 to 20 minute slot – check it out and subscribe for free.

Next was a sojourn to London to spend two nights at the O2 Arena listening to the cream of American Country Music at the Country2Country music festival. Anna came along on the Friday and the Favourite Youngest came along for both nights (and bought a ticket for me on one of the nights). This time I ticked off seeing Reba McEntire, Jennifer Nettles and Chris Young as well as seeing other favourites again.

 Accommodation was provided by the Favourite Eldest. However this was not without scares for Anna. On the Saturday when Sophie (Favourite Youngest) and myself got back from the show we crept in late with the house asleep. Sophie was bunked up with Anna whilst I was on the floor in the living room (five in the house and the eldest ends up on the floor). Anna commented the next morning that in her late night drowsy state she awoke to the worrying sound of heavy breathing very close to her and it wasn’t Sophie. She was correct! I was blowing up an airbed in the room next door!

Taxis? Don’t like them. The only time I take them is on holiday and one of the last rides involved being ripped off getting from Las Vegas Airport to our hotel by our driver taking an inflationary detour that wasn’t necessary. So over the weekend my profligate children insisted on avoiding taking a bus and I discovered Uber. Yes, I know it really is not new but after downloading the wonderfully informative App and receiving prompt service at knock down prices I cannot see how it can fail. Viva la revolution.

Lastly this image will tell you a story. On the train back from London to York (and then onto Glasgow) a man in a kilt with a set of bagpipes gave an impromptu concert to the carriage he was in. Such a lovely surprise and much cheering and photo taking ensued.

Record Of The Week # 10

March 6, 2017

Oasis – (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?

Bear with me on this….

If you search through the racks at Charity/Thrift Shops as I do then you’ll always find an old Oasis CD. It seems that everyone had a few when they were in their pomp and now we’re all digital they are surplus. I bought the first couple when the band arrived in 1994 but didn’t stay the course as they kept churning them out (until eventually Noel couldn’t stand his brother any more and departed to pursue other things and no doubt count his money). However the well wasn’t completely dry after (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? and if you find 2002’s Heathen Chemistry for £1 then I would urge you to pocket it.

It’s with this album and the recent release of the film Supersonic about the origins of Oasis and those tumultuous early years that I thought about this album again. It really is a classic by any standards.

Two lads from humble origins in Manchester and Irish ancestry went on to become huge as a rock act. Liam formed the band in 1991 and Noel eventually joined and wrote the songs. You can work out from that who became the leader. Their second release was (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? in 1995. These young men were creating literal chaos wherever they went but with the song writing and guitar of Noel and the voice and attitude of Liam the world became their oyster.

This album took straight guitar rock and Britpop to the masses. Forget the then prevailing Indie with delicate riffs, anodyne lyrics and usually vocalists who couldn’t hold a tune. These boys could offer tunes, guitars, often heartfelt vocals for an anthem and menace.

This album genuinely contains three of British rocks ‘greatest hits’ – “Wonderwall”, “Don’t Look Back In Anger” and “Champagne Supanova”. The record eventually shipped 22 million units and topped the charts in the UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and even graced the US Billboard 200 at Number 4. It is one of British rock’s high water marks.

“Wonderwall” is a remarkable ballad that starts acoustically before strings appear. Liam’s vocal has the character to own the song and the lyrics and their slightly strange imagery fit the Gallagher brothers well. The lyrics describe ‘an imaginary friend who’s gonna come and save you from yourself’ according to Noel when asked at the time. “Don’t Look Back In Anger” sees Noel take the vocal and for me is the best Oasis track they ever released. There is an uneasy feeling that whilst original there is every influence that Noel had heard in its structure – you’ll think of Imagine with that piano introduction and then further theft from John Lennon with references to ‘revolution from my bed’. Don’t underestimate the rhythm with the drums that drive it and the piercing guitar solos that populate throughout. “Champagne Supanova” is a sumptuous rock ballad with gibberish words, and that’s not me, that’s Noel speaking. Roll With It is a driving rock song and if you want the spirit of Liam with that slightly hoarse but beautiful roar then this is the one.

Samantha, Piers & Tinned Fruit Cocktail – Week 9 : 2017

March 5, 2017

One of the downsides of owning a less popular make of car is finding someone to service it. Obviously anyone can change the oil but fiddly bits like sorting kingpins, shock absorbers, balancing steel wire wheels and replacing failing trim etc. then you need to go to a specialist Morgan dealer/garage. So I drove ‘Samantha’ north to Beamish (near Durham) to deposit my weekend mistress for some tender loving care. I was back later in the week to collect her. This is a nearly a 200 mile return trip that involves the train but here things get better because York railway station is an easy link to most places by being on the main North to South line. I don’t take the train many times in the year but it is a mystery to me. It cost me £33.60 for a single to get from Durham to York and the return single ticket, Anna bought me, was £7.00. What is that all about?

However, when I went back, I discovered Aladdin’s Cave next door at the Aston Martin workshop they also own. It is in here they rebuild the bodies, rebuild and test engines, repaint and or service old Aston Martin’s. I asked how much to rebuild an old ‘barn find’. Prices started at £150,000. One Saudi had six cars in here once; all being reworked. You’ll see with the Bentley that they had other treasure.

I reply to a number of Tweets posted by celebs. I suppose I cannot help myself! A number will occasionally reply if you are interesting and somehow can ‘get to them’. Egos are fragile things. I noted that Piers Morgan was following a wacky Tory MP who belongs to a different century, and not necessarily the last one. I called him out on this and he explained why. (Still not a good reason to follow him though!)

