Is this the bravest book ever written?

Is this the bravest book ever written?

Digit by digit, key by key

Digit by digit, key by key

In 2011 while viewing buy-to-let properties Patrick was waiting for the estate agent to arrive. Puzzled, seeing a disabled man standing with crutches, the agent asked whether Patrick was OK walking up the stairs as there was quite a lot of them. Patrick replied as quick as a flash, “Yes I’ll be fine, I eat stairs for breakfast.”

The humour in this disguises the fact that Patrick has had Cerebral Palsy since a four minute air blockage at his birth starved him of the oxygen needed for a normal delivery. It has meant tackling life on his terms for over 40 years and as an obstinate, determined, visionary man, Patrick has refused to allow this disability get in his way.

This may be the bravest book ever written. Why? Firstly, because in physical terms it took Patrick the best part of two years laboriously typing 700 words a day with his left index finger. Secondly, the subject matter is raw, honest and occasionally self-deprecating. His account of a visit to an unfeeling, heartless prostitute, his account of how an equally heartless employer made him purchase his own desk and computer screen; his account of how he was bullied and abused as a child at a special boarding school. Thirdly, real people close to Patrick are featured in the book, sometimes painfully.

Brave because he sees his Cerebral Palsy as a gift – inspiring people and giving them the aspiration to do something equally remarkable. To show them that with enough self-belief and determination they can do anything they want.

He has spent his 41 years refusing to accept second best and above all refusing to be categorised as ‘disabled’. The worst thing (or best?) you can say to Patrick is don’t do something. It will mean that he is almost certain to do it. He was born in the south of England in 1973 to Belgian father and English mother. He has a sister and large extended family of devoted friends. He insisted from an early stage on being treated like everyone else and this led to an early career in IT and computer programming with a household name in telecommunications and a parallel career in commercial radio where he worked for three radio stations as a producer. This would be achievement enough, but Patrick was (and still is) determined to do more.

This led him in 2011 to leave the large corporation and set out on his own in property investment, pursuing an ambition to make £1 million. He started writing a blog at around the same time and this gave him the idea to write Stairs for Breakfast.

By networking in the property investment Patrick found his purpose in life: To help and inspire people – and to reach his full potential.

Cerebral Palsy is a condition that makes dealing with the physical demands of life very difficult but does not impair in any way the normal functions of the brain. Stairs for Breakfast is the first half of Patrick’s autobiography and it could have been a mawkish, self-pitying book but instead its real triumph lies in the upbeat, humorous narrative approach that entertains as much as it inspires. His other gift is a photographic memory that allows him to recount incidents from three decades ago as if it were yesterday.

Patrick was recently asked to take part in a TV documentary on inner peace. After being filmed Patrick said “This is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I want my journey and my book to make a difference in the world”.

The book is a search for self-awareness, achievement, acceptance and love. Patrick has become by default a very good, inspirational public speaker. His ability to engage the reader and the listener is quickly apparent. Not many books set out to change perceptions and succeed in doing so. This is one of them that does.

Ends

What the critics have said:

“When someone tells me they can’t do something I tell them Patrick’s story and share his ability to overcome whatever is put in front of him. He is an inspiration.”

Glenn Armstrong www.glennarmstrong.com

“This book is a must for anyone. It’s honest, funny and inspirational. It humbles me just thinking about the effort it must have taken.”

Paul Ribbons www.paulribbons.com

“An enormous achievement. Do yourself a favour. Add it to your reading wish list – and those of your friends.”

Roy Stannard www.roystannard.wordpress.com

Stairs for Breakfast is on Amazon now for £15.99. Patrick is available to deliver inspirational talks on overcoming adversity and his journey to success.

