New Job

To compliment the web/graphic design that I do to help keep a roof over mine and Kathryn’s heads – I have my first set of regular hours for quite some time.

Saturday night saw me DJ in RETRO Bar, Harrogate and I have been offered a residency.

 

 

Above is a practice mix of my set on Saturday – I did not get to play it in it’s entirety having had my set time cut due to blown speakers. But, still – I am now a resident DJ at Retro Bar. Hopefully the following poster that I designed explains it better:

 

Granny B

I am writing this late on Easter Monday’s afternoon – struggling to make sense of my emotions. The weekend got off to a hell of a bad start; on Good Friday my mum phoned to tell me that Granny had passed away peacefully, loosing her battle with Dementia.

The end months were not graceful for Granny B – she was such a proud woman and it was sad to see her laid so low with an illness. She had been battling dementia for a number of years; what a sad, cruel illness.

If it had not been for Granny, I do not think I would have pursued an academic bent towards Zoology & Botany. I studied Wildlife Conservation at Plymouth Uni with the hope of working with the Big 5 in Africa – however, my health intervened on that one. We used to walk miles, despite her age, to see the Canadian Geese that used to stop off on the farm in Norfolk. She was over the moon when I told her I had managed to get a job at Newby Hall as a gardener – she confided in me that she had often thought about dropping out of Nursing and becoming a gardener herself.

However, she was a very good Nurse – a Gold Standard nurse and a Sister, I believe.

I will always remember the time when Granny, the beaming matriarch, took me and my brother and sister down to London to the Natural History Museum – this is what spurred my enthusiasm for wildlife – even if the reason for going down there was to see the Dinosaurs. I managed to sneak through an open door and see some of the private collection – I was so thrilled. I believe she takes her recipe for Seville Casserole (beef and orange hotpot) with her but she leaves a legacy that the greater Leamington area can be grateful for; she worked tirelessly for the regions health cause’s and was eventually awarded an MBE for her services to Health & The Elderly.

When I was told of her passing I did not have mixed emotions – I burst in to floods of tears. But, now the raw grief and shock has gone, I can see that it was her time to go. She is no longer suffering – but there is a granny shaped hole in my psyche.

Below is a photograph of my Grandparents – only Granny Dornoch (on the left) is surviving. Grandpa passed away 1st July 2016 and now Granny B joins him – she will be making sure everything is in order wherever she is.

Dementia really is a cruel illness – Granny was such a proud lady in life, before the illness crept over her. She was the beaming matriarch who would deal out the Chocolate Fudge Pudding to the Children’s table first. She ruled the family with a rod of iron but, ultimately, she was very fair. She had a massive influence on all three of us (me, my brother and my sister) and I do not think we would have got where we are without her encouragement.

In life she was a lion of a woman – age reduced her stature and I have to admit it was not pleasant to see. However, I now need to be there for the rest of the family – God knows what Dad and his three brothers are going through (having lost both their parents in less than a year). All I can do is offer a shoulder of support and bear witness to the great life that Granny Backhouse led.

The Bug vs. Dylan Carlson From Earth

The gig I missed – I completely got my dates mixed up.

I am writing this blog post after a Friday night in Leeds – to cut a long story short, I got the dates wrong for a gig featuring my favourite guitarist.

Kathryn has seemed to have come down with a cold lately, feeling feverish and having the sniffles. This did not bode well well for Friday night’s gig: The Bug vs. Dylan Carlson from Earth. Kathryn graciously bowed out and allowed me to take my drinking buddy, Stewart – we caught the expensive train in to Leeds and arrived at Belgrave music Hall & Canteen at 20:10 – we thought there would be plenty of time to see Earth.

When I presented my tickets to the lady on the door – well – I realised that I had my dates mixed up: the gig I had tickets for was on Thursday night! I had missed the gig by 24 hours.

I felt a right tit.

Still, the promoter took pity on us and let us in to see Man Cant Fly – a Kassabian type rock out fit with a really tight rhythm section. The music was of a high quality but I was kicking myself over the fact that I had missed my favourite guitarist promoting his latest album.

