Tag Archives: #2019

Hear Here 5: Elementally Yours Broadcast Three

This is the final IYPT show and this month’s playlist is inspired by the TV program Seven Wonders One Planet by David Attenborough, and chemical elements named after places. Combined together I’m going to travel on a musical odyssey around the globe visiting the seven continents, as well as travelling into outer space, to take in some stellar areas that have helped name elements. With such a heavy itinerary to accomplish, the show took 2 hours and 50 minutes to do. Some historical events, one death and two birthdays influence the song choices too. These are my complete lab book notes.

Angie’s Allsorts Show 233 Hospital Radio Leighton 26th November 2019


1. NEIL DIAMOND with AMERICA (Am-AMERICIUM 95): Continent 1 Americas)

2. TINA TURNER with NUTBUSH CITY LIMITS (Birthday 1939 so 80 today, born Nutbush Tennessee)


4. MAMAS & PAPAS with CALIFORNIA DREAMIN (Cf-CALIFORNIUM 98, Bk-BERKELIUM 97, Lv-LIVERMORIUM 116 after the Lawrence Livermore Lab in California.

5. JOHN DENVER with ALASKA & ME (Continent 2 Arctic)

6. MATT MONRO with FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (Ru-RUTHENIUM 44 from Latin for Russia Rhuthenia; Db-DUBNIUM 105 from Dubna in Russia, Fl-FLEROVIUM 114 for Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions located in Dubna Russia. : Continent 2 Arctic & Continent 3 Europe)


Travel Odyssey Phase One. Image credit abmj

CONNECTION CONUNDRUM (travel down to Baikonur Kazakhstan for launch across the universe)

8. BEATLES with ACROSS THE UNIVERSE (He-HELIUM 2 for Helios Greek for Sun, Se-SELENIUM 34 from Selene Greek for the moon, Pd-PALLADIUM 46 for Pallas an asteroid, Ce-CERIUM 58 for dwarf planet Ceres, Hg-MERCURY 80-the swift Roman God rather than the planet, U-URANIUM 92 for planet Uranus, Np-NEPTUNIUM 93 for Neptune, Pu-PLUTONIUM 94 for dwarf planet Pluto.

9. CILLA BLACK with WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS LOVE (Latin for Earth Tellus gives Te-TELLURIUM 52)

10. NATASHA BEDINGFIELD with SINGLE (Birthday born 1981 so 38 today)

Answer: NOT Both Cilla and all the Beatles hail from Liverpool and shared a manager in Brian Epstein. These two songs were recorded specially as part of a compilation charity album for the World Wildlife Fund WWF. The album was called No One’s Gonna Change Our World and released on December 12th 1969, just in time for Christmas. All the stars which included Rolf Harris, The Hollies, Spike Milligan, The Bee Gees, Lulu, Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky Mick & Titch, Cliff Richard & The Shadows, Bruce Forsyth & Harry Secombe offered their services for free. Composers, Publishers, and Recording companies waived their fees as well, to enable all royalties from record sales benefit the World Wildlife Fund.

Launch: 11. FRANK SINATRA (Fr-FRANCIUM 87, Na-SODIUM 11, K-POTASSIUM 19. Si-SILICON 14, N-NITROGEN 7, At-ASTATINE 85, Ra-RADIUM 88 (other variations) with FLY ME TO THE MOON (Se-SELENIUM 34 for the moon)

Rarity Record of the Week: 12.  JIMI HENDRIX with VALLEYS OF NEPTUNE (Np-NEPTUNIUM 93)

Return: 13. PETER SCHILLING with MAJOR TOM (COMING HOME) (Theme for Deutschland 83 & 86)

(Ge-GERMANIUM 32 from Latin Germania for Germany, Re-RHENIUM 75 Latin Rhenus for the Rhine, Ds-DARMSTADTIUM 110 for Darmstadt where it was discovered, Hs-HASSIUM 108  from Latin Hassius for the Hesse region)

Travel Odyssey Phase Two. Image credit abmj

14. BONNIE TYLER with LOST IN FRANCE (Ga-GALLIUM 31 from the Latin Gallia, Fr-FRANCIUM 87)

15. TONY MARTIN with LAST TIME I SAW PARIS (Lu-LUTETIUM 71 from the Latin name for Paris Lutetia)

16. NATALIE COLE with AS TIME GOES BY (Historical Event: Film Casablanca had its World Premier on this day in New York 1942: Continent 4 Africa)

