The End and the Beginning

 

Long Furlong

The End and the Beginning

 

Because others had named the day

We can plot the moment

When first in a church and then

in the barn of an after bouquet of a wedding

you caught a glimpse of the future in each other

deftly like a slipping shadow at first

then ripening boldly like a stalk of March wheat

in the rape fields of Long Furlong

where the South Downs remind us of eternity.

In a barn you found a storehouse

Of possibilities, scurrying everywhere

Like mice intoxicated

you saw how they ran

and the hurt platoons of the past

counselled caution

as you sensed the enormity and the shape

of the secret places undiscovered

yet waiting like the ruined bandstand

on the Brighton shoreline where permanent words

would be uttered fifteen months later.

And that day

there was a silent espousal that whilst

others were celebrating a wedding

at a place where the bloodlines and the ley lines met

The River Arun would take the promise of the future, a twist of wheat

through the gap in the Downs past Arundel

and out at Littlehampton to the sea

where the Channel eddies and tides

caress the leg of a Brighton pontoon

where one day soon the story

would at the same time end, and begin.

For Callum & Frankie, to mark the day it all began on 23.3.15

Love Dad 26.8.17

For an audio version of this piece with ‘The Irrepressibles – The Tide’ (Album: Mirror Mirror 2010) used as a backdrop please go here

My Top 20 Tracks of 2016

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Ok, heading from the bottom to the top, here are my top 20 songs of 2016. Objective? No. Subjective? Yes. A great listen? Of course. I will be playing these on my radio show on http://www.seahavenfm.com on Thursday 29th December at 7-9pm. It will be great if you can come along for the ride.

  1. Catfish & The Bottlemen – Soundcheck (The Ride 2016)

They won their first Brit Award for British Breakthrough act on 24 February 2016. On 27 May 2016, they released their second album, The Ride. This was the single. You can’t help liking it.

  1. In Camera – Realise (Realise Single 2016)

   18.  Jo Ash – Embers (Embers single 2016)

EP releases Lucid Dreams (2014) and Locked In (2015) gave us a taste of the talent that lurks here. Jo is in the process of recording her first solo album; the first single from the album – Embers – was released on 16th July 2016. Memorable.

  1. Viola Beach – Boys that Sing (Viola Beach 2016)

The great lost and tragic story of 2016. The band’s final line-up consisted of Kris Leonard (guitar and vocals), River Reeves (guitar), Tomas Lowe (bass guitar), and Jack Dakin (drums). All four, along with their manager Craig Tarry, died in a car crash in Södertälje, Sweden, on 13 February 2016.

Posthumously, their album went to Number 1 and Coldplay played one of their tracks in tribute at Glastonbury. What might have been doesn’t even come close.

  1. Rationale – Fuel to the Fire (Single 2016)

His debut EP Fuel To The Fire,  won over the likes of Pharrell and Justin Timberlake and he’s on countless ‘Ones to Watch’ lists. This explains the case.

  1. Ray Blk (ft Stormzy) – My Hood (Durt Mini Album 2016)

This is the real south-east London. RAY BLK’s soaring bittersweet ode to it cuts both ways. Exhilarating – all chicken shops and sportswear and nights you’ll never forget – and then it turns, to babies having babies and police raiding you for your dinner. Then Stormzy pops up, telling us how “the woman in the Caribbean shop is always rude”.

  14.  Spring King – The Summer (Tell Me if You’d Like to 2016)

Spring King began as a solo project in 2012 of songwriter and producer Tarek Musa who sings and plays drums. He may also start collecting awards.

  1. Matt Corby – Wrong Man (Telluric 2016)

His debut album Telluric has been ten years in the making with six EPs keeping his fans at bay in the meantime. The album is out now and there is no longer any excuse not to nominate this man for a Mercury Award.

  1. The Lapelles – Seventeen (Seventeen Single)

Gary Watson, the frontman of rising Scottish band the Lapelles died after falling into the river Clyde in Glasgow. The singer was due to celebrate his 22nd birthday the day after the accident occurred. The second tragic entry on the list. Sometimes the best eulogy is simply to listen.

  1. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – I Need Never Get Old (Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats 2015 in US, 2016 in UK)

Perfect soul and RnB from Missouri. Released in the US in 2015, but so keen was I to include this that I have used the fact it was released in this coutry in 2016 as an excuse to include this track played in tribute to the ‘died too young’ members of the list.

Bonus tracks not on the list, but loved and will be played on the 29th.

Christine & The Queens – Tilted (Chaleur Humaine 2016)

Camp Claude – All This Space (Swimming Lessons 2016) 

Hour Two:

  1. Frances – Don’t Worry About Me (Don’t Worry About Me Single 2016)

In August 2014 she sang lead on “Fire May Save You” for the French music label Kitsuné. In July 2015 she released the EP “Grow” for Communion Records. Then in October 2015 she released the EP “Let it Out”.

In November 2015 she was shortlisted for the 2016 BRIT Awards: Critics’ Choice Award. In December 2015 she was nominated for the BBC Sound of 2016. Listen and learn why.