Whilst the music was good in the Blegrave, I felt a right tit and had to go downstairs to get another beer. Scoob due-fully obliged and I plied him with (non-alcoholic) beer. I was on the Beavertown Lupoloid and Scoob was on some weird concoction.

We left the Belgrave and went to a few other pubs – one of note was a pub I can’t recollect the name of: it had the original Victorian bar complete with tiles and refurbished copper worktop; Whitlock’s I think it’s name was.

We then went to another pub where I bought my wife a Motörhead beer stein and we caught the train home.

All in all it seems a fairly quite night out – but, I have to say it is one that I needed. I had received some terrible news this morning and I needed a bit of mate time; who better to make you feel better about yourself than Stewart Thornton – he is a rough diamond. It takes a lot of bad news to realise that what you have may seem a burden a lot of the time but to others it is a light load.

I will not go in to the details of the bad news just yet – it is quite personal and I do not want to step on family toes. Let’s just say it has left a mark.

Checking In This Thursday

I seem to have broken my run of frequent blogging.

There was a time when I would knock out two or three blog post a week – all crap, but still; good times.

However, I took on a bit too much work and the result was that I burned out temporarily, in a minor way. The thought of sitting down at a computer for fun was a daunting prospect although I seemed to have picked up the baton again. So what have I been up to?

I recorded this radio show at three o’clock this morning –

 

 

I am also getting increasingly excited about the coming weekend – Friday sees me and Kathryn in Leeds to catch a gig, Saturday sees me DJing at FIRE (I will enclose a flyer in this post at the footer) and I plan to go back to the farm on Sunday to catch up with my cousin and her children – they are coming for the Easter break with my sister who I have hardly heard from since we saw Star Wars Rogue One over Xmas.

Kathryn is having a short break from her duties as a dog-walker as the majority of her clients are teachers – so, as it is the Easter holidays there is a dip in hours.

Also, in music news, GDS seem to have crashed out of the charts on Beatport for the releases but seem to be getting there in the singles chart. It has all proved a lot of fun and I will tell you more about our next plan for world domination at a later junction – although it is safe to say EP2 is in the bag.

A Comfortable No.2 – With Image

Ha!

Not quite what you imagine – Me and Allan are holding steady at Number two in the Beatport Reggae Releases chart. Up one place from last week’s three.

This must mean that people other than our friends have bought the release!

It is quite astounding to think that we are getting played all over the world (well – North Yorkshire, specifically Allan’s studio) but it is a good feeling. One I could get used to.

In other news, our label is slowly growing with people submitting tracks to the CREAO Accounts and hoping we will throw them a bone – I feel empowered by this but hope it does not go to my head.

Jailed For Blogging

The Prime Minister should put human rights and international law at the centre of her talks with Saudi Arabia’s government this week, regarding the whole region she is visiting.

Numerous human rights organisations, including the UNHRC and Amnesty International, have documented the dictatorial Saudi monarchy’s shocking human rights record.

The Saudi-led coalition bombing in Yemen, backed by the British government, has left thousands dead, 21 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and three million refugees uprooted from their homes.

Yemen urgently needs a ceasefire, a political settlement, and food aid, not more bombing. British-made weapons are being used in a war which has caused a humanitarian catastrophe.

Britain must halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia immediately, throw its weight behind a ceasefire resolution at the United Nations and back a full and genuinely independent investigation of the evidence of war crimes in Yemen.

As it stands, the British-Saudi relationship is damaging to the people of Saudi Arabia, Britain and the wider Middle East, and helping to export insecurity to the rest of the world.

Unless the Prime Minister challenges the Saudi regime over its abuses this week, it will be clear she is ready to sacrifice human rights and security on the altar of the arms trade.

However, it is on of Saudi Arabia’s neighbours – The UAE – and in particular Ahmed Mansoor I want to speak about. He was the last human rights activist working freely in the United Arab Emirates – until a fortnight ago, when security forces stormed his home in the middle of the night. He was arrested and thrown in jail. His crime? Standing up for rights.

Ahmed Mansoor was at home when, at midnight on 20 March, twelve members of the state security forces burst in. They searched his house, confiscated his family’s phones and other electronic devices – and took Ahmed away with them. Ahmed and his family didn’t know what was going on. His wife and children had no idea where he was for over a week.