17. TOMMY DORSEY with NIGHT IN SUDAN (Historical Death Dorsey died 1956)

Linking Lyrics Slot: Theme TUTANKHMUN (Exhibition Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh at Saatchi Gallery London has 150 objects from his tomb on display from this month until May 2020)



20. TOTO with AFRICA (safari in Kenya, visit Victoria Falls, Table Mountain in Cape Town South Africa.

Travel Odyssey Phase Three. Image credit abmj

21. RIMSKY KORSAKOV’S SONG OF INDIA (indirect references: Be-BERYLLIUM 4 from Belur India, In-INDIUM 49 for India: Continent 5 Asia). Note-113 Nihonium is named after Japan-song played in show two.

22. SEEKERS with I AM AUSTRALIAN (Continent 6 Australia)

23. DURAN DURAN with MY ANTARCTICA (Continent 7 Antarctica)

Essential Stopover: Antarctica/South America/Europe:

24. JULIE COVINGTON with DON’T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA (Continent 1 Americas)

25. AMICII with OLYMPIA ETERNAL FLAME (Cu-COPPER 29 for Cyprus, Mg-MAGNESIUM 12 from Magnesia in Thessaly region. Mount Olympus on border area of Thessaly & Macedonia.

Flyover mainland Europe especially Poland (Po-POLONIUM 84) heading for Denmark.

Travel Odyssey Phase 4. Image credit abmj


27. AVICII with SOMEWHERE IN STOCKHOLM (Ho-HOLMIUM 67 from Latin Holmia for Stockholm) NOTE: Not far from Stockholm the village of Ytterby has named four elements: Y-YTTRIUM 39, Tb-TERBIUM 65, Er-ERBIUM 68, Yb-YTTERBIUM 70,. Six other rare-earth elements were discovered in the village Sc-SCANDIUM 21, Gd-GADOLINIUM 64, Dy-DYSPROSIUM 66, HOLMIUM 67, Tm-THULIUM 69, and LUTETIUM 71.

Travel through Scandinavia & Northern regions such as Greenland, Iceland and Faroe Islands looking for the Northern Lights.

28. RENAISSANCE with NORTHERN LIGHTS. Back in Scotland we stop off for a good Scots breakfast in the village of Strontian which gave its name to the element Sr-STRONTIUM 38

29. RACHMANINOV PIANO CONCERTO NO 2 EXCERPT (Historical Event: Film Brief Encounter went on general release in 1945)


Hear Here 4: Elementally Yours Broadcast Two

This is the second of three special shows celebrating 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table. Several elements are referred to through artists and song titles. This playlist acknowledges a historical event and two birthday jukebox artists as well.  My lab book noted 30 songs played in just under 2.5 hours, and this is the raw science data once more.

Angie’s Allsorts Show 230 Hospital Radio Leighton 27th August 2019



2. TOM LEHRER with THE ELEMENTS (PERIODIC TABLE) written in 1959, so it goes up to Nobelium 102. Tune Major-General’s Song from The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert & Sullivan.

3. PAUL SIMON (P-Phosphorus 15, Au-Gold 79, Li-LITHIUM 3, Sm-SAMARIUM 62, O-OXYGEN 8, N-NITROGEN 7) with YOU CAN CALL ME AL (Al-ALUMINIUM 13)


5. DAVID SOUL (August Birthday Jukebox Artist: David turns 76 tomorrow the 28th) with SILVER LADY (Ag-SILVER 47) living opposite


7. BZMKER (B-BORON 5, K-POTASSIUM 19, Er-ERBIUM 68) with NIHONIUM Original Mix (Nh-NIHONIUM 113 other word for Japan, named in 2016)

8. JOHNNY CASH with RING OF FIRE (Western Alchemy Hermetic Element Fire)

9. DAMIAN RICE with VOLCANO (HISTORICAL EVENT: Eruption of Krakatoa peaked in 1883. Kr-KRYPTON 36, K-POTASSIUM 19, At-ASTATINE 85, O-OXYGEN 8)

10. IRON (Fe-IRON 26) MAIDEN with STORM TROOPER (High 5: No. 5 w/e 27/8/05)

11. JEAN MICHEL JARRE (August Birthday Jukebox Artist: Jean Michel turned 71yrs on the 24th) with OXYGENE II (O-OXYGEN 8)


Rarity Record of the Week:  13. KATE & ANNA McGARRIGLE with NaCl (Na-SODIUM 11, Cl-CHLORINE 17)

14. JULIAN LENNON with SALTWATER (Western Alchemy Hermetic Element Water)




18. ASAP SCIENCE with THE ELEMENTS OF THE PERIODIC TABLE (update 2018: all elements to 118 sung in order) Tune-Can-Can piece from Orphee aux Enfers by Jacque Offenbach.