For more information please contact: Patrick Souiljaert

http://stairsforbreakfast.com   / 01273 465519 / 07710 021454 / mail@sussexpatrick.com

April Showers – Abandon Ship (Chrysalis ‎– chs 2787 12″ 1984)

April Showers – Abandon Ship (Chrysalis ‎– chs 2787 12″ 1984)

April Showers - Abandon Ship (best)

April Showers – Abandon Ship 12″ 1984

It was 1984. I was a secondary school teacher living in Brighton, unmarried and draining most of my spare cash into Rounder Records in the Lanes where, until he joined the Housemartins, my pal Norman Cook would put a stack of 12″ singles on the counter every Saturday morning ready for me to collect.

Anne Dudley

Anne Dudley

Anne Dudley had make something of a name for herself scoring the orchestral parts on ABC’s Lexicon of Love and was planning something exciting in pop-electronic-chamber crossover called the Art of Noise.

April Showers were a Glaswegian band  – a duo consisting of Jonathan Bernstein and Beatrice Colin (who was previously in Operation Twilight label band the French Impressionists and nowadays an author) and were subsequently signed to the major offshoot Big Star.

‘Abandon Ship’ emerged from all the stars colliding in 1984. Jonathan and Beatrice writing a romantic, panoramically lush pop song and asking Anne Dudley before she was famous to score and orchestrate it. Chrysalis records put it out on its Big Star offshoot as a 12″ with the vocal A side, instrumental B side and the third track ‘Everytime we say goodbye’ to complete this perfect pop confection.

Beatrice Colin

Beatrice Colin

Nowadays you will know Beatrice Colin as the author of four novels for adults including The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite (published as The Glimmer Palace in the US) and The Songwriter. She has been shortlisted for a British Book Award, a Saltire Award and a Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award. She also writes short stories, screen and radio plays and for children.

One of her children’s novels, My Invisible Sister (with Sara Pinto) has been optioned by Disney in the US. Her novel for children, Pyrate’s Boy is written under the name E.B. Colin and is published by Floris Books.

She can be found plying her trade as a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Strathclyde University in Glasgow.

April Showers

April Showers

April Showers started life as  3 piece in 1981 – with Jonathan Bernstein, Hubble, and Bobby Caldwell – who worked with a variety of instrumentalists and singers and submitted demo songs for the Operation Twilight Record Label on which they had an unreleased 7″ single entitled “While The City Sleeps”. Most of their demos didn’t get released. Beatrice joined after The French Impressionists let her go.

In the meantime, in a bemused fog of Indie vinyl acquisition in Brighton I bought the 12″ took it home and thought at the time that it was a bit fairycake for my taste. Later, however, as Anne Dudley star rose and she became an essential soundtracker to the Eighties I found myself playing the record more often.

Three years ago I sold my entire record collection and this record was amongst the treasures and gems doubtless making van loads of money for dealers. I included it in a Blog post a few years ago and this track has been more commented on and requested than other.

I thought it was time to devote a blog to this one record and to upload all three tracks together for the first time.

Why it has not been reissued I don’t know. Sometimes the greatest treasures are the ones that remain undiscovered

Track Line Up: Chrysalis ‎– chs 2787 12″ 1984

A1: Abandon Ship

B1: Abandon Ship (Instrumental)

B2: Everytime We Say Goodbye

http://www.mediafire.com/download/dkeoaa1xao27dd4/April_Showers_-_Abandon_Ship.rar

Joyeaux Anniversaire, comme ils disent

IMG_1759

Natasha on her Wedding day

 

Joyeaux Anniversaire, comme ils disent

There you were

just a year ago

in front of the march to St George’s Day

we met, melded and married

and defied the xenophobic mantras

Slaying the dragons of prejudice

because the words we use sound different.

But love translates easily

and we didn’t need words to say that we would

and we did and we would again.

So in front of the flags of inconvenience

and the bile balls of blind hatred

we joined hands and futures.

‘Comme ils disent’

‘As they say’, and they did about us

But we stepped to one side and let the dissenters pass

We let the March become April

and the thunder become light.

We searched for quiet, sacred places

in the shadows of Lewes

to leave precious droplets of our love

between the flagstones.

