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Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Suburban Homeowner

The suburban homeowner is rarely looked upon kindly. They are normally portrayed as conservative, snooty, and narrow-minded. As a huge percentage of any population aspire to living in the suburbs, this stereotypical image seems unfair.

A Symbol of Aspiration

In the West in the last century, especially for the aspirational working classes, having a home in the suburbs was a status symbol as much as a home. Inner city ghettoes in the 20th Century either crushed people, or provoked many to try and get out of them.

The suburban homeowner in the United States is traditionally seen as someone who is happy with their lot. They are often portrayed in movies as reaching a certain level in life, and then feeling no motivation to push themselves further.

The role of the suburban homeowner is, though, a symbol of aspiration. Suburbia is portrayed as an idyllic place where the only thing to concern the suburban homeowner is to try and attain the perfect lawn. Not true, of course, as no one gets through life without bad things happening.

The Perfect Family

Cheesy TV commercials of the 1950s and 1960s would portray the bliss of the American Dream. The perfect family trying out the local kitchen appliance or electrical goods would nearly always be a suburban one. The family would always seem to be squeaky clean, and the viewer could be forgiven for thinking that they had never done anything wrong in their whole life.

Whether the suburban homeowner began to believe the TV commercials and consider themselves superior to city dwellers, town dwellers, or people from rural areas is open to question. The TV commercials didn't do the suburbanites any favors, as they soon became perceived as rather shallow members of society, who were obsessed with status symbols.

There is a good and bad aspect to the perceived role of families living in the suburbs. Because of how untroubled a suburbanite's life appears to be, living in the suburbs seems inviting. But, becoming like a suburbanite is not.

A Sense of Community

Despite their perceived faults, the suburban homeowner is recognized as being a good neighbour. Another positive effect of living in the suburbs is that there is a feeling of community, and a certain amount of healthy competition. If everyone in the street has an immaculate garden, then there is pressure on all the individuals in the street to keep their standards up. Thus, anyone moving into a suburban street will be instantly aware of one major way of being accepted. 

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

How Writing Frees the Mind

Though writing can be hard work, it can be a release from the stress of everyday life. We all have problems to deal with, and we sometimes need a creative outlet to lift our spirits. Writing is a great way to break free of the intensity of 21st Century living.
How Writing Can Be an Escape
Writing frees the mind in that a writer can immerse themselves in a story, or just simply by writing about something that they love, or by writing a poem about a loved one. Writing can be at its most uplifting for the writer, when the writer just writes about their own personal feelings - an extension of writing a diary if you like. The mind then isn't cluttered by concerns about correct research or merely appealing to other people. You can just write for yourself, and it may well help you cope with some of your problems along the way.
It can be strange in seeing how some writers actually do manage to muster the motivation to write when the world around them is falling in on them. Sometimes it must seem like writing is the one thing that a writer is in control of, and maybe that is the key. The words are yours, and though you can't fully control life's events, you can control what you write.
A writer who has an otherwise dull life will see writing as an escape also. All human beings do need something to grab hold of if their lives aren't happy or joyful, whether it's music, art, writing, reading, or having a nice walk in the country. All these may not only free the mind, but can have an uplifting effect on the soul, too.
Writing Is Good for Us
Writers can begin writing in an unhappy state, but within minutes they can be lost in writing, and though the troubles of the world are still there, during the time a writer writes then at least all the sadness is in abeyance. Even when a writer writes about sad things in their own lives, then that can be a cathartic experience for the writer. Writing, by itself, won't solve life's problems, but it can help the mind take a time-out from those problems, and consequently make them a little easier to deal with.
Nobody should really write with money being their main objective. Writing is a powerful force, and it can have an amazing impact on our wellbeing. There can't be a much better reason to write than that.
From the Paul Rance book, Made of the Write Stuff.



Kindle version of Made of the Write Stuff

Amazon UK

Amazon US
More extracts from Made of the Write Stuff by Paul Rance here.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Peace & Freedom Magazine Summer, 2019

Peace & Freedom Summer, 2019 is now available via Amazon. Featuring a tribute to Steve Sneyd by Pete Cardinal Cox, articles from the likes of Elizabeth Beebe and Donna Salisbury, poetry from Francesca Heaney, Sylvia Evelyn, Gwynn Watt and Lady Samantha - among others. Reviews of the No Fracking album by Ralf Bevis and Federico Balducci, and the book, Herbs of the Sun, Moon and Planets by Steve Andrews.