Elemental Scrabble Artists


10a. KINKS (K-POTASSIUM 19, In-INDIUM 49/or I-IODINE 53 & N-NITROGEN 7, S-SULPHUR 16) with YOU REALLY GOT ME (High 5: No. 4 w/e 27/8/64)

Studio Aug 27th with co-star Doogie Duck. Image credit abmj

Hear Here 3: Elementally Yours Broadcast One

This is the first of three special shows celebrating the International Year of the Periodic Table. The playlist blends a quirky fusion of music and science together by referring to several elements through artists and songs, rather like a game of Elemental Scrabble, whilst acknowledging historical events and birthdays too. I’ve extracted the raw science data from my lab book notes, which detailed a total of 24 songs played over a two hour period.

Angie’s Allsorts Show 229 Hospital Radio Leighton 30th July 2019


  1. BLONDIE (July Birthday Jukebox Artist: Debbie Harry turned 74yrs on the 1st) with ATOMIC

(HISTORICAL BIRTH-Emily Bronte who wrote Wuthering Heights born in 1818) remaining on the literary theme:

SIGNIFICANT FIGURE who passed away on this day is writer Maeve Binchy in 2012.  She wrote several books including Silver Wedding (Ag-SILVER 47) and Copper Beech (Cu-COPPER 29). Looking into other book titles containing elements, (Charles Dickens-David Copperfield, The Silver Chair from Chronicles of Narnia series) I discovered a writer called CAMILLE MINICINO who has a physics PhD and a long teaching and research career. Using her own name she has penned a Periodic Table Mysteries series referring to the first ten elements. Murder titles include Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium, Beryllium, Boric Acid representing Boron, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen and Fluorine. The final one is called Neon Ornaments. Camille has three other crime series written under the pseudonyms of Margaret Grace, Ada Madison and Jean Flowers.

  1. FREDDIE MERCURY (Hg-MERCURY 80) with THE GREAT PRETENDER. Several elements go by a different letter symbol than you would expect. Mercury is one with Hg; others include Potassium-K, Sodium-Na, Tungsten-W, Silver-Ag, Gold-Au, Lead-Pb, Tin-Sn and Antimony-Sb.

Scientific Birthday: French virologist FRANCOISE BARRE-SINOUSSI is 72 today and in 2008 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for her work in the identification of HIV.

  1. THE PENGUINS with EARTH ANGEL (HISTORICAL EVENT: The first Penguin Books were published on this day in 1936) Western Alchemy Hermetic Element-Earth.

Linking Lyrics Slot: Theme-MOON (First moon landing 50th anniversary July 20st 1969)



HISTORICAL EVENT: on this day in 1971 Apollo 15 landed on the moon and the first Lunar Rover Vehicle was put into action. HISTORICAL BIRTH: I wonder what THOMAS FORD would have thought about that. The founder of the Ford Motor Company was born on July 30th 1863 and manufactured the first cars that the general American public had a chance to afford. His Model T Ford was affectionately known as a TIN LIZZIE.  

  1. RUFUS WAINWRIGHT (July Birthday Jukebox Artist: he was 46 on 22nd) with HALLELUJAH

(Rufus means red and Rb-RUBIDIUM 37 is named after the Latin rubidus meaning red or Ru-RUTHENIUM 44, F-FLUORINE 9, U-URANIUM 92 S-SULPHUR 16 or Rf-RUTHERFORDIUM 104. W-TUNGSTEN 74, At-ASTATINE 85, In-INDIUM 49, I-IODINE 53, Rg-ROENTGENIUM 111, H-HYDROGEN 1)

  1. THUNDERCLAP NEWMAN with SOMETHING IN THE AIR (High 5: No. 5 w/e 30/7/69) no.1 when Apollo 11 launched on July 16th to journey to the moon. Western Alchemy Hermetic Element-Air
  2. SIA (S-SULPHUR 16, I-IODINE 53 or Si-SILICON 14) with HELIUM (He-HELIUM 2) mentions comic heroes Superwoman/Superman.