The week after his arrest, authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) confirmed that they had charged Ahmed with ‘cybercrimes’ and revealed that he is jailed in an Abu Dhabi prison. Ahmed still hasn’t been able to contact his family directly to confirm this.

Ahmed is an award-winning blogger and regularly posts about human rights issues in the UAE on social media. For that, he has been charged with ‘promoting false and shaded information through the Internet and serving agendas aimed at spreading hatred and sectarianism’.

This shouldn’t be an offense – but the UAE authorities are notorious for unfairly punishing people like Ahmed who speak up for citizens’ rights. Ahmed has committed no crime. Call for his freedom now.

Stand with Ahmed – call for his release by signing this petition.

Until his arrest, Ahmed was the last person in the UAE working openly to stand up for human rights in the country. For this, he had endured years of harassment from state officials. Over the years, he has worked closely with Amnesty and the UN to report on the state of rights in the UAE. We need to ensure that his voice isn’t silenced.

This Isn’t Spam

I have come to the conclusion that Facebook is now just a tool for promotion.

Be this promotion of the self or promotion of a product or event. Maybe that is something cynical to say – but am I on point on this? If you think so then please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

I am trying to minimise my impact on my friend’s FB feeds by sticking to this blog. I have stopped the auto-publish to FB so that people will have to come to my blog, Ijo Pona, to find out what I am up to and I am not spamming up their feed’s.

This could be be seen as shooting myself in the foot, some people only use their computer to go on FB. However, traffic could dip and lull in getting people this site, but I need to re-evaluate why I blog.

The reason I blog is to keep a tab of what I have been up to – what with my memory and such, keeping tabs on what I have been up to over the past five years that I have been blogging would prove some what elusive. So, why do I need to promote it to FB? Wouldn’t I be compounding the theory that FB is just used for promotion? If I was trying to recruit FB’rs to visit this blog would that very act be ‘promotion’?

In days of yore, people used to post up pictures of drunken nights out and even what they were eating, photos of friends vomiting and cats – now FB has become a marketing tool to ‘further your reach.’ So, I am taking a break from FB (he says) to stick to Blogging a bit more – one of the things I am conscious of is that there is a whole internet lying out there ready to explore and I just stick to a few sites a day, on a loop.

Essentially, the blogging renaissance starts now: Blogging, for when you’re tired of Facebook dramas.

So, what else have I been up to other than thinking of funny things to write about Facebook?

The Weekend

This weekend has been a bit of a conundrum – Friday was spent with Ms Backhouse – we just chilled and pottered around the flat.

Saturday was on Hiatus for me as I had not slept the night in between. Kathryn had a wale of a time as she took her Girl Guide group to Bradford to go to the Media Museum and then ice-skating. She came home tired but satisfied around five in the afternoon to a warm reception from me. I just sulked all day and realised it is best for me to stay from semi-religious children’s units. With my interest in The Occult I really doubt people will let me in a Church.

Sunday has been great so far – I woke up nice and early at eight in the morning after a refreshing 10 hour’s sleep. The birds were tweeting and the sun was shining. A few cups of tea later and I was ready to lounge. I managed to listen to a repeat of Stewart’s Sound Of Wonder on the internet.

I then had a go at recording my own show. Here it is –

It is quite a relaxed show – if it wasn’t for the crap links I do then it will be near a decent production – well, I like the music – although it is not to everyone’s taste.

In other news I spent a good while on Friday eyeing up cheap digital, toy cameras.

Digital Toy Camera

Worry not, parents – this camera would cost US$9.12 on eBay – it has similar (ish) results to my Lomo cameras – as in saturated colours, inherent unpredictability and general awesomeness – but it only costs the price of a roll of film and that film’s development to buy the whole camera. It is very tempting to get it – everyone needs a hobby.

To ask if it is just as good as my DSLR is the wrong question – they are different sports, not different leagues. A completely different concept. With my DSLR I am after resolute documentation and fine images. With this Digital Toy Camera I am hoping for blurry, saturated, off-kilter shots that ooze fun. I think I know which one I would rather take with me to a gig and I think I know which one will get the majority of use – the toy camera, in all honesty.

