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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Jazz from the heart

"Following the release in October of Tim Lapthorn's third and highly anticipated album, Transport, the trio will be performing a series of UK and European concerts featuring saxophone legend Bobby Wellins, undoubtedly one of the finest if not the finest tenor player to have graced the British jazz scene. The band will play a smart mix of beautiful Lapthorn originals alongside reworkings of more standard material. Expect lyrical, melodic yet explorative and exciting playing from this group of highly experienced and talented musicians"
A "Jazz Steps" quote.
My son Tim, putting his heart and soul into his music

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Remember the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis?

The Cuban missile crisis took place exactly 50 years ago. 

For those of us old enough to remember this time, it was a truly terrifying week. Each morning I went to school unsure if I would return home again before nuclear war broke out. I even recall the chilling words on the BBC radio news, "a need for war may arise".

Later analysis suggests we were even closer than we thought at the time to an all out nuclear exchange and the end of civilisation. It was thanks to the politicians on both the American and Russian sides that eventually tensions were reduced. Thereafter, the Cold War was never quite the same again, and over the following decades we slowly edged towards its end.

What lessons can be learned?
  • Great care is needed in complex international crises, 
  • Never trust the military (they would have bombed Cuba in this case),  
  • Jaw jaw is better than war war, 
  • Think about the people we elect into great offices of state as one day our lives may depend on their judgement in a time of very great stress.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Phlogiston? Petrol from water and air

Becher who postulated Phlogiston
The BBC Business page carried a story this week about a company in NE England that is developing a technique to produce petrol from air and water. This sounds like something too good to be true, like Phlogiston, but if scaled up to production levels could be something remarkable.
"A British firm based on Teesside says it's designed revolutionary new technology that can produce petrol using air and water. Air Fuel Synthesis in Stockton-on-Tees has produced five litres of petrol since August, but hopes to be in production by 2015 making synthetic fuel targeted at the motor sports sector. The company believes the technique could help solve energy supply problems and curb global warming."
See .

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Jimmy Savile and sex abuse

In no way do I condone sexual abuse of anyone. However, I'm puzzled by the media frenzy over Jimmy Savile, the UK DJ and TV presenter, over what he might (or might not)  have done to girls backstage in his dressing room.  If his actions were so vile and disgusting then why were these not challenged long ago when he was alive and able to face justice, and defend himself?  Some say he was a powerful person and people would have found it hard to fight him in the courts. Sorry, but I don't buy this: if enough people felt strongly then he would have been brought to justice. He is dead and gone now.

There must be other TV presenters and DJs who behaved in a similar way to Savile and I can imagine some of these people not sleeping at night waiting for the next expose.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The EU and jam jars

There was mention on the BBC TV this morning about a little known EU regulation that prevents the re-use of jam jars, e.g. at church fetes to sell home made jam or chutney. How silly is this!

I understand this is based on real information, although I am not aware anyone has been told about this or anyone has been prosecuted for not obeying the law.  When we should be worrying about the Euro, deficits, debt and job creation what stupid bureaucrats are being paid millions to create such STUPID, idiotic laws? I understand this legislation is about 6 years old. See EC regulations 1935/2004 and 2023/2006.

Although I had great sympathy with the original ideals of a common trading market, free from barriers to trade, I now think the whole European Union serves little useful purpose.  I am a firm believer in nations working together where a common good is being served, but not when it creates waste, inefficiency and needless stupid rules that add no value.

Let us rule Britannia please, not faceless idiots on inflated salaries in Brussels.

Sunday, 7 October 2012


My son's new CD "Transport" is out on October 22nd from Pathway Records. At his concert in St Hilda's College, Oxford today he played some of the tracks from this and they are amazing.

It includes purely original compositions featuring solo, trios and larger ensembles, including with a string quartet. The music draws from jazz, blues, classical, folk and Brazilian influences and is a very exciting project.

Some quotes about his work:
'Lapthorn's beautiful debut set is a marvellous first statement' **** - Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD on Natural Language

'Impressive...Lapthorn blends witty invention with deep swing and unerring reassuring balance' - **** Mojo Magazine on Seventh Sense

'Brilliant music' – Jazz UK on Seventh Sense

'Pure Class' – Jazz Review on Seventh Sense

'Brilliant young pianist...Natural Language sparkles with originality and colour' – Humphrey Lyttelton, BBC Radio 2

'Superb piano playing', Paul Jones, BBC Radio 2 Rhythm and Blues show

...want to buy his new CD???

Charles Dickens cartoon

A few days ago an old friend of mine, Gale Leach in the USA, put this cartoon on her Facebook page. It amused me, so thought I'd share it here.  I've no idea where it comes from, so tell me if it is copyright and I need to remove it.

Gale is an author and she has written some lovely books for children. Take a look at her website at

Another one of my friends here in the UK is reading all the Charles Dickens books this year. He is thoroughly enjoying them. I have to confess that I read few novels, preferring non-fiction books, and have yet to read a Charles Dickens book.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

MS charity jazz concert: Oxford Oct 7th 1pm

Final reminder: Tim Lapthorn Trio (jazz) at the Jacqueline du Pre Music Building, St Hilda's College, Oxford this Sunday at 1pm. Concert is raising funds for multiple sclerosis research.  Tickets from
or on the door. Good music, good cause. Please come if you can to support it.
Tim in one of his many appearances at Ronnie Scott's in London
My son Tim is a world class professional jazz pianist - see - and he is launching his new CD called "Transport" available later this month. Proceeds from the concert will got to the MS Society. 
If you cannot attend and want to make a donation to MS, please email me. Samples of his music available on his website.

On Dover Beach

A friend of mine just posted a photo from Dover beach the night before he rows a gig, with others, across to France. I wish him luck!  It put me in mind of Matthew Arnold's poem "On Dover Beach" in which he reflects on life, faith and a world of broken dreams. I had forgotten that the phrase "sea of faith" came from this poem.
The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago

Heard it on the Agaean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith

Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true

To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

April Jones (missing 5 year old)

Almost everyone in the UK with a heart is wishing/praying that the little Welsh school girl who was abducted earlier this week will be found safe and well, although as every hour passes the hopes are fading.

What I find hard to understand is why the police and press have published both the name and photograph of the main suspect. It it quite possible that this person is totally innocent, yet all his details have been plastered in the press and on TV.  If there is forensic evidence to link him to the crime then surely the police should charge the man. Otherwise, no good can be served by publishing his name and photo.

My heart bleeds for the family of the little girl, who must be going through a living hell at the moment.

UPDATE: Oct 6th 2012
I see that this person has now been charged over the little girl's murder. After the case is heard and assuming he is proved guilty, I wonder what sort of time he will have in prison? 

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Late swallows

Barn swallows (source )
By now, most of the adult swallows (now called barn swallows) have headed south on their way to southern Africa for the winter months, returning to our shores in April. At this time there are still a few young swallows around. Only yesterday I spotted several overhead. The latest swallows I have ever seen was a small flock at Bolt Head , Devon on November 7th. I think these were unusually late leaving. Just perhaps they stayed for the winter as in that part of the UK the weather is just about mild enough to provide enough insects.

The long north-south migration of birds beggars belief, especially when young birds make this journey for the first time not having ever done it before. How they travel over 6000 miles there, and then back again, often to the very same nest, is just incredible. A lot must go on inside that pea sized brain.