Facing Up to Facebook

Well chaps & chappessses, recently I decided it was time I ceased to be in denial about this Facebuck, er, sorry – Facebook thingy – it’s all a bit newfangled for me, don’t y’know.  People keep leaving messages. What am I  supposed to do?  Plonky’s a spiffing young chap – I’ll ask him next time I‘m down at the the Prones Club – there’s the second  round of the roll throwin’ contest comin’ up. Off to put a new valve in the wireless. Cheery bye!

What’s not to Lake..?

…I  wish you a brave New Year,
All anguish, pain and sadness
Leave your heart
And let your road be clear

© Peter Sinfield

These are the just a few lines – the sentiments of which I humbly pass on to you, dear reader – from the end of Greg Lake’s bitter sweet Christmas classic of 1975, I Believe in Father Christmas. I love everything about it, always have, always will. It stands as a classy classic and totally unlike any other Christmas record, ever. It is probably the best, certainly the most sophisticated, ‘rock’ era  Christmas record along with Fairytale of New York.

The Greg Lake, Pete Sinfield collaboration was massive at the time and only kept off the No.1 spot by the once in a lifetime phenomena of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody . Any other year it would have been at the top for weeks. How unlucky was that for them? It made it to No 2 within a week or two of release. And back then you really had to sell serious numbers to get into the top end of the charts.This record sold probably around 300,000 copies, some claim 500,000. I remember buying a bundle of copies in their special Christmas sleeve and sending them out to friends and family . Having a penchant for Greg Lake’s vocal delivery and melodies it was a joy to see his name in charts as normally he was associated with the biggest prog rock album band of the time, Emerson, Lake & Palmer –ELP – unknown to any pop loving consumer. In those times there was a massive divide between those who bought albums and those who bought singles. U2 recorded the song in 2008, for Bono’s Product Red campaign to fight AIDS in Africa. I can claim a very tenuous connection with Greg Lake – he was born and grew up in the Poole, Bournemouth (Dorset) – where I’ve lived and not that far from where I am now. Oher notable musicians of their time like Bob Fripp, Andy Summers, John Wetton came from the Bournemouth and Dorset area. There’s something very wonderfully British about a prog musician having not only a huge chart hit but creating a Christmas classic that is still on the airways in the UK at Christmastime 34 years later. In America, where ELP were a massively successful arena touring band in the first half of the 1970s, the record made little impact.

Stocking Thrillers

We actually had a white Christmas folks! But only because the bloody snow froze and sat there becoming a deadly hazard on the drive but it was rather good on Christmas Day with the feeble sunlight reflecting off the snow covered garden viewed through leaded light windows and with the roaring log fire. Oooo…

So what did Father Christmas bring me? Not a lot really. The crackers were a bit rubbish this year – we usually buy good ones but failed to read The Timelord’s Intergalactic Guide to Crackers – the paper hats were all the same colour and the paper was as thin as the meaning of Christmas these days.  (Note the clever cynicism – I’m not just an arthead you know). What I had was great but I’m actually not into acquisition of yet more ‘stuff’ – my gifts are usually books maybe the odd DVD & CD – well not odd in that sense -– naughty –.I like reading, a habit I lost for many years. I have a bizarre and incoherent  reading list  ranging from the ‘oh so wonderful, why did he write so few novels’, Raymond Chandler to an unknown book I bought off Amazon , Blotto, Twinks and the Ex-King’s Daughter by the admirable Simon Brett. I haven’t a clue what it’s about but the cover and title are great and the suggested  sense of fun is irresistible.  Non-Fiction books largely have to relate to illustration, writing or Dorset, in particular where I live, the Isle of Purbeck. Well, it’s not really an Isle but that’s it’s name so get used to it.  Smythe at the back? Are you paying attention? I shall bore the pants off you later this year about Purbeck as it plays a significant part in my creative life at present. Suffice to say Purbeck encompasses some the of most beautiful and ancient coastline and landscape in England, so anyone living in Devon can take the smug smiles off their faces.

Back to the books…Amongst the books we received is a beautiful photographic essay on Dorset (marred only by it’s sponsorship by an estate agent)  and a wonderful illustrated book, The Adventures of Herge Creator of Tintinby Michael Farr. Loads of drawings, photographs and a detailed text all beautifully laid out in a large format volume. I recommend it. Herge operated a studio system which must have influenced Frank Hampson’s Dan Dare studio of the1950s. The tragic difference being that Frank didn’t own the copyright of his own creation that made a fortune for the publishers. The laws in some european countries would never have allowed such an injustice.