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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.



Friday, October 06, 2017

Now Out In Paperback - 50 Great Moments And Memories Of The 1960s

From a British perspective, here's a look back at some of the greatest moments and people from the 1960s, including The Beatles, First Man on the Moon, Woodstock, Bob Dylan, Muhammad Ali, Twiggy, David Bailey, England winning the World Cup, The Rolling Stones, Martin Luther King, James Bond, Doctor Who and Star Trek.


Amazon.com
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1549776649

Friday, July 21, 2017

Brutus - the Rabbit That Changed the World; Chapter Six Extracts

Brutus - the Rabbit That Changed the World
Extracts from Chapter Six - Leppy, Felicity, and Brute

Felicity was often spotted walking her Flemish Giant rabbit, Brutus, on a lead. Brute had a reputation because of his size. But, he seemed a gentle soul. Completing an unusual-looking trio was Felicity's new regular boyfriend, Leopard Lykealot.

Leopard liked wearing a leopard skin print jumpsuit and green, star-framed shades, while Felicity preferred tottering around on 6 inch heels, in a pink mini skirt, green tights, and a tight blue granny cardie. Poor old Brute was lumbered with a pink, black spotted coat - which Felicity thought Brute looked particularly fetching in.

Felicity always considered Brute's feelings, which was just as well. If Leppy and Felicity were eating, and they'd forgotten to feed Brute he'd have a temper tantrum and headbutt his food bowl over. If the food he was served wasn't good enough he'd also do the same. Brutus ruled Felicity and Leppy with a rod of iron, and he wore the trousers in the house - once literally during one of Felicity's whimsical moments.

If guests arrived who Brute didn't take a liking to, then Felicity ensured that they didn't stay long. She only needed to look at Brute to see how the evening was progressing. If Brute didn't like someone he'd just sit and glare at them until they got the message - that it was time for them to leave HIS home.

More Brutus - the Rabbit That Changed the World info, extracts, main characters here:

Brutus - the Fictional Flemish Giant Rabbit
 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

101 Poetry Tips - Now Out In Paperback

Along with 101 poetry tips, I've also included some articles, including why poets should have their own website, and how they can promote their poetry online. The book is pocket-sized, so it'll be something you'll be able to dip into wherever you are.


Promoting Your Poetry Online (article extract)

The internet means that anyone has the possibility of promoting their poetry. This is a double-edged sword. It also means that quality control is often lacking, and that there is MUCH more competition than in print media.

There is also the little matter of being a good poet in the first place. You'll need a thick skin, too, as a pat on the back from family and friends may lull you into a false sense of security when it comes to internet snipers lying in wait!

Basically, there are five good ways that you can utilize the internet to promote your poetry.


 

101 Poetry Tips paperback - Amazon.com
https://www.amazon.com/101-Poetry-Tips-Paul-Rance/dp/1520534264

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

50 Great Moments And Memories Of The 1960s, From A British Perspective

50 Great Moments and Memories of the 1960s, from a British perspective - Kindle Edition. 50 Great Moments and Memories of the 1960s paperback details here.

A little ebook I've recently completed. Due to come out on Friday, via Amazon.

Amazon.co.uk
https://www.amazon.co.uk/50-Great-Moments-Memories-1960s-ebook/dp/B072MXLZQC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1497350991&sr=1-1&keywords=50+60s+memories

Amazon.com
https://www.amazon.com/50-Great-Moments-Memories-1960s-ebook/dp/B072MXLZQC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1497351121&sr=1-1&keywords=50+60s+memories


50 Great Moments And Memories Of The 1960s Book Cover



Book extracts


29. Bob Dylan and the Folk Revival 


Bob Dylan not only revived folk music, but he influenced The Beatles and The Byrds, and countless others, as he brought the protest song into the mainstream. Popular songs, Dylan emphasised, didn't need to be just about love. Blowin' in the Wind, The Times They Are a-Changin' and Masters of War all struck a chord - with fears over the Cold War, and a thirst for a better future all helping to make Dylan a key voice for both youngsters and those sick of the cycle of war. Vietnam also made Dylan look like a prophet.

Encouraged by Pete Seeger, Dylan's fame spread very quickly, though another young folkie, Joan Baez, was already a bigger name by the time Bob and Joan became a couple. Joan Baez saw Dylan's genius at first hand, and recorded some of his songs, while The Byrds produced a whole album of Dylan covers.

Dylan's decision to go electric in 1966 provoked cries of "Judas!" on a fraught tour of the UK, but Like a Rolling Stone gave him his first US number one. The song was acclaimed by many as a work of genius, and it is widely considered to be one of the greatest songs of the 20th Century. Going electric, then, didn't seem to harm Dylan's career at all. A motorcycle accident did, however, halt Dylan's remorseless rise, but, by 1967, only The Beatles really rivalled him as the most important young music act in the English-speaking world.

A raft of gifted singer-songwriters followed in Dylan's wake, including Britain's answer to Dylan - Donovan. Tim Hardin, Phil Ochs and Joni Mitchell also became big names, as some folkies became as feted as pop stars. Something that would have seemed unthinkable a decade earlier.


30. The Prisoner 


Unwavering obedience to authority was really challenged in the 1960s, and, as far as TV shows were concerned, none more so than in The Prisoner. Patrick McGoohan was superb in the lead role of Number 6, and he is a character who is taken to a mysterious place called The Village. The place seems idyllic - but only if you try not to leave, and risk being stopped by a Rover...