  1. Primal Scream – Where the Light Get In (ft Sky Ferreira) (Chaosmosis 2016)

Part of the Indie scene’s rock royalty.

Chaosmosis is the eleventh studio album by Scottish band Primal Scream. It was released on 18 March 2016 on the band’s First International label, through Ignition Records. The album’s lead single, “Where the Light Gets In”, was released on 1 February 2016 and features American singer Sky Ferreira. She and Bobby Gillespie have created a superb modern male/female duet with feeling.

Bonus track – not on the list

Kings of Leon – Waste a Moment (Walls 2016)

  1. Damien Jurado – Exit 353 (Visions of us on the land 2016

This guy is a virtual veteran with 11 albums prior to this behind him. This was its first single. I now have 11 albums to go out and buy.

Bonus track not on the list

Kaiser Chiefs – Hole in my Soul (Stay Together 2016)

Kaiser Chiefs released their newest album: Stay Together on the 7th October and it sounds exponentially, their best yet. This is brand new. Not on the list, but demands to be played.

  1. Radiohead – Burn the Witch (A Moon Shaped Pool 2016)

Originally written in 2000 Radiohead did not promote the album until the week before its release, when they released the singles “Burn the Witch” and “Daydreaming”. They didn’t need to. It was the fifth Radiohead album to be nominated for the Mercury Prize, and was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Rock Song (for “Burn the Witch”) at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards. It topped the charts everywhere, becoming Radiohead’s sixth number-one album in the UK and a bestseller on vinyl. It was certified gold in the UK on 24 June.

  1. The Coral – Miss Fortune (Distance Inbetween 2016)

‘Distance Inbetween’ is The Coral’s eighth full-length studio album by English indie rock band The Coral, their first for five years. This was a single. A brilliant return.

  1. St.Paul & the Broken Bones – I’ll Be Your Woman (Sea of Noise 2016)

Paul Janeway’s lyrics sifts through racial violence and political unrest, considering how it affects his intimate relationships and asking tough questions about how to respond as a compassionate person and a man of faith. Listen to this and you’ll understand why the Rolling Stones regularly turn up to their gigs.

  1. Laura Mvula – Overcome (The Dreaming Room 2016)

In January 2016, Mvula released “Overcome”, a collaboration with Nile Rodgers, and the lead single from The Dreaming Room. She also launched the #SheWill campaign, aimed at breaking down the barriers that prevent millions of girls worldwide from attending school. That’s the way to start a year.

  1. Michael Kiwanuka – Black Man in a White World (Love and Hate 2016)

Another Communion Records signing. He has been compared to Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers, Randy Newman, Terry Callier, and Otis Redding, as well as Van Morrison and the Temptations. In the future they may be compared to him.

  1. Gregory Porter – Take Me to the Alley (Take Me to the Alley 2016)

Porter’s fourth album, Take Me to the Alley, was released on 6 May 2016. This is the title track. He imagines God returning to earth and spending his time in alleys and ghettoes. Down to earth and celestial all at once.

  1. The xx – On Hold (I See You 2016)

In 2010, the band won the Mercury Prize for its debut album. Their second album, Coexist, was released on 10 September 2012. The band’s third studio album, I See You, will be released on 13 January 2017. Jamie and the band quite simply never release a record that is anything less than sublime. They make it look easy. It isn’t.

This list formed the basis of a radio show on http://www.seahavenfm.com hosted by me on the 29th December 2016:

The two hours can be listened to here:

Dolce Domum (a message to Michael)

Dolce Domum (The Wind in the Willows)

Dolce Domum 

(A Message to Michael)

Enjoy every moment because it will be your first

And one day your last

Expect rather than hope

What you will do next is written somewhere

But not in law or statute

Explore every metre, mile and meridian

Sleep with the moon and rise with the sun

And when people say don’t, say why?

Know that you are loved without reservation

And that you occupy the place on earth

that belongs to you and you alone

There will be many dawns and many dusks

But each day will be written only once.

Your very being is a unique shout of hope

And joy your birthright.

Roy Stannard 21st August 2016

If you would like to hear a recorded version with music of this please go to this link on Soundcloud:

Who Is Like God?

 

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Who is like God?

Love was the father and love the mother.

You arrived in December, anticipating another Christmas

A reward in yourself rather than a present

A pilgrimage more than a journey

Because we cannot find love in ourselves

Only with another

And you were the purest love

The world of love in a moment

To complete the place that was prepared for you

A place shaped, breathed into, palpitating, anticipated for you

And you arrived linking Winter with Spring

A week after Mandela died and two days before his burying

You arrived, your hair already hinting of gold

Woven like the wealth of the Transvaal on the South African flag

You arrived to separate the before from the after

The Anno Domini

Dividing the past from the future

You arrived to say that there was no going back

As the Ukraine edged westwards

After the charge of the dark brigade in Crimea

And your mother wrote the gospel of your life

Like a scream of joy

As the Scribes and the Pharisees fled back to the Old Testament

Making way for the new covenant of love

Turning over and seeding the soil of hope

Too big an enterprise now for the old scythes and hoes

‘We need a tractor’ you said in almost your first words

And we realised that the lines and the furrows

Could mean happiness after all.