We put new addresses on our hearts

And gave our souls new phone numbers

We threw away the mistakes in our wardrobes

And we agreed that the last Saturday in April

Would be the last day of our old lives.

Then as we stood under the crystal rivulets of sunshine

in a church one day in April

I watched the tired old procession

turn into a victory parade

And threw myself into your path

like a flower.

For Natasha after a year of marriage / Roy Stannard 26th April 2015

For a live performance please click here:

On the day you said yes

Burgess-Hill-Wedding-Photographer-Roy-Natasha 248

On the day you said yes

On the day you said yes

Opening the gates of my world

A flock of possibilities took flight

The sun pushed the clouds aside

Outside, the world was closing doors

And lowering shutters

As I signed up for you

The Government was calling up men

To man the barricades of yesterday’s empires

And women to woman the blockades

In Pimlico and Berlin

But you said yes when Mao said no

to the West, you gave me refuge

As we sailed up the Yangtze

To rescue our reputation

On the day we gave

the performance of our lives

Together in our private love story

As Olivier gave his Hamlet to the masses

And Orwell gave his prophecy to the proles

About the world to come

But we were too busy to notice

Writing our own book of the future

No plot lines, no narrative

Just signatures on a page in a church

The famous last words of two stories

That became one on that day

On the day you said yes

And every day since.

Roy Stannard – for Pat and Doug Myers to celebrate 65 years of happiness 23.11.14

Listen to a live recorded version here:

Star Formation: Mike Kerr of Royal Blood

Royal-Blood[1]

Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher of Royal Blood with Jimmy Page

Stars form when the right amount of dust and gas coalesce due to gravitational pull. Within the star nuclear reactions continue to release energy to keep the star hot. Just before the star bursts into existence all these forces are working together at their optimum strength.

It’s a sultry early Autumn day and the leaves on the trees are beginning to feel a little restless. The greens are transmuting to the first hints of yellow. The sun is high in the sky and the wind is thinking about migrating from north to east. I’m in my car parked in a road near the eastern entrance to Worthing where suburban folk mow lawns and shape hedges to fit whatever sits behind their frontal consciousness. Up the road is an ordinary secondary school that doesn’t quite realise yet that it will become famous soon, mentioned in Wikipedia, visited by pilgrims, worn as a badge by generations of students to come. At the other end of the road is a pub, deadly quiet at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, unaware that it will become the third or fourth point on the tours that will sprout up in this very ordinary part of West Sussex, England.

Mike Kerr in Brighton

Mike Kerr in Brighton

I’m parked outside Mike Kerr’s house, or more accurately, his parent’s house, waiting for Mike to arrive, ready to drive him across Sussex to radio studios where we will conduct the only radio interview in the week when his band’s album has gone to Number One in the official UK charts, with 66,000 sales in six days. Noel Gallagher’s ‘High Flying Birds’ album four years ago was the last rock album to sell as many. Later in the interview we would joke about Mike and Noel leaning against the bar and comparing album sales, we would joke about Mike getting Dave Grohl wrapped in a box for Christmas.

Half a decade ago I’m in the Thomas a Becket pub in Worthing watching a band comprising four  kids who were at school with my son and who I had known since they were eleven years old deliver an electrifying venom-filled punk set with their leader and songwriter George McCanna delivering invective disguised as rock lyrics about the pointlessness of suburban life. Flavour Country with George, Joe Dennis, Toby Lancaster and a young, bespectacled geeky guy called Mike Kerr on keys and bass were a ferocious blast of teenage aggression, bemusing the pocket of regulars leaning at the bar.

Hunting The Minotaur

Hunting the Minotaur – Mike Kerr (2nd left)

A little later I’m in the Cricketers in Broadwater, Worthing. My marriage has fallen apart and my only solace is the music. I’m nursing a pint of Harveys, the only beer you should drink in Sussex, when the young keyboardist in the band that had morphed from Flavour Country into Hunting the Minotaur gets up and sings with a guitar. I didn’t know he sang, and it was good. The dust and the gas were forming, the atoms splitting.