Number 6 is also unhappy being a number, and is determined not to toe the line. Number 6 has a nemesis as well - Number 2. But, because Number 6 is so strong-willed, a new Number 2 is called in regularly to try and make The Village's most difficult resident an unquestioning robot. Number 6 worked for the security services, but resigned, and the reason he did so is a question he's not keen to answer.

In the beautiful, unusual setting of Portmeirion, The Prisoner was one of the more stylish TV shows of the 1960s. With impressive guest stars, and with its not always being easy to fathom, The Prisoner gained a cult following, and the Six of One official Prisoner appreciation society exists to this day.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Andrew Bruce - Hartlepool Musician, Poet, Writer And Photographer Dies At 54

My great friend, Andrew Bruce, co-founder of The Peace & Freedom Band and Peace & Freedom Press, has passed away. He was the most gentle friend I've ever had.

Andrew was born on July 26th, 1962, the only son of John and Sheila Bruce, and brother of Wendy and Julie. Very proud of his Hartlepool roots, Andrew co-founded Peace & Freedom Press and co-formed The Peace & Freedom Band in the mid-1980s. A humanitarian, free thinker, animal and nature lover, Andrew was a gifted guitarist, keyboard player, poet, writer, and photographer. He was also adding art to his range of skills before he was suddenly taken from this Earth and his family and friends at the age of just 54 in April, 2017. On the page below you will find a selection of Andrew's work, and feel free to share.

https://www.facebook.com/Andrew-Bruce-Late-Hartlepool-Musician-Poet-Writer-and-Great-Soul-888318404657279/


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Introduction to Luton Town FC in the 1970s

My latest Luton Town FC-related book is now out on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format. Here's the introduction.


Introduction to Luton Town FC in the 1970s

Luton Town FC in the 1970s was, for the most part, like any other decade for a Town supporter - great highs, great lows, financial difficulties, and waiting for the inevitable sale of the club's best players.

There were, however, two things that made the 1970s slightly different. Firstly, with Eric Morecambe as a Luton Town director, the Hatters could expect a mention on the Morecambe & Wise Show every Christmas! Bearing in mind that half the country's population would be tuning in, any mention was welcome publicity and made Luton seem like a cool club to support. Secondly, in Harry Haslam and David Pleat, Luton appointed two managers who knew how to spot and nurture young talent (Haslam even tried to sign a 17-year-old Diego Maradona, when manager of Sheffield United). While, under Pleat, the likes of Ricky Hill, Brian Stein and Mal Donaghy blossomed, and they would become the base of Luton's greatest side in the 1980s. Consequently, when appointed in 1978, David Pleat became the most significant managerial appointment in Luton's history.

A best of Luton XI from the 1970s would probably have won the League, too! But Malcolm MacDonald, Don Givens and Paul Futcher were never likely to have career-long stays at Kenilworth Road. But, here is a tasty XI made up of players who played for the Town in the '70s: Jake Findlay; Kirk Stephens, Mal Donaghy, Chris Nicholl, Paul Futcher; Ricky Hill, Andy King, Peter Anderson; Malcolm MacDonald, Brian Stein, Don Givens.

In this book, you'll find my personal recollections of the 1970s from a fan who watched in awe games at Kenilworth Road as a 10-year-old, but had become cynical at promotion near misses by the end of the decade. Luckily, I also wasn't really a victim of the rampant hooliganism of the 1970s, apart from getting clobbered with a bicycle chain when a teenager, by another teenager, in a random act of violence when coming out of a testimonial game!

Anyway, if you want to support a team where everything is nice and safe then don't support Luton! Enjoy.

- Paul Rance, April, 2017.

Luton Town FC in the 1970s Kindle Cover

Paperback edition

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1520981457/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_7QZ6ybP1M4M8W

Kindle edition
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Luton-Town-1970s-Paul-Rance-ebook/dp/B06Y433FJX/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Monday, April 03, 2017

Paul Rance and the Ladybird/Ladybug Mystery



Another major event in Crowland. No ladybird was harmed in the making of this film.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Paul Rance with the Shaky Hand


Having a laugh with my new Smartphone. People love crap on YouTube, more than thought-provoking stuff, so call it a satirical two fingers...

Friday, February 24, 2017

Paul Rance's New Website: paulrance.com

Yes, a new website launched this week. So, more stuff of mine to entertain ya, bore ya - whatever...

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Being St. Francis - In Crowland, Lincolnshire

These are pretty distressing times if you hate prejudice, and since Brexit and Donald Trump's election, flight or fight comes to mind. I'm in the heart of Brexitland, and people I care about voted for Brexit. So, things have been difficult, as they have strong opinions and so do I. Anyway, I've been busy working on a variety of projects, including a book I've given the provisional title of Being St. Francis.

I've always done my best to respect all living things, and that's what St. Francis was all about. I don't believe in organised religion, but there are good religious figures that we can aspire to. All humans are descended from a tribe in Africa. We're all family, so where does this hatred of foreigners and people of different faiths come from? Fear of something different?

So, would St. Francis feel at home in Crowland? Perhaps, but I feel increasingly isolated, and if you can't beat 'em there's the choice of fighting your corner, or retreating into one's shell.

Love and Peace.