UK links

Peace & Freedom Summer, 2019 - Paperback
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/107047584X/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=peace+%26+freedom+summer&qid=1559725797&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Peace & Freedom Summer, 2019 - Kindle
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07SHTR5HR/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=peace+%26+freedom&qid=1559590461&s=digital-text&sr=1-4



US links

Peace & Freedom Summer, 2019 - Paperback
https://www.amazon.com/dp/107047584X/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=peace+%26+freedom+summer+paul+rance&qid=1559725874&s=gateway&sr=8-2

Peace & Freedom Summer, 2019 - Kindle
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SHTR5HR/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=PEACE+%26+FREEDOM&qid=1559590685&s=digital-text&sr=1-4

Monday, December 24, 2018

Ken Barrington, extract from Paul Rance's England's 50 Greatest Cricketers

29. KEN BARRINGTON 
Surrey
RHB, RLS

Ken Barrington's Test average of 58.67 in 82 Tests underlined his importance to the England side of the 1950s and 1960s. Ken was probably at his peak in the mid-1960s, and this period included his Testbest score of 256 (also his best score in his firstclass career) against Australia at Old Trafford in 1964. That is still the highest innings for England against Australia since Len Hutton's 364. Barrington scored 6,806 Test runs, and reached the century mark for England 20 times. 

A major reason for Surrey's dominance in the 1950s, Ken Barrington was a big match player. He averaged just under 40 in the County Championship, but nearly 64 in Tests against Australia. He made his Test debut in 1955 against South Africa, but like many great players he failed to trouble the scorers in his first Test innings. 

Ken scored 76 first-class hundreds, and scored 31,714 runs in his first-class career. His outstanding Test average helped to boost his overall first-class batting average to 45.63. A useful bowler, Barrington took 5 wickets in an innings 8 times, with a best of 7-40, and a remarkable best of 3-4 in Tests. 

A heart attack in 1968 ended Barrington's career prematurely. In 1981, when England's assistant tour manager, Ken Barrington died aged only 50 following another heart attack. England's outstanding young players of the time respected him, and Graham Gooch described Ken as a mentor to him, David Gower, Ian Botham and Mike Gatting. That Barrington is seemingly not so revered as other batsmen of his generation, such as May, Cowdrey and Tom Graveney, is perhaps because of a reputation for slow scoring. That, though, seems to be a contradiction of the facts. He hit the quickest Test hundred of 1966, and also had another reputation - of reaching a Test hundred with a six. Of retired players who scored 6,000 Test runs or more, only Don Bradman has a better average than Barrington's.




Thursday, June 21, 2018

Being St. Francis - Chapter 11 - Emotional Involvement

A chapter from my latest book, Being St. Francis.

"In Being St. Francis the author looks at ways that we can improve as individuals and as a society. The focus in this book is on love and kindness, and to value all living things – just as St. Francis did. If you care about human rights, animal rights/animal welfare issues, environmental issues, green left politics this book should appeal to you."

Chapter 11 - Emotional Involvement

Being sensitive is ALWAYS something to be proud of. But it has its obvious dangers. Bullies tend to home in on you if you are sensitive. Consequently, being sensitive doesn't mean that you shouldn't be scared of showing your teeth, or physically fighting back in self defence. That combination of sensitivity and combativeness is always a winning combination, whereas being too aggressive never appeals to anyone but similarly aggressive types.

Where sensitivity can lead to problems is when becoming emotionally involved in causes. Because there are always people out there who will harm other people, animals and nature without a second thought. For anyone who is sensitive, this type of vicious behaviour will typically be hard to fathom. Not even if they come out with the lame “I'm just doing my job” excuse. There is such a thing as having a social and moral conscience after all.

In March, 2018 I was getting increasingly depressed by environmental issues. Sudan, the last northern white rhino had died, and on the same day the destruction of healthy street trees was gathering pace again in Sheffield. Two days later I was watching a livestream of a beautiful tree being cut down. Then, as I was on Twitter, I saw that the tree was Duchess Lime. We followed each other, and communicated. Yeah, I know, it was a human behind the account... It's not every day you see a living thing you mutually follow on Twitter being killed live.

