Albums of the Year 2016

One of said favourite record stores.

One of said favourite record stores.

I know, it’s already January 2017 – but better late than never…

Having spent a large chunk of 2016 pretty much immobile, I haven’t managed to pay my favourite record stores the usual regular visits over the last eight months or so – which means I have been very grateful to the good friends (they know who they are) who have helped out by providing my fix of new music, especially during the latter part of the year. None of them will be surprised that a high proportion of their selections appear on this list!

As usual, this is a very personal and fairly eclectic list, and consists solely of the albums I enjoyed the most in 2016 – I tend to ignore media end of year lists, and focus instead on the music I actually like instead of the bands and albums the music press tell me I should be into. Inevitably, they occasionally get it right and there is some crossover with my list, but compiling these choices is all so subjective anyway…

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Christmas on Film: ‘The Mistletoe Bough’ (1904)

Christmas is a time for ghost stories. The long, dark, cold nights at this time of year lend themselves well to spooky tales, and today’s film clip is no exception. We’ve looked at the most famous Christmas ghost story of all on several previous occasions, but this is a very different kind of folktale to that of Scrooge and his phantom visitors.

The gothic tale of The Mistletoe Bough dates back to at least the 18th century and was traditionally told at Christmas time. It tells the story of a young couple, recently married, who decide to play a game of hide and seek during their wedding celebrations. During the fun and games, the bride mysteriously disappears. Years later, the husband encounters her ghost, and finds out exactly what happened to her on their wedding night…

The short version of the film above is a recent restoration by the BFI, and features a score by Pete Wiggs of St Etienne. Orginally directed in 1904 by Percy Stow, it is fascinating to see a film made more than a hundred years ago so clearly, and it shows how creative these early film-makers were – particularly with the ghostly special effects – while using very basic technology.

For more from the BFI National Archive, visit their website or their excellent YouTube channel.

For more seasonal posts on Another Kind Of Mind, see here.

Christmas on Film: ‘Christmas Greeting’ (1946)

Another quirky vintage Christmas treat from the BFI National Archive. This little film was shown in British cinemas over the festive season of 1946. Watch out for the striking sequence where the toys under the Christmas tree come alive…

Merry Christmas to all of you, and I hope you’ve had a wonderful day – wherever you’ve been and whoever you’ve been with.

For more from the BFI National Archive, visit their website or their excellent YouTube channel.

For more seasonal posts on Another Kind Of Mind, see here.

2016: That’s Quite Enough of That, Thank You!

Victorian Christmas cardI don’t know about you, but I am very glad this year is almost over.

Personally, it has been incredibly tough – but I am glad to say that the depression that nearly knocked me out entirely at the beginning of the year has mostly lifted, and I am almost fully back on my feet again after breaking my ankle and badly damaging the ligaments (although I still need a crutch to get around!).

I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the NHS staff who have treated me so well this year; from the ambulance crew who picked me up from the pavement and got me to Chelsea & Westminster hospital, the amazing A&E team there who got me sorted so quickly, and the physiotherapist at West Middlesex hospital who is currently getting me up and walking properly again, to my fantastic GP, the astute psychotherapist who got me thinking, and the community mental health team who have monitored my progress on these new meds with care and attention.

All these people are incredible, and their kindness and skill make me even more grateful for the NHS.

Also incredible are my family and friends (online and off), who have put up with a lot and have stuck by me nonetheless. Thanks to them for doing my shopping, brewing endless cups of tea, driving me places, making me laugh, reminding me to do my physio exercises, sending me great music and lovely messages, listening to me vent…. They know who they are – and they all rock.

And thanks to you, my dear, patient readers. For the first time ever, I have not posted anything on Another Kind Of Mind for many months, which is most unlike me and shows just how unwell I have been. I hope to get back to blogging regularly again in the new year – I have much I want to talk about. In the meantime, I’m planning to get a couple of Christmassy posts up over the next few days (if I can find the time), because Christmas isn’t Christmas round these parts without them! If you’re missing the usual festive fun, you can find links to all my previous seasonal posts here. Enjoy!

Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas to you all – and here’s to a better 2017 all round…

claire

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The Beautiful Game on Film: ‘England’s World Cup Win’ (1966)

Today’s vintage film clip is from British Pathé, and is a fascinating glimpse into the world of football fifty years ago. With England playing Iceland in the Euro ’16 round of sixteen tonight, I thought it might be fun to have a look at some real English footballing success from the past. So we’re heading back five decades to the year England won their one and only World Cup.

We start with a brief look at how the World Cup footballs were skilfully made (mostly by hand, in Yorkshire) and continue with some great colour footage of the final itself, then some newsreel footage of the players being feted afterwards. And, of course, we get a glimpse of the legendary Pickles the dog, who found the World Cup in a hedge after it had been stolen a few months before the competition started.

I grew up on stories of ’66 from football-mad relatives who were actually there – they were at every single England game of that World Cup, including the final. They saw it all from the first match to Bobby Moore lifting the Jules Rimet trophy (and that Geoff Hurst goal? Didn’t go in). In this lifetime, I’d love to see England lift another trophy and match the achievement of that legendary team under Sir Alf Ramsay. I’d love for the magic of ’66 to live again, just a little bit…

A Few Thoughts on the EU Referendum

Politics has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I studied the subject at A-Level and as an undergraduate back in the 1990s, and participation in the democratic process has always been and still is of great importance to my family. I have voted in every single election (both local and national) since I was of an age to be included on the electoral register.