At US$9.12 is is throw-away cheap – and at £13 to £16 to purchase a film and procure it’s development it really is a no-brainer.

First port of call when checking out a new camera is always Flickr. I am a Flickr Pro and I love that site – I can easily spend hours a day just sat there either curating or browsing – you get to see the world through other people’s microcosms – their little patch of Earth and all the particulars therein – it is a joy to behold. The point of interest is the group “Toy Digital” for this weekend – it has a whole load of images that drew my eye and made me think of digital toy cameras – plus the saving on the money front that going digital would reap.

So, food for though – but not thought for food (I imagine it would taste of Spleen).

I Am Number 3 In The Charts

I’ve charted! Well, it is Allan & I who are number three in the Dub charts.

What charts? Only the Beatport Dub Chart for releases. When Dub Fore was released last week I did not, in my wildest dreams, envisage that it would get in the top ten – let alone number three in the chart. I kind of hoped it would get in the top 100 – but number three, WOW!!!!!

The proof will be pasted below as an image – I took a screen shot of the Dub section of Beatport and scored out the other sections. If this is current – as in you are reading this the week it has been published – then click here to go to the Beatport Dub page and scroll down to see the top ten releases.

I doubt we will make the top ten tracks – but it is shaping up to be a good April ….

Beatport Dub Top 10 31st March 2017

1/4 2017 Complete

I am in the process of trying a change of mind set – but it won’t be easy.

The change of Mind is to start thinking of this Blog as if the Blog is asking me the question: “How are you today?” So that I do not go and write a “This is a post about” …post.

It could prove trickier than my last mental shift – the last mental shift I tried was to replace the word ‘sorry’ with ‘thank you.’ So, if I turned up late somewhere I would say “Thanks for waiting” instead of “Sorry.” Instead of saying “Sorry, you are wrong …” I would say “Thanks for your input, but I see it this way.”

Granted it could make me a bit of an annoying optimist – but it reaping rewards in the way I see myself. Confidence is key but I am picking the lock. Either way, we will soon be there. It was one of my New Year’s Resolutions to do so – and – as this is a summary of the first quarter of the year then I wil give myself a big pat on the back – and reply “Thank you.”

My 2017 got off to a bad start with the inauguration of President Trump – the sh*t flinging gibbon has been mad de facto leader of the west and seeks to pocket all of the proceeds (and play golf).

February saw me quite ill – It seems to be around that time of year that my sleep pattern really cocks up and I do not really get out of the flat: I slept all the way through Valentines Day which I am still kicking myself over (and Kathryn keeps reminding me). February saw us loose the worlds best dog. Paddy is no more. His remains are interred in the garden on my parents farm next to Muttley. It was when I came back to the farm on Mother’s Day and opened the door that it really hit me – there was not the waggy-tailed welcome that I had received every time I had walked through the door for the past fourteen years. He was a good pup.

March: well, where to start on that. I was living out the trauma’s of February’s sleep issues right up until the middle of it and then, before I knew it – I was a pop star! Mine and Allan’s release is now in all of the big shops as well as on Spotify. Dig it out – it is pretty heavy stuff …. I also became a Flickr.com PRO and took a whole range of images (some of them are good).

So what have I learned from 1/4 2017 – saying “Thank you” instead of “sorry” works and that the world needs more good dogs & dub.

60 Seconds Everyday

How many blogs are set up, and only ever see the initial “This is a post” post? Starting a diary, journal, or blog is easy, the hard part is maintaining it. If you’re one of the owners of the thousands of one-post WordPress sites, 60 Seconds Everyday could be for you. Every night you’ll get a phone call asking how your day went, you’ll then have 60 seconds to reply, and your answer will be transcribed and saved to your online journal.

They are currently only accepting phone numbers from the US and Canada. If you have a phone number from another country, enter your email on their site to be notified when they are available in your area.

I have tried the 365 Blogging Challenge and came up short – I only lasted until February and then there was a pause as I was kind of Blogged out. Maybe this is the solution?

For more details please see their site www.60secondseveryday.com – it seems reet!

