Friday, 24 June 2011

New Light Through Old Windows

Some years ago, longer ago than I care to remember, me and my friend were on a photography course.

We were out taking photos, looking for the shadows: the things that other people might not notice when we came upon the remains of an old factory.  Little more than a few bricks that marked the passing of a few hundred working lives: lost forever now.

And as we were taking pictures of brick piled onto brick a man approached us and tried to sell us on God, saying that it was the work of Satan that we were focussing so much on destruction and that if we followed this path then surely there could be no salvation for our souls.  The only solution?  Come to his church meeting next Sunday.

Now, even as a kid, I knew that this man was talking from where the sun don't shine, but I guess that I was still to young to really tell him why.  So, my friend: if you're still out there - here's why.

In every abandoned brick there are a thousand grains of sand.  Tiny atoms of creation that have come together in this place.  In every piece of destruction there is the hope of resurrection: the birth of something new.  Every abandoned building, no matter how decrepit, has a story to tell.  What lives were lived in this place?  What happened for the building to get into this state?  If God did indeed create then surely it is equally magnificent that he can destroy.

To look on all that wonder and only see evil?  Now that's what I call the loss of a soul

Monday, 13 June 2011

What Is Buckingham Palace For?

The Royal Family: titular heads of the nation since time immemorial.  Despite being mostly germanic these days Queen Elizabeth can trace her ancesty all the way back to the first Queen Liz and probably even before that.

But boy do they have a lot of houses.  Queen Elizabeth herself chooses to live mostly at Windsor Castle and Balmorral - which rather begs the question: what is that big house in London Town doing to earn its keep?  No actual royals live there, it's only open at certain times of year to the public - what does it DO???

So, in an unusual twist on my List O' Fives postings I'm going to bring you a list of five things that Buckingham Palace could be used for, probably should be used for and almost definately isn't used for.

Please feel free to join in the fun by suggesting your own...

#1: The Cornflake Testing Room
As you may or may not know any produce used within the Royal household is allowed to carry the Royal crest.  This is, at the end of the day, a slightly subliminal method of advertising.  The Queen uses it: so you should as well.  Kellogg's Cornflakes are amongst said approved produce.

However, as the head of the Empire (which once spanned the world encorporating the Americas and India and currently consists of two bemused sheep in Devonshire both called Simon) I'd like to think that QE2 applies her exacting standards and frequently checks that said items are still up to her approval.  This is where the Cornflake Testing Room comes in - where she, or a minor royal, are required to spend one day a month sampling jams, breakfast cerials, toasters and the like.

#2: The Conveyor Belt Room
For various reasons I was looking on line at the list of Queen's Birthday Honours - and boy, that's a hell of a lot of sword wielding the poor woman gets through.  Obviously it's not just the Queen that does it.  Prince Charles also takes his turn and therefore presumably some of the minor royals as well (You'd probably feel a bit cheated if you turned up to get your Knighthood and it was Eugene or that one that does the showjumping that gave you your badge)

So to cut down on time and effort for Her Majesty the Royal household recently installed one of those revolving luggage racks that they have at airports and installed a throne at one point.  The various dignitaries pile into the room in groups of fifty or sixty, line up along the conveyor belt and then the Queen trundles through on her moving throne passing out the awards with a polite, but frankly slightly strained smile.

#3: The Anti National Anthem Lounge (Or A.N.A.L. for short)
Let's face it: at some point in every musician's career you will hear them complain about being sick and tired of "that song" that made them famous and they have to play at every single concert.  For Elton John it's probably Your Song, for Barry Mannilow it might be Mandy and so forth.  Being Queen for fifty plus years must be a strange lifestyle: wherever you go everything is clean, everyone is extraordinarily happy to see you and they always play you the same piece of music.

Let's face it "God Save The Queen" is a dirge and there must have been times where the Queen has had to fight the urge to shout "if one hears that piece of music again..."

So, and in kindness to other world leaders, she had the A.N.A.L. room set up as a refuge to Kings, Queens, Prime Ministers and yes, Presidents, to go as the one room in the entire world where it is 100% guaranteed that they will NEVER have to hear that music

#4: The Embarrassing Relative Room (aka The Prince Philip Suite)
Aside from the recent Royal wedding when was the last time you saw Prince Edward in public?  That's because the Queen is still making him live in the Embarrassing room as a punishment for his involvment in theatre and specifically for organising It's A Royal Knockout (a misguided attempt to make the Royal family look "hip" and "down with da kids" by involving them in a TV game show)

Since the Queen is no longer allowed to lock people in the Tower of London she keeps the Embarrassing Relative Room for all the times when Philip says something embarrassing (about once or twice a day)

#5: The Royal Robot Room
It's a little known fact that in the twilight of her years the Queen Mother was often not up to the task of public apperances and was frequently replaced by a robot.  Hence you never saw her speak in public.  The same is true for all the Royals who, lets face it, have a hectic schedule and can't be everywhere.  So for all those embarrassing moments when Prince Charles is supposed to be picking up the kids from training academy but has double-booked himself with opening a new factory somewhere they have a room where they keep robot duplicates.  Sometimes this is also used as a changing room for Lookey-likeys (people who bear close physical resemblance to a royal), all of whom have signed the official secrets act.

#6: The Wave Practising Room
With all that polite waving she does its a small wonder that the Queen doesn't suffer from Repetitive Strain Injury - and the reason for this can only be that she has a special wave practising room stuffed full of mirrors where she can go and practise waving as well as lift weights designed to strengthen her wrist as well as receive a relaxing hand massage

NB: We were going to add a seventh room: where all the photos for the stamps and the money are taken - but we rather suspect that one actually does exist.

Any further suggestions are welcome as always

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Tears In The Rain (Magpie Tales)

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I've watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those ... moments will be lost in time, like rain."

It took me a long time to really "get" Blade Runner.  The first couple of times I saw it I found it slow and a wee bit pompous - all those long, lingering shots of the city, that sound track by Vangelis...

But at some time along the way I realised that there was a certain visual poetry going on - and when I saw this prompt I immediately thought of the scene where Roy goes in search of his creator and, in the streets of a futuristic china town, finds the man who made his eyes.

One of the things that I love about cycling is that it gives you the time to stop and really enjoy the scenery - to take it in for one moment.  Most of our lives are spent whizzing from place to place, urgently running around on whatever mission we may be on.

Take the time.  Enjoy that moment.