HISTORICAL EVENT: The first BEANO (Be-BERYLIUM 4, No-NOBELIUM 102) comic was published in 1938


Rarity Record of the Week: 14. MARY DUFF with MR NOBLE (Neon/Krypton-noble gases)

  1. PAUL ANKA (BIRTHDAY: born 1941-78 yrs) with YOU ARE MY DESTINY


  1. CCS (C-CARBON 6, Cs-CAESIUM 55) with WHOLE LOTTA LOVE (HISTORICAL EVENT-you may recognise this as the Top of the Pops theme tune. The programs last broadcast was on this day July 30th 2006)

Elemental Scrabble Artists

5a. EURYTHMICS with THERE MUST BE AN ANGEL (Playing With My Heart) (High 5: No. 2 w/e 3/8/85) (Eu-EUROPIUM 63; Y-YTTRIUM 39; Th-THORIUM 90; I-IODINE 53; Cs-CAESIUM 55 or Eu-EUROPIUM 63, Rh-RHODIUM 45, Y-YTTRIUM 39, Ti-TITANIUM 22, Sm-SAMARIUM 62, C-CARBON 6.


14a. SEAL (Se-SELENIUM 34; Al-ALUMINIUM 13) with KISS FROM A ROSE (High 5: No.4 w/e 5/8/95)

IYPT laser show Keele University Nov 19. Image credit abmj

Aftermath of UK General Election 2019

When polling stations closed for the UK General Election at 10pm on 12th December, news channels immediately began reporting that it appeared the Conservatives were going to win with a large majority of around 65 seats (in the end it was 80)! As the final Friday the Thirteenth of the decade dawned, the unlucky auspices of the day took on a nightmare reality for those not enamoured with the idea of another Tory government. Especially hard hit was the opposition Labour Party, who after campaigning so vehemently believing victory was in their grasp, appeared shell-shocked at the results. Particularly incomprehensible for Labour and its voters, was the stark fact that many traditional Labour areas this time round supported Boris Johnson instead. Yet to me it wasn’t a surprise at all, I said in a June blog that Boris Johnson would call an election, and had the bravado to win.

On social media (Twitter and Facebook for me) I noticed an immediate vicious backlash from angry voters that wasn’t pleasant to see, so I didn’t hang around much in either forum. What was clear however is this election may prove to be as divisive as the Scotland Independence and EU Referendums. The blame game was in full force, as news media outlets analysed the results trying to find some hidden meaning to the Boris Ballot Box phenomena. But the evidence toward this remarkable Tory victory was there for all to see throughout the campaign trail. However, those seeking a higher office than MP didn’t want/or seem able to hear the rumblings of discontent, emanating from TV news clips. Boris Johnson latched on to that discontent and milked it for all it was worth, and in doing so made people think their voice was being heard. Pre-election prime examples were:

A couple re-housed in Hartlepool, after being homeless living in a hostel in the south. Both were going to vote, the woman still undecided, the man effectively said “I know I’ll be shot down for this but I’ll vote Tory. We know what we will get with him”.

Harris Tweed Worker in the Outer Hebrides (company trade abroad could be affected adversely by Brexit) “so sick and tired of it all, just get Brexit over with, so voting Tory”.

A young woman aged 19 on Twitter innocently enquired why a NHS worker would vote Tory. The replies I spotted were a combination of disproportionate abuse toward her, and a large number of NHS Tory voters, to my surprise.  Bots, fake accounts influence I don’t know, but it was a sobering read.

After the election I spotted a news item, two twenty something guys working zero hour contract jobs living in a bedsit, both voted Tory believing Boris would sort something out!