I am old enough to remember the viciousness of the Thatcher years, and the dramatic change of government in 1997 (with all that later entailed). But I cannot recall any political campaign as ugly, bigoted and as downright unpleasant as this one. The decision whether or not to leave the EU has brought out the absolute worst in a large number of British people, particularly those supporting Brexit. And I’m sick of it.

The horrible murder last week of the MP Jo Cox (by a man with the kind of disturbing far-right views that have basically hijacked the issue) is the latest – and worst – event in a campaign where racism, lies, bullying and aggression have been rife, becoming part of the political discourse of the UK in a way that has brought it all home to us in a terrifying fashion.

This violence has to stop. This racism has to stop. This lying for political gain has to stop (yeah, I know. It won’t). If many of those who are campaigning for Brexit get their way and we leave the EU, these issues will only get worse. I don’t want to see that. Most British people don’t want to see that, it’s not what this country is all about. We need to dial back the fiery rhetoric and start looking at the real questions that affect real people, because that’s what matters. People matter, wherever they’re from and wherever they’re going.

So yes, I will be voting tomorrow.

And I will be voting REMAIN.

The Beautiful Game on Film: ‘Football Again’ (1924)

Today is the opening day of the football European Championships in France and I’m quite excited. Indeed, I’ve got my fixtures wallchart ready and am planning my match predictions as we speak. One reason I’m quite excited by all this is that my team, the mighty Spurs, have sent a whole eleven (count ’em!) players to Euro ’16 – including five who are in the England squad – which, after the highly dramatic season we just had, is absolutely as it should be!

While I was looking for something football-related to mark the occasion, I came across this fantastic silent newsreel footage of the 1924 Spurs team in training and I just had to post it here (for obvious reasons…). Even from this brief clip, it’s fascinating to see how much is familiar to the 21st century football fan, as well as how much the game has changed since the 1920s – just look at those shorts and that heavy ball in comparison to the hi-tech kit worn and used by modern players, for a start. I honestly can’t see the likes of Wayne Rooney in get up like that…

Watch out for more vintage football-related posts coming soon.

For more from the BFI National Archive, visit their website or their excellent YouTube channel.

Vintage Animal Magic: ‘The Naughty Otter’ (c.1916)

Here’s something short and sweet to begin this new series of vintage film treats from the BFI National Archive. Regular readers will be aware that I have a fondness for river creatures (you can see my most recent encounter with such wildlife here), so when I came across this hundred year old snippet of film I just couldn’t resist.

The antics of this very cheeky little otter were filmed around about a century ago by Charles Urban, an American-born film-maker and producer. Despite being born on the other side of the Atlantic, Urban had an important influence on early British cinema generally – including producing some early examples of wildlife films, a genre which remains highly popular on British TV. We are still fascinated by otters too, although it is not often that we see one in the kind of environment that Urban found here!

For more from the BFI National Archive, visit their website or their excellent YouTube channel.

June Update

Hello my dear, patient readers.

My ankle. Stylish, no?

My ankle. Stylish, no?

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted for quite some time.

I apologise for this. Sometimes life just gets in the way – and sometimes, like this time, it’s a matter of having to battle the serious ill health that occasionally pops up and completely floors me, this time resulting in a change of medication which is currently knocking me out in a most interesting fashion.

And just to make matters worse, I now also have a broken ankle!

My ankle is still very painful and I’m on some rather spacey painkillers too (which is only adding to the fun…), but I have been looked after wonderfully by all the medical staff who have treated me so far (yay for the NHS!), and by my fabulous family and friends, both online and off.

It is frustrating to be pretty immobile and unable to do many of the things I take for granted (including writing), and I’ve turned into a bit of a Dalek when it comes to the stairs – but at least I have a cast-iron excuse to lie on the sofa and binge watch Euro 2016 when it starts later this week!

As a result of all this medical mayhem (ahem) I may not be able to post much over the next few months, but I have put together a selection of bits and pieces that I hope you will enjoy – including some more choice vintage selections from the BFI film archive to be going on with.

I was also thinking that it might be nice to have a few guest posts from a few cool and groovy people while I’m laid up. If you are interested in contributing something, please get in touch (you can leave a comment here or tweet me).

A new avian supermodel?

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“Aaaaand… hold that pose. Beautiful!”

While I was busily looking at blossom and daffodils on yesterday’s riverside walk, I was quite astonished to turn a corner on the towpath and encounter this heron. I’ve posted about herons before – but I’ve never managed to get so close to one in all my years of exploring the area. It really didn’t seem at all bothered by the many Sunday strollers milling around, and it let me get within a few feet of it to snatch these shots as it happily posed. Having consulted the bird guide on the RSPB website, I suspect this may be a juvenile bird, which might account for it showing off for us humans! A supermodel in the making, perhaps?

Watch out Kate Moss – there’s a new kid in town…