Article 50 & Human Rights

So it’s official, the Prime Minister has triggered Article 50 and we are leaving the European Union.

Following last June’s decision to leave the EU there’s been much speculation over what this will actually mean for the UK and those living here. Almost every time we turn on the television, pick up a newspaper or go online we are invited to listen to politicians, pundits and an array of experts give us their thoughts.

What is absent from these debates is any meaningful consideration of what Brexit means for human rights. It could be positive – the government could choose to use this as an opportunity to strengthen the rights that we have fought long and hard for. Or it could not be.

One thing’s for sure: we will be fighting to ensure that all human rights are protected and safeguarded as the UK negotiates its exit. Here are just a few of the things to watch out for.

Ensuring EU migrants have the right to remain

On 7 March the House of Lords voted to change the Bill that would launch the process of leaving the EU – they asked for it to offer EU nationals already living here confirmation that they would be able to continue doing so.

On 13 March Parliament voted to reject this change.

This is a great disappointment and sends a worrying signal that rights will be dragged into the exit negotiations. That people and their families will become bargaining chips as the government determines the terms on which we will leave the EU.

To send a clear signal that they won’t trade away our rights the government must resolve this insecurity as a priority.

Sign Amnesty’s petition to David Davis demanding that the UK protects the rights of those who have made the UK their home

 

Coming together

In the wake of the referendum we, as a nation, saw a shocking rise in reports of racist and xenophobic incidents.

During it we witnessed unedifying and morally bankrupt language being used by some politicians and the media.

As Article 50 is triggered, we need to come together to show that this is not what a post-EU UK looks like.

Those involved in the political debate or seeking to influence negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal must not resort to inflammatory and toxic language. In our communities and on our streets, we must treat each other with respect.

We must come together and stand against hate.

The impact on UK law

From protecting the rights of women and girls, LGBTI communities, workers’ rights and our rights to privacy, to the mechanisms that work to control the arms trade – many of the rights protections we have in the UK have come from the EU.

These are our rights and we must work together to defend them – to ensure they are maintained once we leave.

Ripples around the world

Just as we look to protect our rights here in the UK, we must also explore the global impact Britain’s withdrawal from the EU could have.

Prime Minister Theresa May recently embarked on a branding exercise promoting a post Brexit Britain that will engage across the world and be prepared to stand up for its principles. But we are yet to have a clearly defined picture of what this Global Britain will look like. We’ll be working to make sure it is a positive force for human rights – leading by example and raising the bar.

As part of this, we want the government to ensure the UK’s well-established position on several key international bodies – including the UN Security Council, UN Human Rights Council, NATO, the Commonwealth, G7 and G20 – is used to seize new opportunities to promote and enhance human rights as they establish relationships and alliances with others.

Don’t trade away rights

The Prime Minister has said that the UK ‘…should seize the opportunity to get out into the world: yes, to build new alliances but more importantly, to go even further in working with old friends…’

And the government has wasted no time in catching up with old friends or building new alliances. Ministers have been jetting here there and everywhere as they seek to secure trade deals and establish bilateral relationships. They’ve been busy visiting Turkey, Bahrain, USA, UAE and will soon be off to China.

Trade and security are no doubt legitimate pursuits of the government. But we all need to be alert to them being used as an excuse to de-prioritise or turn a blind eye to human rights.

Over the last few decades Amnesty UK have worked hard to ensure human rights concerns sit at the heart of the arms trade – and the trade in military, security and police equipment more broadly. We have worked with partners across the world to ensure that trade is not done where there is risk that it could contribute to human rights abuses.

Many of these checks and balances sit within EU mechanisms, and the UK government must maintain its commitment to them as we leave.

Trade, security and human rights should be complementary, not mutually exclusive. The government must not be tempted to be silent on human rights issues to secure trade deals.

An opportunity

Over the next two years, as the government negotiates the terms on which we leave the EU, we will be fighting to ensure no existing rights are lost.

But more than that, we want the government to use this as an opportunity. They could improve our rights. They could strengthen protections and commitments. And we will not stop fighting until this is what a post-EU UK looks like.

Are you with me?

Sign Amnesty’s petition to David Davis demanding that the UK protects the rights of those who have made the UK their home