December Photo Fun Week 4 – 2014 – Mix

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A somewhat quieter week this week for the Mix theme set by the kids, which was of course totally understandable with it being Christmas week.  Nevertheless there was still a nice collection (or mix) of photos sent in depicting various interpretations of the theme, drinks, food, play, bikes, people, presents etc.  I particularly liked the photo above which has all sorts of mix within it, old and new, different styles of architecture, graffiti, rubbish and tidiness.  It in many ways encapsulates the jumbled chaos of much of our towns and cities where different styles and periods mix in different states of harmony.  I find it fascinating to wander around looking and alternating between wonder and bafflement often in the same street.  I suspect that it has always been thus though as society changes and different interpretations on how we want to live and work get built upon the ruins of the outdated / defeated.  Where I grew up there is easy evidence of iron age hill forts, then Roman ruins right through to industrialisation engineering features and onwards to glass edifices and everything in between.

That was my take on the mix week but as always I’d love to here what interpretations you liked.  As always huge thanks to all who took part.  We have one final week which will run through into January but because the week starts in December then we will cover the whole week.  Click on the gallery below to open it up so you can scroll through the pictures.

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December Photo Fun – Week 3 – 2014 – Create

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The kids picked Create for the week 3 theme which I loved the idea of as after all the whole idea of our photofun projects is to create something from an idea.  When the themes are put out on twitter you just never know whether or not they will take hold, often you get a flurry right away and then nothing whereas this week it was the reverse a slow start that gathered momentum throughout the week.

I’ve never, perhaps until recently, particularly thought of myself as a creative person as I tend to think of creative people as those beautifully talented people around us who draw, paint, write, photograph etc in a way that makes us think or brings happiness into our lives.  A few years ago I was made redundant, and for anyone who has been through that it can be a tricky process to say the least.  I was fortunate in that the place where I was getting made redundant from paid for support for us to do some assessment of our skills etc.  Now I’m usually very reticent of that sort of thing but seeing as I was facing a big challenge I went into it with eyes open.  The person that I worked with for a few weeks after talking to me looking at my career etc said that I should describe myself in one way and that was as a creative thinker.  It sounds a bit bombastic but it was perhaps the first time when I’ve looked at the way I approach things and on reflection it felt right.  It’s not something that I feel comfortable saying about myself but it is perhaps a strong part of who I am I think.  Still can’t draw for toffee mind.

I thought about this while this theme was going on and how much creativity there all around us, perhaps particularly at this time of year, but also how we don’t celebrate creativity enough and encourage it within our children, it’s not just about drawing but it’s about how we see the world.  Rigidity of thought is not going to provide the solution that we require to improve the world we live in, creativity is.  Be that in maths or science, art or technology the ability to have a blank sheet of paper (either physically or metaphorically) in front of us and create something that did not exist before is perhaps the human races most unique trait.

All of that is I think captured in this beautiful gallery of people (and animals) creating things, food, art, pictures, sounds, a home, toys, all the things that nourish us.  Huge thanks to all who took part as always, apologies to anyone who I’ve missed out.  Click on the gallery to open it and scroll through the pictures and do let us know which ones you liked, there are some lovely interpretations.  Two more weeks to go so either follow me @ianstreet67 on twitter or follow the twitter hashtag #decemberphotofun for the remaining themes.  Be great to have you on board.

December Photo Fun – Week 2 – 2014 – Squash

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After last week’s Twist theme the kids picked Squash for week 2 and when they picked it I must admit I was a bit stumped for a while wondering what I would do other than take a photo of an actual squash of course.  I think for many they also found it hard this week but as well as a few squash we had some fantastically creative interpretations which have made me smile and marvel in equal measure.  Click on the gallery to see the pics in full and do let us know which ones you liked.  If you want to play along with us during the rest of the month then follow me on twitter @ianstreet67 or keep an eye on the hashtag #decemberphotofun, you’ll be welcome and it will be great to see how you interpret the next theme.  Massive thanks to all of you who played along with us this week.

Me and the Manics

 

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Ever since I set this blog up I’ve wanted (but struggled) to write a post on the Manic Street Preachers and I guess more specifically my relationship with them and what they mean to me.  This week I’ll be going to London to see the Holy Bible gig at the Camden Roundhouse (thanks Phil) and I’m excited beyond belief and certainly perhaps more than a man of my age should be but that in itself is testament to the band, their longevity and relevance.

When the Mancis burst onto the scene in the early 90’s proclaiming they were going to be bigger than Guns N Roses and Public Enemy many (especially those in the music press, yes Steve Lamacq I’m looking at you) sneered and dismissed them as fake but what I heard was ambition.  Ambition was an important attribute in South Wales, not in the naked greed sense displayed by the plastic spray tanned idiots paraded on our TV screens on a daily basis, but in the ‘I don’t want my kids to have to work in the pits type of way’.  ‘I want you to get an education and get a good job’.  Good jobs were often seen to be teachers, lawyers, ministers and to this day if you walk into any secondary school in England there will be a good chance you will find teachers of Welsh heritage.  It was recognised that to escape the manual labour and better yourself then education was important.  This had been the case in South Wales right from the early days of industrialisation through the formation of the strong trade unions, miners welfare and institutes that established principles of looking to improve both yourself and your community along lines of equality and social justice.  Many left leaning leaders came out of this approach none more so that Nye Bevan, founder of the National Health Service. Libraries did indeed give us power.