Roy Stannard for Michael’s Naming Day 21.8.16

For a version of this mixed with music please visit Soundcloud at:

The Language of Us

 

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The Language of Us

Before you, I walked at the edge of the group

A straggler in strangers

My life didn’t fit, held together with an unsafety pin

I was made not to measure

A bird not of a feather

And my hesitant shadow held back

Expecting never to be expectant, half a step behind

Like a skittish kitten, playing with fear

And then, amongst the bubble wrap multitude

Issuing and popping with importance

Was a face that emptied the page, cleared the stage

And invited me into your dressing room

Shutting out the mob that scratched and mewled against the door

And said sit down, I have a place for you

In my heart

Come and try it on

And I tried it on

Inviting you to lunch without waiting for an answer

Knowing that the glistening still water waves of the Marina

Would caress our conversation

And lap at our bruised emotions

As we refused everything on the menu except love

We had been things to other people

We had appeared as guests in others memories

We were both in a foreign country

But as the first twitch of feeling shivered between us

We found we had the language of us

That said yes whenever we touched.

Roy Stannard for Natasha

20.8.16

For a recorded version with music on Soundcloud please click here:

Do It Yourself Celebrity

Do It Yourself Celebrity

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Last Friday 29th July I went to the Holmbush Centre at Shoreham to help my old friend and radio colleague Patrick Souiljaert man (person?) a stand at the entrance to Tesco there. He has written an autobiography in microscopic detail about the challenges of his life as a person with Cerebral Palsy. He was starved of oxygen a birth which led to the condition. However, instead of letting it define him, he has used it to energise and power his ambition, refusing to accept its limitations, using them instead to define his goals.

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After going to school in various special establishments (the word special is used in its loosest context here) in the South, Patrick emerged as a man with extreme sensitivity to his and others place in the world. He worked at a major telecomms company for many years before deciding that he could be a radio producer. He achieved this and worked for three Sussex-based radio stations before deciding that he could also be a property investor before going on to become an international speaker, writer and motivator.

His book — ‘Stairs For Breakfast’ was self published a year ago and has so far sold over 700 copies.

It is a raw, no-holds-barred account of the first half of his life with names and organisations changed to protect the innocent and the less than innocent. It is a page turning, honest, gripping story that demonstrates an almost documentary, forensic recall of detail and really installs the reader inside the head of someone who reacts powerfully to the limitations that life has laid upon him.

Last Friday, Patrick, John , Clare and myself went to Holmbush armed with 200 copies of the book, some banners and a great pitch provided by the generous customer services team at Tesco led by Lisa. I was given access to the public intercom system in order to make announcements.

Patrick called out to most passers by with a friendly ‘hello’, ‘how are you?’ and a goodly minority stopped to have a chat and by the end of the day 38 copies of the book at £10 each were sold.

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The point of this post? That you don’t have to accept the hand that life has dealt you. That you can dream and then wake up and achieve those dreams.

That you can decide to be a writer and go and write and publish your book. That you can call yourself an international motivational speaker and go and motivate by speaking. Internationally.

Stairs for Breakfast. Success for lunch. The world for supper.

 

For Now

For Now

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For Now

A long time ago

An entire lifetime in the past

Long before me

And before you were fully you

You played in the world

Before the world became a serious business

Because before you were a mother

You were a little girl

A wisp of a person

Without a care in the world

A fleck of colour on a dull daily canvas

Playing in the Stambridge fields

Rudely interrupting the country

Where nothing ever happened

Except perhaps an outing to Maldon

Or a flat cycle ride to Flatford Mill

Not noticing how golden the meadows were

In the late afternoon

When the prospect of another day was cheap.

And on another page, you’re smiling

A teenager with designs on womanhood

The hairstyle you were to keep for sixty years

Turned back in the light Summer breeze

Your lips laughing and unkissed

A girl spoken of and soon to be spoken for.

I can still hear the laughter in the grocers shop

Two quarters of a century ago

As you sliced more than a quarter of ham

And wrapped it up in your generosity

That you spent so freely

On all of us.

Even when your purse was empty

Your heart was full

I recall exchanging your last half crown

For a Blyton in Bobbins the Bookshop

In the old arcade where I looked for the clowns

In the Victoria Circus.

You walked so fast, it was a race to keep up

And when I did finally catch up, it was too late

You were too tired to go shopping

And your final half crown was spent

On a last afternoon in Chichester

Held back by the pain growing in the same place

That I grew a generation ago

And you told me that although you had to let me go

Our farewells were for now only

That love is not like a story at all

Because it has no end.

For Mum. Roy Stannard 16/5/2000

This poem was originally written for my Mother’s funeral. As part of a radio show on Thursday 3rd December 2015, it felt appropriate to record a live version of it. Listen here:   https://soundcloud.com/roystannard/roy-stannard-for-now