The taxi pulls up and out rolls Mike and his old friend from school, Nat Clark. They had been in a pub and Mike needs to go in the house and have a leak. Nat sits in the car. “Well, I say”, “what do you make of all this?” “Mad” he replies. Mike studied catering at Northbrook College and has been working when he’s been working as a trainee chef amongst other things. This week the job description changed to actual, real, bona fide rock star.

Mike, Nat, Roy in studio

Mike, Nat Clark & Roy in the studio

Yes, he and Royal Blood duettist, drummer and mate, Ben Thatcher have appeared at Glastonbury, Reading, Leeds, and Finsbury Park with the Arctic Monkeys. They have appeared on Later with Jools Holland when Neil Finn put the thumbs up on camera at the end of their explosive performance of ‘Little Monster’. Matt Helders of the Arctic Monkeys wore a T-shirt hurriedly created for him when they headlined at Glastonbury. At that point Royal Blood hardly existed.  The NME and Kerrang and Q started calling them the future of Rock ‘n Roll. But until this week they did not have a Number One album.

I had Mike’s phone number on my mobile. My son Callum, a mate of Mike’s had forwarded it. I texted Mike and asked for an interview. The old respect between young musician and someone who has run radio stations and labels kicked in. Against the advice of his management, label and press office, he agreed to meet up.

Mike Kerr & Ben Thatcher of Royal Blood

Mike Kerr & Ben Thatcher of Royal Blood

Earlier that day at 7am I had driven over to Seaford to load the computer play out system at Seahaven FM with the Royal Blood album in its majestic entirety, some historic and very rare Flavour Country/Hunting the Minotaur tracks and a selection of music that Mike had referenced in interviews and some other stuff I just knew he liked. ‘I know him’ I thought.

We are in the car driving though the South Downs on the way to Seaford. Mike’s phone rings. It’s George McCanna, his  old compadre in Flavour Country/Hunting the Minotaur. He’s heard that Mike is back from touring for a couple of days before flying to Paris for the next leg of the tour. They arrange to meet later.

Mike tells me that he learned to sing in Joe Dennis’s living room, practising and remembering some of the tricks that George used to deploy. I can hear George in one or two of the higher register yowling vocal breaks. The neutrons start to split and re-connect. The forces are forming like a large dark cloud on the horizon. I realise that this will be the last car journey like this. Ordinary and relaxed, three people laughing and joking on the way to another Sussex town.

Mike Kerr of Royal Blood & Roy Stannard

Mike Kerr, Royal Blood and Roy

Mike’s mobile is very private. There are no press interruptions even though everyone wants to talk to him. He has grown charisma, the star quality sets like a interplannetary aura around him. The old spectacles have gone, the hair is wild but fashionable, the leather rocker jacket stylised and perfect for the music, the speech more considered, the gaps between questions and answers long enough to create a sense of importance. With a jolt I realise that he does now look like a young Marlon Brando.

We arrive at the studios. Seahaven FM is a small independently run and financed radio station. A community station where no-one is paid, even the fulltime Director, Nick Mallinson, who does what he does for the love of it. These stations occupy the space that the old pirate stations used to before they went dance obsessed. Enthusiasts gather around the microphone to deliver their eccentric, passionate, obsessive love of music in all its colours and genres for the pleasure of other obsessives.

Royal Blood (IndependentT

Ben Thatcher & Mike Kerr of Royal Blood

There are 250 and rising of these stations in the UK. They attract over 1 million listeners a week. Who? People interested in their community, the travel and the traffic, the micro climates of weather, gossip and what’s on. Seahaven FM on 96.3 in Seaford, Peacehaven and Newhaven and on www.seaheavenfm.com is one of the better ones. David Scott, erstwhile of Southern FM and other commercial stations, now retired, occupies the Breakfast slot. The local MP Norman Baker has a show called ‘Anything Goes’, and anything does, musically. There are world music shows, rock n roll shows, jazz shows and I play whatever I like on my Thursday 7-9pm slot because I’ve been listening and working with music for the best part of 40 years and I’ve paid my dues.