Most definitely this election was a Brexit one to its core, although it shouldn’t have been, and Boris Johnson’s “Get Brexit Done” mantra spoke to a huge swathe of people. The original Leave voters had a figure head who promised to deliver. Anyone who was sick and tired of the paralysis of Parliament for the last three years (regardless of their referendum vote), had someone who offered a finale to the sorry saga, with the hope other business would finally be dealt with as well. By comparison, Jeremy Corbyn from the very beginning of the Brexit era showed ineptitude of leadership, by consistently offering no real Brexit mandate for his party. This left Labour heartlands that voted Leave in the EU Referendum, such as Stoke Central, feeling marginalised and ignored. No surprise then this seat and many like them went to the Conservatives last week. Labour lost seats in Scotland and Wales too. Remain EU referendum voters had a natural ally in Jo Swinson the Liberal Democrat leader, who stood to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit altogether. A bold brave, but suicidal stance, as the party alienated virtually all the voter type profiles mentioned above. Add in the long held embittered memory of the Con/Lib coalition years and she had no chance, and sadly lost her parliamentary seat too. As I watched the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s euphoria as her party swept up seats, including Swinson’s,  I couldn’t help thinking “where is woman’s political solidarity here, Jo was no threat, yet Nicola seemed to be dancing on Jo’s political grave”. Not the palatable side of politics I must say. The Scottish Conservatives who campaigned almost solely on saying “No to IndyRef 2” regarding Scotland’s independence, hacked off a sizeable portion of the electorate, combined with Labour heartland marginalisation, awarded the SNP an impressive 48 from 59 seats victory. And in Northern Ireland the nationalist support increased as well. So Boris Johnson didn’t get it all his own way, and his “one nation Conservatism” isn’t an accurate statement. He MUST REMEMBER that we live in the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, four nations under a union flag, all of them with their own types of legislation and government to a greater/lesser extent. Forget that Boris at your peril, Scotland will be your Achilles heel. You can (and are) indicating there will be no new independence referendum in Scotland. But the hand grenades thrown by David Cameron into British politics with the Scottish and EU referendums still have shrapnel flying about. Winning this election with a promise to get Brexit done won’t make the “Scottish Question” injury free.

Particularly in the first 24 hours after the polling stations closed, the Labour Party demise was largely blamed on Brexit and a partisan media. The leadership refused to admit any culpability for the result, and expressed pride in a manifesto that failed to convince the electorate. This “divorce from reality” mindset goes further back in Labour history however, when Ed Milliband backed by the Unions won the leadership contest in which his brother David stood. David had Tony Blair associations and was far more politically savvy than his brother, so he had to be put in his place. After Ed, Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader but had to face down several votes of confidence from within his own party. Obviously differences of opinion on party policy were behind these challenges. As a result, Corbyn’s style of leadership to keep his party in line saw several people shafted to the side. It looked like he wanted “yes men & women” around him, who followed the Corbyn mantra without question. There was no room in the shadow cabinet for people who could inform the party leader about the realities of grass root feelings. It appeared dictatorial rather than democratic to me, did nothing to make me (and many of the general public) trust Corbyn’s judgement, and left a bad taste in the mouth. Ironically, Boris Johnson took away the party whip to several high profile Tory MPs who voted against him on Brexit issues, so his grip on Conservative Party power this summer was no better either. Yet somehow Boris comes across as an affable bumbling chap (or obnoxious buffoon) with his finger on the pulse, whilst Jeremy seems cold, clinical and remote despite his manifesto claiming to make society fairer for all. Although well meaning, and saying all the right things, those very hard left leaning policies, with unclear funding issues, appears to have scared a lot of people.

Today, the Queen attended the State Opening of Parliament and dutifully read out her government’s policy mandate for the next session. As the MPs processed in to hear this missive, Jeremy Corbyn was stony-faced and looked like he wanted to be somewhere else, whilst Boris Johnson with his House of Commons majority smiled (smirked some might say) at the thought of getting his work done. It was a lengthy tome of hoped for edicts, with Brexit being delivered first and foremost. There seemed a lot of initiatives, reforms and promised funding to be made, including getting Stormont back to functioning in Northern Ireland, NHS visas for extra doctors and nurses, immigration points system for quality workers entering UK. More money for education, NHS funding enshrined in law, housing mandates all addressing key issues that really matter to the electorate. Although I can see holes in the ideas already, and many may say its sticking plasters on open wounds, once again a politician seems to be saying all the right things, but will Boris Johnson deliver? That is the big question….