Some times you cannot win and life isn’t fair. You may know this. My father-in-law, like a number of older chaps, gets house bound during the winter. As my mother-in-law had earlier informed High Command (my first wife) that someone was required to retrieve the dry cleaning from Morrisons then I thought why not take Eric with me? So armed, additionally, with a small shopping list we embarked on our adventure.

Amongst my responsibilities was to ensure that there was a minimum amount of deviation from the shopping list. Disciplinary action would ensue should this be discovered. So in our cruising up and down the aisles I was horrified to find that Eric was enjoying himself and adding to the shopping basket away from the agreed written instructions. Clearly this was not a liberty to be well received on our return.

You’ll be relieved to learn that I managed to minimise this ill discipline and limit Eric’s enjoyment. However, despite this achievement I was subject to a later one-to-one debriefing to find out that the two tins of fruit cocktail in syrup had been identified as unacceptable by all the women in his life.

Eric, however, was not advised of his role in this misdemeanour but ironically had commented to High Command that whilst grateful for the expedition he was a little disappointed at the speed at which I had wanted to progress down the tinned fruit aisle. Apparently I am to receive further training…..

Record Of The Week # 9

March 4, 2017

|Tony Ives

David Bowie – Let’s Dance

When David Bowie left us in 2016 I think it touched the lives of any music lover and not necessarily those who knew his records. Such was the respect and recognition of the quality and breadth of his work. He was a recluse for so many years that his music wasn’t in circulation. However such was his stature that when he did briefly reappear latterly with two albums they scooped awards as if they were going out of fashion. I’m sceptical that these records deserved the accolades but not the man.

When I saw him twice in a week, in Doncaster and then Leeds, in 1973. He had ‘just arrived’ after years of hard work that seems to be a vital ingredient for longevity that is overlooked nowadays. It was Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane that I was playing at home at 33rpm and volume eleven. I continued to be happy with him, over the next decade, as he eventually ditched the rock persona and moved into soul, electronica and then sophisticated 1980’s dance. It was in this phase that he conjured up Let’s Dance, his 1983 masterpiece that went on to ship nearly 11 million copies. The music is exceptional but his imagination to approach the musicians, he did, still amazes me. These were unusual picks given his recent output. In very different genres he selected literal icons to help him.

Let’s start with white Texan Stevie Ray Vaughan. He died in 1990 but is revered as a blues legend with a fluid guitar style and empathy for authentic blues as well being an accomplished technician. He’s not just amongst the many blues icons: he is seen as the one who got away with a criminally short time in the spotlight. Bowie saw this little known guitar player at the 1982 Montreux Jazz Festival and pursued him. Had Bowie ever used such a blues guitarist with a licence to roam before on his recordings? All the glorious electric lead guitar flourishes on the album are Stevie’s and not least the incendiary solos on “Let’s Dance” and “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)”.

Next? Iggy Pop had been part of the Berlin set when Bowie was located there making Low and Heroes. In fact Bowie helped write and produce his two biggest albums – Lust For Life and The Idiot. It comes as a surprise to see that Bowie shares songwriting credits on “China Girl” with one James Osterberg Jnr – Iggy to you and me. (In what was an age of MTV then this was my favourite video form the album).

For production duties Bowie selected Nile Rodgers. Here was and is a soul legend – who boasts a string of hit records with everyone from Chic to Sister Sledge to Diana Ross to Duran Duran. A talented guitarist in his own right but an originator of a commercial funk driven sound – what was Bowie think of by letting him steer the ship? Creating magic of course.

Is this my favourite Bowie album? Probably not, but better than most records by anyone else.

Moores People Update 2

March 2, 2017

It is always a delight to come across old friends and unexpectedly as I was wandering around York District Hospital, at the end of January, I came across a familiar face pushing a trolley full of drugs – Steve Mansfield (Technical). I can confirm that he hadn’t become a Walter White figure (for those who’ve watched Breaking Bad) but that he was an employee distributing pharmaceuticals around the large site. He was very well and enjoying his job as he winds down to retirement in 18 months time.

Greg Smith (Credit Control & Installation), now of the Symphony Parish, has been reliving his youth and has invested in a new motor scooter. Needless to say he got quite a bit of stick on Facebook! He may have a career in photography as well after he took this superb image.

Jim Brady (Sales Administration, Commercial, PS Sales & Installation) is looking well and is a busy boy. With his wife, Julie, he is now providing home day care for older people in Acomb, York via their business – Wetherby Home Care. Business is booming and they are working for City of York Council and other folks who sign up privately. A lot of hard work but you’d only have to turn on the news to know he’s tapped into a growing market and enjoying it!

It was delightful to hear from Jon Thelwell (Marketing Manager) who has lived in the Midlands since leaving Moores with various jobs. He’s now landed the prestigious Sales Director job at Knauf. This is a move from being a management consultant. They are major suppliers into the building industry of plasterboard and plaster products.

A long telephone conversation in February with Brian East (Commercial, Export & Builder Centre) was a pleasure. As usual Brian is so kind and positive – qualities that I spent 20 years trying to drive out of him and fortunately failed! Brian looks after Jewson’s nationwide kitchen sales and still lives up in Studley Royal but the kids have truly flown the nest and it’s just Liz and himself.

I’m prepared to bet that Steve Johnson (PS Sales) is probably the Moores employee who has gone the furthest south out of us all. He spent his 60th birthday the other day on a ship in a bay in Antartica. This is a picture of his ship amongst icebergs. If you take a look at his fabulous trip blog then you can see some immense icy beauty…. and penguins