When the Manics started releasing incendiary recordings chock full of pride, passion, emotion and intelligence I felt a clear lineage through to the likes of Bevan using the microphone in a different way but still using it for powerful oratory, strong messages and vision.  They were light years ahead of any other band at the time and picked up the gladioli dropped by Morrissey and breathed some Welsh fire back into the music scene.  It’s impossible in a simple blog post to cover all of the themes, authors, philosophers, cultural and political reference points that make up so much of their music because to do so would require the writing of a book.  Suffice to say that for me it is so good to have a band writing songs that actually mean something, have been thought about and that provide a fantastic education in their own right.  Having an intelligence in your lyrics however is irrelevant unless you can back them up with brilliant tunes and scorching, visceral live performances which the Manics do in spades.  I’ve been lucky enough to see them in all sorts of venues over the years from tiny sweat stained clubs to Glastonbury declaring they should build a car park over the lot of it.

I grew up in Newport in South Wales, and after stumbling through school travelled north each day up the Gwent valleys to go to Crosskeys 6th Form college.  This was at a time when my home area was being decimated by the Thatcher government and the miners strike was honing my political education.  The year below me at that college were the individuals who would, a few years later, emerge as the Manics and I understood where they’d come from and what they were singing about.  Over the last 20 odd years I’ve aged along with them, but also hopefully changed and developed along the way as they have.  Whenever I hear them, and particularly when it is live, I am transported back to where I’m from and I experience feelings of pride, passion and emotion that no other band can provoke within me.

The Manic Street Preachers – original, intelligent, controversial, ambitious, exciting – simply one of Britain’s greatest ever bands.

Manic Street Preachers - 02 Arena, London 17/12/11 | Photo by Jason Williamson

December Photo Fun – Week 1 – 2014 – Twist

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The kids have come up with some really interesting themes for the few weeks of December and kicked things off with Twist and I must admit it put me in a somewhat philosophical mood.  When they came to me with the theme I immediately thought of books and the twist in the tale and as I was looking through the bookshelves of course I came across Oliver Twist, not what I was originally looking for but a good take on the theme I thought.

As I was thinking I was shaken by the first photo that came in – a twist in the skeleton from Lyndon.  Now Lyndon has recently undergone a pretty horrific accident while out walking in the lake district, he fell, badly injuring himself and there he lay for seven and a half hours waiting, hoping and I’ve no doubt praying to be rescued.  Lyndon is an experienced outdoor person so he had left details of where he was going and when he did not return the alarm was raised and Kewsick Mountain Rescue team eventually found him and he was airlifted to hospital.  He is now starting the long road to recovery and rehabilitation.  I don’t normally ask for donations for anything but for those of us who explore off road in the woods and the hills, on foot or bike the Mountain Rescue and air ambulance teams are our lifeline so if you can spare anything then please consider them.  They save lives.

Lyndon’s accident made me think about the subject of twist, a twist in the tale is not reserved for novels, it can happen to any of us at any time none of us really know what’s around the corner.  Hopefully it won’t be falling off a mountain but mountains are not just made of rock they exist for many of us in our imaginations and the trials and tribulations that we face in life.

As always there have been some lovely interpretations this week, I’m never sure if people will take part but it’s so nice that people take the time to play along with us.  We really appreciate it and once everything is pulled together the gallery looks great.  If you click on the gallery you can scroll through the pictures in the size they came through.  Do let us know which ones you liked.  We’ll be playing #Decemberphotofun throughout the month so check out the hashtag on twitter or follow me @ianstreet67 all are welcome to take part.

Get well soon Lyndon 🙂

Book Club 2014

2. ask the dust

 

I wrote last year of the 99 books we had so far read in the boys book club and the joy, friendship, camaraderie and nourishment that I get from it.  I decided after pulling all the books together in one post last year that at the end of each year I’d do a post on the books of that year.  We always have a review of the year and last night was no exception, we both reviewed the current book and reflected upon what we’ve read across the year.  What I like about this process is that a book you might have scored very highly on the night originally does not stay with you as the year develops, whereas other books seep into your bones, resonant and you come to remember and reflect on them far more even if you didn’t score it that highly when you first read it.

Some thought that this year has been a poor year for us in terms of books but I think that they are letting the clang for a few shockers reverberate across the great books we have read the noise drowning them out.  The reflection last night was good as it dispelled this as we looked back, yes there were a couple of really bad books but there were some gems as well that will live long in the memory.  I think the year was roughly split actually between the good and not so good.  What I did notice though was that we have read a real range of stuff from 16th century political treatise right up to current day publications hot off the press.  We have covered huge issues through books covering slavery, genocide, class, gender politics, body image and ‘normality’ as well as different genres.

As always though it is the discussion that brings the books alive as we view the issues through the prism of our own experiences and world view and it is this that makes the boys book club so special.  Through the input of the other members I continue to grow as a person, they help me reflect on who I am and why I think the way I do.  I’m challenged, amused, horrified, perplexed but above all nourished by them.  One of our founder members is bowing out as they now live in another city and have struggled to keep up with the rigour that is required.  It’s a sad day in many ways as he will be deeply missed by us all but the book club will go on evolving and I can’t wait to see what 2015 will bring.

So without further ado what collectively were our top three books of the year:-

1. Ask the Dust – John Fante

2. Zone of Interest – Martin Amis

3. The Year of the Hare – Arto Paasilinna

I’d love to know what you think of the range of books we’ve read this year and whether or not you are in a book club, what has been your best books of the year, what would you recommend for us to read in 2015?