I re-arrange the songs on the playlist to suit Mike Kerr’s mood and taste. Unaccountably, I feel nervous. The boy I knew has grown into a man, a star has formed. He has ‘people’ who look after him, but today he has climbed under the fence and escaped. He is off line, off circuit. He can say what he likes and so can I.

The next two hours fly by. I cover all the obvious questions that you can read in all the press interviews, but we also go a little deeper, the prodigiously talented George McCanna is mentioned and honoured. Mike’s Mum, Angie and Dad, Bob, who I have known for years are thanked. His school friends Joe, Toby, Alex and my own son Callum are referenced with love and respect. All musical talents in their own right. We play adrenalin-pumped rock and roll, we nod back to Led Zeppelin, and nod forward to Drenge who have left the ‘F’ word at the end of their track ‘Blood Sport’ and which, having heard it go out live, I have to go back and edit out on the recording. The Arctic Monkeys, Foals, Muse, Queens of the Stone Age, The Raconteurs, Them Crooked Vultures also feature. Musical signposts rather than antecedents, combined with the Royal Blood album it’s a rock ‘n roll show that Peel, Walker, Lamacq and the others would have all revelled in.

At the end, we all feel good about what has happened. In this week of all weeks, it’s good to mark the passage of time, to pay respect to the people who have helped along the way. This may be the last time Mike Kerr gets to be the local boy from Worthing chatting about music with his mates.

I drive him and Nat back to Worthing. It’s been a blast. We say goodbye outside a pub. He walks in and Ye Olde House at Home in Broadwater, Worthing joins the ranks of the immortals.

The particles collide. The light explodes. Mike walks through a doorway and the star forms.

From now on we will all have to watch it from a distance.

© Roy Stannard 6.9.14

The interview and track by track discussion of the Royal Blood album along with all the tracks can be heard on Mixcloud/roystannard:

Hour One:

http://www.mixcloud.com/roystannard/tw9y-4914-hour-1-royal-blood-special-with-mike-kerr-and-roy-stannard-on-wwwseahavenfmcom/

Hour Two:

http://www.mixcloud.com/roystannard/tw9y-4914-hour-2-royal-blood-special-with-mike-kerr-and-roy-stannard-on-wwwseahavenfmcom/

 

 

 

 

Google Tracking – The Adman will find you

Internet Tracking

Who is watching who?

Got a Google account? Using an activated Google Maps service on your smartphone? If the answer is yes then Google Tracking is now collating your every movement and recording it for posterity, with time stamped data about how long you were there and unerringly accurate plotlines on a map showing this activity in a kind of modern day Pepys diary.

The route to this information is simple. Go to maps.google.com/locationhistory as a logged-in Google user and your life and its journeys will open up in front of you on day views, weeks views or across a whole month. If you don’t like your privacy being invaded in this way, it is pretty simple to turn this system off. How many of us will?

As someone who makes a living from within the advertising industry, the creative left side of my brain began to generate useful by-products of this information being readily available.

Deep breath.. I currently have a clean licence, but supposing someone stole my car (but not my phone) and broke speed limits with abandon on the motorway to Manchester?  I can now prove that I wasn’t where the car was.

If I had a suspicious wife (I don’t) who wanted to know my whereabouts on a particular day I can deliver the evidence to allay those suspicions along with accurate times and durations.

If I wanted to to prove to my employers that I have done the car mileage that I have claimed in my expenses, then it is a simple matter of reproducing a map similar to that below.

Roy's Travels in August 14

Roy’s Travels in August 14

Accessing this data with the password of your child’s account on Google will enable any concerned parent to ‘watch’ the whereabouts of your offspring wherever they may wander.