Two days earlier I had gone to bed thinking I was never going to be happy however long I live, because of the way humans continue to trash Earth. The killing of Duchess was unthinking, brutal humanity writ large. I went to bed, and cried my eyes out, and took a break from social media for a week. This is the danger of becoming emotionally involved with causes. But, apart from those who are emotionless, there will always be something that will compel us to throw our support behind something. Whether it's trying to save our local football club, or a beautiful tree. There is, though, the risk of what happens when all that time and effort seems futile, and hope becomes lost. That's when depression can kick in.

This doesn't mean we should step back forever from ever doing good, but we sometimes DO need to step back for a week or two to recharge.

Also avoid the negative influences, the naysayers who will always tell you: “Why bother? You won't make any difference.” Obviously, some causes are doomed to failure from a very early stage, but it's still important not to give up completely. If a local library is, for instance, facing closure, and no one tries to stop that action, then that just emboldens other local authorities to maybe shut down a library in their area, as they will expect an easy ride.

The negative influences are everywhere on social media. They can be subtle enough to not seem like trolls, but they are even worse if anything. Because they will seem reasonable and engage in a discussion, when nothing will change their view. Thus, they waste your time and energy, which was their intention all along. Not wanting to get into conspiracy theories, these people are not necessarily plants, but just wind-up merchants.

There may be also a feeling of jealousy with these types, because they lack empathy, and indeed know themselves that they have no real values. So, all they have left is to sneer and attempt to pull down those people who do care. An attempt to bring people down to their level.

Emotional involvement in a cause is a sign of love. Love can be painful, but without the ability to love we are an empty shell.

Chapter 15 - The Kirby Misperton Effect






Being St. Francis Cover by Paul Rance
 


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Peace & Freedom Magazine Andrew Bruce Tribute Issue

In 2018, a Peace & Freedom special of around 100 pages was published in honour of P&F co-founder Andrew Bruce, who died in April, 2017.

Included in this tribute were old interviews with Andrew, Steve Andrews, Ralf Bevis/Arzathon, P&F history, 30+ pages of poetry, reviews.

Peace & Freedom Andrew Bruce Tribute Issue: Dedicated to Peace & Freedom Press co-founder Andy Bruce (1962-2017) is available from Amazon as a paperback. 

Peace & Freedom Andrew Bruce Tribute Issue


Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Enduring Popularity Of Wizzard's I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday


Wizzard's 1973 single I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday is a true Christmas classic. Though some may want to scream - if they hear the song when they're trapped in a queue Christmas shopping.

One of the Great Christmas Song Choruses

With one of the greatest choruses to any Christmas song, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday is skillfully arranged. It has an instrumental segment of typical Christmas music, followed by the winning factor of a children's choir.

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday happily uses traditional Christmas elements, including Yuletide imagery, as well as the children's choir and sleigh bells. The tempo changes are clever, too. The song slows down towards the end, but then comes alive again, with sleigh bells and children singing before gently fading out. It's a nice touch, as the group allow the children to have the final word.

The Feelgood Factor

The song has a unabashed feelgood factor, that would get even Scrooge tapping his feet. There is no sob story about being alone at Christmas, but just a song that focuses on the positive aspects of Christmas, and a wish that every day could be like that. The combination of brass and bells help to give the song a strong, uplifting Christmas song sound. The saxophones are particularly prominent. There is also a magical, surreal element to some of the lyrics, notably about Santa travelling from the Milky Way.

Wizzard were one of the top groups in Britain in the first few years of the 1970s, and it could be argued that anything they released at Christmas would have been a hit. But that the song has endured for so long is a testament to the actual song itself. Unluckily for Roy Wood, Wizzard frontman, and composer and producer of I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday, another top glam rock group also had a Christmas hit that year. Slade's Merry Xmas Everybody reached number one, and has also become a Christmas staple.

Roy Wood famously sang I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday on BBC TV's cult chart show, Top of the Pops, dressed as a young and offbeat Father Christmas. Released at the height of glam rock, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday is still one of the most popular Christmas songs in the UK. Like it or loathe it, it's virtually impossible to have a Christmas without hearing it!





Wednesday, December 06, 2017

England's 50 Greatest Footballers - Number 39, Cliff Bastin

My last book to be published in 2017 - England's 50 Greatest Footballers

Here's an extract from the book, a biography of Arsenal legend Cliff Bastin. Cliff is number 39 in the list.