Election Hustings 2019 At Keele University

On Tuesday 3rd December 2019 in the Keele University Ballroom, all five candidates for the Newcastle-Under-Lyme constituency in the General Election said their piece. Having never attended such an event, I was a little hesitant and rather out of my comfort zone. However, the potential slanging match did not materialise, and the audience were responsive and well behaved.

Each candidate had five minutes to present their mandate and say a little about themselves. Then there were five topical questions put forward by the chair, with a minute given to each party for reply. What struck me the most at the end was that if you took a little from each candidate to create a whole, you could possibly have quite a viable workable manifesto? At times the multi parties seemed on the same wavelength, but their approach to an issue was vastly different.

The candidates spoke in this order Aaron Bell (Conservative); Carl Johnson (Green); Dr Jason Cooper (Brexit); Carl Greatbatch (Labour); Nigel Jones (Liberal Democrats). Amy Holden as chair introduced them and kept strict time!

Aaron Bell emphasised his science/technology credentials in his introduction, which he indicated later was a major reason for his standing as candidate in the first place. He felt (quite rightly) that there are few in Parliament with this kind of background. Of course Brexit must happen as the people voted for it was hammered home too. Interestingly (to me) Carl Johnson implied we must stay in the EU, and really brought home how China’s expansion of influence outside its borders into Africa and South America must be done ethically and morally. Quite what we can do as a country, to control in any way, this international political giant I don’t know. But the Green ideals of global responsibility and accountability were there for all to see. Dr Jason Cooper pointed out as a democracy we voted to leave Europe and must do so. We have a great economy and wonderful employment, and don’t need EU interference with our laws. He mentioned North Korea at some point but in what context I have no idea, as I was taking notes, but it incurred an audible gasp of incredulity from my neighbour. Carl Greatbatch emphasised his core Labour background-council house, free education, NHS saved his life (all applicable to me and many others). The party mandate is to give the country what it needs, reverse Tory reduction in services and re-negotiate with the EU, with a vote to the people after. Nigel Jones talked of a credible plan with regard to environmental issues. The Lib Dem education policy was similar to Labour’s with the underpinning being overcoming inequality. Unlike many parties the Liberal Democrats say they know where the money for improving public services would come from. And of course the big difference overall is that they want to remain in the EU. Nigel pointed out with great clarity that only 0.7% of taxes raised here go toward the EU, the other 99.3% of taxes are spent through decisions made by the UK government ALONE.

The five subject areas put to the candidates for a quick reply were Brexit; Green Credentials; Transport; Homelessness & Why Are You Standing. Here is a brief summary of the responses:

Aaron Bell (Conservative): Brexit-We must leave EU people voted for it. Australian points system to attract the right people needed. Regain sovereignty. We have done so much already on Green issues! Transport needs to be integrated more, with potential to overturn Beeching rulings in places. Not a manifesto issue more long term. More affordable homes built under this Tory era than the last Labour one. He mentioned a paltry single figure number of official homeless people in the major towns (I’ve counted more sleeping bags in doorways than that), and seemed to hint that drugs a main issue for the homeless crisis.

Carl Johnson (Green): Brexit is a Tory con; we will be out of Europe yet negotiating the terms and conditions for years to come. Can’t allow return to 19th century fuel reliance, must go renewable in 21st century, China expansion must be checked in some way. Electric regeneration examples like Manchester & Leeds used for transport way forward. Homeless crisis use empty buildings, renovate them and provide own homes, with possible apprenticeships created in process. Must get activists to move the world into 21st century away from old structures & systems, that’s why he’s standing.

Dr Jason Cooper (Brexit): MPs do our will and majority voted to leave the EU. He managed to contradict himself by saying that the UK was the only country in the EU to promise zero carbon emission by 2050. By upholding the UKs green credentials he showed the UK make their own decisions (not the EU). Dr Cooper showed a far better awareness of the real causes of homelessness including broken relationships, mental health issues, and unemployment (not just drugs). Social work/police must work together. Transport must have more money put into infrastructure, gained by cancelling HS2, stop undirected foreign aid and money saved on EU. He was standing because of the catastrophic collapse of democracy.

Carl Greatbatch (Labour): People get to choose again after Labour re-negotiate with EU on jobs, environment and rights. Decarbonising our economy is essential. Renationalise railways, regulate buses. Homelessness the extreme end of crisis/poverty, Labour policy aims to lift people out of that scenario. Standing because Labour party wants to create a revolution in area, and was bold/honest enough to say it’s probably a two way race between him and Aaron.