Of course, the real potential for the Industry that I work in is to track the journeys and travel behaviour of people that we wish to communicate with and to interact with them on those journeys. That can be done via the smartphones that they are carrying to enable mobile wallets, QR Codes, GPS activated marketing , Bluetooth alerts when passing retail stores, or even talking poster sites that murmur persuasively to you when you walk past. Increasingly, we will be asked to join Facebook groups, Google+ consumer mobs, FourSquare review clusters, MeetUp interest collectives, Streetlife.com neighbourhood watch groups and many more.

Using Internet downstreaming to track your web life we can already follow your progress across the virtual world. With the help of Google Location History we don’t have to hover in alleyways, hunch down behind the wheel of anonymous pursuit vehicles or silently pad ten paces behind you on the mean streets of your town anymore.

You are handing it tied up in bows and ribbons to Google – and to any half-decent hacker that takes an interest in you.

How do you interview the 20th Century?

How do you interview the 20th Century?

Roy Stannard and the 20th Century in human form - Lord Denis Healey

Roy Stannard and the 20th Century in human form – Lord Denis Healey May 22nd 2014

By day I work in advertising – but by night – and Thursday evenings in particular, between 7-9pm I sneak away to host ‘The Whole Nine Yards’ on Seahaven FM 96.3 in Seaford, Peacehaven, Newhaven and the more rarefied parts of Lewes. It can be heard live around the world on http://www.seahavenfm.com

Through a mutual friend the opportunity arose recently to interview in a kind of Desert Island (Denton Island?) Discs format, the former Chancellor and Deputy Labour Leader, Lord Denis Healey, who resides at Alfriston. One of the dominant figures in Twentieth Century politics, Lord Healey of Riddlesden has been Chancellor of the Exchequer, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Defence Secretary and one of the leading thinkers in the post 45 transition from collective economic thinking to an economics combining social justice and progressive taxation. He is credited with saving the UK economy after five years of chancellorship in the political firestorm of the seventies and has been criticised by others for not scrutinising the need for the IMF £4 Billion bail out in 1976 more closely.

Most agree that he is the best Labour Party Leader that the party never had and was responsible for preserving the democratic centre of the Labour Party during the divisive times of Militant and the SDP breakaway.

However, for the purposes of the radio show that aired on the 22nd May Denis Healey is also a local resident, a keen consumer of music, poetry and art, an enthusiastic photographer and patron of local groups such as the Corelli Ensemble. At 96 years young he demonstrated amazing wit, recollection and the ability to tell entertaining anecdotes. Although I remember with embarrassment my attempt to show off by recounting his involvement in the Barbara Castle authored ‘In Place of Strife’ Industrial Relations policy in the 70s and loftily announced that Denis supported it. To which he replied, “Did I?”

I collected him from home, sat him down in the studio and spent two hours listening to his amazing stories that ranged from stories about Helmut Kohl, Khrushchev, Ted Heath, The Bloomsbury Group, Picasso to his forthright views about Tony Blair and the UK membership of the EC. We listened to his favourite (mainly classical) pieces of music and the time flew by. Denis was the author of the famous law of holes – when in one stop digging – and this was covered along with the apocryphal ‘Silly Billy’ line that Mike Yarwood ascribed to him.

I asked whether if he had left the Labour Party in 1989 with the rest of the SDP departees, it would have meant the end of the party – and whether, as most people agreed, he should have been the Leader of the Labour party. His bruising encounter with the IMF and the economic restraints it imposed may have been the result of a Treasury calculation error and led to policies that anticipated Monetarism by a decade.

I prepared for it by reading every article and interview available, reading his Autobiography ‘The Time of My Life’ and by listening to the two ‘Desert Islands Discs’ that he had participated in.

The range of topics and opinions on display was encyclopaedic and it stretched my presenter/historian/political commentator skills to the limit.

It was like interviewing the 20th Century in human form!

If you would like to listen to a recording of the programme, it can be listened to here:

On the 3rd October 2015 Lord Denis Healey died aged 98 at his home, Pingles Place in Alfriston, East Sussex.

As a tribute I wrote a poem called ‘Eden Again’ and posted it on this Blog:

http://wp.me/pCEKG-iZ