39. CLIFF BASTIN

A precocious talent, Cliff Bastin made his League debut for his home town club Exeter City at just 15, and he was signed by Arsenal a couple of years later. Bastin was then to have a glorious 18 years with the Gunners.

Mainly a goalscoring left-winger, though also an effective inside-forward, Cliff Bastin's most fruitful season in front of goal was in 1932-33, when he scored 33 times - a League record tally for a single season by a winger. That season, Bastin also picked up a League winners medal, which he also achieved in 1930-31, 1933-34, 1934-35, and 1937-38. In addition, Bastin was in two FA Cup winning teams - in 1930 and 1936.

Cliff Bastin's career total of 150 League goals remained an Arsenal record until it was broken by Ian Wright, and Bastin also won 21 England caps. With Alex James, Cliff Bastin formed one of British football's great partnerships, and they had an understanding that bordered on the telepathic. While Bastin's trademark was to cut inside and unleash one of his renowned powerful shots, he was an expert penalty taker too - as in keeping with his calmness in front of goal.

England's 50 Greatest Footballers - Paperback

 


Amazon US link

Also available at other Amazon outlets worldwide.


England's 50 Greatest Footballers - Kindle



Extract From Paul Rance's England's 50 Greatest Footballers - No. 47, Pompey Legend Jimmy Dickinson
https://footiearticles.blogspot.co.uk/2018/03/extract-from-paul-rances-englands-50.html

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Radicalism In 19th Century Britain

The 19th Century saw a notable rise in status for the working classes. This was, in part, made possible by the working classes themselves and by Victorian philanthropists, who were appalled by the living conditions of some of the poor.

Peterloo Massacre

In the 1800s, workers in England stood up for their rights with a determination not seen since the Peasants' Revolt of 1381. The century was full of examples of a radical actions, which were often put down in a brutal way, as with the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, when cavalry troops used lethal force to cut down peaceful demonstrators in Manchester.

Luddites

19th Century England's first great radicals were the Luddites. In 1811, the Luddite riots affected major cities in Central and Northern England, as workers feared the financial impacts of the Industrial Revolution. Luddites destroyed machinery, which they feared would replace skilled manual labour. Riots led to executions and transportation for some of those involved, with the British Army used to quell the disturbances. The poet Lord Byron was a Luddite supporter and was an example of how some of the elite championed the cause of the working classes in the 1800s.

The 1830s were a turbulent time in Britain. 1830 saw another working class uprising, but this time disturbances began in the South and East of England before spreading to the Midlands and North. These were called the Swing Riots. Machinery was again targeted. With the advent of new machinery, wages for workers had actually decreased - because there was less need for manual labour. The years after the Napoleonic Wars had brought in a time of austerity and, combined with the effects of the Industrial Revolution, poverty was a fear of many.

Tolpuddle Martyrs

The six Tolpuddle Martyrs, in 1834, were an example of how desperate the State became in trying to suppress dissent. The Tolpuddle Martyrs were from Dorset and were the main inspiration for the eventual formation of trade unions in Britain. They sought better wages, and the support for them was so widespread that their original sentence of being transported to Australia for seven years was quashed.

Tolpuddle martyrs museum
Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum. Photo by Stephen McKay
[CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ATolpuddle_martyrs_museum.jpg

Rebecca Riots

In Wales, the Rebecca Riots, which took place from 1839 to 1843, were displays of anger by farmers and agriculture workers at what they claimed to be unfair taxes. Often male protestors would dress up as women, being inspired by a reference to Rebekah in The Bible.

Chartism and Anti-Corn Law League

Chartism was a movement that flourished from 1839 to 1848, and it was the first British working class movement to make an impact on government. The Chartists wanted six points to be agreed to and five were. Most notable was that every man over the age of 21 was allowed to vote - regardless of wealth or status. Also, working class men were to be given the chance to become MPs. The Chartists had organised a General strike in 1842 and many Christians were Chartists, which began a growth in philanthropy. Another strong working class movement at this time was the Anti-Corn Law League, which was formed to protest against higher bread prices and the resultant poverty enforced on the working classes.