Nigel Jones (Liberal Democrats): We already have economy benefits by being in the EU and are stronger within it, especially in the face of other giant political powers. If business is made to operate more greenly they become more efficient and this inevitably cuts down on pollution. Transport subsidized, fares freeze, planning rules for better infrastructure improvement. Homeless crisis help provide better emergency accommodation and repeal the vagrancy act (which I’d never heard of). His reason for standing as candidate was the most civic answer I heard, to help create a strong local government that led people with a long term view not just making short term decisions.

All the candidates were sincere in their convictions, and it was an illuminating experience. Sadly due to our first past the post voting system, there can only be one victor on polling day for each constituency. If every vote did count I’m sure there could be a vastly different outcome to the one we get. That’s some food for thought.

      Chair Amy & N-U-L Five Candidates. Image credit abmj

Baby Loss Awareness Week

Baby Loss Awareness Week (9th-15th October 2019) is an annual event to raise awareness, and commemorate the memory of babies lost during pregnancy, giving birth or soon after. It is not an issue I’ve ever had to deal with personally, but I’m acutely aware of the heartbreak and emptiness it causes through my Mammy. And in a way, that loss, I realise has indirectly affected me too.

My parents married in the late summer of 1961 and I was born in early 1970. Before my first born status arrival, there were three confirmed and a suspected fourth miscarriage. As I grew up, my Mammy would mention the other siblings I could have had in a sad quiet way. To my knowledge she NEVER spoke about the loss to anyone else. I distinctly remember her reaction when someone enquired “you’ve JUST got the ONE then”, a sharp intake of breath, pursed lips and a nod of the head. I’d wait for the tirade of swear words but they never came, just a reassuring squeeze of my hand and we would depart. My young mind would be upset that my Mammy seemed to be blamed for something, and I was angry because I was the accusation. That’s how it felt to me anyway.

Growing up I was drilled in my maternal family tree as much as possible, my paternal side being somewhat scant on information. Mammy would take me every Saturday until I was about 11.5 years old, to visit her two sisters, and my Dad’s two brothers (on a strict rota basis) who all lived locally, so I would know about my cousins. Both my parents were the youngest in large families; so many cousins were already making their way in the world themselves. But she tried hard to ensure I was aware of them all. Whilst being drilled on my Mammy’s family, I was ALWAYS corrected if I forgot I would have had an Aunty Annie (elder sister of Mum) and a cousin James from Uncle Johnston & Aunty Rosie’s family, had they not died as babies. I was a Seventies kid, Annie didn’t survive her first year in the 1920s, James his first year in the 1940s. BUT THEY WERE NOT FORGOTTEN. That’s what impacted me the most; they were still remembered and considered part of the family.

My Mammy always wanted more children and kept my pram in hope it would be used again. She sold it with reluctance when I was 11.5 and about to embark on going to high school. Four years later she had to get another pram, with the welcome arrival of my brother Paul. Her pregnancy was a late discovery, the doctor declaring the change of life, my Mammy replying “the change is going to take feet!” She was literally “blooming” with health and eating well, in total contrast to her pregnancy with me. She was convinced a little boy was on the way and was delighted. It was at this time I became acutely aware of how people who should bloody well know better, can be the most inconsiderate buggers alive. The doctor had tended my Granny and my Mammy from her younger days, including those miscarriages. Her medical records were a reminder of those losses, my Mammy testament to a healthy birth for my Granny who was 43 when her final child arrived, the same age Mammy was now. History was repeating itself, although in the mid 80s abortion was available unlike in the forties. The doctor gave my Mammy no more than 72 hours to decide if she wanted a termination, as she was nearing a final cut off point, being I think about 5-5.5 months pregnant by then. To say she was apoplectic with rage is an understatement, her face masked with fury as she left the surgery. All the way home she raged at the unbelievable attitude, the insensitivity, how hell would freeze over before she would agree to such a monstrous act. Two of her three sisters were less than supportive on hearing the news as well. Regardless of the deafening howls “to get rid of it”, with all her being she wanted this baby, and thankfully safely delivered a wee boy in the summer.