Communist Manifesto, Trade Unions and Fabian Society

Europe in 1848 was in turmoil and it was the year that the Communist Manifesto was published by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. There were to be no more really major changes in British politics for the working classes until 1871, when trade unions in Britain were made legal. The socialist movement, the Fabian Society, was founded in 1884 and effectively spawned the Labour Party, which emerged in 1900. The London Dock Strike of 1889 was the last great working class protest of the 19th Century as the rights of the working classes became more respected.



Thursday, November 09, 2017

Why Philosophy Is Important

Philosophy is important, even if the views of each different philosopher can be radically different, and philosophy itself is not a precise science. Thus, how reliable philosophy is remains open to debate.

The importance of philosophy can be understood when we think about things such as ethics, and the fact that from Plato, Socrates and Aristotle right up to the present day, philosophers were impacting on society, and laying down their own theories, which formed a lot of the tenets on which civilization is judged and based.

With philosophy, we have something which are, often unproven, opinions, but they are opinions which often ring true in the human heart. That is why the names of so many philosophers resonate down the centuries. We can almost say that philosophers were the guardians of civilization.

Philosophy is reliable to the extent that logical explanations are sought to explain things, and in philosophy this can be anything from politics to religion to aesthetics, and, as mentioned earlier, ethics.

Human beings have a capacity to never stop looking for answers to questions - whether it be the physical problem solved by early man in discovering fire to keep warm, or with the more modern problems of politicians solving an argument without losing face, but without causing offence either. Continually overcoming problems, often with great ingenuity, throughout the centuries has been the reason the human race has evolved into the most powerful species on the planet. Philosophy may, on the face of it, seem to be of no importance in a practical world, but it is something which has made us think about so many things. Would mankind have been interested in going into space, but not for philosophers wondering for centuries why we were here and where we came from?

Because of philosophy, and it inspiring the urge in successive generations to find answers to many things - from the meaning of life to what defines civilization, we can say that philosophy is extremely important to society. Philosophy wondered about the workings of the universe and the human mind in ancient times, and, as a result, science was prodded into looking, sometimes unethically, for the answers to those questions.

The benefit philosophy has played in the history of mankind has been profound, and though, by itself, philosophy has not provided many answers, it has provided many questions that we have striven to have answered, and are still striving to have answered.


Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Chinese Herbs That May Be Beneficial For The Mind And Memory

Herbs have been used in Chinese medicine for millennia, dating back to at least 1,000 BC. Chinese medicine has had a controversial reputation in recent years because of the use of parts of endangered animals for alleged medicinal purposes. More acceptable to the rest of the world is Chinese herbology. Chinese herbs can be used to help people with all sorts of ailments, and there are a clutch of Chinese herbs which are considered beneficial for the mind and memory. Listed below are some of the most beneficial.

Ginseng and Ginkgo Biloba

Ginseng has an excellent reputation because of how it can boost both physical and mental energy. Ginseng is also a herb which is good for calmness and concentration, and for the memory. Ginkgo biloba is a herb which improves circulation throughout the body, can help with dealing with asthma, improves concentration and clearness of thought, helps to combat depression, and is a major herb used for treating Alzheimer's disease, especially in Europe.

Schizandra Berry, Gotu Kola, Polygala, Gastrodia and Peony

Schizandra berry is a herb which is beneficial to the body and mind in many ways, and aids memory. Gotu kola is a Chinese herb which is very helpful to the circulation, reduces swelling and pain, helps with fighting fever and colds, and has an overall calming effect. Gotu kola boosts the brain and memory. Polygala also helps with regards to memory, and is used to combat Alzheimer’s disease. The tuber plant gastrodia has been used as a treatment for headache and dizziness for centuries in China, and is used as a treatment for stroke, especially with regards to combating vascular dementia. Peony is useful as a treatment for the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia generally.

Hawthorn and Rosemary

Two herbs which are popular elsewhere in the world are hawthorn and rosemary, but they are two important herbs in Chinese herbology. Hawthorn is an antioxidant and is of use for boosting memory. Rosemary is a herb which helps allay bad breath and can combat colds and digestive disorders. Rosemary is known to increase blood flow to the head, is used to treat headaches, and is also of benefit to both memory and concentration.

None of these herbs can be considered miracle cures for the more serious memory problems which can afflict people, but the herbs listed have a proven track record of being beneficial in helping people with memory problems. Seek medical advice if you have any concerns about allergic reactions.