My maternal Granda was adopted and as a result, there was a hyper-sensitivity surrounding the subject in my Mum’s family. I suspect a combination of circumstances surrounding his birth ensured his adoption, the lack of a stable home, finances, supportive family, and the authorities knowing better. Not a lot has changed in that regard, although my grandfather was born over a century ago “out of wedlock”, which condemned his mother and tarnished her child instantly in those days. It can’t be easy, feeling there is no choice, but to hand over your baby for someone else to bring up. In today’s society, it can’t be easy to decide on abortion either, making a choice which benefits the whole family (parents & other children) too. Of course many people and organisations condemn this act, and it has become a highly politicised issue as well. But those who wield the power don’t always know better, or come up with the right conclusions.

I recall a neighbour suffering a cot-death and never being quite the same person again. Another baby followed and I did hear “that will make up for the one she lost”, and I thought nothing will ever do that, and take away the memory of finding her weeks old son unresponsive in his cot.

People maybe childless or have a small family for numerous reasons, be it a conscious decision or something beyond their control. But you can never really tell what story lies behind a family picture. I have one sibling, but I definitely could have had four maybe five.

I visited Burlington House courtyard last week, where there is an Antony Gormley piece “Iron Baby 1999”, depicting a tiny sculpture of a newborn baby (based on his six-day old daughter). A descriptive plague quoted Gormley commenting “Iron (concentrated earth) the same as exists at the core of our planet. This tiny bit of matter in human form attempts to make us aware of our precarious position in relation to our planetary future”. It certainly made me think of “Mother Earth”, my far off ancestors’ tenuous hold on life, my unborn siblings never to be known, and holding my newborn baby brother watching him grow into a fine man. So tonight (15th October) at 7pm I will remember, and light candles held in angel wing vases as part of   the Global “Wave of Light”.

Iron Baby 1999 by Antony Gormley. Image credit abmj

Hear Here 2: Celebrating National Album Day

I thought for National Album Day (October 12th 2019) I’d celebrate my “first albums” on various formats, and acknowledge some special ones I personally sought out.

My own audio collection began with “Rupert Bear and the Firebird” a story on vinyl, a Christmas gift aged 3. The first contemporary music I ever owned was inherited from a work colleague of my Dad’s, the ABBA cassette “Arrival” which was released in 1976, so I must have been an old 6 year old or a young 7. Very late to the party I got my first CD aged 24 “Let’s Face the Music” a compilation of music celebrating the ice-dance routines of Torvill & Dean.

             My First Albums in 3 Formats. Image credit abmj

As I grew up, cassette or vinyl albums would appear wrapped in Christmas paper, and looking at them now (yes I still have them) there are some ABBA ones (my Mammy liked them too), Aled Jones (I like church/choir music/treble singing), several Sixties sets and stand alone albums from Dollar and The Kids from Fame. Recently I got our record player going again, and heard Dollar for the first time in decades, and STILL knew the words. The same with The Kids from Fame, though I’ve got a CD version of that now, which is more user friendly for my hospital radio show.

The special theme for this year’s event is “Don’t Skip”, an initiative to encourage people to listen to a music album all the way through. This made me think of my two “specials” which I distinctly remember seeking out, “Sandy” by John Travolta and Jean Michel Jarre in Concert “Houston/Lyon”.

                Specially Sought Albums. Image credit abmj

Since my John Travolta tape is dated 1978, it is little surprise that the film “Grease” had some influence on this choice. It features two songs from the film “Sandy” and “Greased Lightning” but has many other beauties as well, which I’m still word perfect on. I discovered Jean Michel Jarre as a teenager, when his Rendezvous Concert from Houston was broadcast on the BBC. I’d never heard of him, but was captivated by both the sound and spectacle of the occasion. Jarre used the Houston skyline as a canvas for a wondrous laser show which accompanied his music, a soundscape that was hauntingly beautiful, electrifying and soul inspiring all at once. I will never forget catching my breath and the shiver down my spine, as I watched Jarre playing his laser harp.  A little while later I found the “Houston/Lyon” tape and listening to side 2, took me right back to that TV experience. Many of Jarre’s albums are conceptual ideas, and each tune seamlessly blends into the next. Although you can listen to the pieces individually, to get the full experience, the style almost demands a full listen.

So many memories wrapped up in these childhood music gifts. I will make an effort over the weekend to indulge myself in some audio nostalgia.